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Characters: Die Hard
The characters pertaining to the Die Hard film series.

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    The McClane Family 

John McClane, Sr.

"Come out to the coast, we'll get together, have a few laughs..."
Played By: Bruce Willis

A New York City Detective who, when visiting his estranged wife’s office building to reconcile with her, finds himself having to take on organised terrorists. He has a very abrasive personality, but more than makes up for it with determination and a sense of heroism.

  • Action Hero: Action films, action hero.
  • Action Survivor: From the second film onwards.
  • Anti-Hero: He drinks, smokes, curses, bloodily dispatches his enemies, causes wide scale property damage, is not the greatest husband, and generally acts like a dick.
  • The Alcoholic: In the third film a character comments that John McClane is two steps away from being a full-blown alcoholic. McClane corrects him by holding up a single finger and saying "One step."
  • Badass: The essence of the character. What made the Die Hard series stand out over other action films, especially the ones from the 1980s, was that McClane is very vulnerable. Just watch his reactions with Hans, especially when he tries to talk Ellis from saying he didn't know who he was just to save Ellis' life in the first movie, or trying his best to signal the plane that Stuart was gonna crash. He could also barely fight when he is badly hurt, and has to relies on hiding and dirty tactics to overcome his enemies and stay alive.
  • Badass Grandpa: From the fourth film onwards. His own son even lampshades this.
  • Bald of Awesome: From the fourth film onwards. The previous three films are Balding Of Awesome.
  • Being Good Sucks: He lives this trope. Over the course of all five movies, his wife has divorced him, his daughter is distant from him, he's completely estranged from his son and when he tries to save him he ends up destroying a secret CIA mission that took three years to plan, and he simply finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time at all times. His fellow officers don't seem to care much for him, he's nearly an alcoholic, he's bitter, alone, and depressed, yet time after time, he continues to save the day simply because he's "that guy", as he puts it in his own words.
  • Catch Phrase: "Yipee-ki-yay, motherfucker!"
  • The Chew Toy: On top of the amount of abuse he takes in each film, his life in general just sucks.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Even if he doesn't like it, but in a world filled with terrorists, incompetent cops and innocent victims, someone has to be the hero.
  • Combat Pragmatist: He's not above putting hairspray in your eyes, for example.
  • Cool Old Guy: From the fourth film onwards.
  • Deadpan Snarker: A strong trait of his.
  • Defective Detective: For John saving the day is much easier than saving a marriage.
  • Dented Iron: Throughout the films, the injuries he takes leave him battered, bruised and bleeding. This is particularly notable in the first film, especially since he's barefoot for the entirety of the hostage situation.
  • Destructive Saviour: Sorry, Washington DC and Moscow. Hope you have McClane insurance.
  • Determinator: In the first film, he gets beat up, shot at, nearly blown up, jumps himself off a building and crashes through a glass window, his feet get lacerated, and he eventually gets shot in the shoulder. This does not stop him. The third film has him getting pistol-whipped, blown up, beaten, drowned, shot at, beaten, and blown up again. This makes him angry. In the fourth film, he is shot at, blown up, shot at some more, thrown out of a car, beaten up by a hot Asian chick, dropped down an elevator shaft, frozen, beat up again, shot at by a jet fighter, shot, and then shoots himself. He doesn't give up at any point.
  • Heartbroken Badass: He still loves his wife, even if they are not married anymore. It becomes a factor in Die Hard 3 where he wants to get back with his wife, only for work to get in the way.
  • Indy Ploy: Most of his "plans" are these.
  • Iron Woobie: But he still soldiers on. See Determinator below.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold
  • Knight in Sour Armor: He may be tired, but what matters is that he still cares.
    • He even gives a trope-defining little speech in the fourth movie:
    John McClane: You know what you get for being a hero? Nothin'. You get shot at. You get a little pat on the back, blah, blah, blah, attaboy. You get divorced. Your wife can't remember your last name. Your kids don't want to talk to you. You get to eat a lot of meals by yourself. Trust me, kid, nobody wants to be that guy.
    Matt Farrell: Then why you doing this?
    John McClane: Because there's nobody else to do it right now, that's why. Believe me, if there were somebody else to do it, I'd let them do it, but there's not. So we're doing it.
  • Love Cannot Overcome: John and Holly clearly care about each other, but their marriage is already strained in the first movie. While Die Hard ends with them back together, ultimately their relationship can't survive John's Chronic Hero Syndrome. They're officially separated by movie three and divorced by movie four, adding to John's Knight in Sour Armor bitterness.
  • MacGyvering: His ability to create makeshift gadgets to save the day would make the Trope Maker himself proud.
  • Made of Iron: Over the course of each Die Hard movie John McClane takes a lot of physical abuse, but he still manages to keep fighting.
  • Manly Tears: When he fails to save a plane full of innocents from being murdered in Die Harder.
  • Motivational Lie: Cleverly uses one to get Zeus to help him in the 3rd movie.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Many female audiences surely remember his famous Walking Shirtless Scene from the first movie.
  • Mutilation Conga: It seems like each movie is just an excuse to put McClane through one of these.
  • Perma Stubble: In the third movie. Because he was pulled out of bed while still hungover from a night of hard drinking.
    • 4th movie as well (he was up all night borderline stalking his daughter, and then had to go all the way from NYC to DC).
  • Right Man in the Wrong Place: The story of his life.
  • Self-Deprecation: Many of his stings. Sometimes, as he's talking to himself. ("Oh, John. What the fuck are you doing?")
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Whenever John meets someone who is snarkier then he is, there's bound to be some of them.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: He's considerably grumpier and ruder in the third and fourth movies, but still a good man underneath.
    • It would be safe to assume that failing to save hundreds of innocent people from a fiery death and watching it happen right in front of him in Die Harder is an experience traumatic enough to turn anyone a bit mean and cynical.
    • Perhaps more importantly, his marriage breaks down between the second and third movies. His hung-over and depressed condition in the third is directly stated to be a product of Holly leaving him, while in the fourth, he has the entire afore-quoted speech about how alienated he is from his loved ones, and how useless being considered a hero is when compared.
  • Would Hit a Girl: With his fists, with a computer monitor, with a car...

