Die Hard scenario Wiki

First edition.

Nothing Lasts Forever is a 1979 thriller novel by American author Roderick Thorp, who wrote it as a sequel to his popular novel The Detective, which was made into a movie starring Frank Sinatra. After Sinatra declined the role, the script was made into a standalone story which was made into the film Die Hard. He was inspired to write it after seeing The Towering Inferno, about a skyscraper that catches fire.

Nothing Lasts Forever is the first legitimate Die Hard Scenario story ever written. Nothing Lasts Forever inspired Die Hard, which inspired dozens of imitators. 


Retired NYPD Detective Joe Leland is retired from the force and traveling to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve to visit his troubled daughter, Stephanie Genarro. When his plane lands at LAX, he stirs up a relationship with an airline stewardess named Kathy and travels to where Stephanie's Christmas party is, at the top floor of the Klaxon Oil Building, an enormous skyscraper downtown. To help combat the effects of jet lag, Joe takes off his shoes and begins rubbing his feet, contemplating calling Kathy. At this time, twelve politically motivated German terrorists, led by psychotic Anton "little Tony the red" Gruber, arrive on the floor and take all 72 guests as hostages, including Stephanie and his grandchildren. Joe takes his Browning Hi-power pistol, which he still carries around even though he is retired, and slips away. Joe begins killing the terrorists one by one, and the terrorists begin killing hostages as Joe navigates his way through the half-finished skyscraper, aided by young LAPD officer Al Powell on the outside.


Joseph Leland
Leland is an aging, retired NYPD detective on his way to Los Angeles to visit his daughter for a Christmas party hosted by her boss, Mr. Rivers. Although retired, he still habitually carries his Browning Hi-Power pistol with him everywhere, paranoidly carrying it onto planes by using his old badge in fear of a terrorist attack. On the plane, Leland stirs up a relationship with a stewardess named Kathy, who he talks to throughout the novel over the phone. Leland is still somewhat depressed that his wife has left him, and the relationship between him and his daughter is strained. He hopes that this visit will help the relationship, but when the building is taken over, he uses his experience with terrorists to kill them all and save the hostages. He is depicted as a disturbed hero from his WWII fighter pilot days, and it is hinted that if he never got involved that nobody might not have gotten killed. In Die Hard, his name is John McClane and he is portrayed by Bruce Willis.
Stephanie Gennaro
The only daughter of Joseph Leland and an important executive to the Klaxon Oil building. She is sleeping with another executive named Harry Ellis. She invited her father to the party in hopes to see him and wish him a Merry Christmas, but she soon falls hostage to Anton "Little Tony" Gruber and must believe that her father can do the impossible. The book ends with Stephanie falling to her death after Leland shoots Gruber next to a high rise window and he grabs her as he falls through the window. In Die Hard, instead of the daughter being held hostage, it is McClane's wife named Holly Gennero and is portrayed by Bonnie Bedelia. Also, the movie ends instead with Gruber attempting to do the same to Holly only to fail due to McClane's intervention.
Anton "Little Tony The Red" Gruber
Anton Gruber is an internationally-feared German terrorist. A sadistic, merciless former SS officer living off of the riches he made as a war profiteer from World War II, Gruber is a very seriously radical individual, intent on exposing Klaxon's illegal activities with the Junta regime in Chile. Anton is also the leader of the terrorists who have taken over the Klaxon Oil Building skyscraper, and the only one who can speak English. Anton is his real name but most people (including Leland) often refer to him as "Little Tony" or "Tony" just as a nickname. Anton Gruber is a ruthless man who will stop at nothing to complete his goal, no matter whom he has to kill. In Die Hard, his name is Hans Gruber and is portrayed by Alan Rickman. The character in the film has little to no relation to the Gruber of the novel (besides his brutality and casual attitude to killing), and he is referenced in the film because there is a terrorist named Tony.
Sergeant Al Powell
Al Powell is a 22 year-old LAPD Sergeant that is sent to the Klaxon Oil Headquarters to check on an emergency call made by Leland and is soon thrown into radio contact with him and monitored by Anton Gruber. Al Powell tries to talk Leland into keeping calm and not to lose his cool and sees Leland as the true hero that he is. Al Powell ends up saving Leland from Karl and getting him into an ambulance. In Die Hard, he is older and is portrayed by Reginald VelJohnson.
Deputy Chief Dwayne T. Robinson
Dwayne Robinson is the deputy chief of police and is sent in to take charge of the situation at hand. He automatically dislikes Leland for what he is doing and feels that he is only making things worse for the hostages. He tries to convince himself that Leland could be one of the terrorists or a nutjob but is soon on Leland's side when he finds out what Leland's been doing. Dwayne jumps in front of Joe Leland to protect him from Karl, only to be shot dead by Karl. He survives in the film adaptation, and never sides with John McClane. In Die Hard, he is portrayed by the late Paul Gleason.
Karl is Anton's right hand man. Near the beginning of the novel, Leland kills his younger brother, Hans, and throughout the remainder of the novel, Karl wants nothing but Leland's blood. He is the last surviving terrorist and the only one Leland didn't manage to kill. He appears at the end of novel, having been thought dead by Leland, drawing his AK-47 assault rifle in a last ditch effort to kill Leland. However, he is shot to death by Al Powell. In Die Hard, he is portrayed by the late Alexander Godunov, and is first seen killing the guards in the lobby.
Mr. Rivers
Mr. Rivers is the president of the Klaxon Oil Building and is the one who hosted the Christmas party and arranged the ride in for Leland. Mr. Rivers is soon disliked by Leland and is taken hostage by Anton to get the safe code in order to get the millions of dollars in the safe. Unfortunately, Mr. Rivers refuses to give the code and Anton shoots him in the lapel, killing him. In Die Hard, Rivers' name is Joseph Takagi and is portrayed by James Shigeta. Hans executes him by shooting him in the head.
Harry Ellis
Ellis is a sleazy executive in the Klaxon Oil Building who is sleeping with Stephanie Leland Gennaro and does drugs such as cocaine, which makes Joe Leland dislike him. In the middle of the novel, Ellis tries to help the terrorists and help himself by trying to talk Leland into giving himself up. When Leland refuses Ellis' proposal, Anton kills Ellis, which makes Leland feel responsible for his death. In Die Hard, Ellis is almost identical to the characterization of the novel and he is portrayed by Hart Bochner.

