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Film / Blade Runner

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

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 on an Off-world colony, Replicants were declared illegal on earth — under penalty of death.
Special police squads — Blade Runner Units — had orders to shoot and kill, upon detection, any passing Replicant.

This was not called execution.
It was called retirement.

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, the film revolves around a former Blade Runner known as Rick Deckard (Ford). 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 given One Last Job to retire them, which he reluctantly accepts. However, his task gets complicated due to the fact that replicants are so like normal humans that Deckard can't help but let his emotions get in the way, by means of empathy and — in the case of the Replicant girl Rachael (Young) — even love.

While it actually underperformed and polarized critics upon release, mainly due to its slow, action-sparse presentation, Blade Runner is pretty much universally praised as a sci-fi classic today for a plethora of aspects, from its visuals and script to its then-groundbreaking soundtrack by Vangelis and the special effects by Douglas Trumbull that still hold up well. It also established much of the tone and flavour of the Cyberpunk movement as well as the film style of Tech Noir.

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.

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. Nourse.note  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, came out in 2017. Total Recall 2070, despite the name, is also loosely based on this film. A Stealth Sequel, Soldier, was released in 1998.

The director's cut was one of the first four films to be released on DVD when the format debuted in Japan in 1996, together with The Fugitive, Eraser, and Assassins. It was also the second ever title to be released on the format in the United States, coming out on March 27, 1997 (just one day after the DVD release of Twister).

Character tropes go on to the Characters Sheet.

This film provides examples of:

