Grey aliens, popularized in mass media, are often considered the archetypal idea of an alien. Reported alien abductions often describe aliens with features similar to that as the Greys, and this popularity has lead to countless homages, parodies, and nods to the idea of grey-skinned alien visitors.
There are many variations of the Greys, although there are slight variations depending on which universe the alien is in they typically share the same basic traits.
- Enlarged black eyes.
- Shrunken almost non-existent nose.
- Swollen enlarged cranium.
- Grey Skin (typically the trait most changed).
- Lack of lips.
- Nudity (not always true)
Greys are most often associated with the idea of alien abduction (a trope that is often repeated in fiction), as well as cattle and livestock mutilations. It is unknown when exactly the idea of the Greys rose to prominence, but it is often associated with the Betty And Barney Hill Abduction.
What is not typically known is that 12 days prior to the alleged abduction an episode of The Outer Limits aired entitled "The Bellero Shield" with an alien remarkably like the one Betty and Barney Hill described while under hypnosis. Assuming that the Hills watched this episode, it could mean that this alien was the initial inspiration for the Greys.
In reality, according to The Alien Races Book by Dante Santori and Petro, the Greys are actually called the Solipsi Rai, a two billion year old race from the constellation Cygnus and is led by one leader named Ymartyyn. The race is often confused with other races such as the Maitre and the Zeta Reticulai (the abductors of Betty and Barney Hill) due to similar appearance. They are a peaceful and harmless race that have no colonies and focus more on the development of other planets and races. They do however have one powerful weapon to protect themselves from invaders and is capable of destroying entire ships. One of their ships is responsible for the Roswell incident on July 7, 1947. They have also stated that the human race still has 645 options for the future of their planet, with the correct options depending on their ability to develop space travel.
As mentioned the prominence of the concept has lead to the widespread usage of the aliens.
- The species is featured in the 2007 movie Night Skies, based on an actual abduction case which took place during the Phoenix Lights event of 1997. The creatures portrayed on the film appear like skinny Greys with telepathic abilities and organic-based technology.
- The species is featured in the Doctor Who animated special Dreamland, engaged in war with the Viperox. In the Third Doctor novel Devil Goblins from Neptune they are given the name Nedenah.
- The Silents, although a different species, are similar to Greys in appearance and might be related.
- There is a species called Greys in Alienology, that differ little from the standard definition of the species.
- The Arilou Lalee'lay from Star Control are perpetually-mischievous that are intended to represent the Greys within that universe.
- The Asgard from Stargate are typical Greys.
- In the third episode of Extreme Dinosaurs three alien Greys appear imprisoned in a government facility, only to be freed by one of the Extreme Dinosaurs.
- The aliens from the miniseries Taken are basic Greys.
- Salarians in Mass Effect somewhat resemble the Greys.
- In South Park a frequent Easter Egg in the show is the presence of what they call Visitors, aliens virtually identical to the mainstream idea of a Grey in every way.
- The Furon are most likely inspired by the Greys.
- The Greys also make an appearance in the 2001 MuckyFoot game, StarTopia, in which they can run the player's Sick Bay facilities.
- The Interdimensional Beings from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull are basic Greys.
- The Colonists; a.k.a. Reticulans or Greys; are featured as part of the major mythology of The X-Files series.
- The Babylon 5 universe features at least three species designed after the Greys of popular culture: the Streibs, the Zeners and the Vree.
- The cartoon Buzz Lightyear of Star Command names them Roswellians and shows an inversion of the classic story; in which Buzz and his team crash land on the Grey's homeworld.
- Roger from American Dad is an obvious example of a Grey in modern media.
- Paul from the movie of the same name is a very deliberate example of a Grey.
- The What from The Tick disguised themselves as a type of grey when they abducted the shows titular character.
- The Sectoid from X-Com are that universe's variation of the concept.
- Barash from Star Trek: The Next Generation belongs to a Grey-like species.
- Greys appear (under the name Grays) in the second and third Ratchet & Clank games.
- In the 2013 horror-science fiction film Dark Skies, the main villains are named "the Greys".
- The Vargon from the American Chillers novels are essentially Greys.
- Men in Black features two species - Baltians and Arquillians - which bear some similarities to this species. However neither fits well in the size factor, the former being much taller than how the typical Grey is usually portrayed and the latter being several times smaller.
- The mature form of the Skrit Na from Animorphs.
- They are featured as one of the inhabitants of Area 51 in the animated comedy Escape from Planet Earth.
- The aliens from the 1977 science fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind are Greys.
- The Duros from Star Wars are also physically Grey-like, despite being considerably taller than most other depictions.
- In the Dilbert animated cartoon series, a one-off gag has a pair of Greys arguing when one refers to itself as a "UFO", defending its position by insisting that it's a better name than their real one, Zyzphlahelmrn.