Blade Runner

Blade Runner Glossary


An android refers to a robot with human appearance, which mostly only exists in science fiction (even though real-life technology is getting very close to creating advanced androids). It was popularized by George Lucas, who used the word "droid" in Star Wars, but was used to describe toys as early as 1863.


A protagonist without heroic virtues of qualities - blurring the line between hero and villain.

Blade Runner Unit

The specialized police force tasked with "retiring" Replicants on Earth, where they are illegal.


A talking police computer, used by Deckard in the scene where he examines Leon Kowalski's photograph. The Blade Runner production notes describe the Esper as a "high density computer with a very powerful three-dimensional resolution capacity and cryogenic cooling system [which can] analyze and enlarge photos, enabling investigators to search a room without even being there" (Sammon 146).

Film Noir

A style of film that came to prominence in Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s. Noir films are usually crime dramas with a cynical tone, shot in high-contrast black-and-white, inspired by German Expressionism. A common film noir protagonist is the hard-bitten, disillusioned detective.

Genetic Designer

A scientist who designs the human-like Replicants.


Ridley Scott's filmmaking style, which involves an incredibly high level of detail in every frame - whether or not those details are even visible on screen.


A collection of exotic animals that are kept for exhibition.

Nexus 6

A particular generation of replicants that are highly sophisticated and programmed to have a 4-year lifespan because the designers were concerned that they would start to develop human emotions and therefore be harder to control.


The Japanese art of paper-folding.


A term that comes from author George Orwell's name. It is used to describe a situation where there is an overly controlling government, especially one that regularly impedes on the privacy of its citizens - like in Orwell's novel 1984.

Prodigal Son

A parable of Jesus. It tells the story of a father who gives his vast inheritance to the younger of his two sons - who selfishly wastes it all and goes hungry. The word prodigal means "wastefully extravagant".


Ronald Reagan's political perspective during his presidency. He implemented major tax cuts, which he hoped would help improve the American economy. He believed in the free market and reduced government control.


Robots possessing a high level of artificial intelligence, originally intended to perform tasks that were too hazardous for human beings. After a bloody mutiny, Replicants became illegal - and Blade Runner police squads are tasked with eliminating, or "retiring", them.


The proper term for killing a replicant.


Retrofitting was "the dominant strategy in designing Blade Runner, which according to [Syd] Mead, 'simply means upgrading old machinery or structures by slapping new add-ons to them" (Bukatman 32).


A derogatory slang term for Replicants, used mostly by Bryant.


Flying Police vehicles that Syd Mead and Ridley Scott created for the film.

Voigt-Kampff Analyzer

A machine that uses a retinal scanner to allow Blade Runners to figure out if a being is a replicant or a human being.


A German airship from the early 20th Century - in Blade Runner, zeppelins are used as flying advertisements.