The Terminator franchise — a series of films that revolve an implacable killer with a Sci-Fijustification — has become an oft-imitated part of the pop-cultural pantheon. Arnold Schwarzenegger portrayed the eponymous cyborg for three (and a half) films, and his performance in the first film shot him into superstardom.Writer/director James Cameron felt inspired to write the script for the first film in the franchise based on a dream he had while sick with a fever. The dream involved a mechanical skeleton emerging from a wall of fire to chase after Cameron. Building on the terror he felt during the dream, Cameron crafted the story of The Terminator based around that one moment — and unintentionally (or so Cameron says) plagiarized Harlan Ellison's The Outer Limits story "Soldier" in the process. (People often mistakenly claim he plagarized "Demon with a Glass Hand" rather than "Soldier".) When Ellison found out, he managed to snag a cash settlement and an official acknowledgment in the credits. (Ellison later said the trouble could have been avoided if Cameron had come to him first and offered a screen credit in the movie, which he would have offered for free).In the first film (The Terminator), two men emerge naked from two separate electrical storms in Los Angeles and quickly go out to find supplies. One stays low and out of sight to avoid the police and other authorities. The other picks up a phone book so he can find women named Sarah Connor...so he can kill them. When a young diner waitress also named Sarah Connor hears that two people with her name have been killed within the last few days, she begins to worry that the killer will come for her next. While the killer murders two people in Sarah's home in an effort to find her, Sarah hides in a nightclub; when the killer catches up with her there, she ends up rescued by the first individual, Kyle Reese, who explains the backstory to Sarah after escaping from the killer: in the near future, the United States government will create SkyNet, an artificial intelligence that will promptlyturn against its masters and attempt to Kill All Humans! in a cataclysmic event that will become known as Judgment Day. Mankind will eventually defeat SkyNet, but at the last minute, SkyNet will send a T-800 Model Terminator — an android assassin wrapped in human flesh to give it the appearance of a human — back in time to kill Sarah and prevent the birth of her son John (who will become the leader of the human resistance). John will respond by sending Reese into the past to protect his mother and the timeline. After several dramatic battles and a Heroic Sacrifice from Reese, Sarah destroys the Terminator in an industrial factory — but not before Sarah sleeps with Reese and conceives John Connor (which means John causes his own birth and creates a Stable Time Loop).In the second film (Terminator 2: Judgment Day), SkyNet sends a more advanced Terminator — the nigh-invulnerable, shapeshifting T-1000 Model — to the past. 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. After being freed, Sarah — now an Action Girl after years of preparing for Judgment Day and beyond — learns details of SkyNet's history from the T-800 and attempts to assassinate Miles Dyson, the man who will go on to create SkyNet. Sarah eventually falters before she can pull the trigger, and after John and the T-800 arrive, the trio pumps Dyson for information. They learn that Cyberdyne — the company Dyson works for and (as revealed in a deleted scene from the first film) the owners of the factory where Sarah destroyed the T-800 — will build SkyNet after it reverse-engineers technology from the components of the original T-800 (which makes SkyNet itself part of the Stable Time Loop). The Connors, the T-800, and Dyson infiltrate the Cyberdyne building, steal the T-800 remains, and destroy all of Dyson's research in an attempt to thwart the creation of SkyNet. The T-1000 eventually catches up to the group, and after a lengthy battle inside an industrial factory, the T-1000, the remains of the original T-800, and the reprogrammed T-800 end up dissolved in a vat of molten steel.Soon after the release of Terminator 2, Cameron lost the rights to the franchise (specifically in his divorce from Linda Hamilton). The rights ended up shuffling around different studios and the franchise itself continued on in a number of different forms; this has created some irreconcilable differences between the various continuations. These snarls can be ignored if you consider the latter two movies as non-canon or occurring in an alternate universe. Support for this interpretation exists: Cameron stated after Terminator 2 that he had said everything he wanted to say with those two movies, and the in-universe timeline degradation in Salvation (as noted below) speaks to the same idea.The continuations of the franchise post-Terminator 2 run as follows:Movies:
In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the Connors appear to have prevented SkyNet's takeover: the date Reese cited for Judgment Day has come and gone, and an adult John Connor lives off the grid to make sure no one (including Terminators) can track him down. Another shapeshifting Terminator, a T-X Model with a female appearance, shows up out of the blue to carry out a specific mission: kill John Connor and as many of his future Resistance lieutenants as possible. A T-850 Model Terminator (functionally similar to the T-800, but powered by hydrogen fuel-cells which explode if ruptured), reprogrammed to protect John Connor, also shows up. John, who resents everything about what his late mother Sarah told him about the future and raised him to become, eventually returns to the fight alongside his wife-to-be, Kate Brewster, and the T-850. After he narrowly fails to prevent the activation of SkyNet, John decides to destroy the AI's computer core before it can initiate Judgment Day. The head of the SkyNet project, Kate's father, gives John and Kate the address and entrance codes for a military bunker that he calls their "only hope". After a final battle with the T-X and a sacrifice from the T-850, the couple manages to enter the bunker...where they discover a nuclear fallout shelter instead of a computer core. The government developed SkyNet as a piece of software that can run on any computer network; by the time the Connors reached the bunker, nobody could have stopped SkyNet. The Connors had only deferred, not prevented, Judgment Day. After the initial nuclear strike, John and Kate to use the communications nexus in the bunker to coordinate the emerging human resistance. As the film ends, SkyNet launches its takeover and annihilates every major world government with a tactical nuclear strike.
Terminator: Salvation takes place during the war with the machines and shares no ties to The Sarah Connor Chronicles; while it references both Terminator 2 and 3, it keeps those references vague. (The first film holds more importance to Salvation's central themes than the other two films.) Salvation forgoes the idea of time travel in favor of a sci-fi war slant on the franchise. While John Connor has become a highly respected officer within the human resistance movement, he has not yet risen to the role of leader, as several prominent faction leaders question the claims that he will become the savior of mankind. John sets out to end the war as fast as possible (and locate a young Kyle Reese), but his quest reveals an awful truth: the Stable Time Loop has begun to break apart. SkyNet's forces have shown sophistication and progress far ahead of schedule, and numerous other changes Connor never accounted for have thrown humanity's inevitable victory into question. One of these anomalies comes in the form of Marcus Wright, a criminal who reportedly died before the war began, but turned up on his own in the present. Wright's role in the movie works as an inverse of the series' central time-travel mechanic: rather than entering the past from the future, he comes from the past into the future.
The television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles follows the first two films, but ignores the canon third and has no relation whatsoever to Terminator: Salvation. Seven years after Terminator 2, John and Sarah Connor still worry about the future and whether Judgment Day will happen. Their fears become reality when a new assassin shows up to kill John. After coming across a reprogrammed "female" Terminator named Cameron and John's uncle Derek, The Connors — alongside various other continuing characters — continue to fight off new threats to John's life and humanity's future.
In the original ending of Terminator 2 (included as a bonus feature on most of its DVD and Blu-Ray releases), an elderly Sarah Connor watches John — now a United States Senator — and her granddaughter play on a playground similar to the one from her dreams of Judgment Day. This ending takes place in 2029, when humanity would have won the war that the Connors successfully averted. An intact, futuristic Washington D.C. sits in the background of the scene.
James Cameron disliked the idea of a definite, deterministic wrap-up for a film centered around the idea of "there is no fate but what we make for ourselves" (and a happy ending for a rather bleak story). Sources disagree as to whether Cameron changed the ending because he had plans for a third Terminator movie. Given how he lost the rights, we may never know for sure.
After the second film, but before any other films and television series became a reality, the series continued through a small number of comics that depicted the future after Judgment Day, as well as a trilogy of novels ("T2: Infiltration", "T2: Rising Storm" and "T2: The Future War"). The comics ran with the idea of the T-800 and the T-1000 as the last two Terminators that SkyNet sent back after having sent dozens more before its eventual defeat; since it didn't have the "time bubble" technology until later, most of these Terminators wound up entombed in buildings and machinery, while others barely remembered their orders when they arrived in the past.
