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SYFY WIRE Arnold Schwarzenegger

Tim Miller put Terminator's iconic 'I’ll be back' into Dark Fate — on one condition

By Jacob Oller & Tara Bennett
Linda Hamilton Sarah Connor Terminator Dark Fate

Terminator: Dark Fate might have done away with a slew of films in the series’ canon, but that doesn’t mean the Terminator 2: Judgment Day follow-up from director Tim Miller totally jettisoned its heritage. In fact, with old hunk-of-junk T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back in action alongside Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) herself, Dark Fate is a recognizable throwback entry into the saga — just as T2 was upon its release.

With the protagonists from James Cameron’s original, Dark Fate was always going to have plenty of references to its history ... but the series’ most iconic contribution to pop culture almost didn’t make the cut. “I’ll be back,” the catchphrase that Schwarzenegger turned from a menacing threat to a reassuring promise to a political statement in his governor speeches, has been included in every Terminator film. Even Genisys. But Miller was hesitant to put it in Dark Fate.

Speaking to SYFY WIRE during the film's junket, the director revealed the condition upon which he injected the classic line into his film.

“I didn't even want to do the ‘I'll be back’ thing,” the director said. “And they're like, 'Tim, you gotta f***ing do the ‘I'll be back.’ 'I'm like, ‘I don't ... we’ve done it.’” 

But the pressure didn’t relent (“No, you gotta do it”), so Miller figured out a way to make the line his own: “I said, ‘OK, well, if we're going to do it, it's going to be Sarah's line and she's going to throw it away like she doesn't even f***ing care about it,’ which I thought worked really well.”

Hamilton utters the line in the film’s second trailer after tossing a grenade with all the nonchalance of throwing away some junk mail. If Miller was aiming to underplay the legendary line, he definitely found that tone.

As far as other references go, the only one Miller was keen on including involved a little tune that he wanted for an easter egg. We won't say how it comes into play — but which ditty is it?

** Warning: Mild spoilers ahead.**

"The Dwight Yoakam song ‘Guitars, Cadillacs,’" Miller said. “That's my little easter egg, because, you know, that's the [Terminator 2] scene that [Schwarzenegger]’s walking into the bar and they play that. That was my big one.”

Fans should keep their eyes peeled for more references to the rich history of the series when Terminator: Dark Fate hits theaters on Nov. 1.