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The Biggest Unanswered Questions In The Predator Movies

In 1987, director John McTiernan, screenwriters John and Jim Thomas, and star Arnold Schwarzenegger introduced us to "Predator," a film that combines elements of sci-fi sagas, slasher movies, and post-Vietnam war epics into a unique action thriller. The extraterrestrial warrior known only as the Predator (Kevin Peter Hall), who comes to Earth to hunt combat soldiers for sport, quickly became an iconic movie monster. More hunters of his race return in an array of sequels, including 1990's "Predator 2," 2010's "Predators," and 2018's "The Predator." There are also two movie crossovers with the "Alien" franchise: 2004's "Alien vs. Predator" and 2007's "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem."

When it comes to horror movie villains, it's often best not to know too much. The six movies that feature the Predators offer scarce details about these space hunters, their culture, or their technology. This is mostly to the benefit of the films, but for those who can't contain their curiosity, "Predator" has spawned a vast universe of comics, novels, and games that fill some of the gaps. This includes giving the alien hunters a name: They are the Yautja. 

Decades of storytelling beyond the films have fleshed out the Yautja significantly, particularly regarding their conflict with their counterparts from the "Alien" franchise. Still, the creative minds behind the "Predator" universe have been wise to leave us with some mystery. These are the biggest lingering questions left by the "Predator" franchise.

What happens to Dutch after the events of Predator?

To date, no character — human or otherwise — has been featured in more than one film in the "Predator" franchise. (Anna Gonsalves, the Guatemalan guerilla captured by Dutch's team in "Predator," gets a silent cameo on a video screen in "Predator 2," but that's all that made the final cut.) The lack of any recurring characters in the "Predator" series is actually one of its strengths, but it does leave one curious as to how each human survivor moves on with their life after encountering the Yautja.

Each "Predator" sequel has taken a swing at getting Arnold Schwarzenegger back for a cameo as Alan "Dutch" Schaefer, but the mega-star has always refused. As a result, Dutch's fate was kept hazy in the expanded universe for decades — until Schwarzenegger finally agreed to reprise the role for the 2020 video game, "Predator: Hunting Grounds." This game includes audio journals accounting for Dutch's actions between 1987 and the game's 2025 setting. 

Over the decades, Dutch has traveled the world, searching for more evidence of the Yautja's presence on Earth. Eventually, he teams up with the Other Worldly Life Forms Program (OWLF), the shady government agency from "Predator 2." Visits from the Predators become more frequent as the Earth gets hotter, leading to repeated battles between Dutch and the Yautja. By 2025, he's been rebuilt using Yautja cybernetics and is still fighting fit, despite his advanced age.

Why do the Predators flay their prey?

Across the "Predator" franchise, the Yautja have demonstrated a common modus operandi that includes a few signature kills. No "Predator" film would be complete, for instance, without someone having their skull and spine ripped out of their bodies in one swift motion. Just as iconic is the image of a man who has been skinned alive, hanging by his ankles from a high branch or rafter. The films make it clear why the Yautja remove skulls and spines — they like to display them as trophies, and occasionally add bones to their masks or armor. However, their motivations for flaying a victim and leaving their bodies behind, skull and all, are a little more murky.

The intention behind hanging their skinned prey is still the subject of debate among fans. The Yaujta do not appear to collect the skins they remove from their victims, so it's clearly the bodies themselves that are important to the ritual. It's likely that these bodies are left as a form of intimidation to throw their next opponents off balance. There's also a theory that only those considered easy prey are flayed, as they are unworthy of having their bones collected as trophies. "Not only did I kill this guy," this action says, according to this theory, "but I even had time to rip his skin off afterwards. If you don't want the same thing to happen to you, you'd better be more entertaining."

Why do Predators only come to Earth on the hottest years?

In "Predator," captured Guatemalan rebel Anna Gonsalves (Elpidia Carrillo) tells the American mercenaries that their stalker matches the description of "the demon who makes trophies of man," a figure from local folklore who appears only during the hottest summers. When the Yautja return to Earth in "Predator 2," it is during a record-breaking heat wave in Los Angeles. "Predator: Hunting Grounds" implies that climate change has made the Earth a more attractive place to hunt. The natural assumption to make is that the heat reflects the Yautja's natural habitat, and that a hot summer is the time at which the Earth is most habitable for both humans and Yautja.

This may be the case, but as the series wears on, the Yautja's preference for hot, damp climates becomes less emphasized. In "Alien vs. Predator," it's revealed that some Yautja visit Earth for a ritual hunt every 100 years — in Antarctica. The three Yautja that participate in the 2004 Antarctic hunt don't seem to mind the cold, though they are wearing a bit more armor than their forebears in "Predator" and "Predator 2." Furthermore, "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem" takes place in Colorado, and while the exact location of the action in "The Predator" is left ambiguous (it was shot in Vancouver), that story is explicitly set near Halloween. This doesn't mean that the Predators don't still prefer the heat, but it does remove its necessity.

What was the rest of the hunting party up to in Predator 2?

