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Film / Armageddon (1998)

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"None of you has to go. We can all just sit here on Earth, and wait for this big rock to crash into it, killing everything and everyone we know. The United States government just asked us to save the world. Anyone gonna say no?"
Harry Stamper

In 1998, Hollywood almost destroyed the Earth from space. Twice. This is about the one that didn't involve Morgan Freeman.

Armageddon is 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 — to themselves — 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 makes some calls and sends for the best — Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis), lifelong oil rig operator considered the best deep sea driller in the world. Harry brings his daughter Grace (Liv Tyler) with him, because he disapproves of her romance with rebellious hotshot A.J. (Ben Affleck), whom Harry fired for having "hunches" that repeatedly damage Harry's equipment (and potentially his reputation) and could get people killed. 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.


Also, this movie is part of The Criterion Collection. No joke.

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.

This film provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • Stanley Anderson played the President in Bay's earlier film The Rock, and the demeanor of both Presidents is highly similar.
    • During his space dementia moment, Rockhound says "Yippie Kai Yo Kai yay" which is very close to the curse-free part of Bruce Willis' Die Hard movies' Catchphrase.
  • Anyone Can Die: Fourteen people launch from Earth, which becomes fifteen when they pick up a cosmonaut. Seven make it back.
  • Apocalypse How: Interestingly, the movie has both Class 0 and Class 6 examples. Class 0 occurs when the smaller chunks of the asteroid that reached Earth beforehand wiped out a couple of cities. The worst case scenario involved Class 6, if the asteroid "the size of Texas" would have hit, killing everything, including bacteria.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Truman claims that "not even bacteria" would remain after the impact. This would be pretty impressive, since bacteria is by far the single most adaptable and unkillable lifeform on Earth. Bacteria can survive in space, miles beneath the sea floor, and in radioactive zones. Covering the earth in nuclear radiation wouldn't be enough to kill off every single bacteria, so an apocalyptic winter doesn't stand much of a chance.
  • 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.
      • If we assume the measurement "The size of Texas" which Truman uses to describe its mass to the scientifically illiterate president refers to the diameter.
    • 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 like the map shown here.
    • Crossing over with Writers Cannot Do Math and Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale, it's stated that the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs released the energy equivalent to ten thousand nuclear weapons. It's actually believed to have released far more more energy than that, with an estimated equivalent to two million Tsar Bomba explosions (the most powerful man-made weapon ever detonated) or more than a billion times stronger than the bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • Just like the opening to Independence Day, the film suggests that US Space Command was based at the Pentagon. It was actually based at Peterson AFB near NORAD.
    • The general who goes to meet Harry on the oil rig says he is the commander of the Pacific Air Forces. He is shown to be a two-star general, even though PACAF is commanded by a four-star general.
  • Artistic License – Nuclear Physics: Col. Sharp has to stop Harry from going to town on the now-active nuke with a large wrench because he fears Harry might set it off. It would be a pretty terrible bomb if a dude whacking it with a wrench were enough to do so.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Astrophysics to be precise, to the point where the sci-fi in the movie is so soft that pretty much the only thing it gets right about space is "you can't breathe in it". 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 candidates would 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.
    • Also, the plan they come up with for destroying the asteroid would never work in reality for the precise reason they insist it will work;
      Ronald Quincy: Imagine a firecracker in the palm of your hand. You set it off, what happens? You burn your hand, right? You close your fist around the same firecracker, and set it off... Your wife's gonna be opening your ketchup bottles the rest of your life.
      • The asteroid wouldn't split cleanly so the remaining pieces would miss, it would shatter, turning the single mantle-piercing doomsday rock into a shotgun blast of rocks "the size of basketballs... and, uh, Volkswagens, things like that" that trashed New York in the opening scenes - over an entire hemisphere. However, detonating it on the side of the asteroid and knock it off course might work, seeing as that is NASA's actual plan if something like this actually happened.
      • They do handwave it with the implication that the bomb is targeting a fissure that may even be full of astronomical amount of combustible material which they had calculated would split the asteroid in two. How they managed to calculate the halves flying away from each other in the exact right direction when the bomb can be set off at any moment while the asteroid spins unpredictably on three axes is not discussed, of course.
