Without Warning is an American CBS TV movie, directed by Robert Iscove, featuring veteran news anchor Sander Vanocur and reporter Bree Walker as themselves covering a breaking news story of three meteor fragments crashing into the Earth's northern hemisphere. The film, which premiered on Halloween night, October 31, 1994, is presented as if it were an actual breaking news event, complete with remote reports from reporters. The executive producer was David L. Wolper, who produced a number of mockumentary-style films from the 1960s onward.
Broadcast eleven years after a similar program, Special Bulletin, Without Warning starts in an identical fashion, with the beginning of "regular programming", in this case the opening of a murder mystery film with the title Without Warning, starring Loni Anderson (appearing in a cameo). Within moments, however, the program is interrupted with a news bulletin of an earthquake in Wyoming. The "movie" resumes but a few moments later is interrupted for good as coverage begins of a Halloween night meteor impact on the United States.
Over the course of the film it is learned that additional impacts had been reported in southern France and a remote area of China. A scientist notes that the objects hit in a mathematically precise way and suggests the impacts may have been deliberate.
Soon, lone survivors are found at the Wyoming and France impact sites: a young girl and a young Frenchman. The girl had been reported missing from a city hundreds of miles away from the impact. Both people are severely burned and are speaking in unintelligible syllables.
The three impact sites begin broadcasting a signal that cripples aircraft flying within latitudes immediately surrounding the impacts. Then, another, larger object is detected moving towards the North Pole. The United States, despite protests from world leaders and scientists, orders several aircraft to intercept the object before it impacts with the earth and destroy it using nuclear weapons. This is successful, although all the aircraft are destroyed, apparently by a signal coming from the new object.
Other mysteries occur. At one point the population of an entire town vanishes without a trace. It has been suggested that this occurred not as a result of the attacks, but in fact may have been a reference to one of the more extreme interpretations of the rapture. The town's name is Faith, Wyoming, supporting this reference.
A scientist who has been studying the impacts is flown by an F-16 to a U.S. Military installation where reporters are being briefed on the latest incident. He reveals that his determination is that the impacts were in fact an attempt at first contact by an alien species and that, by destroying the follow-up aircraft, Earth has declared war on the aliens.
The scientist's fears are confirmed when astronomers detect three more objects, each 2 miles wide, approaching Earth. Unlike last time, when they were aimed (intentionally, it is suggested) at lightly inhabited areas, these new objects have been directly aimed at Washington, D.C., Moscow, and Beijing—not coincidentally the capital cities of the three biggest holders of nuclear weapons.
Over the next few tense minutes, nuclear weapons are launched to intercept these three objects successfully (although Washington is nearly hit).
With a sigh of relief, the news anchors report success. Simultaneously, the young French man and the girl die. But scientists are able to finally decipher their speech. It turns out they are each speaking a fragment of a message. When combined (although not complete as the assumed third survivor is never located), the message appears to be reciting of the message from the United Nations Secretary General that had been included on a special recording sent with the Voyager space probes.
Moments later, astronomers detect hundreds more asteroids, all heading towards Earth. As Sander Vanocur and a terrified Dr. Caroline Jaffe await the inevitable destruction of the planet, hearing reports of cities being destroyed worldwide, the wizened anchorman solemnly quotes from William Shakespeare: "The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves" as a rumble is heard and the picture cuts to static.
Most notable is the question of the aliens. Their nature and their reason for contacting Earth is never revealed, and they are never seen. Similarly the exact nature or reasoning of their "hello" message—the crashing of three meteor-like objects into Earth—is left a mystery, as is the intent and purpose of the follow-up vessel that is destroyed by the military. A third survivor of the original impacts is assumed throughout, but given the remote region in which the Chinese impact occurred, this individual is never located during the time frame of the film.