Characters: Independence Day
Character sheet for Independence Day.
President Thomas Whitmore
Played by: Bill PullmanPresident of the United States and former Gulf War hero. He is initially unpopular due to his perceived softness, but takes charge when the alien threat becomes clear.
- Ace Pilot
- Authority Equals Asskicking/Badass In Charge: Justified, as Whitmore was apparently a fighter pilot in the Gulf War, and is still relatively young at the time of the invasion.
- Double Subversion: Before the invasion, his presidency is plagued by complaints about how meek a leader he is.
- Badass in a Nice Suit
- Bash Brothers: With General Grey.
- Big Good
- Butt Monkey / Funny Background Event: Before the alien war, Whitmore took a lot of crap from others who either hated his policies or felt that he was too young to run a country. Much of what happens on the news prior to the attack is pretty much everyone badmouthing him.
- Chekhov's Skill: See above: Whitmore's tour of duty as a fighter pilot in the Gulf War.
- Do Not Go Gentle: Referenced in his famous speech.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: OK, show of hands, who actually remembered that the character's name was not "Mr. President" without having to look it up?
- A Father to His Men: Becomes indisputably true during his brilliant Churchillian speech right before the final battle.
- Humans Are Warriors
- Intergenerational Friendship: With General Grey.
- Last Stand: Right before the final battle, President Whitmore gives one of the most memorable speeches in movie history, a speech that seems to be deliberately designed to be similar to Churchill's refusal to surrender.
- No Presidents Were Harmed: Seems to be a combination of John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton.
- President Action
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Upon seeing David again for the first time in years, when David punched him in the head, he immediately says he doesn't have time for this. However, he then decides to give him a minute and after hearing about the countdown, Whitmore immediately orders General Grey to begin evacuating the cities.
Captain Steven Hiller, USMC
Played by: Will SmithU.S. Air Force fighter pilot with aspirations to become an astronaut. Is called to duty when the invaders first appear.
- Ace Pilot
- Action Hero
- Badass: He's the only one who survives the Black Knights massacre and even manages to capture an alien, making his attacker crash in the desert and then knocking him out with a single punch without showing any sign of fear.
- Bond One-Liner: "Welcome to Earth!"
- "Now that's what I call a close encounter."
- "Just anxious to get up there and whoop E.T.'s ass, that's all, sir."
- (Before firing the nuclear payload at an alien in the mothership.) "Nothing but love for ya! Nothing but love!"
- The Fighting Narcissist:Jasmine: You are not as charming as you think you are, sir.Steve: Yes I am.
- Hot-Blooded: While being usually calm and collected he occasionaly lashes out some angry tirade.
- Humans Are Warriors
- Improbable Piloting Skills
- Large Ham: Just in the famous desert sequence. Smith sure had a lot of fun in there.
- Military Maverick
- Semper Fi: A Marine F-18 pilot
- Tranquil Fury: The entire desert scene. Rather than be mad or horrified like everyone else would be, he takes it as a hiccup to his vacation. When Hiller (And to an extent Smith) smelled the brine shrimp in the air, he finally snaps and kicks the alien he's dragging with him, before calming down and walking.
Played by: Jeff GoldblumAn MIT graduate-turned-cable company employee who stumbles upon an alien transmission signalling their imminent attack. Also happens to be the ex-husband of Constance Spano.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: He and Constance snark on a daily basis, but the reason he went to the white house to warn the president was so that she didn't die in the eventual invasion.
- He still wears his wedding ring, Constance looks like she's about ready to cry when she finall notices.
- Big Applesauce
- Brilliant but Lazy: He had the talent and knowledge base to becomes a wealthier engineer, but he was perfectly happy where he was.
- Character Development: He started out as a Brilliant but Lazy cable guy, who hated smoking and berated everyone for minor acts of pollution such as littering. After the invasion he starts smoking cigars, making messes and saving the world using a computer virus.
