Fictional U.S. presidents can provide a lot of entertainment in movies and TV. Redditors have some thoughts on what makes a good fictional Commander-in-Chief. There are some interesting options across different decades and different genres.
Some fictional U.S. presidents like Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) are serious portraits of leadership. Others, like Sir Lord Quentin Trembley III of Gravity Falls, are wildly satirical and comedic takes on the world’s most powerful office. Each unique take is an analysis of the real role.
10 President Thomas J. Whitmore — ‘Independence Day’ (1996)
President Whitmore probably didn’t anticipate his tenure in office involving an alien invasion. Alas, this is the hand he is dealt in Roland Emmerich‘s Independence Day. He pilots his nation through massive loss and galvanizes survivors.
Who can forget that iconic speech, rallying Americans as they faced down an alien invasion? While the movie may not get into the intricacies of his domestic policy, he’s able to use his role to draw the entire world together. This is an inspirational figure who has inspired years of movie-goers.
9 President Hathaway — ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ (2009)
President Hathaway of Monsters vs. Aliens is mostly incompetent. Played by Stephen Colbert, he comes across as impulsive and unintelligent. He is fixated on not being the President of the United States when the world comes to an end.
President Hathaway is very much the villain in this story. His apathy and lack of will make for a toxic combination that threatens this cartoon version of America. This is a surprisingly poignant mediation of how easy it is for an uninformed leader to create massive chaos.
8 President James Marshall — ‘Air Force One’ (1997)
President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) is the very image of machismo as he must defend himself when he and his family are held hostage by terrorists. His no-nonsense, no-negotiation way of handling his job made him a fan favorite.
This version of a US President is a perfect addition to a thriller. A story with this type of action demands a fictional president who can fight and hold his own. Ford’s natural gruffness makes this character all the more believable.
7 President Sir Lord Quentin Trembley III — ‘Gravity Falls’ (2012-2016)
President Quentin Trembley III (Alex Hirsch) is the forgotten founder of Gravity Falls. He also served as the 8 1/2 President of the United States and was chased around by George Washington as a child. He became the President after a landslide killed his opponents.
This president is a silly one, and he puts the main cast of characters on a chaotic road. It’s fun watching him live his life utterly unbothered by the rules of this fictional universe. The outlandish policies he attached himself to during his tenure make his story even wilder.
6 President Thomas Wilson — ‘2012’ (2009)
President Thomas Wilson (Danny Glover) is another fictional US President facing an existential threat. Faced with a cascade of catastrophic events, he navigates losing the presidential line of succession as well as global meltdowns caused by climate change.
Viewers still appreciate the altruism that this character embodied. Even as he faces his own demise, he still helps his fellow Americans as the world collapses. Even when he wants to escape, he lets his humanity be his defining feature.
5 President Leslie Knope — ‘Parks and Recreation’ (2009-2015)
Amy Poheller‘s Leslie Knope remains an endearing sitcom character who continues to be beloved. The implication from the end of the Parks and Recreation is that Leslie or her husband Ben (Adam Scott) became President of the United States. Both would deserve it.
After spending years in public service, it makes sense that Leslie would ultimately find herself as the top public servant in America. There’s never a question that she wants the best for her community. Being President is probably nothing compared to dealing with municipal shenanigans.
4 President David Palmer — ’24’ (2001-2010)
President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) is a staple of 24. He begins as a US Senator before assuming the presidency following assassination attempts. He is frequently shown to be cooperative with Jack Bauer’s (Kiefer Sutherland) fictional Counter Terrorism Unit.
This character is hailed as a win for representation, featuring a Black man as President of the United States. His integrity and principles make him a fondly-remembered character from this series. His willingness to do anything to protect his country makes him an essential fictional POTUS.
3 Abraham Lincoln — ‘Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter’ (2012)
While Abraham Lincoln was a real US President, he probably never fought vampires. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter is a re-imagining of the real man with a bloody twist. The fictional President finds himself in the middle of a vampire rage.
While the combination of history and monster lore may not have always come together, this is a unique take on a beloved US President. Benjamin Walker makes President Lincoln into a kind of action hero. The real Lincoln fought more abstract monsters, but this is something concrete.
2 President Dwayne Camacho — ‘Idiocracy’ (2006)
Terry Crews‘ President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho embodies everything that Idiocracy is as a movie. He’s bumbling and enigmatic and lacks basically any kind of judgement. His character is a satirical look at the corruption of power in a capitalist hellscape.
Aside from everything else, this character is supremely fun to watch. It’s difficult to imagine a fictional character being less suited to being President of the United States. His amplified antics are as thrilling as they are alarming.
1 President Tom Kirkman — ‘Designated Survivor’ (2016-2019)
Designated Survivor features a worst-case-scenario premise. President Kirkman assumes command when tragedy strikes the US Capitol during the State of the Union address. He’s tasked with rebuilding the nation and navigating a new normal.
Sutherland’s President is so often the picture of professional calm. Sutherland is in his element as a leader in a time of crisis. As each twist and turn unfolds, President Kirkman is there weathering every storm.
KEEP READING: ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’: 10 Best Guest Stars, Ranked