Film / Blade Runner

"I've… seen things you people wouldn't believe...."
Roy Batty

Blade Runner is a genre-bending 1982 Science Fiction film starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos and Daryl Hannah, that borrows stylistic elements from Film Noir and Hardboiled Detective fiction. Set in a dystopian near-future City Noir version of Los Angeles, it established much of the tone and flavour of the Cyber Punk movement and the film style of Tech Noir. It is a highly intelligent film, visually stunning, meticulously detailed and features a seriously great script.

There have been varying cuts of the film released since its first theatrical release. A definitive version with director Ridley Scott's full involvement called The Final Cut was released in December 2007. The film was fully restored, received a 4K high-def digital transfer, and used CGI to correct a few sloppy special effects and fix continuity errors.

The film also inspired a 1985 Video Game for home computers, as well as a much-praised 1997 point-and-click adventure game developed by Westwood Studios.

Deckard is a Blade Runner. His job is to "retire" renegade Replicants — rogue androids that are not supposed to be on Earth. Some of the most advanced replicants yet have escaped, and Deckard is assigned to retire them. But they are so like normal humans that Deckard can't help but empathize with them, and he even falls for one.

Blade Runner was loosely based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, with Dick's approval. The title itself comes from the novel The Bladerunner by Alan E. Noursenote . Other than the title, the movie has nothing to do with The Bladerunner. It just sounded cool.

Not to disappoint anyone, but no one runs on blades in this movie.

A sequel, titled Blade Runner 2049, is due to release in 2017.

This film provides examples of:

