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"This is the worst news in the history of humanity, and they just blew us off."

"Look, let's establish, once again, that there is a huge comet headed towards Earth. And the reason we know that there is a comet is because we saw it. We saw it with our own eyes using a telescope. I mean, for God's sake, we took a fucking picture of it! What other proof do we need? And if we can't all agree at the bare minimum that a giant comet the size of Mount Everest, hurtling its way towards planet Earth is not a fucking good thing, then what the hell happened to us?!"
Randall Mindy

Don't Look Up is a 2021 satirical Black Comedy Disaster Movie directed and co-written by Adam McKay.

The film follows two low-level astronomers, grad student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) and her PhD advisor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), as they embark on a long and discouraging press tour to warn humanity of an incoming threat: a comet that will likely destroy the planet. Amid heavy scrutiny and skepticism towards their findings — particularly from the boorish and narcissistic US President, Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep), and her incompetent Chief of Staff and son Jason (Jonah Hill) — it's up to them to convince everyone to take action before it's too late.

DiCaprio and Lawrence head an impressive All-Star Cast that also includes the likes of Rob Morgan, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Cate Blanchett, Himesh Patel, Chris Evans, Tomer Sisley, Melanie Lynskey, Michael Chiklis, and Paul Guilfoyle.

Don't Look Up was released in select theaters on December 10, 2021, before premiering on Netflix two weeks later on December 24.

Don't Look Up contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
  • America Saves the Day: The comet is a threat to the whole Earth, and yet the USA is the only country able to do anything. It takes months after Isherwell's plan is revealed for any other country to even consider doing anything themselves, and even then it takes Russia, China and India combined to replicate the USA's original plan (something that they had needed basically zero preparation to do). And while the American attempt was shown to be going remarkably well, with the implication it would have worked if it wasn't called back, their attempt fails. And they can't attempt it a second time, and no other country can. Even worse when you consider that Isherwell's plan, a complete disaster, is still more successful than that by virtue of at least making it to space. Considering how viciously the film parodies other aspects of American culture, it's jarring to see this one played straight.
  • And Starring: Cate Blanchett receives the "with" billing while Meryl Streep receives the "and" billing.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Even characters who seemingly accept the danger posed by the comet as real don't seem to be especially bothered by it; noticing this is what triggers Kate's on-air breakdown early on in the movie, and Randall's own profanity-laden plea for sanity in the second half. With that said, there are plenty of bystanders who do want to do something, as Kate, Mindy, and Teddy are able to create a "Look Up" movement against Orlean and Isherwell's plan—but society has reached a point where just a few powerful and selfish people helped by dulling social media can prevent anything useful from being done.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy:
    • At one point Kate riles people up, and they then start rioting in the streets.
    • After the comet gets visible in the sky, social order crumbles as demonstrated by a half-ransacked supermarket Kate and Randall visit.
  • Apocalypse How: The film centers around a comet the size of Mt. Everest that will collide with the Earth and cause a planetwide extinction. And thanks to the staggering greed, incompetence and complacency of each and every one of the people who could have stopped the comet, it does just that.
  • Apocalypse Wow: The stunning sequence of the comet hitting Earth.
  • Apocalyptic Gag Order: President Orlean orders Mindy and Dibiasky to keep quiet on the comet until after the midterm elections. Obviously, they decide leaking news of The End of the World as We Know It is more important, but thanks to the media having the Worst News Judgment Ever, nobody takes them seriously until scientists from more prestigious universities verify their discovery. When Kate reveals to the public that the president aborted the mission to deflect the comet so her donor's company could mine it for trillions of dollars worth of minerals, she's kidnapped by the FBI and forced to sign a gag order. Later on, after he grows disillusioned with BASH's plan and has a breakdown on live TV, Mindy gets a similar order to sign.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Kate Dibiasky to Dr. Randall Mindy:
    Kate: Why does the ephemeris keep getting lower and lower?
    • The BASH operation begins, but several drones are destroyed at or fail to launch. Isherwell insists they have enough to complete the operation. Jason then asks how many drones can they afford to lose, but Isherwell is unable to process this until it's too late.
  • Artistic License - Astronomy:
    • Earth after the comet impact is a far cry from what a planet would look like after such an apocalyptic event. For starters, the atmosphere is crystal-clear where it should be choked with dust, soot and other particulate matter thrown up by the impact. The continents also look largely unchanged despite the comet having touched down in the ocean, triggering multi-kilometer tsunamis that would've reached far enough inland to make the coastlines completely unrecognizable. That said, it sure does look more beautiful and impressive the way it is portrayed in the film.
    • The Sleeper Starship in the epilogue is shown passing dangerously close to a huge black hole and even far outside our galaxy despite traveling for a mere 22,000 years. With the film's technology level being mostly the same as what we have today, this wouldn't be nearly long enough for a spaceship to reach locations in deep space that would offer such perspectives. Rule of Cool is firmly in effect here.
