The Definitive ‘Die Hard’ Character Ranking

The holiday season is here, which means it’s the time of year to debate whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie. It isn’t, but that doesn’t mean this action classic isn’t worth revisiting. It’s got an NYPD detective hero, a band of evil German terrorists, and a bunch of incompetent law enforcement officers gumming up the works. So how do these characters stack up? Here’s how we ranked ‘em.

Dwayne T. Robinson, Chief of Police

This guy either fucks up or gets trampled every time he appears on screen. He never listens to Sergeant Powell and tries to flex on McClane, which no one should ever do. Has anyone telling people they’re in charge ever sounded more unsure of themselves?

Johnson & Johnson (aka FBI Guys)

After Big Johnson’s adrenaline-induced exclamation “this is like Saigon!” Little Johnson replies with a grin, “I was in junior high, dickhead.” It’s a fleeting moment but just shows what a rich tapestry Die Hard truly is.

Dick Thornburg (News Reporter)

This sleazy journalist almost blows the whole thing. In real life he’d probably end up getting a job at Fox News.

Holly McClane

Holly is a fine character, but there’s not much to her. She does have a mean right hook, though. Just ask Dick Thornburg.

John McClane

John McClane is the role that transformed Bruce Willis from a smirking Moonlighting has-been into a movie star. As McClane, his badassery is unrivaled. He kills a bunch of people and performs improvised stunts that should’ve left him dead (a firehose around the waist? Really?). And he does it barefoot. Your move, every other action hero in the world.

Theo (Hacker)

He’s Gruber’s hacker and makes a bunch of bad jokes that make him seem cold and unforgiving. He is cold and unforgiving. He’s also essentially third in command, which makes him the Yin to Argyle’s Yang. Being taken out by a limo driven into his fake ambulance is the closest this movie comes to poetic symmetry.

Harry Ellis (aka the Cocaine Yuppie)

Harry Ellis is an objectively shitty guy. He thinks he smarter than everyone in the room and offers to negotiate with the villains. There isn’t anything redeemable about him. His death is deserved. And that’s what makes him a great character. That, and the line “Hans, bubby, I’m your white knight.” That helps, too.

Sergeant Al Powell

Sure, it takes him the entire the movie to draw his gun. And yeah, he did once accidentally kill a teenager. But remember, none of this would’ve happened if Powell didn’t respond to that initial call. This is why we honor him today.

Karl Vreski

Pure, blonde, feather haired, unadulterated German evil. Karl was the perfect foil for John McClane and was the only person to come close to killing him.


Argyle spent most of the movie in a parking garage, but in his limited screen time he jammed out, talked to his girl, kept it real with John and did his part to help. I still don’t know who pilfered the airbags out of that limo, though. Or how that thing was driveable after that. Let’s chalk it up to Argyle’s immortality, even though he didn’t appear in a single sequel.

Hans Gruber

Without doubt Alan Rickman’s best role (dont @ me, Potterheads). He’s the ideal villain, and the added touch of class he brings to Gruber puts it over the top. His plan was amazing—he saw the power shutdown coming miles away—and really should have went off without a hitch. You just don’t get that kind of cool, collected villainy anymore.