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Alien Grunts (taxonomic designation: Xenotherium myrmex,[2] or "Alien Ant Beast") are a species of aliens that form the bulk of the Nihilanth's army.


Alien Grunts stand about seven feet tall and are armed with a biological weapon called the Hivehand, which fires creatures called hornets. At melee range, they will also use the weapon in hand-to-hand combat.

Alien Grunts share several features with their Vortigaunt counterparts, such as multiple red eyes, reverse-jointed legs, hoofed feet, and a short arm extending from their mid-torso, which is used for feeding. They are classified by Earth scientists as being in the same genus as the Vortigaunts, Xenotherium. Earlier concept art of Grunts furthers the connection between the Vortigaunts and Grunts.

Grunts are also equipped with metallic armour around the groin and shoulders, as well as metal helmets and shoes, though it has been speculated by fans that this is actually a natural 'shell' formed as a result of a calcium-rich diet.[3] It should be noted, however, that the armor plating appears to be "strapped" to the grunt's chest via two cables that are weaved into grunt's flesh; this can be seen in concept art and texturing on the retail model. Interestingly, this armor completely protects the Alien Grunt's back but is open in the front leaving the Grunt's entire lower torso exposed. This may be to allow for the third arm, or indicate that vital organs are more vulnerable from behind.

Behavior and Skills[]

Alien Grunts use basic combat tactics, such as running between cover nodes, while standing still to fire their Hivehand weapon at enemies. They have 80% more health compared to HECU Marines (varying somewhat depending on difficulty); combined with their bullet deflecting partial body armor, this gives them high durability. On Hard difficulty, Alien Grunts can take 4 close-range shotgun blasts or up to two dozen rounds of MP5/M4 fire to kill. They also demonstrate immense strength in various scripted sequences seen throughout the game; such as punching a HECU Marine through a concrete wall or quickly prying open a large set of heavy blast doors.

Alien Grunts can be found being transported through a factory on Xen, stored in pod-shaped containers. The implication is that the Alien Grunts are manufactured beings, which is supported by the heavy amount of biological technology and weaponry featured in Xen warfare.


Unlike Vortigaunts, they do not seem to possess myriad energy-based powers; hence the need for the Hivehand weapon. The Hivehand, which shoots hornets (sometimes known as "thornets"), seems to have an infinite amount of ammunition, which is constantly refreshed. The hornets seek out living things and attack them, making the attack useful for attacking from around corners.

Alien Grunts can also use melee attacks when at close enough range. They will primarily use their hands and arms to punch an enemy, dealing more damage than the longer range Hivehand attack.

The Hivehand cannot be obtained off a Grunt's corpse; it must be obtained separately.


  • Alien Grunt hornets can be avoided by hiding behind cover.
  • The Colt Python and Black Mesa Crossbow are effective weapons against Alien Grunts. The Colt can kill them with a few hits, while the Crossbow can kill them with 1-2 hits, depending on the difficulty. The HECU SPAS-12 is also effective, provided that the player is close to the Grunt and is quick enough to avoid its attacks.
  • Alien Grunts are a major problem when encountered with other Xen creatures. Their projectiles are difficult to dodge, and while they deal relatively low damage, they can deal a lot of damage should multiple of them hit the player. Therefore, the Grunt is should be one of the first priority targets when it appears with other enemies.


  • If the player does not accept the G-Man's offer at the end of Half-Life, he will put them (unarmed) into a large room full of Alien Grunts. However, the majority of the grunts will appear in their sprite form, as is evident if you noclip out to see it. And at the end you will see a message saying "SUBJECT: GORDON FREEMAN STATUS: OBSERVATION TERMINATED POSTMORTEM: Subject declined offer of employment."
  • At one point in the game, a group of alien grunts appear to be commandeering, or at least have set up, an alien energy cannon, implying the necessary requirement of external weaponry.
  • In the original Half-Life, Alien Grunts take significantly reduced damage (roughly 50% to 60% of normal) if shot in the armor instead of in their exposed body with a Colt Python or Black Mesa Crossbow. Lower impact rounds, such as pistol/assault rifle bullets, buckshot, and even the primary fire of the tau cannon will outright ricochet off the armor without doing any damage at all. This is not true in Half-Life: Source since the Source engine does not support different damage values/effects for different materials.
  • The Alien Grunt's armor subtracts 20 points of damage from any attack that hits it. Any projectile that deals 20 points of damage or less will simply ricochet off harmlessly.
  • The Alien Grunt does not appear in Half-Life 2 and its episodes.
  • In Half-Life: Source, Grunt can be stunned longer by using Colt Python or a Black Mesa Crossbow.
  • The Grunt does not run from grenades if they're under attack. If thrown while idle they will run.
  • The Alien Grunt seems to show triumph when it kills the player. This ranges from taunting the player to feasting on their corpse.
  • In Half Life: Alyx, on one of the murals it is shown that the Nihilianth and Alien Controllers have been wiped out. Though, Alien Grunts, Gargantuas and Alien Aircrafts (other members of the Xen Military) aren't shown anywhere on the murals, leaving it ambigious as to if they still live in Half Life 2 and it's episodes.

Behind the scenes[]

  • The original Alien Grunt model had a more bluish Armor, slightly different skin textures, and the Hivehand apparently "built-in" to its right hand,[4] although it was probably temporary. This model was kept in the retail Half-Life as a sprite for the Alien Grunts from the back rows in the 'bad' ending.
  • Before the Hivehand, the Alien Grunt was originally to use a weapon dubbed the "Black Hole Gun".
  • Originally Alien Grunts were to be able to be gibbed in Half-Life: Source. The gib textures are higher resolution than the grunt's textures.


Concept art[]





List of appearances[]


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