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But we saw it all the same.

2012 is a movie based on the prediction that the world will end on December 21st, 2012. This prediction is itself based on the fact that the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar rolls over somewhere in the vicinity of 2012-12-21, in much the same way that the Gregorian calendar rolled over on 2000-01-01.

The first trailer for the movie showcased a Tibetan monk bashing a giant bell with a log on top of a mountain in the Himalayas (this is the same mountain range as Everest, keep in mind) while various shots of water rushing and rumbling can be heard. Then, all of a sudden, boom, a massive torrent of water goes over the mountains and engulfs everything.

This movie is by the same guy who did Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. There's probably a pattern here.

Word of God states that this is Emmerich's final disaster flick, so he tried as best as he could to pack enough Stuff Blowing Up and Monumental Damage into it to last a lifetime.

A Spin-Off TV series, tentatively called 2013 and focusing on a group of survivors, was planned. However, as ABC decided to not finance it, it is uncertain if the series will ever see the light of day.

Not to be confused with Twenty Twelve, a BBC sitcom about the committee preparing for the 2012 Olympic Games, or Rush's album 2112.

2012 exhibits the following tropes:

  • Action Film Quiet Drama Scene: Multiple, particularly the scene in Air Force One between Adrian and Laura, what's left of Washington DC and the President, and the scenes involving Jackson and his family in Yuri's plane.
  • Acrophobic Bird: Justified in that Gordon just got his pilot's license and can barely fly.
  • Aloha Hawaii: The characters planned to stop in Honolulu to refuel. It's completely covered in lava.
  • Apocalypse How: Judging by the sight of huge chunks of Los Angeles getting ripped out of the ground, this is likely to be a Class 2 at the very least. We look at about Class 3b, maybe Class 4, depending on the severity of volcanism and floods. The end of the film implies only Class 1 - the vast majority of humans are dead, but civilization perseveres.
  • Apocalypse Wow: ...Pretty much the whole point of the film.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The destruction of the Earth is caused by the heating of its core, caused by excess neutrinos being emitted by the Sun. However, since neutrinos almost never interact with matter, these are neutrinos that are "mutating into some other subatomic particle," presumably ones that can interact with matter more often. Why these new particles don't interact with the Earth's surface is unclear. Lampshaded when Adrian, listening about the neutrinos, simply declares "That's impossible". He's right.
  • The Ark
  • Artistic License Geology: Somewhere, a geologist is crying.
  • Badass: Anybody who faces their death and doesn't run.
    • The Lama Rinpoche. His response to a tidal wave going to drown his ass is to ring a bell.
    • Charlie Frost.
    • Harry and the President stick out prominently, who stay behind to comfort non-Ark survivors.
  • Banned in China: Averted thanks to China helping to save the world.
    • Played completely straight in North Korea, thanks to the titular year being the 100th anniversary of Kim-Il Sung's birth.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Yuri's twins, but living through the disaster hammers that out of them.
    • Also Jackson's son, whose snottiness towards his father in the first few minutes is incredibly annoying.
  • California Collapse: Massive earthquakes tear up California and send it straight down.
  • Can You Hear Me Now: A cell phone that gets reception from inside a metal ship buried under the Himalayas off in an undeveloped, rural corner of Tibet. After it has been explicitly stated that the apocalypse has knocked out nearly all communications.
  • Car Meets House: Or rather, limo meets crumbling high rise.
  • Character Filibuster: Adrian takes the world's leaders to school on the meaning of humanity.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The cars in the Russian plane.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Adrian's father is shown boarding a cruise ship early in the film, and he mentions that he has a son he stays in touch with. It isn't clear until later in the film that Adrian is his son.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Gordon's flying lessons.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Yuri Karpov easily knocks out a guard in one punch. Anyone remember him telling that he, in his younger days, was a boxer in Murmansk?
  • Chekhov's Volcano: Guess where.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Sasha makes the sign of the cross in the Catholic way (forehead - chest - left shoulder - right shoulder), instead of the Orthodox way (forehead - chest - right shoulder - left shoulder) — 97% of Russian Christians are Orthodox.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Charlie Frost. Needless to say, he actually is right.
  • Comedy of Remarriage: Double Subverted. Looks like they're going to play it straight as Kate and Gordon seem to be drifting apart, then subverted as it looks like they're going to work things out, then cruelly forced back into played straight as Gordon is killed in the gears of the Ark while Jackson looks on, unable to save him.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Charlie Frost again. Of course, he is right about what's happening, and sets into motion the race to get to the Ark.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The various ways in which Jackson and his family meet up with the other groups in the story. It's lampshaded when the geological expert sees Jackson's family get aboard the Ark - he wonders how they managed to get on...
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The movie seems to forget that in pyroclastic flows, the heat kills people long before the ash cloud touches them. Of course, they do stay barely ahead of the flow itself. While that's already testing of the Suspension of Disbelief, if they were all the way in the cloud, they'd be dead. They do very briefly get caught inside of the flow in an airplane, which makes even less sense, since airplanes generally don't run well in clouds of superheated ash.
    • Bizarrely, the film then starts paying attention to the laws of physics again, just in time for said pyroclastic flow to utterly disintegrate Las Vegas airport (and, implicitly, the city itself). Guess the family had some Plot Armor in that plane of theirs.
  • Cool Boats: The Arkships. And the Antonov An-225, dubbed "Antonov 500" in the film, makes a pretty Cool Plane too.

