1997 (MCMXCVII) was a common year that started on a Wednesday. In the Gregorian calendar, it was the 1997th year of Anno Domini; the 997th year of the 2nd millennium; the 97th year of the 20th century; and the 8th of the 1990s.
- January 9 – Yachtsman Tony Bullimore is found alive, 5 days after his boat capsized in the Southern Ocean.
- January 17 – A Delta II rocket carrying a military GPS payload explodes, shortly after liftoff from Cape Canaveral.
- January 18 – In northwest Rwanda, Hutu militia members kill 3 Spanish aid workers, 3 soldiers, and seriously wound another.
- January 19 – Yasser Arafat returns to Hebron after more than 30 years, and joins celebrations over the handover of the last Israeli-controlled West Bank city.
- January 20 – U.S. President Bill Clinton is inaugurated for his second term.
- January 22 – Madeleine Albright becomes the first female Secretary of State, after confirmation by the United States Senate.
- January 23 – Mir Aimal Kasi is sentenced to death for a 1993 assault rifle attack outside CIA headquarters that killed 2 and wounded 3.
- January 27 – It is revealed that French museums had nearly 2,000 pieces of art that had been stolen by Nazis.
- April 3 – The Thalit massacre in Algeria: All but one of the 53 inhabitants of Thalit are killed by guerrillas.
- April 11 – Fire damages the Turin Cathedral in Italy.
- April 14
- Fire breaks out in a pilgrim camp on the Plain of Mena, 7 miles (11 km) from Mecca; 343 die.
- Former SS Captain Erich Priebke is retried; on July 22 he is sentenced to 5 years in prison.
- April 16 – Houston, Texas, socialite Doris Angleton is murdered in her River Oaks home. Roger Angleton later admits to the crime in his suicide note. Despite being found innocent of the crime by a Texas jury, he is later arrested by the United States Department of Justice on similar charges.
- April 18 – The Red River of the North breaks through dikes and floods Grand Forks, North Dakota, and East Grand Forks, Minnesota, causing US$ 2 billion in damage.
- April 21 – A Pegasus rocket carries the remains of 24 people into earth orbit, in the first space burial.
- April 22
- April 23 – 42 villagers are killed in the Omaria massacre in Algeria.
- April 27 – Andrew Cunanan murders Jeffrey Trail, beginning a murder spree that lasts until July and ends with the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace.
- April 29
- May 2 – The Labour Party of the United Kingdom return to power for the first time in 18 years, with Tony Blair becoming Prime Minister, in a landslide majority in the 1997 general election.
- May 3 – Katrina and the Waves win the Eurovision Song Contest 1997 for the UK with "Love Shine a Light", the most successful Eurovision entry ever.
- May 10 – An earthquake near Ardekul, in northeastern Iran, kills at least 2,400.
- May 11 – IBM's Deep Blue defeats Garry Kasparov in the last game of the rematch, the first time a computer beats a chess World champion in a match.
- May 12 – The Russian-Chechen Peace Treaty is signed.
- May 14 – The Star Alliance is formed between Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines System, Thai Airways International and United Airlines.
- May 15 – The United States government acknowledges existence of the "Secret War" in Laos, and dedicates the Laos Memorial in honor of Hmong and other "Secret War" veterans.
- May 16
- May 17 – Troops of Laurent Kabila march into Kinshasa.
- May 22 – Kelly Flinn, the U.S. Air Force's first female bomber pilot certified for combat, accepts a general discharge in order to avoid a court martial.
- May 23 – Mohammad Khatami won at 1997 Iranian presidential election and became first Iranian Reformist President.
- May 25
- May 27 – The second-deadliest tornado of the 1990s hits in Jarrell, Texas, killing 27 people.
- May 31 – The 13-kilometer Confederation Bridge, the world's longest bridge spanning ice covered waters, opens between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, Canada.
- June 1
- June 2 – In Denver, Colorado, Timothy McVeigh is convicted on 15 counts of murder and conspiracy for his role in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
- June 6 – In Lacey Township, New Jersey, high school senior Melissa Drexler kills her newborn baby in a toilet.