Holly Gennero/McClane

Played By: Bonnie Bedelia

John McClane’s estranged wife. A hard working businesswoman who cares deeply for John and her children despite the separation.

  • Love Cannot Overcome: John and Holly clearly care about each other, but their marriage is already strained in the first movie. While Die Hard ends with them back together, ultimately their relationship can't survive John's Chronic Hero Syndrome. Before movie three Holly leaves John, and by movie four they're long divorced.
  • Married to the Job: Moved to the west coast for the sake of her career while John stayed in New York.

Lucy Gennero/McClane

The daughter of John and Holly McClane.

  • Ascended Extra: Small role in the first Die Hard, turns out to have a major one in the fourth one.
  • Defiant Captive: While Gabriel still kidnaps her, Lucy isn't about to get all upset about it.
    Lucy: (over the phone as Gabriel's forcing her to beg for her life): Daddy? Beat There's only five of them now.
  • Demoted to Extra: In the fifth film, where her brother was the one that was taking stage. She only appears taking John to the airport, talking to him on the phone in the extended cut, and picking both of the McClanes from the airport.
  • Fiery Red Head: Red hair and a defiant, headstrong and snarky personality.
  • Like Father, Like Daughter: Defiant, headstrong, snarky and very able to put a useful fight against her captors.
    Matt: "Wow, I know that tone. It's just weird hearing it come from someone with... hair."
  • Rescue Romance: At the end, it looks like Lucy and Matt are flirting hard with each other. This causes Lucy's dad even more pain than anything Gabriel inflicted on him...

