Terminator (franchise)

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He needs your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle.
I'll be back.
T-800

The Terminator is an implacable killer with a Sci-Fi justification and an oft-imitated part of the pop-cultural pantheon. Arnold Schwarzenegger portrayed the titular cyborg for three (and a half) films, and his performance in the first film shot him into superstardom. Writer/director James Cameron was inspired to create the film after a dream he had when sick with a fever which involved a mechanical skeleton emerging from a wall of fire and chasing after him. Cameron, recalling how terrified he was, ended up crafting the story of The Terminator based around that one moment. Along the way, Cameron unintentionally (or so he says) plagiarized Harlan Ellison's The Outer Limits story "Soldier" (but not, as commonly believed, "Demon with a Glass Hand" -- source) for the plot; Ellison later found out and managed to get a cash settlement and an official acknowledgment in the credits. Ellison later said the trouble could have been avoided if Cameron had come to him first and offered a screen credit in the movie (which he would have offered for free).

In the first film (The Terminator), Sarah Connor hears grave news during another average workday: a killer is hunting down everyone in town who shares her name. After two people in her home are murdered in an effort to find her, Sarah hides in a nightclub -- and when the killer catches up with her there, she's rescued by a mysterious stranger. The stranger, Kyle Reese, explains the Backstory: in the near future, man will create SkyNet, an artificial intelligence which will promptly turn against its masters and attempt to Kill All Humans in the cataclysmic event which will be known as Judgment Day. Mankind will eventually defeat SkyNet, but at the last minute, SkyNet will send a T-800 Model Terminator (an android assassin wrapped in human flesh to give it the appearance of a human) back in time to kill Sarah Connor and prevent the birth of her son, John (who will become the leader of the human resistance). In response, Connor will send Reese into the past to protect his mother and the timeline. After several dramatic battles and a Heroic Sacrifice from Reese, the Terminator is eventually killed in a Smoke and Fire Factory -- but not before Sarah sleeps with Reese, thereby conceiving John Connor (which means John causes his own birth and creates a Stable Time Loop).

In the second film (Terminator 2: Judgment Day), SkyNet sends a more advanced Terminator -- the nigh-invulnerable, shapeshifting T-1000 Model -- to the past. (The T-1000 was far beyond almost any other future technology depicted in any of the films, but at the time, the CGI was so mind-blowing, nobody really took the time to care.) In response, Connor sends back a T-800 Model Terminator which is reprogrammed to protect his past self. Both Terminators arrive when John is ten years old and living with foster parents (Sarah was tossed into an asylum for trying to blow up a computer factory and talking about killer robots from the future). The T-1000 kills anyone it chooses to replicate, and when John figures out the T-1000 will attempt to replicate Sarah, he forces the T-800 to rescue his mother before the T-1000 can reach her. After being freed, Sarah -- now an Action Girl after taking a few levels in Badass -- learns details of SkyNet's history from the T-800 and attempts to assassinate Miles Dyson, the man who will go on to create SkyNet (though she falters when she sees Dyson's family). Sarah, John, and the T-800 pump Dyson for information, which is when they learn Cyberdyne -- the company Dyson works for and, as revealed in a deleted scene from the first film, the owners of the factory where the T-800 is destroyed -- will build SkyNet using components from the original T-800 (making SkyNet itself part of the Stable Time Loop). The Connors, the T-800, and Dyson infiltrate Cyberdyne and destroy all of the computers, then steal the T-800 remains to try and thwart the creation of SkyNet...but the T-1000 is not far behind them. After several running encounters, both Terminators -- and the T-800 remains -- are dissolved in a vat of molten steel.

From here, the series splits off into six canons (not counting various comics crossovers, some of which include various DC Comics properties):

  • The original -- but deleted -- ending of Terminator 2 sees a still-living Sarah Connor watching John (now a United States Senator) and her granddaughter play on a playground similar to the one she saw in her dreams. The ending takes place in 2029, when the war they successfully averted would have been won; an intact, futuristic Washington D.C. can be seen in the background. James Cameron felt this was too much of a definite, deterministic wrap-up for a film centered around the idea of "there is no fate but what we make for ourselves".
  • After the second film, but before the other films and television series were considered, a small number of comics were produced. Many of these depicted the future after the apocalypse.
  • T2 3-D: Battle Across Time: A Universal Studies attraction also created before the other films and television series. It's a combination of a live show and a 3-D movie. The plot involves Sarah and John Connor having to, for no given reason, prevent the apocalypse again. A T-800 shows up and takes John back to the future with him somehow. The two of them make their way past robots like the Hunter-Killers as they break into Skynet and fight the T-1000000, giant liquid-metal spider terminator. John Connor ends up returning to the present while the T-800 stays behind to self destruct and destroy Skynet's core.
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: The third film begins with SkyNet's takeover apparently averted -- the date Reese cited for Judgment Day has come and gone -- and John Connor living off the grid to ensure he can't be tracked down. Another shapeshifting Terminator appears (a T-X Model), this time with a female appearance; like the previous film, a reprogrammed T-850 (functionally very similar to the T-800, but powered by hydrogen fuel-cells which explode if ruptured) arrives to protect John Connor. Sarah Connor is now dead, but John returns to the fight alongside his wife-to-be Kate Brewster. After narrowly failing to prevent the activation of SkyNet, John switches goals to destroying the AI's computer core before it can initiate Judgment Day. The head of the SkyNet project gives John and Kate the address and entrance codes for a military bunker, which he says is their only hope. After a last battle with the T-X, the couple manages to get into the bunker -- which is not the site of SkyNet's hardware core, but a nuclear fallout shelter. SkyNet is software, not hardware, and it can run on any computer network; it's already too late to disable it, which means Judgment Day was only deferred, not prevented. John and Kate's only hope is to use the communications nexus in the bunker to coordinate the emerging resistance. As the film ends, SkyNet launches its takeover, decapitating the governments of the world with a tactical nuclear strike.
    • The comics produced in the long gap between Terminator 2 and Terminator 3 ran with the idea of SkyNet sending more than two Terminators back; the T-800 and the T-1000 were simply the last two it sent back. Dozens were sent before SkyNet's fall; since the "time bubble" was a late development in its time travel technology, most of these Terminators wound up entombed in buildings and machinery, while others barely remembered what they were supposed to be doing when they arrived in the past.
    • Terminator Salvation: This film takes place during the war with the machines and shares no ties to The Sarah Connor Chronicles; its references to both Terminator 2 and 3 are rather vague, with the first Terminator being more important to the movie's themes than the other two. Instead of repeating the story of someone going back in time, Salvation is primarily a sci-fi war movie. John Connor is a respected officer within the human resistance, but he is not the leader, as several high-ranking officers question his claims of being The Chosen One by Time Travel. Connor sets out to end the war as quickly as possible (and locate a young Kyle Reese), but his quest reveals an awful truth: the Stable Time Loop is beginning to break apart. SkyNet's forces are showing sophistication and progress far ahead of schedule, and there are numerous other changes Connor never accounted for, all of which throw humanity's inevitable victory into question. One major anomaly is the appearance of Marcus Wright, a criminal who reportedly died before the war began, but turned up on his own in the present; Wright's role in the movie is practically an inverse of the series' central time-travel mechanic: instead of someone being sent from the future to the past, Wright comes from the past directly into the future.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: This television series' story follows the first two films, but overrides the canon third by having John and Sarah time-skip seven years. It follows the adventures of Sarah Connor, John Connor, a re-programmed Terminator named Cameron, John's uncle Derek, and various other continuing characters.
  • Terminator Genisys: An upcoming movie, at first it appears to be a Reboot, showing Kyle Reese being sent back to defend a "lost and scared" Sarah Connor... only for Kyle to discover he's been sent back into one of the many timelines that has already been thoroughly screwed-with by time travel shenanigans, and that Sarah is already a hardened Action Girl who's been mentored and protected by a reprogrammed T-800 series since she was a child.

The following tropes are common to many or all entries in the Terminator (franchise) franchise.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.