In "Predator 2," Lt. Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) discovers that an alien hunter (Kevin Peter Hall) is using a raging drug war as cover for a killing spree of his own. He brutally slays members of both the Columbian Scorpions and the Jamaican Voodoo Posse (would you believe this film was written by two white guys in the late '80s?). At the end of the film, Harrigan chases the Predator, who fans have named the City Hunter, back to his spaceship, where Harrigan manages to get the upper hand and kill him. Upon the City Hunter's death, several more Yautja reveal that they have been watching the conflict from behind their cloaking screens. They take custody of the City Hunter's body and depart from Los Angeles.

Out of this group of 10 Yautja, sometimes called the Lost Hunters, only the City Hunter is actually seen killing anyone out in Los Angeles. It's unclear if the rest of the Yautja aboard the ship are also hunting and simply never get caught, if they have business elsewhere on the planet, or if they remain entirely on the ship, preparing for their own hunts at other stops along their journey. Only one member of the Los Angeles hunting party — their leader, Greyback — ever appears again in the "Predator" expanded universe, and that story does not account for his whereabouts during "Predator 2."

Who was Raphael Adolini?

At the end of "Predator 2," after Lt. Harrigan has killed the City Hunter, the leader of the Yautja hunting party awards Harrigan with a trophy: A flintlock pistol labeled "Raphael Adolini, 1715." In the film, this is evidence that the Yautja have been hunting on Earth for centuries, and a cryptic hint that they'll be back. In their audio commentary for "Predator 2," screenwriters John and Jim Thomas reveal that they considered revisiting the pistol's origin in a sequel.

The 1996 comic "Predator: 1718" by writer Henry Gilroy and artist Igor Kordey actually depicts the original encounter between the Yautja known as Greyback and pirate captain Raphael Adolini. Though a criminal, Adolini is a man of faith who insists on returning a stolen chest of gold to the church from which it was taken. Adolini's crew takes offense to this, and attempts to kill him and reclaim the treasure. To everyone's surprise, Adolini finds an extraterrestrial ally in Greyback, which evens the odds and allows them to defeat the mutineers. Now alone, the two prepare to do battle, but Adolini is shot in the back by a crew member who evaded their blades. This dishonorable tactic disgusts Greyback, who slays Adolini's killer with his shoulder cannon. In thanks for his help in the battle, the dying Adolini offers Greyback his pistol as a tribute. Greyback leaves behind his own sword with Adolini's body out of respect.

What happens to Lt. Mike Harrigan after Predator 2?

"Predator 2" ends with Lt. Mike Harrigan limping out of the Yautja hunting party's spacecraft before it lifts off from Los Angeles. He's survived, but is certain that the Predators will be back. Holding true to the pattern established by the first sequel, future installments in the "Predator" film franchise do not revisit Harrigan, instead focusing on new characters who are still afraid of the Yautja and have to figure out for themselves how they're going to survive the hunt. Harrigan is likewise absent from the comics, novels, and video games, apart from direct adaptations of "Predator 2."

That is, until 2017. Harrigan finally makes his second appearance in the short story "Drug War" by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Holly Roberds, which is part of the "Predator: If It Bleeds" anthology celebrating the franchise's 30th anniversary. "Drug War" finds Harrigan, now retired after 40 years in the LAPD, visiting Rio de Janeiro to consult with local police. History soon repeats itself, as Harrigan discovers that a Predator is in town making sport of warring drug cartels once again. Harrigan teams up with an aspiring actor, a pair of Rio cops, and another "Predator 2" character, former OWLF Agent Garber (originally portrayed by Adam Baldwin), to stop the killing spree. The Predator in Rio, it turns out, is a fugitive from the Yautja. He is arrested by another hunting party and taken offworld ... but not before killing Garber and countless Rio citizens.

What happens to Lex Woods after Alien vs. Predator?

The main protagonist of "Alien vs. Predator" is Lex Woods (Sanaa Lathan), an expert ice climber hired as a guide for the expedition seeking to explore an ancient temple beneath an Antarctic island. As the rest of the humans on the expedition are picked off one by one — victims of either the xenomorphs or the Yautja — Lex survives, and allies herself with the Yautja hunter Scar (Ian Whyte) after the rest of his hunting party is killed. To help her fight the deadly alien creatures, Scar crafts Lex a shield made from a dead xenomorph's head and a spear tipped with its razor-sharp tail.

In the end, Lex is inducted into Scar's clan and offered a Yautja Combistick weapon as a trophy of her victorious hunt. She remains on Earth, and her fate after the Yautja craft departs is unknown. Presumably, she is able to return to her expedition's ice ship and to civilization, but this has never been confirmed. Lex has yet to be directly revisited or referenced in any expanded universe material, but there is one piece of evidence that Lex — or at least, her weapons — was eventually recovered from the Antarctic battle site. In 2018's "The Predator," Dr. Casey Brackett (Oliva Munn) explores Project Stargazer's headquarters and finds a display case containing Lex's spear. This also seems to confirm that "Alien vs. Predator" (at least the first one) is still part of the "Predator" canon.

