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In the late 1990s, I took a road trip around Australia for several months. And every motel, hotel, or campsite I checked into showed Independence Day (1996) on television.
Because of this, it’s one of the sci-fi movies I’ve seen the most, and I thought it would be fun to create a list of the best famous quotes from the Independence Day movie.
So without further ado, here are the best quotes from Independence Day.
1. “Welcome to Earth!”
In this scene, Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) Oscar slaps a downed alien as it emerges from the spaceship – tentacles and all.
It marks a turning point in the movie because it’s the first time we see the human race succeeding with anything. It shows that the Harvesters (that’s the name of the alien race) have weaknesses.
Sure, we are still vastly outgunned and technologically behind, but this moment shows that they can be taken down after all.
Here’s the full quote after Hiller has taken down the alien fighter at the cost of his own jet:
Captain Steven Hiller: Arrrrgh! That’s right! That’s right!
[Hiller struggles to get free from his parasuit]: Get off! Get off me!
[Hiller while walking toward the crashed alien plane]: That’s what you get! Haha! Look at you, ship all banged up! Who’s the man? Huh? Who’s the man? Wait till I get another plane! I’m lining all your friends up right beside you!
[Hiller climbs on top of alien plane]: Where you at, huh? Huh? Where you at?
[Hiller opens the spaceship. An alien lunches towards him. Hiller punches it in the head, knocking it back into the ship]: Welcome to Earth!
[Hillersits down on the alien fighter plane and puts a cigar in mouth]: Now that’s what I call a close encounter.
2. “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”
This quote ends the famous monologue from President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman).
Bill Pullman delivers the speech excellently as he slowly builds the intensity to the grand finale.
The speech is also well written by screenwriters Roland Emmerich (who also directed the film) and Dean Devlin (who produced the film), who I think did an excellent job with the script.
After all, it takes a lot of skill to create so many memorable moments and lines.
The full quote goes:
Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. “Mankind.” That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom. Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice: ‘We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!'”
3. “I could’ve been at a barbecue!”
After Hiller has had his cigar, he walks through the desert towards Area 51, dragging the ugly alien behind him in his parachute. He’s pretty pissed about the whole situation. So he directs his anger toward his unconscious alien adversary.
Here’s the fun quote in full:
Hiller: Y’know, this was supposed to be my weekend off, but noooo. You got me out here dragging your heavy ass through the burning desert with your dreadlocks sticking out the back of my parachute. You gotta come down here with an attitude, acting all big and bad… AND WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SMELL?
[Hiller kicks the alien]: Arrrghh!
[Kicks the alien again]: I could’ve been at a barbecue!
[Calms down and starts hauling the alien again]: But I ain’t mad. It’s all right, it’s all right.
4. “You don’t actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?”
Another great scene is when President Thomas Whitmore discovers that he has been kept in the dark about a secret facility deep below Area 51, which houses alien bodies and UFOs, that the scientists are trying to reverse engineer.
It’s a great scene because this is exactly what probably has been going on for years since Trinity and Rosswell in the 1940s. I.e., if reverse-engineering programs have been buried deep in black budget programs within the private industry, not even the President would have a need-to-know.
After all, US presidents come and go, so it’s best to keep them in the dark and make sure they have “plausible deniability,” as U.S. Secretary of Defense Albert Nimziki (James Rebhorn) says.
The quote mirrors reality and raises questions such as is this Hollywood priming us for disclosure? But that’s another rabbit hole for another article.
Here’s the dialog in full:
President Thomas Whitmore: My god! Why the hell wasn’t I told about this place?
Albert Nimziki: Two words, Mr. President. Plausible deniability.
Whitmore: I don’t understand. Where does all this come from? How do you get funding for something like this?
Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch): You don’t actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?
5. “Nuke ’em. Let’s nuke the bastards!”
In Area 51, President Whitmore has an unpleasant conversation with one of the captive aliens, which speaks through Dr. Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner), who’s been caught alive alone with the alien.
The alien reveals what the Harvesters plan to do to Earth and its population through telepathy. And Whitmore realizes that the only way to survive is to fight back.
Here’s the dialogue in full:
Major Mitchell (Adam Baldwin): Dr. Okun?
[Dr. Okun is pressed up against the window]
Alien (through Dr. Okun): Release me.
Major Mitchell: Open the door. Get him out of there!
General William Grey (Robert Loggia): No wait!
[We see the alien tentacles wrapped around Dr. Okun’s neck. The alien jumps into frame when it realises that the trick didn’t work.]
Alien: Release me. Now!
President Whitmore: I know there is much we can learn from each other. IF we can negotiate a truce, we can find a way to coexist. Can there be a peace between us?
Alien: Peace… No peace.
President Whitmore: What is it you want us to do?
[A piercing telepathic signal begins to sound and inflict pain on President Whitmore].
General Grey: Mr. President!
[Grey turns to Mitchell]
General Grey: Is that glass bulletproof?
Major Mitchell: No, Sir!
[They shoot the alien].
General Grey: Are you all right?
