Adaptation Induced Plot Hole: The book spends some time laying the foundation for a seemingly-human police officer actually being a secret android in 21st-century California. So if Ridley Scott did indeed intend Deckard to be a replicant while making the film, he shot himself in the foot by removing all the stuff explaining how and why an illegal artificial human would be on the LAPD payroll.
Advert Overloaded Future: One of the film's most iconic images is the cityscape clogged with animated billboards and blimp advertisements.
Roy Batty at the end. One of the most memorable in movie history.
Zhora's is this in spades as well.
The Alcoholic: It's much faster to count the scenes in which Deckard isn't drinking. And if you can still drink with a split lip, then you are an überholic. This goes right toward Deckard as a Film Noir detective.
Animal Motifs: Major characters are associated with a type of animal.
Roy: Wolves. He howls as he hunts Deckard in the climax.
Leon: Turtles. In his first scene, he's confused by what tortoises are. He's also as tough and stupid as you might expect a tortoise to be.
Zhora: Snakes. She dances with a python, has a tattoo of a cobra, and wears body makeup that vaguely suggests scales.
Pris: Raccoons. She spays a black mask across her eyes in the third act.
Tyrell: Owls. There's an owl in his office, and he wears thick glasses making him look like an owl.
Rachael: Spiders. One of her implanted memories is of a spider building a nest and her children eating her.
Sebastian: Mice. He's small and timid and lives in a metaphorical hole.
Deckard: Chicken, but actually unicorn.
Apologetic Attacker: In the Final Cut, Roy whispers to J.F. "I'm sorry, J.F." before killing him. He's also weeping after killing Tyrell.
As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Edward James Olmos' character Gaff speaks in a mixture of Spanish, French, Chinese, German, Hungarian, and Japanese. Olmos created a small dictionary of words for the so-called "City Speak".
Anti-Hero: Deckard isn't the most likeable of guys, and his job of executing the Ambiguously Human replicants is ambiguously moral.
Anti-Villain: Roy Batty. He's a violent murderer, but in some regards he's an escaped slave who just wants to live his life in peace. In the original ending, Deckard speculates that Roy spared his life for no other reason than Roy's love for life. Though the canonicity of the voice-over is heavily debatable as it's been removed in subsequent versions of the film, most notably the Directors Cut. Another suggestion is that Batty's real motivation for the rescue is the desire for his life to be remembered.
Arc Words: "Time to die." Leon's version, "Wake up! Time to die!" sums up the Replicant condition in five words.
Artificial Human: The Tyrell Corporation's Human Replicants. Roy, Leon, Zhora, Pris, Rachael, and perhaps Deckard.
Artistic License - Geography: The film's climax ostensibly takes place in and atop the Bradbury Building, but during the sequence where Deckard climbs up to the roof, he is obviously climbing up the side of one of the Rosslyn Hotel buildings several blocks away, as evidenced by the blue orbs on the roofline, as well as the increased height of the building itself (the Bradbury having only five floors in real life). Possibly justified in that most of the old buildings in Future L.A. seem to have been given major vertical extensions, and the fact that it is a very cool-looking roof line.
Audit Threat: Attempted by Deckard when trying to get information from strip club owner Taffey Lewis.
Deckard: Did you ever see this girl?
Taffey: Never seen her. Buzz off.
Deckard: Your licenses in order, pal?
Taffey: [unimpressed] Hey, Louie. The man is dry. Give him one on the house, okay? See ya.
Bilingual Bonus: Gaff's multilingual Cityspeak, which is a mishmash of various languages including Spanish, Japanese, German and Hungarian. Lófasz! Nehogy már! The first thing he says to Deckard translates to "Horse Dick! No way! You are the Blade... Blade Runner!" Becomes a Trilingual Bonus when you realize the name Philip is derived from the Latin for "lover of horses (philo = love, hippo = horse)". Thus, "Horse Dick" = a bizarre insult/term of endearment as well as a reference to Philip K. Dick. The author himself even inserted an Author Avatar named Horselover Fat into some of his works. The deleted scenes feature further bonuses as Gaff's refers to Bryant as 'baka' (or 'idiot' in Japanese).
Bittersweet Ending: The director's and final cut end with Deckard realizing that the four years expiration date does apply to Rachael, and he - possibly being a replicant himself - may end with the same fate as well. However, the film closes on a note of acceptance, as the quote on the bottom of this page suggests.
Chekhov's Gun: The little figurines Gaff creates and leaves lying around result in a realization at the end of the film.
