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The Real Reason Edward Furlong Was Fired From Terminator 3 Is Heartbreaking

It isn't easy for a sequel to live up to an iconic predecessor, but in 1991, "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," highly regarded as one of the best sci-fi movies of all time, accomplished that in spades. In the film, Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor once again finds herself tangled with a T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger). To her shock and dismay, this one was sent not for her but to protect her son, John, played by the then 13-year-old Edward Furlong.

Furlong's performance helps bring humanity and some much-needed levity to an otherwise bleak and unforgiving plot. However, the actor does not appear in 2003's "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," the highly maligned film that many regard to be the worst "Terminator" movie. "T3" sees Nick Stahl take on the role of John Connor. According to Furlong, he was replaced after overdosing on cocaine. During an interview on "Inside of You With Michael Rosenbaum," the "American History X" star explained how he was attached to appear in the film. However, he was contractually obliged to stay away from drugs. "They were like, 'We want you to not do any drugs,'" Furlong noted to Rosenbaum. "It was a sweet deal. It was the best deal that I had ever gotten in my life. For 'T3', it was like a lot of money, like millions. And I had never made that kind of money, so I called my friends and I'm like, 'Guys, I just signed this f****** awesome contract."

The night ended with Furlong passing out and needing medical attention, an incident that naturally caught the media's attention and led to the actor's removal from "T3."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

John Connor's dark fate was not well-received

After appearing as John Connor in 1996's "T2-3D: Battle Across Time," a well-received Universal Attraction, Furlong would not appear again as the character until 2019's "Terminator: Dark Fate." Through the magic of some CGI motion capture, a young John Connor briefly appears in the movie's opening, only to be quickly and brutally killed off by a rogue T-800. The decision to kill off such an important figure in "Terminator" mythos, an idea originated by James Cameron himself, was not a very popular one with fans. It also wasn't the easiest pill to swallow for the franchise's main stars. Shortly after the release of "Dark Fate," Furlong plainly admitted, "It [John Connor's death] kinda bums me out" (per Cinemablend).

Meanwhile, Linda Hamilton sensed John Connor's unceremonious end was going to garner a negative reaction from longtime fans. "This is going to upset a lot of people and a lot of the fan base who just think that it has to remain true to the first two stories," Hamilton said (via MovieWeb). "The whole concept of Terminator, that John Connor is the hope for the future of mankind and then to have him cut down like that. I think it's going to upset a lot of people."

Over the years, few franchises have experienced the turbulent rollercoaster ride that "Terminator" has had. Even decades later, no matter how hard different writers and directors try, the franchise has never been able to replicate the success of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," which continues to be one of James Cameron's greatest movies.