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The Heroes

John McClane (Bruce Willis)

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 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.

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  • 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.
  • 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 looking after 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.
  • Smoking Is Cool
  • The Southpaw
  • 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-qouted speech about how alienated he is from his loved ones, and how useless being considered a hero is when compared.

Holly Gennaro McClane (Bonnie Bedelia)

  • Eighties Hair
  • Hot Mom
  • Love Cannot Overcome: John and Holly clearly care about each other, but their marriage is already straines 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.

Sergeant Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson)

Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson)

Lucy McClane (Mary Elizabeth Winstead)

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 Lucy (over the phone as Gabriel's forcing her to beg for her life): Daddy? ...There's only five of them now.

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  • Rescue Romance: At the end, it looks like Lucy and Matt are flirting hard with each other. Causing Lucy's dad even more pain than anything Gabriel inflicted on him...

Matt Farrell (Justin Long)

The Villains

Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman)

Karl (Alexander Godunov)

Theo (Clarence Gilyard Jr.)

Colonel Stuart (William Sadler)

  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The only villainous leader in the franchise to qualify for this trope.
  • Big Bad: Of the second film.
  • 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.
  • 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.

General Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero)

Major Grant (John Amos)

Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons)

  • Avenging the Villain: He may not like Hans, but that does not mean he lacks basic brotherly 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."
  • Backup Twin / Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Straddles the line.
  • Big Bad: Of the third film.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil
  • The Chessmaster
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Evil Sounds Deep: And this too.
  • 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.
  • 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 he might be faking it.
  • Xanatos Gambit

Mathias Targo (Nicholas Wyman)

Katya (Sam Phillips)

  • Blondes Are Evil
  • Dark Action Girl
  • The Dragon
  • Knife Nut
  • The Vamp
  • 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.

Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant)

  • Big Bad: For the fourth film.
  • The Cracker
  • Diabolical Mastermind
  • Sinister Surveillance
  • Smug Snake: He believes himself to be on a higher intellectual plane then everyone else, particularly McClane. Unlike the supremely magnificent Gruber brothers of the coldly efficient Colonel Stuart, however, his attempts at improvisation seem to be more desperation than mere adjustments to his plans, and his attempts to impose himself threateningly don't seem to carry the same weight. It doesn't help that he's an obnoxious, pretty-boy Insufferable Genius.
  • 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.
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