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The Main Trio
President Thomas J. 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.
"Today, we celebrate...our Independence Day!"
- Ace Pilot: Was one in the Gulf War, and uses this again against the aliens.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Justified, as Whitmore was apparently a fighter pilot in the Gulf War, and is still relatively young at the time of the invasion. As a Double Subversion Before the invasion, his presidency is plagued by complaints about how meek a leader he is.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Subverted. He was elected because people thought that as a fighter pilot, he'd be a strong leader. Before the invasion, his presidency was plagued with complaints about how meek he was.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: As president, required.
- Beard of Sorrow: Sports this along with a cane in Resurgence. In addition, he mentions that his brief Mind Rape with the alien causes him to still see and hear them in his dreams.
- Big Good: As befitting the president of the country, he is the figurehead of the resistance. In the sequel, as his terms are over, he's not a leader anymore, but still a vital pillar of support to the new resistance.
- Character Death: He sacrifices himself to try to kill the Alien Queen in Resurgence.
- Chekhov's Skill: Whitmore's tour of duty as a fighter pilot in the Gulf War becomes useful when he leads the final attacks against the Aliens.
- Do Not Go Gentle: Referenced in his famous speech, where he said "We will not go quietly into the night!".
- 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 speeches right before the final battles.
- Frontline General: Personally leads the final battle against the aliens, as the world needed a pilot more than it needed a president. In the sequel he once again spearheads the Earth's last stand at Area 51.
- Good Parents: A very loving father to Patricia to he point of initially trying to take her place during the Area 51 assault.
- Happily Married: He and Marilyn are shown to have a very stable and loving marriage.
- Heroic Sacrifice: He goes on a suicide mission to kill the Queen in Resurgence
- Hero with Bad Publicity: 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.
- Humans Are Warriors: Has to remind everyone of this with Rousing Speeches.
- Intergenerational Friendship: With General Grey. In the sequel, though he's hellbent on taking the stand, he still pauses to aknowledge the elderly Grey when he sees him.
- 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. In Resurgence, he dies trying to personally kill the Queen.
- Legendary in the Sequel: He's very famous in Resurgence due to leading humanity to victory in the events of the first movie, and is still saluted and addressed as a president by everyone around him.
- Mad Oracle: Along with Okum and Umbutu. All three of them having had direct physical contact with the aliens - they are linked to the alien hive mind and can from time to time catch a glimpse of the invaders' thoughts and plans. This causes them intense headaches and bouts of mad babbling.
- The Mourning After: Despite twenty years having passed after Marilyn's death, he still wears his wedding ring.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: He seems to be a combination of John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, minus the marital infidelities.
- No Party Given: The novelization establishes Whitmore as a Democrat, though the film does not state this (though it rather vaguely hints at him being a Republican).
- Our Presidents Are Different: Starts off as a President Personable, as he's heavily criticized for weak leadership and not taking a hard enough stance for his policies, depending too much on compromise. When it comes time to lead the battle against the aliens, he's a full-fledged President Action.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "On behalf of the people of earth, happy 4th of July!"
- 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. Later, he rejects using nuclear weapons over American soil, up until it's clear they have no other options.
- Sacrificial Lion: He's the biggest major casualty of Resurgence in a desperate bid to save Earth by killing the Queen.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: He's this way 20 years after the first invasion, plagued with nightmares and visions and initially appears to everyone as having cracked completely.
- Senseless Sacrifice: Whitmore's sacrifice fails to kill the Queen, as he had hoped to do. However, he does succeed in destroying her personal ship, weakening her personal shield, and forcing her into the open, where she is vulnerable and eventually killed.
Captain Steven Hiller, USMC
Played By: Will SmithU.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot with aspirations to become an astronaut. Is called to duty when the invaders first appear.
"Welcome to Earth!"
- Ace Pilot: He's the only member of the Black Knights to survive the first counterattack, which he does by leading his pursuer through the Grand Canyon. The novel also establishes that he's flown nearly every kind of aircraft there is, even experimental planes.
- Action Hero: 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: Several:
- "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!"
- Bus Crash: Will Smith opted to not appear in the sequel Independence Day: Resurgence due to After Earth's failure turning him off to father/son sci-fi. As a result, the supplementary website War Of 1996 says Hiller died in April 2007 when a new aircraft built with reverse-engineered alien tech he was test-flying exploded.
- Cigar Chomper: Just look at his pic. As a tradition for his squadron, he carries a cigar in his pocket during missions and lights up afterwards. He even nearly postpones the flight to the mothership because he doesn't have any cigars; luckily, Julius gives him his last two.
- 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 occasionally lashes out some angry tirade.
- Improbable Piloting Skills: He was able to maneuver a fighter jet through the Grand Canyon AND fly an alien craft with only his witnessing its capabilities as experience. Handwaved as he's able to fly a helicopter, which has completely different flight controls, back to what's left of El Toro to find Jasmine and Dylan.
- Killed Offscreen: Died in a disastrous test flight eleven years after the War of 1996.
- The Lancer: Becomes this to David.
- Large Ham: Just in the famous desert sequence. Smith sure had a lot of fun in there.
- Military Maverick: Which is how he manages to survive terrible battles and eventually get sent to pilot a modified alien ship.
- Posthumous Character: in Independence Day: Resurgence compliments of a big heroic painting of him in the rebuilt White House.
- Semper Fi: A Marine F/A-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.
