It’s that time again! A time when I dive into the world of the greatest anthropomorphized creatures in the science fiction and fantasy genres. This time: Fish-People. It seems only natural that science fiction would deal with the notion of a fish with legs. After all, from a basic evolutionary perspective, every one of us is a fish with legs. We’re all fish-people! So as a tribute to our own humanity (and fishiness) I’ve netted the 7 best Fish-People from land, sea, and outer space.
Xindi Aquatics (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Say what you will about the Xindi plotline on Enterprise, the fact that one race of aliens had numerous sects and those sects were easy to identify because they all looked like different animals was actually sort of cool. It had a kind of comic book inspired feel to it insofar as it was totally ridiculous. All the spaceships piloted by the Xindi Aquatics seemed to be filled with water. Did they fill these ships up with water before they blasted off? Did they get the Insect Xindi to do it for them? Captain Archer never tells us.
Saturnynians (Doctor Who)
Though initially perceived to be vampires, the Doctor quickly realizes that what he’s dealing with is far worse than blood-sucking undead creatures that can turn into bats. What could possibly be worse than Vampires? Fish from space! Though pretty much evil, while in the Vampire/Human form these fish-people had a sort of sexy and dangerous vibe. Could there be a market for Twilight-style fish-people books? In any case, of all the underwater stories from the world of the Doctor, this episode was undeniably one of the best paced and fun adventures from the current series.
Antedeans (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
These aliens were en route to a planet called Pacifica which lets you know for a fact that they are totally into being underwater. They also turned out to be terrible people who planned to blow up a diplomatic conference because their outfitis were lined with explosives. What kind of screening process does Starfleet even have when you can walk onto the fleet’s flagship with explosives in your clothes? Anyway, with a few exceptions, nobody gets fishier looking than these guys. (Except maybe Troi in that one episode.) Not to mention one of them was played by Mick Fleetwood!
Anthony Piccolo (SeaQuest DSV)
At this point, I have yet to meet another living soul (other than my immediate family) who actually remembers really, really loving SeaQuest. For a hot second in the 1990s era of Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5, this show was giving us CGI submarines, teen heartthrobs, a talking dolphin, AND this guy. He had gills and could breathe underwater. In my house we simply called him “gill-man.” I mean if you’re going to have a show about a future submarine, you better have a guy who can breathe underwater. In fact, everyone on SeaQuest should have probably been outfitted with mandatory gills. Now that would have been a show.
Aquaman (DC Comics)
Let’s face it guys. Arthur, king of Atlantis here is basically a poor-man’s Anthony Piccolo from SeaQuest. He even gets killed by some silly aliens called Imperix in the “Our Worlds at War” series. Whatever. I guess you’re a fish person.
Ariel (Disney’s The Little Mermaid)
Okay okay. Maybe a mermaid isn’t what one first thinks of when we talk about fish-people, but to leave Ariel out of the discussion of fish-people seems like an oversight. While an argument can be made that mermaids are indeed and in fact fish-people, the real reason Ariel in specific has to be on the list is because of her huge cultural impact. Everyone knows all those songs, and if you claim you don’t, you’re probably lying. Not to mention, she’s inspired one of the better Internet-meme trends: Hipster Ariel!
Admiral Ackbar (Return of the Jedi)
If you’ve got a character who is a fish-person, the number one attribute beyond having scales and fins, should be a gargly, underwater-sounding voice. If we can’t hear water bubbling in the throat a fish-person, then they aren’t really hitting their full potential. Beyond his amazing leadership qualities, the fact that he was an escaped former slave of Grand Moff Tarkin, and his wonderful fashion sense, Admiral Ackbar is the best fish-person because of his fish-voice. I’m not even going to tell you his best line. You all know it. Like a rock concert, I’ll let you sing the chorus at this point.
Ryan Britt’s writing has appeared here, with Clarkesworld Magazine, Opium Magazine, Nerve.com and elsewhere. He was raised in a tropical fish store. Really.