Creator: Arnold Schwarzenegger

"Arnold Schwarzenegger is the Governor of California. There's a perfectly ordinary English sentence."

Austrian-born actor (born in 1947, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1983), former bodybuilder, and Governator of the state of California from 2003 to 2011, a fact that a lot of people in general find to be very funny. As a child he idolized British bodybuilder Reg Park (among others), star of the cult sword and sandal favorite Hercules In The Haunted World opposite Christopher Lee, and took up bodybuilding as a teenager; he even befriended Park in the 1960s and had the honor to train with him. After making a name for himself with multiple Mr. Universe wins, he broke into acting with an unfortunate Hercules movie - the infamous Hercules In New York AKA: Hercules Goes Bananas (where he was billed by the very porn star sounding name "Arnold Strong" and his voice was actually dubbed, which just makes the film even funnier - an alternate version with his original voice performance is said to be available), which he then followed with a number of lesser films, the exception being Stay Hungry opposite Jeff Bridges and Sally Field, before landing his first real hit in Conan the Barbarian (1982). He is now most famous for his roles in action films such as the Terminator series and Predator, with characters that always have a thick Austrian accent (it has, in fact, become so iconic of him that he has a speech coach to help him maintain the accent after years in America). His comedies (and even his later action films) vary. He was also a lifelong friend of Stan Winston, the master-puppeteer who quite literally made The Terminator out of him.

Also famous for his many Bond and Pre Mortem One Liners; some of the cornier ones end up getting oft repeated for the sake of their corniness.

Note also he is not as dumb as he looks, as he was smart enough to graduate with a University Degree in Business and Economics. When he made his breakthrough as an action star with Conan the Barbarian (1982), he had already been a self-made millionaire for yearsnote , due to a number of smart business decisions. The acting was more of a hobby, and you could call him a Genius Bruiser in Real Life. Indeed, if you watch the documentary Pumping Iron, we see a young Arnold talking about his use of psychological warfare against his fellow body builders, meaning he was trying to outsmart his competitors in what just about everyone else would consider a purely physical activity.

As governor of California, was a real-life case of Asskicking Equals Authority. He's also the biggest JFK fan known to man, being the man who paid thousands for a set of golf clubs used by JFK as well as marrying into the family... and yet, somewhat oddly, he's a Republican. A rather liberal Republican (especially in an era where Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly are major opinion leaders), but a Republican nonetheless. Also, he credits his loyalty to the Republican Party to a speech by an American President while he was still in Austria. The president? Richard Nixon. Chew on that for a while.

Went on record saying that when his gubernatorial term expired in January 2011, he will not seek another term, nor will he run for a House or Senate seat. Most likely because the harsh realities of Politics have been less than kind to him due to him being too far to the left of his own party and too far to the right for the Democrats. The sex scandal didn't help either. He has since confirmed that he will be returning to films (he also later admitted that he originally threw his hat in the ring as a throw-away joke during an interview, and was astonished that so many people took him seriously). Unless the Constitution is amended to allow foreign-born citizens to run for President...

Also of note being a real life Determinator, claiming that choosing it as a life philosophy was the key to his success.

Released an autobiography in 2013, called Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story.

Not to be confused with The Ahnold, though he's the Trope Namer.

YMMV tropes may be found here.

Notable for:


Tropes associated with Arnold Schwarzenegger

  • Abusive Parents / "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Arnold disclosed in 2004 that he was abused by his father as a child which led to an emotional gap between the two men that was never reconciled. He ultimately didn't even attend the man's funeral, though rumors that he opted to do a bodybuilding competition held at the same time have been disputed. Arnold was the Un Favorite, (wrongly) suspected by his father of being the product of an affair by his mother. No wonder his Papa Wolf scenes play so well!
  • The Ahnold: The Trope Codifier and Trope Namer.
  • Badass / One-Man Army: A common theme of his characters, and a key part of his image.
  • Billed Above The Title: And at times, only the surname given it's long enough and also looks really good on a poster.
  • Bond One-Liner: Arnold has always been great at these (especially in Commando). Say what you will about his acting, it's impossible to deny that he has a good sense of comedic timing.
  • Catch Phrase: "I'll be back". Many times lampshaded (Last Action Hero) or played with (Terminator 3, The Expendables 2).
  • Cigar Chomper: Arnold is so devoted to his cigars that when he was Governor of California, he had a tent with his desk placed on the grounds outside the governor's mansion so he could smoke while conducting business; it's illegal to smoke inside government buildings in California.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Arnold engaged in fierce rivalries with Sergio Oliva (bodybuilding), Sylvester Stallone (acting) and Gray Davis (for the governorship of California), but became friends with all of them, once he has defeated each of them.
    • Whether Arnold really "defeated" Stallone would be a matter of movie fan opinion, though.
    • The Stallone rivalry may have been more tabloid hype than anything else. During that same period, the two were not only friends but business partners in the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain.
    • Any 'defeat' of Stallone in the acting realm likely has more to do with Stallone having a long string of really bad films than anything Arnold did.
    • Technically, Arnold didn't 'defeat' Gray Davis, as the two men never stood against each other in an election. Davis was recalled by referendum, and Arnold ran on the subsequent open ballot (which listed 135 candidates, including former child actor Gary Coleman and porn star Mary Carey along with Schwarzenegger). Arnold had by far the best name recognition of any candidate, and had been previously floated as a gubernatorial candidate on the Republican ticket as early as The Eighties. Although he was only elected with 48% of the votes, Schwarzenegger still managed a landslide, leading the #2 challengernote  by 17% and gaining more votes than the next five candidates combined. Schwarzenegger's reelection in 2006 was a bona fide landslide, which he won with 56% of the vote and led his opponent by 17%—as it turns out, he was actually a pretty good governor, all things considered.
  • Determinator: A real-life example. When Arnold decided he wanted to become the world's best bodybuilder, he did it. Then he decided he wanted to become the biggest movie star on the planet, he did that also. Then he decided to become the Governor of California and pulled that off as well. When Arnold decides he wants to do something, it's wise not to bet against him.
    • His action film roles are the epitome of this trope. If Schwarzenegger's bent on protecting someone, taking someone down, or fulfilling some other goal, it doesn't matter what stands in his way.
    • Arnold has also considered running for President of the United States. The only thing that seems to be stopping him is the fact that he's not a native-born American citizen.
  • Dull Surprise: His most notable roles are an emotionless robot, an emotionless soldier, an emotionless ex-soldier and an emotionless barbarian warrior. Really, Schwarzenegger is the best when he can play a killing machine (either literally or figuratively). Honestly, you do not want to see him try to act emotions. It can alternate between bad acting (Jingle All the Way), weird facial expressions (Kindergarten Cop, Total Recall (1990)), overacting for the sake of it (Batman & Robin) or for fun (True Lies). His best performance ironically came in a parody film: Last Action Hero. He actually shows some emotional depth in the film.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: A real life example. He came from very humble beginnings, became a champion body builder, one of the most popular action heroes of the 1980s and 90s, a successful businessman and even governor of California. Self-Made Man indeed.
  • The Eighties: Most of his iconic roles originated in this decade.
  • Fan Nickname: Ahnold, an approximation of pronouncing his given name in his trademark Austrian accent.
    • The Governator, a portmanteau of "Governor" and his most iconic role "The Terminator", in reference to his time as Governor of California.
  • Genius Bruiser: His muscles may have made him a household name, but his brains are what made his fortune via success in business (most of his money comes from investments, real estate, and ownership of several companies) and politics.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: He wore these while filming the biker bar scene in Terminator 2 to get the desired reaction from the extras.
  • Green Eyes: Except in Batman & Robin where lenses make for literal Icy Blue Eyes.
  • Handsome Lech: In Real Life, he's known to be a bit...touchy with the ladies, and has boundary issues. Supposedly, his father thought he might be gay so he often tried to encourage little Arnie to chase skirts as much as he can, so this is likely a result of that up bringing.
  • Hollywood Action Hero: One of the most successful and iconic of all time. Parodied in Last Action Hero.
  • I Am Not Leonard Nimoy: To the point that whole films have been made specifically to be Arnold does X: "Ahnold gets pregnant," "Ahnold shops for Christmas toys," etc.
  • I Have Many Names: His nicknames are various. Arnie, Austrian Oak\Styrian Oak (from his bodybuilding days), Conan the Republican (bestowed to him by Ronald Reagan himself!), Governator (after being elected in California)...
  • Large Ham: When the role allows him to definitely not take it serious, Arnold will overact as much as possible.
