Die Hard is the best all-around movie of all time. It has action, comedy, drama, romance, and anything else you would want in a great film. It is the characters that make it a classic, so I have taken it upon myself to rank the Top 25 Die Hard characters. These rankings only apply to the first movie. And if you are ranking the movies, it goes 1,3,2 and we imagine that 4 and 5 never happened. Anyway, here is the Definitive Die Hard Character Power Rankings.
25. Airplane Passenger: This guy makes the most out of his time on screen. He gives McClane some rock solid advice about “fists with your toes”. By the expression on McClane’s face, it works. This guy seems like kind of a know-it-all but McClane puts him in his place by the end of the scene.
24: Airplane Stewardess: This look that she gives McClane almost throws the whole movie for a loop. If he wasn’t going to see his kids, I guarantee he takes her and his giant stuffed bear back to a hotel and spends a lovely Christmas Eve with his new friend. Hans robs the building, the hostages die, and the terrorists are on the beach earning 20% before anyone has a clue what happened. That is how powerful this look is. Kudos to McClane for staying focused.
23: The Couple Having “Relations” During The Christmas Party: Getting down during your company’s Christmas party is pretty damn ballsy, but I have to give these two credit for pulling it off. They help McClane escape by creating a slight diversion. So hats off to these two freaks, you made the list.
22. Tony: Gotta give Tony some serious props for being able to cut the phone wires before Karl comes in like a maniac and chainsaws everything. Growing up with Karl must have been tough, since he is a legitimate psycho. Tony can’t be ranked higher however since he is quickly outsmarted by McClane, has awful fashion sense, and dies the wimpiest death in the movie. The “Now I Have A Machine Gun Ho-Ho-Ho” shirt is fantastic, but that is a McClane creation.
21. Eddie: Hans knew what he was doing when he chose Eddie to be his fake security guard. The guy can put on a friendly face with a midwestern twang that would make any cop feel like everything is under control. He also is a decent shot when the SWAT team tries to break in through the front doors. I am still not sure how he bet on a USC/Notre Dame game on Christmas Eve, however.
20. Harvey Johnson: Hey, look! It’s LA’s least favorite anchorman! Harvey stands out as an arrogant jerk in a movie full of them. I imagine he is a drinker, womanizer, and absentee parent. If anyone can prove differently, please let me know. He made the list just due to comedic value whenever he screws up.
19. Paulina: Ahhh, Paulina. She seems to have the house in decent order, prepares the guest room for John despite not being asked to do so, and even Holly doesn’t know what she would do without her However, despite putting up a decent fight against Thornburg (who we will get to later), she lets that weasel and the news team in the house to interview/exploit the kids and puts their parents in danger. Green card or no green card, she needs to keep people out of that casa no matter what.
18. Gail Wallens: When we are first introduced to the news team, we see how many blowhards Gail seemingly has to deal with on a daily basis. She is able to save the greeting to the newscast after Harvey bones the opening and clearly has to pick up the slack on the news broadcast from her foolish co-anchor. Awesome 80s hair in this pic, too.
17. Marco: Hans’ ace skydiver comes in here because of one scene and one scene only. This scene ages like a fine wine, getting funnier every time you watch it. Add in that he was the one that was thrown onto Powell’s car, and he had to be on the countdown.
16. Ginny: The older you get, the more you respect Ginny. She continues to work her butt off after the holiday party begins, is 9 months pregnant during the entire ordeal, and seems to hold it together the whole time. I hope she got a serious promotion after the movie ended. Maybe bump Holly up to Takagi’s position and Ginny up to Holly’s old job.
15. Lucy McClane: Lucy is on this list for a few reasons. She answers the phone like a professional. I don’t know many adults whose phone manners are that polished. She isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions (When are you coming home? Is daddy coming home with you?), and the cutest lisp in the world. Little Lucy really capitalizes on every second of screen time.
14. Uli: Usually people refer to our friend Uli as the Asian guy who stole the candy bars. He also stole that scene from the movie and his Fu Manchu from the facial hair Gods. The face he makes when McClane shoots him is awkwardly entertaining to me as well, which admittedly gives him a boost.
13. Agent Johnson: Clearly the cooler-headed of the 2 Johnsons, he seems cool and calculated. We don’t hear much from him and know even less about him (except that he was in Junior High during the Fall of Saigon). He kinda looks like Carl Weathers in this picture, which has to count for something.
12. Joseph Takagi: Sharply dressed, well-liked, and mild-mannered are all fair descriptions of Takagi. He seems like a pretty good boss who goes out of his way to make sure his employees are taken care of. Unfortunately for him, he also has to take one for the team (in the form of a bullet through the head). RIP, Joe-Joe.
11. Special Agent Johnson: Took the stereotypical A-Hole FBI Agent role to another level. The cigarette smoking, the threat of US Government action, and the over-the-top quote (just like Saigon, eh slick) are delivered perfectly. He is played like a fiddle by Hans, who actually needed him there so he could shut down the power and break the electromagnetic lock. In many other movies, he easily makes the Top-10.
10. Richard Thornburg: This is where the list gets really tough to chop down. Thornburg is such a great sleezeball that he appears in Die Hard 2 and you are actually excited to see him. Looking back now, this movie really did a good hatchet job on the careers of newscasters. And the news business has only seemingly gotten worse since this movie was released. But I digress. Richard Thornburg is a great secondary villain in the sense that he will do whatever he can to advance his career. He is quite a memorable character, despite not getting as much screen time as I remember him getting as a child. After seeing him play an even bigger jerk in another 80s classic, he has impossible standards to live up to.
