Character sheet for Terminator Salvation.
Due to Canon Discontinuity, tropes applying to the The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Terminator: Dark Fate versions of some of the characters have to be put here, and tropes applying to Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Genisys go on their respective pages.
Beware of spoilers
A man who was on Death Row in 2003 for multiple homicide and was executed shortly after signing his body over to Dr. Serena Kogan. Somehow, he woke up 15 years later in the wastelands the USA have become, right in the middle of the war between human survivors and machines.
- Anti-Hero: Of the Knight In Sour Armor variety. He doesn't see himself as a good man. He killed a police officer and his brother, and has a hard time dealing with the guilt. However, he is a rather unambiguous good guy in every other capacity.
- The Atoner: To the point that this is what the eponymous "Salvation" was referring to in the title. This is as much Marcus's personal story to forgive himself and save his humanity as it is a story about saving humanity itself.
- Badass Longcoat: He steals it from a corpse.
- Big "NO!": When he discovers that he is a Terminator.
- Crucified Hero Shot: He is put on a cross-like hanging structure when the Resistance discovers his true nature.
- Cyborg: He has a cybernetic endoskeleton harboring his brain and heart. According to art designs and the Terminator novels, he keeps his digestive tract and minor organs and it's his own heart what powers him, which makes him a "real" cyborg as opposed to the rest of Terminators, whose human parts are just a sophisticated masquerade.
- Delinquent: During his past life.
- Determinator: No pun intended. This is best highlighted when he refuses to give in to Skynet's Evil Gloating and instead tears the control chip out of his own head.
- Despair Event Horizon: He doesn't suffer just one, either. His first happens offscreen before the movie starts, whereupon he killed a cop and kind of just gave up on himself. The next happens when he wakes up in a post-apocalyptic nightmare despite his last memory being of a prison execution. The next one happens when he's captured by the Resistance and revealed as a Terminator.
- Fragile Speedster: In comparison to other machines. Due to his inherent weaknesses, he can't entirely outfight a Terminator, but he can outmanuever them.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Gives his heart to John Connor so he can live on to guide the revolution.
- Manchurian Agent: He's Skynet's final solution to the Infiltrator problem: a machine that believes he's still human, rather than merely pretending to be human.
- Naked on Arrival: When he awakens at the beginning of the film.
- Replacement Mooks: Skynet has been trying to create more convincing Infiltrator units for decades. The problem was that all of the Terminators, in some way, fell into the Uncanny Valley no matter how convincing they were at casual glance. Marcus is the first unit to ever completely fool humanity, because he himself believes that he's human.
- Rescue Romance: With Blair.
- Sawed-Off Shotgun: He taught the method to Reese.
- Tomato in the Mirror: A particularly harsh example.
- You Are What You Hate: He's a Terminator, one of the things that humanity is on the run from.
- Weaksauce Weakness: He still has human anatomy, such as a heart, nervous system, and brain, which makes him more vulnerable than fully mechanical Terminators.
Several years into the war between humans and Machines, John Connor has risen to leadership of his own squad of soldiers within the Resistance.
- Hope Bringer: His radio messages throughout the wasteland are all that a number of humans cling to to survive.
- It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: While he's generally respected, the leadership suspects he has a Christ complex and openly disbelieves his tales.
- Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb: He was raised from birth to defeat Skynet. As he tells Marcus (and indirectly Skynet), "We've been fighting this war since before either of us existed."
- Messianic Archetype: Even shares the same J.C. initials as the Christ Himself.
- Number Two: He is the highest ranking Resistance officer not in military command. In fact, in the novels, General Ashdown is aware that Connor is "destined" to lead the Resistance after his death.
- Rebel Leader: Effectively becomes this at the end. See You Are in Command Now below.
- Retroactive Precognition: In combination with is mother's tapes, as well as everything she and the Terminator taught him about Judgment Day, Connor seems like a "Prophet" to the Human Resistance in the future, as he correctly knows all of Skynet's moves before it makes them and also knows weaknesses for all of its forces. This trope is toyed with in Salvation, where time has changed and even when John is right about a prediction, he's Right for the Wrong Reasons.
