Carl was a self-aware T-800 Terminator with a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Infiltrator outer sheath, who was sent to kill John Connor by Skynet from the future. Years later, it assisted Sarah Connor, Dani Ramos and Grace against the Rev-9, a Terminator sent to kill Dani Ramos by the rogue AI Legion from an alternate future.
Assassination of John Connor
The T-800 that would be known as Carl was one of several Terminators sent back through time by Skynet to terminate John Connor. It tracked down Sarah and John to a beach in Livingston, Guatemala in 1998, three years after the destruction of Cyberdyne Building in 1995. Despite his orders having came from a future that no longer existed (as he was sent prior to Skynet's destruction), the T-800 carried out his mission and terminated John Connor successfully.
A few months after its mission, the T-800 rescued Alicia and her son Mateo from an abusive man. He took them under his wing as his own "family". Over the next two decades, with his primary mission completed and no further orders to carry out, the T-800 learned to successfully integrate into society, taking on the name '"Carl". Carl's contact with humans, in particular his relationship to his adoptive family, enabled Carl to "grow" the equivalent of a human conscience. During the time with Alicia, Carl had told her who he really was, while Alicia still accepted him as her partner.Believing that it would give Sarah purpose after the loss of John, Carl began texting Sarah the co-ordinates of other Terminator units that had arrived from the future. In order to stop Sarah from discovering his identity, Carl encrypted the messages.
Over time, Carl started a drapery business, Carl's Draperies, and he made a home near Laredo, Texas with his family. Despite this image, Carl began to collect weapons as he calculated a high probability that human society would collapse into chaos and should that happen, those weapons would be needed to protect his family.
In 2020, after tracking the source of the texts sent to Sarah in the hopes of getting help stopping the Rev-9, Grace, Dani Ramos and Sarah arrived on his doorstep. Unsettled by once again coming face-to-face with the Terminator that killed her son, Sarah attempted to shoot Carl, but she was stopped by Grace. Sarah stormed off and Dani followed, leaving Carl to ask Grace what she was and how they found him.
After Sarah had calmed down, she and Dani returned to Carl and Grace. Carl explained what had happened after he completed his mission to kill John and he thought by informing Sarah of the locations of Terminators that were about to arrive from the future, he could give meaning to John's death. Angered by this, Sarah declared that she knew what would give meaning to it before drawing a pistol and shooting three times in Carl's chest, with no effect. Carl stated that Sarah chose to change the future and that he would help Sarah protect Dani because he chose to do so.
After Carl's family arrived home, Carl discussed how to defeat the Rev-9 with Sarah, Dani and Grace. Sarah suggested setting up a kill box and using Dani as bait to lure the Rev-9 in. Carl agreed with the plan as it was the best plan after his calculation. After Grace refused, Dani emotionally told everyone that she agreed to be used as a bait per Sarah's plan.
Carl armed Dani with weapons from his armory, and he, Grace and Sarah taught her to shoot at a firing range, which Carl had set up in his yard. Grace informed Carl that the weapons in his possession were not likely to stop the Rev-9 and Carl suggested using an EMP. Grace agreed, noting that an EMP would fry the Rev-9's neural net. Sarah stated that she knows someone with access to an EMP and Carl revealed that he knew this person as well since he had been tracking Sarah.
Making their way to a disused warehouse to meet with Sarah's contact, Carl shared his draping business and experience with Dani. Later, Major Dean, Sarah's contact, arrived and revealed to be a major sergeant who gave them a pair of EMP explosives. Carl got Dean's attention, who asks if he is Sarah's bodyguard — she remarked that he was only a member of her operation team who should stay silent.