Chess Motifs: The game of correspondence chess played by Sebastian and Tyrell (which Batty wins with his genius intellect). Notably, it's based on the famous "Immortal Game" of 1851, which ties into the film's themes of mortality and a quest for life. This was actually unintended.
Chiaroscuro: The film's dark, gritty feel set it apart from most science fiction films up to that point, and set a template for many to follow.
Crippling the Competition: Roy Batty breaks two of Deckard's fingers to hamper his ability to use his gun and as revenge for killing Zhora and Pris. Interestingly, he does not break his trigger finger. Deckard still has to start using his other hand instead.
Cyber Punk: Mostly an Unbuilt Trope, the film is essentially a Film Noir set in a future dystopia, which is very common in Cyber Punk stories. It has been a major influence on Cyber Punk and science-fiction settings in general for decades. Ironically, William Gibson was in the process of writing his seminal Cyber Punk novel Neuromancer when he saw the film and noted the strong similarity. He was afraid he'd be accused of ripping the film off.
Cyberpunk Is Techno: Vangelis' soundtrack makes heavy use of synthesizers and other electronic elements. The most notable exception is the "love theme" between Deckard and Rachael, which is played on the saxophone and has a much heavier Film Noir feel.
Defective Detective: Deckard. Not only is he plagued with self-loathing and doubt, he becomes increasingly unsure that his role as Blade Runner is ethical, and eventually becomes a fugitive with Rachael.
Designated Hero: invoked Invoked by Roy, questioning Rick's heroics during their cat-and-mouse game.
Roy:(sarcastically) You are the "good" man, aren't you?
Digital Head Swap: The original version had a shot during Zhora's death where it was obvious that a stunt double was standing in for the actress. For the 2007 Final Cut, actress Joanna Cassidy's face was digitally superimposed over that of the stunt double.
Disturbed Doves: In the Bradbury Building, where the final confrontation takes place.
Door Closes Ending: It ends like this, immediately after the main character has found out he may be a replicant too.
Dramatic Thunder: During Roy Batty's death speech, echoing his earlier line about thunder: "Fiery the angels fell; deep thunder rolled around their shores, burning with the fires of Orc." (This is a deliberate misquote of William Blake's poem America: A Prophecy: "Fiery the angels rose, and as they rose deep thunder roll'd / Around their shores, indignant burning with the fires of Orc.")
Dull Surprise: The narration in the theatrical cut seems to be trying for "Private Eye Monologue" and falling into "Bored Out of My Mind" instead. There was a long-standing urban legend that Harrison Ford disliked the idea of the narration and tried to sabotage it by deliberately botching his line delivery, but the narration got used anyway. Ford denies that he did it deliberately, saying he did his best with what he was given.
Dumb Muscle: Leon is built for manual labor. During the briefing sequence, he's even given stats: Physical A, Mental C, making him the dumbest of the replicants. He displays Super Strength on a few occasions. The script also called for him to do a Ceiling Cling, but it was left out.
Earn Your Happy Ending : In the theatrical cut, Deckard's voiceover informs that the four-year expiration date did not apply to Rachael, and the final shot is just the opposite of the dark and oppressive mood of the whole movie; a bucolic and sunny place crossed by a road that implies they reach a Happily Ever After.
Enhance Button: One of the most-often referenced examples. Possibly the Trope Maker, almost certainly the Trope Codifier. Though ironically there is no actual button, as the machine is voice activated.
Leon and Roy both say, "Time to die" as their last words. Each of their complete lines had elements of ad-libbing.
Roy Batty's final words are now iconic. And featuring some incredible ad-libbing by Rutger Hauer.
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams... glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All these moments will be lost in time ... like tears ... in rain. Time to die."
Leon's "Wake up! Time to die!" was ad-libbed by Brion James.
Fantastic Aesop: The movie seems to be trying to use the replicants to make a point about human understanding and identity which relies heavily on the replicants having a short 'hard-coded' lifespan.
Fantastic Racism: The sexually-charged racial-slur "skin-job" says a lot about how a person who uses it thinks of replicants, as lampshaded in the narration of the theatrical version: "'Skin job.' That's what he calls them. Historically he's the kind of cop who calls black men niggers."
Fauxlosophic Narration: The narration in the theatrical cut is kind of dreadful, and veers straight into this at the end of the film.
Denial: Escaping in the hopes of getting more life.
Anger: "Fiery the angels fell; deep thunder rolled around their shores; burning with the fires of Orc!"
Bargaining: His attempt to extract a longer life span from his own creator.
Depression: When he realises it's already too late for his comrades and howls with grief over Pris's body.
Acceptance: His famous dying speech expresses only regret that the things he knows will become lost forever.