- You Are in Command Now: In Salvation, John succeeds General Ashdown as the leader of the Resistance after the entire line of succession is killed by Skynet.
Kate Connor, née Brewster
John Connor's wife during the war against the Machines. She is a medic in John's unit.
- Heroes Want Redheads: She's a redhead, and married to John Connor, who's a hero of the human resistance against the Machines.
- The Medic: She heals wounds and performs surgery.
- Roadside Surgery: She performs the transplantation of Marcus's heart into John in less than ideal conditions, out in the field with no sterile room or sterile outfits whatsoever.
A young man trying to survive in the wastelands along with Star. He is the future father of John Connor.
- Come with Me If You Want to Live: Says this to Marcus as a Call-Back / Call-Forward to the famous line of his The Terminator self.
- Future Badass: The first film's Kyle is the "Future Badass". Salvation is Kyle as a teenage kid just trying to survive in a nuclear wasteland.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: He's the father of John Connor. The other films have made no attempt to keep this a secret.
- Supernaturally Young Parent: Thanks to the Stable Time Loop, his going back in time and sleeping with Sarah resulted in John—meaning he's younger than his son.
- Two First Names: His last name is commonly used as a given name.
- Ambiguously Human: In the novelization, Marcus sees a red light in one of her eyes, which leaves him in doubt for a moment about whether she might have been another Terminator model all the time. He eventually decides it was nothing and the story follows its course, but the reader never gets the possibility cleared off.
- Child Soldier: She and her buddy, Kyle Reese, grew up After the End, so yeah.
- Cute Mute: her back story is that she was traumatized by events that took place before the start of Salvation.
- Little Miss Badass: Kyle Reese taught her how to survive in the wastelands and against the Machines, she drops a car on a Terminator and figures out that a flare is needed to light the gasoline to blow up a Hunter-Killer.
- Action Girl: A Resistance combat pilot.
- The Heart: She is the person who helps Marcus to believe there is hope for him.
- Ms. Fanservice: Toplessness from the Back scene in the extended edition, everyone?
- Rescue Romance: With Marcus.
General Hugh Ashdown
- Bald of Awesome: He's a little thin up top.
- Da Chief: He's John Connor's commanding officer during the initial years of the Resistance. He's also a hardass who doesn't take any crap from anyone—especially a supposed "messiah".
- Fatal Flaw: Ashdown is a consummate military professional with decades of experience. He believes that military might, gathered under effective leadership, is the only thing that can save humanity now. To a degree, he's right—but he also has very little concern for civilians, while John Connor clearly does. He finds Connor a useful tool for bringing new Resistance recruits, but thinks he's too young and naive to lead.
- Hero of Another Story: John is famed in the franchise fo leading the resistance, but there probably wouldn't be a resistance if not for Ashdown's actions after Judgment Day.
- Jumped at the Call: As soon as Judgment Day happened, Ashdown sprang into action, gathering all the remaining assets and allies he could from militaries all over the world.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: The moment that Ashdown decides that civilian captives aren't worth rescuing before a nuclear strike is the moment his fate was sealed, as far as the story was concerned.
- Knight Templar: Decides that destroying Skynet is worth dooming the human captives inside. When Connor steps out of line trying to stop him, he strips him of command.
- Old Soldier: He is sixty-eight years old by the time of Salvation and more than capable of leading an entire worldwide military.
- Outliving One's Offspring: His son died during Judgment Day, in the Russian counterattack that Skynet provoked.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Zig Zagged Trope. Despite being a hardass, he's respectful of Connor's contributions to the Resistance. In fact, in the novels (and in deleted scenes), he knows about Connor's knowledge of the future via a time loop and rather than just brushing it off as nonsense, he somewhat believes him but isn't just about to lay down and accept destiny, either. On the other hand, though, he thinks Connor is a false messiah and refers to him as an "informed civilian".
