1996 ( ) was a MCMXCVI leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar.
January 7 – The Eastern US is hit by a blizzard, killing more than 150 people.
January 11 – Ryutaro Hashimoto becomes Prime Minister of Japan.
January 15 – King Moshoeshoe II of Lesotho dies in a car crash.
January 16 – Jamaican authorities open fire on Jimmy Buffett's seaplane, mistaking it for a drug trafficker's plane. U2 singer Bono was also on the plane, but neither singer was injured.
January 18 – Lisa Marie Presley files for divorce from Michael Jackson.
January 29 – Garth Brooks refuses to accept his American Music Award for "Favorite Overall Artist". Brooks says that Hootie and the Blowfish had done more for music that year than he did it.
January 29 – Jacques Chirac announces the end of French nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean.
February 4 – An earthquake of magnitude 7 in southwestern China kills more than 240 people.
February 4 – Former Milli-Vanilli member Rob Pilatus is hospitalized when a man hits him over the head with a baseball bat in Hollywood, California. Pilatus was attempting to steal the man's car.
February 6 – Birgenair Flight 301 crashes into the Atlantic Ocean near the Dominican Republic, killing 189 people.
February 10 – The computer Deep Blue defeats Garry Kasparov in a chess match.
February 14 – The Artist Formerly Known As Prince marries backup singer Mayte Garcia.
February 20 – Snoop Doggy Dogg and his bodyguard acquitted of first degree murder. The jury deadlocks on voluntary manslaughter charges and a mistrial is declared.
March 2 – John Howard is elected Prime Minister of Australia, taking office on March 11.
March 4 – The Beatles' second reunion song is released, as part of their first reuinion since the band's breakup 26 years earlier. The song is simply a finished version of a John Lennon demo from 1980; a song called Real Love.
March 13 – Dunblane massacre: Thomas Hamilton kills 16 pupils and their teacher at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland.
March 13 – Ramones fans riot in Buenos Aires, Argentina after waiting all night for concert tickets only to find out that the show had been sold out.
March 16 – Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men ends its 16th consecutive week at No. 1 with "One Sweet Day". It is the longest consecutive week stay at No. 1 in Billboard Hot 100 history.
March 17 – Sri Lanka wins the cricket World Cup.
March 18 – The Sex Pistols announce that they are reuniting for a 20th anniversary tour.
March 28 – Phil Collins announces that he is leaving Genesis to focus on his solo career.
April 3 – M.C. Hammer files for bankruptcy.
April 4 – The Grateful Dead's Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia's widow, Deborah, scatter part of Garcia's ashes in the Ganges River in India.
April 15 – The remaining part of Jerry Garcia's ashes are scattered near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.
April 24 – This Train, Rick Elias, Jimmy A, Phil Keaggy, Carolyn Arends, Third Day & Ashley Cleveland perform a tribute concert for Rich Mullins at Nashville's Cafe Milano. Speakers included Reunion Records executive Terry Hemmings, record producer Reed Arvin, disc jockey Jon Rivers, & writer Brennan Manning.
April 28 – Port Arthur massacre: Martin Bryant kills 35 people in Port Arthur, Tasmania.
May 8 – In Los Angeles, California, a judge rules against Tommy Lee and wife actress Pamela Anderson Lee in their attempt to keep Penthouse magazine from publishing still photos taken from an X-rated home movie which was stolen from their home.
May 11 – Everest disaster: A sudden storm kills 8 people on Mount Everest.
May 31 – The hosting of the 2002 FIFA World Cup is given to Japan and South Korea, marking the time that Asia gets to host the FIFA World Cup.
June 1 – Deve Gowda becomes Prime Minister of India.
June 15 – An IRA bomb injures over 200 people in Manchester.
June 23 – The Nintendo 64 game system is released in Japan.
June 30 – Germany defeats the Czech Republic 2-1 to win UEFA Euro 96.
July – The Smashing Pumpkins drummer, Jimmy Chamberlin, is arrested for possession of a controlled substance. The other band members fire him because they said his "insidious battle with drugs and alcohol" had nearly ruined everything for the band.
July 5 – Dolly, a cloned sheep, is born.
July 19 – August 4 – The 1996 Summer Olympics are held in Atlanta, Georgia.
July 27 – One person is killed and 111 are injured in the Centennial Park bombing in Atlanta.
August 6 – The Ramones play their last ever show at Lollapalooza.
August 15 – Bob Dole is nominated as the Republican Party candidate for the US Presidential election.
August 28 – Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales officially divorce.
September 7 – Rapper Tupac Shakur is shot 4 times in Las Vegas, Nevada while leaving the MGM Grand hotel, after seeing the Mike Tyson vs. Bruce Seldon boxing match, in what is apparently a drive-by shooting.
September 12 – Controversy follows The Eagles when the band dedicates "Peaceful Easy Feeling" to Saddam Hussein at a United States Democratic Party fundraiser held in Los Angeles.
