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Film / RoboCop (1987)

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Dead or alive, you're coming with him.

1. Serve the public trust
2. Protect the innocent
3. Uphold the law
4. [Classified]

RoboCop is a classic, ultra-violent satirical science fiction/action movie from 1987 directed by Paul Verhoeven. It has since spawned a modest franchise of other RoboCop productions.

In the near-future, Detroit is overrun by crime, primarily because of the work of unofficial crime boss Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith). To address this matter, Omni Consumer Products (OCP for short) has decided that they will tear down crime-plagued Old Detroit and rebuild it as their own "Delta City". Beforehand, they must eradicate crime in the city. To that end, executive Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer) gives the CEO known as "the Old Man" (Dan O'Herlihy) a proposal for a new conceptual cyborg which he calls RoboCop, which would be constructed from a police officer's body and given superior firepower and combat abilities. Morton’s idea is in competition with that of OCP Senior President Dick Jones (Ronny Cox). Jones has proposed a military robot called "ED-209" for urban pacification, which is powerful but prone to malfunction.

Morton's RoboCop team gets their chance when police officer Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) and his partner Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen) chase Boddicker's gang to an abandoned steel mill. Boddicker and his men overwhelm Murphy, then dismember him with shotguns. OCP takes Murphy's remains and effectively resurrects him as the Nigh-Invulnerable cyborg police officer RoboCop. His mind is supposedly erased, but signs indicate that the wipe job wasn't perfect and he begins to remember bits and pieces of his past. When Murphy starts looking for revenge against the people who took his human life from him, he discovers that Jones is connected to Boddicker — and that Jones has meddled with Murphy's programming to ensure his own survival.

I'd Buy These Trope Examples for a Dollar!:

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  • 555: The artificial heart ad displays the phone number 1-800-555-4444.
  • Abandoned Warehouse: The site of the first confrontation between Murphy and Boddicker's gang. Happens again in the last confrontation, though it also throws in abandoned factories to the mix.
  • Absurd Brand Name: There's a commercial advertising a huge car with terrible mileage called the "6000 SUX", mocking the Pontiac 6000.
  • Action Girl: Lewis is a police officer and helps RoboCop on two occasions.
  • After-Action Healing Drama:
    • Murphy in the ER after he's shot. It doesn't work.
    • The scene in the abandoned steel mill after Murphy's escape from the OCP building also counts, though in that case it's makeshift repairs instead of healing.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: ED-209 advances dangerously on RoboCop for being illegally parked on private property at the end of the film, possibly having been deliberately programmed to be more aggressive than usual to protect the building due to the police strike.
  • All There in the Script: The script establishes that the film takes place in 2043, because in earlier versions, the news story that was shown following RoboCop's escape from the police and ED-209 had Casey Wong report to us that Sylvester Stallone had died at age 97 during a brain transplantnote  before the Kill Sat story was put in instead.
  • Amnesiac Resonance: Murphy has no memory of his life before his death and resurrection, but begins to piece together that he Was Once a Man by how others react to things he says or does unthinkingly.
  • Amnesia Missed a Spot: After his transformation into RoboCop, what remains of Officer Murphy's mind experiences flashbacks of his prior life despite his memory being wiped.
  • Anaphora: When Ron Miller is holding City Hall hostage to get an old job back:
    Ron Miller: And I want a bigger office! And I want a new car! And I want the city to pay for it all!
  • An Arm and a Leg: All over the place, especially Murphy's gruesome death.
  • And I Must Scream: There are scenes where we see RoboCop's creation from his point of view. We see Bob Morton and Donald Johnson, the first complaining because the scientists have saved Murphy's left arm. After being asked if RoboCop understands what they're saying, he replies that it doesn't matter as they're going to wipe his memory anyway. This is followed by Morton asking Johnson if he thinks they'd remove the arm, to which Johnson replies that they should, given Murphy signed release waivers when he joined the force allowing OCP to do whatever they want to him when he dies. Ultimately, Morton orders them to remove the left arm and RoboCop is shut down for surgery.
  • Answer Cut: An incredibly subtle, droll example occurs after Bob Morton secures approval for the RoboCop program and steps in to the elevator with his co-exec Donald Johnson.
    Johnson: So, when do we start?
    Bob Morton: As soon some poor schmuck volunteers.
    [cut to Alex Murphy flipping around his gun]
  • Arch-Enemy: RoboCop has Clarence Boddicker, the crime boss who killed him as a human.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • After RoboCop's first nightmare about his death by Boddicker's gang, he gets up to leave his laboratory, apparently disturbed. Lewis stops him in a hall. During the conversation she says: "Don't you have a name?... Murphy, it's you." This startles him out of some of his amnesia, causing him to backpedal slightly.
    • In the Miranda rights scene, RoboCop throws Boddicker through numerous plate-glass windows, intent on hurting him or killing him. Boddicker confesses Jones' involvement in the plot, but RoboCop keeps going. Boddicker finally gets Robo to stop by saying "You're a cop!", reminding Robo that his first duty is to the law. RoboCop stops his Roaring Rampage of Revenge and arrests Boddicker instead.
      RoboCop: Yes, I am a cop.
  • Artificial Gravity: Played for Laughs. The President's first visit to the Star Wars Peace Platform (which is an orbital defense platform instead of the peaceful use of the ISS today) got off to a shaky start when power failed, causing a brief but harmless period of weightlessness for the visiting President and his staff. It's also Foreshadowing that, fitting the movie's themes, corners have been cut on the station, which later misfires and sets a large chunk of California ablaze.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: Emil gets exposed to "toxic waste", from a disused steelworks, causing his body to literally melt apart. No substance in reality reacts with a human body, or organic matter period, in that gratuitously violent fashion. There's Hydrofluoric acid, which is nasty, but the damage and pain it causes is not evident until the day after, and you'd die long before of organ failure anyway.
  • Artistic License – Economics: Hospitals, prisons, and space travel are listed as being "historically unprofitable" industries at the first OCP board meeting.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety:
    • Why exactly would they load up the ED-209 with live ammo for a demonstration in the executive board room? And give a loaded gun to Kinney to act out the demonstration? Kinney proceeds to recklessly point the weapon at Dick Jones, who should be far more outraged than he was. Also, why would they keep a box with a loaded handgun inside the OCP board room? Perhaps it would make sense if it was there just for the ED-209 demonstration, but it's still there a long time later at the end of the movie when RoboCop walks in on the board meeting. OCP's board of governors are stupid.
    • On that point, the Desert Eagle that was used during the demonstration is still left loaded in the unlocked display case in the boardroom, as demonstrated when Jones grabs it during the finale.
    • During the Shooting Gallery scene that introduces RoboCop's Improbable Aiming Skills with his Auto 9, Lewis steps forward on the range. In any Real Life shooting range, this is a huge violation of gun safety and would get her kicked off the range and her gun taken away. To make this even more ridiculous, most of her fellow cops follow suit to see what she's looking at.
    • A particularly egregious example happens when RoboCop and Lewis are hiding out in the steel mill when RoboCop decides to recalibrate his targeting system and does so by shooting at some jars of baby food not a couple feet away from a sleeping Lewis.
  • Artistic License – Law Enforcement:
    • Most modern police stations have a sally port (a separate entrance for police vehicles only; a secure controller entryway to a fortification or prison) where they load and unload prisoners. In this case, the police station does have a sally port. Lewis (and later RoboCop with Clarence) should have brought their prisoners in through the sally port, not into the lobby where they could have posed a threat to civilians.
    • RoboCop never once calls in his location to dispatch, whether it's a gas station robbery, apprehending a suspect in a dance club, or taking out an entire drug warehouse. Him being a bulletproof, super-strong cyborg wielding a hand cannon and a corporate product with a bunch of general directives gives him enough leeway to be above standard procedure, which dictates that officers must keep dispatch informed of their whereabouts and activities at all times. He also never does any paperwork, shoving Clarence at the Desk Sergeant with a simple "Book him." The proper response from the Desk Sergeant should have been "he's your collar. Book him yourself!"
    • In Real Life, there are very good reasons that cops don't work cases personal to them, especially in the event when a suspect tries to kill them. Boddicker's gang actually did kill Murphy. His hesitation at the gas station allows Emil to blow it up before RoboCop can apprehend him. It can also be argued that he uses excessive force against Leon Nash. He later very nearly beats Boddicker to death at the cocaine factory. Possibly a Justified Trope because of how embattled and short-handed DPD was, and that nobody at the precinct even knew he was Alex Murphy. If any of the gang had lived, the court proceedings and lawsuits might have been very interesting.
  • Artistic License – Physics: RoboCop stops his first robbery by bending the barrel of the hood's gun while the criminal is holding it. Due to leverage mechanics, the goon would need to counter the massive force applied by RoboCop just to keep ahold of the gun. In reality, the gun would simply be ripped from his hands before it bends, as one hand works as a fulcrum but the other one could not possibly match RoboCop's exerted force.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Subverted. Murphy himself isn't a fan of the Show Within a Show, TJ Laser, evidently about a futuristic gunslinger, but his son loves it, and Murphy "gets a kick out of" trying to live up to the standard. Needless to say, he ends up succeeding in a way he doesn't expect.
  • Asshole Victim: Clarence Boddicker is a sociopathic gang leader who takes great delight in killing and causing suffering. Safe to say no one felt bad for him when RoboCop stabbed him in the jugular.
  • Attempted Rape: One of the first crime victims rescued by Murphy after his transformation into RoboCop is a Damsel in Distress being threatened by two men. He disables the first with a Groin Attack by shooting him through the woman's dress.
    RoboCop: Your move, creep!
  • Author Avatar: The young gas station attendant with the glasses and the geometry book is a reference to a young Paul Verhoeven himself, who wears spectacles and studied Mathematics in the Netherlands.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: ED-209 looks very intimidating, but is badly unsuited for law enforcement work and doubtful it could even perform well in the military. Lampshaded by Dick Jones.
    Dick Jones: I had a guaranteed military sale with ED-209! Renovation program! Spare parts for 25 years! Who cares if it worked or not!
  • Back from the Dead: The basic plot revolves around a murdered police officer who is resurrected, but begins to remember who he was before he was cyberized.
  • Bad Boss:
    • After a member of his gang named Bobby burns the money they were trying to steal, leaving it marked and useless, and Bobby is subsequently wounded in a gunfight, Clarence Boddicker has him thrown out the back of the truck at the pursuing cops.
      Clarence: Can you fly, Bobby?
    • The higher-ups in OCP aren't much better. They're deliberately putting cops in danger to a) engineer the police strike that suits their agenda and b) get suitable candidates for the RoboCop program killed in the line of duty so they can harvest their brains. They treat the death of one of their own in an utterly stupid board room demonstration gone wrong as "life in the big city" and corporate infighting includes actual assassinations. The Old Man seems more pissed off than horrified by ED-209's Epic Fail during the demo.
      The Old Man: Dick, I'm very disappointed in you.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: RoboCop punches through a wall to grab the disgruntled Ron Miller who is holding the mayor hostage.
  • Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults: Bob Morton insults Dick Jones in the bathroom only to discover he's been listening in the cubicle all along.
  • Bespectacled Cutie: Dr. Tyler, the scientist who leads the RoboCop project, is played by attractive French actress Sage Parker and wears notably large, thick-rimmed glasses.
  • Better Than New: After Murphy is pronounced dead, OCP takes his remains and resurrects him using cybernetic/robotic technology into the Nigh Invulnerable RoboCop. He'll never be human again.
