What with wars, destroying the environment, and general imbecility, humanity is constantly getting itself into trouble. More than a few kindly aliens have come to Earth trying to help us change our ways, and for the most part, we've tried to kill them. Here are a dozen aliens that, directly or indirectly, tried to save us from danger... which was most often ourselves.
1) Klaatu, The Day the Earth Stood Still
Perhaps the most iconic of all space messiahs, Klaatu was an alien who came down to Earth in the 1951 movie The Day the Earth Stood Still. He came with a message of peace, a warning, and a gift for the president. A nervous soldier shot him, which led to him being held under guard by the military, which led to him escaping and living secretly among Earthlings for a bit, which leads to him getting shot by the military. The giant robot Gort resurrects Klaatu — space messiahs love their resurrection, as you'll see — in order to give humanity this message: If you spread your violence into space, you will be destroyed. And thus Klaatu sacrificed himself In order to at least give us a chance to save ourselves.
2) Valentine Michael Smith, Stranger in a Strange Land
Valentine Michael Smith isn't an alien, but he was raised by them. The first human child born on Mars, he was also the sole survivor, and taken in by the native Martians, who taught him their own psychic powers. A new mission eventually comes to Mars and brings Smith back to Earth, where he's bewildered by pretty much everything about humanity, including religion. After dabbling in several, including the all-sin-all-the-time Fosterite Church, he eventually founds the Church of All Worlds, which is kind of like an esoteric Buddhism with more emphasis on fucking, and he's eventually killed for this blasphemy by the Fosterites. Oh, and then he speaks from the afterlife a bit, thus basically co-opting the Fosterite church into his own.
3) Kaworu Nagisa, Evangelion
Although he looks like a 14-year-old human boy and appears to be a regular EVA Unit pilot, he's actually an Angel, one of the mysterious beings — from space — that keep getting sent to down to seemingly destroy humanity. Kaworu does befriend the mopey main character and fellow Evangelion pilot Shinji, however, which kind of backfires when Kaworu reveals that he's an Angel, tries to find the body of Adam (as in Adam and Eve — seriously, just roll with it), and Shinji catches him and is forced to pulp him using the Evangelion's giant robot hands. However, Kaworu let himself be caught by Shinji, and by letting himself be destroyed, did effectively save the world from the threat he posed. Of course, the world still ended a few days later, but it's the thought that counts.
Now, when you think of Space Messiahs, Superman probably doesn't make the list. He's a superhero, sure, but does punching bad guys really make one Jesus? Well, consider the evidence. He certainly comes from space, and he certainly spends most of his time saving humanity and the planet, over and over again. He even sacrificed himself to save the world from Doomsday, dying in the process (and coming back with a mullet, but enough about that). And, while he hasn't inspired any religion in the current-day DC universe, all peeks into the DCU's future reveals that Superman's heroics have not just inspired future superheroes, but perhaps all of humanities. He may not have a regular church service with worship, but Superman's example is one almost every DC superhero of the future tries to emulate.
5) The Blood Beast, Night of the Blood Beast
Okay, you might be wondering how a creature called the Blood Beast makes it on a list of space messiahs. Well, the Blood Beast comes to Earth hitching a ride on a rocketship, and offers his people's help in advancing Earth's technology, science, and all that good stuff, and warning them of the danger of nuclear weapons, with which his own people annihilated themselves. Unfortunately, to get to this point, the Blood Beasts impregnated the male pilot of the rocketship with Blood Beasts babies and beheaded a scientist in order to learn English, so the humans he's trying to convince decide better safe than sorry, and pelt it with Molotov cocktails.
6) The Doctor, Doctor Who
He comes from space, he saved a bajillion times, and he sacrifices himself constantly — sometimes for the world, sometimes for the universe sometimes just for pals — but has a built in safety mechanism to regenerate, so he can keep sacrificing himself repeatedly. But the Doctor never got more Space Messiah-y than at the end of nu-Doctor Who's third season, when the Master turned him into Dobby the House Elf, and Martha Jones has to spend a year in the Master's dystopia telling everyone on the planet to think really hard about the Doctor on a certain day at a certain time, which somehow gives the Doctor all his powers and good looks back. No one on Earth remembers this cult of the Doctor, except the poor viewers who are still shocked at how ridiculous it was (even for a show about a madman with a flying, time-traveling box).
