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"Do you believe in fate, Sarah? Or do you believe that people can change the future every second by every choice that they make?"
"There once was a future in which humankind was hunted by a machine that could think and Terminators built to kill. A future without hope. That future never happened, because I stopped it to protect my son and to save us all."
Sarah Connor
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Terminator: Dark Fate is the sixth film in the Terminator franchise, directed by Tim Miller (of Deadpool fame), written by Billy Ray, David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes and Josh Friedman, and based on a story by James Cameron, Tim Miller and David Ellison. It marks James Cameron's return to the franchise in some creative capacity after a long absence, his first contribution to it since the Universal Studios attraction Terminator 2 3-D: Battle Across Time way back in 1996.

27 years after Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the Rev-9, an advanced hybrid Terminator (Gabriel Luna), is sent from the future in order to terminate a young Mexican woman named Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes). A human cyborg from the same future named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) and Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) come to her aid, as well as an old T-800 Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), for yet another fight for humanity's future.

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The film is a direct sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, ignoring Rise of the Machines, Salvation, Genisys and The Sarah Connor Chronicles, in an unreboot that dismisses all of these works as alternate timelines. It was released in Europe on October 23, 2019, and was then released in the USA on November 1, 2019.

Previews: Teaser, Trailer (preview 1, preview 2, preview 3, preview 4, preview 5, preview 6).


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Terminator: Dark Fate contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Sarah hunts down and kills Terminators coming from the future, while Grace survived the hardships of the future war and destroyed multiple Rev-7 Terminators on her own. Dani is growing into one by the end, facing down the damaged Rev-9 solo.
  • Adult Fear: Sci-fi elements aside, John's death is nightmarish for any parent watching, as his mother Sarah is not only utterly powerless to stop her son being gunned down in front of her, but he bleeds out in her arms as his killer simply walks away. The fact the killer has a familiar face only makes it worse. Just strip out the sci-fi elements and mentally replace the robot assassin with, say, a vengeful ex-boyfriend and it's a fear many parents face.
  • All for Nothing: Sarah Connor has to live with not only the meaningless death of her son after Skynet has been destroyed, but it's also revealed that the same events will play out with a different AI and her own role is apparently superfluous. However at the end of the movie she fulfils the same role for Dani that she did for John, preparing her for the Robot War to come.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Both the Mexican police and the U.S. Border Patrol take delight at examining Grace's body nude.
  • Alternate Timeline: The Skynet timeline is no more, Legion arose in its place. And so did Dani as leader of the human resistance with John Connor having died as a teen.
  • And Then What?: Carl the T-800 successfully kills John in the opening scene, but did so for a Skynet that had been successfully erased from the timeline. With no further directive, it found itself protecting a woman and her son from an abusive father, and became a Parental Substitute for that family. It came to recognize the evil it had done, and assisted Sarah as a mysterious Mission Control to hunt down other time-displaced Terminators. When they finally meet up with it, it says it has rejected its previous directives of its own accord and found new purpose in opposing other Terminators, including the Rev-9.
  • And This Is for...: This becomes Carl's last words.
    Carl: For John.
  • Anyone Can Die: Let's put it like this: out of the five characters that are on the poster serving as this page's image, only two of them live to see the end - them being Sarah and Dani. Beyond that, John Connor himself dies at the very start of the film, Dani's family sans her dog are dead not long after, and it is implied Dr. Silberman had died years before the film's events.
  • Arc Words: Sarah receives multiple messages from Carl, the Terminator who killed John Connor, regarding other Terminators, when and where they will be sent back in time, and a closing message that says "For John". Carl's Famous Last Words are him reciting these two words as well.
  • Arrow Catch: Played with; the Rev-9 throws a rebar at Dani that Grace is barely able to deflect enough so it misses her and impales her brother instead.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When talking about his life with a human family, Carl states that he is "reliable, a very good listener, and extremely funny". That last part is hilariously dissonant given that T-800s are usually The Comically Serious.
  • Artistic License – Engineering: Hydroelectric turbines typically operate at less than 100 RPM, not thousands.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Flip-flopped:
    • The first police cars shown are labelled Policía Municipal - CDMX (Mexico City does not have municipalities) while the later car chase actually shows a proper CDMX SSP police car (or at least, a model painted to the exact color scheme used in Mexico City).
    • The scenes set in Mexico City will stick out like a sore thumb for Mexico City residents, mostly how fast they get from Mexico City proper to a major rural looking highway instead of an inner city highway.
    • A couple of Freeze-Frame Bonus scenes show that the road signage does indeed show real destinations that a Mexico City highway would have (Texcoco, Toluca, Querétaro) as well, and a later map seen by the Rev-9, showing the train route they take to Laredo is pretty accurate.
  • As Long as There is Evil: Humans keep developing advanced AIs for war no matter what Sarah Connor has done in the past to cripple Cyberdyne beyond repair. Hence Legion rising instead of Skynet, and Judgment Day happening all the same, just later.
  • Asshole Victim: A nonlethal example. The police officers (who are implied to be corrupt) who encounter Grace after her arrival in the present make fun of her and attempt to not only arrest her, but the couple who found her and asked them to help her. Grace gives them a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown in response.
  • The Atoner: Living with a family of his own makes Carl the T-800 realise how wrong he was in killing John. He attempts to make up for it by first sending Sarah co-ordinates to hunt other incoming Terminators, then joins the fight to take down the Rev-9. When performing its Heroic Sacrifice, it even says "For John" just before expiring.
