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John McClane

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Subject: Die Hard (film series), A Good Day to Die Hard, Die Hard, Die Hard 2, Bruce Willis
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John McClane

Detective Lieutenant
John McClane
First appearance Die Hard (1988)
Last appearance A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
Created by Roderick Thorp and based on the character of Detective Joe Leland from the novel Nothing Lasts Forever
Portrayed by Bruce Willis
Voiced by Eric Allen Baker (Trilogy)
Michael Blanchard (Die Hard: Vendetta, Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza)
Jamey Scott (Die Hard Trilogy 2: Viva Las Vegas)
Dave Wittenberg (Die Hard: Vendetta, Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza)
Aliases Cowboy
Gender Male
Occupation New York Police Detective
Title Detective Lieutenant
Spouse(s) Holly M. Gennero-McClane (divorced, 1980-1995)
Children Lucy Gennero-McClane
John "Jack" McClane Jr.
Nationality American

John McClane is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Die Hard film series. He is portrayed by Bruce Willis. He is known for his sardonic one-liners, including the famous catchphrase "Yippee-ki-yay, mother fucker".


  • Character portrayal 1
  • Depiction 2
    • Die Hard 2.1
    • Die Hard 2 2.2
    • Die Hard with a Vengeance 2.3
    • Live Free or Die Hard 2.4
    • A Good Day to Die Hard 2.5
  • Family 3
    • Holly Gennero 3.1
    • Lucy McClane 3.2
    • John "Jack" McClane Jr. 3.3
  • Catchphrase 4
  • Reception 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Character portrayal

John McClane was originally based on the fictional character Detective Joe Leland from Roderick Thorp's bestselling novel, Nothing Lasts Forever, along with another character, Frank Malone from Walter Wager's novel 58 Minutes (later adapted as Die Hard 2) and is somewhat based on and inspired by Dirty Harry.

Die Hard villain Hans Gruber describes him as "just another American.... who thinks he's John Wayne,"[1] to which McClane replies that he "was always partial to Roy Rogers."[2] He is described as being a "foul-mouthed, wisecracking, no-nonsense New York cop with an itchy trigger finger ... and a never-say-die maverick spirit."[3]

McClane's marriage is in a constant state of crisis, his vigilantism and disregard for authority have put him in danger of losing his job more than once, and he is a chain-smoker who is described by Inspector Cobb in Die Hard with a Vengeance as being "two steps away from becoming a full blown alcoholic", which McClane jokingly corrects him saying only "one step".[4]

McClane is consistently portrayed as a reluctant hero who, with little or no assistance from others, is required against his wishes to thwart the elaborate plans of a group of like-minded villains because no one else is in a position to do so. The trailer for the first Die Hard film states, "The last thing McClane wants is to be a hero, but he doesn't have a choice." In the second film, he is told "You're the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time", to which he replies, "The story of my life." In the fourth film, he says he gets involved in dangerous situations "because there is nobody else to do it."[5]

In the first Die Hard movie, McClane carries a Beretta 92F as his duty weapon. In the next two movies, his service pistol is a Beretta 92FS, even though the NYPD has never issued the Beretta 92 for duty use. He later uses a Sig P220 as his duty gun in the fourth and fifth movies of the series.[6]


Die Hard

In the first Die Hard film in 1988, Lt. John McClane has been with the New York City Police Department for 11 years. At the beginning of the first film, he is recently separated from his wife Holly Gennero (Bonnie Bedelia), using her maiden name.

Holly moved to Los Angeles several months earlier to pursue a career, leading to their separation. McClane stayed behind, officially to cope with open cases, unofficially hoping she would relent. Their two children, Lucy and John, are in her custody.

On Christmas Eve, McClane visits his wife at her workplace at the Nakatomi Plaza. Simultaneously, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) initiates his plan to steal $640 million in bearer bonds and takes the Nakatomi Company employees, including Holly, hostage. They pose as terrorists to draw attention away from the bond theft. Their final plan is to blow up the building, to fake their deaths along with the hostages in the explosion.

McClane escapes detection, hides throughout the building, and kills the terrorists one by one. When McClane meets the terrorists' leader, Hans Gruber, a climactic battle ensues. McClane shoots Gruber, who then falls out a high window.

Die Hard 2

In between the events of the first Die Hard and Die Hard 2, Lt. McClane transfers to the Los Angeles Police Department. He dislikes his rise to national fame. Dialogue in the second film reveals that he was featured in People Magazine, did a spot on Nightline, and was referred to (by Colonel Stuart) as "the policeman hero who saved the Nakatomi hostages" along with a local news crew.

In the second film, Die Hard 2, on Christmas Eve, mercenaries seize control of Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, 25 miles west of Washington, D.C.. They take control of the airport's communications and threaten to cause plane crashes unless their demands are met. Holly is stranded, her plane circles overhead. McClane discovers a conspiracy between the mercenaries and an active military unit to rescue a notorious dictator from being imprisoned for crimes against humanity. He foils their plans and provides a visual landing signal for the circling aircraft by exploding the plane the villains were using for their exit strategy.

