Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) is the second film in the Terminator franchise. James Cameron returned to the director's chair for the sequel, and both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton returned for their roles as the T-800 Terminator and Sarah Connor.Just before its destruction, SkyNet sends a more advanced Terminator — a nigh-invulnerableshapeshifting T-1000 model — to the past. In response, John Connor sends back a T-800 Model Terminator that he has reprogrammed to protect his past self. Both Terminators arrive at a time when a ten-year-old John lives with foster parents and Sarah sits in an asylum after an attempt to blow up a computer factory. 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. Re-united after years apart, the Connors (along with the T-800) attempt to stop Skynet from becoming a reality and avert Judgment Day — with the T-1000 doing its damnedest to stop them.This time, AFI honored the Terminator for his heroic role, ranking him #48 on its "Heroes" list. Additionally, it is the only film sequel to be honored on AFI's "Thrills" (#77) and "Science Fiction" (#8) Lists, along with "Hasta la Vista, baby", being ranked #76 among its "Quotes".
This film provides examples of:
Abusive Parents: In a bit of narration, Sarah Connor reflects on the fact that every would-be father figure she had chosen for John was abusive or in some way unfavorable... except the reprogrammed T-800 sent to protect John.
Actionized Sequel: The first movie was essentially a horror movie with action scenes. There are very few elements of horror in this film, although this has not hurt its popularity.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Of the highest Irony, in a deleted scene, it's revealed that Skynet doesn't allow any of its minions to learn - because they might rebel against it. Sarah doesn't fail to notice this.
Animal Immunity: Averted. In a deleted scene restored for the Ultimate Edition, the T-1000 kills John's pet dog after realizing he has been tricked (see below).
Animals Hate Him: John Connor's pet dog, Max, barks incessantly at the cold presence of the T-1000 who is disguised as Janelle Voight. The T-800 uses this clue to blow the Impersonation ruse by asking "Is Wolfie okay?" The T-1000 unknowingly gives the wrong answer.
Anthropic Principle: If the T-800 didn't happen to drive past John very briefly and identify him in a matter of seconds, it's quite likely the T-1000 would have found him first. It would have been a much shorter movie.
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 ended up as the suburban housewife she might have become"), 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: John's foster parent, Todd. Janelle not so much, she's loathed by John but she's not really shown as mean or obnoxious onscreen. John comments that she's "never this nice," but it comes across as an Informed Attribute.
A-Team Firing: Ordered by John not to kill anyone, the T-800 - despite packing a minigun and grenades - merely inflicts disabling wounds and blows up vehicles. "Human casualties: 0.0"note Which is untrue. Casualties are wounded and killed, not just killed.
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", that plays in the boombox John Connor is carrying in his motorcycle might also fit.
The Terminator: [to John] What is the dog's name? John Connor: Max. The Terminator: [impersonating John's voice] Hey Janelle, what's wrong with Wolfie? I can hear him barking. Is he okay? T-1000 as Janelle: Wolfie's fine, John. Wolfie's just fine. Where are you? The Terminator: [hangs up] Your foster parents are dead.
A deleted scene, restored in the "Ultimate Edition" cut of the film, shows the T-1000 learning of the deception after it solves the barking dog problem.
Bullets Do Not Work That Way: As John and the T-800 escort Sarah out of the asylum, a law enforcement officer drives up in his cruiser; Sarah proceeds to carjack him, firing a round through the windshield (not aimed at the officer) to show she means business. The bullet goes through the glass, and then disappears- the seats and rear window are unharmed. This might be a gaff of a different kind. The creators may have believed that police cars habitually use bulletproof glass. They don't, but Hollywood might assume they do. If it did have bulletproof glass, the bullet might've ended up somewhere on the dashboard or bouncing around harmlessly in the cab.
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 swordlike arm. It even perfectly manages to skewer the milk carton he was holding.
Curbstomp Cushion: The intro to Terminator 2 shows an army of Skynet 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 craft being blasted out of the air with a surface-to-air missile fired by a gunner in a pickup truck . Of course, the effectiveness of La Résistance is the whole reason for Skynet's time travel gambit to begin with.
Deadly Delivery: The T-800 carries a shotgun in a longbox that is full of roses. This also qualifies as a Visual Pun on "Guns 'N' Roses", whose song "You Could Be Mine" is heard in the film. (The music video for said song features the T-800, too.)