  • Artistic License – Engineering:
    • When the initial deflection mission begins, each missile and the shuttle are shown launching perhaps 300 feet apart from each other. This would never happen due to the risk of missiles colliding during launch and detonating prematurely. In real life, every missile used would probably launch from different silos across the country simultaneously and would be guided into position.
    • There's no way in hell the second mission could've succeeded no matter how many buzzwords like "nano" or "quantum" Isherwell keeps throwing around. Current rocket technology struggles to handle even 100 tons of cargo, and these rockets are huge. A giant hunk of metal and rock the size of Mt. Everest, even if it were successfully broken up into 30 fragments, outweighs that by several orders of magnitude apiece. Trying to slow the atmospheric descent of something like that with one truck-sized gadget and its tiny thrusters would be about as effective as trying to stop a rampaging elephant with an air gun. And even if it had miraculously worked out with minimal environmental devastation, warships aren't capable of salvaging/mining mountain-sized ore deposits in the depths of the ocean.
  • As You Know: Teddy explains to Kate and Randall (and the audience) about the certainly known fact about Russia, India and China having joined forces for a space mission to deflect the comet which then failed.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: Mindy unleashes one upon hearing that Orlean had cut Russia, India, and China from their BASH operation because of the mining deal. They attempt to do their own emergency plan but fail. With BASH the only one left able to do anything, for better or worse, he believes humanity is already doomed.
  • Award-Bait Song: Played for laughs. Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi's "Just Look Up" (released in-universe as an anthem by their characters, Riley Bina and DJ Chello), is a soaring ballad about The Power of Love ... until the second verse, where Riley tells the audience to get their heads out of their asses and start listening to the experts about the comet that's about to annihilate humanity.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis:
    • Isherwell, in his Breaking Speech to Randall Mindy, claims to know everything about Randall thanks to extensive social media profiling, down to predicting that he will die alone. He is wrong.
    • Played for Laughs when he makes a similar prediction about the cause of death of President Orlean, which is by being eaten by a "brontoroc"; Isherwell himself has no idea what the term refers to. In the Distant Epilogue set on an exoplanet, shortly after landing she is indeed eaten by an alien creature, which Isherwell decides to dub a "brontoroc." How the algorithm managed to predict the existence of "brontorocs", never mind their name, without the people who programmed it having any idea what they are is left unexplained; whether this should be considered a case of Accidentally Correct Zoology or Sure, Let's Go with That is up to the viewer.
      • Possible Fridge Brilliance here. The whole point of A.I. is it can figure things out that the programmer can't. The AI reasoned that they would build a Sleeper Ship to go to another life-supporting planet, and that it would surely have the President and Isherwell on board. It also surmised that such a planet would have a high probability of having large carnivorous animals, and that the President was arrogant and stupid enough to casually approach one. The naming was just a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The A.I. just chose a name that Peter would probably come up with based on his tastes, and Peter named it that because that's what the A.I. called it. Which the A.I. knew he would do!
  • Bad Vibrations: The glasses on the dinner table shake violently right before the comet blast wave hits the Mindys' house.
  • Basement-Dweller: Both of Mindy's grown-up sons are still living with them in the house.
  • Bathos: Most of the humour in the film comes from the fact that nearly every character is incompetent and/or selfish on levels that are horrifyingly real and hilariously exaggerated in equal measure. The peak of it is the ending — after an Apocalypse Wow montage of Earth being destroyed by the comet, we cut to space... and among the debris is Kate's phone cheerfully reporting that her diet is over!
    • To be fair, Kate explicity says that she set the Diet Is Over alarm to be the time of impact.
  • Beauty Inversion:
    • Nothing too extreme, but the very attractive Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence have their good looks downplayed to make them look like dorky scientists. He gets off fairly lightly with just spectacles and a thick beard which is shaved early on into a far more fashionable goatee. Her case is more noticeable, getting a nose ring and clearly dyed hair which is cut in a fairly unflattering style. In both cases the characters are still acknowledged as attractive In-Universe, the former to memetic levels.
    • Though Timothée Chalamet's Pretty Boy features aren't covered up, he's given a very unfashionable outfit and his hair is extremely long and messy.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The following duo who stand in the way of the comet's destruction.
    • President Janie Orlean who ignores the humanity-ending threat until solving the problem is convenient for her.
    • Sir Peter Isherwell, who stops the plan to destroy the comet so he can put his far riskier plan to harvest its valuable materials into action.
  • Bland-Name Product: Most of the movie's in-universe social networks are thinly veiled parodies of real-life networks, with the bizarre exception of Twitch.
  • Blindfolded Trip: Becomes a Running Gag when the FBI escort first Kate and later Randall with bags over their heads. It's later revealed that this is not standard FBI practice, but Jason Orlean requested it because it amused him.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three/four main women in Randall Mindy's life. His wife June is brunette, his mistress Brie is blonde (as is his boss President Orlean), and his grad student Kate is red-haired.
