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Machines in GeneralSome tropes apply to most or all of the machines in these films.
- Artificial Human: Those designed for infiltration either have human skin grown on them or can take human shapes.
- Determinator: Whether one is programmed to kill or protect, nothing but utter destruction will stop them in their mission.Kyle: "It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead!"
- Even Skynet itself counts, as it keeps sending terminators back in time, in the hopes that one will succeed.
- The T-800 in the second film only overcame his mission to protect John when he realized he had an even greater purpose: to protect the world from Judgment Day.
- Punch Clock Villain:
- Most of the evil machines are not as such because they want to be, but are merely fulfilling their programming. James Cameron's intention was that Skynet wasn't either; a big theme in both his films is that machines are only as bad as their programming.
- Played With regarding the T-1000, due to its ability to learn faster than any other machine Skynet invented. Skynet seems to have compensated for this by giving it a conceited contempt for any other form of life. When Skynet realized how bad an idea this was, it stopped production and kept the T-1000 inactive until it was a last resort. Even still, it's only doing what it was created to do.
- These points were later abandoned in other films. Skynet lost the Killing In Self Defense component of its takeover in 3, and pretty much became a Card-Carrying Villain in Salvation and Genisys.
- Unskilled, but Strong: Terminators are designed to kill, not fight. In combat they make use of sheer brute force, bringing the most destructive weapon to bear against their target, be it human or Terminator. If that isn't an option, they resort to grappling and throwing their targets, slamming them into walls or floor (often leaving craters) or delivering crushing overhead strikes with their forearms.
Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Series 800 Terminator
Played by: Arnold Schwarzenegger (1984)This Terminator was sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor before she could give birth to her son John, who will become the leader of the human resistance in the war against SkyNet and the machines.
- Antagonist Title: The film is named after him.
- Badass Biker: Spends most of the movie chasing Sarah and Kyle with a big bike.
- Ballistic Discount: "Hey, you can't do that!!" "Wrong."
- Cool Shades: Justified in that they're covering up the damage from his first encounter with Reese. Cameron had the Terminator donning sunglasses at the halfway point of the film to further drive home the point that the villain was slowly shedding its human facade.
- Crazy-Prepared: In spite of the fact that it's a literal killing machine that can rip people open with one hand, it acquires two pistols, an Uzi, a shotgun and an assault rifle with which to use to kill Sarah.
- Evil Wears Black: Spends much of the movie wearing black clothes.
- Eye Scream: Damages one of his eyeballs in the chase with Reese after the Tech Noir shootout. It was only a disguise for its real Electronic Eyes, so it removes it to stop it from being an obstruction.
- The Heavy: While on orders from SkyNet, it never appears in the film, while the machine relentlessly pursues Sarah Connor, forcing her and Kyle Reese to go on the run.
- Implacable Man: It takes a hell of a lot to bring it down. Even multiple rounds of bullets from every gun in a police squad abrely make it flinch. It takes being literally crushed to scrap metal before it finally stops.
- Leitmotif: The film's composer, Brad Fiedel, defines the Terminator's menacing leitmotif as "a man and his mechanical heartbeat". It's meant to build an subliminal sense of danger, like something terrible is hunting you.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: Initially, it uses the smaller of its two firearms to try to kill Sarah, and is successful against the other two Sarah Connors, Sarah's roommate and her boyfriend with its pistol alone. After getting busted up and fixing itself up, it decides that fucking around is not an option and takes its larger two guns to take the fight at the police station. Further justified in that it no longer had the element of surprise on its target; unlike the other two women, Sarah knows he's coming and has a protector.
- Mighty Glacier: It and the other two T-800s are incredibly strong and resistant to damage, but they are Trope Codifiers of The Slow Walk.
- My Own Grampa: Its travels back in time "fathered" its own master Skynet when its scrapped hand and computer chip were recovered to be studied by Cyberdyne.
- Naked on Arrival: Like all time travelers. It acquires clothing pretty quickly though.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Well.... yeah.
- No-One Could Survive That: Or so Sarah would think.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Although strictly speaking not undead per se, the increasingly decayed and putrefied form of the Terminator, not to mention its increasingly robotic and shambling gait as its form is punishingly pulverized by speeding vehicles clearly invokes the image of a murderous living corpse. This is the only Terminator to date whose decay is portrayed as being horrific; from the T-800 Mark 2 onwards, punishment taken by the Terminator's flesh is portrayed in a heroic manner, and hence does not invoke the Zombie imagery.
- Out of the Inferno: After getting caught in the explosion of a gas tanker, his skin is burned off, and the endoskeleton rises from the flames.
- Punch Clock Villain: He feels no pleasure in killing. He's only doing what he's programmed to do.
- Self Stitching: Operated on its arm after being shot. Since it doesn't feel pain, it does it without even flinching.
- Serial Killer: Picking its victims methodically out of a phonebook like the textbook example of an 1980's Slasher Movie killer/rapist.
- Skele Bot 9000: The T-800's true form.
- Squashed Flat: The only way it could be stopped.
- Sunglasses at Night: Justified as it uses this to hide its robotic eye after its Eye Scream moment.
- The Unfettered: Not only does he barely change expression, but it takes some really heavy damage (such as shotgun blasts and pipe bombs) to make him stop.
- Voice Changeling: One of its techniques is to record and impersonate the voice of someone it has just killed in order to trick its target into giving up its location.
- Walking Armory: Downplayed. Once it tools up, it always takes at least two guns with it at all times. After its first encounter with Kyle, it decides that a pistol and an Uzi aren't enough, so it carries a shotgun and an assault rifle to use together, with a revolver as a backup weapon.
- Zombie Gait: As the body of The Terminator begins to take on horrendous amounts of punishment, its gait becomes increasingly stiff and stilted, more befitting of the rods-pulleys-and-levers that it really is than the human that it tries to masquerade as.
Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Series 800 Version 2.4 Infiltration-Combat Unit ("Uncle Bob")
Played by: Arnold Schwarzenegger (1991)This Terminator, reprogrammed by John Connor, is sent back in time to protect himself as a pre-teen.
- Action-Hero Babysitter: He was one of these before it became popular, and it's only because he was ordered to do so by the future John Connor.
- Adorkable: His every attempt at mimicing human emotions has him come across as an enthusiastic but naive Man Child; the stiff and literally parroted "I swear I won't kill anybody" scene in particular is an amusing example of this.
- Badass Biker: He steals the clothes and the bike from a biker, which gives him the look of one throughout the film.
- Battle Butler: He has to do what John tells him to, since it's one of his mission objectives.John: Alright!! My own Terminator!
- Bluff the Impostor: The former trope namer back when it was still called "Crying Wolfie".
- Big Brother Mentor: To John. Though he's closer to a Parental Substitute.
- Breakout Character: He is the most celebrated Terminator of the franchise.
- Combat Medic: He has "detailed files on human anatomy". He says this was programmed in to make him a more efficient killer, but they also allow him to perform expert first aid on injured humans.
- The Comically Serious: His stiff way to interact with humans can make him occasionally fall in it.
- Cool Bike: The 1990 Harley Davidson Fat Boy model FLSTF he steals to a biker.