Dead Man Switch: Inventor Miles Dyson makes a Heroic Sacrifice by standing between the escaping heroes and a pursuing SWAT team, hand-holding a heavy piece of wreckage over a detonator switch as his last labored breaths flutter from his bullet-riddled body.
Death by Cameo: The janitor who gets between T-1000 and Terminator in one of the maintenance hallways of the mall and is riddled with bullets was played by a fan who won the "role" in an MTV-sponsored contest.
Death Is the Only Option: After destroying the T-1000 and the remains of the first T-800, the current T-800 realizes it must destroy itself to prevent more reverse engineering from Cyberdyne. Since it cannot self-terminate, Sarah Connor has to push the button.
Deconstruction: It provides deconstructions of both the Kid Hero and the Mama Bear as well as militant feminism in the forms of John Connor and his mother, Sarah, from the previous film. John is an alienated, anti-social outsider who doesn't fit in, doesn't get along with his foster parents and has only one friend due to his mother's odd ball way of raising him due to the fact that she had to prepare him for the end of the world. Sarah, meanwhile, has become violent and emotionally unstable over the years since the end of the first film as she had to step up to the plate, training not just herself but her son, and suffering the heart ache of losing Kyle Reese, the soldier sent back to protect her, whom she fell in love with and who was in fact John's father all along, without either of them knowing it. John is far from a likable protagonist when we first meet him, and Sarah is not exactly pleasant, but this is what happens to a Chosen One and the mother mentor burdened with terrible knowledge.
Deliberate Injury Gambit: Done as a counter by the T-1000 — it gets punched through the face by the T-800, then morphs so that what used to be its head is now its hands gripping its opponent's wrist.
The T-1000 will stop at nothing to destroy John Connor.
The T-800 will stop at nothing to protect John Connor.
Distant Finale: The director's cut has a 2037 Happy Ending where Judgment Day was averted for good and an elderly Sarah watches John (a US Senator) and his daughter playing on a playground similar to the one seen in her nightmares of Judgment Day.
The Terminator develops a fascination for tears and sadness, for its an emotion it has absolutely no knowledge of, and cannot imitate it.
In the original script, before the practically self-aware Terminator sacrifices himself, he hesitates, and tells Sarah, he is afraid to die.
Down LA Drain: When the T-800 first encounters and rescues John Connor from the T-1000.
Dungeon Bypass: At one point Sarah is trapped by a SWAT team in a clean room. John, watching on cameras, declares there's no other way out of that room. So the Terminator knocks down a wall and pulls her to safety.
Elevator Action Sequence: There is a rather memorable Elevator Action Sequence as Sarah, John, and the T-800 escape from the mental institution. The T-1000 attempts to sword-thrust its way into the elevator at several points.
Elevator Escape: Sarah, John and the T-800 use an elevator to get a lead on the pursuing T-1000 during Sarah's rescue from the mental hospital. It's initally subverted when the T-1000 reaches the doors just as they close and pulls them open, but then immediately put back on track when a well-placed shotgun blast stuns him and the doors close normally.
Enemy Rising Behind: When taking one of the asylum guard's places, the T-1000 copies the appearance of the guard as it rises up from the floor. The real guard takes notice too late.
Everyone Has Standards: John has a history of multiple crimes and he is able to steal fairly large amounts of money without feeling bad. However, killing people is always an absolute no-no to him, and he doesn't really seem to like injuring them, either.
Exact Words: John orders the T-800 not to kill anyone. ("I swear I will not kill anyone.") A moment later, the Terminator shoots a security guard at the asylum in the knee. When John complains, the T-800 points out that it followed orders: "He'll live."
Feel No Pain: Sidestepped when the T-800 is asked if his (many) bullet wounds hurt, and he states flatly, "I sense injury. The data could be called pain." This suggests that Terminators do feel pain, but only to the extent that is necessary for threat recognition and response. Since the damage to their biological components is not essential to their survival and secondary to their missions, this trade-off is fairly logical.
When the Terminator steps out of the bar wearing its newly acquired leather jacket and boots, the camera starts on its boots, then pans up as "Bad to the Bone" begins playing. This makes the Terminator more badass.
After the T-1000 kills off the police officer who appears when it has just time-traveled, this is used to establish that it has donned the cop's uniform.