7) Winston Niles Rumfoord, The Sirens of Titan
Unlike most of the entries on this list, Winston Niles Rumfoord is a human, a rich man that that decided to explore space on his own, but ended up caught in a "chrono-synclastic infundibulum"on the way to Mars; this essentially unstuck him in time, allowing him to appear on Earth, Mars, Saturn's moon Titan, and even Betelguese, while seeing the past, present and future simultaneously. Along with an alien Tralfamadorian who crash-landed on Titan eons ago, Rumfoord devises an elaborate plan to save humanity which includes his own wife, a rich bastard named Malachai Constant, a Martian invasion he instigated that was intended to be annihilated from the start, and a new religion called the "Church of God the Utterly Indifferent." Unfortunately, all this was merely a plot by the Tralfamadorian who was manipulating events to get a single piece to repair his spaceship, but Rumfoord's intentions were good.
8) Goku, Dragonball Z
Just like Superman, Goku came to Earth as a baby, grew up thinking he was a human, discovered he had incredible powers, and used them to protect his new home planet time and time again. He also sacrificed himself, dying at least a couple of times, in order to save the planet from the various super-powered bad guys looking to destroy it. Sure, he concentrated on saving humanity physically and not spiritually —he is, to be sure, kind of a moron — but we'll give him an E for Space Messiah Effort.
9) Leeloo, The Fifth Element
Technically, when Leeloo came to Earth in Luc Besson's 1997 film, she was just the Fifth Element, who crash-landed her on an alien ship. Scientists turned this element into the underdressed woman named Leeloo, who escaped into New New York, met cabbie Bruce Willias, and ran around the galaxy trying to find the other four elements in order to keep the Earth from being swallowed by the Great Evil. Eventually they find 'em, come back to Earth and assemble 'em, although she kind of stalls until Bruce Willis kisses her. Really, her messiah-ness stems from the vaguely spiritual mumbo-jumbo accompanying the five elements, which is somewhat diminished by the fact that she celebrates saving the world by fucking Bruce Willis in a temple. Hey, I didn't say they were all good space messiahs.
10) Thomas Jerome Newton, The Man Who Fell to Earth
Thomas Jerome Netwon is a unique case among space messiahs; he actually came to Earth to save his native Mars, by amassing enough wealth to finance a spaceship to take badly needed water to his family, who may be the sole Martians surviving. But the Martian technology he "created" as Netwon to make money certainly benefitted humanity, even if it wasn't his primary goal. Alas, Newton succumbs to human vices such as booze and sex, and is eventually captured by the government just before he can complete his mission, where he basically gives up everything. Thomas Jerome Netown comes to Earth to be a savior, but instead Earth makes him sacrifice everything about himself, leaving him with one thing — humanity. And as it turns out, it's a pretty shitty gift.
11) Jesus, Prometheus
If Jesus came from outer space, then by definition he would be a Space messiah, correct? That's what a major storyline in the early drafts of the Alien quasi-prequel Prometheus was going to be about, and the final version of the movie still doesn't make much sense without it. We know an Engineer created life on Earth by drinking the black goop. And we know the black goop can either create good life — like when the Engineer drinks it at the beginning — or super-deadly life, when it's ingested by those who are angry or evil or whatever. Now, the movie says something 2,000 years ago got the Engineers so upset that the black goo reacted to their negative emotion, turned into Xenomorphs, and killed them. The theory is that the Engineers saw their creation, humanity, was running wild and killing each other, and they sent a babysitter to calm everybody down. And then humanity killed the babysitter, which is another reason why the Engineer is so grumpy with humans once the Prometheus crew wake him up. Now, this may all just sound like a coincidence, until you read interviews with Ridley Scott who says, without any ambiguity, "Yeah. The reason the Engineers don't like us any more is that they made us a Space Jesus, and we broke him." So… yeah.
12) E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial
The parallels between E.T. and Jesus cannot be denied. Sure, E.T. came from space and Jesus was born of a virgin in a manger, but after that, they both were clearly loving and gentle-hearted, they both performed a lot of miracles, they both died and came back, and they both loved the shit out of Reese's Pieces. Hell, E.T. even swiped God's pointing move from Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam painting. While Jesus started a worldwide religion based on his radical interpretation of Judaism designed to bring us closer to God, E.T. perhaps gave us the greatest gift of all — he took his horrible little anthropomorphic nutsack body and got the hell off our planet.