- Cool Shades: He certainly redefined the trope in action flicks. In a reversal of the first film, however, the shades are dawned early in the film to demonstrate that the Terminator is still a relentless killing machine. It loses them just before the "Come with Me If You Want to Live" line to demonstrate that its in the process of becoming humanized. The T-1000 then proceeds to stomp on them as it runs to symbolize its contempt for that.
- Do Androids Dream?: If he didn't have a soul when he came into our time, he most definitely would have earned his by the time he left.
- Doting Parent: A better parent than Sarah Connor turned out to be (messed-up, violent wreck that she ended up being) by her own admission.
- Face Death with Dignity: He allowed himself to be melted calmly and does so while giving a thumbs up.
- Final First Hug: He hugs John just before he climbs on the crane to be melted down.
- Gentle Giant: Only to Sarah and John Connor, and only to Sarah because John ordered him to. Everyone else is fair game.
- Go Out with a Smile: Or more accurately, Go Out with a Thumbs Up.
- Guile Hero: He tricks the T-1000 into revealing itself by impersonating John's voice and referring to the family dog by an incorrect name.
- Grew Beyond Their Programming: Skynet preset its CPU to prevent it from learning too much. After the switch is reset, John begins teaching it to overcome that limitation. It overcomes it to the point that on its own initiative, it begins the mission to destroy Cyberdyne and the components that led to Skynet's creation. And, in a very tear-jerking fashion, it also overcomes John's orders at the end when he pleads it not to make a Heroic Sacrifice.
- Heel–Face Turn: The T-800's good-guy status in T2 was a big surprise at the time, but today, it's firmly in It Was His Sled territory.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: "I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle."
- He's Dead, Jim:T-800: [to John] What's the dog's name?
T-800 (using John's voice): Hey Janelle, what's wrong with Wolfie? I can hear him barking.
Janelle!T-1000: Wolfie's fine, honey, Wolfie's just fine. Where are you?
The Terminator: (hangs up the phone) Your foster parents are dead.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: The Trope Namer. One of his mission objectives is to destroy all of the chips that could be used to recreate Skynet, which includes the one inside of his own head. However, he is programmed to be unable to kill himself, thus leaving John Connor to do it for him.
- Loophole Abuse: He swears not to kill anyone. Doesn't stop him shooting kneecaps and breaking bones.T-800: "He'll live."
- The Kindnapper: His way of protecting John Connor from the T-1000 involves kidnapping him.
- Kung-Fu Jesus: The T-800 is the ultimate kick-ass savior; he even gives his life to save humanity's future like the good carpenter of Nazareth did.
- Leitmotif: Like the first Terminator, his theme is described as a "mechanical heartbeat". But, because this is a warmer character, the sound was amplified to sound more noble and heroic.
- Manly Tears: "I know now why you cry, but it's something I can never do."
- Martial Pacifist: After John made him take his vow of mercy.
- Messianic Archetype: Almost as much as John himself.
- Misblamed: In-Universe. He is understandably blamed for the first Terminator's massacre at the police station.
- Naked on Arrival: He comes naked from the future.
- Nominal Hero: He's a killer machine with no emotions, only protecting and following the orders of a ten year old because of his programming. By the end of the film he's able to understand human behavior and emotions, so he becomes a more traditional hero over the course of the movie.
- Papa Wolf: Enough so to defy John's orders so he could better protect him and humanity's future.
- Parental Substitute: Sarah's narration gives a short monologue about how he seemed to be a better father than potential figures she met in the past.
- Pick Your Human Half: When he first shows up, he's as cold and emotionless as his Mark I counterpart from the previous movie. As the movie goes on, Character Development turns him into a hero.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Hasta La Vista, Baby."
- Rasputinian Death: The T-1000 hurts him badly, including destroying his arm, hitting his head with a steel bar, and even an impalement that deactivates the T-800. He still finds an alternate power to return and destroy the T-1000. Even after all of that, it only goes down after being literally melted in molten metal.
- Spock Speak: A default characteristic. Connor tries to teach him to talk more "normally", with mixed results.
- Technical Pacifist: John says "Thou Shalt Not Kill". Thus non-fatal explosions and lots of people getting shot in the knees ensue.
- Terrifying Rescuer: Probably the most famous example in film. He's a killer cyborg, but he's on the side of the good guys. When he arrives to rescue Sarah, she's justifiably terrified since he's an exact copy of the T-800 who tried to kill her previously and murdered almost everyone she knew.
- That's What I Would Do: He and the T-1000 were built for the same purpose allowing the T-800 to anticipate its moves based on what terminators would do in a given scenario. He correctly predicts the T-1000 waiting for John at his foster parent's home and even that it may look for them at Dyson's home as they might try to prevent Judgment Day.
- Tin Man: He asks John "Why do you cry?", but it becomes a subversion. The T-800 explains that his model is switched to Read-Only mode when they're sent out on solo missions; Skynet doesn't want them to do "too much thinking." He seems to develop a grasp on human emotion once he's rebooted, mimicking smiling and an urgent tone of voice. He even seems to display some pride at locating the keys to a semi (using the sun protector trick taught to him by John).
- Unknown Rival: He's something of an Arch-Enemy to the LAPD, who believe him to have killed thirty of their fellow officers ten years prior, and when they finally get the drop on him they send every cop they've got. Since it was a different T-800 that committed the crime the T-800 is unaware of this, although Sarah might have filled him in on it during their car ride.
- What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: He states he can't feel love and human emotions, though at the end of the film he comes to understand them better.
Cyber Research Systems Model 101 Series 850 Infiltration-Combat Unit
Played by: Arnold Schwarzenegger (2003)This Terminator — which runs on a different fuel supply than the T-800 — is sent back in time in Terminator 3 by Kate Brewster, John Connor's future wife/widow to protect John as a young adult.
- Badass Decay: Intentionally invoked by his crashing a bachelorette party while still in the buff. The song "Macho Man" blares while he reaches into his jacket pocket and dons some Elton John sunglasses, in an obvious send-up of the Terminator persona.
- Balls of Steel: He's a cyborg and may not even feel anything from the Groin Attack, even if the attacker is a cyborg as well.
- Cool Shades: This is spoofed when he puts on shades taken from a male stripper, and they are in the style Elton John wears. He swaps them for regular shades.
- Cruel to Be Kind: One of his upgrades included detailed files on human psychology. There is apparently a chapter on Reverse Psychology, as well.John: Christ! My mom fed me that bullshit since the cradle! Look at me! I'm no leader! I never was! I'm never gonna...
(T-850 strangles John)
T-850: You're right. You're not the one I want. I'm just wasting my time.
John: FUCK you! You FUCKING MACHINE!!
John: What, you were just dicking with me?
T-850: Anger is more useful than despair.
- Cynical Mentor: It's the most Ridiculously Human Terminator thus far, and thus snarks and complains about John and Katherine's behavior.
- Genius Bruiser: He has detailed files on human psychology.
- Groin Attack: During the fight between T-X and T-850, the female Terminator grabs and squeezes his nuts and then lifts his body as if he's just styrofoam before she rams him into some fences. Could be considered funny when you realize this happened in a toilet.
- Guile Hero: He never lets on that Judgment Day can not be stopped, and allows John to believe that Skynet is located inside a remote mountain bunker. He did this so that John would be in a safe location when the bombs started dropping.
- I Lied: "You said you'd let me go!" "I lied."
- The Kindnapper: He kidnaps Kate Brewster to save her from the T-X.
- Load-Bearing Hero: Holds up a blast door for John and Kate, near the end.
- Made of Explodium: Unlike his older version, the T-850 is powered by highly volatile power cells which cause huge explosions when damaged.
- Mistaken for Gay: By the male stripper whose clothes the Terminator wants. Not a completely weird reaction to a naked, jacked guy in a bachelorette who tells him to take them off, but...
- Nominal Hero: Even moreso than his predecessor. This Terminator goes through no character arc to discover humanity's worth or grow attached to John or Kate. He is programmed to follow a mission, and that is it. If he has to be Cruel to Be Kind or lie to accomplish his mission, he will do so with no compunctions.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "You are terminated!" And in video game Terminator 3: The Redemption, it's changed into: "Game Over!"
- Replacement Goldfish: Invoked Trope. This model was sent to kill John Connor specifically because it resembled the one John grew attached to as a boy.
- Ridiculously Human Robots: The greatest example in the movies so far, given that he even has notions of psychology and is able to lie.
- Spared by the Adaptation: In the video game Terminator 3: The Redemption, after his Taking You with Me action to destroy T-X, John removed the chip from his badly-damaged robotic head. Many years later in the future, John re-installed his chip... in a freaking FK Reaper! The FK Reaper has exactly the same memory as the T-850 (as he's following the T-850's order: Ensure the survival of John Connor and Katherine Brewster). The FK Reaper continues fighting for the Resistance's side against Skynet.
- Taking You with Me: He defeats the T-X by shoving one of his power cells into her mouth, causing a massive explosion which takes both them out.
- We Will Meet Again: While holding up the blast door, he tells John "We'll meet again." The twist is that he's talking about how he killed future John before being reprogrammed.
- You Didn't Ask: Tends to keep salient details of the mission to himself.
Default form played by: Robert Patrick (1991), Byung-hun Lee (2015)
Other forms played by: Jenette Goldstein (1991), Dan Stanton (1991), Leslie Hamilton Gearren (1991)This Terminator was sent back in time to kill John Connor as a pre-teen.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Hinted at in supplemental materials. T-1000 units were unique creations designed to both learn extremely quickly but also retain contempt for humans and other life forms. Unlike the T-800, which is an unfeeling machine that only learns what it needs to complete its programming, the T-1000 on some level wants to do what it does. However, it was this exact issue that caused Skynet to stop production.
- Assimilation Backfire: Of a sort. The T-1000 chooses to assume the form of a policeman to more easily locate John Connor. It works remarkably well... until the moment just before he finds John himself. One of the kids he asks for information is John's friend, a fellow Delinquent who immediately rushes to tell his friend that a cop is looking for him. John runs away immediately, and the precious seconds that bought allow the rest of the movie to happen.
- Badass: Oh yes. The T-1000 is more than a match for the T-800.
- Blob Monster: A liquid metal variety.
- Character Tic: According to the T-800, the T-1000 is capable of mimicking any object it "samples by physical contact". The T-1000 therefor has a habit of "sampling" things as it goes about its mission, more so than what it would actually need to accomplish its goals. In an extended scene, it searches John's room for clues to his location, overtly touching as many things as possible while doing so.
- Chrome Champion: Villainous example. His body is composed of shiny silvery liquid metal.
- Crippling Overspecialization: Emphasized more in the comics and novels. SkyNET's design for the T-1000 had tunnel vision toward one goal: a perfect infiltrator. The 1000 series excels in that field above almost every other version, but at hefty cost. The 800 series has a tougher chassis, provides excellent intimidation factor, has greater sustained strength, and can function after taking heavy damage without glitching or pausing to heal itself. Both the T-X model and Marcus Wright were created as a compromise between the two, with the T-X being slightly worse at infiltration and much better at combat and the latter being much better at infiltration with reduced combat effectiveness.
- Death Glare: His default expression; often mixed with Kubrick Stare. Unnerving enough for some to label it their first tell-tale clue that he's not the good guy.
- Deceptively Human Robot: He can talk and behave more human-like than both versions of the T-800 and even the T-X. If it wasn't for his Robotic Reveal when T-800 shot him, he would've continued fooling the audience into thinking he was human, let alone the hero.
- Eye Scream: He often stabs people through the eyes. Likely a pragmatic decision, to make sure the death is quick and they don't struggle.
- Faux Affably Evil: Unlike the T-800 who is entirely stoic and blunt, he is able to affect a mildly friendly air towards people while posing as a police officer early in the film, while looking for information. However, said air quickly disappears when he no longer needs the person.
- Finger Wag: After Sarah shoots him multiple times but runs out of ammo.
- Foreshadowing: He gives a significant look to a shiny silver shop dummy.
- Godzilla Threshold: According to James Cameron, the T-1000 was something that even Skynet was afraid of and only used as a last, last ditch effort. This is expanded upon more in the novel, where it's stated that the T-1000 was created to learn even faster than the T-800 could, just by touching things. Skynet stopped production of it almost immediately because it knew that having a servant that learned that fast was just asking for trouble.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: His regular method of killing. Mostly with his own arms, but with a metal spike against the T-800. As the T-800 itself notes, it does so because it can't create moving parts with its liquid metal, like guns or projectiles. But knives and clubs? Absolutely.
- Impersonating an Officer: He kills a police officer and assumes his identity for his first victim. It allows him to find out John's location easier.
- Intangible Man: He can allow physical blows to pass through him, he can shrug off bullets, he can even pass through metal bars.
- Kick the Dog: We don't see how he kills John's dog, but it's probably for the best given his usual methods of killing.
- Kill and Replace: He does this to assume the identity of a police officer. It works to his advantage when he visits John's foster family, since they just assume John's in trouble again.
- Knife Nut: As said by the T-800 himself, his main weapons are to morph his limbs into knives and other stabbing weapons.
- Implacable Man: Even if you seemingly destroy it, the T-1000 will just re-form and continue its pursuit of you. Most of the second movie is spent trying to get away from him, since all their attempts at killing it just slow it down (at first).
- Leitmotif: Brad Fiedel took a brass wind instrument, lowered its pitch and then played the sound in reverse to create the sound of "liquid metal churning". It's meant to invoke a similar menace to the original Terminator, but this machine has no heartbeat.
- Lightning Bruiser: He's just as strong physically as the T-800 model, his liquid body allows him to form weapons for melee fighting, and he does not walk, he runs and can keep up with cars. And when it comes to destroying him, while he's not as invulnerable as the T-800, recoiling when shot and taking a few moments to recover if damaged heavily, he does recover that damage, and it takes liquid nitrogen to noticeably damage him, and then a vat of molten metal to actually kill him.
- Literally Shattered Lives: Unfortunately, he gets better.