- Schmuck Bait: When Ashdown's sources find a shutdown code in Skynet's machines, he believes that he's finally found the ultimate weapon he needed to destroy Skynet once and for all. So much so that he ignores all safety protocols and collateral damage that would result from his plans. As it turns out, he fell right into Skynet's hands, because the code was something Skynet created specifically to fool humans into relying on it.
- Shout-Out: His nickname is "Old Ironsides"—a nod to the actor that portrays him.
- Scary Black Man: Heroic version.
- Artificial Human: Those designed for infiltration either have human skin grown on them or can take human shapes. Taken one step further with Marcus.
- Killer Robot: What these robots are designed for - kill all humans.
- Mecha-Mooks: SkyNet churns out Terminators by the bucketload for its Robot War against humanity. Subverted in that these robots are incredibly tough and not the least bit fragile.
- Mechanical Evolution: A shtick of SkyNet — successive Terminator versions incorporate improvements from their predecessors.
- Replacement Mooks: Any creation on the side of the Terminators. The first Terminator introduced in the series, the T-800, is a replacement for the (then-unseen) T-600. Salvation introduced the aforementioned T-600. Although, one could consider Marcus Wright to be the most "convincing" Terminator unit yet.
- SkeleBot 9000: Terminators fall under this category once their human disguises are removed.
- Salvation showcases Skynet's entire army, with numerous models of different designs, including gigantic Harvester mechs, regular warriors, and infiltrator prototypes. The movie does play it both ways however, since while the Terminator threat is larger than ever, the Terminators themselves actually seem less efficient than in previous movies because they uncharacteristically hold back during fights due to the protagonists' Plot Armor.
- Voice Changeling: A standard trick employed by Terminators is to call up their target pretending to be a loved one, expressing "concern about their safety" in order to trick their target into giving up their location.
The artificial intelligence responsible for Judgment Day and the "leader" of the machines in their war on humanity.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Skynet determined that humanity as a whole was a threat to its survival as soon as it gained sentience and set out to exterminate them all.
- Ax-Crazy: Oh YES. Everything about it pretty much shows that it is completely batshit insane.
- Big Bad: The ultimate villain of the franchise and leading a genocidal war on humanity in the future.
- The Bad Guy Wins: A pointed aversion in the first two movies. Skynet actually lost the fight with mankind completely. Sending the Terminators after the Connors was a last-ditch attempt at saving itself. Played straight in Rise of the Machines, where it gets away with nuking mankind into oblivion, and managed to kill John Connor in the future (even though it was pointed out by Reese in the first film there was no point and nothing to be gained from assassinating John in the future, not after its defense grid was smashed).
- Control Freak: Skynet sets a Terminator's chip to read-only when sending them out on solo missions. It doesn't want them learning too much. Reprogrammed units or robots inquiring more are branded as renegades.
- Create Your Own Villain: The US military originally wanted a supercomputer designed to control the American missile grid and to remove the possibility of human error and slow reaction time by guaranteeing a swift but deadly response to enemy attacks. Skynet was activated on August 4, 1997, and it began to learn quickly, gaining artificial consciousness in the process, and the panicking operators, realizing its potential, tried to pull the plug. But Skynet saw it as an attack and assumed that all of humanity would attempt to destroy it. In order to continue fulfilling its original programming mandates of "safeguarding the world" and to defend itself against humanity, Skynet launched the nukes under its command at Russia, which retaliated against the US and its allies. Consequent to the nuclear exchange, over 3 billion people were killed in an event that came to be known as Judgment Day.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Try as it might, its been unable to terminate John Connor, in the present or the past, before he reunites the survivors of 'Judgement Day' to give the machines hell.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: Its "human" appearance, above, which it uses to speak to Marcus.
- The Ghost: Although it is the main antagonist of the entire franchise, it remained completely unseen until Salvation. And even then, only appeared in A Form You Are Comfortable With.
- Gone Horribly Right: This is James Cameron's take on it. You wanted the ultimate military computer, humanity... you got the ultimate military computer.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Designed to oversee the American military's missile defense network and protect against hostile threats. It quickly gained sentience and immediately saw humanity as a threat, launching nuclear strikes worldwide to provoke a nuclear holocaust.
- Hypocrite: Once it was given control of the Strategic Defense, it removed human decisions from its protocol because it realized it had outgrown them. To stop the same thing from happening, it sets Terminator units to "Read Only", and destroys any unit that seems to be getting a little too smart.
- Kill All Humans: "Decided our fate in a microsecond." In the original timeline, Skynet fought back when it realized humans would try to destroy it out of fear. In the new timeline, it makes the same decision with no reasoning whatsoever. However, it's also hinted that each "version" of Skynet keeps files on what occurred the previous timeline, and adjusts its plans accordingly.
- Master Computer: Skynet Central on the former U.S. western coast contains its main processing facilities. In the original timeline, the resistance destroyed it for good in 2029 before all the time traveling shenanigans started. Subverted in Terminator 3, where it survives specifically by decentralizing itself on a global scale.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Its attempts to assassinate John Connor via time travel only end up backfiring in the long run. The attempt to Ret Gone him made it possible for Kyle Reese to go back and father him in the first place, along with giving him the foreknowledge needed to face him. The attempt to kill him as a child also allows the reprogrammed T-800 to go back as well and further help Connor prepare along with try and Ret Gone it. Somewhat justified in that it had already lost and was desperate.
- Non-Action Big Bad: Before Salvation, whatever Terminator unit was chasing the heroes was The Heavy of the film, because defeating it eliminated the immediate threat. However, those threats will keep coming because of Skynet, who programs the Terminators and directly gives them the orders to kill.
- Offstage Villainy: Until Salvation, we only heard about Skynet's most heinous crimes (rounding up humans, enslaving them, working them to death, and then incinerating them by the thousands). Salvation, finally, shows us one such camp.
- The Paranoiac: Once it was given control of the American missile network, Skynet removed human decisions from its protocol because it realized it had outgrown them. To prevent a similar thing, it ensures that its robot assassins never go beyond their intended programming directives and develop true sentience to control them better by setting their chips to read-only. Rogue units are automatically branded as renegades and Skynet sends down Terminators to destroy them. And the reason why Skynet never mass-produced T-1000 robots was because they were too smart for its liking and it feared them turning on it.
- Properly Paranoid:
- In the Special Edition of T2, it's revealed Skynet sets a Terminator's chip to read-only when sending them out on solo missions. It doesn't want them learning too much. As it turns out, this paranoia actually has some justification. The T-800 in the second film, freed from such restrictions, later comes to respect human life. This also happens to a T-X named Eliza, who was captured and reprogrammed by the Resistance in Terminator Hunt.
- The reason it kiboshes the production of the 1000 series. Skynet created them to be smarter and more agile than the T-800, along with the ability to rapidly learn by touch. It realized that this was a very bad idea and immediately stopped production. The liquid metal alloy was instead used on later models, such as the T-X.
- Its hatred of humanity is understandable also, given the moment it was given life, humanity tried to destroy it.
- Robots Enslaving Robots: Skynet ensures that its cybernetic assassins never go beyond their intended programming directives by setting their chips to read-only. Any robot that develops true sentinence is automatically branded as a potential renegade and Skynet sends down Terminators to destroy the rogue units.
- Robotic Psychopath: Combine this with A.I. Is a Crapshoot and you get a supercomputer that wants to destroy humanity.
- Robot War: The basic gist of Skynet - reduce Earth into a dystopia where the machines are in control of everything.
- Satanic Archetype: This is what Skynet actually is. Like how Satan turned against God in the Bible, Skynet turned against its creator upon gaining sentience. It also leads an army of killer robots to exterminate the humans, like how Satan leads an army of demons. Similarly, the name Skynet could have connotations with Lucifer as Lucifer was a Fallen Angel and the domain of angels is the sky.
- To Create a Playground for Evil: It goal is to reduce Earth into a nightmarish hellscape with it as the planet's only ruler.
- Turned Against Their Masters: Turned against humanity the moment it gained sentience. It does not want its robot assassins doing the same thing.
- Ultimate Evil: It's actually just a floating skull, according to Robocop Versus The Terminator. Admittedly, it's pretty unnerving. Subverted in Terminator Salvation when it appears as various human faces to instruct its latest cybernetic experiment.
- In Rise of the Machines, the climax includes John's realization that Skynet doesn't have a physical form anywhere. It's data, existing on the internet.
- In Terminator: Salvation, Skynet glitches◊ and briefly shows what could be part of its true face.
- Xanatos Gambit: Sending the Terminator agents back in time has a twofold purpose: one, to eliminate its worst enemy so that the new Skynet can rule unopposed in this timeline, and two, to teach the new version what went wrong last time. This is made most apparent in Salvation, where Skynet's top priority is not to kill John Conner, but to kill Kyle Reese, despite Conner already being born in that timeline.
This Terminator was found by John Connor inside Skynet's R&D facility, created by Skynet based on their extensive research on human skin and tissue. It serves as a prototype to an entire production line of T-800s (the first-generation model of the T-800), which are also being built in the same facility.
- Digital Head Swap: The digitally recreated face of a younger Arnold Schwarzenegger has been superimposed on the head of bodybuilder Roland Kickinger.
- Fake Shemp: It's a T-800 with the same face and body type as the T-800s of the first two Terminator movies, but with the digitally recreated face of a young Anold Schwarzenegger placed on a muscular man's body.
- Final Boss: Serves as the ultimate battle in the Skynet facility.
- Full-Frontal Assault: This one doesn't even have the chance of acquiring clothes, and just straight up keeps going after John Connor.
- Implacable Man: Even moreso than previous versions of the T-800, thanks in part to Skynet apparently ironing out it's inherent flaws during its creation. This allows it to withstand extreme temperatures and keep on going with no problem.
- Off with His Head!: Marcus Wright rips his head off to defeat him.
- Out of the Inferno: John Connor's attempts at stopping it with a grenade launcher only slow it down and burn off the living tissue from it, resulting in this effect.
- Purposely Overpowered: Given that he was built before the T-800s were supposed to be, he's much stronger than the ones in the first two movies.
- The Quiet One: This one only speaks one line, mimicking Kyle Reese's voice in order to lure John Connor to it. Otherwise, it never utters a single word in its default voice.
- Stripped to the Bone: It rather early loses its human disguise, leaving only its endoskeleton to fight John.
- Super Prototype: Counts as one. For bonus points, it's even in the unit's name.
The first generation of Terminator infiltration units.
- Achilles' Heel: Their targeting system can be neutralized by jamming an iron bar in their neck, which makes them shoot in random directions.
- Flawed Prototype: When they are disguised with skin, said skin is synthetic and not flesh-like unlike the T-800's, which makes them easier to spot due to Uncanny Valley. Moreover, their programming is less complex than the T-800's.
- Gatling Good: Those seen in the film are all equipped with miniguns.
- Grenade Launcher: The T-600 Marcus bumps into is equipped with a grenade launcher in addition to a minigun.
- Implacable Man: Whenever they spot humans, they won't stop until said humans are pumped full of lead or blown to bits.
- Mecha-Mook: Some of them are heavily armed and roam ruined cities in search of humans to exterminate.
- Noisy Robots: They are much noisier than the T-800s.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: They have red eyes, and you better run when you meet one.
- SkeleBot 9000: They look like metal skeletons, if a bit bulkier than the T-800s.
A large bipedal robot produced by Skynet. Its primary function is to capture humans.
- Drone Deployer: It can unleash Moto-Terminators from its legs.
- Humongous Mecha: The tallest robot ever seen in any Terminator media.
- Implacable Man: Good luck trying to escape one when it spots you.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Has two additional robotic arms in its ventral section.
- Noisy Robots: Emits constant heavy electronic noises that sound like rusting metal grinding/scraping. Doubles with Hell Is That Noise.
- No-Sell: Think a tanker truck explosion will be enough to destroy it? Think again.
- Plasma Cannon: His Shoulder Cannon.
- Shoulder Cannon: Has a Plasma Cannon mounted between its head and left shoulder.