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Washington, D.C.

    President James Dale 
Played by: Jack Nicholson
President of the United States of America. He prefers to get away with as little work as possible.
  • Big Good: The leader of the US army and one of the humans who gets the most focus in the film.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Apparently crosses this line by the time he finally gives in to his general's request to fight back against the Martians using nuclear weapons. This is probably because his daughter has gone missing and his wife has been killed. And he gets killed by the Martians after trying and failing to reason with them.
  • Emergency Presidential Address: 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".
  • Everyone Has Standards: Despite the Martians declaring war on Earth, Dale's hesitant to launch any nuclear weapons, knowing that they're strictly a last resort. Said last resort does eventually come, at which point it turns out the nukes were hilariously useless.
  • Hypocrite: He at first declares he will take action against the Martians after they vaporize Congress. But when General Decker gives him an executive order on military action, he refuses and says he won't start a war.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: With the Martian arm and a Martian flag to pop up, killing him.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: President Dale attended Princeton.
  • Little "No": His reaction after watching miniaturized General Decker being squashed under a Martian's foot.
  • Lovable Coward: His intentions are good, but he's a downright coward.
  • Nice Guy: He only wanted peace with the Martians, was one of the more likable humans in the film, and gave a great speech to try to get them to see the error of their ways.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: The President tries it with the Martian leader. It doesn't work.
  • Rapid-Fire "Shut Up!": Delivers this when Decker demands they escalate their defense to nuclear levels.
  • Rousing Speech: Normally he relies on Jerry to come up with these, but when Jerry is killed and Dale is staring down the barrel of the martian leader's raygun, he delivers a great one to try to get the Martians to see why they should form a truce. It fails.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: The President's secure bunker has been overrun and his only offense is to give a speech to the Martian attackers. Just like similar attempts seen on screen, it doesn't quite work.
  • Too Dumb to Live: He heard the French get slaughtered with lasers by Martians on the phone because the French left themselves vulnerable to the invasion by warmly welcoming them with open arms for a negotiation meeting. When the Martians corner him, HE tries negotiating with them too!
  • Useless Protagonist: Given just how powerful, numerous and unstoppable the Martian invaders are, he has no idea on how to stop them since military firepower is ineffective and he hesitates to use nuclear weapons against them immediately (not that it mattered as when he did cave in to those measures, it didn't work anyways). In addition, he's a highly sought after target of the Martians so he has to concentrate more on his own protection than of others. Finally at the end, he gives up and tries diplomacy / negotiating... only he didn't remember what happened to the other leaders when they tried that (i.e. the President of France).

    Marsha Dale 
Played by: Glenn Close
The First Lady of the United States. Very snooty and materialistic.
  • Death by Irony: She's crushed by a White House decoration after obsessing over decor and furniture earlier in the movie.
  • Death by Materialism: She just stares at the Nancy Reagan chandelier in admiration of it after a Martian blasted it off, thus the chandelier crashes down on her and she is killed.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: As materialistic and flighty as Marsha is, she is able to recognize how dangerous the Martians are after they massacre General Casey and the rest of his party and urges her husband to "Kick the crap out of them."
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: How she dies. It was her much-cherished Nancy Reagan chandelier, too.
  • Happily Married: She and President Dale are genuinely close and care about one another deeply.
  • Improvised Weapon User: Marsha throws the skull of their dog at the alien assassin who infiltrated the White House, moments after the dog was killed.
  • It's All About Me: Marsha tries to redecorate the White House to her own tastes, justifying it on the grounds that all the previous occupants had "poor taste".
  • Skewed Priorities: Combined with Too Dumb to Live, she is more concerned with the destruction of the decorations and antiques in the White House than the fact it being ravaged by troll sociopathic aliens.
  • Spit Take: When the Martians start killing everyone in Congress.

    Taffy Dale 
Played by: Natalie Portman
Daughter of James and Marsha.
  • Artistic License – Awards: Taffy awards Richie and his grandmother the Congressional Medal of Honor, which is only for military personnel (and is correctly called the Medal of Honor, as it was created by act of Congress, but awarded by the President). The highest civilian decoration in America is the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Then again, she seems to be the only surviving member of the U.S. government in any capacity in the epilogue.
  • Deadpan Snarker: When the Martians launch a second attack, this time without any provocation whatsoever, Taffy flatly says "Guess it wasn't the dove". She is a teenager, after all.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: She gleefully watches the Martians attack and slaughter hundreds of people. But then when they bring the party to the White House, she's not enjoying it much.
  • Out of Focus: She disappears after the White House attack, but came back to award Richie and his grandma.

    Professor Donald Kessler 
Played by: Pierce Brosnan
Washington's chief scientist. Not as smart as he imagines he is.
  • Alien Autopsy: Professor Kessler performs one on a dead Martian.
  • Celeb Crush: The only reason Donald Kessler, a world-renowned scientist, went on Today in Fashion is because he has the hots for Nathalie.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: He's constantly shown smoking one.
  • Giving Up on Logic: After his beliefs that the Martians (because of their advanced technological base) were peaceful leads to two massacres and him getting abducted and turned into a dangling head and Nathalie into a human head on a chihuahua, he admits to Nathalie in a later scene (as the Martians get ready for their full offensive) that he has no damn clue of what the Martians are doing at all.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: He spends several scenes with a pipe in his mouth showcasing he's a classy old-school sci-fi Omnidisciplinary Scientist.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Believed that the Martians must have been peaceful because of their intelligence, ignoring the fact that intelligence really does not dictate what people are like.
  • Last Kiss: Donald and Nathalie, as the Martian mothership goes down into the sea.
  • Losing Your Head: Donald's survives in a jar on hanging wires.
  • Opposites Attract: Pierce Brosnan's brainy (if ridiculously utopian) scientist and Sarah Jessica Parker's airhead fashion show host.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Thinks he's smarter than he really is.
  • Stupid Scientist: Kessler figures the Martians are peaceful because of their advanced intelligence. He was wrong.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Is way more infatuated with the Martians' intelligence and technology than their genocidal intentions. He presumably drowns to death in the end inside the Martian Leader's ship.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: He seems to believe that the Martians are inherently peaceful and well-meaning and their meeting with humans will benefit both races immensely. His beliefs quickly get brutally shattered.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: He fervently believes he's in a Star Trek style setting where the meeting between humans and martians will result in untold scientific breakthroughs and lead to a new golden age for mankind. He finds out the hard way that he isn't.