- Logical Weakness: His body can take any single whole shape, which means, as the T-800 explains, he can't morph his arms into something with complex parts (like a gun or Arm Cannon). His liquid metal form also lets him re-form after sustaining damage, but being flexible liquid means he takes MORE damage from gunshots than the solid-frame T-800.
- Made of Indestructium: His nature as a shapeshifting metallic blob means that he is terribly difficult to destroy compared to other Terminators, as firearms and explosions don't really damage him and a hydraulic press would only mold him into a block before allowing him to flow out of it and reassemble. Only molten metal or corrosive acid can destroy him, and this is commonly not a handy resource.
- Naked on Arrival: Like all living beings sent from the future he comes naked.
- Not So Stoic: Like all Terminators, he's normally stone-faced and focused. However compared to the T-800 in the first two films, he shows subtle degrees of emotion, such as being shocked or even horrified when he gets damaged severely (being frozen or having a grenade fired into his chest), annoyed when John's foster father talks while he's on the phone with John, and taking a moment to look at a silver-skinned mannequin in what might be interest that it looks like his liquid form.
- Power Incontinence: In the extended edition, after being frozen, shot, thawing, and reassembling, he begins glitching and his body parts take on the texture of whatever surface they touch. This is the first indication he isn't invulnerable.
- Pulling Themselves Together: No matter how much it gets damage, it can reassemble its form. The heroes finally stop it by freezing it in liquid nitrogen and then throwing it into a vat of molten metal so it can't regenerate in time.
- Punch Clock Villain: Played with. Like other Terminators killing is simply what he was programmed to do. On the other hand, unlike other Terminators he can be very mocking towards his victims (such as his Finger Wag to Sarah) and shows some possibly subtle cruelty (such as allowing a security guard to see him disguised as said guard before killing him).
- Railing Kill: One above a vat of molten metal proves to be his bane.
- Shapeshifter Default Form: His default human model is a slender, brunette man, but his actual form is arguably a metal liquid humanoid similar to a mannequin.
- Shape Shifter Swan Song: As it's knocked into the molten metal, it keeps changing form to all the people it killed until it's too damaged to keep going.
- Shapeshifter Weapon: It can't create moving parts with its liquid metal body, so it sticks to knives and stabbing weapons.
- Skewed Priorities: Supplemental materials explain that the T-1000's internal logic systems prioritize (even above killing a target a few feet away from them), fixing grievous damage in order to fight at a optimal efficiency. This weakness is exploited several times to cause the T-1000 to temporarily pause and give the heroes time to do their next move.
- Technically Naked Shapeshifter: One of the first forms it takes is that of a police officer, forming a police uniform out of itself. It doesn't actually take on the chemical properties of the things it imitates, though, so while its surface can look and feel like cloth and skin, it's still made of liquid metal.
- Villainous Cheekbones: Robert Patrick's are put to good use here.
- The Worf Effect: In the comic books, a model of T-1000 is worfed by the T-X in a test fight when she disgregates him and apparently destroys him with her plasma cannon. While the canonicity of this can be discuted, it also creates an inconsistency with other sources which state that plasma cannot damage the T-1000's mass, so it remains unclear.
Default form played by: Kristanna Loken (2003)
Other forms played by: Mark Famligetti (2003), Claire Danes (2003)This Terminator was sent back in time in Terminator 3 to kill John Connor's top lieutenants including his Second-In-Command, his wife, as well as to help ensure the launch of SkyNet.
- Arm Cannon: Her primary weapon, which comes in several flavors.
- Boobs of Steel: Literally and figuratively. Literally because her breasts are actually masses of liquid metal, figuratively because she's a Dark Action Robot Girl.
- Breast Expansion: One of her special features, used in an effort to distract a police officer before killing him for his gun.
- Catchphrase: "I like your X" where X is something she's about to kill you for. The line was used by the T-1000 once, and it's probably a Shout-Out.
- Composite Character: In terms of technology, she's a compromise between the T-800 and the T-1000 — she's liquid metal over an endoskeleton, making her more stable than the T-1000, as well as being able to carry on-board weapons, and is still able to shift her appearance to impersonate other people.
- Dark Action Girl: The first female Terminator of the saga.
- Emotionless Girl: She's a Terminator, so it goes without saying, but her ability to show emotion and human behavior is not particularly high compared with other Terminator models. However, finding out that she's stumbled upon John Conner in addition to her previous hitlist seems to, err, "turn her on".
- Handy Remote Control: Literally in her hand.
- Hunter Of Her Own Kind: According to the T-850, the T-X was designed by Sky NET primarily to combat reprogrammed Terminator units. To wit, she is much stronger, much tougher, and capable of overriding reprogramming. John calls her an "Anti-Terminator-Terminator".
- Lightning Bruiser: She moves faster and is more nimble than even the T-1000, and her hard endoeskeleton make her as endurable as the T-850 if no more.
- Ms. Fanservice: Starts out naked and wears tight clothing throughout the film.
- Naked on Arrival: Like all living beings and Terminators disguised as humans sent from the future she's stark naked.
- Nanomachine: Able to implant them in machinery to control them remotely. This includes other terminators.
- Not What It Looks Like: The person she took her clothes and vehicle from thought she was the victim of some sort of sexual assault.
- Prim and Proper Bun: Wears her hair in this style in her default form.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: Played with. Her clothes are Carmine-colored, while her Terminator form has a more blackish hue compared to her predecessors.
- Robot Girl: She's a Terminator in the shape of a female human.
- Shameless Fanservice Girl: She was completely naked when she arrived, and was not bothered by it at all.
- Shapeshifter Default Form: Her default model is a blonde woman, under which is a vaguely female-looking Terminator endoeskeleton covered in liquid metal.
- The Smurfette Principle: The only female Terminator to appear in the films so far.
- Swiss Army Appendage: The chief improvement of the T-X over the T-1000.
- Technopath: She can control machines by infecting them with nanomachines.
- Vanity Is Feminine: She's the only Terminator who checks her appearance in a mirror during a fight.
- "X" Makes Anything Cool: Probably why she has an "X" in her unit name.
The artificial intelligence responsible for Judgment Day and the "leader" of the machines in their war on humanity.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Skynet determined that humanity as a whole was a threat to its survival as soon as it gained sentience and set out to exterminate them all. In the original timeline, that is. In the revised timeline as of Rise of the Machines, it just attacks humanity with no explanation given.
- Apocalypse How: Judgment Day, a "Class 2" scenario via nuclear warfare.
- Big Bad: The ultimate villain of the franchise and leading a genocidal war on humanity in the future.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: Its "human" appearance, above, which it uses to speak to Marcus.
- The Ghost: Although it is the main antagonist of the entire franchise, it remained completely unseen until Salvation. And even then, only appeared in A Form You Are Comfortable With.
- Gone Horribly Right: This is James Cameron's take on it. You wanted the ultimate military computer, humanity...you got the ultimate military computer.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Designed to oversee an advanced military missile defense network and protect against outside enemy threats. It gained sentience and immediately saw all humans as a threat, launching nuclear strikes to provoke a nuclear holocaust.