  • Attack Drone:
    • The new Terminator, the Rev-9, has a metal endoskeleton and a liquid metal "skin" (much like the T-X in Rise of the Machines). Unlike the T-X, this one's liquid metal skin can detach itself from the endoskeleton and move on its own in humanoid form like a T-1000.
    • The Rev-9 turns a Surveillance Drone into one by making it crash on the Mexican border location where Dani, Sarah and Grace are arrested by border patrols.
  • Back for the Dead: John Connor returns for the sole purpose of being killed by Carl.
  • The Bait: Knowing a Terminator is fixated on its goal of tracking down the target, the main characters reluctantly agree to use Dani to lure it into a trap. Inevitably this proves easier said than done.
  • Bash Brothers: Done in several different ways. The Rev-9 can split apart from a Nigh Invulnerable robot skeleton and an autonomous liquid metal shapeshifting core, which allows for some more interesting action sequences where they work together to achieve their goal. But the presence of Sarah Connor, Carl the T-800 and Grace allows for a combination of different fighting partners.
  • Big Bad: The Rev-9, while Legion (Skynet's successor in this new timeline) is the Greater-Scope Villain.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The first Terminator film to really capitalize on this. The Rev-9 is able to track Dani through networked surveillance systems, cell phone signals, and hacked drones. Sarah is also Properly Paranoid by keeping her cell phone in foil-lined chip bags.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When the Rev-9 has Grace on the ropes during the motorway fight, Sarah shows up just in time to temporarily keep it at bay with superior firepower.
  • Big "NO!": Sarah when John is shot down by a T-800 (Carl).
  • Bittersweet Ending: Dani and Sarah survive and Carl kills the Rev-9 (and himself), but the former has lost her father and brother, not to mention Grace, who along with Carl died to save her, and in the final scene the two women watch the current version of Grace, a little girl, play in a park while knowing what awaits her. Carl's family also lost their protector and John is still dead. Worse, despite Rev-9's destruction, Legion will still rise and cause Judgment Day, killing billions before its ultimate defeat at Dani's hands.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Hearkening back to the franchise's R-rated roots after several lighter movies and a network TV show, the film is a lot more violent and has more graphic imagery. Grace's skin appears to have a subdermal mesh, which you can see with every bit of damage she takes.
  • Bookends:
    • The Terminator started with Sarah riding a moped through a peaceful suburb before retreating across the border by the end of the film. Here, she makes the opposite journey; she starts out living in Central America and ends the film riding in a jeep through a peaceful suburb.
    • Carl's first appearance portrayed him as a man on a mission: exterminate John Connor in 1998. He does this, and as Sarah tries to take his shotgun, he knocks her off without even glancing at her and walks away. His death has him lying against a dying Rev-9, having fulfilled his atonement, as seen when he utters his Famous Last Words "For John". The last thing he sees is Sarah's face, zooming in on it as his vision shuts down.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Sarah's the one who says "I'll be back" this time.
  • Breaking the Bonds: Grace with her Super Strength breaks handcuffs twice.
  • Call-Back:
    • Trailer-only. A shot of Sarah glancing around burning debris, while a quieter version of the Terminator theme plays, references the exact same thing that happened to the first instalment, after Kyle Reese attempted to blow up the T-800 with a bomb in the latter's oil tanker.
      • On top of that, Sarah begging for "Carl" to get up and help Dani references Sarah repeatedly yelling to Kyle "On your feet, soldier!" after he was weakened from that explosion.
    • In one of Dani's first scenes a moped takes up the frame in front of her similar to the one Sarah was riding in the first Terminator film just before her life was changed. The fact that she isn't riding it foreshadows that her fate isn't the same as Sarah's.
    • Dwight Yoakam's "Guitars, Cadillacs" back from the T-800's bikers bar scene in Terminator 2 plays towards the end of the film.
    • The T-800's visuals are exactly the same as they were in Judgment Day, with the exact same fonts and even lines of text. Even to the shutdown!
    • The Rev 9 dons a police uniform at one point, much like the T-1000.
    • Grace scolding Dani for risking her life to save Sarah is a call-back to Sarah scolding John for the same reason in Judgment Day.
    • Towards the end, the T-800 has lost its left arm and reaches down across a gap, just like it does in its fight with the T-1000.
    • The famous line, "I'll be back' is spoken by Sarah Connor this time. The T-800 gets a variation when it says, "I won't be back."
    • In the climax, Sarah calls the Rev-9 a "metal motherfucker"; Kyle Reese used the same phrase to describe Skynet's machines in the original film ("[John Connor] taught us to smash those metal motherfuckers into junk").
  • Canon Discontinuity: Dark Fate ignores Rise of the Machines, Salvation, Genisys and The Sarah Connor Chronicles, dismissing them as taking place in alternate timelines. It's intended to be the Terminator 3 that James Cameron always intended to follow up Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
  • Comically Missing the Point: After Grace wakes up at the border facility, she asks a female officer where the new prisoners are kept. The officer then informs her that they aren't prisoners... they are detainees.
  • The Comically Serious: As per tradition, Carl the T-800. When the others discover he has a wife and stepson, he offers a list of his good husband qualities, which include changing diapers without complaining and ends with "I'm extremely funny" in Machine Monotone.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Sarah hates Carl so much she complains when Carl shields her from bullets simply since he touched her. Which does make sense since Carl killed John.
  • Composite Character: With its ability to separate into both an endoskeleton form and a liquid metal one, the Rev-9 is essentially the original film's T-800 and T2's T-1000 blended into the one model.