  • 555: Blade Runner uses 7-digit phone numbers for their video phones - as shown when Deckard calls Rachel.
  • 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. Though Ridley Scott insists he intended his Deckard to be a replicant, all references explaining how and why an illegal artificial human would be on the LAPD payroll were removed for the film.
    • The Deckard of the novel's true nature isn't nearly as up for debate as in the film, however. He is explicitly stated to be human, having passed the Voight-Kampff test.
  • Advert-Overloaded Future: One of the film's most iconic images is the cityscape clogged with animated billboards and blimp advertisements.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Roy Batty at the end. One of the most memorable in movie history.
    • Zhora's is this as well, being particularly drawn-out and brutal.
  • 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. Notice also that Bryant never drinks: he pours two glasses while discussing the skin-jobs loose on the street, but never touches his glass, just watches while Deckard drinks his. Later, he tells him "Drink some for me, huh?". The implication is that he is an alcoholic in recovery and derives vicarious pleasure from watching others drink, but won't drink himself.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The Director's Cut and Final Cut end on this note.
  • Ambiguously Human: The Replicants. And Deckard himself as well.
  • And This Is For...: Followed by Roy Batty breaking Deckard's fingers.
  • 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. She also wears a translucent raincoat that hints at a snake shedding its skin.
    • Pris: Raccoons. She sprays 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 Workprint and later the Final Cut, Roy whispers to J.F. "Sorry, Sebastian..." before killing him. He also grimaces in the elevator 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".
    • And apparently drove Ridley Scott, the director, up a wall as he developed his language.
  • Anti-Hero: Deckard isn't the most likable of guys, and his job of executing the Ambiguously Human replicants is ambiguously moral.
  • Anti-Villain: Roy Batty. He's a violent murderer, but he's also 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: There are two sets that perfectly sum up the replicant condition:
    • "Time to die." Leon's version, "Wake up! Time to die!" especially so.
    • "To live in fear." Both Leon and Roy say some variant of this line when they have Deckard at their mercy as a sort of Who's Laughing Now?, with Roy especially making it clear how much fear defines their lives with the line, "Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave."
  • Artificial Human: The Tyrell Corporation's Human Replicants. Roy, Leon, Zhora, Pris, Rachael, and perhaps Deckard. Also Tyrell himself in a scrapped version of the script.
  • 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: You ever buy snakes from the Egyptian, Taffey?
    Taffey: All the time, pal.
    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.
  • Badass Longcoat: Deckard, Gaff, Leon and Roy Batty.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: Batty punches through a rotting wall during their final encounter.
  • Battle in the Rain / Redemption in the Rain: Between Roy Batty and Rick Deckard near the film's end.
  • Big Bad: Roy Batty.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Gaff's multilingual Cityspeak, which is a mishmash of various languages including Spanish, Japanese, German and Hungarian. "Lófasz! Nehogy már!" is one of the first things he says to Deckard and it 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 a 'baka' (or 'idiot' in Japanese).
    • The scrambled Chinese graffiti at the EyeWorks very cryptically says how American people suck and Chinese nationals should stick together.
    • The neon Japanese sign behind Deckard where we first meet him reading a newspaper translates to "origin".
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Deckard understands Gaff's dialect perfectly well, but he prefers English.
  • 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.
    • Another interpretation of the ending, when Deckard finds the origami unicorn, likely left by Gaff is that they may be constantly on the run from other Blade Runners who will be sent to retire Rachel, and that Gaff is giving Deckard and Rachel a head-start out of respect.
  • Blown Across the Room: Holden in the scene at the beginning of the film in which he interrogates Leon.
  • Body Motifs: Eyes are all over the place in this film. No doubt it has something to do with the eyes being the window to the soul.
    • The film opens with a close shot of an eye viewing the wasteland of future Los Angeles.
    • The Voight-Kampff machine reads the iris for contractions while the test is given to determine if someone is a Replicant. It features a big screen showing an extreme closeup of the subject's eye while it does it.
    • Tyrell has an artificial owl in his room, and there are several close-ups featuring its eyes glowing.
    • The various Replicant characters' eyes glow in the dark sometimes - much like the artificial owl.
    • Chew makes eyes, and has a giant neon eyeball for his shop's sign. Leon toys with several of his manufactured frozen eyes to not-so-subtly intimidate him.
    • Roy plays with what look like some glass paperweights with eyes in them in Sebastian's apartment.
    • Leon at one point seems about to gouge Deckard's eyes.
    • Tyrell wears large glasses whose lenses distort his eyes considerably. Roy gouges them as he kills Tyrell by crushing his head.
    • Roy's final monologue is about all the things he's seen and tears.
  • Boom, Headshot: How Leon meets his fate.
  • Bowties Are Cool: Gaff wears one and looks like a smooth pimp daddy doing it.
  • 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, but ambient feel set it apart from most science fiction films up to that point, and set a template for many to follow.
  • City Noir: A crowning example. Apathetic Citizens shuffle though a maze of overbearing black skyscrapers and Sinister Subways, there's a very limited color palette, a palpable air of decay and depression, an unbelievable crime rate, and giant slums.