 Noah: Now that's a big plane.

Yuri: (smiling proudly) It's Russian. [1]

  • Death Course: From Kate's home to the Santa Monica Airport. And that was just the beginning.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: Poor Gordon.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina:
    • The deaths of Gordon and Tamara come across as gratuitously cruel.
    • Sasha's death is an egregious case. He manages to successfully land the plane, a few inches away from falling... and the cliff crumbles.
    • How about most of the planet who never stood a chance? All those people in L.A for example that fell into the Earth.
  • Disaster Movie: They should have just gone ahead and called it Disaster: The Movie.
  • Disappeared Dad: Several examples.
    • Jackson is the "present in physicality only" sort who remarks with dismay that his 7 year old daughter still has a bedwetting problem.
    • Harry and Tony are both estranged from their children (and in one case grandchildren).
  • Disney Villain Death: Yuri, with a low threshold for villainy.
  • Disposable Fiance: Gordon
  • Disposable Pilot: Sasha stays behind on the plane while everyone else bails out. He safely lands, but an ice shelf gives way under him.
  • Divorce Is Temporary
  • Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: Well, the Yellowstone pyroclastic cloud.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Immediately after scenes of wanton destruction, the cruise ship musicians Harry and Tony sing a song with the lyrics "It's not the end of the world/It's only the end of this song."
    • The earthquakes have a nice sense of this too. One strikes just after the Governor of California says "the worst is over." Even better, Gordon says to Kate that 'there is something pulling us apart'... and a fissure promptly opens between them.
    • There's also a massive example at the end: It's stated that the African continent has risen after the crust displacement, and that it likely never flooded. This means that the world's poorest continent was the one to receive the least devastation, since it only got hit by the earthquakes.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Jackson Curtis. In a limo and RV of all things.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Gordon, Sasha, literally for Yuri.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Charlie Frost gleefully enjoys one last scenery-feast before the Yellowstone Caldera erupts and kills him.
  • Earthquakes Cause Fissures: Good Lord, do they ever.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Sasha.
  • Eureka Moment: Overlaps with Oh Crap with Jackson Curtis. After taking Karpov's kids to the airport, he tells our hero that he will die while they will survive the imminent apocalypse. That, and the fact that Charlie was right.
  • Exact Time to Failure: The scientists' estimates about when the tidal waves are expected to reach the location of the Ark ships. Semi-justified in that you can calculate the time it'll take for a wave to reach the Ark, but as it's flowing over a massive landmass, it should be an estimate.
    • Subverted and Lampshaded with the actual planetary meltdown, which jumps itself up by six months and causes all the precise survival plans to collapse.
  • Expy:
  • The Everyman: Jackson Curtis, a down-on-his-luck divorced writer working as a limo driver to pay the bills.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Satnam and his family, knowing full well that they don't stand a chance in hell of escaping the oncoming tsunami, spend their final moments embracing each other as the others around them panic. Various other examples are also seen, combined with some of the facing the bullets one liners mentioned below.
  • Facing the Bullets One-Liner:
  • First Father Wins: And lives.
  • Fake American: Thandie Newton (British) as President Danny Glover's daughter.
    • Chiwetel Ejiofor (also British) as Adrian.
  • Fan Nickname: "Thank God We Weren't Standing There Five Seconds Ago: The Movie."
  • Foreshadowing: In the beginning of the movie, a child has an accident with a toy boat in a puddle. That toy boat is a scale model of the SS United States
  • Genre Savvy: "When they tell you not to panic, that's when you run!"
  • The Glasses Come Off: Played for Laughs as Noah tries on a pair of oversized sunglasses, then whips them off dramatically to share a message from Kate with Jackson: "She wants us to come home!"
