Why Terminator 7 Can’t Reboot The Franchise’s Timeline

The Terminator movie series needs a fresh start, but Terminator 7 cannot afford to reboot the franchise’s entire timeline yet again. In terms of plot, the Terminator movies were originally uncomplicated blockbusters since the series began in 1984 with The Terminator. However, as the franchise progressed and its reviews gradually grew worse, the Terminator timeline became outright impossible to follow as retcons and reboots attempted to recapture the sparkle of early Terminator movies.

After 2009’s post-apocalyptic war drama Terminator: Salvation failed with critics, the franchise creators made the reasonable decision to reboot the entire series timeline and follow a recast incarnation of Sarah Connor and a new version of the Terminator. However, Terminator: Genisys lost its original director Justin Lin and became a tonally inconsistent, overly complex addition to the franchise. This problem prompted the next sequel, 2019’s Terminator: Dark Fate, to reboot the franchise’s already-rebooted timeline, creating a third, new story for the series to follow.


Related: It’s Too Late For Terminator 7 To Bring Back John Connor

Almost inevitably, Terminator: Dark Fate’s third timeline proved even less successful at winning over critics than that of Terminator: Genisys. With each new timeline, the events of the Terminator sequels became progressively less impactful as it was clear the series could simply start over if anyone important died. The Terminator franchise has pulled the timeline reboot trick too often, making it harder for viewers to care about any version of the main characters. While Terminator: Genisys killing off John Connor could have been tragic, Terminator: Dark Fate killing off another John Connor in an unrelated timeline smacked of desperation. As such, Terminator 7 can’t reboot the timeline for the third time as this would undermine the original movies even more than before.

The Terminator Franchise Has A History Of Confusing Timelines

T-800 in a still from Terminator Genisys

Both Terminator: Genisys and Terminator: Dark Fate began their action by dismissing the canon of earlier sequels and following a new timeline, giving the franchise two separate attempts at reinventing itself. In both instances, the sequels soon became bogged down in knotty stories that proved to be complicated retreads of the original Terminator movies with a few new twists. While Terminator: Dark Fate’s Rev-9 could have been a memorable villain, the character was trapped in a movie that felt like a facsimile of a facsimile. In much the same way, it was hard for Terminator: Genisys viewers to get invested in Emilia Clarke’s reinvention of Sarah Connor since the movie also featured a reinvention of her son John Connor alongside a new version of the T-800.

As a result, the Terminator franchise needs a fresh start, but, ironically, for a time-travel-centric series, a new timeline is the worst way to provide this. This has already been proven twice by the most recent movies in the series, and a new Terminator 7 could only succeed by providing an original take on the series with new characters, rather than sticking recast, rebooted repeats of the same formula. If Terminator 7 does happen, the Terminator reboot needs to replace everything but the original timeline of the franchise.