  • Breaking Speech: Isherwell delivers one to Randall at the hangar where he compares him to a field mouse that runs from pain towards pleasure and predicts that he would be Dying Alone (which doesn't come true).
  • Brick Joke:
    • Isherwell tells President Orlean that his algorithm says that she'll die being eaten by something called a "brontoroc," which baffles the both of them. Sure enough, in the Distant Epilogue, she gets eaten by an alien creature that Isherwell dubs a "brontoroc".
    • At one point, Kate says she entered the asteroid's impact date into a diet-tracking app to keep tabs on how much time is left until it hits. In the Apocalypse Wow montage, we see a smartphone that miraculously survived the impact unharmed floating in space, displaying a message congratulating her on completing the diet.
  • The Cameo:
  • Cassandra Truth: Randall and Kate's news about the comet is initially taken seriously, but the White House's spin machine is effective enough, and the media's disinterest powerful enough, that people start out disbelieving the danger or viewing it as a hoax. It's not until another scandal gets big enough that the White House needs something to distract attention from that that people take the threat seriously.
  • Clean Cut: Amongst the debris after the comet's impact are several dead humpback whales that were strangely cut clean in half, as if with a giant knife, by the impact.
  • Climate Change Allegory: The film is extremely overt in drawing parallels between the apathetic reaction to the comet and the real-life response of politicians and pundits to the devastating effects of climate change.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: When Kate is on the phone with her fiancé and complaints about being stood up by the president, he tells her to watch the TV news which she does where it explains that the president was busy resolving a scandal.
  • Comet of Doom: Astronomers discover a 10-kilometer-wide comet set to collide with Earth in six months. The film charts their efforts to warn the world of impending doom and convince politicians to take the necessary action to avert catastrophe.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The cast members' names are shown against the background of items related to their characters floating aimlessly in outer space.
  • Death by Materialism: Probably one of the largest scale instances of this trope. The original plan to deflect the comet which had a fair chance of saving the planet is canceled when Peter Isherwell discovers that the comet is made of rare minerals worth over a hundred trillion dollars. In its place, Isherwell comes up with a plan to break up the comet and capture the pieces for profit, which ends up failing and causing the complete annihilation of all life on Earth.
  • Description Cut: Right before appearing on the morning show, one of Mindy's sons assures his mother that Mindy is having everything under control. Cut to Mindy on a toilet hyperventilating.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The failure of Russia, China, and India's joint program to stop the comet makes the main characters lose hope of any chance of realistically saving the planet.
  • Diagonal Billing: In the film's credits, Leonardo DiCaprio is billed to the lower left while Jennifer Lawrence is billed to the upper right.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Isherwell's Sleeper Ship seems to lack many critical and common-sense things that you'd need to colonize and survive on another planet. They land on an alien planet with absolutely zero clothing and no basic tools or weapons, not to mention no children and seemingly no people to do the actual work. And sure, you may have programmed the thing to find an Earth-like planet, but you'll still need to survey the immediate area for wildlife and actually sample the atmosphere before you step outside. This lack of foresight spells doom for Isherwell and his group, with them not only dying just minutes after exiting their ships, but also seeing much gorier and painful deaths than the rest of humanity did millennia prior.
  • Distant Epilogue: The mid-credits scene of the movie jumps ahead 22 millennia to show Isherwell's Sleeper Ship arriving at an Earth-like extrasolar planet, with only a little over half the passengers having survived the trip and the implication that their little colony is doomed to die to the native fauna.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?
    • The COVID-19 Pandemic broke out after McKay completed the script but forced a delay in filming. During this time, McKay heightened the satirical commentary to include aspects from the pandemic, including how precautions or common sense become weaponized political statements dividing countries.
    • Obstructive politicians initially ignore Randall and Kate's warnings about Comet Dibiasky's destructive potential because they don't understand their science and don't want to accept the reality of the situation if it's true. The parallels to the climate change debate are easy to draw.
  • Downer Ending: Thanks to political and corporate greed, all countermeasures against the comet fail and it hits the Earth, killing all life sans Jason, while the rich elites who escaped at the last second on a Sleeper Ship quickly become food for the local wildlife of the planet they eventually find. The one comfort the audience receives is that Randall, Kate, and their friends and family get to spend one last dinner with each other, dying with dignity. Another silver lining is that the ones responsible for Earth's (potentially avoidable) destruction through inaction will reap what they've sown.
  • Eagleland: The film focuses on America the Boorish, with President Orlean superficially using patriotic imagery to make herself look good while also making the situation much worse with her blundering.
  • Elite School Means Elite Brain: Inverted. The POTUS' Chief of Staff and son Jason Orlean, an incompetent ninny, makes fun of Randall and Kate for being associated with a "lowly" state university (Michigan State, to be specific), though he's an incompetent ninny in this view is portrayed as totally wrong. Later, after he has scientists from "the prestigious schools of Harvard, Princeton, etcetera" confirm their data about the comet that's about to destroy Earth, he is more willing to accept their science just in time for his mother to utilize it to boost her midterm ratings.
