Film: Armageddon

If you want "Armageddon" of the Biblical sort, see The End of the World as We Know It. If you wanted the Web Original story "Armageddon???", see The Salvation War.

Why does this man have a gun in space? Because it's awesome.

We are about to Save The World with questionable physics!
— The Rotten Tomatoes Show

A 1998 High Concept disaster movie from Touchstone Pictures, directed by Michael Bay, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, co-written by J. J. Abrams, and featuring an All-Star Cast.

The plot: a peaceful summer afternoon in New York City is disturbed by meteorites falling, destroying all the recognizable buildings and killing a bunch of characters we're not supposed to care about. NASA reveals they're the pebbles before the boulder — a meteor the size of Texas is going to hit Earth in 18 days, and nothing, not even bacteria, will survive. The big brains at NASA have come up with a plan to save the world: land a shuttle on the asteroid and drill far enough into it to place a nuke inside and split it like an apple.

Although they have some of the best scientific minds in the country at NASA, they simply aren't as attuned to the job as the best oil drillers. So NASA calls in the best — Harry Stamper, lifelong oil rig operator considered the best deep sea driller in the world. Harry brings his daughter Grace with him, because he disapproves of her romance with rebellious hotshot AJ, whom Harry fired for having "hunches". On hearing what's at stake, Harry agrees to head into space to lead the drilling project but only on one condition, he brings in his own team. NASA now has to gather a group of blue collar, lawbreaking roughnecks and get them trained in two weeks to go up to drill the meteor and break it into two pieces that will miss the Earth, or everyone dies.

This film provides examples of:

  • Apocalypse How
  • Anyone Can Die: Fourteen people launch from Earth, which becomes fifteen when they pick up a cosmonaut. Seven make it back.
  • Asteroid Thicket
  • Artistic License – Geology: If an asteroid the size of Texas (i.e., at least 773 miles wide) impacted Earth in the Pacific Ocean, it wouldn't simply "slam into the ocean bedrock" and "create a tidal wave three miles high…covering California and washing up in Denver," as the NASA scientist in the movie projects. At most, oceanic crust is a few miles thick, and below it lies molten mantle, so the actual geological effects of such a massive impact would be far worse than the screenwriters' imaginings. See Deus Ex Nukina / Sci Fi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale below.
    • The film's opening sequence shows the Chicxulub meteor impact 65.5 ± 0.3 million years ago, but erroneously depicts the continents in their modern positions. Earth at that time looked more the map shown here.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Astrophysics to be precise.
    • The staggering amount of scientific inaccuracies in this film has actually prompted NASA to use it as part of their management training to see how many inaccuracies would candidates be able to identify. So far, over 160 have been found and with the film being only 2 1/2 hours in length, that averages to roughly one inaccuracy per minute.
  • Avengers Assemble: Once Stamper gets the exposition, he says he's only the world's best driller because he has assembled the world's best drilling team; ergo, he needs his six best men (along with five other sacrificial lambs) — but "once they get off the rig, they scatter." Cue The Beatles. "Come together, right now!" As sung by Aerosmith.
  • Award Bait Song: Aerosmith's "Don't Want To Miss A Thing"
  • Big Damn Heroes: AJ, Bear, and Lev arrive in the second Armadillo just minutes after the first one gets thrown into space by a gas pocket.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The world is saved. Grace and AJ get married, and large photos of all the roughnecks who died on the mission, in their mission suits, are placed where they would've stood in the wedding party.
    • The world is saved, but New York, Paris and Shanghai need some serious cleaning up. (Of course those things couldn't have landed, like, in the Rub Al-Khali or the Saharan Desert...)
      • They probably did, given the dispersal we're shown via the scientists' brainstorming sessions/computer screens, but watching empty deserts get hit by giant space rocks is much less exciting.
  • Brick Joke: After Rockhound is selected for the mission, we see him receiving a huge amount of cash from a loan shark. Later, he mentions offhandedly that he's not looking forward to returning safely to Earth because he blew it all on a stripper named Molly Mounds. The real payoff comes at the end, though, when Miss Mounds (who is well-named) greets Rockhound as he comes off the shuttle.
    • Presumably though, he could make it all back ten times over just doing interviews about the mission, plus whatever actual paycheck the US gov would comp them with afterward.
    • Not to mention the fact that part of the compensation for the mission was the roughnecks never paying Taxes again. Ever.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Goes for some of the roughnecks, but especially Rockhound and Lev. The former is a genius geologist who has a double doctorate from MIT at 22, and the latter despite his Cloudcuckoolander behaviour is a professional cosmonaut who repeatedly saves the entire crew and mission.
    "I am the only certified astronaut and I'm saving your American ass!"
  • But What About the Astronauts?: Subverted. Several of the "pebbles" hit a space shuttle and makes it explode, killing the people on board.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Lev and then some. Rockhound to a lesser extent. Lampshaded in Lev's case by Truman who warns the shuttle crews that Lev has been "on board the Mir space station for eighteen months alone. So don't be surprised if he's a little off."
  • Colonel Badass: this trope welcomes Colonel Sharp (William Fichtner) and Colonel Lev Andropov (Peter Stormare) to its ranks.
  • Colony Drop: Really big effing meteor.
    • Interesting to note how similar the thing looks to the Asteroid Axis from the Trope Namer. Of course, that one's bizarre, spiny shape was due to having been carved up for minerals by space miners, while the one here has no excuse other than Rule of Cool.
  • Creator Cameo: Michael Bay as a NASA scientist.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Max. He is blown into outer space while inside the Armadillo, and where as every other character death in the movie was killed pretty much instantly, he will die slowly and be aware and alone.
  • Dead Star Walking: This is more in retrospect since Owen Wilson is a much bigger star now than he was in 1998, but Oscar dies during the crash-landing on the asteroid.
  • Death from Above
  • Deceptive Legacy: Chick's ex or estranged wife, incensed by Chick showing up unannounced to see their small son, dismisses him to the boy as "a salesman." Later on, she drops the phone and tells the boy the truth when he points out "that salesman is on TV" ... as a member of the Freedom and Independence missions to save earth from the asteroid.
  • Demoted to Extra: Despite being a member of Harry's team, Freddie Noonan mostly hangs around in the background, not even getting an introduction in the montage that sees us introduced to the rest of Harry's crew. Munitions specialist Halsey doesn't get a single line of dialogue despite being a part of the Independence crew.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Iron Ferrite." ...yeah.
  • Deus Ex Disastra: Once on the asteroid, the plot does not proceed without successive random disasters; eg. drill bits breaking, transmissions exploding, characters being tossed into space, minor metiorite barrages, etc.
  • Deus Ex Nukina / Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Literally. Suffice to say actively propelling two chunks of several hundred mile-across asteroid rapidly away from each other is going to require a hell of a lot more firepower than you can fit in one nuclear warhead. In Real Life, this scenario of a very large, undiscovered asteroid appearing a few weeks before impact means we die, with no possible way of avoiding the catastrophe.
    • Even more insane is the "backup plan" where the nuke will be detonated on the surface. Lampshaded by earlier discussion that this would be entirely ineffective but still done anyway because of some "Presidential Scientific Advisors" who apparently failed Physics 101.
    • And, in the words of Roger Ebert:
      "OK, say you do succeed in blowing up an asteroid the size of Texas. What if a piece the size of Dallas is left? Wouldn't that be big enough to destroy life on Earth? What about a piece the size of Austin? Let's face it: Even an object the size of that big Wal-Mart outside Abilene would pretty much clean us out, if you count the parking lot."
    • He's not far off. An asteroid the size of a house would destroy the better part of a city. If it's as big as a 20-story office building, it could wipe out an entire city and all its suburbs. A rock one mile wide would cause a mass extinction; a rock six miles wide wiped out the dinosaurs.
    • The six-part Discovery Channel documentary Miracle Planet features a nightmare-inducing and brutally realistic CGI depiction of a 300-mile-wide asteroid hitting the modern-day Earth (that's less than half the width and around a tenth the volume of the Texas-sized monster in Armageddon). The asteroid is shown plowing through the planet's crust as though it's tissue paper and plunging into the underlying mantle. This creates a "tsunami" in the molten/semi-liquid mantle that literally peels off a sizable chunk of the Earth's surface. Said ripped-off crust gets flung up into space and rains back down in city-block-sized chunks. Vaporized rock from the asteroid and crust superheats the Earth, until the oceans completely boil away, and what's left of the Earth's crust begins to melt. The only life that could possibly survive such an event would be those bacteria that live deep in the Earth's crust. Emphasis on possibly.
  • Disaster Movie
  • Dramatic Drop: Chick's wife drops the phone she's on when she discovers Chick is on the team to go try to destroy the asteroid.
  • Eagleland: Type I of course.
  • Emergency Presidential Address: The President delivers an address before the team is launched, wishing them luck in their mission to destroy the asteroid.
  • Emergency Refuelling: Not long after the two shuttle ships leave Earth's orbit, they are refuel at the semi-abandoned Mir space station. Currently manned by one man named Lev, who has gone a little space-crazy. Refueling goes okay until they suspected a leak in the space station; they're too late to prevent it, although they managed to escape in time before the space station explodes.
