Top 50 Die Hard Movie Details

While searching the internet for Die Hard movie facts, I found some interesting little known details. Obscure enough that most people could miss it, I want to make you a favor by creating ordered lists with the most intriguing hidden details.

Most of them are not blatantly obvious to be observed at first sight, so take your time and read carefully. We have extensive definitions that accurately explain any behind the scene meaning or famous dialogues.

Bruce Willis steals a zippo from a Bad guy in Die Hard 1, still has it in Die Hard 2
Bruce Willis steals a zippo from a Bad guy in Die Hard 1, still has it in Die Hard 2

We catch Ellis doing cocaine in Holly's office. Later when Hans has Ellis talking to McClain over the radio one of the terrorists brings him in a can of Coke. He obviously asked for some "coke" and they misinterpreted him.

Trivia

I have collected all the famous movie trivia questions with answers from Reddit and other sources. They can be very useful in quizzes or games, or simply to learn more information. Most of the fun Die Hard details are suitable for kids.

  1. Bruce Willis refers to his character in Pulp Fiction in a subtle way

  2. During the scene where John McClane (Bruce Willis) falls down a ventilator shaft, his stuntman (Keii Johnston) was supposed to grab onto the first vent. He missed. The footage was so good that editor Frank J. Urioste left it in the movie.

  3. The scene where John McClane falls down the elevator shaft was actually a mistake. The stuntman was supposed to grab the first vent, but slipped and continued to fall down the shaft. The footage was kept and edited together with McClane grabbing the next vent down.

  4. When filming Gruber's death scene, Rickman was told he would be dropped on the count of three. The director counted to two before dropping him, making his reaction genuine.

  5. The bad guys are listed as terrorists despite the plot of the film explicitly stating that they are not.

  6. John McClane's wife Holly has a brief conversation with a pregnant coworker at the Christmas party about whether the baby could handle a little alcohol. Die Hard, a genre redefining action movie, passes the Bechdel Test.

  7. Fox Plaza, famously used as the Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard (1998), was also one of the first buildings to be destroyed at the end of Fight Club (1999). It has also been used as a filming location for several other film such as Speed (1994) and Airheads (1994).

  8. The truck used to transport the terrorists was made bigger in later scenes because the decision to use an Ambulance as escape wasn't decided until well into shooting. It's evidenced at the beginning of the film when the team exit the back of the truck and no ambulance is seen

  9. John McClain makes a reference to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hans Gruber makes a reference to Rambo, who is played by Sylvester Stallone. Both Schwarzenegger and Stallone were choices for John McClain before Bruce Willis was eventually casted

  10. One of the passwords cracked by Theo after Takagi (James Shigeta) refuses to give it up is "Akagi." The Akagi was a WWII Japanese aircraft carrier, and during the Battle of Midway, the flagship of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo - who was played by Shigeta in the movie, Midway (1976).

  11. The music when Karl is shot by Sgt. Powell is actually the beginning of 'Resolution and Hyperspace' from ALIENS, which, ironically, is never heard in ALIENS.

  12. The flight attendant's flirty look that she give McClane is a nod to the source material, NOTHING LASTS FOREVER, in which the main character kisses and has a relationship with a flight attendant he meets in the book's early chapters.

  13. The main villain is named Hans Gruber. The man who composed the music for Silent Night was named Franz Gruber.

Easter Eggs

Finding Easter Eggs in movies is one of my favorite hobbies. Hidden objects, characters, and their meanings are wonderful ways to discover the filmmaker's perspectives of any given movie.

  • Thomas Gabriel's (played by Timothy Oliphant) mobile command center has the number "047" on the engine hood. Later that year the movie "Hitman" launched starring Timothy Oliphant as "Agent 47".

Hidden Details

1 - When John is talking to Hans in disguise as "Bill Clay," this is the only scene that takes place at a Dutch angle in the whole movie. Dutch angles convey suspicion and unease, but actually comes from "Deutsch" angle which means German.
When John is talking to Hans in disguise as "Bill Clay," this is the only scene that takes place at a Dutch angle in the whole movie. Dutch angles convey suspicion and unease, but actually comes from "Deutsch" angle which means German.
1 - John McClane can be seen holding down the slide release on the side of his Beretta before handing it to Clay, who he knows is Hans Gruber. Because he is loading an empty magazine if he didn't hold the slide release it would have locked in the open/empty position.
John McClane can be seen holding down the slide release on the side of his Beretta before handing it to Clay, who he knows is Hans Gruber. Because he is loading an empty magazine if he didn't hold the slide release it would have locked in the open/empty position.
1 - John McClane is able to see through Hans Gruber's disguise by offering him a cigarette. Europeans and Americans have distinct ways of smoking which is what blows his cover.
John McClane is able to see through Hans Gruber's disguise by offering him a cigarette. Europeans and Americans have distinct ways of smoking which is what blows his cover.