  • The Constant: A pretty dark one. There is literally no reason why the REV-9 is a SkeleBot 9000 that looks perfectly similar to a T-Series, even when it was designed by an entirely different supercomputer, other than as a symbol that some things never change.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The entire movie is built on a pretty big series of ones. Despite Skynet being truly gone in this timeline, eventually someone else invents another AI, Legion, which ends up taking over the world, inventing time travel and Terminators (which look nearly identical to the Cyberdyne Terminators) and attempting another time travel assassination plot against the leader of the human resistance, all with no actual connection to the previous Skynet AI. You Can't Fight Fate to the extreme.
  • Convection Schmonvection: In the final battle, the Rev-9 gets exposed to so much heat and fire that its liquid metal half, which was not affected by ordinary fire, is destroyed. About a minute later, Dani takes it on in hand-to-hand combat and does not get burned.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Skynet, in hindsight. Turns out the Terminators in the first two films weren't the only ones it sent back, with fatal results for John.
  • Creator Cameo: Neil Corbould, the special effects supervisor, plays the man whose shed the Rev-9 crashes into.
  • Cyborg: Grace is an augmented human - far stronger and faster than normal humans, with subdermal armour, a built-in targeting system and a power source to keep her going. Crosses into Body Horror territory, as she has visible surgical scars all over her body in the present, while a team of doctors who examine her while she's temporarily unconscious in the present marvel at the fact she's still alive despite all the metal implants and modifications inside her.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Big time, especially after the much Lighter and Softer Terminator Genisys. While not without humor and action, it's darker than even the first film, and even more gritty than Salvation.
    • The new dystopian future strips away all the glory that previous films had and hearkens back to Kyle's flashbacks from the very first Terminator film, with people living off dirt and hiding in ruins.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Rev-9's endoskeleton and liquid metal skin are made of dark black metal, in contrast to Grace's golden sub-dermal armour and the general franchise's history of a more shiny chrome for the various Terminators.
  • Decoy Protagonist: John Connor ends up being this, not just for the film but for the overall future war, in that Carl shoots him dead only three years after the events of Judgment Day.
  • Digital Deaging: Used in the beginning to recreate Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, and Arnold Schwarzenegger post Judgment Day.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: After waking up in an infirmary at a border patrol facility, Grace asks one of the guards "where do you keep the prisoners?"; said guard nervously responds that they're called "detainees". Grace isn't particularly interested in the distinction.
  • Dog Pile of Doom: A bunch of officers try this on the Rev-9. Instead of throwing them off, he impales them with spikes coming out of his body.
  • Double Tap: Carl shoots John Connor in the chest with a shotgun, then walks up and shoots him again point blank just to be sure.
  • Downer Beginning: The film starts out with the murder of John Connor.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: John Connor is killed in the opening minutes of the film. What makes it even more tragic is that the film establishes that the Skynet Bad Future has already been prevented thanks to the events of T2, meaning that John's death was completely unnecessary and doesn't change anything.
  • Drop the Hammer: In her first battle with the Rev-9, Grace uses a sledgehammer to great effect, sending the Rev-9 flying with each strike.
  • End of an Age: Even with Legion rising up in the future, it is confirmed multiple times that Skynet is gone for good, wiping out the ultimate villain of the franchise. The T-800s are also all gone - the last one was Carl who had sacrificed himself to destroy the Rev-9.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: As per franchise rules, dogs are still set off by the presence of Terminators. Carl himself owns a dog, who enjoys the company of its master, implying to the audience that he is far more human than Terminator now.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The Job-Stealing Robot at the beginning. It shows that humans will keep searching for ways to replace manpower by machines in plenty of fields from industry to the military, and sure enough, blowing up Cyberdyne merely delayed the technical progress that ultimately allows a new AI to arise and cause Judgment Day.
    • During Grace’s flashback to her injuries and augmentation surgery, she briefly glances at a small device being prepped for the surgery. It’s later revealed that this is her Thorium fission power source, which Dani pulls out of Grace to kill the Rev 9.
    • Grace notably keeps quiet when Sarah assumes that the Rev-9 is hunting Dani for the same reasons that the original T-800 was hunting her (that her yet-to-be-conceived child will become leader of the human resistance in the future). Grace later admits that Sarah is wrong; Dani's child won't become the savior, but rather, Dani herself.
    • When Carl asks Grace who tattooed the coordinates to his house on her body, Dani walks in.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Mild example. In the brief future scene showing the human resistance fighting off Terminators, the Rev 7 models are shown to be far more aggressive and animalistic than the ostensibly more advanced Rev 9, sprouting Combat Tentacles from their liquid metal and impaling soldiers with impunity. Such an asymmetric fighting style would undoubtedly be useful when your only opponents are a Super Soldier from the future and an aging Action Girl, yet the Rev-9 never uses anything more complicated than spikes and blades. It's possible his specific model was focused more on infiltration rather than combat, but this is never outright stated.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Look closely during the car chase scene, after the Rev-9 repeatedly throws rebar towards Grace's, Dani's and Diego's car. Diego, the driver, can be seen with his body slumped forward. This is the first and only hint that Diego was mortally impaled by one of the rebar.
  • Generation Xerox
    • Dani is this to Sarah - an ordinary young woman who in the space of a few days meets killing machines from the future, loses her family and all traces of her normal life, and learns she has a destiny that will save humanity. Sarah even lampshades it, stating that once she was Dani when Grace asks why she's helping.
    • Legion is this to Skynet. Both are A.I.s originally intended for the prosperity of mankind, but instead causes Judgement Day - the Class 2 which ends up killing over three billion people and more, in order to shape up a war against the surviving human resistance via creating and deploying hordes of hunt-and-kill cyborg assassins, Terminators - the only difference between the two are the names.