Die Hard with a Vengeance

By the time of Die Hard with a Vengeance, McClane is back in New York, once again a lieutenant with the NYPD. He is separated from his wife, suspended from the police force, and a borderline alcoholic. A terrorist who goes only by the name "Simon" (Jeremy Irons) threatens to blow up various locations in the city unless McClane will play his twisted version of Simon says.

McClane must solve a number of riddles and challenges in order to keep the bombs from going off. He receives the reluctant help of Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson). The shopkeeper from Harlem saves McClane after the first challenge. Simon forces Carver to continue assisting McClane.

The FBI finally reveal that "Simon" is Simon Peter Gruber, the brother of Hans Gruber, angry at his brother's death in the first film. McClane learns that revenge is a cover for the true purpose. Simon wants New York's Federal Reserve, gains access to the bank with nearby bomb damage to the underground vault. With the help of Carver, McClane tracks Simon to the Canadian border. In a decisive final confrontation in a helicopter, McClane ends Simon's plan and his life with a handgun and a power line.

Live Free or Die Hard

The fourth film, Live Free or Die Hard (titled Die Hard 4.0 in releases outside North America), which takes place on Independence Day,[7] takes place 12 years later. McClane is assigned to take hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long) into FBI custody. McClane has been on the force 30 years, and is a senior detective, most likely a detective first grade. Although McClane's NYPD file, accessed by Thomas Gabriel, notes he has been a Lieutenant since 1987 it also states he currently holds the rank of Detective. Terrorists led by Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), are conducting a fire sale to bidders, taking out the nation's infrastructure: power plants, traffic lights, transportation, and financial markets.

McClane is divorced, not speaking to daughter Lucy (

External links

  1. ^ In Die Hard: But you have me at a loss -- you know my name, but who are you? Just another American who saw too many movies as a child. Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he's John Wayne... Rambo... Marshal Dillion.
  2. ^ In Die Hard: Actually, I was always partial to Roy Rogers. I really dug those sequined shirts.
  3. ^ a b "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters". Empire Online. 
  4. ^ In Die Hard: With a Vengeance: Inspector Walter Cobb: "I can appreciate your feelings for McClane. But believe me, the jerk isn't worth it. He's stepped on so many toes in this department, by next month he's going to be a security guard. His own wife wants nothing to do with him, and he's about two steps shy of becoming a full-blown alcoholic."(McClane revises this statement to being 1 step)
  5. ^ In Live Free or Die Hard: "Do you know what you get for being a hero? Nothing! You get shot at. Pat on the back, blah blah blah. That a boy! You get divorced... Your wife can't remember your last name, 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. [I do this] because there is nobody else to do it right now. Believe me if there was somebody else to do it, I would let them do it. There's not, so [I'm] doing it. That's what makes you that guy."
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ During the montage of presidents, they collectively say, have a happy Independence Day.
  8. ^ "Mary Elizabeth Winstead to Return as John McClane's Daughter in A Good Day To Die Hard".  
  9. ^ Ain't It Cool News
  10. ^ Bracken, Mike (2011-08-01). "First 'Die Hard 5' Plot Details Emerge: John McClane Goes Global (Updated with Director Shortlist)". Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  11. ^ Fleming, Mike (2012-02-22). Die Hard 5' casts 'Spartacus' star as John McClane's son"'". Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  12. ^ Fleming, Mike (2011-11-04). "‘Die Hard’ Search For Bruce Willis’ Son Down To Four Actors". Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  13. ^ Carroll, Larry (2009-02-06). "Our Greatest Movie Badass Of All Time Is ...". MTV. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  14. ^ 20 All Time Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture"Entertainment Weekly's". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 
  15. ^ Haflidason, Almar (15 December 2000). (1988)"Die Hard". BBC. Retrieved September 11, 2010. 


Bruce Willis was called "an excellent casting choice as a sardonic action hero."[15]

Empire ranked him number 12 on their list of the 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.[3] In a survey by MTV, "accomplished" filmmakers, actors and fans voted on the "Greatest Movie Badass of All Time". McClane came in third, behind only Ellen Ripley and Dirty Harry.[13] In April 2009, Entertainment Weekly ranked John McClane sixth in list of the top twenty "All-Time Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture", describing "Bruce Willis' wisecracking, terrorist-foiling New York cop" character as "the anti-Bond". The magazine called the characters portrayed by Keanu Reeves in Speed, Wesley Snipes in Passenger 57, and Jean-Claude Van Damme in Sudden Death as "copycat descendants" of John McClane.[14]


In the fifth film, A Good Day to Die Hard, McClane says the catchphrase before driving a truck out of an airborne helicopter in the final confrontation in Chernobyl.

In the fourth film, Live Free or Die Hard, McClane is held captive by cyber-terrorist Thomas Gabriel. Gabriel taunts him, claiming that McClane's tombstone will read "always in the wrong place at the wrong time". McClane replies, "How about 'yippee-ki-yay, motherfu—'?" as he shoots himself through the shoulder in order to kill Gabriel. The last two syllables are drowned out by the gunshot in the theatrical version. In the "unrated version," the line is altered to remain intact.