  • BFG: Boddicker and crew eventually are supplied with the Cobra Assault Cannon. The props were built from Barrett Model 82 .50 caliber rifles, and they're quite explosive. They use the Cobra against RoboCop, and he takes one after they're defeated and uses it to blow up the ED-209 in front of OCP's headquarters.
  • Big Bad: A Big Bad Duumvirate between Clarence Boddlicker, the crime boss of Old Detroit whose actions lead to Murphy becoming RoboCop, and Dick Jones, the vice-president of OCP who actively supplies Boddlicker with his equipment and money.
  • Big Entrance: The producers were concerned that a simple open entrance could make RoboCop look silly. Instead, Verhoeven had Robo's entrance teased out. RoboCop is delivered to the police station by a transport convoy. The support staff comes in first, and as the desk officer protests to Bob Morton, he is suddenly silenced by the sound of heavy mechanical footsteps of something non-human walking into the station, barely visible behind frosted glass. We follow this up with teasing looks of the thing that become more and more revealing until you are eagerly following the running cops through the halls trying to get a good look at this thing. At the end, you get to see RoboCop towering in his maintenance chair and looking completely kickass.
  • Bigger Is Better: Advertised in the commercial for the 6000 SUX, a car which has reclining leather seats, goes really fast, and gets really shitty gas mileage. Just don't be deterred by its 8.2 mpg rating. Inefficient engineering: An American tradition!
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Dick Jones may be the man in cahoots with Clarence Boddicker, have produced dangerously defective ED-209 droids, has Bob Morton killed, and took the chairman of OCP hostage - however Bob Morton was no saint either, not caring much about Kinney's death and deliberately putting cops in harm's way to get a candidate for the RoboCop program. He's just more of a saint than Dick Jones was.
  • Black Comedy:
    • The newscasts cheerfully talk about awful things.
    • The unlucky junior executive who gets killed during the demonstration of ED-209 is shot over and over with blood spraying everywhere until he's Deader than Dead. Morton calls for a paramedic anyway.
  • Body Horror
    • The first time RoboCop takes his helmet off, he says to Lewis, "You may not like what you're about to see." Murphy's face is the only visible organic part of him, and from the looks of his head, has been grafted onto a completely synthetic skull. And he still has a scar on his forehead from being shot there.
    • Boddicker's getaway driver Emil crashes the panel truck into an industrial-strength tank of acidic toxic waste. Unfortunately for Emil, he survives. He's melting as the acid eats away at his skin. Then he stumbles in front of a car and get splattered.
    • The simple fact that Murphy, a nice guy with a wife and kid, woke up to discover that he was now mostly a machine who could only "feel" his past without actually remembering it is just all kinds of nasty.
  • Book Ends:
    • The film begins and ends in the exact same boardroom, with an OCP executive being shot to pieces by a robot.
    • Murphy and Lewis chase Boddicker and his gang to an old steel mill, where they get separated and Murphy is executed by Boddicker. At the end Boddicker and his gang locate Murphy at the same steel mill packing military grade weapons, though this time Murphy and Lewis are able to work together to defeat them. Spiritually too, the first time was when Murphy died and the second time RoboCop removes his helmet to become Murphy again.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Murphy dies after Boddicker pulls a pistol and shoots him in the head (which, after getting his entire right arm shot off, and being hit in the torso numerous times with shotguns, is almost a Mercy Kill).
  • Bond One-Liner: Boddicker chortles, "Give the man a hand!" after using his shotgun to shoot off Murphy's right hand.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Nobody is seen reloading in this movie except Murphy who does once, right before the Final Battle. The fictional stats for RoboCop's pistol states that it holds an implausibly huge 50-round magazine. When Boddicker shoots Lewis in the battle at the abandoned factory, he fires 10 rounds from his IMI Desert Eagle Mark I. This should have emptied the gun (10 rounds is the maximum amount it can hold), but the slide is not locked back after he is done shooting, indicating that the gun still has at least one more round in it.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • Verhoeven was forced to tone down the violence in some spots to avoid an X rating in the United States. Most notably, the over-the-top death of Mr. Kinney by the malfunctioning ED-209 was trimmed to the point that it ironically became more disturbing than the original. Murphy's death was also toned down. The uncut version wouldn't be released until 1998 by The Criterion Collection, but it's now widely available.
    • The TV edit used for a ABC Sunday Night Movie in the early '90s cut half the movie and overdubbed the rest: "Ladies, leave!" and "You finked on the wrong guy." Emil also avoids getting ran over by Boddicker. The Arrow Video blu-ray release includes the TV cut as a bonus feature.
    • There was also a hilarious censor mishap on a Canadian showing which bleeped out mother but not fucker.
    • The Mexican Spanish dub changes the references to a civil war in Mexico to a war in the Middle East (oddly, the original dialogue is uncensored in the subbed version).
    • Despite getting an 18+ age rating, Hungarian TV airings of the original dub cut a few seconds of Bob Morton doing coke in the company of two hookers. Bootleg versions circulating online splice in this bit from the later re-dubs. Also, most of the gratuitous swearing was removed or toned down ("fuck" is often replaced with "darn it", "shut up", "stop" or vague grunts).
  • Brick Joke:
    • When RoboCop is first revealed to the rest of the police department, it's explained by the engineers that RoboCop eats a "rudimentary paste that sustains his organic systems". The OCP exec Donald Johnson tries some and immediately tells Morton it "tastes like baby food", and can't resist helping himself to some more. Later in the film, when RoboCop is hiding out at the steel mill waiting for Boddicker to show up, Lewis brings him his gun, a cordless drill... and several jars of baby food to eat.
    • Murphy, leaving the police motor pool, goes up the exit ramp too quickly and scrapes his rear fender on the cement. RoboCop later does the same thing.
    • One that can only be found in the script: when Dick Jones's Engineered Public Confession is exposed by RoboCop at the end of the film, the script comments that "having your cover blown is almost the worst thing that can happen to a Corporate Animal." A few lines later, after Jones gets blasted out the window, the script quips that "this is probably the worst thing that can happen to a Corporate Animal."
    • During the hostage situation scene at City Hall, councilman Ron Miller makes several demands. One of these is for a new car that "has reclining leather seats, goes really fast and gets really shitty gas mileage!" to which the negotiator offers the 6000 SUX (and even offers to throw in a Blaupunkt audio system). Later in the film, we are shown a commercial for the 6000 SUX in which terrified civilians are chased through the streets by a very uncanny T. rex:
    Commercial Announcer: It's back! Big is back, because bigger is better! 6000 SUX, an American tradition. [text appears across the bottom: "An American Tradition, 8.2 MPG"]
  • Bring My Brown Pants: After seeing that their insults were overheard by Jones in the bathroom, the sleazy corporate guy who was conversing with Bob Morton prematurely zips his pants up before he could finish urinating, resulting in a nasty wet spot on his pants.
  • Broken Record:
    • "Hahaha! I'd buy that for a dollar!!"
    • "I know you. You're dead. We killed you. We killed you!" (RoboCop records and plays back) "You're dead. We killed you!"
    • "Murphy, it's you... Murphy, it's you..."
    • "I had to kill Bob Morton because he made a mistake. Now it's time to erase that mistake. I had to kill Bob Morton because he made a mistake. Now it's time to erase that mistake..."
  • Broken Faceplate: RoboCop's visor gets smashed open by ED-209, allowing the audience to see the fear and surprise on his face during a close-up.
  • Bubblegum Popping: Alex Murphy's partner in law enforcement, Anne Lewis, blows a bubble before trying to apprehend one of Clarence Boddicker's men. She fails and gets knocked out some minutes before Alex Murphy faces something much worse.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: In the scene where Kinney is getting shot repeatedly by ED-209, there is tons of blood but the bullets should have realistically passed through his body and shattered the window behind him. And when RoboCop shoots Jones at the end of the movie, bullets are shown clearly going through his body, but the window behind him doesn't show any damage until Jones falls through it.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Murphy, wearing full body armor, is shot dozens of times and the vest gets shredded from it. It keeps him alive, but in horrible agony long enough for Boddicker to finish him off (temporarily) with a headshot.
  • Came Back Strong: Murphy is killed in the line of duty and is resurrected as an armour-plated heavily-armed cyborg.
  • The Cameo: Voice actor Bill Farmer, best known for being the official voice for Goofy, makes a brief cameo as a reporter.
  • Can't Use Stairs: The ED-209, ostensibly built for urban law enforcement, was designed without the ability to navigate a simple staircase. Justified in-story, as it was intentionally written as a poorly-conceived design in several ways (spotty AI, major weak points, seriously overarmed), which is why the project was abandoned in favor of the titular character.
  • Capitalism Is Bad: A villanous corporation runs the show in the name of profit, and even the plain old crooks get on it.
    Emil: No better way to steal money than free enterprise.
  • Car Chase Shoot-Out: Murphy shoots at Clarence Boddicker's gang from the car after they try to shoot him from the van. It is implied that he's the only police officer who does this and other reckless things such as Gun Twirling.
  • Car Fu: Emil should have known not to play Car Fu around vats of industrial chemicals. After getting horribly disfigured by the stuff, he's finished off by getting run over himself and bursts into noxious slime.
  • Casting Gag: Just before meeting with Dick Jones, Boddicker hits on one of Jones' secretaries, who makes no effort to hide her disdain for him. She's played by Joan Pirkle, Kurtwood Smith's real-life wife.
  • Chekhov's Gun
    • During the ED-209's first presentation, an OCP executive is asked to brandish a loaded gun. In the final scene of the movie, Dick Jones grabs the same gun and uses it in an attempt to take the Old Man hostage.
    • RoboCop's unknown and classified 4th Directive.
    • The data interface spike that emerges from RoboCop's fist and which he uses to dispatch Boddicker in the final act.
  • Chekhov's Skill: When RoboCop is first seen arriving at DPD, the scientists run a few checks on his systems. Among them, introduced to the audience is RoboCop's ability to record both audio and video and replay it. Later, when Dick Jones confronts Boddicker, he's enraged that the latter told RoboCop he worked for him, because as a cyborg RoboCop can record the conversation and his memory is admissible as evidence. At the climax, RoboCop uses that exact capability to replay Dick's confession of Morton's murder to the OCP board.
  • Children Are Innocent: In a Flashback where Murphy walks in on his son, Jimmy, watching a TV show and sees The Hero twirling his gun, Jimmy asks Murphy to do it. Gun Twirling is risky because of the danger of an accidental discharge of the gun.
  • Climactic Elevator Ride: RoboCop takes one just before he confronts Dick Jones about his complicity with the crimes of Clarence Boddicker, but this isn't anywhere close to his final confrontation with either.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The convenience store robber, upon RoboCop's entrance: "Fuck me! Fuck me! Fuck me!" This doubles as an Oh, Crap! moment, the robber is saying this because his gun has proven useless against RoboCop.
  • Collateral Damage: Gang leader Sal is not killed by RoboCop but by one mook who keeps pulling the trigger of his submachine gun while dying.
  • Comically Small Demand: The voted-out politician holds the city council hostage, demanding three things: "I want a recount. And then I want my old job back." Which would make the recount superfluous. And, of course, he also wants the new 6000 SUX that has reclining leather seats, goes very fast, and gets really shitty gas mileage.
    Lt. Hedgecock: Let the mayor go, we'll even throw in a Blaupunkt.