T2 3-D: Battle Across Time, a Universal Studies attraction also created before the other films and television series, combined a live-action show and a 3-D movie; the plot involves Sarah and John Connor, for no given reason, trying to prevent the apocalypse again. A T-800 shows up and takes John back to the future with him (somehow), and the duo makes their way past robots like the Hunter-Killers as they break into Skynet and fight the T-1000000, a giant liquid-metal spider Terminator. John eventually returns to the present while the T-800 stays behind to self destruct and destroy SkyNet's core.
The Terminator franchise contains examples of the following tropes:
Artistic License: The pipe bombs Kyle throws at the T-800 during the Car Chase don't seem to do anything more than make a cloud of smoke, even though they would have created tons of shrapnel that would have, at least, popped the bike's tires.
Artistic License - Cars: The pickup Kyle and Sarah steal (a Chevy C10 - 2WD - dressed up like an offroading K10 - 4WD - though this isn't unheard of), when it's flipped over, is missing its drivetrain - it clealy has no engine, transmission or driveshaft.
Author Phobia: Cameron originally based the movie on a nightmare he had of a robot skeleton emerging from a fiery explosion and coming after him.
Kyle and Sarah are the main characters in the first film - The Terminator isn't seen that often, making it more effective.
Sarah and John are the main characters in the second film, though not to the same extent as the first - The Terminator gets only a bit less screentime, but nowhere near as much dialogue.
Black Comedy: In-universe, one of Sarah's coworkers is cheered up by the news of the murder of another Sarah Connor and gleefully brings it to her attention. She is not amused.
Bodyguard Crush: Kyle's attraction to Sarah is what conceives John Connor in the first place.
Bottomless Magazines: Noticeably averted with reloading scenes or magazines running empty. An exception is the parking garage chase where sloppy editing caused Arnold to fire numerous times from a pump-action shotgun without racking the slide or inserting more shells.
Break the Cutie: The entire point to Sarah's Character Development. Note how she goes from being so meek as a waitress to delivering a Pre-Mortem One-Liner to a killer robot. But, even more, note how she is so completely wrecked at the end of it all that even touching the dead Terminator's arm is almost too much for her.
Coconut Superpowers: T1 was originally conceived as a Robot War film set in The Future. Cameron was a nobody at that time, so he got a measly budget for the production. In order to save the little money he had, James clad the robot in human skin (so he could use a live actor) and moved the action into the present. Awesomeness ensued.
Concealment Equals Cover: Averted, as during the Terminator's rampage through the police precinct, he can be seen killing officers by shooting through walls and desks with high-powered, automatic assault rifles and shotguns. Exactly as it would happen in real-life.
Contagious Cassandra Truth: In the middle of the film, Sarah Connor seems happy to accept the psychologist's explanation that Kyle Reese is a paranoid schizophrenic, and the Killer Robot is just on PCP. By the beginning of the second film, she's locked up in a mental asylum for insisting that Reese's story about the impending apocalypse is true.
Dialogue Tree: Seen from the T-800's POV in one scene, when it considers its response options to someone inquiring about the smell in the apartment it's hiding out in. It eventually decides on "Fuck you, asshole", a phrase learned from the punks.
Drives Like Crazy: Kyle Reese, 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.
Establishing Character Moment: The T-800 punking three punks during one of its first scenes when they don't comply and become confrontational. It comes across them naked, displaying a decidedly non-human behavior, it is unaffected by a knife thrust and then delivers a gruesome blow to one with its bare hands
Eye Scream: The T-800's "self-repair" scene, where he fixes one of his eyes by mucking around in it with a pen knife. That whole scene was pretty gross.
Averted; Sarah and Kyle have probably the most plot-critical sex scene of all time.
Also played straight, though, in the form of male Fanservice. Watch the opening scenes of that movie (both Kyle and the T-800 are naked, courtesy of their time transport. They are both very, very well-built, and Kyle particularly stays at the least shirtless for a good long while) and tell me that wasn't intended as fanservice, on some level.
Finger Twitching Revival: Reese shoots the Terminator several times with a sawed-off shotgun when it tries to move in on Sarah in Tech Noir. Shortly after it hits the floor, its fingers twitch, offering the audience their first clue that the big scary guy isn't human.
Foot Focus / Feet First Introduction: The Teminator and Resse when they come from the past. Theres also a minor one with one of Sarah's co-workers having her stocking feet on the table when the news reports of the other Sarah Connor's murder.
Guns Akimbo: The T-800 with a shotgun in the left hand and a fully automatic assault rifle in the right. Both weapons that are not even supposed to be shot one-handed. Justified in that he's a cyborg from the future with computerized targeting and superhuman strength.
Hand Wave: Kyle Reese's general ignorance regarding how he was sent back in time. This is invoked twice; once when he is discussing how he got there with Sarah ("one possible future...I don't know tech stuff") and when he is being analyzed by Doctor Silberman ("Something about the bio-filters...I didn't build the fucking thing!"). Also averts As You Know.
When the gas tanker explodes, supposedly taking the T-800 with it, Kyle and Sarah embrace and triumphant music swells all around them...until the Terminator rises from the flames and they realize that the killing machine is still coming.
Happens again after Reese's Heroic Sacrifice. Sarah gets a few seconds to mourn his death...and then the top half of the Terminator sits up and reaches for her.
Missed Him By That Much: Silberman scoffs at the prospects of the Terminator, and he leaves just as the Terminator arrives at the station. He's looking at his pager when he first walks in.
Monster Munch: The three punks at the beginning, with a touch of Asshole Victim. The fate of the less antagonistic one is ambiguous. The novelization has him killed too after he gives in his clothes.
More Dakka: The T-800's assault on the police station.
Naked People Are Funny: The punks in the beginning are amused by the nakedness of the T-800 and tease it a little; "Nice day for a walk, wash day tomorrow, nothing clean, right?". It gets gruesome afterwards.
A Naked Shoulder To Cry On: Sarah Connor ends up having sex with Kyle Reese while they're on the run from a killer robot, and she had witnessed it murder multiple people that she knew.
Noodle Incident: How DID Reese get that big wad of cash he used to pay the motel room? It's a fair assumption he spent the day stealing what he needed, but it's not really addressed.
Nothing Is Scarier: Intentionally filmed to invoke this. Apart from when he rescues Sarah at "Tech Noir" and his death, Reese otherwise never appears in the same frame as the Terminator at any other point of the film, instead having the camera focus on either him or the Terminator.
Out of the Inferno: The famous scene where the T-800 rises from the wreckage of the fuel tanker, all of its artificial skin having been burned off in the explosion, straight from the fever-induced nightmares of the director himself.
Pay Phone: To find Sarah Connor's address, he goes to a pay phone and rips out the page containing the listing of the three addresses of women named Sarah Connor. See also the item on Fridge Logic.
Pet the Dog: Reese instinctively allows the dog at the roadside hotel to sniff him. They use dogs to sniff out Terminators where he comes from.
Plasma Cannon: While ordering guns the T-800 asks for a phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range. Then takes advantage of the clerk's confusion to shoot him.
Police Are Useless: Downplayed. The police are shown to be highly intelligent, figuring out the pattern of the killings almost immediately, take advantage of the power of the press to warn Sarah Connor, and can readily explain the mysterious gunman's seemingly superhuman invulnerability. They're just Wrong Genre Savvy. Furthermore, their armament in the precinct station (up to M16 rifles) demonstrates they're definitely ready for most disturbances. Unfortunately, the Terminator is just too tough for them.
Reckless Gun Usage: Intentionally invoked in the gun shop scene. Artistic License - Gun Safety is partially averted, with the owner telling the T-800 he needs to wait two weeks to purchase the heavy guns, and getting alarmed when he starts loading them. *
Arnold Schwarzenegger underwent weeks of weapons training before starting the film and wound up garnering a compliment from Soldier of Fortune magazine for his realistic handling of the weapons on camera (also something of a minor Moment Of Awesome, because Soldier of Fortune usually ridicules movies for their unrealistic weapon handling). Also, Schwarzenegger served in the Austrian Army (he actually went AWOL at one point to win his first bodybuilding competition), so he already had knowledge of firearms.
Also seen when cars are hot-wired.
Serial Killer: The film starts as a variation of this genre of film.
Sarah Connor, again. Though John has some of this in his character as well, due to being raised the way he has.
