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Emergency Presidential Address

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The President (on TV): People of Earth...
Space Beth: Hmm, that's never good.
Rick and Morty, "Ricktional Mortpoons Rickmas Mortcation"

So it's all Gone Horribly Wrong. Scientists have revealed that an asteroid is hurtling towards the Earth, the economy is on the verge of collapse, a fast-spreading virus has started a Zombie Apocalypse, or perhaps a mad dictator has initiated his Evil Plan for World Domination. In times like these, the frightened populace turns to its leaders for guidance.

This is where the Emergency Presidential Address comes in. In the midst of all the chaos, terror, and in-fighting, the clamor dies down as various news media announce that the leader of the country is about to make an announcement, and the people wait with bated breath to hear what he or she has to say. This is a standard staple of disaster movies, and can serve to show that the problem experienced by the program has grown bad enough to reach a national or global scale.

Depending on the severity of the situation and the optimism of the leader in question, the Emergency Presidential Address can be a Hope Spot declaration that good will triumph, evil will be vanquished, and that all will be well if everyone works together. Alternatively, it could be a depressing admission that the situation is far direr than anyone realized, martial law is about to be declared, and a bunch of people are about to die. If the Emergency Presidential Address is instead delivered by the Press Secretary who wants to assure everyone that the President has been moved to a secure facility, the audience can safely assume that they're royally screwed.

In works taking place before the advent of radio or television, expect the leader to speak from a balcony in the Presidential Palace or equivalent.

Despite the title, this trope can apply to an address given by any type of leader of a nation or world, whether they be a president, monarch, emperor, etc. As long as the speech is made by a government leader in response to a state of emergency, it qualifies. Is often an Emergency Broadcast as well, or as close to one as the time allows. May overlap with Coincidental Broadcast.

Note: Since leaders have made countless addresses of this kind throughout history, please do not list Real Life examples.


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    Comic Books 
  • In Rom Spaceknight, the "Prime Director" of the Galadorians made a public speech announcing the coming invasion by the DireWraiths and asking for volunteers to be transformed into Spaceknights to counter it. Rom is the first to volunteer, inspiring a total of 2000 people to do so.
    • Years later Rom would meet the actual President of the United States (Ronald Reagan at the time) and expressly compare him to the Prime Director.
  • In Watchmen, President Nixon gives just such a speech after the deaths of most of the residents of New York in an apparent alien attack.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the news report-style DVD Bonus Content included in the remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004) the ongoing media coverage temporarily switches to an announcement from the White House press office, wherein the press secretary confirms that an unknown virus is causing people to rise from the dead, the President has been moved to a secure facility, and then turns the podium over to the Secretary of Defense who declares that martial law is in effect for the United States.
  • Independence Day: The President delivers an address to urge caution to the public as the alien ships enter the Earth's atmosphere and approach major cities. It doesn't help much..
  • In Superman II, the President of the United States delivers an announcement abdicating authority to General Zod, though at the end he pleads for help from Superman.
  • Mars Attacks!: This is parodied in the President's address to the U.S. after the Martians destroy Congress in which he assures the public that a "very real response" will be coming "soon."
  • Armageddon (1998): The President delivers an address before the team is launched, wishing them luck in their mission to destroy the asteroid.
  • In the Babylon 5 film In The Beginning, the president of Earth gives a sobering Do Not Go Gentle speech in which she pleads for combat-worthy ships to sacrifice themselves by holding the line in face of an imminent Minbari invasion, while the evacuation of civilians is underway.
  • Deep Impact: The President makes the announcement about Wolf-Biederman, and then makes another announcement that the Messiah space shuttle has failed, and that disaster is coming — and if anyone has any way at all to get out of the path of destruction they better get going.
  • A presidential address is predicted by Dr. Kurtzweil in The X-Files: Fight the Future as part of him Storyboarding the Apocalypse.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 opens with Scrimgeour, the Minister for Magic, making this kind of speech to a group of reporters. He says that the Ministry remains strong and will get rid of Voldemort, which is particularly ironic in light of the coup d'etat which occurs later in the same film.
  • First Family, with Bob Newhart as the President, had a scene where some of his advisors reviewed pre-recorded addresses to be used in the event of nuclear attack, varying depending on the amount of warning time. The one for if the missiles would hit in twenty or thirty seconds was literally the President with a voice-over of Porky Pig's stuttering "That's All, Folks!!" sign-off.
  • The movie Blindness features a scene where, after a highly contagious outbreak of sudden blindness seems to reach apocalyptic levels, there is a public address from the governor of the movie's location confessing that she too has become blind.
  • The occupation and transformation of Gotham City into Commie Land by Bane and his forces in The Dark Knight Rises results in the President giving a speech assuring the people of Gotham that the federal government is working on securing their liberation. Commissioner Gordon grimly notes that despite the President's assurances, the citizens of Gotham are essentially on their own.
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: as the alien space probe begins to assail Earth and drain power from nearby spacecraft, the President of the Federation makes an emergency broadcast warning any other vessels to "avoid the planet Earth at all costs."