  • Climbing Climax: Inverted. It is the protagonist that climbs onto the top of the building, and the antagonist that follows him. Deckard also climbs to the roof in hopes of evasion, not confrontation, because he knows he can't fight Roy Batty hand-to-hand.
  • Combat Parkour: The android Pris ambushes Deckard and does a rapid series of somersaults to move in close to him in the fight.
  • Cool Architecture: Sebastian's apartment complex interior is the Bradbury Building, a famous Los Angeles landmark used as the backdrop of many a noir production.
  • Crapsack World: One of the most influential dystopias in cinema.
  • 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.
  • Culture Chop Suey: The film can't decide if China or Japan Takes Over the World. The future has a mishmash of East Asian cultural stereotypes: Geishas in advertising, Chinese noodle stalls, Japanese and Chinese writing scattered about, broken Engrish, squadrons of bicycles ridden through squalid streets by people in big hats, etc.. Of course, both Japan and China having taken over the West Coast is entirely possible in the culturally-integrated world seen in the movie.
  • 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 personally saw the film himself and noted the strong similarity, which greatly shocked him. 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.
  • Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: Blade Runner is probably responsible for associating Cyber Punk settings with constantly rainy weather in popular imagination.
  • Da Chief: An inversion. Deckard does not appear to like or respect the police chief very much.
  • Darkened Building Shootout: The final encounter between Deckard and Batty involves gunplay in a darkened building (the Bradbury Building in LA).
  • Deadly Euphemism: "Retire" for kill.
  • 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?
  • Dictionary Opening: The film started with definitions of "Replicants", "Nexus/Nexus 6" and "Blade Runner".
    Early in the 21st Century, THE TYRELL CORPORATION advanced robot evolution into the NEXUS phase - a being virtually identical to a human - known as a Replicant.
    The NEXUS 6 Replicants were superior in strength and agility, and at least equal in intelligence, to the genetic engineers who created them.
    Replicants were used off-world as slave labor, in the hazardous exploration and colonization of other planets.
    After a bloody mutiny by a NEXUS 6 combat team in an Off-world colony, Replicants were declared illegal on Earth - under penalty of death.
    Special police squads - BLADE RUNNER UNITS - had orders to shoot to kill, upon detection, any trespassing Replicant.
  • 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.
    • Also for the Final Cut, Benjamin Ford (Harrison's son) was used (specifically, his lower jaw) to digitally fix some obvious dialog flaws in the scene when Deckard interrogates the man who sold Zhora her artificial snake, with Benjamin re-reading Harrison's lines and even having his father's trademark scar applied to his chin. note 
  • Disturbed Doves: On the roof of the Bradbury Building, where the final confrontation between Deckard and Roy takes place.
  • Do Androids Dream?: Ironically more than in the book.
  • Door Closes Ending: It ends like this, immediately after the main character has found out he may be a replicant too. note 
  • 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.")
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: J.F. Sebastian is killed offscreen. Mentioned in passing.
  • 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.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Roy's last words easily grant him access to cinema immortality.
  • 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.
  • Earth That Used to Be Better: Overcrowded, polluted and rainy. Humans on Earth are encouraged to emigrate to Off-world colonies.
  • 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.
    • The trope is also subverted to a certain extent in that the image that Deckard analyses is actually a physical photograph, seemingly shot with an analog camera. It's still very fine-grained, if not too much so – and yet the picture becomes visibly grainy once he zooms in on Zhora's face. It should be noted, however, that an image shot on high-quality film with a high-end camera can still be blown up to an almost ridiculous extent compared to a digital photograph (given that the subject of the photograph is perfectly in focus).
  • Enhanced on DVD: One of the few live-action productions to receive this treatment via the 2007 "Final Cut" edition. Which fixed the ending and several other effects shots and continuity errors.
  • Eye Open: The opening centers on the Blade Runner Dave Holden's eye viewing the neon skyline of 2019 Los Angeles.
  • Eye Scream: Tyrell's death. Leon also appears to be about to shove his fingers into Deckard's eyes at one point.
  • Face Death with Dignity: What Roy finally does in the end.
    Roy Batty: "All those moments will be lost in time... like tears... in rain. Time to die."
  • Failure Is the Only Option The replicants' quest for more life is doomed from the beginning, as they're made with a finite lifespan.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • Leon and Roy both say, "Time to die" as their last words. Each of their complete lines had elements of ad-libbing.
    • Roy'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 those… moments… will be lost in time, like [small cough] 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 Noir: The film is basically a Film Noir in a science fiction setting.
  • 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."
  • Feather Boa Constrictor: Zhora wears a replicant snake as a fashion accessory.
  • Final Speech: Delivered famously by Roy.
  • Five Stages of Grief:
    • Roy appears to go through them all.
      • 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 be 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?"
  • Flying Car: The police force's spinners.
  • 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.
  • Forceful Kiss: Deckard to Rachael.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Tyrell wears thick glasses and is responsible for exploiting the life he creates with forced servitude and short lifespans.
  • The Future Is Noir: Blade Runner practically invented a genre by mixing Film Noir aesthetics and Cyber Punk themes.