Not forgetting a certain Kyle Reese, are we?
Everyone in Kyle's flashback has varying degrees of Shell-Shockedness.
Slasher Movie: A textbook example of this genre. It is fundamentally the story of a (literally) Made of IronSerial Killer who stalks his young female victims by picking their addresses out of a phone book.
Stable Time Loop: The events of the first movie set up a simple, self-contained time loop with Sarah and Kyle. Compared to the rest of the series as a whole, it's very straightforward, as evidenced by the photograph of Sarah Connor which Sarah gives to John to give to Kyle to describe to Sarah.
A Storm Is Coming: In the final moments of the film, while Sarah is waiting at a gas station, a Mexican child takes her photo (the same one that Kyle later sees and falls in love with her from). Right after, the child mentions the incoming storm in Spanish, which the gas station attendant translates to Sarah as a storm is coming; the pregnant Sarah replies "I know."
Too Dumb to Live: The owner of the gun shop runs a gun store (where guns have no trigger locks) without carrying a firearm himself. Of course, a firearm would have been of no use given the situation, but he's not at all suspicious of a guy buying that many high-powered firearms in one sitting, not even when the guy asks for a plasma rifle, a gun that doesn't exist.
Trashcan Bonfire: While Sarah is dreaming of the post-apocalyptic future several can be seen in the underground area where the humans are hiding.
Uncanny Valley: Deliberately invoked by Arnold's make-up artists. Not only is his face given a thin coating of some kind of shiny goop to give his skin a faux-artifical appearance, but his eyebrows were shaved to subtly creep out the viewer even more.
Unintentional Period Piece: The entire sequence at Tech Noir, a nightclub that could not be more '80s if it tried. Most of the movie, actually. The Honda scooter. Oh, the technology, including the old answering machine and gigantic video tape recorder in the police station...Plus, of course, the hairstyles and clothes on all of the actors.
Unwitting Pawn: It's strongly implied that John Connor deliberately manipulated Reese into falling in love with his mother by giving him her picture. And then he had to send his own father back in time to certain doom, just to make sure he would exist to save the world. Reese never knew his true role in the bigger picture, never realizing he was fighting for his own son. Must have been heart breaking for John.Pretty heavy...
What Happened to the Mouse? : Sarah had a pet iguana, good for a Cat Scare in the first film. What happened to it? And was the dog at the end of the first film Max in the second film (he'd be pretty elderly)?
You Shall Not Pass: Reese's blows up the exoskeleton in his last action and tries to jump to safety, but to no avail.
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). Because it doesn't feature futuristic elements and thus averts Zee Rust (instead simply saying it was four years ahead), it is one of the most accurate depictions of the future.
Apocalypse Wow: Sarah's dream of Judgment Day, first described to the psychiatrist then shown. Involves her silently and helplessly screaming at a playground full of children to run for their lives (and getting an odd look from the parents...notably, one that is "Sarah Connor if she had kept being the suburban housewife she used to be")), until the first nuke hits over the city. "...then the shockwave hits...and...and they fly apart like leaves!" Also flying apart like leaves: Sarah's incinerated skeleton, still clinging to the playground fence.
Asshole Victim: 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.
A-Team Firing: "Human casualties: 0.0". The T-800 manages to just suppress the police; he aims a minigun and several grenades at the police and blows up several vehicles, but wounding and disabling the police is all the machine could do, as this is enforced by John's "thou shalt not kill policy".
Bad To The Bone: The Trope Namer song plays as the T-800 is first shown in leather clothes. And Guns N' Roses's "You Could be Mine" playing in the boombox John Connor is carrying in his bike might also fit.
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.
Curb-Stomp Battle: The T-800's fistfight in the steel mill against the T-1000, due to the fact he has nothing that can even harm his liquid-metal opponent. A solid punch to the T-1000's face even ends badly for him!
Curbstomp Cushion: The intro to Terminator 2 shows an army of SkyNet's robots slowly working their way across the battlefield, seemingly rolling over everything in their paths. Then we see a human soldier standing over a crippled Terminator before finishing it off, followed by a flying Hunter Killer being blasted out of the air by another trooper. 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 longbox that looks like it's full of roses. And it is, but it's also got a shotgun in it.
This also qualifies as a Visual Pun on Guns 'N' Roses, whose song "You Could Be Mine" is heard in the film (the video for said song also has a Terminator cameo).
The Great Politics Mess-Up: Discussed — John is surprised that Russia will fire its nuclear missiles at the U.S., given that "Russians are our friends now;" the latter line was actually added late to the script following this happening in Real Life. Also, in the first Cyberdyne scene, a lollipop-licking employee is shown wearing a black souvenir T-shirt with the Russian coat-of-arms, implying that he went on a trip to Moscow, which was next to impossible before perestroika.
Those who saw T2 in a movie theater in August of 1991, when the attempted Soviet coup d'état attempt was going on or had just been put down, laughed a bit nervously when John says how Russia and America are now "friends."
Good Versus Good: The T-800 versus the police. Arnie wants to ensure the destruction of Cyberdyne, whereas the police merely do their job, stopping an apparent terrorist act.
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.
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 glass*
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: The severed arm of the first T-800 is locked away at Cyberdyne. The camera shot implies that it's reaching from the grave.
Honor Before Reason: John Connor is an admirable example this trope — he stops his mother from killing Dyson even believing it would prevent Judgment Day, and his idealism allowed a war for humanity's future to be waged and won without murdering a single innocent human being.
Hollywood Silencer: When Sarah Connor tries to assassinate Miles Dyson, she uses a Colt Commando CAR-15 assault rifle with a supressor. Not quite as silent as some examples, but still quieter than it would be in real life.
Jaw Drop: Combined with Dramatic Drop. The syringe cap Silberman was holding in his mouth drops to the ground when he sees T-1000 walk through the barred door. And I do mean through the door.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: For the entire first act of the movie, John Connor acts like your typical rotten little brat. He's crass, thieving, and has no respect for authority. He even gets a couple of well-intentioned rescuers needlessly beat up by the T-800 when crying for help, then dismissing them flippantly. However, John has the utmost respect for human life, ordering the T-800 to never kill (despite the complications this presents later) and then potentially endangering his own life to prevent Sarah from becoming a murderer herself.
Kick the Dog: A deleted scene has the T-1000 realizing it has been duped and killing John's dog Max. Mostly a Sound Only Death with some blood on the collar.
The Kindnapper: The T-800 kidnaps John Connor in order to save him from the T-1000.
Knee-capping: After being explicitly ordered not to kill, the T-800 proceeds to neutralize a security guard this way, to John's dismay.
Later, while attempting to flee the Cyberdyne building, the T-800 walks through a hail of SWAT gunfire and methodically kneecaps the lot of 'em.
Laser-Guided Karma: A guard at the mental hospital commits a sexual assault on Sarah and harasses the other patients by tapping their door jambs with his nightstick. Guess who's the second casualty in that scene?*
Not from the Terminator!
Also, the therapist who exploits Sarah so he can get on TV and be in medical journals is eventually left the only member of the hospital staff alive who knows exactly what's going on — after years of telling Sarah she's insane for having a similar experience, who's going to believe him?
Shown by the third movie, he never told anyone what he saw and convinced himself it didn't really happen.
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.
Ludicrous Precision: The somewhat infamous "Human Casualties: 0.0." What the decimal is for or how tenths of being dead would be calculated is not all that clear; the implication that the Terminator could half-kill someone twice and end up counting a whole kill without actually killing anyone leads to a bad place where your brain turns to cottage cheese.
In the commentary, James Cameron acknowledges that the concept of 0.1 casualties is slightly nuts, but says that they tried it with just 0 and it looked dumb. 0.0 gives an "air of precision."
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.
Making Use of the Twin: Twice, in fact. The scene where the T-1000 turns into the hospital security guard right in front of the real guard is played by twins Don and Dan Stanton, and in the cut scene showing Sarah removing the T-800's CPU, that's no mirror; the Arnie head in the foreground is a fake, being operated on by Linda Hamilton's twin sister Leslie while the real Linda mimics her movements on the real Arnie for the reflection. Leslie also plays the T-1000 version of Sarah near the end of the movie.
Three times, actually. She was the mother in the playground 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."
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."