  • Government Conspiracy: The government knew, and didn't tell anyone even after it started. And they assassinated everyone who tried to tell people the truth, except for obvious nutjobs like Charlie Frost. Somewhat justified as this was really the only way they could build any Arks without the place being swarmed by refugees, terrorists, renegade army units, etc. that would jeopardize any humans surviving.
  • The Great Flood: And that's after the land-shattering earthquakes and volcanoes.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Yuri throws one of his children to safety, the momentum of which hurtles him to his death. and Sasha stays in the plane in order to give the others a chance to escape. Heck, even Tamara ensures her dog is safe but is fatally trapped herself.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Harry and Tony.
  • Homage: If you're gonna make a disaster flick, make a disaster flick that respects its roots!
  • Hollywood Science: Often, even lampshaded, and obvious. Just go with it.
  • Ignored Expert: Played straight for about ten seconds as Anheuser blows a frantic Adrian off, then subverted as he actually takes the young scientist seriously after flipping through his manuscript. To a lesser degree, Jackson. He buys into Charlie's theories after seeing Yuri's preparations for the Ark, and when trying to convince Kate, she does not believe him until California begins breaking up beneath her feet.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Upon learning that the world is about to end Harry orders a double. Tony and a waiter are both shocked, as he hasn't touched alcohol in 25 years.
  • Infant Immortality: Played hard compared to Independence Day.
    • Subverted with Tony and Satnam's families, and a lot of off-screen child deaths.
  • Informed Flaw: (or, to be more precise, Informed Inability) Gordon claims to have had only a few flying lessons, but performs impressive feats of stunt piloting during the escape from California. He is, of course, improvising and is helped along by an actual pilot on the Russian plane.
  • Ironic Echo: In California, an old woman chides "I told ya we shoulda moved back to Wisconsin." Later on, aboard Air Force One, Anheuser discovers the planet's new south magnetic pole is in Wisconsin. At the end, the final sentence of Jackson's novel turns out to be "Somehow or another, we all had relatives in Wisconsin." There were quite a few chuckles from Wisconsin audiences at all 3 lines. Kinda makes you wonder what made Wisconsin so popular with the producer. This could be a Shout-Out to another popular conspiracy theory, one involving a planet colliding with Earth in the early 21st century. The source of the theory was Nancy Lieder, a Wisconsin woman who claimed to have been contacted by extraterrestrial aliens.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gordon, who at first appears to just be a toolish plastic surgeon. The kids love him (so we know he can't be all bad) but what really shows his better side is finding out he tried to talk Tamara out of getting plastic surgery. While Yuri's still a asshole for leaving Tamara, he does manage to get his children on board Ark 4 before dying a horrible death.
  • Kill the Cutie: Poor Tamara.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Hawaii gets turned into this. Complete with Scenery Gorn of the ruined Honolulu skyline.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: A new character is added to the movie every 10 minutes or so, and most of them exist to get mowed down for the sake of upping the drama quotient.
  • Love Triangle: Gordon, Kate, and Jackson. Yuri, Tamara and Sasha.
  • Lzherusskie: Zlatko Buric (Croatian/Danish) as Yuri Karpov, Johann Urb (Estonian-American) as Sasha and Beatrice Rosen (French-American) as Tamara. Also, Zinaid Memisevic (Bosnian) as Sergey Karpenko (Russian president). His interpreter, played by Igor Morozov, is the only "true" Russian in the movie.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The kid is named Noah and is the reason Ark 04 didn't sink.
    • Boorish President-by-Default Carl Anheuser, who is first seen in the movie partying and ignoring warning signs of dangerous happenings-to-be.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Anheuser, who points out they can't save everybody. He attempts to abandon Ark 4 due to this.
  • Monumental Damage: The film gives us the destruction of the following landmarks:
    • The Cristo Redentor statue in Rio de Janeiro.
    • St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the latter complete with a crack opening up between Adam and God on the fresco ceiling.
