Does Blade Runner 2049 clarify about Deckard's status as a Replicant? The only mention of this that I remember was Wallace's statements implying

Deckard having been created specifically to believe having fallen in love with Rachel (whom herself apparently was made fertile on purpose and not by accident)

but which was immediately followed by

"...if you were made, that is." (to Deckard)

If Deckard were a Nexus 6, his lifespan would have been limited, but he could either be a better model or the radiation in Las Vegas was helping somehow.

So, did the producers just chicken out of the decision or are there any actual facts?

  • 4
    Leaving a question that is supposed to be left unanswered in a clear way as an unanswered ambiguity fueling engagement with the work is pretty much the opposite of "chickening out". Chickening out would be sticking to either of Scott's or Ford's individual viewpoints and imposing that on the entirety of the audience.
    – TARS
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 13:23
  • @TARS Good point, maybe my wording was a bit too provocative...
    – Zommuter
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 14:45

4 Answers 4


I wouldn't say they "chickened out", but they kept the Final Cut's ambiguity on purpose, yes.

In the interview referred to in this Movies & TV Stack Exchange answer, director Denis Vileneuve has this to say:

So when Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Vileneuve met with reporters at San Diego Comic-Con, someone inevitably had to ask which version of Blade Runner is Blade Runner 2049 a sequel to. "The thing is that I was raised with the first one," Vileneuve said, referring to the original theatrical cut. "There was one Blade Runner at the time. I remember seeing the first movie and falling deeply in love with it."

But his love for the original doesn't mean that there isn't room for nuance, or that he can't acknowledge the intent of Scott's later versions of the film. "The key to making [Blade Runner 2049] was to be in between," Vileneuve said. "[The theatrical version] is the story of a human falling in love with an artificial being, and the story of [the director's cut] is a replicant who doesn’t know he’s a replicant and slowly discovers his own identity. Those are two different stories."

In order to tell his story without alienating fans who prefer one version of the story, the director went back to the source material, Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? for inspiration. "I felt that the key to deal with that was in the original novel," Villeneuve said. "In the novel the characters are doubting themselves and they aren’t sure if they are replicants or not. From time to time the detectives are running scans on themselves to make sure that they are human. I love that idea so I decided that in the movie Deckard is unsure, as we are, of what his identity is. I love mystery."

As for which version Harrison Ford and Scott consider to be the truth? "Harrison and Ridley are still arguing about that," Vileneuve says. "If you put them in the same room, they start to talk very loudly about it."

  • That does make sense somehow...
    – Zommuter
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 14:45
  • 2
    Disclaimer: this is my personal opinion. IMO the way Villeneuve handled this is rather clumsy. On one hand, he cannot use PKD's DADoES as justification, since in the novel Deckard is plainly shown to be a human (he doubts himself, but his doubts are clarified). On the other, it's one thing for a character to be in the dark about his true nature, but when Wallace could tell him and instead just speaks in riddles... that's lazy writing. Wallace apparently knows plenty about Deckard and Rachael and still chooses to speak in riddles... why, exactly?
    – Andres F.
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 17:50

Intentionally ambiguous

The age-old question of whether or not Deckard is a Replicant has been debated for the past 34 years, and no less by the Director of the original (Blade Runner) Ridley Scott, right up to the Director - Denis Villeneuve - and writers - Hampton Fancher and Michael Green - of Blade Runner 2049 .

Specifically, Green and Fancher both agree that this topic should stay ambiguous, and that's how they've both written it, as they've said in a recent interview with Josh Rottenberg (Los Angeles Times) :

Josh: As I see it, this movie seems to suggest that Deckard is a human, not a replicant. But there are other people who interpret it differently.

Green: One of my favorite outcomes from the film from early reactions I’m seeing is that people are coming out of it even more sure of the opinion that they’ve held — and still not agreeing. That gives me tremendous joy. And that includes some of the people that were responsible for the original film and this film. The debate seems to continue, and people seem to think that those who think the opposite of them are nuts.

Fancher: I’ve always thought that if the replicant-cy is a success, then you don’t know that you’re a replicant. So either way you’re … in terms of the ambiguity of it — and life is ambiguous.

Deeming Deckard a replicant closes the door on the party: “Go home, everybody, it’s closed.” It’s got to be up in the air or there’s no dog fight. It’s an aesthetic philosophical equation. Like, I’m not so sure Michael Green is an authentic human being. You know what I mean?

Green: I agree. I don’t think this movie answers definitively one way or the other, but I’m tickled that many people do and I’m also tickled that many people don’t. Some people come out saying, “Thank you for not answering it” and other people come out saying, “Thank you for answering it.” And that’s what we set out to do. We wanted to make sure that the ambiguity is built into the story.

“Blade Runner” is all about questions of authenticity, comfort with ambiguity, and you can’t discuss the film without talking about that particular ambiguity — is he a human or a replicant? — or even about which version of the film is the authentic version of the film. So the film itself is representative of gradations of realness.
-Los Angeles Times, 2017-10-09, Is Deckard a replicant? 'Blade Runner 2049' writers discuss that and other mysteries, by Josh Rottenberg

Fancher and Green's stance on the matter (how it should remain ambiguous) is also elaborated in another recent interview with Adam Chitwood (Collider):

Fancher: “Yeah, I always [believed] he’s not a replicant. I thought if he’s a replicant, the game’s over. I think he doesn’t know, also. So to make him a replicant—Ridley from the beginning [said] he’s a replicant, and I from the beginning said he’s not, or we shouldn’t know if he is, I don’t know if he is. The press has always asked me, I don’t know. And when Ridley put in the ostensible evidence that he is, the red eyes or whatever, in Blade Runner 1 I didn’t like that.”

