Sorry folks, but Die Hard isn’t a Christmas movie.

There’s a war going on, and it’s time to take a side.

No, I’m not talking about Ukraine or Israel. I’m talking about a conflict that has raged since 1988, a debate that has shaken pop culture for 35 years, perhaps the greatest argument of our time:

Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?

For too long I’ve sat on the sidelines of this contentious debate, keeping my opinion to myself and letting others fight the battle.

No more, today I draw my sword and charge headlong into battle, plunging myself into the grisly war prepared to die defending my hill. Today, I’m here to argue one simple truth:

Die Hard is NOT a Christmas movie.

That’s right, I said it. Die Hard isn’t a Christmas movie, and I’m tired of being expected to pretend that it is.

I’m not putting the movie itself down in any way, it’s a great movie with a great story and great actors (RIP Alan Rickman, a man so legendary that he actually turned down being knighted). Die Hard is and always will be in the upper echelons of 80’s action movies, and probably Bruce Willis’s most iconic role. As great as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are, I’m glad they turned down the role of John McClane and Bruce got it. I can’t see anyone else in that role, and I think the movie would have flopped with Sly or Arnold as the lead.

Great movie or not though, it’s not a Christmas movie.

People will argue that it’s a Christmas movie based on the grounds that the movie takes place during the holiday season at a company Christmas party. And yeah, they have a valid point. Christmas serves as the backdrop for Hans Gruber’s assault on Nakatomi Plaza. Unlike, say, Harry Potter, where Christmas is just one scene and usually used as a transition point from the first to the second half of the film or books, the entirety of Die Hard takes place on Christmas Eve.

Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to consider it a Christmas movie.

Sure, it definitely checks a couple of the required boxes to make it a Christmas movie, but it’s missing one very large important element that is required for it to be a Christmas movie: Christmas isn’t an important part of the movie.

“B-but AJ,” I hear you say, “You just said the whole movie takes place during Christmas! Doesn’t that make it an important part of the story?”

No, it doesn’t. The fact that Hans Gruber chose Christmas Eve to attempt his heist has minimal to no standing on the story. He just happened to choose the night of the company Christmas party because he knew it was when all the company’s important people would be there and people would have their guard down. He didn’t have to do this on Christmas Eve, he could have done it at virtually any other large social gathering held by the company. The Christmas Eve party was just the one most convenient to his plans. You could have easily replaced “Christmas party” with “retirement party”, “CEO’s birthday party”, “Halloween party”, or literally any other event that would necessitate a large company party and the plot would be unharmed (though we’d lose some classic scenes, like the “I have a machine gun now, ho ho ho” bit).

Christmas itself is not the central focus of Die Hard, it’s not even a necessary part of the movie. It certainly enhances the film much in the same way Bruce Willis enhanced the role of John McClane, but you’d still have a coherent and functional story if you removed the element of Christmas. If you took Polar Express and removed the element of Christmas, you wouldn’t have a movie, just a story about Tom Hanks abducting some kids on a train. If you made Miracle on 34th Street take place in July there would be no story, because why is Macy’s hiring a mall Santa in the middle of summer? Having National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation take place during St. Patrick’s Day, well, I’m not gonna lie, if anyone could make that work it’s Chevy Chase, but it wouldn’t be a Christmas movie anymore.

So yes, Die Hard definitely has some of the key traits of a Christmas movie, but if you can remove Christmas from the movie without any real change to the plot then it’s not a Christmas movie. Die Hard isn’t a Christmas movie.

Still a good movie though.

By Angry_Jerk

The CEO/Editor-in-chief of AJnet, and the current king of internet ranting. Hailing from the fine village of Northeast Philadelphia, AJ has been creating content on the internet for over 15 years. None of it has really been funny or entertaining, but he keeps trying anyway. When he’s not creating new articles for the site, he can be found hitting the weights, watching anime, or playing retro video games.