Die Hard – The Hero’s journey breakdown

Ordinary world

John McClane is a NY cop in LA visiting his wife. They have some marriage problems but he still loves her

Call to Adventure

Hans Gruber and his men hijack the building with the intention of stealing 640 million in bearer bonds

Refusal of the call

There’s no refusal. The refusal of the call stage  is the opposition to the call to adventure stage. This is indicated here by John being totally unprepared for this adventure,

Supernatural Aid

There’s no Supernatural Aid either. Al, the cop outside is his ally rather than a mentor.

Crossing the First Threshold

John sends the dead man inside the elevator with a cheeky message written on his Tshirt. “Now I have a gun Ho Ho Ho”

Belly of the whale

John fights one of the criminals, crashing through a wall and aluminium beams

The Road of the trials

John plays cat and mouse with the terrorists, running around the building, crawling through ducts, trying to alert the authorities of what the criminals are up to.

Meeting with the Goddess

His wife is his Goddess, she cheers on his successes while watching the misery he’s causing the terrorists

Woman as Temptress

Harry pretends to be John’ friend and Hans gives him a radio to talk to John and ask him to come in.

Atonement with the Father

I thought the atonement would have something to do with the conversation between Hans and John when Hans was pretending to be another hostage. ??? But I don’t think it is, unless someone else has an obscure interpretation of the Atonement, was it flipped onto Hans? Contribute any ideas down below in the comments section.


John learns that Hans intends on blowing up all the hostages so the police think all the criminals are dead and don’t come looking for them.

Ultimate Boon

This is a reversal of the Ultimate Boon. It’s when Han discovers that Holly is John’s wife. It’s still the event that drives the action of Act Three and what leads to the head to head confrontation between John and Hans.

The Magic flight

The FBI agents in the helicopter think John is trying to kill the hostages as he tries to get them off the roof. When the terrorist blow up the roof John grabs a fire hose and jumps off.

Rescue from without

Karl is about to kill John and Holly when Al shoots and kills him.

The crossing of the return Threshold

He finds Holly, she’s held captive by Hans to use her a bargaining chip. John has returned to her, battle scarred from the ordeal and she respects him far more than she did at the start of the film.

Master of two worlds

John sticky tapes his gun to his back and is able to distract Hans and Eddie so he can use his final to shots to kill them both and rescue his wife. He is both a law enforcement officer and a protector of his wife.

Freedom to live

John and Holly walk away hugging each other, when the reporter approaches the she punches him out. She has the same reckless fire in her that John has. They will be happy together.  



2 Replies to “Die Hard – The Hero’s journey breakdown”

  1. Atonement with the Father isn’t actually a father. It’s when John confesses to Al that he could’ve been a better husband and he gives Al the message in case he doesn’t survive the night.

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