John "Jack" McClane Jr.

Played By: Jai Courtney

The son of John and Holly McClane.

  • Action Duo: With his dad.
  • Ascended Extra: Like his sister before him, small role in the first movie and gets to hang with his father in the fifth movie, taking down terrorists with him.
  • Bald of Awesome: Well, a really close buzz cut at least.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Considering he goes by "Jack" instead of "John Jr.", he calls his dad "John" and they were estranged for so long that John had no idea where his son even was before learning he was in Russia, let alone being a CIA agent.
  • The Chessmaster: Compared to his father, Jack's plan took three whole years to set up and he presumably accounted for everything... except his dad.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Jack wanted to be arrested so he could infiltrate The Mafiya/terrorists/Mafiya-terrorists and then his estranged dad suddenly appears to rescues him with a hugely destructive three-way car chase (John (small truck) vs. Jack (large truck) vs. Mafiya (giant armored truck)).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Gets it from his dad.
    John: Need a hug?
    Jack: We're not really a hugging family.
    John: Damn straight.
  • Foil: The HBO making-of seems to indicate that he is — or wants to be — The Chessmaster to John's Indy Ploy master since he's a CIA agent who deliberately puts himself in dangerous situations, is described as "by-the-book", and his secret mission took three years to set up.
  • Like Father, Like Son: It's pretty clear he's just as badass as his dad.
    Jack: Someone's gotta stop him.
    John: Atta boy.

     Recurring Characters 

Al Powell

Played By: Reginald VelJohnson

A Los Angeles beat cop who becomes McClane’s only ally outside the building in the original Die Hard. He reprises the role for the second film for a short appearance.

  • The Atoner: Powell shot a 13-year-old kid who was holding a realistic-looking toy gun. The guilt he feels over the incident causes him to believe that he'll never again be able to pull his gun on somebody. Thankfully, he proves himself wrong by drawing his gun and killing a terrorist who is about to kill McClane at the very end of the first film.
  • Bald of Awesome: Though he isn't fully bald.
  • Black Best Friend: Despite not meeting each other before the end of the first film, he's John's only trustworthy helper outside the Nakatomi Plaza.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Powell is never seen or mentioned again after the second film.

Richard ‘Dick’ Thornberg

Played By: William Atherton

A sleazy reporter that hounds the McClane family in the first two movies.

  • Asshole Victim: He deserves all the things that happen to him, be it a punch in the face or an electroshock.
  • Determinator: He's at least determined in getting news stories on the air, even though he's completely relentless and unethical about it.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Averted. He was crying as the plane he was residing in with Mrs. McClane was preparing to crash land since they had no more fuel left in their tanks. (Notably, he was the only one shown crying.)
  • Jerkass: Is obsessed with job, insults his co-workers, is generally rude towards people, doesn’t care if his actions cause harm or putting other people into trouble.
  • Paparazzi \ Strawman News Media: He's a parody of over-the-top news reporters that hound people for dramatic news stories without regards of privacy, ethics or safety.
  • Unwittinginstigator Of Doom: His entire purpose in both films is to unintentionally cause trouble. In the first film, he makes the villains aware that the woman they've negotiated with is John's wife, thus getting a key-hostage. In the second film he's causing a massive panic on the airport that most likely injured and maybe even killed many people and tampers John's efforts.

    Die Hard 

Hans Gruber

"I am an exceptional thief, Mrs. McClane. And since I'm moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite"

