Gaff’s Origami Unicorn


In a cyberpunk vision of the future, man has developed the technology to create replicants, human clones used to serve in the colonies outside Earth but with fixed lifespans. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a ‘Blade Runner’; a retired police officer, who has been tasked with hunting down and destroying four wayward replicants – off world androids workers who have returned to Earth seeking to extend their four year lifespans, which are fast coming to an end.

Blade Runner (1982)

When Deckard leaves his apartment with Rachael at the end of the film, she knocks over an origami unicorn. The unicorn is the last of a series of origami figures that Gaff uses to taunt Deckard. In Bryant’s office when Deckard insists he’s retired, Gaff folds a chicken: “You’re afraid to do it”. Later he makes a man with an erection: “You’re attracted to her”. And finally, the unicorn: “You’re dreaming, you can run away with her, but she won’t live” (he says basically the same thing to Deckard on the rooftop). One interpretation is that the unicorn was simply a message to Deckard to say “I know you’ve got Rachael, but I’ll let her live.” Another interpretation is that the unicorn is Gaff’s gauntlet and he will hunt them both down.

Also in a interview Ridley Scott did in Wired magazine in 2007, he explained this matter:

Wired: It was never on paper that Deckard is a replicant.
Scott: It was, actually. That’s the whole point of Gaff, the guy who makes origami and leaves little matchstick figures around. He doesn’t like Deckard, and we don’t really know why. If you take for granted for a moment that, let’s say, Deckard is a Nexus 7, he probably has an unknown life span and therefore is starting to get awfully human. Gaff, at the very end, leaves an origami, which is a piece of silver paper you might find in a cigarette packet, and it’s a unicorn. Now, the unicorn in Deckard’s daydream tells me that Deckard wouldn’t normally talk about such a thing to anyone. If Gaff knew about that, it’s Gaff’s message to say, “I’ve read your file, mate.” That relates to Deckard’s first speech to Rachael when he says, “That’s not your imagination, that’s Tyrell’s niece’s daydream.” And he describes a little spider on a bush outside the window. The spider is an implanted piece of imagination. And therefore Deckard, too, has imagination and even history implanted in his head.

Wired: Harrison Ford is on record saying Deckard is not a replicant.
Scott: Yeah, but that was, like, 20 years ago. He’s given up now. He said, “OK, mate. You win! Anything! Just put it to rest.”