- June 7 – A computer user known as "_eci" publishes his Microsoft C source code on a Windows 95 and Windows NT exploit, which later becomes WinNuke. The source code gets wide distribution across the internet, and Microsoft is forced to release a security patch.
- June 8 – A United States Coast Guard helicopter crashes near Humboldt Bay, California; all 4 crewmembers perish.
- June 10 – Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot orders the killing of his defense chief, Son Sen, and 11 of Sen's family members, before Pol Pot flees his northern stronghold (the news does not reach outside Cambodia for 3 days).
- June 11 – In the United Kingdom, the House of Commons votes for a total ban on handguns.
- June 12 – The United States Department of the Treasury unveils a new $50 bill, meant to be more difficult to counterfeit.
- June 13 – A jury sentences Timothy McVeigh to death for his part in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
- June 16 – About 50 are killed in the Dairat Labguer massacre in Algeria.
- June 19 – The fast food chain McDonald's wins a partial victory in its libel trial, known as the McLibel case, against two environmental campaigners.
- June 22 – Swedish musician Ted Gärdestad commits suicide by jumping in front of a train. He is found dead later that morning.
- June 25
- June 26 – Bertie Ahern is appointed as the 10th Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland and Mary Harney is appointed as the 16th, and first female, Tánaiste, after their parties, Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats respectively, win the 1997 General Election.
- June 30 – Bloomsbury Publishing publish J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in London.
- August 1
- August 2 – Australian ski instructor Stuart Diver is rescued as the sole survivor from the Thredbo landslide in New South Wales, in which 18 die.
- August 3 – Between 40–76 villagers are killed in the Oued El-Had and Mezouara massacre in Algeria.
- August 4
- August 6
- August 13 – In Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Cruzeiro defeat Sporting Cristal of Peru 1–0, becoming the Copa Libertadores de América champions for the second time.
- August 20 – Over 60 are killed, 15 kidnapped in the Souhane massacre in Algeria; .
- August 21 – Be Here Now, the third album from English rock band Oasis, becomes the fastest selling album in UK history.
- August 26
- August 29 – Over 98 (and possibly up to 400) are killed in the Rais massacre in Algeria.
- August 31 – Death of Diana, Princess of Wales: Diana, Princess of Wales is taken to hospital after a car accident shortly after midnight, in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel in Paris. She is pronounced dead at 3:00 am.
- September 4 – In Lorain, Ohio, the last Ford Thunderbird for 3 years rolls off the assembly line.
- September 5
- September 6
- September 7 – The F-22 Raptor makes its first test flight.
- September 11 – Scotland votes to create its own Parliament after 290 years of union with England.
- September 13 – Iraq disarmament crisis: An Iraqi military officer attacks an UNSCOM weapons inspector on board an UNSCOM helicopter, while the inspector attempts to take photographs of unauthorized movement of Iraqi vehicles inside a site designated for inspection.
- September 15 – Norwegian parliamentary election, 1997
- September 17 – Iraq disarmament crisis: While waiting for access to a site, UNSCOM inspectors witness and videotape Iraqi guards moving files, burning documents, and dumping waste cans into a nearby river.
- September 18 – Wales votes in favour of devolution and the formation of a National Assembly for Wales.
- September 19 – 53 are killed in the Guelb El-Kebir massacre in Algeria.
- September 21 – The Islamic Salvation Army, the Islamic Salvation Fronts' armed wing, declares a unilateral ceasefire in Algeria.
- September 25 – Iraq disarmament crisis: UNSCOM inspector Dr. Diane Seaman catches several Iraqi men sneaking out the back door of an inspection site, with log books for the creation of prohibited bacteria and chemicals.
- September 26
- September 27 – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Požega in Croatia is founded.
- October 1 – Luke Woodham walks into Pearl High School in Pearl, Mississippi, and opens fire, killing 2 girls, after killing his mother earlier that morning.
- October 2 – British scientists Moira Bruce and John Collinge, with their colleagues, independently show that the new variant form of the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is the same disease as Bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
- October 4
- October 11 – The mixed martial arts organization PRIDE Fighting Championships holds its inaugural event at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. In the main event Rickson Gracie defeats Nobuhiko Takada by armbar.
- October 12 – 43 are killed at a false roadblock, in the Sidi Daoud massacre in Algeria.
