John McClane, Sr. (born May 23, 1955) is an Irish American detective lieutenant with the New York City Police Department and the main protagonist of the Die Hard film series. He is portrayed by Bruce Willis. He also briefly worked for the Los Angeles Police Department. He has been a police officer since 1977. He is separated from his wife, Holly Gennero McClane, who is using her maiden name. Holly moved to Los Angeles several months earlier to pursue a career that John ultimately thought would fail, leading to their separation. Together, they have two children, Lucy and John Jr..
John McClane was born on May 23,1955 in Plainfield, New Jersey. His father was an Irish-American cop at New Jersey itself and his mother was a house cleaner. In his youth, John attended a catholic school. His parents died as he was growing up. At some point in his adulthood he moved to New York City. Once he graduated from college in 1977, he attended the New York City Police Academy and started as a beat cop with the rank of private for the first 5 years of his career. Excelling as an officer, he was swiftly promoted to detective. As he was serving as a detective, his captain promoted McClane into the rank of a police lieutanant.
On Christmas Eve, 1988, John travels to Los Angeles to spend Christmas with his children. He first visits his wife Holly at the Nakatomi Plaza where she works, although she is initially pleased to see him they soon have a argument about Holly not using her marital name. Simultaneously, a gang of twelve terrorists led by Hans Gruber break into the Nakatomi Plaza and take all the employees, including Holly hostage. The gang's intentions are to steal the $640 million dollars in negotiable bearer bonds that are locked in the building's vault.
McClane fights his way through the building, outnumbered thirteen to one and contacts the police on a stolen radio. When the police send Sergeant Al Powell to investigate, McClane gets his attention by throwing the body of Marco, a terrorist he killed, onto his car. McClane fights to save the hostages and defeat the terrorists who are revealed to really be thieves after $640 million in the building's vault.
Despite the arrival of the police and FBI, the only person who proves remotely helpful to McClane is Powell who McClane befriends over the radio. McClane rescues all the hostages but Holly who has been taken with Gruber and goes after him, discovering that he only has two bullets left in his police handgun and none in his stolen machine gun. McClane tapes the handgun to his back with Christmas gift wrap tape and uses the butt of the gun to knock out one of the three remaining terrorists.
McClane pretends to surrender to Gruber who holds Holly hostage, but grabs the gun from his back and shoots Eddie in the head, killing him and Hans in the shoulder, causing him to fall through a window. Hans tries to pull Holly with him, but McClane saves her and Hans falls to his death. Outside, McClane finally meets Powell face to face, but Karl Vreski, who wanted revenge as McClane killed his brother Tony and who McClane believed dead, arrives and takes aim at him, but he's saved by Powell who shoots Karl dead. McClane and Holly reconcile and head off in a limo driven by Argyle.
Die Hard 2
Now reconciled with Holly (who has adopted a hyphenated last name), John is living in Los Angeles and is serving there as a cop. John and the kids are in Washington, D.C., visiting Holly's parents as he awaits the arrival of Holly's plane. While he's waiting, Special Forces mercenaries seize control of Dulles International Airport. The terrorist group takes control of the airport's communications and halts planes from landing, including the plane that is carrying his wife. The planes are only fueled for their flight length, so as is, the planes are running on fumes. If demands are not met, or there is an act of non-compliance, the terrorists have the ability to crash planes as they please by wrongly directing them nose-first into the runway by using equipment that can feed the pilots with improper altitude calculations.
McClane, initially getting almost no help from airport police (led by Police Captain Carmine Lorenzo), takes on the terrorists led by Colonel Stuart himself as Lorenzo makes up his own plan, not taking any of McClane's predictions or advice into consideration. McClane gets some help from airport janitor Marvin, who guided him around the airport. When Lorenzo's SWAT unit is quickly wiped out by Stuart's men in an ambush, McClane saves Leslie Barnes from being killed and kills three of Stuart's men in the process. Barnes was being escorted to the antenna array in an attempt to store power. As soon as McClane and Barnes are about to continue their way out to the array, the array explodes, ruining any chance of communications being restored. In retaliation to the attempted non-compliance, Stuart and his team feed one of the jets improper altitude information. McClane rushes out to the runway with makeshift light batons in an attempt to try and safely land the plane.