Green: The fact that it’s a question is what’s important. The puzzle of Blade Runner, one of the many reasons it’s the classic it is, is that the chasing for authenticity is both baked into the narrative of the story and the meta-narrative of the film that there is no authentic answer to that question. Which just meant that telling the further story, that had to be baked into the story as well, that everyone who watches it has that question of which version should I watch, what does that mean, and the answer is you don’t get to know. Generally American audiences are very uncomfortable with that level of irresolution. Blade Runner challenges that and it’s not just an American favorite, it’s a global favorite.”
-Collider, 2017-10-09, 'Blade Runner 2049' Writers on Whether Deckard Is a Replicant, by Adam Chitwood

Furthermore, Director Denis Villeneuve, has said in a recent interview with Marcus Errico (Yahoo Entertainment):

“I know Hampton believes [Deckard’s] human, and Harrison believe he’s human, ... I went to see the film with Ridley when it was playing in London on Imax and after it ended, he turned to me and said, ‘See, now you know that he’s a replicant,'... I said, ‘OK, Ridley, it’s your film, you can think whatever you want.’

“But as a fan of the original film I enjoyed the ambiguity and I did not want to ruin the mystery for fans.”
-Yahoo Entertainment, 2017-10-10, Is Deckard a replicant? Director Denis Villeneuve explains how 'Blade Runner 2049' handles the great debate (spoilers!), by Marcus Errico

  • Thanks for the elaborate answer! Though personally I think the ambiguity would have been conserved better by not talking about it at all, maybe not even letting Deckard reappear. Not that I didn't enjoy Harrison Ford showing up again...
    – Zommuter
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 6:26
  • Also, just putting this here: twitter.com/andmichaelgreen/status/1194023564812398592
    – Möoz
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 3:34
  • If Deckard was a replicant he was not a normal one in the sense of a limited lifespan: he had a wife, a career with the San Francisco (in the book) police department and relationships with neighbors -- a lot to fit into a four-year lifespan.
    – releseabe
    Commented Oct 23, 2021 at 8:04
  • @releseabe Did he really have all those things, or just memories of them?
    – gidds
    Commented Apr 7, 2022 at 9:37
  • @gidds: you can't fool someone into believing he is talking to his wife in the present with fake memories or that he had breakfast with her that morning.
    – releseabe
    Commented Apr 7, 2022 at 9:42

I would say yes. In the opening scene with the text bringing the viewers up to speed with the 2049 universe it mentioned that replicants are "retired" (similar blurb existed for the original)

Later on when K visits Gaff enquiring about Deckard, Gaff stated you can't find he "because he has been retired"

The fact he wasn't doesn't change the fact Gaff believed he was dead and replicants are not killed. Couple that with the ambiguity with the unicorn and the final cut had Gaff leave one for Deckard also helps hold this together.

  • 3
    But you're discounting the fact that real humans do actually retire, in the traditional sense of the word.
    – Möoz
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 21:22
  • @Möoz I am almost certain what was stated was "He was retired" not "he retired". I rewatched the final cut before going to see 2049 hoping to see any clear indication that he was a replicant (as alluded to in 2019). This was one of the early statements that jumped out.
    – Naib
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 21:42
  • I don't remember the exact wording, but even so this would merely show what Gaff believed.
    – Zommuter
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 6:25

I would say no, by reason of elements from the first film: basically the limits of the technology are such that Deckard couldn't reasonably be a replicant.

Taking the movie (i.e. dialog) at face value:

  1. To date, replicant technology is limited - due to the inability to control replicants their lifespan is limited to 4 years. Rachael is (in theory) the first to have memory implants in an attempt to get past this limitation.

  2. Deckard is a proven / effective Bladerunner, suggesting he's been at it for sometime (and assuming he's not a replicant and therefore particularly effective), therefore pre-dating the limits of the technology as we know it. Even if he was an earlier experimental model, having him engage in replicant policing seems a stretch too far.

  3. It's unlikely, given legal restrictions, that they'd allow a second model - especially one in an experimental program - to be engaged in replicant policing. If they did you'd expect better oversight.

  4. If Deckard is a replicant, why is the fight between him and Roy Batty so one-sided in Batty's favor?

Conversely, for Deckard to be a replicant the LAPD (and wider government) would either have to be unaware of Deckards true nature (i.e. have been duped by Tyrrell), or willfully engaged in a program - which on the surface is against existing laws. All references to which are keep secret from the audience.

That all said, I don't mind the ambiguity around the issue - but for me it's fairly clear-cut.

  • I'm not convinced - IIRC the 4 years limit was built in on purpose to the very point of creating obedient slaves and the implanted memories are also part of other replicants (especially in 2049). Who's to say Zhora wasn't Deckard's first real retirement? Maybe after Holden got shot the LAPD was desperate enough to give that replicant-retiring-replicant idea a shot... And maybe Deckard was built weaker on purpose to keep him under the illusion of being human. But yeah, I guess it remains ambiguous
    – Zommuter
    Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 7:29

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