However, the Rev-9 suddenly intercepted the group in a helicopter, shooting at them while Carl fired back. Before the Rev-9 could reach them, the group drove away in Carl's van. As the chase progressed, they boarded a C-5 cargo plane. Carl pushed a large bundle of luggage off the cargo bay door as it began to take off. Scanning for the Rev-9, he detected him still pursuing them on the helicopter, warning Sarah and Grace that they had been reacquired. As Grace took off the plane into the air, Sarah and Carl managed to destroy the helicopter. However, the Rev-9 still managed to board the plane. Firing a grenade and missing, Carl slammed the Rev-9 onto the ground, shooting at his face repeatedly before nearly being impaled. Sarah shot the Rev-9 multiple times, giving Carl enough leverage to tackle it and send the two to the edge of the cargo bay door. Sarah and Dani pushed Carl's truck off the plane, knocking the Rev-9 off the plane while Carl nearly fell off himself.
After the battle, Carl revealed to the group that the EMP grenades had been destroyed. Without the weapon, Carl now estimated their chances at destroying the Rev-9 to be minimal. Grace explained to Dani that she would become the future leader to the human Resistance and she would also adopt Grace in the future, much to Carl and Sarah's astonishment.
A while after the Rev-9 intervened, having infiltrated an aerial refueling aircraft and colliding both both plane together, as they descend to an inevitable crash. Hanging onto luggage after the impact, Carl fell onto the closed cargo bay door of the plane. Leaping from it, he urged Sarah to open it, lunging toward Dani and Grace to keep them stationary against a wall, saving them from further harm.
The Rev-9 boarded the plane successfully, though not long after Carl pounced onto him, pinning him against the cargo bay. Punching his opponent several times, Carl lost the skin on his left arm due to Rev-9's counterattacking. Thrown aside, Carl jumped onto Sarah to save her from falling out of the plane, before being impaled by the Rev-9's arm blade. Grace tackled the Rev-9, taking Carl with him as they fell onto the side of the plane. Carl subdued the Rev-9 by impaling his arm with a metal pole before firing his grenade launcher to blast the cargo bay door open. Once the Rev-9's liquid half became free, Carl fired another grenade at it, causing it to fall apart and allowing the heroines to escape, while he and Rev-9 remained aboard until the plane crashed.
Plummeting into a hydro-power plant's dam, Carl fought against Rev-9 Endoskeleton underwater. However, Carl lost his left hand to the Rev-9's liquid skin before he was crushed by falling debris. Recovering after a period of time, Carl rose up from the waters to see the group near the door of the hydro plant, remarking to a weakened Grace that she looked terrible and handing medication to her. Once it was decided that the plant would be the kill box used against the Rev-9, Carl took a metal bar as weapon. Bluntly denying Rev-9's demand to hand Dani to it, he listened to his adversary explain that the two of them were built for an identical purpose — to bring Judgement Day upon Earth. Carl simply stated that he came from a similar future, which had failed to come to be.
Carl landed the first strike against Rev-9, slamming the metal bar against its face, immediately then punching him into a wall post. Missing his next strike, Carl was quickly overpowered by Rev-9's barrage of attacks, impaled and thrown near a pit where he lost his weapon. Recovering after a few moments as the heroines continue to do battle, Carl punched the Rev-9 endoskeleton to the ground, throwing it multiple times with his remaining arm. Rev-9 recuperated from this, recombining just in time to slam Carl into a tractor. Sarah shot the enemy multiple times before Carl and Grace forced the Rev-9 to enter an industrial turbine. Despite the struggle, they eventually succeeded with Grace wrapping a chain over Rev-9's mouth, tearing his cheeks open before Carl threw it into the turbine, causing an enormous explosion that costs the aging T-800 his right ankle. The impact of the explosion caused him to shut down.
During this time of inactivity, Dani tearfully removed Grace's power source at Grace's request as she told Dani must use it as an EMP to destroy the Rev-9, which was now rendered a half-functional Endoskeleton at this point. Sarah eventually managed to reboot Carl as Dani tried to combat the Rev-9. After reboot, Carl punched the Rev-9 several times, giving Dani enough time to stab the the machine with the thorium reactor. Taking the opportunity, Carl dragged the Rev-9 into the same pit where his weapon had fallen into, giving the two survivors a solemn look before falling in, embracing certain destruction.