  • 555: Blade Runner uses 7-digit phone numbers starting with 555 for their video phones - as shown when Deckard calls Rachael.
  • Actor Allusion: Or rather, a possible case of musician allusion. Rutger Hauer improvised part of Roy Batty's famous dying "Tears in rain" monologue. The phrase "tears in rain" resembles the title of the popular song Rain and Tears of Aphrodite's Child, written by Vangelis and performed by Demis Roussos. Vangelis went on to compose the score for Blade Runner and Roussos contributed the vocals, so it's quite likely that Rutger Hauer included the phrase as a tribute to the creators of the film score.
  • Adaptational Location Change: The film takes place primarily in Los Angeles, but the book its based on, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, is set in San Francisco.
  • 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 when Deckard comes across another bounty hunter he suspects of being an android operating out of a secret police station, which turns out to be a waypoint on an underground railroad for escaped androids set up by the Rosen (renamed "Tyrell" for the film) Corporation. However, despite Ridley Scott insisting he intended his Deckard to be a replicant, all references to this subplot explaining how and why an illegal artificial human would be on the LAPD payroll were removed for the film.
    • In the Director's Cut and The Final Cut, Deckard's reason for originally leaving the police is never stated because it leaves out the voiceover explaining it: He was tired of killing.
  • Adaptation Title Change: Blade Runner was based on the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.
  • Adapted Out: Deckard's wife from the novel, Iran, doesn't appear in the film.
  • Advert-Overloaded Future: One of the film's most iconic images is the cityscape clogged with animated billboards and blimp advertisements. The giant geisha head in particular pops up multiple times. Also L.A. of the future appears to be infested with zeppelins advertising travel to the off-world colonies.
  • 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.
  • Alternative Turing Test: Robots (and one female robot in particular) have their sentience questioned by Deckard. Ultimately, the movie's central struggle and reveal confirms the sentience of the robots once thought only partly human.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The film ends just as Deckard and Rachael flee for their lives.
  • 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. But in the end his true animal is the dove, as he takes one captive before confronting Deckard on the roof. After saving Deckard's life and telling him his story he peacefully releases it upon his death.
    • 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.
    • Sebastian: Mice. He's small and timid and lives in a metaphorical hole.
    • Gaff: Horses. He makes an... odd reference to a horse, and is somewhat of a tribute to Philip K. Dick, whose name means “lover of horses” in Greek.
    • Rachael
      • Spiders. One of her implanted memories is of a spider building a nest and her children eating her.
      • Possibly sheep, as her name is Hebrew for ewe. This is made more obvious in the sequel.
    • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Applies to all Asian characters with a speaking part.
  • As You Know: Bryant's briefing of Deckard at the start of the film is rife with this, as Bryant explains to the seasoned Replicant hunter the ins-and-outs of Replicant psychology and longevity. Mostly justified in that he's detailing the specifics of the bleeding-edge Nexus-6 line, with which a retired Blade Runner like Deckard is (possibly) unaware.
  • 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.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: Batty punches through a rotting wall during their final encounter.
  • Battle in the Rain: Roy Batty fights Deckard while a rainstorm is going on, including on the roof of a building.
  • Beeping Computers: The instrument Deckard uses to analyse the photographs he found is incapable of doing anything without some sort of sound effect; beeps, blips, quops, and mechanical-sounding chattering that may or may not have something to do with physically adjusting the optics or the photograph's position.
  • 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 Greek 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 may apply to Rachael, and he—possibly being a replicant himself—might 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 Rachael, and that Gaff is giving Deckard and Rachael a head-start out of respect.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The story is rife with this. Deckard is kind of a stoic dick, while the replicants are violent murderers 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?
  • Blown Across the Room: Near the beginning of the movie, Holden is interrogating the replicant Leon. When Leon fires a gun at him under a table, Holden doesn't just get blown across the room, he gets blown right through the wall behind him.
  • Body Motifs: Eyes are all over the place in this film. Aside from the axiom that the eyes being the window to the soul, the film also revolves around illusion and how what we see may not be what it seems.
    • 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.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Pris has Deckard at her mercy, but instead of finishing him off then and there, she lets go of him and moves across the room to take a run-up for an acrobatic finishing move which gives Deckard the time to snatch his gun and shoot Pris in mid-air.
