After a series of small tremors in Los Angeles, Dr. Clare Winslow, a local seismologist, pinpoints the exact location and time of when the long awaited earthquake--"The Big One"--will strike southern California. With this information, she must battle city officials to release this information to the general public. Also, she hopes that her family is out of harms way when the quake strikes. Subplots show how other families and people cope with the the tremors that strike before the impending "Big One."
Wounded Civil War soldier John Dunbar tries to commit suicide -- and becomes a hero instead. As a reward, he's assigned to his dream post, a remote junction on the Western frontier, and soon makes unlikely friends with the local Sioux tribe.
John McClane is an off-duty cop gripped with a feeling of déjà vu when on a snowy Christmas Eve in the nation's capital, terrorists seize a major international airport, holding thousands of holiday travelers hostage.
Gothamites Sam and Molly see their romance shattered when a street thug kills Sam during a mugging. But love endures beyond the grave when a spectral Sam learns that Molly is in danger and he must find a way to warn her before she suffers his fate.
Hick handymen Val McKee and Earl Bassett can barely eke out a living in the Nevada hamlet of Perfection, so they decide to leave town -- despite an admonition from a shapely seismology coed who's picking up odd readings on her equipment.