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In the opening text of Blade Runner 2049, we are told that Blade Runners are those who hunt down rogue replicants.

Many older model replicants - Nexus 8s with open-ended lifespans - survived. They are hunted down and 'retired'.

Those that hunt them still go by the name... Blade Runner

The first time we see the Blade Runner named K, he is retiring a replicant, and the majority of the rest of the movie he trying to find the whereabouts of “the child” replicant. Similarly, the original Blade Runner has Rick Deckard hired back on to the LAPD as a Blade Runner for the sole purpose of retiring replicants. We don’t see either work in another capacity.

Is being a Blade Runner a full-time job? Or is it just a term for someone who fills this particular role on a temporary basis?

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    It depends. It looks like in the Original, Deckard was 'retired' or at least was trying not to run blades anymore, whereas K was hired or on retainer by the LAPD. So I think Blade Running is a concept not a job description, per se. – Möoz Dec 4 '17 at 2:36
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    @Möoz Heh, "retired" has a very different meaning in the Blade Runner universe. – Thunderforge Dec 4 '17 at 21:46
  • Do you only want answers referencing the films? (There's some information in the novel about bounty hunters usually being on a contract and drawing a salary.) – Nicola Talbot Apr 22 '18 at 19:02
  • @NicolaTalbot My order of preference is: films (including the 2049 promo films), novelizations or other supplementary material for those films specifically, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the Blade Runner sequel novels). But if you're going to quote from the last two, you should at least explain why you think the films and/or novelizations don't answer the question. – Thunderforge Apr 22 '18 at 21:41
2
+50

In the films

In Blade Runner Deckard tells Gaff that he’s retired, which suggest he was formerly on some kind of contract, otherwise he might instead have said something more along the lines of ‘I’m not in that line of work any more.’

I don’t know how reliable the Blade Runner wiki is but the Blade Runner (police) entry states:

Blade Runner is the term used to refer to members of the "Retirement Division" of the LAPD. The main purpose of a Blade Runner is to eliminate replicants.

Members of police departments are typically employees, but they could be part-time. Although I can’t find any explicit reference in the films to a blade runner being a full-time job, it doesn’t make sense for a state department (the police in this case) to train someone as a killer and then leave them unemployed because unemployed assassins tend to turn to the private sector for an income. They would at the very least be on some kind of retainer or contract to keep them in check when there aren’t replicants running around the place.

In the source novel

Blade Runner is loosely based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and that indicates that Deckard is a full-time member of the police. The bounty seems to be a bonus.

Pris stays the most bounty hunters are on a contract:

‘What’s a bounty hunter?’

‘That’s right. You people aren’t supposed to know. A bounty hunter is a professional murderer who’s given a list of those he’s supposed to kill. He’s paid a sum — a thousand dollars is the going rate, I understand — for each he gets. Usually he has a contract with a city so he draws a salary as well. But they keep that low so he’ll have an incentive.’

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Chapter 13

She could be lying or misinformed, but the novel starts with Deckard getting up and arguing with his wife about her use of the Penfield mood organ. Then after breakfast he checks up on his electric sheep, and chats with a neighbour about wanting a real animal (bold added, italic in the original):

‘God,’ Rick [Deckard] said futilely, and gestured empty-handed. ‘I want to have an animal; I keep trying to buy one. But on my salary, on what a city employee makes —’ If, he thought, I could get luck in my work again. As I did two years ago when I managed to bag four andys during one month. If I had known then, he thought, that Groucho was going to die … but that had been before the tetanus. Before the two-inch piece of broken, hypodermic-like bailing wire.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Chapter 1

He finally arrives late to work (having stopped to window shop at a pet store) and is only then told about (bounty hunter) Holden having been shot, but he still doesn’t know about the case, so Deckard’s not been specially summoned with an urgent call to arms. It comes across as the beginning of an ordinary day at the office. He also has his own desk:

Rick [Deckard] said, ‘I’ll find out from Harry Bryant.’ He felt irritable; office gossip annoyed him because it always proved better than the truth. Seating himself at his desk he pointedly fished about in a drawer until Miss Marsten, perceiving the hint, departed.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Chapter 3

  • This is a nice answer but I feel you've answered the question of "Is it a full time job in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" rather than relating back to Blade Runner. – TheLethalCarrot May 1 '18 at 11:15
  • @TheLethalCarrot Yes, that's why I first asked OP if it was okay before answering, but if the general consensus is that it doesn't answer the question I can delete it. – Nicola Talbot May 1 '18 at 11:34
  • I'd say keep it, it's a nice answer but (with my limited understanding of the topic) this answer seems to stray too far away from the films. Maybe I just don't know enough to judge it properly but personally I'd like to see more of a connection back to the films. – TheLethalCarrot May 1 '18 at 11:35
  • @TheLethalCarrot Okay. Hopefully someone with a better knowledge of the films might be able to provide a more relevant answer. Now that the question has a bounty it might attract more interest. – Nicola Talbot May 1 '18 at 11:38
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    @NicolaTalbot Honestly, the best rationale for me is that if Deckard is a replicant, then the final battle with Roy Batty is replicant vs. replicant (like K vs. Luv in 2049), which is less impactful or meaningful than human vs. replicant. Therefore I choose to believe he's a human so the scene is more engrossing. Subjective feelings dictating truth for the win! – Thunderforge May 1 '18 at 19:13

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