RANKED: The 12 best on-screen US presidents of all time

Jack Nicholson‘Mars Attacks’See if Jack Nicholson’s President James Dale from ‘Mars Attacks’ made the list …

Barack Obama might have been the first black US president, and Hillary Clinton the first female nominee for president from a major party.

But they’re hardly firsts in fiction.

From black to white, female to male, we’ve put together a list of the most popular on-screen commanders in chief.

To help us in our search, we consulted The Credits, which surveyed 501 voters on their favourite fictional presidents.

If you’re not happy with the election outcome, we recommend checking in with one of these reigning officers.

12. GEENA DAVIS: 'Commander in Chief' (2005-2006)

ABC screencap

Davis proved if a guy could be president, so could a woman.

She played President Mackenzie Allen on ABC's short-lived 'Commander in Chief.'

11. ANTHONY HOPKINS played two presidents two years apart in 'Nixon' and 'Amistad' (1995 / 1997)

Buena Vista / DreamWorks

Hopkins may not look like Nixon, but he mastered the 37th president's mannerisms.

Two years later, he played John Quincy Adams in 'Amistad.'

10. GARY SINISE: 'Truman' (1995)

Sinise won the 1996 Golden Globe for Best Actor in a miniseries or TV film for his role as the 33rd president in the HBO film.

9. DANIEL DAY-LEWIS: 'Lincoln' (2012)

20th Century Fox

Often considered the greatest US president, Abraham Lincoln scores here with the Method actor's fascinating embodiment of the Republican's careful manoeuvring, compassion, and soaring rhetoric. (Also, really long stories.)

8. MORGAN FREEMAN: 'Deep Impact' (1998)


It may not be the most scientifically accurate film, but there's no denying 'the voice of God' as President Tom Beck soothing a nation about to be pummelled by a comet.

7. DENNIS HAYSBERT: '24' (2001-2006)

In a January 2008 issue of TV Guide, Haysbert claimed his role as President David Palmer was responsible in part for Barack Obama's election.

'As far as the public is concerned, it did open up their minds and their hearts a little bit to the notion that if the right man came along that a black man could be president of the United States.'

Star Kiefer Sutherland denied such accusations.

6. MARTIN SHEEN: 'The West Wing' (1999-2006)

Sheen won the Golden Globe for best actor in a television series for his role as Josiah Jed Bartlet in 2002.

5. HENRY FONDA: 'Fail-Safe' (1964)

Colombia Pictures

Fonda played 'The President' in the film based on the 1962 novel about a Cold War crisis.

He also played the president in 1979's 'Meteor' opposite Natalie Wood and Sean Connery.

4. MICHAEL DOUGLAS: 'The American President' (1995)

Douglas played a widow president, Andrew Shepherd, who fell in love with a lobbyist (Annette Bening).

3. FRANK LANGELLA: President Nixon ('Frost/Nixon')

'Frost/Nixon' won the 2009 Oscar for best picture.

Langella was nominated for multiple awards including the Academy Award for best actor.

2. BILL PULMAN: 'Independence Day' (1996)


He may not have won any awards, but Pullman's portrayal of Thomas Whitmore is probably one of the most recognisable presidential roles. He ranked third in The Credits' poll for all-time popularity.

Sure, Pullman may not be the most realistic president, but he wins our vote for jumping in an aircraft to shoot down some alien scum for the survival of mankind alongside Will Smith.

1. HARRISON FORD: 'Air Force One' (1997)

Before Liam Neeson was 'Taken,' Harrison Ford took down Gary Oldman and a group of Russian terrorists who kidnapped him and his family as President James Marshall.

Ford received the most votes in The Credits' poll.

We can't even really blame Donald Trump for trying to use the music from the movie in his campaign.

We can't point out the best without including some we'd like to forget:

Jon Voight's performance of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 'Pearl Harbour.'

Danny Glover played Thomas Wilson in '2012.'

Tommy 'Tiny' Lister as President Lindberg in 'The Fifth Element.'

And, of course, Jack Nicholson as President James Dale in 'Mars Attacks.'

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