  • Complexity Addiction: Leon arrives above the muddy terrain where his boss Clarence is being cornered by Murphy. Instead of just blasting Murphy on the spot, from a safe distance, firing his Cobra Assault Gun, he drops his perfectly functional weapon tailor-made for the task, but instead operates a crane to dump a load of scrapped metal onto RoboCop, which does nothing but briefly trap and incapacitate him.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Everyone's blasé reaction to Kinney being killed by ED-209. Johnson and Morton brush it off as just an ordinary part of life in their city while the Old Man is more angry at the ED-209's poor performance.
  • Cop Killer: Clarence Boddicker has killed 32 police officers before he got to Alex Murphy. However, his murder of Murphy comes back to bite him in the ass when Murphy is resurrected as the titular cyborg.
  • Corporate Conspiracy: There's a vice-president willing to make a deal with a crime boss to start a crime spree so that OCP can step in and offer to privatize the police force — and all of this to demolish Detroit and rebuild it as Delta City.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Everyone who works for OCP is greedy, apathetic, and/or evil. In the first film, Dick Jones hires gangsters to bump off rivals.
  • Creator Cameo: Paul Verhoeven plays a dancer at a disco, and executive producer Jon Davison is the voice of ED-209.
  • Create Your Own Hero: Again, Boddicker and his men killing Murphy came back to haunt him as Morton used Murphy's remains to make RoboCop.
  • Credits Gag: The copyright notice in the end credit has "This motion picture is protected under the laws of the United States and other countries and its unauthorized duplication, distribution or exhibition may result in civil liability and criminal prosecution by enforcement droids."
  • Crooks Are Better Armed: Dick Jones, an exec in OCP which owns the police, wants RoboCop destroyed, so he supplies Clarence's gang with "the Cobra Assault Cannon", a .50 caliber rifle firing armor-piercing explosive rounds. RoboCop uses one to completely destroy an ED-209 guarding the entrance to OCP headquarters. In RoboCop 2, the same gun only knocks RoboCain off balance for a moment without doing any damage, showing just how tough RoboCain is.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Clarence Boddicker and his gang don't even try to make Murphy's death swift and painless, at one point even shooting off his hand and joking about it.
    • Emil later suffers a similar fate himself when he begins to melt and dissolve when he comes in contact with toxic waste. Clarence then makes him explode when he runs him over.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Murphy's death, even though he doesn't have his arms splayed, is more or less a re-enactment of the Crucifixion. The RoboCop = cyborg!Jesus metaphor is extended throughout the film (see: getting pierced by a spear, walking on water).
  • Cruel Mercy: Boddicker stops Emil from killing Murphy right away, just so the whole group can give him a sadistic, drawn-out death.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • RoboCop versus all the thugs in the cocaine-production facility.
    • RoboCop versus the ED-209 near the end of the film. Especially satisfying because their earlier fight wasn't concluded.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: ED-209 largely dominates the initial battle with RoboCop. However, RoboCop does manage to rip off one of ED-209's arms.
  • Cutting the Knot: RoboCop cannot do anything to Dick Jones because of Directive 4, even as he is holding The Old Man at gunpoint. The solution? The Old Man tells Dick that he's fired, thus he's no longer an executive of the company and Directive 4 no longer applies, so RoboCop is free to do as he pleases.
  • Cyberpunk: Gritty crime, greedy megacorps, and futuristic cybernetics.
  • Cyberpunk Is Techno: The soundtrack blends traditional orchestral music with electronic music and synthesizers. The movie's director says this was meant to symbolize RoboCop's dual nature as both man and machine.
  • Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: The battle at the film's climax takes place outside (one of the few scenes that isn't set at night) where it's cloudy and grey, and there are puddles of water everywhere.
  • David vs. Goliath: RoboCop vs. the hulking ED-209.
  • Dead Man's Trigger Finger: During the drug lab shootout, one mook gets shot by RoboCop and whirls around, still firing from his assault rifle, which spectacularly takes out his own boss.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The hostage negotiator vs. Ron Miller in the city hall hostage situation:
    Lt Hedgecock: Okay Miller! Don't hurt the mayor! We'll give you what you want!
    Ron Miller: First, don't fuck with me. I'm a desperate man! And second, I want some fresh coffee. And third, I want a recount! And no matter how it turns out, I want my old job back!
    Lt. Hedgecock: Okay.
    Ron Miller: And I want a bigger office! And I want a new car! And I want the city to pay for it all!
    Lt Hedgecock: What kind of car, Miller?
    Ron Miller: Something with reclining leather seats, that goes really fast, and gets really shitty gas mileage! All right?
    Lt Hedgecock: How about the uh, 6000 SUX?
    Ron Miller: Yeah! Okay, sure! What about cruise control? Does it come with cruise control?
    Lt. Hedgecock: Hey, no problem, Miller. You let the Mayor go, we'll even throw in a Blaupunkt!
    • Brick Joke when a commercial for the SUX is shown and we see it has an 8.2 mpg rating.
  • Death Glare: Johnson shoots one of these at Jones upon learning that it was the latter man who killed his friend Morton. After RoboCop kills the bastard, Johnson gives him a heartfelt thumb's up.
  • Destination Defenestration:
    • The hostage-taker at City Hall is grabbed and punched through a window by RoboCop.
    • After RoboCop shoots up the cocaine-production facility and corners Boddicker, he throws the latter through several windows while reading the Miranda Rights. He only stops when Boddicker reveals that he is working for Jones.
    • Jones' death at the end of the film. After holding the president of OCP hostage and getting fired, he's blown out the window by RoboCop and plummets to the ground.
  • Destroy the Product Placement: The 6000 SUX, driven by Clarence Boddicker, is crashed prior to the last part of the final confrontation. It's a Brand X of the Taurus' competitor, the Pontiac 6000. Earlier Boddicker blows up another 6000 SUX demonstrating his new gun.
  • A Dick in Name: Dick Jones gets an underling killed by accident in his opening scene and dismisses it as a "temporary setback," not to mention has people killed as he amasses more power and attempts to take over the company he works for. Clarence Boddicker puts special emphasis on his name when addressing him ("Look what he did to my face, Dick.") until Jones cuts him a very sweet deal for taking out RoboCop, at which point Boddicker is suddenly fine with just calling him "Richard".
  • Did You Actually Believe...?: Dick Jones says this to RoboCop when he tries to arrest him in his office, and informs him about the hidden Directive 4 that prevents this very contingency from happening.
    Dick Jones: What did you think? That you were an ordinary police officer? You're our product. And we can't very well have our products turning against us, can we?
  • Didn't Think This Through: Dick Jones programs Directive 4 into RoboCop to make it impossible for him to arrest a senior officer of OCP. And when it all goes to hell, he takes the Old Man at gunpoint, too arrogant to realize that the Old Man has the authority to terminate his employment, with predictable results.
  • Disastrous Demonstration: ED-209 malfunctions at an OCP board meeting and reduces a junior executive to Ludicrous Gibs.
  • Disney Villain Death: Happens to Dick Jones after getting shot by RoboCop a few times and falling a couple hundred feet out of the building.
  • Distract and Disarm: When Murphy and Lois go into the old steel mill, Lois finds Joe Cox (one of Clarence Boddicker's thugs) peeing in a corner. When she tells him to put his hands up and turn around, he does. As she holds him at gunpoint, she tells him he's under arrest, and he asks if he can "zip it up," and glances down. When she also glances towards his groin region, Joe slaps the gun out of her hand, and pushes her off the balcony they're standing on. As she lies stunned on some rubbish, Joe laughs and zips up his pants.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • A female-on-male example as Murphy and Lewis pursue a gang of crooks. Lewis catches one criminal urinating in a corner and holds him at gunpoint. He smugly puts his hands up and turns around (without pulling up his pants). Even though Lewis knows he's trying to distract her, she can't resist taking a peek downward. As soon as she does, the crook knocks her gun away.
    • Whilst RoboCop is going after Boddicker after going through his first dream sequence. The OCP scientist Roosevelt is flirting with a female cop, whose jacket zipper is way down.
  • Doomed Supermarket Display: A variant. During RoboCop's first patrol, a thug walks into a small convenience store and demands the owner empty the cash register and open the safe. The owner protests they don't have a safe. The thug kicks a large pyramid of beer cans, which collapses to reveal the safe.
  • The Dragon: Boddicker is a Psycho for Hire version, acting as the nefarious Jones' muscle in return for cash.
  • Dramatic Unmask: RoboCop removing his helmet. "You may not like what you're going to see."
  • The Dreaded:
    • Dick Jones. When Morton starts talking shit about him in the bathroom, everybody bolts out knowing that Jones is there.
    • Clarence Boddicker is the most feared crime boss in Old Detroit, and deservedly so. He's a ruthless amoral killer.
    • RoboCop becomes this once he's known to criminals.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The scene in the drug factory is almost painfully '80s, what with the close-up shots of RoboCop's metallic feet trampling on the vials of cocaine after blowing away bad guys.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: In the Russian dub of the movie, the plot-relevant line "You're fired" (which leaves the Big Bad unprotected by the RoboCop's directives) was translated as, approximately, "You've got burned up."
  • Egopolis: The Old Man calls Delta City, his development project for the Detroit metropolitan area, his "dream", and everything about his company, Omni Consumer Products, indicates that he's only really building it because he has the means, not for any improvement for the average citizen's quality of life.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: Boddicker creepily dips his fingers into Sal's wine glass at the drug factory and then sniffs them to intimidate him.
  • Engineered Public Confession: "I had to kill Bob Morton because he made a mistake. Now it's time to erase that mistake." This ends up biting Dick Jones in the ass. What makes this particularly stupid on his part is that he knows damn well RoboCop is capable of recording everything he says (he even bitches out Boddicker for telling RoboCop about his involvement in the first place), but he didn't expect him to survive his ensuing fight with ED-209, the SWAT team and Boddicker's gang.
  • Epic Fail: The ED-209 attempts to descend a set of stairs in the OCP building, despite the fact that its feet are too big to go down the steps.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Clarence Boddicker's gang is very ethnically diverse: generic white (Boddicker, Leon Nash), black (Joe Cox), Asian (Steve Minh, Chan in the script), and Slavic (Emil Antonowsky).
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • When Boddicker, a slimy murderer, enters Bob Morton's house to assassinate him, Morton is in the company of two hookers. Clarence orders them, "Bitches, leave!" and lets them flee the scene unharmed.
    • The Old Man may be the CEO of one of the most corrupt corporations in all of fiction, but he and his board are clearly horrified and angry when ED-209 kills a fellow board member.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The name of the CEO of OCP is never given. He is simply called "The Old Man".
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: When RoboCop breaks up a cocaine factory to arrest Boddicker, after shooting two dozen criminals he's ready to just kill him to save the trouble. Boddicker tries to threaten him explaining he works for Dick Jones at OCP and OCP owns the police. RoboCop doesn't care about that but Boddicker repeatedly saying "You're a cop!" only reminds RoboCop of his duty as a law enforcement officer, and takes Boddicker to be booked.
  • Evil Gloating:
    • Boddicker's gang loves this.
    • OCP Prez Dick Jones isn't above indulging in some of this either, when RoboCop shuts down when he tries to arrest Jones, and even confesses to having Bob Morton killed. This comes back to haunt Jones in a huge way.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Clarence Boddicker isn't above the occasional violence-based pun.
