RoboCop: Prime Directives

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

RoboCop: Prime Directives is a 2001 Canadian-made miniseries set in an Alternate Continuity thirteen years after the original film, starring Page Fletcher as the titular cyborg police officer.

In the intervening years after the events of the first film, Delta City has become fully owned and operated by OCP, while Robocop/Alex Murphy (Fletcher) has remained in service for over a decade. Murphy's also showing his age, and is scheduled to be retired by OCP because his parts are out of warranty. In addition, his now-grown son James has become an OCP executive, and his old partner John Cable has returned to the city to become the company's new security commander. By the end of the first episode, Robo is forced to kill Cable, who is subsequently reborn as Robocable, the second prototype for the once-defunct Robocop program. Murphy teams up with an anarchist group led by Ann R. Key (Leslie Hope) to stop Cable, OCP (which are now hunting both Murphy and Robo-Cable) and David Kaydick, Ann's ex-husband and a disgraced OCP scientist who plans to use an organic virus to destroy everyone in Delta City.

The production was filmed and produced in Toronto, Canada, and featured a number of well-known Canadian actors. Richard Eden (who played the title character on Robocop: The Series) was asked to reprise his role, but backed out. The producers hired Page Fletcher instead, who devised his own movement system to reflect where the character was at that point in his life.

Prime Directives is a polarizing work for fans of the franchise. Some praised the miniseries for throwing out the "kid-friendly" elements of the previous series and third movie in favor of ultra-dark storytelling and copious amounts of violence, while others derided it for the acting, production values and comic book-like plot.

