Tyrell grew up impoverished in a cabin located in the mountains of Edens, California. He had a younger sister, Alice, to whom he entrusted a diary for safekeeping. At one point, he buried an owl on his family's property and pondered whether he could beat death.
In 2009, following the death of Lydia Kine, blamed internally on the Nexus-4 pleasure model 4-331575, Tyrell met with Rhea McCallister and Charles Edevane, expressing concern over the incident. The company covered the death up as a suicide and Tyrell appointed Ilora Stahl to handle any inquiries by the Los Angeles Police Department.
After a number of Nexus-4 replicants were "awakened" by the Nexus-5 prototype Nia Moreaux, a number of attacks occurred, culminating in the slums being set ablaze under Stahl's order. Tyrell held Stahl responsible for the destruction caused by the awakened replicants, ordering her to repair the situation and to prevent future replicants from rebelling.
Tyrell had a niece, Lilith, whose memories were used for the experimental Nexus-7, Rachael, created in 2018. Tyrell used Rachael as his assistant and never told her she was a replicant, leading her to believe she was human. Additionally, Tyrell created a Nexus-7 replicant modeled after his friend Alexander Selwyn's late wife.
Tyrell was a master chess player, having lost to J.F. Sebastian only twice and the second time, he lost because Batty told Sebastian what moves to make. He also played with his niece Lilith, although she was always unable to beat him. Tyrell also owned an artificial owl.
In November 2019, Tyrell met with Blade Runner Rick Deckard, who arrived at the Tyrell Corporation after being ordered by Captain Harry Bryant to perform a Voight-Kampff empathy test on a Nexus-6. This was to allow Deckard to better grasp the situation with a group of escaped replicants led by Roy Batty and how they worked. Tyrell wished to see a negative test result of the empathy test before he allowed Deckard to test a replicant. Tyrell suggested that Rachael be used, only for Deckard to discover that Rachael's nature as an experimental replicant with memory implants. making her harder to detect as not human.
He met with rookie Blade Runner Ray McCoy shortly after meeting with Deckard and spoke briefly with him about the death of one of his senior Gravity Lab technicians, but he provided little useful information.
Tyrell was confronted by a Nexus-6 named Clovis who demanded Nexus-6 DNA data in the hope of using it to find a way to prolong his lifespan without Tyrell's involvement. When Tyrell insisted the 4-year lifespan was unalterable, Clovis moved to shoot him, but was thwarted by Tyrell's security team.
Later, Tyrell met with Governor Maurice Kolvig to convince him to allow replicants to work on Earth as slave labor, cleaning up the kipple that surrounded Los Angeles. However, the governor was killed by Clovis as the two discussed plans for implementation.
Later, leader of the escaped replicants, Roy Batty, used Tyrell and Sebastian's chess game to enter Tyrell's living quarters to demand more life. Tyrell remained calm when confronted by Roy and explained that altering DNA was fatal in all circumstances. He attempted to comfort Roy referring to him as the "prodigal son" and reminding him, "The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long." This did little to comfort Batty, who kissed Tyrell and then proceeded to crush his skull, killing him as the horrified Sebastian looked on. His body, along with Sebastian's, was found by the police shortly after.
Behind the scenes
It was originally intended that the Tyrell murdered by Batty would be revealed to be a replicant, and as a result, Batty would head up to the next floor, where he would discover the real Tyrell in cryogenic suspension. Sebastian would then explain that an incurable disease struck Tyrell, who had himself frozen until a cure is found. Subsequently, Batty would demand that Sebastian awaken him. Two different versions exist with regard to what would have happened next.
In the first, Sebastian would break down and admit that he made an error years earlier and resulted in Tyrell's death and in a rage, Batty kills him. In the second Sebastian reveals that years before (estimated as 2013) a blackout struck the city and during the approximately forty-five minutes the power was out, Tyrell's life support failed and he died. Again Batty is struck by despair and feeling there is no hope, he kills Sebastian much as he did in the finished film.
Although screenwriter Hampton Fancher wanted Sterling Hayden for the part, director Ridley Scott cast Hayden's The Killing co-star Joe Turkel in the role based on his performance in The Shining. While filming, Turkel had difficulties learning his lines and had to be assisted with cue cards. Turkel stated that his struggles were caused by stresses in his personal life at the time. Turkel reprised the role in the 1997 video game.
- Blade Runner
- Blade Runner (1997)
- Blade Runner 2049 (mentioned only)
- Blade Runner 2019
- Issue #2 (mentioned only)
- Issue #3 (mentioned only)
- Blade Runner 2029 #10
- Blade Runner: Revelations
- Blade Runner 2029 #12
- Blade Runner 2019 – Free Comic Book Day Special
- Blade Runner Origins #1
- Blade Runner Origins #10
- Blade Runner – all versions
- Blade Runner 2049
- Blade Runner 2019 #3
- Blade Runner (1997 game)
- Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner – Revised & Updated Edition