Though we might debate whether it counts as a Christmas movie (it does), there’s one thing that we can all agree on: Die Hard rules. The groundbreaking 1988 action classic redefined what action movies could be. Not to mention it took “the guy from Moonlighting” and turned him into “Bruce Willis, an A-List Action Star”.
The movie poster for Die Hard promised “40 Stories of Sheer Adventure”, and the film delivered. And today we’d like to relive those thrills by counting down the top Die Hard quotes that we can’t help but break out into conversation any chance that we get.
“Now I Have a Machine Gun. Ho Ho Ho.”
Out-gunned and outnumbered, John is forced to play a cat-and-mouse game if he’s to have any hope of surviving the night.
Part of that game seems to be not only picking off crooks where he can but taunting them, too. Maybe he’s trying to demoralize or frustrate them, or just make himself seem like more of a threat than he actually is.
Either way, the act of killing his first bad guy, dressing the corpse up as Santa, and sending him back in the elevator with “Now I have a machine gun. Ho Ho Ho.” scrawled on him is certainly a bold way to make his presence known to the baddies.
“Come Out To The Coast, We’ll Get Together, Have A Few Laughs…”
A big part of John McClane’s appeal is that he’s really a pretty ordinary guy. Compared against the bullet-proof heroes played by Stallone and Schwarzenegger around the same time, his vulnerability and humanity make him a subversion.
Hense the scene in where we find him crawling through the air ducts. Having seen more action in the last couple of hours than in his entire career as a cop, John bemoans his luck at being in this situation.
- John: Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…
He’s sarcastic, of course, rueing that he let himself get talked into coming out to LA for Christmas.
“For There Were No More Worlds To Conquer…”
Though he might be a thief, a murderer, and a one-time terrorist, let it never be said that Hans Gruber wasn’t sophisticated.
While preparing to interrogate Mr. Takagi, Gruber looks over a series of architectural models for the company’s building projects as he does so, he muses:
- Hans: And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.
The line of course is a reference to Alexander the Great, though Hans himself wasn’t its originator.
The quote in question has a bit of an interesting history, being variously attributed to various sources over several hundred years. In reality, the exact quote can’t seem to be found in any primary source but seems to be a combination of several different quotes from various essays by Plutarch.
Muddy origins aside, the line establishes Hans as not only diabolical but cultivated as well.
“That Was Garry Cooper, A**Hole”
One of the greatest aspects of Die Hard is the interplay between its hero and villain. The two could hardly be more different, with Hans being equal parts debonair and devilish, and John being a rough-around-the-edges average joe who has to rise to the situation he’s stuck in.
In particular, Hans is stripping with contempt for American culture, as evidenced by this exchange:
- Hans: You know my name but who are you? Just another American who saw too many movies as a child? Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he’s John Wayne? Rambo? Marshal Dillon?
- John: Was always kinda partial to Roy Rogers actually. I really like those sequined shirts.
The exchange get’s a call-back in the climactic showdown.
- Hans: Still the cowboy, Mr. McClane. Americans, all alike. Well, this time John Wayne does not walk off into the sunset with Grace Kelly.
- John: That was Gery Cooper, a**hole.
Unlike the famous “Merry Christmas, you filthy animal” line from Home Alone 2, this is actually a reference to a real movie.
The movie in question, of course, is High Noon—starring Grace Kelly and yes, Gary Cooper. It’s a great little nod to one of Die Hard‘s inspirations, being a movie very much indebted to the western dramas that came before it.
“If This Is Their Idea of Christmas, I Gotta Be Here for New Year’s”
Argyle, the affable-if-a-bit-raucous limo driver, doesn’t get a whole lot of screentime in the movie. And aside from punching out one of the fleeing crooks, he doesn’t get to impact the plot much, either. But he does snag the final line in the movie.
Having had a front-row seat to the events of the evening, Argle shows up at the very end to whisk the McClanes back home. Or more likely to a hospital, considering the shape John’s in.
As he shuts the door, he muses to himself:
- Argyle: If this is their idea of Christmas, I gotta be here for New Year’s.
It’s a great quip to close on, ending the film on a lighter note after everything these characters have been through.
Was there any doubt that this would top the list? It’s arguably one of the best-known one-liners in film history and has been shoe-horned into every subsequent entry in the franchise. Even the PG-13 one, for better or worse…
The famous line goes hand-in-hand with Hans and John’s banter about cowboy movies that we mentioned earlier.
- Hans: Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr. Cowboy?
- John: Yippee-ki-yay, motherf**ker.
Even Hans seems to appreciate what a great quip it is in-universe, parroting it back to John when he thinks he finally has him beat. Unfortunately for him, he can’t quite back it up the same way John can.
These Die Hard Quotes Live Rent-Free in All of Our Heads
Often imitated but never duplicated, the original Die Hard is a contender for the best action film of the ’80s. WHich puts it high in the running for the best action film of all time.
And these Die Hard quotes encapsulate some of the magic that makes this movie work.
But maybe Die Hard‘s not quite to your taste. You might like your action movie’s with a little more cheese on the side.
If that sounds like you, then we’ve got you covered. Check out our top Running Man quotes to get your fill of some of Arnold’s best—and worst—one-liners.
Frank Wilson is a retired teacher with over 30 years of combined experience in the education, small business technology, and real estate business. He now blogs as a hobby and spends most days tinkering with old computers. Wilson is passionate about tech, enjoys fishing, and loves drinking beer.