      • Not to mention, if you want to destroy (that is, overwhelm the cohesive energy) of an asteroid "the size of Texas", it's safe to say that a nuclear bomb isn't going to cut it. Assimilating the asteroid to the aforementioned Ceres, it would take an energy of 8.4e25 joules to destroy it. That means you do not need one nuclear bomb, but rather a few thousand billions of them (to compare: the hiroshima bomb "merely" produced a trillion (1e12) joules...).
    • During the docking scene with the space station they decide to spin the station in order to create Artificial Gravity! Aside from this not being how centrifugal force works, docking is a very difficult maneuver to begin with. Docking with a rotating station would probably be straight-up impossible, as the ship would have to orbit the station at exactly the right speed, and, even if they pulled that off, the torsion would likely break the docking "tube" almost immediately.
  • Artistic License – Space:
    • The size of Texas? Know what else is about the size of Texas? Ceres, a dwarf planet discovered back in 1801 that can be seen easily with binoculars. The astronomers in this movie claim the asteroid was not detected because only nine telescopes on Earth could do so, but in truth, you'd be able to see an asteroid that big with the naked eye two months prior to any threat of impact. NASA can - and has - seen and identified far smaller ones.
    • For the record, Ceres is the largest known "minor planet" within the orbit of Neptune, a classification that includes dwarf planets, asteroids, comets, and other small natural objects that orbit the Sun. As of 2017, the orbits of 745,411 minor planets have been recorded and cataloged.
    • In the opening, we see the K-T impact event asteroid flying past the moon and into Earth. The side of the moon that we see is the Near Side rather than the Far Side.
    • 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.
  • Assurance Backfire: When Harry finds Grace and AJ in bed and is chasing AJ around with a shotgun, AJ tries to make clear that he's not gonna up and ditch her by saying:
    AJ: Harry, please, listen! I love her...
    Harry: WAY wrong answer! [keeps shooting]
  • Asteroid Thicket: The cloudburst of meteorites is explained as the result of a comet passing through the asteroid belt and bouncing shrapnel into Earth's vicinity and knocking one "the size of Texas" towards Earth. This is wrong because a single comet could not collide with so many asteroids and conveniently shove them in the same general direction. Enough shrapnel was knocked out of the asteroid belt to keep Earth in a 'shooting gallery' for 18 days.
  • 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 "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing". While it won neither, it has the odd distinction of being nominated for both an Oscar and a Razzie.
  • 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. Sure, some of those things probably also landed in the sea, or the Australian Outback or Rub Al-Khali or the Saharan Desert, 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.
    • Then there's the fact the loan shark would probably not want to be discovered putting the screws to one of the heroes who literally saved the Earth. They're not usually subtle enough to Make It Look Like an Accident.
    • And the fact that when we get to see the wedding of Grace and AJ, Rockhound is alive and well and Molly is beside him in the pew. So at least one scenario preventing the loan shark from taking revenge actually played out.
  • Broken Lever of Doom: While aboard the Russian space station AJ is told to keep an eye on the fuel pressure and pull a lever if it gets too strong. When the pressure spikes, AJ tries to pull the lever and has it snap off in his hand. Cue Stuff Blowing Up.
    Lev: Pull the lever!
    AJ (waving it in his face): THIS IS THE LEVER!!!
  • 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.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: Harry Stamper's daughter Grace refers to her dad as "Harry" as a mark of her disrespect towards him. This gets inverted when Harry makes his last call home and reveals that due to technical issues he's staying to detonate the bomb.
    Grace: [tearfully] No, Dad, no!
  • Celebrity Paradox: Pulp Fiction is mentioned by name and the woodchipper scene in Fargo is referenced. Steve Buscemi starred in Fargo, in which his character is shoved into a woodchipper - by Peter Stormare, no less - while he and Bruce Willis appear in Pulp Fiction.
  • 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.
  • Cool Ship: The X-71 prototypes Independence and Freedom definitely count as militarized Space Shuttles with a lot more speed, agility and endurance than their real-life counterparts.
  • 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.
    • Davis and Tucker, who are sucked into the void of space when the Independence is ripped to shreds by debris.
