Qt3 Movie Podcast: Blade Runner 2049

  • Deckard is a replicant
  • Deckard is NOT a replicant

0 voters

sorry, if already done before


I’ve gotten to the point where every clue can be read two ways except (for me, anyway) the unicorn. Deckard’s lameness against other replicants makes sense if the intent was for him to not know whether he’s a replicant or not: Tyrell made him weaker. And maybe the other replicants, somehow sensing he was kindred, pulled their punches? Meh.

In the original theatrical cut, he’s not. In the Director’s Cut, he is. In Dick’s novel, which predates Ridley Scott’s involvement by decades, he’s not. I was vitally curious which version 2049 would consider canon, and didn’t think maintaining ambiguity was a possibility, but they mostly did. I think? If Deckard’s a replicant, he still has the same arc for the same reason his dog in Vegas has the same arc: he’s as alive as any human. More so, in Trump’s case. In fact, compared to Trump, Deckard’s dog and Leon and BR’s DON’T WALK traffic signal voice…


Speaking of the DON’T WALK signal voice…you guys all seemed to come down pretty hard on Joi as being a program with no agency/free will/what have you. But if you have humans that could be soulless, and you have replicants that could have a soul, is there room for a character who has no body but still has a soul? I thought it was interesting to have her as a main character, and driving the plot more than I expected her to.


Sure, I could imagine that in the world of Blade Runner, I’m just convinced that’s not what the movie was giving us.

It’s always possible for me to misinterpret things, or miss clues, or whatever. I’m (relatively) open to errors in my perception of what’s shown. But I’m never going to be convinced of a fan theory in any film that starts with “it would be cool if [whatever], and since the movie never explicitly says this theory isn’t possible…”
That way lies madness.

And in this case, just restating what I got into above, I think the hints at autonomy for Joi are intentional misdirection to fuel the red herring of K being the replicant child. Up to a point, circumstances certainly hint at autonomy for her, but in context of the whole movie, yeah, that definitely registers as misdirection.


@newbrof, this poll is pretty useless, since it doesn’t specify the movie!

In the theatrical release, Deckard is not a replicant. In Ridley Scott’s re-release, Deckard is a replicant. Neither movie is ambiguous, so you’re basically asking which movie people prefer?



Uh, no, the debate has gone on for so long because there are two movies that draw very different conclusions from the same set of events and characters. Most people understand this. I’m not sure why you’re struggling with it, but floating a conspiracy theory about Ridley Scott lying is a real stretch.




so Deckard is in a quantum state like Schrödingers cat, a superposition, replicant and not replicant … I like that very much!

p.s. if I dream of a unicorn and you make an origami unicorn, that makes me a replicant? thanks, Ridley!


I don’t understand why you keep bringing up “there are two different versions of the movies, I don’t know why you’re struggling with it” over and over again, as if I am arguing out of ignorance. Yes, I’m aware of the theatrical cut, and the European cut, and the workprint, and the Director’s Cut, and the Final Cut. I saw the original movie in the theaters. I saw the Director’s Cut in theaters, multiple times. I’ve seen the European cut. I’ve seen the workprint. And I’ve watched the Final Cut. And I’ve owned the movie on video, laserdisc (CLV and CAV), DVD, and Blu-ray.

Do you need any more bona fides, or can you accept that I am talking about the version that includes the unicorn dream sequence?

Did you read Xtien’s post on the subject? I think he articulated the point pretty clearly. The reason this debate has gone on, and continues to go on, is because there is evidence that Deckard is a replicant, and there is evidence that he is a human. When Wired magazine interviews Ridley Scott and they ask, “Is Deckard a replicant?”, they are asking because it is somewhat ambiguous, at least to the interviewer. And the interview questions didn’t stop in 1992 when the Director’s Cut came out. They keep asking Harrison Ford, and Hampton Fancher, and Rutger Hauer and M. Emmet Walsh and everyone, because there is textual evidence for both interpretations.

And for me personally, if I think Deckard is human, I have to justify:

  • Why did Gaff leave a unicorn origami after Deckard had a unicorn dream?

