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"The event" is believed by some to have been the crash of a craft of undeclared origin in the 1940's. The crash contained passengers which have been described as "not human." Their DNA is different than humans by 1%. Although the "aliens" look much like humans, they age far slower than an average human. For example, Sophia looked exactly the same at the time of the crash as she does now.

However there is strong evidence to suggest the event (after which the series is named) has not yet occurred. In I Haven't Told You Everything Simon tells Sophia that there are those who think the humans should be told about the event so they can at least prepare for it. This suggests Sophia's group is visiting Earth to witness the event for some unknown reason.

According to official NBC publicity material, everyone involved in the show is part of "a global conspiracy that could ultimately change the fate of mankind."

On the NBC website about the show, this text can be found. "The Event is something major that is going to happen, something that has already happened in their past."

Further, in an interview with TV Guide, one of the creators of the show is quoted thusly, "We’ll soon find out that at least one of the most fundamental parts of The Event’s narrative is a big fat lie. Further, Sophia won’t tolerate any leaks, even if people have to die to protect her secrets.”

So what are the fundamental narratives? The following come to mind.
The detainees crash landed in Alaska Nov 2 1944.
The detainees are not of terrestrial origin.
The detainees are long lived because of their genetics.
The CIA has been covering up the existence of the detainees out of national security.

The prisoners are aliens.

After season 1[]

So Arrival has aired, revealing that The Event is why the non-humans left Earth, their "evolution" which would somehow endanger the humans, to the point of their extinction.
Speculation follows:
Since Dempsey's words about the cave painting, I suspected the non-humans to mirror the "angel" and similar myths slash to be the background of these myths in the show's universe - they are genetical "cousins" of Homo Sapiens that evolved to sentience earlier, but are longliving and far ahead in terms of science (the latter may be the reason for the first, though)
Why they look exactly like humans, to the point of having the same or very similar ethnic groups, though they probably branched from the Homo genus before the species looked like it does today, I'm willing to file under suspension of disbelief or maybe parallel/convergent evolution - from a realistic point of view, the writers probably wanted to avoid Star Trek-like facial ridges etc. which would look silly, and also intended to stir our speculations with the non-humans' totally human appearance.
They are benevolent in general or at least do not wish to harm humans, but put their own survival as a race above that of humanity. They left dozens of thousands of years ago, possibly due to the "Great Leap Forward", so that the humans could evolve on their own. Bequeathed stories, especially those about The Event lead to the forming of the Sentinels order.
As to why they went all the way to the Sculptor Galaxy (NGC 253), ~11 million light years away, either means that habitable planets are very, very rare, or that portals are 'easy' to establish to and from their solar system due to some hyperspace connection. Both explain why they are coming back to Earth instead of finding another planet - there is no other option. ~ Nathanyel 17:41, May 25, 2011 (UTC)

Do you think that if there was a season 2 that the planet could be on a crash course to earth by accident?

It seems pretty close to me.

11:29, July 2, 2011 (UTC)Lua