  • Dare to Be Badass: The Team has arrived at NASA, and are cracking jokes with Harry, as they swagger into the premises and look around. Jump Cut to the conference room where they have just been given the bad news and most of them didn't take it too well.
    Harry Stamper: None of you has to go. We can all just sit here on Earth, and wait for this big rock to crash into it, killing everything and everyone we know. The United States government just asked us to save the world. Anyone gonna say no?
  • Darkest Hour: With the loss of Max and the Freedom's Armadillo, Harry passes the word back to Earth, and the world prepares for The End of the World as We Know It. Civil Defense sirens blare, families head for their shelters, large groups of people pray, the media ends their broadcasting for the last time, and as one British reporter states:
    British Reporter: "Once the asteroid hits Zero Barrier, it will take about 3 hours and 57 minutes to impact Earth."
    Rockhound: "Guess what, guys? It is time to embrace the horror. Look, we got front row tickets to the end of the Earth!"
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Harry is initially disapproving of Grace's relationship with AJ.
  • Day of the Jackboot: Very minor example. Soldiers walk into NASA’s mission control to the sound of the jackboot, take over, and order the detonation of the nuclear bomb before the hole is fully drilled and the bomb safely placed within. This signifies the takeover of militaristic bureaucratic thinking in opposition to the innovative experts at NASA and on the asteroid drilling team.
  • 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 Independence crash-landing on the asteroid. This actually benefits the film, lending it an air of Anyone Can Die that wasn't there before.
  • Death from Above: The whole context of the movie in a sense, as it's about meteor raining down from space.
  • 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.
  • Destruction Equals Off-Switch: Attempted by Harry when he threatens to whack the control panel of the nuke with a wrench after it's been remotely armed. Col. Sharp stops him since that might set it off and he has orders to deploy it. One short fight and Rousing Speech later, Sharp disarms it properly.
  • Deus ex Nukina:
    • 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 about 40% the width and around 7% 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-Dodging Dog: During the inital meteor shower that destroys most of New York, a barking little bulldog survives falling down a meteor hole (his owner, who also survives, manages to keep hold of his leash and the little guy is wearing a harness so he doesn't strangle). Especially curious as apparently the meteor smashed into the guy standing right in front of them.
  • Disaster Movie: Something huge, horrible, and natural heading towards Earth? Check. invokedAll-Star Cast? Check. Makes Volcano look like a scientific documentary.
  • 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.
    • Truman drops his coffee mug when the shuttle Independence gets badly damaged by a piece of asteroid debris.
  • Drawing Straws: After the bomb is damaged, the crew is forced to do this. The only ones who don't partake are the flight crew, as they're needed to fly and land the shuttle. AJ draws the short straw, but Harry takes his place.
  • 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.
  • Epic Fail: The NASA crew can build the drilling rig from the patents, but when it doesn't work they can't figure out that it's because they put in a defective transmission (one of very few non-custom parts in the thing). This despite it grinding so hard anyone in the room can tell what's wrong. Harry lampshades how stupid this is.
  • Explosions in Space: The explosion of the Russian Space Station, for starters.
  • Face Death with Dignity: After drawing the shortest straw and having to stay on the asteroid to manually deploy the detonator, AJ puts on a brave face as he goes to his doom, before Harry changes those plans for him.
  • Failed a Spot Check: An example combined with Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: at one point someone asks why NASA didn't see the asteroid until now. They say they only have so much funding to search the sky and "It's a big ass sky". The problem: an asteroid that was as big as they say and that close to hitting Earth would be easily visible to the naked eye, meaning it should have been obvious to anyone who's not blind.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Averted. Lev saves one picture of his wife and child 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.
  • Faux Action Girl: Watts, the Freedom co-pilot, is first introduced training the drillers and threatening to kick Bear in the balls. However, once they get into space, she never leaves the ship. The one chance she has to be helpful in fixing the engine, Lev pushes her aside and gets it to work by banging on it.
  • Fist Pump: During the NASA meeting, Dr. Quincy does this gesture while explaining the person closes his/her fist around the firecracker and set it off.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • AJ's underwater training simulation includes complications such as a gas pocket and compressed iron ferrite, both of which Harry's team faces while drilling.