But if I think he’s a replicant, I have to justify:

  • If replicants are outlawed, why would the police force hire one to hunt down other replicants, especially if he’s a more advanced model who is harder to catch?
  • If his job depends on him not knowing he’s a replicant, then why do they immediately send him over to Tyrell who explains that sometimes replicants have fake memories and think they’re human?
  • Why create a replicant who needs to be convinced to hunt other replicants?
  • Why is the hunter weaker than the replicants he’s hunting? He almost dies twice while hunting them, and only successfully retires two of them.

Personally, I find the first question easier to justify than all the other questions. But I can only speak for myself.


Here’s a simpler answer:

I don’t believe that the unicorn dream proves that Deckard is a replicant. That puts me in the same camp as Hampton Fancher and Christien Murawski, which is fine company to be with.


I’m so glad you brought this up because I think this was one of the major themes the movie was exploring.

What is the morality behind creating a slave race? Do replicants have sentience or is it the illusion of sentience? Is there a point where it ceases to matter? K says he’s never killed anything that was born and he’s a little hesitant because if something is born, it has a soul. Madam says to him, “You don’t have a soul and you seem to be doing fine.” But is that true or is it something the humans tell themselves to sleep at night.

When K tells her he killed the child, she believes him because replicants don’t lie. Love takes great pleasure is disabusing her of this notion. It’s important because, with that lie, K is demonstrating that he has agency.

Joi takes it to another level. When the prostitue hears the chime of Joi in his pocket, she teases him, “Oh, I see, you don’t like real girls.” But this is coming from a replicant and is being said to another replicant. What is real and what is not? When you create a convincing enough mimicry of sentience, does it evolve beyond the designer’s intent? That’s one of the things that makes the sex scene so poignant – It’s literally blurring the lines between these varying level of sentience and agency. And then, after she dies and K sees the ad, it makes him question whether any of it was real, whether she really had any agency or was it just the result of her programming. And this is, of course, highly relevant to K’s own journey.

Which brings us to Deckard. I remember reading somewhere during the pre-production of this movie that Harrison Ford and Ridley Scott (and maybe Villeneuve as well?) went out to dinner and had a huge argument about whether or not Deckard is a replicant. I think the movies work best when the answer is, “No one knows.” Was the dog real? Ask the dog. Rachel didn’t realize that she was a replicant. Is the same true for Deckard? Leto teases him about the possibility that he may or may not be a replicant and Deckard angrily insists that he knows what’s real at another point in the conversation but does he? Does anyone? And, in the end, would it matter if he is a human or a replicant designed to be as close to human as possible? Do real humans have agency or the illusion of agency? Are we programmed from birth? As for agency, Deckard can’t save himself at the end of the first movie. It takes a replicant to do that. (The second movie as well!)

Then there’s this sense they are playing with this idea the first movie might be about a man who doesn’t realize he’s a replicant and the second movie seems to be taking us in the opposite direction, of a replicant who doesn’t realize he might be born. The twist is great but it also drives home this idea that maybe it doesn’t matter. The moment K lies to Madam, he’s exercising agency and acting as his conscience dictates. In the end, he doesn’t do what Madam wants, or what Weyland wants or even what the replicant resistance wants – He does what he thinks is right. Which is, of course, it keeping with the spirit of noir.


Which is because there are two movies. Each movie has a different answer. It’s not rocket science. It’s not even advanced robotics. It’s barely even logic. It’s a simple matter of comprehension.

If you want to hand-wave away the storyteller’s intensions, that’s your prerogative. But hand-waving away the actual text isn’t quite so easy. Also your prerogative, but don’t try to foist it off on the rest of us as if it makes sense. :)



I really love this thought, because it takes me back to my childhood when I was first studying the Bible in my very much fundamentalist Christian school. That whole issue of what free will means really started nagging at me, even in the fourth grade, and only got more nagging as I grew to be a teenager. Because if God knows everything, including what I’m going to decide to do, what does that really say about my free will, which seems to be the foundation of why we were created in the first place. To love and worship and glorify him as a choice. But he already knows if we’re going to do it or not, because of how he designed us as individuals. The same issue nagged at me about prayer.

It’s like a teacher giving a test and knowing how you’re going to answer every question, but still holding off on grading it…for why? Just for fun? To give me the illusion that studying mattered?

This gets into that whole weird issue of predestination that I never understood when I was a Christian, and still don’t. I don’t mean to steer the movie conversation into a P&R territory, I just like the way you put that @Rightbug, and it brought me back to older thoughts. Is choice still important if it’s only the illusion of choice?