- October 15
- October 16 – The first color photograph appears on the front page of the New York Times.
- October 17 – The remains of Che Guevara are laid to rest with full military honours in a specially built mausoleum in the city of Santa Clara, Cuba, where he had won the decisive battle of the Cuban Revolution 39 years before.
- October 28 – In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average gains a record 337.17 points, closing at 7,498.32. One billion shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange for the first time ever.
- October 29 – Iraq disarmament crisis: Iraq says it will begin shooting down Lockheed U-2 surveillance planes being used by UNSCOM inspectors.
- October 30 – In Newton, Massachusetts, British au pair Louise Woodward is found guilty of the baby-shaking death of 8-month-old Matthew Eappen.
- December 3 – In Ottawa, Canada, representatives from 121 countries sign a treaty prohibiting the manufacture and deployment of anti-personnel land mines. However, the United States, the People's Republic of China, and Russia do not sign the treaty.
- December 8 – Myra Hindley, one of the Moors murderers, arrives at the High Court of Justice, to contest a recent Home Secretary's decision that she should remain in prison until she dies.
- December 9 – The Pokémon Trading Card Game is blessed by the Vatican for its love-thy-neighbor notion of "intense friendship," for being "full of inventive imagination," and its lack of "harmful moral side effects."
- December 10 – The capital of Kazakhstan is moved from Almaty to Astana.
- December 11 – The Kyoto Protocol is adopted by a United Nations committee.
- December 12 – Demonstrations occur in the state capitals of Australia against the WTO and IMF.
- December 16 – "Dennō Senshi Porygon", an episode of the Pokémon TV series, is aired in Japan, inducing seizures in hundreds of Japanese children.
- December 18 – Myra Hindley loses her High Court appeal against the government's decision to keep her behind bars for the rest of her life.
- December 19
- December 24 – 50–100 villagers are killed in the Sid El-Antri massacre in Algeria.
- December 27 – Ulster loyalist paramilitary leader Billy Wright is assassinated in Northern Ireland, inside Long Kesh prison.
- December 29 – Hong Kong begins to kill all the chickens within its territory (1.25 million) to stop the spread of a potentially deadly influenza strain.
- December 30 – Wilaya of Relizane massacres of December 30, 1997: In the worst incident in Algeria's insurgency, 400 are killed from four villages in the wilaya of Relizane.
- The Toyota Prius, the first hybrid vehicle to go into full production, is unveiled in Japan on October 24, and goes on sale in Japan on December 9. It comes to U.S. showrooms on July 11, 2000.
- January 11 – Cody Simpson, Australian singer-songwriter
- January 14 – Nastya and Masha Tolmacheva, Russian singers
- February 10 – Chloë Moretz, American actress
- February 25 – Isabelle Fuhrman, American actress
- March 8 – Nicolás Vigneaux, Chilean actor
- March 18 – Ciara Bravo, American actress, voice artist, singer, and comedian
- March 23 – Aidan Davis, British Streetdancer
- April 1 – Asa Butterfield, English actor
- May 9 – Zane Huett, American actor
- May 30 – Jake Short, American actor
- June 20 – Maria Lark, Russian-born American actress
- June 21 – Rebecca Black, American singer
- August 5
- August 10 – Kylie Jenner, American model and television personality
- August 16 – Greyson Chance, American singer, songwriter and pianist
- October 8 – Bella Thorne, American actress
- October 28 – Sierra McCormick, American actress
- November 1 – Alex Wolff, American singer-songwriter, musician, and actor
Main article: Deaths in 1997
- January 1 – Townes Van Zandt, American folk singer (b. 1944)
- January 4 – Harry Helmsley, American real estate mogul (b. 1909)
- January 5 – Burton Lane, American composer and lyricist (b. 1912)
- January 6 – Catherine Scorsese, Italian-American actress (b. 1912)
- January 9 – Jesse White, American actor (b. 1917)