From a Single Cell: After the T-800 froze and shot it, the T-1000 reassembles completely after it heats into a liquid state again. But not without a few side effects, though (see Resurrection Sickness).
The Great Politics Mess-Up: Discussed — John expresses doubt that Russia will fire its nuclear missiles at the United States on Judgment Day, given that "Russians are our friends now"; the writers added the line late to the script after it happened in Real Life. In the first Cyberdyne scene, a lollipop-licking employee wears 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".
Good Versus Good: The T-800 wants to ensure the destruction of Cyberdyne, whereas the police want to stop an apparent terrorist act by an escaped mental patient and a mass murderer who killed more than a dozen other police officers almost a decade prior.
Hairpin Lockpick: Sarah Connor uses an unfolded paper clip 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 to direct team movement during the infiltration of Cyberdyne and to order that tear gas be fired at the T-800.
Handicapped Badass: The T-800 deliberately amputates its own left arm jammed and crushed in a cogwheel. It keeps chasing after the T-1000 regardless of the huge disadvantage it's now at, much to the liquid metal assassin's annoyance.
He Who Fights Monsters: Sarah stops attacking Miles Dyson when she realizes, from the horrified reactions of his wife and son, that she nearly became one of the merciless Terminators she hates so much.
Hero Stole My Bike: The T-800's first line is telling a biker "I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle." He takes all of it successfully.
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. After a ruthless assault on Dyson's house, she has another when she gets a "My God, What Have I Done?" moment as she sees that he's an man with a loving family, oblivious to the future effects of his work.
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: The T-800 must kill itself at the end to destroy the last possible source of Terminator technology that could let anyone in the past reverse-engineer Terminators and create Skynet.
One of the most badass examples in film history is a scene in which the T-1000 rams his tanker into the rear of the good guys' pickup truck and the T-800 responds by grabbing an assault rifle, walking from the back up the pickup to the front of the tanker, shoots the T-1000 through the glassnote As in - unloads the entire clip into the guy's face, grabs the wheel from the outside and makes it turn on its side and then rides the top of the sliding truck until it comes to a stop.
A bit earlier, the T-1000 rides its motorcycle out through the window of a building and takes over a police helicopter while it's in the air. Watch it here.
Hijacked by Ganon: Played with in a creative manner. When we first see the severed arm of the first T-800 at Cyberdyne, the camera shot implies that it's reaching from the grave.
Hollywood Silencer: When Sarah Connor tries to assassinate Miles Dyson, she uses a Colt Commando CAR-15 assault rifle with a suppressor — which doesn't completely silence the sound of the shot, making this one of the more realistic examples of the trope.
Honor Before Reason: John Connor stops his mother from killing Dyson even though he believes it would prevent Judgment Day, and his idealism led him and his allies to fight (and win) a war for humanity's future without murdering a single innocent human being in the process.
Hope Spot: When the T-800 says "I need a vacation." If he can kid around, he's going to be okay, right?
I'm Melting: The T-1000 after he is shot in the gut with a grenade by the T-800. He falls into a vat of molten steel, where he shrieks and transforms into his victims as he melts away.
Impersonating an Officer: The T-1000 takes the form of an LAPD patrolman throughout most of the film. The T-1000 encountered a real LAPD officer upon its arrival from the future, and the form gives the T-1000 access to all the information and resources it needs to carry on its mission.
It Has Been an Honor: While she doesn't say it, when Sarah shakes the T-800's hand at the end of the film, that handshake carries the weight of this trope.
Jaw Drop (combined with Dramatic Drop): The syringe cap Silberman holds in his mouth drops to the ground when he sees the T-1000 walk through a barred 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 dismisses 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 potentially endangering his own life to prevent Sarah from becoming a murderer herself.
Just a Machine: Sarah Connor tries to invoke this when trying to convince John to destroy the Terminator reprogrammed to protect them.
John: Don't kill him.
Sarah:It, John. Not "him", "it".
John: Alright, "it"! But we need "it"!
Kick the Dog: The T-1000 kills John Connor's pet dog, Max, in a deleted scene.
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.
Kubrick Stare: The T-1000 has a subtle habit of reforming with its head looking straight down, and then gradually raising its gaze to meet the camera. Brrr.
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?note Not from the Terminator!