  • The Animorphs book, The Absolute, has the governor giving a speech at the end, telling the country about the Yeerks. (Few believe it, though, because she's soon taken away and said to be insane.)
  • Isaac Asimov's "The Tercentenary Incident": After the Assassination Attempt had been foiled by a robot duplicate, President Winkler launches into a grand speech that inspired everyone present and is already named the Tercentenary speech.
    "It was brought about by the President's quick action in stepping forward and delivering what you will have to admit was one of the great speeches of American history. It was an absolutely amazing performance; you will have to admit that."
  • Stephen King's The Stand: The president can't even get through his speech without starting to cough like crazy, even as he's telling everyone there's nothing to fear and a vaccine is coming.
  • In Robert Reed's short story, "Five Thrillers", the President of Earth makes an emergency address to anyone that will listen as a massive solar flare is mere minutes from wiping out human civilization in the Solar System. It is thoroughly depressing - Murder your neighbors, steal their stuff, kill anyone that tries to kill you, as it is the only way for humanity to survive.
  • Warhammer 40,000's Ciaphas Cain:
  • Somewhat lampshaded in Alas, Babylon, when the new President is a very junior Cabinet member (everyone higher up the succession line is known to be dead), and she specifically says that the fact she's the one giving that address should tell the listener just how bad the situation is.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Saturday Night Live routinely parodies Real Life Emergency Presidential Addresses of this type. Often the skit will be at the beginning of the episode, and end with the leader in question declaring "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!" Sometimes, they'll pretend that their fictional presidential address is preempting SNL and open the sketch with a voice-over saying, "Saturday Night Live, normally seen at this time, will be delayed, so that we may bring you [fill in the blank]".
  • In Doctor Who, there's one of these in "The Christmas Invasion". The Prime Minister has to take over the time slot allocated to The Queen's Speech because the Royals are apparently among the people under alien control.
  • Dave Chappelle on Chappelle's Show mocked Deep Impact by having his black president give a "So Long Suckers" speech to the nation (after and in response to the press running a headline of "World-killing Asteroid is Black President's Fault") as he beamed off the doomed Earth.
  • Prime Minister Julia Gillard appeared on the Triple J TV show for a very tongue in cheek end of the world speech.
    Julia:Whether the final blow comes from flesh-eating zombies, demonic hell-beasts or from the total triumph of K-Pop, if you know one thing about me it is this - I will always fight for you to the very end.
  • On The 100, when Mount Weather is under assault by an army seeking to liberate the captive Grounders and Sky People, newly self-instated President Cage Wallace addresses the entire Mountain via loudspeaker, urging them to be united in their plan to use the Sky People to cure their radiation sickness and let them finally leave their Underground City.
  • The pilot of Designated Survivor ends with the newly sworn-in President Kirkman beginning to give one to the American people in light of the terrorist attack on Congress. We only get to hear snippets of it via news broadcasts in the beginning of the second episode, and from the sound of it, it was not received well by the public.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "Trial by Fire", President Charles Halsey makes one after the alien fleet approaching Earth is detected.
  • Star Trek: Picard: during the Borg onslaught, the Federation president (voiced by Walter Koenig) makes an emergency broadcast whose wording is an Internal Homage to the one in Star Trek IV.