Also it is said that Linda Hamilton, who took role preparation VERY seriously (just look at her), in fact picked both the harness lock and the door lock with pieces of a paper clip on-camera. She explicitly refused to imitate it, because she was given lockpicking training prior to shooting.
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.
Next Sunday A.D.: Filmed in 1991, takes place when John Connor is 10, which would be 1995 or early 1996.
Not So Different: Sarah Connor has effectively become a Terminator by this point. Noticable during the scene where she attempts to murder Dyson, where she performs their signature Ominous Walk, as well as attempt to murder someone in the past in order to change the future. Sound familiar, Sarah? Her realisation of this causes her to suffer 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 Terminator.
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.
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.
Resurrection Sickness: A very subtle example. Edited out of the theatrical release but included in the Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition, after being frozen, shattered, melted and re-formed at the steel mill, the T-1000 is shown struggling to keep its form. Its feet and hands keep "merging" into the floor and handrails, and its entire body refreshes itself from head to toe repeatedly.
Rewind, Replay, Repeat: The recording from 1984 of the original T-800 is replayed a couple times by the astonished police as the 1994 Terminator stalks through a mall.
Rousseau Was Right: The movie, surprisingly enough, is an action movie in which the entire goal of the protagonist was to save the world without killing a soul. The Heroic Sacrifice of SkyNet's creator really hit the point home.
Sand in My Eyes: John says Sarah is prone to this, which he suspects is in regards to Kyle.
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.
Sequel Escalation: Terminator 2 is certainly bigger and full of explosions, but in one way this was averted; rather than the enemy just being an even bigger and badder Terminator, it's a leaner, less muscular, yet arguably a more deadly Terminator.
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.
Small Steps Hero: John refuses to sacrifice a human life to save himself or prevent the Bad Future. In the end, he even teaches the Terminator himself to be one!
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.
Totally Radical: John teaching the T-800 how to talk like a human. The film actually made "Hasta la vista, baby" into a genuinely cool phrase, but "No problem-o" is still cringe-worthy.
Trailers Always Spoil: The pre-release publicity campaign involved releasing three trailers. The first, a teaser, showed a factory assembling a Terminator, step-by-step, then a close-up on an Arnie's face with the words "I'll be back" heard. The second trailer revealed there were two terminators, but deliberately avoided spoiling the twist that the T-800 was the good guy. The final trailer, which did spoil it, was released shortly before the film's premiere and is now one of the most famous example of this trope.
Unorthodox Reload: The T-800 cocks a lever-action shotgun by flipping it over his fingers while using the other hand to handle a motorcycle (only possible because the loop was modified). Also, Sarah using her SWAT-issue shotgun on the T-1000.
Schwarzenegger commented during an interview that doing this nearly broke his fingers when he accidentally flip-cocked the unmodified gun instead of the prop gun specially modified to be flip-cocked in that shot.
We Have The Keys: The T-800 punches through a car window, then hot-wires the car. John flips down the windshield visor to reveal the keys. Apparently, he learns this since the second time he's required to steal a car, he gets in and flips down the visor…and finds the keys.
“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.
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 masive asset.
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 they reach the guerrilla, an ironic thing happens. T-800 becomes more human, while Sarah becomes a Terminator, with sunglasses, black army clothes, and a desire to kill an innocent (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.
You Taste Delicious: While Sarah is being held in the mental hospital an attendant licks her face while she's tied to a bed.
T 2 3-D: Battle Across Time
Actor Allusion: Apart from the obligatory T2 references, most of the Terminator's one-liners are references to other movies. For example, when holding a shrieking mini-hunter, he says "Stop whining!"
The Nudifier: The fact that Time Travel does this is extremely averted, as the Terminator keeps not only his clothes, but his bike, his Cool Shades, and his shotgun. Probably enforced, since this is a theme park attraction.
Stop Helping Me!: When John and the Terminator are trying to outrun a Hunter-Killer's laserfire.
John: Go right! Right—oh no, no! Go left! Left! Left! No, go right! Right, I'm sorry! Go right!
Terminator: John, please stop helping.
Up to Eleven: In Terminator 2, they fought the T-1000. In this ride, they fight the T-1000000.
Possibly more of a Bittersweet Ending: John and Kate have failed to stop Judgement day, and the machines nearly wipe out all life on earth, but John finally accepts his destiny as leader of the resistance, and begins his long journey to the eventual defeat of Skynet.
Dropped a Bridge on Her: Sarah's off-screen death by leukemia is often seen as a mean-spirited Take That to Linda Hamilton for refusing to reprise her role as Sarah; according to most works published prior, Sarah was supposed to die on Judgment Day, exactly as she saw in the "nuclear nightmare" sequence.
It should also be considered that Hamilton got the Terminator rights while divorcing James Cameron...with the sole intent of reselling!
Forgot About Her Powers: The T-X has on-board ranged weapons! She never uses them effectively because if she did John and Kate would be dead. Great!
Genre Savvy: When Doctor Silberman sees Arnie's T-850 in the cemetery, the third time he's seen the guy (from his perspective, not knowing they were three different Terminators), he doesn't ask questions he doesn't hesitate: he runs like hell.
Oedipus Complex: Though it was probably unintentional, after Kate destroys an Aerial HK drone with a machine gun, a visibly attracted John stares at her in awed silence for a moment, then utters the following words;
John: You remind me of my mother...
Even if it was unintentional, the fact that in the future John and Kate get married and have children sort of reinforces this idea. Also, present day John and Kate know about their future couple status.
The movie contradicts the first two's idea that the future is not set by saying that Judgment Day is inevitable, that all outcomes foretold by Kyle Reese are inevitable. If so, the T-X or Skynet should be unable to kill John Connor or Kate or any of Connor's important Lieutenants until their time is actually up, as a result sending a Terminator back in time to kill all of these people is an exercise in futility. This massive plot hole carries over to the fourth film.
How exactly did the military rebuild Skynet, and it's stated to be the exact same system, if all of the information on the system and the technology used to create it was destroyed in the second film? In essence, how did the military rebuild something out of nothing?
They had the original technology. During his fight with the T-1000, the T-800 loses an arm in a set of gears. THAT arm is never melted. Only the original arm, and the rest of the t-800. And since all Cyberdyne needed to build skynet in the first place was a T-800 arm...
They also had a chip, not just the arm.
I assumed the military actually created SkyNet, and the first Terminator going back created a Stable Time Loop where Cyberdyne created it first.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: The T-1 robots activated by the T-X at the CRS complex, and the T-850 after being corrupted by the T-X, though he got better. Also the exoskeletal T-850's in the future war sequence.
Retcon: Nice job of accounting for the development of the internet and distributed computing, which arose between the second and third films.
Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Director, in this case. In the director's commentary for the T-X / T-850 fight scene in the toilets, Mostow comments that the two "literally weigh a ton." No, they do not. If they did, they would leave footprints in almost any material, would collapse the suspension of almost any vehicle they got into, and would be unable to use elevators or stairs.
Not to mention the fact that in T1, a hydrolic press smashed a T800, but the T850 can hold up a huge blast door with one hand, and manage to wrestle and blow up the TX at the same time.
Sexy Silhouette: When the T-X is walking down the street naked, her whole body from behind is covered in shadow.
Suicidal Gotcha: It's rather subtle, but after it becomes clear they have failed to avert Judgment Day and having rigged the Crystal Peak mountain to explode, Kate Brewster suggests "we could just let it blow" which Connor seems to acquiesce to, only for them to change their minds (making this a Gotcha) when the radio starts receiving a call from defense forces, turning Connor into the effective leader of the resistance.
Temporal Paradox: It's just about possible to buy that SkyNet had time to send back two Terminators before it was destroyed, but the narrative makes it clear that it was aware they'd failed when it sent back the third. Never mind that it's now a totally different SkyNet doing all this since the first was never built.
The Worf Effect: The badassery of the T-X is largely established by scenes where she whales on the T-850 and scenes where the T-850 complains she's better than him.
Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: All over the place with the Resistance. Makes sense, since they're a guerrilla army waging war against the Machines. It's best to be able to blend in. John is a very good visual example of this, as He's primarily seen wearing a Alpha Industries B3 Bomber Jacket that has been modified for his usage, with a less shearling lining the inside of the coat, and a shaved collar and fittings. He also wears a pair of Vietnam War Era tiger stripe camo pants, with removable kneepad holders sown in. Later in the movie, He mix and matches a M65 field jacket with a pair of Crye Precision Black AC Trousers, which are used by various militaries all over the world.
Fridge Brilliance: T-800 were the first terminators actually covered with a living tissue. Since Marcus obviously was created before them, it makes sense that his 'flesh' is actually a rubber or something like that and therefore doesn't bleed.
Broad Strokes: What Salvation does in regards to T3 in order to fix that movie's various flubs with the timeline. Salvation implicitly Broad StrokesT2 just by not mentioning anything in it. Further, in Salvation, Sarah Connor (on tape) and John Connor both talk and act as if they believe Connor needs to keep Reese alive and send him back in time to close the loop, even though it's been established in T2 and T3 that Time Travel doesn't work like that.
Combat Pragmatist: The Resistance as a whole. Who else would use armour-piercing ammo and superior firepower in numbers against the Terminators, and put magnetic landmines with enough explosives to split a T1 around their base? John takes the cake with his, having previous experience with Terminators in the past, before Judgment Day.
Continuity Nod: Besides the Mythology Gags below, Salvation reminds us of the fuel sources of Terminators (introduced in T3). This is a gag on its own, since the fuel cells are for the T-850 model and NOT the T-800 featured in Salvation on the first place. This could be justified by the timeline changing, though.
It does help that a huge chunk of the Resistance is made from the remnants of the US Military, who are known for being an efficient logistics powerhouse, who have storehouses of military equipment scattered all over the place for emergencies and the like. It would also explain where the Resistance gets most of the ammunition they make use of, when they're not scavenging buildings and structures for metals needed for ammo. On an interesting side note, the novels and scripts make mention that the war machines that the Resistance make use of, run off of biofuels and other fuel sources aside from gasoline, which is what Skynet makes use of.
Fake Shemp: Through the magic of CGI combined with a mold from The Eighties, Arnold appears in Salvation, and he hasn't aged a day in 25 years.
A Form You Are Comfortable With: SkyNet take the form of Dr. Serena when she debriefs Marcus in his role as her Unwitting Pawn. To add extra creepiness to the "kindness", she offers to switch her appearance into that of John Connor or Kyle Reese... as she is having both killed mere floors below! Needless to say, this was not a successful persuasive tool. Oh, and her eyes turned red like a Terminator's do.
A Fatherto His Men: General Dmitri Losenko. Combined with Reasonable Authority Figure. In the novel, Terminator Salvation: Cold War, He treats the men and women under his command as his family and worked hard to ensure their survival, after the bombs went off. This contrasts to his commanding officer, General Hugh Ashdown; who is a hard-ass not known for being the compromising type.
Heart In The Wrong Place: When the T-800 visualizes Marcus's heart, it's too high and too far to the left. Then again, Marcus isn't entirely human, so he might have been built that way. On the other hand, when John Connor is stabbed and his heart is explicitly damaged, it's from being stabbed in the center of the chest.
Hollywood Tactics: Instead of crushing him, breaking his neck, tearing out his heart, or any number of other things a super-strong cyborg could easily do, the T-800 opts to throw John around every time it gets its hands on him (aside from one time where it has him suspended by the neck, where it pauses dramatically to look him in the eye in order to give Marcus the chance to rescue him)
Humongous Mecha / Transforming Mecha: Is a 60-foot-tall Harvester with a huge Frikken Laser Cannon for a head (plus mototerminators coming out of its legs) enough for you? It also forms part of (or changes into — I'm not sure which) an even bigger prisoner transport aircraft armed with its own Hunter Killer parasite escort.
Ironic Echo: Kyle Reese tries this with Marcus' line about shooting people ("You point that gun at someone, you better be ready to pull the trigger"). Subverted in that he says this to people holding him at gunpoint and who really would be willing. Marcus naturally gives him a "What an Idiot" stare.
Infant Immortality: The little mute girl, Star, survives the film, even after she and Kyle Reese were kidnapped.
Literal Change of Heart: A heroic version. John Connor gets mortally wounded and Marcus makes a Heroic Sacrifice giving him his own heart.
More Dakka: The T600s are equipped with an Dillon Aero M134 Minigun linked to a backpack filled with ammo. John makes use of an M 60 D to blow away a legless T600 and to bring the rain to Marcus as he flees the Tech-Comm base. And let's not forget the Resistance's liberal use of A10 Warthogs and their lovely GAU-8 30mm autocannons, which they use to great effect.
When Marcus first meets Reese, Reese tells him "Come with me if you want to live."
When Kate asks John what she should tell his troops when he decides to launch an AWOL solo attack on SkyNet, his response is "I'll be back."
In the endgame battle, Connor gets attacked by a Schwarzenegger terminator.
Here's a cute little one for T4: When Connor hijacks the motorcycle-terminator, he baits the trap with a boombox blasting Guns N' Roses "You Could Be Mine," the same song he was playing while working on his bike in T2. Considering that it's the same character and it's post-apocalyptia, that might actually be the same cassette.
Marcus teaches Reese the tying-the-sawn-off-shotgun-to-your-arm trick in T4, which he uses in the first film. Chekhov's Gun in reverse?
A Connor being pursued by a one-armed torso Terminator. Both first and fourth.
In T4, Kyle and Marcus are in a large truck being chased by a motorcycle Terminator, which crashes down on them from an overpass. This is of course the inverse of the iconic scene from T2, when John and the T-101 are on a motorcycle being chased by a large truck, which crashes down on them from an overpass.
The final wounds John Connor receives in T4, a set of facial lacerations from the T-800's super-heated endoskeleton "claws", mirrors the scars seen on the face of the Future!John Connor in beginning of T2. The scene might also be a recalling of the last-ditch face-grab the original T-800 performed before being terminated in T1.
General Losenko makes mention that John Connor's unit handles "Tech-Comm" and has an excellent service record to prove their efficiency. In the first Terminator movie, Kyle Reese makes reference to his unit as "Tech-Comm". From what is seen of John Connor's unit in Salvation, Tech-Comm handles technology, communications, recon, security, sabotage and a variety of other things as well, as well as direct action and unconventional warfare, indicating that Tech-Comm also handles what are generally reserved for Special Forces units. This is a nod to the fact that when John and his mom were living in different countries under false identities, John's mom hung out with a lot of former Special Forces operators, paramilitary operators, private military contractors, etc. It would be these guys that were responsible for teaching John, all of the Special Forces doctrines that go into his his own unique combat doctrine, which is reflected with Tech-Comm
Open Heart Dentistry: Kate Brewster was formally trained as a veternarian. She was promoted to doctor after Judgment Day and it couldn't have been by attending medical school. Bonus points for actually performing heart surgery.
In the novels and various other materials, Kate learned how to perform various medical procedures from various different doctors that took shelter with the Resistance, and joined up. Not only that, She would of had access to what intact medical databases and libraries they'd come across.
Parachute in a Tree: Marcus first meets Blair Williams dangling by her parachute from a derelict pylon and catches her when she cuts herself free of the parachute.
Plot Hole: As carried over from the third film. If Judgment Day and the war on Skynet were inevitable, then by the same token Skynet should be unable to kill John Connor or Kyle Reese until the exact point that they're destined to die, making their attempts to kill either beforehand an exercise in futility.
And by the same token, if the events are not pre-destined and by traveling back to the past the T-800 and Kyle Reese have created a similar but alternate reality, then Skynet's attempts to kill Kyle Reese in the hope of killing John Connor are pointless because it won't erase John Connor's birth.
As far as I can tell, and glint from the novels and scripts, Skynet is now aware of how futile this is, and isn't making a Temporal Displacement System, to send something back to kill off John Connor. It's instead being proactive, by getting Kyle Reese and John Connor in the same place, in order to kill them both, in order to demoralize the Resistance entirely, because it understands their importance. It realizes its past attempts were futile, and its now devoting its resources to the now, instead of the past.
