I'll be back

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"I'll be back"
Arnold Schwarzenegger - I'll be back.jpg
"I'll be back" in concrete.
ActorArnold Schwarzenegger
First used inThe Terminator
Also used inSee variations and in other films
Voted #37 in AFI's 100 Movie Quotes poll

"I'll be back" is a catchphrase associated with Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was made famous in the 1984 science fiction film The Terminator. On June 21, 2005, it was chosen as #37 on the American Film Institute list, AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes.[1] Schwarzenegger uses the same line, or some variant of it, in many of his later films.


Schwarzenegger first used the line in The Terminator. In the scene, his character, the Terminator, a cyborg assassin, is refused entry to the police station where his targets, Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese, are being detained. He surveys the counter, then tells the police desk sergeant: "I'll be back." Moments later, he drives a car into the station, destroying the counter, and massacres the staff.

In an October 1, 2012, interview on Good Morning America, Schwarzenegger revealed that he had had difficulty pronouncing the word I'll and asked director James Cameron if it could be changed to "I will be back". Cameron refused but told him that the shot would be taken more than once and the best would be used in the final cut of the film so Schwarzenegger could vary the line.[2]

Usage in Terminator films[edit]

Variations of the line have been used by Schwarzenegger and other actors in each of the Terminator films.[2]

  • The Terminator (1984) – "I'll be back". Said by the Terminator after being denied entry into a police station. The Terminator returns by driving a car through the front door and massacring the crew of the police station. Schwarzenegger has been quoted that he had not thought much about the line when filming the movie. Cameron notes in the DVD features that he expected the line to get a laugh only upon repeat viewings when what the character means is known, and he was surprised to see it get a big reaction from first-time audiences, who had quickly come to understand the character and immediately anticipated the outrageous violence the nonchalant line signifies. In the novelization of the film script, The Terminator by Shaun Hutson the Terminator says "I'll come back," rather than "I'll be back," on p. 117. ISBN 0-352-31645-4.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) – "Stay here, I'll be back." (1:53:47) It is said by the Terminator to Sarah and John Connor during the escape from the Cyberdyne building. The character returns by driving a truck through the front door to rescue the human protagonists trapped inside, referencing the corresponding scene in the first movie.
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) – "She'll be back" is said by the Terminator in reference to the enemy T-X android. It says "I'm back!" after it flies a helicopter into the antechamber of a military bunker and emerges from the wreckage. In the latter use, the phrase "I'm back" also refers to his return to loyalty and allegiance with the protagonists, after having been "corrupted" by the villainous T-X. Schwarzenegger also uses it in the DVD introduction.
  • Terminator Salvation (2009) – "I'll be back" is said by John Connor after being asked by his wife Kate Brewster, "What should I tell your men when they find out you're gone?". Another line, "We knew, you'll be back" is said by Skynet in a monitor under the guise of the late Dr. Serena Kogan, after Marcus Wright recovers himself at Skynet Central.
  • Terminator Genisys (2015) – "I'll be back" is said by the Guardian right before jumping out of a helicopter onto another pursuing helicopter. Also "I'll go back" is said by Kyle Reese as he volunteers for teleporting back to 1984.
  • Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) – "I'll be back" is said by Sarah Connor after she throws a grenade from a bridge at the exoskeleton of the Rev-9 prototype, before marching off with a shotgun, intending on destroying the Terminator.[3][4] Carl, the T-800 that killed John Connor, tells its human family "I won't be back" before leaving with Sarah, Grace and Dani.

In other films featuring Schwarzenegger[edit]

In addition to being the Terminator's catchphrase, Schwarzenegger has used it as his personal catchphrase in many of his other films.