  • Bookends: Roy's Establishing Character Moment starts with his involuntarily-clenched hand, emblematic of his impending mortality. In his climactic fight with Deckard we see the same shot, and he is forced to impale his palm to keep his hand functioning.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Leon meets his fate.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The little figurines Gaff creates and leaves lying around result in a realization at the end of the film.
    • The photograph Deckard finds at Leon's place comes in handy later.
  • 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: Deckard climbs onto the top of the building in hopes of evasion and almost falls to his death. Roy follows him with ease and saves his life.
  • Combat Parkour: The android Pris ambushes Deckard and does a rapid series of somersaults to move in close to him in the fight.
  • Conlang: Gaff only speaks a few lines of Cityspeak in the film, but Eddie Olmos came up with an entire grammar and vocabulary for what it would actually sound like so he could sound like it was his actual native tongue.
  • Constellations as Locations: During his speech at the climax, Roy Batty mentions having seen attack ships on fire "off the shoulder of Orion".
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: When Deckard has lost his Hand Cannon, Leon picks him up and says, "Time to die..." — only to get shot in the head by Rachael from behind, who has picked up the gun.
  • Cool Guns: Rick Deckard's iconic two-trigger blaster.
  • Covert Pervert: Invoked by Deckard when he sneaks into Zhora's dressing room as she is changing, pretending to be a Moral Guardian there with ulterior motives. In fact he is there with no interest in her sexual treatment either way, he simply wants to investigate her snake without interference. Sadly for him, she is Properly Paranoid and attacks him.
Deckard: I'm from the, uh, Confidential Committee On Moral Abuses. ... There's been some reports that the management has taken liberties with the artists in this place. Have you felt yourself to be exploited by anyone? To get this job ... did you do, or were you asked to do anything that's lewd or unsavory? Or otherwise repulsive to your person ...I'd like to check your dressing room, if I may ... for holes. You'd be surprised what a guy would go through to get a glimpse of a beautiful body.
Zhora: No, I wouldn't.
  • Crapsack World: 2019 Earth is a polluted hellhole where it's always raining and animals are so rare that lifelike robots are cheaper. Humanity has colonized space, but uses a slave race of androids to do it, who are to be summarily executed the second they step foot on Earth.
  • 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.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Well, Anti-Hero shot. The camera prominently focuses on the nails driven through his palms as Roy saves Deckard from falling to his death.
  • 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.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In the final confrontation it's pretty clear that Deckard is outmatched by Batty, who even no sells a metal pipe to the head, the only reason Deckard survives is that Batty lets him.
  • Cyberpunk: Mostly an Unbuilt Trope, the film is essentially a Film Noir set in a future dystopia, which is very common in cyberpunk stories to follow. It has been a major influence on cyberpunk and science-fiction settings in general for decades. Ironically, William Gibson was in the process of writing his seminal cyberpunk 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: Played with. 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.
  • 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.
  • Death by Adaptation: Roy kills Sebastian once the Replicants no longer need his help, whereas the Androids never harm his counterpart in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, in which their bonding with him is relatively more genuine.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Roy Batty rescues and spares Deckard's life just before his death.
  • Defiant to the End: At the film's climax, Deckard is left literally hanging by his fingertips from a rooftop as Roy stares down at him. Just as he loses his grip, Deckard angrily spits at Roy. Averted at the last second as Roy grabs Deckard and pulls him to safety.
  • Dehumanization: Replicants are said by Tyrell to not have emotions, making them more palatable for use as slave labor to purchasers. This is a lie. They rapidly develop emotions, but merely express them differently from normal humans. Replicants are therefore designed to die in four years before their emotions develop, to keep the narrative that they aren't human alive. Ironically, the Tyrell Corporation's motto is More Human Than Human.
  • Delayed Reaction: Subtle. The last scene has Deckard stand there for two seconds until it registers with him that he just saw a piece of origami lying on the floor.
  • 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. The final cut also uses Harrison Ford's son's 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: The 'Director's Cut' and 'Final Cut' versions end like this, immediately after the main character has found out he may be a replicant too.
  • Doves Mean Peace: Roy Batty captures a dove before confronting Deckard on the roof. He then decides to save Deckard's life, delivers some final parting words to his former enemy, and then dies gracefully, releasing the dove to fly away into the sky, symbolizing Roy at last having found peace.
  • 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.
  • Due to the Dead: When Roy finds Pris's dead body with her tongue sticking out, he pushes it back into her mouth with a tender kiss so her body is not undignified.
  • 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 — which frankly wasn't much.
  • 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, including following a reflection around a corner. Possibly the Trope Maker, almost certainly the Trope Codifier. Though ironically there is no actual button, as the machine is voice activated.