  • The Elites Jump Ship: The Hate Sink politicians and industrialists who greedily bungled the efforts to destroy a meteor approaching Earth flee in a luxurious starship just before it strikes. They get attacked by alien animals as soon as they land on a new planet.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: The comet kills (nearly) everyone on Earth, except for the ones who fled on the starship, and even they seem to be slated to die by the large wild animals that populate the planet they arrive on. The post-credits scene reveals that Jason somehow survived the comet, though it's highly doubtful that he'll last long.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics: Randall isn't thrilled by how Teddy asks him to present his and Kate's findings, possibly because he's not fond of this trope.
    Teddy: You're just telling a story. Keep it simple. No math.
    Randall: But it's all math.
  • Everything Is An I Pod In The Future:
    • Gets a Deconstructive Parody. Isherwell's spacecraft and visualizations look impressively modern, but seem to be about as dependable as the Schizo Tech of Brazil. Two spacecraft fail at launch, several more fail later in the course of the mission, and in the end they did nothing to break up the asteroid as planned, or even divert its course. As for their secret emergency plan to colonize an exoplanet, only half of the cryopods make it to the destination. And Isherwell happily notes that outcome is better than he expected.
    • Meanwhile, the aged and used NASA shuttlecraft from the first attempt suffered zero failures before the mission is aborted, despite a margin of error being accounted for. The predicted success probability was also pretty high.
  • Evil Is Petty:
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: All the scientists are giddy with excitement about Kate's discovery of a new comet. A similarly giddy Dr. Mindy starts walking them through the calculations to determine how close the comet will come to Earth. At the same time that Kate is asking "Why does the ephemeris keep getting lower and lower?", Dr. Mindy stops mid-sentence, because he realizes that the ephemeris is going to decline to zero (that is, the comet will hit Earth). He sends all the students except for Kate home.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Some people are shown trying to meet the end as calmly as possible, especially the Mindys, Teddy, Kate, and Yule, who all sit down for dinner and keep the conversation focused on mundane topics.
  • Fan Disservice: The mid-credits scene has everyone who survived and landed on the distant planet butt-naked. The survivors are all middle-aged and elderly people who are not in the best of shape.
  • Film Within a Film: The movie features Total Devastation which fictionalizes the impending apocalypse.
  • Flowers of Romance: Mindy brings a bouquet of roses when he comes to apologize to his wife.
  • Flyaway Shot: A zoom up from Mindy and others standing in the street after spotting the comet in the night sky.
  • Footsie Under the Table: Brie touches Randall provokingly under the table during the morning show.
  • Forceful Kiss: Attempted by Jason, who tries to kiss Kate at a meeting; she turns away in disgust.
  • Foreboding Fleeing Flock: Scenes of fleeing deer, a bear ravaging a supermarket and otters acting strangely are shown before the comet hits Earth.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • One of the images focused on in Kate's workspace moments before she discovers the comet is a printout of an image macro featuring an astronaut going "Well, shit" as they watch Earth getting destroyed from the Moon.
    • A peek into the Oval Office shows a large portrait of Richard Nixon hung on the wall, hinting at how corrupt the Orlean administration is.
    • The possibility of alien life existing is discussed early in the movie. The fact that it does, indeed, exist is what ends up killing the few who escaped Earth.
    • When trying to question Isherwell about how sound his plan to break up the asteroid is, Mindy notes that the other scientists have noted that the sync rates and explosion calculations for the BEAD devices seem horribly off. When the plan is eventually put into motion, this is exactly how all the remaining BEADs end up failing, only serving to explode themselves and each other.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: After a tight, slow motion reaction shot of Dibiasky's face as the house crumbles around her, the viewer is treated to a Jump Scare: an up-close view of the comet hitting you.
  • Friendly Address Privileges: Dr. Oglethorpe invites Randall and Kate to call him by his first name Teddy.
  • Freudian Trio: The three heroic scientists. The hot-headed and emotional Kate is the id. The always kindly, placid Teddy is the superego. Randall is the ego who starts off embodying both Kate's high emotional instability and Teddy's even-tempered rationality.
  • Genre Deconstruction: The film presents how a common disaster movie scenario (specifically a planet-killing comet heading toward Earth) would likely play out in real life in a modern-day political and social landscape, with their answer being that government corruption, greed, and a dash of willful ignorance would ultimately screw everyone over. Also doubles as Deconstructive Parody since this outcome is Played for Laughs.
  • Godiva Hair: One of the women in the mid-credits scene, who is exiting her space pod and setting foot on the new planet, has this trope. Averted, however with the other nude women whom are arriving onto the planet.
  • Golden Mean Fallacy: In-Universe, the director of the Total Devastation movie shows off his button with an up and down arrow, and explains how he wants to get beyond all of the polarization between the Just Look Up and Don't Look Up factions, and how his movie is a mindless popcorn movie that both sides can enjoy. The interviewer compliments his inspiring attitude, but it obviously comes off as a cynical cash grab that argues that the people worried about the impending end of the world shouldn't get so worked up about those who refuse to look at the comet and just think of the potential profits.
