- Acceptable Targets: Roland Emmerich was arguably playing it as safe as possible. His villains, while "conservative", are not Christians or ordinary middle-class folk, but either violent maniacs who are persona non grata to all decent people or neocons with whom even staunch Republicans have never been fully comfortable. The accusation that he disrespected soldiers by depicting crazed veterans as the villains' thugs can also be blunted by the observation that the hero also comes from a military background (and that real-life military personnel were offered free theatrical showings of this film as a peace offering). But, of course, this just emphasizes the perception that John Cale is "one of the good ones", and thus the exception that proves the rule.
- Moral Event Horizon:
- Martin Walker crosses it when he threatens to kill Emily if President Sawyer doesn't surrender. Another one is when he plans to destroy the entirety of the Middle East to end the war then and there; killing millions of people, starting another war, all because his son was killed on faulty orders.
- Raphelson when he tries to send an airstrike to the White House to erase all evidence from the terrorist's profiles, knowing fully that he would be killing hundreds of people.
- Muriel Walker when she tells her husband to press on when he mentions that he's doing it for their dead son, despite the fact that she was against Martin's plans earlier and has been given literally no reason as to how this is supposed to honor their dead son. One can only hope Carol was serious about her threat to have the woman jailed.
- Jailed for what though? She wasn't aware of her husband's plans, she didn't help them, all she actually did was defiantly voice her support after Martin assured her it was for her son. It'd probably never hold up in court, especially when she could play the "mother in mourning over fallen soldier" card.
- Narm or Narm Charm:
- "You'll go to jail for that!"
- "I choose the pen!"
- The main villain's wife going from against his actions to fully supporting them quickly and with very little reason to do so, if any.
- Special Effects Failure: There's times when you can tell that they really weren't filming at the White House.
- Spiritual Adaptation: Along with its competitor, Olympus Has Fallen, it's considered to be better Die Hard movies than A Good Day to Die Hard.
- What an Idiot!:
- One of the terrorists is blown up by a clearly visible booby trap in the tunnels. He's suppose to be some sort of computer genius.
- No one in the military thinks of sending a rescue party through the tunnels in spite of the fact that everybody, even civilians on a tour, knows that the tunnels exits.
- So let me get this straight: a video showing the attacking terrorists' faces was uploaded by a pre-teen girl who is obviously trapped in the White House with them, and several news networks decide it's a good idea to repeatedly give away her face and name when there's a chance TV and Internet still works in the building especially considering that there was apparently enough internet for Emily to upload her viral video in the first place?
- The Woobie: Emily.
- Iron Woobie: Poor Emily has gone through a lot.
YMMV / White House Down