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The Entire Blade Runner Timeline Explained

The 1982 movie "Blade Runner" is widely considered one of the best science fiction movies ever made. The neo-noir film, directed by Ridley Scott, is based on the 1968 novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick. Although it wasn't a huge hit when it was first released, viewers grew to love the film for its darkly stunning visual effects, action-packed story, and thought-provoking characters. After its initial release, several new versions came out, some with different endings and additional changes. In this article, we'll reference the 2007 version "Blade Runner: The Final Cut," which is re-edited and has some extended scenes.

The highly-anticipated sequel "Blade Runner 2049," directed by Denis Villeneuve, was released in 2017. But that won't be the last installment in the franchise: Amazon Studios is currently working on the live-action series "Blade Runner 2099" with Scott serving as executive producer. If you want to brush up on the events of the movies before the series comes out, we've got you covered. Below, we're going over the entire "Blade Runner" timeline in chronological order.

Rick Deckard becomes a blade runner again

Set in 2019, the first movie introduces us to a dystopian version of Los Angeles, where giant, overstimulating ads clash with the griminess of the city. Huge skyscrapers are packed together, the streets are constantly crowded, and flying cars zip through the polluted air. The massive Tyrell Corporation creates synthetic humans known as replicants, which are used as slave labor on the off-world colonies, but outlawed on Earth due to their strength and intelligence. Any replicants that make it to Earth are hunted down and "retired" by blade runners. Since replicants are so realistic, blade runners use the Voight-Kampff test to distinguish humans from replicants, which involves asking the suspect a series of questions.

When we meet former blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), he's initially more interested in eating noodles than working, but his boss Bryant (M. Emmet Walsh) convinces him to take on an important job. Deckard has to find and retire four dangerous replicants: leader Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), pleasure model Pris (Daryl Hannah), assassin Zhora (Joanna Cassidy), and the violent Leon (Brion James). They're all Nexus-6 models, so they're stronger, faster, and more realistic than other replicants, but with one huge drawback: They have a shortened four-year lifespan.

Deckard visits Tyrell and meets his assistant, Rachael

Deckard and police officer Gaff (Edward James Olmos) visit the Tyrell Corporation headquarters to speak with Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel), the founder and lead engineer of the company. Tyrell isn't convinced that the Voight-Kampff test can really distinguish humans from replicants, so Deckard gives Tyrell's assistant Rachael (Sean Young) the test to prove its accuracy. It typically only takes about 30 questions to get the results, but Deckard has to ask Rachael over 100 questions. After completing the test, Rachael leaves the room and Deckard tells Tyrell that the test determined she's a replicant. Tyrell says that Rachael isn't a standard replicant: She has implanted memories and believes she's a human, which is why the test took so much longer than usual.

From there, Deckard investigates Leon's apartment, taking some photos and a snake scale. On his way home, Rachael intercepts him and says she found out what Tyrell said about her, but insists that it's not true. As proof, she shows Deckard a photo of herself as a child with her mother. Deckard says that the photo and her childhood memories are all from other people — mainly Tyrell's nieces — and she becomes so upset that she leaves.

Deckard retires Zhora and is ordered to retire Rachael

In his apartment, Deckard falls asleep and dreams of a unicorn, which will come into play later. After waking up, he studies Leon's photographs and sees a woman with a snake tattoo on her neck, then visits Chinatown, where a woman examines the snake scale from Leon's apartment. She discovers it's from an artificial snake, which isn't surprising since most real animals have died from radioactivity. The man who made the snake has a store nearby, so Deckard visits him and finds out he made it for a club.

Deckard heads to the club, where he discovers that one of the dancers has a snake tattoo on her neck and performs with an artificial snake. She goes by Miss Salomé, but Deckard knows she's actually Zhora, so he confronts her. When she tries to escape, he chases her through the streets and retires her. Afterward, Bryant shows up and informs Deckard that he still needs to retire four replicants. Deckard says only three remain, but Bryant says he also has to retire Rachael because she abandoned the Tyrell Corporation.