    Jerry Ross 
Played by: Martin Short
Aide to the President. A notorious skirt-chaser.
  • The Casanova: At least he considers himself one. This eventually gets him killed by the Martian Girl.
  • Fingore: Jerry's finger gets bitten off by the Martian girl. To add insult to injury, it lands in the fish tank and the fish nibble at it.
  • Tap on the Head: Jerry Ross is knocked unconscious by a female Martian assassin when she hits him on the back of the head with a statuette. It seems as though this blow kills him, as we never see or hear from him again afterwards. Confirmed by the Novelization.
  • Too Dumb to Live: He doesn't see anything at all suspicious about the woman he's picked up outside the White House. At night. During an alien invasion. Had it not been for President Dale's dog, Jerry would've gotten his boss killed through his own stupidity.

    General Jack Decker 
Played by: Rod Steiger
The trigger-happy military leader who is raring for a fight.
  • Armies Are Evil: Decker's only defining trait is being a short-tempered bully.
  • Ax-Crazy: "We have to strike now, sir! ANNIHILATE! KILL! KILL! KILL!"
  • Blood Knight: He orders martial law and going to high alert the very second the Martians arrive and spends the rest of the film insisting that they must be nuked with all the energy of a rabid dog.
  • Control Freak: He wants to make a puppet out of President Dale, especially by shoving clipboards of Nuclear Warhead Authorization paperwork onto his face.
  • Cool Shades: He is always seen wearing dark glasses, even indoors and at night.
  • Defiant to the End: General Decker continues ranting that America will win even as he's shrunk by the Martian leader and stepped on.
  • Eagleland: He is a pretty good example of "America the Boorish" (or maybe "America, the war-wacky"). He even stands up to the Martian Ambassador with a "the United States Army will fight you on the streets and the beaches and the Eagle will be triumphan-!" rant.
  • Flipping the Bird: General Decker does this right before the Martian leader crushes him.
  • General Ripper: General Decker wants to enact martial law the moment the Martians arrive and keeps on trying to get nukes approved for use, as well as several moments of belligerent ranting. Unusually for this kind of film, he turns out to be absolutely right about the Martians being a threat.
  • Guns Akimbo: General Decker wields two pistols when he attempts to shoot the Martian leader. They do nothing.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: He's callous, abrasive, intensely paranoid, volatile, warmongering bully...who is also absolutely correct about the Martians, both at first and later when leaders are still trying to find diplomatic solutions.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: The Martian leader steps on him while he's still ranting.
  • Large Ham: Oh yeah. Decker is always firing on all cylinders and never not devouring scenery. In a cast where everyone is hamming it up, he might just be the biggest of them all. Of course, being played by Rod Steiger means he was always going to be this.
  • Meaningful Name: For a guy who loves violence, it's only appropriate his name should be "Decker".
  • Only Sane Man: Okay, he might not be sane, but he is the only person who treats the Martians as a potential threat.
  • Properly Paranoid: He was the first to suspect that the Martians were planning an attack while everyone else is hoping to get a chance to meet with them. While he ends up dead along with all the others, it doesn't change the fact that he was right all along.
  • Red Oni: To Casey's Blue.
  • Resized Vocals: In the finale, he makes a very spirited attempt to take out the Martian Leader in person, despite only being armed with a pair of pistols and yet another enraged speech. The Martian Leader retorts by using one of his weapons to shrink the general to the size of an insect, resulting in Decker's voice rising to helium pitch in mid-rant.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: He is right that diplomacy is not an option with the Martians and that war is the only path to ensure humanity's survival since they're desperate, but never acknowledges the technology gap the Martians have.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Manly Man to President Dale, Prof. Kessler and General Casey.
  • Smug Snake: After the Martians wipe out scores of people, Decker's reaction is a very self-satisfied "we all make mistakes", showing no concern for the lives lost.
  • War Hawk: His Establishing Character Moment is to demand for Martial Law to be enabled once the Martians arrive and pushes for an immediate preventive strike when the Martians still appear peaceful, and wishes to escalate to full-blown nuclear warfare after the First Contact attempt goes pear-shaped. Unusually enough, even if appearing to be a jingoistic Blood Knight of epic proportions from first appearance to unceremonious death, he was pretty much right about the aliens.

    Lieutenant General Bill Casey 
Played by: Paul Winfield
A more pacifistic military leader.
  • Armies Are Evil: Or at the very least opportunistic. He plays the good guy to Decker's attack dog in the hopes of advancing his career.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: General Casey comes across as a dutiful, open-minded Reasonable Authority Figure at first. Later though, he admits that he's only sucking up to his boss for the sake of his career, indicating that he doesn't take his (extremely significant) duties seriously.
  • Black Dude Dies First: General Casey is the first human to die when the aliens attack.
  • Blue Oni: To Decker's Red.
  • Happily Married: He and his wife appear to have been very happy together judging by their brief phone call.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: What he comes across as, especially compared to General Decker. He even states that years of holding his tongue and saying nothing are why he was chosen to greet the Martians.
  • The Quiet One: He only speaks when he's spoken to while with the President. While talking to his wife, he remarks that "staying in place and not speaking up" will cause good things to happen.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: He takes a call from his wife right before meeting the Martian Ambassador and makes a lot of kissing noises while hanging up.

