- Let's be honest, watching all the people in the cities being slaughtered was pretty heartbreaking.
"We could have evacuated the cities hours ago. That's the advantage of being a fighter pilot. In the Gulf War, we knew what we had to do. It's just... not simple anymore."
- Especially the following scene on Air Force One, where Whitmore is clearly blaming himself for not preparing for the possibility that the aliens were hostile.
President Whitmore: This isn't happening fast enough! GET THEM OUT OF THERE!
- And then General Grey arrives and tells him that the First Ladys helicopter never made it to safety.
- Let's put this scene into perspective: millions of Americans in three major cities (among them the capital city) have just died on Whitmore's watch, the government is scattered and in disarray. Despite being released five years prior, this is 9/11 on several orders of magnitude. Bill Pullman is able to capture the gravitas that a president would be feeling in such a situation.
- Whitmore unintentionally sending an entire military base to their deaths by launching a desperate counterattack above the ruins of L.A. Here is blaming himself for not evacuating the cities earlier, but his wife is MIA. You can just hear the desperation in his voice when he shouts at the crewman to get the Black Knights out of the battle.
News reporter: Reports indicate that this battle has repeated itself all over the world with the exact same results.
- Not to mention this was happening at the same time as (unseen) counterattacks over New York and Washington.
- It wasn't just the American counterattack. Every counterattack all over the world started and ended like this. The Luftwaffe engaging the destroyer over Berlin, the RAF engaging the London destroyer, the People's Liberation Army Air Force engaging the Beijing destroyer, the RSAF engaging the Singapore destroyer, the RCAF engaging the Toronto destroyer, the ROK Air Force engaging the Seoul destroyer, the list goes on. Not one was victorious.
- Like Jasmine had Steve on El Toro, thousands of other people had a loved one in the air forces across the world. Even if they were far away from the city destroyers, they likely remembered that their loved one was part of a Squadron that was shot down after the destroyer unleashed a swarm of defender craft. Once the fighters were shot down, anyone whose loved one was part of the ground crew must've heard of the massive strafing run on the airfield.
- This exchange:Patricia: Is Mommy sleeping now?Whitmore: Yeah. Mommy's sleeping.
Whitmore: The doctors tell me... that youre gonna be just fine.Marilyn: (bittersweet smile) Liar...
- The fact that she immediately crawls into his arms and hugs him tells you that even at all of six years old, she realizes exactly what he really means. After all, if you recall his first family scene, you know that they think he's a terrible liar.
- Also, the moment where Whitmore has to tell his wife that shes going to die.
- The First Lady's death in general. President Whitmore finally gets the first scrap of good news in the past two days, that his wife is alive but injured. However, she has severe internal bleeding and is going to die no matter what. After he rejoins his daughter outside and she asks if Mom is sleeping, he says with a defeated tone that she is. She crawls into his arms and he hugs her tightly, finally breaking down crying. The past 48 hours have been an absolute hell; untold millions of people are dead, countless cities have been destroyed, the United States military has been thoroughly routed, a desperate nuclear strike did nothing to stop the aliens and instead destroyed another city, and the overall situation is beyond hopeless. Even though the President handled everything that has happened with determined stoicism, the death of his wife was just too much.
- The look on Hiller's face when he finds out that the air base where his girlfriend and her son were headed has been destroyed. They're alive, but he doesn't know that, and they have a similar reaction when they think he's been killed.
- The novel features an extra scene just before the counterattack briefing. Hiller tries to call Jasmine and his parents. All he keeps getting is "All circuits are busy." He then starts to blame himself for not taking Jasmine with him, leading to his determination to make the aliens pay.
- The destruction of El Toro is actually sadder when you think about it. Hiller, being a dedicated Marine, most likely saw the base as his home away from home, and the rest of Black Knight Squadron were his closest friends, so when General Gray informed him that El Toro was destroyed, not only was Hiller mourning the possibility that Jasmine and Dylan were killed, but his friends that he had come to know from flight school, and even as far back as boot camp, were also dead.
- The scene where Russell's teenage son overhears his dad's last message... and not being able to say goodbye after all those times of not only thinking his dad was a loser, but straight up saying it to his face.Miguel: Dad!! What's he doing!?
- While Russell's kamikaze piloting is a truly awesome moment, the scene when he makes the decision to pilot his plane directly into the alien's energy weapon is still heartbreaking:Russell: Do me a favor. Tell my children... I love them very much...
- What makes it worse is that Russell says this after looking at a picture of his children that he's taped to the inside of his plane.
- A meta example - this film was the swan song for an era. It was pretty much the last big-budget special-effects movie to rely almost entirely on practical effects and models, rather than CGI.