Played By: Alan Rickman

  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Very well dressed, he even identifies Takagi's suit as John Phillips, London (Gruber has two himself, so he claims).
  • Batman Gambit
  • Beard of Evil: Bearded and decidedly evil.
  • Big Bad: The most memorable one for the Die Hard franchise. AFI agrees, ranking him #46 among its "Villains".
  • The Chessmaster: He set a new standard for intelligent villains when the film first came out. He planned for just about everything, and almost anything that could have been considered a problem was just factored into the overall plan, such as the FBI responding to a terrorist attack instead of a robbery. John McClane was pretty much the only thing he hadn't planned on.
  • Cultured Badass: Compares himself with Alexander the Great, after taking over the Nakatomi Building.
    And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer... The benefits of a classical education.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Even when he apparently had McClane at his mercy, he still took the time to call Karl, Fritz and Franco to his location. This ended up paying off greatly when the gun he had turned out to be empty.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Emphasis on deadpan.
    Alas, your Mr. Takagi did not see it that way... so he won't be joining us for the rest of his life.
  • Diabolical Mastermind
  • Disney Villain Death: An iconic non-Disney example.
  • Facial Dialogue: Beautifully expresses a great deal of disgust and contempt without words.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He puts up a polite façade, but it's all an act.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Killing Takagi for not knowing the password and codes.
    • And of course, his actual plan for the hostages...
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Lampshaded, he went to school in England.
    • Which makes a lot of sense. We see later that he can do a spot on American accent, which shows that he has a talent for accents and English. As he studied in England, he probably took on a perfect English, the parts of German getting through is the fact that he has been working with a large group of fellow Germans for a while now.
  • Pet the Dog: Allowing a couch to be moved out to the lobby so that the very pregnant woman could sit on it. But then he sends everybody onto the roof that's wired with explosives.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: He (usually) never raises his voice, which makes him more sinister.
  • The Sociopath: His Evil Plan includes sending innocent hostages to the roof to be killed in an explosion whilst escaping in the confusion.
  • Tranquil Fury: One of his most striking characteristics is how he never loses his cool (except at the very end when he was dropped out of the building, but that's understandable).
  • Western Terrorist: Subverted, his group use this as a cover for committing straightforward crimes.
  • Wicked Cultured:
    "Nice suit. John Phillips, London. I have two myself. Rumor has it Arafat buys his there."

Karl

Played By: Alexander Godunov

  • Big Brother Instinct: He's deeply affected by the death of his younger brother Tony and subsequently loses interest in the robbery for the rest of the film, caring only about killing McClane.
  • Dragon Their Feet: Survives after his boss's death to make one last attempt on McCLane's life. He's subsequently killed by Powell.
  • Grumpy Bear: Even before his brother gets killed, he comes off as very sullen
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Is shown to be thuggish and impulsive while Tony is calm and crafty; early on, Tony attempts to disable the phone lines electronically but Karl simply takes a chainsaw and cuts through the lines instead.

Harry Ellis

Played By: Hart Boecher

  • Too Dumb to Live: Yes, go to the dangerous terrorist leader who isn’t above casually executing hostages and try to sell out the guy you just met earlier who happens to be far more Genre Savvy on how hostage situations works.

Argyle

Played By: De’voreaux White

  • Car Fu: Uses the limo to crash into Theo's gateaway car.

Theo

Played By: Clarence Gilyard Jr.

  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted. He's the only terrorist with any meaningful screentime to survive the movie.

Joe Takagi

"Hey we're flexible, Pearl Harbor didn't work out so we got you with tape decks."

President of Nakatomi Trading.

Played By: James Shigeta

  • Baddie Flattery: On the receiving end. Hans Grubber compliments him on his nice John Phillips suit.
  • Benevolent Boss: He was the one that paid for the limo that brought John to Nakatomi towers and seems to get along fine with him.
  • Defiant to the End: After finding out Hans true motives for holding up his tower, he flat out goads him into killing him.
    Takagi: Get on a jet to Tokyo and ask the Chairman. I'm telling you, you're just going to have to kill me.
  • Japan Takes Over the World: Truly a man of his time. He likes to joke about Japan's economic dominance.
  • Sacrificial Lion: The big-shot of the Nakatomi building and a decent guy. He puts up some resistance and his death shows that the terrorists mean business.

Johnson and Johnson.