Played by: Brian Haley
Bodyguard to the President.
  • All for Nothing: He gets himself killed trying to protect the president, but the president dies in the very same scene anyway.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Takes a blast from the martian leader that was directed at the president. Too bad it only bought him about two minutes of life.
  • Made of Iron: During the battle at the White House, he takes a laser blast to the shoulder and survives. His arm is in a sling when the Martian Leader arrives in the bunker.
  • Skewed Priorities: When evacuating the White House, he diverts the First Family away from one room because there's a tour group in it.

    Louise Williams 
Played by: Pam Grier
Byron's ex-wife and struggling mother of two.
  • Amicable Exes: She and Byron get along well enough despite being separated.
  • I Sense a Disturbance in the Force: She's somehow able to feel Byron being overwhelmed by the Martians from the other side of the continent.
  • Mama Bear: Her introduction. While out on her usual route, she sees her sons have skipped school. She immediately pulls over, and goes to yell at them and drags them onto her bus, where she receives applause from the passengers.

    Cedric & Neville Williams 
Played by: Ray J (Cedric) & Brandon Hammond (Neville)
Byron and Louise's two sons. Both are video-game addicts.
  • Ascended Fanboy: The Williams boys are so fond of an alien-killing light gun arcade game that they skip school to play it (even though they have a copy at home). This ends up being a fitting enough training to help them survive the invasion and even rescue the president.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Byron's kids are seen early in the movie shooting the aliens in a video game. Guess what happens later on? During their field trip in the White House they are attacked and they save the day by taking some Martian guns and saving the president. Whether this is a good or bad thing is your decision.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Kids practicing rail shooter games give them a leg up when they happen upon some real ray guns from a fallen Martian warrior.


Las Vegas, Nevada

    Art Land 
Played by: Jack Nicholson
A sleazy hotel tycoon and Barbara's husband.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Byron refuses Art's offer to intimidate someone who owes him money, saying that he found Allah, gave up pork and is a new man, the only thing Art takes away from the conversation is "You gave up pork?"
  • Death by Irony: Art Land is crushed beneath his hotel's giant globe.
  • Dodgy Toupee: Underneath his ten gallon hat lies the worst comb-over any make-up people ever inflicted on mankind. When he's meeting his investors, he's wearing a blatantly fake wig.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Art Land puffs cigarettes like a chimney and is a complete asshole.
  • Hate Sink: He is a complete asshole of a husband and sleazebag of a casino manager, and definitely deserves to die when his new casino gets demolished with him in it.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Art Land's investors try to point out that the Martians are getting closer, but he keeps brushing them off.
  • Skewed Priorities: He's utterly focused on his casino, to the extent he barely notices the Martians are there at all, even as they're leveling Vegas around him.
  • Slasher Smile: Naturally, given who plays him.
  • Tempting Fate: "Gentlemen, there is just no way that we can lose!" Cue the flying saucers creeping up on him.

    Barbara Land 
Played by: Annette Bening
Art's trophy wife and a recovering alcoholic.
  • The Alcoholic: It's mentioned she's recovering and Art's insistence on making her go to bars with him is an obvious source of irritation to her. She falls off the wagon once the Martians attack, but even before then, it's hinted that her rich-hippy lifestyle is compensation.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: She's obsessed with Buddhism and New Age spiritualism, yet insists on living the most obnoxiously materialistic lifestyle she can.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: After witnessing the massacre in Pahrump, Barbara tries to convince her husband that what the Martians did was no misunderstanding, but he won't listen. She then plans on packing up and heading to a remote location in Tahoe.
  • Despair Event Horizon: After the Martians first attack. Early in the movie, she was convinced the Martians came to help the Earth. But later, in her sorrow she's gone back to drinking and believes humanity is being eradicated as punishment for destroying themselves.
  • Gold Digger: She makes it clear from her very first scene that she hates Art, but stays with him purely because he's rich.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Barbara starts to puff a lot after the Pahrump massacre, but it's pretty obvious she's doing it to try to keep her nerves calm.
  • Granola Girl: She's seen doing meditation with crystals at several points of the film, especially during the first contact in Pahrump, and her despair rant is about how the Martian invasion is karmic retribution for humanity mistreating Earth.

    Byron Williams 
Played by: Jim Brown
A former boxer, casino employee and recovering addict.
  • Amicable Exes: He and Louise get along well enough despite being separated.
  • Badass Boast: "It's me! Byron Williams! Heavyweight! Champion! OF THE WOORRLD!!!"
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Byron Williams, while he is a boxer, he's pretty much a Nice Guy who just wants to go home and see if his wife and kids are okay, especially when there are Martians attacking. He prefers to leave his fighting in the ring, but has often broken this rule to defend his friends in Las Vegas. The first time, he just knocks a Martian headfirst into a slot machine. The second time, he challenges the Martian ambassador to a one-on-one fist fight, to distract them from his friends escaping via plane. Even though we think his efforts killed him, we later see him arriving home to see his family.
  • Boxing Battler: As a former heavyweight champion, this is naturally his preferred fighting style.
  • Celebrity Survivor: An in-universe celebrity due to his boxing career and being a former Heavyweight Champion. Despite the fakeout when fighting the Martians he ultimately survives.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: His fight with the Martian boxing champion is completely one-sided as he utterly demplishes him with just a few blows.
  • Death by Adaptation: In the film, Byron's death is implied but ultimately subverted. In the novel, he dies for real.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: He takes on the Martian ambassador with nothing but his bare hands and wins.
  • Happily Married: Despite the strain of being apart, he and Louise clearly love one another deeply.
  • Muscles Are Meaningful: He's extremely ripped and it's not just for show as he uses his strength and boxing skill to absolutely demolish the Martian ambassador in a direct fight.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Byron Williams shares a lot of similarities with Muhammad Ali, a black heavyweight boxer who converted to Islam.
  • Old Soldier: His exact age is never specified but he's at least in middle age (Jim Brown was sixty at the time of filming) and he's still extremely tough and capable.
  • Untouchable Until Tagged: He's unbeatable in a one-one-one fight against the Martians, so they gang up on him. He still survives.