- Ivy League for Everyone: Spent eight years at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), which is the equivalent in status for math & science.
- Jewish and Nerdy: His nerdiness ends up serving him well by allowing him to save the world.
- Nice Jewish Boy
- Rank Up: Official material released for the sequel indicates that twenty years later, David is in charge of all the Earth's defenses.
- Smart People Play Chess
- Working with the Ex
Played by: Margaret Colin
- Audience Surrogate
- Brainy Brunette: You don't get as far as Presidential aide without being smart, but she's also the only one who realizes that all the people outside the Area 51 bunker would be screwed when the aliens arrive.
- Family Versus Career: She went for a career with President Whitmore "wanting to make a difference".
- Girl Friday: to the President.
- Mistaken for Cheating: The reason David punched President Whitmore in the head (before he was President) was because he thought Constance was having an affair with him. She insists she wasn't, and it's implied she's telling the truth.
- Punny Name: The White House Press Secretary with a name seemingly inspired by C-SPAN.
- Working with the Ex
General William Grey, USMC
Played by: Robert Loggia
- Badass Grandpa
- Consummate Professional: The only official who manages to keep a cool head.
- Cool Old Guy
- Everybody Calls Him Barkeep: Much like how President Whitmore is known only as "Mr. President", Grey is referred to by most characters in the film simply as "General."
- A Father to His Men Not just his men, he felt it was his own duty to report to Hiller that his hometown was destroyed when these two never met in person prior.
- Four-Star Badass: Hell yeah.
- Intergenerational Friendship: With President Whitmore, or as Gen. Grey refers to him, Tom.
- Number Two: To President Whitmore. At the beginning of the movie, he requests to stay at the White House alongside the President (it turns out to be lucky. The rest of the JCS were apparently killed by the aliens after they evacuated to NORAD). Throughout the movie, Grey is unfailingly loyal to Whitmore and might be either the new Secretary of Defense or even the new Vice President at the end, given the fact that the former VP is dead and the former Secretary of Defense was unceremoniously fired.
- Officer and a Gentleman: In the sense that he keeps a Stiff Upper Lip through the whole crisis
- Old Soldier
- Reasonable Authority Figure
- Semper Fi: A Marine General as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Played by: Judd Hirsch
- Badass Grandpa
- Beware the Silly Ones: When he's not being a Papa Wolf he's a bit of a Cloud Cuckoolander, talking about looters and Area 51. However when shit hits the fan he's the first to pull a shotgun out....accidentally at his son, but the thought counts.
- Big Applesauce
- Cool Old Guy: Gets some of the best lines of the movie, isn't afraid to shout down the freaking President and his staff when he feels that they're being disrespectful and ungrateful to his son, and in general seemed like a character who it'd be pretty fun to be around.
- Papa Wolf: Memorably, he shouts down the country's leaders when they disrespect his son aboard Air Force One.Julius: You'd all be dead now if it wasn't for my David!
- Plucky Comic Relief
- Yiddish as a Second Language
Played by: Vivica A. Fox
- Character Development: It has been confirmed that Jasmine has risen from being a stripper to a hospital administrator in the twenty years between films.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Well, technically an exotic dancer, but this is probably the closest trope that fits to her portrayal.
- Mama Bear: When things start blowing up she goes from Stripper to Sprinter getting her son the hell out of there.
- Single Mom Stripper: Unlike most examples of this trope, she dances by choice and enjoys the work and the money that comes with it
Dr. Brackish Okun
Played by: Brent SpinerAn eccentric scientist who conducts research on the aliens at Area 51.
- Admiring the Abomination: Shows a very enthusiastic interest in the aliens and their technology, even after the damage they caused.
- Convenient Coma: Dean Devlin has implied that Okun was put into a coma instead of killed during his run-in with the alien, hence his surprise return in Resurgence.
