The alternate ending to Terminator 2: Judgment Day would've ended the franchise in a very different way. Born out of the success of the first The Terminator in 1984, James Cameron returned to his sci-fi franchise in 1991 to show what happened next. After surviving a Terminator attack a decade before, Sarah Connor had to protect her son John from another and stop Skynet from ever being created. When T2 ends, audiences were led to believe the story was over and Judgment Day had been averted.
But, this was not close to the truth. The success of the two Terminator films meant that it was only going to be a matter of time before more movies were made. There were three sequels made without Cameron's direct involvement, each of which attempted to extend John or Sarah's story. Now, Cameron is back involved with Terminator: Dark Fate, which puts a new twist on their lives after T2. But, none of this would've been possible if the alternate ending to T2 was used.
As explored in the latest Screen Rant video, the Terminator franchise could not continue in this way with Terminator 2's alternate ending. The other ending is voiced-over by Sarah Connor and confirms that Judgment Day never happened as a futuristic skyling comes into view. Now 30 years in the future, Sarah reflects on her reaction to that day as she sits in the park recording a message. She's watching a grown-up John, who became a U.S. Senator in this future, play with his daughter.
This ending would've seen Terminator 2 conclude in a more optimistic mindset, but also would've ended the franchise as we know it. The franchise revolves around the Connors, with them either trying to stop or prevent Judgment Day. But, all of these stories would have been finished already with this ending. There's no way to continue Sarah's story and John's would be incredibly difficult to make work. Without Judgment Day happening, the Terminator franchise would have to go in a completely different direction if future installments were still made.
That said, it's possible that this alternate ending could've been better for the franchise in the long run. One of the biggest issues future Terminator movies have had is figuring a satisfying continuation of the story. As evident by the lackluster box office performance of Terminator: Dark Fate (despite positive reviews), the movies that came after T2 have hurt the public perception of the franchise. The original Terminator films can still stand on their own, but it has become clear that audiences are burned out by now. If the alternate ending was kept though, this wouldn't be the case and the Terminator franchise would be a short, contained, and excellent series. Instead, Terminator 2: Judgment Day left the door open for the franchise to continue on and lose its way.