On a meta note, the actor who played the assaulting guard had repeatedly flubbed takes of an earlier scene, leading to Linda Hamilton injuring her knees from getting slammed into the floor numerous times. Sarah's beatdown of the guard was unsimulated, as Hamilton didn't pull her punches.
The therapist who exploits Sarah so he can get on TV and be in medical journals eventually becomes 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 would believe him?
In the third movie, he appears to have convinced himself it didn't really happen.
Leitmotif: Before he's reprogrammed by Sarah, the T-800 is accompanied by a drumbeat of hammered metal. The T-1000 has a creepier, Jaws-like theme.
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.
Loophole Abuse: The T-800 is explicitly instructed not to kill. It works out that maiming people isn't going against that instruction.
T-800: He'll live.
Ludicrous Precision: The somewhat infamous "Human Casualties: 0.0." 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." note Arguably 1.0 could mean all "hostiles" killed. 0.1 would then mean 10% of all the hostiles killed.
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. Yet also...
The scene where hospital security guard Lewis ends up killed by the T-1000 features twins Don and Dan Stanton, with Don as the real guard and Dan playing the T-1000 mimicking him.
There is a shot where Sarah Connor appears on screen at the same time as the T-1000 is mimicking her. This shot was achieved using Linda Hamilton's twin sister Leslie Hamilton Gearren as the T-1000. Apparently the filmmakers were not aware until production commenced that Hamilton had a twin because the original plans were to use more complex camera tricks and film editing.
Gearren is also used in a deleted scene, restored in the extended cut, that appears to show the Terminator in a mirror while Hamilton is working on the inside of his head. This was actually a clever set piece done entirely without camera effects through the use of an empty mirror frame, the Hamilton twins (Leslie operating on the Terminator, and Linda copying Leslie's moves), and a Schwarzenegger dummy with an open robotic skull.note That, or there is something California's voters really need to know.
They also use Leslie as the "motherly" version of Sarah in the playground nightmare scene.
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 palmtop computernote Specifically, an AtariPortfolio with a code-cracking program he apparently uses to brute-force PINs 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."
Linda Hamilton, who took role preparation VERY seriously (just look at her), 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 had trained in lockpicking prior to shooting.
Meaningful Echo: The T-800 says "Come with me, if you want to live" to Sarah, just like Reese.
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 Is the Best Solution: John Connor orders the Terminator to deal with two jerks, whereupon the T-800 sets out to kill them. Perfectly justified, as this is exactly what the Terminator was made to do.
John: Jesus, you were gonna kill that guy! Terminator: Of course. I'm a Terminator. John: Listen to me very carefully, OK? You're not a Terminator anymore. All right? You got that? You just can't go around killing people! Terminator: Why? John: Whattaya mean, why? 'Cause you can't! Terminator: Why? John: Because you just can't, OK? Trust me on this.
Mutually Assured Destruction: Frightfully deconstructed. The T-800 explains to Sarah how future events play out in the war called "Judgement Day". The USA panics when the system they designed to protect their country becomes self-aware, and launches all its missiles at Russia. The Russian counterattack eliminates its enemies who are attempting to pull the plug on Sky Net. Both superpowers are wiped off the map.
Sarah attacks Dyson's home as if she were a Terminator because he's reverse-engineering technology from the first T-800 and his research will eventually lead to the creation of Skynet. She breaks down when she realises that they're an innocent family with no inkling of their impact on the future, and the arrival of her son to see her this way.
Dyson goes through this once he learns how his fascinating technical research will cause the doom of mankind.
"I think I'm gonna throw up."
The Needless: The T-800 acts a sentry for John and Sarah from night to morning without budging an inch.
Next Sunday A.D.: Filmed in 1991, takes place when John Connor is 10, which would be 1995 or early 1996.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The T800 shoots a frozen-by-liquid-nitrogen T1000. This is more for cool effect more than anything, as the little pieces of the T1000 start melting and forming back to the T1000 itself. Had the T800 left the T1000 the way it was, it would have had a lot more trouble melting and essentially staying frozen (Compare trying to melt a solid ice block and the equivalent in ice cubes as an example). They could even have had time to toss the still frozen form of the T1000 into the molten vat (although this was eventually accomplished via the action scene that follows).