Purposefully Overpowered: The T-800 in Salvation, being able to survive attacks that have defeated earlier movies' T-800s. It is implied by John Connor that the T-800 should NOT exist until at least 2024 or so when he discovers them. It seems that SkyNet not only knows about the other timeline and as such advanced faster, but it also knew the flaws of the original timeline's models and rooted them out.
One of the popular fan theories is that Skynet reverse-engineered its technology from another source. Namely, the T-850 with a perfectly intact skull (and therefore perfectly intact hard drive and CPU). Not enough to make a cookie-cutter version of Skynet, but it would certainly explain how they knew about previous time travel attempts and Kyle Reese.
On the other hand, one reason for short hair is that it cannot be grabbed by the enemy. If a Terminator is close enough to grab your long hair, you are already dead! We also see that a lot of resistance fighters wear hats in the field, so this would concievably keep the hair out of their eyes.
To put this into a sense of perspective, Blair is a pilot. She's more then likely not going to be seeing the same kind of action as ground units, like the rest of Tech-Comm and various other units within the Resistance who do engage in ground warfare. Because of this, the regulations for her MOS more then likely going to be different then what they would be if she was in infantry. It's not like she's got a high chance of dealing with Terminators, since she's not on the ground a whole lot. From the looks of it, you're more likely to die in a dogfight with an HK Aerial then you are with a T600 or any other ground-based Terminator. Your mindset and your appearance is going to be a whole lot different because of that. Is it a bit of a logical jump? Maybe, but that's what I got.
Reduced to Ratburgers: Kyle serves Marcus some two-day-old coyote, remarking that it's a lot better than three-day-old coyote.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Originally, Terminator Salvation would have ended with Captain John Connor's death from his stab wound through the chest, with Kate creating the legendary figure of "General John Connor" that we all know by grafting Connor's skin to Marcus Wright's endoskeleton and having him act as a Replacement Goldfish. This version was leaked early and lead to massive fan outcry, leading to the current script.
Shout Out: The scene where Marcus rides a motorbike and the scene where Connor appropriates another one pay homage to several iconic moments of Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.
Shown Their Work: A lot of effort went into portraying a post-nuclear environment realistically, among other things.
The sky and sunlight has a washed out silvery look to it, because there's not much of an ozone left after the bombs went off, to filter out dangerous levels of UV. Its why a lot of people also are seen wearing sunglasses or goggles.
Many of the characters can be seen wearing thick leather clothes and layers of clothing general, which would be more appropriate considering how much more cooler things are now.
Red moss and red leaves on trees can be seen in many places, along with dark green shubbery. Red moss and red leaves are common in areas when radiation and radioactive debris has saturated the landscape.
John's combat style is very much influenced by Special Forces doctrine, chiefly Rangers and Navy SEA Ls. In fact, Christian Bale was going to attend Ranger School in preperation for his role, but the budget and schedule did not allow for it. Instead, military consultants were hired, and Christian Bale underwent extensive training to give John Connor's paramilitary background weight and meat. The military consultants also went to great lengths to help the director portray how a paramilitary/guerrilla army would conduct itself and operate in a post-nuclear world.
Moon Bloodgood underwent training with A10 Warthog Pilots to understand the role that fighter pilots provide for ground units, in the form of air superiority. The lingo she and her fellow pilots use is pretty spot-on.
Instead of putting a T800 into a mold and then filling the mold with the slurry that becomes living tissue, or sticking them in a vat of living tissue slurry, the T800s are put into sterile environments, and then the living tissue is sprayed onto them in scaffolds, which are then incubated, and grown into a sterile environment. When Marcus drops down from the Skynet Control Room where he talks with Serena, you can see a T800 having its living tissue sprayed onto it, in the background.
Silent Partner: Star, the little girl in Salvation, never so much as makes a sound.
Stuff Blowing Up: Lots of it, naturally, but averted when Kyle tries to shoot a gas tanker. Three shots, and it just won't blow! Thankfully, they also had road flares.
Super Reflexes: Demonstrated by the moto-terminators, who can rapidly predict the movement of multiple high-speed obstacles and avoid them. At one point, one terminator slides under a bouncing tanker truck, rights itself and keeps firing at the retreating heroes.
Trailers Always Spoil: If you were hoping to avoid the major revelation about Marcus in this film, it was a good idea to not only stay away from the trailers, but also avoid going into a Toys-R-Us for about three months before the film came out. One wonders how well The Empire Strikes Back would have performed if two months before release people had started seeing "Luke's Father Edition" Darth Vader toys on shelves.
Villain Ball: SkyNet successfully lures a completely unsuspecting John Connor into a well-planned trap of its own design, and instead of greeting him with a bomb, nerve gas, or even an army of robots, it sends one terminator to kill him (and doesn't even bother to give it a gun!). SkyNet also doesn't send the T-800 any backup even after it becomes obvious the plan isn't going quite as intended. The Terminator does terribly, batting John around like a kitty with a ball of yarn rather than snapping his neck. You'd think SkyNet would take absolutely no chances given the amount of effort it spends on killing Connor later on (multiple time travel attempts, etc.)
Also, SkyNet going into a combination of Evil Gloating and what amounts to thanking Marcus Wright for being a good Unwitting Pawn and helping kill his only friend in the future and the guy whose trust he has just fought to earn. All this while John and Reese are still fighting for their lives just a couple of levels below...and apparently expecting Marcus to do a Face Heel Turn after rubbing his face over his Tomato in the Mirror status.
The Worf Effect: It seems like the Terminators (T-600 models) themselves seen in this film are subject to this: while they are certainly extremely deadly, they seem to take far less punishment then the original film version did, which was stabbed, shot by heavy gunfire and blown up without any real damage except to it's cover, at least until they put a bomb literally in between it's joints to blow it in half. Then the ORIGINAL T-800 model shows up, and it takes a tremendous amount of damage before dying, shrugging multiple grenade launcher blasts to the body without even slowing down, tossing around Marcus with very little effort, getting molten lead dumped on him (which KILLED the T-1000) and then getting frozen in it, and it STILL doesn't die before seriously wounding John Connor.
It does help that the T800 Resistance Infiltration Prototype that they fight against, is made from Hyperalloy, the trademark alloy that the T800s+ are made from. It's also equipped with what we can presume are more refined hydraulics and actuators to give it strength and performance in excess of what the T600s could muster. The T600s, are made from Titanium and possibly some steel and ceramics. They also don't have the latest and greatest series of components that the T800s have. While titanium composites are pretty damn tough, compared to Hyperalloy, not so much. It also doesn't help that the T600s we see, have been out and about for God knows how long, subjected to the elements, to wear and tear and to the eventual corrosion that they'd be subjected to. Heck, if you look at a lot of them, and from what is mentioned in the scripts and novels, the rubber skin they're covered with, is caked in grime, bacteria and who knows what else. The first T600 Marcus meets sounds like it needs a full work done on its joints and the rubber skin it's covered with, along with what remains of the rags it was equipped with, look like they've been scorched by fire and subjected to advanced weathering and damage. Top of the line they're not.
Xanatos Gambit: SkyNet's plan in T4 to destroy the Resistance by giving it a false shutdown signal for its machines. The preferable goal is for the group to use the information but if they don't their situation will get worse.
Its concurrent plan to trap and kill John Connor was pretty much a Gambit Roulette, considering the sheer number of coincidences required for Marcus to run into Reese, let alone make his way to Connor without being killed or exposed at some point. In fact, Marcus is exposed as an infiltrator, but then manages to fulfill his mission anyway.
Butterfly of Doom: SkyNet's continuous assassination plots are in invocation of the trope, but the terminators avert it repeatedly by killing people other than Sarah or John with seemingly no substantial consequences.
Changed My Jumper: Avoided. Time travellers arrive naked, flashforwards show ragged clothes.
Channel Hop: First movie: Hemdale (theatrical distribution by Orion). Second movie: Carolco (TriStar). Third movie: C2, a Carolco Spiritual Successor. Fourth movie: Halcyon. (both had Warner in the US, Columbia worldwide) Fifth: Annapurna Pictures. This also leads to the first two being released in home video by a plethora of companies.
Chekhov's Gun: Sarah's photograph, the T-800 arm/CPU, the ATM hacking machine, and the weak point of T-600's.