Stuart and his men, despite all of McClane's efforts, cause the plane to crash into the runway, killing over 230 people in a fiery plane crash. McClane is devastated.
Later, after learning from a radio that General Esperanza has arrived, McClane tries to capture him while he's still inside of the plane, but McClane is ambushed by Stuart and his men. McClane barely escapes through the use of an ejector seat in the plane after locking himself in the cabin. Finding Stuart's church based hideout with help from Barnes, McClane helps in an attack by an Army Special Forces unit led by Major Grant and kills two more of the terrorists, but notices that when he was using one of the terrorists machine guns he wasn't able to cause any harm.
McClane crashes a snowmobile while in pursuit of the fleeing terrorists. He, again, realizes that the gun he had picked up from one of the terrorists wasn't hitting the target, even when he clearly had the shooter in his sights. Upon checking, McClane sees that the gun is loaded with blanks and that its a double cross, and the Special Forces team aren't on his side after all. McClane runs back to the airport and explains to Carmine what he's discovered. Carmine believes McClane is bluffing at first, and dismisses his claims. McClane verifies his story by firing the blanks off directly at Carmine, proving that he's telling the truth. Carmine then tells all of his men to gear up and prepare to help in stopping Stuart, Esperanza, and now Grant and his men from escaping on a jet.
Carmines attempt to help is rendered totally pointless when Richard Thornburg causes mass panic at the airport by revealing what's actually going on the ground and in air over Dulles International in a live news broadcast from the plane he's on. McClane then gets Sam Coleman and her news crew to give him a lift in their news chopper. They drop McClane onto the plane's wing where he jams the ailerons and stops the plane from lifting off. Grant goes out on the wing to check out whats wrong and McClane manages to kill him in a fight. Stuart then emerges onto the wing, and he's physically superior to McClane and is a better fighter. It doesn't take long until McClane is kicked from the planes wing by Stuart, but not before McClane pulls open a fuel dump on the side of the plane without Stuart knowing. McClane pulls out his zippo and ignites the fuel, blowing up the plane and killing Stuart and the rest of the terrorists. Holly's plane, which has no choice but to land, is able to use the fire from the wreckage and fuel trail to land. The other planes follow soon after. McClane and Holly are reunited and Lorenzo tears up a ticket McClane got as a Christmas gift.
Die Hard with a Vengeance
John McClane is once again with the NYPD. He had separated from his wife, and by his own admission, is on the verge (if not already, he was described as being "two steps" away, to which John claimed it was actually only one) of alcoholism. Having been suspended, though what he did do to get suspended remains unknown, John had spent the entire previous evening drinking excessively, when he was recalled into duty as a bomber calling himself Simon demanded John's presence to endure several "games" throughout the day, or he'll use another bomb, and blow up a school.
As part of Simon's "game" he was forced to walk through Harlem wearing a racist sign. During an altercation with some gang members, he is aided and later saved by good Samaritan and local shop owner, Zeus Carver. Accompanied by Zeus, McClane attempts to stop Simon whom he learns is really Simon Gruber, the brother of Hans Gruber, McClane's old enemy from Nakatomi Plaza. While its believed by many that Simon wants revenge for his brother's death, McClane realizes that he has robbed the Federal Reserve Bank in New York of $140 billion in gold bullion and tries to track Simon down and retrieve the gold. Eventually McClane and Zeus track Simon to a boat and learn that the bomb at the school isn't real with Simon claiming he's not a monster. Simon instead intends to blow up the boat with the gold supposedly on it, but McClane realizes that its just a trick so he can get away with the gold as Hans tried the same thing.
