In Live Free or Die Hard (Die Hard 4.0), Thomas Gabriel outsourced the initial stages of his plan to black hat hackers. When their work was done Thomas's team who are parked outside a hacker's place causes the hacker's PC to lock up. In response the hacker presses CtrlAltDelete, which sets off a bomb. We see that when the "glitch" occurs there's a light in the PC hardware that changes.

But why do the hackers have explosives in their PCs? One possibility could be that the PCs they used was given to them by Thomas but

  • It seems strange to me that a hacker (and one who's being watched by the FBI) wouldn't pull apart a PC they were given for free from a stranger and not notice the packs of C4 inside (if they even accepted something like that)
  • The computers seem to have been customized, like how Matt had his chat with Warlock which I assume isn't a standard chat system (given that Matt had to hack a satellite to see if Warlock was still online). That would mean that the hackers had the PCs for some time to get them customized for their use,

So how/why do the hackers have explosives in their PCs?

  • Interesting question. Never thought of that.
    – A J
    Jun 27, 2017 at 4:54
  • The hackers only pressed delete, and not Ctrl+Alt+Delete. That can be confirmed when Matt's computer explodes when that statue falls on the keyboard. Jun 27, 2017 at 19:27

2 Answers 2


I always assumed the following:

  • Gabriel was intelligent and handpicked the hackers
  • Hackers would generally do jobs like this without giving away any form of indentity
  • As above, any agreement would be made anonymously
  • As was shown, Gabriel knew the identity and location/address of each hacker without that information being divulged by the hacker in question
  • In reference to the point above, each individual hacker thought themselves to be anonymous and safe

So, taking the above into account it doesn't take a stretch of the imagination to also assume that before the 'job' for the hackers started employees of Gabriel visited each hacker and sneaked a booby trap into each computer.

What does slightly stretch the realms of possibility is the 'switch' to trigger the explosions was Ctrl+Alt+Delete which is obviously well used by high-end computer users who have been known to lock up their computers...


Anonymous hackers usually employ some sort of fail-safe to avoid falling their system into federal hands.

There could be many like wiping off complete disk in matter of minutes, or punching holes in it.

One of it is to destroy whole system which is depicted in Live Free Die Hard.


C-4 is featured briefly in Live Free or Die Hard, where it is used to kill everyone unwittingly implicated in the Fire Sale. The featured 'hackers' are assumed to have installed a fail-safe system, where they have installed C-4 in their computers in a last attempt to delete incriminating or sensitive data. The terrorists are aware of this and send a computer virus to their computer; when they hit the delete key to try and restore their systems, their house explodes.

  • It's wildly implausible to me that anyone would knowingly install enough C4 in their own every day use computer to kill themselves with. Dec 27, 2021 at 21:25
  • @coppereyecat: I would back you if this question was about realism. But it's about plot explanation, so in-universe reason is applicable.
    – Rahul
    Dec 28, 2021 at 14:08

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