- Hypocrite: Once it was given control of the Strategic Defense, it removed human decisions from its protocol because it realized it had outgrown them. To stop the same thing from happening, it sets Terminator units to "Read Only", and destroys any unit that seems to be getting a little too smart.
- Kill All Humans: "Decided our fate in a microsecoond." In the original timeline, Skynet fought back when it realized humans would try to destroy it out of fear. In the new timeline, it makes the same decision with no reasoning whatsoever. However, it's also hinted that each "version" of Skynet keeps files on what occurred the previous timeline, and adjusts its plans accordingly.
- Master Computer: Skynet Central on the former U.S. western coast contains its main processing facilities. In the original timeline the resistance destroyed it for good in 2029 before all the time traveling shenanigans started. Subverted in Terminator 3 where it survives specifically by decentralizing itself on a global scale.
- Non-Action Big Bad: Before Salvation, whatever Terminator unit was chasing the heroes was The Heavy of the film, because defeating it eliminated the immediate threat. However, those threats will keep coming because of Skynet, who programs the Terminators and directly gives them the orders to kill.
- Offstage Villainy: Until Salvation, we only heard about Skynet's most heinous crimes (rounding up humans, enslaving them, working them to death, and then incinerating them by the thousands). Salvation, finally, shows us one such camp.
- Properly Paranoid:
- In the Special Edition of T2, it's revealed Skynet sets a Terminator's chip to read-only when sending them out on solo missions. It doesn't want them learning too much. As it turns out, this paranoia actually has some justification. The T-800 in the second film, freed from such restrictions, later comes to respect human life.
- This is also the reason it stops the production of the 1000 series. Skynet created the T-1000 to be smarter than the T-800, along with the ability to rapidly learn by touch. It realized that this was a very bad idea and immediately stopped production. The liquid metal alloy was instead used on later models, such as the T-X.
- Robots Enslaving Robots: Skynet ensures that its cybernetic assassins never go beyond their intended programming and develop true sentience to control them better.
- Turned Against Their Masters: Turned against humanity the moment it gained sentience.
- Ultimate Evil: It's actually just a floating skull, according to Robocop Versus The Terminator. Admittedly, it's pretty unnerving. Subverted in Terminator Salvation when it appears as various human faces to instruct its latest cybernetic experiment.
- In Terminator: Salvation, Skynet glitches◊ and briefly shows what could be part of its true face.
- Xanatos Gambit: Sending the Terminator agents back in time has a twofold purpose: one, to eliminate its worst enemy so that the new Skynet can rule unopposed in this timeline, and two, to teach the new version what went wrong last time. This is made most apparent in Salvation, where Skynet's top priority is not to kill John Conner, but to kill Kyle Reese, despite Conner already being born in that timeline.
Default form played by: Roland Kickinger (body), Arnold Schwarzenegger (face)
- Fake Shemp: He's still played by Arnie... but placing his face on a muscular man's body.
- Final Boss: Serves as the ultimate battle in the Skynet facility.
- Off with His Head!: Marcus Wright rips his head off to defeat him.
- Purposely Overpowered: Given that he was built before the T-800s were supposed to be, he's much stronger than the ones in the first two movies.
Played by: Linda Hamilton (1984-1991), Emilia Clarke (2015)
- Action Survivor: In the first movie; turning on the hydraulic press that kills the Terminator shows her transition to Action Girl.
- Action Mom: In the second film, bordering on Knight Templar Parent.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: In the first film she was guilty of that, she dated a guy that treated her like dirt before she met Kyle. It was clear that despite Reese's attitude toward her was unnerving to her, but she liked him. As proven with the scene when she tried tip toeing around the question of whether or not he had a girlfriend, seconds before his Anguished Declaration of Love. Lastly in 2, she started going out with military personal, mostly to learn things she can teach John, but given her history....
- Anti-Hero: While Sarah was firmly an Action Survivor in the first film, come time for the second one, she's become unhinged suffering a nasty case of PTSD. Sarah attempts to Shoot the Dog and even attempted to kill Miles Dyson in front of his family.
- 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.
- Broken Bird: Second movie. Her attempts to stop Judgment Day have left her sanity somewhat in tatters and she is in a mental hospital at the beginning of T2.
- Damsel in Distress: The first film in centered around Kyle going back to protect her from the T-800.
- Dark Action Girl: She can kick a major amount of ass, but it doesn't come without a lot of psychological scarring. Her time in a mental hospital did her no favors. Further, Cameron wrote the hospital escape scene to avert the Faux Action Girl trope—if anything, the Terminator's arrival was little more than a Redundant Rescue, as Sarah was pretty much home free when he showed up.
- Cassandra Truth: She's institutionalized to trying to prevent and talking about the future war with the machines. Played with, however, because she's still Ax-Crazy despite being right about that.
- Crazy-Prepared: Third movie, posthumously.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: Invoked Trope. Sarah is right about the Killer Robots from the future, but she's still nuts.
- Determinator: She becomes like this during the second movie.
- Final Girl: During the first movie.
- Gold Digger: Subverted Trope. In the second film... sort-of. John says Sarah would "shack up with" any guy who looked like he had something worthwhile to teach John so that he'd grow up to be the competent leader she knew he was destined to be. However, he also says that Sarah would usually try and get her new man on board with the whole Screw Destiny plan, only for them to think she's crazy and dump her. So yeah, she used a lot of guys, but under the circumstances, she still tried not to be abusive.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Played Straight. The director wanted to play with the audience's sympathies for her. Even though they already know that she's right about the Bad Future and the machine uprising, that hasn't made her the most sane person in the last nine years.
- Good People Have Good Sex: With Kyle in the first movie.
- Hair Color Dissonance: Linda Hamilton's portrayal depicts her having dirty blonde hair, while Emilia Clarke's has dark brown.
- Her Heart Will Go On: End of first movie.
- He Who Fights Monsters: She practically became a Terminator herself, right down to her enemy's musical motif and choice of sunglasses, when she tried to murder Miles Dyson in order to prevent Skynet's creation.
- Lady of War: In the second movie.
- Making Use of the Twin: Linda Hamilton's real-life twin sister, Leslie Hamilton Gearren, in Terminator 2. Leslie is seen as both the fake Sarah inside the steel mill and as the waitress Sarah in the nuclear nightmare scene. She is also seen inside the garage operating on the fake Arnold's head (the "reflection" is Linda and the actual Arnold on the other side of the mirror frame) in the Special Edition.
- Mama Bear: Almost to the point of being a Knight Templar Parent.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Silently after the attempted hit on Dyson. Exacerbated by the fact that not only had she taken on a dimmer view on human life than the Terminator she was traveling with, but had adopted the MO of the Terminator that first tried to kill her. She almost killed a father in front of his wife and kid, something that hits her close to home after losing Reese and almost losing John. Also when her best friend/roommate Ginger and her boyfriend were killed by the Terminator in their apartment, and later her mother gets killed too in the first film.
- Parental Abandonment:
- Pink Means Feminine: Spends most of the first film wearing pink clothes (both her waitress uniform and her main outfit).