McClane and Zeus escape before the boat explodes and McClane, at the urging of Zeus, calls Holly, but drops the phone just as she comes on the line due to finding a clue on the bottom of the aspirin bottle Simon gave him for his headache. McClane discovers that the bottle has the name of the town in Canada that Simon fled to and leads the Canadian Mounted Police in an attack on Simon's warehouse that recovers the gold and captures Simon's army. Simon, however, follows McClane's helicopter in one of his own and fires on it with an M-60. McClane's helicopter is forced to land and McClane draws Simon away, armed with a revolver with only two bullets in it. McClane shoots down a billboard wire onto the rotor of Simon's helicopter, causing it crash and killing Simon. Afterwards, at the urging of Zeus, McClane calls Holly again even though he knows she'll be furious with him for leaving her hanging earlier.
Live Free or Die Hard
In the 19 years since the Nakatomi Plaza Heist, McClane's actions seem to have been forgotten, leaving him bitter about it, as they have cost him his family. In addition, he even says he has not killed anyone for a long time, and has also been promoted to Lieutenant Detective. He is divorced from his wife and estranged from his children as shown when he confronts his daughter Lucy and she calls him by his first name. Its revealed that she tells all of her boyfriends that he's dead.
After the FBI asks for a senior detective to pick up hacker Matt Farrell in Camden, New Jersey and deliver him to the FBI Headquarters, McClane's boss sends him to do it and he unknowingly arrives just in time to save Farrell from being assassinated by a bomb. When the assassins try to shoot Farrell, McClane gets into a gunfight with them and manages to kill three before escaping with Farrell. McClane delivers Farrell to Deputy Director Miguel Bowman of the FBI who directs him to take Farrell to Homeland Security. On the way, Farrell recognizes the voice of the woman directing them as Mai Linh, the woman who hired him.
After tricking Mai, McClane talks to the head terrorist Thomas Gabriel who tries to get him to kill Farrell. Failing, Gabriel sends a helicopter to attack them, killing all but McClane and Farrell. McClane manages to kill the gunman by knocking over a fire hydrant, sending water spraying into the chopper and knocking him out of it, but Gabriel sends all the traffic in a tunnel straight at him in an attempt to kill him and Farrell. The attempt fails and McClane brings down the chopper by crashing a police cruiser into it and is believed dead in the wreckage by Gabriel's goon Rand. McClane teams up with Farrell in an attempt to stop Gabriel's fire sale and travels to the Eastern Hub where he kills Mai and has Farrell stop an attempt to shut down the eastern power grid. Using video conferencing, McClane and Gabriel get to see each other face-to-face and after taunting Gabriel, McClane sends Gabriel's image to Bowman who identifies Gabriel. Gabriel blows up the Hub in an attempt to kill McClane and Farrell, but they escape.
Deciding to go to Farrell's friend Warlock for help, McClane, who took flying lessons in an attempt to conquer his fear of flying, flies Mai's helicopter to Warlock's house. Warlock refuses to help at first, but eventually helps them figure out that Gabriel's after something at a building called Woodlawn. Gabriel makes contact and threatens Lucy, which enrages McClane who goes after him with Farrell after Warlock tracks him to Woodlawn. Farrell sets off the alarms there to draw the FBI and after the two are separated, McClane defeats Russo and takes his gun (having lost his along the way) and radio and contacts Gabriel, pretending to kill Russo. Gabriel tries and fails to make McClane see things his way so he tries to get Lucy to convince McClane. Lucy, who grew proud of her father during this time, instead tells him that there are only five bad guys left.
