The Harvesters are a race of highly-intelligent and technologically-advanced extraterrestrial beings. They are also a hive-mind race with the intention of conquering and harvesting planets at the expense of driving the native population to extinction, since they hate all other sapient organisms.
Becoming a Threat
In an unspecified time in the past, the Harvesters presented themselves as a threat to the universe itself, due to their plague-like nature. They encountered a highly advanced civilization of trans-sentient beings which they pushed to the brink of extinction.
For thousands of years, the Harvesters have been at war against a coalition of many alien races, who lost their planets to the Harvesters. This war remains at a stalemate as the Harvesters could not locate their enemies' planet of origin. Because of this, the Harvesters attempt to hunt down a sapient artificial intelligence known as the Sphere for its vital information on their enemies. The remnants from this civilization escaped with technology that they stored at a sanctuary world, where they have since actively prepared species with the necessary tools to combat the Harvesters. Recognizing the beings as a threat, the Harvesters are determined to discover the sanctuary world and prevent the spread of the means that can defeat them.
Contact with Humanity
The first recorded interaction between humanity and the Harvesters was in 1947, when a spaceship crashed on the Foster Ranch outside of Roswell, New Mexico. In the crash, two aliens were killed, while a third was seriously injured. The crashed ship, the two bodies and the injured alien were brought to the new Air Force installation outside of Rachel, Nevada called Homey Airport, (better known as "Area 51"). The survivor died within a matter of weeks. Over the next forty-nine years, scientists at Area 51 studied the vessel, attempted to repair it and studied the physiology of the three alien corpses. However, none of the technology of the ship could be accessed, as there was no Colony ship or Harvester Mothership nearby.
Vietnam War veteran Russell Casse claimed to have been abducted by the Harvesters in 1986, with the purpose of conducting horrific experiments upon him. However, the veracity of these claims are debatable and as such, Casse was largely dismissed for suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.
War of 1996
On July 2, 1996, the Harvesters dispatched a mothership to Earth, hidden behind the moon and using Earth's satellites to transmit a countdown signal to when they were to attack. This became known as the War of 1996. Arriving in massive, city-sized vessels, the Harvesters used human satellites to relay signals between vessels and coordinate their attacks, destroying nearly every major city in the world during their initial strike, including Moscow and Washington, D.C.. Crippled, but determined to resist the invaders, human forces worldwide began launching numerous battles against their newfound enemies, with disastrous results. However, almost by accident, a weakness was discovered by David Levinson on the morning of July 4. Hijacking the alien signal, David devised a plan to upload a virus into the central computer of the Harvester mothership in orbit above Earth. In turn, this would deactivate the Harvester vessels' shields and render their fleets vulnerable to attack, but only for a few minutes.
Flying to the mothership in an Attacker captured before the war, Levinson and Captain Steven Hiller would successfully plant the virus and enable a massive coordinated attack on Earth against the Harvesters. Having also deployed a nuclear device on board the mothership, the duo was forced to make a quick and harrowing escape amid heavy alien opposition. Shortly afterward, the mothership was obliterated by the device, ensuring the disorientation and subsequent destruction of their fleets on Earth.
Post-War of 1996
Although defeated, many Harvesters survived. Some managed to establish a level of resistance against humanity, but were ultimately either eliminated or captured by human forces. The remaining Harvesters were eliminated within days in the United States and Europe, but it took several months for the resistance in other countries to be eliminated due to a lack of air power. This proves especially true in the Congo, where the Harvester resistance fights for ten years before being defeated. However, prior to their defeat, the Harvesters sent a distress signal into deep space, warning the rest of the species of their failure. Due to time being relative in space travel, the signal reached in 2016.
War of 2016
- “They're not screaming... They're celebrating!
- Dr. Brackish Okun interprets the verses of the aliens.”
In July 2016, the message was intercepted by the Sphere and traveled to Earth in an attempt to warn humanity of the impending attack. However, humanity mistook the alien A.I. as a hostile force and destroyed its vessel. Shortly after, the Harvesters led by their Queen arrived with the Harvester Mothership. Despite humanity's use of reverse-engineered alien technology and their preparation for a second conflict, the Harvesters effortlessly destroyed humanity's defenses and made their attempt to harvest Earth's molten core while also becoming aware that the Sphere is present on the planet.