Rachael and Deckard get closer

After his conversation with Bryant, Deckard sees Rachael and tries to follow her, but Leon suddenly attacks him. Things aren't looking good for Deckard — he's so caught off-guard that Leon manages to knock his gun out of his hand and land several punches during the scuffle. Just as Leon is about to deal the final blow, Rachael grabs Deckard's gun and shoots Leon in the head. Despite having orders to retire Rachael, Deckard is so grateful she saved him that he lets her hide at his apartment.

They grow much closer while spending time together there. Rachael asks if he'd track her down if she fled, and he says no, but another blade runner inevitably would. Then she asks if anyone has given him the Voight-Kampff test, implying that Deckard might be a replicant, but he doesn't answer because he has fallen asleep. He wakes up shortly afterward and makes a move on Rachael. She rejects him and tries to leave the apartment, but when he shuts the door, the mood shifts, and they become intimate with one another.

Roy and Pris team up with J.F. Sebastian

Throughout Deckard's investigation, Roy and his comrades have been trying to find a way to extend their lifespans. Before Leon's demise, he and Roy found the man who designs replicants' eyes and demanded information from him. The man didn't know how to lengthen their lifespans, but said that Tyrell might have the answers they're looking for. He told them they should find J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson), a genetic designer at Tyrell Corporation, so he could bring them to Tyrell.

Later, Pris is taking a nap in an alley when Sebastian sees her and offers to let her stay at his place. After she accepts, we learn that he lives in the spacious Bradbury Building, which is filled with bizarre dolls he has created. Pris says she's inviting her friend over, and unfortunately for Sebastian, that ends up being Roy. He tells Sebastian that they're replicants and will die soon if he doesn't help them. Sebastian seems sympathetic towards them since he has a skin condition that shortens his lifespan, so he sets up a meeting with Tyrell.

Sebastian and Roy visit Tyrell at his opulent futuristic house, where Roy finally meets his maker. He demands that Tyrell extend his lifespan, suggesting several ways to do so, but Tyrell insists that it's impossible. Roy responds by kissing Tyrell, then murdering both him and Sebastian.

Deckard fights against Pris and Roy

After Bryant informs Deckard that Tyrell and Sebastian were both found dead at Tyrell's house, Deckard calls Sebastian's apartment. Pris answers and hangs up without saying anything, leading Deckard to visit the Bradbury Building and look for more clues. She hides amongst the creepy lifelike dolls before attacking Deckard. Although her impressive acrobatic skills make her a challenging opponent, Deckard eventually gets the upper hand and retires her.

Roy arrives, prompting Deckard to hide. He becomes very upset when he finds Pris' body, but then Deckard starts shooting at him, so he retaliates by punching through a wall and breaking two of Deckard's fingers. He gives Deckard his gun back, but Deckard finds it extremely difficult to shoot straight with his injuries. He runs to another room, with Roy chasing him relentlessly, but we soon realize that Roy isn't doing so well either. Roy is so close to death that his hand starts malfunctioning, so he stabs a nail through it to stabilize it. Deckard makes it to the roof and tries jumping to another building, but falls short and hangs onto the ledge for dear life. Roy finds him there and decides to save him, delivering his now-famous "tears in the rain" monologue.

Deckard goes back to his apartment, and he and Rachael run away together. Before leaving, Deckard finds an origami unicorn made by Gaff. This could mean that Gaff knew about Deckard's unicorn dream because Deckard is actually a replicant, but it's left unclear.

