A Surprising Origin of Die Hard's Most Famous Line

A Surprising Origin of Die Hard's Most Famous Line
Image credit: globallookpress

There's hardly anyone who haven't watched let alone heard about Die Hard, which propelled Bruce Willis to stardom.

The 1988 blockbuster about a NYC police officer on a mission to save his wife and several people taken hostage by evil terrorists has become part and parcel of the Hollywood action movie legacy.

There's one line in the film which first comes to your mind when you imagine Bruce Willis kicking the bad guys' asses – which is "Yippee-ki-yay, mother****er."

This is what John McClane told the movie's archvillain Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) during an exchange over a walkie-talkie.

When Hans asks McClane "Who are you? Just another American who saw too many movies as a child?" and if "Mr. Cowboy" really thinks he stands a chance, the police officer responds —"Yippee-ki-yay, mother****er."

While for most of us the phrase is just a funny but signature expression uttered by the angry police officer, for Bruce Willis and the film's writer, Steven de Souza it is much more than that.

In one of his multiple interviews de Souza explained how McClane's signature sign-off came about: Bruce Willis and him spent childhood in Philadelphia and grew up watching the same TV shows.

"And we [de Souza and Willis] start talking about the kid shows we used to watch in the same Philadelphia stations, including 'The Roy Rogers Show,' who used to say Yippee-ki-yay, kids!" the Die Hard writer said. So, this is kind of tribute both paid to their time in Philly as kids.

According to Independent, the initial idea was that it should underscore McClane's all-American style. The only problem was that nobody had any idea as of how to pronounce it correctly. So, a debate followed.

"We had a really adult conversation about what was the proper way to say it," Willis recalled. "Was it 'Yippee-ki-yay, mother****er' or 'Yippee-ti-yay, mother****er'? I'm glad that I held on to 'Yippee-ki-yay,'" the McClane actor said.

Eventually the phrase has become one of the greatest one-liners in the movie history along with "I'll be back" by Arnold Schwarzenegger's cyborg assassin Terminator and "Bond, James Bond" by the British secret service agent 007.

It would not be stretching a point to say that the sign-off has come a long way – from an ordinary phrase in an action film (who knew back then it would become such a smash hit!)? to the hallmark of the action movie genre.