What’s Next For The Terminator Franchise?

James Cameron says he is working on a new Terminator movie script, but no concrete production plans are in place.

By Phillip Moyer | Updated

arnold schwarzenegger

It’s been about five years since Terminator: Dark Fate made its way into theaters, and the franchise currently appears to be on hold. However, you can’t keep a good franchise down (or a bad but profitable one, for that matter), and James Cameron has revealed he’s working on a new script for the series.

James Cameron says he’s started working on a new Terminator script.

This information comes after James Cameron spoke at Dell Technologies World in May 2023, where he revealed that he started working on a script for another Terminator film. 

Futurism reports that he has taken a break from writing it, however — apparently, he wants to see how the current AI craze works out before he finishes it — but it came as welcome news for franchise fans.

Arnold Schwarzenegger says he wouldn’t return to the Terminator franchise.

The Terminator

Unfortunately, Arnold Schwarzenegger has said that he won’t be returning to the franchise — a decision he made on his own since he believes the films weren’t well-written. It’s a decision that saddens him, however, since the Terminator franchise is what cemented Arnold Schwarzenegger as an action star — and made a huge impact on movie history.

The story of a robot getting sent back in time to kill someone might seem trite in a world stuffed full of time-traveling, dimension-hopping superhero movies. In 1984, however, James Cameron’s second feature film The Terminator blew audiences’ minds.

Following the tale of a man fighting to protect Sarah Connor, whose son would lead the resistance against a deadly robot army, The Terminator did well at the box office. Though few at the time could predict the exalted place it would hold in movie history, nor the monster of a franchise that it would eventually spawn.


Things were perhaps more clear seven years later when James Cameron released the movie’s sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. By that point, Arnold Schwarzenegger had cemented himself as a movie star, rather than a bodybuilder.

And the movie’s mixture of pulse-pounding action and (at the time) jaw-dropping special effects led to the feature being an absolute cultural phenomenon. Lines like “Come with me if you want to live” and “Hasta la vista, baby” are still being referenced to this day. 

Terminator 2 is still considered one of the best sequels of all time, alongside greats such as The Godfather Part II, Aliens, and The Empire Strikes Back.

However, the ending of Terminator 2 seemed pretty final at the time. Sarah Connor prevented the rogue AI Skynet from ever existing, the unrelenting T1000 was successfully stopped, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator melted himself to make sure nobody would be able to copy his technology.

In an age where milking a franchise for endless sequels was not yet the norm, few people guessed that the story would continue past its obvious stopping point.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, with its plot that completely negated the ending of Terminator 2, proved that Hollywood could still extend the franchise if the executives smelled enough money in it. With James Cameron gone from the director role but Arnold Schwarzenegger still starring, it received decent reviews and earned enough money to justify the studio’s choice. 

Unfortunately, the next Terminator film, Terminator: Salvation, was not well-received by audiences or critics. It also had a lackluster Box Office return, in part because of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s absence from the movie. The return of Schwarzenegger in Terminator Genisys helped bring back audiences, though it still received poor reviews. 

Dark Fate brought back not only Arnold Schwarzenegger but also Linda Hamilton, who played Sarah Connor in the first two films.

Reviews improved significantly upon the release of 2019’s Terminator: Dark Fate — which ignored Rise of the MachinesSalvation, and Genisys in favor of being a direct sequel to Terminator 2Dark Fate brought back not only Arnold Schwarzenegger but also Linda Hamilton, who played Sarah Connor in the first two films.

Unfortunately, good reviews don’t necessarily mean a good return on investment — the film was a box office failure, losing studios about $120 million. 

linda hamilton stranger things
Linda Hamilton in Terminator: Dark Fate

The failure of Terminator: Dark Fate led to the cancellation of planned sequels, which would have continued the story after Dark Fate‘s conclusion. Plans were also announced for a Netflix Terminator anime series, though little has been heard about it since its announcement back in 2021. 

If James Cameron does end up making a new Terminator film, it remains to be seen whether fans will be willing to return even though Arnold Schwarzenegger will be out of the picture.