- January 10
- January 12
- January 16 – Ennis Cosby, comedian Bill Cosby's son (b. 1969)
- January 17 – Clyde Tombaugh, American astronomer (b. 1906)
- January 18 – Paul Tsongas, U.S. Senator from (Massachusetts) and one-time candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination (b. 1941)
- January 19 – James Dickey, American poet and novelist (b. 1923) * January 19 – Adriana Caselotti, American Actress [b. 1916)
- January 20 – Curt Flood, American baseball player (b. 1938)
- January 21 – Colonel Tom Parker, Dutch-born celebrity manager (b. 1909)
- January 22 – Billy Mackenzie, Scottish singer (b. 1957)
- January 23 – Richard Berry African-American singer and composer (b. 1935)
- January 25 – Jeane Dixon, American astrologer (b. 1904)
- January 27 – Cecil Arthur Lewis MC, British fighter pilot who flew in World War I and last surviving World War I ace (b. 1898)
- January 31 – Johnny Klein, American drummer (b. 1918)
- February 1
- February 2 – Chico Science, Brazilian musician (b. 1967)
- February 5 – Pamela Harriman, U.S. Ambassador to France (b. 1920)
- February 9 – Brian Connolly, Scottish musician (b. 1945)
- February 11 – Don Porter, American actor (b. 1912)
- February 12 – James Cossins, English actor (b. 1933)
- February 17 – Zein Isa, Palestinian militant imprisoned in the United States for the honor killing of his daughter
- February 19 – Deng Xiaoping, leader of the People's Republic of China (b. 1904)
- February 23 – Tony Williams, American musician (b. 1945)
- February 24 – Isabelle Lucas, Canadian-born British actress (b. 1927)
- February 26 – David Doyle, American actor (b. 1929)
- April 1 – Jolie Gabor, Hungarian socialite (b. 1896)
- April 4 – Leo Picard, Israeli geologist and an expert in the field of hydrology (b. 1900)
- April 5 – Allen Ginsberg, American poet (b. 1926)
- April 8 – Laura Nyro, American singer and composer (b. 1947)
- April 7
- April 12 – George Wald, American scientist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1903)
- April 15 – Mildred Cleghorn, Chairwoman of the Fort Sill Apache tribe (b. 1910)
- April 16
- April 19 – El Duce, American singer and drummer (b. 1958)
- April 20
- April 21 – Diosdado Macapagal, 9th President of the Philippines (b. 1910)
- April 22 – Baroness Seear, President of the UK Liberal Party (b. 1913)
- April 24 – Pat Paulsen, American comedian (b. 1927)
- April 26 – John Beal, American actor (b. 1909)
- April 30 – Henry Picard, American golfer (b. 1906)
- May 1 – Bo Widerberg, Swedish film director (b. 1930)
- May 2 – John Eccles, Australian neurophysiologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1903)
- May 4 – Alvy Moore, American actor (b. 1921)
- May 5 – Walter Gotell, German actor (b. 1924)
- May 11 – Howard Morton, American actor (b. 1925)
- May 14
- May 16 – Giuseppe De Santis, Italian film director (b. 1917)
- May 22 – Alfred Hershey, American biochemist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1908)
- May 23 – James Lee Byars, American artist (b. 1932)
- May 24 – Edward Mulhare, Irish actor (b. 1923)
- May 29
- May 31 – James Bennett Griffin, American archaeologist (b. 1905)
- June 2 – Helen Jacobs, American tennis champion (b. 1908)
- June 3 – Dennis James, American game show host (b. 1917)
- June 6 – Magda Gabor, American actress (b. 1914)
- June 8 – Reid Shelton, American actor (b. 1924)
- June 9 – Christina Kokubo, American actress (b. 1950)
- June 12 – Bulat Okudzhava, Soviet non-mainstream singer of Georgian descent (b. 1924)
- June 14 – Richard Jaeckel, American actor (b. 1926)
- June 22
- June 23 – Betty Shabazz, American widow of Malcolm X (b. 1936)
- June 24
- June 25 – Jacques-Yves Cousteau, French explorer (b. 1910)
- June 26 – Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Hawaiian singer (b. 1959)
- June 28 – Mrs. Miller, American singer (b. 1907)
- June 29 – William Hickey, American actor (b. 1927)
- July 1 – Robert Mitchum, American actor (b. 1917)
- July 2 – James Stewart, American actor (b. 1908)
- July 4
- July 7 – Royston Tickner, English actor (b. 1922)
