YMMV / Die Hard

Works in this franchise with their own pages:

Franchise in general:

  • Adaptation Displacement: Occurs frequently due to Dolled-Up Installment.
    • The first movie was based on the novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp, which itself is a sequel to The Detective, turned into a film starring Frank Sinatra.
    • The second one was based on the novel 58 Minutes by Walter Wager.
    • The third one was originally an unrelated screenplay called Simon Says.
    • And the fourth movie was based on a magazine article written in Wired.
  • Awesome Music: Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' from the first film. It's also featured in the trailers for all the sequels.
    • In terms of music actually written for the movies, Michael Kamen (the first three movies) and Marco Beltrami (who took over following Kamen's untimely demise) turn in some fine work such as Kamen's "The Battle" in the first one and "Shootout And Snowmobile Chase" from the second one, and Beltrami's "Truckzilla" in the fifth.
  • Contested Sequel: All of the sequels, to some extent. With a Vengeance, directed again by John McTiernan, is the least contested. Taken even further with A Good Day To Die Hard.
  • Evil Is Cool: Most of the badass villains in the films:
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • This trope is pretty much a given when your villain is being played by Alan Rickman.
    • Or Jeremy Irons. In a tank top.
    • Or William Sadler in the nude in the second film.
    • Katja in With a Vengeance.
    • Irina in Good Day.
    • Maggie Q in 4.0.
  • Friendly Fandoms: With the Lethal Weapon and Terminator fandoms.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Japan provides the highest foreign box office gross for all four movies, with the highest gross being 81 million dollars for the third movie. The first movie has been spoofed in Japanese media before, and even Bruce Willis came to Japan to do some commercials.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Looking at the first three films: a tower gets blown up, a terrorist plot with airplanes, and New York City as the target of terrorist attacks.
  • Iron Woobie: McClane Sr. But he still soldiers on. See Determinator below.
  • It Was His Sled: Most of the films. Yes, including the 4th. Yes, even on this very website, which makes it very difficult to watch the entire series unspoiled.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games:
    • Die Hard Trilogy for the PS1 is considered to be a great Arcade-styled action game with plenty of variety in the styles chosen for each of the three movies.
    • Subverted with Die Hard Arcade, which was a generally-unaffiliated game called Dynamite Deka, but became a Dolled-Up Installment when it was localized for the US.
  • The Scrappy: Some people have begun to see Holly McClane as this, seeing as how her husband was nearly killed trying to save her twice, in With a Vengeance their marriage is strained over a petty argument and later on in Live Free or Die Hard, we learn that she's divorced him and can't even remember his name. While the writers do make it clear that John is a difficult person he always apologizes to her, she never even thanks him for his heroic efforts on screen. Not helped by the fact that in the novel the first film is based on Holly is an unpleasant person who cheats on her husband with Ellis and helped fund a hostile military takeover in Chile, killing hundreds of innocents, leading to some Demonization in the fandom. Or that after Die Hard 2 (the last time they were shown to be happy together) there is credible evidence that John is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • "Weird Al" Effect: Everybody knows McClane's catchphrase "Yippie-Ki-Yay, motherfucker!", but few now remember that the line (or at least the "Yippie-Ki-Yay" part) was derived from the western song "Git Along, Little Dogies".

First movie:

  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Apparently, before Bruce Willis was approached to play John McClane, the job had already been turned down by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Richard Gere, Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson, who didn't believe in the script, and John McTiernan, who would later direct it, even turned down several offers. When his agent delivered the news to Willis, he immediately advised him not to do it, thinking he'd make a complete fool of himself. However, due to the payment being simply too good to turn down, Willis accepted to play McClane, kicking off his career as one of Hollywood's most popular and well paid actors. Not to mention how the movie became influential in formula and protagonist type of later movies. It is now virtually impossible to find a Best Action Movies list that does not contain it, more often than not, at the top of the pile.
  • Complete Monster: Hans Gruber, the franchise's first Big Bad and a prototype for countless future action movie villains, is a self-described "exceptional thief" who leads the supposed terrorist attack that takes over Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles, killing the building's security. A former member of the German terrorist organization Volksfrei, Hans decides to serve his own profit over ideology by attempting to rob the Plaza of its bearer bonds. Executing the company head Joseph Takagi when he refuses to cooperate, Gruber has a SWAT team wiped out when they storm the building, and when the hero John McClane interferes, Hans murders a hostage who claims to be John's friend and threatens to begin shooting more until he "gets to someone you do care about!" It is revealed Hans never intends to let any hostages go, instead placing all of them on the roof to rig it with explosives, which he then plans to detonate—killing over 30 innocent people as a distraction—and fake his own death to get away clean with the money. While only succeeding in killing members of the FBI in this attempt, Hans immediately kidnaps John's ex-wife before attempting to kill her and John in retribution. Ruthlessly devoted to his own profit above anything else and mixing an utter lack of regard for human liveseven those of his own men—with an air of urbane sophistication, Hans Gruber remains the most deeply personal enemy John McClane has ever faced.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • The first film features a double-whammy subversion. In the news station, an interviewee claims that the hostages in the building will by now be suffering from Helsinki Syndromenote . The interviewer turns to the camera and smugly says "As in Helsinki, Sweden". note  The film then cuts to the cameraman facepalming at the incompetence on display, revealing that the filmmakers were in on the joke.
    • A straight In-Universe example occurs when Hans references High Noon but mistakes the lead actors.
    Hans: This time John Wayne does not walk off into the sunset with Grace Kelly.
    John: That was Gary Cooper, asshole.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: The highly enjoyable FBI agents Johnson and Johnson, no relation. They show up in the middle of the movie and act like if they own the show, only to get blown sky-high at the first chance. They even get a teasing Continuity Nod in the fourth movie.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With Christmas films. The fact that the film is set during Christmas (even though it was released in North America in July) has led to great debates as to whether or not to consider Die Hard a Christmas film, or even how it measures up compared to other Christmas films. In 2015, the British film magazine Empire rated Die Hard the greatest Christmas film ever.
  • First Installment Wins: Every Die Hard movie has been a hit, but only the first is a landmark in popular culture. Bruce Willis himself was quoted as saying that the only good Die Hard movie was the first.
  • Genius Bonus: The Alexander quote Hans mentions ("Alexander wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer") is incorrect. It's actually "Alexander of Macedon, who, upon hearing that there were other worlds, wept that he had not yet conquered one". This is more accurate to Hans' situation, as he has not yet succeeded and soon after dies.
  • Genre Turning Point: The first Die Hard practically set the standard by which all future action films were judged, in terms of their heroes, villains, etc. On top of that, it even created an action subgenre.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Take a look at the cover. What does this remind you of? It kind of looks like...you know...yeah... (It shows Nakatomi Plaza, which was filmed at Fox Plaza in Los Angeles, with an explosion on the top. The dark stripe down the middle makes it look at first glance like two skyscrapers of a similar look to the World Trade Center.)
    • Powell's backstory involves him mistakenly shooting a 13-year old kid who was waving around a realistic-looking toy gun at night. In 2014 a highly publicized incident involved something just like this happening; a 12-year old kid is seen playing around with a realistic-looking toy gun by two police officers who mistake it for a real gun and shoot him in a moment of panic. The portrayal of the incident's effect on Powell as being more worthy of attention than the kid who was shot and possibly killed can be pretty hard to take now.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The actor who played Theo, The Evil Genius from the first film, eventually quit acting and became a college professor.
    • In the original book, the main character was named Joe, not John, and it was his daughter that was taken hostage rather than his wife. Three years after the first movie came out Bruce Willis would go on to play a character named Joe who would have to rescue his daughter.
    • While patching up his feet in the bathroom, John grumbles "All things being equal, I'd rather be in Philadelphia." He should have been careful with his wishes.
  • It Was His Sled: Two.
    • The villains' plan to commit mass murder by blowing up the hostages on the roof.
    • Hans's Disney Villain Death, which is one of the most iconic shots in the film.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Karl in the first film. He shows real grief and rage when Tony becomes the first baddie McClane kills, and loses all interest in the robbery for the rest of the film, so bent is he on avenging his brother, and who wouldn't be furious if their sibling was killed? (True, McClane only killed Tony in self-defense, but still.)
  • Magnificent Bastard: Hans Gruber, especially when he gets caught at gunpoint by McClane and almost gets away with simply using an American accent to pretend to be a civilian. And even then, after his henchmen turn up, he manages to do some serious damage to McClane by taking advantage of his bare feet and shooting the glass. Also, his brother Simon. It runs in the family.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Hans Gruber's attempt to blow all the hostages away on the roof would have been this.
    • Or even earlier, when he casually executes Mr. Takagi, who Hans mentions is a family man.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Sequel Displacement: The original Die Hard was based off of the 1979 thriller novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp which was a sequel to the 1966 novel The Detective, which was adapted into the movie of the same name in 1968. So technically, Die Hard is actually a sequel to the 1968 film, The Detective, but it is rarely acknowledged as such.
  • Sequelitis: All of the following movies have suffered varying degrees of this; firmly cemented however with A Good Day to Die Hard, which is almost universally considered the weakest in the series.
  • Signature Scene: Multiple.
  • Tough Act to Follow: While some of the sequels have their fans, none of them have come even close to matching the original in either acclaim or cultural impact.
  • What an Idiot:
    • Dwayne Robinson, who chooses to act on random theories rather than heeding the warnings passed on to him by Al and John, refusing to believe the latter is on their side even after he's confirmed to be a fellow cop.
    • The police operators, who sound absolutely disinterested in John's pleas for help even after overhearing gunfire on the receiver.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Not well remembered, but at the time, putting Bruce Willis on the project was this in spades. The lead role was written for the 72-year old Frank Sinatra, and at the time Willis was a comedian in a downward spiral; internal strife and Shipping Bed Death were destroying Moonlighting, and most viewers knew him as "The guy from the Seagram's Wine Coolers commercials." Imagine a modern film built around Tommy Lee Jones suddenly swapping his role for Andy Samberg. Better yet, imagine it working, transforming that rubberface into an action hero. What. The. Hell.