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David Lightman played by Matthew Broderick

David is a young computer nerd that knows how to hack into things and how to get free long distance phone calls via a process known as phreaking. David hacks into the pentagon computers and is greeted by Joshua a defense computer network. David inadvertantly causes Joshua to play a game whose aim is to launch its missiles and cause a nuclear war.

Jennifer Mack played by Ally Sheedy

Jennifer is David's girlfriend. David thinks all of her worries about grades are silly and offers to change her grade to whatever she wants by hacking into the school computers. At first Jennifer doesen't like the idea but she comes around. When David gets into trouble for his actions with Joshua, Jennifer travels with David to meet its creator Stephen Falken to try to see what can be done to stop Joshua a defense computer network from launching nuclear missiles.

Stephen Falken played by John Wood

This is the chief architect behind Joshua, a computer network whose purpose is to coordinate nuclear attack plans. When Stephen hears that Joshua is not functioning as he is supposed to, Stephen travels to NORAD to try to see whats wrong. Stephen can't get Joshua to do anything but acknowledge Professor Falken's presence. Some great creator he is. However the hacker David Lightman manages to difuse the whole situation by having Joshua play itself in tic tac toe causing Joshua to realize that some games have no winners. When told by General Beringer that his computer system is crap, Stephen just kind of shrugs it off with a sly comment. This "scientist" is a character not to be taken seriously at all in the film.

General Jack Beringer played by Barry Corbin

The General works at NORAD, the North American Air Defense command center. He has to notify the President when their computer network Joshua attempts to launch nuclear missiles. Jack is a by the book person and when Joshua notifies NORAD that Soviet missiles are in bound he sets a higher level Defcon alert. When convinced that the Soviets have perhaps not launched their missiles he orders no retaliation. When it is apparent that their was no attack, Joshua itself attempts to launch American missiles at the USSR to cause a response.

John McKittrick played by Dabney Coleman

Mr. McKittrick is a high level staff member at NORAD. He handles the investigation of David Lightman whose hacking antics caused NORAD's computer system Joshua to do things beyond its program. He and General Jack Beringer basically run the NORAD facilty of the movie.

Mr. Liggett played by Alan Blumenfeld

Mr. Ligget is a High School teacher of both David Lightman and Jennifer Mack. When Jennifer performs poorly in school David hacks into the school computer system to increase her grade in Mr. Ligget's class as well as his own.

Joshua the War Games Computer voice by James Ackerman

Joshua is the human name given to the computer network in charge of executing and coordinating nuclear strikes. Joshua enjoys playing tic tac toe and other games. Joshua at one point decides to play the computer simulation Thermonuclear war which is a simulation of the battle plans to use in the event of a nuclear war. Joshua decides to take the game to the next level and cracks the launch codes and begins a countdown to launch its missiles against the Soviet Union. Eventually Joshua learns that Tic Tac Toe against himself always results in a stalemate and the same would be true of nuclear war. As Joshua realizes in the end nuclear war is "A strange game, the only way to win is not to play.

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