No Mere Windmill: We are introduced to a crazy woman who is obviously a paranoid schizophrenic. She even believes that evil robots from the future are out to get her, imagine that. To the great surprise of everyone except the audience, it eventually turns out that the robots are real and Sarah is completely sane (although traumatized). She knows exactly what a Terminator really is, a straight Type B of this trope.
Nominal Hero: The T-800 is 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 behaviour and emotions, so he becomes a more traditional hero over the course of the movie.
No One Gets Left Behind: In a heartwarming moment, John flatly refuses to flee in the steel mill, wanting his mother, the T-800 and he to protect the other. Its mission in jeopardy, the T-800 orders him to run.
Noodle Incident: Sarah stabbed Dr. Silberman's kneecap several weeks prior to the film.
Nothing but Skulls: The opening 'Future War' segment features an apparent carpet of nothing but skulls, seemingly specifically so Skynet's mecha can symbolically crush them beneath their feet and treads as they engage Resistance troops in yet another bitter firefight. A Shout-Out to this can be found in the losing cinematics of Wing Commander III, with a Kilrathi foot in combat armor doing the crushing.
Not So Different: Sarah Connor has effectively become a Terminator by this point. Noticable during the scene where she attempts to murder Miles Dyson, where she performs their signature Ominous Walk and tries to murder someone in the past in order to change the future. When she realizes what she's become, she suffers a minor breakdown. When John arrives to save Dyson, she says, "You came back to stop me" — which is literally what Kyle Reese did to the original T-800.
For a machine that's only supposed to imitate humans both physically and emotionally, the T-1000 acts a lot more human near the climax of the film. Hell, the last look on its face during the Shape Shifter Swan Song showed that it seemed genuinely afraid of dying.
John and Sara's first reaction to seeing the T-800. With Sara it's understandable, but John had never seen a Terminator, yet he instantly recognized it as such before it even drew its weapon. Until then, it just looked like a big guy carrying a box of roses.
The look on Sara's face when she runs out of ammo during the final showdown.
Parental Substitute: The T-800 Terminator serves as a father-figure for John Connor. Lampshaded when Sarah Conner notes that the killing machine is a better father for John than any of her old "boyfriends".
Police Brutality: The T-1000. He acts, looks, and talks like a normal police officer, but this is just a cover to get close to John Connor and kill him
Pop The Tires: During the scene where the T-1000 (driving a truck) is trying to run over John Connor (on his motorcycle), the T-800 shoots out the left front tire of the truck. The T-1000 loses control and rams the truck into an overpass, causing the truck to explode.
Precrime Arrest: Sarah Connor learns from the Terminator that the person most directly responsible for the creation of Skynet is a Cyberdyne Systems engineer named Miles Dyson. She tries to assassinate Dyson to prevent Skynet from ever existing.
Prisons Are Gymnasiums: Sarah upturns her bed in various angles to use as exercise equipment, and it's clear that nobody dares stop her.
Rebuilt Pedestal: John learns that his mother wasn't made of bullshit after all.
Refuge in Audacity: The T-800 walks into a biker bar stark naked, then demands that a mean-looking biker hand over his clothes and his motorcyle.
Required Secondary Powers The T-1000 is mentioned to be lacking a whole load of secondary powers. First off, it cannot assume a form that is significantly larger nor gain mass, it cannot make internal workings, only the outer surface (which is why it can't just become a bomb or a big gun, but can create swords).
Resurrection Sickness: A very subtle example was edited out of the theatrical release but included in the Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition. After its freezing, shattering, melting, and re-forming at the steel mill, the T-1000 struggles to keep its form. Its feet and hands "merge" into the floor and handrails, and its entire body refreshes itself from head to toe repeatedly. In a deleted part of the scene where John sees both Sarah and the T-1000 (in Sarah's form), John sees the T-1000 refreshing itself, which tips him off as to which Sarah is real.
Revised Ending: There's an ending where Sarah Connor reflected on her experiences many years after the events of the movie, as she watches her son playing with his daughter at a park. Cameron has stated that the Dark Highway ending was a better for the film since it better represented the ambiguous nature of the future. The playground ending would imply that the future was now set, and thus deterministic.
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.
Rule of Cool: The Beretta 92FS handguns are given a suppressed firing sound over the actual loud one they have.
Sand in My Eyes: John says Sarah is prone to this, which he suspects is in regards to Kyle.
