While Alien was an incredibly dark film that arguably set the standard for future Sci-Fi horror movies, it should have been much darker–specifically, the ending–and Ripley, herself, confirms it.
Ellen Ripley is the main protagonist of the original four Alien films who was introduced in the first film as someone who was essentially a ‘space trucker’. Ripley was a member of the Nostromo crew, a vessel that carried valuable minerals from far-off planets back to Earth. In Alien, Ripley and the rest of the Nostromo crew received a distress signal from an unknown world that would become known as LV-426, and per company protocol, they were obligated to investigate. When a few of the crew members went down to the planet’s surface, they found a derelict alien ship with a hidden chamber inside filled with large, strange eggs. Upon further investigation, one of these eggs opened up and an alien creature (which would become known as a Facehugger) lept forth and attached itself to one of the crew member’s face–and it then impregnated him with a Xenomorph. This event sparked the horrific events of the movie, and in fact the entire franchise–but it could have been so much worse.
In Aliens vs Predator vs The Terminator #1 by Mark Schultz and Mel Rubi, readers are introduced to a world that is set immediately following the events of Alien Resurrection where a homeless Ripley8 (the Xenomorph-hybrid clone of Ellen Ripley) is sitting alone against a sewer wall before she is approached by a team of freedom fighters who need her help. When they explain the situation to Ripley8–that being a team of scientists is trying to create a more advanced version of the Xenomorph species by way of cloning and cybernetic enhancements–Ripley8 just slams her head on the table she was sitting at and admits to them, “You know, I almost didn’t sign on for that run on the Nostromo…”.
Without Ripley, the Alien Series Would Have Been Much Darker
Ripley’s confession in this comic is made out of exhaustion and disbelief that after all this time, she is still dealing with Xenomorphs and the humans who think they can control them. However, it does inspire an interesting question: what if Ripley hadn’t been on the Nostromo? In the first Alien film, Ripley is the sole survivor who manages to kill the Xenomorph before it is brought to Earth. Not only that, but Ripley is entirely responsible for the eradication of the Xenomorph species in Aliens, and her death in Alien 3 kills the last-known Xenomorph in the universe. Ripley single-handedly keeps the Xenomorphs out of the hands of Weyland-Yutani, thereby protecting humanity from its own hubris. If she hadn’t been on the Nostromo, however, the synthetic Ash would have succeeded in bringing Weyland-Yutani the alien specimen and the company would have had access to the Xenomorph right from the start.
It is well established throughout the Alien franchise that the main villain of the series wasn’t the Xenomorph species, but humanity itself (specifically Weyland-Yutani), and if Ripley hadn’t signed on to be a member of the Nostromo crew, then this villain would have been victorious–confirming that Alien almost had a much darker ending.