Director David Levinson
Played by: Jeff Goldblum
- 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 finally notices.
- He and his dad fight almost constantly but in their introductory scene, Julius expresses concern that his son is still wearing a wedding ring and can't move on from his divorce. Julius eventually pulls him out of a Despair Event Horizon when it looks like the aliens are unbeatable.
- Big Applesauce: Hails from New York.
- 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.
- Made even more drastic in Resurgence, where we see he's risen from being a cable guy to the commander of the agency responsible for guarding Earth against the aliens.
- Granola Girl: Is a male example prior to the invasion, constantly nagging his coworkers about recycling and his dad about his smoking habits. When he finds nuclear weapons will be used to fight the aliens he gets drunk, convinced that'll mean certain death for mankind.
- The Hero: He's arguably the most prominent protagonist in the two films.
- 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. And he even pushes his father back to Judaism.
- Nice Jewish Boy: A trait shared with Jeff Goldblum. And he's nice even if not as combative.
- Rank Up: Twenty years later David is in charge of all the Earth's defenses.
- Smart People Play Chess: He has a very keen interest in playing chess, given that his introductory scene has him playing it. He continues to make references to the game throughout the movie.
- Working with the Ex: Given ex-wife Constance is his contact to the President...
The Whitmore Administration
First Lady Marilyn Whitmore
Played By: Mary McDonnell
The First Lady.
- Happily Married: She and Tom love each other very much.
- Iron Lady: The novel goes into more detail, portraying Marilyn as a popular figure and being part of the reason Tom is able to accomplish anything.
- Phrase Catcher: Due to Tom's inability to lie, she frequently and affectionately calls him "liar."
- Sacrificial Lion: She survives the destruction of LA, but is seriously injured when she's found by Jasmine. After Steve rescues them, she's brought back to Area 51 and soon dies after seeing her family one last time.
Played By: Mae Whitman (young) & Maika Monroe (adult)President Whitmore's daughter. By Resurgence Patricia is a speechwriter at the White House and a former pilot.
- Ace Pilot: Just like her father.
- Adaptational Dye Job: Brunette in the first film, blonde in the sequel.
- Affectionate Nickname: Her father and President Lanford both call her Patty.
- Back in the Saddle: When the second film starts, she has left the military and is working for the President as a speechwriter. She gets back into the cockpit to take part in the final battle.
- Battle Couple: With Jake. That said, by the time the film takes place, she has returned to the civilian world, and while they both take part in the final battle, they're never fighting at the same place at the same time.
- Ejection Seat: Forced to punch out just after taking down the Harvester Queen's shields.
- Freudian Trio: She is the Ego to Jake's Id and Dylan's Superego
- Generation Xerox: Like Dylan, she's taken after her father and has become a fighter pilot and a politician.
- Last Stand: In Resurgence, she attempts one against an alien ship, after her aircraft is brought down by the Harvester Queen. Luckily, the person she was shooting at was Jake, her fiancé.
- Power Trio: With Jake and Dylan. That said, Jake and Dylan have been on the outs for a while after Jake nearly killed Dylan in a training accident. Patricia has been trying to mediate and get her two mutual friends to reconcile.
- Screaming Warrior: As she shoots at the queen.
- Tagalong Kid: Follows her father from Washington to Area 51.
- Two Guys and a Girl: She's the girl of the bunch.
Played by: Margaret Colin
The White House Communications Director. Also David's ex-wife.
- 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.
- Bus Crash: Independence Day: Crucible establishes that Connie had died sometime after the first film.
- Family Versus Career: She went for a career with President Whitmore "wanting to make a difference".
- 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.
- Rank Up: Gets elected as Senator of Nevada after the events of the film.
- Working with the Ex: Is forced to bring David and his discoveries to the president.
Secretary of Defense Albert Nimzicki
Played by: James Rebhorn
The Secretary of Defense during the Whitmore administration.
- 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.
- Evil Chancellor: He's the only surviving cabinet member, thus the person to take over in the line of succession if something happens to the President, and tries to be this during the crisis. The novelization even says that he's outright trying to make Whitmore appear as a weak and indecisive leader during a global emergency.
- The Neidermeyer: Given how willing he is on getting soldiers killed...
- Hate Sink: We're not supposed to like him, given that he tries to have Levinson thrown out of the immediate room when the latter objects to using nukes. This is even more pronounced when he reveals he's known about the aliens from the get-go and withheld critical information. He is called out on the latter by General Grey since it would've saved hundreds of American pilots from dying in pointless counterattacks. This gets to the point where a furious and exasperated President Whitmore finally fires him.
- Never My Fault: Refuses to admit that if he'd come clean about his knowledge of Area 51, it might have given the Americans some advanced warning, or at least stopped them throwing away countless numbers of their pilots in a futile counter-attack.General Grey: You should have told us about this when they first arrived! You should have warned us before we launched a counter-attack that cost us the lives of hundreds of American pilots!Nimzicki: There was no way we could have known our fighters would have been that ineffective against their attackers!
- 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.
- Skewed Priorities: 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.
The Lanford Administration
President Elizabeth Lanford
Played By: Sela WardThe President of the United States during Independence Day: Resurgence.
- Badass Boast: "You are screwing with the wrong species!"
- Face Death with Dignity: Displays no fear as she accepts her fate at the hands of a squad of aliens.
