When Ridley Scott gave us Alien, he introduced a whole new way of approaching science fiction. Ten or even five years earlier, that sort of script would have been made as a schlocky B-movie with its story of an alien monster stalking the crewmembers of a spaceship. Instead, Scott treated the story, world and characters with an uncompromising sense of gravity and weight that was relatively unknown for the genre.
Only three years later, Scott released Blade Runner and blew any remaining misconceptions about science fiction being pure pulp entertainment completely out of the water. Grappling with complex themes about humanity, artificial intelligence and the dangers of rampant capitalism, the neo-noir story of Rick Deckard hunting down dysfunctional replicants resonated deeply with audiences.
Alongside Alien, the two films are considered to be not just some of the greatest science fiction films ever made but also two of the best movies of all time. However, are these two behemoths of sci-fi part of the same universe? Beyond just having the same director, there are actually several pretty convincing clues that suggest that the two films share more than just an aesthetic or thematic link. They may well literally inhabit the same world, just several hundred years apart.
The first connection is small, a moment lasting for a few seconds at most, but when taking into consideration the attention to detail put into making these films, particularly with Scott at the helm, it’s hard to imagine this being purely a coincidence or just laziness. In Blade Runner, when Deckard’s fellow LAPD officer Gaff starts up the engine for his hovercar, it depicts the exact same screen on the in-car computer as the escape pod which Ridley climbs into in Alien. Right down to the red background colour, the style of font and the same digits, suggesting the two vehicles are using the same technology.
Cementing the connection between the two even further, in a bonus feature on the special edition 20th anniversary DVD for Alien, background information is given for the crewmates of the ‘Nostromo’, the ship which the Alien comes to terrorise. It is implied that Dallas, one of the crew, used to work for the ‘Tyrell Corporation’; this is the monolithic conglomerate in Blade Runner that creates the replicants. Aboard the ship of the Nostromo is an AI robot called Bishop, but with this reference to the Corporation, one starts to question whether he is, in fact, a Tyrell-made replicant.
Hidden in the bonus features for die-hard fans to discover, an extra on the Blu-Ray release of Scott’s 2012 prequel to Alien, Prometheus, quotes Weyland – the orchestrator of the mission of the Prometheus and a very Tyrell-reminiscent character – referring to an old mentor who “lived like a God on top of a pyramid, overlooking a city of angels”. Once again, it seems hard to refute that this is the Tyrell Corporation headquarters, sitting atop the gargantuan pyramid building towering over Los Angeles.
Probably the most convincing clue of all? Scott himself has even confirmed that he considers the two to be connected. Speaking on the crew of the ‘Nostromo’ in Alien, he’s said: “I think when they come back in [to Earth], they might go to a bar off the street near where Deckard lives”.
With Blade Runner being set in 2019 and the events of Alien confirmed via a tie-in novel to take place in 2122, it’s unlikely we’ll see Deckard facing off against an Alien. This is just as well; based on previous crossover movies involving the Alien franchise, it’s probably best that the characters and complex lore of Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049, and the upcoming TV series are reserved for those titles alone.