“There’s still a page left.”


No. The debate about Deckard being a replicant happened long before the Director’s Cut came out, and it continued after the Director’s Cut was released, because there is evidence in the movie that points to both conclusions. The addition of a 20-second scene does not automatically tip the scale in one direction.

Of course I understand which version I’m talking about, and you already know that. But hey, it’s much easier to just pretend I lack basic comprehension, instead of actually addressing my points.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Hampton Fancher:

When I saw the unicorn in the director’s cut, I, I thought of it as a symbol. And that’s the beauty of something that’s good, I guess. You know, you could-- It’s ambiguous. And my interpretation had nothing to do with: “Oh, that shows that Deckard’s a replicant.” I don’t think that anything should show that Deckard’s a replicant. If you think that, you’re already wrong. You know? I mean, it says, it’s just the question mark is what’s interesting. The answer is stupid.

But yeah, the writer of Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 was probably just confused about which version he was seeing.


Actually, that’s exactly what it does, given the context! Minus the unicorn scene, there are only implications Deckard might be a replicant. With the unicorn scene, it’s 100% explicit and a fundamental reveal as soon as we see Gaff’s unicorn origami.

You should probably post a Harrison Ford quote as well. It would be equally relevant!



It’s entirely relevant to the point that different people can see the same movie and arrive at different conclusions.


Haha, for what it’s worth I’ll throw my lot in with @Andy_Bates. I’ve been there.

As for the sequel, my take is that Jared Leto is just shitting Harrison Ford with his speech at the end, but what it really is is a bone thrown to everybody in the audience no matter which camp they’re in. As far as I’m concerned, it would make even less sense for Deckard to be a replicant if he was a surly, boozy, ineffective and very brazenly illegal replicant hunter but also the chosen one, made to create the first born replicant, which he apparently does while going rogue. If he was designed to procreate, why even put him in harm’s way with his first job?

Anyway, I’m mostly bummed they threw Joi under the bus at the end of act 2, which I totally expected was going to happen. They kind of treat her like she’s the movie’s Wilson in Cast Away, but she’s the most interesting character in the movie. Even if she is made to make others feel loved and apparently calls everyone “Joe”, does that really make her love not “real”? How much free will does she actually have? Is she not an individual like the replicants who share a model? What about “his” love for her? Is it real?

I also think this movie was insanely loud. I’m happy to hear it’s not just me who noticed this. God, every fart was an atomic explosion.


The weird way my brain works just called this to mind when I read this line of yours.




It was confirmed. Here is a quote from this Blade Runner related The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith podcast starting from 1:01:38.

  • But the whole ‘Deckard being a replicant’ thing actually stemmed from a mistake in a shoot.
  • What was a mistake?
  • Mistake was that, you know, when he comes back and he is taking the drink and he is spitting the blood in a thing, and she walks into shot, and we have a special red light, you know, to reflect it in her eyes, which manifested the fact that she was a replicant. Harrison walked into the shot by mistake and Ridley kept shooting. And by walking into the shot his eyes also had the red reflection in them and Ridley kept it. Honestly, the whole idea of ‘Deckard being a replicant’ stemmed from that mistake on the shoot and left out that enigma… (inaudible) That’s the truth.
  • The lighting, not the writing.
  • So that all stemmed from that. You know, people are being sort of start… give me psychological reasons and yes or no and all the rest of it, but it was a simple shoot mistake.

Sorry, guys, English is not my first language, so I didn’t catch some of the parts, some of them were completely inaudible to me, I can’t even figure out the name of that old lady who was talking [it was Katherine Haber] (by the way, she also said that she shot the happy ending sequence as a second unit director), but the point is clear, according to her, the shooting mistake gave Ridley the idea of ‘Deckard being a replicant’.

I believe that Joi had agency, and the scene where K sees the ad is trying to say to us that new Joi wouldn’t be the same, her nakedness and hollow, empty eyes point towards that conclusion, and that’s what pushed K to help Deckard.


Interesting take. To me, the Joi ad scene portrayed K to be just as confused as the viewer. Was his relationship real and unique, or just an artifact of Joi’s design? He doesn’t know either.