Is Terminator: Dark Fate Wrapping Up Sarah Connor's Story For Good?

Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator: Dark Fate

While she hasn’t been present for every Terminator movie, there’s no arguing that without Sarah Connor, the sci-fi saga wouldn’t exist. So it was good to hear that she would be back for Terminator 6, currently known as Terminator: Dark Fate, this time with Linda Hamilton reprising the role nearly 30 years after Terminator 2: Judgement Day. No one blinks an eye anymore at seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger returning to play a T-800/850 model anymore, but the fact that Dark Fate director Tim Miller and producer James Cameron managed to convince Hamilton to return to this world is impressive. It also makes me wonder if Dark Fate will turn a new chapter in the Terminator franchise by wrapping up Sarah’s story. For real this time!

I don’t need to remind any of you that Sarah Connor was one of the main human protagonists of the first two Terminator movies. The Terminator saw her being shaken out of her idyllic life when she was targeted by a T-800, and Terminator 2 showed her 11 years later as a hardened warrior obsessed with Judgement Day and determined to keep herself and her John safe. And then came Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, where it was revealed that Sarah had died of leukemia in 1997, though she’d lived long enough to see Judgement Day come and go without any mass annihilation. Not that it mattered, since in this timeline, Judgement Day was merely postponed and came to pass in 2004 instead.

It should be noted that Linda Hamilton was approached to reprise Sarah Connor in Terminator 3, but she turned down the opportunity because she felt her role in the movie was “kind of disposable.” So killing Sarah Connor off-screen was definitely anti-climactic and the character deserved something better, but it just couldn’t be helped. Hamilton did make a vocal cameo as Sarah in Terminator Salvation, but once Terminator Genisys rolled around in 2015, Emilia Clarke inherited the role. That movie took a 2009 Star Trek-like approach with rebooting the Terminator continuity, including having Sarah already being a formidable warrior by the time Kyle Reese travels back in time to protect her. Alas, because Genisys was met with mostly negative reception, we won’t be seeing any more of this Terminator timeline.

(I’d be remiss if I didn’t also note that future Game of Thrones star Lena Heady played Sarah Connor in the short-lived Fox TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but for the purposes of this feature, we’re only focusing on the Terminator movies.)

Which brings us to Terminator: Dark Fate, which is serving as a sequel to the first two Terminator movies and ignoring all the subsequent entries. In other words, Sarah’s dying of cancer is no longer canon in this continuity, and Linda Hamilton’s version of the character is still kicking. Clearly if Hamilton was willing to return for Dark Fate, she approved of the material James Cameron and Tim Miller pitched her much more than what she was given for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. No specific plot details have been revealed for Dark Fate yet, but considering that Cameron said back in 2017 that this latest Terminator movie is intended to be the start of a new trilogy that would “pass the baton,” I can’t help feeling like the reason Hamilton agreed to return to the franchise was because she was promised that Sarah could make a grand exit that actually does the character justice. Her leaving paves the way for a new generation.

Perhaps Linda Hamilton returning for Terminator: Dark Fate is a situation similar to how Harrison Ford was willing to reprise Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In the decades after Return of the Jedi came out, Ford was open about how he wished Han had died in the original Star Wars trilogy capper, and then The Force Awakens comes along granting his wish. What if Hamilton received similar assurances about Dark Fate? That Sarah will also die, but as opposed to it happening offscreen again, she’d be given the hero’s death that she deserves. That’d certainly be big incentive to return to a character you haven’t played in nearly 30 years.

Judging by that Terminator: Dark Fate photo that’s been released, clearly Sarah Connor is still quite the badass nearly decades after the events of Terminator 2. One can presume then that she’ll see at least a little action in Dark Fate, so it’s easy enough to imagine a scenario where she dies in battle. And, as mentioned earlier, her death makes room for the new Terminator characters, like Mackenzie Davis’ Grace and Natalia Reyes’ Dani Ramos, to take over as the new main characters of this franchise.

It’s also worth mentioning that it doesn’t look like John Connor will have a major role in Terminator: Dark Fate. His adolescent self will appear in some capacity, with Edward Furlong’s likeness being placed via CGI over body double Jude Collie, but there’s no word about an adult John appearing. Assuming Dark Fate takes place in 2019, then John should be leading the Resistance against Skynet by this point, but then again, we don’t know how events in this particular Terminator timeline have unfolded. Maybe John died as a child, and when Skynet eventually rose to power, whenever that was, Sarah was forced to take over as The Resistance figurehead. If that’s the case, then that could further validate the idea that Sarah could meet her demise fighting the new threat that’s surfaced in Dark Fate, leaving her role as Resistance leader to be taken over by another.

It’s no secret that the Terminator franchise has seen better days, so bringing back Linda Hamilton could be a good way for Terminator: Dark Fate to partially recapture that magic from the first two Terminator movies. However, we have no idea yet how big her role will be, and if this indeed is a transitory moment for the franchise, then perhaps Dark Fate will bid adieu to the old guard. If this is the last time we see Sarah in a Terminator movie, fingers crossed that her return and final moments are anywhere near as memorable and iconic as she’s been for the sci-fi and action genres.

Terminator: Dark Fate opens in theaters on November 1. Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more updates on the production, and don’t forget to look through our 2019 release schedule to learn what other movies are coming out this year.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.