Much Sword runner-up fans might think Deck of cards is the best of them all thanks to his performance in the first film and the fact that he is without a doubt the most iconic Blade Runner in series history. They were wrong, though, as the Blade Runner anime actually named the best copycat killer — and it wasn’t Deckard.
Rick Deckard was introduced in 1982’s Blade Runner as the Duplicator of the Law extermination officer. It is considered that he is the best Blade Runner in the unit because of the importance of the mission he performs in the movie. A small group of rogue Replicants are on the run and it is believed that they are after the most powerful man in the world, Tyrell. Tyrell runs the Tyrell Corp and is responsible for creating the Clones, though he is also responsible for enslaving them. So Deckard was tasked with keeping Tyrell safe by finding and ‘retiring’ the Copiers before any harm could be done to the industry giant. While Deckard failed to protect Tyrell from being killed, Deckard fulfilled his mission of making sure any rogue Replicants were stopped. However, even with his supposed victory, he still can’t match the record of the best Blade Runner in the industry: J.
Blade Runner: Black Lotus introduces J, the best Blade Runner in history
In Blade Runner: Black Lotus episode 7 (written by Alex De Campi, directed by Kenji Kamiyama and Shinji Aramaki), it is revealed that the man who has been helping Replicant Elle all this time, J (aka Joseph) , is actually a former employee. – The runner. Elle is on the run from the LAPD after assassinating several prominent members of society for their crimes against her and her kind. In each kill, J has helped Elle – both in terms of preparation and recovery. When J is questioned by the police (while Elle hides in a closet), the detective interviewing him reveals the truth that he is a Blade Runner – but not any Blade Runner. According to this detective, J was responsible for the retirement of about one hundred to two hundred Replicas over the course of his career, and his accomplishments have made him an enduring legend in the Blade Unit. Runner, this alone implies his superiority over his predecessor, Deckard.
While J’s Replicant kills are the highest in Blade Runner history (more than Deckard), that’s not the only reason J is the best. In the Blade Runner: Origins comics, it is revealed that the Blade Runner Unit was founded by a man who secretly wanted to help the Duplicator. This man, whose name is Cal, is only pretending to be against the Duplicator to gain the trust of the people and LAPD, all so he can head his own unit dedicated to ‘retiring’ the Star Man. Copy. Either way, the copycats were still in a state of dismemberment, but Cal had put himself in a position where he was held accountable for those who were hunting them. So Cal secretly developed a rigorous recruiting guide for potential Blade Runners, a guide meant to test their empathy for the Duplicator. Essentially, Cal wanted to make sure that the only Blade Runners hired to hunt the Copiers would eventually side with them, and J is the latest unit success story Cal created.
J is the best Blade Runner for two reasons. Officially, he’s the best because he’s killed the most Clones. However, on the secret side, he is the best as he not only sided with the Replicants by helping Elle but also ensures the safety of the most powerful Replicant in Blade Runner history. Elle has almost single-handedly destabilized all of humanity with the people she murdered, and J plays an integral role in ensuring that she succeeds and that she is protected. So while Deck of cards is the first and most iconic Sword runner-up in the series, he’s far from the best, as that honor goes to Black Lotus ‘J.