True Stories of Alien Abductions in Films: A Timeline

Out of everything that is scary in the world, I imagine there is nothing more terrifying than waking up in the middle of the night, paralyzed, as a Grey stares at you with its huge ass eyes. Sure, Ebola is scary but is it as creepy? It is, but that’s not the point. The point is that aliens abducting people is scary and has fascinated mankind since the early dawn of… the 1960s. Since then, there have been a few cases of true stories of alien abduction in films. Very few. Do I believe that they are truly true stories?

Let’s just say that I want to believe.

Table of Contents

The Timeline

July 1947

Roswell UFO Crash

A farmer found something near Roswell, New Mexico. The army said it was a weather balloon, then years later, a nuclear test surveillance balloon. What it really was didn’t stop a UFO craze from starting in the United States of America.

The Outer Limits

ABC broadcasted the episode twentieth episode of “The Outer Limits,” “The Bellero Shield.” It featured an alien, that was obviously gray since TV was in black and white back then. Skeptics claim that the alien is the bases for “The Greys.”


Betty & Barney Hill

Husband and wife Betty and Barney Hill got abducted by aliens from the Zeta Reticuli system. It was the first widely publicized case of UFO abduction in the US. The first of many…

October 1975

The UFO Incident

NBC aired the TV movie “The UFO Incident” about the Betty and Barney Hill abduction, starring Estelle Parsons and Betty and James Earl Jones as Barney. It’s quite boring by today’s standards, but it was well recieved and two weeks after it aired…

November 1975

Travis Walton Abduction

… Travis Walton was with his lumberjack crew in Arizona when they saw a UFO. It abducted Travis and he went missing for five days. He would later write a book about it called “Fire in the Sky.”

December 1977

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Known Sci-Fi nerd Steven Spielberg released “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” which both features UFO sightings and abductions that go back to WW2. With his film, Spielberg cemented “The Greys” into pop-culture.

December 1985

Whitley Strieber Abduction

During Christmas, author Strieber was with his family in a cabin in upstate New York. Something queer happened to him, and later through hypnosis, he realized that not only was he abducted, but he had been abducted multiple times over his life. Strieber went on to write the best seller “Communion,” and multiple books on the subject of aliens.

November 1989


Based on Whitley Strieber’s book, the first theatrical film about real life alien abduction showed the world that Christopher Walken is one quirky guy.

You can read my review here.

March 1993

Fire in the Sky

The Travis Walter story got a cinematic retelling which many, including Travis, have described as the stuff of pure nightmares. Mostly remembered for the horrifying abduction scene, but the film has a solid cast and is rather good.

May 1993


“Intruders” was a CBS miniseries based on the book “Intruders: The Incredible Visitations at Copley Woods” by Budd Hopkins which featured many accounts of abductions and popularized the idea that the Greys are doing hybrid experiments on humans as a part of a colonization plan.

September 1993

The X-Files

FOX began to air “The X-Files,” which featured an overarching plot of alien abduction and colonization, mixed in with creature-of-the-week episodes. It wasn’t a rating success at first, but it became popular enough to survive the 90s and edged itself into pop culture like few shows have before, or since.


Why so few?

Some might find it surprising that there haven’t been more films based on supposedly true cases of alien abductions, especially since there are thousands of them. It shouldn’t really be surprising though. Although the idea of intergalactic visitors coming and taken someone from their home in the middle of the night is fascinating, and extremely scary, it’s also repetitive. Most cases are very similar and not really interesting, aside from the whole alien part. A film about an alien abduction will be mostly about the person being abducted, and maybe aliens aren’t picking the people with the most interesting lives.

“The X-Files” is also a culprit; it scratched the itch viewers had for abduction stories and became so entwined with the idea of abductions during the 90s, that anything resembling it would have been dismissed as a copy-cat.

There are a handful of films about alien abduction that don’t pretend to be based on real life events that I do recommend: Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County (1998), Dark Skies (2013) and, of course, Space Jam (1996).

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