  • Exact Words:
    • Seems to be the case with ED-209. It directs Kinney to, "Please put down your weapon." It clearly specifically means "gently place the gun on the ground," not "throw the gun away from your hand".
    • Directive Four:
      • "Any attempt to arrest a senior officer of OCP results in shutdown." The Old Man is quick to realize this and promptly fires Dick Jones thus no longer being a senior and is subject to arrest or escalation of force.
      • Subverted up to a point when RoboCop tries to arrest Dick Jones in that violating the directive doesn't trigger an actual shutdown, he is just seriously hindered but still able to function afterwards.
  • Executive Meddling: In-universe, the Directive 4, which Dick Jones describes as his "own little contribution."
  • Executive Suite Fight:
    • After finding out his connection with Boddicker, RoboCop storms into OCP's headquarters in an attempt to arrest Jones, who sics ED-209 on him.
    • At the end of the film he returns and blows up the ED-209 guarding the building, then walks into an OCP board meeting and shoots Jones when he tries to hold the Old Man hostage.
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: After tracking down Boddicker, RoboCop gets his revenge by casually throwing him through several panes of glass.
  • Failed Future Forecast: The movie is set at some unclear future date after 1987, and implies that the Cold War is still going on, with references to SDI and the MX missile. The latter, which became the Peacekeeper, has now been scrapped. References are also made to the South African apartheid government which is not only still in power (albeit reduced to a single city-state), but actively threatening to deploy a Neutron Bomb against insurgents, thus promoting them from racist assholes to cartoonish supervillains (although, in Real Life, they did have nukes).
  • Failed State: The city of Detroit still has a government and a police force, but both are seriously undermanned and underfunded. As a result, crime is running wild in the city, which is nearing total collapse. The outsourcing of law enforcement to Omni Consumer Products is what kicks off the events of the movie.
  • Fake Platform: During the warehouse shootout, Clarence Boddicker attempts to leap from a catwalk onto the roof of an office, but it's one of those false, suspended ceilings that instantly collapses under his weight, causing him to fall painfully onto the concrete ground below.
  • Failsafe Failure: The attempt to have the ED-209 perform a test of a crime situation ends up having it kill the man simulating a hostage situation. Even though the programmers have a control console in the room, they are unable to shut down the robot before it riddles the target full of bullets.
  • False Flag Operation: Dick Jones hires criminals and gives them military weapons to increase crime and kill police officers, just so he can sell his ED-209 as the solution.
  • Fanservice Extra: Twice. Apparently cops in the future have co-ed locker rooms. Later on, when RoboCop goes into a club to collect Leon, a woman is seen dancing topless.
  • Fauxrrari: The 6000 SUX is a Pontiac 6000 with modified front and back to make it look "futuristic". It boasts itself on being "An American Tradition. 8.2 MPG".
  • Filling the Silence: The creative team wanted a full 10 seconds of silence and blank screen between the moment of Murphy's death and the first flash of static marking the start of his resurrection. The executive team had other ideas.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: When RoboCop wakes up and leaves the police station.
  • Fingore: Among the many mutilations inflicted on him before his death, Boddicker's crew starts out by blowing off Murphy's right hand with a shotgun.
  • Firing Day: Dick takes the Old Man hostage, but RoboCop is unable to act due to his directive against acting against an OCP employee. So the Old Man fires Dick and Robo shoots him out the window.
  • Flashback Nightmare: After his first successful deployment, RoboCop is recharging in his chair, when he starts having a nightmare of the day that Bodicker and his gang emptied their guns on him. When the dream ends with Bodicker shooting him in the head, RoboCop marches out of the room and goes on patrol.
  • Flipping the Bird: Implied to a degree, RoboCop's six-inch data jack emerges from his fist and he brandishes it to a computer tech when he tries to stop Robo accessing files on his own death and Boddicker's gang.
  • For the Evulz: While Boddicker and his gang are interested in turning a profit, but they also enjoy the more violent aspects of their job like going completely overkill just for a good laugh.
  • The Foreign Subtitle:
    • Austria: RoboCop: The Law of the Future
    • Brazil and Portugal: RoboCop: The Cop from the Future
    • Mexico: RoboCop: The Defender of the Future
  • Foreshadowing: RoboCop shoots a man's dick early in the film. The film ends with him shooting Dick.
  • Full-Conversion Cyborg: The movie doesn't go into extreme detail over what remains of Alex Murphy, but largely implies all that remains is his head and some minimal organs in the chest. Even the rest of his skull is obviously metallic, face aside. In the second movie he gets dismembered but survives with only his head and half his torso intact.
  • Funny Background Event: During his house call to Bob Morton's house, Boddicker helps himself to some of the cocaine that's laying around before pulling out a grenade.
  • Future Society, Present Values: The newscast at the beginning of the film depicts South Africa still under Apartheid. Three years after its release, the National Party began deconstructing the Apartheid system and transitioned to majority rule in 1994.
  • Gaia's Lament:
    • The ozone layer is long gone and twenty seconds of exposure to direct sunlight in California is considered too much. Sunblock 5000 is provided as a way to protect people for hours at a time...but frequent use will also cause skin cancer.
    • The news segments also mention that a nuclear plant in the Amazon experienced a meltdown, irradiating the rainforest.
  • Gangsta Style: Boddicker's getaway driver Emil holds up a gas station by holding a SMG this way.
  • Gangster Land: Crime-ridden Detroit is going to be superseded by Delta City, a reboot of the town designed by OCP to be a feast for corporate and blue-collar crime alike.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: RoboCop gradually starts to recover his memories of being Murphy, and starts to behave more human-like. He even confronts Dick Jones knowing full well his programming will not allow him to bring the corrupt executive to justice, but neither will he allow him to escape his sight either for want of upholding the law. There's also the final showdown with Clarence Boddicker, where RoboCop tells the surrendering felon "I'm not arresting you anymore!"
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: ED-209's first demonstration not only fails to register a "hostile" surrendering, it can't be stopped from firing unless its plug is pulled. This is why the Old Man is so eager to hear about the RoboCop program.
  • Good Night, Sweet Prince: Joe Cox says this with a sarcastic tone as Boddicker and rest of his gang leave the steel mill after shooting Murphy to death with their shotguns.
  • Gorn: A notorious movie for it, so much so that it initially got slapped with an X rating by the MPAA for violence alone, and had to be re-edited eleven times before it finally got an R-rating.note  ED-209's demonstration, Murphy's death and Emil's acid bath are the worst offenders.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Old Man is the true head of OCP but he's not involved with Dick Jones' Evil Plan. While OCP is satirically presented as a major cause of the Wretched Hive Detroit has become the Old Man himself appears benign, indicating more Inherent in the System (though sequels demonstrate him being just as bad).
  • Groin Attack
    • You're trying to take down a would-be rapist who's holding his victim hostage. He's using her as a human shield. You are RoboCop and so you have Improbable Aiming Skills. What do you do? Shoot between the hostage's legs and neuter the guy.
    • A psychopath tries to kick RoboCop between the legs, with predictably self-defeating results.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: In the TV edit Dick tells Bob Morton he just "finked" with the wrong guy.
  • Got Volunteered: Following the E.D.-2019's shooting of an executive assistant Morton swoops in to talk to the Old Man about his project, which the Old Man promises to approve after a presentation in his office. Outside the shot up board room, Morton tells Jones that his project is ready to go, all he needs is a candidate to "volunteer." Following his brutal murder, Murphy, thanks to his stellar police record, has his brain incorporated in the project's cybernetic body, and comes online a year later as RoboCop.
  • Guns Akimbo: Human Murphy tries to shoot up the Boddicker gang's panel truck this way, with his own pistol and Lewis's sidearm. He fails spectacularly by only managing to hit Bobby in the leg.
  • Gun Twirling: Murphy's signature Character Tic, as he copies a move from his son's favorite TV show TJ Lazer. He explains to Lewis in the scene prior to the car chase that he does this because he knows he's his son's role model. (The gun safety issues of doing this are averted by the fact that Murphy only does that trick after unloading the weapon. When he's doing it with Lewis prior to chasing down Boddicker, he reloads his pistol afterwords.) After Murphy is killed and Bob Morton's team turns him into RoboCop, part of the process is that Murphy's memory is erased. However, it turns out the memory-wiping process is not perfect, as demonstrated when Morton shows off RoboCop's Improbable Aiming Skills at the firing range. After finishing his magazine, RoboCop twirls his Auto 9 on his right hand before putting it in his leg holster. Lewis sees this, immediately realizing that RoboCop is Murphy. He does do it again at the end of the film before tucking his gun into his holster and confidently walking away, like a hero in a Western.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Robo removes his helmet near the end of the film, apparently deciding he would rather show his real face to the world than wear it. (Besides, it was damaged.)
  • The Hero Dies: And is reborn as an inexorable chrome crime-fighter.
  • Heroic Willpower: Directive 4 is explicitly stated to cause spoiler: full system shutdown. And while it inhibits RoboCop's functionality, he manages to power through it and remain functional.
  • High-Speed Missile Dodge: RoboCop does this a few times during his Executive Suite Fight with ED-209 in OCP headquarters.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Dick Jones and his Directive 4. Since he is the "number 2 guy around here," he tries to take the one guy who could terminate him hostage. "Dick, you're fired!" takes on a whole new meaning.
    • Dick Jones also screwed himself over when he taunts a fallen RoboCop by confessing that Jones had OCP exec Bob Morton killed, knowing full well that the cyborg can record everything he says, and it is admissible as evidence in a court of law. Jones even chewed out Clarence Boddicker for this shortly before.
  • Hollywood Acid: Boddicker's henchman Emil attempts to crush Murphy with his car, only to miss Murphy and drive straight into a tank full of corrosive toxic waste. He survives, but is severely agonizing due to his skin having eroded, and is later killed when run over by another bad guy anyway.
  • Hollywood Board Games: Played for Laughs in the In-Universe commercial for Nukem, a board game that can be better described as Battleship with nukes. Instead of two navy fleets facing each other, the players are each one side of a worldwide nuclear war. The commercial wouldn't be out of a place for a themed Battleship, what with the characters hammy shouting that x territory is being threatened or smugly bragging when their tactics prove successful.
  • Hollywood Fire: Robo survives being caught in a gas station explosion with only a little soot on his improbably shiny armor.
  • Hollywood Silencer: When Boddicker shoots Morton, he fits a silencer first so his pistol is barely audible; he even uses a different pistol with an extended barrel in this scene. Since he then blows up the house, it's unclear why he used a suppressor in the first place.
  • Hookers and Blow: Plenty of both, particularly at Morton's house right before his death scene where he snorts the stuff off a hooker's breasts.
  • Hospital Gurney Scene: Murphy being airlifted to the ER where a trauma team makes a last-ditch effort to save him.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: The movie is about a police officer who loses his humanity by becoming a cyborg only to later gain it back.
  • Hummer Dinger: The 6000 SUX has reclining leather seats, goes really fast and gets really shitty gas mileage(!), specifically, 8.2 MPG! It became even funnier once Hummer SUVs started hitting real life American streets.
  • Hydrant Geyser: When the Boddicker gang are playing around with their Cobra Assault Cannons, one blows the top off a fire hydrant causing a geyser.

  • Identity Amnesia: Alex Murphy forgets everything about his past life when he's killed, including his real name. Over the course of the film he regains his identity and gets his revenge on the people who wronged him.