September 13 – Tupac Shakur died in hospital after his wounds from the Las Vegas, Nevada MGM Grand shooting.
September 14 – Alija Izetbegovic is elected President of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
September 27 – The Taliban capture Kabul, to take control of Afghanistan. Former President Mohammad Najibullah is killed.
November 5 – A volcanic eruption under the Grimsvotn ice cap in Iceland causes a glacial flood.
November 5 – Bill Clinton is reelected as President of the United States, defeating Bob Dole.
November 7 – A category 4 cyclone hits Andhra Pradesh, India. Over 2000 people were killed and 95% of the crops were destroyed.
November 8 – After having first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, the movie , a documentary on the Seattle grunge scene, opens to general audiences. Hype!
November 12 – Saudi and Kazak airliners collide, killing 349 people.
December 13 – Kofi Annan is chosen to become UN Secretary-General, a position he takes up on January 1, 1997.
December 30 – A train is bombed by Bodo separatists in Assam, India, killing 26 people.
Larry Ewing creates Tux, the Linux mascot.
Wasi Muhammad Qureshi appointed as president of International Spiritual Movement Anjuman Serfaroshan-e-Islam by its founder Riaz Ahmed Gohar Shahi.
January 8 – Francois Mitterrand, President of France (b. 1916)
January 15 – King Moshoeshoe II of Lesotho (b. 1938)
January 17 – Barbara Jordan, American politician (b. 1936)
January 18 – N. T. Rama Rao, Indian actor, director and politician (b. 1923)
January 28 – Joseph Brodsky, Russian writer (b. 1940)
January 28 – Jerry Siegel, American cartoonist (b. 1914)
February 2 – Gene Kelly, American actor, dancer and singer (b. 1912)
February 11 – Kebby Musokotwane, Prime Minister of Zambia (b. 1946)
February 14 – McLean Stevenson, American actor (b. 1929)
February 16 – Pat Brown, 32nd Governor of California (b. 1905)
February 21 – Morton Gould, American musician and composer (b. 1913)
February 23 – Helmut Schoen, German football coach (b. 1915)
March 9 – George Burns, American actor and singer (b. 1896)
March 18 – Odysseas Elytis, Greek writer (b. 1911)
March 26 – Edmund Muskie, American politician (b. 1914)
April 6 – Greer Garson, British actress (b. 1904)
April 20 – Christopher Robin Milne, British writer and bookseller (b. 1920)
April 21 – Dzokhar Dudayov, Chechen politician (b. 1944)
April 22 – Erma Bombeck, American humorist and writer (b. 1927)
April 23 – P. L. Travers, Australian writer (b. 1899)
May 11 – Nnamdi Azikiwe, 1st President of Nigeria (b. 1904)
May 20 – Jon Pertwee, English actor (b. 1919)
May 31 – Timothy Leary, American writer and psychologist (b. 1904)
June 6 – George Davis Snell, American geneticist (b. 1923)
June 15 – Ella Fitzgerald, American singer (b. 1917)
June 23 – Andreas Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece (b. 1919)
June 26 – Veronica Guerin, Irish journalist (b. 1958)
July 1 – Margaux Hemingway, American fashion model and actress (b. 1955)
July 15 – Dana Hill, American actress (b. 1964)
July 30 – Claudette Colbert, French-born American actress (b. 1903)
August 1 – Tadeus Reichstein, Polish chemist (b. 1897)
August 2 – Obdulio Varelia, Uruguayan footballer (b. 1917)
August 8 – Nevill Francis Mott, British physicist (b. 1905)
August 27 – Greg Morris, American actor (b. 1933)
September 13 – Tupac Shakur, American rap singer/ songwriter, actor (b. 1971)
September 17 – Spiro Agnew, 39th Vice President of the United States (b. 1918)
September 27 – Mohammad Najibullah, President of Afghanistan (b. 1947)
October 4 – Silvio Piola, Italian footballer (b. 1913)
October 4 – Masaki Kobayashi, Japanese movie director (b. 1916)
October 12 – Rene Lacoste, French tennis player (b. 1904)
October 24 – Sorley MacLean, Scottish poet (b. 1911)
October 27 – Morey Amsterdam, American actor and comedian (b. 1908)
November 1 – Junius Richard Jayewardene, former President of Sri Lanka (b. 1906)
November 2 – Eva Cassidy, American singer (b. 1963)
November 3 – Jean-Bedel Bokassa, President of the Central African Republic (b. 1921)
November 15 – Alger Hiss, US State Department official (b. 1904)
November 21 – Abdus Salam, Pakistani physicist (b. 1926)
November 30 – Tiny Tim, American musician and singer (b. 1932)
December 3 – Babrak Karmal, President of Afghanistan (b. 1929)
December 9 – Mary Leakey, British archaeologist (b. 1913)
December 19 – Marcello Mastroianni, Italian actor (b. 1924)
December 20 – Carl Sagan, American astronomer (b. 1934)
December 30 – Lew Ayres, American actor (b. 1908)