    • When Sharpe mentions they overshot their target during Freedom's landing, Rockhound can be heard loudly shout 'Oh No!' in the background. This is later revealed as him realizing they will be landing on an extreme iron-dense area of the asteroid that would make drilling a lot more difficult.
  • From Bad to Worse: Given the gravity of the situation, the entire film runs on this.
  • Funny Background Event: At Grace and AJ's wedding, Molly catches the bouquet, seen in the home movie over the credits.
  • Gallows Humor: After AJ picks the short straw, Colonel Sharp shows him how to use the detonator. AJ replies "Lift, press, hold. Shouldn't be too tough. Even I can't screw this up."
  • 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'. The other Armadillo's gatling is used by AJ to blast away the wreckage of the crashed Independence's cargo bay and clear his way to the Freedom's drilling point.
    "This is how we would do it in my country!"
  • Gentle Giant: Bear, despite his appearance. He even starts crying during his psych evaluation.
  • Genius Loci: The asteroid is occasionally portrayed as being both sentient and malevolent. It appears to growl several times, there is an out of nowhere gas explosion and rock storm that damages the nuke and kills Gruber once the hole is dug, and it finally appears to be doing all it can to prevent Harry from detonating the nuke.
    Harry: I don't think this thing likes us.
    Chick: That's cause it knows we're here to kill it.
  • 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 18 months, so he's become a little eccentric.
  • The Government: Interestingly for a Michael Bay movie, which usually portrays them positively, Harry freaks the hell out against them after he's told that the government doesn't have a contingency plan in hand:
    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.
  • 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 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.
  • Hesitant Sacrifice: Downplayed, but after committing to a heroic self-sacrifice, Harry comments "Well, this was a real good idea."
  • Hollywood Science: The movie is loaded with it, to the extent that it has become something of a Running Gag on the Bad Astronomy website. Some can live with it, some can't. NASA has even made a test for recruits, where they have to watch the movie and mark at least 180 instances of incorrect science.
  • Inventional Wisdom: It's not clear (to put it mildly) why the Armadillo would need a gatling gun badly enough to justify hauling all that extra mass along. (A deleted scene offers a rationale — it's there for obstacle removal.)
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Col. Sharp.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Harry trolls a boat filled with anti-drilling protesters by swatting golf balls towards them, but does point out that the boat the protesters are on runs on diesel.
  • 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, and 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.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: Done twice.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Rockhound's incident with the gatling gun on the asteroid; upon returning home, he asks that his surviving friends be sure not to let that one out to the adoring masses coming to greet them.
  • Long List: Once Stamper's team realizes they're being sent on a mission to literally Save the World, Rockhound wonders if they could get hazard pay. Everyone's eyes light up as they begin thinking of stuff to demand:
    • Oscar wants some outstanding parking tickets erased from his record. Fifty-six tickets. In seven states.
    • Noonan wants citizenship for two foreign girlfriends–No Questions Asked.
    • Max wants the government to bring back eight-track tapes...
    • Chick wants a full week's Emperor's Package at Caesar's Palace.
    • Somebody asked Who Shot JFK?
    • Bear wants to stay in the Lincoln Bedroom of the White House for the summer.
    • There's more stuff like that, but there's one thing everyone demanded; "None of them wanna pay taxes again. Ever."
  • Lowered Recruiting Standards: Every single one of the roughnecks fails their NASA physical evaluation. Truman ends up asking if they are merely capable of surviving the trip, and a doctor replies that he's surprised they survived the tests.
  • Made in Country X: "Components. American components. Russian components. All made in Taiwan!!"
  • Manly Tears: shed by AJ and by most of the surviving roughnecks during Harry's big speech.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Even with the full knowledge of how truly massive the asteroid was, it still doesn't prepare the crew or Mission Control for what they see when they finally zero in on their target above the moon. Their stunned silence says it all.
  • Melodrama: This isn't meant to win awards, so it doesn't try.
  • Memorial Photo: Glossy poster size photos of Oscar, Freddie, Max, Noonan, and Harry, the roughnecks who didn't survive the mission, are placed on the altar at the wedding of Grace and AJ.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: None of the named female characters in the film are killed (though of course, there's only one female character who goes into space anyways).