The Terminator[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Action Survivor: Sarah.
  • Agent Scully: Dr. Silberman. Even more so in T2, till he sees the T-1000 walk through the barred door.
  • Ammunition Backpack
  • Badass Biker: The T-800 can't be any more Badass when wearing sunglasses, a black leather jacket, and riding a Harley Davidson all at the same time.
  • Ballistic Discount: The T-800 considers this the best way to complete a transaction.
  • Ballroom Blitz: Tech Noir gets blitzed, everyone stops their eighties style dancing and runs for the exits. Luckily, Kyle was able to "Zero" the T-800 as a result, so it was worth the few dead dancers.
  • Big Badass Rig: The T-800 chases down the protagonists in a cab-over 18-wheeler fuel truck.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Kyle's attraction to Sarah is what conceives John Connor in the first place.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Noticeably averted with reloading scenes or magazines running empty. An exception is the parking garage chase where sloppy editing caused Arnold to fire numerous times from a pump-action shotgun without racking the slide or inserting more shells.
  • Catch Phrase: Arnold's famous "I'll Be Back."
  • Coconut Superpowers: T1 was originally conceived as a Robot War film set in The Future. Cameron was a nobody at that time, so he got a measly budget for the production. In order to save the little money he had, James clad the robot in human skin (so he could use a live actor) and moved the action into the present. Awesomeness ensued.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Averted, as during the Terminator's rampage through the police precinct, he can be seen killing officers by shooting through walls and desks with high-powered, automatic assault rifles and shotguns. Exactly as it would happen in real-life.
  • Darkened Building Shootout: The Smoke and Fire Factory.
  • Death by Sex: Sarah Connor's roommate.
    • Also Reese. His fate is sealed the minute he and Sarah make love.
  • Determinator: Both Kyle Reese and, of course, De Terminator.
  • Dialogue Tree: Seen from the T-800's POV in one scene, when it considers its response options to someone inquiring about the smell in the apartment it's hiding out in. It eventually decides on a Precision F-Strike.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Kyle Reese, justified in that he learned to drive After the End.
    • He also instinctively drives cars at night without the headlights on, as doing so in the future would draw Aerial Hunter-Killers.
  • Enemy Rising Behind: This is how we get the first look at the Terminator's real body.
  • Eye Scream: The T-800's "self-repair" scene, where he fixes one of his eyes by mucking around in it with a pen knife. That whole scene was pretty gross.
  • Fan Service: Averted Trope; Sarah and Kyle have probably the most plot-critical sex scene of all time.
    • Also played straight, though, in the form of male Fan Service. Watch the opening scenes of that movie (both Kyle and the T-800 are naked, courtesy of their time transport. They are both very, very well-built, and Kyle particularly stays at the least shirtless for a good long while) and tell me that wasn't intended as fanservice, on some level.
  • Final Girl: Sarah Connor, clearly.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: Reese shoots the Terminator several times with a sawed-off shotgun when it tries to move in on Sarah in Tech Noir. Shortly after it hits the floor, its fingers twitch, offering the audience their first clue that the big scary guy isn't human.
  • Foot Focus/Feet First Introduction
  • Foreshadowing: Unavoidable. It's a time-travel movie.
  • Gaia's Lament: A deleted scene would have had Kyle sobbing when he saw how beautiful the world used to be.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: The robots versus the humans. Nobody expects one side to surrender.
  • Guns Akimbo: The T-800 with a shotgun in the left hand and a fully automatic assault rifle in the right. Both weapons that are not even supposed to be shot one-handed. Justified in that he's a cyborg from the future with computerized targeting and superhuman strength.
  • Hand Wave: "That's tech stuff."
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: Sarah's roommate Ginger is so busy rocking out on her headphones that she doesn't hear her lover being beaten to death by the Terminator in the next room.
  • Hope Spot: When the gas tanker explodes, supposedly taking the T-800 with it, Kyle and Sarah embrace and triumphant music swells all around them... until the Terminator rises from the flames and they realize that the killing machine is still coming.
    • Happens again after Reese's Heroic Sacrifice. Sarah gets a few seconds to mourn his death... and then the top half of the Terminator sits up and reaches for her.
  • Implacable Man: The T-800.
  • The Kindnapper: Kyle Reese kidnaps Sarah Conner to save her from the titular character.
  • Love Before First Sight: Reese claims to have fallen for a photograph of Sarah.
  • Missed Him by That Much: Silberman scoffs at the prospects of the Terminator, and he leaves just as the Terminator arrives at the station. He's looking at his pager when he first walks in.
  • More Dakka: The T-800's assault on the police station.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Intentionally filmed to invoke this. Apart from when he rescues Sarah at "Tech Noir" and his death, Reese otherwise never appears in the same frame as the Terminator at any other point of the film, instead having the camera focus on either him or the Terminator.
  • Now I Know What to Name Him: The Trope Namer.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted; there were three Sarah Connors.
  • Out of the Inferno: The famous scene where the T-800 rises from the wreckage of the fuel tanker, all of its artificial skin having been burned off in the explosion, straight from the fever-induced nightmares of the director himself.
  • Parking Garage
  • Pay Phone: To find Sarah Connor's address, he goes to a pay phone and rips out the page containing the listing of the three addresses of women named Sarah Connor. See also the item on Fridge Logic.
  • Pet the Dog: Reese instinctively allows the dog at the roadside hotel to sniff him. They use dogs to sniff out Terminators where he comes from.
  • Police Are Useless: Downplayed. The police are shown to be highly intelligent, figuring out the pattern of the killings almost immediately, take advantage of the power of the press to warn Sarah Connor, and can readily explain the mysterious gunman's seemingly superhuman invulnerability. They're just Wrong Genre Savvy.
    • Furthermore, their armament in the precinct station (up to M16 rifles) demonstrates they're definitely ready for most disturbances. Unfortunately, the Terminator is just too tough for them.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The T-800, once its' robotic eyes are exposed. Made even more chilling with the red-tinted display when the T-800's perspective is shown.
  • Rescue Introduction: Kyle introduce himself to Sarah by extricating her from Tech Noir just as the T-800 closes in for the kill.
  • Ripped From the Phone Book: The Terminator doesn't just rip out the page, he begins to kill everybody on it.
  • Rule of Three: We think the Terminator is dead once, then twice, then finally it sticks when Sarah remembers to deliver a simultaneous Pre-Mortem One-Liner and Precision F-Strike.
  • Run or Die: Definitely how the T-800 is treated -- attempting to take it in a straight-up fight is suicide.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Kyle Reese and Matt both went out fighting the terminator.
  • Sawed-Off Shotgun: Reese makes one from a pump-action shotgun he steals out of a police car.
  • Scannable Man: Reese and his concentration-camp tattoo.
  • Sequel Hook: Reese explains the history of SkyNet and Cyberdyne. The Smoke and Fire Factory at the end of the climax is revealed as a Cyberdyne building in a deleted scene.
  • Serial Killer: The film starts as a variation of this genre of film.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Sarah Connor, again. Though John has some of this in his character as well, due to being raised the way he has.
    • Not forgetting a certain Kyle Reese, are we?
      • Everyone in Kyle's flashback has varying degrees of Shell-Shockedness.
  • Shoot the Dog: What the Terminator invading Reese's base does in the future. Some televised versions edit that scene out.
  • Shown Their Work: Arnold Schwarzenegger underwent weeks of weapons training before starting the film and wound up garnering a compliment from Soldier of Fortune magazine for his realistic handling of the weapons on camera (also something of a minor Moment of Awesome because Soldier of Fortune usually ridicules movies for their unrealistic weapon handling).
    • Schwarzenegger served in the Austrian Army (he actually went AWOL at one point to win his first bodybuilding competition), so he already had knowledge of firearms.
    • Also seen when cars are hot-wired.
  • Slasher Movies: A textbook example of this genre. It is fundamentally the story of a (literally) Made of Iron Serial Killer who stalks his young female victims by picking their addresses out of a phone book.
  • Stable Time Loop: The events of the first movie set up a simple, self-contained time loop with Sarah and Kyle. Compared to the rest of the series as a whole, it's very straightforward, as evidenced by the photograph of Sarah Connor which Sarah gives to John to give to Kyle to describe to Sarah.
  • A Storm Is Coming: In the final moments of the film, while Sarah is waiting at a gas station, a Mexican child takes her photo (the same one that Kyle later sees and falls in love with her from). Right after, the child mentions the incoming storm in Spanish, which the gas station attendant translates to Sarah as a storm is coming; the pregnant Sarah replies "I know."
  • Sunglasses at Night: Justified Trope, because the Terminator uses them to hide his robot eye.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: "You're terminated, fucker!"
  • Time Travel Romance: One where the romance has a good deal of plot significance.
  • Time Travel Tense Trouble: Sarah has a problem with Reese telling her of all the things she hasn't done yet. It can make a person go crazy.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The owner of the gun shop leaves shotgun shells on the counter where anyone can just take them. The Terminator takes one while checking out a shotgun to achieve his Ballistic Discount.
    • Well, its common to leave ammo on sale on the counter so the customer can see them, but he is Too Dumb to Live due to the fact that he runs a gun store (where guns have no trigger locks) without carrying a firearm himself.
    • Though, a firearm would be of no use given the situation.
  • Uncanny Valley: Deliberately invoked by Arnold's make-up artists. Not only is his face given a thin coating of some kind of shiny goop to give his skin a faux-artificial appearance, but his eyebrows were shaved to subtly creep out the viewer even more.
  • Unwitting Pawn: It's strongly implied that John Connor deliberately manipulated Reese into falling in love with his mother by giving him her picture. And then he had to send his own father back in time to certain doom, just to make shure he would exist to save the world. Reese never knew his true role in the bigger picture, never realizing he was fighting for his own son. Must have been heart breaking for John. Pretty heavy...
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: "There's over 30 cops in this building. You're perfectly safe here."
  • Zipping Up the Bodybag: Kyle Reese.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day[edit | hide]