- Even better in the novelization: Landford is taken into the Queen's ship and interrogated by the Queen herself to learn where the sphere is. Alone and facing a two-hundred foot tall alien, Landford still refuses to back down, mentally telling the Queen that humans are going to win because while she will die, others will take her place, where if the Queen dies, her entire force dies.
- Famous Last Words: Twice! In the film, "There will be no peace." In the novelization: (when addressing the Queen) "I know I won't live to see it, but we're gonna beat you again, you ugly bitch!"
- Foil: To Whitmore. In the first film Whitmore is initially a beleagured president whose first instincts are peaceful and diplomatic and who is unpopular due to perceived weakness. In contrast Lanford seems popular and strong, presiding over the anniversary of intial victory over the aliens and quickly establishes herself as much more hardline than her predecessor, willing to shoot first and think second. However Whitmore establishes himself as both much smarter and a better leader than Lanford who ignores her civilian advisor and who's only idea seems to be keep hitting the enemy again and again. She is quickly killed by the aliens and while she does Face Death with Dignity her death is nearly irrelevant to the plot of the second film. In contrast Whitmore manages to rally the world in the original movie and performs a Heroic Sacrifice in the sequel.
- Killed Offscreen: her death is not shown on-screen, and it's implied the aliens killed her in the bunker. It's revealed in a deleted scene that Landford was originally to be taken to the Queen's ship to be interrogated, and subsequently crushed by the Queen.
- Our Presidents Are Different: A President Iron who takes a very hardline against the aliens (see her quote above.) She shows traits of President Personable, being friendly and familiar to her staff. More surprisingly, she also shows a few traces of President Buffoon, as she ignores the advice of her alien expert David not to fire on the newly arrived and unfamiliar aliens and seems more interested in the anniversary celebrations of the first victory than worrying over a new attack. She also doesn't display any particular imagination or insight during the rest of her screentime before she is killed off.
- Rank Up: The bridge novel Resurgence says she'd been the Vice President under her predecessor Lucas Jacobs.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Is killed shortly after the first counterattack against the Queen fails.
Secretary of Defense Tanner
Played By: Patrick St EspritSecretary of Defense for the Lanford administration.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: It might not have done much good, but he was very willing to fight off the aliens in person.
- Heroic Sacrifice: He throws himself in front of the president in a last-ditch effort to make the aliens pay.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's impatient and something of a prick, but he's still a genuinely good man trying his best.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: He pushes Lanford to shoot down the Sphere in spite of David's warnings, when it could have helped them immensely.
General William Grey, USMC
Played by: Robert LoggiaA senior Marine Corps general. The novelization makes him head of US Space Command (which is actually an Air Force billet), the movie is more ambiguous about his job, leaving Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Commandant of the Marine Corps as possibilities.
- Badass Grandpa: A sturdy and reliable old war horse who is completely loyal to Whitmore.
- Consummate Professional: The only official who manages to keep a cool head.
- The Cameo: Appears at the international celebration as one of the war veterans invited by President Langford.
- Cool Old Guy: He's very kind and reasonable and loyal to his colleagues.
- 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. Even became President after Whitmore.
- Intergenerational Friendship: With President Whitmore, or as Gen. Grey refers to him, Tom.
- Legendary in the Sequel: Grey is an honored guest at the 20th celebration of the aliens' defeat and gets a standing ovation when he waves to the crowd.
- 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. He ends up succeeding Whitmore as President once the former's second term expires.
- Makes even more sense if he's the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Throughout the Corps's history (all the way back to the 1790s, when the post was held by a Major), the Commandant's specifically-enumerated duties have always included being an Honest Advisor to the President in all matters concerning national security.note General Gray stays at the President's side because that's exactly where the Commandant is supposed to be, otherwise he'd essentially be deserting his post.
- Even if he wasn't CMC at the beginning, he got the job by default when the Joint Chiefs were killed.
- Officer and a Gentleman: In the sense that he keeps a Stiff Upper Lip through the whole crisis
- Old Marine
- Rank Up: succeeds Whitmore as President in the bridge novel Resurgence. It's also practically a given that the re-formed Congress would give him a fifth star, making him the only General of the Marine Corps in history.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: General Gray takes his responsibility to defend his country very seriously without being paranoid or overly hawkish. He shoots down SECDEF Nimzicki's initial suggestion to blast the mothership with nuclear warheads before it enters orbit, citing that at best it will turn one dangerous falling object into many (and he's Genre Savvy enough to recognize that provoking aliens capable of engineering such a ship is probably not the best idea). He's utterly disgusted with SECDEF and the CIA for withholding what they knew about the aliens rather than preparing any kind of defense in case they proved hostile. Even when David's Dad starts ranting aboard Air Force One, his reaction is understandable given that some random dude is acting increasingly belligerent towards the President, and even then he doesn't raise his voice.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Delivers one to Nimzicki over the fact he kept his mouth shut about Area 51, when that knowledge might have given the Americans some advanced warning about the threat the aliens posed, or at least stopped them from throwing away so many military personnel in a futile counter-attack.Grey: As the former head of the CIA, you knew about this place! When were you planning to tell the rest of us?!Nimzicki: It had been deemed "Classified"Grey: You should have told us about this when they first arrived! You should have warned us before we launched a counter-attack that cost us the lives of hundreds of American pilots!
- Semper Fi: A United States Marine Corps General, and he behaves exactly as a Marine General is supposed to.
Captain Jimmy Wilder, USMC
Played By: Harry Connick JrHiller's best friend and fellow pilot.