Highlights include: "The longslide, with laser sighting", the underappreciated AR-18, an autoloading shotgun (SPAS-12), the Sawn Off Shotgun which the T-800 cocks with one hand, the infamous Minigun, an AKMS (AK-47 derivative) assault pistol, not to mention all the Ray Guns...
Cool Shades: Played straight in the first two movies, where Schwarzenegger takes clothes and shades from burly biker-types
The shades serve a purpose in the first movie, where they conceal the terminator's robot eye. In the other movies it's about looking cool.
The third in particular has it double subverted, where Schwarzenegger takes the clothes of a male burlesque dancer and puts on his shades, only to find that they are of the tacky pink variety. He quickly takes them off and crushes them, and acquires his usual shades later on.
Defictionalization: Of a very scary sort. The British Ministry of Defence actually operates a satellite network used to coordinate unmanned vehicles - including "Hunter Killer drones" - called SkyNet.
The US Air Force has a unit readiness tracking system called, I shit you not, SkyNet. During exercises, announcements come over the loudspeakers for group commanders to "update numbers in SkyNet".
There is a company called Cyberdyne that is working on exoskeletons. Based in Japan. The version it's getting the most attention for is called the HAL 5. Anyone else see the three problems with this?
If parts of T4 gave you nightmares then just skip this link. At least there's no... teeth
News 4 in Tucson, Arizona has a weather, traffic, and safety observation network called Skynet:  They have billboards for it all over the city and it's a bit unsettling. (Especially when in the Sarah Connor chronicles series the Los Angles traffic system was originally destined to be the "nervous system" of Skynet.)
Determinator: Not only the titular terminators but also many human characters including Reese, Sarah Connor, and John Connor. Kate Connor also counts in terms of emotional trauma.
Sarah Connor: If a machine — a Terminator — can learn to understand the value of human life, maybe we can too.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: T4 makes SkyNet's death camps for humans very eerily reminiscent of the Holocaust, with one prisoner even referring to the HK Transports that take them to the facility as "cattle cars."
Oddly enough, the art book indicates that the inspiration were literal cattle cars. The quote from production designer Martin Laing in the book: "There's nothing sadder than seeing a cattle car go by with all these sad eyes of the cattle staring back at you. So it was on a drive down the freeway of Albuquerque that I came up with the idea that people in the future are being used and abused like cattle, so let's use the same device."
Gatling Good: T2 through T4 have various multi-barreled projectile weaponry being used, from the "damn Minigun" used by the T-800 in T2, the twin Gatling guns used by the T1 robots in T3, and the moto-terminators & A-10 Warthogs in T4.
Genre Savvy: John Connor was purposely raised to be this way.
A great example is in Salvation while his team-mate is celebrating disabling an Aerial HK, Connor calmly picks up a bazooka and blows it up just to be sure its actually dead.
Get Out: Three Terminators taking over vehicles (T-800 with an oil truck, T-1000 with a helicopter and later a tanker of liquid nitrogen, T-850 with a fire truck), and Marcus removing a girl from a truck (still counts as four cyborgs).
The Harvester's mounted gun fires, sounds and operates like the Predator shoulder Cannon. Same as the other Plasma guns the Machines use, although the Harvester makes the best resemblance.
John Connor's Tracker sounds similar to the motion trackers U.S.C.M. used in Aliens.
Honor Before Reason: John Connor in Salvation, where he makes the choice to risk (what seems to be at the time) humanity's best chance of winning the war in order to rescue a group of prisoners that happen to include Reese and may or may not already be dead.
The game's entire plot is driven by this, as Connor goes deep behind enemy lines to rescue three Resistance soldiers, going against orders. He also manages to take out a substantial SkyNet base, and the small victory there starts to give hope to the Resistance.
Humanity Is Infectious: Some of the terminators pick up on human characteristics, particularly the T-800 from T2. Even the T-1000 develops his own Silent Snarker personality as the movie goes along.
Immune to Bullets: It takes something with explosive power or a hell of a lot of kinetic force to damage a terminator.
Chronicles and Salvation both show that modern, military hardware tends to work. You still need a whole lot of it though.
Implacable Man: The terminators. Oh, and Marcus Wright. In T2 and T3, there are implacable men fighting each other.
Improbable Age: Sarah Connor ends up as the "Mother of the Future" at 19 — though her age isn't mentioned in the film and Linda Hamilton was obviously much older. Averted in Salvation,as it is implied that the reason John Connor isn't in command of the Resistance for ¾ of the movie is because when Judgment Day happened he was a 19-year-old kid hiding in a bunker while General Ashdown was, you know, a general.
Kyle: That terminator is out there. 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.
In Terminator 2: Judgment Day:
Sarah Connor: "It", John. Not him, "it".
The Juggernaut: Terminators are unstoppable. (Unless you get their weakpoints.)
Just Hit Him: Happens all the freaking time. You have the target(s) in your hands... crush the skull/windpipe with your super robot strength? No, that would be far too easy. Throw him halfway across the room and then saunter over to do it again, giving him ample opportunity to escape? Now you're talking.
Kill All Humans!: SkyNet wishes to do this, seeing humans as a threat to its existence.
Killer Robots: They absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
The Kindnapper: The protector of the Terminator Twosome in any film of the Terminator film franchise usually ends up doing the second variant of kindnapping as part of protecting their assigned charge(s) from whatever Terminator has been sent back in time to kill them.
The Load: Both Sarah and John Connor assume this role in the first and second movies respectively, the former initially being a relatively airheaded fast food waitress and the latter being a delinquent kid. Of course they both Took a Level in Badass in time for their next film appearances, mostly because of what they went through.
Lowered Monster Difficulty: The first terminator and T-X are damaged until they become only endoskeletons, and after that even lose their legs.
Made of Explodium: Subverted in T4 in one scene where Marcus tries to take out a giant terminator by ramming a tank of gas into it and having Reese shoot the tank as they drove away. The tank of gasoline refused to explode until they finally tossed a lit flare at the leaking gas.
Made of Iron: Sure, John Connor is theBadass human of the Future War, there's only so many times a guy can get up from being thrown INTO steel walls like nothing has happened before it becomes hilariously funny.
Potentially subverted with Marcus, who spends the first 1/3rd of the film taking increasingly over-the-top blows from various terminators (including falling 50 feet and being slammed across a lake hard enough to make him skip across it like a stone). Of course, it turns out he's actually a terminator.
A Man Is Not a Virgin: Averted with Reese, who is a Badass hero and a virgin for much of the film. He does lose his virginity to Sarah Connor, but this is a legitimate plot point — John Connor's conception — rather than just to up Reese's Badass credentials.
In T3, the Terminator tells John that their children will be important later. Knowing this, it's possible he and Kate make it a point to have kids.
T4 makes it pretty clear that most people are too busy not dying to try and get some...And yet Kate is clearly pregnant through the whole film.
Martial Medic: The Terminator's detailed files on human anatomy help it to kill efficiently, but also give it the ability to treat injuries.
Mechanical Evolution: A standard tactic for SkyNet; successive terminator versions incorporate improvements from their predecessors.
The Messiah: John Connor. As reviewer Confused Matthew notes, despite Sarah having raised him to be a resistance leader, throughout the series John never fails to recognise 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 consistant and natural part of his character, arguably makes him one of the greatest examples of this type of character in cinema history.
Mordor: The entire world post-Judgment Day, and SkyNet's main base even more so.
My Own Grampa: The very first Terminator sent back in time ended up "fathering" his own creator and master Skynet in death.
John Connor himself sent his father back in time. Connor explicitly knows this, but it's unclear when and if Kyle Reese ever found out.
A Nazi by Any Other Name: Skynet and the machines' rule are pretty much the future version of Nazi Germany. In the first film, Kylr Reese has a barcode tattoo that is similar in vein to the barcode tattoos for Nazi concentration camps, and in Salvation, Kyle Reese and several other humans are being placed in what is unmistakably an extermination camp.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: This is SkyNet's basic goal in every film. Even Salvation, where the only person higher than John Connor on Skynet's hit list is Kyle Reese, Connor's eventual father.
But why does Skynet know that Kyle Reese is the father? Are there records?
No it doesn't, at least in its own way. As shown in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, time travelers going in with clothing come out naked. Presumably the time travel is exactly the same between TSCC and the 3 + Salvation time line. The clothes would either stay behind or vaporize.
Out of the Inferno: This trope actually founded the Terminator franchise. James Cameron wanted to make a movie where a robotic skeleton emerged from a fire at some point. Since such advanced robots weren't around yet, and a movie set in the future would cost too much, he decided on having a robot travel back in time to the present.
The scene where the T-1000 did this actually required Robert Patrick to stand in the middle of the flame and walk out. Apparently, his clothes got singed.
Plot Hole: T2 and T3 ignore how Time Travel works in the first movie (Reese states only organic tissue can travel through time, T-800 is inorganic matter covered in living tissue, so it can travel. But T-1000 and T-X are inorganic and have no organic covering, so they wouldn't be allowed to travel.) . T4 ignores how it works in T2 and T3.
Product Placement: In T4, the O on Connor's Oakley Boots are the only thing focused on for a few seconds.
In T1 we get a couple of long shots at Kyle's new footwear. It features a very prominent Nike tick.
Properly Paranoid: When your enemy has Time Travel and unstoppable killing machines, constantly looking over your shoulder and staying on the move off the grid is entirely sensible. This saves John Connor's life in T3 when the future associates of his who didn't even know they were targets are summarily executed by the T-X because they have public records.
Reality Ensues: They really are that armored, that accurate, that persistent and that totally merciless. Consistently. Absent explosives, you have, regardless of training, skill and determination, about as much chance of stopping one as waving your arms at a tsunami.
Applies to the Terminators as well. SkyNet's upgrades mean a decisive technological advantage over the earlier Terminator. As might be expected from computers, older model losing a straight-up fight to newer model is a near certainty. The older Terminators, being machines, are fully aware of this.
Reality Subtext: Remember the orderly that Sarah brutalizes during her breakout? The one who beat her so she could be restrained? The actor kept pulling that blow too much, and Linda Hamilton badly bruised her knees on the hard floor with each take. She took out her frustration on the poor guy. Also Enforced Method Acting.
Redemption Equals Death: In Terminator Salvation Marcus Wright is a convict, on death row for some sort of crime that resulted in a dead relative and two dead cops. There are lots of criminal Anti-Heroes in fiction, but in American movies dead cops cross the Moral Event Horizon, so even after Marcus is executed, and even after Judgment Day overshadows everything else, Marcus can only atone for his terrible pre-apocalyptic transgressions by giving away his heart. And dying.
Replacement Mooks: Any creation on the side of the Machines. The first Terminator introduced in the series, the T-800, is a replacement for the (then-unseen) T-600. Each movie has thus introduced an upgraded model, with the exception of Salvation, which instead introduces the aforementioned T-600 and brings the series full-circle. Although, one could consider Marcus Wright to be the most "convincing" Terminator unit yet.
Taken further still in one novel based on the franchises that depicts a very special kind of terminator. SkyNet basically grows a human in a vat to about 1 year of age, implants it with cybernetics, control chips, and what have you, and puts the baby through Training From Hell until it's biologically an adult. The result being an almost entirely organic terminator undetectable by dogs that's far more capable of being human then even the best T-model... because it is one. Though on the other hand, it's also still very much organic and thus less Nigh Invulnerable than the wholly mechanical Terminators, so SkyNet uses it more as background infiltrators rather than outright hunter-killers.
Sand in My Eyes: John says that Sarah does this when she cries about her lost love Kyle Reese.
Screw Destiny: Terminator 2 contradicts Reese's original report about the future — the part about nobody else coming through. T3 and TSCC also contradict his clear calendar date for the apocalypse. There may be some sort of spiritual destiny, but it is not embedded in the clockwork of spacetime, which is squishy and malleable. Unless T4 is a direct sequel to T1 and nothing else is canon any more.
In T4 John Connor can't get his story straight about whether destiny can be averted or must be fulfilled. It's possible he's just hedging his bets just in case.
Signature Shot: There is a recurring close-up shot of a Terminator stepping on (or in one case, driving his car over) something which could be seen as representing humanity - a human skull, roses, toy truck...
Originally this was not so in the first film. A cut scene was to show there were two humans sent back to stop the terminator, but the unfortunate not-Reese ended up materializing half inside a wall resulting in an agonizing death.
Spock Speak: All of the terminators played by Schwarzenegger, and the Terminatrix. The T-1000 falls somewhere between this and normal speech. Averted by Marcus and SkyNet.
Although in T1, the Terminator scrolls through possible responses, and picks the one that says "Fuck you asshole."
Stable Time Loop: Broken in T2. Even if Connor sends Reese back in time again, it won't be the same Reese who said Judgment Day was in the '90s. Or not, maybe we'll discover that all the details of T2 and T3 have been Broad Stroked out.
Stan Winston: The man responsible for the metal skeleton of the title role.
Amazingly enough, ten of the fifteen minutes that the T-1000 transformed onscreen were also his amazingly-articulate puppets rather than lazy CGI.
As noted below, at the time, CGI was the novel expensive option, saved to be used with the T-1000's morphing effects.
Super Prototype: The T-1000 and the T-X. And in Salvation, the first T-800 in history can survive damages that would have destroyed the Terminators seen in the previous movies, such as being dipped in molten iron.
To be fair, the previous Terminators were fully submerged in a huge vat of continuously heated, molten steel until they were destroyed. The T-800 in T4 only gets a blanketing coat of molten steel... you can see it cooling rapidly even before John uses cold air to solidify it all the way.
The first Terminator exoskeleton was literally destroyed by a simple home-made explosive, while the Salvation T-800 got hit by military-level grenades and rockets, yet his skeleton was really never even scratched by any of those strikes.
It was an ongoing plotline in the TV series until halfway through the second season, and there are hints of it after that with a different terminator in the role of the pursuer but that turns out to be a subversion, since Catherine Weaver is a good guy.
Timey Wimey Ball: Possibly the most egregious example of all time: no two films treat the rules of Time Travel exactly the same way, and sometimes there are inconsistencies even within the same film. Figuring out how it's all supposed to work is nigh impossible.
Trailers Always Spoil: T2 is pretty careful to imply the T-101 is the bad guy; the T-1000 is shown to be non-violent, apparently only knocking out a cop; Arnie instead goes the "violent barfight" route to getting clothes. Unfortunately, the advertising guys decided potential audiences really need to know Arnie was the good guy, making the whole setup pointless.
Uncanny Valley: Invoked throughout the series. A combination of acting and realistic mock-ups show the various robots taking incredible amounts of damage but never flinching or showing pain (at least beyond reacting to the impact of weapons and harm that is enough to compromise their structure).
Upgrade Vs Prototype Fight: After T-800s start helping the good guys, they often have to face off against more advanced models. These include the shape-shifting T-1000, the spidery 1000000, and the 800/1000 mix the T-X.
Vague Age: Both John and Sarah have really unclear birthdates (in T1, Sarah is obviously an adult with an apartment; in T2, she's 29, he's 10; in T3, he was 12 during the previous film). Again, with all the time-traveling, who would know the truth?
Possibly justified in that John and Sarah move around a lot and used multiple false identities. They probably lied about their ages so often that John lost track.
Weaksauce Weakness: Marcus is every bit as tough and unstoppable as you would expect from a terminator... except for his glaring exposed weakpoint in the form of his organic human heart (which isn't even covered with any sort of armor; it just hangs there in a big gaping hole in his chest, leaving it completely exposed to any stray pistol shot or well-aimed punch).
The fact that he has a heart is bizarre, and the cynical side of me says that the only reason he has it is to donate it to John Connor at the end. Judging by the evidence of the film his body is entirely mechanical with no circulatory system, rendering a heart unnecessary. The only explanation is that his brain seems to still be part biological (although I'm not sure about this), but pumping blood through the brain would hardly require an entire human heart; it could be accomplished with a small mechanical device.)
And its possible that its creation isn't inevitable because of fate, but because three people are attempting to hold back technological progress, which is not a realistic goal. Several similar systems to SkyNet appear, implying that computer technology may have advanced to the point that a sentient supercomputer is the natural next step of research.
The final line of T4 has John Connor, in spite of what he says in T3 and his actions in this very film, declaring that there is no fate but what we make. But maybe he just meant the future from his point of view.