10 Ways Terminator: Dark Fate Changed EVERYTHING
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
These are the 10 ways in which 2019's "Terminator: Dark Fate", directed by Tim Miller and starring "Terminator" veterans Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, changed EVERYTHING. For this list, we're taking a look at plot points in “Dark Fate” that deviated from past “Terminator” movies and forever changed the franchise. If you haven't seen the film yet, this list is one big spoiler. From the introduction of a whole new timeline, to John Connor's fate, to new Terminators, "Terminator: Dark Fate" puts a new twist on the "Terminator" mythology we've come to know, love, and, well, kinda fear.
10 Things Terminator: Dark Fate Changed
Alright, people, let’s do this one last time. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the 10 Things Terminator: Dark Fate Changed.
For this list, we’re taking a look at plot points in “Dark Fate” that deviated from past “Terminator” movies and forever changed the franchise. If you haven’t seen the film yet, this list is one big spoiler.
A Whole New Timeline
The poster for this sequel reads, “Welcome to the day after Judgment Day.” In other words, the first two “Terminator” movies are the only ones you need to have seen going into “Dark Fate.” This film essentially wipes “Rise of the Machines,” “Salvation,” and “Genisys” out of existence, not unlike how 2018’s “Halloween” reset the franchise’s continuity. That technically means the sixth “Terminator” movie is actually the third “Terminator” in this new timeline. Considering that most fans like to pretend that the series ended with “T2,” turning the clock back and picking up with our heroes in 1998 was definitely a smart move.
Sarah Connor Lives
As one of the most influential heroines in cinema, Sarah Connor deserves to go out in a blaze of glory. So, it felt pretty unceremonious in “Rise of the Machines” when we learned that she died off-screen from leukemia in 1997, shortly after the original Judgment Day. In the “Sarah Connor Chronicles” TV series, which takes place in another timeline, it’s also mentioned that the titular character will die from cancer in 2005. With Linda Hamilton reprising her iconic role in “Dark Fate,” cancer is no longer Sarah’s killer. She’s still taking care of business in 2020 and showing no signs of slowly down. We guess that potato chip diet is keeping her healthy. In any case, Sarah has plenty of fight left in her.
John Connor RIP
We were all curious to see how John Connor would tie into the story, especially after it was announced that Edward Furlong was reprising his role. The film answers our question within the first few minutes, in which we get some scary-good de-aging effects on Furlong and Hamilton. Then a de-aged Arnold Schwarzenegger showed up and tore our hearts out. Although Judgment Day has come and gone, John is still being hunted. The machines finally catch up to John in 1998 when a T-800 guns him down. In every “Terminator” film, John has been built up as humanity’s savoir, the one destined to lead the Human Resistance after Skynet takes over. Now, however, John is to the “Terminator” franchise what Newt is the “Alien” franchise.
Skynet Is No More
In “Rise of the Machines,” it’s revealed that Judgment Day wasn’t prevented, but merely delayed until 2004. In this new continuity, though, Skynet’s fate was sealed in “T2” when the Terminator arm and CPU were destroyed, along with the reprogrammed T-800. Although John dies young in this timeline, his past actions weren’t in vain, as he prevented this particular Judgment Day for good. Upon traveling to 2020 from the year 2042, Grace clarifies that she’s never heard of Skynet, meaning it never became self-aware and launched a nuclear war. Given where Grace came from, however, clearly something still went wrong in the future, with or without Skynet. Man, it’s like whenever you take down one evil computer system, another sprouts up overnight.
We guess you could say that Legion is Skynet 2.0. In Grace’s future, an AI program known as Legion takes control of our computer servers and instigates a nuclear holocaust. From there, Legion creates an army of machines to wipe out the remainder of humanity and all that jazz. This isn’t the same Judgment Day that John and Sarah prevented in “T2,” but rather a whole new one that stemmed from a different point of origin. Much like how Skynet started out as a defense network, Legion was originally intended for cyberwarfare and inevitably blew up in humanity’s face. You know, at this point, maybe we should all just throw our computers in a dumpster. On second thought, WatchMojo’s an Internet-based company, so let’s not!
In the first “Terminator,” Skynet sent a T-800 back in time to kill Sarah before John was even conceived. When that didn’t pan out, a T-1000 was sent back to take out a teenage John. In “Dark Fate,” we learn that Skynet actually sent a few more Terminators to the past, one of which succeeded where its predecessors failed. Even with John dead and buried, the Terminators didn’t stop pouring in. Sarah tells Grace and Dani that she’s been receiving messages from an unknown source over the years. These messages alert Sarah when another Terminator travels back in time and where she can destroy it. As far as we know, Sarah has taken out every Terminator that’s come onto her turf.
Up until now, every Terminator has had a “T” in its name. There was the T-800, the T-1000, the T-X, etc. We suppose Skynet has a thing about brand consistency. Since the Rev-9 is a product of Legion and not Skynet, though, the latest Terminator drops the “T.” Of course, that’s not the only thing that sets Rev-9 apart from all the rest. Most notably, this Terminator can split into two killing machines! Where one piece is a traditional Terminator Endoskeleton, the other is black liquid-metal exoskeleton. It almost looks like a symbiote from the Marvel Universe. While Rev-9 shares a few things in common with past Terminator’s, such as the T-1000’s shapeshifting abilities, we’ve never seen anything quite like him before in this franchise.
Humans and reprogrammed Terminators have been sent back in time before, but Grace takes the series to uncharted territory. While Grace was born human, she was given a cybernetic upgrade in the midst of combat. Where mere mortals require weapons and their wits to take down a Terminator, a cyborg Grace can face a foe like the Rev-9 in hand-to-hand combat. You could argue that we saw something like this already in “Terminator: Salvation” with the character Marcus Wright. Having been sent to death row, Marcus donates his body to science and emerges as a cyborg after Judgment Day occurs. Where Marcus felt more machine than man at times, however, we never doubt Grace’s humanity, introducing a new type of future tech.
Dani Dark Fate
Grace has been sent back to 2020 to protect Dani Ramos while the Rev-9 is naturally there to terminate the young woman. At first, “Dark Fate” leads the audience to believe that Dani will be the next Sarah Connor, the woman who’ll give birth to humanity’s protector. As it turns out, Dani is really the next John Connor, the one who will lead the Human Resistance against the machines. Since this is a new future with a new Judgment Day, it calls for a new savior. As Dani discovers throughout the film, there’s no fate but what we make for ourselves. This may mean that Dani has the potential to prevent Judgment Day before it even occurs. If John could do it, so can she.
Carl’s Not So Bad
Arnie’s back, but not as the T-800 from “T2.” Carl is a different Terminator that kills John. Now that Carl’s mission is completed and Skynet is no more, what’s next for the Terminator? Surprisingly, Carl finds a new purpose as a family man, looking out for a woman and her son. He also gets a job... doing drapes. Quite a turnaround from being a killing machine! “T2” established that it’s possible for a Terminator to learn the value of human life. The T-800 in that film, though, was reprogrammed by John Connor to protect his past self. From there, it was able to form a connection with John. Carl, meanwhile, was never reprogrammed, becoming the first Terminator to develop a conscious all on his own.