Syfy Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View

New docu-series explores how Betty and Barney Hill changed UFO culture with their famous story of alien abduction

By Josh Weiss
Betty and Barney Hill

The world of ghosts and demons has Ed and Lorraine Warren. The world of aliens and unidentified flying objects has Betty and Barney Hill. Their names may not be immediately familiar to you, but their alleged encounter with extra-terrestrial beings in September of 1961 was the first documented instance of a purported alien abduction, which profoundly changed the course of ufology and how it was perceived by the public.

The fourth and final episode of Showtime's UFO docu-series, which aired earlier this evening, reveals that the first psychiatrist who examined the Hills initially concluded that their supposed close encounter of the fourth kind "stemmed from the social pressures of being an interracial couple" in a time when such a union was frowned upon in the United States. Six months later, however, that same psychiatrist came to believe that the husband and wife were indeed telling the truth.

"My wife and I were driving along Route 3 when we saw what looked like a bright star in the heavens. And surprisingly, it began coming in my direction," Barney states in Episode 4 via old recordings. "I could see what I thought was approximately 9 to 11 men looking down through this series of windows. Well, this was too much for me and I made a hasty retreat to the car, screaming to the wife that they had seen me, that they had seen us. My god, they're going to capture us!"

At first, the husband and wife duo only recalled being followed by a strange light in the sky as they drove to their home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Later put into hypnotic trances, both said they remembered being led onto a ship by strange beings with bulbous eyes who examined them before wiping their memories blank. The purported encounter eventually drew the attention of J. Allen Hynek (founder of the Center for UFO Studies and former director of the Air Force's Project Blue Book), who consulted on the case.

"The real abductions are totally different from what you see on TV," Betty once remarked during an interview with the Fortean Times. "The UFO people now, I don't say 'aliens' are people, but they're different from us. There are certain fundamental, physical characteristics which are different. And if a person has really seen one, they know it. And the real abductees have never had any need for therapy. And not only that, but every one of them has had changes in their lives. Of benefit to them. It's been a very positive experience."

Last summer, it was announced that Bryce and Jackie Zabel (the writing duo behind Hallmark's Pandemic series from 2007) had been tapped to write Captured, a television drama inspired by the Hills' famous experience. The series (originally planned as a movie) will draw inspiration from Stanton T. Friedman and Kathleen Marden's 2007 biographical publicationCaptured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience: The True Story of the World's First Documented Alien Abduction.

John G. Fuller was the first author to document the story in 1975's The Interrupted Journey.

Betty and Barney Hill

The Hills' experience has already been adapted once into the 1975 television movie titled The UFO Incident, which starred a young James Earl Jones (aka the voice of Darth Vader and Mufasa) as Barney. Sadly, Barney passed away in 1969 at the age of 46. Betty died over three decades later in 2004 at the age of 85. She never wavered in her story and continued to research UFOs until her passing.

As Allison Quang of the Appalachian Mountain Club blog puts it: "Before the Hills' experience, aliens were portrayed as friendly creatures who would commute back and forth between Earth and their home planets. However, after the Hills shared their story, alien abductions became better known for their mystery and intrigue."

Showtime subscribers with access to the network's official app can stream all four episodes of UFO (executive-produced by J.J. Abrams) right now. The premiere is currently free to watch on, and