American presidents in movies and TV tend to be idealized versions of world leaders: kind, wise, intensely moral, and strong. Think Jed Bartlet from The West Wing or Thomas Whitmore in Independence Day. They're who we wished could run the country during a global crisis or emergency. But the world isn't perfect, and neither are most presidents. Sometimes, though, audiences are exposed to fictional presidents who are just as flawed as the real thing, or worse. These are some of the worst fictional presidents, as ranked by how they handled their biggest crisis.
Appears In: Independence Day: Resurgence
Crisis: On the occasion of the anniversary of the alien invasion of 1996, an unknown spacecraft appears near Mars.
Solution: President Lanford (Sela Ward) orders a strike on the unidentified craft, assuming it's hostile.
Outcome: The aliens from 1996, now known as Harvesters, return and wipe out the Eastern Seaboard. Lanford and other crucial government officials regroup at the Cheyenne Mountain bunker. She then orders a retaliatory strike against the Harvester mother ship. It fails, and Earth's defenses collapse. The Harvesters storm the Cheyenne bunker and Lanford perishes. The unidentified craft she brought down was a friendly call for help from a coalition of alien races hoping to stop the Harvesters.
Appears In: Mars Attacks!
Crisis: A hostile Martian force has overtaken the entire globe.
Solution: President Dale (Jack Nicholson) authorizes a nuclear retaliation against the Martians.
Outcome: The strike has no effect against the Martians' highly advanced military technology. They eventually storm Dale's bunker and end him once and for all.
Appears In: The Simpsons Movie
Crisis: Homer Simpson has dumped tons of pig poop into Lake Springfield, severely polluting the town.
Solution: On the advice of EPA Chief Russ Cargill, President Schwarzenegger encloses Springfield inside a giant dome, cutting it (and its pollution) off from the rest of the country.
Outcome: When news of the extreme measures taken to isolate Springfield threatens to get out, Cargill decides to wipe out the town to erase the evidence. Homer returns to rescue his family and stop Cargill.
Appears In: 2012
Crisis: Neutrino particles caused by a massive solar flare are heating the Earth's core. This is the harbinger of a massive world-altering event as foretold in the ancient Mayan calendar. All life on the planet is in imminent danger.
Solution: President Wilson (Danny Glover) sees no means to stop the phenomenon, so he collaborates with other major world leaders to create massive ark ships to house and transport a select group of human beings able to afford passage. These wealthy individuals and their families will be the survivors of the end of the world.
Outcome: The arks survive the calamity. Wilson himself does not survive the events of the film.