I feel like I missed an important point at the beginning of the film. I remember Deckard initially denying the job but when he tries to walk out he says something to the effect of "No choice then, huh?" and the police chief confirms "No choice."

What did the police department have on Deckard that forced him to be the one to terminate the rogue Replicants? Why couldn't Graff do it? Seemed like he wasn't doing anything but origami for the entire movie.

If it is relevant I was watching "Blade Runner: The Final Cut".

  • 2
    I remember a line (don't know if it's in all cuts) that there's little people and then there's cops. The implication is that the chief could do whatever the hell he wanted to Deckard if he refused.
    – Radhil
    Jan 16, 2018 at 17:42
  • Because he's a Terminator... I mean Blade Runner.
    – Möoz
    Jan 18, 2018 at 21:35

3 Answers 3


Based on a plain reading of the narrative, it's because Deckard is "little people" and there is an implied threat against him. But there may be more, depending on what theory of Deckard's character you accept.

When we meet Deckard, he's eating noodles and approached by Gaff, played by Edward James Olmos, who tells him he's under arrest because Capt. Bryant wants to see him.

When Deckard is brought in to the precinct office, Bryant explains the arrest: "You wouldn't have come if I'd just asked you to. Sit down pal."

Bryant explains that the missing Replicants need to be tracked down. Deckard replies: "I don't work here anymore. Give it to Holden, he's good."

"I did," Bryant explains. "He can breathe okay as long as nobody unplugs him. He's not good enough, not good as you. I need you, Deck. This is a bad one, the worst yet. I need the old Blade Runner, I need your magic.

Deckard still refuses and starts to leave.

Bryant yells to him, "Stop right where you are. You know the score pal. If you're not cop, you're little people."

Deckard: "No choice, huh?"

Bryant: "No choice pal."

The implicit threat is that Bryant can ruin Deckard's life in any number of ways, which we are left to imagine. As we see with Eldon Tyrell of Tyrell Corp. later in the movie, there is a clear hierarchical distinction between the future Los Angeles' elite and everyone else.

Later on, in the theatrical version, there's a bit of voiceover from Deckard that make this explicit: "I'd quit because I'd had a belly full of killing. But then I'd rather be a killer than a victim. And that's exactly what Bryant's threat about little people meant."

The Director's Cut doesn't have any of the voiceovers from the theatrical version.

Whether there's another reason why Deckard is chosen and can't refuse may depend on cut of the movie you're watching; the Director's Cut more strongly suggests that Deckard is a replicant, since we see Deckard dreaming of a unicorn and Gaff leaving the origami unicorn for him to find. If you think that Deckard is a replicant, the additional answer to "Why Deckard?" is that a) as a replicant, he is decisively "little people" to a human like Bryant and therefore no loss if he fails; b) as a replicant raised with false memories and false memorabilia, he may be better suited for hunting other replicants; and/or c) as a replicant, he may have been conditioned to obey.

Of course, if Deckard is human, he's being forced into the job because a) he's very good at it and b) he's still expendable compared to someone like Gaff.

  • Since the question was updated, I'll update later with Bryant's line about why Deckard. Jan 16, 2018 at 20:03
  • Makes more sense now, I think I missed the "you're little people" comment. Now that I think about it too, weren't they also trying to keep it off the books? Probably another reason to not formally assign it to an officer.
    – Kapler
    Jan 17, 2018 at 16:55
  • In the draft script (dailyscript.com/scripts/blade-runner_shooting.html), where Gaff is described as a beady-eyed guy with lots of energy, there's more dialog from Gaff (in Japanese, which Deckard doesn't understand) during the flight to police HQ: "I told Bryant I could take care of this myself. Just move me up. I'll do the job, I told him. Five phonies. I just air 'em out." And later: "What's the point of wiping out skin jobs if they look better than Enforcement? Pretty soon the public will want skin jobs for Enforcement. I guess you'd prefer that, hunh? That why you quit?" Jan 17, 2018 at 17:08

Deckard was the best at terminating replicants so he was blackmailed into returning or the police chief would ruin his life in any number of ways.

The police had to terminate the replicants because the Nexus 6 versions are very powerful but unstable artificial life forms. They went rogue, killed a lot of people and returned to Earth to find a way to live longer and of course, kill more people.

To answer your second question: In the "voiceover" movie version: Deckard stated that Graff was no help at all because he was brown nosing for a promotion.

As to the controversy over whether Deckard was a replicant: the police Chief probably didn't think Deckard was one because:

  1. the chief hated replicants (skin jobs he called them)
  2. he would have had Deckard terminated immediately if he thought he was a replicant.

I don't know if it's been discussed but I always figured Graff was a replicant too because of the origami and he let them go at the end of the movie. So Graff wasn't just "hanging around" in the movie; he was tailing Deckard the whole time and helped in his own way.


Bryant offers Deckard the classic 'carrot and stick', double his normal pay plus expenses versus his losing the protection of being (informally) connected to the police department. When it's put that way to him, he reluctantly accepts.

The official novelisation offers us a little more internal dialogue from Deckard.

"You know the score, Deckard. When you're with us, you’re plugged into the power. When you’re not with us . . ."

Bryant made a quick, brutal yanking motion, as if he were pulling an electric plug from its socket.

Nothing more had to be said. Or done.

Deckard knew the score. He had just managed to forget it for a little while. Being on the outside made it easy to imagine that you had a choice. That you could say no. But when you faced Bryant, you were facing the truth.

Deckard sat. "Okay,” he said. "Fill me in on the details."

Blade Runner: A Story of the Future

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