In the first film of the Die Hard series, Hans Gruber is talking to John McClane on the radio, mocking John.
"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 Dillon?"
"I was always kind of partial to Roy Rogers, actually. I really like those sequined shirts."
"Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr. Cowboy?"
Hans then mockingly uses the line before McClane kills him at the climax of the film.
In the second film, John McClane is dropped onto the wing of Colonel Stuart's plane, and jams his jacket into the ailerons, so it can't take off. As the wing is fully fueled, they can't shoot, and McClane pushes Major Grant into one of the turbines. McClane and Stuart get into a fist and knife fight where he is pushed off and Stuart removes the jacket. Unbeknownst to Stuart, McClane pulled the cap off of the fuel tank, and the plane is now leaking a trail of jet fuel. As the plane begins to take off, McClane pulls out his cigarette lighter and says the catchphrase as he drops it onto the trail, igniting it. The flame shoots up to the plane and causes it to explode, killing everyone onboard, including Stuart. John laughs and triumphantly shouts before his head falls back into the snow, and John realizes that now this fire can serve as a landing light for all the circling planes, which are low on fuel.
In fact, many fans say that the dramatic, triumphant Yippee Ki-Yay from Die Hard 2 is the best of the entire series, although some disagree and prefer the original, subtler version.
In the third film, McClane tracks Simon Gruber to his hideout in Quebec, Canada, just across the border. McClane shows up in a helicopter and interrupts Simon and Katya while they are attempting to have sex. John gets down on the ground and hides from Simon as he fires his M60 machine gun at him from Katya's helicopter. John manages to lure the chopper toward him, but pulls a Smith and Wesson Model 36 snub nosed revolver, which he then uses to shoot some nearby power lines, which get tangled in the helicopter's rotors, electrocuting Katya. The chopper falls to the ground and crashes in a fiery explosion, killing Simon. After the helicopter explodes, McClane triumphantly says the line under his breath, glad that he finally killed Simon. John quips to Zeus later that they should call a fire truck, but Zeus says to "Let him cook".
In the original script for the movie, the line was intended to be used during the aqueduct scene where McClane talks to Simon over the CB radios. This would have been in the subtle spirit of how the line was originally used in the first Die Hard. The studio however felt the line should be used during the film's climax similar to Die Hard 2. The use of the line during the aqueduct scene can be briefly seen during the theatrical trailer. The novelization of the film also retains the line in its original placement, right after Simon's line: "How very colorful." The novel quotes the line as: "Yippee-Kye-Ay, Motherfucker!"
In the fourth film, McClane uses it when he kills Thomas Gabriel.
Gabriel's holding his gun to McClane's shoulder gunshot wound to snap him out of it and pay attention. Gabriel remarks:
"On your tombstone, it should read 'Always in the wrong place at the wrong time'!"
McClane replies: "How about Yippee-Ki-Yay, motherfucker!" And grabs Gabriel's pistol, shooting through his shoulder wound and into Gabriel's chest, killing him.
The "motherfucker" was obscured by the gunshot because of the PG-13 rating, which outraged many fans. In the unrated version, the line is restored to its normal length.
The fifth film's R rating allowed for the full usage of the line, to the delight of many fans. However, many were disappointed by the way the line was used. McClane manages to jump onto the back of Irina's helicopter and get into a dump truck that is located in the cargo hold of the chopper. McClane turns on the engine and says "The shit we do for our kids! Yippee-Ki-Yay motherfucker!"
Although fans were happy about how the R-rated sequel allowed for the full usage of the line, many fans and critics alike complained that the line was "wasted' and "thrown in" at a random point in the film when nothing exciting or dramatic was going on, as the line was previously reserved for comedic or ironic purposes, or when the film's main villain is killed.