The Terminator franchise is already pretty massive, but there are a surprising amount of canceled Terminator movies and TV shows that have existed throughout the years. The Terminator series has had some really high highs and some really low lows, causing plans for the franchise to drastically shift based on things like poor box office returns or negative critical reception. While The Terminator franchise is still going strong, that hasn’t been the case for every project, so here is every canceled Terminator movie and TV show explained.
James Cameron’s 1984 sci-fi thriller The Terminator was a smash hit, leading to a massive multimedia franchise that is still running today. The original film was followed up by Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which many fans consider to be even better than the original. Things took a downward turn with 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, however, with subsequent Terminator movies getting worse as the series continued on. The franchise often hedged its bets on the success of these failed movies, causing all kinds of projects to be shelved after work had already begun. So, here are all of the Terminator projects that never saw the light of day.
6 James Cameron’s Original Terminator 3
Although James Cameron had originally said that he didn’t want to do another sequel after Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the director changed his mind after reuniting the cast for the Universal Studios ride Terminator 2 3-D: Battle Across Time. Cameron soon started working on a script for Terminator 3, but he wasn’t immediately able to work on it due to him working on Titanic. The project was further delayed due to the studio that held the rights to the franchise going bankrupt, causing the rights to go up for auction. During the bidding process, Terminator 3 was in a state of stasis, making it seem as if it wouldn’t happen.
After years of waiting on Titanic to be completed and the rights to The Terminator to be bought, Cameron finally decided to leave the project in 1997. James Cameron gave approval for another film to be made without him, which ended up being Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Not much is known about James Cameron’s original Terminator 3 script, although he had discussed the return Sarah Connor with actress Linda Hamilton. However, despite James Cameron’s involvement with the franchise, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines had almost no involvement from James Cameron.
5 The Terminator Salvation Trilogy
After the rights to the franchise were sold again in 2007, The Halycon Company began planning a new trilogy based on 2009’s Terminator Salvation. However, Terminator Salvation was a box office disappointment, leading to writer William Wisher’s Terminator 5 and Terminator 6 getting canceled. These two films would have seen the further development of the relationship between Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor, using time travel to bring the former character back. This would have been on top of continuing Terminator Salvation‘s storylines, although this never happened due to the trilogy being canceled.
4 Terminator 3000
After the cancelation of the Terminator Salvation trilogy, Hannover House announced an animated reboot of the original Terminator titled Terminator 3000. The film would have seen the return of Kyle Reese from the first film, meaning that many of the franchise’s other early characters would have probably returned as well. Interestingly, the film was going for a PG-13 rating, which would have been very different from the earliest installments in the Terminator franchise. However, Hannover House for some reason announced Terminator 3000 without permission from the rights holders, leading to Pacificor sending Hannover House a cease and desist letter, ending the project before it was even started.
3 The Terminator Genisys Trilogy
After the failure of Terminator Salvation, the franchise took another swing at revitalizing the series with 2015’s Terminator Genisys. Paramount announced two sequels to Terminator Genisys before the film even released, scheduling them for 2017 and 2018. However, Terminator Genisys was once again a critical and commercial failure, continuing a trend for the franchise. This led to the Terminator Genisys reboot trilogy being canceled, causing all kinds of Terminator Genisys-related projects to fall apart.
The stories for both Terminator Genisys sequels were already planned pretty heavily, with the films answering many of the questions that Terminator Genisys left open. The films would have explained who sent Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator back in time to protect Sarah Connor, while also further exploring John Connor’s life as a cyborg. Most of the cast of Terminator Genisys was set to return for the sequels, including Jai Courtney, Matt Smith, J.K. Simmons, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and more. However, the second of the Terminator franchise’s canceled trilogies never saw the light of day.
2 The Terminator Genisys TV Show
On top of a movie trilogy, Terminator Genisys was also meant to spawn a Terminator TV series. The show would have connected to future Terminator Genisys sequels, although it would have also shown an alternate history from what happens in the original Terminator‘s 1984 timeline. Interestingly, the Terminator Genisys TV show was set to be written by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz, who had worked on a previous Terminator TV show, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Although the two shows probably wouldn’t have been connected, it’s possible that they would have featured similar stories and tones.
1 The Terminator: Dark Fate Trilogy
The final set of canceled Terminator projects is a trilogy of movies based on 2019’s Terminator: Dark Fate. Terminator: Dark Fate saw the return of series creator James Cameron as well as Sarah Connor actress Linda Hamilton to the franchise, making hopes high for the film’s success and potential future. However, Terminator: Dark Fate was anything but a success, with it losing a significant amount of money despite it having a warmer critical reception than its predecessors.
According to Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Cameron was actually in talks to write the sequels to Terminator: Dark Fate, which would have been his first writing credit in the franchise since Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Almost nothing is known about the two Terminator: Dark Fate sequels, although it was expected that Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor would return. It isn’t known what’s next for the Terminator franchise, and with the series’ track record, whatever gets announced next may not even happen.