  • The End of the World as We Know It
  • Epic Movie
  • Explosions in Space: The explosion of the Russian Space Station, for starters.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Averted. Lev saves one picture of a woman (presumably his wife) from the space station, but never looks at it for the rest of the film and survives.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Rockhound wanted to be the one to make the Heroic Sacrifice. In his own words, "I owe a hundred grand to a fat-ass Loan Shark, which I spent on a stripper named Molly Mounds". He's really not looking forward to being kneecapped until he pays back all that money.
    • Fortunately, since Team Stamper saved the world and are pretty much Big Damn Heroes, said Loan Shark will probably get paid back relatively quickly because Rockhound and company probably made lots of money very quickly on deals, interviews, merchandising, etc... (Plus, he won't be paying taxes ever again.)
    • And, most importantly, Ms. Mounds met Rockhound at the spashdown to welcome him home.
  • Funny Background Event: At Grace and AJ's wedding, Molly catches the bouquet, seen in the home movie over the credits.
  • Gatling Good: Both of the Armadillo vehicles are armed with these, one of which Rockhound starts shooting wildly when he goes loopy from so-called 'space dementia'.
  • Gentle Giant: Bear, despite his appearance.
  • The Glomp: Molly Mounds is very happy that Rockhound made it home safely.
  • Glove Snap: Done by a fearsomely large nurse.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: The Russian cosmonaut has been alone on Mir for a while, so he's become a little eccentric.
  • Gut Punch: The destruction of the shuttle Independence, before they even land on the asteroid.
  • Happy Flashback: Right before the nuke detonates, Harry sees visions of happy times with his daughter.
  • The Hero Dies: Stamper himself at the end.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Harry kicks AJ back inside the shuttle to go back to Earth and marry Grace while he sticks around for the necessary manual detonation.
  • Hollywood Science
  • Homage: Internal, on a crazed Rockhound's part, to Dr. Strangelove.
  • Infant Immortality: Kind of. It's a small dog who survives the opening destruction scenes, rather than a child.
    • On the other side, they did show many kids playing in Paris and Shanghai before these cities fell to Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies...
  • Inkblot Test: To see if the roughnecks are capable of dealing with space travel.
  • In Space Everyone Can See Your Face
  • Jerk With A Heartof Gold: Col. Sharp.
  • Jumped at the Call: Of all the drillers, Oscar is by the far the most enthusiastic about going into space. So of course he's the first to die.
  • Laughing Mad: After Rockhound goes quite nutty in space, Rockhound, during the dig, ends up utilizing a Gatling gun and starts shooting indiscriminately while laughing.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The Russian Space Station is clearly supposed to be the Mir. But considering what happens, it's obviously not called that.
  • Lzherusskie: Peter Stormare, from Sweden, portrayed the loony cosmonaut. Of course, considering it's Peter Stormare, whose characters often steal the whole damn movie despite having limited roles, said loony cosmonaut is one of the best characters in the movie.
  • Let Me Get This Straight: Done twice.
  • Manly Tears: shed by AJ and by most of the surviving roughnecks during Harry's big speech.
  • Melodrama: This isn't meant to win awards, so it doesn't try.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: None of the named female characters in the film are killed.
  • Mood Whiplash: From the roughnecks's reunion outside of the government building to their reactions to why they're there.
  • More Dakka: No, we've got no idea why they fitted a BFG to the Armadillo, either.
    • It's a ballistic obstacle removal device. Yeah...
  • Mutual Kill: Hello, Harry vs. Asteroid. (Man destroys asteroid he's riding.) It's really a Heroic Sacrifice when he stays on the asteroid to detonate the bomb but the asteroid is cursed at so frequently as to become somewhat personified.
  • Nations of the World Montage
  • No Periods, Period: Only mentioned; while Grace is arguing with Harry about her and A.J.'s relationship, she brings up a laundry list of all the things she had to deal with on her own because he was a distant parent.
    Grace: First time I got my period, Rock had to take me to Taipei for Tampax. Then he had to show me how to use them.
    Rock: Hey!
    Harry: *Death Glare*
    Rock: I told her how to use them. I didn't show her, Harry.
  • Nuclear Option: Avoids Deus Ex Nukina only by using the nuke to supply the one thing that nukes actually supply — very large explosions. Unfortunately, even a nuclear explosion wouldn't have been enough to cause the results seen in the movie.
    • Though using it to cause a chain reaction with the massive, volatile gas pockets inside the asteroid may well.