  • Hanlon's Razor: When Kate hangs out with Yule and his friends, she shoots down a couple of their conspiracy theories, saying, "The truth is way more depressing. They are not even smart enough to be as evil as you're giving them credit for." Of course, the theory about the spaceship is later proven right, but her point stands.
  • Hate Sink: The audience can't hate the comet that causes the disaster in the end, as it is a force of nature, but they can hate Isherwell, the Orlean administration and the other higher-ups for their apathy, ignorance, in general, being a bunch of dumbasses.
  • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure: Mindy explains to the president that the comet's impact will be of the power of a billion Hiroshima bombs. Kate later puts it at twice the size of the Chicxulub meteor that wiped out the dinosaursnote , which is arguably easier to grasp in terms of its threat level.
  • Hobbes Was Right: In the most nihilistic way... and ultimately subverts what Hobbes was driving at, since the self-interested authoritarian assholes are the ones who end up dooming humanity.
  • Homeworld Evacuation: Orlean and Isherwell's Plan B is to evacuate themselves and 2,000 people off the planet and onto another one in the Goldilocks zone.
  • Hope Spot: Benedict Drask's mission takes off with only a few minor hitches, with NASA proclaiming that everything is well within the margin of error. But then the rockets suddenly turn back...
  • Humans Are Morons: More like, Humans Are Absolutely Too Dumb to Live. The world soon becomes ideologically divided between people who (sensibly) know the apocalyptic implications about the comet and demand it to be blown to hell, people who decry that group for unjustified alarmism, and a significant portion of people who deny that the comet even exists. As Randall Mindy says:
    Mindy: I mean, for God's sake, we took a fucking picture of it! What other proof do we need? And if we can't all agree at the bare minimum that a giant comet the size of Mount Everest, HURTLING ITS WAY TOWARD PLANET EARTH IS NOT A FUCKING GOOD THING, then what the hell happened to us?! [...] THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES IS FUCKING LYING!! Look, I'm just like all of you. I hope to God, I hope to God that this president knows what she's doing. I hope she's got us all taken care of, but the truth is, I THINK THIS WHOLE ADMINISTRATION HAS COMPLETELY LOST THEIR FUCKING MIND!!! AND I THINK WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!
    • And as Kate Dibiasky says:
      Dibiasky: They are not even smart enough to be as evil as you're giving them credit for.
  • Hysterical Woman: All the media present Kate as one after her morning-show meltdown.
    Brie: Well, the handsome astronomer [Randall] can certainly come back any time. But the yelling lady, not so much.
  • Ignored Expert: Viciously deconstructed as the consistent refusal to listen to Randall, Kate, and Teddy ends up dooming the human race to extinction.
  • Interface Spoiler: When viewing the film on Netflix, it's not difficult to tell how the deflection mission will play out given that it starts when Netflix's runtime counter hasn't even reached the film's halfway point yet.
  • Incest Subtext: Jason is his mother's right hand man and likes making inappropriate sexual or sexualized comments about her. Though she isn't shown to reciprocate, she also doesn't seem to mind.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Randall kisses his wife's hand at the dinner table after they reunited.
  • I Reject Your Reality: It's right there in the title, which In-Universe is a rallying slogan for people to ignore the evidence of their own eyes after the comet becomes visible without the need for a telescope. President Orlean proves to be terrifyingly good at getting people to ignore the dangers of Comet Dibiasky and making them believe in her pie-in-the-sky narrative. After a while, even her most loyal followers eventually realize how close the comet is themselves and start panicking along with everyone else.
  • It's for a Book: In response to a worried pedestrian on the street who overheard Kate telling her boyfriend about the impending doom by the comet, Kate tells her they were talking about a video game.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Discussed and invoked. Dibiasky and Mindy are from Michigan State University, which Jason and his mother use to dismiss their credibility, refusing to take action until experts from Ivy League schools corroborate their claim.
  • Jerkass: General Themes is given a shade of this when Kate discovers that he charged her money for free snacks available at the White House.
  • Just Before the End: The movie is set six months before a massive comet is set to collide with the Earth. Then it does.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Downplayed for Jason Orlean. The man is an all-around asshole who helped contribute to his mother's role in causing humanity's extinction. Despite that, outside of the super rich who leave the planet, he's the only person we see who survives the comet. However, this fate is certainly far from pleasant as the combination of his stupidity and his new dismal surroundings means he's highly unlikely to live long regardless, doomed to die of thirst, starvation or vengeful survivors.
