Study Guide

Die Hard Fandoms

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Die Hard's fans are what we'd call die hards, which is a painful pun, but very fitting. Since the first movie premiered in 1988, the franchise has had a loyal fan base who doesn't seem to mind dropping a lot of dough on however many sequels 20th Century Fox churns out.

One-Liners to Rule Them All

Much of that fan base is, of course, centered on the character of John McClane, whose cowboyish irreverence, barefoot-underdog status, and penchant for the wise crack have cemented him in the action hero league of legends. He makes just about every list of "Favorite Movie Characters" or "Best Action Heroes" that we can think of, and his reluctant hero schtick has become a trope definer.

It's all in the one-liners, we think. John McClane delivers them like nobody's business:

And that list doesn't even include the sequels. He may be a man of few words for the most part (he's too busy strapping C-4 to desk chairs), but McClane's one-liners are the stuff of bumper stickers, t-shirts, coffee mugs, and endless lists and YouTube videos. They're quoted anywhere and everywhere—good for all occasions. That eminent quotability is part of Die Hard's staying power. When your hero can deliver a catchphrase, you know you've got box office gold.

Have a Holly Jolly Hostage Crisis

It may seem strange that a summer blockbuster takes place during Christmas, but Die Hard's holiday cheer is definitely one of the major factors fueling its fandom to this day. Now that the movie is nearly thirty years old, it's pretty far removed from its release date, and it's become known more as a Christmas movie than a hot-weather tentpole flick. Plenty of people out there—Shmoop included—have an annual holiday viewing. It ranks high on many an Internet list of the best Christmas movies, like this one. In fact, despite a few naysayers, there are plenty of folks out there who think it's the best Christmas movie of all time.

A Legit Legacy

It's worth noting, too, that Die Hard has become an iconic flick in the action movie genre. It's the subject of serious scholarship, analyzed the world over for its storytelling techniques, stunt work, and, yes, scripting (however haphazard). It had a huge influence on the action movies that followed, leading to a slew of copycats and inspired-bys, all of which were slapped (perhaps unfairly) with the Die Hard on a [Insert Location Here] label.

It's one of those movies that manages to bridge the gap between mass appeal and academic worthiness, and anyone who wants to sound like they know what they're talking about when it comes to action movies, blockbusters, tent-poles, and tough guys had better know Die Hard backwards and forwards.

Like, say, Shmoop.

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