Jurassic Park: What Happened To Samuel L. Jackson's Mr. Arnold
Samuel L. Jackson had a small but memorable role In Jurassic Park. Here's what became of his character, the chain-smoking chief engineer, John Arnold.
In Jurassic Park, Samuel L. Jackson had a small but memorable role as John "Ray" Arnold before he was killed off-screen. Steven Spielberg's 1993 blockbuster dazzled audiences worldwide by bringing realistic-looking dinosaurs to the big screen. It spawned a franchise that includes the upcoming 6th film, Jurassic World: Dominion, directed by Colin Trevorrow. Jurassic Park's stars Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum returned to headline two of the sequels, and both, along with Laura Dern, will reprise their iconic roles in Jurassic World: Dominion; however, Sam Jackson's Arnold was a one-and-done character who perished in the original film.
John Arnold was the chief engineer of Jurassic Park's computer systems, and he managed the theme park's automated rides, paddocks, and other vital services. Arnold was known by the nickname Ray, likely so that his first name wouldn't conflict with John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), the eccentric billionaire owner of Jurassic Park. Although Samuel L. Jackson was still a year away from his breakout role as philosophical hitman Jules Winnfield in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, fans fondly remember Mr. Arnold because of the practical advice he offered Hammond from Jurassic Park's control room, the ever-present cigarette dangling from his mouth, and his signature catchphrase, "Hold onto your butts!" Arnold was also frustrated by the slovenly Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight), the park's programmer — but Ray had no idea that Nedry was planning to steal and sell dinosaur embryos.
Sadly, John Arnold died during Jurassic Park's lethal dinosaur outbreak. The one-two punch of a hurricane striking Isla Nublar and Nedry's sabotaging of the park's systems literally left the control room in the dark. Because Dr. Alan Grant, Dr. Ian Malcolm, and Hammond's grandchildren Lex (Ariana Richards) and Tim (Joseph Mazzello) were all trapped in the park with unleashed dinosaurs, including Velociraptors, Hammond demanded that Arnold gets the park's computers back online. This involved rebooting the entire park's systems, something that hadn't been tested and Arnold was skeptical about. Still, Arnold went to the maintenance shed to perform a system-wide reboot while everyone else in the control room went to the security bunkers.
Arnold was relieved when he made it to the maintenance shed unharmed, but that was the last fans saw of him — until Dr. Ellie Sattler and Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck) realized he hadn't returned and went to look for him. Sattler and Muldoon were stalked by Velociraptors en route to the shed, but Ellie made it to the building while the clever raptors trapped and killed Muldoon. In the shed, Sattler found what was left of Arnold: his severed arm. Sadly, the raptors killed Ray inside the shed and literally tore him apart.
John Arnold's gruesome death by Velociraptors was originally intended to be shown on-screen. Unfortunately, the real-life Hurricane Iniki tore into Hawaii during production and destroyed Jurassic Park's sets, an eerie example of life imitating the film's art. Regrettably, this meant that Jackson was unable to complete filming his death scene and it was changed so that Ellie finds his dismembered arm instead, which was still a scary moment and effectively sold Arnold's heroic sacrifice to save the park. Although audiences and Samuel L. Jackson were denied a gory death for John Arnold like some of the other characters received, he lives on as part of Jurassic Park's legacy.