  • The Mercury Theater On The Air's "The War of the Worlds (1938)" broadcast includes a speech by the Secretary of the Interior, who sounds suspiciously like President Roosevelt. It was originally going to be the president, but they were made to change it before the performance.note 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mage: The Ascension features two of these in its concluding book, Ascension, both examples of the Technocracy's desperate attempt to reinforce The Masquerade in the aftermath of the mass-Awakening of mages across the world; the first is from the President of the United States, the second from the Premier of China. Though they vary distinctly in tone, they're both clear and obvious attempts by the Technocracy to use the Traditions as a scapegoat for the disaster, including a rather slapdash attempt to pass off the very real magic on display as the result of mind-altering drugs.
  • One of the opening fluff stories of Palladium Books' "Systems Failure" RPG was the transcription of an emergency message by the President of the United States in light of the world-wide chaos that is happening during Y2K... that gets interrupted violently when one of the insect alien Bugs that caused said chaos teleports right in the middle of the Oval Office through the electrical wiring and slaughters everybody inside.

    Video Games 
  • In The Secret World, players witness one of these almost immediately after they arrive in Tokyo, playing on one of the massive screens overlooking Kaidan train station. Here, a senior government official by the name of Masao Tanaka alerts the local populace to the danger posed by the "unknown pathogen" currently spreading throughout Tokyo, provides special procedures to follow in order to avoid infection, warns that any attempts to escape the quarantine will be met with deadly force, and assures the viewers that the situation will be resolved soon. Unfortunately, his attempts to keep the populace calm are immediately sabotaged when The Black Signal begins splicing in footage of soldiers gunning down unarmed civilians.
  • Fallout 4 has a bunch of in-progress newspaper articles on a terminal in the ruins of the Boston Bugle building. One of said articles mentions that the president had been found out to be taking residence in an oil rig off the coast of California. Sound familiar? It’s the HQ of the West Coast Enclave, the villains of Fallout 2.

  • Parodied by xkcd. The emergency broadcast is set off by accident when the President pushes an unfamiliar button.

    Web Original 
  • LOCAL58: "Contingency" revolves around an accidental broadcast of a pre-made emergency statement by President Lyndon Johnson (the exact date is unknown, though strangely, there is an expiration date shown as November 3rd, 1970, which was after Johnson's term), and seems to have been produced if the U.S was ever defeated by an overwhelming enemy, and contains a presidential order for all American citizens to commit collective suicide just to deny the enemy a victory. It even includes instructions on how to go through with it most effectively, to make sure to kill your children and pets as well, and a warning that remaining police and military forces will enforce compliance from the civilians. There's also a signed statement that Johnson himself, along with his family, will already have gone through the same process once the broadcast made it to air.
  • Three of the DVD-exclusive alternate endings to The Strangerhood involve world-ending scenarios. In each, President Wade makes one of these to basically say that panicking is permitted.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in The Boondocks episode "The Fried Chicken Flu", when the titular pandemic is causing chaos throughout the United States (and apparently the rest of the world too). US President Barack Obama tries to make a televised speech to calm down the American public, but he's not helping much when he starts talking about how he and his family are living quite comfortably in the White House bunker.
  • This tends to happen in Futurama all the time, which shouldn't be surprising given the number of world/universe ending calamities that need averting.
  • The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo episode "It's A Wonderful Scoob" has Scooby traumatized to the point he leaves his friends to go back to his parents. Later in the episode, a cartoon version of then-president Ronald Reagan (voice of Fred Travalena) appears on TV and entreats Scooby to return.


Video Example(s):


Armageddon President Address

The US President gives a special address to let the world know about the US mission to save the Earth.

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