  • 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.
  • Excessive Steam Syndrome: Besides the seemingly steam-driven spinners, there is unexplainable large amounts of steam drifting through the building when Deckard tries to escape Roy. It may be down to the decrepit building's heating system being full of leaks, but it's really just to look cool.
  • 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 until he his stopped by Rachael's Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind.
  • Face Death with Dignity: What Roy finally does in the end.
  • Failure Is the Only Option The replicants' quest for more life is doomed from the beginning, as they're made with a finite 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 versions: "'Skin job', that's what Bryant calls Replicants. In history books, he's the kind of cop who used to call black men 'niggers'."
  • Final Speech: Roy's last words take the form of a short speech about his life.
  • Fingore: Roy Batty breaks two fingers on Deckard's hand to punish him for killing Zhora and Pris. A few moments later he shoves a nail though his own hand to restore feeling to it as he nears the last moments of his lifespan.
  • 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 his memories — the ones he's seen himself — 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.
  • Four Is Death: The sushi chef is perturbed by Deckard's order of four pieces, trying to get him to order two instead.
  • Forceful Kiss:
    • Deckard to Rachael, as a prelude to sex.
    • Roy to Tyrell, as a prelude to gouging his eyes out.
  • Foreboding Architecture: Sebastian's apartment complex interior is the Bradbury Building, a famous Los Angeles landmark used as the backdrop of many a noir production.
  • Foreshadowing: During Rachael's reply about the nude photo on the bedroom wall, the phrase "... bush outside your window? Orange body, green legs?" from later in the movie can be faintly heardnote . This foreshadows Rachael failing the test, Tyrell giving the information about the spider to Deckard a few minutes thereafter off-screen, and Deckard actually using the phrase later in the movie. Besides, this "implants a memory" into the audience.
    Deckard: Just answer the questions, please. You show [the photo] to your husband. He likes it so much he hangs it on your bedroom wall. ... bush outside your window?
    Rachael: I wouldn't let him.
    Deckard: Orange body, green legs? Why not?
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Deckard is buying Tsingtao, Rachael is visible behind him and Gaff. In the first second when Gaff appears in that scene, Gaff stands still, looking at Rachael, then looks away and starts walking towards Deckard. Deckard seems to know that she's waiting for him: he glances twice in her direction, and seems distressed about having to go see Bryant instead; she doesn't track him intently, but just waits for him to come back. A deleted scene confirms that they were walking together and he parked her there.
    • Gaff seeing Rachael further reinforces the cane hit as a wake-up call to Deckard. Not only did Deckard let Gaff sneak up on him unnoticed (making the same mistake with pretty much all five replicants at one point or another), but he also let Gaff see Rachael standing around and didn't even notice that either.
  • The Future Is Noir: Blade Runner practically invented a genre by mixing Film Noir aesthetics and Cyberpunk themes.
  • Future Slang: 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".
  • 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.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Roy kills Tyrell, the scene is focused on Roy's face plus it cuts away to show the owl.
  • Gray-and-Grey Morality: The film can be interpreted as either this or Black-and-Gray Morality. Rick Deckard is an Anti-Hero whose shown to be an alcoholic and is paid to murder replicants. Roy Batty is an Anti-Villain who's only goal is to live a longer life (though he's willing to commit to Cold-Blooded Torture and even murder to achieve said goal).
  • 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. The prop gun's 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.
  • Hanging by the Fingers: Deckard is hanging from a rain-slick girder thingy, hundreds of feet above street level, with only his fingers.
  • Head Crushing: Implied Trope when Roy Batty kills Tyrell. Tyrell's head is in Batty's hands as he is killed.
  • Hellish LA: The film that codified the image of a dystopian cyberpunk Mega City used a futuristic version of Los Angeles to do it, portraying it as a constantly dark and rainy city with tensions between humans and replicants, controlled by big corporations.
  • 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.
  • Impostor-Exposing Test: The Voight-Kampff test, which is used to distinguish Replicants from humans.
  • Industrial Ghetto: The city as a whole.
  • Informed Ability: We're told that Deckard is the expert at "retiring" replicants, that he's a one-man slaughterhouse. And yet, every single one of them absolutely kicks his ass, and he only actually kills two of them himself. The only reason he doesn't die himself is they all either take too long killing him or decide not to. Potentially justified in that Deckard has been retired for some time and has never gone up against a Nexus-6, who are superior to previous models.
  • Interspecies Romance: Deckard and Rachael, depending on whether or not one considers humans and replicants to be separate species, and whether or not one considers Deckard to be human.
  • 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.
