Emergency Presidential Address
So it's all gone wrong. Scientists have revealed that an asteroid is hurtling towards the Earth
, the economy is on the verge of collapse, a fast-spreading virus has started a Zombie Apocalypse
, or perhaps a mad dictator has initiated his Evil Plan
for World Domination. In times like these, the frightened populace turn to their leaders for guidance.
This is where the Emergency Presidential Address comes in. In the midst of all the chaos, terror, and in-fighting, the clamor dies down as various news media announce that the leader of the country is about to make an announcement, and the people wait with bated breath to hear what he or she has to say. This is a standard staple of disaster movies, and can serve to show that the problem experienced by the program has grown bad enough to reach a national or global scale.
Depending on the severity of the situation and the optimism of the leader in question, the Emergency Presidential Address can be a Hope Spot
declaration that good will triumph
, evil will be vanquished, and that all will be well if everyone works together. Alternatively, it could be a depressing admission that the situation is far more dire than anyone realized, martial law is about to be declared, and a bunch of people are about to die
. If the Emergency Presidential Address is instead delivered by the Press Secretary who wants to assure everyone that the President has been moved to a secure facility, the audience can safely assume that they're royally screwed
In works taking place before the advent of radio or television, expect the leader to speak from a balcony in the Presidential Palace or equivalent.
Despite the title, this trope can apply to an address given by any type of leader of a nation or world, whether they be a president, monarch, emperor, etc. As long as the speech is made by a government leader in response to a state of emergency, it qualifies. Is often an Emergency Broadcast
as well, or as close to one as the time allows.
Note: Since leaders have made countless addresses of this kind throughout history, please do not list Real Life
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- In Rom Spaceknight, the "Prime Director" of the Galadorians made a public speech announcing the coming invasion by the DireWraiths and asking for volunteers to be transformed into Spaceknights to counter it. Rom is the first to volunteer, inspiring a total of 2000 people to do so.
- Years later Rom would met the actual President of the United States (Ronald Reagan at the time) and expressly compare him to the Prime Director.
- In Watchmen, President Nixon gives just such a speech after the deaths of most of the residents of New York in an apparent alien attack.
- In the news report-style DVD Bonus Content included in the remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004) the ongoing media coverage temporarily switches to an announcement from the White House press office, wherein the press secretary confirms that an unknown virus is causing people to rise from the dead, the President has been moved to a secure facility, and then turns the podium over to a general who declares that martial law is in effect for the United States.
- Independence Day: The President delivers an address to urge caution to the public as the alien ships enter the Earth's atmosphere and approach major cities. It doesn't help much.
- This is later followed by his "We will not go quietly into the night" speech once the aliens plans are revealed.
- In Superman II, the President of the United States delivers an announcement abdicating authority to General Zod, though at the end he pleads for help from Superman.
- Mars Attacks!: This is parodied in the President's address to the U.S. after the Martians destroy Congress in which he assures the public that a "very real response" will be coming "soon."
- Armageddon: The President delivers an address before the team is launched, wishing them luck in their mission to destroy the asteroid.
- In the Babylon 5 film In The Beginning, the president of Earth gives a sobering Do Not Go Gentle speech in which she pleads for combat-worthy ships to sacrifice themselves by holding the line in face of an imminent Minbari invasion, while the evacuation of civilians is underway.
- Deep Impact: The President makes the announcement about Wolf-Biederman, and then makes another announcement that the Messiah space shuttle has failed, and that disaster is coming — and if anyone has any way at all to get out of the path of destruction they better get going.
- A presidential address is predicted by Dr. Kurtzweil in The X-Files: Fight the Future as part of him Storyboarding the Apocalypse.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 opens with Scrimgeour, the Minister for Magic, making this kind of speech to a group of reporters. He says that the Ministry remains strong and will get rid of Voldemort, which is particularly ironic in light of the coup d'etat which occurs later in the same film.
- First Family, with Bob Newhart as the President, had a scene where some of his advisors reviewed pre-recorded addresses to be used in the event of nuclear attack, varying depending on the amount of warning time. The one for if the missiles would hit in twenty or thirty seconds was literally the President with a voice-over of Porky Pig's stuttering "That's All, Folks!!" sign-off.
- The movie Blindness features a scene where, after a highly contagious outbreak of sudden blindness seems to reach apocalyptic levels, there is a public address from the governor of the movie's location confessing that she too has become blind.
- The occupation and transformation of Gotham City into Commie Land by Bane and his forces in The Dark Knight Rises results in the President giving a speech assuring the people of Gotham that the federal government is working on securing their liberation. Commissioner Gordon grimly notes that despite the President's assurances, the citizens of Gotham are essentially on their own.
- Played with in Duty Calls, in which the governor's speech is a complete failure (and not even rehearsed), demonstrating just how out-of-it the governor is (and with a name like Merkin W. Pismire the Younger, take a wild guess who he's supposed to be...).
- Done in Stephen King's The Stand, where the president can't even get through his speech without starting to cough like crazy, even as he's telling everyone there's nothing to fear and a vaccine is coming.
- The Animorphs book "The Absolute" has the governor giving a speech at the end, telling the country about the Yeerks. (Few believe it, though, because she's soon taken away and said to be insane.)
- In Robert Reed's short story, Five Thrillers, the President of Earth makes an emergency address to anyone that will listen as a massive solar flare is mere minutes from wiping out human civilization in the Solar System. It is thoroughly depressing - Murder your neighbors, steal their stuff, kill anyone that tries to kill you, as it is the only way for humanity to survive.
Live Action TV
- Saturday Night Live routinely parodies Real Life Emergency Presidential Addresses of this type. Often the skit will be at the beginning of the episode, and end with the leader in question declaring "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!" Sometimes, they'll pretend that their fictional presidential address is preempting SNL and open the sketch with a voice-over saying, "Saturday Night Live, normally seen at this time, will be delayed, so that we may bring you [fill in the blank]".
- In Doctor Who, there's one of these in "The Christmas Invasion". The Prime Minister has to take over the time slot allocated to The Queen's Speech because the Royals are apparently among the people under alien control.
- Dave Chappelle on Chappelle's Show mocked Deep Impact by having his black president give a "So Long Suckers" speech to the nation (after and in response to the press running a headline of "World-killing Asteroid is Black President's Fault") as he beamed off the doomed Earth.
- Prime Minister Julia Gillard appeared on the Triple J TV show for a very tongue in cheek end of the world speech.
- The Mercury Theater On The Air's "War of the Worlds" broadcast includes a speech by the Secretary of the Interior, who sounds suspiciously like President Roosevelt. It was originally going to be the president, but they were made to change it before the performance.
- Parodied by xkcd. The emergency broadcast is set off by accident when the President pushes an unfamiliar button.
- Parodied in The Boondocks where all President Obama was talking about during the crisis is how he's perfectly safe in his underground bunker.
- This tends to happen in Futurama all the time, which shouldn't be surprising given the number of world/universe ending calamities that need averting.
- The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo episode "It's A Wonderful Scoob" has Scooby traumatized to the point he leaves his friends to go back to his parents. Later in the episode, a cartoon version of then-president Ronald Reagan (voice of Fred Travalena) entreats Scooby to return.