One of the traffic camera images is actually a shot from The Italian Job

1 - Zeus warns John McClane that he has around 10 seconds until the African Americans in the street spot him wearing the sign "I Hate N*****s". From the end of his statement, to when one of the men spot him, is 10.13 seconds.
Zeus warns John McClane that he has around 10 seconds until the African Americans in the street spot him wearing the sign "I Hate N*****s". From the end of his statement, to when one of the men spot him, is 10.13 seconds.

Ellis, who has been shown doing cocaine in previous scenes, must have asked for some coke when negotiating with Hans about John McCaine.

1 - When McClain gets to the bank, the German hiding his identify says it's "Raining dogs and cats". He is confusing the phrase because the actual translation for the saying in German is dogs and cats - "Es regnet Hunde und Katzen".
When McClain gets to the bank, the German hiding his identify says it's "Raining dogs and cats". He is confusing the phrase because the actual translation for the saying in German is dogs and cats - "Es regnet Hunde und Katzen".
1 - Harry Ellis tells John McClane he gave John's wife a gold Rolex for Christmas and asks her to show him to which she replies "maybe later". John sees it later that night when he undoes it from her wrist sending Hans Gruber plummeting from the Nakatomi Plaza.
Harry Ellis tells John McClane he gave John's wife a gold Rolex for Christmas and asks her to show him to which she replies "maybe later". John sees it later that night when he undoes it from her wrist sending Hans Gruber plummeting from the Nakatomi Plaza.
1 - Ellis tells Holly to show John McClane the Rolex he got for her. John says he'll look at it later. This foreshadows the final standoff when John sees the watch up close and personal, unlatching it from Holly's wrist leading to Hans losing his grip off the building to his death.
Ellis tells Holly to show John McClane the Rolex he got for her. John says he'll look at it later. This foreshadows the final standoff when John sees the watch up close and personal, unlatching it from Holly's wrist leading to Hans losing his grip off the building to his death.
1 - Hans Gruber and his team of German terrorists almost exclusively use weapons produced in Central Europe. Hans' handgun, as well as the team's main weapon, are produced by H&K, a German manufacturer, while Karl's weapon is made by Steyr, an Austrian manufacturer.
Hans Gruber and his team of German terrorists almost exclusively use weapons produced in Central Europe. Hans' handgun, as well as the team's main weapon, are produced by H&K, a German manufacturer, while Karl's weapon is made by Steyr, an Austrian manufacturer.

John McClane is forced to stand in the middle of Harlem wearing a placard reading, "I Hate Ni**ers". In the TV adaptation, the sign is changed to read, "I Hate Everybody"

1 - John McClane is wearing fake feet
John McClane is wearing fake feet
1 - (1988) the address of Nakatomi Plaza is actually the real life address of the 20th Century Fox Headquarters.
(1988) the address of Nakatomi Plaza is actually the real life address of the 20th Century Fox Headquarters.
1 - Just noticed a nice little characterization touch in Die Hard (1998). Instead of sitting in the back of the limo like most people would, John McClane rides up front with Argyle and leaves his luggage in the back. This emphasizes his down-to-Earth, blue-collar nature.
Just noticed a nice little characterization touch in Die Hard (1998). Instead of sitting in the back of the limo like most people would, John McClane rides up front with Argyle and leaves his luggage in the back. This emphasizes his down-to-Earth, blue-collar nature.

After John blows up the RPGs he gets yelled at about people covered in glass, he rants back with who cares about glass? Later on when he's pinned down by Hans and forced to run barefoot through broken glass, he does.

The German that Gruber and his band of terrorists speak is full of terribly bad grammar, diction and pronunciation. For this reason, the terrorists were simply described as coming from "Europe" in the German release of the film.