- Black Best Friend: An inversion, though he still behaves in the trope manner.
- Love Triangle: He really likes Jasmine too, and Steve is actually cool with that.
- Sacrificial Lion: His death helps Hiller get more focused on winning the fight.
- This Is Gonna Suck: His wide-eye expression when he sees hundreds, perhaps thousands, of tiny crafts being deployed from the alien destroyer.
Dr. Brackish Okun
Played by: Brent SpinerAn eccentric scientist who conducts research on the aliens at Area 51.
- Absent-Minded Professor
- Admiring the Abomination: Shows a very enthusiastic interest in the aliens and their technology, even after the damage they caused.
- Ascended Extra: Okun's role in the first movie is basically to be a meat puppet for the alien that takes over his mind and explains the alien's motivations. In Resurgence his role in fighting back the aliens is much important.
- Badass Boast
- Badass Gay: Kill his boyfriend and he'll down an entire squad of aliens with a laser rifle, despite simply being a frumpy scientist.
- Blind Without 'Em: Has some thick Nerd Glasses.
- Cloud Cuckoolander
- Convenient Coma: Okun is put into a coma instead of killed during his run-in with the alien in the original movie, hence his return in Resurgence.
- Einstein Hair: Just to show he's a Mad Scientist.
- Mad Oracle: Along with Umbutu and Whitmore. All three of them having had direct physical contact with the aliens - they are linked to the alien hive mind and can from time to time catch a glimpse of the invaders' thoughts and plans. This causes them intense headaches and bouts of mad babbling.
- Mad Scientist: And a Nightmare Fetishist, to boot, given he likes weird science that works while endangering people...
- Official Couple: With Isaacs.
- Room Full of Crazy
- Straight Gay: The sequel reveals he had a relationship with one of his scientist partners.
Played by: John StoreyAnother scientist working at Area 51. Took care of Okun's body while he was in a coma.
- Ascended Extra: In Resurgence, even more than Okun.
- Bury Your Gays: Killed by an alien towards the end of Resurgence.
- The Medic: Serves as medical officer of Area 51, as he treats Troy Casse and tries to save Marilyn Whitmore. In the novel, he expresses excitement at getting to examine a live alien, but he's forced by Russell to look after his son first. This ends up saving him when the alien wakes up.
- Number Two: He's subordinate to Okun in the research project.
- Official Couple: With Okun.
Major Mitchell, USAF
Played by: Adam Baldwin
An officer at Area 51.
- Double Tap: Performs this on a wounded alien after he, General Grey, and several Secret Service agents gunned it down.
- Majorly Awesome: He has the first confirmed kill of an alien invader, and supervises the evacuation of the refugees before the imminent attack on Area 51.
- 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."
Earth Space Defense
Commanding Officer Jiang Lao
Played By: Ng Chin HanCommanding officer of the ESD's Moon Base and Rain's uncle.
Played By: Ross Bagley (young) & Jessie Usher (adult)Steven Hiller's stepson. Has followed in his father's footsteps by Resurgence and become a pilot too.
- Ace Pilot: Just like his step-dad.
- Generation Xerox: Like his step-dad, he grows up to be a fighter pilot. Lampshaded in the promotional videos, where he states that given his father's accomplishments, his career choice was pretty self-evident.
- Multinational Team: Leads the International Legacy Squadron, a 12-person team with the best pilots from nations all across the globe.
- Parental Abandonment: His step-father died in between films and his mother dies when the aliens first attack in the second film.
- Power Trio: With Patricia and Jake.
- Tagalong Kid: Like Patricia, he follows his mother through the ruins of Los Angeles.
- We Used to Be Friends: Hasn't gotten along with Jake since the training accident where Jake nearly killed him.
- Played By: Liam Hemsworth
- Battle Couple: With Patricia, although she's left the military by the start of the film, and during the final battle, they're never fighting in the same place at the same time.
- Big Brother Instinct: Towards Charlie. Jake takes the heat for one of Charlie's mistakes, figuring that the commander already hates him anyways.
- Establishing Character Moment: After saving the lunar base with a reckless maneuver, he then takes the fall for the start of the incident, when it was Charlie's mistake that caused it.
- The Hero: He's the most prominent protagonist of Resurgence.
- Hot-Blooded: And one who's always getting into trouble.
- Parental Abandonment: His parents died in the original attack.
- Power Trio: With Patricia and Dylan. He's been on the outs with Dylan since a training accident where he nearly killed Dylan.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: After the training accident, Jake got assigned to hauling equipment to the moon base.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: With Charlie.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Dylan, who resents him because he (Jake) almost got him killed in a training incident in the past.
- True Companions: With Charlie, who he grew up with. They're basically brothers in all but blood.
- You Killed My Father: distracts the aliens while aboard their ship by announcing this to them, giving them the middle finger, and urinating on the deck while his wingmates steal some alien attackers to escape in.
Played By: Travis TopeA pilot serving in ESD, and Jake's best friend.
- Casanova Wannabe: He constantly flirts with Rain to very little effect.
- Expy: Basically shares Jimmy's role from the first film, except he doesn't die, and also gets the girl!
- Guy in Back: At first with Jake, later with Rain.
- Parental Abandonment: Like most of the other younger characters, his parents died in the first film's attacks.
- Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Jake is surprised to learn Charlie survived the failed attack on the mothership. Charlie is a bit hurt at Jake's assumption that he had perished.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: With Jake.
