The Real Reason Two Arnolds Fighting in ‘Terminator 2’ Was Rejected

Kim Taylor-Foster

One of the original ideas for Terminator 2 was to have two T-800 machines pitted against one another – both in the form of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it? But, says T2 screenwriter William Wisher, that idea was swiftly canned.

It’s been reported that director James Cameron dumped the concept for logistical reasons. But the simple truth, Wisher tells FANDOM, is that they thought the idea was “really boring.”

Whatever the cause, ultimately fans everywhere are thanking their lucky stars that the idea was scrapped, since Terminator 2: Judgment Day turned out to be not only a great movie but also a groundbreaking and iconic one. Largely because of what took the place of a second T-800. While we can’t help but wonder at what that alternative Terminator 2 movie would have looked like, we’re super stoked we got the T-1000.

In Robert Patrick’s ruthless and relentless liquid metal model, James Cameron — along with sometime collaborator and long-time friend, Wisher — created celluloid history. We had never seen anything like the T-1000 on screen before, with technology having advanced to the point where realizing this remarkable shape-shifting villain on screen was possible. Not only possible, but also extremely realistic. Of course, it helped that they had, for the time it was made, an enormous budget making T2 the most expensive film ever produced.

Arnie’s Impact

After dismissing the idea of two battling T-800s – which was actually an original idea for the first film — Wisher says he and Cameron started discussing concepts for an alternative foe for Arnie to go up against.

“And so it [was] like: what’s the opposite?” explains Wisher. “If Arnold represents the ultimate in hard technology, then what would be the opposite of that? That would be softer technology. Not weaker, but softer. So the whole liquid shape-shifting concept for the T-1000 came out of that. What’s the opposite of Arnold? Okay, let’s make that.”

Arnold had a huge impact on both the first and second films. Not only did he make the Terminator a landmark character through his screen presence but he also informed the direction of the film from the outset. Without his involvement, the Terminator franchise would be an entirely different beast.

Terminator 2
What's the opposite of Arnold Schwarzenegger?

The Accidental Terminator

“Arnold sort of became the accidental Terminator, and then he became iconic,” explains Wisher. “The original concept was that he was supposed to be an infiltration unit. So a 6’2” Austrian bodybuilder is kind of not, maybe, the best infiltration unit you’d want to come up with. But Jim met Arnold, and Arnold wanted to play the Terminator, and Jim instantly saw: ‘Oh, I can make this work’.”

When the opportunity arose to make a sequel, they were able to revisit the original idea of incorporating an infiltration unit that would better blend in. The concept “of a very average guy … in a police uniform, making him an authority figure, made sense.”

Wisher adds, “And [by] then, CG technology had evolved to the point where we could make him a shape-shifting person, and that just seemed like a terrific idea and we ran with it.”

Terminator 2
Robert Patrick's T-1000 blending in.

Sarah Connor Could Have Lived

While Wisher won’t be drawn into commenting on where the franchise went after Terminator 2, he does open up about how he would have approached Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor had he been involved.

“I probably wouldn’t have killed her,” he says. “I always thought the story was about Sarah Connor and John Connor so I would have preferred that. But she didn’t want to work on T3 because Jim wasn’t involved, so they killed her off. And the only comment I’m going to make about that is I don’t think I would have done it.”

Wisher’s work on both original Terminator films – and also presumably 1995’s Judge Dredd — led to him being approached to work on Terminator 3. But he refused: “Jim was not going to be involved in Terminator 3 so at that point I basically said … not without Jim. No, thank you.”

Terminator 6

Having exited the franchise after Terminator 2, Cameron is back in the driving seat, however, for a reboot currently slated for a 2019 release. Deadpool’s Tim Miller will direct.

“I don’t really know where that’s going but I’m glad that [Cameron’s] back in charge of it. And I believe it’s been announced that Tim Miller is directing. He’s terrific. So I think they’re going to make a really good picture,” comments Wisher.

And while Wisher isn’t involved in the reboot at this stage, he doesn’t rule out working with Cameron again. “We don’t have any existing plans but I would love to work with him again,” he says. “We’ve been friends for 45 years so we’ll see what happens.”

Terminator 2
James Cameron directing, from left to right, Linda Hamilton, Joe Morton and Arnold Schwarzenegger on the set of Terminator 2.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is now available on 4k UHD (incl: Blu-Ray), 3D BLU-RAY (incl: Blu-Ray), BLU-RAY, DVD and DIGITAL DOWNLOAD internationally and in the U.S. on December 26.

Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.