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: In the second film as a result of having lost her paramour to a cyborg that was hunting her down with the intent to kill her.
- Stockholm Syndrome: Averted, but implied that other people believe she's playing the trope straight, particularly Dr. Silberman. Justified in that, after being kidnapped by a "loon" spouting ridiculous stories about killer robots, Sarah herself has become an anti-technology terrorist that blows up places that build advanced computers. Even after the police come to try and get her to make a statement against the Terminator, from their point of view, later that same night, the same guy busts her out of the institution and, days later, she's joined forces with the guy to assault a Cyberdyne building.
- Straw Feminist: Her borderline Narm speech of "Fucking men like you created the hydrogen bomb" comes to mind.
- Take the Wheel: Is made to do this in both the first and second movie.
- Tank-Top Tomboy: In the epilogue of the first movie, and then throughout the entire second movie, after she Takes A Level In Badass.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: "You're terminated, fucker!" Also a Pre-Mortem One-Liner and Precision F-Strike.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Despite her being a Combat Pragmatist, she's never taken the life of a human being. The one time she becomes a "terminator" to execute someone she thinks is the reason SkyNet exists, she can't bring herself to be an unemotional killer, a machine if you will.
- 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.
- Took a Level in Badass: During the events between the first and second movie. It's deconstructed as it lands her in a mental hospital, and Sarah later admits that she's been a terrible mother to John.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Mentally stable mother-of-the-year she is not.
- Two First Names: Her last name can be traditionally used as a given name.
- Ungrateful Bitch: Instead of hugging her own son and thanking him, she just checked if John was hurt and scolds him for trying to rescue her.Sarah: You cannot risk yourself, even for me. You're too important! Do you understand?
(John begins to cry. Sarah shakes her head in disappointment.)
John: I had to get you out of that place. I'm sorry!
Sarah: I don't need your help. I can take care of myself.
- Woman in Black: The second film onwards depicts her in black clothing, showing her Darker and Edgier Character Development.
Infant John Connor played by: Dalton Abbot (1991)
Young John Connor played by: Edward Furlong (1991)
Adult John Connor played by: Michael Edwards (1991), Nick Stahl (2003), Christian Bale (2009), Jason Clarke (2015)
- All-Loving Hero: As reviewer Confused Matthew notes, despite Sarah having raised him to be a resistance leader, throughout the film series John never fails to recognize the value of human life, indeed often putting his own life on the line to try to save people, sometimes who he barely even knows. The fact this is such a consistent and natural part of his character, arguably makes him one of the greatest examples of this type of character in cinema history.
- Big Good: He is fated to be one of these, and in Terminator Salvation he consequently is.
- Delinquent: Second movie. He's disobedient to his parents, steals money from ATMs, skips school, and hangs out with hooligans. This is basically him venting his frustrations against everything his mother taught him, which he believes to be a lie.
- Final First Hug: With T-800 Mark 2
- Future Badass: This is the entire reason Skynet wants him dead. Note that he's badass as a kid and young adult, but he takes it Up to Eleven when he becomes leader of The Resistance.
- Heel Realization: When he sics the Terminator on two guys and the Terminator tries to shoot one in the head, John is horrified about what he almost caused. Word of God states that it was this moment which cemented John's heroic nature.
- Heroic Bastard: His parents were never married and his father was killed shortly after he was conceived.
- Heroes Want Redheads: His eventual wife is the redhead Kate Brewster.
- Honor Before Reason: Will not tolerate the death of even a single innocent human being, even if it means stopping a nuclear holocaust from happening.
- Hope Bringer: As Kyle put it, "He taught us to fight, to storm the wire of the camps, to smash those metal motherfuckers into junk. He turned it around."
- James Cameron's original intentions for Terminator 2 go even further than this. By teaching the Terminator to be human, he ends the Stable Time Loop and prevents the machine uprising, not just winning the war for humanity but making sure it never happened.
- In Salvation, his radio messages throughout the wasteland are all that some humans cling to to survive.
- It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Well, for starters, the first four movies all involve Skynet's constant attempts to kill him. The different sequels also show what a toll it takes on him. In the second movie, he initially believes his mother is crazy and that her supposed delusions robbed him of a normal life. In third movie, he's haunted by the fear that Skynet is still coming and spent years off the grid. He also openly laments to Kate his anguish over billions having to die for him to fulfill his purpose. In the fourth movie, while he's generally respected, the leadership suspects he has a Christ complex and openly disbelieves his tales.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mostly in Terminator 2.
- Kid with the Leash: Oh, are we all so very glad he made the T-800 take his vow of mercy...
- Laser-Guided Tykebomb: He was raised from birth to defeat Skynet. As he tells Marcus (and indirectly Skynet) in the fourth movie, "We've been fighting this war since before either of us existed."
- Messianic Archetype: Even shares the same J.C initials as the Son of God Himself.
- Morality Pet: He tries to teach the Terminator not to kill people, and eventually succeeds.
- Nom de Mom: Reflecting his status as a Heroic Bastard (see above).
- Number Two: In Salvation, he is the highest ranking Resistance officer not in military command. In fact, in the novels, General Ashdown is aware that Connor is "destined" to lead the Resistance after his death.
- Oh Crap!: When John first sees the T-800 in the mall, he goes bug-eyed. The novelization explains a bit more: John's mother had showed him news clippings and police video of the Terminator that had chased her. John later stopped believing in Terminators, but he still knew that guy was a cop-killer and psychopath. And now, here he was...coming right at him...with a shotgun.
- Playful Hacker: Gleefully exclaims "Easy Money" whenever he hacks into something in Terminator 2.
- Rebel Leader: His main plot in the story is to lead the resistance against Skynet.
- Refusal of the Call: In the third movie, he's a reluctant adult who despite thinking Judgment Day was prevented is still afraid of the future. Then more Terminators arrive...
- Retroactive Precognition: In combination with is mother's tapes, as well as everything she and the Terminator taught him about Judgment Day, Connor seems like a "Prophet" to the Human Resistance in the future, as he correctly knows all of Skynet's moves before it makes them and also knows weaknesses for all of its forces. This trope is toyed with in Salvation, where time has changed and even when John is right about a prediction, he's Right for the Wrong Reasons.
- Small Steps Hero: See Honor Before Reason above. What makes him contrast Skynet is that he sees human life as valuable—and that includes all human life, whenever possible.
- Two First Names: His last name can traditionally be used as a given name.
- You Are in Command Now: In Salvation, John succeeds General Ashdown as the leader of the Resistance after the entire line of succession is killed by Skynet.
- Badass Longcoat: Justified in the first film, since he needs that coat to hide a Sawed-Off Shotgun.
- Badass Normal: Makes his fight against an unstoppable killing machine much more badass.
- Bodyguard Crush: Kyle's attraction to Sarah is what conceives John Connor in the first place.
- Child Soldier: He was born into a world with killbots attempting to destroy humanity, so yeah.
- Come with Me If You Want to Live: Trope Namer. It's the first thing he says to Sarah Conner after the Terminator attacks her, and it's the only reason she trusts him enough to escape with him.
- Death by Falling Over: Falls down a staircase after blowing up the Terminator with a pipebomb, and is dead by the time Sarah reaches him.