I've never noticed until now that in Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), when the car falls off the bridge, a guy gets cut in half by the tow cable.

The elevator John McClane rides on top of goes awfully fast. Earlier, in the scene where McClain checks into Nakatomi Plaza, the clerk advises him to ride the "express elevator".

The terrorists'/Hans' musical theme at the beginning is a minor variation of "Ode to Joy"

Karl and Theo had a bet on whether Hans would kill Takagi (explained in comments)

John McClane informs airport security his attackers used a "Glock 7" porcelain pistol made in Germany. This model was created entirely for the film, and is completely nonsensical.

1 - A The Simpsons' episode in which family members are shocking each other is displayed in Holly's plane, foreshadowing Holly shocking Richard later on
A The Simpsons' episode in which family members are shocking each other is displayed in Holly's plane, foreshadowing Holly shocking Richard later on
1 - Harry Ellis is caught doing cocaine at the beginning of the film. Later, when meeting with Hans, they bring him more 'Coke'
Harry Ellis is caught doing cocaine at the beginning of the film. Later, when meeting with Hans, they bring him more 'Coke'

- Holly Gennaro McClane received a Rolex as a gift. John McClane says he'll see it later and it becomes critical in the final scene.

1 - When Ellis is helping Hans he is poured a Coke, this is likely the German terrorists misunderstanding him asking for cocaine (having been caught snorting earlier in the film)
When Ellis is helping Hans he is poured a Coke, this is likely the German terrorists misunderstanding him asking for cocaine (having been caught snorting earlier in the film)

Ellis gets one last hit of Coke before he dies. (Pretty obvious, but I missed it every Christmas since 1988).

1 - The vault in Nakatomi Plaza also contains an Edgar Degas painting called The Dance Class c. 1873, worth around 4-8 million dollars.
The vault in Nakatomi Plaza also contains an Edgar Degas painting called The Dance Class c. 1873, worth around 4-8 million dollars.
1 - Alexander Godunov, who played Karl, the badass terrorist in Die Hard (1988), his first major role was a gentle Amish farmer, Daniel in Witness (1985). He was a Russian ballerina until 1982. Sadly, he died in 1995 (aged 45) from hepatitis.
Alexander Godunov, who played Karl, the badass terrorist in Die Hard (1988), his first major role was a gentle Amish farmer, Daniel in Witness (1985). He was a Russian ballerina until 1982. Sadly, he died in 1995 (aged 45) from hepatitis.
1 - . The department store that blows up in the very beginning foreshadows the location of the final big bomb (that turns out to be fake).
. The department store that blows up in the very beginning foreshadows the location of the final big bomb (that turns out to be fake).
1 - - The bad guys are labelled as Terrorists, even though it is mentioned a couple of times that they were just robbers performing a heist. There was no real political agenda and only pretended to be terrorists to the police to stall for more time.
- The bad guys are labelled as Terrorists, even though it is mentioned a couple of times that they were just robbers performing a heist. There was no real political agenda and only pretended to be terrorists to the police to stall for more time.

: Holly's Rolex watch symbolizes the rift in John and Holly's marriage--her career and John's resentment of her for it. Letting go of it literally saves their lives, kills Hans Gruber, and reunites them in love.

1 - . around the 1h04m mark, a gardena connection is used to water cool the machine. Gardena is a German company and to my knowledge not a widely used american brand.
. around the 1h04m mark, a gardena connection is used to water cool the machine. Gardena is a German company and to my knowledge not a widely used american brand.

Join McClane (Bruce Willis) tells Zeus (Samuel L. Jackson) that he spent his suspension "smoking cigarettes and watching 'Captain Kangaroo'" which is a line from the song 'Flowers on the Wall' which plays in Pulp Fiction (1994)

Die Hard poster
Die Hard poster

Die Hard Plot: An NYPD officer tries to save his wife and several others taken hostage by German terrorists during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

I am pretty sure that you've watched Die Hard, maybe in a theater near you or on the small screen, but probably not many of the small details have taken your attention. Most of the previous facts are hidden for some reason, but still, there is plenty of randomly forgetten stuff that makes the movie unique and interesting. The more you know, the more fascinated you'll be about Die Hard and will watch it online, download or stream it again and again.

Genre Action, Thriller
Director John McTiernan
Main Actors Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, Paul Gleason
IMDB score 8.2