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  • Acceptable Professional Targets: What is Marty's reaction to hearing the aliens will destroy the cities: "Oh, my God. I gotta call my brother, my housekeeper, my lawyer. Nah, forget my lawyer."
  • Americans Hate Tingle: Irony about the trope name aside. In the United States the film is definitely divisive, but it's hard to deny it has a pretty devoted fanbase. Outside of the US, however, finding devoted fans is challenging to say the least. That said, its sequel earned nearly triple its domestic gross overseas despite getting awful reviews, suggesting there is still a fanbase for the original outside the U.S. that was willing to check it out regardless. (Not to mention the original was a smash hit both inside and outside the U.S..)
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  • Angst? What Angst?: In typical Emmerich fashion; one particularly jarring example though is when Steve Hiller is leading the first strike against the City Destroyer over Los Angeles, or rather what's left of it. What do Jimmy and the other pilots as Steve mulls the fate of his loved ones? Crack cheap jokes as they're gliding over the annihilated city. They quickly shut up once they pass a wall of clouds and see the sheer size of their target.
  • Awesome Music: This is the movie that put composer David Arnold on Hollywood's It List. To quote producer Dean Devlin, "Leave it to a Brit to compose the most patriotic music I've ever heard."
  • Broken Base: American audiences have mixed feelings about this film. Is it a plain bad film, a So Bad, It's Good film, or a genuinely good film?
  • Cliché Storm: Certainly enough from every other alien invasion movie to go around.
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  • Critic-Proof: Despite how much of a financial success this film was (with a worldwide gross of $816,969,268, the second-highest gross for a movie of all time back when it was released), the film has attracted a lot of criticism and the reviews even at the time called it okay at best. Many criticized the film's plot note  and characters in favor of its special effects, and Non-Americans criticizing the film in how nationalistic it is in its tone.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Arguably the only reason Okun appears in the sequel and having a larger role.
    • Julius is well liked for providing some of the best lines in the movie. Mostly for comedy, though he has a great moment where he stood up for his son against the freaking President and his staff no less!
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    • Similarly, General Grey is this for being a Reasonable Authority Figure who manages to keep a cool head, him willing to call out Nimzicki for keeping his mouth shut about Area 51 adds to his popularity.
  • First Installment Wins: Independence Day made a strong impact on its release and despite it’s So Bad, It's Good reputation is considered by many to have a reasonably good and distinguishable plot, special effects and performances. The sequel is considered an embarrassment even by many hardcore fans of the original.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: 9/11 was often compared to this film. It doesn't help that when they're fleeing the White House, David checks the countdown and "9:11:01" is clearly visible on it. It is a complete coincidence, but still.
    • Joe Viskocil, the film's pyrotechnics expert, later lamented that his work was so realistic that it may have served as the nucleus of an idea someone had to "fly a plane into the White House."note 
  • Guilty Pleasure: Is this for many Americans. In the words of Lindsay Ellis: "The film is dumb as a bag of rocks, and it is one of my favourite movies."
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Mary McDonnell is the wife of a president facing an all-out attack on humans from a foreign life form. She's even married to an ex-pilot with a gravelly voice. Oh, and one of the characters is named Boomer. You have to wonder if her agent is just really unimaginative.
    • Bill Pullman is giving a Rousing Speech in response to aliens. Fortunately, President Whitmore is nothing like Oswald Danes.
    • When the aliens first arrive, one spectator says "Oh, I hope they bring back Elvis!", and later, after escaping the mothership, Will Smith shouts "Elvis has left the building!". In his next movie, Men in Black, he asks "You do know Elvis is dead, right?", to which he's told "No, Elvis is not dead, he just went home.".
    • Adam Baldwin has a supporting role and Raphael Sbarge makes a very brief appearance in the film. Over a decade later they would both become involved with a popular video game franchise also involving an invading alien race decimating humanity, has destroyed several other races in the past, and has forced multiple factions to unite against them.
    • The role of President Whitmore was originally written with Kevin Spacey in mind, as he was Dean Devlin's high school friend, but the studio overruled. Nearly twenty years later, Spacey finally managed to become president.