  • Commando (1985) – "I'll be back, Bennett!" before he is put on an airplane against his will at the behest of the film's main villain Arius (Dan Hedaya). Bennett (Vernon Wells), who is Arius's main henchman and a rival of Schwarzenegger's John Matrix, eagerly retorts, "I'll be ready, John."
  • Raw Deal (1986) – "I'll be right back", said Mark Kaminski (Schwarzenegger) to Max Keller in 1:14:02 time of film.
  • The Running Man (1987) – "Killian, I'll be back", said to reality/game show host Damon Killian (Richard Dawson), who does not expect Schwarzenegger's character to survive the broadcast. Killian's response is, "Only in a rerun."
  • Twins (1988) – "If you're lying to me, I'll be back!" (0:58:40-43), to the doctor who headed the experiment that created him.
  • Total Recall (1990) – "I'll be back", said by Quaid, about to have his memory altered by a machine into which he is strapped.
  • Kindergarten Cop (1990) – "I'm back!", returning from the hospital to his kindergarten class in the ending scene. He also says "Shut up you idi*t"
  • Encino Man (1992) - This scene from the Terminator is played in this movie. Pauly also says " I'll be back" at the end of the movie.
  • Last Action Hero (1993) – the phrase is used three times. "I'll be back.... Ha! You didn't know I was going to say that, did you?!?" (0:40:56-0:41:01), said as Jack Slater, a character played by Schwarzenegger in a film-within-the-film. Schwarzenegger also plays himself in the real movie. It was said to the child protagonist, Danny Madigan, who is aware of Schwarzenegger's real-life use of the phrase. Madigan answered: "That's what you always say." "I do?" "Everybody waits for you to say it. It is like your calling card." The second time it is used, Madigan overtakes Slater and says to him: "I'll be back. I know. I know." (0:46:10-11). In the third instance, Ripper said this phrase to Slater (1:44:45-49). Slater answered: "The hell you will".
  • Junior (1994) – In the film, Schwarzenegger says to his character's friend when they return to his home: "It's nice to be back…".
  • Eraser (1996) – The phrase is not in the movie but at the climactic shootout his character says "I'll be right out."
  • The 6th Day (2000) – Schwarzenegger's character is visiting a 're-pet' store and notices a 'sim-pal' stand outside. He turns to the sale assistant: "I might be back." The assistant replies, "Oh, you'll be back."
  • The Expendables 2 (2012) – Schwarzenegger's character Trench Mauser says "I'm back" upon rescuing the Expendables from a trapped mine. Later, in the final gunfight, he says "I'll be back" to Bruce Willis's character Mr. Church, to which Church replies "You've been back enough. I'll be back." Mauser then replies with "Yippee-ki-yay" (the catchphrase of Bruce Willis's character John McClane from the Die Hard series).

Schwarzenegger has since used the phrase during public speeches as part of his career as the governor of the U.S. state of California.[5][6]

Use in other films[edit]

Prior to Terminator[edit]

  • Bad Sister (1931) Humphrey Bogart as a con artist Valentine Corliss promises to meet the bad sister again.
  • Cloak and Dagger (1946) Gary Cooper as Professor Alvah Jesper – the last scene in the Temporary Airfield.
  • Heavy Traffic (1973) – Used by the legless character Shorty after the barmaid rejects his offer of assistance in dealing with her boss.[7]
  • Lonely Water (1973) – Final words of this Public information film, spoken by Donald Pleasence as the Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water.
  • National Lampoon's Class Reunion (1982) – Spoken with a thick eastern European accent. The vampire character Egon Von Stoker, played by Jim Staahl, attempts to pick up a woman at the bar in the main hall, and upon rejection, responds with "I'll be back" in a tone and accent similar to Schwarzenegger, although somewhat less aggressive.

After Terminator[edit]

  • Masters of the Universe (film) (1987) – In a post-credits scene, Skeletor's head emerges from the water at the bottom of the pit, saying "I'll be back!"
  • Christmas in Connecticut (1992) – Donned in leather attire and sunglasses character Tyler says the line in unmistakable Terminator fashion in this Schwarzenegger directed 1992 remake of the 1945 classic movie.
  • Benji: Off the Leash! (2004) – Used by Colby Hatchett when he adopts Benji.

Prior use in other literature[edit]

  • Crazy Sunday (1933 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald) – Main character Joel Coles ends with "...I'll be back—I'll be back!"

See also[edit]


External links[edit]