Major Mitchell, USAF
Played by: Adam Baldwin
- Majorly Awesome
- Double Tap: Performs this on a wounded alien after he and several Secret Service agents gunned it down.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: In spite of being in charge of a highly secret military base, he unlike most fictional characters in such a position is portrayed as a professional soldier whose response to an imminent alien attack is to allow all the unauthorized civilians to take shelter in the underground laboratories and personally take charge in the evacuation efforts.
- Tranquil Fury: His reaction when he sees the captive alien telepathically attack the President.General Grey: "Is that glass bulletproof?"Major Mitchell: "No sir."
Secretary of Defense Albert Nimzicki
Played by: James Rebhorn
- The Cassandra: Nimzicki, probably because he has foreknowledge of what was in Area 51, is the only person on Whitmore's staff who advocates an attack on the aliens when they initially appear. His advice is characteristically stupid, but his impression of the immediate threat the invaders pose is the only thing he gets right.
- The Neidermeyer
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Does nothing but provide bad advice to the President, and withholds crucial information (regarding the Roswell crash and Area 51) that could have been more useful had it been divulged earlier.
- The Scrappy: Both to viewers, and in-universe, to the point where a furious and exasperated President Whitmore finally fires him.
- Skewed Priorities / The Sociopath: It's outright stated in the book that he cares more about his political career and legacy than saving the human race from extermination.
- Ungrateful Bastard: He's the only one that still acts like an asshole even after many times he's been proven wrong. And maybe even after the aliens were defeated.
Played by: Randy Quaid
- Ace Pilot: While he doesn't seem one initially due to his alcoholism, he's noted to be a Vietnam combat veteran and despite not having flown a fighter in decades has no trouble keeping up with younger pilots and careful with not wasting missiles.
- The Alcoholic: Ever since his abduction.
- Big Damn Heroes: "Sorry I'm late, Mr. President!"
- Bumbling Dad
- Cassandra Truth: He was the first person to warn them that the aliens are gonna kill them all.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: And he rubs it in.
- Dad the Veteran: A veteran of The Vietnam War.
- Heroic Sacrifice: And a truly badass one at that.
- Papa Wolf: In the special edition there's a scene where he rushes a group of armed guards and slams a high-ranking doctor against the wall to get him to attend to his dying son.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Hello, boys! I'M BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!!"
- Aliens Are Bastards: Played entirely straight.
- Alien Invasion: One of the most visually impressive ones ever put on film.
- Big Bad: The alien commander.
- Combat Tentacles: They have these in their bio-mechanical suits.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: They target major cities and important military facilities such as NORAD first, and employ force fields that can repel nuclear explosions.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: One of their long-lost attacker crafts brings down their shields and nukes them from within.
- Horde of Alien Locusts: The president even describes them as such.
- Humanoid Aliens: Somewhat.
- Idiot Ball: You'd think that aliens would be immediately suspicious that one of their aforementioned long-lost craft (which we see from closeups has gone through visible man-made modifications) suddenly showed up at the mothership.
- Lack of Empathy: They never show signs of compassion or even remorse towards the thousand (or more) victims they cause. When Whitmore tries to find a peaceful solution with one of'em the alien simply answers that there will be "no peace" and the only thing humans can do is "die."
- Laser-Guided Karma
- Oh Crap!: If their faces were capable of displaying emotion, this would likely be their reaction to seeing the timer on a nuclear missile count down to zero right before their eyes. Though that one alien who's right next to the bomb might also admire the humans' cleverness.
- Organic Technology: It's stated in the novel that their ships are not forged, but grown.
- Planet Looters: They are a race of galactic nomads that travel from planet to planet consuming its resources and wiping out any native inhabitants that stand in their way, and now have designs on Earth.
- Puppeteer Parasite: Can use human bodies to communicate audibly by wrapping the tentacles of their biomechanical suits around throats.
- Quizzical Tilt: One of them does this when Steven and David decide to reveal themselves before they fire the nuke.
- We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill: The first part averted. They don't want peace.