  • A-Team Firing: "Human casualties: 0.0". Despite aiming a minigun and several grenades at their feet. And blowing up several vehicles. Either the Terminator is really that good or the cops are made of stronger metal than he is.
    • He visibly pauses to let the police officers flee when using the grenade launcher. The minigun does not cause a SINGLE POLICE CAR to actually explode; that's right, he NEVER HIT THE FUEL TANK with a damn MINIGUN. He even chases some police officers off by firing near their feet. But then, being a highly advanced robot, this might be the one time that it's justified. He was deliberately crippling their vehicles to prevent them from giving chase.
      • Actually, in real life, fuel tanks WON'T explode when you shoot them. Not even with a tracer round. So this is an example of a movie refreshingly choosing reality over explosions.
    • Remember that the Terminator is still under John Connor's order not to kill anyone.
  • Action Girl / Action Mom: Sarah Connor learned a lot between films.
    • Sarah is arguably a Deconstruction of the Action Girl tropes, since she is both indisputably Badass and fundamentally screwed-up.
    • Given that she's been forced to take antipsychotics (Thorazine is specifically mentioned) for at least two or three years for psychoses that she doesn't actually have, or didn't when she was admitted to the mental hospital, the "screwed-up" part of that may be justified.
      • Or more accurately, Sarah was treated (badly) for the wrong issues. She's not schizophrenic but she's certainly not well either. At the very least she's suffering from the ongoing stress and doesn't have any healthy relationships with others. In T2 she's definitely an Action Mom and that's then played with brutal realism.
  • All of Them: How many police?
  • Apocalypse Wow: Sarah's dream of Judgment Day, first described to the psychiatrist then shown. Involves her silently and helplessly screaming at a playground full of children to run for their lives (and getting an odd look from the parents...notably, one that is "Sarah Connor if she had kept being the suburban housewife she used to be")), until the first nuke hits over the city. "...then the shockwave hits...and...and they fly apart like leaves!" Also flying apart like leaves: Sarah's incinerated skeleton, still clinging to the playground fence.
  • Asshole Victim: The asylum attendant who licks Sarah's face while she's helpless and John's foster parents, Todd and Janelle.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Terminator and John.
  • Bad to the Bone: The Trope Namer song plays as the T-800 is first shown in leather clothes. And Guns N' Roses's "You Could be Mine" playing in the boombox John Connor is carrying in his bike might also fit.
  • Berserk Button: Silberman presses it hard when he refuses to transfer her to the minimum security wing so that John could visit her. She made a point that he promised her, if she shown improvement within 6 months she would get the transfer. Even going as far as denouncing her previously passionate view on the future and the Terminators as insane psychobabble. Silberman however is Genre Savvy enough to know that Sarah may be lying to gain trust and says flat out to her face that she's gonna stay in maximum for another 6 months. She even begs to at least make a phone call to him, which he denies her. She then proceeds to try to strangle him with his own tie, prompting the guards to restrain and Thorazine her. Since the camera kept rolling during their sezsion, it was implied that Silberman deliberately made her snap.
  • Big No: Sarah almost makes it out of the asylum, but she sees the T-800 walking out of an elevator. After saying "no" in a low tone of disbelief, it turns into this out of sheer terror.
  • Bishonen: John Connor as portrayed by Edward Furlong is a younger example of the trope.
    • I believe the term would then be Cute Shotaro Boy. But that's not quite accurate either...
  • Bluff the Impostor
  • Boom! Headshot!: Overdone. Utterly. The T-800 unloads an entire fully automatic assault rifle straight into the T-1000's face.
  • A Boy and His X: A boy and his cybernetic killing machine.
  • The Cast Showoff: Reportedly, Sarah Connor using a shotgun one-handed was inserted because Linda Hamilton's pre-film training regimen had made her strong enough to work a pump-action with one hand.
  • Catch Phrase: "¡Hasta la vista, baby!"
    • To further add to the joke, when the movie was dubbed in Spanish, the line was changed to "¡Sayonara, baby!"
  • Chekhov's Gun: Multiple examples
  • Chrome Champion: The T-1000's true form.
  • The Comically Serious: The Terminator. "He's my Uncle Bob..."
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Averted during the foundry scene while the protagonists are trying to escape the T-1000. When they approach a vat of molten steel, Sarah says "Wait. No No. It's too hot. Go back."
  • Conversation Casualty: The T-1000, disguised as John's foster mother, is talking to him on the phone, when the foster father interrupts her about their madly barking dog in the backyard. It promptly skewers him through the mouth with its morphing sword-like arm.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: The intro to Terminator 2 shows an army of SkyNet's robots slowly working their way across the battlefield, seemingly rolling over everything in their paths. Then we see a human soldier standing over a crippled Terminator before finishing it off, followed by a flying Hunter Killer being blasted out of the air by another trooper.
  • Dead Ex Machina: The T-800.
  • Deadly Delivery: The T-800 carries a longbox that looks like it's full of roses. And it is, but it's also got a shotgun in it.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: A computer in Cyberdyne asks John for a PIN Identification Number (Personal Identification Number Identification Number).
  • Did Not Do the Research: John teaches the T-800 to say "no problemo" rather than the correct "no hay problema" or "ningún problema." This is especially notable since he also teaches him to say "Hasta la vista," which is proper Spanish. Also, Sarah Connor at one point mentions the human body having 215 bones, but the correct number is 206.
  • Disturbing Statistic: "Three billion human lives ended on August 29, 1997."
  • Dungeon Bypass: "She's in the cleanroom! There's no way out!" Oh yes, there is.
  • Elevator Action Sequence
    • Linda Hamilton apparently forgot her earplugs for this scene and incurred permanent hearing damage from all the gunshots fired in an enclosed space.
  • El Spanish-O: John teaches the T-800 to say "no problemo".
  • Exact Words: "I swear I will not kill anyone." After knee-capping a security guard: "He'll live."
  • Eye Scream: The coffee drinking guard in the hospital gets his eye stabbed by the T-1000.
  • Final First Hug: John Connor and the T-800's heartbreaking farewell.
  • Finger Wag: The T-1000 issues one to Sarah at the climax.
  • Foot Focus / Feet First Introduction
  • Free Wheel: After the truck gets shot.
  • From a Single Cell: The T-1000 reassembles completely after being frozen and scattered once it's in liquid state again. Melting however...
  • Gatling Good: The T-800 uses a Minigun. It's the same one from Predator, with a modified grip.
  • Genre Savvy: When the workers in the plant see a semi chase a pickup into their plant at the climax they run like hell; no questions asked.
  • Genre Shift: From the second movie onward, the Terminator movies became an action/sci-fi series while the first film was more of a standard horror movie with a sci-fi backdrop.
  • Gentle Giant: The T-800, especially towards John.
  • Go Out with a Smile: The T-800's encouraging final "thumbs up."
  • Gratuitous Spanish: "¡Hasta la vista, baby!"
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: Discussed Trope -- John is surprised that Russia will fire its nuclear missiles at the U.S., given that "Russians are our friends now;" the latter line was actually added late to the script following this happening in Real Life. Also, in the first Cyberdyne scene, a lollipop-licking employee is shown wearing a black souvenir T-shirt with the Russian coat-of-arms, implying that he went on a trip to Moscow, which was next to impossible before perestroika.
    • Those who saw T2 in a movie theater in August of 1991, when the attempted Soviet coup d'état attempt was going on or had just been put down, laughed a bit nervously when John says how Russia and America are now "friends."
  • Gun Porn: T2 is one big showcase of just about all Cool Guns ever made and then some.
  • Hairpin Lockpick: Sarah Conner uses unfolded paper clips to pick the locks on the straps holding her and the lock on the door of her room.
  • Hand Signals: SWAT team leaders use them twice: to direct team movement during the infiltration of Cyberdyne, and to order that tear gas be fired at the T-800.
  • Heroic BSOD: Sarah loses it when she sees the T-800, which looks exactly like the machine that chased her for days and killed her lover in the first film, and has probably haunted her nightmares ever since. Until this point, she believes she's in a Stable Time Loop in which no new players would arrive from the future, since that's what Reese told her. After this point, she knows things have been changed and she can keep changing them.
  • Heroic RROD: The T-800 gets skewered through his main power supply by the T-1000 in the climactic fight. He has a backup battery though.
  • Heroic Suicide: T-800.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Sarah stops attacking Miles Dyson when she realizes, from the horrified reactions of his wife and son, that she's acting like the merciless Terminators she hates so much.
  • Hollywood Silencer: When Sarah Conner tries to assassinate Miles Dyson, she uses a Colt Commando CAR-15 assault rifle with a suppressor. Not quite as silent as some examples, but still quieter than it would be in real life.
  • Honor Before Reason: John Connor is an admirable example this trope -- he stops his mother from killing Dyson even believing it would prevent Judgment Day, and his idealism allowed a war for humanity's future to be waged and won without murdering a single innocent human being.
  • Hot Amazon: Sarah is ripped when she's rescued from the hospital. Especially notable because Linda Hamilton isn't just fit and trim: she is battle ready and extremely well trained, which is most visible in her movements and posture (one of the obvious moments is when she runs inside hospital corridors).
  • Idiot Ball: The mental hospital personnel carries a few of these. When they try to stop Sarah from escaping, they couldn't care less about the shotgun-wielding bodybuilder who's coming towards them.
    • To be fair, he was down the hall and they probably didn't even notice him, given that they were focused on capturing an escaped patient who has proven to be wily and dangerous on several occasions.
  • Impersonating an Officer: T-1000.
  • In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves: Trope Namer.
  • Jaw Drop: Combined with Drop What You Are Doing. The syringe cap Silberman was holding in his mouth drops to the ground when he sees T-1000 walk through the barred door. And I do mean through the door.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: For the entire first act of the movie, John Connor acts like your typical rotten little brat. He's crass, thieving, and has no respect for authority. He even gets a couple of well-intentioned rescuers needlessly beat up by the T-800 when crying for help, then dismissing them flippantly. However, John has the utmost respect for human life, ordering the T-800 to never kill (despite the complications this presents later) and then potentially endangering his own life to prevent Sarah from becoming a murderer herself.
  • Kick the Dog: A deleted scene shows the T-1000 killing John's dog Max.
  • Kid with the Leash: John Connor.
  • Kill and Replace: The T-1000's S.O.P. is to kill a target and assume their appearance.
  • Kill It with Fire: The method that actually works.
  • Kill It with Ice: The oft-copied (and parodied) liquid nitrogen scene.
  • The Kindnapper: The T-800 kidnaps John Connor in order to save him from the T-1000.
  • Kneecapping: After being explicitly ordered not to kill, the T-800 proceeds to neutralize a security guard this way, to John's dismay.

"He'll live."

