Skip to main content

Life on Mars? Top 10 Martians of All Time

The Best Sci-Fi Martians Ever

This month, NASA released news that its Discovery Rover had discovered organic matter on Mars.

While that's not necessarily proof of life on Mars, it's more evidence that such a thing is or could have been possible.

With that in mind, we're paying tribute to fiction's most iconic denizens of the red planet.

FIRST UP: War of the Worlds

The Martians of War of the Worlds

H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds is perhaps the prototypical Martian invasion story. And Orson Welles' later radio broadcast adaptation of the classic story is the stuff of legend, having inspired real panic among folks who missed that the broadcast was fiction and not news of an actual invasion by Martians.

Welles' visual idea of the Martian's ships with their round bodies and spindly, spider-like legs has also influenced the portrayal of UFO's in popular culture for decades.

NEXT: Dr. Manhattan

Dr. Manhattan

Doctor Manhattan may not be a native of Mars (like Mark Watney), but in Watchmen it's something of his home away from home, with key scenes taking place on Mars' surface.

Mars is also where Dr. Manhattan flees at the end of the story, after Ozymandias' cataclysmic plans come to fruition.

NEXT: Uncle Martin

Uncle Martin

Ray Watson's comedic Uncle Martin may be an outdated reference to some (despite a reboot film in the 90s), but for the generations raised on black and white broadcasts and TV Land reruns, My Favorite Martian's eccentric Martian anthropologist was practically definitive.

And we'd be remiss not to mention the show's human co-star Bill Bixby, who went on to co-star with another green guy you might have heard of...

NEXT: Amy Wong

Amy Wong

There are a few humans who claim "Martian" status on our list (either by birth or arrival), but Futurama's Amy Wong is, well, the cutest. In fact, this Planet Express employee and daughter of Martian "Buggalo" ranchers had "cuteness reduction surgery" to make her less intimidating.

Amy's more than just unearthly cute though – over the course of Futurama's seven seasons, Amy earned her Ph.D in Applied Physics from Mars University.

NEXT: Mark Watney

Mark Watney

Matt Damon's character Mark Watney from Ridley Scott's 2014 film The Martian (and the original Andy Weir prose novel) isn't a native Martian... but as Watney pointed out he did colonize the planet, which is worth something. And hey, if Weir and Scott want to identify him as a Martian as the film's title indicates, who the hell are we to argue.

Bonus points go to Damon/Watney for being a Martian AND a space pirate AND doing an Iron Man impression (and following Doctor Manhattan's lead as the loneliest guy on Mars).

NEXT: Dejah Thoris

Dejah Thoris

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Dejah Thoris is perhaps the most iconic actual Martian from the author’s John Carter of Mars stories – though her beautiful, human-like appearance belies her alien nature.

The green, four-armed Thark are much more in line with what later sci-fi Martians would look like with four arms, green skin, and monstrous forms.

NEXT: Mars Attacks! Martians

The Martians of Mars Attacks!

The chattering, blood-curdling Martians of Topps' Mars Attacks! trading cards (and comic books and movies and so on) are some of the most monstrous residents of the red planet to make our list, but they're also some of the most instantly recognizable.

And hey, if you ever find yourself face to face with some of these little green men, just call up Slim Whitman's "Indian Love Call" on Spotify and they'll all be toast.

NEXT: Martian Manhunter

Martian Manhunter

There are surprisingly few Martian superheroes in comic books – probably because when J'Onn J'Onzz arrived on Earth in 1955, the so-called Martian Manhunter cast a definitive shadow over the idea of a caped crimefighter from the red planet.

That's not to say J'Onn was the first alien superhero (Superman himself takes that honor) but his Martian origins gave rise to a whole wing of the DC Universe including characters like the villainous Hyperclan, and his heroic protege M'Gann M'Orzz, a.k.a. Miss Martian.

And Finally ...

Marvin the Martian

If you ask just about anyone to name a Martian, they'll bring up Looney Tunes' megalomaniacal Marvin, the pint-sized, helmeted alien conqueror with a special hatred for Bugs Bunny.

Marvin's even made it into comic books recently, meeting the Martian Manhunter in a crossover one-shot from DC Comics.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.