- True Companions: With Jake, as the two grew up with each other in an orphanage.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: After seeing his friends kissing like any couple at the end of an action movie, he fumbles and suggests he and Rain do the same. Rain disagrees, but suggests having dinner with him.
Lt. Rain Lao
Played By: AngelababyA Chinese pilot and lieutenant in ESD and the niece of ESD Moon Base commander Jiang Lao
- Ace Pilot
- Action Girl: She's the most visible female participant in the new battle against the aliens.
- Ship Tease: She brushes off Charlie's awkward attempts at flirting, but at the end decides to try having dinner with him.
- You Killed My Father: In addition to the bridge novel Resurgence stating that her father was a Chinese Air Force pilot killed during the War of 1996, her uncle, who's the commander of the Moon Base, is one of the first casualties when the aliens invade, making the war that followed personal to her.
Dr. Catherine Marceaux
Played By: Charlotte Gainsbourg
A scientist at ESD who is David's new love interest.
- Cunning Linguist: Is studying how the aliens communicate, specially regarding the traces left on humans.
- Remember the New Guy: She's introduced having a history with David that we're not told about before.
- Replacement Love Interest: She's one for David after his wife Constance died some time before the film.
General Joshua T. Adams
Played By: William FichtnerA general for the Earth Space Defense.
- Big Good: He's sworn in as President when Lanford and the entire line of succession are killed.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Upon seeing the odd behavior of the alien prisoners, he immediately calls his wife and tells her to get to safety.
- You Are in Command Now: After the alien kill squad raid on the bunker that President Lanford and the rest of the Cabinet resided massacres everyone in the presidential line of succession, leaving him to sworn in to be the acting president of United States.
Played by: Randy Quaid
A Vietnam vet who was abducted by aliens sometime before the events of the first movie.
- 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: At first his children are ashamed of him. Then he goes into battle and gets their respect back.
- Cassandra Truth: He was the first person to warn them that the aliens are gonna kill them all.
- Dad the Veteran: A veteran of Vietnam War.
- Heroic Sacrifice: His last missile jams before he can take out the primary weapon of the alien ship. Instead he flies his plane directly into the weapon, setting off a chain reaction that destroys the entire ship.
- Papa Wolf: He kamikazes his plane into the city destroyer's Wave Motion Gun literally just before it fires on the base where his children are taking refuge.
- 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: Two in a row, in fact. "All right, you alien assholes! In the words of my generation: Up... YOURS!", followed by "Hello, boys! I'M BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!!"
- You Have to Believe Me: Once the aliens start showing up, Russell tries to warn people. By flying over city hall and dropping leaflets.
Played By: James DuvalRusell's oldest son.
- Big Brother Instinct: Just about everything he does is for his siblings' protection.
- Missing Mom: His mom has apparently been dead for some time. It's also suggested in the special edition that Russell is actually his stepdad, as he bitterly calls him "the man who married my mother."
- Pet the Dog: For all his disagreements with Russell, Miguel does express pride in him after his father sacrifices himself to destroy the alien destroyer.Mitchell: What your father did today was very brave. You should be proud of him.Miguel: I am.
- Promoted To Parent: After his mother died and with Russell suffering from PTSD, he takes responsibility for looking after his younger siblings.
Played By: Lisa JakubRussell's daughter.
- Must Not Die a Virgin: Alicia's boyfriend tries to talk her into losing her virginity, seeing as the world is probably going to be destroyed by aliens. Foiled by Alicia's Big Damn Brother interrupting and taking her home.
Played By: Giuseppe AndrewsTroy's other son.
- The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: In the special edition, he has a very vague disease which requires expensive medicine or he could die. Whatever it is, it's hinted that it also killed his mother.
Played by: Judd Hirsch
- Actor-Shared Background: New York Jew like Judd Hirsch.
- Action Survivor: His arc Resurgence has him go through lots of it. First he survives a tidal wave. Then he helps a bunch of kids go to Area 51 as the place is being attacked by the aliens, and the school bus he's driving is chased by the gigantic alien queen.
- Back for the Dead: It appears that this will be his fate after he's stuck in the harbor when the gigantic alien mothership lands and causes a tidal wave that sweeps his boat away, but he later reappears alive, albeit a little shaken, and is rescued by some kids and eventually reunites with his son.
- Badass Grandpa: He's no fighter but he's got the heart of a lion. He chews out the Secretary of Defense for insulting his son onboard Air Force One, and manages to survive an enormous tidal wave none the worse for wear.
- 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.
- Cigar Chomper: Like Steve, Julius loves his cigars, much to David's displeasure. He ends up giving Steve his last two when he refuses to go on the mission to the mothership without a "victory dance."
- Conspiracy Theorist: He believes that the government captured a spaceship back in the 50s, and turns out he was right.
- 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. He's still at it 20 years later, managing to survive a giant tidal wave without so much as a scratch, and in his early 80's, no less.
- Friend to All Children
- Jews Love to Argue: He argues with his son during the drive to Washington. And with the teens who rescue him driving to Nevada.
- 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!
- After being rescued by some kids in Resurgence who have lost their parents, he immediately embraces his role as a surrogate father to all of them.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Even more in Resurgence, as danger just seems to follow him.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Julius may seem unassuming as David's sarcastic father, but he's responsible for getting David to Washington, which convinces Whitmore to evacuate, inadvertently directs Air Force One to Area 51, and gives David the idea of a computer virus to defeat the aliens.