    • Later, while attempting to flee the Cyberdyne building, the T-800 walks through a hail of SWAT gunfire and methodically kneecaps the lot of 'em.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A guard at the mental hospital commits a sexual assault on Sarah and harasses the other patients by tapping their door jambs with his nightstick. Guess who's the second casualty in that scene?[1]
    • Also, the therapist who exploits Sarah so he can get on TV and be in medical journals is eventually left the only member of the hospital staff alive who knows exactly what's going on -- after years of telling Sarah she's insane for having a similar experience, who's going to believe him?
    • Shown by the third movie, he never told anyone what he saw and convinced himself it didn't really happen.
  • Lecherous Licking: The male nurse who licks Sarah Connor's face.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the first one, there's a lower body count thanks to the T-800's vow not to kill, the protector from the future is considerably less vulnerable than Kyle both physically and emotionally, and the general outlook for humanity is much more optimistic.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: The T-1000 after being frozen and shot.
  • Ludicrous Precision: The somewhat infamous "Human Casualties: 0.0." What the decimal is for or how tenths of being dead would be calculated is not all that clear; the implication that the Terminator could half-kill someone twice and end up counting a whole kill without actually killing anyone leads to a bad place where your brain turns to cottage cheese.
    • In the commentary, James Cameron acknowledges that the concept of 0.1 casualties is slightly nuts, but says that they tried it with just 0 and it looked dumb. 0.0 gives an "air of precision."
      • Also, 'Casualties' doesn't mean dead, it can mean injured or wounded. So potentially 0.0 means 0 dead, 0 injured, and would always be the method of representing post fight kills no matter the weapon.
  • Made of Iron: Liquid Iron. T-1000 is even harder to stop than the T-800 from the first film. All they manage to do for most of the film is just slow it down.
  • Mama Bear: Sarah Connor is the patron saint of the trope.
  • Manly Tears: "I know now why you cry, but it's something I could never do."
  • Master of Unlocking: John has a laptop with a code-cracking program he apparently uses to brute-force PIN numbers on stolen credit cards. Later, he uses the same program to crack door codes at Cyberdyne; in one of the comics, he was shown using the same program again to destroy SkyNet, with the final prompt being "Easy money."
    • Also it is said that Linda Hamilton, who took role preparation VERY seriously (just look at her), in fact picked both the harness lock and the door lock with pieces of a paper clip on-camera. She explicitly refused to imitate it, because she was given lock-picking training prior to shooting.
  • Mood Whiplash: The T-800 cracking a joke on how it "needs a vacation" after destroying the T-1000 is pretty much immediately followed by its I Cannot Self-Terminate scene.
  • Muggle Foster Parents: John's foster parents in the second movie fall under this. Their relationship with John is strained but they seem to avert the Abusive Parents trope. They're just frustrated by John's lack of respect for them more than anything else.
  • Murder by Cremation: More of an "assisted suicide" than murder, but still...
  • Next Sunday A.D.: Filmed in 1991, takes place when John Connor is 10, which would be 1995 or early 1996.
  • Not So Different: Sarah Connor has effectively become a Terminator by this point. Noticeable during the scene where she attempts to murder Dyson, where she performs their signature Ominous Walk, as well as attempt to murder someone in the past in order to change the future. Sound familiar, Sarah? Her realization of this causes her to suffer a minor breakdown.
  • Ominous Walk: The T-1000 does this multiple times, which ended up screwing him over in the end.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Sarah Conner is shot in the leg and impaled in the shoulder and keeps on going. The T-800 shoots a large number of people in the knee and they're not seriously hurt.
  • Papa Wolf: The T-800 to John.
  • Partial Transformation: The T-1000.
  • Password Slot Machine
  • Prisons Are Gymnasiums: Sarah.
  • Railing Kill: T-1000.
  • Resurrection Sickness: A very subtle example. Edited out of the theatrical release but included in the Limited Special Collectors' Ultimate Edition, after being frozen, shattered, melted and re-formed at the steel mill, the T-1000 is shown struggling to keep its form. Its feet and hands keep "merging" into the floor and handrails, and its entire body refreshes itself from head to toe repeatedly.
  • Rewind, Replay, Repeat: The recording from 1984 of the original T-800 is replayed a couple times by the astonished police as the 1994 Terminator stalks through a mall.
  • Rousseau Was Right: The movie, surprisingly enough, is an action movie in which the entire goal of the protagonist was to save the world without killing a soul. The Heroic Sacrifice of SkyNet's creator really hit the point home.
  • Sand in My Eyes: John says Sarah is prone to this, which he suspects is in regards to Kyle.
  • Scenery Gorn: Shots of the city being nuked, and the future Robot War scenes.
  • Second Face Smoke: A biker does this to the T-800. He regrets it.
  • Sequel Escalation: Terminator 2 is certainly bigger and full of explosions, but in one way this was averted; rather than the enemy just being an even bigger and badder Terminator, it's a leaner, less muscular, yet arguably a more deadly Terminator.
  • Shapeshifter Swan Song: The T-1000 changes forms rapidly when it finally melts. That doesn't save it.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Sarah Connor again.
  • Shout-Out: At one point, our heroes pull into a gas station. The pumps have "Benthic Petroleum" logos on them -- the company that owned the undersea oil rig in The Abyss, also written and directed by James Cameron. The Terminator carrying a shotgun in a box full of roses might also be a reference to Guns N' Roses, who are in the soundtrack.
    • Seemed more likely to be a shout-out to The Godfather.
    • An unusual example: James Cameron wrote both T2 and Aliens, and the special editions of both movies include a scene where a character says something like: "I asked the company where we got this ridiculously advanced computer and mechanical arm from/why we're going out in small groups to this random mucus-covered building in the middle of nowhere, and you know what they told me? Don't ask." As the scene in Aliens was cut, one could see the Miles Dyson scene as Cameron homaging himself.
  • Soft Glass: Justified when the T-800 is thrown through a window in the mall, and later when he punches through a car window.
    • Played straight in several other instances with regular human beings, however.
  • Something Only They Would Say: "Come with me if you want to live."
  • Something They Would Never Say: John invokes this not once or twice but three times.
    • "Something's wrong, she's never this nice."
    • He's wary of "Sarah" in the steel mill when she asks him for help, not 24 hours after she berates him for helping her, but the deal is sealed when...
    • Another "Sarah" (the real one) comes up behind the first and tells him to move out of her line of fire, something a Terminator wouldn't be to terribly concerned about.
    • "Get down." With those two words, John (and the audience if The Reveal wasn't spoiled for them ahead of time) know who the good guy is.
  • Stealth Pun: While searching for John, the T-800 is carrying a box of roses, which we find out when he confronts the T-1000 is where he hid his shotgun. Guns N' Roses did one of the music tracks for the movie.
  • Stop or I Will Shoot: Averted hard in the Heroic Sacrifice of Miles Dyson. The SWAT unit simply spots him walking in the central area -- without any weapon or the explosives detonator, mind you -- and immediately opens fire when he turns around.
  • Super Toughness: The original Terminator.
  • Take a Third Option: When the police have Sarah pinned down in the lab at Cyberdyne, John remarks that there's no way out. Cue T800 smashing through the wall.
  • Take the Wheel: The T-800 does this to Sarah and John.
  • Technical Pacifist: The T-800, after John tells him he can't kill anyone.

John: (after the T-800 kneecaps a guard) Hey, you promised!
T-800: (examines the guard, who is still yelling in agony) He'll live.

  • Technicolor Death: The T-1000's death is a notable example of a Shapeshifter Swan Song, but it becomes even more spectacular when the T-1000 starts to do things like split into two heads, form into a mouth, and turn inside out as it tries to save itself.
  • Technology Porn: All over the place. The teaser trailer qualifies for this trope alone.
  • Terrifying Rescuer: The T-800 showing up at the psyche ward to rescue Sarah is one of the more famous examples in film.
  • That's What I Would Do: How the T-800 knows that the T-1000 is staking out John's house.
  • Took a Level in Badass / Took a Level in Jerkass: Sarah Connor, oh so very, very much.
  • Totally Radical: John teaching the T-800 how to talk like a human. The film actually made "Hasta la vista, baby" into a genuinely cool phrase, but "No problem-o" is still cringe-worthy.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The pre-release publicity campaign involved releasing three trailers. The first, a teaser, showed a factory assembling a Terminator, step-by-step, then a close-up on an Arnie's face with the words "I'll be back" heard. The second trailer revealed there were two terminators, but deliberately avoided spoiling the twist that the T-800 was the good guy. The final trailer, which did spoil it, was released shortly before the film's premiere and is now one of the most famous example of this trope.
  • Two-Keyed Lock
  • Unorthodox Reload: The T-800 cocks a lever-action shotgun by flipping it over his fingers while using the other hand to handle a motorcycle (only possible because his fingers aren't human). Also, Sarah using her SWAT-issue shotgun on the T-1000.
    • Schwarzenegger commented during an interview that doing this nearly broke his hand when he accidentally flip-cocked the real gun instead of the prop gun specially modified to be flip-cocked in that shot.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Just before the film's first big chase, the T-1000 seems to push John's annoying ginger friend aside with such force that he gets thrown out of the film -- he doesn't reappear after this or even merit a passing mention.
    • Where exactly would you EXPECT him to reappear in the film? Do you think John would take some time off from being chased by a murderous shape shifting Terminator to give his friend a call? It isn't like he ever went back to his house. I think he had a little more important things to do.
    • Deleted scenes show Miles Dyson had a daughter. Which makes her absence in the scene where Sarah tries to kill Miles a bit odd, since all the shooting would have certainly awakened her.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Averted mostly. T-800 does attack the female guard, but she simply gets pushed down, as opposed to the male orderlies, who get tossed into/through windows and concrete walls.
    • She's also wearing one arm in a sling, so he may not have been reacting so much to her femaleness than to the fact that she was already injured. Not that he seems overly concerned with injuring people the rest of the time.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Sarah Conner tricks John into escaping without her, then stays behind to prevent the T-1000 from following and killing him.
  • You Taste Delicious: While Sarah is being held in the mental hospital an attendant licks her face while she's tied to a bed.

T2 3-D: Battle Across Time[edit | hide]

  • Actor Allusion: Apart from the obligatory T2 references, most of the Terminator's one-liners are references to other movies. For example, when holding a shrieking mini-hunter, he says "Stop Whining!"
  • Alas, Poor Yorick
  • All Part of the Show: Sarah warns the audience multiple times to leave before the building is destroyed. Take a guess how many audience members actually leave.
  • Canon Discontinuity: T2 3D was retconned from the plotline by T3.
    • Then again many fans retconned T3 because it wasn't directed by James Cameron.
  • The Nudifier: The fact that Time Travel does this is extremely averted, as the Terminator keeps not only his clothes, but his bike, his Cool Shades, and his shotgun. Probably Enforced Trope, since this is a theme park attraction.
  • Stop Helping Me!: When John and the Terminator are trying to outrun a Hunter-Killer's laserfire.

John: Go right! Right--oh no, no! Go left! Left! Left! No, go right! Right, I'm sorry! Go right!
Terminator: John, please stop helping.


Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines[edit | hide]

  • Alternate Continuity: This movie, T2 3D, and The Sarah Connor Chronicles go in three different directions after the events of Terminator 2.
  • Badass Grandpa: The Terminator himself, both for Arnie's age and him being an obsolete model.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Just as the T-X arrives at Crystal Peak...the T-850 comes, ramming her with a helicopter. "I'm back!"
  • Breast Expansion: The T-X increases its breast size to distract someone.
  • Broken Aesop: "There is no fate but what we make for ourselves"... except for the robot apocalypse. That'll happen no matter what.
  • Chekhov's Gun: "When ruptured, the fuel cells become unstable." Guess how T-X is finished off?
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The T-X analyses some human blood she finds by licking it...then gets an orgasmic look on her face when it comes back as belonging to John Connor.
  • Downer Ending: After spending the whole film trying to avert The End of the World as We Know It, the heroes fail at the end. Of course, T-850 knew it would happen all along.
    • Possibly more of a Bittersweet Ending; John and Kate have failed to stop Judgement day, and the machines nearly wipe out all life on earth, but John finally accepts his destiny as leader of the resistance, and will one day lead humanity to victory over the machines.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Her: Sarah's off-screen death by leukemia is often seen as a mean-spirited Take That to Linda Hamilton for refusing to reprise her role as Sarah; according to most works published prior, Sarah was supposed to die on Judgment Day, exactly as she saw in the "nuclear nightmare" sequence.
    • It should also be considered that Hamilton got the Terminator rights while divorcing James Cameron...with the sole intent of reselling!
  • Everything Is Online: Including sentient genocidal software. Even though it also isn't.
  • Forgot About Her Powers: The T-X has on-board ranged weapons! She never uses them effectively because if she did John and Kate would be dead. Great!
  • Genre Savvy: When Doctor Silberman sees Arnie's T-850 in the cemetery, the third time he's seen the guy (from his perspective, not knowing they were three different Terminators), he doesn't ask questions he doesn't hesitate: he runs like hell.
  • Foreshadowing: Before his/its true nature is revealed, the T-1000 shoots a brief puzzled glance at a silvery mannequin in the mall shop.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: When T-850 is hijacked by T-X. Also crosses with Logic Bomb when John makes him realize that if he followed T-X's command, he would fail his mission.
    • Kind of subverted. "I know you're in there" fails, because, as the Terminator points out, desires have no bearing on it's programming. The Logic Bomb does work, however.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: A cop gets the T-X's arm through him - while she's in the back seat!
  • The Kindnapper: The T-850 kidnaps Kate Brewster to save her from the T-X.
  • Mythology Gag: The whole sequence reintroducing the T-850.
  • Plot Hole: Numerous.
    • SkyNet is online and infecting the entire internets. We must stop SkyNet getting online, or it will infect the...huh?
      • Though it is possible that SkyNet could not effectively invade the military systems until they put it online. Sure, it might have gotten a few via satelites, but it likely would not have been able to hack into the hardened systems that were not connected to networks until it was directly plugged in.
    • The movie contradicts the first two's idea that the future is not set by saying that Judgment Day is inevitable, that all outcomes foretold by Kyle Reese are inevitable. If so, the T-X or Skynet should be unable to kill John Connor or Kate or any of Connor's important Lieutenants until their time is actually up, as a result sending a Terminator back in time to kill all of these people is an exercise in futility. This massive plot hole carries over to the fourth film.
    • How exactly did the military rebuild Skynet, and it's stated to be the exact same system, if all of the information on the system and the technology used to create it was destroyed in the second film? In essence, how did the military rebuild something out of nothing?
      • IIRC, there was a passing line in the movie that explains this one. Basically, the military found out what Cyber Dyne was working on, and made copies of all their notes so they could keep tabs on the project. When the lab blew up, the military started making their own SkyNet based on the data they had collected.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The T-1 robots activated by the T-X at the CRS complex, and the T-850 after being corrupted by the T-X, though he got better. Also the exoskeletal T-850's in the future war sequence.
  • Retcon: Nice job of accounting for the development of the internet and distributed computing, which arose between the second and third films.
  • Robot Girl: The T-X.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Director, in this case. In the director's commentary for the T-X / T-850 fight scene in the toilets, Mostow comments that the two "literally weigh a ton." No, they do not. If they did, they would leave footprints in almost any material, would collapse the suspension of almost any vehicle they got into, and would be unable to use elevators or stairs.
    • Not to mention the fact that in T1, a metal crusher smashed a T800, but the T850 can hold up a huge blast door with one hand, and manage to wrestle and blow up the TX at the same time.
  • Shout-Out: The T-X's death scene is nearly identical to the death of the original Terminator from the first film, complete with the classic line "You're terminated!"
  • Slow Doors
  • Suicidal Gotcha: It's rather subtle, but after it becomes clear they have failed to avert Judgment Day and having rigged the Crystal Peak mountain to explode, Kate Brewster suggests "we could just let it blow" which Connor seems to acquiesce to, only for them to change their minds (making this a Gotcha) when the radio starts receiving a call from defense forces, turning Connor into the effective leader of the resistance.
  • Taking You with Me: The T-850.
  • Temporal Paradox: It's just about possible to buy that SkyNet had time to send back two Terminators before it was destroyed, but the narrative makes it clear that it was aware they'd failed when it sent back the third. Never mind that it's now a totally different SkyNet doing all this since the first was never built.
  • The Worf Effect: The badassery of the T-X is largely established by scenes where she wails on the T-850 and scenes where the T-850 complains she's better than him.


Terminator Salvation[edit | hide]

  • The Atoner: In T4, Marcus has a lot of baggage to work out.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Inverted, in which an actress with the Badass name of Moon Bloodgood plays an A-10 Warthog pilot with the boring name of Blair Williams. [2]
  • Big Brother Mentor: Marcus acts as this to a teenage Kyle Reese.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Done so the movie would get a PG-13 instead of an R. Just compare these images.
    • Fridge Brilliance: T-800 were the first terminators actually covered with a living tissue. Since Marcus obviously was created before them, it makes sense that his 'flesh' is actually a rubber or something like that and therefore doesn't bleed.
  • Broad Strokes: What Salvation does in regards to T3 in order to fix that movie's various flubs with the timeline (see Did Not Do the Research above). Salvation implicitly Broad Strokes T2 just by not mentioning anything in it. Further, in Salvation, Sarah Connor (on tape) and John Connor both talk and act as if they believe Connor needs to keep Reese alive and send him back in time to close the loop, even though it's been established in T2 and T3 that Time Travel doesn't work like that.
  • The Cameo: Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Serena Kogan. Later, SkyNet assumes her image as a hologram to explain its master stroke to Marcus.
  • Condemned Contestant
  • Continuity Nod: Besides the Mythology Gags below, Salvation reminds us of the fuel sources of Terminators (introduced in T3). This is a gag on its own, since the fuel cells are for the T-850 model and NOT the T-800 featured in Salvation on the first place. This could be justified by the timeline changing, though.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Marcus gets suspended on cross-shaped devices. Twice.
  • Exty Years From Now: released in 2009 - set in 2018. Inverted in that the opening scenes are set in 2003.
  • Every Helicopter Is a Huey: Despite being set in a Used Future the resistance appear to have no problem getting hold of multiple combat-ready Hueys.
  • Fake Shemp: Through the magic of CGI combined with a mold from The Eighties, Arnold appears in Salvation, and he hasn't aged a day in 25 years.
  • Handwraps of Awesome: Marcus wears them.
  • Ironic Echo: Kyle Reese tries this with Marcus' line about shooting people ("You point that gun at someone, you better be ready to pull the trigger"). Subverted in that he says this to people holding him at gunpoint and who really would be willing. Marcus naturally gives him a "What an Idiot!" stare.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: All the talk about salvation and second chances in Salvation after some very famous Fanon Discontinuity in Terminator 3? Totally about the series itself.
  • Literal Change of Heart: A heroic version. John Conner gets mortally wounded and Marcus makes a Heroic Sacrifice giving him his own heart.
  • Mythology Gag: T4 has this in spades.
    • When Marcus first meets Reese, Reese tells him "Come with me if you want to live."
    • When Kate asks John what she should tell his troops when he decides to launch an AWOL solo attack on SkyNet, his response is "I'll be back."
    • In the endgame battle, Connor gets attacked by a Schwarzenegger terminator.
    • Here's a cute little one for T4: When Connor hijacks the motorcycle-terminator, he baits the trap with a boombox blasting Guns N' Roses "You Could Be Mine," the same song he was playing while working on his bike in T2. Considering that it's the same character and it's post-apocalyptia, that might actually be the same cassette.
    • Marcus teaches Reese the tying-the-sawn-off-shotgun-to-your-arm trick in T4, which he uses in the first film. Chekhov's Gun in reverse?
    • A Connor being pursued by a one-armed torso Terminator. Both first and fourth.
    • In T4, Kyle and Marcus are in a large truck being chased by a motorcycle Terminator, which crashes down on them from an overpass. This is of course the inverse of the iconic scene from T2, when John and the T-101 are on a motorcycle being chased by a large truck, which crashes down on them from an overpass.
    • The final wounds John Connor receives in T4, a set of facial lacerations from the T-800's super-heated endoskeleton "claws", mirrors the scars seen on the face of the Future!John Connor in beginning of T2. The scene might also be a recalling of the last-ditch face-grab the original T-800 performed before being terminated in T1.
    • T4's Title Sequence is a deliberate nod to that of T1.
  • The Oner: John Connor's first scene.
  • Open-Heart Dentistry: Kate Brewster was formally trained as a veternarian. She was promoted to doctor after Judgment Day and it couldn't have been by attending medical school. Bonus points for actually performing heart surgery.
  • Parachute in a Tree: Marcus first meets Blair Williams dangling by her parachute from a derelict pylon and catches her when she cuts herself free of the parachute.
  • Plot Hole: As carried over from the third film. If Judgment Day and the war on Skynet were inevitable, then by the same token Skynet should be unable to kill John Connor or Kyle Reese until the exact point that they're destined to die, making their attempts to kill either beforehand an exercise in futility.
  • Purposefully Overpowered: The T-800 in Salvation, being able to survive attacks that have defeated earlier movies' T-800s. It is implied by John Connor that the T-800 should NOT exist until at least 2024 or so when he discovers them. It seems that SkyNet not only knows about the other timeline and as such advanced faster, but it also knew the flaws of the original timeline's models and rooted them out.
    • One of the popular fan theories is that Skynet reverse-engineered its technology from another source. Namely, the T-850 with a perfectly intact skull (and therefore perfectly intact hard drive and CPU). Not enough to make a cookie-cutter version of Skynet, but it would certainly explain how they knew about previous time travel attempts and Kyle Reese.
  • Rapunzel Hair: For some reason, the female fighters in T4 all have long wild hair, despite its impracticality. If they can't have a crew-cut for Fan Service reasons, would a Lara Croft-style ponytail be all that terrible?
  • Samus Is a Girl: The pilot "Williams" turns out to be a woman.
  • Sheep in Wolf's Clothing: Marcus.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Originally, Terminator Salvation would have ended with Captain John Connor's death from his stab wound through the chest, with Kate creating the legendary figure of "General John Connor" that we all know by grafting Connor's skin to Marcus Wright's endoskeleton and having him act as a Replacement Goldfish. Fortunately, a leak of the early script resulted in massive fan outcry, and the ending was changed to the immensely plausible alternative: a heart from a bizarre half-human cyborg with no apparent check for compatibility in the middle of a desert.
  • Silent Partner: Star, the little girl in Salvation, never so much as makes a sound.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Lots of it, naturally, but averted when Kyle tries to shoot a gas tanker. Three shots, and it just won't blow! Thankfully, they also had road flares.
  • Super Reflexes: Demonstrated by the moto-terminators, who can rapidly predict the movement of multiple high-speed obstacles and avoid them. At one point, one terminator slides under a bouncing tanker truck, rights itself and keeps firing at the retreating heroes.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: Mc G stated "Rooster" was chosen to be in the movie and its soundtrack because it disturbingly fits ("Ain't found a way to kill me yet...").
  • Trailers Always Spoil: If you were hoping to avoid the major revelation about Marcus in this film, it was a good idea to not only stay away from the trailers, but also avoid going into a Toys-R-Us for about three months before the film came out. One wonders how well The Empire Strikes Back would have performed if two months before release people had started seeing "Luke's Father Edition" Darth Vader toys on shelves.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The Resistance, Marcus and John Connor.
  • Villain Ball: SkyNet successfully lures a completely unsuspecting John Connor into a well-planned trap of its own design, and instead of greeting him with a bomb, nerve gas, or even an army of robots, it sends one terminator to kill him (and doesn't even bother to give it a gun!). SkyNet also doesn't send the T-800 any backup even after it becomes obvious the plan isn't going quite as intended. The Terminator does terribly, batting John around like a kitty with a ball of yarn rather than snapping his neck. You'd think SkyNet would take absolutely no chances given the amount of effort it spends on killing Connor later on (multiple time travel attempts, etc.)
    • Also, SkyNet going into a combination of Evil Gloating and what amounts to thanking Marcus Wright for being a good Unwitting Pawn and helping kill his only friend in the future and the guy whose trust he has just fought to earn. All this while John and Reese are still fighting for their lives just a couple of levels below...and apparently expecting Marcus to do a Face Heel Turn after rubbing his face over his Tomato in the Mirror status.
  • Viral Marketing
  • The Worf Effect: It seems like the Terminators (T-600 models) themselves seen in this film are subject to this: while they are certainly extremely deadly, they seem to tale far less punishment then the original film version did, which was stabbed, shot by heavy gunfire and blown up without any real damage except to it's cover, at least until they put a bomb literally in between it's joints to blow it in half. Then the ORIGINAL T-800 model shows up, and it takes a tremendous amount of damage before dying, shrugging multiple grenade launcher blasts to the body without even slowing down, tossing around Marcus with very little effort, getting molten lead dumped on him (which KILLED the T-1000) and then getting frozen in it, and it STILL doesn't die before seriously wounding John Connor.
  • Xanatos Gambit: SkyNet's plan in T4 to destroy the Resistance by giving it a false shutdown signal for its machines. The preferable goal is for the group to use the information but if they don't their situation will get worse.
    • Its concurrent plan to trap and kill John Connor was pretty much a Xanatos Roulette, considering the sheer number of coincidences required for Marcus to run into Reese, let alone make his way to Connor without being killed or exposed at some point. In fact, Marcus is exposed as an infiltrator, but then manages to fulfill his mission anyway.


