Hans Gruber was a former German terrorist turned gangster who served as the primary villain of Die Hard. Expelled from his organisation, he assembled a group of other former terrorists and skilled criminals and organised a heist of the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles. Hans is cold, calculating and utterly ruthless. He can come across as casual and even humourous to his closest peers, but he has no qualms about committing murder to achieve his goals. He possesses a sharp intellect and takes great pride in his capabilities.
Hans was portrayed by British actor Alan Rickman.
On Christmas Eve 1988, Hans and his gang invaded the Nakatomi Plaza in LA, taking several employees hostage. Their goal was to break into the building's main vault and steal over $600 million in bearer bonds. Hans demanded that the building's CEO Joe Takagi give him the code keys to the vault, but Takagi refused at the cost of his life as Hans then shot him point blank in the head with a P7M13 semi-automatic. With over thirty hostages, the building's circuit breakers cut and his tech expert Theo working on breaking the vault's locks, Gruber's scheme was coming along perfectly. What he hadn't counted on, however, was the interference of John McClane, a New York cop who was visiting his estranged family for Christmas and was caught in the middle of the confusion.
With only a Beretta 9mm and his wits, McClane started to cause no end of problems for Gruber and his thugs as he started interfering with their plan. After taking one of the thugs' walkie-talkies, he was able to contact the police and could listen in on the terrorists' radio chatter. As his men were killed off one by one, Gruber was forced to make alterations to his master plan, all the while engaging McClane over the radio in a battle of wits. Although he briefly gained the upper hand when he discovered that McClane's wife Holly was among the hostages, it was a game that he would ultimately lose.
Hans's plan continued to fall apart when Argyle stopped Theo from escaping in the getaway ambulance by knocking him unconscious when he rammed the truck with his limousine. After getting back into the skyscraper by shooting through the window, McClane realized that the remaining two terrorists, Eddie and Hans were holding Holly. He quickly taped his Beretta 92F pistol to his upper back with Christmas gift wrap tape and walked into the vault armed with his empty MP5. Hans put his pistol to Holly's head and told John to surrender his machine gun, having finally gotten the drop on McClane. John did as he was told, and put his hands behind his back, but used the feint to grab his pistol and shoot Eddie in the forehead and Gruber in the shoulder. The bullet shot through a window, cracking it. Still holding Holly, Hans staggers backwards, wounded badly from the gunshot, and crashes through the broken window. Hans grabs onto Holly's watch and drags her to the floor, hanging on desperately to avoid falling off the building. McClane rushes to help Holly, who is inches away from falling to her death, desperately attempting to unclasp the watch while an infuriated Hans slowly levels his P7 at McClane with the intention of ending his life. Luckily, before Hans can shoot John and take Holly with him, John unclasps the butter hook, and a shocked Hans plummets to his death on the pavement of the plaza, 30 stories down.