    • The Las Vegas Strip, including its fake Eiffel Tower, gets torn apart by an Earthquake AND a Pyroclastic cloud.
    • The Washington Monument.
    • The White House, which gets crushed by an aircraft carrier. By the carrier named after John F. Kennedy, no less.
    • Yellowstone National Park balloons then explodes as the caldera erupts.
    • The entire city of Los Angeles. You could probably pick out the Capital Records Building getting it again if you look closely.
    • Averted, however, in that the film did not show the Ka'aba in Mecca getting smashed - because the producer admitted he was afraid of getting fatwa-ed.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Albeit unsuccessful ones. Jackson tries to pimp his book a lot.
  • Neutral Female: The female characters don't really do a whole lot. They comfort the children, sometimes. And the President's daughter exists solely to be Adrian's Love Interest. Notable especially in the plane sequences. Only Yuri and Jackson ever even go up to see what's happening.
  • Next Sunday AD: Right in the title.
  • Nice Job (Almost) Breaking It Hero: Ark 4 is almost doomed when equipment Jackson's family and the Tibetan family use to sneak aboard becomes jammed in the gate's hydraulics.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • The governor of California is never named, but has a strong Austrian accent, and apparently used to be an actor.
    • Also the President is black though considerably different in background.
    • And Germany's Chancellor is female.
    • Yuri Karpov looks suspiciously similar in appearance and hairstyle to Shabtay Kalmanovich, a recently murdered oligarch known for his patronage of sporting events. Russian boxer Zultan seems to be a stand-in for Sultan Ibragimov. And, for some weird reason, the Russian president is a look-alike of geriatric Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.
  • "No. Just... No" Reaction: Roland Emmerich's initial idea of showing the destruction of Mecca was met with this response by his fellow producers and writers, with one of them saying that he didn't want a fatwa issued against him. Emmerich would later point out the Double Standard inherent in this, as there wasn't any controversy over the destruction of Vatican City and the Cristo Redentor.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Brutally subverted by Anheuser, who tries to leave thousands of refugees behind right at the doors of the Ark. Also qualifies as a Moral Event Horizon.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: One of the few moments where this movie decides to be original is subverting this trope with Carl Anheuser. Initially he has all tell-tale signs of a stereotypical self-absorbed, short-sighted government official who is there to ignore Adrian's warning, but when Adrian's outburst prompts him to actually look into the latter's report, he recognizes instantly that this matter should not be red-taped.
  • Oh Crap: Every few minutes, as befits the end of the world
  • One-Scene Wonder: The movie's got really strong supporting actors. Perhaps the most memorable is Woody Harrelson, who gleefully chews the entire Yellowstone park as a crackpot conspiracy theorist.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Or, in one case, outrun the earthquake. Luckily, the Earth is sufficiently polite to stop cracking and waits for you to get off your car and onto a plane. And the supervolcano that just erupted behind you while your plane is still sitting on the runway? Every volcanic bomb misses, and the shockwave from the blast just a few miles away barely ruffles the characters' hair.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: President Wilson is both a President Personable and a President Minority, but Genre Savvy enough to know that he's not a President Action.
  • Pair the Spares: Subverted. It looks like Gordon and Tamara will get together but they both die instead.
  • Pet the Dog: Yuri is a massive Smug Snake throughout the entire film, abandoning the rest of the party, including his girlfriend, in the Himalayas, but selflessly gives his life to save his sons.
  • Physics Goof: The Earth is being destroyed because solar neutrinos are "mutating" into a form that heats the interior of the Earth like a microwave oven. In reality, solar neutrinos do mutate — they change between electron, muon, and tau flavors during their travels in a process called neutrino oscillation. However, none of these neutrino flavors is capable of interacting with the Earth's interior.
    • Mocked mercilessly by Dara O'Briain in his "This is the Show".

