The Terminator franchise is one of many to be getting a reboot soon. James Cameron made two Terminator movies before moving on to other projects. The studio’s attempt at a third installment to continue the story Cameron started failed miserably. The studio’s attempt to go way into the future and tell the story of John Connor’s revolution against the Terminators failed miserably. The studio’s attempt to start from scratch and redo Cameron’s plot points failed miserably.
Let’s hope that James Cameron’s own attempt to reboot the franchise with Terminator: Dark Fate (bringing back Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and revising all those dreadful cash-in sequels) will fare better. To get us all in the mood, here are some of the very finest lines from the series.
When Kyle Reese explains what the Terminator is going to do to Sarah Connor, we can feel the full gravity of Sarah’s situation for the first time: “Listen, and understand! That Terminator is out there! It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead!”
This raises the stakes of the story. At this point, we’re aware that a cyborg is coming after Sarah, but we don’t quite grasp the extent of its wrath until Reese explains how relentless it is.
At the end of Terminator 2, we hear a sort of epilogue in the form of Sarah Connor’s voiceover narration. She says, “The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it for the first time with a sense of hope, because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can, too.”
Her adventures with a reprogrammed T-800 who figured out why humans cry and learned to care about the Connors (and respected John’s wishes to wound people instead of killing them) have convinced her that there is hope in the future of humanity after all.
This is an important notion, but immediately after saying it, adult John Connor adds, “I wish I could believe that. My name is John Connor. They tried to murder me before I was born. When I was 13, they tried again. Machines from the future. Terminators. All my life, my mother told me the storm was coming – Judgment Day, the beginning of a war between man and machines."
"Three billion lives were vanished in an instant. And I would lead what was left of the human race to ultimate victory. It hasn’t happened, no bombs fell, computers didn’t take control. We stopped Judgment Day.”
Terminator: Salvation might not be the most popular installment in the Terminator franchise, but it does feature a few interesting lines of dialogue. Some of the concepts are quite intriguing, too, like Sam Worthington’s character Marcus Wright, an experimental hybrid of human and Terminator.
A lot of lines in the Terminator movies are about the differences between humans and machines and also what they have in common. Marcus puts it nicely: “What is it that makes us human? It’s not something you can program. You can’t put it into a chip. It’s the strength of the human heart. The difference between us and machines.”
There’s a scene in Terminator 2 where the titular cyborg susses out a ruse being played by his cybernetic rival. He calls John’s foster parents’ house and imitates John’s voice. He asks John what his dog’s name is, John says Max, and then the T-800 asks if “Wolfie” is okay, in John’s voice.
The foster parents on the other end of the line say that Wolfie’s fine. From this, the T-800 can figure out that the T-1000 has murdered John’s foster parents and is impersonating them on the phone, just as he is with John. He hangs up the phone and says, “Your foster parents are dead.”
One of the most endearing story threads in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (a movie that is pretty endearing as a whole) is the sort of father/son relationship that John Connor and the Terminator develop throughout the movie.
The Terminator keeps John safe and gives him a male role model to look up to – okay, he’s not a perfect role model, but John never had a dad, so anyone who isn’t imaginary will do – while John teaches the Terminator the ways of the human race, like why we cry and slang terms (although they’re now horribly outdated slang terms, such as “Hasta la vista, baby!”).
Terminator: Genisys made a lot of unusual retcons to the established Terminator canon, including the backstory that Sarah Connor had been raised by a Terminator that she calls “Pop.” That plot twist was more of a slap in the face to fans than the reveal in Halloween II that Laurie Strode was Michael Myers’ sister.
Having said that, at one point in the movie, John Connor does offer some interesting commentary on the overuse of technology in modern society: “This is the world now. Logged on, plugged in, all the time.” Terminator predicted it, it came true, and then a Terminator reboot commented on it. Meta or what?
This is the quote that everyone tries to do when they attempt to impersonate Arnold Schwarzenegger (which, let’s face it, is everyone’s favorite celebrity impression to do). Honestly, the line “I’ll be back,” just on its own, isn’t that cool. But it’s the ice-cold way that Schwarzenegger says it in The Terminator that makes it cool.
It’s also the context in which it’s used that makes it cool. A desk clerk refuses to let the T-800 into the police station where Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese are being questioned, so the T-800 says he’ll be back and returns a few seconds later... driving a car straight in. He said he’d be back!
This line is repeated a few times throughout the franchise. In the first movie, Kyle Reese says it when he’s trying to save Sarah Connor from the Terminator’s nightclub massacre. In the second movie, the reprogrammed Terminator says it when he’s trying to save Sarah from the institution where she’s been locked up.
The line is a mantra for the franchise – trusting one stranger to get you out of the danger you’re in with another stranger. It’s so iconic that it was parodied in The Lego Movie when a character said, “Come with me if you wanna not die.”
James Cameron doesn’t just write great female roles in action films – he gives them a badass one-liner to punctuate their victories, too. In Aliens, he has Ellen Ripley suit up in a mechanical exoskeleton and tell the xenomorph queen that is threatening her pseudo-surrogate daughter Newt, “Get away from her, you b***h!”
In The Terminator, he has Sarah Connor crush the titular cyborg with some heavy machinery in a factory and declare, “You’re terminated, f****r!” On paper, the line might seem a little corny, or like it takes away from the dark tone of the movie, but frankly, the way Linda Hamilton delivers it with angry, Olympian might, it’s awesome.