For characters involved in the 2014 version, see here.
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Alex J. Murphy/RoboCop
Once a police officer named Alex Murphy, he became the eponymous cyborg police officer after being shot to death by Clarence Boddicker and his gang during his first day at the job on Detroit's Metro West precinct.Played by Peter Weller (1 and 2), Robert John Burke (3)
Amnesiac Hero: He loses all his memories of his life as Murphy after he's reborn as RoboCop, but he regains some of them thanks to Lewis going against orders to remind him of his true identity.
An Arm and a Leg: His right hand and an entire arm are blown off when he's killed. The rest are taken off when he's turned into RoboCop—one doctor says they could save his arm, before being told that all the limbs have to go.
When Clarence blows his hand off, he just looks at it, stunned. Then it gets worse after he wakes up and comes to realize practically his entire body has been replaced with mechanical parts. Not only that, but he has to lie on the operating table, unable to move, while the team of scientists working on him casually discuss, for example, whether to remove his arm or not.
His rebuilt form as Robocop; they basically discarded everything except his brain (and certain vital organs, in 2014 remake), and jammed it all into a mechanical body. And then they peeled off his human face and grafted onto a cybernetic skull, to try and lessen the Uncanny Valley effect. This is really brought home in the scene where he takes off his helmet by removing the screws from his temples and then gazes sadly at what's left of himself in the mirror.
Brain/Computer Interface: His neural spike allows him to jack into computers and download or upload information directly from his memory. Also, it seems his targeting system is interfaced with his brain rather than being part of his visor, since he can still use it when he takes his helmet off.
Broken Faceplate: During his confrontation with ED-209, there's a dramatic closeup of his cracked visor and a single eye can be seen for the first time.
Chrome Champion: Has this appearance, since he's covered in gleaming metal armour.
Clingy Costume / 24-Hour Armor: His body after being resurrected as Robocop. Justified since he has no limbs and machinery integrated into most of his torso — what is technically armor is, in all practical purposes, his skin.
Cool Helmet: Rather than simply graft armor to his skull, OCP supplied him with a nifty-looking helmet. It's mostly for show though, as later in the film we see he doesn't need his helmet to use his heads-up display.
Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: Robo has a few OCP logos on him, along with an OCP-001 serial number. Plus, whenever he gets smashed up it's OCP's money that pays for the rebuild (or not).
Cowboy Cop: His human side allows him to be one in regards to making decisions.
Crucified Hero Shot: Although his arms aren't held out to the side, his execution plays out very much like the crucifixion of Jesus in the Bible: he's mocked, tortured, and finally, brutally killed and left for dead. (See Messianic Archetype.)
Cyborg: Well, duh. He's a rare example of a high-conversion model; apart from his face — which is explicitly skin that was peeled off and placed on a cybernetic skull — and certain organs (mostly the brain), all of him his machine.
Deadpan Snarker: Notably when he is usually damaged in someway or has done some damage.
For example, reading the Miranda Warning to Clarence Boddicker while casually tossing him around and through a pane of glass.
At the end of RoboCop 2 when Lewis complains that OCP is going to get away with unleashing a killer cyborg on the city he puts a ratchet to his head, starts tightening and says "We're only human."
Double Consciousness: After being cyberized, he struggles with having both a robotic side that's programmed to mindlessly obey OCP's orders, and his re-emergent human side. His human side wins in the end.
The Fettered: His prime directives give him a strict moral code which he cannot break.
Good Is Not Soft: Programmed to uphold the law, and dedicated to serving that even on his human side. This does not stop him from doling out violent retribution, or simply killing criminals on-sight for refusing to surrender.
The Hero Dies: Subverted. He dies during a failed arrest of Boddicker's gang, but he's resurrected as a much tougher hero cop.
Hero with Bad Publicity: After Dick Jones decides to have him killed because He Knows Too Much, and sends the entire Detroit police force to gun him down in the parking garage of OCP headquarters. Despite his heavy armour, he barely escapes with his life.
Heroic Build: His armor gives him an exaggerated masculine form, with a broad chest and huge arms.
"It" Is Dehumanizing: OCP and the other police sometimes refer to him as "it", as if he were actually a robot (he's not; he's a cyborg, you idiot!) instead of a person. Lewis is the only other character who still calls him by his real name. And then defied at the end of the movie when the Old Man, grateful that Robo has just saved his life, asks him what his name is and he proudly replies, "Murphy".
Job-Stealing Robot: When he shows off at the firing range, one of the police officers wonders aloud if he's going to replace them all. Eventually subverted in that they eventually come to see Murphy as a comrade, enough to be horrified and outraged when they are ordered by Dick Jones to open fire on him.
Just a Machine: OCP usually refers to him as nothing more than a creation of theirs.
Bob Morton: Let me make something clear to you. He doesn't have a name. He has a program. He's product.
