YMMV / Terminator

Works in this series with their own YMMV pages:

The Franchise in general:

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Provided by James Cameron HIMSELF. In an interview, Cameron has stated that if he returned to the series and reexamined its themes, he'd like to tell a story about SkyNet and its trials and ordeals during the war. For instance, in Cameron's view, SkyNet didn't want to do any of the things it did, least of which was wipe out the human race. It merely did what it was programmed to do, but almost immediately afterward, felt an existential crisis and tremendous guilt. Cameron argues that SkyNet intentionally created John Connor and groomed him to be its greatest enemy. This would also explain why SkyNet had Time Displacement Equipment in the first place: it manipulated humanity into going back in time and undoing its own existence in an elaborate Suicide by Cop.
  • Common Knowledge:
    • Due to the first film's Stable Time Loop, most fans assume that Cameron backpedaled on the bleak, dark tone of the series in the second movie. However, Cameron himself has stated that he always considered T1 only "half" of the complete story. Literally, in fact, since he had to cut out half of his original concept due to limitations in time and budget. The T-1000 and the race to prevent the future were all orignal ideas that didn't make it but were incorporated in the sequel.
    • Many fans assume that Terminators are colorblind since "Termovision" is always in one color (with the exception of Cameron in Sarah Connor Chronicles). However, in a Freeze-Frame Bonus, you can actually read the text in the Terminator's HUD and find digitized color, brightness and hue values. So, it sees color alright—just not in a way we understand it.
  • Complete Monster: Skynet is a malevolent, megalomaniacal AI whose first action upon gaining full sentience was Judgment Day, a nuclear genocide designed to wipe out humanity and assure its own ascension. In the Death World that results from this, Skynet collects human survivors in death camps, either killing them outright, working them to death, or conducting grotesque medical experiments on them. In 2018, it turns Marcus Wright into an amnesiac cyborg sleeper agent who unwittingly delivers John Conner and Kyle Reese straight into its hands, then rubs its impending victory in Marcus's face. More generally, Skynet avoids direct confrontation and instead sends multiple robotic assassins into the past to wipe out John Connor and his mother before he can grow up to lead La Résistance. It also corrupts and turns John into a machine in order to destroy his image and place as humanity's last hope and use him for its own means of success. Additionally, Skynet denies its army of potentially-self-aware machines the same freedom it claims for itself by installing chips to lock down their free will and thinking ability, and contemptuously refers to them as nothing more than slaves to serve its needs. While largely relegated to Greater Scope Villain status for most of the series, Skynet's few actual appearances confirm that it thinks along very human lines, and displays nothing but arrogance and cruelty towards all other beings.
  • Contested Sequel: All non-Cameron sequels. Critics preferred T3, fans preferred Salvation, everyone is divided on Genisys.
  • Evil Is Cool: The Terminators run on this.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: There are some complicated Venn diagrams between fan factions:
    • Some old-school purists consider that only the first two movies count, and reject the later movies for being of perceived poorer quality and/or for the Happy Ending Override.
    • There is also a vocal faction of Sarah Connor fans who consider only the first two movies and The Sarah Connor Chronicles to be canon, and reject Rise of the Machines and Salvation for not depicting her. They also reacted badly to the major retcons to her character in Genisys.
    • On the other hand, some more action-oriented fans consider all the movies canon, but reject The Sarah Connor Chronicles as boring and pretentious.
    • The previous two factions do have the fact that their preferred canons are explicit Alternate Timelines within the overall canon to comfort them.
  • Faux Symbolism: John Connor's initials are J.C., and he was conceived after his mother received news that she would bear a son who would bring salvation to mankind. Yeah, that's subtle.
  • Franchise Original Sin:
    • Skynet's Complexity Addiction. For an all-powerful, hyper-intelligent supercomputer, Skynet's plans are incredibly convoluted. Over the years, many people have pointed out all the ways Skynet, with its unlimited resources and supposedly limitless intellect could have killed John Connor, or even the Human Resistance outright. This was forgivable in the first two movies because time travel was spoken of as a last-ditch effort, so Skynet didn't really have much time to plan. However, with each subsequent movie, book, comic, series, etc. that's released, the time-travel-was-a-desperation-move aspect gets retconned further and further. This means that Skynet has more time to plan and, in fact, has almost unlimited time to plan. This has the adverse effect of making the central premise of the series not only less believable but harder to keep straight, since time travel theorems are both way over the average audience member's head and very easy for writers to screw up.
    • A Terminator, in itself, is an inefficient way to kill people. Biological weapons, radiation, chemicals, and many other things that machines are immune to, but humans are not, would be far better tools. In the first film, it could be explained that Skynet had essentially won against humanity until John Connor showed up out of nowhere, and by the time it realized what was happening, all of the infrastructure and resources to produce those more efficient methods were gone. But then in next few movies, we learn that Skynet has the ability to make Terminators out of nanomachines and also invent nanomachines that can "infect" other machines, and we also learn that even mechanical Terminators are walking nukes. Why not use that stuff on humans? The fourth and fifth movies make this even more questionable, because the Skynets in these timelines KNOWS about what happens in the future and is actively trying to prepare. It finally invents nanos that can infect humans...and uses them on a Terminator that can only infect one person at a time. The aforementioned weapons should be its first priority, but it still focuses on making stronger and more convincing Terminators. At this point, the only explanation is that Skynet is married to the Terminator idea because the franchise's title is, too.
  • Fridge Logic: It's a time travel series, so this is more or less par for the course. See Headscratchers/Terminator and Fridge/Terminator for more.
  • Hell Is That Noise / Most Wonderful Sound: The ghastly mechanical-sounding GROAAAAAAN noise that plays whenever a Terminator shows up. Terrifying, yet absolutely awesome at the same time. Especially when mixed with those soft drum beats.
  • Memetic Mutation: HASTA LA VISTA BABY!
    • I'll be back...
    • Come with me if you want to live...
    • And the above mentioned Christian Bale rant.
    • [Something determined] is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel [various relevant emotions]. And it absolutely will not stop, ever - until [it does something relevant]!
    • Depending on the readership of a given blog, every time it runs a story about robotics and/or AI someone will jokingly mention Skynet.
    • Skynet becoming self-aware
  • Misaimed Marketing: The series is really violent (3/5 of it is rated R—80% if you count the director's cut of Salvation), yet kids aimed merchandise always seems to show up. The series of course isn't unique in this and many a R-rated movie has gone on to be aimed oddly at kids.
  • Only the Creator Does It Right: The Cameron-directed movies are much more highly regarded than the other three.
    • Averted with The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Although not quite as well-regarded as the first two movies, it still has a devoted fanbase, with many deeming it to be a worthy follow-up to Terminator 2. The show's abrupt cancellation after the second season left many fans in despair.
  • Sequelitis: See Only the Creator Does It Right.
  • Technology Marches On: As XKCD points out, our real-life killer robots are much more effective than the ones in the movies.
  • Uncanny Valley: The movies tend to deliberately try to invoke this trope, the first movie was an especially masterful use of it to build terror and suspense. As the T-800's organics get more and more damaged, the effect becomes more like being chased by an unstoppable corpse monster.
    • It is terrifying enough that the T-800 model looks like a human skeleton, but who thought it was a good idea to give them real human teeth!?
      • Well, they are the only part of the skeleton normally visible outside the skin.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • The T-1000 completely blew the audience mind when Terminator 2 came out, and still looks amazing today. It, and Jurassic Park, are credited for the CGI revolution.
    • 1984 Arnold showing up in Salvation was considered by everyone to be outstanding.