‘Blade Runner 2049’: What Exactly Is ‘the Blackout’?

Sometime between the events of “Blade Runner” and “Blade Runner 2049,” an event called the Blackout messed up future Los Angeles

Blade Runner 2049
Warner Bros.

(Note: This post contains light spoilers for the backstory of “Blade Runner 2049.”)

A lot of time has passed between the stories of “Blade Runner” and the sequel that picks up its threads, “Blade Runner 2049.” What happened in the 30 years between the two movies is the focus of the mystery that Officer K (Ryan Gosling) tries to solve through the course of the film.

But as he tries to dig up information that leads him to the first movie’s protagonist, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) and the events of “Blade Runner,” K keeps running up against missing information. Apparently, there was an event called the Blackout at some point in the past that destroyed a huge number of records and other digital information, which makes K’s job much tougher.

What exactly is the Blackout, though? There are a few clues available in the movie, and press materials handed out to journalists at screenings of the film give a little more information that can help fans understand the event.

The Blackout was a massive disaster that occurred in the 30 years between “Blade Runner” and “Blade Runner 2049.” In the movie, it’s described as an event that destroyed electronic records — everything from the Tyrell Corp.’s info on its Replicants to civilian baby photos.

According to press materials for the movie, the Blackout was an electromagnetic pulse (an EMP, if you’ve heard of this particular sci-fi disaster before) that swept the country. It was a huge problem, knocking out power in cities for days.

Many believe the Blackout was an attack carried out by rogue Replicants, but nobody knows for sure. The cause of the Blackout and who was responsible for it has never been determined.

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The results of the Blackout is a society that’s more on-edge, and most people remember it happening.

It destroyed a lot of electronic records, which makes K’s job tougher, and it seems to have helped push the world to the state in which we find it during the movie, with Replicants back in use as slave labor everywhere, and police seemingly more dominant in Los Angeles.