    Tom Jones 
Played by: Tom Jones
Famous Welsh crooner.
  • The Ace: Tom Jones is a Lounge Lizard, sure, but he knows how to fly a plane and can have a wild hawk act like it's domesticated merely by stretching out his arm.
  • As Himself: Tom Jones as himself.
  • Celebrity Survivor: Survives the invasion and ends the movie singing one of his best-known hits.
  • Friend to All Living Things: The final shot of the movie is a series of wild animals flocking to him as he starts to sing.
  • Lounge Lizard: Tom Jones sings "It's Not Unusual" in Las Vegas. Part of the way through the song, his backup singers are replaced by Martians, and everything goes to hell.
  • Nice Guy: He's pretty charming to everyone he meets.
  • Wiper Start: While trying to start the plane, Tom Jones accidentally turns on the radio... and is dumbfounded when he hears Slim Whitman being played. Being a popular singer, he's naturally repulsed by the sound of folk music.

    Joe Weinberg 
Played by: Danny DeVito
An obnoxious lawyer.
  • Advertised Extra: Danny DeVito has top billing on the poster and gets a grand total of five minutes of screentime. He appears once when the President announces the existence of the Martian fleet, and doesn't show up again until the invasion is underway. Even more egregiously, out of everyone in the cast, he's one of the few who gets name-dropped in the movie's trailer (alongside Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan, and Annette Bening). On top of that, his character isn't even given a name; he's listed as just "Rude Gambler".
  • Affably Evil: He's a slimy coward and traitor but he has Danny DeVito's wonderful sleazy charm and is tough not to like.
  • All There in the Manual: His name comes from the Novelization.
  • Amoral Attorney: Very much so and he even tries to use this to sell himself as useful to the Martians. It doesn't work.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Everyone else zapped by the Martians gets vaporized instantly. This guy convulses for several seconds, then explodes.
  • Dirty Coward: He tried to convince the Martians to let him work for them just to save his own skin. They refuse his help.
  • Evil Lawyer Joke: He mentions he's a lawyer to try to get the Martians to let him help in their invasion.
  • Hate Sink: Every single thing he says or does in the five minutes he's on-screen is a rapid-fire pile-up of reasons why nobody in the audience is going to miss him after he gets vaporized, from being a lecher to being a coward to revealing to a Martian that he's a lawyer and he can be of use in a desperate attempt to talk the Martian out of shooting him.
  • Jerkass: As if it wasn't obvious from what he's listed as in the credits or the other tropes featured here.
  • Large Ham: He is always loud and over the top. Of course he is played by Danny DeVito so it figures he'd be this.
  • No Name Given: Never addressed by name (in the film, at least).
  • Precision F-Strike: Once he encounters a Martian in the flesh, he lets out a flat "shit".
  • The Quisling: Tries to make himself one to the Martians. Emphasis on "tries".
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: He was part of the Vegas survivors for a while, before getting annoyed and storming off. It costs him his life.
  • Skewed Priorities: His very first scene is him rolling some bones and getting annoyed that nobody witnessed his lucky roll, as they're all transfixed by the news of UFO sightings. The next time he appears he's begging Tom Jones for an autograph, still oblivious to the fact that the Martian assault has just kicked into high gear.

Played by: Janice Rivera
A waitress who works at the same casino as Byron.
  • Flat Character: Not much is known about her aside from working with Byron.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Spends all of her scenes wearing a skimpy outfit.


    Richie Norris 
Played by: Lukas Haas
A donut-store employee and the black sheep of the Norris family.
  • Irony: He's dismissed by his family for not being as tough as his brother Billy-Glenn (supposedly) is yet turns out to be surprisingly brave, risking his life to save his grandmother, while Billy-Glenn surrenders at the first sign of trouble. He also plays a major role in stopping the Martians while Billy-Glenn dies in the first attack.
  • Nice Guy: He looks after his grandmother, even offering to visit her when her own son and daughter-in-law won't, and shows her respect and kindness when the rest of the family treat her as a burden. In his victory speech, he thanks her for helping save the world.
  • Only Sane Man: Richie in a family of rednecks. Another reason why they don't like him, except his grandma.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: A heroic example. Richie deciding to go save his grandmother Florence from the nursing home during the alien invasion. His parents tell him to forget about her and call her a nut and then criticize him again for not being like his (dead) brother, at which point Richie decides enough is enough and goes anyway, avoiding certain death.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Sensitive Guy to Billy-Glenn's Manly Man.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: The sensitive, quiet, sweet-natured and brave Richie is as far removed from the crude, obnoxious, aggressively macho and cowardly Billy-Glenn as you can get.
  • Token Good Teammate: The only nice person in his family.
  • The Unfavorite: Richie to the rest of his family, who dote on his older brother, Billy-Glenn. The only exception to this is his grandmother. Both survive the end of the movie.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Inverted. He ends up accidentally being the one to stop the Martians and save humanity, finding their biggest weakness (Grandma's country music).
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Richie's parents make it blatantly clear that are very ashamed of him for not being like Billy-Glenn.
  • Working-Class Hero: He's a regular young man who works an average job and lives in a trailer park and ends up playing a crucial role in saving mankind.