President Whitmore: I saw… its thoughts. I saw what they’re planning to do. They’re like locusts. They’re moving from planet to planet… their whole civilization. After they’ve consumed every natural resource, they move on… and we’re next.
[Major Mitchell shoots the alien again making sure it’s dead]
President Whitmore: Nuke ’em! Let’s nuke the bastards!
6. “You really think you can fly that thing?”
David Levison (Jeff Goldblum) is probably my favorite character in the movie. Goldblum does an excellent job as the genius former satellite technician who helps save the earth.
In this funny scene, Levison has just revealed his crazy plan of flying one of the Harvesters’ downed flying saucers to the alien mothership and uploading a computer virus that will take out their shields for a few minutes.
Captain Steven Hiller (who’s always dreamed of becoming an astronaut and flying in space) steps in and tells the President and top military brass that he believes he can pilot the ship because he’s seen how they maneuver in battle.
It’s a daunting plan with a low chance of success, but the human race is running out of options.
When the plan is accepted, it leads to this hilarious low-voiced exchange between Levison and Hiller:
David Levison: You really think you can fly that thing?
Captain Steven Hiller: Do you really think you can do all that bullshit you just said?
[David Levison exhales nevously]
Captain Steven Hiller (nervously]: Whoo.
7. “They’re opening up. It’s so pretty.”
A group of UFO fanatics is having a rooftop party to welcome the aliens. One Elvis fanatic (Lee Strauss R.I.P.) even says, “Oh god, I hope they bring back Elvis.”
One of the UFO fanatics is Tiffany (Kiersten Warren), the exotic dancer colleague of Jasmine Dubrow (Vivica A. Fox) – Steven Hiller’s girlfriend and later wife.
She joins the party even though she has promised Jasmine not to do so. And as she will soon discover, it was a bad idea.
It serves as yet another friendly reminder that if you’re in a movie, you should never look into the light, even though “it’s so pretty.”
In this hilarious but tense scene, David Levinson has just discovered a hidden signal in the alien transmission – a countdown to the attack.
When he meets his good friend and colleague Marty Gilbert (Harvey Fierstein) with the raspy voice, who is hiding under the table talking to his mom, he warns them to get out of town quickly.
Here’s the exchange in full:
Marty Gilbert: I know, Ma. Just try and stay calm.
David Levinson: Tell her to pack up and leavy town.
Marty Gilbert: Why? What happened?
David Levinson: Just do it!
Marty Gilbert: Ma. Ma, listen! Uh, get your stuff together and head for Aunt Esther’s. Don’t argue with me! Just go!
[Marty runs arfter David]
Marty Gilbert: David! Why did I just send my mother to Atlanta? David! David, talk to me.
David Levinson: Didn’t you hear me tell you that the signal hidden in the satellite feed is slowly recycling down to extinction?
Marty Gilbert: Not really?
David Levinson: Countdown!
Marty Gilbert: A countdown? Wait, a countdown to what David?
David Levinson: It’s like in chess: First, you strategically position your pieces and when the timing is right you strike. See [points to tv-screen with the news on] See? They’re positioning themselves all our the world using this one signal to syncronize their efforts and in 6 hours the signal’s gonna disappear and the countdown will be over.
Marty Gilbert: And then what?
David Levinson: Checkmate.
Marty Gilbert: Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. I gotta call my brother. I’d better my housekeeper. I gotta call my lawyer. Nah, forget my lawyer.
9. “Hello, boys! I’m back!”
Russell Casse (Randy Quaid) was a Vietnam War F-4 fighter pilot turned crop duster from California.
He’s had a long history with extraterrestrials and claims to have been abducted by aliens. So he’s delighted when he gets the chance for revenge.
He dies honorably, sacrificing himself by flying his plane with the last jammed missile into the weapon’s port of the alien city destroyer hovering over Area 51. His sacrifice saves his children and all the other refugees who’ve traveled to Area 51 for safety.
[Russell Casse’s final missile malfunctions and won’t shoot from his F/A-18C Hornet jet. Russell realises he has only one option left.]
Russell Casse: Do me a favor. Tell my children… I love them very much.
[He sets a collision course with the alien city destroyer]
Russell Casse: All right, you alien assholes! In the words of my generation: Up… YOURS!
President Thomas Whitmore: Good luck, buddy!
Russell Casse: Hahaha! Hello, boys! I’m BA-AAAAACK!
[Russells F/A-18C Hornet crashes into the unshielded alien city destroyer, destroying it]
10. “Look, I really don’t think they flew 90 billion light years to come down here and start a fight. Get all rowdy.”
Before leaving his wife and son and heading to base, Captain Steven Hiller tries to calm down his worried wife. And he does so with this quote.
If he believes it himself, I don’t know. But oh boy, was he wrong!
So that’s the ten best quotes from Independence day if you ask me. Was I right? Did I miss your favorite one?
Let me know in the comments below.
About the author:
Jan Sørup is a videographer and photographer from Denmark. He’s the owner of filmdaft.com and of the Danish company Apertura, which produces video content for big companies in Denmark and Scandinavia. Jan has a background in music, has drawn webcomics, and is a former lecturer at the University of Copenhagen.