On Halloween, TBS premiered its newest sitcom, People of Earth. Wyatt Cenac and his deadpan charm leads a quirky cast of “experiencers” (please don’t call them “abductees”—it’s offensive) who grapple with making contact with…something.

The survivors of alien encounters in People of Earth all have very similar encounters. They’ve either made contact with Reptilians (green lizard people who are surprisingly chill), Grays (small troll-like creatures with bulbous faces), or Whites (ethereal, elven men with shimmering white hair). Sadly, nobody contacted Alien OG or Purple Alien OG. These aliens either appear in their homes prior to abduction or beam their victims right up into their spaceship. It’s unclear what happens while aboard, but before returning them to Earth, they tell their abductee that they are “special.”

We looked at some “real-life” reports of alien abduction to see how these stories stack up to the close encounters that unfold on People of Earth.


Hilary Porter, Great Britain, 1952

To hear Hilary Campbell tell it, she didn’t choose this abductee life, it chose her. Porter believes that her first alien encounter came when she was 5 years old, with a “reptilian” alien that “had scaly skin, black holes on the nose, and a little mouth” that stood about 5 feet tall. She believes that she has had numerous encounters throughout her life. She says that these experiences are rather traumatic. Following her abductions, she “suffers migraines and feels very ill. Sometimes she wakes up with fresh scars or bruises. Or there are bloody marks or stains on her clothes or bedsheets.” Porter breaks down her alien encounters similarly to the cast of People of Earth, referring to “grays” and “reptilians.”


Betty and Barney Hill, near Lancaster, N.H., 1961

In 2011, the state of New Hampshire put up a sign commemorating the site of Betty and Barney Hill’s abduction, the first reported in the United States. The Hills reported encountering a large spacecraft while driving at night. Once the craft landed, “humanoid forms wearing glossy black uniforms and black caps appeared to them.” If you really want to dig into the Hills’ case, 48 pages of correspondence between the Hills, a UFO expert, and a hypnotist who worked with the Hills, have recently been released.


Jane Nelms, Dallas, Texas, 1973

Not only does Texan Jane Nelms claim to have been abducted by aliens, she also believes that she has been in the presence of aliens many times throughout her life. Nelms’ first encounter in 1973 was preceded by a “bright light.” Her alleged encounters have been at night, so she doesn’t have a firm description of her captors, except that they were “very tall” with “glowing eyes.”


Travis Walton, near Heber, Ariz., 1975

“It was a metallic, glowing disc, making some very strange sounds. The closer I got to it, the more scared we all got and they were swearing at me to get away from there, and when I got up close, it suddenly got louder and started to move.” This is how Travis Walton, then a 22-year-old logger, remembers his alien abduction. He doesn’t recall much about the aliens other than that they were “short, bald creatures,” but this is one of the most written about abductions, as a number of Walton’s fellow loggers witnessed his disappearance. Walton wrote his own book, The Walton Experience, which inspired the 1993 movie Fire in the Sky.


Kelly Cahill, Melbourne, Australia, 1993

In the early morning on a summer night, Kelly Cahill spotted an orange blimp in the sky. She quickly realized it was headed straight for her. She believes that was the beginning of her alien abduction. She describes the aliens as “tall, slim, and black with glowing eyes” that were “bulging red.” The exact details of her time aboard a UFO are cloudy, but she offers a “small triangle mark burned into the skin around her navel” and irregular menstruation that occurred after as evidence of her traumatic experience.


John Salter Jr., Wisconsin, 1988

Salter and his son (John III) lost about an hour of time on during a trip as they covered a long stretch of highway. They believe that during that time, they were abducted by aliens. As in many reports of alien abduction, the main thing they remember is that their captors were quite short (and not much else). Both father and son had a generally positive experience while abducted, and report improvements in their health. Salter claimed, "My immunity is heightened. Cuts and scratches now clot immediately and heal rapidly.”