    Florence Norris 
Played by: Sylvia Sidney
Richie's grandmother.
  • Chekhov's Gun: She listens to Slim Whitman's 1952 rendition of "Indian Love Call" when she's put in the retirement home. When the Martians attack the home, they get an earful of Slim's wailing and their heads explode.
  • Cool Old Lady: Cool enough to be able to fend off the Martians with "Indian Love Call" by Slim Whitman.
  • Kind Hearted Cat Lover: She has cats she dotes on and is a kind, older woman.
  • Nice Girl: Like Richie, she's the only likable family Norris member which is part of why they get along. She even expresses concern for the Martians after seeing their heads explode, saying "I think these guys are really sick".
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Has already outlived her son Glenn (and, by extension, grandson Billy-Glen) by the end of the film.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: She's clearly suffering dementia or something similar, as she refers to both of her grandsons as Thomas, which neither of them are called.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: She spends much of the film in a retirement home in the midwest, away from all the major events, and ends up being the one to unintentionally save humanity by showing the best way to kill the Martians.
  • Schadenfreude: "They blew up Congress! Ah hah hah!"

    Billy-Glenn Norris 
Played by: Jack Black
Richie's military-minded brother.
  • The Ace: Subverted. His parents treat him like this because he's in the army, but he's just as stupid as them. Even after volunteering for "Martian Detail," he's stuck doing menial grunt work.
  • Dirty Coward: During the first Martian attack, quite stupidly charges at one with intent to kill it. He hit the magazine release by mistake. He then picks up an American flag and shouts "I surrender!" He dies anyway, but since no one heard what he actually said, he's honored as an American hero. This fuels his trailer trash parents' blatant favoritism of him over his less aggressive, smarter brother.
  • Gun Stripping: The Establishing Character Moment of Billy-Glen and the rest of his family includes Billy-Glen putting together an M-14 while blindfolded. Although the rest of his family treats him as The Ace because he's currently serving in the military, the scene provides a very big clue about how much of a dim-witted idiot he is: even after some untold (but probably hefty) amount of time practicing, he's only gone down three seconds of the two minutes he used to take to fully make the assembling, and this is still greatly celebrated by him and his dad.
  • Large Ham: He's pretty loud and obnoxious. He is played by Jack Black, after all.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: When the Martians open fire in Nevada, Billy-Glenn blindly charges across half the field, grabs a gun from a dead soldier, and prepares to unleash hell on the alien invaders - but accidentally hits the magazine release instead.
  • Pet the Dog: Unlike his parents, Billy-Glenn is nice to his grandma, even when she gets his name wrong.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Calls Richie a retard straight to his face. That was his final interaction with his brother.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Die, you alien shitheads!" Also noteworthy for being the only time anyone refers to the martians as aliens.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Manly Man to Richie's Sensitive Guy.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: He's loud, boorish, macho and a jerk while Richie is shy, sensitive and a kind person.

    Glenn & Sue-Ann Norris 
Played by: Joe Don Baker (Glenn) & O-Lan Jones (Sue-Ann)
Richie and Billy-Glenn's trailer-park dwelling parents.
  • Asshole Victim: They're rednecks who play favorites with their sons and dump grandma at a retirement home just so they won't have to deal with her. A martian piloting a giant mech suit smashes them in their trailer.
  • Guns Are Worthless: They're locked-and-loaded right when a martian piloting a giant mech crushes their trailer.
  • Skewed Priorities: They honestly think the Martians have come solely to get their TV. Even as they die, Sue-Ann is hugging tightly to it rather than trying to get out of the trailer to safety.
  • Too Dumb to Live: See Asshole Victim and Skewed Priorities. The Martians did the Earth a favor.

Billy-Glenn's girlfriend.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: The Martians spy upon her sleeping with her new squeeze and are quite transfixed by what they're seeing. Not that it dissuades them from annihilating the two.
  • Killed Offscreen: She and her boyfriend are vaporized by the Martians with green lasers.
  • Opposites Attract: She's a Granola Girl who is going steady with a military man. Probably shouldn't be too surprising that once he died she starts screwing a stoner in the next trailer.
  • Relationship Reveal: Towards the end of the movie, she is seen having sex with another guy, after her boyfriend Billy gets disintegrated by the Martians. Ironically, she meets the same fate.

New York

    Nathalie Lake 
Talk show host and an unfortunate test subject of the martians.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Can a chihuahua's body really support the weight of a full-grown human head, never mind being able to physiologically function with it?
  • Futile Hand Reach: Natalie and Jason reaching for each other in the massacre.
  • Her Heart Will Go On: Falls for Donald after Jason is killed.
  • Last Kiss: Donald and Nathalie, as the Martian mothership goes down into the sea.
  • Leg Focus: The first shot we see of Natalie is her in a very short skirt and platform heels, casually leaning back in a chair with her leg on the table.
  • Losing Your Head: Natalie's is swapped with that of her chihuahua.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Her head is put on her chihuahua's body (and vice versa).
  • Opposites Attract: Pierce Brosnan's brainy (if ridiculously utopian) scientist and Sarah Jessica Parker's airhead fashion show host.

    Jason Stone 
Played by: Michael J. Fox
Live news reporter and boyfriend of Nathalie.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Jason Stone can't comprehend his vapid girlfriend somehow managing to outdo him: her show was contacted before his with the news that the President was cutting into everyone's airtime, and later, Donald Kessler appears on her show to discuss the Martians. She's on a fashion show. Even Natalie's dog won't listen to him.
  • Futile Hand Reach: Natalie and Jason reaching for each other in the massacre.


