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Something has always bothered me about the scene in Terminator 2: Judgement Day in which the T-1000 goes to John's house and questions his foster parents about him.

T-1000: Are you the legal guardian of John Connor?

Todd Voight: That's right, Officer. What's he done now?

T-1000: Could I speak with him please?

Janelle Voight: You could if he were here. He just took off on his bike. So, he could be anywhere.

T-1000: Do you have a photograph of John?

Janelle Voight: Yeah, sure, hold on.

Todd Voight: Could you tell me what this is about?

T-1000: Just need to ask him a few questions.

[Janelle gives the photo to T-1000]

T-1000: He's a good looking boy. Do you mind if I keep this picture?

Janelle Voight: No, go on. There was a guy here this morning looking for him, too.

Todd Voight: Yeah, a big guy on a bike. Does that got something to do with this?

T-1000: No. I wouldn't worry about him. Thanks for your cooperation.

Pay attention to the last two lines, and think about what they mean.

A big, scary looking biker in a black leather jacket shows up at your house asking for your 10 year old foster son. Then a cop shows up, also asking about your 10 year old foster son. You ask the cop if his visit is related to the visit from the scary biker dude. The cop immediately says "No. I wouldn't worry about him".

The implication should be obvious: the cop obviously knows exactly who you are talking about, but says he has nothing to do with the reason that the cop wants to see your son.

This makes no sense. If the scary biker dude isn't someone you should be worried about, then why would a cop know exactly who the scary biker dude is based on such a vague description? And if the scary biker dude has nothing to do with the cop's visit, how does the cop know who he is, and why does the cop seem so unsurprised to hear that the scary biker dude has been there already?

More importantly, why didn't Todd notice the obvious problems with the cop's statements?

  • 22
    Because he's a schmuck. – Valorum Jul 5 '15 at 21:57
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    I wasn't aware that I should be suspicious – Todd O'Rourke Jul 5 '15 at 22:03
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    Spoiler Alert: It's like in Genisys. Kyle Reese keeps asking, "But how can you know these things already?!? How can that other terminator be here before me?!?!" Dude, you just jumped through time, and you really can't figure that one out? Talk about dense. – user47844 Jul 6 '15 at 4:19
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    I wouldn’t say that the “Cop” immediately responses with the “don’t worry” message. He/it makes a small pause pretending to think about it. A lot of people are satisfied when a police man looks like caring about them and then telling them not to worry. And who knows? That big guy could be an informant or an undercover police officer who has to look like that, i.e. that no one would expect it. – Holger Jul 6 '15 at 8:29
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    "The implication should be obvious: the cop obviously knows exactly who you are talking about" That's not correct, logically. For example, I know for a fact that you had nothing whatsoever to do with me eating my breakfast this morning, despite the fact that I didn't know you existed until 45 seconds ago. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 6 '15 at 11:42
35

According the film's official novelisation, Todd and Janelle were distracted when the T-800 turned up and evidently didn't give the matter much thought afterwards:

Janelle nodded absently, remembering something.

“There was a guy here this morning asking about him, too.”

Todd grumbled with irritation, remembering the guy distinctly because he made him miss a great pitch by Gooden. “Yeah, he was a big guy. On a cycle. That got something to do with it?”

John is a thorn in both their sides and neither Todd nor Janelle seem to care for him very much. Given his propensity for low-level crime it wouldn't be out of character for people to come looking for him.

  • 13
    Great answer. +1. I don't think Todd and Janelle bear all the blame for their strained relations with John - I'm sure they started out with the best intentions when they agreed to foster him. He was just a little douchebag, and made it almost impossible for them to have a decent relationship with him. And to top it all off, he ended up getting them both killed. What a jerk. – Wad Cheber Jul 5 '15 at 23:58
  • @WadCheber - Based on the novelisation, their relationship was already pretty strained when they got him. – Valorum Jul 6 '15 at 8:16
33

Some people are dense. Others are blindly trusting of police. And the statement could be interpreted that the police has it under control. As Todd says, what has he done now, he's obviously used to John being in trouble. At least enough that Todd isn't immediately extremely concerned. Not everyone questions unusual grammar or statements right away, English is a forgiving spoken language due to human falability and ability to guess context on the fly.

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    He does seem rather dense. +1 – Wad Cheber Jul 5 '15 at 21:50
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    Also, we don't know what sort of conversation Todd and Janelle had right after that. He could've thought the whole thing was weird, or assumed that the first guy was undercover/plainclothes (which would explain why the cop knew about him and was unconcerned). All of that aside, I'm going to lean on the "Todd is rather dense" theory. – Liesmith Jul 5 '15 at 21:57
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    "I wouldn't worry about him" could also be interpreted to mean, "I [the cop] know exactly who the biker is, and I am worried about him, but it will serve no purpose for you to worry about him." It's a more polite way of saying, "you don't want to know." Given that Todd is fed up with John and really doesn't want to know what he's been up to, he's unlikely to question the cop's statement. (Although I may be overthinking this, given that Todd appears to be rather dense.) – Royal Canadian Bandit Jul 6 '15 at 16:12
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    On the extreme end the biker could have been an apprehended perp, and the officer might want to get some background information about him from John without letting too many people know. – kleineg Jul 6 '15 at 20:39
6

There are multiple ways that a 'scary biker dude' can not be something they should worry about:

  • He just looks scary, but doesn't actually pose any threat. He is known to the police because people have complained about him before. Or is known to the officer who has been around the neighbourhood for some time. A police officer can be aware of more that just the 'bad' characters in an area.

  • He is in fact dangerous, but the police have dealt with him and so he is no longer any threat. Also the T-1000 says the scary guy is unrelated to him wanting to speak to John.

  • It's not relevant to the police officers current inquiry so he could be trying to placate John and Janelle.

So there are plausible reasons to take T-1000's comment at face value, or at least to accept his legitimacy as a police officer. As Richard mentioned, Todd may not have had enough concern for John to be bothered to doubt a police officer, or consider his words more carefully.

  • +1 for noticing that a policeman saying "No." would mean "it's unrelated", and "I wouldn't worry about him." would imply that the guy in question has been arrested or dealt with by the police already – vaxquis Jul 7 '15 at 11:05
  • Fourth alternative, if a real world cop said the same thing that is... The guy in question is an undercover cop and the uniformed cop knows that. – T.J.L. Dec 12 '17 at 15:28

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