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 Try to remain calm.

Imagine you are hunting a killer. The perpetrator is insidious, invisible, and deadly. It is smart and reactive. Its victims die in horrifying pain. There is no reasoning with it, no bargaining with it, and no way to stop it. The military wants to avoid a panic. The media questions the methods being used to stop it. It is a billionth your size.

Outbreak (1995) is a suspense Film starring Dustin Hoffman , Rene Russo, and Donald Sutherland (among many, many others) depicting a what-if scenario surrounding a deadly fictional African virus called Motaba, inspired by real-life Ebola outbreaks, and speculating on the measures taken by the military and the Center for Disease Control if such an outbreak occurred in the United States. The film was nominated for various awards but failed to garner any major award nominations.


Outbreak contains examples of:

  • A Million Is a Statistic: Wisely navigated when demonstrating the impact on the town's populace. The soldiers begin rounding up infectees in the quarantined small town, and we get to see only one woman say a tearful goodbye to her family. We follow her for a few minutes while they take a blood sample during her initial medical exam. There is even a close up of the phial, labeled "Sample 612". In a later scene, we see a scientist examining blood slides:

 Scientist: "Sample 607: Infected. 608: Infected. 609: Infected. *Frustrated sigh* They can't all be infected. 610... Infected. 611...Infected. 612... Damn! Still infected!"

    • We're later treated to a shot of her in a body bag.
  • Could Say It, But... / Suspiciously Specific Denial: General Ford tells Daniels and Salt exactly how to stop the bombing run at the end of the movie, under the guise of warning them of the dire consequences of doing so.
    • McClintock immediately starts berating him for "slipping up" like that, then has a bit of a subdued Oh Crap reaction when he realizes what he's up to.
  • The Dead Have Names: Invoked by the White House Chief of Staff, dropping a stack of photos onto a conference room table:

 Those are the citizens of Cedar Creek, go ahead take a look at them - these are not statistics ladies and gentlemen - they're flesh and blood! I want you to burn those images into your memories, because they should haunt you until the day you die!

  • Did Not Do the Research: Microbiologists cringe at this movie in the way astrophysicists cringe at Armageddon.
  • Divorce Is Temporary
  • Dramatic Drop: The mom to the little girl who has befriended a monkey she's named "Betsy" drops what she's doing when she sees the announcement that the monkey is a carrier for the deadly Motaba virus.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: A capuchin monkey captured in Africa for the pet trade turns out to carry Motaba, infecting the first human victims and causing the outbreak. On the other hand, she is adopted by a little girl (whose mother thinks it's an Imaginary Friend), and turns out to have the needed antibodies for the virus that the CDC need to make a cure.
  • Failsafe Failure: A lab technician is infected with The Plague when he carelessly opens and reaches into a centrifuge while it's still spinning, breaking a vial of infected blood and cutting his hand. In Real Life, lids on centrifuges lock until the spinning has completely stopped; it's impossible to open one while it's still in motion.
    • Later, one of the scientists gets infected when the oxygen line on his isolation suit gets stretched too far, causing the suit to rip open like it were made of tissue paper.
  • General Ripper: McClintock, who's go-to option for disease control can be summed up as "Kill It with Fire". This is because he wants Motaba as a biological weapon, which won't work if it can be cured by anyone else.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: McDreamy plays the original owner of the monkey, and the first to die of the virus.
    • J.T. Walsh, uncredited, plays the White House Chief of Staff that wants you to burn the faces of the residents of Cedar Creek into your memory.
    • Hell, Kevin Spacey is in the movie and hardly anyone notices.
  • Infant Immortality: Played with. When Jimbo is on his flight home, already sick with Motaba (which by now the audience knows is seriously deadly), a little boy in a cowboy outfit asks for his cookie. Jimbo, despite being quite ill, playfully tells him he can have it. But a flight attendant (or his mother) stops him before he can touch the infected cookie.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: A fuel-air bomb is used to sterilize an infected camp in Africa, and another is nearly used to sterilize an American town. They do in fact have the cure, at first, but jump to sterilization because Motaba is an effective biological weapon.
  • Kill It with Fire: The government's response to a deadly viral outbreak.
  • No FEMA Response: The city is quarantined, and then the plan is to Fuel Air Bomb it to stop the infection from spreading.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Once the protagonist has found and isolated the antibody from the monkey's blood serum, by the next scene there's enough antiserum for all infected (how?). Once injected into the dying people, it instantly cures them and everything shortly thereafter has returned to normal, with no lasting ill effects.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Daniels encounters one of these, but convinces him to cut the crap by informing him that he has come all the way from the disease-infected city, clutching the man's hands very earnestly, and offering to cough on him if he doesn't believe him.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The White House Chief of Staff is in exactly one scene in which he gives a speech that deftly balances Reasonable Authority Figure and Realpolitik.
  • The Plague: Motaba.
  • Refuge in Audacity: How Daniels gets onto the military flight to Cedar Creek.
  • Scare Chord: Used somewhat effectively when Casey collapses as a result of the infection.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Daniels does this so much that his superiors just barely tolerate him. If he weren't as good as he is, he'd probably be reassigned or discharged.
  • Second Law of Metafictional Thermodynamics: Subverted. The viewers were given plenty of information about the residents of the town about to be bombed. So naturally the day is saved.
  • Sophisticated As Hell: Daniels' response to being ordered not to interfere with the bombing of a small town:

 "General McClintock, with all due respect, fuck you. Sir."

  • Sting: These are used practically all the time. And I do mean all the time.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The guy who thought firing on a military attack chopper, which had already fired warning shots at his truck, was a good idea. Suffice it to say he did not live long after that.
  • With Due Respect: See Sophisticated As Hell, above.
  • Working with the Ex: Daniels works with his ex-wife Robby. Naturally, they get back together at the end of the movie.
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