  • The Mentor / Heterosexual Life-Partners: To Italian bodybuilder (and his successor as Mr. Olympia) Franco Columbu. The two also had a friendly rivalry in the European bodybuilding circuit during the 1960's although they never officially competed against each other for a title (being in different weight classes). Columbu served as best man at Schwarzenegger's wedding, appeared in several of his films (including Conan the Barbarian and The Terminator) and was a model in Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding books. The relationship culminated in Columbu's appointment by Schwarzenegger to the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners, a position he holds to this day (Columbu is a certified chiropractor in addition to being a bodybuilder, trainer, and actor).
    • He was also lucky to train with the late Reg Park, his personal favorite among the many bodybuilders he admired, and even roomed with him. Arnold even spoke at Park's funeral in 2007, referring to him as "a dear friend" and "a personal hero". Arnold also credited Park as being the one who taught him the depth of just how far he would have to go to achieve his goals.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Back in his heyday he was quite shameless about showing off his physique.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Arnold has expressed regrets that he was never able to do a movie with Eddie Murphy. Though he now plans to do a sequel to Twins with Murphy as the third son (?!) that had been languishing in Development Hell for a while.
  • Nineties Anti-Hero: Mostly his turn in Terminator 2, where his popularity led to James Cameron writing the script so that his T-800 was the protagonist instead of the villain. Eraser and End of Days also count.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Arnold ALWAYS talks in his well-known accent. No matter what part he's playing. In most cases, this can be excused because his characters are rarely, if ever, claimed to be native born, so there's nothing stopping the character from being an immigrant like in Commando where it is said his character hails from East Germany. Still, one has to wonder why the T-800 has an accent that will make him stick out almost as much as his horrifying metal skeleton.
    • This gets Lampshaded every now and then. For instance, a deleted scene in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines shows him as the human the T-800 was modeled on, speaking with a silly and whimsical Southern accent. When someone comments on the voice, a scientist, speaking in Arnold's actual voice, responds "We can fix it."
    • James Cameron has said that he liked the thick accent because it made it seem like Skynet hadn't finished development on the Terminators. The T-1000 would correct this issue.
    • Arnold has gone so far as to work with a voice coach to help him retain his accent, which has become as iconic as the man himself.
  • Old Shame: Arnold's father was a member of the Nazi Party in Austria before and during World War II and Arnold has spent much of his career battling accusations that he is a fascist sympathizer because of this.note 
    • Arnold has also expressed regret over appearing in the Red Sonja film (flat-out stating on a few occasions that it's the worst movie he ever appeared in), and has joked that he used to punish his children's bad behavior by making them watch it from start to finish.
      • In that same vein, he has also joked that he threatened the California legislature with making them watch Jingle All the Way 13 times if they couldn't come up with a budget by August.
    • He also disliked Hercules in New York, and says the film should be used as an alternative to waterboarding in Guantanamo.
    • His recent sex scandal could probably become this in the next years, although he may have averted it in this case by 1) having been discovered to have actually financially supported his mistress and illegitimate son (which is how the story came out in the first place) and 2) reconciling with his wife (though they eventually divorced in 2011).
  • Papa Wolf: As shown by Commando, Kindergarten Cop and even Terminator 2: Judgment Day, hurt a child or a teenager near to him and Arnie WILL fuck you up so bad that you'll need more than one coffin to be buried in.
  • Playing Against Type: End of Days (not least as this is the only non-Terminator movie to date where his character's killed off at the end).
  • Real Men Wear Pink: He reveals in a Reddit IAMA that he likes to paint. Apparently it was a childhood hobby, that he only took up again after fatherhood.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: How he portrayed himself as governor of California, and the theme of his reelection campaign.
  • Running Gag: People love to make jokes disputing his height. Arnold has always given his height as being 6'2" while his old body building rivals claim he was 6'1.5" (6'1" in other words). And that's not the half of it.
  • Self-Made Man: Before he ever appeared in any movies, Arnold was a self-made millionaire at age 22 thanks to his investments in real estate and a mail-order bodybuilding supply company.
  • What Could Have Been: He actually auditioned for the role of the Hulk in the 1970s TV series The Incredible Hulk based on the Marvel comic, but lost out to bodybuilding rival Lou Ferrigno. Reportedly the 6-foot-2 Arnold was deemed "not tall enough", especially when compared to the 6-foot-5 Ferrigno.
    • Additionally, when James Cameron first approached Arnold with The Terminator he actually originally considered him for the part of the film's hero Kyle Reese (which eventually went to Michael Biehn) while considering the more slimmer, more averagely built Lance Henriksen for the Terminator, but during their meeting Cameron changed his mind, figuring Arnold was practically a living machine anyway and hired him for the Terminator instead - which was just fine by Arnold since he felt the Terminator was the more interesting part anyway.
    • He was planning a movie with director Stuart Gordon called Berserker, about a muscle builder who turns into a monster after abusing steroids. However, it fell through because they couldn't agree on the final script.
    • He had plenty of scripts on his sight in 1997, including an adaptation of I Am Legend directed by Ridley Scott and Minority Report as a sequel to Total Recall. Then Arnie was forced to go through open heart surgery, and studios became afraid (to the point he only returned in 1999 with End of Days).