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The Hidden Detail That Connects Twister To Terminator 2

In a world where you might get terminated by a twister — or twisted by a Terminator — there's only one company to turn to when you need to fill your gas tank.

A sharp-eyed Redditor has noticed, nearly a quarter-century after the fact, that the fictional company Benthic Petroleum is referred to in both the 1996 disaster flick Twister and the 1991 sci-fi action classic Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it, totally throwaway reference in both films. But there can be little doubt that Twister's director, Jan de Bont — or perhaps his special effects team — were making a direct reference to James Cameron's Terminator sequel. 

In Terminator 2, the company's distinctive logo — a bar twisted into a loop to form the letters B and P — can be seen on the gas pumps when Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), her son John (Edward Furlong), and the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) pull into the gas station to hide from the advanced liquid metal T-1000 (Robert Patrick). In Twister, the same logo — accompanied by the actual words "Benthic Petroleum" — can be seen on the side of a tanker truck in one very brief shot. You'll probably have to pause to make it out, because the tanker comes flying at our protagonists, Bill (Bill Paxton, who happened to appear briefly in the original Terminator as a street punk) and Jo (Helen Hunt) as they're driving into the howling heart of a killer storm. This is Twister we're talking about here.

"But wait, Looper," we can hear you asking, "isn't it possible that Twister's production designers just went with a similar logo for their fictional company? After all, we never saw the name of the company in Terminator 2." A fair point, reader, but no — it's definitely meant to be the same company. We know this because Benthic Petroleum, twisty logo and all, was first seen in an earlier James Cameron movie.

Benthic Petroleum made its first appearance in The Abyss

The origins of Benthic Petroleum date back to Cameron's excellent 1989 film The Abyss. The crew of an experimental deep-sea drilling rig led by Virgil "Bud" Brigman (Ed Harris) and a team of Navy SEALs under the command of the increasingly unhinged Lieutenant Hiram Coffey (Michael Biehn) come to an undersea clash over a salvaged Trident missile. That's all interrupted by an encounter with a bizarre, water-based, possibly alien life form — all while a gathering storm on the surface threatens to strand them all. If you haven't seen it, we'd recommend you remedy that as soon as possible. If you have, you may now remember that the company that owns the drilling rig so central to The Abyss is none other than Benthic Petroleum.

Just in case you're curious, "Benthic" may sound like a made-up word, but it isn't. It means "of, relating to, or occurring at the bottom of a body of water," which makes it a pretty appropriate name for a company which specializes in deep-sea drilling. As a matter of fact, Cameron isn't the only one who thinks so: in 2001, a real company called Benthic was established in Australia, one which manufactures deep-sea drilling rigs not unlike the one featured in The Abyss.

It's a pretty cool case of life imitating art, but it also means that we're very unlikely to see the fictional Benthic Petroleum pop up in any more films. That's a bummer, because obviously, it was meant to connect these films to each other, implying that they all take place in the same universe... right? Well, not exactly.

Are there other fictional companies that appear in different movies?

When you think about it, it's pretty unlikely that Cameron ever intended to imply that The Abyss and the Terminator movies shared a universe. Benthic Petroleum is the only thing common to both, and that brief shot in Twister is pretty obviously an homage. No, Benthic appears to be one of a number of fictional corporations that filmmakers turn to when they need some kind of big, multi-national company, but can't use the names of any real ones for legal reasons.

One of the most famous examples of this: Oceanic Airlines. You probably remember that it was Oceanic Flight 815 that went down on Lost's uncharted island, but the airline has appeared in an absolute ton of other media. It's popped up in films like Executive Decision and Survivor, on countless TV shows including Grey's Anatomy, Alias, and The Strain, and it even occasionally appears in comic books and video games.

Another great example: Morley cigarettes, which sport packaging very similar to Marlboros and have appeared in literally dozens upon dozens of movies and TV shows. You might have spotted a pack as recently as last year, sitting in the glove box in which Jesse Pinkman finds Todd's gun in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. It's generally agreed that the first appearance of Morleys took place six decades ago, in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 classic Psycho.

While it's always fun to play "spot the fake brand," we think it's safe to say that Twister and Terminator 2 definitely take place in separate universes. At least, we really have to hope so; the last thing any of us needs right now is some kind of Terminatornado.