With droids of all shapes, sizes, and functions occupying every Star Wars TV show, movie, video game, graphic novel, and all other forms of media, it’s fair to say that the galaxy far, far away is definitely no stranger to artificial intelligence.
But we’d be reaching quite a bit if we suggested that any time a droid appears in The Mandalorian (2019 — 2020), it’s a reference to the hugely popular Terminator franchise. However, there are actually several on-the-nose references to those movies throughout the show!
It’s no mystery whatsoever that The Mandalorian is inspired by old Western serials, which is plain to see from the show itself, given the fact that it revolves around a gun-slinging bounty hunter who’s often seen in dusty desert towns.
But it seems that the show’s creator Jon Favreau may have taken inspiration from the Terminator movies too, specifically The Terminator (1984), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003). The less said about the last three movies, the better!
So here are all the major Terminator references you missed in The Mandalorian.
7. Protecting an Important Child
The most obvious reference to Terminator 2: Judgment Day specifically, is the fact that The Mandalorian revolves around a character who protects an important child. In James Cameron’s sci-fi action sequel, the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) travels from the future to protect John Connor (Edward Furlong), the future resistance leader and savior of the human race.
While we don’t know what the future holds for the Child (AKA “Baby Yoda”), we do know he’s important, as the Empire is after him because of his Force sensitivity. And in “Chapter 1: The Mandalorian”, Mando (Pedro Pascal) is even forced to protect the Child from hunter droid, IG-11 (Taika Waititi), whose mission is similar to the liquid-metal T-1000 (Robert Patrick) in the Terminator sequel.
6. Din Djarin’s Hatred of Droids
That leads us nicely onto the fact that Mando absolutely hates droids in The Mandalorian Season 1, something he makes no mystery of, especially when he’s in the presence of IG-11. In Terminator 2, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) understandably hates cyborgs, which is no surprise considering that a T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) tried to kill her in the original 1984 movie.
This is a theme that continues in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, in which John Connor (Nick Stahl) also expresses his hatred for machines, despite having bonded with Arnie (the T-800) in the previous film. The fact that the creators of The Mandalorian chose to have its main character be someone who has a disdain for artificial intelligence surely can’t be a coincidence.
5. IG-11 Is Reprogrammed
In the episode “Chapter 7: The Reckoning”, Mando is reunited with Kuiil (voiced by Nick Nolte) but is surprised to learn that Kuiil has come into possession of IG-11, especially since Mando killed the droid in the pilot episode. However, IG-11 now appears harmless, and Kuiil explains that this is because he has reprogrammed him to be a nurse droid instead of a hunter droid.
In Terminator 3, the T-800 (played again by Arnold Schwarzenegger) explains to John Connor and Kathryn Brewster (Claire Danes) that, in the future, he was reprogrammed by the older version of John Connor, who then sent him back in time. This is the kind of stuff that makes us wonder whether Skynet went on to create all the droids in the Star Wars universe!
4. Scout Troopers and Speeders
After killing Kuiil in “Chapter 7: The Reckoning”, The Mandalorian Season 1 finale “Chapter 8: Redemption” (one of the show’s best episodes) finds the two scout troopers facing IG-11. It’s a brutal scene in which IG-11 snaps arms and delivers mean choke-slams, which is reminiscent of the bar scene in Terminator 2 where Arnie does the same to some patrons!
While IG-11 doesn’t demand their clothes, boots, or their motorcycle, he does end up stealing their speeder, taking the Child with him! This reference is a double-whammy too, because only seconds after the droid lays waste to the scout troopers, we see him on the speeder with “Baby Yoda”, in a scene that mirrors the Terminator 2 sequence in which Arnie and John ride the motorcycle.
3. IG-11’s Sacrifice
The most obvious reference to Terminator 2 is in Season 1’s finale. After abandoning the stronghold, Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) take the Child underground, while IG-11 tends to Din Djarin’s wounds, during which he sees some humanity in the droid, thus completing his arc where the AI beings are concerned, just like Sarah Connor.
And later, IG-11 enters a flowing river of lava in order to buy the others time so that they can continue to protect the Child from the Empire. Before the droid makes the sacrifice, Din Djarin pleads with him not to, which echoes the scene at the end of Terminator 2 in which John Connor begs Arnie not to self-terminate, moments before he lowers himself into a lava-like smelter.
2. The Darktroopers
While not every scene relating to droids or machines is a reference to the Terminator movies, there’s something very on-the-nose about the Darktroopers in The Mandalorian Season 2 finale, “Chapter 16: The Rescue”. Perhaps it’s their inhuman red eyes, or the fact that they’re indestructible machines (well, nearly indestructible anyway — thank the Force for Luke!).
Though Din Djarin manages to seal the legion of Darktroopers in their chamber, one breaches the blast doors and violently beats on the bounty hunter. In an alarming demonstration of its strength, the Darktrooper repeatedly punches his face into the wall, which is very similar to the Terminator 2 scene in which the T-1000 hammers Arnie’s head against a wall!
1. The Destruction of Mandalore
The latest Terminator reference doesn’t actually take place in The Mandalorian, although The Book of Boba Fett “Chapter 5: The Return of the Mandalorian” may as well be a pilot for The Mandalorian Season 3 (perhaps it is). Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) is nowhere in sight, while Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) has a cameo in her own show, much to the confusion of fans. That being said, The Book of Boba Fett was dubbed “The Mandalorian Season 2.5″ during its production.
During the episode, the Armorer (Emily Swallow) talks about the history of Mandalore, and through flashbacks, we see an army of Imperial security droids killing survivors with their blasters in the rubble of a dark, devastated landscape. This shot is identical to the future scenes we see throughout the first three Terminator movies that depict T-800s doing the very same thing.
Oddly enough, this episode was also directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays Kate Connor in Terminator: Salvation (2009). While this is likely nothing more than a coincidence, it’s possible Howard was inspired by her time in the Terminator sequel!
There are other references throughout the show too, which we’ve saved as honorable mentions! Season 1’s “Chapter 4: Sanctuary” features a seemingly-AI AT-ST with glowing red eyes, not unlike the Terminators. And Season 2’s “Chapter 13: The Jedi”, which sees the return of Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), stars Michael Biehn (Lang), who plays Kyle Reese in The Terminator.
Did you notice all these Terminator references throughout The Mandalorian?