Walking Dead’s Latest Terminator Cameo References Robert Patrick’s Episode
The Walking Dead season 11 features Terminator's Michael Biehn in a guest role, and smartly calls back to a previous cameo from Robert Patrick.
The Walking Dead’s Michael Biehn Terminator cameo calls back to the last time an actor from James Cameron’s sci-fi movie franchise appeared in the zombie apocalypse. The Walking Dead season 11’s “Warlords” takes Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) to a small, deeply religious community led by a slightly deranged skull fanatic called Ian. That guest spot is taken by Michael Biehn, best known for his breakout role in 1984’s original Terminator movie as Kyle Reese – the time-traveling protagonist sent to protect Sarah Connor from a not-yet-friendly Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This isn’t the first time a famous Terminator actor has turned up in The Walking Dead. Back in season 10’s “One More,” Aaron and Gabriel stumbled across a warehouse full of supplies, and duly got drunk on the available alcohol. Guards lowered, the pair were captured by the warehouse’s true occupant, Mays. This guest character was portrayed by Robert Patrick, most famous for his role as the evil, shape-shifting T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, who chased Arnie and a young John Connor through storm drains and shopping malls on behalf of his cybernetic comrades from the future.
Naturally, The Walking Dead can’t resist referencing one Terminator cameo in the same episode as another. Before Aaron and Gabriel enter Ian’s compound in season 11’s “Warlords,” they scout the location with trepidation, eventually concluding first contact with such an isolated, unwelcoming community will only end badly. The all-important line comes when Gabriel warns, “Places like that usually have some old man with a shotgun inside just looking for an excuse to kill some dumbass who stepped on his front lawn.” With this, Gabriel is essentially summarizing the plot to “One More.” He and Aaron were the two lead protagonists in that story, and they’re the unlucky duo spearheading the approach on Ian’s religious settlement in The Walking Dead‘s “Warlords.” Robert Patrick’s Mays was the old man with an itchy trigger finger back in season 10, while Aaron and Gabriel were the “dumbasses” who walked into his home and began raiding the liquor cabinet.
Recognizing Ian’s community as bad news demonstrates how Gabriel has learned from the mistakes he made back in The Walking Dead season 10. Despite talking Mays down, Gabriel shocked Aaron by shooting their captor in cold blood, arguing the old-timer was too dangerous to be left alive. Gabriel did what he believed necessary in the name of protecting Alexandria, but has undergone something of a moral epiphany since, recovering the voice of God inside his soul. Fast-forward to “Warlords,” Gabriel doesn’t want to avoid another Mays situation just because it’s dangerous for himself and Aaron; he’s also concerned about the violent actions he might be forced to take in response.
Gabriel’s line also cutely connects one major Terminator cameo in The Walking Dead to another. Robert Patrick – the T-1000 himself – was the original “old man with a shotgun.” A season later, his character now serves as a precautionary tale for another angry and insular antagonist, this time played by the former Kyle Reese, Michael Biehn. And it’s no coincidence that two Terminator stars should feature in The Walking Dead. Both franchises are connected by Gale Anne Hurd, who produced the first three Terminator movies (co-writing the first), and now produces The Walking Dead.