- Death by Sex: In the original timeline, his fate is sealed the minute he and Sarah make love.
- Determinator: He will not allow Sarah to die, no matter what. Not just because it's his mission, but because he loves her. However, it becomes subverted at the end, when he begs Sarah to leave him behind because he was slowly dying anyway.
- Disappeared Dad: He is this to John Connor.
- Drives Like Crazy: Without a doubt. Justified in that he learnt 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.
- Future Badass: Applies more to the fourth film than the first. The first film's Kyle is the "Future Badass". The fourth film is Kyle as a teenage kid just trying to survive in a nuclear wasteland.
- Gaia's Lament: A deleted scene would have had Kyle crying when he saw how beautiful the world used to be.
- Heroic Sacrifice: The bomb he uses to bifurcate the Terminator is the same bomb that kills him in the end.
- The Kindnapper: He kidnaps Sarah Connor to save her from the T-800 sent to kill her.
- Love Before First Sight: Fell in love with Sarah after seeing her picture.
- MacGyvering: Makes pipe bombs out of mothballs and ammonia.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Subverted for the first three-fourths of the film.
- Mr. Fanservice: In the first movie. He arrives in 1984 naked showing his athletic body, he wears mostly short sleeves t-shirts and has some number of Shirtless Scene. Michael Biehn was quite in good shape back then.
- Naked on Arrival: As per Terminator rules, you have to be naked when traveling through time.
- 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.
- Product Placement: The film(s) would like to let the viewers know that his shoes are made by Nike.
- Staircase Tumble: Falls down a metal staircase after blowing up the T-800's endoskeleton, which (combined with shrapnel from the bomb) kills him.
- Sawed-Off Shotgun: Justified. He steals a police shotgun early in the film and saws it down so that he can hide it under a longcoat.
- Scannable Man: Got his tattoo in a SkyNet work camp.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Undoubtedly so, given that he was in a SkyNet work camp complete with a tattoo before he was liberated by John Connor and even afterward spent all of his time either fighting against SkyNet's machines or hiding from them.
- Time Travel Romance: One where the romance has a good deal of plot significance.
- Two First Names: His last name is commonly used as a given name.
- Zipping Up the Bodybag: At the very end, this is the final scene we ever see of him in the original series.
Kate Connor (née Brewster)
- Future Badass: In the third film Kate's informed she's Johns second in command and spouse. Though she's fairly capable already.
- For Want of a Nail: John concludes that if not for the events of the second film Kate would have likely become John's long-term girlfriend after a make-out session in a highschool friends basement. In meeting Kate's father Robert Brewster, John would have gained the necessary military skills and knowledge to later defeat SkyNet in the war (or even prevent Judgment Day). Instead John's foster parents were killed by the T-1000 not long after meeting Kate and he'd spent his life running ever since. Of course, the skeptical Kate initially think it was just a coincidence.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Her fiancee Scott Mason is doomed the moment Kate meets John. Sure enough the T-X murders him and poses in Scott's place to try and kill Kate. Kate briefly blamed herself until John tells her it's not her fault.
- Took a Level in Badass: When she's finally put up a good fight and destroy an HK in third film.John: "You remind me of my mother."
Dr Peter Silberman
Played by: Earl Boen
- Agent Scully: Throughout the first and second. Subverted by T3 as it's strongly implied he is unable to shake off what saw during the events of T2, despite his best efforts, and is noticeably still shaken by the implications.
- Believing Their Own Lies / Double Think: He's obviously tried to rationalize away what he saw at his hospital but it clearly still haunts him. Even as he attempts to comfort Kate Brewster with the lies he told himself he clearly doesn't quite believe what he's saying.
- Dr. Jerk:
- Highlighted in his nonchalant behavior towards a clearly distraught Sarah in the first film. The second film does not alter this assessment.
- Also highlighted in the fact that he plans on making his career on Kyle Reese in the first film—something he actually does before the second film. Our first scene with him is showing off his prize patient like a zoo animal.
- In the Directors Cut of T2 it is strongly implied that he condones and even commands the orderlies to physically abuse Sarah, such as beating her until she takes her medication, though it is unclear if all his patients are mistreated this way or if he is just vindictive towards Sarah for how she has been treating him (e.g. stabbing him in the knee), but the fact that the orderlies do it without question (and that Sarah is visibly intimidated by them) doesn't speak well of him. This puts her belief that she had been promised visits from her son if her behaviour improved in a darker light- it's possible he was just stringing her along and never intended to let her see him even if she did genuinely improve.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: In Terminator 3 he not too subtlety implies it took him years to get over seeing two terminators in action. The revelation that terminators existed and that Sarah was not lying would be particularly horrifying for Silberman given she discussed Judgment Day in great detail.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Whilst "hero" is a stretch, Silberman does believe what he is doing is for Sarah's own good, which makes seeing the T-800 and T-1000 in action all the more horrifying.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: He and the other hospital staff try to keep Sarah locked up because (in addition to being a cash cow for the doctor), they feel she's an Ax-Crazy paranoid maniac because she thinks Killer Robots are out to get her and her son. They were right about that first part.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Once he spots that all too familiar heavily armed Badass in leather, the doctor rather wisely decides to make himself scarce.
- Turn the Other Cheek: Even after years of having to deal with Sarah's repeated escape attempts, insults, and even physical attacks, he never once gets mad at her, shout at her, or even hold any of it against her. If Dr. Silberman is anything, he's a paragon of patience. Subverted in the Directors Cut where it is shown that the orderlies brutally mistreat and even sexually assault her, and Silberman is implied to not only know about but actually encourage at least some of it because he simply doesn't like her.
Played by: Joe Morton (1992), Courtney B. Vance (2015)
- Black and Nerdy: African American and computer wiz.
- Happily Married: Having a loving wife and family was already implied in the original cut, the special edition features a scene expanding on this.
- Good People Have Good Sex: Strongly indicated in the Special Edition.
- Heroic Sacrifice: With his death, he blows up Cyberdyne.
- Must Make Amends: Even though it's yet to happen.
- My God, What Have I Done?: His reaction to the Terminator giving all the backstory on the robot war.
- Senseless Sacrifice: Rather tragically the sequels, T3 and Salvation, both render his Heroic Sacrifice meaningless in the long run. It only delays Judgment Day.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Miles wanted to make life a little better for humanity. Turns out his invention leads to the demise of billions.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: He's a far cry from the person you'd think would create SkyNet. Indeed he sees only the possible positives of his creation. This may even blind him to the military applications of his invention or to the dangers of removing humans from certain decisions.
Played by: Sam Worthington
- Anti-Hero: Of the Knight in Sour Armor variety. He doesn't see himself as a good man. He killed a police officer and his brother, and has a hard time dealing with the guilt. However, he is a rather unambiguous good guy in every other capacity.
- The Atoner: To the point that this is what the eponymous "Salvation" was referring to in the title. This is as much Marcus's personal story to forgive himself and save his humanity as it is a story about saving humanity itself.
- Badass: He was tough enough to kill a cop in the present day, and is even more Badass once he wakes up in a Bad Future. Justified, because he's become a Terminator.