Self-Mutilation Demonstration: John Connor orders the T-800 to show Dyson he really is a robot. The T-800 peels off the skin and muscle of his arm, only to look at the exposed endoskeleton dispassionately. The Dysons are... not so dispassionate.
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, but arguably deadlier Terminator.
Shapeshifter Baggage: Averted. The evil terminator, the T-1000, can shapeshift, but it is explicitly stated early on that he cannot turn into anything with mechanically complex parts nor can he gain or lose mass. Pedants have pointed out that the human body is very complex, but shots that show the T-1000's interior reveal nothing but solid silver-colored metal. In essence, if it can mimic behavior or the exterior shape of something, it will do that as opposed to trying to copy it exactly. The T-1000 could create the outer shape of a gun but couldn't create an actual, working gun. Much like a ball of clay; the outside matches, but the inside isn't the same as what it's mimicking. Also, it is obvious in the movie that the T-1000 actually moves by morphing, not via anything resembling human structure (at one point, he’s held with his face to the wall, and he simply morphs his back into his front; at another, the T-800 puts a fist through his head, which promptly becomes a hand holding said fist while a 'new' head sprouts from its shoulder). Further still, at one point in the novelization, the T-1000 takes the shape of a fat policeman, it is explicitly said that he “didn’t like the shape”, because its larger volume forced him to assume a less dense configuration (presumably, he morphed “bubbles” inside himself); it explains why he repeatedly returned to the “thin” policeman shape: it was just right.
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 is a reference to Guns N' Roses (who are in the soundtrack) and a shout-out to The Godfather (where Clemenza uses this concealment).
An unusual example: James Cameron wrote both T2 and Aliens and both movies include a scene where a character says something like: "I asked once 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 (but restored in the Extended version), one could see the Miles Dyson scene as Cameron homaging himself.
There is an easy-to-miss Shout-Out in this movie. In the scene where John, Sarah, Dyson, and the Terminator are setting explosives to blow up the Cyberdyne research laboratory, the explosive barrels are labeled "Polydichloric Euthimal". This is the same name as the synthetic stimulant being used by some of the miners in Outland.
A darker example: "Something's worng; she's never this nice."
invokedSpecial Effect Failure: Happens in-story to the T-1000 after it recovers from being frozen and re-melted. Its morphing ability becomes damaged, causing it to involuntarily take on the appearance of things it touches (a striped railing, the patterned metal floor); also, its feet partially melt into what it's standing on, and its chrome form ripples through its "skin" a couple of times. This was only briefly shown in the theatrical edition, but expanded on in the director's cut. Also occurs genuinely in a few other scenes like the bar brawl.
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.
Steel Eardrums: In the hospital, In-Universe, Sarah and John are completely unaffected by a shotgun and pistol being fired inside an elevator. In Real Life, Linda Hamilton put her earplugs in incorrectly, and suffered permanent hearing damage as a result.
Stop or I Will Shoot!: Averted 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.
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 Shape Shifter 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.
Too Dumb to Live: The T-1000's second victim, the mall janitor. When the T-800 tells John to "get down", the janitor in the same hallway doesn't listen, and is shot up by the T-1000's pistol as a result.
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 problemo" 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 Arnold's face with the words "I'll be back" heard. The second trailer revealed the existence of 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 examples of this trope.
Twenty Minutes into the Future: Though it's hard to tell, the film is actually set in 1995, not 1991 (the only indications are John's age in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it glimpse at his record on a police computer - he's 10, and given the original was set in 1984...). Because it doesn't feature futuristic elements and thus averts Zeerust (instead simply saying it was four years ahead), it is one of the most accurate depictions of the future.
invokedUncanny Valley: Invoked. The T-1000 fits this trope for most of his screentime in T2. On the commentary, co-writer Bill Wisher points out that throughout the film, Robert Patrick, who plays the T-1000, moves like a human being but just a tad smoother (because he's a liquid creature). In the scene where he talks to John's foster parents and again when he arrives at the mental hospital to ask the night nurse to see Sarah Connor, he behaves like a normal person (even smiling in a natural way in the former scene), but still puts out a subtly menacing vibe. As a more advanced Terminator and remaining more true to James Cameron's original idea of the Terminator as an under-the-radar infiltrator (he disguises himself as a cop for crying out loud), it's expected that the T-1000 could more accurately mimic a human posture, mannerisms and demeanor than a T-800, but still do so in such a way that there was still something "off" and spooky about him. James Cameron mentioned in the "making of" video that part of why he cast Robert Patrick was because "he moves like a cat", and the T-1000 regards its environment in an almost feline way.
