The Origins of The Name

Blade Runner: A Movie, 1979

This is the cover to William Burrough’s 1979 script, “Blade Runner”. A film that was never made but whose name is synonymous with some other film of the same name from 1982. And although they share the same name, they have very different meanings. In the film, a blade runner was a cop who was tasked with hunting down replicants. But in the script, the story took place in a future where medicine was no longer being practiced and where very few doctors existed. In order to continue to care for their patients, someone needed to go out and find supplies which were limited. These people were known as blade runners, or scalpel runners.

The Blade Runner, 1974

As for the story behind behind the script, it was based on a novel by Alan E. Nourse. Nourse was a trained doctor and had used his knowledge to write books like “So You Want To Be A Doctor” and “Teen Guide To Safe Sex,” which he wrote under a pseudonym in the 1960’s. In 1973, he wrote “The Blade Runner.” Then in 1976, Burroughs read the book and became interested in turning it into a film. He obtained the film rights from Nourse and finished the script in 1979. But it was never made and the script was released as a novel instead. 3 years later, the screenwriter Hampton Francher was trying to come up with a new title for the movie after Mechanismo and Dangerous Days were turned down. He chose the name Blade Runner, asked Ridley Scott for approval, and the rest is history.