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Roy Batty's Death

by Maclane Mueller

Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner takes place in a dystopic future where four cyborgs, or “replicants” are being hunted down and terminated or “retired” by “Blade Runners” like our main character Rick Deckard. Throughout the entirety of the film Deckard is spent hunting down these replicants that have come to Earth in an attempt to locate Tyrell, their creator and force him to extend their lives beyond the programmed four years. Eventually Deckard is left with one final target, Roy.

Roy may be a bioengineered android but throughout his time on the screen he appears to be quite humanlike. The only things that seem to set him apart from all humans are a few things in his original programming. Roy was programmed to be a soldier so it is understandable why he turns to killing to solve conflict. However it is clear that Roy is capable of breaking his programming. This grants Roy the ability to become a fully sentient being that is capable of having emotions and making his own decisions. Despite this Roy is considered to be the main antagonist of the story simple because he is a replicant hell-bent on extending his lifespan.

When Roy finally meets his maker and discovers that nothing can be done to extend his life he murders Tyrell out of anger. His reasoning behind doing this is not explained but can be assumed. He likely killed Tyrell out of anger from the result of the devastating news that his death is inevitable and that all he did was for nothing. Although it is in his programming to kill, killing someone out of anger and frustration is a frighteningly human thing to do.

In the clip provided we are shown the fate of Deckard’s final target. It appears that the replicant Roy has the higher ground and it is Deckard who is going to be terminated. However, much to the viewer’s shock Roy saves Deckard’s life and delivers a final monologue before his four-year life span comes to an end.

It is here where Roy realizes what it is to be human. He reflects on his short life and reminisces on his notable memories. He realizes that life is short and death is inevitable. Roy now understands that there is no use in spending your life trying to live longer because doing so will keep you from enjoying the moments that give a life value and purpose. By saving Deckard Roy is preserving life and giving someone else the chance to experience their own memories while they still can.

Had this story been told in Roy’s perspective, it would not be hard to see him as the protagonist. However because the film is mostly in Deckard’s perspective it is easy to paint Roy as the villain. The common trope that robots in film are inherently evil is another aspect that attributes to Roy’s antagonistic portrait. In all reality Roy is as close to a human as Deckard and Tyrell are. He is a being that wants to live a full life and not be seen as an evil malfunctioning robot that needs to be terminated.

Roy Batty's Death

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Replicant Roy Batty saves Deckard from immenent death moments before his own.

from Blade Runner (1982)
Creator: Ridley Scott
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Posted by Maclane Mueller