McClane repeats the phrase in the two following films. At the end of Die Hard 2, he delivers it before lighting a trail of fuel to destroy the enemy airplane. At the end of Die Hard with a Vengeance, he says it in a low voice after shooting down the enemy helicopter.

McClane adopts the phrase in the first film, Die Hard, when villain Hans Gruber calls him a cowboy and asks if he thinks he stands a chance. McClane replies, "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker". At the end of the film, before his death at the hands of McClane, Gruber echoes the phrase before McClane overpowers him.

Throughout the films, McClane is known for his catchphrase, "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker". He frequently says it to taunt his adversaries, or in the moments before killing them.


Jack and his father gain admiration and respect for each other. They take down Komarov and Irina and discover their true plot of retrieving uranium canisters. Jack throws Komarov to death into the rotor-blades of Irina's helicopter, after he claims John will die.

Jack is a CIA agent stationed in Russia to retrieve Yuri Komarov, a political prisoner who had evidence against Viktor Chagarin in a file at Chernobyl. To get close to Komarov, he kills a Russian millionaire and asks to testify against Komarov for a shorter sentence. John McClane goes to Russia after finding out about Jack's arrest, but not his CIA mission or ties. Similar to daughter Lucy in Live Free or Die Hard, son Jack was estranged from his father.

On February 22, 2012, Jack was announced to be Jai Courtney in the fifth film A Good Day to Die Hard.[10][11] Prior to Courtney's casting, Liam Hemsworth, Aaron Paul, James Badge Dale and D. J. Cotrona were considered for the role.[12]

In Live Free or Die Hard, cyber-terrorist Thomas Gabriel calls him Jack, which is a common alternative nickname for "John" in the United States. In early drafts of the script of Live Free or Die Hard, John Jr. was set to be in the film.[9]

John "Jack" McClane Jr. is John's son, who is born in 1984. He briefly appears as a child (Noah Land) in the first Die Hard movie.

John "Jack" McClane Jr.

Prior to Live Free or Die Hard, Lucy was featured in the video game Die Hard: Vendetta as a member of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Winstead reprised her role for a cameo appearance in A Good Day to Die Hard.[8] Since Live Free Or Die Hard, she and John have mended their relationship. After Lucy drops her father off to the airport, she warns her father "not to screw up" when he travels to Russia. She later calls him while he's in the middle of a car chase and he has to hang up. She meets his plane when he returns with Jack and happily reunites with both.

In Live Free or Die Hard, Lucy tells her boyfriend that McClane is dead and calls herself "Lucy Gennero", her mother's maiden name. She is later kidnapped by cyber-terrorist Thomas Gabriel for leverage against her father. She proves to be resilient, tells her father the positions of Gabriel's men, and injures one when McClane is incapacitated. By the end of the film, she calls herself "Lucy McClane" and develops feelings for a hacker called Matt Farrell.

Lucy McClane is John's daughter, born in 1982. She is played as a child by Taylor Fry in the first Die Hard film and as an adult by Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the fourth film Live Free or Die Hard and the fifth film A Good Day to Die Hard.

Lucy McClane

In Live Free or Die Hard, cyber-terrorist Thomas Gabriel notes that McClane and Holly are divorced.

Although Holly does not appear in Die Hard with a Vengeance, she is mentioned in conversation. McClane makes an attempt to telephone her, and her voice is heard briefly on the phone. She still resides in Los Angeles and is separated from, but still married to McClane.

In Die Hard 2, they seem to be on better terms.

In Die Hard, Holly lives in Los Angeles with their children. She works at the skyscraper Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles, which is home to a Japanese corporation. Her marriage to John has been estranged ever since she began her new job, and he refused to relocate with her from New York. They quickly get into an argument over why Holly chooses to use Gennaro (her maiden name) at work and are separated for most of the first film while John fights Hans Gruber's terrorists.

Holly M. Gennero (formerly Holly M. Gennero-McClane) is John McClane's wife. Over the course of the series, their relationship becomes increasingly strained. They have two children together, Jack and Lucy. Holly is portrayed by actress Bonnie Bedelia in the first two films, Die Hard and Die Hard 2.

Holly Gennero


John meets Jack and Komarov fleeing custody and Chagarin's thugs. Chagarin's henchmen attack again as they hide out in a CIA safe house. John holds them off, allowing himself, Jack and Komarov to escape. John and Jack help Komarov meet up with Komarov's daughter, Irina (Yuliya Snigir). She betrays them to Chagarin's main enforcer Alik (Radivoje Bukvić). John and Jack must escape again, but without Komarov. Following Komarov to Chernobyl, John and Jack learn that Komarov was actually using them to steal weapons-grade uranium from Chagarin. Surviving yet another battle, John and Jack mend their relationship.

In the fifth film, A Good Day to Die Hard, John travels to Russia when son John "Jack" Junior (Jai Courtney) is arrested. He doesn't know Jack works for the CIA against high-ranking Russian official Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov). Chagarin's ex-partner, Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch) was imprisoned for a file incriminating Chagarin.

A Good Day to Die Hard
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