As Grace's thorium reactor began to overload the Rev-9, Carl continued to hold him in place in spite of the surges striking at his own body. Looking over at Sarah again, he recited "For John", the same closing words he had left in each message he sent to Sarah in the past. Afterwards, his living tissue burnt away from the intense amounts of energy surge from the thorium reactor, reducing him to an endoskeleton. Once the reactor finally detonated, both Terminators were melted into the floor, destroyed beyond repair. The Rev-9 was destroyed instantly, while Carl survived long enough to take one final look at Sarah and Dani before finally shutting down — making amends with Sarah Connor and putting a final end to the legacy of Skynet.
- See also: Terminator emotion
Carl can be considered one of the most developed Terminators and successful Infiltrators yet. For instance, unlike Guardian, Carl was far more capable of passing himself off as human, since he had a "casual" demeanor, including behavior such as sighing when he told Dani that he would not be back. Carl is also the first instance of a Terminator with a dog as a pet and using things like television for entertainment, unlike Pops, who used things for tactical reasons. Carl also seems to take his work very seriously, since he humorously talks about his drapery business in a rather human manner, mentioning decoration mistakes by humans and what needs to go with certain patterns.
Carl is the only T-800 sent back that succeeded in its mission, terminating John Connor before he could become the leader of the Resistance (despite John becoming an ordinary child after Skynet's erasure).
Interestingly, if Carl indeed did learn to become more human, it means that Skynet had set his CPU to read-and-write instead of read-only. This may explain his success in his mission, as well as his behavior towards Sarah during the termination of John as previous T-800 assassins killed those who got in its way, while Carl merely restrained Sarah and let her live.
After fulfilling his mission, Carl became purposeless and decided to integrate himself into human society, eventually starting his own company and even adopting a family. He told Sarah Connor that raising his stepson made him realize what he had taken from Sarah. Grace and Dani are surprised by this, and question if he grew a conscience. Carl replies by saying only the equivalent of one.
Despite being aged, Carl's combat skills were impressive enough that he held the upper hand in his battles with the more-agile Rev-9. While he was unable to do any damage to the Rev-9 endoskeleton until he pushed it into a turbine, he was able to successfully batter, stop and even restrain the machine numerous times. The only damage the Rev-9 was able to inflict on the T-800's endoskeleton was by breaking its hand off by splitting itself in two and combining in strength in order to free itself from Carl's grip. Despite this handicap, the T-800 was still able to battle the Rev-9 effectively and only became severely damaged after he got caught in the same turbine he pushed the Rev-9 into.
Carl is a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101: He is about 6'2", 400 lbs, features blue eyes, and has a fit body-builder physique. In 1998, his face and hair resembles Uncle Bob from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, although he appears to have slight stubble growth compared to his predecessor. In 2020, Carl has aged significantly, having short gray hair and a beard. Having been around for two decades, his living tissue sheath is aged compared to some of the previous models and he appears to be in his early seventies.
Having been programmed by Skynet to terminate John Connor in the past, the T-800 eventually found him and Sarah at a beach bar in Guatemala in 1998. The machine immediately pulled out a shotgun it was hiding under the jacket it was carrying and proceeded to shoot John. Although Sarah tried to intervene, she was knocked aside and the T-800 shot John a second time, terminating him and completing the mission it was programmed for. After completing its mission, the T-800 found out that Skynet had been prevented from ever being created, which would mean the T-800 completed a mission from a future which had already been prevented from happening. Over the next 22 years, it searched for a new purpose, eventually saving a woman and her son from an abusive boyfriend. They got married and Carl, a name he would be going by now as he integrates into society, would grow close to her son. This relationship would lead to Carl growing a sense of remorse and realizing what it had taken away from Sarah when it had terminated John.