  • Idiot Ball: We don't see the decision on screen, only its consequences, but whoever it was who decided to load a prototype law enforcement robot that the design team had to know was flaky and unreliable with live ammo for a demonstration in front of the OCP board of directors cannot be the brightest bulb on the company's Christmas tree.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Police Sergeant Reed declares, after announcing Officer Frederickson's death, "I don't want to hear any more talk about strike. We are not plumbers. We are police officers! And police officers don't strike."
  • I'm Melting!: Emil, after the van he was driving crashed into a vat of toxic waste and very messily at that. His fingernails are separating from his fingers.
  • I'm Not a Doctor, but I Play One on TV: One of the cut-away commercials parodies this type of advertisement with an advert for an artificial heart.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: During the final shootout against Boddicker's gang, RoboCop is impaled by Boddicker with a metal rod. RoboCop prompty returns the favor to Boddicker with his Data Spike.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy:
    • Even disregarding that they're shooting at a target who's effectively bulletproof, during the factory shootout the goons have atrocious aim, missing what seems like over 3/4ths of their shots at a distance of less than 20 meters (this is even before RoboCop even starts moving and shooting back). Even worse, while a couple are trying to go full-auto from the hip and thus would be expected to have trouble hitting anything, most of the goons actually are trying to aim properly. It might be because they're untrained goons, as the OCP stormtroopers later in the film seem to have much better aim.
    • In the climax of the film, none of the criminals can hit RoboCop with their BFGs, even when they cause massive explosions. Probably because they're trying to fire anti-tank rifles from the hip.
    • Inverted with Murphy himself, who was a pretty bad shot without his cybernetic enhancements. Even after he becomes RoboCop, he can't seem to hit anything when his auto targeting system is damaged (though this may be justified because he may not be programmed to be able to shoot without it).
  • Implacable Man: RoboCop is more or less unstoppable with the kinds of weaponry your typical street thug, even in the Crapsack World of Future Detroit, can usually get their hands on. When he comes for your drug gang he'll just stand there, letting you shoot him up, shrugging your bullets off as he casually picks your gang off one by one with his Hand Cannon. And if he's suitably motivated by, say, a desire for revenge against you for killing him in the first place, you might as well get your affairs in order.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills:
    • Justified in that Robo's are all software. The human Murphy empties four magazines at a speeding panel truck and only manages to hit with one round. When the software craps out after RoboCop's run-in with the classified Directive 4 and Dick Jones, he's right back to being unable to hit the broad side of a barn, and Lewis has to help him reprogram himself.
    • A would-be rapist has a civilian as a human shield and is pretty much obscured by her. Robo looks at her skirt and gets an idea, then shoots through the skirt, right between her legs and pretty much neuters the guy holding her hostage.
  • Improvised Weapon: The data spike comes in handy later in the film.
  • Incompetence, Inc.: OCP as a whole are depicted as this, though it's at the very least a mixture of incompetence and plain ol' greed. They prioritize making showpieces for military contracts rather than actually keeping the streets safe, and further prioritize said showpieces looking cool for the cameras and getting out early over them actually working. Buying the entire police force modern equipment would likely have cost a fraction of what it took to make ED-209 or RoboCop and saved many more lives, but where's the profit margin in that?
  • Infantilization Retaliation: Subverted. Before Murphy is resurrected as a cyborg, he is captured by Clarence Boddicker's gang. As Murphy lies helplessly on the floor, Clarence puts his hand on Murphy's cheek and says "You probably don't think I'm a very nice guy, do ya?" Instead of attacking him, Murphy calmly replies "Buddy, I think you're slime".
  • Infrared X-Ray Camera: Robo has an infrared scanner that allows him to sneak up on a perp from behind a wall.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Typically about as thoroughly averted as humanly possible:
    • Murphy gets shot dozens of times by Boddicker and his gang in the beginning.
    • At the end, Murphy puts 15 bullets in Dick Jones, but he is killed when he gets knocked back through a window and falls around 100 stories to his death, screaming the whole way down
    • Even the mooks clutch at their wounds and pass out from shock before dying
  • Instant Taste Addiction: When RoboCop is first revealed to the rest of the police department, it's explained by the engineers that RoboCop eats a "rudimentary paste that sustains his organic systems." The OCP exec Donald Johnson tries some and immediately tells Morton it "tastes like baby food," and can't resist helping himself to more.
  • Ironic Echo: After screwing over Jones' ED-209 program and while in the bathroom boasting of his promotion, Morton says "But hey, that's life!" Jones shoots this back to him when he sends Clarence to eliminate him.
    • Another subtle one occurs when the police precinct first lays eyes on the title character. As the scene begins, an arrested perp is raving to Sgt. Reed about how he will repeat his crimes again due to answering to “a higher authority,” i.e. God. Once Bob Morton starts rolling in with his scientists and bluntly tells the enquiring Reed to “get lost,” Reed starts to invoke his authority he answers to, i.e. the company executives… only to be cutoff mid-sentence by an oblique sight of RoboCop entering the building. As if to punctuate the ironic reversal, the formerly-raving perp steps up beside Reed, briefly drops the crazy act, and soberly asks “What is this shit, man?”.
  • Irony: Out of Boddicker and his crew, Joe Cox is the most visibly eager to tangle with RoboCop, recklessly firing off several shots of the cannon he's been given and whooping with glee at the explosions it causes. He ends up being the first of Boddicker's henchmen to be killed by RoboCop in their final confrontation.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Attempted by Boddicker at the end of the final showdown. He tosses his gun aside and says he gives up... while his buddy is preparing to drop a load of scrap onto Murphy.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Murphy is referred to by OCP as "it" after his transformation. Ironically, Clarence Boddicker does not do this.
  • It's Personal: RoboCop's fight with Boddicker because he's avenging his own murder. Boddicker ironizes about it.
    Boddicker: Hey. Now, wait a second. Wait a minute. You're taking this kind of personal.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: RoboCop considers OCP Vice-President Dick Jones to be just another criminal to detain or eliminate. However, his hatred for Jones's hitman, Clarence Boddicker, who (nearly) killed Alex Murphy before he became RoboCop, is so strong that his desire for revenge against him clashes with his programming to uphold the law, and eventually surpasses it when he rejects Boddicker's surrender.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Back in the late 80's, no one would ever imagine the Ford Taurus being an effective police car. Fast-forward to the 2010's and they've now replaced the venerable Crown Victoria as Ford's police cruiser platform.
  • I Was Just Joking: Sal uses the "I was just kidding" justification to defuse the armed standoff with Clarence gang. It works, only for RoboCop to barge in at that moment.
  • The Jaywalking Dead: Towards the end an unlucky goon gets doused in toxic waste, leaving him as a shambling, rotting, but still technically alive mess of a man. Blinded by pain and the toxic waste that caused it, he stumbles into the road only to be promptly splattered by a car.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Officer Kaplan is seen a couple of times talking about striking, which makes him seem like a Rabble Rouser. But he's also one of the few officers to refuse to fire on RoboCop in the parking garage, which suggests that he really just doesn't want cops being killed in the line of duty.
  • Just a Machine: OCP refers to RoboCop as their product instead of a human being with his own identity.
  • Just Between You and Me: OCP executive Dick Jones tells RoboCop, "I had to kill Bob Morton because he made a mistake. Now, it's time to erase that mistake.", before summoning the ED-209 and a SWAT team to destroy him. What makes this particularly stupid on his part is he knows that RoboCop is capable of recording everything he says (he even bitches out Boddicker for telling RoboCop about his involvement in the first place). This bites him back hard in the end, when Robocop reports to the OCP board of executives to replay the statement.
  • Just Following Orders: When one of the SWAT team sent to destroy RoboCop in the parking garage protests that they're shooting a fellow officer, the lieutenant simply answers "We have orders to destroy it!"
  • Keep It Foreign: Boddicker's Last Words (which, in English, are "Sayonara, RoboCop!") are changed to "Bye-bye, RoboCop!" in the 1999 Japanese dub.
  • Kent Brockman News:
    • News anchors Jess Perkins and Casey Wong such as in the first segment, when they are talking about the police officer shot by Boddicker's gang.
    • In the police strike news report, the guy defending the strike is an obviously stoned derelict instead of a police union representative.
  • Kill Sat: The SDI Defense Satellite mentioned in the news accidentally fires on Santa Barbara during start up tests and scorches 10,000 acres of wooded forest in an instant, killing 110 people, including two former presidents who had retired to that area. A day of mourning for the country.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A thug tries to rape a woman at knifepoint. Seconds later, RoboCop appears and shoots him ... in the balls.
  • Last Day of Normalcy: Alex Murphy was transferred to the Detroit Metro West precinct, and thinks he will take his new partner, Anne Lewis, on a routine patrol, where they run afoul of notorious crime lord, Clarence Boddicker. However, Murphy is cornered by Boddicker and Lewis witnesses Boddicker and his men carry out a firing squad execution of Murphy with shotguns. Murphy then wakes up a year later as Robo-Cop.
  • Left for Dead: At the start of the movie, the bad guys dismember officer Murphy in a brutal fashion and leave him to die with a gunshot in his head, believing (quite understandably) he's dead. Even though the quick medical response can't save him in the end, he only dies at the hospital. They do not know that OCP has new experimental technology that can bring him back as the titular cyborg policeman.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: "Show Me Your Spine". To quote The Other Wiki, "In the Nightclub scene of the movie, the song by P.T.P was played. P.T.P was a short lived side project consisting of members of the band Ministry. However, this song was not available in any official form and could only be heard in the film. It was eventually released in 2004 on a compilation album called Side Trax by Ministry."
  • Loophole Abuse: RoboCop can't arrest Dick Jones directly due to Directive 4 prohibiting him from turning against OmniCorp, but he can still walk into a board meeting and reveal incriminating evidence to the CEO "Old Man". Jones takes the Old Man hostage and RoboCop explains he can't take action against Jones because of the Directive. The Old Man then fires Dick on the spot, nullifying the stalemate, and with a "Thank You" RoboCop is able to use lethal force.
  • Ludd Was Right: Although one cop wonders if RoboCop was built to replace them, the trope is ultimately averted with the cops accepting him as an asset on their side, such as being a big tough trooper who can safely draw criminals' fire while his regular comrades can maneuver for position to do support flanking.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: ED-209 vs Kinney in the Boardroom. Emil vs. Hollywood Acid. Murphy vs. giggling thugs with shotguns. Warning: the videos are graphic.
  • Made of Iron: Well, titanium composite. But even before he gets turned into RoboCop the amount of punishment Alex Murphy endures before dying is remarkable.
  • Made of Plasticine: Emil splats reeeaaal good after taking a bath in a vat of toxic chemicals.
  • Madness Mantra:
    • The convenience store mugger's repeated, "Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me..."
    • While running away from RoboCop, Emil can only say “We killed you!” as he runs for the hills.
  • Magical Defibrillator: Averted nicely. When Murphy's dying body goes into shock they zap him while his heart is still technically beating. Once he flatlines they decide to give him another shock anyway, but their tone of voice makes it clear they know it won't work.
  • Meaningful Name: Dick Jones is a real dick.
  • Meat-Sack Robot: The eponymous RoboCop was designed to essentially be a robot using a critically injured cop's central nervous system as a Wetware CPU. They left enough of a digestive system to sustain the brain and spine, and grafted his face on for looks, but he's otherwise a robot meant to be subservient to programming. Him partially regaining his previous identity was an unexpected accident.
