Continuity mistake: In the extended edition of the film, Ripley, Gorman, Burke, and Bishop meet up with Hicks at the entranceway. It is raining heavily and Ripley's hair gets soaked. But when she is inside a few minutes later, it looks as if she has had time to dry her hair thoroughly between now and then.
Continuity mistake: When you see the attack aircraft flying towards the planet from the front you can see the pilot Ferro in her dark glasses sitting on the right side of the cockpit, but in all the other close up shots she sits on the left side with Spunkmeyer behind her on the right.
Continuity mistake: When Bishop is doing his knife trick on Hudson, his hair changes significantly from one shot to another, especially on the top and around the ears. In addition, at the end of the scene, Hudson is given a meal that was taken off a heater nearby on the table. That meal was apparently not placed back for some of the closeup shots, as it is missing from the heater. Finally, the time shown on Bishop's wristwatch seems to change radically about half-way through the scene.
Continuity mistake: When Ripley and the marines go to where the colonists are, there is a ladder in front of the vehicle that was driven inside; the ladder would be in the way if the vehicle was driven further in. But when all hell breaks loose and Ripley decides to drive the vehicle further in, to rescue the marines, the ladder is gone - in fact, a lot of things look different the second time round.
Continuity mistake: Just before the marines are extracted, Hicks tries to close the APC door. An alien stops the door and tries to get inside. Hicks picks up his shotgun and jams the muzzle into the alien's mouth and fires, killing the alien. The alien falls away, they immediately close the door and the APC begins to back up. The camera shot changes to an outside view of the APC. If you look at the area as the APC backs up, you'll see falling debris but no dead alien. It's doubtful the marines would've pulled it into the APC as we don't see it again, or that they would've kicked the corpse out really far due to the acid.
Continuity mistake: When the marines first encounter the Alien hive in the reactor, and Ghorman asks Hudson what he's seeing, we're treated to a shot of Vasquez' helmet cam, and her name in the bottom right is missing her first initial. [Timecodes are from the special edition of the movie. The first one is the one for the error, and the second is a different scene with the initial present for comparison.] (01:04:00 - 01:20:00)
Continuity mistake: Towards the end of the film where Ripley and Bishop are in the dropship flying towards the atmosphere processors, Ripley begins to build a composite weapon from a flamethrower and a pulse rifle. She pulls a flamethrower from a rack on the wall, but lays pulse rifle on the deck of the ship, and then pulls a pulse rifle from the rack and lays a flamethrower on top of the pulse rifle. (01:49:05)
Continuity mistake: In the original "Alien", Ripley dons a space suit in the shuttle, in preparation to decompressing the quarters to the hard vacuum of space. The helmet has no light on its top. Subsequently, in "Aliens", the opening shots pan through the shuttle chamber, and Ripley's helmet sits there...with a light on its top.
Continuity mistake: In the scene where the drop ship is about to leave the main ship look at the picture on the side of the ship, just to the left of the pilot's window. There is a symbol of an eagle. Note which way it is facing. Later when the ship is on the planets surface and the marines are leaving it, the eagle is facing the other way.
Continuity mistake: When Newt is caged in the resin, the cloud of steam around the egg completely disappears when Newt is seen from the p.o.v. of the egg.
Continuity mistake: Pulse rifles have 10 mm caseless ammo, but if you watch the scene where Vasquez depletes her rifle and then switches to the pistol, there clearly are shell cases being spat out.
Continuity mistake: Right after Ripley is rescued from the Narcissus, look at her hair in the clinic. At first there is a wide angle shot of the nurse coming over to her with some small talk. Then, when the shot changes to a close up of Ripley and the nurse, her hair has puffed out about 2 inches more. (00:05:40)