The film series in general[edit | hide]

  • Action Girl: Sarah Connor, T-X and Blair Williams.
  • Alternate Continuity: Terminator 3 + Salvation together in one continuity with The Sarah Connor Chronicles in the other.
    • There's also the novels by S.M. Stirling, which did the female Terminator/infiltrator idea years before T3 or TSCC.
      • In which the female Terminator just so happened to be based off of Kristanna Loken.
      • There is a difference, however, in that the female Terminator in that series was an I-950, which is basically a human baby who has gone through extreme brainwashing and has a few cybernetic parts installed, rather than a full-on robot with living skin.
  • Apocalypse Day Planner
  • Arc Words: Certain phrases are repeated, usually by different individuals, but all have valuable context from one story to the other.
    • "Come with me if you want to live."
    • "I'll be back." (And he usually returns driving a vehicle into a building.)
    • "There is no fate but what we make for ourselves."
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger Is Going To Shoot You:
  • Backstory
  • Badass: Any of the terminators, but particularly the T-101. Reese was the first human badass and Sarah Connor Took a Level in Badass.
  • Badass Longcoat: Kyle Reese and Marcus Wright.
  • Big No: Sarah Connor seeing the Terminator in the second movie. Actually a crescendo of them after Sarah Connor sees the T-101 and has a Heroic BSOD.
    • In the fourth, when Marcus finds out he's a cyborg.
  • Billing Displacement: The Terminator is never the main character, but Arnold Schwarzenegger always gets top billing.
  • Butterfly of Doom: SkyNet's continuous assassination plots are in invocation of the trope, but the terminators avert it repeatedly by killing people other than Sarah or John with seemingly no substantial consequences.
  • Can't Take Anything with You
  • Car Fu: Every time the Terminator says "I'll be back", he always re-enters in a moving vehicle. Terminators frequently get rammed, usualy by a pickuptruck.
  • Catch Phrase: The original "I'll be back," and to a lesser extent "get out," "fuck you, asshole," and "hasta la vista, baby."
    • "Come with me if you want to live" has taken over as the franchise targets PG-13 and prime-time-TV audiences.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: At the end of the first film.
  • Changed My Jumper: Avoided. Time travellers arrive naked, flashforwards show ragged clothes.
  • Channel Hop: First movie: Hemdale (theatrical distribution by Orion). Second movie: Carolco (TriStar). Third movie: C2, a Carolco Spiritual Successor. Fourth movie: Halcyon. (both had Warner in the US, Columbia worldwide) Fifth: Pacificor. This also leads to the first two being released in home video by a plethora of companies.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Sarah's photograph, the T-800 arm/CPU, the ATM hacking machine, and the weak point of T-600's.]
  • Cool Guns: Oh, see for yourselves...
    • Highlights include: "The longslide, with laser sighting", the underappreciated AR-18, an autoloading shotgun (SPAS-12), the Sawn Off Shotgun which the T-800 cocks with one hand, the infamous Minigun, an AKMS (AK-47 derivative) assault pistol, not to mention all the Ray Guns...
  • Cool Shades: Played straight in the first two movies, where Schwarzenegger takes clothes and shades from burly biker-types
    • The shades serve a purpose in the first movie, where they conceal the terminator's robot eye. In the other movies it's about looking cool.
    • The third in particular has it double subverted, where Schwarzenegger takes the clothes of a male burlesque dancer and puts on his shades, only to find that they are of the tacky pink variety. He quickly takes them off and crushes them, and acquires his usual shades later on.
  • Cranial Processing Unit: Applies to the T-800 and the T-X.
  • Darkened Building Shootout: In the Smoke and Fire Factory fourth film. Even darker than most darkened buildings in movies.
  • Deceptively-Human Robots
  • Determinator: Not only the titular terminators but also many human characters including Reese, Sarah Connor, and John Connor. Kate Connor also counts in terms of emotional trauma.
  • Do Androids Dream?: It's implied that when freed from Skynet's control, even Terminators are capable of learning to understand humanity.

Sarah Connor: If a machine -- a Terminator -- can learn to understand the value of human life, maybe we can too.

  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: T4 makes SkyNet's death camps for humans very eerily reminiscent of the Holocaust, with one prisoner even referring to the HK Transports that take them to the facility as "cattle cars."
    • Oddly enough, the art book indicates that the inspiration were literal cattle cars. The quote from production designer Martin Laing in the book: "There's nothing sadder than seeing a cattle car go by with all these sad eyes of the cattle staring back at you. So it was on a drive down the freeway of Albuquerque that I came up with the idea that people in the future are being used and abused like cattle, so let's use the same device."
    • It also looks a hell of a lot like a similar scene in the 2005 remake of War of the Worlds.
    • Don't forget the general telling John to "stay the course!"
  • Dull Surprise: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Very well justified, because his character is an emotionless robot.
  • The End of the World as We Know It
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Dogs can recognize whether or not someone's a terminator, and are used as an alert system by the resistance once the T-800s start rolling off the line.
  • Eye Scream: When the Terminator repairs himself in T1, he gouges out the organic part of his eye with a scalpel.
    • The T-1000 stabbing the security guard with his finger.
    • Sarah Connor blasting through the T-1000's right eye socket with her shotgun. The T-1000 was not very pleased and threatened to stab her eye next, if she didn't call John.
    • The T-800 gouging his fingers into John Connor's eye/face after being overheated and then supercooled in Salvation.
  • Eye Lights Out: When the T-800 finally dies, its eyes stop glowing.
  • Fan Service: Any of the female terminators, and probably the time-traveling dudes, if we're honest.
  • Fantastic Romance
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water: Reese and the terminators. Marcus, after waking up.
  • Gatling Good: T2 through T4 have various multi-barreled projectile weaponry being used, from the "damn Minigun" used by the T-800 in T2, the twin Gatling guns used by the T1 robots in T3, and the moto-terminators & A-10 Warthogs in T4.
  • Genre Blindness: Sarah in the first film. She gets better.
  • Genre Savvy: John Connor was purposely raised to be this way.
    • A great example is in Salvation while his team-mate is celebrating disabling an Aerial HK, Connor calmly picks up a bazooka and blows it up just to be sure its actually dead.
  • Get Out!: Three Terminators taking over vehicles (T-800 with an oil truck, T-1000 with a helicopter and later a tanker of liquid nitrogen, T-850 with a fire truck), and Marcus removing a girl from a truck (still counts as four cyborgs).
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Seriously, it's at the point where if you're living in the Terminator world and you meet someone who wears leather and keeps fighting after a punch to the face, you should shoot them immediately because they're a terminator. Not that shooting them would do any good...
  • Heroes Want Redheads: John Connor does, certainly.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Reese, Miles Dyson, the Terminator in T2 and T3, and Marcus Wright.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act

John Connor: "We stopped Judgment Day."
Terminator: "You only postponed it. Judgment Day is inevitable."