    • Grace is this to Kyle Reese - a Resistance soldier from the future who personally knew and idolized the leader of the Resistance, volunteered to go back in time to safeguard their leader, and ultimately performs a Heroic Sacrifice to fulfil their mission.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: After accomplishing his mission, Carl, seeking a new purpose, settles down and raises a family, learning empathy, remorse, and drapery.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The Rev-9 enters the border patrol's detention despite having an unfamiliar face and triggering the metal detector, simply by virtue of being polite and claiming to be a war veteran to with a metal hip replacement, all because he's in an uniform and Affably Evil.
  • Happy Ending Override:
    • To Terminator 2. Having survived that film, John and Sarah are hiding out in Guatemala when another T-800 appears - sent as a backup by Skynet - and kills John.
    • In a larger sense, while Sarah and John stopped Skynet in T2, this film has a new AI - Legion - rise in its place, resulting in a new Judgment Day and Future War several decades later than those of the original films.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Carl killed John for a Skynet that will no longer exist. That existential crisis and gaining a family of its own lead to it developing a conscience over its actions, even expressing regret, and assisting Sarah in hunting down other Terminators coming from the future. This makes Carl unique, as unlike the T2, T3 and Genisys versions it was not reprogrammed to follow different objectives, but consciously decided to act against its programming.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Both Grace and Carl die to finally kill the Rev-9.
  • History Repeats: The film implies that, despite the absence of John Connor and Skynet, the future still unfolds with a rogue AI nearly exterminating humanity during Judgment Day before a lone human leader unites humanity to defeat it for good — leading it to try and defeat its nemesis via changing the past to ensure they were never a threat to begin with.
  • Hollywood Encryption: Downplayed. Sarah can't track down who is sending the coordinates of arriving Terminators because the anonymous number who does so is very encrypted. That is, until Grace can decode it with her cybernetic implants. After all, both sender and decrypter are using future tech for it.
  • Hour of Power: Grace's cybernetics are designed for very intense bursts of energy, the only way for her to keep up with the Rev-9. But she needs to rehydrate and be injected with a drug cocktail otherwise she will collapse from the adrenaline spike. While a ferocious warrior, it doesn't take much for her to become a liability.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: Terminators, by dint of being infiltrators who must learn and thus mimic human behavior, can end up Becoming the Mask. By the end of T2, Uncle Bob had learned empathy, and even more, sympathy towards humans. Carl, who has lived among them for over 20 years, has "grown a conscience" as Grace puts it, cares for a family of his own, and even expresses his own form of love towards them and sorrow for his own actions.
  • Humans Are Bastards: When the Terminators aren't in the picture, ordinary humans prove to be less than admirable. Dani and her brother have to deal with their boss replacing them with machines, Grace mentions her father getting killed over a can of peaches and Grace herself was nearly lynched as a child before getting rescued by future Dani. And, of course, they will keep trying to invent sophisticated AIs for the military.
  • I'll Kill You!: Sarah to Carl for killing John.
  • Implacable Man: As ever, the main Terminator — the Rev-9 — will stop at nothing to see Dani dead. Grace and Carl also apply, for different reasons.
  • In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves:
    • When asked why he has so many weapons, Carl states that, AI rebellion or nor, there's an estimated 74% chance for a society collapse. He also mentions that they are in Texas.
    • Skynet has been destroyed but humanity has simply created another AI for military purposes, this time for cyberwarfare.
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: Given that Dani is crucial to the future survival of the human race, the inevitable Cold Equation rears its ugly head.
    • When Dani's brother is impaled by a rebar, Grace has to force her to abandon him because the Rev-9 is about to run them down in a car.
    • Dani insists on waiting until Sarah gets on board the helicopter despite the Rev-9 also running towards them at the same time. Sarah barely gets on board in time, and finds herself agreeing with Grace that Dani should not risk her life to save hers.
    • When Grace collapses from overexertion on the dam, she urges Dani to remove her power source as an Improvised Weapon despite the fact that it will kill her. The arrival of Carl only delays this.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: Neither Dani nor her brother are happy to learn that the latter's factory worker job in a car assembly line has been taken over by an industrial robot literally overnight. The incident indirectly saves Dani's life when the Rev-9 walks directly to her workplace, only to find her brother there while Dani herself is reading the foreman the riot act in his office.
  • Killed Off for Real: If you're hoping for a Time Travel shenanigan that could prevent the death of John Connor, prepare to be disappointed.
  • Lap Pillow: Dani falls asleep on Grace's lap during a travelling scene. It serves to help cement Grace as genuinely caring about Dani not just being her assigned guardian.
  • Leitmotif: The T-800, apart from having the world-famous Terminator theme, again has his own audio cue - this time, a much darker, more menacing reprise of his "iron hitting metal" tune in Judgment Day. Rev-9 also has his own motif, featuring slow, pounding drums accompanied by a sinister sounding synthetic hum that almost sounds like an urgent alarm.
  • Logo Joke: All the companies at the beginning (production companies Skydance and Tencent, domestic distributor Paramount, and international distributor Fox) are in flickering CRT/videotape images fitting the Stock Footage of Sarah's angry asylum interview from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which was interspersed with each company shown. A Freeze-Frame Bonus has the 20th Century Fox and Paramount logos briefly change into the 1981-1994 and 1986-2003 variants respectively, fitting of the year Judgment Day was released (1991).