  • Memetic Mutation: In-universe example: "I'd buy that for a dollar!"
  • Memory-Wiping Crew: Murphy's memory is wiped when he's being turned into RoboCop, however it isn't perfect because he retains his Gun Twirling habit, and also begins to remember Clarence Boddicker's gang shooting him up with their shotguns, as well as memories of his family and previous life.
  • Mexican Standoff: Boddicker and his gang get into one at the cocaine factory with their fellow crooks, but everybody backs down just in time for RoboCop to come smashing through the front door.
  • Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back: A news story near the beginning of the movie describes rebels in Mexico rattling the U.S. borders.
  • Mighty Glacier: One of RoboCop's few design drawbacks is that he's beyond slow; at most he can do powerwalking speed, and he has zero agility or dodging speed. He compensates by being heavily armored and a perfect sharpshooter, and if he gets within grabbing distance you're screwed.
  • Miranda Rights: When arresting The Dragon, Murphy reads him his rights while slamming him around the room, throwing him through glass and almost crushing his head. It’s very justified, as said Dragon is a known cop killer who even killed Murphy to begin with. He wasn’t going to take any chances.
  • Money Is Not Power: Two thugs chase down a woman. She tries to offer her purse, but they knock it away and say they don't care about money, they just want to rape her. RoboCop steps in and saves her.
  • Monster and the Maiden: The titular RoboCop is partnered up with a human police officer, Anne Lewis. Anne was RoboCop's partner even before he became a cyborg and was just a normal, human cop named Alex J. Murphy.
  • Mood Whiplash:
  • Mook Horror Show: RoboCop arrives to a major drug manufacturing warehouse with dozens of armed criminals. After he knocks down the industrial door everyone takes aim while he silently starts marking targets. He offers them the chance to surrender but once they open fire he proceeds to soak all their ammunition and return fire, picking everyone off in sequence and never moving past a steady walk as everyone else scatters.
  • More Dakka: ED-209's cannons, RoboCop's machine pistol, and the hundreds of rounds the SWAT team fires at him, all with Bottomless Magazines, of course.
  • Multiple Gunshot Death:
    • This is how Murphy dies at the hands of the Boddicker gang: multiple concentrated shotgun fire with a Coup de Grâce by Boddicker for good measure.
    • Earlier on, Mr. Kinney is completely annihilated on this fashion via the three mounted high-caliber auto-cannons of the ED-209. Made even more gruesome on the extended cut, where the ED-209 keeps on going for about half a minute after he's down and tears a gigantic hole that exposes the ribs on his torso (among other miscellaneous Gorn).
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The scene when RoboCop enters his squad car for the first time, shifts the gears into drive, and drives up the exit ramp from the motor pool and out onto the highway on his first patrol. Driving a police car is a lot more awesome when you're an invincible cyborg with an epic orchestral theme.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: The scientific staff are all named after politicians, the cops are all named after serial killers.
  • Near-Villain Victory: Leon Nash drops a load of debris on RoboCop when he comes to save an injured Lewis from Boddicker. Meanwhile, Dick Jones is capitalizing on the police strike to sell his police droid once and for all. However, RoboCop is not dead, just trapped, and Lewis uses a Cobra cannon to kill Nash. Boddicker tries to kill RoboCop with an iron bar, but he kills Boddicker with his data spike, and frees himself. RoboCop then goes to OCP headquarters, destroys the sentinel droid with a Cobra cannon, exposes Dick Jones and kills him after the Old Man removes his in-universe Plot Armor.
  • Neutron Bomb: The besieged city state of Pretoria, South Africa has acquired a French-made neutron bomb, and affirmed its intent to use it as their last line of defense.
  • New Era Speech:
    • OCP and Dick Jones give several ones ushering the upcoming Delta City, a seemingly benign reboot of old Detroit which in reality is just a plattform for nefarious new profit.
    • Bob Morton presents RoboCop as a new page in police history that will make obsolete the traditional cop.
  • No Name Given: The name of the CEO of OCP is never given. He is simply called "The Old Man".
  • Nondescript, Nasty, Nutritious: RoboCop is mostly cybernetic, with only the bare essentials of Murphy's body left installed. To sustain his organic parts, OCP has provided the precinct headquarters with a nutrient paste dispenser. The stuff comes out into a cup (from a dispenser that looks somewhat like an ICEE machine) as a brown sludge, with the consistency and look of left-out applesauce. Averted when one of the other, fully-human OCP executives, Donald Johnson, tastes the stuff, and takes a liking to it.
    Donald Johnson: [sticks his finger in the cup and tastes the sludge] Tastes like baby food!
    Robert Morton: [with a quizzical expression] Knock yourself out.
    [Johnson continues eating from the cup]
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • Exactly what moron thought it a smart idea for ED-209 be fully armed for a demo in a company board room?
    • In general, the many factories where fights occur are perilous places. In particular: the big tank of acid placed right alongside a narrow service road, no barriers, nothing.
  • No-Sell: When Dick Jones invites RoboCop to arrest him for aiding and abetting a known felon, Directive 4, which prohibits any attempt to arrest a senior OCP officer kicks in, and RoboCop is stopped in his tracks.
  • No Sympathy Between Mooks: When Bobby accidentally burns the money and ruins their score, followed by taking a bullet to the leg from the pursuing cops, the rest of Clarence's gang seems to find the idea of throwing him from the back of the truck just as funny as Clarence does.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: Nor was it the 15 bullets RoboCop put into Dick Jones before he was blown out of that window. In fact, this is actually pretty good as a demonstration of the trope, as Dick Jones screams all the way to the ground.
  • Novelization: By Ed Naha.
  • Nuke 'em: Get them before they get you! Another quality home game from Butler Brothers!
    Daughter: You crossed my line of death!
    Mother: You haven't dismantled your MX stockpile.
    Son: Pakistan is threatening my border!
    Father: That's it, Buster! No more military aid! [presses Big Red Button causing simulated explosion]
  • Offhand Backhand: When shooting up the drug lab, Robo aims and fires at a random mook without even looking directly at him.
  • Off with His Head!: Emil's entire body explodes once Boddicker runs over his melted, disfigured body; all that can be seen from that is his head flying over Boddicker's car.
  • Oh, Crap!
    • Involving ED-209, which is a heavily armed Mini-Mecha. An OCP executive, Kinney, is asked to simulate a "typical arrest and disarming procedure" during a board meeting. Dick Jones gives Kinney a pistol and tells him to cock it and aim it at ED-209:
      ED-209: Please put down your weapon. You have twenty seconds to comply.
      Dick Jones: I think you'd better do what he says, Mr. Kinney.
      [Kinney drops the Desert Eagle on the floor; ED-209 steps towards him, growls and aims its machine guns at him]
      ED-209: You now have fifteen seconds to comply. You are in direct violation of Penal Code 113, Section 9.
      Technician: Pull the plug!
      ED-209: You now have five seconds to comply.
      [everyone starts screaming and diving for cover]
      Kinney: [trying to shield himself behind another board member] Help me!
      ED-209: Four. Three. Two. One. I am now authorized to use physical force. [ED-209 fires at Kinney and sprays him up with bullets well past the point of death, until he is made more of lead than of flesh]
    • Emil at the gas station. When RoboCop uses the "dead or alive" line, Emil is surprised to hear it and figures out who the new cop is.
    • The final fight between Boddicker and RoboCop:
      Boddicker: Okay, I give up.
      [drops his gun]
      RoboCop: [walks toward him with gun trained on him] I'm not arresting you anymore.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens: In OCP's board room.
  • One-Joke Fake Show: The brief clips we see of the lowbrow sitcom It's Not My Problem all feature the sleazy protagonist, Bixby Snyder, shouting his Catchphrase, "I'd buy that for a dollar!"
  • One Phone Call: Clarence Boddicker is dragged, bloodied, into the police station by Robo. Having been introduced as a cop killer, he's given a hard stare by all the cops. In response, he contemptuously spits blood onto the countertop and says "Just give me my fucking phone call.", with the clear (and correct) implication that he'll be on the street again in minutes. However, given that the next time they meet RoboCop is absolutely through with fucking around, Clarence might have been better off staying in jail.
    Clarence: Okay. I give up.
    RoboCop: I'm not arresting you anymore.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. In addition to Bob Morton, one of Boddicker's guys is named Bobby, and is tossed out onto Murphy's pursuing patrol car after Murphy shoots him in the leg.
  • One-Word Title: Also a Protagonist Title.
  • On Patrol Montage: Robo has a busy first night smashing crime all over Detroit.
  • Orphaned Punchline: An in-universe comedy show always cracks everyone up when the host shouts, "I'd buy that for a dollar!" But the viewer has no idea why it's funny.
  • Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future: Everywhere, including the computers in the police station and in OCP's board room, and RoboCop's Heads-Up Display has a distinctly 80s cyberpunk look with the monochrome green text.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: At the end of the film's credit, you can see the following statement:
    This motion picture is protected under the laws of the United States and other countries and its unauthorized duplication, distribution or exhibition may result in civil liability and criminal prosecution by enforcement droids.
  • Out of the Inferno: RoboCop calmly strides out of an exploding gas station, with only a minor amount of surface soot on his improbably shiny armor, and shoots out the back tire of Emil's motorbike as he tries to flee the scene.
  • Outside-Context Problem: After Murphy is rebuilt into a cyborg, he spends most of the film relentlessly haunting and taking down criminals in Old Detroit. RoboCop is so beyond anything they have ever experience that they're completely helpless before him and he takes down the drug lords who murdered him without taking any damage. A newscaster in the movie compared it to a comic-book hero coming to life. It takes the criminals gaining access to military weapons and help from the big number two at OCP just to slow RoboCop down.
  • Pet Rat: A top OCP executive secretly has a lowlife criminal do all of his dirty work for him.
  • Phony Newscast:
    • The film has a series of newscasts where horrible events are described during the news in an upbeat fashion. For example, in the opening, Casey Wong describes Clarence Boddicker's recent ambush and murder of three police officers in this way, and cheers on the sole surviving officer of the attack, saying how he's rooting for the officer to live. Mood whiplash in the very next scene in the police locker room when Reed is seen taking said cop's name off his locker and putting his personal effects in an evidence tray.
    • There are advertisements placed throughout that accompany these newscasts so that you get an idea of what the consumer culture is like in the time period of the movie.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: When he kills Bob Morton, Clarence pulls the pin on the grenade in this way. Even creepier, he actually uses his tongue to secure the ring.
  • Police Are Useless: The Detroit police as severely underfunded and understaffed in a city tearing itself apart with crime. OCP is essentially sabotaging the police and using the chaos to privatize the city and make it reliant on their products, including a new line of proposed police robots.
  • Police Brutality: Robo uses some heavy-handed tactics to fight crime, including throwing a terrorist out a window and castrating a rapist. The latter, at least, is justifiable since the perpetrator was holding their victim at knife-point and RoboCop was far out of melee range, not to mention that with his targeting skills, it's a safer shot than trying to go past her head to hit him.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Two of Boddicker's most famous lines involved sexism ("Bitches, leave") and racism (calling Sal a "wop"). The rest of his gang's no better, with Joe calling Emil "faggot" twice and Emil himself making a crack about prison rape.
  • Portmantitle: "Robot" + "Cop".
  • Power at a Price: The premise of the movie: Murphy gains superhuman abilities and the chance to come Back from the Dead, but he also loses much of his individuality in the process and what makes him human to begin with.
