The protagonist of the Die Hard films, McClane is a New York cop who seems to find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Portrayed by actor Bruce Willis, John McClane is a tough, no-nonsense, smart mouthed detective who has worked for both the New York City Police Department as well as the Los Angeles Police Department over the course of the four Die Hard films.
McClane often finds himself thrust into the centre of dangerous situations due to his disregard for authority and because he feels there is no one else willing to handle the problems he deals with.
This willingness to jump head first into danger all the time has put a strain on the relationship with his family culminating in his wife finally leaving him for good and his daughter becoming estranged from him. Although by the end of the fourth film it appears they reconcile their differences.
McClane, an 11-year veteran of the NYPD, is visiting his estranged wife Holly in Los Angeles. The couple had separated a few months before after Holly received a job offer with the Nakatomi Corporation that required her to move to the West Coast. John, with "a six-month backlog of New York scumbags" wasn't willing to relocate.
McClane is driven from LAX to Nakatomi Plaza in a limo provided by Joe Takagi, Holly's boss. Upon arrival, he finds that Holly has been using her maiden name (Gennaro) which only makes him more aggravated. After a brief argument in an office, McClane is resting in the bathroom when he hears gunfire from the Christmas party outside. Opposing Hans Gruber's "terrorist" actions at every turn, McClane becomes the one hope left to the building's hostages. He succeeds in foiling the group's plans and rescues his wife from Gruber's clutches. The two are reunited and driven off into the sunset.
Die Hard 2: Die Harder
McClane, now a detective with the LAPD under Sgt. Al Powell, is in Washington D.C. to pick up Holly from Dulles Airport. While he is waiting, rogue elements of the military take control of the airport and threaten to crash planes unless their demands for the release of a foreign general are met. McClane takes it upon himself to save Holly, trapped on one of the planes circling above the city and disrupt the terrorists' plans. He blows up the plane containing the mercenaries and reunites with Holly.
Die Hard with a Vengeance
McClane, back with the NYPD, is separated from Holly and suspended from active duty. As other cops comment, he's two steps away from becoming a full-blown alcoholic. After a bomb explodes in a crowed New York clothing store, the police are contacted by the enigmatic "Simon," who specifically requests that McClane be brought to Harlem and forced to walk naked wearing a racially offensive sign. McClane is attacked by a gang, but is saved by Zeus Carver, a local shop owner. The two escape in a taxi and are forced to drive around the city solving riddles provided by Simon.
McClane eventually realizes that Simon is in fact Simon Gruber, the younger brother of the murdered Hans Gruber. Masquerading his true intentions--to steal gold bullion from the Federal Reserve--behind the veil of revenge, Simon succeeds in escaping to Canada. McClane and Carver pursue and ultimately kill Gruber in a helicopter battle.
Live Free or Die Hard
McClane is assigned to transport hacker Matt Farrell into FBI custody. During the transfer, a group of cyber-terrorists begin attacking the infrastructure of the United States, taking down the nation's power plans, traffic systems, stock markets etc. McClane's daughter Lucy, now a college student, is captured by the terrorists, but once again, McClane is able to foil their plot with the help of Farrell.