  • Homage: The Humongous Mecha scooping up humans and dropping them in cages, as in The War of the Worlds. And Transformers too, given the same robots' shapeshifting abilities.
    • The Harverster's mounted gun fires, sounds and operates like the Predator shoulder Cannon. Same as the other Plasma guns the Machines use, although the Harvester makes the best resemblance.
    • John Connor's Tracker sounds similar to the motion trackers U.S.C.M. used in Aliens.
  • Honor Before Reason: John Connor in Salvation, where he makes the choice to risk (what seems to be at the time) humanity's best chance of winning the war in order to rescue a group of prisoners that happen to include Reese and may or may not already be dead.
    • The game's entire plot is driven by this, as Connor goes deep behind enemy lines to rescue three Resistance soldiers, going against orders. He also manages to take out a substantial SkyNet base, and the small victory there starts to give hope to the Resistance.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: Some of the terminators pick up on human characteristics, particularly the T-800 from T2. Even the T-1000 develops his own Silent Snarker personality as the movie goes along.
  • Humongous Mecha / Transforming Mecha: Is a 60-foot-tall Harvester with a huge Frikken Laser Cannon for a head (plus mototerminators coming out of its legs) enough for you? It also forms part of (or changes into -- I'm not sure which) an even bigger prisoner transport aircraft armed with its own Hunter Killer parasite escort.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: The Trope Namer.
  • Immune to Bullets: It takes something with explosive power or a hell of a lot of kinetic force to damage a terminator.
    • Chronicles and Salvation both show that modern, military hardware tends to work. You still need a whole lot of it though.
  • Implacable Man: The terminators. Oh, and Marcus Wright. In T2 and T3, there are implacable men fighting each other.
  • Improbable Age: Sarah Connor ends up as the "Mother of the Future" at 19 -- though her age isn't mentioned in the film and Linda Hamilton was obviously much older. Averted in Salvation, as it is implied that the reason John Connor isn't in command of the Resistance for ¾ of the movie is because when Judgment Day happened he was a 19-year-old kid hiding in a bunker while General Ashdown was, you know, a general.
  • The Juggernaut: Terminators are unstoppable. (Unless you get their weakpoints.)
  • Just Hit Him: Happens all the freaking time. You have the target(s) in your hands... crush the skull/windpipe with your super robot strength? No, that would be far too easy. Throw him halfway across the room and then saunter over to do it again, giving him ample opportunity to escape? Now you're talking.
  • Kill All Humans: SkyNet wishes to do this, seeing humans as a threat to its existence.
  • Killer Robots: They absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
  • The Kindnapper: The protector of the Terminator Twosome in any film of the Terminator film franchise usually ends up doing the second variant of kindnapping as part of protecting their assigned charge(s) from whatever Terminator has been sent back in time to kill them.
  • Knight Templar: General Ashdown in Salvation.
  • Large Ham: John Connor in Salvation.

"If we stay the course, we ARE DEAD. WE ARE ALL. DEAD!!!!!!"

