At the end of Terminator 2, the T-1000 uses a needle-like finger to try and get Sarah to call out. However, we know from earlier on in the film, when John was talking to the T-1000 over the phone, that the T-1000 can emulate voices. Why didn't it use this ability?

  • 1
    I was going to say "bad writing" but the accepted answer pretty much nixes that idea. :)
    – Almo
    Jul 27, 2014 at 0:23
  • 1
    I don't remember when he did this.. but if it was after the freeze/thaw occurence, it could well have lost the ability, or, at least, the reliable use of the ability. The freeze/thaw caused significant glitching that was largely cut from the final movie, but see this answer to another question for more info. It doesn't specifically mention the voice simulation, but it's not unreasonable to conclude that the glitches might have far more impact than just it's chameleonic functions. Also, mimicry of the vocal cords COULD be related.
    – K-H-W
    Jul 27, 2014 at 1:14
  • Related: movies.stackexchange.com/q/42203/49.
    – TARS
    Oct 12, 2015 at 18:34

5 Answers 5


The T-1000 only seems to be able to emulate the voices of people that it's heard speaking. Up to that point in the theatrical version of the film, the only contact between Sarah and the T-1000 has been at the barrel of a gun.

Until Sarah says "F*ck you", he's not heard her before and therefore can't replicate her voice.

On top of that, I think it's reasonable to suspect that John and Sarah will have a pre-arranged code to help him identify whether she's been replicated.

You may wish to note that in the film's official novelisation, the reason for him attacking her was that he genuinely thought that she might accede to his demands, offering further confirmation to the theory that he can't replicate her voice yet

THUNK! A steel needle slammed through her shoulder, pinning her. The polymorphic killer cocked back its other hand. The index finger extended as a gleaming needle, toward her eye, angling to slash through her frontal lobe and up through her upper medulla. It said in a smooth, chilling voice, “Call to John. Now.” Sarah had survived one metal motherfucker, only to be skewered by another. She was terrified, but more than that, she was mad. She couldn’t stop herself from screaming through her gasps of pain, “Fuck you, asshole!”

Once it successfully concluded its request had been denied, the T-1000 went into termination mode and arched back to deliver the killing blow.

Out of universe, there's actually a deleted scene in the film in which the T-1000 locates various tapes from Sarah. This means that he should have been able to sample her voice before the "Call to John" scene. Obviously that makes no sense from a continuity point of view which is almost certainly why it was removed.

  • 1
    Pretty much clears it up. But I am thinking why didn't the T-1000 instead get Sarah to whisper the finite number of sounds that are needed for the T-1000 to replicate her voice, then it could say whatever it wanted, lure our heroes into a more cunning trap maybe. Any who, a good answer.
    – Starkers
    Jul 26, 2014 at 19:56
  • 1
    @Starkers - It's only under extreme duress that she says anything. Tricking her into saying stuff is probably beyond his abilities at this late stage.
    – Valorum
    Jul 26, 2014 at 20:57
  • 12
    @cincinnatus - if you think that youtube is a major security risk, you might want to seriously consider whether the Internet is too scary for you.
    – Valorum
    Jul 27, 2014 at 8:56
  • 1
    @Cincinnatus I can sympathise with this given that Google now pretty much runs youtube.
    – Pharap
    Jul 27, 2014 at 16:56
  • 2
    If the T-1000 hadn't acted so nicely to John over the phone he would have dutiful come home and been killed instantly due to this skill.
    – Starkers
    Jul 27, 2014 at 19:33

Quite a bit earlier in the film, during John's call to his house:

John: Something's wrong, she's never this nice.

The T-1000 has already been foiled once, because it does not have enough information to imitate the behavior of a person - at least not enough to fool anyone but a total stranger. Getting Sarah to call out to her son would be more likely to sound authentic and it would also not require her to be silent as an imitation would...

That the T-1000 does not really understand what a mother is willing to suffer for her child is hardly suprising. It is a robot after all, the poor thing never had a mother...


Seems to me that being able to copy a voice is not the same thing as knowing how to behave like someone in a certain situation. So the T1000 might be programmed to torture victims a target cares about as an even better way to attract a rescue attempt, when an actual hostage is available.

  • Very good point actually. John's conversation with his step-mom was a very neutral one, and the T-800 actually saw right through it. Wouldn't be surprised if it's impossible for the T-1000 to synthesize emotion...
    – Starkers
    Jul 26, 2014 at 19:55

There is another very good reason for this:

Stealth attempts had failed, therefore the full frontal assault between the terminators. After apparently pinning down the old terminator model, only Sarah and her son are left.

The son is nimble, unhurt and trained in warfare, he could hide very well in this noisy, confusing labyrinth of the steel mill. His mother is armed, but hurt and the terminator knows that at least this human relationship has very strong bonds. The answer of Walt mentions that the freezing process already damaged the T-1000, he is not in full shape anymore, he knows it and a longer hunt may not be an option. He is also aware that Jon knows of his mimic abilities and will be on his watch.

So the best strategy is to use John's Mother as honeypot, he only demands to "Call John out". If John is looking, he will see both Terminator and Sarah, know that this is his real mother in real distress and (hopefully) try to save or sacrifice for her.


In addition to the previous answer, we may always answer one thing to this kind of question: Robots are not claimed to be perfect entities and can also fail.

  • Yeah but the Terminators are pretty perfect when it comes to killing and making a decision like this. voice_replicator.effectiveness > unpredictable_victim.effectiveness. Dronz' answer of course goes into why the voice replicator might not be as good as a real voice.
    – Starkers
    Jul 26, 2014 at 20:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.