     In General 
Voiced by: Frank Welker
The titular antagonists.
  • Achilles' Heel: They can't survive on Earth without their helmets. They can also be killed by country music.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Minor case. In the cards, their reason for attacking Earth was that Mars was going to explode from air pressure and they needed a new planet, whereas here they are doing it For the Evulz. Also, not all Martians were evil in the cards. The warlike Martians were called Gnards and the peaceful, intellectual ones were called Paecs.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: They appear to treat planet Earth as nothing more than a playground, a shopping mall where everything is free, and a shoot'em up video game.
  • Alien Blood: They bleed green.
  • Alien Hair: "Tenctonese." None of the Martians have hair.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Averted. They speak their own language. They do oddly understand English though despite not speaking it themselves.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: "Nice planet. We'll take it!"
  • Always Chaotic Evil: All the Martians are evil. The novelization of the film elaborates on this, revealing that their entire civilization is based on attacking planets and killing every living thing For the Evulz.
  • Armies Are Evil: Their military fire lasers at innocent, fleeing civilians.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: They commit arson, murder, shoplifting and even spying on people having sex.
  • Ax-Crazy: Saying they're violent and destructive would be an understatement.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: They kill animals (such as birds and dogs) as well as humans. Their Establishing Character Moment is setting cattle on fire.
  • Bald of Evil: They are all hairless and rotten to the core.
  • Berserk Button: Birds. They absolutely hate them. They drop their "peaceful aliens" act just so they can kill a dove, and the Martian Girl gets distracted during her mission and stops to kill one, which results in her being shot and killed.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Martians have green blood, their heads explode hearing certain music, and, according to the novelization, they vomit by shedding tears.
  • Blatant Lies: "Don't run, we are your friends." Said while they are going around shooting and killing.
  • Blood Knight: They all love violence and killing. The novelization clarifies that when the leader shed a tear, that was actually him vomiting at the president's talk of peace and trust, because harmony and peace disgusts Martians. They enjoy attacking and killing innocent people of other planets and are disgusted at the idea of making peace with them.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Subverted. It appears early on in the film that they have this, which could explain their setting cattle on fire and starting an attack because they saw a bird. After the attack at Congress, it becomes clear they're just assholes, which is confirmed in the novelization.
  • Brain Monster: Their brains visibly pulsate inside their clear dome helmets.
  • Civilization Destroyer: The novelization clarifies that this is the entire focus of their civilization. Their way of life is based entirely around attacking, depopulating, and looting other planets, destroying all civilization, entertaining themselves by tormenting the inhabitants before eventually killing them, indulging in their hedonistic lifestyles, and than moving on to the next world to repeat the process.
  • Color Motif: Red and green. Their rayguns shoot either red of green beams that reduce their victims to red or green skeletons, they all wear green spacesuits, the ambassador wears a red cloak, they bleed green, and several are shown wearing red swimsuits in a scene.
  • Consummate Liar: To the humans in the movie's universe anyways, who are all Too Dumb to Live. Minus the part where they tell us, "Don't run! We are your friends!"
  • Depraved Dwarf: They are all very short. Dale even calls them "little people". The only exception is the Martian Girl.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: It's implied by the Martian Joe Weinberg tries to make himself an ally to shooting him down in cold blood rather than the usual sadistic glee and in a more painful manner than others that Martians really don't like traitors who'd try to sell out their own species to save themselves.
  • Evil Genius: The Martians know at least ten times more science than we do but that doesn't mean they're civilized i.e. using science to create shrink rays, laser guns, robotic hands that can detach and kill people, giant robots, and defense shields strong enough to deflect even nukes. They are also incredibly skilled in medical technology, able to swap human and dog heads.
  • Evil Is One Big, Happy Family: Their sole redeeming quality is that they have a great sense of camaraderie and are genuinely loyal to one another. One Martian woman is shown giving her husband lunch, the Martians become furious when the Martian Girl, one of their best troops, is killed and dissected, with the leader launching a full scale attack afterward, and they share a group photo while blowing up a building. The leader and ambassador even appear to have a Villainous Friendship. It's telling that despite their love of random slaughter, they are never shown turning on one another nor is it ever implied that they would, even showing contempt for Joe Weinberg for trying to sell out his species to save himself.
  • Evil Laugh: They are very prone to this.
  • Evil Plan: The Martians seek to Take Over the World and Kill All Humans.
  • Evil Virtues: For all their acts of sadistic evil, Martians do have some admirable qualities, most notably that they are genuinely brave with the Ambassador willing to face Byron Williams without any weapons in a straight fight, and they are very loyal to and care about one another, never showing any hints of turning on one another besides minor squabbling, and being furious when the Martian Girl is killed and dissected. They also refuse to work with humans who would turn against their own species.
  • Faceless Goons: They all look exactly the same. Even the females look indistinguishable from the males apart from when the one female goes undercover using a disguise. The leader and ambassador can only be distinguished by their cloaks (red for the ambassador and purple for the leader).
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Martians continue to claim that they want to make peace with Earth, but they are really just there to kill everyone For the Evulz and take over Earth cause it happens to be a nicer planet than Mars. They can put on an act of being friendly, but they are pure evil.
  • Flat Character: They just create chaos simply for their own amusement.
  • Flaw Exploitation: They gleefully exploit mankind's willingness to make peace (particularly that of the president) to bait them into a murderous trap. By the end of it, they're practically mocking their stupidity in their efforts.
    Martian Translator: *as Martians murder and terrorise the populace* Do not run. We are your friends.
  • For the Evulz: The main motivation for their atrocious actions.
  • Glass Cannon: Their rayguns are incredibly powerful and they have technology which not only allows them to travel across space but which renders even nuclear weapons useless, but they themselves are short and skeletal with almost no muscle and can easily be overpowered if they are disarmed and their glass barrier masks that they need to survive are made of relatively normal glass that can easily be shattered by bullets, blunt weapons or even just a sufficiently powerful blow from a human fist. Even the ambassador, who is apparently a championship boxer on his planet, is no match for a very strong and skilled Earthling fighter. They also aren't immune to their own weapons. This is the same in both the cards and the movies, as it's shown human soldiers are more than capable of pummeling them in melee.
  • The Greys: The Martians don't exactly resemble Greys, but their UFO's and one autopsy of them mirrors the rumors spread about the Roswell incident.
  • The Hedonist: Their obsession with finding entertainment and fun is what drives them to wipe out humans and live the same lifestyle they have.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: The Martians love this trope. They have a habit of calling truces, only to attack moments later. It happens four times during the film, and every time it results in a massacre.
  • Jerkass: All of them are incredibly mean spirited, taking sadistic joy in their atrocious actions and repeatedly trolling the Earthlings.
  • Kick the Dog: They are dog kicking machines. They attack the elderly and children, fire at innocent fleeing civilians, kill animals, laugh mockingly at their victims, engage in pointless acts of violence and murder, and even commit mass murder at what are supposed to be peaceful meetings like in Congress. They go so far as to outright show Nathalie they put her dog's head on her body, just to make her unhappy.
  • Laughably Evil: They are pretty comedic, despite the horrific actions they commit.
  • Lean and Mean: All Martians are skeleton thin.
  • Logical Weakness: They can't survive on Earth's atmosphere so breaking their helmets will kill them almost instantly. They are also small and lacking in much muscle which means that even a normal human can overpower them easily in a straight fight.
  • Martians: Some of the vilest depictions of Martians in all of fiction. Marvin has nothing on these guys. In fact, between this film, the comics, and the original cards, these are the most vile version.
  • Mars Needs Women: While they are not really interested in mating with Earth women, they do show perverted sides to them. The leader enjoys porn magazines like Playboy, and they spy on a couple having sex.
  • Monumental Damage: Much like the typical highway graffiti artist, the Martians behave this way among humanity's most prized and valuable creations such as the Las Vegas Strip, Mount Rushmore and the Eiffel Tower.
  • My Brain Is Big: Huge exposed brains, which contrast a lost to the rest of the head being skull-like.
  • Narcissist: They rearrange Mount Rushmore to display their heads.
  • No Name Given: None of the Martians are given names. Not even the leader or ambassador.
  • No-Sell: The technology gap the Martians have over the humans can make the US military look merely like a bunch of cavemen throwing rocks. Not even our nukes work.
  • One-Word Vocabulary: "Ack!", which is also the only word they communicate among themselves. The only thing they ever put their translator device on blast for all humans to hear is "Don't run, we are your friends!"
  • Planet of Hats: An Always Chaotic Evil race of extremely intelligent and violent Psychopathic Manchildren.
  • Psychopathic Manchildren: They are all extremely intelligent and evil, but also act like bratty kids playing a real life shoot'em up video game. Ties in with their Laughably Evil nature.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Minus the rape part, the novelization for the film clarifies this is the basis of their entire civilization; invade planets, blast, kill, and destroy everything, take anything that might interest them (like porn magazines), and than move onto the next planet.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: All of them have huge eyes with large, red irises.
  • Revenge Myopia: They become furious when the Martian Girl is killed and used for an autopsy. This is despite the fact that they were trying to eradicate the Earthlings.
  • Sadist: All of them are shown to take great joy in killing people and don't seem to have any other motive for what they do other than enjoyment.
  • The Sociopath: All of them are sociopathic by nature. They engage in pointless violence and killing For the Evulz, have no conscience or morals, constantly lie about coming in peace and wanting to be allies to trick the Earthlings, are highly hedonistic, and show narcissism by rearranging Mount Rushmore to resemble them, and they can fake emotions. The one bit of criteria they do not check is that they actually seem to care about each other.
  • Sore Loser: The rare times a human outdoes one of their lethal pranks or kills even a single troop, the Martians throw a tantrum or lose their giddy nature, and up their guns incredibly.
  • Stripped to the Bone: This is what their weapons do to most of the people they kill, stripping away their flesh and reducing them to red or green skeletons.
  • Troll: Their main personality trait.
  • Villain Ball: Most of their rare losses throughout the movie are a result of their obsession with petty overkill, their Weaksauce Weakness in particular is ultimately exposed because one mook wasted time setting up a particularly elaborate death for Grandma.
  • Villainous Valor: One of their very few redeeming traits, besides their loyalty to one another, is that they do seem to value bravery and don't back down from fights, the Martian Ambassador even willing to face down Byron Williams one on one in a straight fight with no weapons despite the massive physical disadvantage.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Some Martians can be seen wheeling out carts full of foods and electronic goods from a store. This trait is emphasized in their revival appearance in the 2020 Super Bowl ad for Walmart.
  • Violence is the Only Option: For them, aggression is the highest calling. They cannot be reasoned with.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Corny folk country music is lethal to them.
  • We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill: They claim they come in peace, right before opening fire on everyone.
  • Would Harm a Senior: They attack a retirement home at one point.
  • Would Hit a Girl: They kill men and women alike. It seems they also get a kick out of torturing women such as when they sew Natalie's head to a chihuahua's body.
  • Would Hurt a Child: They drop the Washington Monument on top of a group of Boy Scouts and open fire on a group of children on a field trip in the White House with the assumption they did slaughter the poor children off-screen except for the two boys lucky enough to grab a gun from one Martian the Secret Service shut down.