  • Made of Iron: The Rev-9 proves to be far more durable than any Terminator yet seen. It gets hit in the head repeatedly with a sledgehammer hard enough to crack the concrete beneath it, has an engine block dropped on it, is hit by multiple cars, gets blown up by an anti-tank rocket, has an entire magazine of 5.56mm rounds unloaded into its face, and falls thousands of feet out of a plane twice with no damage. It takes shoving it into a hydroelectric turbine to actually cripple it and having its head melted into slag by a weaponized Thorium fission reactor to finally finish it off.
  • Market-Based Title: Marketed as Terminator: New Fate in Japan.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: As heartbreaking as it is, John's death is ultimately this for Skynet; by that point, Judgment Day had been delayed considerably, and Skynet itself had been destroyed before it could achieve sentience. John Connor would never grow up to oppose Skynet, but Skynet itself would also never come to be.
  • Meet the New Boss: The facts that seem to be a universal constant no matter how crazy time travel gets is that there will always be a Judgement Day, a War Against the Machines, an evil Master Computer and a Human Resistance with a near-mythical leader. Who will end up fitting the specific roles, that is what is uncertain... not to mention that it makes the players more expendable than they expected to be.
  • Metal Detector Checkpoint: The Rev-9 is Impersonating an Officer and enters a border patrol facility with one of these. He surrenders his gun, but his metal body naturally sets it off. He claims that he is a war veteran with a metal replacement hip, which the guard believes and lets him through.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles opened with Sarah's nightmare of John being killed by a Terminator. Come this movie, it's happening for real.
    • The shot of the T-800's visuals shutting down is almost identical to Uncle Bob's final moments in T2, and the following shot of his red eye fading to black is similar to the original Terminator's death in the first film.
    • Dani watching the young Grace through the wires of a playpark mirrors Sarah's nightmares in T2, except with a more hopeful spin.
    • The idea of Judgment Day still occurring but with the details changed eerily mirrors T2 Trilogy, which established that while the dates and players could be altered, neither the Connors nor SkyNet could prevent the historical sequence of Judgment Day, the near extinction of humanity or the machines' eventual defeat from playing out.
      • In fact, much of the film mirrors the T2 Trilogy, if not outright inspired by it. John and Sarah are first introduced laying low in South America (Guatemala in the film, Paraguay in the novels), and John is very definitely based on Edward Furlong's portrayal from Terminator 2. Grace is rather similar to the I-950 Infiltrators introduced in those novels, though sponsored by the Resistance instead of SkyNet. Sarah being Crazy-Prepared and usually having the right tool for the job to hand to deal with Terminators is also prominent in that trilogy, as is her allying with an Arnold Schwarzenegger character (though in the films, it was Dieter Von Rossbach, the physical model for the T-800, while in the film it's the same T-800 who killed John). Sarah (and John's) status as wanted fugitives in the United States was a major obstacle to their efforts in the Trilogy, as well, yet they both (mostly Sarah) had a web of contacts on both sides of the law. The novels even include a Terminator bluffing its way through a metal detector (though it had a falsified medical card to help).
    • Sarah should not have been surprised that a Terminator could also be a good father, as she thought the same thing in T2.
    • The T-800 models have traditionally worn dark glasses. Carl actively decides against this when preparing to leave his house.
    • Once the Rev-9 falls into a house, it is playing Dwight Yoakam's "Guitars and Cadillacs", the same song in the bar from the opening of Judgment Day.
    • For the final battle against Rev-9, Carl uses a piece of metal as a club like Kyle Reese did in the first movie and loses his left arm as Uncle Bob did in T2.
    • Just like the guardians from the other Terminator movies (Kyle Reese, Uncle Bob, T-850, Marcus and Pops) Grace and Carl die at the end.
    • Much like Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the energy core of a good cyborg is used to defeat the evil one, and both the heroic and villainous Terminators die simultaneously in an explosion, with the former outliving the latter by a few moments before expiring as well. And just like with the third film's last shot, Carl only has one optic operational by the time of his death.
    • In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines the T-850 notes that it was selected to kill John in the future of that film precisely because of John's emotional attachment to its particular model. Here we indeed see the younger John hesitate when confronted by the Uncle Bob-looking T-800 instead of fleeing - a moment of indecision that costs him his life.
    • The final scene, where Dani and Sarah watch Grace (as a little girl) playing, knowing her destiny, is a callback to a similar scene in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which like this one happens after the older version, there Derek Reese, died in a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • This film follows the idea that Judgement Day is 'inevitable' and can only be postponed, which was a major theme in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. The key difference of course is that in that film Judgement Day is caused by a new version of Skynet, while in this film it's a new AI altogether.
    • In Carl's armory shed, a couple of Ithaca 37 shotguns and an Uzi, weapons used by the T-800 in the first film during the first car chase and the Tech-Noir massacre, are shown.
    • To assert the Rev-9's Implacable Man status, Grace says "You put a hundred cops between you and a Terminator, you get a hundred dead cops." This was also true of the T-800.
    • Grace tells Dani that the latter's future self once told her "There's no fate but what we make for ourselves.".
    • The Commander possibly realizing who Grace is seems to parallel John meeting Kyle and realizing who he is in Terminator Salvation.
