- The Old Man and RoboCop
OCP Crime Prevention Unit 001 (formerly Detroit Police Officer Alex James Murphy and usually referred to as simply RoboCop) is a fictional Detroit cyborg police officer and protagonist from the feature film series of the same name. The character begins as a human being who is killed in the line of duty by a vicious crime gang. Subsequently, Murphy is transformed into the cyborg entity by the megacorporation Omni Consumer Products.
Since his 1987 film debut, the RoboCop character and franchise have been exercised through numerous entertainment media including multiple television series, comic books, video games, and action figures. RoboCop also made an appearance on World Championship Wrestling's 1990 pay-per-view event Capital Combat, rescuing wrestler Sting from the Four Horsemen by ripping the door off a cage Sting was locked in.
Police Officer Alex Murphy was serving with the Detroit Police Department when its funding and administration was taken over by the private corporation Omni Consumer Products. Murphy was a devout Irish Catholic and a mild-mannered family man, living with his wife, Ellen (Nancy in the television series), and his son, Jimmy. Murphy started mimicking his son's television hero, T.J. Lazer, by twirling his gun whenever he took down a criminal. Murphy’s psychological profile stated that he was top of his class at the police academy and possessed a fierce sense of duty. This dedication explained why Murphy exhibited none of the negative attitudes and statements shared by his fellow officers when he was transferred to the Metro West Precinct, the most violent area of Old Detroit. The police dissatisfaction was a result of OCP’s (deliberate) mismanagement, and penny-pinching, which lead to the deaths of many police officers in the precinct.
Alex Murphy's police file (from the first RoboCop film) reads as follows:
Murphy, Alex J.
548 Primerose Ln,
Grade: 1 00 33
The veteran Murphy was partnered with Officer Anne Lewis, a veteran herself of Old Detroit. During a pursuit and subsequent raid against a crime lord named Clarence Boddicker in an abandoned steel mill, Murphy was captured and beaten by Boddicker’s gang. While surrounded by the gang, Boddicker asked Murphy for his opinion of him, to which Murphy defiantly and honestly told him, “Buddy, I think you’re slime.” While Lewis was incapacitated, Boddicker destroyed Murphy's right hand with a shotgun blast. He then let his gang take turns firing their shotguns, shearing off Murphy's right arm and blasting holes in every part of his body. Amazingly, Murphy was still alive on his knees afterwards (perhaps due to the protective body armor protecting his upper body). Boddicker then walked up and executed him with a gunshot to the head. Murphy was transported to the hospital's emergency room, where the doctors tried in vain to keep him alive.
After he was pronounced dead, the body was seized by OCP, citing the release forms Murphy signed when he joined the police force. The technicians of the RoboCop Program, led by executive Bob Morton, used what was left of Murphy's face and portions of his cerebrum and cerebellum and applied them to a cybernetic body, in effect, resurrecting Alex Murphy as RoboCop.
OCP held a contract to fund and run the Detroit Police Department. Security Concepts was the division that provided oversight for the police. In order to supplement the police force that was overwhelmed with crime, Security Concepts began developing robotic law enforcement units. Originally, the ruthless Senior President Dick Jones was developing a fully robotic unit called ED (Enforcement Droid)-209, with plans to secure a long-term contract with the military for replacement parts and service. However, ED-209 severely malfunctioned during a demonstration and killed an employee posing as a criminal, even though he dropped his weapon. Ambitious junior executive Robert Morton used this as a justified reason to go over Jones' head and pitch his "RoboCop Program" directly to OCP's CEO, the "Old Man".
Morton and his team restructured the police force to place prime candidates with high aptitude and experience in law enforcement into high crime areas where death in the line of duty was highly probable. Once a death occurred, the deceased officer would be used in the construction of a cyborg law enforcement unit, since they had already signed waivers allowing OCP to do whatever they pleased with their corpses. This unit would be afforded the fastest reflexes made possible by modern technology, a memory assisted by an on-board computer, and programmed with a lifetime experience of on-the-street law enforcement. Because of Alex Murphy's stellar record and near-perfect psychological profile, portions of his body were subsequently used to create the prototype RoboCop designated as OCP Crime Prevention Unit 001.