McClane fights and kills Rand and jumps on top of Gabriel's semi as he and his men leave with Lucy and Farrell hostage. McClane kills the semi's driver Robinson and uses its radio to contact Warlock and have him connect him to Bowman. McClane gives Gabriel's vehicle's license plate number so the FBI can track him through LoJack tracking system and tries to take Gabriel down. Gabriel tricks an F-35 into attacking him, but McClane escapes and accidentally destroys the fighter jet. Spotting Gabriel's vehicle entering a nearby warehouse, McClane goes after him, getting there as Gabriel is using Lucy to force Farrell to decode financial data. McClane kills Trey and one of Gabriel's two remaining henchmen, but is stopped from harming Gabriel by him using Lucy as a hostage and is shot in the shoulder by Emerson. Lucy shoots Emerson in the foot with his own gun and tries to kick it to her father, but the gun is stopped by Gabriel, leaving McClane weaponless. Gabriel decides to force McClane watch as he kills Farrell and Lucy before killing him and digs his gun into McClane's wound to torture him. McClane takes the opportunity and manages to fire Gabriel's gun, sending the bullet through his shoulder and into Gabriel, killing him.
As Emerson goes to kill McClane, Farrell grabs McClane's gun and kills Emerson as the FBI finally arrive to help. Later, at Lucy's urging, McClane checks on Farrell, making sure he's alright and thanks him for saving Lucy's life, but threatens him when he shows interest in Lucy. McClane is annoyed when Lucy also shows interest in Farrell, but seems to have reconciled with her or is at least on the way to reconciling with her.
A Good Day to Die Hard
Around 5 years after Fire Sale cyber-terrorist attack and 26 years after the Nakatomi Plaza takeover, McClane learns that his son Jack has been arrested in Russia and is to appear in court in Moscow. He and Jack haven't spoke in years. As he went on the plane to go to Moscow, he rides on the Russia cab driver to go to the courthouse, but the brutal heavy traffic in Moscow was preventing McClane to get to the courthouse. The cab driver lets McClane off after he sing since the courthouse wasn't too far from where they were. McClane then reach to the courthouse and saw Jack being taken to the courthouse along with an former billionaire name Yuri Komarov, who is also a prisoner.
As McClane waited outside the courthouse, several car bombs exploded in the courthouse. As he sees Jack leaving in the blue van with Komarov, McClane jumps in the front in the vehicle to stop it. Jack was surprised that his father was there, but wasn't thrilled to see him. But when Jack sees Russian terrorists coming at him, Jack retreats back in the van before McClane can confront his son. As the van left, he went to the truck and sees a Cougar vehicle chasing Jack's van. As McClane drives around Moscow to pursue the vehicle through the streets of Moscow, a henchman fired a RPG-7 missile at the truck. McClane narrowly avoided the missile, but crash the vehicle. He steals the G-Wagon truck to continue the pursuit. He drives off the bridge and drives on top of car-carrying trailer and several cars to get to the freeway below. As he pursued the truck, he rams the Cougar vehicle off the freeway bridge, but flipped over as well. As he distracted the terrorists from shooting at cops, Jack reluctantly picks up his father and they headed out.
Then they reached an apartment, where it is actually a CIA safe house. McClane realizes that Jack is a CIA agent who was in an undercover operation for the past three years. Jack, along with his CIA partner Mike Collins, are looking for a file that Komarov has that will bring down Komarov's ex-partner Viktor Chagarin, who is crooked high-ranking Russian official. Then Collins was shot and killed by men working for Chagarin's enforcer Alik, who breached the safe house. McClane holds off the terrorists as Jack blew the wall open as they, along with Komarov, got away. They went to the hotel where Komarov kept a key to the vault where the file is. They also meet by Komarov's daughter Irina, but McClane was suspicious about her time of arrival due to the traffic in Moscow. His suspicion was confirmed when Alik and his surviving men arrived. Irina reveals that she betrayed her father for money as Alik's men tie McClane and Jack up. As they take Komarov to the helicopter, Alik and his men assaulted both McClanes. As they we're about to be executed, Jack uses the hidden knife to cut himself and he and McClane attacked the men. Although they killed Alik's henchmen, Alik makes his getaway. Then the Hind-F helicopter, piloted by a terrorist named Vadim open fires at them. They jumped through the window and we through several objects to survive the fall.