  • Naked on Arrival: Once again, being naked is required to travel in time, as both Grace and the Rev-9 can attest.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The film was released at the tail-end of 2019, while its story takes place at some nebulous point in 2020.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: Hit for hit, the Rev-9 may be one of the most durable Terminators in the franchise, combining the liquid metal regenerative abilities with an extremely durable skeleton that evokes carbon fiber. Grace has no presumption that she can deal any significant damage, the first action scene shows her using Super Strength and a sledgehammer to the skull, even dropping a car engine from ten feet on to its chest, and it bounces back up with no problem. There is no conventional weapon they can bring to bear with any hope of killing it, so their plans revolve around using an EMP to disable it. They manage to deal some damage by throwing it into the turbine of a dam, which then explodes. The liquid metal shell was cooked off and the core skeleton had lost some mobility, but was still mobile.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Subverted. Skynet was officially destroyed in Terminator 2, but the various Terminators sent back to kill John did not disappear. One, "Carl," succeeded several years later, but the conflict of killing someone to preserve a future that no longer exists is partially responsible for his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Carl for the Rev-9. Carl, being one of the less-advanced Terminators developed by SkyNet, fares far better against the ridiculously-advanced Rev-9 than he should be able to, based on showings against similarly-advanced models like the T-X. But the T-800 series was designed by a completely different AI in a future that no longer happened, the Rev-9 would therefore have no data on its capabilities or weak points. Cosmetically similar though they may be, they're different machines designed for different missions they accomplish in different ways by different Artificial Intelligences (and the cosmetic similarity is really only due to them both, at their most fundamental level, being infiltrators). When the Rev-9 and Grace fight, its a rapid, fluid, kinetic style with lots of Combat Parkour and dodging. Carl instead relies on the old Terminator hand-to-hand standard. . . grabbing his opponent and slamming them into things, an attack the Rev-9 is unprepared for.
  • Parental Substitute: Grace reveals Dani became this to her in the future, which is part of why she's so adamant about keeping her alive. Ironically, this future version of Grace becomes a protective mother figure to Dani as they run away from the Rev-9 together.
  • Portal Cut: When Grace arrives in the present, her time travel bubble cuts through the bridge she arrived on, causing her to fall through it.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The Rev-9 is smart enough not to use sheer brute force to get everything he wants; he poses as a Border Patrol official to get access to a detainment facility, and simply asks local law enforcement for a loan of a police helicopter. At one point he even tries persuasion to get Dani's protectors to hand her over to him.
  • Properly Paranoid
    • Sarah takes Dani's phone and immediately throws it out the window so the Rev-9 can't use it to track her. She keeps her own phone in a foil packet so it can't emit a GPS signal.
    • Carl gets his family to leave, knowing the Rev-9 will inevitably track Dani to his house. He's already prepared them for the possibility that his Mysterious Past might catch up with him, and also has a room full of weaponry against the possibility that society will collapse, which is shown in the Bad Future that Grace comes from.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • As it turns out, Skynet didn't trust the all-important mission to assassinate John Connor to a single Terminator, sending an extra T-800 back to ensure that the mission could still succeed.
    • Related to the above, the universe doesn't like temporal paradoxes and will act to correct such paradoxes. As John Connor was one temporal paradox created by the destruction of Skynet, being killed by that Terminator was inevitable, as was that Terminator's eventual destruction at the end of the film—it, too, was a product of the same timeline that John had come from. That said, such corrections don't take place all at once.
    • The Rev-9 is bulletproof, but not physics-proof; the main characters manage to escape from it more than once by shooting it enough to throw it off-balance.
    • Human bodies weren't evolved for superhuman feats or heavy cybernetic implants, so Grace can only be near-Terminator levels of strength for a few minutes before she requires to be rehydrated and an injection including anti-epiletics and insulin among other drugs.
      • In addition, when Grace musters up enough strength to nearly tear the Rev 9's jaw off, her body can't cope with the added strain, even with cybernetics, and she ends up tearing through her own skin from sheer exertion.
    • Preventing humanity from committing the biggest mistake of its life only leaves them open to making it again at a later date. A weaponised AI system isn't the most novel idea, after all.
    • Sarah, a 55-year old woman with no sort of cybernetic enhancements, does noticeably poorer against the Rev-9 in hand-to-hand than Grace and Carl.
    • Even without John Connor, it was inevitable that someone would eventually fight back against Legion.
    • Sarah may have stopped Judgement Day, but as far as the U.S. government is concerned, she's an insane, violent criminal. Consequently, she's had to live the past few decades in Central America in self-imposed exile, and within hours of being detained at the U.S. border, Federal agents arrive to take her into custody.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: In the German dub at least, most of the film's intro up until the point where Grace and Dani meet for the first time has the characters converse in completely untranslated Spanish. It left more than a few viewers wondering if they accidentally walked into the wrong showing.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Carl, the T-800 killer cyborg from the future, took up a job selling drapery. He shares the story of one sale where the customer wanted blank drapes for a child's bedroom and he asserted, in stock Terminator intensity, "DON’T DO IT. You need butterflies, polka dots, balloons."
  • Recycled Premise: Dark Fate's basic plot and story beats are near identical to the first and second Terminator movies, the only major difference being that the future savior they're trying to protect is not John Connor but a teenage girl.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Carl is the T-800 that killed John in the opening scene, later spending 20 years supporting his own family and coming to regret its actions. He assisted Sarah in tracking down other Terminators from the future, sending her messages with the tagline "For John." He eventually sacrifices itself to destroy the Rev-9 with Grace's power cell and its last words are "For John."
  • Retired Monster: The T-800 that kills John integrates into human society, having fulfilled its primary mission, and acquires a wife and adopted son - in time, coming to realise how wrong it was to kill John.
  • Revisiting the Roots: The movie is pared down almost to the essentials that made the original film; it's more of a survival story where the focus is rooted in escaping or stopping the unrelenting machine trying to kill one person. There is some conversations about temporal paradoxes, but unlike every other film no effort is made to actually stop the potential future. The Rev-9 itself, one of the most advanced Terminators yet seen in the franchise, feels a lot less reliant on high-tech tricks compared to the T-X or the T-3000.