Is there still an alien queen at the bottom of the ocean?

The action of "Alien vs. Predator" takes place inside an ancient temple in present day Antarctica, the site of a coming-of-age ritual in which adolescent Yautja prove themselves against the universe's ultimate killing machines. The temple contains an enslaved xenomorph queen, kept in hibernation for a century at a time. A few hours before a hunt takes place, she's forced to lay eggs so that the Yautja will have something to test themselves against. 

In 2004's ritual, the queen gets wise and instructs some of her children to break her skin and melt her chains with her acidic blood, setting her free. At the climax of the film, the queen escapes the temple into the abandoned whaling town above, and does battle with Lex Woods and Scar, the last human and Yautja standing, respectively. Lex and Scar confront the queen out on the ice and successfully chain her to a heavy iron vat, which they topple into the freezing water. The queen is dragged down to the bottom of the sea and is presumably no longer a threat. 

However, other films in the "Alien" series have demonstrated that xenomorphs are capable of enduring the freezing, airless vaccum of space. It seems likely that the queen could survive underwater for quite some time — maybe even indefinitely. Nevertheless, the Antarctic queen has never reappeared in the franchise's extended canon.

What does Yutani do with the Predator weapon from AvP: Requiem?

"Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem" picks up right where the first "AvP" leaves off, with a xenomorph chestburster emerging from Scar's dead body. This xenomorph has taken on many of the traits of its Yautja host to become the even deadlier Predalien. When the Predalien crash-lands a spacecraft loaded with xenomorph eggs in Gunnison, Colorado, another Predator, Wolf (Ian Whyte, again) is dispatched to clean up the mess. Wolf does battle with the Predalien and a hoard of classic human-born xenomorphs, but this battle is moot — the story ends with the US government dropping a nuke on the village, destroying all evidence of the conflict.

Well, almost all evidence. In the film's final scene, US Army Colonel Stevens presents a Ms. Yutani with a plasma pistol fashioned by Wolf during his hunt. Yutani, presumably the head of the Yutani Corporation, seems to have plans for the pistol that are "not for this world." The implication is that Yutani plans to reverse-engineer the technology of the pistol to advance her company's interests in space, leading to the Weyland-Yutani Corporation's dominance of space freight and xenomorph experimentation in the "Alien" series. However, we're not privy to the details, as no sequel to "Requiem" exists. Not only that, but the release of "Prometheus" in 2012 plainly detached the "Alien" franchise from the continuity of "AvP," leaving the future of the Yutani Corporation in this timeline uncertain.

What happens to Isabelle and Royce after Predators?

2010's "Predators" takes the action off Earth entirely and follows a group of humans who are each abducted and transported to a planet that is a massive game preserve. Each of the human captives is a predator in their own right — a soldier, a convict, a gangster, and so forth — but most of them are no match for their pursuers, who are bigger and badder than any Yautja seen previously. They're picked off one by one until the only survivors are American mercenary Royce (Adrien Brody) and IDF sniper Isabelle (Alice Braga). "Predators" ends with Isabelle and Royce victorious over their hunters, but still stranded on the planet, where another hunting season is about to begin.

Unlike most protagonists in the "Predator" franchise, Isabelle and Royce received a follow-up story immediately in the form of an official sequel comic: 2010's "Predators: Preserve the Game," from writer David Lapham and artist Allan Jefferson. The one-shot comic picks up two months after the film, as Royce and Isabelle continue to pick off Predators and salvage their gear. The Yautja determine Royce is a worthy opponent and gift him his own set of Predator armor to wear in one-on-one battle against a four-armed super-Yautja. But Royce learns to depend on someone else for a change and sets himself up as bait so that Isabelle can get the kill. They remain trapped on the planet, waiting for an opportunity to hijack a starship.

Why did the Fugitive Predator bring the Predator-Killer to Earth?

In "The Predator," another Yautja comes to Earth. But this time, he's not here to hunt — he's on the run from the larger, genetically-enhanced Upgrade Predator. The Fugitive crash-lands in Mexico, but not before ejecting a pod containing some precious cargo. By the end of the film, both Predators are dead. With the help of young linguistic genius Rory McKenna (Jacob Tremblay), US military scientists are able to determine that the rebel Predator came to Earth to deliver the humans a weapon: A powered suit of armor called the Predator-Killer. Rory's father, Army Ranger Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), plans to wear it in battle next time the Yautja come calling.

But why did the Fugitive Predator decide to give this weapon to humanity in the first place? Does it have anything to do with the human DNA found in his blood? If he's here to help us, he's got a funny way of showing it, as he kills nearly every person he sees during his time on our planet. His apparently benevolent intentions are only revealed in the final scene of the film, a teaser for a sequel that has never happened.

This last-minute twist may be the result of the film's reshoots, which reportedly changed a great deal of the film's overall plot. In fact, in one of the three filmed endings, the Fugitive's cargo pod contains Ellen Ripley, heroine of the "Alien" films.