How would Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles have ended? Josh Friedman vows never to tell
In my continuing attempt to get resolution to unresolved, canceled TV shows, I approached Josh Friedman, creator of ‘Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ for answers.
I admit I was a latecomer to The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I didn’t start watching the show until it was already long dead, on recommendation from my bro-in-law, Bob. Without Bob’s recommendation, I was extremely skeptical. I was a big fan of the first Terminator movie, with my interest in them lessening with each sequel. By the time Terminator Salvation came, I was pretty uninterested and lost some faith in the franchise. The thought that a television show could do a better job than the movies felt a stretch to me, so I didn’t bother.
Then I watched the series, and I quickly became hooked. As I finished each episode, the feeling of dread worsened, as I knew this whole thing had an unresolved end that I was fast approaching. I don’t think I was quite prepared for how unresolved it would be. I was angry at FOX for killing another great show. I was almost a little angry I even bothered to watch the dead-ended series to begin with. But I was hopeful that — someday — a movie would come to wrap everything up all nice. The years went by, with rumors here and there that a movie would be made. The actors went on to new projects. The hope of seeing the show have a proper ending faded to nothing. But that didn’t stop fans from wanting answers, including me.
I tried a few times to reach creator Josh Friedman, to see if I could do for T:TSCC what I helped do for Reaper, Defying Gravity and Persons Unknown. Maybe Mr. Friedman was ready to let the world know. Earlier this year I spoke with the assistant to Friedman’s agent, who decided to save me — and Friedman — the trouble of a call by telling me what he knew of the situation: Josh Friedman had made a vow to never reveal how Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles would have progressed or ended.
Earlier this week I finally had an email exchange with Friedman, where I was able to get the word right from the creator’s mouth. And it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. “That is absolutely true. Sorry.”
Of course, I wasn’t satisfied. So I went on to ask this: “If I had to guess, a majority of it is personal, if what you’ve written about it before is any indication. It really was a surprisingly exceptional show, and I say ‘surprisingly’ because I felt the Terminator movies fell short in their sequels, and your show rose from that to be greater — a seriously admirable feat. So is the vow you’ve made meant to give the finger to the networks that pulled the plug, or to fans who didn’t try to Jericho-like measures to get the network to change its mind? Or is it just too hard to talk about, and discussing how things would have proceeded is akin to pulling the life support plug from your child?”
He quickly came back with a final reply: “It’s certainly not meant as a fuck you to anybody; on the contrary, I think to give some sort of finite, canonical opinion on what would be (and always is) a much more fluid, dynamic situation seems sort of stultifying for all the people who have invested emotionally in the show. It wouldn’t just be killing it for me, it would be killing it for them. This way it’s sort of Schrödinger’s TV show.”
I mentioned this exchange to Ivey and Bob earlier today, and they were clearly not as satisfied with that answer as I am. And many of you probably aren’t either. What makes sense to me from his response is that it seems he doesn’t want to claim sole responsibility for the show’s progression. Telling the world how his show would have progressed, in essence, might be seen as disregarding the art behind it — the writing, the acting, the visuals, all of it. If he reads off his Sarah Connor show bible, it’d ignore everything else that would have supported it. Maybe he feels he has more of a responsibility to the other people who made the show a reality, than to the fans who supported it.*
I thought for a moment about pressing the issue with him, hoping I could say something enlightening enough to spill it all out to me. I’m pretty sure he’s thought this through for quite some time, though, and anything I could have gone on about would likely just piss him off. Despite what he told me, if Friedman does change his mind, I’m hoping he’ll remember I asked and will let me know, even if I have to swear not to tell all of you. Yeah, I’d be all selfish like that.
As for what Friedman’s doing now: “I’m writing a pilot that I’m hopefully producing with Howard Gordon. I’m producing a pilot that John August is writing. First for NBC, second for ABC. They’re just pilot scripts until they’re something.”
Here’s to “something,” Josh.
* UPDATE: From Josh Friedman via Twitter:
@cliqueclack You get it wrong one 1 important point: I feel immense responsibility to fans; that’s WHY I won’t talk about S3.
— josh friedman (@Josh_Friedman) December 21, 2012
Every show is a dialogue between creator&viewer. Every time creator says what s/he would do w/o an episode to show it, it’s a monologue.
— josh friedman (@Josh_Friedman) December 21, 2012
A viewer brings their version of show to each episode, but can’t bring anything to a creator who sez “this is what I wouldve done.”
— josh friedman (@Josh_Friedman) December 21, 2012
Canon is something you do over time on a show, it’s not something you explain post-hoc. Or pre-hoc for a season that never happened. #S3TSCC
— josh friedman (@Josh_Friedman) December 21, 2012
We couldn’t do a Jericho but we did do some pretty fun and creative things. Including renting one of those giant mobile billboards…twice…thanks to the organizers at savethescc.com
Josh is absolutely right and I love him for that. That intelligence comes through fully in the series.
What he had was an outline. The writers (including himself) fill in the details.
If you study the series, like I have, throughout the past 4 years, you’ll continually find details and surprise yourself at complex subtleties that you weren’t fully aware of before.
All answers to your “unresolved questions” are strewn throughout the series. Especially those final 8 episodes that were written after the series was very nearly cancelled, the back 9 episodes that were ordered to complete the season that would be moved to the Friday Night Death Slot. (I say 8 because they were already hired to write a 14th extra script when the first 13 episodes of Season Two were greenlit.)
I can answer (or a better word would be “theorize”) what would have happened. And that is pretty solid in my mind of what would have basically happened in the grand scheme.
I’ll let you in on something very interesting. I believe Josh Friedman already gave away what he had planned in an internet forum long before the series was made. Back around the time the series was first announced, I was on an IMDB Terminator forum. I don’t remember if it was for a particular Terminator film or the new The Sarah Connor Chronicles forum. There was someone who claimed to be a writer that had an idea and outline for a 4 season Terminator series. They proceeded to outline the main plot by season to see what anybody thought.
It dealt with John and Sarah on the run. An FBI agent tracking them as well as a terminator or two. John would have a female terminator protector that they would be uncertain if ‘she’ could be trusted. There was also a liquid metal terminator. At the end of either season one or two, the FBI guy would have been on their tail and they were running (it could have been in the woods or maybe that’s the setting my mind chose). John eventually gets caught up in a time bubble with the liquid metal terminator and the FBI agent and Sarah Connor team up, as the agent now believes them after seeing everything he’s seen.
Sarah’s cancer plotline was also in full force.
Season two or three had John in the future fighting in the shit becoming The Badass. He would discover an old and dying from cancer Sarah Connor. He had her in a safe chamber as she was dying while he desperately looked for a cure. (Perhaps he would get a cure from the liquid metal machine(s), I don’t remember).
It was pretty fuzzy from there. I don’t remember much or if I even read it thoroughly. I recall them going back in time and preventing Judgment Day (though that ending could have been a red herring, why give away the outcome?) Though it could be prevented by a peace between man and machine, which is clearly what the final product was leading to.
We do know for a fact that on the writer’s board for season 2, that John Henry would have gone public at some point on CNN where machines would be revealed. (though this was not in the final season 2 product, its the idea that counts and could have been used at a later time.) It was on the Bluray special features.
That stuff written on that IMDB board was way too much of a coincidence to not be Josh Friedman or someone working with him, testing the idea out to see what a few nerds that read it would think. That memory of that message board didn’t dawn on me until well after I had finished the series. Then I thought, ‘Holy crap, that’s exactly what that amateur writer wrote on that board long ago. Four seasons and everything.” It all matched up.
But besides that, its pretty evident that it was all leading to a human/machine assimilation with John/Cameron being one relationship and JohnHenry/SavannahWeaver being another relationship that would try to unite them all in peace.
John Connor and Sarah would be against each other as one would want acceptance and one would want machines to be separate/destroyed. A liberal John vs. a conservative Sarah.
I could imagine John Henry lamenting Savannah death at the hands of a bunch of machine-hating rednecks and wanting revenge (possibly becoming “Skynet”) or vice versa with Savannah igniting a war at John Henry’s death. Perhaps John Henry uploads a slain Savannah’s brain to a chip successfully and Savannah Weaver rages against humanity for their disgusting evil and becomes “Skynet”.
Maybe Cameron and John Henry became one entity.
So many possibilities… Why would Josh Friedman state what would have happened and kill any imagination that was gloriously brought to life by the perfection that is The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
The series has the most perfect ending I’ve ever witnessed as a SERIES FINALE. It just explodes the mind into wonderment while giving enough to provide a pretty good idea of what was, is, and what will be.
