Willis plays John McClaine, a New York City cop, is visiting his wife Holly (played by Bonnie Bedelia) in Los Angeles for Christmas. He is driven to Nakatomi Plaza, the U.S. offices of the fictional multinational Nakatomi Corporation, where a Christmas party is underway. Shortly after he arrives, a group of twelve terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) storm the building and take the employees hostage. He manages to escape capture.
McClaine attempts to do what he can to undermine the intruders: firstly, by contacting the emergency services using the building fire alarm, fighting back against them directly, and giving information to the police, specifically to Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson), a desk sergeant who got caught up in the action on his way home.
- Die Hard 2 ("Die Harder") sees McClaine having to take on mercenaries who take control of air traffic control and communication at Dulles airport.
- In Die Hard With A Vengeance, McClaine and Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson) must defuse bombs across New York placed by Hans Gruber's brother.
- Die Hard 4.0 has McClaine trying to stop computer hackers from destroying the complete infrastructure of the United States.
- A fifth Die Hard movie is being produced for release in 2012.