- Just like fuckin' Saigon, hey, Slick?
- I was in junior high, dickhead.

  • By-the-Book Cop: They follow procedure to the letter. Even if it means that the hostages might suffer. This is exploited by Hans.
  • FBI Agent: An agent and a special agent.
  • One Steve Limit: Played for laughs. "Johnson and Johnson, no relation". Rather amusing given that one is white and the other is black.
    (over the phone) This is Agent Johnson... No, the other one.
  • Police Are Useless: Though they seem more capable than the local police, in the end they aren't much more effective.
  • Smug Snake: Not nearly as good as they think they are. They act tough and badass, but they play right into Hans' hand.
  • Those Two Guys: They show up in the middle of the movie and mostly act as one character.

    Die Hard 2: Die Harder 

Colonel Stuart

Played By: William Sadler

  • Badass: The first Big Bad to fight McClane and actually win.
  • Colonel Badass: Leads his troops with military precision.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: While impersonating air traffic control in order to crash the Windsor Air plane, he speaks with a Southern accent.
  • Karmic Death: Sending a plane full of innocents to their deaths is pretty unforgivable. So it's only fitting that he and his mooks are blown up on a plane.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Not that the film wasn't already serious, but even Hans Gruber didn't murder a planeful of people just to prove a point. That Stuart managed this despite John's best attempts (and his No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, below) arguably qualify him for Hero Killer status.
  • Lack of Empathy: He kills a plane full of people on Christmas Eve and has zero remorse for it.
  • Naked First Impression: His introductory scene had him practicing martial arts in the nude.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Beating McClane to a pulp and throwing him off the plane's wing in the finale. Of the series' Big Bads, he's the only one to physically beat the crap out of McClane. Too bad he didn't kill him, because McClane still shrugged off the beating and blew up Stuart's plane.
  • The Sociopath: The only villain in the franchise to murder children, and feel nothing but cold satisfaction afterwards on top of that.
  • The Stoic: Not one time does he emote to anything. He always acts and speaks with a very stoic presence. And it makes him more terrifying.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Would destroy an entire plane full of innocent men, women and children just to prove a point.

General Ramon Esperanza

Played By: Franco Nero

  • Cigar Chomper: He's seen asking his guard to light his up during the flight.
  • Click Hello: The pilot of Esperanza's plane is being told by Stuart to land at a different runway than he has been instructed to. As he's protesting the change in orders: *CLICK* "Captain, please tell the tower you will proceed as ordered."

    Die Hard with a Vengeance 

Zeus Carver

  • Noble Bigot: Zeus' Establishing Character Moment reveals he has a severe grudge against white people. He still saves John's life and teams up with him to defeat Simon.
  • Papa Wolf: When he finds out that the school bomb is planted in the same school his nephews attend, the first thing he does is threaten to shoot Simon.

