Genisys Is The Only Time Schwarzenegger’s T-800 Survives

While he’s the face of the franchise, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 ends up somehow dying in every movie but 2015’s Terminator Genisys.

While he’s the face of the franchise, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 ends up somehow dying in every movie but 2015’s Terminator Genisys. Schwarzenegger has played many memorable roles over the course of his acting career, but the T-800 is arguably his signature character. That’s even despite the T-800 technically being multiple characters, different versions of the same Skynet model of Terminator with differing programming and abilities. Arnold’s T-800 may look similar movie after movie, but each and every one of them is a different being.

Since Schwarzenegger tends to play heroes, his characters in movies don’t actually die that often, but judging by the T-800, when they do, it happens a lot. At least in the first Terminator movie, the T-800 is the villain, so the audience is rooting for Arnie’s muscle-bound cyborg to meet its end. In every other Terminator entry that the T-800 dies in, the audience has been made to grow attached to the machine capable of learning as it spends more time with people.

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Related: Why Robert Patrick Didn’t Return For Terminator: Genisys

It remains to be seen if Schwarzenegger, now 73 years old but still in better shape than most, will return to play yet another T-800 variant in Terminator 7, if and when that follow-up ever materializes. Until then, it’s time to look at Terminator Genisys, the one time Arnold’s T-800 survived the film.

Terminator Genisys Lets Schwarzenegger’s T-800 Get Out Alive

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator Genisys

In James Cameron’s first Terminator movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s villainous T-800 is of course crushed to death in a hydraulic press by Sarah Connor. By the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the now-heroic T-800 has to sadly be lowered into molten steel to try and prevent Skynet’s creation. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines proved that Skynet’s rise was inevitable, at least until the film was later entirely retconned, and saw T-800 number three blow one of its fuel cells to take down the T-X, going with her into death. Arnold’s T-800 even manages to die during its quick Terminator Salvation cameo, getting its head ripped off, and in 2019’s Terminator: Dark Fate, “Carl” sacrifices itself to defeat the REV-9.

Not only does Arnold’s T-800, nicknamed “Pops,” not die in Terminator Genisys, he actually gets an upgrade. The T-800 falls into a vat of the same mimetic poly-alloy that the liquid metal T-1000 models are made of and develops abilities similar to that technologically superior model. As for why the makers of Genisys opted once again not to kill off a T-800 played by Schwarzenegger, the main reason is likely their stated plan of making Genisys the beginning of a new Terminator trilogy. With that considered, keeping Pops alive makes sense, as it would’ve been a hassle to keep finding reasons to bring Arnold back and would also lose the dynamic between Pops and the younger Sarah Connor. Plus, Terminator Genisys left open the question of who sent Pops back to protect Sarah in the first place, and it wouldn’t have made sense to answer it in the sequels if Pops had already died.

More: Why Terminator Sequels Are So Hard To Get Right

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