- The bridge novel "Crucible" lampshades this by having Julius write a book called How I Saved The World, which does show up in Resurgence.
- Yiddish as a Second Language: He's frequently cursing in Yiddish, such as saying he looks like a schlemiel because he didn't bring a tie to meet the President.
Played by: Vivica A. FoxHiller's wife.
- Action Survivor: Survives the alien bombing by hiding in a maintenance tunnel, then uses a highway patrol truck to help other survivors get out of the city.
- Back for the Dead: Have a little screentime before being killed off to give Dylan motivation for revenge.
- Character Development: Jasmine has risen from being a stripper to a hospital administrator in the twenty years between films.
- Chekhov's Skill: Being an exotic dancer might not seem like it would help during an alien invasion, but pole-dancing requires really strong legs—legs that, for example, can kick in the door to a maintenance tunnel.
- Heroic Sacrifice: She saves a woman and her newborn baby in Resurgence, but falls to her death shortly afterwords.
- 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.
- No One Gets Left Behind: Refuses to leave a mother and her newborn infant behind when trying to evacuate a hospital.
- Sacrificial Lamb: The first veteran character to get the axe in Resurgence.
- Single Mom Stripper: Unlike most examples of this trope, she dances by choice and enjoys the work and the money that comes with it.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: She only appears briefly in Resurgence before getting killed in the first attack.
Played By: Harvey Fierstein
- Benevolent Boss: Upon hearing that one of the spaceships is heading for New York, he immediately tells everyone to drop what they're doing and get to safety.
- Camp Gay: He's extremely camp, and Harvey Fierstein is a very flamboyant homosexual. Not to mention he kisses David on the lips in a deleted scene.
- Everyone Has Standards: When David warns him that the aliens are going to attack, he immediately goes to call his mother, his brother, his housekeeper, his doctor, and his lawyer...before deciding against warning his lawyer.
- Famous Last Words: "Oh crap." Said right before he is crushed by a car that was flung by the advancing wall of fire.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When David warns him about the impending attack, Marty urges his mother to head to her sister's place in Atlanta. It's later mentioned that Atlanta was destroyed in the next wave of attacks on major cities.
Played By: Kiersten WarrenJasmine's co-worker, who believes the aliens are benevolent.
- Comically Missing the Point: When Jasmine brings up her "bad feeling" in the special edition, Tiffany says that she also had a bad feeling when she left to apply for a job in Vegas. Jasmine was right, since she didn't get the job and lost all her money in the casinos. But, Tiffany retorts that at least she wasn't in LA for the '94 earthquake.
- Famous Last Words: "It's so pretty..." as the underbelly of the alien ship begins to open up.
- Too Dumb to Live: Completely ignores Jasmine's "bad feeling" and heads to the party welcoming the aliens. She's one of the first shown to be vaporized.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Jasmine thinks she's in an 1980s Steven Spielberg alien movie, where the aliens are nice and helpful. Instead she's in a 1990s Roland Emmerich alien movie, where the aliens are evil and destroy everything.
Played by: John BradleyA farmer who hires Russell to spray his crops.
- Pet the Dog: According to the novelization, he hired Russell out of sympathy for him and his children. Unfortunately, Lucas could only tolerate him not doing his job for so long.
Played by: Deobia OpareiA Congolese warlord who's the leader of a resistance group that has fought the alien survivors from the first war for years.
- Authority Equals Ass Kicking: As any warlord worth his salt. And it's hereditary given his father was the previous leader.
- Genius Bruiser: Due to having had a psychic exposure to the aliens, he manages to learn and decipher some of their language and uses the information gathered to plan effective tactics to fight them.
- Mad Oracle: Along with Okum and Whitmore. All three of them having had direct physical contact with the aliens - they are linked to the alien hive mind and can from time to time catch a glimpse of the invaders' thoughts and plans. This causes them intense headaches and bouts of mad babbling.
- Scary Black Man: Definitely has the appearance of one. It's downplayed in that, as David puts it, he's much more benevolent to outsiders than his father, who's the previous warlord.
- Machete Mayhem: Along with Dual Wielding.
- You Killed My Father: His brother was killed in an alien ambush.
Played by: Nicolas WrightDavid's accountant who accidentally gets tagged along with David's attempts to save the world in Resurgence.
- Butt Monkey: He really doesn't want to get stuck in the middle of an alien war, but his adventure with David and the rest of the heroes constantly puts him in the front seat of it all. And he manages to pull through.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: He bears more than a passing resemblance to John Oliver.
- Odd Friendship: With Umbutu.
- Took a Level in Badass: After witnessing Umbutu casually killing aliens easily, he asks to be trained by him in order to fight the aliens himself, and although he is refused, he then takes part in the final battle along with other ESD soldiers at Area 51 to fight the aliens and even successfully killing some of them.
- What Does This Button Do?: He curiously touches the Sphere and accidentally activates it, after all of Doctor Okun's previous attempts to do it failed.
Sam & family
Played by: Joey King
A teenager who is forced to drive her family away after the aliens ravage the East Coast.
- Action Survivor: A tsunami, a cross-country drive, a massive alien attacking... once Julius suggests her and the kids stay with him for a while afterwards, Sam happily agrees.
- Broken Bird: Losing her parents, her friends and her boyfriend all at once, yeah.