As McClane and Jack made to the safe place, Jack finally reveals to his father that Komarov and Chagarin we're partners in billion of dollars of weapons-grade uranium business in Chernobyl, Ukraine. But after the nuclear incident in Chernobyl, they fell apart badly and have since been feuding with each other since. Komarov says that the file contains incriminating evidence on Chagarin. As McClane pulls out the minor rebar wound on Jack, they stole a car that contained weapons to head for Chernobyl.
As they arrived in Chernobyl, they see Komarov, Alik and Irina have arrived as well with many terrorists as well. As they loaded up, they went to deal with the men at the abandoned warehouse where the file is appeared to be in. As they reached the vault, they see Komarov there as well. When McClane sees Alik's body, he and Jack realized Komarov set them up over everything and Chagarin was just a target for Komarov's revenge for betraying him years before (Komarov had his hitman assassinate Chagarin). As they arrested Komarov, Irina, who is actually in league with her father, came to his rescue with their remaining men. As Jack went after Komarov, McClane went after Irina. AS he boarded the chopper, he kills the terrorist in the cargo hold. But finds he can't get in the cockpit. As Jack was under fire by the chopper's gun, McClane ties a chain to the truck and to the chopper. He drives off the chopper and it pulls the chopper down, bringing it off-balanced. After Jack kills Komarov by tossing him off the roof and into the helicopter's rotor, McClane jumps off the off-balanced truck and through the glass of the warehouse. As Jack reunites with his father, Irina, enraged by her father's death, decides to use a suicide attack, but McClane and Jack jump into a water tank as the exploding chopper kills Irina, Vadim and their helicopter co-pilot.
As Jack was looking for his father, he finds out that McClane got off the water tank before he did. As they we're walking away, Jack asked his father does always look for trouble or does it find him. McClane only replies that he "still asks himself the same question."
Back in New York, McClane and Jack arrived by airplane. As they got off, they we're reunited with McClane's daughter Lucy, Jack's older sister. The reunited McClane family happily walks off together.
Personality and Traits
- 1955 May 23 – D.O.B.
- SS# – 380-42-661
- Height: 6'1"
- Weight" 185 lbs.
- 90th Precinct, Brooklyn, NY 11202
- 1977 June 23 – Police academy graduation
- 1977–1980 – Vice
- 1980–1984 – Narcotics
- 1985–1994 – Robbery/Homicide
- 2002 – Joint Terror Task Force
- 2008 Jan. 5 – planned retirement
John is an average American man still stuck in the 20th century. With his cocky nature, McClane is able to stir up friendships quite easily, as seen by his interaction with an airplane passenger in the first film. However, this cocky nature also lands him in trouble with other authority figures in the series, such as Dwayne T. Robinson and Carmine Lorenzo. He is quite notorious throughout the series for constantly mocking his adversaries whenever the opportunity presents itself, be it over communication or in melee combat. Wisecracking and a smirk whenever he talks to someone, McClane held a very laid-back and cool approach to dealing with the people around him, this ease would quickly disappear, however, when faced with life-threatening occurrences, such as with Nakatomi Plaza and Dulles Airport. Early in the series, McClane seems quite taken aback by the death of Takagi, however, by the end of the first film and throughout the rest of the series, it is quite common to McClane, who often makes a trademark witty retort to a lifeless enemy. While subtle, McClane's character does change slightly in every film. In the first Die Hard , McClane comes off as a little reserved and hard edged, which can be attributed to the marital problems, jet lag and the fact that he's in a situation he feels uncomfortable in. In Die Hard 2 , McClane comes off as a lot more light-hearted and jokey. This is probably due to the fact that this is the only time in the series where he's shown happily married with no personal or marital struggles to be found. Five years later in Die Hard with a Vengeance, we find that McClane has hit rock bottom. This is the first time in the series where we see John looking ungroomed, with his hair unkempt and clearly visible stubble growing in on his face. It's said that John has not spoken to Holly in a year. He's also, according to his captain, two steps away from becoming a full blown alcoholic (McClane jokingly says that he's only 'one step' away). McClane's personality is much closer to how he was in 1988 albeit in a more foul mood due to his hangover.