  • Practice Target Overkill: Robo first demonstrates his capacity as a Job-Stealing Robot when he rips a target to shreds with his Auto-9 on the Metro South station's firing range.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner:
    • "Your move, creep!" note 
    • "Come quietly, or there will be...trouble."
    • "Dead or alive, you're coming with me!"
    • "Looking for me?" (shoots one of Boddicker's henchmen)
    • "Cops don't like me, so I don't like cops..." note 
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    • Boddicker loves these, seemingly. Examples include "Can you fly, Bobby?" before throwing Bobby on a chasing police cruiser, "Okay, fun's over" before putting Murphy out of his misery, "Bye-bye, Baby!" before attempting to kill Lewis, and "Sayonara, RoboCop!" when readying to kill the same.
    • In a variation, it's not the killer who says it, but the man who authorized it.
      The Old Man: Dick! You're fired!
  • Prison Rape: The villain Emil expresses his relief that nobody "popped" his "cherry" while he was in prison for a brief time.
  • Privately Owned Society: It's hinted that Omni Consumer Products owns and operates the police department. It isn't mentioned, but it's a safe assumption that most other public services are run by them, too. At one point, when Clarence Boddinker asks Dick Jones (OCP's vice-president) if OCP can get him access to military hardware with which to deal with RoboCop, Jones replies, "We practically are the military."
  • Psycho for Hire: Boddicker, is this for Dick Jones, as he so emphatically states when RoboCop is beating him up.
  • Pushy Gun-Toting Villain: Emil Antonowsky, one of crime-lord Clarence Boddicker's cronies, robs a gas station one night, and also forces the the innocent station attendant at gunpoint, who was doing his math homework, to give him free gasoline for his motorcycle. It doesn't simply end there, however, as Emil starts to get a bit trigger-happy, looking for an excuse to pop off a few rounds as he's talking to the clerk. The clerk keeps quiet and simply nods or shakes his head, to keep from ticking him off. Unfortunately, Emil doesn't take well to his attempts to get around his threat. Fortunately, RoboCop arrives just in time.
    Emil: [noticing the book] Hey, man, what you reading in there?
    [the clerk quickly shows him the "Plane Geometry" book he has]
    Emil: [laughing, mocking] You a college boy or something?!
    [the clerk only nods in fear, not speaking]
    Emil: [laughs] I'll bet you think you're smart. [brandishes his automatic rifle and aims it] Think you could outsmart a bullet?
    What do you say we find out, huh? [he kicks the wall, quickly losing patience] I'm talking to you!! What do you say, huh? Huh?!
    [The clerk shakes his head in fear, still quiet]
    [Emil kicks the wall again]
    Emil: [enraged, no pretense of humor] I'M TALKING TO YOU!!!
    RoboCop: [now out of car, pistol aimed] DROP IT!
  • Punny Name: When both Bob and Clarence get frustrated with Jones, they really enunciate his first name.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: RoboCop aims between the hostage's legs and shoots the bad guy's crotch.
  • Putting on the Reich:
    • Clarence Boddicker wears glasses resembling those worn by Heinrich Himmler — a deliberate move according to the movie's director.
    • OCP's corporate logo: White circle on a red background with a stylised O, C and P in black on the circle. It's very deliberately reminiscent of a Nazi swastika.
  • Quest for Identity: Much of the film revolves around Murphy trying to remember who he was in his past life and getting revenge on the criminals who killed him.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Clarence's henchmen are a rabble of ethnic sterotypes that function as lesser villains.

  • Railing Kill: Several when RoboCop shoots up Boddicker's drug lab.
  • Raster Vision: The title character sees in raster lines after becoming a cyborg.
  • Reading Your Rights: RoboCop catches Boddicker, and reads him his rights while repeatedly tossing him through windows. In the commentary, the crew confess that they were terrified that real-world cops would react badly to that scene. They did a test screening...and it was a roaring success. Boddicker being an Asshole Victim probably helped.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Before he was made more amoral in the sequel, the CEO of OCP, The Old Man. He's willing to hear the input of a junior executive and give him a chance despite the opposition of the Senior President, and when RoboCop turns up to apprehend Dick Jones at the end, rather than dismiss him or be afraid, asks "How can we help you officer?" and then neutrally asks for evidence when listing the charge.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: All over the place. It's not surprising that the ED-209 malfunctioned and killed an unarmed civilian if it's built by a corporation that's stupid enough to a) do a demonstration with its cannons fully loaded and b) give a loaded handgun to a guy who doesn't know how to use it, who then throws it on the floor, whereupon it could have gone off and killed someone. Simply placing it down on the floor could have saved Kinney his life.
  • Re-Cut: The movie is available in both the original cut and Verhoeven's later Director's Cut. The changes are minimal - most are reinstated scenes of gore that were cut for the cinema release. It does use some alternate takes in a few scenes, though, mostly close-ups where the original used long shots.
  • Restraining Bolt: RoboCop's classified 4th directive prevents him from arresting senior [OCP] executives. Former senior [OCP] executives, however, are fair game.
  • Revenant Zombie: The movie features a sci-fi version of the Revenant with a murdered cop getting brought back as a cyborg and trying to arrest his murderers. What really brings the title cop back is arresting the first of the bad guys that killed him. From that moment on, he spends the rest of the film seeking just revenge.
  • Revised Ending: The movie originally ended with Murphy visiting Lewis in the hospital to show that she had survived. After attending several test screenings, producers noticed how emotionally involved audiences got in the scene where the Old Man asks Robocop what his name is, with audiences often yelling "Murphy" before he does. It soon became evident to Verhoven and everyone else involved that this was the note to end the movie on. The original ending did turn up on TV airings of the film.
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: The Old Man mentions the interest payments alone on Delta City could cost them fifty million dollars. This is for six months.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The public is lead to believe RoboCop is completely robotic, which is believable since only his mouth is visible. Robo himself tries to avert this later in the film by taking off his helmet and showing his true face to the world.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: At one point, RoboCop is called in to deal with a hostage crisis. A former municipal official has taken the mayor and his staff hostage, executing one of them, and is demanding his job back. This was based on the real-life assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The main plot of the movie is Murphy avenging his own death but especially the shootout at the steel mill.
  • Robo Cam: Amusingly, RoboCop's embedded OS apparently runs on MS-DOS, as his startup sequence loads from BIOS and then calls COMMAND.COM.
  • R-Rated Opening: In the first twenty or so minutes of this film, we see a businessman get shredded by gunfire with blood spurting everywhere. Then we see Alex Murphy gets his hand blasted apart, shot repeated at point-blank range, an arm blown off, and shot in the head. Later still, there's hookers and blow and knee-capping.
  • Rule of Cool: ED-209 was intended to be a Take That! against the American motor industry for being all about useless size and power over practicality, just like the 6000 SUX. ED-209 is oversized and overarmed for a police patrol robot. Its ability to interact with the public is limited as well as faulty, and it can't even negotiate a flight of stairs. Jones asserts that no-one cares if it works for its official purpose because it can find buyers in the military.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • Lewis holds up a twisted mirror to Murphy so he can see what he has become.
    • The abandoned steel mill, symbolic of dying American industry, is where the resurrected RoboCop (a Messianic Archetype who will save Old Detroit from slipping into chaos) takes on the evil criminal Boddicker. Oh, and he walks across a body of water to get to him.
    • There's a lot of symbolism surrounding Murphy/Robo on the grounds that he was envisioned by the director as American Jesus.
      • Murphy is the 33rd cop to die at Clarence Boddicker's hands. Jesus was supposedly crucified in 33 AD.
      • The murder of Murphy plays out like the Crucifixion, complete with starting with Fin Gore (Shotgun to the hand versus being nailed to a cross), ending with a Coup De Grace (Boom, Headshot! versus a spear in the side), has a lamenting woman in the immediate aftermath (Lewis versus Mary) and leads to a resurrection.
      • RoboCop is later seen walking in a shallow lake, giving him the appearance of walking on water.
      • Again referencing the Crucifixion, Boddicker rams a spear into Murphy's torso through a pre-existing hole just like the Roman Centurion in the above-mentioned Coup de Grâce.
    • There are a few references to RoboCop mirroring Frankenstein's Monster throughout the movie, being described as an unholy monster and treated like a bastardisation of science, rendered physically repulsive by his ordeal ("you may not like what you're about to see") and turning on his creators (albeit because he's a cop and they're breaking the law).
  • Say My Name:
    • Lewis does this after seeing Murphy gunned down.
    • During the climactic shootout at the steel mill, Boddicker shoots Lewis in the legs and is about to finish her off when RoboCop appears behind him and shouts "CLARENCE!" while awesome music plays.
    • After dispatching Boddicker, RoboCop shouts "Lewis!" when he sees her laying on the ground wounded.
  • Scary Black Man: Joe Cox, one of Boddicker's men, fits this trope very well with the way he mocks Murphy as Murphy lies dying on the ground.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Directive Four essentially exempts OCP executives from the law, at least when Robo is enforcing it.
  • Self-Destructive Charge: An OCP executive gets his knees shot up by a hired killer, who then proceeds to leave a hand grenade (with a clearly visible display...) on his desk. He desperately tries to crawl to it in time to throw it away or stop it, but he's barely touching it when it goes off.
  • Shooting Gallery: There's a scene where about half the precinct are practicing on the range and all stopping to witness RoboCop's Improbable Aiming Skills as he shreds the targets with his Auto 9.
  • Shooting Superman: There are numerous scenes of gang members and other criminals shooting RoboCop repeatedly with small arms to no effect. The only time he takes any real damage is when he tangles with ED-209 (a more heavily-armed robot) or the entire Detroit police force at once.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: RoboCop shoots between the hostage's legs to hit the hostage taker in the groin.
  • Shoot the Television: When he tours his old house, Murphy takes his anger at having his life stolen from him out on one of the monitors selling his old house, punching it.
  • Shown Their Work: The scene with paramedics trying to revive Murphy was filmed with real paramedics using their real jargon.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The catchphrase "I'd buy that for a dollar!!" from the Show Within a Show It's Not My Problem is a homage to the idiot's TV-derived catchphrase from the dystopic 1950's SF story The Marching Morons, updated for inflation. Originally: "I'd buy that for a quarter!" And more subtly, the cool-looking but horribly-performing 6000 SUX automobile.
    • The star of It's Not My Problem, Bixby Snyder, is possibly a homage to Benny Hill or a parody. In a supposedly-filmed scene, there's one final newscast where the newsreaders announce that Snyder has been arrested for receiving sexual favours from underaged co-stars.
    • Emil's gruesome demise was visually based upon the effects from The Incredible Melting Man, to the point that the effects specialist who worked on them dubbed them "The Melting Man".
    • For sale at the convenience store are a variety of 80s-era Marvel Comics, including Amazing Spider-Man, The Mighty Thor, Captain America, and even ROM Spaceknight.
    • In the artificial heart commercial one of the hearts offered is from the "Jarvik line". Dr Robert Jarvik invented the artificial heart in 1982.
  • Soft Glass: The movie has plenty of things being thrown through glass, including RoboCop himself. Also has a realistic outcome when Boddicker gets his face cut up pretty badly from it. He has those scars for the rest of the film. Of course, he should be sliced to ribbons, not sporting what looks like a lot of shaving cuts, but it's more than you usually see with this trope.
    Clarence: Take a good look at my face, Dick, he was trying to kill me!
