“That didn’t sound quite right”: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Iconic ‘I’ll be back’ Came to Life Out of an Experiment by James Cameron

Arnold Schwarzenegger's "I'll be back'' line was a result of an experiment conducted by James Cameron

“That didn’t sound quite right”: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Iconic ‘I’ll be back’ Came to Life Out of an Experiment by James Cameron


  • Arnold Schwarzenegger has pretty much done it all when it comes to being an actor in the action genre, especially thanks to his role in The Terminator franchise.
  • The Austrian star's "I'll be back'' line remains one of the most iconic in pop culture for a multitude of reasons.
  • In fact, the aforementioned line was a result of improvisation on James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger's part.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger is certainly one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, whose claim to fame was through his iconic role in the Terminator franchise. Action became his signature genre, defining several years of his illustrious career. In fact, Schwarzenegger’s iconic ‘I’ll Be Back’ line was made from a random experiment conducted by James Cameron.


However, replicating the success he got from Terminator 2 proved impossible for him. This is because his next movie Last Action Hero, received criticism and underperformed at the box office, overshadowed by the success of Jurassic Park.

Also read: Arnold Schwarzenegger Loved to Do One Thing For His Godlike Physique That Terrifies Many Modern-day Bodybuilders

Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator in this scene
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Iconic ‘I’ll Be Back’ Line Remains A Major Part Of Pop Culture

Certain movie lines transcend their original context, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s delivery of “I’ll be back” in the first Terminator movie stands as one of cinema’s most iconic moments. This phrase has become synonymous with the action movie genre and is a massive part of pop culture in general.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator while holding a carbine
The Terminator

Featured in the 1984 science fiction classic directed by James Cameron – the line, spoken by Schwarzenegger’s ruthless cyborg character, serves as a defining moment in the actor’s career. It symbolizes the Terminator’s unwavering determination to accomplish his lethal job no matter who tries to stop him.

Delivered with the kind of cold, machine-like demeanor that only the Austrian star could nail, the line reflects the emotionless nature of the character. Interestingly, this iconic moment wasn’t originally intended to be delivered as fans now recognize it, as is the case for most iconic things from the 80s.


Also read: Bench-Pressing 400 lbs While in a Competition With Rival Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Gym Partner Gave Sylvester Stallone Major Injury and His Most Distinct

The ‘I’ll Be Back’ Line Wasn’t Part Of The Initial Plans At All

Arnold Schwarzenegger pointing a gun with infrared laser in this scene
Another scene from The Terminator

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, James Cameron shared insights into the creation of the iconic line “I’ll be back” in Terminator, revealing that the original script read, “I’ll come back.” Cameron explained that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Austrian accent influenced the change, suggesting “I’ll be back” instead. This spontaneous alteration during filming became iconic and showed off how good at improv both Cameron and Schwarzenegger were.

Also read: “I was excited about doing a film with heroic proportions”: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Most Infamous Action Movie Wouldn’t Have Been Possible Without Him


“’I’ll be back’, so that’s a funny thing because in the script, that actually read, I think, ‘I’ll come back.’

There was something about the way Arnold said it with his then quite thick Austrian accent that didn’t sound quite right, so I said, ‘We’ll just switch it to ‘I’ll be back.’ And he said, ‘Really?’ and I said, ‘Yeah’.”

We just kind of made it up in the moment, and, of course, it became quite iconic. But here’s the interesting thing about that line. You’re watching the movie for the first time, and you have no idea what’s going to happen next, and yet it still got a laugh. Somehow, people had already gotten the fact that this guy was this bulldozer.

You just get this innate sense of this guy as this juggernaut, and when he says, ‘I’ll be back’, [you know] it’s going to be bad. So people laughed before they even knew; they didn’t even know what a Terminator movie was. Well, at that point, I guess they were starting to figure it out.”

Cameron emphasized the line’s impact, noting its ability to personify the film and evoke a dual sense of fear and humor throughout the Terminator franchise. He highlighted the audience’s innate understanding of Schwarzenegger’s character as a formidable force, making the line both ominous and funny at the same time, even to those who aren’t all that familiar with the franchise.


Written by Subhojeet Mookherjee

Articles Published: 499

Subhojeet Mookherjee is a Freelance Entertainment Writer for FandomWire. A lover and expert in all things movies, games, TV shows, music and more. I've been in the writing business for over five years now, covering various topics all over the world. I love engaging in deep conversations with like-minded people.