The RoboCop Scene That Had To Be Cut To Avoid An X-Rating

"RoboCop" is considered a classic of '80s action cinema due to its high-concept story, the surprising emotional depths of said story, and the gobs of ultraviolence that are liberally sprinkled throughout that story. Peter Weller's Alex Murphy is literally shot to pieces before being rebuilt as a cyborg, Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer) has his kneecaps blown out by Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith), and one of Boddicker's henchman has a run-in with a vat of toxic waste. To think this film has spawned ad campaigns for fried chicken and even has not one, but two animated spinoffs!

However, it turns out that the film could have been even more gruesome. Prior to the 2014 remake helmed by Jose Padilha, Vice conducted an interview with the original film's co-writer Ed Neumeier. During the interview, Neumeier revealed tidbits about the genesis of the film — including director Paul Verhoven's reluctance to film the original script and how the film almost received an X-rating. 

A Farewell To Arms

According to Neumeier, the scene where Murphy is shot to death by Boddicker and his gang saddled the film with an X-rating ... multiple times. After all, it's a scene where the main character is gruesomely blown to pieces:

"The interesting thing about this film is that we got an X-rating eight times and finally we had to cut a scene which I didn't even think looked particularly good. That was when Robocop—while still fully human—gets his arm blown off in the steel mill. It was done with a wire yanking the arm away as the arm gets shot at and I thought it looked terribly corny but it was the scene that scaled it back enough to get an R-rating. That scene actually scared the s*** out of my wife last time we watched it."

As an avid lover of the original film, I definitely see why the scene had to be recut — it features the film's hero being brutally murdered by a group of sociopaths. Even knowing that Murphy will be reconstructed as a cyborg doesn't ease the horror I feel seeing him scream in pain and beg for his life. But as depicted in the final cut, it adds even more weight to the scene where Murphy visits his old house and gets hit with a flood of memories from his old life; his wife and child, his humanity — all of it was stolen from him by Boddicker and his thugs, making his eventual vengeance all the sweeter.

Rebuilding Robocop

Neumeier also revealed that when Verhoven received the original "RoboCop" script, he apparently threw it in the trash as he thought it was too juvenile. Neumeier and co-writer Michael Miner wrote another version before Verhoven's wife Martine supposedly convinced him to re-read the original script. It turned out for the best, as Neumeier revealed that the new script didn't exactly have the same spark that made the original special:

"We actually wrote a more serious version and tried that but it didn't fly so we just stuck to the original. Paul believed heavily in authorship for the screenwriter.

A new film, "Robocop Returns," is currently in the works and is based on a story from Neumeier and Miner, with Justin Rhodes ("Terminator: Dark Fate") penning the script and Abe Forsythe ("Little Monsters") attached to direct. Time will tell if this film will earn an X-rating; in the meantime, those craving bloody RoboCop action can seek solace in Mortal Kombat 11.