9. Dwayne T. Robinson: Yet ANOTHER arrogant authority figure who everyone loves to hate. I have a little more affection in my heart for Dwayne because he just seems goofier than some of the other people on this list. When you see McClane chew him out on the radio, it’s hard to really hate the guy. Like Thornburg, this actor had a better performance in another 80s cult movie , which hurts his ranking here.
8. Argyle: Maybe the most likable character in the movie, Argyle cracks jokes, knows how to have fun while on the job, and takes care of his clients. His achilles heel is that he has terrible awareness of what’s going on around him. And as much as I love “Skeletons” by Steve Wonder, he listens to it nonstop. Literally almost every time they show Argyle waiting for McClane in the parking garage, the song is playing. Also, busting through the gates after a hostage takeover is not the smartest thing in the world. After having Karl come out of the building ready to kill McClane, I do not understand why the LAPD didn’t open fire on the “renegade limousine” that popped out of nowhere. Lastly, why didn’t Argyle drive through that gate earlier in the movie? And what if Theo wasn’t a terrorist? Would driving into his car and knocking him out been a smart move? There are always more questions than answers with our buddy Argyle. But his personality allows us to overlook most of them.
7. Karl: The biggest European badass this side of Ivan Drago, Karl is the real muscle behind the operation. Hans is the planner, Theo is the brains, Karl is the rabid dog off his leash after Tony gets killed. The cat and mouse game with McClane keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire movie. Karl has incredible hair, shows great leadership, and survives an attempted hanging. Let me say that again: HE SURVIVED AN ATTEMPTED HANGING! Add in the incredible random fact that he is a graceful ballet dancer in real life and you get some respect on this list. The only real downside to Karl is that he doesn’t really have much a personality. Die Hard is filled to the brim with characters that have tremendous personalities. Karl’s just isn’t good enough to be ranked higher.
6. Theo: I think the reason I love Theo so much is because I see a lot of myself in him. He is the smartest terrorist, the wittiest of the character in the movie, and can portray everything so smoothly with his silver tongue. Theo is like the 6th man for a basketball team. He doesn’t get the most minutes or the best stats, but he is almost as important as anyone else. His entertainment value is great, with one liners left and right. He can carry a tune as he destroys a computer and hacks his way into the building’s security system. The “Twas the night before Christmas” line is great. Theo’s two biggest flaws are his lack of screen time and whimper when Argyle knocks him out. For those reasons, I cannot have him in my Top-5. But he is definitely one of the best movie “bit characters” ever.
5. Holly: This seems about right for the best estranged wife in the history of estranged wives. From the jump, we are able to tell that Holly is smart, driven, and kind. She treats her co-workers, family, and nanny all very well. And even though her looks screams “80’s”, she still is a minx on the screen. This is the same woman that was once able to tame the bucking bronco known as John McClane. That feat alone is extremely impressive. I will deduct a point for the whole maiden-name fiasco, regardless of the motivation behind it. Like they say, sometimes you don’t know what you have in life until it’s killing a handful of terrorists for you.
4. Al Powell: When push comes to shove, Al Powell probably is the kindest soul in the entire movie. In just his first scene, he sings Christmas carols while food shopping for his pregnant wife, ignores a few insults from the ampm clerk, and donates money in the charity jar. He is John’s saving grace, sounding board, and biggest fan. Al has to deal with bumbling fools left and right, whether it’s Dwayne Robinson, the FBI, or any of the other inept officers along the way. I like Al so much that the only parts of Die Hard 2 I enjoy are when he is on the screen. Die Hard is a movie about redemption. Good triumphs over evil and the McClanes get back together. But Powell being able to redeem himself from his accident may be the most heartwarming redemption of all. We love you, Carl Winslow!
3. Harry Ellis: American and capitalist arrogance in human form. Ellis makes it to number 3 on this list with a bullet (no pun intended. Well, kinda). He is character that you love to watch in movies but would hate to meet in real life. He is clearly going after a married woman in Holly, has a super-inflated ego, and hits the powder like the 86 Mets. I imagine Jordan Belfort was inspired by Harry Ellis as he evolved into the Wolf of Wall Street. It is very strange that while I love Ellis as a character, I also love when he gets killed. For all the fellow Ellis fans, here is a Youtube tribute to him.
2. Hans Gruber: And here he is folks, the greatest movie villain of all time. Hans has an eye for fashion, an incredible voice for a villain, and is always one step ahead of the game. Anything nice I have said about the other terrorists double for Hans. He is ruthless, calculating, yet still humorous. Hans was such a great character, that they brought back his brother for Die Hard 3 and it made the movie significantly better. He is probably in the Top-5 for best movie character ever. Substitute anyone else for Alan Rickman, and both Hans and McClane are not as entertaining. The only reason that Hans is not number one because his plan ultimately failed.
Underrated fact: Hans Gruber’s last words were “Yippee Ki Yay, Motherfucker”, followed by a long, creepy laugh scene that will never get old. Just hearing “Yippee Ki Yay, muddafuck” in Hans’ accent will always be funny.
1. John McClane: Not much needs to be said about John McClane. If you read this much of the blog post, you already have a good idea how awesome John McClane is. He is funny, he is smart, and he is a tough SOB. This character keeps on trucking and has inspired countless rip-offs. He keeps the mood light throughout and has the greatest catchphrase in movie history. He is not only the best Die Hard character ever, but the best movie character ever.