Rachael goes through a similar process, only we also get to see her early Denial stage, which we can assume happened to Roy and the others off-screen before the start of the story.
Flipping Helpless: In the Voight-Kampff test that Holden gives to Leon, one of the questions involves a flipped tortoise.
Holden: "You're in a desert walking along in the sand when all of a sudden you look down and you see a tortoise. It's crawling towards you. You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs, trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that?"
Focus Group Ending: The original theatrical release featured Deckard and Rachael driving a car to happiness and freedom through lush green hills. This ending is a jarring non sequitur: implausible and theme-negating in a dystopian future-noir film. It's the direct product of a test audience screening. Oddly, the sequence is unused footage from the start of The Shining.
Gaia's Lament: Earth is an ecological disaster, with an irradiated atmosphere, and very little natural life left.
Gainax Ending: In the Director's Cut. Although there's a general (and movie-changing) implication, the details are unclear, at best. What was up with that unicorn?
Glamour Failure: Can be forced by using the Voight-Kampff test to detect them, which monitors answers and subtle physical response to emotional questions. Otherwise replicants are identical to humans. On occasion their pupils can be seen to reflect light slightly, but according to Word of God, this is for the audience, and characters can't see it).
Gorn: Tyrell's death, in the International and Final cuts.
Grey and Gray Morality: The story is rife with this. Deckard is kind of a stoic dick, while the replicants are violent but also much more emotional. Roy Batty lampshades Deckard's proclivity for shooting unarmed people in the back.
Hand Cannon: Deckard's handgun seems to fire explosive shells. It certainly makes pretty big holes in walls during his fight with Roy in the hotel. Its components include a bolt-action .222 rifle and a Charter Arms Bulldog revolver. So it's basically a single shot rifle in the shape of a pistol.
Haunted House: The Bradbury Building is an extremely uninviting place at the best of times. When Roy Batty is somewhere inside howling like a wolf is very very far from the best of times.
Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Pris, who is a "basic pleasure model" and uses her skills to win over JF. However, it's a ruse to gain access to Tyrell.
Impaled Palm: Batty uses a nail driven into his own hand to stave off death for a few minutes. It's extremely visible as he saves Deckard's life.
"It" Is Dehumanizing: Deckard performs the replicant-detector Voight-Kampf test on Rachel, who it confirms is one of them, which she doesn't know. After she leaves the room, Deckard turns to Tyrell, her boss and creator.
Deckard: I don't get it, Tyrell. How can it not know what it is?
I Want My Jetpack: Flying cars and lifelike robot slaves in 2019. The giant animated billboards, however, have become a reality.
I Will Show You X: Before Leon shoots Holden, the interrogator who asks him about his mother.
Japan Takes Over the World: Remembered as one of the classic examples, even though the "Asian" culture in the movie wasn't strictly just Japanese. The building-size geisha advertisement, however, is a classic example of the trope and was more or less the image of how people in The Eighties expected things to go down.
Job Title: A reversal; Ridley Scott co-opted the term 'Blade Runner' from another source for its coolness and got the copyright to use it as the movie's title — the guy was just called a bounty hunter in the novel.
Kiss of Death: A symbolic example when Roy Batty kisses Eldon Tyrell just before killing him.
Lack of Empathy: The distguishing feature of Replicants. The Voight-Kampf test involves asking the subject pointed questions and gauging their emotional response. Ultimately, however, it's revealed that Replicants really do learn to empathize. Tyrell suggests that the reason for their limited lifespan is because if they lived too long they'd be indistinguishable from human beings. This is one of the biggest diversions from the original book, in which Replicants have no empathy whatsoever and are compared to humanity's own growing lack of empathy.
Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Blade Runner has been re-released many times. There's a Director's Cut, a Special Edition, a "Five-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition" (that comes in the same kind of metal briefcase as the Voight-Kampff machines), and a 3-Disc 30th Anniversary Edition.note The Ultimate Collector's Edition has the most discs because the DVD divided the bonus features among three DVDs, and the Blu-Ray spread the extra content over two DVDs and one Blu-Ray Disc. The 30th Anniversary Edition puts the extras on one Blu-Ray Disc. The 5 versions included in the two newest releases include: The 1982 workprint, US Theatrical Cut, International theatrical cut, the 1992 directors cut and the 2007 directors cut. According to The Other Wiki there are two other versions that exist but aren't included in the current set.
Man Child: While the Replicants are adults both physically and mentally, they're still very childlike in their emotions, be it Pris's very whimsical behavior or Roy basically having a temper tantrum when meeting Tyrell and killing his father.
Deckard sounds like Descartes, famous for "I think therefore I am."
Roy Batty: He seems to be teetering on the edge of madness most of the time.
Mega Corp.: The Tyrell Corporation, whose massive pyramidal headquarters dominates the skyline of Los Angeles (not unlike the Ministry of Truth in 1984).
Men Can't Keep House: Deckard's apartment has stuff littering every surface. When Rachael visits, he has to clear stuff out of a chair so that he can sit down. She remains standing. Deckard offers Rachael a drink, and has to clean a glass from the sink because there are no clean glasses available.
Mercy Kill: Deckard means to kill Pris anyway, but after shooting her the first time, she is sent into painful and violent spasms. The look on Deckard's face and his haste in firing at her again shows that he'd rather she just die quickly than in prolonged pain.
Nominal Hero: The replicants are escaped slaves. The Blade Runners are bounty hunters who get money for gunning them down. A Blade Runner protagonist makes for an uneasy moral setting at best.
Nonindicative Name: There is nary a blade to be found in this movie. The term "blade runner" comes from The Blade Runner, a completely unrelated dystopian novel in which the term refers to someone who sells black-market medical supplies, including scalpels or 'blades'. Ridley Scott bought the rights to the novel so that he could use the term in his film for no other reason than that it sounds cool.
"Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Comes up in discussions about the questionable nature of Deckard and Rachael's "love scene." Some argue that it is supposed to be for her own good because she needed to learn how to feel.
One Last Job: Retiring the escaped group of replicants, for Deckard
Pipe Pain: Deckard does this to Batty at one point during their final confrontation.
Pop-Cultural Osmosis: Blade Runner was highly influential on Cyber Punk and Post Cyber Punk fiction. It is such a poster child for popcultural osmosis that the imagery in the film is sometimes familiar to people who've never even seen it. William Gibson noted his delight in the fact a science fiction film was influencing the look of the very future it predicted.
Precision F-Strike: "I want more life... fucker!" There are cuts, including the Final Cut, where Roy says "father" instead. It is extremely interesting to see how a single word can completely change the mood of the scene.
Pretty in Mink: Rachael wears a few, indicative of her pampered status.
Private Eye Monologue: The infamous narration was an attempt at this, although it was removed in the Director's Cut.
Product Placement: Heavily present throughout the film. Interestingly, many of the companies with prominent logos would suffer disastrous losses in the next decade (see the Harsher in Hindsight entry in YMMV).
Roy Batty rescues and spares Deckard's life just before his death.
Deckard himself: if he is a replicant, he will die very soon "paying" for the replicants he killed in the name of the state.
Remaster: Sourced from a 4K restoration of the original negative, the Final Cut DVD and Blu-Ray formed a benchmark for how great movies of The Eighties, or maybe even any decade, can look on home video.
Ridiculously Human Robots: The Replicants are almost perfect in resemblance to regular humans, to the point where only a psychological test can detect them. Rachael takes this trope even further: she's a Replicant who thinks she is human. When Deckard tests the machine on Rachael, it takes over one hundred questions for him to determine she is a Replicant (it takes only twenty or thirty, normally). And that's not even getting into the idea that Deckard may be a Replicant.
Robosexual: Kind of, sort of, maybe. Especially depends on if you take Ridley Scott at his word. Is it robosexual if two ridulously humanlike "robots" do it?
Rule of Cool: There's no meaning behind the term "blade runner," used to refer to bounty hunters. The filmmakers just thought it sounded cool. (It makes more sense in the original context of Alan E. Nourse's novel The Bladerunner, where they were renegade doctors smuggling surgical equipment.)
Save the Villain: A reversal of this trope. Or not, depending on how you view Deckard and Batty.
Scenery Porn: Throughout the film, especially during the extended aerial shots without dialog.
Self-Made Orphan: Roy kills his creator after he's not granted an extended life span. Some versions had the word "fucker" replaced by "father" in the the phrase "I want more life, fucker".
Sexophone: The love theme played during Deckard and Rachael's scene together in his apartment, featuring Dick Morissey on sax.
Shameless Fanservice Girl: Zhora, possibly because she's also an Empathy-less Fanservice Android. Joanna Cassidy's costume consisted basically of a few sequins.
Shown Their Work: A serendipitous example: When Batty and Tyrell are arguing about how to prolong a Replicant's lifespan, Batty mentions something called "EMS". Tyrell says they already tried "Ethyl methanesulfonate" unsuccessfully. Ethyl methanesulfonate is an actual organic compound with mutagenic qualities, used in genetics.