RoboCop quickly proved to be an effective weapon against crime, but unbeknownst to Morton was that RoboCop began to remember his past life as Alex Murphy, starting with his death at the hands of Boddicker and his gang. Enraged at having had his life stolen from him, RoboCop embarked on a personal quest for vengeance as he hunted down and killed Boddiker's gang. The final confrontation between RoboCop and Boddiker ended with RoboCop violently stabbing Boddicker in the throat with the computer data spike installed in his fist.
A year later, OCP attempted to replicate the success of Murphy with a new RoboCop Program; however, all of the candidates selected went insane upon activation and committed suicide or harmed others, due to the severe mental strain of their prostheses. To find a suitable personality, Dr. Juliette Faxx turned to the criminal element in the drug lord Cain, reasoning that someone with strong megalomania would relish the power of the new body instead of rejecting the new-found life. Upon his death, Cain's brain and spinal column were harvested and placed in a larger, more powerful cybernetic body, referred to as RoboCop 2. Ultimately, Cain's addiction to the drug Nuke proved to be his undoing, as RoboCop distracted him with a vial of the drug long enough to remove his brain casing and smash it on the pavement, killing Cain again.
RoboCop: Prime Directives
Ten years after the first RoboCop was activated, OCP revived the RoboCop Program yet again. After the death of Delta City Security Commander John T. Cable, OCP used portions of his body to create Crime Prevention Unit 002, moving back to the original elements of Morton's RoboCop Program. In a move of Corporate Espionage, this new RoboCop was activated in an attempt to eliminate his predecessor so that the conglomerate could freely participate in questionable activities. This programming was later overcome by Cable, who OCP had not remembered was a former friend, and partner, of Alex Murphy, and the two instead moved against OCP.
RoboCop is programmed to follow three main prime directives (accompanied by a mysterious fourth), which are comparable with Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics":
- "Serve the public trust"
- "Protect the innocent"
- "Uphold the law"
The fourth directive, which he was programmed to be unaware of unless it became relevant, rendered him physically incapable of placing any senior OCP employee under arrest: "any attempt to arrest a senior OCP employee results in shutdown". Senior President Richard "Dick" Jones stated that Directive 4 was his contribution to RoboCop's psychological profile. Jones informed RoboCop that he was an OCP product and not an ordinary police officer. As a result, RoboCop was unable to act against the corrupt Jones until the chairman of OCP verbally terminated Jones's employment with the company, allowing RoboCop to act against him.
Directive four has been erased twice, in each of the sequels. RoboCop 2 sees the deletion of all of the directives—after he was rebuilt with so many sub-directives that he was practically incapable of taking action, forcing RoboCop to subject himself to a potentially lethal electric shock to clear his database. During RoboCop 3, Directive Four, which was not classified but instead read "Never oppose an OCP officer," was solely eliminated, so that RoboCop could avenge Anne Lewis's murder by OCP. By the time of RoboCop: Prime Directives, Directive Four, in regard to OCP, was not present at all, but a saboteur instituted a fourth directive to "terminate John T. Cable." In RoboCop: The Series, Directive Four was also not present. At the end of Prime Directives, all his directives were erased, but RoboCop stated to his son that he would do "What I do: Serve the public trust, protect the innocent, and uphold the law," noting that he would keep his directives by his own will, not through the imposition of programming.
