President Thomas J. WhitmoreIndependence Day
Bill Pullman’s President Whitmore is a former fighter pilot; job experience that proves extremely fruitful when he volunteers to hop in a fighter jet and take on invading aliens like he was an ordinary Joe and not the leader of the free world.
Defining moment: President Whitmore gives a brief, inspirational address to his fellow Americans who are about to fight alien invaders. It’s a bit rough around the edges -- not unlike the president himself -- but an inspiration nonetheless.
President Tom BeckDeep Impact
Played by Morgan Freeman, President Beck is a thoughtful, hard-nosed statesman whose administration is faced with arguably a greater threat than any leader on this list or in history: The total destruction of the planet by an asteroid. Beck steps up to the plate and truly defines his role as “leader of the free world.”
Defining moment: Tough times demand action and the Earth’s looming encounter with a giant asteroid forces President Beck to declare martial law, as well as to decide who will and who will not be part of the new “Noah’s Ark” inside the caves of Missouri.
President James MarshallAir Force One
A president who is willing to take down terrorists one by one, all by himself? Who could have expected anything less from a president whose CV includes frequent stints as Indiana Jones? While we don’t learn a whole lot about the Marshall administration during Air Force One, you get the feeling this is one president who could handle Teddy Roosevelt one-on-one.
Defining moment: President Marshall feigns escaping a hijacked Air Force One -- which, considering his role as leader of the free world he really shouldn't have done -- so he can fight the terrorist mano-a-mano.
President David Palmer24
Dennis Haysbert’s President Palmer is among the greatest of statesmen, one who understands the importance of keeping one’s friends close and one’s enemies closer. It’s tough to gauge his administration based on two days, but he comes across as one of the more flawed -- and, therefore, human -- presidents in Hollywood’s history.
Defining moment: President Palmer refuses to order military strikes against certain unspecified countries until he can verify that they are behind a plot to blow up Los Angeles, even in the face of opposition from virtually his entire cabinet.
President Josiah BartletThe West Wing
Martin Sheen’s President Bartlet is everything you can ask for in a leader: He’s intelligent, idealistic, realistic, compassionate, funny, flawed yet confident, and loaded with charisma. His love for his country and his own family is perhaps too ideally portrayed, but only when set against reality. In other words, it’s not realistic to expect the next president to be just like Bartlet, but he’s a great figure for future presidents to aspire to.
Defining moment: It’s tough to pick a moment that defines President Bartlet, in large part because his portrayal was so much longer than the rest of our top 10 fictional commander in chiefs, but maybe it’s when his daughter is kidnapped in retaliation for an assassination he ordered. Worried for both his family and the nation itself, he momentarily cedes power to the speaker of the house, despite the fact the speaker is not from his party.