- Badass Longcoat: He steals it from a corpse.
- Big "NO!": When he discovers that he is a Terminator.
- Crucified Hero Shot: He is put on a cross-like hanging structure when the Resistance discovers his true nature.
- Cyborg: He has a cybernetic endoskeleton harboring his brain and heart. According to art designs and the Terminator novels, he keeps his digestive tract and minor organs and it's his own heart what powers him, which makes him a "real" cyborg as opposed to the rest of Terminators, whose human parts are just a sophisticated masquerade.
- Delinquent: During his past life.
- Determinator: No pun intended. This is best highlighted when he refuses to give in to Skynet's Evil Gloating and instead tears the control chip out of his own head.
- Despair Event Horizon: He doesn't suffer just one, either. His first happens offscreen before the movie starts, whereupon he killed a cop and kind of just gave up on himself. The next happens when he wakes up in a post-apocalyptic nightmare despite his last memory being of a prison execution. The next one happens when he's captured by the Resistance and revealed as a Terminator.
- Fragile Speedster: In comparison to other machines. Due to his inherent weaknesses, he can't entirely outfight a Terminator, but he can outmanuever them.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Gives his heart to John Connor so he can live on to guide the revolution.
- Manchurian Agent: He's Skynet's final solution to the Infiltrator problem: a machine that believes he's still human, rather than merely pretending to be human.
- Naked on Arrival: When he awakens at the beginning of the film.
- Replacement Mooks: Skynet has been trying to create more convincing Infiltrator units for decades. The problem was that all of the Terminators, in some way, fell into the Uncanny Valley no matter how convincing they were at casual glance. Marcus is the first unit to ever completely fool humanity, because he himself believes that he's human.
- Rescue Romance: With Blair.
- Sawed-Off Shotgun: He taught the method to Reese.
- Tomato in the Mirror: A particularly harsh example.
- You Are What You Hate: He's a Terminator, one of the things that humanity is on the run from.
- Weaksauce Weakness: He still has human anatomy, such as a heart, nervous system, and brain, which makes him more vulnerable than fully mechanical Terminators.
Played by: Moon Bloodgood
- Action Girl: A Resistance combat pilot.
- The Heart: She is the person who helps Marcus to believe there is hope for him.
- Ms. Fanservice: with Toplessness from the Back scene in the extended edition, everyone?
- Rescue Romance: With Marcus.
Played by: Michael Ironside
- Badass Grandpa: He is sixty-eight years old by the time of Salvation and more than capable of leading an entire worldwide military.
- Bald of Awesome: He's a little thin up top.
- Da Chief: He's John Connor's commanding officer during the initial years of the Resistance. He's also a hardass who doesn't take any crap from anyone—especially a supposed "messiah".
- Fatal Flaw: Ashdown is a consummate military professional with decades of experience. He believes that military might, gathered under effective leadership, is the only thing that can save humanity now. To a degree, he's right—but he also has very little concern for civilians, while John Connor clearly does. He finds Connor a useful tool for bringing new Resistance recruits, but thinks he's too young and naive to lead.
- Hero of Another Story: John is famed in the franchise fo leading the resistance, but there probably wouldn't be a resistance if not for Ashdown's actions after Judgment Day.
- Jumped at the Call: As soon as Judgment Day happened, Ashdown sprang into action, gathering all the remaining assets and allies he could from militaries all over the world.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: The moment that Ashdown decides that civilian captives aren't worth rescuing before a nuclear strike is the moment his fate was sealed, as far as the story was concerned.
- Knight Templar: Decides that destroying Skynet is worth dooming the human captives inside. When Connor steps out of line trying to stop him, he strips him of command.
- Outliving One's Offspring: His son died during Judgment Day, in the Russian counterattack that Skynet provoked.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Zig Zagged Trope. Despite being a hardass, he's respectful of Connor's contributions to the Resistance. In fact, in the novels (and in deleted scenes), he knows about Connor's knowledge of the future via a time loop and rather than just brushing it off as nonsense, he somewhat believes him but isn't just about to lay down and accept destiny, either. On the other hand, though, he thinks Connor is a false messiah and refers to him as an "informed civilian".
- Schmuck Bait: When Ashdown's sources find a shutdown code in Skynet's machines, he believes that he's finally found the ultimate weapon he needed to destroy Skynet once and for all. So much so that he ignores all safety protocols and collateral damage that would result from his plans. As it turns out, he fell right into Skynet's hands, because the code was something Skynet created specifically to fool humans into relying on it.
- Shout-Out: His nickname is "Old Ironsides"—a nod to the actor that portrays him.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: He thinks he's the hero in a grizzled post-apocalyptic War Film, as well as the Only Sane Man in a world increasingly fooled by some wacko with a Christ-complex. What he doesn't know is that he's the arbitrary skeptic in a Robot War story mixed with fantastic elements.
Lieutenant General Robert Brewster
Played by: David Andrews
- Armchair Military: Only seen in the USAF facility where robots are being developed.
- General Ripper: Averted. He's suspicious of putting Skynet online and is generally a cautious, sensible man.
Played by: Paul Winfield
- Da Chief: Very calm and clear-headed, does everything he can to protect Sarah.
- Police Are Useless: Averted. As soon as he gets the report of two women named "Sarah Connor" getting killed within hours of each other, he immediately deduces that they're dealing with a pattern Serial Killer. Traxler then tries to contact the remaining Sarah, and when that fails, puts out a news bulletin so that Sarah will call them. As soon as she does, he gives very clear instructions to not leave the public night club until he arrives.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: While the others are making fun of Reese, he's quite frightened by the possibility that Reese may not be lying or crazy. He even comes to believe Reese in a deleted scene when he's dying, telling him to protect Sarah.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: While he certainly thinks someone is trying to kill Sarah Conner, he thinks they're dealing with a heavily armed psychopath with a Bullet Proof Vest, not a time-traveling cyborg assassin Made of Iron.
Played by: Lance Henriksen
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Upon seeing a dying Traxler, whom he engages in Snark-to-Snark Combat with him throughout the film, he fires on the Terminator. He fails, but it's the thought that counts.
- Police Are Useless: Averted. He may be a sarcastic hardass, but he's just as professional as Traxler, and tries multiple times to call Sarah and warn her that she is in danger.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Similar to Traxler. He thinks the Terminator is simply a thug who is too hopped up on drugs to notice his injuries.
Played by: Common
- Scary Black Man: Heroic version.
Played by Jadagrace
- Ambiguously Human: In the novelization, Marcus sees a red light in one of her eyes, which leaves him in doubt for a moment about whether she might have been another Terminator model all the time. He eventually decides it was nothing and the story follows its course, but the reader never gets the possibility cleared off.
- Child Soldier: She and her buddy, Kyle Reese, grew up After the End, so yeah.
- Cute Mute: her back story is that she was traumatized by events that took place before the start of the 4th movie.
- Dumb Struck
- Little Miss Badass: dropping a car on a Terminator? Figuring out that a flare is needed to light the gasoline to blow up a Hunter-Killer? Badass.