1988 – “Die Hard” is released

Die Hard was the first film in what would become one of the most popular franchises of the last three decades. A massive commercial success, it also created a set of expectations for the career of Bruce Willis: people expected that his every new film would start a franchise. From Hudson Hawk on, through The Last Boyscout and Striking Distance, every film was supposed to be the foundation of another great franchise.

But these other characters did not have the staying power of John McClane. It turns out that the same shit tends to only happen to the same guy once when it comes to successful film franchises (unless that guy is Harrison Ford, obviously).

Referenced in:

“Live Free Or Die Hard” – Guys Nite

1990 – “Die Hard 2: Die Harder” is released

The second film in the Die Hard series, this sequel went out of its way to draw attention to the fact that it was a sequel – lines like “how can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?” were a non-too-subtle reminder of that. That said, the film was reasonably successful commercially (if not artistically), and the franchise would continue.

Die Hard 2 is the most blatantly sentimental and patriotic of the Die Hard films – released on July 4, set on Christmas Eve – no tactic of cheap manipulation was left unused by writers or marketers for this one. But who cares? Bruce Willis shot bad guys and stuff got blowed up real good. What else do you want?

Referenced in:

Live Free Or Die Hard — Guys Nite

1995 – “Die Hard With A Vengeance” is released

The third film in Bruce Willis’ highly successful Die Hard franchise, this was the only one to actually be set in New York – which is kinda weird when you consider that John McClane is a member of the NYPD. It also famously re-united Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson, even featuring a couple of call backs to their previous film together (in which they never actually shared the screen), Pulp Fiction.

Ultimately, it was the least successful film in the franchise, and it would be over a decade until the fourth (and so far, final) installment was made.

Referenced in:

Live Free Or Die Hard — Guys Nite