  • Robosexual: Subverted. After it's revealed that Carl has a wife and stepson the others ask why no one has caught on to things like the fact he doesn't sleep, weighs 400 pounds or how their love life works. He replies that their relationship has never been physical, he is appreciated for his loyalty and dedication.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Dani's brother Diego is along for the first major action sequence of the film, dying after being impaled on a piece of rebar after crashing their truck. As much as they can the movie tries to set him up as an important supporting character up until that point.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: All previous Terminator films were set in and around Los Angeles, in both present-day and future. Dark Fate has a good chunk of its runtime happening in present-day Mexico, follows a Mexican protagonist and involves border crossing issues.
  • Sequel Hook: The movie ends with Dani going off with Sarah to prepare for the war against Legion, but hopes to prevent Judgment Day from happening or at least to keep Grace from dying for her again.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: What this film appears to render Terminator 2 as. The Connors eliminate the possibility of Skynet's existence and save billions of lives by averting Judgment Day, despite losing Uncle Bob. Then another Terminator that Skynet had sent long ago finally catches up with them, and kills John anyway. Worse, Legion rises in Skynet's place to cause Judgment Day and nearly exterminates humanity anyway. At least the actions of T2 gave humanity another 20 years of relative peace, even if humanity put those 20 years to use creating the technology that would give rise to Legion.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: At the start of the final battle, when the Rev-9 asks Sarah why the group can't hand over Dani to him, Sarah's response is, "We're not machines, you metal motherfucker!"
  • Something They Would Never Say: When the Rev-9 turns up at his house posing as a friend of "Daniella Ramos", her father is suspicious as her friends all call her Dani. The Rev-9 makes a point of remembering this when he's impersonating Dad.
  • Stop, or I Will Shoot!: Having taken over a surveillance drone station and detected the main characters doing a Border Crossing, the Rev-9 informs Border Patrol that they are armed and dangerous cartel gunmen and that deadly force is authorized. Fortunately the authorities give them a chance to Put Down Your Gun and Step Away; Grace and Sarah are entirely willing to start a shootout until Dani forces the issue by surrendering herself.
  • Story Reset: Ignores all movies after Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: By director Tim Miller's own admission, John Connor's death was done specifically to create fuel for Sarah's angst.
  • Subverted Catch Phrase:
    • Instead of "Come with me if you want to live", it's "Come with me, or you're dead in the next thirty seconds.", which in itself is borrowed from the first words Grace heard from Dani ("Shoot me and we'll all be dead in ten seconds.").
    • Carl, the T-800 that helps Dani, muses he "won't be back" when talking about abandoning his home and family to help battle the Rev-9.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: John Connor, the hero of the resistance and center of the franchise up until this point, is killed off in the opening scene.
  • Super Serum: Done in spirit if not technically. Grace needs a cocktail of drugs including insulin and adrenaline in order to maintain her enhancements, she specifically says she is built for maximum burnout because there is no such thing as a protracted fight with a Terminator. Thus we still get that image of her being injected with something and then bouncing back to her feet in seconds.
  • Super Soldier: Grace refers to herself as enhanced, but an examination done by doctors shows her to be heavily retrofitted throughout her body with skeletal, muscular and dermal implants, and you can see the surgical scars all over her body. It's implied this is a semi-regular thing done to soldiers in the future resistance, and she is capable of going toe-to-toe with the Rev-9 for short bursts.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • Legion to Skynet, by design. After the Connors stop Skynet's birth in T2, Legion rises in its place to assume all of Skynet's familiar characteristics - causing Judgment Day, hunting down humans in the future, losing the Future War and sending a Terminator back to change everything.
    • Dani seems to be this to John Connor: in his absence she's the one who whips the remnants of humanity into fighting shape, and from there into the army that defeats Legion. The ending implies that this is justified, as she has Sarah as her mentor, just as John originally did.
    • Grace is a mix of Kyle Reese and Marcus. Like Kyle, she is directly related to the person she is sent back in time to protect, and like Marcus, she is a human converted into a cyborg. Like both Kyle and Marcus, Grace sacrifices herself to protect her charge.
    • The Rev-9 is very similar to the T-X from T3. Both are advanced Terminator models that consist of a conventional robotic endoskeleton coated in a liquid metal skin. The only real significant difference between the two is that the Rev-9's endoskeleton and skin can separate and operate independently and it lacks the built-in weapons of the T-X. In addition, despite being built by a completely different AI from Skynet, Rev-9's robot form looks very similar to the original Terminators.
  • Switch to English: The first half of the film takes place in Mexico, and yet many Mexican characters find convenient excuses to switch to English even among themselves —Dani's brother Diego has pop star aspirations, so they practice with each other; their boss at the car factory is an American named Craig who will only speak English; a panicked pharmacist switches to English because he hears Grace speak it, and so on.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
    • Sarah is, understandably, appalled by the thought of working alongside the T-800 that killed her son, but accepts it for the time being in order to ensure Dani's future.
    • Grace isn't thrilled by the prospect of working alongside Sarah either, viewing her as a liability in her mission of protecting Dani.
  • Terminator Twosome: Despite hopes that Dark Fate would finally shake up the Terminator formula, the film follows the same basic premise as previous films. A robotic assassin is sent from the future to kill an important figure in the past, who has to be protected by other characters sent from or aware of the future. This time, though, John Connor is swapped out for Dani and Skynet is swapped out for Legion. Although, if you happen to count Grace, it more or less becomes a Terminator Threesome in some form.
