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Arts and Entertainment

Is Deckard A Replicant In 'Blade Runner 2049'?

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It's the question that has dogged Blade Runner since its original release in 1982: is bounty hunter Deckard (Harrison Ford) also one of the androids that he's tasked to retire?

For most fans, Ford's bounty hunter is definitely a replicant. They key clue, however, was not officially seen until 10 years later in the 1992 director's cut of Blade Runner. In a new scene, Deckard has a dream in which he sees visions of a unicorn. This inserted scene is later referenced at the very end when we see an origami unicorn left at Deckard's home by the cop Gaff (Edward James Olmos), suggesting Deckard's dreams are "implanted" and thus artificial. This debate was subsequently laid to rest by director Ridley Scott in a 2000 BBC documentary, and re-affirmed in a 2007 interview with Wired that claimed Deckard being a replicant was always "on paper." Ford himself has said he believed Deckard to be human, but, according to Scott in that Wired interview, Ford has apparently come around.


With the release today of the teaser for Blade Runner 2049, this debate has gotten new life. According to io9, 2049 director Denis Villeneuve has said he wants to make the question a little more open-ended in his film.

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A look at the materials beyond the film and Ridley Scott's proclamation further complicates this. In Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the novel from which Blade Runner is loosely based, Deckard is a human. He has passed the Voight-Kampff test (an interrogation to test empathy) in the novel, but in the film he does not reply when asked if he's ever taken a Voight-Kampff test.

Another factor is that the replicants are all built with a four-year lifespan—this realization of their mortality is what drives Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) and his fellow replicants to come to Earth in order to find a way to prolong their lives. With 2049 taking place three decades after the events of the original film, how could supposed-replicant Deckard be still alive?

Perhaps this can be answered with the ending from the original-theatrical cut of the film (removed from the director's cut and the subsequent Final Cut), which has a "happy" ending demanded by the studio. In it, Deckard and Rachel (Sean Young), a more-advanced prototype replicant, can be seen driving off into the wilderness. You can hear Gaff's famous line, "It's too bad she won't live—but then again, who does?" In reply, Ford says in the theatrical cut's much-maligned voiceover, "Four years he figured. He was wrong, Tyrell had told me Rachel was special—no termination date. I didn't know how long we had together. Who does?"