McClane was a heavy smoker during the first three Die Hard films, lighting up whenever he got a chance to relax. In Die Hard 2 while running to catch Esperanza's plane on the runway, McClane states "[He's] gotta quit smokin' cigarettes." In Die Hard with a Vengeance McClane only lights up once, probably due to the fact that he never got a real chance to relax, especially since he spent a lot of the film running, plus the film only takes place over one day. Towards the end of the film, McClane is seen pulling out a packet of cigarettes, only to throw them away when he realizes that they're soaking wet. He's never seen smoking in either Live Free or Die Hard or A Good Day to Die Hard, likely because McClane quit smoking before the events of Live Free or Die Hard. Bruce Willis was actually behind this change. As a non-smoker himself, Willis didn't want children to see McClane glorifying smoking.
McClane was also a heavy drinker in Die Hard with a Vengeance and most likely raised Catholic, as he knew how to do the sign of the Cross and told Zeus how to do it properly. In the first film, he also mentions an old teacher of his, a nun, implying that he went to an Irish Catholic school.
McClane, while very heroic, is also a very personally flawed character. He often seems to think that only he is right, and everyone else is wrong (including his ex-wife and superiors), and he's too stubborn to ever admit that he's wrong when it actually turns out that he is. Though McClane clearly learns from his mistakes in marriage by the end of the first film, and is finding happiness with Holly in Die Hard 2, its likely that he'd let his ego get the best of him once again sometime around 1994. Its stated early in Die Hard with a Vengeance that McClane hadn't spoken to Holly in over a year (probably due to some kind of argument). Its confirmed that Holly and John did eventually separate at some point in the twelve years between Die Hard with a Vengeance and Live Free or Die Hard. When talking to Mathew Farrell about being a 'hero', McClane admits that he had, in the past, allowed his family and the woman he loved to come second after his own personal agenda and heroics, and he's clearly bitter about it, saying that it had cost him his family.
McClane's physical appearance varies throughout the series, but the basis remains the same. It often consists of a flannel shirt, a pair of light trousers and a white tank top that is blackened over the course of each respective film.
McClane's hairline also noticeably recedes until the point of it being almost invisible in the fourth film (in which he has shaved his head). McClane is a small but physically fit man, and he has a tattoo on his left arm and a slightly unshaven face.
McClane had a scar on his left eyebrow that received further damage in both Die Hard and Die Hard 2. The scar can still be seen clearly in Die Hard with a Vengeance but is missing in the later sequels. An explaination for this could be that maybe it faded with age.
McClane also has a good yet still average physical build, weighing 185lbs of muscle. His strength comes into good use, especially when he has a fist fight, and he can break through walls with his head (Die Hard) or hands (Live Free or Die Hard).
- McClane himself has killed 73 terrorists total throughout the five films.
- The only movie in which McClane didn't kill the mastermind was in A Good Day to Die Hard.
- McClane is voiced in the Japanese dubbed versions of the movies by Satoshi Nozawa.
- Like any action hero, McClane has been portrayed by stunt doubles. The stuntmen who performed this feat as the character were Keii Johnston, Terry Jackson, Dane Farwell (who's best known for playing Ghostface in the Scream franchise), Gunter Simon, James Embree and Stuart F. Wilson. Driving stunt doubles include: Johnston, Larry Rippenkroeger, Keith Adams, David Earle and Ted Barba.
- John McClane's humor and personality are slightly similar to another action hero named Martin Riggs (played by Mel Gibson) in Lethal Weapon, though a major difference is that McClane is fairly level headed whearas Riggs's sanity is often called into question.
Behind the Scenes
Bruce Willis plays John McClane in five films:
- Die Hard (first appearance)
- Die Hard 2: Die Harder
- Die Hard with a Vengeance
- Live Free or Die Hard
- A Good Day to Die Hard
- Die Hard: Year One (pre-production)
|Die Hard||Die Hard 2||Die Hard with a Vengeance||Live Free or Die Hard||A Good Day to Die Hard|