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In Blade Runner, the replicant Roy Batty spends the majority of the movie trying to reach Tyrell, his creator. However, once he meets him and Tyrell tells him that he cannot help him, Batty kills Tyrell. It is later mentioned that the body of J.F. Sebastian was found near Tyrell, implying Batty killed him as well.

I wasn't confused by this until the end of the movie, when Batty saves Deckard from falling. One explanation I read about this was that Batty was demonstrating he understood the value of human life more so than Deckard, but if that is the case, how can he so casually kill Tyrell and J.F. Sebastian?

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    Tyrrell I could understand. He was 'playing God' with seemingly no concern for the consequences. J. F. Sebastian could be argued to be along the same lines, though to a lesser extent. But perhaps the full realization only came to Roy after he'd killed them and accepted his own demise was imminent. That can really prompt some 'soul searching'. – Andrew Thompson Dec 2 '13 at 1:39
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    @AndrewThompson Yes, that's how I understood the movie as well. Roy Batty's respect for life is found at the last moment, when he is about to die, way after he has killed Tyrell and J.F. Sebastian. – Andres F. Dec 2 '13 at 2:06
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  • In the directors cut, Batty can be heard saying "I'm sorry Sebastian" as he panics, not knowing what to do. This is followed by "Come...come", which sounds like faux sympathy rather than empathy. I'm not sure if this dialogue is in the original cut. – user32781 Sep 15 '14 at 9:52
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The reasons Roy Batty saved Deckard are already covered in another question. As to why he murders Tyrell and Sebastian, it's not explicit, but I think it's possible to infer from context. Batty, as has been mentioned in other answers, is a combat model. His brain is in some sense hard wired to solve problems by killing. However, we know that he can break his programming - after all, he's also programmed to follow orders, and that's not working out too well. It does seem reasonable to assume that given multiple choices to solve problems, killing will be one of the options that would naturally occur to him.

So, what problem is he trying to solve? The androids are dying, and they know they are dying. They come to Earth, despite the knowledge that they will be hunted if they do so, in order to address this problem. They succeed in finding the one man who might be able to help them, and he tells them that he can do nothing. Batty is Tyrell's creation, and that creation is flawed. Consider the dialogue leading up to Tyrell's death:

Tyrell: But, uh, this-- all of this is academic. You were made as well as we could make you.
Roy: But not to last.
Tyrell: The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And you have burned so very very brightly, Roy. Look at you. You're the prodigal son. You're quite a prize!
Roy: I've done questionable things.
Tyrell: Also extraordinary things. Revel in your time.
Roy: Nothing the god of biomechanics wouldn't let you in heaven for.

So, Batty has just found out that his creator is flawed, and that he will die because of this. Tyrell's pride at his own creation is nonetheless clear, and aludes to Tyrell's own godlike status ("prodigal son"). Batty's response implies that at this moment he is concerned with a fundamentally human question - "why was I made this way?"

It seems then that there are three main aggravating factors which lead up to Tyrell's murder.

  1. Batty has just found out that there is no hope for him, and his death is imminent.
  2. Tyrell offers comfort to Batty in a very patronising way, casting himself in the position of father/creator at a time when Batty is extremely angry and desperate as a result of the fundamental limitations of his existence.
  3. Roy is now aware that all of the harm ("questionable things") he has caused in order to get to Tyrell was for nothing. Tyrell dismisses his pain and in effect suggests he should be grateful for his existence.

It's probably not surprising that as a result of this that things get a little Oedipal. Tyrell demonstrates in this speech that he does not understand what he has created. In doing so, he emphasises that Batty's limitations are as a result of Tyrell's own flaws. Before he kills Tyrell, Batty kisses him. (Possibly betrayal with a kiss is another biblical allusion here, but that would be mixing metaphors a bit.) What that seems to be saying is that Tyrell dies because Batty discovers that his father is unworthy of his love, and in the intensity of the moment, this is more than Batty can bear.

Others have commented that J F Sebastian is killed because he is a witness. I don't think this can be right, because Batty already knows that he is dying. It seems more likely that this murder is an extension of the same rage. If anything, Sebastian is more short sighted than Tyrell. He thinks of replicants as an interesting technical problem rather than thinking beings, as illustrated by his personal toy projects. At the time of Tyrell's death, it is likely that Batty's anger is not yet sated, and Sebastian stands before him as another avatar of the hubris of Tyrell. So essentially he dies for the same reason Tyrell does. (Sebastian's limitations are a part of his childlike nature, but even if Batty sees this, he does not appear to be in the mood for making allowances.)

While Deckard's job is to hunt Nexus 6s he played no part in Batty's creation, so that motivation to kill isn't present when Batty reasserts his moral nature/empathy (the one thing that the Voigt-Kampf test asserts androids are lacking in) by sparing Deckard's life.

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    +1 I love this answer. I think your explanation of why he kills J.F. is better than mine. Your description of Tyrell's hubris is also perfect. – Andres F. Dec 2 '13 at 12:56
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    @Christi Nicely done. One of the better answers I've read here at Stack. – Morgan Apr 6 '14 at 3:42
  • No. That was Tyrell's replicant and the real Tyrell is in cryogenics crypt. He made sure his virtual reality will take care of the job while he's asleep in the chamber and Batty knew it.. – sotn Sep 5 '17 at 21:50
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I believe what others have commented: Roy Batty was a originally soldier, and at times he acted like one. He killed Tyrell out of frustration and revenge, and then killed J.F. Sebastian in order to leave no witnesses.

So how come he saves Rick Deckard, who had killed some of his friends?