    • Likewise zig-zagged with Peter Isherwell. His plotting and refusal to listen to others' concerns led to humanity's extinction; both in forcing the abortion of the comet diversion mission that may have solved everything early on, and his neglect in testing the equipment for his own mining operation that ended up becoming humanity's last desperate hope. But he had a backup plan and escaped the planet along with a group of his fellow super-rich elites, finding a planet that can host human life, so he got the last laugh. At least until President Orlean is quickly killed by a local creature, and a good deal of others start approaching his group. Even on the off-chance he manages to survive, there's then the whole matter of if he and others of pampered wealth can survive on a new planet, building from the ground up.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: As a result of not taking Randall's and Kate's warnings seriously, Isherwell, Orlean and the survivors end up getting what they deserve: becoming Brontoroc food.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: At the Oval Office, Kate frustratingly summarizes the president's decision:
    "Am I to understand correctly that, after all of the information you've received today, the decision you're making is to sit tight and assess?"
  • Lightswitch Surprise: At one point Brie and Randall stumble into a hotel room for a tryst. When the light turns on, they find Randall's wife June waiting for them.
  • Logging onto the Fourth Wall: A QR code shown shortly before Riley Bina's concert scene links to the actual music video.
  • Ludicrous Precision: Subverted. When Kate says how much time is left until the asteroid hits to impact down to the second, the people around her are stunned that she was able to provide this time with such accuracy on the spot. She then replies that it's because she put in the predicted impact time into a diet-tracking app, which she had just checked.
  • Made of Indestructium: If the epilogue and the credits are supposed to be taken literally rather than metaphorically, a good chunk of items relating to the main cast (i.e. Randall's glasses, Kate's phone and cashier ID)somehow survived the destruction of Earth and the deaths of their owners, and are now floating relatively intact, even activated, in space. Other Earth items can also be seen floating in space relatively undamaged.
  • Mega-Corp: BASH Cellular, Ishwell's tech company. It's based on global tech giants such as Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook.
  • Mix-and-Match Critter: Brontorocs look like a bizarre six-legged mixture of a cassowary and a bear, with long ears that pivot like a donkey. They are carnivorous and big enough to kill humans easily.
  • Money Is Not Power: Most, if not all, of the human survivors in Isherwell's Sleeper Starship consist of his and President Orlean's wealthy allies, titans of finance and industry. Because of this, they likely have few or no practical skills useful for survival. Having spent most of their lives using connections and money to get their way, they only can watch helplessly as a pack of flightless alien birds attacks them seconds after they disembark. It might even be considered Laser-Guided Karma because all of these people were arguably responsible to one degree or another for Earth's destruction because of their greed.
    • Also, The Stinger reveals that Jason somehow managed to survive the apocalypse, but as he's also a rich idiot and he stands alone amidst the devastation with a dumbfounded expression with no food, water or shelter in sight, he probably won't last long either.
  • Mood Whiplash: When Kate Dibiasky and Randall Mindy realize they've found an undiscovered comet, they throw a party to celebrate her find. And then when Mindy gets to the end of the calculations of its trajectory, he realizes the horrible truth, won't put the final number on the board, and abruptly calls it a night.
  • Nepotism: Janie Orlean's chief of staff is her son Jason, who has a strange tendency to make sexually inappropriate comments about his mother.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • President Orlean is a Trumplica, and scandals associated with her mirror some of the real scandals from Donald Trump's presidency. The problems surrounding her Supreme Court nomination, for instance, is something of an amalgamation of the scandals surrounding Trump's support for Joe Arpaio (a controversial sheriff) and Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh (a nominee plagued by allegations of sexual misconduct).
    • Isherwell is an amalgamation of tech billionaires like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs.
    • Brie is a blonde news anchor who runs a morning show with a male co-anchor, which suggests she's a stand-in for Kelly Ripa, though her voice, intonation, and mannerisms are much more similar to Megyn Kelly's.
    • Jeff Lander, a minor character who planned to challenge Orlean for the presidency, is based on Bernie Sanders, from his physical looks to his voice. It could also be a case of Author Appeal as well considering one of the two main writers, David Sirota, worked in Bernie Sanders' campaign as senior advisor and speechwriter.
  • No Party Given: President Orlean. Director Adam McKay intentionally kept it vague, saying "I don't think either party has much to be proud about over the last 40 years". While much of the film has her acting like a Donald Trump stand-in, there are a few clues that indicate she might be a Democrat, such as a photo of her hugging Bill Clinton in the Oval Office, and she also bears an uncanny resemblance to obstructionist corporate Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: The movie breaks the fourth wall to point out that the "Planetary Defense Coordination Office" is actually a real thing. They even show its actual logo.
  • Obfuscating Disability: When the FBI captures her on the street, Kate complaints about one of the agents posing as a blind guy.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Brie, vapid morning show co-host, reveals she has three master's degrees.
  • Oh, Crap!: The film gives us several.
    • The scientists at the very beginning of the movie are initially excited to discover the comet. Then they realize that its trajectory will have it collide with the Earth, and everyone falls silent.
    • We get another when the US mission randomly aborts because of Isherwell.
    • We get a third when we learn that BASH cut the BRIC countries out of the mineral retrieval project, so those same countries launched their own mission, but that mission failed disastrously.