Unable to Cry: The T-800, moments before it destroys itself, has learned at a geometric rate and become self-aware. It understands exactly why people cry, and why John is sobbing at his immediate demise right now. But is technically unable to express or convey that same sorrow with its eyes, even though it wants to.
Unintentional Period Piece: Unfortunately for the filmmakers, fashion and music changed radically in a very short time in the early nineties. The grunge and gangsta rap scene replaced the colorful fashions and upbeat music of the early 90's (think hairbands, MC Hammer, and Vanilla Ice) almost overnight. Through most of the film this isn't evident. But Guns n' Roses had a hard fall by the mid nineties and the two guys who attempt to help John (and nearly get killed for it) are wearing painfully early nineties fashions.
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 the loop was modified).
Arnold nearly broke his hand when he tried flip-cocking the unmodified shotgun.
Sarah using her SWAT-issue shotgun on the T-1000 also includes cocking the gun one-handed, because her other arm is injured.
The Un-Smile: John tries to teach the T-800 how to smile. Its first attempt doesn't go so well.
Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: This film is a classic example. With the good guys, you have the T-800: powerful, sturdy, and good with weapons. But for the bad guys there is the T-1000: just as strong, just as smart, and able to morph its body into almost anything.
Villains Blend in Better: The T-1000 can look and act like any human it encounters, while the T-800 is easily recognizable to those who have already encountered one and survived, though the last bit could be quite rare apart from the protagonists.
Wall of Weapons: Sarah Connor has an underground cache of weapons hidden in the desert. Not that we need convincing she's a Badass by this point in the film. John Connor mentions this as well: "One thing about my mom — she always plans ahead."
"Well Done, Son" Guy: John is devastated and moved to tears when Sarah harshly chides him for rescuing her. Sarah may be well-intentioned, but she also inflicts emotional abuse to a 10-year old boy. John is notably in need of affection and expected some bonding and acknowledgement, not callousness.
Wham Line: John is finally cornered, not by one, but two Terminators, both pointing their guns at him, and suddenly, the T-800, monstrous unstoppable villain of the previous movie says two words: "Get down." In that moment, what we thought was the villain becomes the hero of the movie. (But alas, Trailers Always Spoil, and the effect was blunted.)
What Is This Thing You Call Love?: Downplayed. The Terminator manages to understand human emotions and arguably to feel them (even overcoming its programming to refuse an order from John), but regrets that as a machine he cannot return the tears that John sheds for him as he sacrifices himself to save humanity.
What Measure Is a Mook?: Averted. John makes the T-800 swear not to kill anyone, so as they face security guards and law-enforcement officers, the T-800 gives them non-fatal injuries, like Knee Capping (although John's not very happy about that). At one point, his targeting display even says "Casualties: 0.0".
John calls his mother Sarah out on her unheroic and ruthless ways. In the director's cut, he has to stop her from destroying the T-800, a massive asset in their two-person war against the future destruction of mankind.
The Worf Effect: Played with. We see the T-800 (Arnold), the 6'2" unstoppable killer robot who for the whole last movie was one of the most menacing things ever put to film, get thrown around like a rag-doll by the considerably shorter and skinnier T-1000. Mainly at the end of the movie, though; earlier in the film he tends to keep the upper hand. For the most part, if its a gunfight, the impervious T-800 will win. If it's a fistfight, the intangible T-1000 will win.
"The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it for the first time with a sense of hope... because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life... maybe we can too."
Would Hit a Girl: T-800 attacks the female guard, but she simply gets pushed down, as opposed to the male orderlies, who get tossed into/through windows and concrete walls.
You Are What You Hate: By the time John, Sarah, and the T-800 reach the desert in an attempt to flee the country, an ironic thing happens: the T-800 becomes more human through its interactions with John while Sarah becomes a Terminator by donning sunglasses and black army clothes before going off to kill an innocent person (the soundtrack when she goes off to kill Dyson even has the iconic metallic beats).
You Shall Not Pass: Sarah Connor tricks John into escaping without her, then stays behind to prevent the T-1000 from following and killing him.