    Martian Leader 
Voiced by: Frank Welker
The sadistic mastermind behind the invasion of Earth.
  • A Glass of Chianti: One scene shows him sipping from a red martini in his ship.
  • Aliens Steal Cable: Amidst the chaos going on down on Earth, we cut to the Martian leader channel surfing in his flagship.
  • Bad Boss: He slaps one of his generals when the Martian Girl is killed, despite it being in no way their fault. While he does seem to have a good relationship with his ambassador, even he seemed worried he would be smacked in this scene. That said, he does appear to have been enraged at the death of one of his finest troops in said scene, which may hint that he did value the Martian Girl on a personal level and not just as a soldier, which could explain his rage.
  • Bait the Dog: The president gives an impassioned speech to the Martian leader and two other Martians, offering them peace. The leader sheds a tear and appears to extend his hand. It's than revealed to be a robotic hand that kills the president. And according to the novelization, the tear was actually how Martians vomit.
  • Big Bad: He calls all the shots, was implied to be the one that ordered the experiments on Natalie and Donald and personally kills Decker and then Dale.
  • Evil Is Petty: Aside from declaring an attack on Earth for shits and giggles, the martian leader also sent the president a live feed of himself inhaling the fallout from their nuclear strike and getting a helium voice for the sake of Black Comedy.
  • Helium Speech: With an absorbed nuclear blast.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: After the president's big speech, the Martian Leader sheds a tear. He still kills the president anyway.
  • Mars Needs Women: He appears to love pornography of human women, not that it dissuades him from proceeding with human extinction.
  • Orcus on His Throne: He spends most of the movie in his ship, just giving out orders. At the climax, he subverts this when he leads the attack that kills the president.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Wears a purple cloak (that helps distinguish him) and is the leader of the Martians.
  • Redemption Rejection: He ultimately refuses to make peace with the president.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: When he steps on a shrunken General Decker who keeps ranting on and on.
  • Single Tear: The Martian Leader sheds one before killing the president.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Martian Girl's death really pisses him off, prompting him to slap one of his generals (the Martian Ambassador even feared the Leader was going to do that to him too), and so the Leader orders that the Martians immediately start tearing down Earth by sending in all forces.
  • Villainous Friendship: With his ambassador. They appear to get along fairly well whenever they are seen together. When the ambassador brings him the peace offering message from the Earthlings, they both share a laugh at the Earthling's gullibility.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Despite his cruelty towards humanity, the martian leader does enjoy several human-based leisures such as magazines and television.

