It seems that characters in sci-fi programs have not caught on to this one yet, as they keep being drawn in by the lure of cuddly creatures. Tribbles in Star Trek (and again in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Gremlins, Ewoks in Star Wars, Nibbler in Futurama, and the newest adorable killer critter: Nubbins in Sci Fi Channel’s Sanctuary all have wrought havoc on those investigating new phenomena. Galaxy Quest even paradied this lesson for those who still hadn’t learned it. Nubbins and Gremlins have overdone neotony, with their huge eyes and infant-like features and proportions lulling us into parental roles. We almost have no choice. It’s instinctual to love them, so we understand the failings of the characters to recognize the potential danger of our most huggable friends.
Of course, no fuzzy, cute animal is evil in it’s own right. Instead, it is either incorrectly cared for or just trying to survive. The rules of caring for these creatures are so vague it’s easy to mess them up. When exactly can you feed a Gremlin? Isn’t it always after midnight? Between midnight and what can’t you feed them? Can you feed them at 6 a.m.? No one wanted Gizmo to spawn or potentially turn mean, the rules are just really vague, with no consequences given. Other cuddlies, like Nubbins and Tribbles, are just trying to survive. They don’t want to harm people or equipment, they just do.
The message of sci-fi is clear: Nothing that adorable can really be “evil” in any universe. However, this level of cuteness is dangerous, working on the human and bipedal alien psyches to calm and comfort us, causing us to ignore potential dangers. Be alert when surrounded by adorables. Behold that golden retriever puppy with suspicion. Question its motives. And never, ever feed it after midnight.