Simon Peter Gruber

Played By: Jeremy Irons

  • Affably Evil: A very polite terrorist and thief. This works against him when he gives McClane a bottle of aspirines containing relevant infomation. Steers towards Faux Affably Evil when he's robbing the bank.
  • Back Up Twin: Straddles the line.
  • Badass: Takes a more physical approach than his brother, and can go toe to toe with McClane. His backstory reveals he was an East German Special Forces Colonel who turned terrorist.
  • Batman Gambit: Wreaks havok to divert law enforcement attention from his real target.
  • Big Bad: Of the third film.
  • Big Brother Instinct: He may not like his younger brother Hans, but that does not mean he lacks basic familial love for him: "There's a difference between not liking your brother and not caring when some dumb Irish flatfoot drops him out a window."
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Blonde and a bad guy.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Simon betrays his Middle Eastern clients by trying to keep the gold instead of blowing it up and then tries to maximise his share. He keeps at least some of his accomplices in the dark about the ultimate fate of the gold, and then kills them when they find out. In the alternate ending, he's killed his girlfriend as well a few months after the movie's over.
  • Criminal Mind Games: Subverted, his quests are all part of a misdirection.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In spite of the money at stake, he will not murder children in cold blood for it. After all, "I'm a soldier, not a monster...though I sometimes work for monsters."
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: He gave McClane a bottle of aspirin, which gave him the location of their hideout in the climax.
  • Large Ham: Like Scar in the previous year, Jeremy Irons seems like he has a lot of fun playing charming and devious villains.
  • Laughably Evil: His brother in the first film has shades of this (mostly due to being a Deadpan Snarker) though Simon is ultimately more humorous.
  • Noble Demon: The kind of leader a band of warriors have is reflected in their behavior, for unlike most moustache-twirling one-dimensional villains, Simon's men actually go out of their way to make sure children will not be hurt in their operations, and actually bother to mourn the losses of their brothers before rejoicing in their ill-gotten money. Goes hand-in-hand with Even Evil Has Standards above.
  • Not So Different: Both he and McClane are suffering from headaches (no thanks to each other) throughout the movie.
  • Porky Pig Pronunciation: Though out the film, Simon seemed to have a stutter of sorts when talking over the phone when "pushed". However, in the scenes when he wasn't speaking to the NYPD, he talks and speaks perfectly fine and fakes a stutter while calling New York police gullible, indicating it was just a ruse.
  • Would Not Hurt A Child: An honorable and humane quality that sets Simon apart from normal Hollywood villains such as Colonel Stuart above.

Katya

Played By: Sam Phillips

  • The Voiceless: The original ending to the movie suggests she may be mute, but in the final cut she does yell when shooting at McClane. She was originally supposed to have a speaking part in the film; however, it was decided that her character would be silent, since it made her appear much more imposing and lethal. This makes the scene where she slices one of the Federal Reserve guards to death much more powerful.

Mathias Targo

Played By: Nicholas Wyman

    Live Free or Die Hard/Die Hard 4. 0 

Matt Farrell

Played By: Justin Long

  • Non-Action Guy: While Matt is a bit of a wimp when it comes to fighting, he knows all the hacker tricks McClane needs to defeat Gabriel.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Though he does later pick up a gun and shoots Gabriel's other Dragon during the final showdown.

Miguel Bowman

Played By: Cliff Curtis

Molina

Played By: Zeljko Ivanek

Thomas Gabriel

Played By: Timothy Olyphant

  • Fallen Hero: In a way. He wanted to protect the country. Then he decided that infinite wealth would be kind of nice.
  • Smug Snake: He believes himself to be on a higher intellectual plane then everyone else, particularly McClane.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: At least he claims to be. The fact that he's "getting paid for his work" kind of makes this hard to believe, though.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Has all of his tech experts except Trey killed after they complete their task for him near the end of the movie.

Mai Linh

Played By: Maggie Q

Trey

Played By: Jonathan Sadowski

Warlock

Played By: Kevin Smith

    A Good Day to Die Hard 

Yuri Komorov

Played By: Sebastian Koch

Irina Komorov

Played By: Yuliya Snigir

  • Avenging the Villain: What she tries to do after seeing that Jack had killed her father, while she was losing control of the Mi-26 Halo cargo helicopter she was piloting due to John's interference. It leads to her ramming the Halo right into the building the McClanes, only for them to have already escaped, leading to her death.
  • Revenge Before Reason: She rams her Halo cargo helicopter to kill the McClanes when she notices that they've already jumped out of the building she was about to crash into just to kill them.

Alik

Played By: Radivoje Bukvic

  • Boom, Headshot: How Komorov kills him. Of course, he continues to fire into the body long after he had shot the guy.
  • Large Ham: The dude dancing a jig in front of John, while kicking away their weapons.

Viktor Chagarin

Played By: Sergei Kolsenikov

  • Disc One Final Boss: At first it looked like he's the Big Bad... until Komorov kills Alik, and gets killed himself by one of Komorov's men.


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