Here's What That Confusing 'Terminator Genisys' Post-Credit Scene Means (We Think)


Warning: This post contains some huge spoilers from Terminator Genisys, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, stop reading now.

This weekend’s new action sequel, Terminator Genisys, marks the latest attempt to revive the Arnold Schwarzenegger-led sci-fi franchise that began way back in 1984 with James Cameron’s The Terminator. The new movie, which was directed by Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World), does a whole lot of twists and backflips to rewrite the already complex, time-hopping storyline of the first four films, both to score nostalgia points and to set the series up for a new run of installments.

And if all the re-casting of iconic characters and resetting of timelines doesn’t make it obvious that the franchise’s producers have another sequel in mind, then the super-short end credits sequence really hammers the point home.

Last warning: Lots of spoilers.

Let’s back up a bit first: The new movie brings back Skynet, the Terminator universe’s artificially intelligent computer system that becomes self-aware and destroys the world. But this time, there’s a twist: The killer AI is actually born out of an operating system called Genisys — think the latest Apple OS. As in the previous films, Skynet is responsible for the apocalyptic Judgment Day, but this time around, that fateful day takes place in 2017, rather than 1997.

Not only does Genisys become sentient and transform into Skynet — it also takes on human qualities. This is an important point to remember for later in the film, and helps explain an early scene in the movie, when a seemingly random future soldier (played by Doctor Who’s Matt Smith) puts Resistance leader John Connor (Jason Clarke) in a chokehold, which somehow turns Connor into an evil cyborg infused with the powers of Skynet (how, exactly, the transformation happens is never really explained). This scene, of course, was the important plot spoiler that one of the movie’s trailers gave away to much outcry from fans — and even Genisys’ director.)

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In order to stop Judgment Day, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and an aged Terminator (Schwarzenegger) travel forward in time from 1984 (where Reese arrives from 2029) to stop Genisys from ever launching. When they get to 2017, they find that the operating system has secretly morphed into a small digital boy who mocks our heroes as he rapidly grows larger and more powerful (he’s played by three different young actors of various ages). As with Ultron in the new Avengers movie, this villain lives everywhere, like a virus that’s been turned loose in the cloud.

As you might expect, our heroes end up destroying Genisys (and thus Skynet) right before it launches Judgement Day. The future is suddenly brighter — for the first time in 33 years, Sarah believes she can choose her fate. But without Skynet, there’s no real threat to the Terminator team — and you can’t have a Terminator Part 6 without a villain. So, clearly, the producers would like to keep Skynet operating.

And so, after the credits roll, we’re treated to a very brief scene that features the human embodiment of Skynet appearing yet again — in the guise of one Smith, whom we suspect is actually the adult version of the evil Genisys boy (the movie never makes it entirely clear).

It’s unclear what might happen in the sequel, given the fact that Genisys completely re-wrote the old movies. But it’s a good bet that Skynet will try to raise a new army and find a way to say good morning to a whole new Judgment Day.

Does anyone else have a different theory about who (or what) Matt Smith is playing at the end, or what that sequence meant? Did we miss anything?

Watch the trailer for ‘Terminator Genisys’ below: