A Thin Man is an alien in XCOM: Enemy Unknown.


Thin Men are unnervingly human-looking aliens who apparently serve as infiltrators for the invaders. They have short black hair and wear blue suits. While they might initially pass as human, their elongated bodies and unnatural flexibility betray their true nature. Closer inspection also reveals several patches of mottled green skin around their wrists and neck, and reptilian eyes hidden behind black sunglasses. They are very agile, capable of covering great distances in a single turn. Able to flank opponents and use cover, Thin Men also have the unique ability to unhinge their jaws and spit poison; this is the same poison expelled from their bodies when fatally wounded.

Thin Men are known for their high accuracy when firing their Light Plasma Rifle; on Classic or Impossible difficulty, it may appear as if the Thin Men never miss a shot. In the early phase of the game players should exercise caution and avoid situations where they are exchanging fire with Thin Men in good cover.


Thin Men are a staple of Council missions throughout the entire campaign. They can appear in other mission types in lieu of Sectoids beginning in the second month (April), regardless of the game's "Marathon" Second Wave option. Their chance of being deployed in non-Council missions declines over June and July (Marathon: from August to October), to a very low late-game rate on par with Floaters and Seekers. They are not encountered during terror missions.


Ability Description
Leap  Leap Allows vertical leaps onto elevated surfaces during movement.
Poison Spit  Poison Spit Spits a cloud of poison at long range, causing a noxious cloud to remain briefly on the battlefield.
Suppression  Suppression Can fire a special shot that grants reaction fire at a single target. The target also suffers a -30 Aim penalty.




  • Avoid being within one square of a Thin Man upon death, as it will release a toxic cloud that will instantly poison any non-MEC Trooper soldier without Titan Armor or a Medikit. Additionally, that toxic cloud will persist for one turn after the Thin Man's death, so any unprotected soldier that passes through the contaminated area will also be poisoned. This cloud will also poison all other non-robotic enemy units that pass through it except Chryssalids and other Thin Men.
  • Thin Men will usually use their Poison Spit attack against entrenched soldiers that they cannot effectively shoot at with their guns (Operatives hunkering down while in full cover, for instance), or who are bunched-up; such triggers are similar to those of Alien Grenade-equipped hostiles who show up later on. Either split up XCOM's troops so they will be less likely to spit at the soldiers or prioritize them when they show up. Alternatively, hide the troops by keeping them at least one tile away from corners, doors or windows, as Thin Men will only use their Poison Spit attack against foes within their LoS, despite its AoE attribute.
  • Thin Men are easy to stun and capture due to their low health. However, their Light Plasma Rifle allows them to deal high damage to any trooper who gets into stun range and fails to successfully stun them.
  • Low health and low Will values make Thin Men highly vulnerable to Mindfray.


  • At 1400 points, Thin Men are a cheap combat unit. They have low health and will (as with most aliens), but have excellent accuracy, mobility, a good weapon (the Light Plasma Rifle), and useful abilities, making them a useful alternative to units such as Floaters and XCOM rookies.
  • Thin Men may Leap onto rooftops; abusing their accuracy and a height bonus is one of the best tactics to use. On certain maps, if Thin Men get onto the roofs, victory is practically certain due to their insane accuracy.
  • Poison Spit is a useful weapon. Against Sectoids, it is a slow, 3 turn guaranteed kill. Against practically anything else, it is a stat-lowering, damage-inducing ability with a very small AoE. If one does not have a good shot on an enemy, they can launch Poison Spits to inconvenience them as a sort of alternative to grenades.
  • Thin Men lack any particular defense, and can be usually easily killed. If a burst from an Assault Rifle rolls its maximum damage, they can even be insta-killed by it.
  • Thin Men can suppress targets, as with most aliens. This is an often underused ability that can be exploited to pin enemies down.


  • The Thin Man is a play of the "Men In Black", a common appearing item in conspiracy theories primarily in alien activity.[1] They are also an allusion to the Snakeman from the original UFO: Enemy Unknown. Their reptilian qualities and mention of substantial genetic modification to produce a human-like creature suggest that Snakemen were the base creature from which Thin Men were created. By extension, they are related to various "Reptilians" conspiracy theories. Another possibility is that they are a reference to the Thin Man in Fritz Lang's film "Metropolis".
    • The Viper from XCOM 2 is mentioned by Firaxis developers Garth DeAngelis and Jake Solomon as being the original form of the Thin Men.
    • In XCOM 2 it is mentioned that the Viper indeed is the true form of the Thin Men that now, as they are not infused with human DNA anymore, have turned to their true, fully reptilian form again. According to Central "the aliens don´t need an infiltration unit anymore".
  • Upon closer inspection, all Thin Men have a visible trace of grey skin running the span of their hairline. This implies that a Thin Man's "hair" is not a natural extension of his body, but rather a mutation and/or graft similar to a real-world toupe. Both theories are equally likely to be true, as this type of extraterrestrial was specifically designed to pass as humans, combining both the effects of genetic manipulation and human apparel to create a convincing disguise.

    Note the hair and face

    The Thin Man's facial features are based off those of Sid Meier, the creator of the Civilization series and Director of Creative Development for Firaxis Games.
  • Thin Men appear to have remarkable strength: whereas XCOM soldiers (and even Mutons) appear to heft their Light Plasma Rifles as two-handed weapons, Thin Men hold and fire it extremely efficiently with one hand as if it were no heavier than a pistol.
  • Groups of Thin Men can sometimes be spotted using a older-pattern syringe (multi-use with large metallic holds) at Alien Abduction sites. In XCOM 2, the Commander has a hallucination of a Thin Man using this same type of syringe on him after he is woken up by Dr. Tygan.
  • Strangely the Thin Men never try to ambush or trick XCOM's soldiers despite their humanoid appearance - especially in Terror Site missions where unchecked human civilians run around almost randomly.
  • In XCOM: Enemy Within, a soldier dying from Thin Man poison may be memorialized as dying from "Unknown Trauma" in the Memorial, as poison is not classified as a weapon.
  • In XCOM 2, "the Speaker", who delivers speeches for ADVENT, appears to be a Thin Man, as signified by the splotches located on his neck, and his black sunglasses, although he appears more human. This is likely a product of genetic engineering that the other aliens have already experienced.



  1. Alien Breeds: The Evolution Of XCOM's Enemies. Reeves, B. gameinformer.com. January 18, 2012.