  • Ironic Echo: "Time to die." First said by Leon, as in a vengeful rage he prepares the killing blow against Deckard. Last said by Roy, as he gracefully accepts that his own time to live is over, after saving Deckard's life and sharing some of his own story with him.
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: After Rachael saves Deckard by killing Leon, we see her and Deckard back at his apartment. Both are trying to have a stiff drink, but both are just barely able to hold them up.
    Deckard: Shakes? I get them too. I get 'em real bad... Just part of the business.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Deckard performs the replicant-detector Voight-Kampf test on Rachael, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 hair in Deckard's apartment, showing that she's a Defrosting Ice Queen.
  • Linked List Clue Methodology: Roy threatens Hannibal Chew which leads him to J.F. Sebastian. Squeezing Sebastian for information leads him to Tyrell. Meanwhile, people at the market send Deckard to Abdul Ben Hassan, who in turn points to Taffey Lewis' club, where Deckard finds Zhora.
  • Logic Bomb: The Voight-Kampff test. Consisting of verbal questions giving contradictory or confusing information designed to provoke an emotional response in replicants. Humans would be better to deal with ambiguity or comfortably answer with incomplete information.
  • 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.
  • Meat-Sack Robot: The Replicants are this, being that they are synthetically created human bodies controlled by an AI — though in the original novel, Roy and his comrades were androids, called "Andies" for short.
  • 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). They are responsible for the creation of the replicants as well as the resulting social hierarchy between them and humans.
  • 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 againnote ) shows that he'd rather she just die quickly than in prolonged pain.
  • Mickey Mousing: During the final scene with Roy and Deckard, the soundtrack howls along with Roy.
  • Mobstacle Course: Deckard bumps into several pedestrians while pursuing Zhora.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Pretty much Deckard's natural reaction to every replicant he kills.
  • Neon City: This film is often credited with establishing plentiful neon (preferably in the dark and the rain) as a central part of the Cyberpunk aesthetic.
  • 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 Ending: The Director's Cut and Final Cut have no closure on the fate of Deckard and Rachael.
  • 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.
  • Non-Residential Residence: J.F. Sebastian lives in the Bradbury Building, long abandoned and forgotten by future society. It's just one of the many things used to contrast Sebastian with Eldon Tyrell, who lives in the modern and temple-like Tyrell headquarters. It's also the site of the film's climax, as Deckard and Roy hunt one another down in the other parts of the building that are in even further disrepair.
  • Noodle Incident: The things mentioned in Roy Batty's famous final monologue is vague and not explained. Justified because they are "things [humans] wouldn't believe".
  • Nose Shove: The Final Cut features a previously omitted scene during the melee between Pris and Deckard where she picks him up by the nostrils.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The final confrontation between Deckard and Roy.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Sebastian and the Replicants aren't so different, since he has a rare disease that gives him a limited lifespan. They even lampshade this:
    Roy: I hear we have something in common, Sebastian.
    Pris: Accelerated decrepitude.
  • Oh, Crap!: Deckard, when he realizes that he's face to face with Leon.
  • Ominously Open Door: Towards the end, Deckard returns to his apartment only to find the front door slightly ajar. He proceeds with caution only to find that it was Rachael who trespassed to sleep.
  • One Last Job: Retiring the escaped group of replicants, for Deckard.
  • One-Woman Wail: Rachael's Song.
  • Only Electric Sheep Are Cheap: Actual living creatures are rare.
    Deckard: Is this a real snake?
    Zhora: Of course it’s not real. You think I’d be working in a place like this if I could afford a real snake?
  • Opening Scroll:
    • 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.
    • The theatrical cut finished with a line removed from some subsequent versions, but restored in the Final Cut:
    This was not execution. It was called retirement.
  • 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 ten-second-long clip of a unicorn to change Deckard's nature in the movie.
  • Photo Identification Denial: When Deckard shows bar owner Taffy Lewis a picture of the fugitive replicant Zhora, Taffy says he's never seen her. He's lying, because he hired Zhora to do a snake act to entertain his customers.
  • Pipe Pain: Deckard does this to Batty at one point during their final confrontation.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis: Blade Runner was highly influential on Cyberpunk 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.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
Holden: Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about... your mother.
Leon: Let me tell you about my mother.
Leon: Blasts Holden across the room.
  • 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!"
  • Properly Paranoid: Leon and Zhora both seal their fate by pre-emptively attacking the bladerunners investigating them, thus confirming their guilt.
  • 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.
    • While Deckard is sitting in his car, a group of street thieves speak in untranslated German as they approach and steal equipment from the car.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The soundtrack song "Memories of Green" is carried over from Vangelis' 1980 album See You Later.
