John McClane, Sr. (born May 23, 1955 in Plainfield, New Jersey) 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.
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, 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.
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, 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 security (led by 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. 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.
- Species: Human
- Gender: Male
- Alignment: Good
- Allies: Holly Gennero (ex-wife), Lucy McClane (daughter), John McClane, Jr. (son)
- Enemies: Hans Gruber, Simon Gruber, Thomas Gabrail
- Portrayer: Bruce Willis