    • Jason has one when he asks how many BASH modules they can afford to lose after seven out of thirty are lost. The words aren't spoken, but his face and the nervous tone in his voice indicate he realized that Isherwell's plan may not actually work.
    • If you pay attention, you can see President Orlean is clearly having one and doing her best to hide it after meeting with Randall and Kate and being informed of the unavoidable asteroid collision. While she can't stop playing the politician and trying to downplay things, towards the end of the scene it's clear she's realized how desperate the situation is. She's barely keeping it together and frantically pawing through her desk to find a pack of cigarettes. Lighting one up visibly helps her regain her composure.
  • Only Sane Man: Randall, Kate, and Teddy are consistently portrayed as the only people in most situations who understand the sheer gravity of the comet and desperately try to get others to do so as well, to no avail.
  • Out with a Bang: During the end, we're treated to a far-away shot of a rooftop orgy and a brief close-up of at least one couple having sex as the end is coming.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Janie up and leaves Jason at BASH mission control, only remembering that he's still there after it's too late to turn back. During the film, his father is never seen or mentioned.
    • Kate's parents disown her for her anti-comet stance as they believe in Isherwell's plan to mine the comet.
  • Precision F-Strike: Randall during his rant on live TV:
    "Well, the president of the United States is fucking lying!"
  • Pre-Climax Climax: Kate decides to make out with Yule because the world is gonna end soon anyway.
  • Produce Pelting: Jason Orlean becomes the target of an angry crowd during a "Don't Look Up" rally when people start noticing the comet in the night sky.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: As quoted up top, Mindy snaps on national television about how his and Kate's warnings about the comet are either downplayed, not taken seriously or just plain ignored, despite scientific evidence and the fact that everyone has seen it in some way and talked about it on social media. What's worse is that the President is doing everything she can to keep things quiet, including firing and silencing him and other scientists and ditching their initial plan to deflect the comet with a less effective alternative. He begs the viewers to listen, but his words fall on deaf ears and is instead chewed out.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: The Sleeper Ship that Isherwell, Orlean, and their cohorts use to escape Earth's destruction remains in working order for 22 millennia and arrives safely at its destination in another solar system. In the same time period, only around half of the cryochambers fail.
  • Rattling Off Legal: A TV commercial by Bash featuring Randall ends with a disclaimer being quickly rattled off.
  • Remote Vitals Monitoring: The thirty drones for the comet mining mission get monitored by Mission Control. We see the failed ones in red on a screen.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: A Fatal Flaw for all the rich characters in the film, especially Isherwell, who only decides to destroy the comet when it is too late.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Why did General Themes lie and make Kate pay for free snacks?
  • Running Gag:
    • Kate simply cannot let go of the fact that General Themes charged them for the free White House snacks at the beginning of the movie, mystified by the strange act of pettiness. She keeps bringing it up at various points in the film.
    • Kate and Randall find themselves handcuffed in the backs of cars with bags over their heads at various points in the film, constantly speculating about the motivation for doing such a thing.
  • Say Your Prayers: Yule does this twice. The first time, it is a private prayer done when the comet becomes visible to the naked eye. The second time, he's leading a group prayer at the Mindy residence, with the group preparing to eat their final meal in the face of the Earth's imminent destruction.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • When the BASH mission fails, everyone in Mission Control immediately leaves so they can be with their loved ones in their final moments.
    • Similarly, mere moments before, Peter Isherwell and President Orlean both immediately leave the room for their escape ship upon realizing that the mission has failed and they are all totally fucked.
    • From the other side, after one too many instances of being ignored, mocked, and then handcuffed with a bag over her head, Kate Dibiasky signs an NDA, disappears from the public sphere, quits her PhD and takes up a retail job. Randall Mindy stays on a little longer, but even he eventually reaches his breaking point and gives up.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Mindy's on-air rant along with the shooting style and DiCaprio's performance recalls Howard Beale's "I'm mad as hell" monologue from Network.
    • Kate at one point refers to Mindy as "Doc".
    • The soundtrack takes several cues from Jean-Michel Jarre's Cosmos.
  • Shown Their Work: When the comet is visible to the naked eye, it has the two tails typical of comets.
  • Sistine Steal: During the phone presentation, a screened BASH animation shows an image of god handing a Bash phone to the human.
  • Skewed Priorities: The NASA mission is aborted due to the entire U.S. cabinet becoming more concerned with the trillions of dollars worth of ore contained in the comet than the billions of lives on the planet.
  • Smoking Is Glamorous: The president manages to spin public opinion on smoking and opening poses smoking a cigarette on the cover of a magazine.
  • Social Media Is Bad: The movie makes a point about social media distracting people from seeing the real issues.
  • Something We Forgot: The president leaves BASH Mission Control for the emergency Sleeper Ship but forgets to take her son which she only realizes on her flight to the launch site.