- Happily Adopted: More or less by Julius.
- Infant Immortality: Demonstrates it along with the other kids.
- Mess of Woe: To the point she first only thinks of getting away, and then Julius has to reason her into getting rest and such.
- Promotion to Parent: Given their parents probably died down in Florida, she is forced to become a mother to her siblings.
The Aliens / "Harvesters"
Played By: Frank Welker
An unnamed nomadic species, they come to Earth hoping to harvest our planet's resources. And to do that, they need to wipe out the human race.
- Aliens Are Bastards:
- Played entirely straight. It is made abundantly clear that they intend to wipe us out and steal our planet's resources.
- Dean Devlin plainly explained his view of the aliens in a documentary: "They don't like us, they don't hate us. They're the new tenants, and we're the cockroaches."
- Alien Invasion: One of the most visually impressive ones ever put on film.
- Big Bad: Collectively, though there is no apparent supreme leader of the aliens in the first movie. The closest we see to an alien leader is a dock controller. It's revealed in the second movie that each invasion force has a queen, which is not seen in the first movie.
- Combat Tentacles: Their bio-mechanical suits sport several long flickering tentacles that they can use to kill people with.
- Converging-Stream Weapon: The city destroyers' primary weapon. The bottom opens, bathing the target area in a blue light. Afterwards, the central spire unlocks and descends. The eight beam generators approach the spire, sending an energy charge to power the weapon. A bright beam shoots down into the target building, after which the spire fires an energy pulse that obliterates it. The beam continues firing until the devastation is well underway.
- Evil Smells Bad: Apparently they omit an odor that's not too pleasant to Earthlings. Both Hiller and Okun make note of it.
- Flying Saucer:
- The City Destroyers, 15-mile wide ships that serve as their primary attack craft. Unlike other saucers, which are shiny and chrome, the surface is heavily detailed with greebles and there is a parabolic indentation that indicates the front of the ship.
- The Harvester warships, an even bigger flying saucer that can cover the entire Atlantic Ocean.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: One of their long-lost attacker crafts brings down their shields and nukes them from within.
- Hive Mind: Due to communicating through telepathy. And humans who survived physical contact with them are able to experience it too.
- Horde of Alien Locusts: They travel from planet to planet and take every natural resource they can find for themselves. The president even describes them as such. Resurgence shows they have traits of bees as well, with a Hive Mind and Hive Queen, and desire to reproduce more than anything.
- Humanoid Aliens: Somewhat. They have two arms, two legs, a head, and a torso, but that's where, appearance-wise, the similarity ends. However, Dr. Okun does point out that they breath oxygen, are equally sensitive to temperature and that beneath their suits, they aren't really any more or less frail than any average human. In short, they are perfectly suited for living on Earth.
- 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.
- In the Back: This is how a human can kill the aliens in hand-to-hand combat if they're wearing the bio-mechanical suits.
- Keystone Army: Living up to its name, the mothership is the key element of the alien invasion force. It serves as the command and control center, and also directs all power and shield functions. Okun mentions that the captured attacker didn't even activate until the mothership arrived. The novel makes it clear that when the mothership is destroyed at the end, all the destroyers and attackers lose power and are quickly downed.
- 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 them, the alien simply answers that there will be "no peace" and the only thing humans can do is "die."Whitmore: What is it you want us to do?Alien: Die...DIE!
- Laser-Guided Karma: After exterminating millions of lives and potentially whole other alien races to get their resources, they are finally taken out by one of their targets and have their own resources stolen twice. And then the alien resistance to them decides to put said race in charge of fighting back against them.
- Monumental Damage: "They like to get the landmarks."
- No Name Given: We find out their names as the "Harvester" species in the sequel. And given their M.O., the name is quite fitting.
- Not Quite Dead: Right before the destruction of the mothership, the aliens were able to send a distress signal. And twenty years later, their reinforcements arrive.
- Not So Invincible After All:
Whitmore: Can they be killed?Okun: Their bodies are just as frail as ours. [indicates the specimens from Roswell behind him] These two died in the crash, this one a few weeks later. You just have to get through their technology, which I am sad to say is, far more advanced.
- Okun indicates that it's only really their superior technology that gives them an advantage; without it they're as susceptible to injury and death as humans. The point is further driven home when their destroyers and fighter craft are stripped of their shields and rendered vulnerable to human weaponry.
- Also, Sphere reveals no one ever managed to destroy a Harvester Queen. Then the humans do so - if only because the aliens setting a trap on them gave a great idea on how to achieve it.
- 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. Especially their biomechanical suits, which Okun theorizes is an entirely different animal that they breed, slaughter, then hollow out to use as armor. Resurgence expands on this, showing the interior of the ships to be more like swamps.
- 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. The actual depths of this (reaching Planet Eater levels) is realized in the sequel, where a massive Harvester ship begins to drill into Earth's core in order to steal the energy for fuel and technology.
- Puppeteer Parasite: Can use human bodies to communicate audibly by wrapping the tentacles of their biomechanical suits around throats.
- Telepathy: Implied to be how they communicate with each other.Okun: No vocal cords. We're assuming they communicate with each other through some other means.David: You're obviously not thinking about hand signals and body language, are you?Okun: No, this is some kind of extra-sensory perception. Telepathy, say.
- Quizzical Tilt: One of them does this when Steven and David decide to reveal themselves before they fire the nuke.
- Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: Their armada consists of a mothership that serves as their home base, destroyers which are their primary offensive weapon, attackers that are utilized as defense against enemy fighters, and transports to bring their ground forces to the planet. And then there's a "supermothership" that can destroy whole planets.
- To Serve Man: Invoked in the novel. Whitmore asks Okun what the aliens eat, which causes everyone to immediately picture humans being rounded up and marched into slaughterhouses. However, Okun says that the autopsy found nothing in their stomachs, so their actual diet is unknown.
- We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill: The first part averted. They don't want peace.
- The Worf Effect: In the first movie, it took a lot of firepower to damage them, including a Trojan virus that disabled their shields and a nuke. In a case of karma, Resurgence shows their own weapons are reverse engineered against them, and the aliens are taken down after a couple of shots. The only alien not effect was a queen, and it took a series of barrages to finally kill her.
The Harvester Queen
The Harvester Queen
The Queen of an alien Harvester ship which attacks Earth in Resurgence after receiving a distress signal from survivors of the failed annihilation of Earth in 1996.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: The Harvester Queen is absolutely massive, and equipped with a BFG and their best Deflector Shields. She tanks a cold fusion blast in the face, and while her firepower is mediocre, it takes a lot to finally bring her down.
- BFG: The Queen has a blaster similar to her drones, it's just scaled to fit her enormous body.
- Big Bad: The main antagonist of Resurgence and the one leading the second invasion.
- Combat Tentacles: She has four of them sprouting from her back, even without her suit. She makes good use of them, taking out several ESD fighters, including Patricia, with them alone.
- Expy: She resembles the Xenomorph Queen from Aliens.
- Frontline General: When the Sphere's presence on Earth is detected, she personally leads the assault on Area 51.
- Giant Equals Invincible: The alien queen has its own forcefield, enabling it to escape the destruction of its craft.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Whew boy
- Hive Mind: It's her existence that makes the attack on Earth, the intended extermination of every living being on it (especially humans), and the drilling for the contents of the Earth's core possible. The minute she dies, the fighters around her drop like flies and the mothership automatically withdraws its drill and flies back to their homeworld.
- Kaiju: She's several stories high and near indomitable.
- In the Back: Once her shield goes down, it takes sustained firepower to her back like her drones to bring her down.
- It's Personal: When she learns of the failed invasion of Earth, she's enraged and heads there to deal with humanity herself.
- Large and in Charge: To the point one of its "hands" is the size of a bus the Queen pursues.
- Made of Iron: It takes a massive explosion and several minutes of firepower from multiple fighters just to take down her personal shield. Afterward, she tanks sustained firepower from a pair of hijacked alien fighters with just her bio-mechanical suit alone.
- Reveal Shot: For most of Resurgence the Queen is shown alone in her command center, and the only mention of her size is when David notices her slightly larger dot on an infrared monitor. Then at the climax she climbs out of her ship's wreckage, showing her to be at least as tall as her ship.
Played By: Jenna Purdy (voice)An alien being who has been leading an intergalactic war to prevent the harvester aliens from destroying all life in the universe.
- Arch-Enemy: The harvester aliens most determined foe. They in turn fear and hate it above anything else.
- Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: It and its' kind took on digital forms over biological forms millennia ago.
- Big Good: It is the only enemy the aliens fear and has led the fight against them across the universe for centuries. It has also made it its mission to rescue as many beings as possible from the worlds under attack by the bad guys, so that they don't go extinct.
- Brain Uploading: Its species found that artificial bodies were vastly superior, so they uploaded their consciousnesses into them thousands of years ago.
- Cyber Cyclops: Has a blue slit of sorts in its body that gives the impression of a single eye. It is also entirely mechanical.
- The Dreaded: The harvester aliens are terrified of it. The very symbol for it in their language equals fear.
- Enemy Mine: It has spent several decades, possibly even centuries, invoking this trope to assemble an alliance of survivors from various alien races who were previously attacked by the Harvesters with the intent of fighting back against them. Its main purpose in coming to Earth is to recruit the humans to join said alliance.Floyd: Their enemy...Umbutu: is our ally.
- Everything Is an iPod in the Future: If Apple designed a giant floating orb, it would probably look exactly like this.
- Informed Attribute: The Sphere and its kind are said to be much more powerful than the Aliens, to the point of being The Dreaded. When the Sphere arrives in the solar system, its ship gets wrecked by humans in a single hit (whereas the Alien ships are borderline immune to the same weapons) and when it later talks about the planet where the galactic-strong La Résistance is training, it mentions how important it is to keep its location a secret, otherwise the Aliens will likely destroy it.
- La Résistance: It is training other surviving aliens for warfare against the harvesters, and asks Earth to join and lead them.
- Last Of Its Kind: Its planet and race were destroyed by the harvester aliens.
- Noble Bigot: Calls humanity primitive to Okun's face, but has no malice when saying so whatsoever; it's plainly stating that humanity is way behind its' species. By the end, it recognizes' humanity's resolve and bravery and asks them to lead the fight against the aliens.
- No Name Given: Despite its importance to the plot, the Sphere never mentions its name, nor do the humans ask for it.
- The Remnant: It has made it its mission so save at least some of the members of the various species whose worlds have been destroyed by the harvester aliens, and has gathered them in a secret refuge planet.
- Time Abyss: It and its kind have been around for many eons.
- Walking Spoiler: The promotional campaign did all it could to avert revealing Sphere, with reason.