The classic Blade Runner film is seen to be the archetypical story of machine who are men. It covers many of the classic literature conflicts, man vs man, man vs technology, man vs self, man vs society. In it, humans have created Replicants, genetically engineered machines (creatures really) that look and act so human that they can only be discovered by detecting involuntary empathic responses to emotionally provocative questions. A group of these replicants, used for military purposes, rebel off-world, killing humans, leading to their illegality and assignment for retiring (read: death-warrant). A few years later, a group of Nexus 6 Replicants escape to Earth. A Blade Runner, a cop trained to detect and kill these skin-jobs, is forced to track them down. The film delves into the question of what makes humans and replicants so different. One replicant, or more, had no idea they were even a replicant.

Battlestar Galactica, reimagined in 2004, has many if not all of these themes with a slight twist. Skin-jobs, advanced model machines that are no longer machine, but engineered by the machines who previously rebelled against humanity and started a war, return to the human worlds to enslave/destroy/other. It's difficult to detect these skin-jobs, and many had no idea they were Cylons at all.

Considering the abundance of similarities or even carbon copies, how much did Blade Runner directly influence the newer series? Is there any statements by production teams on this?

Or this just an example of common themes persuasive in Science Fiction media? Just an over imaginative, superficial coincidence?

  • 1
    I know Edward James Olmos said the end of Battlestar led into the start of Blade Runner, but I don't believe the production team backed that up. Feb 5, 2016 at 0:41
  • EJO's dual role aside, I mean there's the Decker/Rachael Baltar/Six romantic connections, Boomer/Rachael comparison, Decker Maybe Replicant/Final Five, Baltar's Test/VK Test, the rebellion, the evolution of the Cylons from machine to bioengineered, The dream sequences, Cavil/Roy's manic state or monologuing, the novel's religion aspect, and that's just off the top of my head. I haven't seen BSG in a decade!
    – cde
    Feb 5, 2016 at 0:46

1 Answer 1


Both Blade Runner and Battlestar Galactica are influenced by earlier work. In fact, the very first story to talk about robots actually used the term to refer to artificial humans. You can find a list of "Artificial Human" tropes here http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ArtificialHuman

Ronald Moore did acknowledge that Battlestar Galactica had similar elements as Blade Runner and would be compared to the previous work.

Wired.com: Were there other things you were trying to mimic, or places where you got ideas for the feel of the show, how things would work?

Moore: Certainly Blade Runner was early in the conversation. We made an early decision to make the Cylons look like people. Once you do that, you’re automatically in a conversation: “Well, Blade Runner did that.” So how do we walk that line? Not just rip them off, but acknowledge, and think of what can we learn from what they did? “Skin jobs” was a total lift, but we thought that was an homage from Blade Runner.

Wired.com: Edward James Olmos said the end of Battlestar feeds right in to Blade Runner. [The final scene of Battlestar is supposed to take place around 2008. When Blade Runner begins in 2019, humans have once again built humanoid robots that are almost indistinguishable from themselves. Olmos suggested that the Blade Runner character Gaff is one of Admiral Adama’s direct descendents.]

Moore: Yeah, I know. It’s a cool theory. I hadn’t thought of that until he said it.

Producer David Eick also listed Blade Runner's tone and moral gray areas as an influence for Battlestar Galactica and its successor, Caprica.

A lot of the characters in Battlestar and Caprica are less than sympathetic. What are some of the challenges or joys of writing gray-area characters?

Surprise. You're always upending audience expectations when your protagonist or your hero might do something nasty or when your villain might save someone's life when you least expect it. A real tonal model for what we were going for was Blade Runner, and that by the end of Blade Runner, you're shocked: One is that this malevolent villain is sort of a bloodthirsty creature, played by Rutger Hauer, saves Harrison Ford’s life because, in the end, to that villain, life was the most precious thing. Life trumps whatever personal animosity he might have or moral conviction to destroy this man. And then your second shock is that this man that you've been rooting for all along may, in fact, be one of the things that he was chasing and trying to destroy.

These are great examples of the audience suddenly finding themselves a bit uncertain of what side they should be rooting for and that sort of became a rallying cry from the very beginning of Battlestar – let’s place the audience in the position where they have to ask themselves if they're rooting for the right side. That kind of surprise and uncertainty is gripping and enveloping in a way that straight-up, white-half and black-half isn't obvious to me.

  • @cde - vastra360's answer seems to me to be spelling that out. May 21, 2016 at 20:22
  • It wasn't at the time. It was edited to add more info after the comment
    – cde
    May 21, 2016 at 20:42
  • Just to add, I think "visually" and in terms of story-structure and plot, Caprica, the Battlestar Galactica [re-imaged] prequel series taking place on the planet of the same name, is MUCH closer to Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? than Battlestar. Both are, in part neo nior, and have heavy crime-drama elements. Sep 11, 2017 at 16:31

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