  • Futuristic Pyramid: The Tyrell Corporation Headquarters, though design-wise it looks more of a ziggurat than a pyramid.
  • 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.
  • Greater Scope Villain: The Tyrell Corporation is responsible for the creation of the replicants as well as the resulting social hierarchy between them and humans. However, it doesn't play as direct a role in the film as Big Bad Roy Batty, and its distance from the plot is even emphasized in a scrapped scene, when "Tyrell" is revealed to be a replicant of the real founder of the corporation, who entered cryogenic stasis many years before.
  • 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.
    Roy: Not very sporting to fire on an unarmed opponent. I thought you were supposed to be good. Aren't you the... "good" man?
  • 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.
  • Han Shot First: The only clunky and poorly-done change made for the Final Cut of the film is when Batty confronts Tyrell, where the line is changed from "I want more life... fucker." to "I want more life... father.".
  • 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.
  • Imposter-Exposing Test: The Voight-Kampff test, which is used to distinguish Replicants from humans.
  • Industrial Ghetto: The city as a whole.
  • Insistent Terminology: From the opening text crawl: "It Was Not Called Execution. It Was Called Retirement."
  • "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, as has the Video Phone.
  • I Will Show You X: Before Leon shoots Holden, the interrogator who asks him about his mother.
  • Irony: Humans are leaving the Earth in droves, animal life is going extinct, but Replicants all are desperately trying to get to Earth, where they might have a chance at a longer life.
    • On a meta level, it's somewhat ironic that the film known as the Genre Codifier for Cyber Punk barely features computers in it at all, though the plot is about androids.
  • 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 '80s 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.
  • Kick the Dog: J.F. Sebastian is killed offscreen by Roy after outliving his usefulness.
  • Kiss of Death: A symbolic example when Roy Batty kisses Eldon Tyrell just before killing him.
    Roy: I've done... questionable things.
    Tyrell: Also extraordinary things! Revel in your time.
    Roy: Nothing the god of Biomechanics wouldn't let you into heaven for.
  • Lack of Empathy: The distinguishing 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 apparent diversions from the original book, in which Replicants are stated to have no empathy whatsoever and are compared to humanity's own growing lack of empathy; however, given Irmgard Baty's reaction to Isidore's Freak Out over a dead spider amongst other events depicted in the book, this is commonly considered an example of Unreliable Narrator and Unreliable Expositor.
  • The Last Dance: Roy's stalking of Rick becomes one. "Four, five! How to stay alive!"... "Unless you're alive, you can't play, and if you can't play..." "I can see you!" "THAT'S THE SPIRIT!"
  • Last Name Basis: Generally, human characters are all referred to by their surnames, while the Replicants are all referred to by their given names.
  • Leave the Camera Running: Some shots go on for a very long time. Whilst there isn't much action, the film is dripping in atmosphere, and the pacing is very deliberate.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Rachael lets down her Power Hair that she wears for most of the film in Deckard's apartment, showing that she's a Defrosting Ice Queen.
  • 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 5 versions included in the two newest releases include: The 1982 Workprint, The US Theatrical Cut, The International theatrical cut, The 1992 Director's cut and the 2007 Final Cut. According to The Other Wiki there are two other versions that exist but aren't included in the current set (A TV broadcast version and a sneak preview version which uses deleted scenes).
  • 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.
  • Mandatory Unretirement: At the beginning of the movie, Deckard is no longer a Blade Runner, but is reluctantly recruited back. Or is he?
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Deckard sounds like Descartes, famous for "I think therefore I am." The theme of the film is whether machines can be sentient beings.
    • Roy Batty: "Roi" is French for "King." And he seems to be teetering on the edge of madness most of the time.
    • Rachael means "ewe" in Hebrew (that's right, a female sheep). It also means "pure": Rachael is much more innocent than Deckard (being the cynical, heavy-drinking ex-cop that he is), she doesn't drink like him, she seems to have no experience with men and she's even unaware she's a replicant. If neither of these meanings were intentional, they still work with her character quite well.
  • Mega Corp.: The Tyrell Corporation, whose massive pyramidal headquarters dominates the skyline of Los Angeles (not unlike the Ministry of Truth in Nineteen Eighty-Four).
  • 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 (and again) shows that he'd rather she just die quickly than in prolonged pain.
  • Multiple Endings: Various versions of the film end in different ways and each ending has multiple interpretations.
  • Murderous Thighs: Pris tries to use them on Deckard, but he ultimately survives and kills her.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Pretty much Deckard's natural reaction to every replicant he kills.
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: The term "skinjobs" is used to refer to Replicants.
    Deckard's narration: 'Skinjobs', that's what Bryant calls Replicants. In history books, he's the kind of cop used to call black men 'niggers'.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Deckard is prone to this. In every fight he gets into with any of the replicants, he takes one hell of a beating.
  • Nominal Hero: The Replicants are escaped slaves from deep space. 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.
  • Non-Indicative 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 title in his film for no other reason than that it sounds cool.
  • Noodle Incident: In the Director's Cut and The Final Cut, Deckard's reason for originally leaving the police is never stated.
