By Lauren Davis
Independence Day may feature the most iconic destruction of the White House, but is it the best? This week, we celebrate Election Day—and cope with our exhaustion with the US presidential campaign—by examining the myriad ways pop culture smashes up the presidential home.
The British (1814): We may as well kick things off with a real historical example. During the War of 1812, British forces occupied Washington, D.C., setting fire to many of the public buildings. When they got around to burning the White House, they added fuel to fire to ensure that it would continue to burn over the next day.
Drawing by George Munger, via Wikimedia Commons.
Superman II (1980): This one is a rarity among monumental destructions in that it largely takes place from the inside. When Zod and his compatriots invade the White House, Team Human tries to shoot him into submission. But they only succeed in tearing up their own symbol of American leadership.
Thundarr the Barbarian, “The Brotherhood of Night” (1980): While it’s a bit dilapidated, the White House of 3994 isn’t in terrible shape. It’s the rest of Washington that’s a mess. Also, it’s infested with werewolves.
Give Me Liberty (1990): The White House meets its maker twice in Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons’ series. First it’s blown up by Saudi Arabian terrorists, then by Colonel Moretti. You can always build a new White House.
Independence Day (1996): This is the classic White House demise: one alien ray beam and the building is kaput.
Command & Conquer Gold (1997): This game lets you select a monument to destroy. The White House blows apart in one easy blast.
Seven Days (1998): In the pilot episode, a pair of terrorists fly a plane laden with explosives into the White House, killing both the president and the vice president. That’s what starts the NSA off on their crazy time travel project.
Futurama, “When Aliens Attack!” (1999): In the 31st century, the White House, like most of the world’s landmarks, lives at Monument Beach. That’s where the Omicronians go when they want to engage in a little Independence Day parody. There is still a White House in Washington, but it’s not clear which one is the original.
Read or Die (2001): The OVA adaptation of the light novel series actually opens with the destruction of the White House. The samurai Gennai Hiraga appears on the roof and explodes the building with a glowing green energy.
Metal Wolf Chaos (2004): Sometimes you have to destroy the White House in order to protect it—or if not destroy it, at least cause a small explosion with your mecha power suit.
Category 7: The End of the World (2005): In the “hitting close to home” category, a powerful storm rips the White House to shreds as the staff scrambles to evacuate.
Amazons Attack! (2007): After Wonder Woman is detained by the American government, the Amazons invade Washington, DC. Some of the buildings don’t make it through intact.
Fallout 3 (2008): The entire game is set in the nuclear wasteland that is post-apocalyptic Washington, but the White House? The White House is basically a crater.
Wonder Woman (2009): Another White House attack involving Wonder Woman happened in the 2009 animated film. Ares, god of war, invades Washington with his army and performs an old fashioned White House burning.
Fringe (2009): The White House is long gone by the time we arrive “over there,” the parallel universe where the White House, not the Twin Towers, was destroyed on 9/11. But we do get the newspaper reports about the Obamas finally moving into the newly rebuilt presidential residence.
2012 (2009): When Independence Day director Roland Emmerich gets another shot at destroying the White House, he doesn’t just smack it with a wave. He throws another monument at it: the USS John F. Kennedy.
Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. (2010): Here’s another game that lets you take on the White House, this one an alternate reality presidential manor from 2014.
The Next Resident Evil Movie (?): Okay, this one hasn’t happened yet, but after the events of Resident Evil: Retribution, things don’t look so good for the White House.
So, who destroyed it best? What did we leave out?