Signature Item Clue: Officer Gaff likes to create little origami figurines and leave them behind. At the end of the movie, Deckard finds a unicorn left by Gaff outside his apartment (in which Rachel was hiding). This showed that Gaff had been there and didn't capture or kill Rachel or notify the other police of her presence the way he should have. This, combined with Deckard's dream of a unicorn inserted into the extended cut, is intended to indicate that Gaff knows Deckard is a replicant with implanted memories. For more interpretations of the origami unicorn, see the WMG page.
Slap-Slap-Kiss: Rachael and Deckard don't actually hit each other, but Deckard is very rough and dominating with her before they fall into each others' arms.
Smart People Play Chess: Tyrell and Sebastian regularly play chess. The replicant Roy Batty tricks his way into Tyrell's presence by demonstrating his chess skills.
Smug Snake: Gaff. So very much. Possibly Holden, too.
Snakes Are Sexy: "Ladies and gentlemen... Taffey Lewis presents... Miss Salome and the snake. Watch her take the pleasures from the serpent... that once corrupted man."
Not quite "stock", but reused. At one point, a computer displays a clip from Alien, and more noticeably, the original theatrical ending was actually one of the alternate opening credits sequences for The Shining.
The shot of Roy's face when he first appears in the phonebooth is taken from later on in the film, when Roy sits on Tyrell's bed next to Tyrell. In every version but the Final Cut you can still see Tyrell's thumb on Roy's shoulder in the earlier scene. The shot of Roy's hand as it seizes up is also recycled.
Averted in one case. Many people think that the Unicorn scene is actually taken from Legend, because that was Ridley Scott's next film, it featured Unicorns as a key part of its plot and the Unicorn scene wasn't seen by general audiences until the Director's Cut in 1992. However the Unicorn actually isn't recycled footage. It was shot for Blade Runner and was in fact one of, if not the, last things to be shot for the film.
Super Strength: Nexus-6 Replicants are built to be far more durable and stronger than human beings, at the cost of a reduced lifespan. In the climax, Roy Batty lifts up Deckard's entire body weight using only one hand to save Deckard's life.
Surprise Checkmate: J.F. Sebastian calls Dr. Eldon Tyrell a genius and says he's only beaten him once, but Tyrell is totally surprised by Roy Batty's checkmate move.
Take-That Kiss: Roy Batty kisses Tyrell on the mouth before gouging his eyes and crushing his skull.
Too Dumb to Live: Tyrell. When your angry, vengeful creation is confronting you and demanding you perform a medical procedure on him, the correct answer is not to explain why that procedure would be fatal, it's to perform it anyway. His idolization of Roy as his ultimate creation may have been stronger than his self-preservation. A deleted/unused scene had Batty discover that "Tyrell" was actually a replicant clone of the original Tyrell.
Turned Against Their Masters: The replicants, angry over their servitude and intentionally limited lifespan. A lifespan that was limited in order to curb the development of rebellious anger, even.
Übermensch: Roy Batty was intentionally created to be one, with a genius-level intellect. Philip K. Dick himself said Rutger Hauer was "the perfect Batty - cold, Aryan, flawless." Batty naturally becomes the leader of the escaped replicants.
Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain: The final showdown. Compare the grimy, grizzled, blood-smeared form of Deckard to the nearly naked, nearly flawless body of Roy Batty.
Window Pain: Zhora's retirement; she's repeatedly shot by Deckard and crashes through several store windows while trying to flee from him.
Younger Than They Look: Sebastian has an aging disease, making him look over fifty when he's in fact in his twenties. Replicants never live past four, by design.
Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: After Deckard kills Zhora, Bryant tells Gaff that he could learn a thing or two from Deckard and refers to him as a "God-damned one-man slaughterhouse" with a huge grin on his face. Deckard's expression at this point is one of utter disgust, though it's not quite clear if it's disgust at Bryant for his praise, disgust at Bryant for being Bryant (Deckard has shown contempt for the man in the theatrical cut), or disgust at himself because he knows Bryant is right.
Zeerust: Can be partially overlooked as Used Future, but every Flying Car looks an awful lot like cars from The Eighties with jet-like parts added. People use car phones rather than cellphones. The rather boxy and overly clicky photo analyzer is similarly dated — but on the other hand, the absolutely insane resolution of the photo itself is still something that modern photographers would kill for.
Zeppelins from Another World: Despite being set in 2019, the Los Angeles of the future appears to be infested with zeppelins, most of which wind their way through the labyrinthine skyscrapers advertising travel to the Off-World Colonies and various Chinese/Japanese products.