      • With what oxygen would it burn?
  • Number Two: A.J. may be The Lancer, but Chick is clearly Harry's right-hand-man.
  • Oh, Crap: Lots of them, particularly when they're on the rock itself.
    Chick: (eerily calm voice) Harry... The clock on that nine foot nuclear weapon is ticking.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: A.J. apologizing too fast lets Harry know he's hiding something. Like Harry's daughter in his bunk.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome
  • Papa Wolf: Harry, of course. He goes ballistic when he thinks his daughter needs to be protected, and you do not want to be the one in his path. Leads to a Crowning Moment of Funny when he chases AJ around the oil rig after finding out that he and Grace are together. Harry's Papa Wolf qualities ultimately lead him to sacrifice himself and go down destroying the asteroid in order to allow AJ to live and marry Grace so that she can be happy, leading to the most emotional scenes of the movie.
    • Harry's crew members point out that they all had a hand in raising Grace, so they all feel protective of her. Doubles as a nice Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
  • Parental Abandonment
    • Disappeared Dad: Chick's gambling problem resulted in his wife taking him to court and removing his paternal rights, so he wasn't willingly disappeared.
      • Technically, Harry Stamper himself.
    • Missing Mom: Grace was raised by roughnecks because her mother walked out on Harry when Grace was very small, and Harry wouldn't leave the rig. Grace initially blamed Harry for her leaving, but grown to accept her life and realized she left them both.
  • Parental Substitute: Dan Truman takes over as father figure for Grace once Harry has left the planet. When the military starts manhandling her, he gets them to let her go, and stands protectively over her.
  • Percussive Maintenance: "This! Is how we fix things! On Russian! Space! Station!"
  • Plan B: Subverted. Harry insists NASA has to have a Plan B, and freaks the hell out when he learns they don't.
    Harry Stamper: What's your contingency plan?
    Truman: Contingency plan?
    Harry Stamper: Your backup plan. You gotta have some kind of backup plan, right?
    Truman: No, we don't have a back up plan. This is it.
    Harry Stamper: And this is the best that you c - that the-the government, the U.S. government can come up with? I mean, you-you're NASA for cryin' out loud, you put a man on the moon, you're geniuses! You-you're the guys that think this shit up! I'm sure you got a team of men sitting around somewhere right now just thinking shit up and somebody backing them up! You're telling me you don't have a backup plan, that these eight boy scouts right here, that is the world's hope, that's what you're telling me?
    Truman: Yeah.
    Harry Stamper: Oh Jesus, dammit.
  • Power Walk - an Affectionate Parody of The Right Stuff
    • "Man, talk about the wrong stuff..."
    • Done two more times. By the roughnecks and astronauts, on their approach to the shuttles and then again at the end. The one at the end deserves special mention, as the line-up is about 60% thinner.
  • Precision Crash: At the start of the film, the first incoming chunks of the asteroid hit downtown New York City. Later on, one large chunk precision-strikes the Eiffel Tower.
    Jack: I've seen this movie. It hits Paris.
    Sam: Actually sir, it will strike somewhere in the Arctic Circle. Probably Greenland or the Barents Sea.
  • Precision F-Strike: "This is one order you shouldn't follow and you fucking know it!"
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Harry won't work with anybody but his own team, so NASA has to round them up. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Race Lift: Subverted. Owen Wilson's character was supposed to be Asian American. The surname "Choi" is of Korean origin, but they didn't bother changing it when Wilson was cast.
    • Which, let's face it, is a mild and unintended case of Truth in Television: not everyone has the same ethnicity one's surname might indicate.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: the Roughnecks
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The "slingshot effect" of the shuttle, lampshaded by Rockhound, who pointed out it didn't ever work out well for Wile E. Coyote.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Mild version of this with Harry Stamper. Of all the characters, he does not indulge any vices on-camera, and several times mentions God or prays outright.
  • Redshirt Army: The other astronaut team gets killed when their shuttle is hit by meteors. They never even make it to the asteroid.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: In the time Harry goes to NASA and accepts the mission (roughly one or two days), his crew spreads around the world, and AJ even starts his own oil company. Apparently, in earlier versions of the script, NASA was supposed to discover the asteroid several months before it was due to hit, but this was changed to differentiate the plot from Deep Impact.
    • It's also a Shout-Out to the role of James Dean in the film Giant, which similarly involved a rebellious young man going and making his own fortune in oil. Has similar scenes, too.
  • Riding the Bomb: See homage, above.