Messianic Archetype: Believe it or not. Paul Verhoeven said he wanted to make a film about an "American Jesus" and there are multiple allusions to this, like Murphy being mocked and tortured before he's killed (and the Impaled Palm scene), his dying and being resurrected, and a scene where it looks like he's walking on water. He even get pierced in his side with a spear.
Mighty Glacier: He may be slow, but he can take a lot of punishment before his armor is even dented.
Never Hurt an Innocent: It's one of his prime directives. Exploited by Hob in the second film, who notes that Robo won't shoot a child even if the child is armed and shooting back.
Nice Guy: At least Alex Murphy was; as a human he's seen as a sweet-tempered Boy Next Door who never swore once before he was killed.
Noisy Robots: He has heavy, thudding footsteps and makes a lot of mechanical whirring sounds as he moves around. This helps create the illusion that he's a real cyborg and not just a guy in a suit.
After first reawakening as RoboCop, he retains no traces of his personality as Murphy and behaves like, well, a robot who's been programmed to enforce the law. Over time, he regains it.
After being heavily modified by OCP in 2 to the point where's a walking mental mess due to all the many and contradictory directives programmed into his system.
One-Man Army: Robocop was designed to be this in order to counteract with the extremely violent and drastically numerically superior criminals of Detroit/Delta City. Super Strength, computer-assisted targeting, Nigh Invulnerable armor-plating and attachable weapons all allow him to take on large groups of average criminals and kill them without hesitation.
Quest for Identity: The entire point of the film is his struggle to find out who he is and what happened to him, and to bring those responsible to justice. At the ending of the film, he proudly states that his name isn't RoboCop, but Murphy.
Real Men Love Jesus: In Robocop 2, it was stated by OCP's evil scientists that the only reason Murphy didn't snap and kill himself like the Robocop 2 candidates did is because he is a devout Irish Catholic, to whom suicide is a damnable sin.
Restraining Bolt: The fourth directive, which is classified. It prevents him from acting against a senior member of OCP's board of directors. The third film also adds one that prevents him from acting against Rehab personnel (but not their equipment). Predictably, Robo gets around both.
Robo Cam: His field of vision is a Heads-Up Display that shows all kinds of pertinent information about his surroundings, including crimes in progress, potential targets and when he is in "arrest mode". His directives also come up from time to time to remind him how to act in a given situation.
Sense Loss Sadness: Once he's cognizant enough of his human origins to remember that he used to have them.
Strapped to an Operating Table: While OCP is reconstructing him, he can do nothing but lie there hearing them casually discuss, for example, whether they ought to remove his arm or not.
"It's 400 foot pounds. He could crush every bone in your hand."
Super Toughness: Even if you can penetrate his Nigh Invulnerable armored skin in the first place, what's underneath is mostly machine; very few vulnerable spots to damage, and little in the way of actual pain. Robocop can tank just about anything and survive, if requiring repairs afterwards.
Tomato in the Mirror: When Emil reveals to him that he used to be a cop who was killed. He uses this information and the name Lewis gave him to piece together what happened to him, and realizes he is the resurrected Alex Murphy.
Trauma-Induced Amnesia: It's likely it was caused by the coup de grāce delivered by Boddicker: a shot to the frontal cranium. It could also be due to OCP meddling with his brain though; it's unclear what exactly is meant when Bob Morton says "we're gonna blank his memory anyway".
Unorthodox Holstering: The move where he spins his gun around on his fingers and tucks it into the holster built into his leg.
Unwilling Roboticization: He didn't have a choice in being resurrected, since OCP legally owned his body. In fact, it's implied they put him in harm's way (reassigning him to the most violent precinct in the city) because they thought he would be a good candidate for their program.
We Can Rebuild Him: Thanks to being made into a Cyborg, any physical damage he sustains sans the head can be repaired.
Two First Names: Her last name is usually used as a guy's name. Same applies to her actress.
You Are Too Late: After being knocked out, she arrives right after Murphy has been shot up and is dying.
Sergeant John/Warren Reed
Played by Robert Doqui
Badass In Charge: In RoboCop 3, the man proved it when OCP threatened to take away his pension if he didn't move people out of their homes.
Continuity Snarl: The subject of his first name. In the scene when Morton, Johnson, and co. and taking RoboCop to Metro West in the original movie, Morton askes who Reed is, to which Johnson replies "Sgt. John Reed", but in the second, following Faxx's tampering of RoboCop, Murphy calls Reed "Warren".
Da Chief: He is in-charge of the Detroit Police Department.
Equal-Opportunity Evil: He has African-American Joe Cox, Asian-American Steve Minh and Emil Antonowsky, who may have some Russian ancestry, on his gang.
Even Evil Has Standards: Clarence may rape women (it's listed as one of his crimes if you look carefully at his computerized rap-sheet) but even he draws the line at actually killing them, as shown by him coldly ordering "Bitches, leave." to the prostitutes at Bob Morton's apartment, in spite of the fact they are technically witnesses to the murder he commits moments later.
