Why Blade Runner is called Blade Runner

Saw Blade Runner over the weekend. Very impressive movie, but it does beg the question. What the hell is a Blade Runner?

Abraham Riesman, Vulture:

Though the viewer is told in the opening text of Ridley Scott’s 1982 original that “special Blade Runner units” hunt renegade replicants — and though the term “Blade Runner” is applied to Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard a few times in the film — we’re never given an explanation of where the proper noun comes from. “Blade?” Deckard uses a gun, not a knife or sword. “Runner?” Sure, he runs at times, but not more than the average person might. Blade Runner 2049 has a few scenes that prominently feature scalpels, but they’re not wielded by a Blade Runner. The novel upon which Blade Runner was based, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, offers no clues: Deckard and his ilk are just cops, never referred to as Blade Runners. The term is impressionistic at best and nonsensical at worst.

Read on for the backstory on the origins of the term and how it found its way to director of the original, Ridley Scott. Fascinating story.



  • DanielSw

    Interesting article. Glad I got the story, as I’ve wondered myself about the name over the years since I first saw the movie when it was first released in 1982.

    But, bottom line: I really don’t care what it means. It just sounds good.

    From the article: “I think ‘explanations’ are the bug-bears of screenplay writing and I like to stay clear of them.”

  • Mo

    I remember reading about Nourse in the sf media magazines of the time, notably Starlog. I like that this story adds detail to those accounts.

  • brucej

    Fascinating. I’d actually read and was familiar with Nourse’s work (as a kid, heck I think I even remember ‘Intern’), and never understood how his novel got mixed up in a movie based on Dick’s…and the truth is stranger still…