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In Blade Runner, I never understood why Gaff spares Rachael's life. The only thing he says about Rachael is:

It's too bad [Rachael] won't live... but then again who does?

This doesn't really help me answer the question. Gaff, presumably a blade runner, went to Deckard's apartment probably to retire the last replicant. Remember, people see replicants as only machines, not regarded like humans.

Replicants are like any other machines. They are either a benefit or a hazard.

Now given this, Gaff sparing Rachael's life is highly unlikely. Even though he knows Rachael is fellow comrade, Deckard's love interest, it's shown in this universe that sympathy doesn't really operate even amongst blade runners. Especially Gaff and Deckard - they don't seem to like each other at all.

So why does Gaff defy orders to retire Rachael and ultimately spare her life?

P.S. If your answer involves Deckard being a replicant, then please explain it in terms of both possibilities, i.e., Deckard = replicant and Deckard = human.

  • Not a direct answer, but this blog post has some insights: br-insight.com/library/significance-of-the-unicorn – Raidri Jul 23 '17 at 11:26
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    Maybe Gaff is beginning to suspect he's a replicant, too. Maybe all Blade Runners are replicants, hunting other replicants! (Pure supposition, of course, hence comment instead of answer.) – Steve-O Jul 23 '17 at 13:28
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Depends on which movie you are talking about. If you are talking about the original theatrical release, perhaps Gaff was more interested in getting rid of Deckard (since Deckard had indicated that Gaff was ambitious to get ahead) than he was in getting rid of Rachel and he figured that letting her live was the best approach to getting rid of Deckard. Or, perhaps he really felt empathy for Deckard and decided to cut them a break.

If you are talking about that ridiculous mess that is the "Director's Cut", why do you imagine Gaff would be gunning for Rachel? In the Director's Cut we don't even know who Gaff is, really -- if not for one brief scene with Bryant (or the credits) we wouldn't even know his name. When we see Gaff, while he clearly works for the police department, he doesn't seem to be a policeman.

Other than the opener where the Chinese guy claims that he said "You're under arrest" (with the subsequent scene making it clear that he wasn't) Gaff never does anything like police work. He runs errands for Bryant, he drives Bryant and Deckard around, he sometimes winds up where Deckard is working but does no actual work himself. Heck, we don't even find out until the end of the movie that he can even speak English.

He seems to be little more than a driver/gofer. As for the whole unicorn thing, the claim that he must have known about Deckard's dream because Deckard is a replicant is pretty much nonsense.

Gaff wasn't at the meeting with Tyrell, he never heard about the implanted memories and there was never any discussion of Deckard having such memories, anyway, so how would Gaff know that, even if it were true?

More likely, Deckard told him about his dream one of the times Gaff was driving him around and while waiting for Deckard at his apartment, Gaff created the origami unicorn. There's no reason to believe that he was there for Rachel.

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I don't find it unlikely, at all, personally.

Why was Deckard brought in for the Nexus 6 breach? Because the Blade Runner who was investigating the case (Holden), who was supposed to be pretty good at his job, got smoked by Leon. So why wasn't Gaff given the assignment? Because he's clearly not thought of as in the same league as Deckard.

Now, perhaps he's more a political hack and boot-licking toadie who wouldn't be all that interested in getting that much action anyway, but the fact is, he and Deckard clearly don't have a "comrade" relationship. They irritate each other, Deckard doesn't necessarily respect him, and Deckard is more highly thought of.

Given that dynamic, wouldn't Gaff want Deckard to be gone? Why is Deckard leaving? Because Rachel is in danger, so he's going to spirit her away to protect her.

What happens if Gaff "retires" her? Deckard has no reason to leave, and he's still around, but more pissed off with a serious grudge against Gaff. When tough cases are around, Deckard can be called in to resolve them, making Gaff look useless (as opposed to a tough case not being solved by anyone, which doesn't make Gaff look as bad in comparison, because there is no comparison).

Rachel being alive means Deckard leaves and probably won't come back, so he lets her live. This removes the sentiment and generosity factor that you find difficult to believe, which seems reasonable, and makes it about self-interest.

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Suposition here - because Gaff's character is not explored beyond being an irritating foil to Decker. Blade Runner is a very dark violent movie, I think it's amazing but its not a happy story. I wonder if he did it give it a happy ending, perhaps Gaff had understood that this replicant was not a violent killer with a limited lifespan, but beautiful, elegant, cultured and very intelligent and can contribute.

Or simply maybe Scott wanted a positive ending, if not a hugely a 'happy' one.

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