- The viral marketing website for Independence Day: Resurgence, Warof1996.com has a map of all the cities that were destroyed. Looking through, it reveals how widespread and total the devastation was. Cities like Tokyo, Paris, London, Berlin, and New York were destroyed in equal measure alongside places like Pyongyang, Baghdad, Vientiane, Nairobi and Manila. All in all, 108 cities were wiped off the map in just 48 hours, with a total of 3 billion deaths.
- Plus once you consider all that mankind lost on top of the human dead. Humanity has also lost its countless treasures, artworks, monuments, and antiquities. The British Museum, the Smithsonian, and the Louvre were destroyed in the first wave, taking with them the works of humanity's greatest and often most obscure artisans as well as our historical and cultural heritage. Cities and institutions that lasted for decades, even centuries, like Harvard, MIT, Oxford, etc are all gone. It will take many decades to rebuild, and even then it won't be the same.
- Combined with Fridge Horror, in the special edition, Russell tells his ill stepson that his "mother didn't want to take her medicine, either". No further information on his wife's death is given, but it leaves open a lot of unpleasant possibilities.
- The novelization goes deeper into Russell's backstory, particularly the aftermath of his abduction. The aliens ruined his life. After being found wandering the desert, he realized he had been given false memories and tried to uncover the real ones, going to everyone from UFO abduction support groups to psychics. He became so obsessed that he didn't realize his wife was sick, and after she died, he became an alcoholic wreck. This makes his payback all the more satisfying.
- While fodder for quite a bit of comedy, the scene where David is in a drunken rage and throwing trash around in the break room apart can be rough to think about. Here is a Wide-Eyed Idealist who is utterly beaten down by the universe and can do nothing in response but knock over a trash can, in hopes of making the world a tiny bit worse out of spite. It's only a Eureka Moment thanks to a word of concern from his father that brings him back.
- The realization that not even nuclear weapons can get past the alien shields. During the explosion, everyone is cheering, thinking the alien ship is obliterated, but then the smoke clears and they see the City Destroyer is still hovering above the now-ruined Houston, ready to move on to its next target (for the bomb has done the ship's work for it). Humanity's last line of defense, its most destructive weapon... is not only useless against the seemingly invincible invaders, but unleashing it hurt humanity more than the aliens. Whatever remaining hope Team Earth had in that moment vanished.Whitmore: Call them back.
Nimzicki: Other bombers might have more luck, so we shouldn't just give up on this!—
Whitmore: I SAID CALL THEM BACK!!
- The final human death toll, as revealed by Resurgence's marketing? 3 billion. The human population in 1996 was around 5.8 billion, so over half the world's population was lost in the destruction of 108 cities.
- Whitmore coming face-to-face with the alien. All-in-all, it's been a horrible 24 hours: the invaders have destroyed 72 cities, killed countless millions, and routed humanity's armed forces. Earth is completely at the mercy of the aliens, and he tries to find a peaceful solution, in the hopes that the creatures understand what "peace" and "coexistence" are. Turns out, they don't. The aliens can't coexist with humans any more than humans can live in a house filled with cockroaches. To them, we're simply the vermin that must be exterminated.
"We're being exterminated..."
- Also, the look on Whitmore's face when he's updated about the second wave. He walks into the control room and sees a giant map of America, with black marks over Atlanta, Chicago, and Philadelphia. General Grey tells him that Europe is being hit as badly as they are, with NATO completely wiped out, and that the U.S. military only has 15% of their military capability left. You can definitely hear the despair in Whitmore's voice when he's told that the aliens will complete the destruction of every major city in just 36 hours.
- Not to mention seeing the original WTC being destroyed, knowing that a few short years later it happens in real life.
- President Whitmore's Independence Day speech, while undeniably badass and memorable, is moving enough to bring more than a tear or two."We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive!"
- Jimmy's death. You can tell by how desperate and heartbroken Steve's tone is you can deduce he's just lost his true best friend.Steve: Jimmy! NOOOOOOOO!!!
- This exchange between Constance and David after Whitmore authorizes a nuke strike on the City Destroyers, where the former finds him drinking as a result:Constance: Haven't you ever wanted to be part of something special?(David slams the bottle of liquor on the counter)David: I was part of something special.
- This immediately hits Constance hard, realizing that their divorce actually hurt David quite significantly. This next exchange right after twists the knife even further:Constance: You know, if it makes any difference... I never stopped loving you.David: ... but that wasn't enough, was it?(Constance solemnly walks out)
- Later becomes heartwarming when she notices during Steve and Jasmine's wedding that after all this time, David still wears his wedding ring, and reconnect... only to split apart again, this time permanently, when Independence Day: Crucible reveals that she was tragically killed in a car accident.
- This immediately hits Constance hard, realizing that their divorce actually hurt David quite significantly. This next exchange right after twists the knife even further:
Tear Jerker / Independence Day