Independence Day

Corrected entry: The planetary saucers in the movie are 15 miles in diameter, and are 2.5 miles in height. Assuming that 9/10 of the ships are air or lighter then air gases, and that the ships' walls are made of a metal with the density of water (this is a very generous estimate), then each ship would weigh 100 billion tons! No matter what source of flight used, these ships would create a pressure of 30 atmospheres on anything below it. Most buildings would crumble under 5 atmospheres, and our bodies would flatten like pancakes long before that.

Correction: You're assuming a closed system. If the air being compressed as the ship descends could not escape, then indeed the pressure would rise to 30 atm or whatever. But since there is no wall forcing the air to stay under the ship and get compressed, it can escape to the sides and up and therefore equalize the pressure.

Corrected entry: When the President is firing his F-18's cannon he pulls the trigger. The trigger operates the radio. The same button that fires missiles fires the cannon, the pilot has to select which one first with the 'hat' switch in the top middle of the joystick.

Grumpy Scot

Correction: The hat switch is for pitch and roll trimming, the castle switch is for sensor control. The upper left switch is weapon release (preps missiles for firing) and the trigger fires either the cannon or missile, depending on what's selected.

Corrected entry: After Will Smith has ejected out of his plane and is walking towards the alien plane shouting "Who's the man?", he is wearing gloves. But when he punches the alien, he is bare-handed. (01:01:45)

Correction: The distance between Smith's landing position and the space ship is about 100 meters, then he stars walking towards the ship, shortly before the scene is cut, he is about 40-50 meters away from his parachute, in the new shot he is standing right next to the spaceship, that gives him 50 meters and about 20 seconds to take his gloves off and throw them away, and as he just has wrecked a 60 million dollar aircraft he sure doesn't care about bringing home the gloves!

Ronnie Bischof

Corrected entry: Will Smith's girlfriend finds an abandoned truck - why didn't the gasoline in the tank explode when it came in contact with the fireball? There is no way that fireball missed a truck that size sitting so close to the opening of the tunnel. (00:49:00 - 01:02:50)

Correction: Gasoline only ignites when its concentration with air is in a narrow range (around 2-5%). Gasoline in a fuel tank is in too high of a concentration and cannot ignite.

Corrected entry: When Captain Steven "Steve" Hiller and David Levinson are getting ready to fly out on the alien ship, the camera shows Hiller the launchpad for the missile that they are to use on the mothership. Hiller says, "It's just like the AMRAAM launch pad on a stealth." AMRAAM stands for Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile. Both the F-117 "Stealth Fighter" and the B-2 "Stealth Bomber" only carry air to ground weapons. Neither stealth is equipped to carry AMRAAMs, and therefore wouldn't have AMRAAM launchpads.

Correction: This is a movie where aliens attack earth, and where they have a spaceship in Area 51. Not every project from the military is public, so it's perfectly feasible that they could have a new stealth aircraft with AMRAAM launchpads on it.

Ronnie Bischof

Corrected entry: The entire scene where Will Smith and his girlfriend first see the spaceship is pretty ridiculous. First, Will goes out to get the paper, but instead of taking it back in the house, he opens it up and starts reading it - in the yard. Then Jasmine comes out (conveniently neglecting to notice the spaceship that's directly in her line of vision) and offers him a cup of coffee - in the yard. Were they planning to spend the rest of the morning standing in the front yard? (00:25:20)


Correction: Steve and Jasmine just woke up and are suffering from a certain amount of morning grogginess. This explains why they don't notice the saucer in the distant sky - most people don't look up at the sky as a matter of course. Steve is looking through the paper's headlines before he heads back to the house - not an unusual thing to do, before he returns to the house and the paper is completely disassembled. Jasmine would know this morning ritual since they have been together so long and looks out for him by giving him fresh coffee instead of waiting for him to come back inside. Maybe it's not what every American does in the morning, but it's not completely bizarre, either.


Corrected entry: When the President "fires" his Secretary of Defense, SecDef protests by saying "you can't do that!" He, in fact, is right. The SecDef would have to be impeached by Congress.

Correction: While the Senate must confirm Cabinet officials, they work for the the President directly. He can fire them at any time.

Corrected entry: If the alien is in a hard protective space suit, how can Will Smith knock him unconscious for so long by just punching him? Must have been quite a hard punch.

Correction: In the ancient world and middle ages sling shot was used to attack heavily armoured soldiers as a hit from a stone/bullet was likely to cause concussion, if a helmeted soldier was hit on the head. This may be the reason that an already concussed alien pilot was knocked out for so long. It could also be that Will gave the alien a good kicking on the way to Area 51!

Corrected entry: In the scene where Will Smith first notices the spacecraft, he is absolutely astounded by the sheer size of it. Yet his girlfriend, bringing him coffee, doesn't seem to notice it until she walks up to him and looks at his face to see what he is looking at. She didn't notice the 15 mile long UFO? It's not a really a mistake, just really crappy writing and acting.

Correction: Um, it took Will Smith several moments to notice the spaceship as well -- his attention is only drawn to it when the helicopter flies overhead. People simply do not go around looking up in the air as a matter of course.

Corrected entry: The Secretary of Defense turns towards the President and gravely announces "We can expect the destruction of all major cities in 72 hours". Wow, I'm impressed. Either the US or Russia could accomplish that in less than half an hour. Incredibly advanced technology ain't what it used to be...

Correction: The point wasn't that the destruction of all major cities would take place in "only" 72 hours because of incredibly advanced technology. The point was that virtually nothing could be done to prevent further destruction and that the human race had only 72 hours left.

Corrected entry: When in the area 51 base, a screen in the background shows a night vision view of a plane landing. Why is a Panavia Tornado fighter bomber landing in an American secret base, when they are flown in England, Germany and Italy?

Correction: Tornado's are kept in the US in squadron strength for training European pilots.

Independence Day mistake picture

Visible crew/equipment: When Dr. Okun is about to unlock "the vault", and says, "The freak show," a crewmember wearing a black and white striped shirt is hiding under the vault's floor, right behind Okun. (Only visible on fullscreen DVD.)

Super Grover Premium member

More mistakes in Independence Day

President Thomas Whitmore: I don't understand, where does all this come from? How do you get funding for something like this?
Julius Levinson: You don't actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat do you?

More quotes from Independence Day

Trivia: In Area 51 there is a large screen displaying the results of the nuclear strikes against the alien ships. Look under the screen and there is some text in green. Pause it to read the following: "The purpose of these green lines is to lead you to believe that these words mean something", and "And can I see with eye serene the very pulse of the machine Wordsworth".

More trivia for Independence Day

Question: In the scene where the pilots are receiving their initial briefing, the officer in charge is a Lt Colonel, but in a later scene where the alien ship is approaching area 51, he is a captain. Is this the same officer or is this a mistake?

Answer: This is indeed a mistake. The character is played by Bill Smitrovich and is listed as playing Captain Watson, but in the briefing scene he is wearing collar insignia for a Lt. Colonel.


More questions & answers from Independence Day

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.