Bob Morton designed Murphy's programming to single-handedly bring down Detroit's high crime rate substantially in order to start construction on Delta City (in the series, he succeeded in this goal as Delta City is built by the time three years pass). As such, Murphy was allowed to utilize what some would consider with average police officers excessive force (beating and fatally wounding perps who did not surrender to his initial standard warning to stand down) dictated by the on-board computer and lifetime law enforcement built into him. Also, as OCP owns and runs Detroit Police, (taking into the fact the highly dangerous criminals running roughshod on the streets and overwhelming cops) they can adjust the law as they please, thus excusing Murphy's perceived excessive force as perfectly legal. In RoboCop 2, there were two occasions where Murphy assaulted two individuals connected with the drug Nuke and its creator, Cain (although note that the first fired on him with a machine gun, clearing Murphy to use said force, and the second was a corrupt cop named Duffy). In the series, Murphy no longer has this pacification programming and is apparently reprogrammed to act as an average police officer abiding by traditional law (Murphy had apparently done away with most of the rampant crime seen and mentioned in the first movie, thus rendering pacification obsolete). He rarely if ever kills criminals and is instead equipped with gadgets backed by programming consisting of non-lethal alternatives to apprehend criminals, with lethal force listed on his HUD as a last option.
RoboCop's primary weapon; it is a 9mm handgun with a large barrel extension that fires in three-round bursts. The gun remains stored in a mechanical holster which deploys from RoboCop's right leg. The prop for the weapon is a modified Beretta 93R. Though unnamed in the films, The Series referenced the Auto-9 by name and added that the main version of the weapon was modified so that no one but RoboCop could actually fire it.
In Prime Directives, it could fire various types of ammunition which RoboCop could select at any given time.
Cobra Assault Cannon
The Cobra Assault Cannon used in RoboCop could fire explosive rounds equivalent to that of a grenade launcher and is based on the Barrett M82A1 anti-material rifle.
Machine gun/rocket launcher
This weapon made its appearance in RoboCop 3 and was never referenced by name other than being called a "weapon arm" in promotional action figures, and a "gun arm" by the production team. To use it, RoboCop removes his left hand and replaces it with the weapon assembly. It contains a 9mm machine gun, a flamethrower and a small missile launcher with a projectile potent enough to destroy an armored vehicle.
A large jetpack that allows RoboCop to fly. It also doubles as a replenishing system for when RoboCop's battery system is low on power. As seen in RoboCop 3, the jetpack allows Murphy to overcome his relatively limited mobility for tactical advantage in combat. Referred to in the film as a "flightpack" and by production as a "jetpack," some Japanese schematics also mention "Gyropack" as a name.
This weapon appears in Frank Miller's RoboCop comic book and was originally meant to be RoboCop's arm cannon prior to the final product in RoboCop 3.
RoboCop's data spike is a sharp spike-like device that protrudes from RoboCop's right fist. This device can be used by RoboCop to interface with a corresponding data port in order to download information from the police database and compare information he's gathered from his missions with the police database. Not actually a weapon, this device was also used to take out Clarence Boddicker; having pinned RoboCop under a pile of scrap metal, the cyborg waited for Boddicker to approach and then stabbed Boddicker in the throat, killing the crime lord. The spike does not make an appearance in the second but is used by RoboCop in the third film to access the OCP mainframe where he finds that a young girl's parents have been eliminated.
In RoboCop: The Series, grenades called Ordnances were equipped in his left thigh holster that, when placed on an object, beeps. Once beeping, a shot from the Auto-9 will trigger it to ignite an explosion.
RoboCop's vision has an internal zoom capability for better aim as well as tracking. RoboCop also has different vision modes but the only one that has been used in the movies was thermal vision in RoboCop and RoboCop 3. His systems use a grid which is crucial to RoboCop's targeting as well as bullet trajectory (allowing him to make ricochet shots), though apparently the targeting reticle of RoboCop is internal to him, as seen in the first movie. As seen in RoboCop 2, RoboCop's programming prevents him from targeting children, which allowed Hob to shoot RoboCop and escape the Nuke drug lab. He also has a recorder which can detect voice fluctuations and stress as well as play back audio/visual. This recording capability enables RoboCop to document any situation he encounters with perfect recall and unbiased neutrality, with his memory being deemed through legal agreement as admissible evidence in a court of law. As seen in RoboCop 2, RoboCop possesses a directional microphone with which he can track conversations from a distance. It would seem to be very sensitive, as he can hear vehicles approaching from afar despite being indoors (as he did when he was hiding out in RoboCop 3). In the television series, he is capable of lie detection by means of a polygraph.