  • Mildly Military: While Col. Sharpe is Mission Commander, and sits in the proper place onboard Freedom, (and Col. Davis does the same on Independence as Shuttle Commander), Watts and Tucker should be the "Pilots", not the "Co-Pilots."
  • Missing Man Formation: A squadron of jets performs this maneuver at the very end of the film for Harry.
  • 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...
  • More Hero than Thou: After the drawing of straws, the short-straw drawer AJ has to set off the nuke to split the incoming mountain of death. Stamper agrees to escort him out, but sabotages AJ's air system, leaves him in the airlock, and does the job himself.
  • 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: Shown celebrating after the asteroid is split and its halves miss Earth.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Lev complains that the driller-astronauts destroy the Russian space station, because “Americans always want to be cowboy,” but actually it was because he wasn’t paying attention to AJ’s cries for help.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Harry and Lev refuse to leave without AJ, even as the space station around them is burning up; Although Harry is forced to flee with his team, Lev stays behind to retrieve AJ. Against all odds, they make it aboard the Independence just in time.
  • 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: The first time I got my period, Rockhound had to take me into Taipei for Tampax, and then he had to show me how to use 'em, Harry!
    Harry: (almost-clotheslines Rockhound, Death Glare)
    Rockhound: I ju— No, I-I told her how to use 'em. I didn't show her, Harry!
    Grace:I was playing with titanium depth gauges when I should've been playing with dolls. I mean, I learned about the birds and the bees from Freddie Noonan's tattoos. Look, I was raised on roughnecks by you, and now you get all shocked and shaken when I fall in love with one.
  • 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.)
  • Number Two: A.J. may be The Lancer, but Chick is clearly Harry's right-hand-man.
  • Oblivious Astronomers: Lampshaded to the point of invokedAnviliciousness.
  • Office Golf: Harry is introduced hitting gold balls at a ship of Greenpeace protesters. In fact, this appears to be the only reason he's playing.
  • 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.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: A.J. apologizing too fast lets Harry know he's hiding something. Like Harry's daughter in his bunk.
  • 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 funny moment 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 heartwarming moment.
  • 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 has 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! Because I don't want to stay here anymore!" ''(Engines finally whirl to life so the shuttle can escape)''
  • Power Walk:
    • An Affectionate Parody of The Right Stuff when the guys approach Col. Sharp: "Talk about the wrong stuff..."
    • Done two more times. By the roughnecks and astronauts, on their approach to the shuttles before the launch and then again at the end when they return to Earth. The one at the end deserves special mention, as the line-up is about 60% thinner. The line-up is even organized the same, with gaps where the ones who died would have been.
  • 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.
    • The actual asteroid is predicted to hit the Pacific Ocean somewhere, but it never happens.
    • Referenced and lampshaded in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Failsafe". Carter exposits how a 137-kilometer asteroid is on a collision course with Earth.
    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. (Note that they spread quickly across the country in less than two days!)
  • Race Lift: 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.
  • Radar Is Useless: The asteroid somehow goes undetected until it is just over two weeks away from striking Earth, due to debris destroying a Space Shuttle and bombarding New York, and even then an amateur astronomer has to show NASA where to look. Astronomers started hunting for space objects large enough to pose a threat several years before the film came out, and while they have missed incoming meteorites since (the 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor went completely unnoticed until it hit the atmosphere because it came from an angle close to the Sun), the stated size of the rock would make it bigger than Ceres (which was detected with an optical telescope all the way back in 1801) and therefore almost unmissable.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: the Roughnecks
  • Raised by Dudes: Grace was raised by the drilling team, but still grew up to be a well-adjusted and surprisingly feminine young woman.
  • 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 USAF crew members save for Sharp and Watts The entire Independance USAF crew is 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.
  • Rule of Cool: Possibly the biggest offender for the largest number of times per scene.
    • The movie's physics. It's not quite accurate, but it makes for an exciting movie.
  • Russian Guy Suffers Most: Lev joins the crew after the American driller-astronauts destroy the Russian space station. Ultimately subverted, though, as Lev is one of the few survivors of the mission.
  • 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.