Rachael and Deckard miraculously have a baby

A lot happens in the 30 years between "Blade Runner" and "Blade Runner 2049." In the sequel, replicant blade runner KD6-3.7 (Ryan Gosling), who goes by K, discovers what happened to Rachael and Deckard after they ran away. While working one day, K hunts down and retires a farmer named Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista). The farm is barren except for a flower next to a dead tree, so K decides to scan the area. He discovers a box buried deep underground and has his team dig it up. Inside the box, they find what appears to be a female human skeleton and hair, with evidence revealing she had a cesarean section. Upon further inspection, they discover a serial number on the bones, meaning the skeleton is actually from a replicant. This is shocking news, since it was not believed that replicants were capable of giving birth to a child.

K investigates the situation and finds out that the replicant was Rachael, who miraculously conceived a child with Deckard after they ran away together. Since they were being hunted, Deckard left Rachael with the replicant freedom movement to keep her and their unborn child safe. Rachael lived on Sapper's farm until she gave birth in 2021 and died in childbirth. The replicant freedom movement hid the baby so no one would find out the truth about where it came from. As for Deckard, he stayed away to keep his child safe — but we'll get into that in a bit.

The Blackout destroys the replicant database

In 2022, the replicant freedom movement causes a 10-day power outage in Los Angeles known as the Blackout. During the Blackout, they destroy the replicant database to try to prevent blade runners from hunting down and retiring replicants. Afterward, the production of replicants is banned, leading the Tyrell Corporation to go bankrupt. This has massive repercussions; by the mid-2020s, there are widespread economic issues and people around the world are suffering from food shortages. Then the Wallace Corporation creates synthetic farming in 2025, ending the global food crisis and becoming extremely powerful in the process.

In 2028, the Wallace Corporation takes over the Tyrell Corporation and starts making innovations with replicant technology. They eventually create the Nexus-9 replicants, which are more obedient than previous models, so they're able to begin producing replicants again. They use the Nexus-9s as slave labor to help with interstellar colonization, and by the year 2049, they have produced millions of replicants and colonized nine planets.

K and his boss discover replicants can reproduce

This brings us to the year 2049, which is when "Blade Runner 2049" takes place. K and his boss, Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright), are extremely shocked when they find out that replicants are capable of reproducing. Replicants are so realistic that there's already a thin line between replicants and humans, and this discovery further complicates the distinction between the two. Joshi is concerned that if the public finds out replicants can have children, it will cause chaos and quickly lead to the downfall of society.

Determined to hide the truth, Joshi orders K to find and retire the replicant child. She also tells the forensic team to get rid of Rachael's remains, but K takes some of Rachael's hair before leaving. He has only ever retired replicants, so he has conflicted feelings about destroying something — or rather, someone — that was born rather than being created. This leads him to investigate the replicant child and uncover secrets hidden for decades.

K believes he is the replicant child

K has always believed that he's a Nexus-9 replicant, a model that has fake implanted memories, but that changes when he finds evidence suggesting that he is the replicant child. He goes back to Sapper's farm and examines the tree Rachael was buried under, finding a date carved near the base reading "6-10-21." This affects him profoundly because it reminds him of a childhood memory. When he was little, he remembers living in an orphanage and getting chased by a group of boys who wanted to take his wooden horse toy. He looked at the bottom of the toy, revealing a carving of that same date, and managed to hide it in an unused furnace before the boys beat him up. K previously believed the memory was fake, but the carving on the tree convinces him that it really happened.

K looks through the DNA bank to find children with that date of birth, discovering a boy and a girl with identical DNA who were born that day. This is impossible since they would have to be the same sex if they were identical twins, so K realizes one must be a copy. The records came from an orphanage and show that the girl died, further convincing K that he's the replicant child. When he visits the orphanage, he even finds the wooden horse toy in the furnace. Afterward, he visits Dr. Ana Stelline (Carla Juri), who creates fake memories for replicants, and she confirms his belief that his childhood memory is real.

K finds Deckard and learns more about the replicant child

Things don't go smoothly when K goes back to the police station and has to take the baseline test. This is designed to detect any emotions in replicant blade runners, which is considered undesirable and can lead to retirement. He fails the test and Joshi suspends him for 48 hours, after which he has to pass the test or he'll be retired.