- July 13 – Alexandra Danilova, Russian dancer (b. 1903)
- July 14 – Sir Garfield Barwick, Australian Chief Justice (b. 1903)
- July 15 – Gianni Versace, Italian fashion designer (b. 1946)
- July 18 – Eugene Merle Shoemaker, American astronomer (b. 1928)
- July 20 – John Akii-Bua Ugandan hurdler (b. 1949)
- July 23 – Chuhei Nambu, Japanese athlete (b. 1904)
- July 24
- July 25 – Ben Hogan, American golf champion (b. 1912)
- July 30 – Bao Dai, Emperor of Vietnam (b. 1913)
- October 1 – Jerome H. Lemelson, American inventor (b. 1923)
- October 4 – Gunpei Yokoi, Japanese video game franchise creator (b. 1941)
- October 5
- October 6
- October 12 – John Denver, American musician (b. 1943)
- October 14 – Harold Robbins, American writer (b. 1916)
- October 16
- October 19 – Glen Buxton, American guitarist (b. 1947)
- October 20 – Ron Tarr, English actor (b. 1936)
- October 22 – Leonid Amalrik, Russian animator (b. 1905)
- October 23 – Bert Haanstra, Dutch filmmaker (b. 1916)
- October 24 – Don Messick, American voice actor (b. 1926)
- October 28 – Paul Jarrico, American screenwriter (b. 1915)
- October 29
- October 30 – Samuel Fuller, American screenwriter and director (b. 1912)
- November 4 – Eddie Arcaro, American jockey (b. 1916)
- November 5 – James Robert Baker, American novelist and screenwriter (b. 1946)
- November 11 – Rod Milburn, American athlete (b. 1950)
- November 12 – Carlos Surinach, Spanish composer (b. 1915)
- November 15
- November 17 – John Wimber, American leader of the Vineyard Movement (b. 1934)
- November 21 – Robert Simpson, English composer (b. 1921)
- November 22 – Michael Hutchence, Australian musician (b. 1960)
- November 25
- November 27 – Buck Leonard, American baseball player (b. 1907)
- November 27 birth of Syed Tambir Uddin
- November 29 – Coleman Young, Detroit mayor (b. 1918)
- November 30 – Kathy Acker, American author (b. 1947)
- December 1 – Stephane Grappelli, French violinist (b. 1908)
- December 2
- December 7 – Billy Bremner, British footballer (b. 1942)
- December 14 – Stubby Kaye, American actor (b. 1918)
- December 18 – Chris Farley, American actor and comedian (b. 1964)
- December 19 – David Schramm, American astrophysicist (b. 1945)
- December 20
- December 21 – Amie Comeaux, American country singer (b. 1976)
- December 23 – Stanley Cortez, American cinematographer (b. 1908)
- December 24 – Toshirō Mifune, Japanese actor (b. 1920)
- December 25 – Denver Pyle, American actor (b. 1920)
- December 27 – Billy Wright, Northern Irish paramilitary leader (b. 1960)
- December 31 – Billie Dove, American actress (b. 1903)
- In the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, the computer HAL 9000 was activated on January 17.
- In the 1965 TV series, Lost in Space, the spacecraft Jupiter II is launched on October 16, 1997.
- In the fantasy series Harry Potter, the titular character, Harry Potter, begins his search for Horcruxes.
- The 1984 film The Terminator and its sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, both referenced the year 1997 as the time in which the fictional computer entity Skynet would launch a catastrophic massive nuclear attack on mankind on August 29.
- The 1987 NES RPG-game, Crystalis, references October 1, 1997 as the day when a terrible war takes place and the whole human race goes back in time, allowing strange animals populate cities and some build a tower high into the sky.
- John Carpenter's 1981 film Escape from New York is set in 1997 of a United States so crime-ridden that Manhattan Island in New York City has become a maximum security prison.
- The events of Alan Moore and David Lloyd's V for Vendetta supposedly begin on November 5, 1997.
- The 1990 film Predator 2 takes place in 1997 Los Angeles.
- The manga and anime InuYasha takes place in 1997 in Tokyo.
- The MTV series Daria takes place in 1997 in the United States.
- The novel Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years takes place from April 30, 1997 to May 2, 1998.
- The 1999 novel Battle Royale takes place in 1997.