Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent, encapsulating the South Pole. It is situated in the Antarctic region of the southern hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. The continent is the primary location of almost every event in The Thing film, comic-book and video-game series and first appears in the 1982 film The Thing.
At 14.0 million km2 (5.4 million sq mi), Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent in area after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice, which averages at least 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mi) in thickness. Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. Antarctica is considered a desert, with annual precipitation of only 200 mm (8 inches) along the coast and far less inland. There are no permanent human residents, but anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent. Only cold-adapted plants and animals survive there, including penguins, seals, nematodes, tardigrades, mites, many types of algae and other microorganisms, and tundra vegetation.
Eons ago, a large spacecraft crash-landed in Antarctica. Its passenger managed to survive the crash, but eventually froze and was buried in the ice alongside its spacecraft. During the winter of 1982, a Norwegian research crew unearthed both and took the frozen creature back with them to their outpost; whereupon it broke out of its icy prison and proceeded to infiltrate the camp with its shapeshifting abilities. Eventually, the outpost was completely destroyed and two survivors attempted to pursue the creature (now imitating an Alaskan Malamute) by helicopter. However, both men were killed before destroying the beast, and it was unwittingly adopted by the crew of the American research station, Outpost 31. The American crew also suffered the same fate, as the creature hid amonst them, eventually leading to the few remaining survivors demolishing the facility in a bid to destroy the organism.