K takes the wooden horse toy to a knowledgeable pawnshop owner to get it examined. Based on the kind of wood it's made out of, along with its high levels of radioactivity, they realize it can only be from Las Vegas, since the city was bombed years previously. K uploads his holographic girlfriend Joi into a mobile projector, then heads to Las Vegas and finds Deckard in an abandoned casino. Despite initially fighting, Deckard eventually comes around and lets K ask him some questions.

K learns that Deckard has never met his child since he left Rachael with the replicant freedom movement while she was still pregnant. Deckard did this for their safety because the Los Angeles Police Department was relentlessly hunting him. He still doesn't know where the child is; he figured this would be best for the child's safety, in case he ever got captured.

Luv finds K, destroys Joi, and kidnaps Deckard

K hasn't been the only one tracking down the replicant child. Early on in his investigation, K brought Rachael's hair to the Wallace Corporation and a replicant named Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) helped him find out who it belonged to. That leads the CEO of the company, Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), to deduce that Rachael was the replicant who had a child. Wanting to create other replicants capable of reproduction so he can have more slaves, Wallace orders Luv to find the replicant child.

During her search, Luv steals Rachael's remains and keeps close tabs on K since he's also looking for the child. When K suddenly leaves Los Angeles, Luv tortures Joshi and demands to know where he is. Joshi won't say, so Luv murders her, using her lifeless face to unlock her computer and locate K. Accompanied by a team of Wallace henchmen, Luv follows K to Las Vegas, then attacks him and Deckard in the abandoned casino. During the assault, she badly injures K and destroys his AI girlfriend Joi. She then kidnaps Deckard and leaves K to die.

The replicant freedom movement saves K and he realizes he's not the replicant child

Things are looking pretty bleak for K, but little does he know that the replicant freedom movement has been tracking him. Before leaving for Las Vegas, Joi arranges a threesome between her, K, and a replicant sex worker named Mariette (Mackenzie Davis). Since Mariette is part of the replicant freedom movement, she places a tracking device in K's jacket so the group can find out what he knows about the replicant child.

They follow him to Las Vegas and rescue him after Luv's brutal attack, bringing him to a safe spot to treat his injuries. K meets the leader of the group, Freysa Sadeghpour (Hiam Abbass), and learns that she was with Rachael when she gave birth. Freysa reveals that the replicant child is a girl, which is a tough pill for K to swallow, since he had wanted to believe that he was special, a unique replicant-human hybrid instead of little more than a machine. To hide the child, the replicant freedom movement placed her in an orphanage, then altered the records to make it look like she died and her twin brother grew up there. Deckard taught them how to do that, so Freysa urges K to find and kill Deckard to prevent Wallace from getting information from him about the movement.

K saves Deckard and helps him reunite with his daughter

Luv brings Deckard to Wallace, who tries persuading him to share the whereabouts of the replicant child. When that doesn't work, Wallace tells Luv to take Deckard to an off-world colony so they can torture the information out of him. Luv handcuffs Deckard and they take off in a flying car with K right behind them. He shoots them down and they crash near the ocean, where he and Luv have a battle to the death. The stakes are high, especially since Deckard is trapped inside the vehicle that is quickly filling up with water, but K manages to drown Luv and save Deckard before the vehicle sinks. Everyone will assume Deckard died in the crash, so no one will be looking for him anymore.

Despite being gravely injured, K helps Deckard reunite with his daughter, Dr. Ana Stelline. K realized she was the replicant child when Freysa told him the child was a girl. K had visited Ana earlier in his investigation because of her expertise in creating fake memories for replicants. When she used a device to view his wooden horse toy memory, she was so moved that she cried before confirming it was real. At the time, he had assumed that meant it happened to him, but she was actually the child in the memory, and she illegally implanted this reminiscence into some replicants. While Deckard goes into Stelline Laboratories to meet Ana, K stays outside, where it's implied that he dies.