  • Second Law of Metafictional Thermodynamics: Anything not critical (anymore) to the plot blows up. The spacecraft visit MIR for refueling; it blows up right after they're done. There are 2 spacecrafts; one crashes. The drill of the crashed spacecraft survives; the one from the other spacecraft blows up.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Animal crackers. And the thing is, it's not played for laughs. It was actually meant to be deep and romantic.
  • Separated by a Common Language: While Lev does speak English, to a point, he gets a couple of colloquialisms wrong. Also, when describing his uncle, "the genius of [his] family," he reverts to Buffy Speak describing the missiles that his uncle made.
  • 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.
  • Snobs Versus Slobs: A played with example as it's not fancy rich folk turning their noses up at the roughnecks, but the super-geniuses at NASA sneering at the bunch of dirty, criminal, addicted, uneducated roughnecks they have to work with.
  • Someone Has to Die: Due to the Deus ex Nukina getting damaged such that someone has to stay behind.
  • 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.
  • Stamp of Rejection: Played for laughs. The roughnecks are all deemed unfit to execute a space mission (and not without cause). Their paperwork is stamped accordingly.But we wouldn't have much of a film if that stuck, so the experts are overridden.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: It's a Michael Bay movie, so this is a given. The MIR Space Station exploding right after the shuttles refuel is the most obvious example, but there are many others, like a little later when, after the lunar boost phase, the shuttles eject their auxiliar boost rockets, and one of the discarded rockets promptly impacts an asteroid fragment causing yet another explosion.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: For all the ways this movie plays fast and loose with reality, the fact that one of the shuttles crashes is probably the most realistic moment in the film.
  • Take That!:
  • This Ain't Rocket Surgery: The engineers at NASA couldn't properly assemble Stamper's drill.
  • Throw-Away Country: France and China.
  • Time for 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.
  • Time Zones Do Not Exist: When the President is giving a Rousing Speech on TV, audiences in different parts of the United States, France, Turkey, and India all seem to be watching the speech at the same time of day (an audience in China is watching it at night, however).
  • 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: I Can't Count:
    • When Harry Stamper uses reunites with A.J., he adds an extra word to the five he declares:
      Harry Stamper: A.J., I got just five words for you: Damn glad to see you, boy!
      A.J.: That's six words.
    • A.J. also miscounts when talking to Harry, getting his number wrong twice:
      A.J.: You know, Harry, there are only, uh, five words, I want to hear from you right now and those words are: you know A.J., I really look up to you, you been a hero of mine for sometime, and I'm really impressed with your work and I'm emotionally closed off... [Beat] That's like, I dunno, that's like eleven words or something. You know what how 'bout just: A.J., I'm sorry and I love you?
  • Unplanned Manual Detonation: After flying debris from the asteroid damaged the nuke's triggering device, someone has to stay behind to manually detonate the bomb. The crew draw straws and A.J. is selected, but Harry takes his place, giving him his blessing to marry Grace.
  • The War Room: Shown in the film. Apparently the real deal wasn't impressive enough, since a new one was designed for this purpose.
  • 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.
  • Wham Line: "It's the size of Texas, sir."
  • 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. Might be a Shout-Out to Michael Bay's previous film, The Rock.
  • 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.
  • 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. There's also the fact that he'd started his own company and probably put most of his savings into that since he didn't expect to see Grace again after being fired.
      • Considering the size of the church in which the actual wedding takes place, though, the roughnecks got paid really, really well so the ring got upgraded after the survivors came home. Just as a Real Life example, a wedding at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York cost $2000 in 2012 for just the wedding, with a singer and organist thrown in. That's before counting the gown, tuxes, flowers, invites and all the other details that go into a high profile wedding.
  • Working-Class Hero: All life on Earth is in danger of being wiped out by a gigantic asteroid, and it's up to a group of roughnecks to save the day.
  • The Worm Guy: The plan NASA comes up with requires that; "We drill. We bring in the world's best deep-core driller." Stamper is a rare case where the Worm Guy points out that the best Worm Guys don't work alone, and demands — and gets — a whole bunch of other Worm Guys involved. Instant Ragtag Bunch of Misfits.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Armageddon


Armageddon Goodbye

Harry says goodbye to his daughter Grace before making the ultimate sacrifice.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / PreSacrificeFinalGoodbye

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