Hip-shaking, pill-popping rocker Elvis Presley officially died in 1977, but he keeps popping up, at least in science fiction. Think Elvis lives? We list scifi’s explanations for what really became of the King.
He Was Abducted by Aliens
Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams: Arthur Dent, one of the token Earthlings traveling through the stars, discovers a Tennessean singer with the initials “EP” at an alien bar called “The Domain of the King.” Dent and Ford Prefect buy a pink spaceship from the fellow and tip him an obscene amount for singing “Love Me Tender.”
Animaniacs “Space Probed”: One fateful night, the Warner siblings find themselves aboard an alien spacecraft. A quick inspection of the ship proves that they’re not the ship’s first Earthling guests. Elvis has beaten them to the punch, along with Amelia Earhart, Bigfoot, and Jimmy Hoffa.
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman: Death, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, insists he never laid a hand on Mr. Presley, no matter what some pub quiz game says. Chances are that Elvis either is flipping patties at a Burger Lord in Des Moines, or was abducted by aliens who thought him too good for our world.
He Is an Alien
Men in Black: If MIB taught us anything, it’s that anyone you’ve ever suspected of being from another world actually is, from Dennis Rodman to your kooky third grade English teacher. As for the King, he didn’t die, Agent K coolly informs us; he just went home.
“The Bride of Elvis” Kathleen Ann Goonan: Elvis wasn’t just the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll; he was a King, a royal member of an alien race. Fearing his party-hearty ways on Earth would lead to his premature demise, his caretakers, known as “Brides,” place him in a death-like coma until their ship returns to take him away.
He Faked His Death
Bubba Ho-tep: Weary of his fame, Elvis decides to take a breather and find someone else to endure his endless public adoration. He exchanges lives with the world’s most convincing Elvis impersonator, but when the facsimile dies on the can, no one believes that Elvis is the genuine King. He lives out his remaining days in relative peace, at least until the mummies and vampires start showing up.
Death Becomes Her: All individual who partake of Lisle von Rhoman’s immortality elixir must eventually disappear from the public eye. But Elvis can’t resist the occasional tabloid photo op.
Preacher by Garth Ennis: Jesse Custer picks up a number of hitchhikers as he heads towards the Alamo, but perhaps the most memorable is the shadowy Southerner who rhapsodizes on his long-surrendered fame. He never says his name, but reveals his identity as soon as he slides into Custer’s car with a “Thangyu Verrmuch.”
The Chronicle “The King is Undead”: In an episode written by The Middleman’s Javier Grillo-Marxuach, the journalists of tabloid newspaper The Chronicle discover that all Elvis impersonators are, in fact, vampires. And it seems that when the King learned this horrifying truth, he faked his death, adopted the name of his stillborn twin, and became the world’s foremost hunter of the Elvis-themed undead.
The X-Files: In “Shadow,” conspiracy-obsessed Fox Mulder jokes that Elvis Presley was the only man to successfully fake his own death (Andy Kaufman apparently bit it for real). But when the Lone Gunmen investigate an Elvis impersonator only to discover that he isn’t actually Elvis, the trio begins to worry that the King may truly be dead.
He’s Alive and Well, in an Alternate Universe
Armageddon: The Musical by Robert Rankin: A group of aliens become frightfully distressed when their favorite soap opera – the planet Earth – is about to be canceled due to Armageddon. To extend Earth’s airtime, they decide to create an alternate plotline in which Earth’s destruction is delayed. So they send Barry the Time Sprout back in time to persuade Elvis Presley to resist the draft, thus averting US involvement in Vietnam. The time-traveling Elvis ends up creating some alternate histories of his own, including one in which he’s worshipped as God.
He’s Been Copied
Thriller by Robert Loren Fleming: The short DC series features Kane Creole, an Elvis clone turned bank robber. Creole’s none too pleased with the way his creators desecrated the original Elvis’ remains and angrily kills them off.
What If? “What If Thanos Changed Galactus Into a Human Being?”: In this hypothetical tale, Thanos responds to Galactus’ attack on him by transforming the planet eater into a human being. But the remade Galactus isn’t just any human; he’s a perfect copy of Elvis Presley – before the weight gain and the undignified toilet death. Galactus can even sing and dance like the King, and when Galactus is offered the chance to return to space godhood, opts instead to remain on Earth and keep Elvis’ legacy alive.
He’s Really Dead. Honest.
Elvissey by Jack Womack: Elvis may be dead, but that doesn’t stop a cult from emerging in the year 2033 claiming him as semi-divine. In an attempt to maintain their monopoly on the human consciousness, a multinational corporation sends two of its agents to retrieve a young Elvis Presley from an alternate history’s past. But the Elvis they bring back is less “King of Rock” than “sexual predator.”
Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries by Charlaine Harris: Elvis hasn’t made it into True Blood yet, but in the source material, the King was discovered very slightly alive by a vampiric morgue attendant. The misguided vamp decides to make the overdosed Elvis undead, but the resulting creature, answering only to “Bubba,” is somehow brain damaged by the process. The other vampires treat him as a dimwitted errand boy, and try to keep him clear of any household pets.
“You Know They Got a Hell of a Band” by Stephen King: Presley is the mayor of the ironically named town of Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven, a spot in the afterlife where all the great, tragically deceased rock stars of the world gather and subject “normal” residents to interminable concerts for all eternity.
Odd Thomas Series by Dean Koontz: Elvis numbers among the ghosts who befriend the specter-spotting Odd Thomas. Elvis is reluctant to leave the world of the living because he’s not prepared to face his mother’s spirit.
Six-String Samurai: After a Russian nuclear attack destroys an alternate America, Elvis becomes the literal king of a chunk of the American Southwest. After four decades of rule, he dies, and America’s remaining musicians vie to fill his rhinestone-covered shoes.
RoboCop 2: Lest we had any doubt about the King’s demise, RoboCop 2 settles it. The megalomaniacal drug dealer Cain has Elvis’ skeleton, which is sealed inside a glass coffin.
The Twilight Zone “The Once and Future King”: Not only is Elvis unequivocally dead in this Twilight Zone episode, he actually died long before 1977. Gary, an Elvis impersonator, gets sent back to 1954 and meets his idol. But when he tries to prematurely introduce Elvis to rock music and his famous shaking hips, a baffled Elvis becomes enraged and Gary is forced to kill him in self-defense. Gary then takes on Elvis’ identity and spends the next two decades living out every Elvis impersonator’s dream.