But in a desperate move, the Earth Space Defense led by David Levinson devised a trap to kill the Harvester Queen by luring her with a duplicate of the Sphere's frequency and trapping her with a cold fusion bomb. However, the Queen survives the trap and personally attacked Area 51, where the Sphere is located. ESD forces managed to destroy the Queen's personal shields and allowing ESD pilots led by Dylan Hiller to kill the Queen. With the sudden loss of their Queen and severely disoriented, the Harvesters retreated from Earth. This defeat allowed humanity to win the Sphere's approval in choosing them to lead the resistance and to finally end the aliens once and for all.
- “Peace? No peace.
- A Harvester pilot rejecting Thomas Whitmore's offer of coexistence.”
The Harvesters are aggressive in nature. Nomadic, they construct large, technologically advanced spaceships capable of holding their entire civilization and exterminate the populations of countless other inhabited worlds and harvesting their resources until the planets have nothing left. They make no attempt to coexist with the native populations and instead prefer to wipe all life (and resistance) out completely.
The Harvesters, while similar to Earth's insect class in the Animal Kingdom, are not insects, yet still exist in eusociality. This complements Thomas Whitmore's description of comparing the aliens to locusts in the first film, because the aliens have a hive mind and structure with several castes, much like insect species. Furthermore, they are led by queens, who intimately commands the entire hive.
Physically, they are no more or less durable than humans. Having similar tolerances to environmental conditions as humans and capable of breathing oxygen. However, they are much more slender in appearance than humans, with a quasi-humanoid body. Somewhat shorter than humans, they have two long arms with four fingers each, and two feet with two toes. The rear section of their head is enlarged, and large pupil-less silvery reflective eyes (or eye-like organs) adorn their faces. Lacking vocal cords or even mouths, they communicate using a sophisticated form of telepathy and are also able to exert mind control to "possess" other beings, or at least partially; by attaching tentacles from their exo-suit to the victim's necks and using their vocal cords to communicate their words with a non-telepathic species. Even though they lack mouths or vocal cords, there have been a few instances where the aliens, both within their bio-suits and while partially removed from their biosuits, were heard making screeching and roaring sounds. Examples of this include the Harvester pilot Hiller brought to Area 51.
In some cases, the Harvesters are also shown to be capable of projecting their thoughts into another lifeform's mind in the form of visions, and killing or injuring other lifeforms with their telepathy. The aftermath of the War of 1996 revealed that this direct mind-to-mind contact with humans leave a residual effect; in which humans share consciousness with the aliens, as shown by some humans (such as Dr. Brackish Okun, Thomas Whitmore and Dikembe Umbutu) having first-hand visions of the Harvesters.
A neural connection with the Harvesters, presumably can be made through physical contact with an alien, or by suffering its own telepathic assaults. Some encounters result in lengthy comas, while others can pass briefly, leaving the host with a permanent connection to the alien hive mind. The hive mind seems to be activated when in close enough proximity to approaching alien entities, or if a telepathic pulse is being dispersed throughout the collective horde. Alien messages and specific dialogue can also be broadcasted and intercepted through this connection. Despite this, humans with a connection to the hive mind cannot communicate back with telepathy because they do not have extra-sensory perception.
Likely due to their physiology, the Harvesters rely on wearing armored biological environment suits that are biomechanical in nature and composition. However, at least some Harvesters on-board select ships, such as the Mothership destroyed in the War of 1996, appear to be free from the need to wear these suits, indicating that there may be a wide variety of reasons for these suits to be worn. This may include combat, exposure to non-native atmospheres and environments, and desire for increased general capability (such as additional dexterity provided by the suit's tentacles). It appears that the Harvester Queens may have provided some inspiration for the design of these suits, as the Queen aboard the Harvester Mothership is seen with tentacles on her body prior to entering her suit, as well as a broader physical appearance that more closely resembles the suit.
The technology of the Harvesters is clearly far more advanced to those of humanity and other alien races. However, both humanity and some of their past enemies have adapted portions of their technology, partially eliminating this advantage. They have mastered the construction and operation of directed energy weapons, deflector shields, massive spacecraft, and even wormholes.