    • They blew up Congress!
    • The novel goes into more detail about Whitmore's presidency, particularly that he's a Democratic Senator from Chicago who's facing an obstructionist Congress that refuses to pass even modest proposals. With added combat experience, though.
    • The filmmakers began work on this film having complete support and co-operation of the U.S. military, on one condition: that all references to Area 51 be removed from the movie - this was back when the U.S. government was steadfast in their denial that such a place existed. Almost two decades later and what do you know? Area 51 does exist after all! No word about any alien wreckage, of course...
    • This is an actual sentence from the tie-in novel Silent Zone: "For the next six days, Bridget Jones was the most powerful weapon in the United States military's arsenal." Especially funny considering the movie and both novels were released in 1996.
    • One person making a phone call says, "I love The X-Files." In The Movie for The X-Files, a drunken Mulder is shown urinating on a poster for Independence Day. Ironically, ID4 is fondly remembered (or at least remembered) twenty years later, while Fight The Future is only remembered by X-philes.
    • The Apple Powerbook 5300 turned out to be as dangerous to humans due to, among other things, batteries that burst into flame in some models, and was discontinued a month after the film's release. Maybe David could have defeated the aliens by gifting them a few of the computers.
    • Dean Devlin's mother was an actress named Pilar Seurat. One of Seurat's acting roles was in a 1963 episode of the anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Her co-star on the episode was Robert Loggia, who played General Grey in ID4 thirty years later. Wonder if Devlin and Loggia were amused at this.
    • Dylan has a few Godzilla toys. Emmerich and Devlin's next film was Godzilla.
    • The President of the United States personally leads the charge against the invaders when the second air attack begins, being a veteran of the US Air Force. In 2020, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar would resume his medical practice to aid the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in his country.
  • Inferred Holocaust: With most of the world's major population centers blown up and massive chunks of alien debris crushing landmasses and plunging into the ocean (no doubt creating tidal waves), the world does not look positive in the wake of the attack. Then again, since the alternative was total annihilation, there's only so much room to complain.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Welcome to Earf!" Even though in the movie he clearly says "Earth".
    • "Oh, shit. Um...hide."
    • "We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish, without a fight." Really, that whole speech entered pop culture and hung on for dear life. Even many people who have never seen the movie can quote parts of it.
    • "Peace? No peace." was known to be quoted a lot when the film first came out. It's has been used to mock people or groups that are seen as unreasonable or can't be negotiated with.
  • Money-Making Shot: The alien ship blasting the White House is the emblematic shot of the movie. After that, it's the shadows falling over major landmarks, and their destruction that was the basis of the trailers. Also, the aliens' strike on El Toro base was featured prominently in advertising for home video.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The aliens' blowing up several cities at once is terrible, but what truly cements the aliens' status as unforgivable, especially in-universe, is when the captive alien reveals that they want to annihilate humanity, and they have done this to countless other worlds in order to steal their resources. Simply put, they're Planet Looters!
  • Narm: The sound design doesn't make sense. Expect to hear distorted cat yowls when aliens die, for example.
  • Narm Charm: As previously mentioned, the Rousing Speech.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The RAF pilots were a good joke for British audiences: "The Americans are planning a counter-strike!" "Well, it's about bloody time!" Tally-ho, chaps!
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: The Angry Video Game Nerd ripped the Playstation game of ID4 apart for clunky controls and pop-up issues (as well as a terrible password screen), and when he played the Katina level in Star Fox 64, ClementJ642 called ID4 "Complete ass" and said that that one Star Fox level was better at being ID4 than the ID4 game was.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Signature Line:
  • So Bad, It's Good: How many view the film, admitting it's bad but enjoyable.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • A blink-and-you'll-miss-it-example: One of the Huey choppers escorting the Skycrane explodes before being hit. Worse still, the tail rotor of one of the choppers seems to stay suspended in place instead of falling out of the sky as it would otherwise do.