I was extremely satisfied with the ending. I just lament what we lost and missed out on. The team that made up this art was one of a kind and to experience what they would have done just kills me, it absolutely destroys me that it was put to an end when they had so much more to create. That anybody would decide to end the pinnacle of human brilliance and creation is pure evil. It’s a very fitting sacrifice in mirroring what commentary this creation had to say about society. We are divided in intelligence.
As to why did Cameron really come back? It’s evident in The Last Voyage Of The Jimmy Carter (Cameron acting in Connor’s place) and the conversation she has with John on the bed. I’ll leave it to you to figure out:
-You need to understand how it works.
-This chip, this body. The software is designed to terminate humans; the hardware is designed to terminator humans. That’s our sole function.
-No. Not anymore. But what was there is still there, and it will always be there.
-So down deep, you want to kill me.
-Yes. I do.
-Then why don’t you?
-I might someday.
I believe the show lost its audience is within , the not so much action , terminator = action doesn’t have to be everything blowing up , you know could of been written more exciting because the second season becomes in a sense boring , yes the first few episodes are action packed entertaining , but how bout more chasing with just gun shots fired you know its more exciting then just drama and raving on . its a good show , but more cheap action should have been , anyways for what its worth its a true , great story added to terminators mythologies that is differently welcomed and enjoyed by everyone liking , interested with the mythology , one think I would like to add is the end episode should have shown more action and not everyone flying into the pool and not see able , that was a real bumper because it was the finale it didn’t deliver ,im not seining it had to be a big/decent budget shoot out , but dose it really cost much to show some machine guns been fired and some windows been blown out . They should of finished it off with a movie featuring everyone , perhaps it had something to do with the rights , anyway . still apart of the mythology
I’m going to call BS on Friedman. Either he, like most show runners, was winging it episode by episode and season by season and he never knew how the story was going to progress or he wants to save the idea in case he wants to incorporate it into another show.
I don’t blame him for either but he can keep the BS around canon and feeling responsible and dialog between viewer and writer. We’ve seen from many a show like Battlestar galactica to Lost that the writers rarely think past the pilot episode. Babylon 5 is probably the only series conceived as an arc from day 1. These guys aren’t writing movies or novels, they are writing open ended serials where the goal is to reach syndication, not produce great art and a satisfying ending. Even the great Joss Whedon only worked a season at a time into his story arcs. Feel fortunate if/when they manage to wrap anything up but don’t fall for the BS that spews from their mouths and keyboards when asked how a series would have ended. Cancellation prevented them from having to solve that dilemma and rest assured they haven’t given it a single thoughts since the axe fell.
@Josh_Friedman TSCC is definitely worthy of a TV movie if not S3. The viewing figures of the sunday night pilot almost doubling the average of the rest of S1 and the same for S2 is indicative of this and the air date IS an important factor. Even so millions watched week after week and even more oversees and more on DVD and Bluray. Fan reaction on Facebook no matter how small is always positive and no-one cares for your moping about the dignity of your vision or canonisation of a franchise. Many if not all who watch TSCC prefer it to the film series and we care about seeing a conclusion to the TSCC story and the victory against Skynet. For 31 episodes that is why we watch with the first 2 films and eagerly await the ending we deserve. If you find yourself lacking in the motivation to fulfill the dreams of many open your eyes ears and mind to those who praise your work and fight to get your vision produced again like you did when you first pitched the show. The world you’ll find is right behind you.
So write a goddamn graphic novel.
TSCC was my favorite show on television. The writing was simply fantastic. As much as I would love to see a Season 3 (and beyond), it’s pretty clear that too much time has passed for them to pick up where they left off.
I rewatch the series on Blu-ray about once per year now, and it is depressing to know that shows like Dancing With The Stars are still on the air, while this great television show got canceled. /sigh
TSCC is just amazing, It’s hard to believe that they killed it, but even though I think the ending was the best we could get…John Connor in the future, would become the leader of mankind knowing all he knows from the past, and the other Cyborg who turned out to be good….it opens a big door for future projects, I can Imagine in some time another Terminator Show…with an older John Connor …
Josh Friedman had made a vow to never reveal how Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles would have progressed or ended.
Simply because he didn’t have an ending planned. He had no idea at all where things were headed.
Not what he said to me. He seemed to have several more seasons in mind.