A Scrapped Terminator Scene Explains Why the T-800 Look Like Schwarzenegger

Estimated read time 7 min read

The Big Picture

  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
    had a deleted scene giving the T-800 a cheesy origin story in which Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a Sergeant with a strong southern accent who serves as the prototype for the robot soldier.
  • The deleted scene inserted comedic relief into the film, but director Jonathan Mostow felt it was too much and decided to remove it from the final version.
  • Injecting comedy into the Terminator franchise, especially in said deleted scene, creates the risk of turning the titular hero into a joke.

Every movie has deleted scenes — those moments a director filmed but then later decided didn’t fit into the plot. Some of these scenes are cut simply to remove part of the runtime, some because they add nothing new, and some because they take the movie in a wildly different direction. In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, director James Cameron filmed an alternate ending to his classic sci-fi action flick, one that would’ve given us a forever happy ending and made the idea of any more sequels impossible. Knowing what we know now, perhaps that alternate ending would have been for the best, as none of the four Terminator sequels that followed could live up to the magic of those first two Cameron entries. As the franchise went along, it became more and more convoluted, turning into a mess that was hard to follow or care about.

While one of the better sequels, that mess started with 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Cameron didn’t come back for this one (it was directed by Jonathan Mostow), but Arnold Schwarzenegger returned in his last appearance for a while before he went off to become the Governor of California. In a deleted scene from Rise of the Machines, we get to learn why the T-800 terminators look and sound like Arnold. That could have been interesting, except that this scene is one of the most cringe-worthy you’ll ever see.


Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

A machine from a post-apocalyptic future travels back in time to protect a man and a woman from an advanced robotic assassin to ensure they both survive a nuclear attack.

Release Date July 2, 2003

Writers James Cameron , Gale Anne Hurd , John D. Brancato , Michael Ferris , Tedi Sarafian

Runtime 109

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator Doesn’t Need a Detailed Origin Story

Arnold Schwarzenegger was already a star in the early ’80s thanks to his career as a bodybuilder and his role in Conan the Barbarian. With the release of The Terminator, Schwarzenegger and director James Cameron became household names. That first film works so well through its simplicity. While it might be a science fiction movie about time travel, it plays out like a slasher movie, with Schwarzenegger’s murderous T-800 Terminator an unkillable machine forever coming for its target. Schwarzenegger’s movements were modeled after Yul Brynner’s killer robot in Westworld, and with his physique and chiseled face, it made him a character to fear.

The-Terminator-Arnold-Schwarzenegger Related

Arnold Schwarzenegger Accidentally Talked James Cameron Into Making Him the Terminator

The director originally had a much different role for him in mind.

Though Schwarzenegger’s character changes in Judgment Day, going from the villain out to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) to the good guy protecting John Connor (Edward Furlong), he is still something to fear and respect through the simple fact that Cameron didn’t give in to the urge to explain too much. We know where the T-800 comes from, we know why he’s in the present time, but we’re not given a step-by-step origin story. The Terminator is left a bit of a mystery, keeping the awe factor intact.

‘Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines’ Deleted Scene Gives the T-800 a Cheesy Origin Story

James Cameron, Linda Hamilton, and Edward Furlong didn’t return for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which came out a dozen years after the classic first sequel. Schwarzenegger was still there, however, and with Claire Danes involved, and Nick Stahl as John Connor, the third film, while not able to hold a candle to the first two, is a flawed but fun entry. There is one deleted scene though, if left in the final cut, that would have given us that T-800 origin story, but told in a way so hilariously bad that it would have destroyed the character and the franchise in two minutes.

In the deleted scene, we see Kate Brewster’s (Danes) father, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Robert Brewster (David Andrews), along with other officers, watching a video from Cyber Research Systems presenting a preview of their upcoming product line, the “robot soldiers of tomorrow.” One of the robot soldiers we’re introduced to, as part of a Skynet design and Cyberdyne patent, is a humanoid robot. The narrator explains that we will no longer need to risk the lives of humans on the battlefield, as “Robots will take their place on the front line.” The video then cuts to a human character played by Schwarzenegger running on a treadmill as scientists watch him. Everything falls apart the moment he opens his mouth. Instead of the Austrian accent, Arnold gives a big smile, and in an overly thick southern accent, like something out of a cartoon, he cheerily says, “Hi, I’m Chief Master Sergeant William Candy.” It’s not even Schwarzenegger doing the accent, but a bad dubbing. William Candy says he is thankful to be chosen for the project, and shows off “the face of the future,” a mold of his own head. “Oh, it’s me,” he says excitedly.

If that’s not bad enough, during the video, one officer says he isn’t sure about the accent. A man in a suit, who looks very much like Schwarzenegger, even with the same haircut, says with a dub of Arnold’s voice, “We can fix it,” implying that this man’s voice will replace William Candy’s comical tone. Oh brother.

The Deleted Scene Would’ve Made the Terminator a Joke

The best action movies have comedy to lighten the situation. The Die Hard films were great at this, and though there’s not much to laugh at in the first very serious Terminator, Cameron found ways to inject humor into Judgment Day through the T-800’s interaction with a child. Rise of the Machines has humor as well, showing a robot attempting to act human in our world, including one scene where the T-800 tells someone to “talk to the hand” because that’s what the male stripper he stole his leather jacket from told him earlier. The deleted William Candy scene was a step too far, and director Jonathan Mostow knew it. In a 2017 interview with The Hollywood News, he said he wanted to disarm the audience through comedy, thinking that if he could get them to laugh, his vision would be accepted. He said:

“But, with the Sergeant Candy scene we thought that was a bit of a step too far. There was too much comedy in that scene, and it was funny, but ultimately too much. That’s why I decided to take the sequence out. In retrospect, the humorous side of the film was one of the biggest criticism’s from the core fanbase. I think they would have preferred a more serious film.”

The “talk to the hand” scene and the T-800 briefly wearing the male stripper’s flashy star sunglasses pushes the envelope, but the humor isn’t too much. It would have been had the William Candy scene been left in. That moment turned the Terminator into something to laugh at and ridicule. Here, the comedy was misunderstood. We can laugh at the actions surrounding the Terminator due to his protocol (he shoots people in the leg instead of killing them, because John Connor tells him to), but we can’t laugh at the Terminator himself. He is our hero, and if he becomes a joke, the movie becomes a joke. Imagine that scene staying in the final cut of Rise of the Machines, then having to still see the T-800 as a badass afterward. Getting that William Candy voice out of your head would have been impossible. We would never have heard “I’ll be back” the same way ever again.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is available to rent on Prime Video.

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