RoboCop's mechanical body is largely a very efficient mobile life support system designed to utilize Alex Murphy's original living tissue.
Various displays and interpretations range from RoboCop being mostly electronic and mechanical, while others depict his structure as balanced between the two. In the original print of the film, director Van recorded the death scene largely destroying Murphy completely to the point where crime lord Clarence Boddicker shoots Murphy in the head at point blank range and is shown blowing out the complete rear left side of Murphy's head which would necessitate the computer running RoboCop with Murphy's only partial brain interacting with the computer. This scene and successive conflict structure was removed from the original release though the back head explosion scene and destructive showing of Murphy's head is included in most successive home releases as a deleted scene. In the released theatrical version and original VHS home releases, only the front of Murphy's head and subsequent only entry wound are shown (in fact when RoboCop removes his helmet in the final act the bullet and circular tissue around the bullet is still shown in the top of his face) indicating that Alex Murphy's brain and nervous system and personality remain intact and are later able to fully reassert himself after most of the external controlling systems are destroyed and punctuated at the end of the film where he states his identity as "Murphy" rather than RoboCop.
While all of Murphy's limbs have been replaced with "complete body prosthesis" (as indicated with the scene where Murphy's left arm is announced as salvaged) Murphy's nervous system is maintained.
RoboCop's reconstructed external structure is protected by an armored shell composed of "titanium laminated with Kevlar" making RoboCop incredibly resilient against both bombs and bullets, as well as extreme impacts such as being hit by cars and falling off skyscrapers. In RoboCop and RoboCop 3 the body armor is gray, and in RoboCop 2 the armor is blue. RoboCop's hands, midsection, and neck armor are black. As demonstrated in RoboCop, the body armor can sustain thousands of armor-piercing rounds before damage begins to appear on the armor. It is also highly resistant to heat, as in RoboCop, he was unaffected after being caught in a gasoline station explosion and in RoboCop 3 when he was briefly set aflame. His visor is made of the same material and a black strip of bulletproof anti-fog glass which protects the cranium apparatus and eyes. The visor also has an undercloth of Kevlar which protects the neck and covers up any wires etc. It should also be noted that the visor conceals most of Alex Murphy's face inside it. The visor is attached with screws. When the visor is removed, only Murphy's face (which is grafted onto a completely mechanical skull) from the top of the neck up is exposed. When the helmet is removed, the back of his head exposes part of the metal casing and some minor mechanical elements.
In RoboCop 2, RoboCop's right arm contained a display that alerted personnel to his health status. RoboCop's hands also contain actuators strong enough to crush every bone in a human hand (about 400 foot pounds). His right hand also contains a spike (referred to by fans as a "data spike" and by production as the "terminal strip") which is used to retrieve or display data from any computer bank with a corresponding port. At the end of the first film, the jack is also used as a stabbing weapon against the antagonist Clarence Boddicker. RoboCop is extremely strong, able to lift the front of the average car over his head with one arm or resist the crushing effort of a car crusher, as seen in the TV series (episodes 5 and 21, respectively). He was designed to be able "to penetrate virtually any building," and breaks locks with ease.
In Frank Miller's RoboCop, RoboCop stores his reserve box magazines in his right wrist; this is never shown in the film series. He is seen reloading the Auto-9 in RoboCop 2 with a magazine already in hand at the start of the scene. In the later television series, the holster area of his left thigh is used to store grenades, though on some schematic drawings the same area is used to store an emergency oxygen tank.
RoboCop implies that only Murphy's face and brain was used in the construction of RoboCop, as Morton states that "total body prosthesis" was an agreed-upon parameter. It is unclear in the first two films whether or not RoboCop's human face is merely a replica of Murphy's, as it contains a scar where Boddicker shot him in the head, though he tells Murphy's wife, in RoboCop 2, that "they made this to honor him." After touching it, she says, "it's cold."