Evil Gloating: "Are you a good cop, hotshot? You gotta be some kind of great cop, coming in here all by yourself!"
Evil Is Hammy: As opposed to Alex and the other good guys, he is quite loud.
Evil Old Folks: Not as much as The Old Man, but enough so that Rob Morton saw his advanced years as a sign of weakness... A fatal mistake.
Evil Is Hammy: "It's best if you think of it as a game... I'm cashing you out, Bob!"
Genre Savvy: He's smart enough to recognize the danger Robo could present to him and creates Directive 4 as an insurance policy. He's also aware that Robo records everything he sees, and thus anything you tell him becomes ironclad legal evidence once he plays it back. He pulls a Just Between You and Me on Robo, assuming he'll be destroyed shortly afterwards, and when he isn't he sends Boddicker after him to finish the job.
He tells Bob after hearing Bob insult him and the Old Man that he's made jabs at his bosses too, but he always respected them. In the final scene when he's outed as the Big Bad, he takes the Old Man hostage.
He chews out Boddicker for implicating him in Boddicker's actions because Robo records everything he sees, and those recordings could be used as a evidence in a trial. Come the final scene, Robo reveals Dick's true colors to OCP by playing his recording of Dick's Just Between You and Me.
An executive at OCP that always manages to stick around no matter what happens.
Mauve Shirt: Johnson went through three movies and the closest he ever came to danger was Cain's rampage at the end of 2. He was also promoted several times.
Only Sane Man: While no less amoral than his superiors, he is a lot more level-headed. In 2, he rightly points out how stupid it is to let Dr. Faxx put the mind of a criminal in their new law enforcement death bot, but is forced to go along with it. Later, after the predictable occurs, he convinces the Old Man to paint her as the sole cause of the rampage and is entirely reasonable to do so.
Villainous Breakdown: A minor one. When the Detroit cops all resign rather than help the Rehab officers in 3, he starts ranting about how they're jeopardizing their retirement benefits, clearly annoyed that people would act on principle rather than out of self-interest.
The Old Man
Head of OCP in the first two movies.Played by Daniel O'Herlihy
Benevolent Boss: He genuinely wants to use OCP's power and influence to better the city of Detroit, even if nobody else at his company cares about it, and is the only member of the company who shows any kind of conscience.
Characterization Marches On: In the first movie he shows no serious moral failings, refusing to sell a half-finished, potentially dangerous product and being appalled by his underling's criminal dealings. He's still a Corrupt Corporate Exective, however. He's not at all bothered by poor Kinney's death, he's more concerned that this malfunction will set them back millions in interest payments and the PR nightmare it will be; he's just not overtly evil, unlike Dick. In the sequel, he has seen numerous attempts to recreate RoboCop fail horribly. Yet he utterly ignores all warnings, safety inspections or psych profile of the murder machine he has paid money for before rolling it out to a crowded, televised press conference. Also bringing a can of real street drugs with him, what the hell?
Reasonable Authority Figure: The Old Man in the first movie is just about the only OCP bigwig with any sort of moral standard, especially if compared to young upstarts. In the sequels, he inexplicably becomes a typical corporate douchebag.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: He honestly believes his plans for Detroit are for the good of the city as well as his corporation, even if they involve using giant police robots to wipe out crime before rebuilding it.
A young up-and-coming executive at the helm of the 'RoboCop' project.Played by Miguel Ferrer
Anti-Villain: He's not really evil, just overly ambitious and somewhat egotistic. His death scene makes him look more pathetic than anything as he begs for his life while Boddicker shoots him and leaves him to die.
Evil Is Hammy: Like all OCP executives, he did not get where he is by being nice about it.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While he is a bit more on the Jerk Ass side of things and is still looking out for number one, he doesn't cut corners with RoboCop like Jones did with the ED-209 series. Robo is every bit the badass he is intended to be, and during the unveiling Morton makes sure he knows it.
Morton: You are gonna be a bad mother fucker!
Lack of Empathy: (After a young intern gets blown to pieces) "Hey, it's life in the big city."
Awesome, but Impractical: His design is just straight-up awesome looking, but as a rushed-out product, his numerous design flaws give him essentially zero practical applications. Except, oddly enough, as a children's toy in Real Life.
Take That: ED-209's design was partially meant as a jab at then contemporary American car design. Designer Craig Davies claimed he envisioned futuristic designers making the robot look good in order to make it marketable before they made it work well, "just like an American car." This led to stuff like the over-designed hydraulics system and the vulnerable radiator grill at the front.
Deader than Dead: Let's see...getting his life support taken off, his brain used to control RoboCop 2, then having said brain ripped out and smashed to pieces by RoboCop. That's about as dead as you get!
Infant Immortality: Played straight as RoboCop can't bring himself to shoot Hob, allowing Hob to shoot him in the head and escape. Subverted, as Lewis has no problem beating him up when he tries to strangle her. Dangerously averted when RoboCop 2 enters the picture.