    • When the shutters raise on the "museum" of alien corpses stored at Area 51 during the President's initial tour, the shutter can be briefly seen shaking around loose just before disappearing off-screen.
    • Some of the effects used to simulate the city destruction sequence have not aged well since 1996. After several buildings explode, it is show that they are clearly models.
    • Several of the explosion effects on the City Destroyer when it explodes at the end are very clearly 2-dimensional and superimposed on the shot.
    • Very subtle, yet noticeable is the destruction of the Empire State Building, as for a few seconds it looks like, rather than high speed footage slowed to regular speed, it looks more like a VHS tape at slow-mo.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: ID4 follows a very similar plot structure to that of The War of the Worlds, including an unstoppable alien force invades Earth to strip it of its resources, the protagonist spends the majority of the story trying to find his loved ones, and the aliens ultimately being defeated by a "virus".
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • Nimziki gets two. We're supposed to be against his suggestion of using nuclear weapons but considering what we've seen so far that would be closest thing to a reasonable chance of success. Later he's supposed to be showing incompetence and cowardice for being against the plan to infect the mothership but the plan relies on a lot of luck, a human pilot managing to use an alien vessel, the aliens not getting suspicious and if it failed it would probably mean the end of all organized human resistance.
    • The sequel suggests that Nimziki might have been on to something with the nukes: in 'Resurgence,' it's implied that alien shields do have a limit as to how much damage they can take, such as how the Queen's shields are depleted after taking a cold fusion blast at point blank range and a few minutes of sustained laser fire. If more nukes had been launched against the ships as Nimziki wanted, they may have eventually destroyed the shields and the ships themselves... but the resulting fallout and nuclear winter would have made it a moot point.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • The technicians who first detect the arriving aliens get a decently colorful scene and lines before disappearing, when they feel like they could have provided some additional minor POV.
    • Troy Case, who gets less development than his siblings even in the extended cut.
  • Tough Act to Follow: This movie was a massive success and one of the most well-known movies of The '90s. The sequel unfortunately failed to follow the original's footsteps.
  • Toy Ship: The President's daughter and Hiller's stepson. Sunk in Resurgence, where the two are friends but Patricia is engaged to another character.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The Oscar-winning effects still hold up well and the scope of the movie is awe inspiring. The sense of size and scale has not been matched by any movie since.
    • A lot of why it holds up is that most of the effects were practical effects and models, with just a bit of CGI for laser blasts and other things that don't have to look "real" to fool the eye. Shortly after this came out, these techniques were largely abandoned in favor of all-CGI effects.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Tiffany ignores Jasmine's warnings of getting out of Los Angeles and instead heads directly to the gathering on the US Bank Tower's roof, right under the City Destroyer. Guess what happens?
    • Albert Nimzicki is a complicated example. He is the Secretary of Defense and an entire fleet of alien spaceships shows up and float ominously over the world's major cities. As the former head of the CIA, he becomes privy to the fact that Area 51 has indeed been housing a crashed flying saucer and alien corpses and been studying them and their tech for decades. Does he choose to immediately inform the President about everything the research had discovered in order to better inform his decision-making? While he makes (in retrospect) bad choices, his working assumption that launching nuclear weapons will defeat the invaders remain untested for long, and it isn't exactly unreasonable (at least before the first counterstrike with fighter planes fails) that it could work. If nuclear weapons would've worked, there would be no need to reveal Area 51. The Novelization is more of a straight example of this - his plan is to make the President look far weaker for political reasons... while the human race is being annihilated.
    • Everyone involved in deciding that air-to-air missiles should be deployed as the main attack against miles-across ships. Even if the alien ships hadn't been shielded they would have been useless, as demonstrated in the finale when the shields are down. Possibly justified as that's all they had; it's hard enough to mount a massive counterstrike with depleted manpower; doubly so if the base that's launching the fighters is mainly for aircraft testing, not a dedicated airbase.
  • Woolseyism: Will Smith's "Elvis has left the building!" was changed to "Last train to Mikkeli has just left!" in the Finnish DVD.
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