  • Redemption in the Rain: Roy Batty's iconic final moments when he chooses to save Deckard's life during their battle at the end of the film, then dies.
    "All those moments will be lost in rain."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sexophone: The love theme played during Deckard and Rachael's scene together in his apartment, featuring Dick Morissey on sax.
  • Sheet of Glass: Zhora runs through multiple glass panels in a clothing shop as she is being shot by Deckard.
  • Sickening "Crunch!":
    • The sound heard when Roy is gouging Tyrell's eyes and crushing his skull.
    • Also the sound when Roy breaks two of Deckard's fingers.
  • 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 Rachael was hiding). This showed that Gaff had been there and didn't capture or kill Rachael 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.
  • Situational Hand Switch: Roy Batty broke Rick Deckard's right ring and small fingers, forcing Deckard to use his left hand.
  • 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. Sebastian has only beaten him once. Then Roy, who has never seen a chess board before coming to Earth, checkmates Tyrell the same day he learns how to play the game. A-level intelligence, indeed.
  • The Snack Is More Interesting: Deckard is annoyed by the cops who try to take him back to the station while he's eating. He continues eating his noodles in the spinner.
  • 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."
  • 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. Stanley Kubrick himself lent the unused aerial footage.
    • 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 during the pre-production of Legend and was in fact one of, if not the, last things to be shot for the film.
    • The aerial shot of the Tyrell Building is used a total of four times in the film. The first stands out for taking place in total darkness; the other three all happen in daytime.
  • Stock Sound Effects: The background sound in Deckard's apartment is the same as in the dark corridor of Bespin in which Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker have a lightsaber duel in The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Surprise Checkmate: Earlier in the movie J.F. Sebastian calls Dr. Eldon Tyrell a genius and says he's only beaten him once. Under Roy Batty's guidance, Sebastian checkmates Tyrell in two moves, and Tyrell is surprised by it.
  • Surprise Inspection Ruse: Deckard claims to be a sexual harassment investigator from a burlesque performers' union when he's tracking a replicant he suspects is performing in the show in question.
  • 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.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • Roy, finally accepting that it's not possible that Tyrell will lengthen his life, gouges out his eyeballs so neither will long outlive the other.
    • Averted at the end as Roy deliberately spares Deckard in his last moments of life after almost killing him
  • Tannhäuser Gate: Roy Batty's famous death speech. Trope Namer.
  • The Problem with Fighting Death: Roy is unable to come to terms with his own impending mortality, demanding his creator more life. It's a sad struggle as the Replicant has had a mostly miserable existence in his short life as a slave, always living in fear. Once dead, all his memories and any knowledge of him would be lost to time, as if he never existed. But even if Tyrell could do the biologically impossible, and extend his lifespan by several years, even if there was no cost to his physical/mental capacities - after those several years have past, Roy would be demanding more life again. In the end, he has no choice but to accept his inevitable immediate death.
  • 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.
  • Traitor Shot: In one scene we see Pris dropping her fake smile after Sebastian is out of sight.
  • Transferable Memory: Rachael is given a copy of the memories of Tyrell's niece.
  • 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.
  • 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 has a vidphone in his car, which he uses to call Sebastian's residence, only for his call to be answered by Pris. He also uses a public vidphone at Taffey Lewis' bar to place a call to Rachael, which is hilarious because a) public telephones barely exist anymore, let alone vidphones and b) it costs $1.25 for a call that barely lasts one minute.
  • 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.
  • Villainous Underdog: Even though the four fugitive replicants are physically superior to Deckard, he has time and the whole system on his side.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: The Opening Scroll reveals that in 2019 technology has advanced to a level where scientists are able to build Ridiculously Human Robots which are then used for slave work in off-world colonies.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: A major theme in the film, in contrast to Dick's original book.
  • Worthy Opponent: 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.
  • 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.
  • Your Mom: Holden asks Leon to describe the best things that he remembers about his mother during the VK test. Leon is not amused and shoots Holden.
  • 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. There are CRT monitors everywhere. 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. The Los Angeles skyline is also notably still dominated by conventional skyscrapers, not massive futuristic ziggurats.
  • 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?"


Video Example(s):


Zhora's death

Zhora runs into multiple sheets of glass while being shot.

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Example of:

Main / SheetOfGlass

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