The Terminator franchise is about to come back in a big way...again. At the beginning of this year, it was announced that after decades away from the property he created and with the film rights soon becoming his again, James Cameron would spend his non-Avatar work time producing and consulting on a new Terminator movie. Directed by Deadpool's Tim Miller, this Terminator installment, a.k.a. Terminator 6, will see the return of not just Arnold Schwarzenegger, but Linda Hamilton as well, who last appeared in Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Right now, the plan is for this new Terminator movie, to kick off a trilogy should it perform well, but Cameron and the rest of the creative team would be wise to keep this as a one-and-done tale. Because just like how Skynet views the pockets of humanity that fight back against it, the Terminator franchise has outstayed its welcome, and it's time to deliver an actual ending.
Most Terminator fans will tell you there's no beating James Cameron's original two films. Not only The Terminator and Terminator 2 both thrived as science fiction classics on their own, together they make an excellent duology. And while Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines didn't earn the kind of acclaim its predecessors did, it did receive many positive reviews upon its release in 2003. However, since then the Terminator series has desperately tried to set up stories intended to last an entire trilogy, but that hasn't been accomplished yet. This started with 2009's Terminator Salvation, the prequel/sequel that followed the older John Connor leading The Resistance against Skynet and learning about human-looking Terminators. Salvation's sequels never ended up happening due to a combination of the negative reception to that first movie and The Halcyon Company filing for bankruptcy.
Six years later, Terminator Genisys attempted to reboot the franchise Star Trek-style by pairing Sarah Connor with an older Terminator, and then having those two and Kyle Reese travel to 2017 to stop Skynet (as that was the new year the artificial intelligence was set to be activated following the timeline change), only to discover that the adult John Connor had been turned into the T-3000. Genisys earned worse reviews than Salvation, and even with the help of the Chinese box office, it wasn't able to break even. By January 2016, Genisys' sequel was taken off the schedule, and a few months after that, it was dead.
Which brings us to Terminator 6, which we now know will ignore the events of Terminator Genisys. No plot details have been revealed yet other than it will involve Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor still being alive and Arnold Schwarzenegger possibly playing the man who inspires the look of the T-800 model. And once again, there's this belief that the new movie should set up potential sequels. But enough is enough. The Terminator franchise has tried to launch new trilogies twice so far, and both times that failed. Some of you might ascribe to "the third time is the charm," but not every franchise is meant to go on, and for Terminator, the time has come to step away.
Look, we get it. The Terminator franchise clearly likes presenting Judgement Day as an inevitability. No matter what changes are made to the timeline, time finds a way to correct itself to make sure that A.I. becomes sentient and launches nukes. But after more than three decades, it's time for the Terminator film series to be retired. Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't getting any younger, and it's now at a point where even though he's in good shape for a man his age, he can't keep going on being the primary face of these robotic menaces. Now with Linda Hamilton returning to the franchise, Terminator 6 has an excellent opportunity in full view: to end this saga with a true bang. No cliffhangers, no post-credits scenes, just a straightforward ending that closes this saga for good, ideally with Skynet's permanent destruction.
If James Cameron and his creative partners are still eager to keep the Terminator mythology going in a way that's separate from the main canon, I would suggest moving to television, but given what happened with the taken-too-soon Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, that would also be risky. Then again, given how much TV has changed in the right years since Sarah Connor Chronicles was cancelled, maybe a new Terminator show could find success on cable or a streaming service. Whether or not that happens, the people working on Terminator 6 should divert their focus from setting up a new trilogy and use the talent they already have to conclude this cinematic series in the best way possible. Giving the public a movie that's echoes the original two Terminator movies rather than its follow-ups is the goal to strive for, and if/when that's accomplished, leave this world of killer machines behind and don't look back.
How Should The Terminator Franchise's Future Be Handled?