In RoboCop 3, Dr. Marie Lazarus, RoboCop's chief technician, stated that Murphy's face was indeed transplanted onto a mechanical skull, and that it is not a replica. In the first film it is mentioned that RoboCop eats a "rudimentary paste that sustains his organic systems."
In RoboCop: Creating a Legend, a bonus feature on the RoboCop: 20th Anniversary DVD, it is speculated that Murphy's face was removed from his corpse and implanted on the cyborg's head to give RoboCop a sense of identity. This psychological disruption RoboCop may have experienced is explained from the basis that a person whose memory has been erased would still possess the memory of being human and would suffer a psychotic breakdown if he saw the reflection of a robotic image instead of his original image of humanity.
Despite all of RoboCop's technological advances, he is still limited to mechanical maintenance, which means (just like any machine), he needs servicing and tune ups from time to time. On top of that, his organic systems need to be monitored as well therefore the scientist working on him (Dr. Marie Lazarus) would have to monitor both systems during his rest periods.
Another one of RoboCop's faults is that he is also programmable, meaning that in the wrong hands he can be programmed to be an incompetent officer or a dangerous threat to society.
In combat, his limited agility and maneuverability often restrict his movements to being mechanical and jerky, as he is often knocked down in the movie series during firefights.
RoboCop occasionally has flashbacks of his previous life as Alex J. Murphy, which causes him to have "dreams" when he is in his recharging state. This sometimes causes him to sleepwalk or wake up in shock.
In other media
Because of his fame, television shows, comic books and video games were released featuring RoboCop.
- RoboCop appears in RoboCop: The Series played by Richard Eden. The series takes place two to three years after the original film, Murphy's mother and father were introduced. His father, Russell Murphy, was a devout police officer himself for many years until his retirement. He is responsible for instilling Murphy with his trademark sense of duty and dedication to law enforcement, even after his transformation into a cyborg. Throughout the series, Murphy finds himself teamed up with his father on a few cases that often saw them utilizing the elder Murphy's expertise in dealing with reappearing criminals he'd chased back before his retirement. Although his father was stern, it was clear Murphy's parents loved and cherished him even after his 'demise.' However at the end of the episode Corporate raiders, Russell Murphy finds out that it's his son under the RoboCop enhancements. Ellen (known as Nancy in the series for apparent copyright reasons) and Jimmy Murphy were recurring characters as well, often finding themselves crossing paths with Murphy by falling in inadvertently or intentionally with the criminal element to which Murphy interfered and protected them from harm. Despite his series partner Madigan's concerns to tell his family who he is, Murphy replied firmly, "No," as he felt doing so would hurt them even more. He commented that "they need a husband... and a father. I cannot be that. But I can protect them."
- RoboCop appears in RoboCop: Prime Directives played by Page Fletcher. The series takes place ten years after the first film's events, RoboCop has become outdated, tired, and quasi-suicidal. Delta City (formerly Detroit) is now considered the safest place on Earth, and he is no longer viewed as particularly necessary. The first half of the series focuses on Alex Murphy's former partner, John T. Cable, who is slain by RoboCop due to his system being hacked and being programmed to terminate Cable. Cable is then resurrected as a cyborg in most aspects identical to the RoboCop model, save for color and the addition of a second sidearm. "RoboCable" is sent to destroy RoboCop, but after several battles, Cable is convinced to join Murphy. Meanwhile, OCP (on the verge of bankruptcy) is taken over by a scheming executive, Damian Lowe, who manages to murder the entire board of directors. To bring OCP back, he plans to use an artificial intelligence called SAINT to automate the entire city. The second half of the series introduces Dr. David Kaydick, who plans to introduce a “bio-tech” virus (Legion) to wipe out not only Delta City but all life on the planet, infecting computers and people alike. He takes control of RoboCable by planting a chip in him that causes him pain or death, at Kaydick's discretion. RoboCop receives aid from a group of tech thieves led by Ann R. Key (Leslie Hope), who are determined to stop Kaydick, and RoboCop's own son, James - now fully grown and aware of his father's fate. RoboCop and his rag-tag band race to stop Kaydick from infiltrating OCP tower and activating SAINT, which would presumably kill almost all humans. During the confrontation, RoboCop and James reconcile with each other, and manage to rekindle RoboCable's previous personality. Ann. R. Key and Kaydick both die during a confrontation with each other. Utilizing James's EMP device, and having shut down RoboCop, RoboCable and LEGION are terminated. RoboCop gets rebooted without his previous OCP restriction programming (as well as restoring his identity as "Alex Murphy" as opposed to an OCP product number) or his prime directives. After viewing a goodbye message left by Cable, Murphy returns to active duty to stop the resultant crime in Delta City due to the EMP pulse blacking out the city.