    • In the voiceover, he explains he left because he was tired of killing.
  • Not So Different: Sebastian and the Replicants aren't so different, since he has a rare disease that gives him a limited lifespan.
    • They even invoke this:
    Roy: I hear we have something in common, Sebastian.
    Pris: Accelerated decrepitude.
    • Deckard and Roy have earned a certain amount of respect for one another at the end of the film: Roy saves Deckard's life instead of letting him fall to his death, and Deckard listens as Roy recounts some experiences from his short life and feels pity when he dies.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The final confrontation between Deckard and Roy.
  • "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
  • Orwellian Retcon: Originally, Scott, Ford, and the writers agreed that Deckard was human. When Scott made the Director's Cut in 1992, he had changed his mind, and he inserted a two-second-long clip of a unicorn to change Deckard's nature in the movie.
  • 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.
  • Power Hair: Rachael, at least until she lets down her hair...
  • 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 narration was an attempt at this, although it was removed in the later cuts.
  • 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).
  • The Promised Land: The Earth (or at least Los Angeles) has become a sprawling, overpopulated megalopolis suffering from pollution, urban decay, and corporate hegemony. As the zeppelins floating in the sky announce:
    "A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies! A chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!"
  • Punch Clock Hero: Ultimately subverted. Deckard may seem to be motivated by self-interest in the beginning, but he shows signs of empathy and remorse as the story progresses.
  • Questionable Consent: Deckard kisses Rachael and she gets up and says she has to go, visibly distressed. Then Deckard forcibly stops her from leaving, pins her to the wall and encourages her to say she wants him. She says she does, and she admitted to an attraction to him prior to that moment, but she's still a little traumatized by shooting a man and finding out she's a replicant, and doesn't trust her emotions. Additionally, considering Deckard's job, it's hard to say consent was freely given when he could have legally killed her if she turned him down.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: When Roy Batty and Leon intrude into Chew's laboratory, Chew yells at them in Chinese several times, and speaks a phrase of Chinese to them later. None of this is translated.
  • Redemption Equals Death:
    • 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 '80s, or maybe even any decade, can look on home video.
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: Deckard has to pay a fairly infuriating price for a 30-second vidphone call. In the Final Cut version, however, it's only $1.25.
  • 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. The Final Cut has the word "fucker" replaced by "father" in the the phrase "I want more life, fucker".
    • A scene storyboarded but not filmed has Batty killing Tyrell and realizing he too is a replicant, then discovering a anteroom with a coffin containing Tyrell's body, the real Tyrell having been dead for four years.
  • Sex for Services: Pris, being a former pleasure-bot definitely uses her attractiveness on Sebastian to convince him to get Roy past Tyrell's security so he can meet him. although Roy later kills both Tyrell and a crying, guilt-ridden Sebastian once the bargain is complete.
  • 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.
  • She-Fu: Zhora and Pris.
  • Shout-Out: When Deckard goes to visit Zhora, he puts on a nasal, almost Camp Gay accent as a disguise, similar to what Philip Marlowe does in both the book and movie versions of The Big Sleep.
  • 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."
  • Spiritual Successor: To the 1920s silent film Metropolis, in the minds of most critics.
  • Stock Footage:
    • 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 (1985), 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.
  • Tag Line: "Man has made his match... now it's his problem."
  • Take-That Kiss: Roy Batty kisses Tyrell on the mouth before gouging his eyes and crushing his skull.
  • Talking The Monster Down: Attempted by Tyrell. He fails.
  • Tanks For The Memories: Rachael is given a copy of the memories of Tyrell's niece.
  • Tannhäuser Gate: Roy Batty's famous death speech. Trope Namer.
  • Threesome Subtext: Seductively invoked by Roy and Pris to manipulate J.F. Sebastian into taking them to see Tyrell. However, Sebastian is obviously only interested in Pris and feels more jealous and intimidated than seduced by Roy's hypermasculine presence.
  • 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.
  • Tragic Villain: The Replicants.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: Sometimes visible in the mean streets where Deckard works.
  • 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.
  • Used Future: The future is noir, and very grimy and polluted as well, with trash blowing in the streets.
  • Video Phone: Deckard makes two calls on a vidphone, one in his car and a public one in Taffey Lewis' bar.
  • Villain's Dying Grace: Roy has Deckard in a literal cliffhanger but is dying himself. At the last moment, Roy saves Deckard's life, and is rewarded with an Obi-Wan Moment.
  • We Are as Mayflies: Inverted with the Replicants, who only live four years before they shut off.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After Roy interrogates Hannibal Chew (James Hong's character) we never see Hannibal again.
    • He is shown to have survived his encounter with Roy and Leon in the 1997 video game of the same name.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: A major theme in the film, in contrast to Dick's original book.
  • 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 (Called Methuselah Syndrome in the film), making him look over fifty years old at twenty-five. NEXUS-6 Replicants never live past four years, 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 '80s 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.

"It's too bad she won't live! But then again who does?"