Tropes used in RoboCop: Prime Directives include:
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Murphy has become quasi-suicidal and angsty in the intervening years between the first film and the miniseries, while Robocable gets a conscience twice during the series (once when he decides to assist Murphy in "Meltdown", and again in "Crash And Burn").
  • Asshole Victim: Damian attempts to leave the OCP building in "Crash And Burn"', and first gets shoved down an elevator shaft by Sara Cable (breaking his legs) and then gets his legs and hands cut off by the building's automated laser defense system before dying.
  • Bash Brothers: Murphy and Cable, in both their human and cyborg forms.
  • Better Than New: Murphy shuts down as a result of the injuries he sustains in "Meltdown", and is upgraded by Ann's crew, who replace all his old parts and bring him back up to spec. In "Crash And Burn", he is deactivated by Robocable (who jams his dataspike into the back of Murphy's head). This allows him to survive the EMP blast that shuts down the city, and also removes his original directives, no longer constraining him to OCP orders.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In "Meltdown", Robocable arrives to save Murphy (who is badly injured and losing critical functions after being electrocuted by the OCP special unit), then Ann and her crew show up to save him in "Resurrection" after Cable creates a distraction to draw the unit away.
  • Big No: Cable screaming just before Murphy shoots him in the chest, and Murphy when the dormant memories in his core are reactivated.
  • Board to Death: Damian spearheads the project for developing a fully-functional AI, called SAINT. After sending a team to destroy Robocop after the Old Woman had forbidden it, Damian gets fired and uses SAINT to kill the Old Woman and the Board.
  • Call Back: Cable references the Show Within a Show from the original film responding to something said to him with the tagline "I'll buy that for a dollar."
  • Chekhov's Gun: The random police officer Murphy and Cable talk to about the Detroit Mangler case in one of the flashbacks turns out to be The Bone Machine.
    • Jordan's teddy bear, which is first seen in the second episode, and whose function is discovered in the third.
  • Clear My Name: Cable (in the first episode) and Murphy (through the whole series).
  • Continuity Nod: Bob Morton is namechecked when James digs into OCP's archives to learn more about the Robocop Project. The "I'd buy that for a dollar!" catchphrase is also referenced in the first episode.
  • Crapsack World
  • Darker and Edgier: After the 1994 television series, the creators of Prime Directives went the other way and loaded the miniseries with just as much violence (implied/on-screen) as the films, including such instances as an extended sequence where Murphy and Cable discover a man who's been butchering young women and many other people being blown to pieces, shot and vaporized.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Kaydick was fired by OCP for illegal experiments, so he decides to get back at them by creating a nanite virus and killing all organic matter in Detroit.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Kaydick, who relishes the chance to beat up his ex-wife just as much as he enjoys trying to kill everyone in Old Detroit.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Detroit is now stuck in total darkness (thanks to Robo-Cable activating the EMP), and several people have died to stop the corrupted S.A.I.N.T. computer program from destroying the city, but Murphy does get to make up for lost time with his son and continue in his role as a protector, free of his overriding directives.
  • Evil Is Hammy
  • Executive Meddling: In-universe with Murphy being reprogrammed by The Trust to kill John Cable (as part of an plan to make him the new enforcer for the company).
  • Fingore: The OCP special force commander's hand when Robo-Cable blows it to pieces with his gun.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Murphy killing Bone Machine by stabbing him repeatedly with his datajack (also serves as a Call Back to the way he killed Boddicker in the original), Damian getting a laser drilled through the back of his head and Robocable destroying the OCP commander's head with a sledgehammer, among many others.
  • Guns Akimbo: Robocable, who wields two Auto-9's.
  • Heel Face Turn: James Murphy in "Resurrection".
  • Heroic BSOD: The activation of Murphy's locked memories causes him to scream for several seconds before literally shutting down.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Ann goes in to the SAINT processing room in "Crash And Burn" to kill Kaydick, despite full well knowing that she'll die in the process. Robocable also sacrifices himself to stop SAINT so that Murphy and his son (and the rest of the city) can live.
  • How Many Fingers?: Ann's sidekick says this to Murphy once he reactivates in "Resurrection".
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Robo has his standard "Auto-9" a fully automatic pistol which holds more ammunition than the weapon should be physically capable of, and has selectable ammunition types from his HUD. Robocable gets two.
    • Ann's blue electronic staff.
  • Ironic Echo: Robocable's comment to the OCP soldier who almost destroyed him earlier in the series: "Now I own your black ass."
  • Kent Brockman News: The Media Break segments return from the original films, and go much farther with the satire, lampooning the lengths OCP will go to make money off Robocop or act as shills for the OCP board's decisions.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: John and Sara Cable tried several times to have a child, and when she finally did give birth, the baby was stillborn.
  • Meaningful Name: A prominent social and political commentator who is staunchly against Robocop goes by the name Archie Nemesis on his broadcasts.
  • Mind Control Device: Kaydick uses a variant on Robocable, and uses it to make him follow his commands.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted - Damian and Sara use the old notes and documentation used for the original prototype (Alex Murphy) to create Robocable.
  • Obstructive Code of Conduct: Played with. Murphy still has his original directives, but is unknowingly given a directive to kill John Cable as well (which he must carry out). At the end of the miniseries, Robocable purges the original directives from Murphy's software.
  • Papa Wolf: Murphy has put up with a lot of crap over the last decade, but do not, under any circumstances, threaten his son or there will be hell to pay.
  • Please Wake Up: Jordan to her mother several times over the course of the final three episodes.
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: Ann to her daughter before going to fight Kaydick - "Stay here, sweetie. Mommy's going to kick some ass."
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Like her predecessor, The Old Woman is generally supportive of Robo and the Delta City Police Department, and denies Damian's request to send a team to destroy Robo.
  • Smug Snake: OCP's top brass, Damian Lowe and Sara Cable. James Murphy starts out as this, but once he talks to his father and learns what really happened, he becomes incredibly helpful.
  • Shoot the Hostage: In "Dark Justice", Robo is forced by his own programming to shoot Cable when he's being held hostage by Bone Machine.
  • Show Within a Show: Media Break, and it's tie-in sister show, The Archie Nemesis Show.
  • The Other Darrin: Page Fletcher as Robocop/Murphy, who not only looks different from all three of his previous counterparts, but developed his own movement system to reflect where the character was emotionally and physically at.
  • Villainous Rescue: Kaydick shows up to rescue the injured Robocable in "Resurrection" after he's assaulted by the OCP special forces unit.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Ann left her husband because he abused her and Jordan - and every time she faces him throughout the series (with the exception of their final encounter), he leaves her bruised and bleeding.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Said by Kaydick several times throughout the series.