I believe when Roy finally accepts his own mortality, in his final minutes, he comes to value life, even the life of his enemies. This is somewhat supported by the Deckard's voice-over in the script for the theatrical release:

"I don't know why he saved my life. Maybe in those last moments he loved life more than he ever had before. Not just his life, anybody's life, my life. All he'd wanted were the same answers the rest of us want. Where did I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got? All I could do was sit there and watch him die."

As a side note, this is Roy from the movie. Roy from the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is quite a different character, vindictive and mostly devoid of empathy for either humans or other androids.

  • I was considering upgrading the comment, but this answer goes so far beyond it the answer seems redundant. On a side note, people postulated that perhaps Deckard was also a Replicant. That would have harmed the 'Replicants are better than people' message for me, and entirely ruined the movie. – Andrew Thompson Dec 2 '13 at 2:19
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    @AndrewThompson I know what you mean about Deckard. After some resistance, I've accepted that in the Director's Cut he is a replicant (plenty of clues), but I've also come to admire Roy Batty as the true (anti) hero of the movie. Also influenced by the fact Rutger Hauer is a fan of the movie, while Harrison Ford thought it was "meh". – Andres F. Dec 2 '13 at 2:24
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Roy just confronted God. It's a page straight out of the book of Job. Roy questions his creator. Roy says tells Tyrell you're a hard man to reach. Tryell sits atop his tower, above the world. Roy has had to pass through any number of hurdles to get here.

But unlike Job, the twist here is that we find the creator lacking. Tyrell states clearly that "you were made as well as we could make you". This demonstrates that Tyrell is no real God, but simply an man. Furthermore when Roy bows his head as if in confession and says he's done questionable things, Tryell simply and callously dismisses it. Tyrell tells him he's done wondrous things and revel in his time. This is not the response Roy wanted from God. Punishment may have been more fitting, or at least acknowledgement of wrong doing and maybe then forgiveness.

Roys attitude changes right then. Lifting from bowed head he replies "nothing the God of biomechanics won't left you heaven for". Simultaneously realizing Tyrell is a man and that Roy's pursuit of God-like creator was a complete mistake. He mocks the situation that moments before he believed in.

What can Roy do then? His last straw was reaching out to God. Now he finds God not only lacking the power to save him, but also beneath him and apparently without a moral compass. Is it so hard to fathom why he kills Tyrell? He proves himself superior by killing Tyrell. Removing the last scraps of a faith in God.

Sebastian then is merely an extension of Tyrell. Sebastian was the right hand of Tyrell, should he not die with God?

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    Great answer and welcome to the site! – Wad Cheber Jun 24 '15 at 1:29
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Tyrell is directly and personally responsible for the bind that Roy and the other find themselves in; he is complicit in their slavery, their limitation and their suffering. This is simple revenge.

J.F. is more or less an innocent bystander, but he could put the police onto the replicants---a concern that does not apply as Roy (the last of them alive) is dying---and he has demonstrated that he does not take their humanity seriously. Roy is also a soldier and we can expect that cleaning up loose ends is part of his training.

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When Roy murders J.F. and Tyrell, his selfproclaimed love, Pris, is still alive - realizing that all his endeavours to save her are in vain he gives in to his anger and despair, symbolizing this with the act of murdering the people who lead him to this realization.

This, however, is not a problem when he saves Deckard. Pris is already dead, and all hope and love gone with her, also Roy himself is about to die. Maybe his saving of Deckard wasn't so kind after all; he could quite possibly want Deckard to live on, to reflect on and be haunted by what he has done to Roy, Pris, and countless others - which also corrolates fairly well with what Deckard says earlier; he quit blade running when he at some point found he couldn't handle 'the shakes'.

The only thing that ruined this scene (for me) was the blue sky when the dove takes flight, but i suppose this was left in for symbolizm, although it jarrs the almost perfect setting.

  • The Special Edition fixed the blue sky problem :) As well as the highly distracting body double during Zhora's death scene. – Andres F. Mar 18 '16 at 22:57
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He kills Tyrell to prevent the Tyrell Corporation from making more replicants. The replicants are condemned to short, nasty, brutal lives as slaves. They are sex slaves, work slaves, assassins, and combat slaves with no rights, no freedom, and no chance for self-determination. Their lives are full of suffering.

They came to Earth to find the one man who could make their lives worth living. They came for a longer life. And when Tyrell said he could not do that, Roy saw to it that Tyrell would never cause suffering again.

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JF made Nexus 6 replicants, along with Tyrell and Choo. The most humane act, for Batty, is to prevent the creation of more Nexus 6. This is largely an act of Ludditism, but it is also an act of mercy; it is only the rank and 'broken' humans that remain on Earth. All the decent humans move off world. JF has Methuselah syndrome - he too would die young, and painfully. Batty sees JF as a diminutive; less powerful, less intellectual, less valuable. But he also sees him as a threat, capable of building more Nexus 6, and treating them as toys and (perhaps unwittingly) slaves. As such, JF's extermination is both necessary and merciful, as with the elimination of the designers, and the salvation of the Hunter (Deckard) there will be no more Nexus 6 replicants, but their memory (if not their memories) will live on.

  • This answer is too speculative and unsupported by what we see in the movie.. – Andres F. Mar 18 '16 at 22:58
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You really should read the book. The film really only skims over the characters. Once you understand the casual way in which the Androids treat life and have no empathy for suffering it is far easier to understand their casual approach to violence and killing setting them aside from the humans trying to survive in a post apocalyptic world. For example, Pris pulling off four of a spider's legs to see if it can still walk and when it can't, Roy proves it can by holding a lighter under it. Deckard retires them without consideration, less drama than the film, just his work.

  • -1 Roy Batty from the film is completely different to Roy in the book. And this question is about the film, because J.F. Sebastian has a different name in the novel. – Andres F. Mar 18 '16 at 22:55

protected by AncientSwordRage Mar 18 '16 at 23:29

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