I remember watching Aliens and being amazed with the variety of guns, war vehicles and ammunition shown. My expectation was that Alien³ would have at least as much action involving guns and in general follow death match style of the Aliens. However, if I am not mistaken we don't see many guns if not any.

Why was there such a drastic switch?

  • 21
    It was a prison planet and one of the policies was that there were no guns so that if a riot occurred the prisoners could not use any guns to kill the guards or each other if I remember correctly
    – EdChum
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 13:59
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    Yes, that's actually in the script ("This is a prison. It is not a good idea to allow prisoners access to firearms.") However, it seems the OP is after an out of universe reason. So 'analysis' might be a better fit than 'plot explanation'.
    – Walt
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 14:18
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    Afterall, there was a drastic swith from Alien to Aliens already, as is there from Alien 3 to Alien Resurrection. The heterogenous genre diversification resulting from the many different directors is one of the most interesting aspects about this series.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 14:24
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    @NapoleonWilson heterogeneous genre diversification, eh? aka variety of genres. Commented May 3, 2016 at 18:44
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    @user973810 because that's the name of the film.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 15:14

3 Answers 3


Alexandre's answer gives a good out-of-universe explanation: my answer is the in-universe explanation.

Alien3 takes place on the prison planet Fiorina 161. This is a prison-work colony for violent offenders. From Wikipedia:

The pod crash-lands on Fiorina "Fury" 161, a foundry facility and penal colony inhabited by male inmates with histories of physical and sexual violence.

In the real world circa 2016, prisoners are barred from having weapons. I see no reason why it would make sense to give weapons to violent offenders currently serving a prison sentence even in the fictional future of this movie.

Why not provide weapons locked up so only the wardens have access?

This is an isolated, remote planet. It takes time to travel there: it appears that at the beginning of the movie a call would be sent out with the identity of the life boat, and it took the length of the movie (several days) for a response team to show up.

Looking at the prisoners, there are some big, tough dudes. Would you want to be the warden who can unlock the weapon room with those guys wandering around, when it would take several days for help to arrive? That is a recipe for mutiny, despite the themes of repentance and atonement in the movie. Having lethal weapons accessible to known violent criminals is too much of a temptation.

Besides, why do they need weapons to begin with? It is not every day that a bloodthirsty alien is on the loose, and a planet like that one does not appear to have much in the way of indigenous life that would be a threat to the colony.

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    @Alexandre this is not your typical prison: they are mining, refining and smelting ore, etc. The prisoners have a valid need to be wandering around outside their cells. If they were restricted to a cell block then yes, that would make sense. But then why put them on a remote planet?
    – user9311
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 16:15
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    I get your point, all I see is that there is most likely more prisonners than there is guards, which without guns cannot enforce any sort of superiority except for some sort of defense stick at best. Guns ensure authority.
    – Alexandre
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 16:21
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    The guards don't need dominance. The supply of food depends on them, which is quite enough to keep the prisoners at bay. It's not like some human rights organization will complain if the delivery of those supplies stops in case of mutiny, not on a remote prison planet in the Alien universe, and growing their own food on that godforsaken rock is out of the question. Further, if I remember right, the "guards" are shady at best, being closer to prisoners than to your usual guards (the doctor was there as a punishment too, for example). Commented May 3, 2016 at 17:50
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    The "guards" are the inhospitable planet and lack of spacecraft with which to leave it. Lack of weapons was to give "Ripley" and the audience an eye-rolling moment of shocking realization that the alien had effectively become much more dangerous.
    – CodeShane
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 18:18
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    @Alexandre I get the impression that in the Alien universe, privately owned spacecraft aren't really a thing. They're either owned by a big corporation, or military.
    – Adeptus
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 1:33

Why are there no guns or weapons in this movie according to IMDB:

The producers of Alien³ wanted each film to be different in tone and style. It is apparent that they did not want to make "Aliens 2" and made a conscious decision to shift away from the action genre. This also serves to remove the simple solution Aliens presented -- that the aliens can be killed quite easily if you have the guns to do so. The producers removed the guns to increase the threat to the characters. Sigourney Weaver also served as executive producer on the film and she is very anti-gun, though it is she herself who refuses/avoids handling firearms, not necessarily refusing their presence in a film in which she stars, as evidenced in Aliens and Alien: Resurrection.

From a personal point of view, having no guns gave the movie a whole other feeling, and I'm glad the crew opted to go this way. With guns, the aliens seem like a small threat, while without a gun a single alien can cause serious trouble.

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    Thank you Walt, my english is not perfect and you linked to IMDB page, I might be a little lazy haha have a nice day good sir :)
    – Alexandre
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 14:29
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    The marines from Aliens might disagree with the "small threat" part.
    – Omegacron
    Commented May 5, 2016 at 12:16

All great answers and all containing interesting detail - however the truth of it is that they wanted and needed Ripley in the movie. Sigourney Weaver would only do it if there were no guns. So there were no guns.

The Brandywine producers did look at taking the story in another direction if they couldn't come to a deal with Weaver and there is a full script out there by William Gibson which focuses instead on Hicks and Bishop, which uses Communist-Bloc-As-Bad-Guys concepts, the first draft being very action-orientated, a la Aliens and the 2nd Draft condensing that down and dropping the bang-for-your-buck angle.

All-in-all, I think 10 writers produced different takes on the movie (including original director Vincent Ward's wooden planet (yep, wooden) and even a glass planet and even Fincher's finished movie was taken apart and reassembled by the studio before release.

Personally, I think the film is an underrated rough diamond - but maybe that's just me.

I do have some inside knowledge on this, as my writing-partner used to share his life with the film's script-reader.

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    You are correct, I did post a little about it in my anwser : Sigourney Weaver also served as executive producer on the film and she is very anti-gun, though it is she herself who refuses/avoids handling firearms, not necessarily refusing their presence in a film in which she stars, as evidenced in Aliens and Alien: Resurrection. I'm not 100% sure this played a big factor into the final decision to have or not guns in the movie.
    – Alexandre
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 18:21
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    @Alexandre - There were also guns in Avatar and Galaxy Quest, though pretty much only used by the bad guys. Technically also in the Ghostbusters movies if you count the Proton Packs. Didn't stop her from having a major role in any of those films either. Commented May 4, 2016 at 18:34
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    Exactly, I think she simply have a bad opinion on guns in general. I don't think anyone would spit on a big production check just because it involve weapons.
    – Alexandre
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 20:34

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