Bounty hunter Rick Deckard wakes up to a world devastated by nuclear war, where humans care for animals to prevent the mass extinction of several species, where androids are colonial slaves who kill their masters and flee to hide on Earth. You know, just another day in the year of our Lord 2021. (Whoa, that's starting to feel really close.)
Only it isn't just another day. When he gets to work, Deckard's boss Harry Bryant tells him that Dave Holden, another bounty hunter, was hurt while hunting eight fugitive androids. Holden managed to "retire" two of them before the third laser gunned him in the back. He's in the hospital due to the side effects of excessive lasering, and now Deckard has to finish the job.
The catch? The androids are Nexus-6 models, the most intelligent, advanced androids ever created.
Rick flies to the Rosen Association headquarters in Seattle to try the Voigt-Kampff test on a real Nexus-6 model. There, he meets Rachael Rosen and deduces she's an android despite Rosen's attempt to trick into thinking his test is weaksauce.
Elsewhere, John Isidore lives an isolated life away from the rest of society, shunned because the radioactive dust in the atmosphere has wreaked serious havoc on his genes. On his way to work, Isidore hears a television playing in the building and discovers a woman named Pris Stratton has moved in, and she is in no way suspicious in the slightest, not at all.
Next up, Rick hunts Polokov, the Nexus-6 who got the drop on Holden, with Polokov going after him at the same time. In their confrontation, Rick manages to shoot the android dead—or should we say he malfunctions him with a bullet?
Rick then goes after Luba Luft. He tries to give her the Voigt-Kampff test, but Luft calls the police. Rick thinks that's going to work out swell for him, but he soon discovers the police station is another trap—this one set by the third target on his list, Officer Garland. Confused yet?
With the help of fellow bounty hunter Phil Resch, Rick retires Garland and escapes the android-police station like a boss. The two then catch up with Luba Luft at the art museum. Rick's feelings for Luba Luft prevent him from retiring her, but Resch manages the job just fine.
Elsewhere in the city, Isidore and Pris have dinner with two unexpected guests, Roy and Irmgard Baty. (Ermagerhd! Androids!) They have news of the other escapees, all dead, and they have decided to hole up with Pris. Isidore is so happy to have some new roomies that he doesn't even care they're androids.
Rick goes home but a call from Bryant informs him where the last androids can be found. Before finishing the job, he meets up with Rachael, and the two have an affair that goes horribly south when Rachael reveals she only slept with him to cement his inability to kill—er, retire—androids. Oops.
Understandably ticked off, Rick heads to Isidore's apartment building and retires the remaining three androids. In a character switch-a-roo, Isidore decides to move closer to other people, and Rick takes off for the wasteland currently known as Oregon to be isolated from everyone.
There he finds a toad, an animal everyone thought to be extinct. He drives home, excited, but his wife discovers it's an electric animal. Rick goes to bed, disappointed but willing to re-program himself with the mood organ and take tomorrow to rest.
And they'll keep the toad.