    Martian Ambassador 
Voiced by: Frank Welker
The two-faced commander of the Martian army.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Minor case. His broadcast came out as Word-Salad Humor when translated. Was the machine not working at the time, or was he intentionally speaking gobbledygook?
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: His establishing moment is when he zaps a dove for no reason. He then immediately kills General Casey. From then on it's clear the Martians are definitely the bad guys.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: On the receiving end of one in his "fight" with Byron Williams where Byron completely demolishes him in just a few blows.
  • The Dragon: He takes orders from the Martian Leader despite at first seeming like he's the one leading the Martians.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": While none of the Martians are given names, he is notable in this regard as he merely introduces himself as "the Martian ambassador" after General Casey introduces himself by name in the first contact scene.
  • The Heavy: He's featured more prominently than his leader and his death scene is more climactic.
  • Hidden Depths: In his final scene, it's revealed he's a champion fighter among his people, wearing a championship belt underneath his cloak.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: When he comes to Congress, he seems to be planning to apologize, but instead starts another massacre - this time he kills even more of them cause they were all sitting ducks in a drove.
  • Kick the Dog: After the first Martian assault, the ambassador sends the White House a request to make an in-person apology. He then uses the opportunity to launch a second attack.
  • Red Is Violent: Wears a red cloak (that helps the viewer distinguish him) and is very violent.
  • Villainous Friendship: Seems to have one with the leader going by their interactions, though he does fear the Leader's violent wrath himself.

    Martian Girl 
Played by: Lisa Marie
A covert assassin tasked with killing the president.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Kills the president's dog and a bird.
  • Canon Immigrant: She is this to the card series as of the 2013 Invasion set- an Early Missions card depicts a version of the character.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Subverted; it's only a disguise. Also she looks really really creepy, check out the picture at the top of the page. She also moves in a completely inhuman way: She walks like she's rolling on wheels, and has a very disturbing left-right arm motion while doing so.
  • Dark Action Girl: She's a skilled spy and assassin.
  • Elite Mook: She seems to be one of the most competent and highest ranking members of the army.
  • Fan Disservice: A slender, statuesque blonde wearing a dress tight enough to be a second skin. And yet it's obvious from her hairdo and lack of speech that she's a Martian in disguise. Once her mask is ripped and her martian teeth are exposed, she goes from looking off to downright scary.
  • Fatal Flaw: Her hatred of birds gets her killed when she's distracted by one.
  • Femme Fatale Spy: The Martians send out a spy in a woman suit to infiltrate the White House and try to assassinate the President. It almost works because of the idiot plot.
  • Hugh Mann: Her disguise is not very convincing, yet Jerry and the White House security all buy it.
  • Improbable Hairstyle: The Martian "girl" has a towering flipped beehive with a central part far above the forehead and a spiral curl nested inside the part.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Her death greatly angers the Martian Leader, implying the Martian Leader had affection for her since it was his witnessing of her getting gunned down did he decide Earth should really have it.
  • Shoot the Dog: Does so on the President's dog. This is based on a card that had a Martian vaporizing a dog.
  • Your Size May Vary: The Martians are shorter than adult humans, yet the Martian girl is easily 6 feet tall. It's unlikely she's using stilts or anything that would add height, as her arms are proportionate to her body.