- Based on the original movie, the first RoboCop animated series features cyborg cop Alex Murphy (RoboCop), who fights to save the city of Old Detroit from assorted rogue elements, and on occasion, fighting to reclaim aspects of his humanity and maintain his usefulness in the eyes of the "Old Man", Chairman of OCP. Many episodes see RoboCop's reputation put to the test or soured by interventions from Dr. McNamara, the creator of ED-260, the upgradable version of the Enforcement Droid Series 209 and the top competitor for the financial backing of OCP. He continually develops other mechanical menaces that threaten RoboCop. In the police force, RoboCop is befriended as always by Officer Anne Lewis, but is also picked on and lambasted by the prejudiced Lieutenant Roger Hedgecock (who appeared as a minor character in the original film and his first name revealed in Night of the Archer), ever determined to be rid of him and his kind, whom he sees as ticking time bombs. Their rivalry comes to a fever pitch during the episode "The Man in the Iron Suit", in which Hedgecock comes close to finally beating Murphy with the aid of a new weapons system developed by McNamara. He almost kills Lewis when she interferes, enraging Murphy into tearing Hedgecock's iron suit apart and nearly crushing his skull before Lewis emerges, alive and well. RoboCop is maintained by RoboCop Project director Dr. Tyler. He was voiced by Robert Bockstael.
- RoboCop appears in RoboCop: Alpha Commando voiced by David Sobolov. The series is set in the year 2030, and deals with RoboCop being reactivated after five years offline to assist a federal high-tech group, "Alpha Division" in their vigilance and struggle against DARC (Directorate for Anarchy, Revenge, and Chaos) a highly advanced terrorist organization and other forces of evil whenever that may be, globally or nationally. The series shared many of the same writers who had contributed to the 1980s animated series, but had even less in common with the movies or television canon that it was based on, including the first animated series. RoboCop now has numerous gadgets in his body that were never in the film, such as roller skates and a parachute. The show also suffers from major continuity errors. In the first episodes we see RoboCop's son in his memories flashback and he appears to be around 10. We later see his son in the series, to be exactly the same age and even wearing the same clothing, as his memories. The absence of Anne Lewis was never explained. Besides RoboCop himself, Sgt. Reed is the only character from the movies in the series. Unlike the movies, and previous TV incarnations, RoboCop never takes off his helmet in Alpha Commando.
RoboCop has appeared in several video game adaptions for the films.
RoboCop has appeared in several different comic books.
- RoboCop appears in the 23 issue Marvel comic book adaption of the film series.
- He appears in the Dark Horse adaption.
- He later appears in the Avatar Press title, Frank Miller's RoboCop.
- He will appear in the Dynamite Entertainment comic book adaption.
A famous cross-over of RoboCop and the Terminator was made for comic books and was successfully adapted for video games.
In popular culture
- He appeared in WCW's Capital Combat where he helped wrestler Sting.
- Alex Murphy appears in an episode of Family Guy, where while everyone is shooting at each other, Peter states that Lois is "doing a lot better than Peter Weller in the opening scene of RoboCop."
- A RoboCop statue will be built in Detroit after fans raised over $50,000 to fund it.