    • Just to add: seeing Bale's infamous rant on the set turns every scene of him yelling at someone in the movie hilarious.
    • Michael Biehn as Reese might count.
  • Laser Guided Tykebomb: John Connor
  • The Load: Both Sarah and John Connor assume this role in the first and second movies respectively, the former initially being a relatively airheaded fast food waitress and the latter being a delinquent kid. Of course they both Took a Level in Badass in time for their next film appearances, mostly because of what they went through.
  • Lowered Monster Difficulty: The first terminator and T-X are damaged until they become only endoskeletons, and after that even lose their legs.
  • Made of Explodium: Subverted in T4 in one scene where Marcus tries to take out a giant terminator by ramming a tank of gas into it and having Reese shoot the tank as they drove away. The tank of gasoline refused to explode until they finally tossed a lit flare at the leaking gas.
  • Made of Iron: Sure, John Connor is the Badass human of the Future War, there's only so many times a guy can get up from being thrown INTO steel walls like nothing has happened before it becomes hilariously funny.
    • Potentially subverted with Marcus, who spends the first 1/3rd of the film taking increasingly over-the-top blows from various terminators (including falling 50 feet and being slammed across a lake hard enough to make him skip across it like a stone). Of course, it turns out he's actually a terminator.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Averted with Reese, who is a Badass hero and a virgin for much of the film. He does lose his virginity to Sarah Connor, but this is a legitimate plot point -- John Connor's conception -- rather than just to up Reese's Badass credentials.
    • In T3, the Terminator tells John that their children will be important later. Knowing this, it's possible he and Kate make it a point to have kids.
    • T4 makes it pretty clear that most people are too busy not dying to try and get some...And yet Kate is clearly pregnant through the whole film.
  • Martial Medic: The Terminator's detailed files on human anatomy help it to kill efficiently, but also give it the ability to treat injuries.
  • Mechanical Evolution: A standard tactic for SkyNet; successive terminator versions incorporate improvements from their predecessors.
  • Mordor: The entire world post-Judgment Day, and SkyNet's main base even more so.
  • More Dakka: Lots of instances.
  • My Own Grampa: The very first Terminator sent back in time ended up "fathering" his own creator and master Skynet in death.
    • John Connor himself sent his father back in time. Connor explicitly knows this, but it's unclear when and if Kyle Reese ever found out.
      • I think he probably realized at one point or another. Why not, I'll elaborate: I'm not sure if it's ever directly stated when Future!John decides to send Kyle back. Let's just say it's when he's 35. Kyle goes back in time about 35 and a half years. Then he bones John's mother. Probably some in-universe fridge logic going on.
      • In retrospect, it's probably best John Connor doesn't tell Kyle Reese outright. In the first film, Reese has a lot on his mind as it is with adjusting to a world he never knew and trying to protect Sarah Connor from the original Terminator. Telling him before sending him back in time would influence his actions in 1984. Not to mention that he would think of conceiving John Connor as "part of the mission" and not a natural act out of love for Sarah.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Skynet and the machines' rule are pretty much the future version of Nazi Germany. In the first film, Kylr Reese has a barcode tattoo that is similar in vein to the barcode tattoos for Nazi concentration camps, and in Salvation, Kyle Reese and several other humans are being placed in what is unmistakably an extermination camp.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: This is SkyNet's basic goal in every film. Even Salvation, where the only person higher than John Connor on Skynet's hit list is Kyle Reese, Connor's eventual father.
    • But why does Skynet know that Kyle Reese is the father? Are there records?
      • The Salvation iteration of Skynet has apparently discovered evidence of previous temporal incursions to assassinate John Connor and as such is using the information to upgrade its Terminator production. This is why its already creating the T-800, 10 years early.
  • Nigh Invulnerability: The first Terminator "merely" has Super Toughness, but other examples do fit this trope:
    • In Terminator 2, the T-1000's blob-like nature makes him a Regenerator Blob.
    • In Terminator 3 The T-X a.k.a. Terminatrix has a standard Super Tough Terminator frame with a Regenerator Blob cover, just like the T-1000.
    • Meanwhile, the SkyNet in Terminator 3 is discovered to be virtually unstoppable because it's actually software, which puts it somewhere in the Multiple Bodies category.
  • No Flow in CGI: Averted.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The Smoke and Fire Factory in the first two, and the SkyNet terminator factory in T4.
    • Averted in T3, the USAF facility may not have as many dangers compared to the above, but they did bother with such excesses as handrails.
    • On the other hand, who's operating the machinery in T4 besides a bunch of nigh-invunerable robots? Never mind handrails, the steel used could easily go into making a T-800.
  • No Sense of Humor: The Terminators are prone to this, being emotionless killing machines and all.
  • Now I Know What to Name Him: Trope Namer.
  • The Nudifier: Time travel requires that you travel naked.
    • No it doesn't, at least in its own way. As shown in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, time travelers going in with clothing come out naked. Presumably the time travel is exactly the same between TSCC and the 3 + Salvation time line. The clothes would either stay behind or vaporize.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Sam Worthington in Salvation. Ironically, not Christian Bale.
  • Our Skeletons Are Different: Their skeletons are robots.
  • Out of the Inferno: This trope actually founded the Terminator franchise. James Cameron wanted to make a movie where a robotic skeleton emerged from a fire at some point. Since such advanced robots weren't around yet, and a movie set in the future would cost too much, he decided on having a robot travel back in time to the present.
    • The scene where the T-1000 did this actually required Robert Patrick to stand in the middle of the flame and walk out. Apparently, his clothes got singed.
  • Plot Hole: T2 and T3 ignore how Time Travel works in the first movie. T4 ignores how it works in T2 and T3.
  • Product Placement: In T4, the O on Connor's Oakley Boots are the only thing focused on for a few seconds.
    • In T1 we get a couple of long shots at Kyle's new footwear. It features a very prominent Nike tick.
  • Properly Paranoid: When your enemy has Time Travel and unstoppable killing machines, constantly looking over your shoulder and staying on the move off the grid is entirely sensible. This saves John Connor's life in T3 when the future associates of his who didn't even know they were targets are summarily executed by the T-X because they have public records.
  • Premature Encapsulation: Surely Judgment Day would have been a better subtitle for T3 than T2...
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Once per film, someone will say "You're terminated", or a variant.
  • Rasputinian Death: All Terminators take a while to kill.
  • Reality Ensues: They really are that armored, that accurate, that persistent and that totally merciless. Consistently. Absent explosives, you have, regardless of training, skill and determination, about as much chance of stopping one as waving your arms at a tsunami.
    • Applies to the Terminators as well. SkyNet's upgrades mean a decisive technological advantage over the earlier Terminator. As might be expected from computers, older model losing a straight-up fight to newer model is a near certainty. The older Terminators, being machines, are fully aware of this.
  • Reality Subtext: Remember the orderly that Sarah brutalizes during her breakout? The one who beat her so she could be restrained? The actor kept pulling that blow too much, and Linda Hamilton badly bruised her knees on the hard floor with each take. She took out her frustration on the poor guy.
  • Recurring Character: Dr. Silberman, who shows up in the first three movies and The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Redemption Equals Death: In Terminator Salvation Marcus Wright is a convict, on death row for some sort of crime that resulted in a dead relative and two dead cops. There are lots of criminal Anti-Heroes in fiction, but in American movies dead cops cross the Moral Event Horizon, so even after Marcus is executed, and even after Judgment Day overshadows everything else, Marcus can only atone for his terrible pre-apocalyptic transgressions by giving away his heart. And dying.
  • Redshirt Army: Any member of the L.A. police.
    • Or various Resistance members in Salvation.
  • Replacement Mooks: Any creation on the side of the Machines. The first Terminator introduced in the series, the T-800, is a replacement for the (then-unseen) T-600. Each movie has thus introduced an upgraded model, with the exception of Salvation, which instead introduces the aforementioned T-600 and brings the series full-circle. Although, one could consider Marcus Wright to be the most "convincing" Terminator unit yet.
  • Rescue Romance: The basis for Sarah Connor and Reese's relationship, John Connor's birth, and the franchise's on-again, off-again Stable Time Loop.
    • Also Marcus and Resistance pilot Blair in T4.
  • Ridiculously-Human Robots: Two examples go even further: the T-800 in T2 starts understanding feelings, and the T-850 from T3 has psychology in his programming)
    • Taken even further in T4 where SkyNet creates a human-machine hybrid named Marcus Wright who is actually a terminator with his original heart and brain with a SkyNet control chip in it.
    • Taken further still in one novel based on the franchises that depicts a very special kind of terminator. SkyNet basically grows a human in a vat to about 1 year of age, implants it with cybernetics, control chips, and what have you, and puts the baby through Training From Hell until it's biologically an adult. The result being an almost entirely organic terminator undetectable by dogs that's far more capable of being human then even the best T-model... because it is one. Though on the other hand, it's also still very much organic and thus less Nigh Invulnerable than the wholly mechanical Terminators, so SkyNet uses it more as background infiltrators rather than outright hunter-killers.
  • Robo Cam: Which shows 6502 assembly language code in T1, and Macintosh commands in T3
  • Robot War
  • Sand in My Eyes: John says that Sarah does this when she cries about her lost love Kyle Reese.
  • Screw Destiny: Terminator 2 contradicts Reese's original report about the future -- the part about nobody else coming through. T3 and TSCC also contradict his clear calendar date for the apocalypse. There may be some sort of spiritual destiny, but it is not embedded in the clockwork of spacetime, which is squishy and malleable. Unless T4 is a direct sequel to T1 and nothing else is canon any more.
    • In T4 John Connor can't get his story straight about whether destiny can be averted or must be fulfilled. It's possible he's just hedging his bets just in case.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
  • Sequel Gap: 7, 11 and 6 years between installments.
  • Shapeshifter Default Form
  • Significant Monogram: John Connor.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: John, who was born after Reese's death.
  • Sphere of Destruction: Time-travelers arrive in the center of one.
  • Spock Speak: All of the terminators played by Schwarzenegger, and the Terminatrix. The T-1000 falls somewhere between this and normal speech. Averted by Marcus and SkyNet.
    • Although in T1, the Terminator scrolls through possible responses, and picks the one that says "Fuck you asshole."
  • Stable Time Loop: Broken in T2. Even if Connor sends Reese back in time again, it won't be the same Reese who said Judgment Day was in the '90s. Or not, maybe we'll discover that all the details of T2 and T3 have been Broad Stroked out.
  • Stan Winston: The man responsible for the metal skeleton of the title role.
    • Amazingly enough, ten of the fifteen minutes that the T-1000 transformed onscreen were also his amazingly-articulate puppets rather than lazy CGI.
    • As noted below, at the time, CGI was the novel expensive option, saved to be used with the T-1000's morphing effects.
  • Stat-O-Vision: Standard for terminator Robo Cams.
  • Sunglasses at Night: This time, it has no justification apart from Rule of Cool and Mythology Gag.
  • Super Prototype: The T-1000 and the T-X. And in Salvation, the first T-800 in history can survive damages that would have destroyed the Terminators seen in the previous movies, such as being dipped in molten iron.
    • To be fair, the previous Terminators were fully submerged in a huge vat of continuously heated, molten steel until they were destroyed. The T-800 in T4 only gets a blanketing coat of molten steel... you can see it cooling rapidly even before John uses cold air to solidify it all the way.
    • The first Terminator exoskeleton was literally destroyed by a simple home-made explosive, while the Salvation T-800 got hit by military-level grenades and rockets, yet his skeleton was really never even scratched by any of those strikes.
      • Those were small anti-infantry fragmentation weapons, and don't contain the same amount of explosive that can be packed into a pipe bomb.
      • Not to mention the fact that even when it's legs and arm were blown off, the terminator in T1 still kept moving.
  • Terminator Twosome: Trope Namer. Seen in all three movies with time travel, and the first episode of the TV series (apparently).
    • It was an ongoing plotline in the TV series until halfway through the second season, and there are hints of it after that with a different terminator in the role of the pursuer but that turns out to be a subversion, since Catherine Weaver is a good guy.
  • They Look Like Us Now
  • Timeline-Altering MacGuffin: The first terminator remains.
  • Time Travel
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Possibly the most Egregious example of all time: no two films treat the rules of Time Travel exactly the same way, and sometimes there are inconsistencies even within the same film. Figuring out how it's all supposed to work is nigh impossible.
    • And yet, people try.
    • In T4 how any of this works is not clear at all.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Sarah Connor.
    • John Connor since Salvation uses T3 as canon
  • Trailers Always Spoil: T2 is pretty careful to imply the T-101 is the bad guy; the T-1000 is shown to be non-violent, apparently only knocking out a cop; Arnie instead goes the "violent barfight" route to getting clothes. Unfortunately, the advertising guys decided potential audiences really need to know Arnie was the good guy, making the whole setup pointless.
    • Just see this one for T3.
    • The campaign for Salvation spoiled that Marcus was a cyborg.
  • Trust Password: "Come with me if you want to live" is what Reese says to Sarah Connor when they first meet. In T2 and The Sarah Connor Chronicles, it's how terminators identify themselves as good guys.
  • Truth in Television: The British Ministry of Defence actually operates a satellite network used to coordinate unmanned vehicles - including "Hunter Killer drones" - called SkyNet.
    • The US Air Force has a unit readiness tracking system called, I shit you not, SkyNet. During exercises, announcements come over the loudspeakers for group commanders to "update numbers in SkyNet".
    • There is a company called Cyberdyne that is working on exoskeletons. Based in Japan. The version it's getting the most attention for is called the HAL 5. Anyone else see the three problems with this?
    • If parts of T4 gave you nightmares then just skip this link. At least there's no... teeth
  • Turned Against Their Masters
  • Two Shots From Behind the Bar: After the T-800 beats up several bikers in a bar, the bartender confronts him outside with a shotgun to prevent him from stealing one of their motorbikes.
  • Ultimate Evil: SkyNet
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: The Terminator vs. RoboCop.
  • Vague Age: Both John and Sarah have really unclear birthdates (in T1, Sarah is obviously an adult with an apartment; in T2, she's 29, he's 10; in T3, he was 12 during the previous film). Again, with all the time-traveling, who would know the truth?
    • Possibly justified in that John and Sarah move around a lot and used multiple false identities. They probably lied about their ages so often that John lost track.
  • Villain Based Franchise: Well, sorta.
  • Voice Changeling: The T-101.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Marcus is every bit as tough and unstoppable as you would expect from a terminator... except for his glaring exposed weakpoint in the form of his organic human heart (which isn't even covered with any sort of armor; it just hangs there in a big gaping hole in his chest, leaving it completely exposed to any stray pistol shot or well-aimed punch).
    • The fact that he has a heart is bizarre, and the cynical side of me says that the only reason he has it is to donate it to John Connor at the end. Judging by the evidence of the film his body is entirely mechanical with no circulatory system, rendering a heart unnecessary. The only explanation is that his brain seems to still be part biological (although I'm not sure about this), but pumping blood through the brain would hardly require an entire human heart; it could be accomplished with a small mechanical device.)
  • Would Not Shoot a Good Guy
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Dialogue notwithstanding, the actual events in The Terminator imply a simple time-travel physics where there's one future and one past and you can't really change anything.
    • And its possible that its creation isn't inevitable because of fate, but because three people are attempting to hold back technological progress, which is not a realistic goal. Several similar systems to SkyNet appear, implying that computer technology may have advanced to the point that a sentient supercomputer is the natural next step of research.
    • The final line of T4 has John Connor, in spite of what he says in T3 and his actions in this very film, declaring that there is no fate but what we make. But maybe he just meant the future from his point of view.

Notes

  1. Not from the Terminator!
  2. "Eject Williams!" is right there in the script, but no they stuck with the name.