    • The opening scene provides a certain Reality Ensues as to why this trope exists, the ability to defend yourself against such a relentless, remorseless killer requires you to be aware you are being hunted in the first place, the assassin/bodyguard dichotomy. Since there was no protector this time, "Carl" walks up and casually shoots John at close range, acting so fast Sarah had no time to react and certainly with not enough firepower to slow it down.
  • Three-Point Landing: A time travel bubble forms in mid-air, and when it bursts a naked Rev-9 falls to the ground and lands in a three-point crouch, in contrast to his human opponent.
  • Trampled Underfoot: The Rev-9 is implied to have walked over a framed glass photo of Carl's family once. He does so a second time for good measure while searching for clues. This doubles as a Call-Back; every villainous Terminator callously walks over something in the previous Cameron films.
  • Unflinching Walk: Sarah casually tosses a grenade off the bridge onto the Rev-9, says she'll be back, then goes down to finish it off while the explosion erupts behind her.
  • Understatement: Quoth Sarah. "I'm wanted in a couple of states. 50, to be exact."
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Grace, due to being so focused on protecting Dani. When she has her Naked First Impression, she steals the clothes of a man who was trying to help her. Later, when the Rev-9 has her on the ropes, Sarah does a Big Damn Heroes - only for Grace to steal her vehicle to get Dani out of there.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: An interesting version occurs when the Rev-9 meets Carl. The Rev-9 comes from a future where Skynet, and thus the T-800 series, never existed, yet he shows remarkably little surprise about running into another Terminator of a completely unknown make. Partly justified of course by the Rev-9 being a machine regardless of how well he can fake emotions, but you'd still expect a bit more interaction between them than the Rev-9 briefly trying to go Not So Different on Carl and beating the crap out of each other.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: Taken to the logical extreme; Carl the T-800 comes from Skynet's now-erased timeline, and as such is considerably less advanced than the partially-liquid metal Rev-9, which comes from Legion's future where Judgment Day happened over two decades later (thus logically resulting in a more advanced AI which designs commensurately more advanced troops to support it). Despite this, Carl proves surprisingly effective against the Rev-9, even being the one to deal the killing blow to his future equivalent.
  • Wall of Weapons: Carl the older T-800 has one in his garage. He justifies it saying that there is a high probability of societal collapse regardless of a Robot War and the weapons are necessary to protect his family. "Also... this is Texas."
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Grace’s cybernetics grant her superhuman abilities but unfortunately also make her dependent on a cocktail of medications to survive. Justified, as she explains that her abilities are designed for short, intense bursts, as against a Terminator like the Rev-9 the combat usually doesn't last more than a few minutes either way. Her repeatedly surviving encounters with the Rev-9 with the help of Sarah and Dani and the resulting aftereffects are pretty unexpected for her.
  • We Can Rule Together: The Rev-9 recognizes Carl as being another Terminator and right before the final fight proposes working together since they must be related. Carl refuses, explaining he is from a future that no longer exists. As little as the Rev-9 can emote, the realization that the future can change does seem to trigger a look of surprise.
  • We Need a Distraction: While escaping from the detention centre, Grace turns on the fire alarm (enabling Sarah to turn on her captors) and opens the detention cages so the guards will be busy with a horde of escapees.
  • Wham Line: During the plane scene, Dani is in acceptance over birthing a child who will one day become the leader of the human resistance and save the world from Legion, just like Sarah Connor's situation against Skynet a few years ago. But then, Grace drops this line, leading Sarah and Dani to realise Dani herself is the leader:
    "I've seen that look too many times before."
  • Wham Shot: Right in the opening scene. During the flashback prologue, Sarah is seen sitting down watching John order a drink in peace. Right behind her, another T-800 slowly walks up, a Dark Reprise of the previous one's Leitmotif from T2 playing... as he goes to point a gun at John.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Dani's family dog is the only survivor of the Ramos family sans Dani herself, and yet he only pops up for about one scene.
  • With My Hands Tied: Sarah knocks out a federal agent and a couple of guards with her hands cuffed behind her back (also serves as a Call-Back to the first film where Reese did the same to a policeman).
  • Would Hurt a Child: In the Bad Future Skynet-controlled Terminators and HK's are shown Storming the Beaches. A Terminator sees a little girl cowering behind the wreck of a crashed helicopter and proceeds to Kill All Humans before we cut to the current future with children playing on the same beach and no-one dying until the Carl Terminator enters and kills John Connor.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Even more prevalent than normal: even with Skynet and John out of the picture, Suspiciously Similar Substitutes Legion and Dani Ramos arise to carry out the same sequence of events - nuclear annihilation during Judgment Day, the Robot War, the leader inspiring the human resistance, the machines' defeat - that have been in play since the original films. Humans keep developing autonomous military AIs that will prove dangerous and inevitably go rogue, and Sarah can't do anything about it. Blowing up Cyberdyne merely slowed down technological progress and the dream of replacing humans with robots for specific tasks keeps going, as the movie shows from the harmless industrial robot replacing Diego at the factory to the increased use of drones for surveillance and, of course, new secret defense softwares that get conceived later and later and more advanced each time.
  • You Have to Believe Me!:
    • Dani delivers the line straight when trying to convince a female border officer that they're being hunted by a Killer Robot. She doesn't believe her of course, until she sees the Rev-9 in action.
    • Averted when the Coyotes express similar skepticism, so Grace proceeds to halve a fly in mid-air with a knife.
    • And averted when Grace first meets Dani and Diego; she only tells them the bare minimum (Run or Die) until they've witnessed enough of her fight with the Rev-9 to believe everything else.

"Everybody dies, if you don't make it!"

Alternative Title(s): Terminator 2019

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