Imagination Connoisseur, Kyle A, thinks he’s figured out why fans have given up on the Terminator franchise. Has a constantly changing cast, and inconsistent story made it impossible for fans to come back?

Dear RMB,

Hi Rob. I hope you’re having a great day.

I’m writing this letter because I believe I have the answer to why the audience has given up on the Terminator franchise. The answer is character. If you look at the first two Terminator films, the story followed the journey of Sarah Connor, a waitress turned warrior who had to protect her son. This character was brought to life by writers and James Cameron, but also by Linda Hamilton herself.

Those first two Terminator films felt like a cohesive and engaging story. But then as we look at the following Terminator films, that cohesive story and those characters are no longer present. Terminator 3 recast John Connor, had no familiar faces other than Arnold and basically could have been set in another world. Terminator Salvation recast John Connor again and had a whole bucket of new characters to show the audience. We get to Genisys and the third recast of John Connor and nobody cares anymore.

I have no issue with the addition of new characters, but I just wish the Terminator franchise was willing to trust itself enough to continue their stories. It feels like every Terminator film has a new set of characters and completely disregards the previous stories other than T1 and T2. There is no way that the audience can connect to anyone because they have no idea whether they will see them again. My favorite Terminator film is Terminator Salvation. I find it to be the most original and bold Terminator film outside of the first.

I liked the characters in that movie a lot but I know a lot of people didn’t. Three great examples of sequels with wonderful characters are Mad Max Fury Road, Creed and Blade Runner 2049. Those films kept their characters the focus of the story. Just like you say: never put your universe before your characters. That is the main problem with the Terminator franchise. Every film is made to capitalize on the Terminator IP and not on the story itself. I really liked Dark Fate and I really liked the characters.

However, I don’t think many moviegoers were willing to give it a chance because nothing about those characters seemed interesting in the trailers. Characters need to stay in the pop culture zeitgeist like Eleven, Furiosa, Luke Skywalker, and Joker. Sadly I don’t think characters like Grace or Dani will be remembered despite myself enjoying them. Thank you.

– Kyle A.