 Dara: [The scientist] might as well have gone "the electrons... are angry". Or "the light from the sun..." *sniffs* "it's gone off."

    • Excellent example with Yellowstone. It manages an explosion probably measured in gigatons without any significant blast overpressure. Trees are flattened, but it abates within a mere mile or two - helpfully before obliterating all the major characters.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Get in the fucking car!"
  • Product Placement:
    • Vault, Bentley, Huggies (Goodnites), and many, many other things.
    • At the global conference near the start, every single person is using the same Sony Vaio laptop.
    • A Chevron gas station makes a brief appearance, only to be blown up by a careening cement truck.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right
  • Re Cut: The Blu-ray has an alternate ending where the ship Dr. Helmsley's father was travelling on survived the tsunami.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Yuri.
  • Red Herring:
    • A rather cruel one: The bonding between Gordon and Tamara.
    • The continual references to "big ships" makes one think of spaceships that are going to leave Earth. Nope! They're just big boats.
  • Refuge in Audacity: White House. Meet Aircraft carrier.
  • Rousing Speech: Adrian, to get the other world leaders to agree to open the doors and let the last group of refugees in, even though it could harm their ship. And it did.
  • Rule of Cool: Why do they take elephants and giraffes, which ultimately are useless, on the Arks instead of cows, chickens, etc. which they could use as livestock? Because it's more visually impressive to see elephants and giraffes get airlifted by helicopters than it is cows and chickens. It's as simple as that. (You could claim that the livestock was loaded earlier, precisely because they are more important, but the visual still stands.)
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • At the beginning of the movie, after Jackson, Noah, and Lucy sneak into the restricted area of Yellowstone, Noah asks fairly randomly "Haven't you seen the signs?" It takes place just long enough after the signs have been shown that it seems out of place and almost like a warning.
    • The Cristo Redentor crumbles spectacularly. See the Sistine Chapel example below.
    • The Arks. They even carry animals.
    • The Sistine Chapel crumbles and is destroyed. Guess where the ceiling splits? The crack separates Adam's finger from God's finger..
    • Also, just afterwards, the masses praying there are crushed by the dome when it topples from St. Peter's Square.
    • Jackson Curtis' son is named "Noah," and he later rescues Ark 4 from disaster.
    • At the end the human race all goes back to Africa, where it started out in the first place.
  • Running Gag:
    • Jackson: "I'm on my way toward you/hurtling toward you as we speak!"
    • Jackson's daughter and her obsession with fun hats.
    • Played tragically by all the desperate farewell phone calls cut short by impacting disasters.
  • Russian Guy Suffers Most: All Russian characters who are not children or politicians bite the dust sooner or later.
  • Scenery Gorn: Most of the planet. As seen at the top of the page, Emmerich pays particular attention to the destruction of Los Angeles. From all the downtown skyscrapers toppling, massive cracks opening, and chunks of landscape sliding into the sea as seen in the poster above and trailer.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Gordon tries his best to be a good stepfather to Jackson's children, as well as getting on well with Jackson himself, and he manages to use his minimal flying experience to pilot several drastically different aircraft, and is never anything less than cooperative with the other characters. His reward is death.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Poseidon Adventure gets one during a mid-sea tsunami wave...
    • The limo race from a disintegrating L.A. plays like an Up to Eleven version of the last chase in Twister, complete with a detour through a doomed building (rolling house vs collapsing skyscraper), the explosive crash-landing of a heavy vehicle (fuel truck on roadbed vs cement mixer into gas station), and the inevitable bit of silly "flack" glimpsed in midair (live cow vs giant donut).
  • Smug Snake: Yuri.
  • Spiritual Successor: Of The Day After Tomorrow and Independence Day, of course!
  • Stealth Hi Bye: Both of Jackson's kids appear to have perfected the art of teleportation. In two separate screens he explicitly tells them to stay put, and with no indication the kid have moved they abruptly appear next to him a few scenes later.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Played straight with Tamara. Justified, she got trapped in a submerged room.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Characters ramble on for minutes without any noticeable difference between the time they got started and the time they finished, usually minutes later. Standouts include Adrian's speech on the Ark and Jackson getting ready to unplug the gears.
  • Take My Hand: About a dozen times.
  • Take That:
    • A very lazy shot at Arnold Schwarzenegger ("He's an actor - he's reading from a script!"). There is a veritable myriad of take-thats in the film, but there's so many that it's kind of hard to pinpoint them all. Western civilization? Religion? Rich people? Russians?
  • Take That, Critics!: A subtle one can be found in the adoration John Cusack's character's Sci Fi book gets. In the movie, the book sells barely a dozen copies because critics found its ridiculously Cosy Catastrophe view of the world to be insufferable and unrealistic, yet major characters (the president included!) find it be a source of great inspiration. Director Roland Emmerich also made The Day After Tomorrow, which was criticized for being offensively preachy and silly in the levels of Cosy Catastrophe it brought to the screen.
  • Tempting Fate: Many times. See Dramatic Irony.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Charlie and his prediction of the Yellowstone Caldera erupting.
  • Throwaway Country: Sometimes played straight, sometimes subverted - e.g., India and China are given considerable focus beyond being nature's Chew Toy. Canada possibly fits this trope too. The world leaders conference at the beginning is held in British Columbia, and Canada is mentioned as having survivors on board one of the Arks.
  • Tv Tropes Will Enhance Your Life: Tropers have gone into the theater after having browsed this very site, checking out tropes to look for.
  • Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Floated, then immediately ripped up.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: Both played straight (the computers on the arks with 3D, real-time representations of the gears for the doors) and averted (the scientist who discovers the end is near uses Vista, and everyone else who's not an Ark operator).
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Or an unnamed character.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Averted hard with Tamara.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Jackson, after finding out that the ships are in China.

 Jackson: We're gonna need a bigger plane.


  1. It's technically (Soviet) Ukrainian, as only one model exists. An-225 is a one-off (essentially a stretched An-124 Ruslan) built to carry the Buran shuttle in mid-80'es. There's a lot of talks about series production (or completing the second airframe, which was never finished), but as Antonov design bureau lacks production facilities and must rely on Russian plants, which are still in a pretty bad shape, nothing has come of it as of now.