The 14 Best TV, Movie, And Video Game Presidents
It's February 15, which in the United States means it's Presidents Day. We're now several weeks out from the inauguration of President Biden (who recently played some Mario Kart), but with the holiday now here, we're once again thinking about the many fictional presidents that we've seen across media over the years. Be it video games, movies, or TV shows, there have been some great characters over the years to take up the Oval Office.
Whether you prefer the more comedic presidents, the stoic ones that stand up for all that is good and right, or even the ones that are--at their core--badass action heroes, there's a POTUS for everyone. So come along as we look at our 15 favorite commanders in chief, including a couple that might surprise you.
Did your favorite fictional president not make the cut? Sound off in the comments and let us know who we missed. Then, let's all go watch Air Force One together.
1. President James Marshall (Air Force One)
Played by: Harrison Ford
We're listing him first because there's no way this list could exist without him. Harrison Ford's James Marshall made the resident of the United States an action hero that beat up hijackers on his own airplane in one of the best and most ridiculous movies of all time. Who hasn't looked at themselves in a mirror and grumbled, "Get off my plane!" just like Ford did to the terrorist played by Gary Oldman?
2. President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet (The West Wing)
Played by: Martin Sheen
The two-term presidency of Jed Bartlet sits at the heart of Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing, which is surprising given Sheen was originally only signed to appear in four episodes of the series. Like many of the best portrayals, Bartlet was strong in his beliefs and stood up for what he believed was right. He wasn't perfect, though, which brought a nice dose of humanity to the role.
3. President Thomas J. Whitmore (Independence Day)
4. President David Palmer (24)
Played by: Dennis Haysbert
President Palmer was, for all intents and purposes, the conscience of 24 in its first couple of seasons. In a world of double agents, traitors, and the untrustworthy, he served as an example of truth and honesty, of sticking to your beliefs, and of standing tall in the face of adversity. And when he, himself, compromises his integrity, he steps away from office without seeking reelection. It's hard to want much more from a president.
5. President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (Idiocracy)
Played by: Terry Crews
While he may not have figured out that water from the toilet makes plants grow, he was a man who was open to reason. Sure, he was impatient and decided to rehabilitate Not Sure before realizing it takes time for plants to sprout, but President Camacho was a man of passion who wanted the best for his nation. Terry Crews made this role his own, scro, as he cracked open beers with one hand, fired automatic rifles into the air, and whisked his fingers through his glorious hair. More than anything, Camacho inspired hope, even if he's the dumbest President of all time.
6. President Benjamin Asher (Olympus Has Fallen & London has Fallen)
Played by: Aaron Eckhart
This might be a surprising addition to the list, but what's not to love about President Asher, the guy Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) was constantly trying to save in the first two Has Fallen movies? Somehow, regardless of what happened, Asher always seemed surprised something much terrible was happening. It's as if he never quite figured out all of the bad guys wanted to take him out. Even still he never relented and proved himself to be a great friend to Banning, as the two ultimately save each other.
7. President Allan Trumbull (Angel Has Fallen)
Played by: Morgan Freeman
You can't talk about Asher without talking about his vice president-turned-successor Allan Trumbull. Trumbull was a constant presence as VO in the first two films, before becoming president in Angel Has Fallen. He was always portrayed as a smart and caring man who wouldn't bow down to pressure--whether from inside the government or outside forces. What's more, it's Morgan Freeman in the role. He did seem a little too giddy about that drone strike at the end of London Has Fallen, though.
8. President Andrew Shepherd (The American President)
Played by: Michael Douglas
A presidential rom-com? You might be surprised to learn this movie has one of the best portrayals of a president. After losing his wife, Shepherd loses himself as he seeks reelection. As he gets his life priorities in order, though, he makes some very important changes for the country, attempting to reform climate and weapons laws, while also managing to find love again. That's quite a bit to get done for a president.
9. President Lindberg (The Fifth Element)
Played by: Tom Lister Jr.
We don't get a ton of insight into Lindberg in the movie, but the late Tim Lister Jr.'s portrayal of the president in the Fifth Element is fun to watch. In the midst of how over-the-top that movie is, he remains incredibly calm as he's doling out instructions to his military personnel. It's a very different energy from when he .
10. President Laura Roslin (Battlestar Galactica)
Played by: Mary McDonnell
Out of everyone else on this list, Laura Roslin was put in the worst situation. The planet had been destroyed and the 43rd in line for the office as the President, as the Secretary of Education, she had to fill the role of the new leader of humanity. Battling breast cancer as this is going on, she clashed with Commander Adama on many policies. But humanity is contained on a fleet of ships with secret cyborgs living among the people. This was a new era, and it's hard to know who to trust, especially when you're a former school teacher who was thrust into this leadership position. But Roslin sure did her best.
11. President Mays Gilliam (Head of State)
Played by: Chris Rock
While the movie Head of State is all about a young alderman being hand-selected by a political party to lose the Presidential election to the sitting Vice President, Mays Gilliam does the unthinkable by actually winning--at the end of the movie (spoiler!). Head of State is a comedy and spends a lot of time making fun of the two-party system in America, along with the election news cycle, but the heart of the film lies within Gilliam, a true man of the people, who will stand up for them at whatever cost. Wouldn't it be great if someone who knew what it was like to have a working-class job and struggle to make ends meet have power in Washington? Also, this movie has a lot of Nate Dogg (RIP), which we still appreciate to this day.
12. President Charlene "Charlie" Roan (The Purge: Election Year)
Played by: Elizabeth Mitchell
This one feels like a cheat due to her spending most of the movie as a presidential candidate, rather than an actual president. However, Charlie was the president the world of The Purge needed. Her anti-Purge platform took her to the nation's highest office and, most importantly, it seems to have worked. There's yet to be a sequel to Election Year. Instead, we have a prequel (The First Purge) and whatever Purge 5 is going to be. What's more, she survived a Purge night where seemingly she was everyone's target.
13. President Selina Meyer (Veep)
Played by: Julie Louis-Dreyfus
Obviously, Meyer is best known as the Veep in Veep. She ascended to the president on the series twice, though. Granted, they were both rough terms for her, but what else would you expect from a political satire? We're not saying we necessarily want Selina as the president, watching her do it is pretty entertaining, though.