  • Something Only They Would Say:
    • Lewis realizes that RoboCop is Alex Murphy when she sees him performing the gun-spin move he learned from the T.J. Lazer television show, during the demonstration of RoboCop's sharpshooting abilities at the precinct's shooting range.
    • Emil figures out that RoboCop is Murphy during the gas station scene, when RoboCop says "Dead or alive, you're coming with me!", the very same thing that Murphy said while training a pistol on Emil at the steel mill.
  • Spiteful Spit: When RoboCop tells Clarence that he has the right to remain silent, he spits blood all over his visor. When he is brought to the station he takes another spit on Sgt. Reed's desk.
  • Stealth Pun: The "SUX" in "6000 SUX" is always spelled out whenever spoken, but try saying it as a word. Rather fitting when you consider its "shitty gas mileage".
  • Steel Mill: The finale occurs in an abandoned yet surprisingly functional steel mill in Old Detroit. The scene was filmed at Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Mill in Monessen, PA.
  • Storefront Television Display: When Clarence Boddicker gives his men the new Cobra assault guns provided by Dick Jones before they head to the steel mill to kill RoboCop, they're hanging out near a store with TVs in the window showing a popular program. That storefront is the first thing Emil blasts with his "new toy".
  • Stunned Silence: During the gas station robbery scene when Emil recognizes him as Murphy. RoboCop is so shocked he just stands in place replaying his recording of it and doesn't even react to Emil shooting a submachine gun at him.
    RoboCop: Drop it! Dead or alive, you're coming with me.
    Emil: ...I know you. You're dead. We killed you. (fires gun) We killed you!
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • The Bixby Snyder show It's Not My Problem is so bad that when Emil and another guy sit down to watch a bit of it prior to Murphy showing up at the warehouse, they start laughing raucously even though no joke has been spoken.
    • Every last one of the kitschy commercials they show, especially the 6000 SUX.
  • Subterfuge Judo: Emil Antonowsky, one of Boddicker's cronies, robs a gas station one night, as well as forces the the innocent station clerk at gunpoint, who was doing his math homework, to give him free gasoline for his motorcycle. Emil starts to get a bit trigger-happy, looking for an excuse to shoot, as he's talking to the clerk, but the clerk doesn't say anything, to try to prevent agitating him. It doesn't work. Fortunately, RoboCop arrives just in time before Emil can get off a shot.
    Emil: [noticing the book] Hey, man, what you reading in there?
    [the clerk quickly shows him the "Plane Geometry" book he has]
    Emil: [laughing, mocking] You a college boy or something?!
    [the clerk only nods in fear, not speaking]
    Emil: [laughs] I'll bet you think you're smart. [brandishes his automatic rifle and aims it] Think you could outsmart a bullet?
    What do you say we find out, huh? [he kicks the wall, quickly losing patience] I'm talking to you!! What do you say, huh? Huh?!
    [the clerk shakes his head in fear, still quiet]
    [Emil kicks the wall again, while RoboCop arrives in the background]
    Emil: [enraged, no pretense of humor] I'M TALKING TO YOU!!!
    RoboCop: [now out of car, pistol aimed] DROP IT!
  • Super-Soldier: Murphy is a Cyborg Super Cop who can wade through small arms fire as though it were just snow, and handle a Hand Cannon pistol with pinpoint accuracy. A variation, though the crime situation in the city leaves little distinction.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • There's a lot of Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy shooting in this movie, but it's largely justified. Shooting at a moving truck from a moving car is a lot harder than you'd think so it's not unreasonable for most of the shots to miss. Likewise, shooting huge caliber weapons from the hip is not a good strategy for getting a hit. Basically in this movie, if you don't aim you'll probably miss, which is just what would happen in Real Life.
    • During the factory shootout, Boddicker tries to do a dramatic Hollywood jump from a catwalk to the roof of an office. However, said roof turns out to be made of plywood and collapses instantly, causing him to fall through and ends up flat on his face. In real life many things that look like viable platforms are absolutely not designed to support human weight, so you can't just Le Parkour around without consequence.
  • Tagline: "Part man. Part machine. All cop."
  • Take That!: The SDI Defense Satellite misfired on Santa Barbara during routine startup tests, killing 113 people, including two former presidents who had retired to that area. One is understandable but two seems like carelessness. A day of mourning for a country.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Quite a few times, score by Basil Poledouris:
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • Kinney's death at the demonstration. Poor guy was more lead than flesh by the time they shut ED-209 down. In the director's cut, ED-209 continually blasts Kenney's lifeless corpse as it lies on the table.
    • Murphy's death. First, Boddicker shoots his right hand off. Then Boddicker and his men take turns firing their shotguns, shooting off the rest of Murphy's right arm and purposefully opening fire repeatedly on his heavy-duty bullet proof vest to make him suffer, eventually blasting holes up and down Murphy's midsection. He's still alive at this point and in a great deal of pain. To finish it, Boddicker pulls a pistol and shoots him in the face, blowing off the top of Murphy's head.
    • Jones's death. He was shot 18 times before getting blown through that window. Ronny Cox notes in a DVD extra interview that the extra-powerful squibs used in the production actually knocked him over and made him feel physically sick afterwards.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: The film ends with RoboCop telling "The Old Man" his name is Murphy.
  • This Is What the Building Will Look Like: There is a model of "Delta City" in the OCP boardroom, and it gets splattered when Kinney is shot on it.
  • The Three Facesof Adam: OCP's trio.
    • Morton is the hunter, an ambitious, younger, up and coming executive who takes risks and is innovative.
    • Jones is the lord, an established and consolidated Vice President trying to extinguish new threats while still aiming for the top spot.
    • The Old Man is trying to establish a legacy, is disappointed with his number two and likely successor and is quick to give a chance to competent alternatives.
  • Throwing the Distraction: RoboCop opens the fight in the abandoned factory by throwing a piece of trash to distract the bad guys. They start firing in the wrong direction, and the cyborg uses this to gun down one of them.
    RoboCop: Looking for me?
  • Traumatic Haircut: Two thugs grab a woman intending to rape her, but first decide she has too much hair and start cutting it off with a knife. RoboCop steps in and saves her.
  • Trenchcoat Warfare: The convenience store robber pulls an assault rifle out of his coat. When RoboCop shows up, he bends the barrel in half.
  • Uriah Gambit: An odd variation in which the instigator had no real disagreement with the victim; Bob Morton just wanted a skilled, experienced police officer to turn into a cyborg... and for that officer to be dead so as to make use of loopholes in their contracts to permit the procedure. So he purposefully had top cops like Murphy and Lewis assigned to areas where he expected them to be killed within 90 days... and got what he wanted within a week.
  • The Villain Must Be Punished: After remembering who he really is, RoboCop tracks down the gang that murdered him, arresting all of them until he learns that Dick Jones was the mastermind behind the gang's crimes. After failing to arrest Jones thanks to his fourth programmed directive that prevents him from arresting a senior OCP officer, RoboCop kills each of them one-by-one when Jones manages to free them all and then send them to kill him, and explicitly tells Clarence Boddicker after he attempts a fake surrender that he refuses to arrest him again. He then tracks down Jones again, exposes his crime in front of the OCP Board, and then kills him after the Old Man fires him.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Happens to Emil when RoboCop tries to arrest him, as he says something Murphy said previously. He realizes that it is Murphy. Ironically, this leads to Robo realizing this as well.
    Emil: I know you. You're dead. We killed you. We killed you!
  • Walk on Water: There's a symbolic variant where the resurrected Murphy walks through shallow water during his showdown with the film's villain, Boddicker. The entire movie is full of religious symbolism, since the premise is more or less "Jesus of Nazareth in rundown, futuristic Detroit, only with guns."
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The ED-209, for all its terrifying firepower, can't handle going down stairs. Justified since if it was up against anyone or anything other than RoboCop, it would have made short work of them long before it would be necessary for it to have to use stairs, nor was it designed for combat within an office building.
  • Weapon Grip Failure: RoboCop, being a superstrong cyborg, ordinarily wouldn't drop his gun. However, when he tries to arrest Dick Jones, the Corrupt Corporate Executive who's trying to destroy him, his hidden directive that prevents him from arresting a company executive kicks in and he drops his gun. Not that the gun would have done him much good against ED-209. Happily, the next time he runs into ED-209, the directive isn't a factor and he's got a much bigger gun.
  • We Have Reserves: Morton is completely cold when he describes how they've restructured the police department to put prime RoboCop candidates in live-threatening situations.
  • We Will Use WikiWords in the Future: The title of the film and the name of the protagonist himself is styled RoboCop.
  • Welcome to Hell: Murphy gets this as a welcome to the precinct.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Let's test a new model of robot police enforcer with live ammunition! What Could Possibly Go Wrong? OCP never learned their lesson — they do the same again later on with the "new and improved" RoboCop 2.
  • What You Are in the Dark: RoboCop beats up Boddicker almost to the point of death, but when Boddicker screams at him "You're a cop!", RoboCop realizes what he's doing and is able to restrain himself and arrest him instead.
    RoboCop: Yes. I am a cop. [Directive 3 blinks across his HUD]
  • When He Smiles: Robocop is mostly stoic, when his humanity begins coming back he is mostly sorrowful. But the film makes sure to end on Murphy's warm smile after giving his name to the Old Man.
  • Where It All Began: The climactic showdown at the Abandoned Warehouse where Murphy was killed at the beginning of the movie.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: A minor case when Murphy faces Clarence for the last time, proclaims "I'm not arresting you anymore" and has him dead to rights, with his gun pointed at Boddicker. Murphy, with some signs of hesitation, doesn't fire at him right there, allowing Clarence to utter some words and Leon to get the drop on him. All needs to be resolved afterwards in a final and personal close quarters combat.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: When Dougy warns Emil that smoking will kill him, Emil sarcastically replies "You want to live forever?"
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: RoboCop's Auto-9 pistol fires three-round bursts and is stated to have a magazine capacity of 50 rounds. This would mean that the last burst in every magazine would only fire two rounds. It’s possible that 50 rounds is simply the maximum capacity and the magazines are loaded with a lower number of rounds that’s divisible by 3 (such as 48), much like the real life PPSH-41 submachine gun had a drum capacity of 71 rounds but was generally loaded with around 65 to prevent jamming, but nothing like this is ever brought up in the film.
  • X-Ray Vision: There's a thermal scanner built into him that allows him to see through walls and identify targets. He only uses it in one scene, though.
  • You Are Too Late: When Lewis arrives just after Murphy has been killed.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: As RoboCop, Murphy visits his old home and discovers his family no longer lives there, and it's planned to be turned into a model housing development. He wanders around the house alone for a while as memories of his former life come back to him. Saddened and angered, he then puts his fist through a monitor showing an ad for his new model home.
  • You Have Failed Me: "Can you fly, Bobby?" He then helps the thug by throwing him out of the van and into the path of the police cruiser.
  • Zeerust:
    • When it came out in 1987, the Ford Taurus wagons used as police cars looked very futuristic. Today, they look like the late 80s cars they are.
    • "Mediabreak" is still shot and broadcast using analogue video technology.
    • They're still using big-box CRT televisions in 2043. The set Murphy's son is watching "TJ Lazer" on looks old even by 1987 standards.

"Nice shooting, son. What's your name?"


Officer Anne Lewis

Murphy is surprised to see his new partner, Lewis, beating up a misbehaving perp.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / StrongerThanTheyLook

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