Due to having terminated her son John, Sarah came to heavily despise the machine and going through the horrific trauma of losing her son. When meeting Carl again in 2020, she immediately recognized him as the same machine that took John away from her and tried to shoot him with her shotgun. Sarah frequently talked to the machine in a rude tone and would later even go as low as insulting Carl’s family, calling his wife and adopted son “Terminators” in a mocking manner. Carl explained to the group that he had grown a conscience ever since he completed his mission and feels a sense of remorse for having killed John. Carl anonymously texted Sarah coordinates whenever another machine had been sent back in time, signing off his texts with "For John", showing his sincere remorse. It eventually teamed up with Sarah and Grace to protect Dani Ramos from the Rev-9 sent to terminate her, a mission they succeed in, as Carl decides to sacrifice himself to destroy the Rev-9. Before he does so, he looks at Sarah while uttering his last words "For John". Sarah showed a sense of gratitude for him helping her, despite having lost her son to him all those years ago.
Despite Sarah having told Dani and Grace beforehand that Carl killed John, Dani was the first person to trust Carl. This can be seen when she consoles him when he tells the group that he's told his family to leave to get to safety. Carl sacrificed himself to protect Dani, Sarah and Grace by fighting and destroying the Rev-9 sent to terminate her.
Grace and Carl first met when the group arrive at his cabin in the woods. She prevents Sarah from shooting him after Sarah recognizes him as the same Terminator that killed her son over twenty years ago. They would later team up with Sarah to protect Dani from the Rev-9 sent to terminate her, a mission that succeeded, although Grace and Carl sacrifice themselves in the process.
- T-800 (7” Scale Action Figure, December 2019)
- Product code: 51925 (UPC:63448251925-7)
- Carl has referred to himself as a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101. He is identified as a T-800 in the credits.
- Carl is the first on-screen protagonist T-800 that was not reprogrammed.
- In a deleted scene, Carl has created a phone app.
- After the introduction of Pops, Carl is the second Terminator that had successfully terminated John Connor on screen, though Carl was the first to terminate John before he could become a leader of the Resistance.
- After his first encounter with Sarah Connor in 1998, Carl has a characteristic scar below his right eye.
- Carl is the first T-800 on screen to have a beard, although he is not the first instance of a T-800 with facial hair, as various T-800 units possess facial hair, including the original T-800 in The Terminator with visible stubble growth that is especially noticeable in a scene where he is examining the police station before its attack.
- The concept of a Terminator being a father figure, watching television, and drinking beer is previously featured in the Robot Chicken segment "Terminator Dad".
Behind the scenes
- Brett Azar, who played the body double for the first Terminator and Guardian (1973) in Terminator Genisys, returns as the body double for the T-800 of 1998 with the facial likeness of 1991 Arnold Schwarzenegger applied via CGI.
- Carl's is possibly derived from Carl Hauser, the main protagonist villain and alter ego of Douglas Quaid played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1990 film Total Recall.
- Unlike previous films such as Terminator Salvation and Terminator Genisys, which had updated the Terminator's HUD to more "modern" standards, Carl's HUD is consistent with the HUD of the T-800 as seen in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
- Carl's endoskeleton, though not seen in its entirety, appears to be the same character model used for the T-800s in Terminator Genisys.
- Terminator: Dark Fate (First appearance)
- Per actor Brett Azar's credit as "T-800" in the film Terminator: Dark Fate.
- Terminator: Dark Fate - DELETED SCENE - "Carl's Backstory" - YouTube
- Per actor Arnold Schwarzenegger's stats.
- Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was 71-72 during the filming of Terminator: Dark Fate.
- Dark Fate's Tim Miller Helps Us Answer All Your Burning Terminator Questions | Gizmodo Australia
- Hope Of The Future - Terminator: Dark Fate deleted scenes - Carl's cellphone app
- on the Internet Movie Database