Differences between the book and the movie[]

  • For one, the book is extremely dark, and delves further into Joe's distrubed psyche, describing in detail how many people Joe has killed in his lifetime and how it has affected him.
  • John McClane is a young officer who treats situations less seriously, while Joe Leland is an aging retiree, who uses his old badge to sneak his Browning Hi-Power onto planes because he is paranoid of a terrorist attack.
  • Leland was in an antifascist meeting. This is where he met Gruber. In the movie, Gruber and McClane are strangers.  
  • In the book, the leading lady is Stephanie Genarro, Joe's daughter. In the movie, she is Holly Genarro, McClane's wife.
  • In the book, Stephanie dies when Anton pulls her out the window, causing Joe to go on a terrorist killing spree. In the movie, she lives.
  • The movie ends at dawn on Christmas morning. The book lasts until nearly eleven on Christmas morning.
  • In the movie, John becomes dirty from crawling around in elevator shafts and vents. In the book, Joe gets completely covered in black gunk, allowing him to slip around in the shadows.
  • In the book, the terrorists are genuinely politically motivated, and want to expose Klaxon's greed when Klaxon helped to aid a massacre by supplying weapons to the communist country of Chile. They then want to dump the documents exposing this and all of the money in the vault out the window. Joe actually agrees with this motive, and realizes that Stephanie was a part of it, but fights them anyway to save her life. Joe himself dumps the money and documents out the window anyway after Stephanie's death, as he blames the Klaxon corporation for her death. In the movie, the villains are even not real terrorists, just posing like that to draw attention away from a theft of millions in bearer bonds.
  • In the movie, Hans Gruber is a wealthy criminal mastermind who has great knowledge about suits and world politics as well as finance, as he reads Time and Forbes magazines. In the book, Anton Gruber is a former SS Nazi officer for the Gestapo now living off of the profits he made from the war. Anton is also slightly sadistic, as he likes to watch people die by executing them. In the movie, Gruber is much more normal and although both characters are intelligent, Hans has almost a genius level IQ and is somewhat sardonic, while Anton is a far darker character. However, both characters are very well spoken and good with English, which in fact is a second language in Germany.
  • The book has an ambiguous ending, where Joe drifts away and thinks about flying. This could either mean that he rested, glad that it is all finally over, or succumbed to his wounds and died, and drifting away reminds him of flying. The movie has more of a happy ending.
  • The terrorists in the book carry the all-purpose assault rifle, the AK-47. Leland also takes a WWII-era .45 ACP Thompson submachine gun, also known as the "Tommy Gun". In the film, the terrorists carry more contemporary, sophisticated and exotic European weapons, the Heckler & Koch MP5 and the Steyr AUG.
  • As different as these two works are, they are still extremely similar. In fact, the movie's most famous scenes actually came from the book, like climbing through elevator shafts with a gun strap, throwing a dead terrorist out a window to alert the police, strapping a fire hose to his waist and jumping off the roof, writing "NOW I HAVE A MACHINE GUN" in blood on a dead terrorst, Karl attempting to kill John at the end of the film, dropping a C-4 bomb down an elevator shaft and taping a pistol to his back for the climax.
  • The movie also makes a brief nod to Nothing Lasts Forever, where John McClane is checked out by an airline stewardess. This is a reference to a subplot in the novel where Leland has a relationship with a flight attendant.