  • Spiritual Antithesis:
    • To Armageddon (1998), where instead of humanity working together to stop a meteor from wiping out the Earth, it is instead divided on the issue and the powers that be waste precious time squabbling over it. Also, instead of the main heroes meat-headed Action Heroes who save the day Hollywood-style, they are Ignored Experts who fail to do so.
    • It's also one to Deep Impact, which it shares similar plot beats with such as an apathetic world populace, political drama, and frustrated scientists who first discover the comet, but all amped to farcical levels. The key difference however is that despite all drama, the comet in Deep Impact is destroyed and the world is saved, while the comet in Don't Look Up isn't and everyone dies.
  • The Stinger: Two. The mid-credits scene shows Isherwell and his other passengers arriving on a new planet and taking in the scenery before President Orlean is brutally killed by one of the local fauna, with a pack of the same creatures slowly surrounding the rest of them, cutting away just before they attack en masse. The post-credit scene shows Jason Orlean as the sole survivor of the comet and posting about it on this phone, before looking uncomfortably at his new surroundings and desperately calling out for his mother.
  • Strawman News Media: Kate at one point goes on what appears to be a Fox News Channel stand-in, with highly patriotic imagery in the backdrop, whose hosts snidely dismiss her claims with the implication that she's getting some kind of benefit from belief in the comet because she discovered it and it's named for her.
  • Stress Vomit: Kate pukes into a trash bin at the lobby of the White House when she realizes that she is supposed to talk to the President in person.
  • Stupid Evil: Deconstructed. Kate lampshades that her antagonists are too stupid to be evil.
  • Suddenly Shouting: When Randall loses his shit in his second appearance on the morning show and goes on a rant on live TV.
  • Suicide Mission: The NASA deflection mission is fully automated, but President Orlean decides to send up Benedict Drask anyway because she can milk a dead hero for good publicity.
  • Super Cell Reception: Played with. In the post-credits scene, Jason is apparently able to stream himself after he survives the comet, even though Earth is now a post-apocalyptic wasteland without any Internet or cell service. Though considering the type of person Jason is, it is just as likely he wouldn't notice if it wasn't working.
  • Take That!: The film is rife with not just potshots at the Trump administration, but at society in general and how we desire even awful news to be delivered in a lighthearted and comforting manner rather than directly face real problems that could doom everyone. It's rare in that it also takes shots at political centrists.
  • Talking in Bed: Randall and Brie introduce each other in bed after making out.
  • Talk Show Appearance: Randall and Kate go on the in-universe talk show The Daily Rip to talk about the approaching comet. Kate's mounting hysteria turns the hosts off, but Randall goes on to make multiple later appearances, even beginning an affair with one of the hosts.
  • Technobabble:
    • Mindy nervously engages in technical talk when trying to explain the severity of the situation to the president. She interrupts him and demands a Layman's Terms explanation.
    • Isherwell's sales pitch for his BEAD program is peppered with trendy tech buzzwords like "nano" and "quantum". Whether any of it is genuine or just marketing BS remains unclear.
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: Parodied in the trailer, which touts the film as being "based on true events... that haven't happened... yet."
  • Title Drop: The "Don't Look Up" campaign slogan gets chanted by its supporters.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: One can be seen in the background when Kate hangs out with Yule and his friends.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: The parodied Award-Bait Song "Just Look Up" by Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi goes up two semitones for the second chorus.
  • Uncertain Doom: The film's mid-credit scene shows Isherwell and the ultra-rich arriving on a new and beautiful planet over 22,000 years in the future, where President Orlean is almost immediately killed by a local animal, before the rest of its pack begins circling the now-frightened new arrivals before cutting to black. Similarly, the post-credit scene shows Jason Orlean as the sole known survivor on Earth, but considering his dimwitted nature, he's certainly going to die of thirst, starvation or other vengeful survivors within weeks.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Jason thinks he and Kate have this.
  • What Would X Do?: Early on, when Mindy is challenged with the task to calculate the comet's trajectory, he asks his group of students what Carl Sagan would do. Apparently, he would take it back to first principles.
  • The Whole World Is Watching:
    • A montage of people all over the world watching the launch of Drask's Suicide Mission.
    • The same happens later, during BASH's drone mission with Mindy and Dibiansky remarking on the empty highway.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever:
    • The hosts of The Daily Rip have Skewed Priorities, devoting the majority of their show to celebrity breakup/make-up gossip, rather than a comet that's going to kill everyone on Earth. Not that their audience is much better, as the biggest takeaway social media got from the science segment is how amusing Kate's mental breakdown was and how attractive Randall is.
    • Near the end of the film, the Fox News Expy insists that the most talked-about story is... topless urgent care centers.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Kate's response to learning that their meeting with the president had been adjourned after having waited seven hours already at the White House lobby.

"Thing of it is, we... We really did have everything, didn't we? I mean, when we think about it."


Video Example(s):


Don't Look Up

Timothee Chalamet leads a prayer as a group of friends and family await the fate of the world.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / SayYourPrayers

Media sources: