Is there any indication in Robocop of which year it is set in? It looks like the "near future" but is there any more specific clue?


3 Answers 3


Author interview: no date

The closest I could find to an official answer from the author was from a 2009 interview with co-writer Ed Neumeier who said:

Ed Neumeier: There was never a year on that picture and that was actually a big fight at the time because people kept asking me, “What year is this set in?” And I kept saying, “I’m not going to tell you.” That was because I always thought well, we’d pass it, but we haven’t passed it except in our imaginations anyway.

Date based on movie and book

Robocop is set from November 2043 to February 2044, +/- one month.

This based based on a number of references:

1. The duration of the events in the movie is four months.

On the first day of the movie (when Murphy is transferred to a new police department - Metro West), there is a board meeting at OCP. During this meeting, the Old Man says:

In six months we begin construction... of Delta City.

Then, in one of the final scenes, Dick Jones says to Clarence Boddicker:

Suit yourself. But Delta City begins construction in two months.

Conclusion: based on time to complete Delta City, the events of the film take four months.

2. Robocop's creation takes approximately three months.

This is based on Bob Morton's statement in that same meeting:

I'm confident we can go to prototype within 90 days.

Due to the interchanging of scenes between Murphy's first day at the Metro West department and the board room scene, we can conclude that the 90 days starts from Murphy's first day. This means the scenes involving Robocop (crimefighting, visiting a school, going to Murphy's home, etc) take place over about a month, since this in total makes the four months of the film.

3. Robocop's reconstruction takes place over New Year.

During the reconstruction:

Hey, hey. Look, he's watching us!

This is for you. Happy New Year.

This is the final scene of the reconstruction, implying it is near the end.

4. Based on the above, the events take place from November of one year to February of the next (plus or minus one month).

  • Robocop's reconstruction could not have started before October to be finished by the New Year.
  • Nor could it have been started later than December for the same reason.

Hence, the start of Robocop must have been in the October - December range and four months later implies ending in January to March. This is therefore November to February +/- one month.

5. Robocop is set in the years 2043 and 2044.

There is no indication in the film of which year Robocop is set. However, the book provides the answer. From page 148:

"Good morning." Casey smiled, his teeth nearly reaching his ear lobes. "I'm Casey Wong with Jess Perkins and these are today's top stories. It was revealed today by doctors at the Texas Clone Institute that Hollywood immortal Sylvester Stallone died yesterday during an unsuccessful brain transplant. A longtime supporter of bio-engineering, Stallone was ninety-seven. His last film, Rambo 38: Old Blood, will be released posthumously next month."

Sylvester Stallone was born on 6 July 1946, so he would be 97 in the second half of the year 2043 and first half of 2044.

Conclusion: Robocop is set from November 2043 to February 2044, plus or minus one month.

  • 9
    Wow, I'm impressed. I've seen a lot of in depth research done on this site, but finding that is impressive.
    – S--
    Commented Oct 26, 2013 at 19:01
  • 9
    Rambo 38... really a dystopian world! Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 7:50
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    We seem pretty on track for this, the way Detroit is at the moment...
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Oct 28, 2013 at 20:10
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    Mind! Blown! Thanks, Now the next question is which year is the modern robo set! Commented May 6, 2014 at 21:28
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    That was one warm winter in Detroit then. I guess it's kinda hard to find snow in Texas; its predominant filming location.
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 23:43

If you ever played the coin-up arcade game of Robocop, the intro says that the events of the movie takes place "In the year 1990,"

In the year 1990, old Detroit has been overtaken by crime.

90s arcade game intro, showing buildings at night, with light coming out of several windows, reading the subtitle above

On the French cover of the VHS movie I owned when I was a kid, the back of the cassette cover had the movie's synopsis saying: "At the dawn of the new millennium".

So, Ed Naha, the writer of the movie tie-in really exaggerated, I hardly imagine a 1986 Ford Taurus riding the streets of Detroit of 2043/44 plus or minus one!

Ed Neumeier clearly emphasized on the idea that Robocop takes place in an undetermined future. The idea was also supported by the lead actor Peter Weller when he was interviewed in early 1987 during the post production, saying that "[the story] takes place nebulously in the future".

I've (re)read yesterday the official novelization of Robocop and indeed the author takes the freedom to add several (and even emotional elements) to the story. As the tie-in is linked to the original screenplay by Neuimeier/Miner Remember, in the forth draft of the script, when Frank Frederickson was ambushed, there was a clear indication that moon is now colonized (which theoretically could not have been true in 1999) and the reader would assume that the story indeed takes place sometimes in 2043/44. It may also imply that Naha somehow wanted to follow the early idea of Ed Neuimeier's original outline. Just put in mind, that the root of Robocop can be traced back in 1981. When Ed wrote the early treatment of the story based on Blade Runner, a movie which clearly took place in the far future (assuming 2043/44). The story like the Corporate War was rejected by the studio, until Ed met with Miner (who was the man who got the idea of having a policeman shot in the line of duty and became the principal donor). The duo started working on the draft in 1984, after the release of Terminator. Before they started shooting in 1986.

Speaking of the Ford Taurus. the car has indeed revolutionized the auto-industry when released in 1986. Hailed by critics. Praised by consumers. It clearly marked America's departure from cubic-style, T.J Hooker Ford cruisers. And was the thing of the FUTURE!

But it would be silly to say that the story in general takes place in 2043/44. But let's be safe here and go back to the idea that the movie is set in XX in the future.

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    I'm confused, was it set in 1990, the dawn of the new millennium or in 2043/44?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 18:02
  • Once, I asked Ed Neumeier, the original writer about the year in which RoboCop takes place, and said that it's 'takes place into the future' but he did not give a year. In an interview with Peter Weller during the post-production period of the movie (when he shot his character's death scene, circa Jan, 1987), he said to the female interviewer that the story takes nebulously in the future. The interview is available on YouTube. Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 18:47
  • That seems like it would be a great adition to your answer!
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 19:18
  • Thanks. Ed Naha is sci-fi writer. He had a freedom to set the year he wanted. Beside, Ed Neumeier was inspired by Blade Runner whose story took place in 20XX and something. But as far as the setting of RoboCop is concerned, it's safe to assume that it's take place during the 90s or late. But it would be silly to say that RoboCop took place in 2043/44 Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 19:48

This new MGM digital streaming trailer states that Murphy was killed on October 24th, 2029

green-on-black text reading "Killed in the line of duty, October 24, 2029"

And rebuilt and activated on January 14th, 2030 (which is when the primary action of the film takes place).

green-on-black text reading  "January 14, 2030"

  • Good find! I've taken the liberty of adding in some screen-grabs in case people can't view the video or it gets taken down.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 19, 2020 at 8:46

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