  • Rule of Cool
  • Sanity Slippage: Rockhound ends up losing some of his sanity while undergoing the mission, eventually culminating in him using a gatling gun to to shoot everything in sight.
  • Scary Black Man: Michael Clarke Duncan's "Bear" is a surprising subversion. He's rather a softy, despite looking huge and menacing.
  • Scenery Gorn: The post-meteor shower shots of New York City; Paris also counts. Bigtime.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Animal crackers. And the thing is, it's not played for laughs. It was actually meant to be deep and romantic.
  • Sigil Spam: The giant decals all over the interior of both shuttles bearing the shuttles' name and insignia. Apparently, NASA's art department isn't afraid of the end of the world.
    • Or more accurately, they consider it morale-boosting to remind these guys that they're brave heroes doing important work.
  • Smurfette Principle: The two shuttle crews have only one woman between them. Incidentally, her shuttle isn't smashed up during the approach.
  • Someone Has to Die: Due to the Deus Ex Nukina getting damaged such that someone has to stay behind.
  • Space Does Not Work That Way:
    • Why on Earth would they want to make the Russian space station rotate before they started docking with it? It'd just make the docking maneuver that much more complicated, and the Artificial Gravity you generated would be directed radially — toward the outer edge of the rotation — not top-to-bottom as was shown.
      • Well, given NASA seems to have mastered Artificial Gravity inside its space shuttles (note the unrestricted movement of crew members inside the shuttle as opposed to outside the shuttle on the asteroid) maybe this had something to do with it.
  • Space Is Noisy: It's an Action Movie. Enough said.
  • Space Madness: Rockhound's "space dementia" and the Russian cosmonaut's behavior.
  • Space Suits Are Scuba Gear: So that Harry can subvert his future son-in-law's Heroic Sacrifice by yanking his air line and taking his place.
  • Take That
    • In the first scene, a bunch of toy Godzillas are attacked by a small dog.
    • Also the victim of a Take That from Deep Impact: When the tidal wave hit, the first structure we see it taking out is an oil rig.
  • This Ain't Rocket Surgery: The engineers at NASA couldn't properly assemble Stamper's drill.
  • Throw-Away Country: France and China.
  • Title Drop: "The Bible calls this day Armageddon, the end of all things."
    • Though the word actually refers to the place where the battle for the final days will happen - which somehow fits the title as they go to the asteroid to destroy it.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Under advice from his idiot advisers, the President decides to detonate the bomb when Harry's team runs behind schedule, even though this would do absolutely nothing. He even ignores the head of NASA when told, point-blank, this exact fact. The entire planet is at stake, and the President nearly sacrifices it to a knee-jerk reaction.
  • Two Words: Harry likes to do them.
  • The War Room
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Freddy Noonan. One of the oil-drillers on AJ's team who, along with Oscar, died when the Independence crashed on the asteroid. Compared to the rest of the oil-drill cast, you hardly ever see this guy except to say a forgettable one-liner here and there. He doesn't even get a spot in the montage of hilarious introductions to the drillers-turned-astronauts.
    • Some of the astronauts as well. The two who died flying the Independence in particular; Lt. Halsey doesn't even get a single line of dialogue.
  • Who Shot JFK?: One of the requests made by Stamper's team was to be told this in exchange for going on the mission. All they get are blank stares.
  • Wildlife Commentary Spoof
  • Wire Dilemma: Played straight when the Pentagon activates the nuclear bomb on the shuttle because they believe the mission is doomed to failure, and the Air Force nuclear specialists on the mission have to disarm it. In this case, the airmen can't shut the bomb down directly because it has been remotely activated, and they have to cut the wiring. The usual dilemma is subverted; the airman disarming the wires briefly hesitates when determining which wire to cut, but he remembers exactly which one to cut after a second of thought.
    • Also justified in that they weren't trying to disable the bomb, as they still needed to use it. They just needed to disable the activated timer and stop the Pentagon ordered launch. It's also unclear if cutting the wrong wire would cause the bomb to detonate, or if it just wouldn't stop the countdown.
  • With This Ring: Rockhound puts the mack on a hot blonde in a bar by informing her her shiny new engagement/wedding ring is not a real diamond.
    • AJ puts a dinky little ring on Grace after she accepts his proposal. You'd think that a skilled oil rig worker could afford a better ring, but considering his relationship with Harry, he may have George Jetson Job Security.
      • They might have discussed it beforehand, with Grace telling AJ she wanted a small ring. Not all women like to flash around big jewelry, even for an engagement ring. And given the fact she works on oil rigs losing a tiny ring would not be as huge a financial loss as a sentimental one. Likewise, a bigger ring might get snagged on the machinery.