Harvester technology is both mechanical and biological in nature, hence their very organic appearance. In essence, their technology and material have 'grown' rather than manufactured.
The aliens travel across space with the massive and monstrous Harvester Motherships that are around 5,000 km in diameter. These massive ships are controlled by a Harvester Queen, the main individual of the alien species that can order the release of numerous gigantic scout ships, which are still considerably large and measure approximately 400 km in diameter. Each Colony ship has 83 city-sized ships called City destroyers, with a diameter of 25 km. Many Harvester Motherships exist, each commanded by a respective Queen. When one Queen is killed in action, her ship and fleet are called back to the horde of other Harvesters for a new Queen to take over.
Inside these massive ships exist vast ecosystems and even indigenous plant life. Harvester Motherships provide entire ecosystems and use planet cores for fuel. Spanning 3,000 miles in diameter, Harvester Motherships are gigantic mother ships. Their purpose is to latch to a planet, drill deep into the planet's core and extract its contents for means of refueling and as well as advancing technology.
When invading an inhabited planet, the aliens' military tactics consist of large-scale attacks, destroying the major cities around the globe simultaneously using the Destroyers, and following afterward gathering its natural resources and drilling into the planet's core and harvesting its thermal energies to refuel their ships. This would destroy the planet and its magnetic field in the process. This was apparently the same process they would use every time they invade a habitable world.
No Harvester ship was known to be in the vicinity of Earth during the War of 1996. This is confirmed by the fact that a response to the distress call took 20 years. The events of the War of 1996 suggest that while the Harvester ships house and deploy Colony ships, the Motherships may frequently function as independent agents in the invasion of planets as a first line of offense, with the primary goal being to eradicate any and all armed resistance on the planet. Additionally, one or more City destroyers may serve as priming agents in the extraction of resources, such as the one City destroyer that landed in Africa and began drilling an initial, smaller hole to the core in 1996. Afterward, the Harvester Ship would arrive to extract the planet's core along with any other valuable resources, and would utilize the initial hole as a means of speeding up the process.
This process could possibly be due to the overwhelming technological advantage of the aliens, who may usually not need to deploy a larger and more powerful solution to subdue a civilization, and instead deploy units in such a fashion so as to make invasion and resource extraction across large numbers of planets as efficient as possible. After the aliens were repelled in 1996 and the distress call was sent, the arrival of a Harvester Mothership could be seen as an unusual "escalation" of an event that typically does not merit such a response, requiring the Harvester Mothership to perform both the roles of offense and extraction.
ID4 Concept Art
Independence Day: Resurgence
IDR Concept Art
Behind the Scenes
- Independence Day was created by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, who also created Stargate (which is also a movie about aliens). They wanted to create a different sort of alien invasions, since in most movies alien invasions start furtively.
- Director Roland Emmerich tasked production designer Patrick Tatopoulos with designing the Harvesters. Tatopoulos had actually come up with two different designs for the Harvesters, one that was more fearsome looking and large, and another that was smaller and more frail; closer to a traditional alien design. Tatopoulos asked Emmerich to pick which one he liked better. Emmerich liked both so much that he decided to use the first design as their protective bio-suits and the second design for the actual Harvesters themselves. This would provide the audience with a deception and surprise them when the actual appearance of the frail and tiny Harvesters was revealed. It would also show that looks could be deceiving, as the Harvesters are far deadlier than they appear to be.
- The alien vocal effects were voiced by Frank Welker and Gary A. Hecker.
- A small statue of an Independence Day Harvester was seen in the 1998 movie Godzilla (also directed by Roland Emmerich), on the broadcast booth on Madison Square Garden.
- In the first Independence Day film, the Harvesters were portrayed by puppets. In the Resurgence, they were portrayed by computer animation (likely due to the size of the queen being impractical to accomplish with practical effects), although some practical effects were employed, though later digitally touched up.
- Although Harvesters have developed wormhole travel, they seem to lack superluminal communications. Because of this, it can be assumed that either the Harvester homeworld or their nearest controlled system is about 20 light-years from Earth, considering that the distress call took 20 years to reach Harvester space.