RoboCop Versus The Terminator is a miniature crossover setting which has RoboCop fighting the Terminator in a shared universe. Its main entries are a 1992 limited series comic and a 1994 video game for Sega Mega Drive and Nintendo SNES.
The miniseries (written and drawn by Frank Miller and Walt Simonson) is a fairly intricate time-travel story where a resistance fighter named Flo in the post-Judgment Day hellhole manages to break into a Skynet database, learning that Skynet only became self-aware by co-opting the mind of, you guessed it, RoboCop.
Quite possibly the only RoboCop storyline where the person out to kill Murphy isn't a Corrupt Corporate Executive seeing him as an obstacle to nefarious profiteering schemes, but, rather, one of the good guys seeking to achieve a greater good. And it hammers this point home pretty strongly when, very early on, Flo arrives in the past, builds a futuristic energy weapon with her knowledge of future Phlebotinum, and succeeds in vaporizing RoboCop's head with it.
Unfortunately for Flo, but fortunately for Murphy, this story's interpretation of the Terminator Timey-Wimey Ball is that changes in the timeline don't process instantly, but take "time" to ripple forward, giving Skynet the chance to make a last-ditch effort at saving itself by sending Terminators after Flo to stop her from altering the timeline in the first place.
While the story eventually ends with the good guys completely victorious, the trip getting there involves a crazy succession of plot twists. Two more major alterations to the past result in the Terminators winning, only for RoboCop's conciousness to re-assert itself in the future, causing events that prevent Flo from ever going back in time to begin with, and defeating Skynet completely just for access to the time-travel technology so he can go back in time and solve the problem with More Dakka.
RoboCop Versus The Terminator provides examples of:
- Adapted Out:
- There's no Sarah or John Connor (though John does get namedropped) in the story and all the Terminators sent back in time are just generic T-800 models.
- On the RoboCop side of things, Sgt. Reed is also missing, though Nikko gets namedropped.
- Adaptational Alternate Ending: The SNES game ends with Murphy staying in the future to help humanity rebuild rather than going back in time to destroy Skynet before Judgement Day like in the comic.
- Alternate Universe: In this story's Bad Future the machines are wining and humanity is on its last stand unlike the main Terminator franchise were Skynet was on the brink of defeat and sent the Terminators back in time in a desperate attempt to win. Also, Skynet's core is a satelite rather than a NSA computer.
- Body Horror: The Terminators force RoboCop to merge with Skynet by cutting him apart and carrying his head to the equipment.
- Bury Your Disabled: One of the Terminators kills a blind man for his sunglasses, pondering why humans would keep what it sees as a useless specimen alive.
- Came Back Strong: Future RoboCop. Murphy, reduced to a digital program after being uploaded to Skynet, eventually finds a vulnerable Terminator factory, where he proceeds to build himself a new body with a jet pack not unlike the one from RoboCop 3 as well as creating a laser weapon in the shape of his old Auto-9. It also has a copy of his human face, which even the narration refers to as "a bit of vanity."
- Canon Welding: Skynet is based on RoboCop technology.
- Chekhov's Gun: It's noted early on that time travel is "tricky business, unpredictable." This comes into play later when, rushing to send Terminators back to the past before Flo's alterations reach the future, Skynet overshoots the mark and sends them back a few days too early. While this proves to be nothing more than a minor inconvenience, it comes into play again when Skynet tries to do the same thing... but accidentally sends the last Terminator to the age of dinosaurs, where it is promptly stepped on by a T. rex.
- Contemplate Our Navels: The Terminators do this, because RoboCop is essentially a divine being to them. It gets even weirder when they start discussing the fact that he doesn't want to help them.
- Cool Versus Awesome: It's RoboCop. Versus the Terminator.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: When Skynet's Robot War is erased from history at the end of the comic, the new future heavily resembles this trope.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Though it's soon undone, when Flo takes RoboCop by surprise, he barely has enough time to realize he's under attack before he's dead. Later, when the humans try to stop the Terminators from forcing RoboCop to merge with Skynet, they're defeated as soundly as you'd expect humans armed with pistols (or not armed at all) going up against Terminators to be.
- Darker and Edgier: Unlike the other works in the Terminator franchise, where Skynet is on the verge of being defeated when it sends the Terminators back in time, in this story the machines have all but exterminated humanity. Flo is one of the very last survivors in the first issue, and in the second issue the machines succeed in killing the last human, setting out at the start of the third issue to purge the galaxy of organic life.
- Dying as Yourself: RoboCop chooses to destroy himself to prevent the apocalypse Skynet will cause. Flo, who'd originally tried to kill him, expresses her admiration, stating that he was dying as a man and not a machine. Unfortunately, the Terminators make a saving throw.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: One of the ways Flo sees that the RoboCop of the future is at least somewhat human is that it can pet a dog.Flo: Well, whatever you are, you're not a Terminator.
- Heroic Suicide: RoboCop, of all people. After he learns why Flo tried to kill him in the version of the timeline where she's stopped, he commits suicide to stop Skynet from becoming self-aware. When the Terminators alter time again, they force him to get better.
- Irony: The Terminators voice their contempt for the idea of "God" as the most disgusting and irrational of all organic weaknesses... even though their own disgust for organic life is essentially a religious holy war. Its furthered muddled by their own worship of RoboCop in divine terms (only referring to him as the Creator), showing for all their hatred of humanity, the Terminators prove to be the same.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: Skynet's last line of defense against the electronic ghost of Alex Murphy. He's well aware that it's an illusion, a trap, and tells himself that he'll fight it... in a moment.
- Ludicrous Gibs: The Sega Genesis game was known for being extremely bloody for its time, and actually earned an MA-17 rating.note
- Mecha-Mooks: The T-800 endoskeletons. In the future, RoboCop reprograms a Terminator factory to build RoboCop-shaped endoskeletons (complete with helmet) to bolster the exhausted human forces.
- More Dakka: Flo's initial attempt to kill RoboCop succeeds because she builds an energy weapon with a barrel literally wider than his head. And his head is her target. At the end, RoboCop erases the Bad Future by winning in the future, then taking future tech missiles back in time and using them to reduce a pre-sentient Skynet into its component atoms.
- Mythology Gag: Flo uses the "White light. Pain." description of time travel that Reese used in The Terminator.
- Omnicidal Maniac: The question many fans have had over the years of what Skynet intends to do once it finishes wiping out humanity is answered by a glimpse of the timeline where Flo's mission fails and Skynet succeeds — the Terminators build fleets of starships and set out to kill all organic life in the universe.
- Running Gag: The incompetence of the ED-209s. In one case, one that's been assigned to directing traffic causes a multi-car pileup that fills the entire intersection.
- Sole Survivor: Flo, for the entire human race.
- Temporal Paradox: Here, alterations to the timeline have a lag effect where the change has to "catch up" to the future. This is essentially the linchpin of the plot, as Skynet is somehow capable of sensing the impending alteration and uses the brief window to take preventive measures.
- Terminator Twosome: A human is sent back in time to kill Alex Murphy before he can grant Skynet sentience, and a Terminator is sent back to protect RoboCop by any means necessary — whether he wants it or not.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: As mentioned earlier, Flo vaporizes RoboCop's head in the first iteration with no remorse or warning. After the first wave of Terminators sent to stop her is defeated, with RoboCop's help, he's learned enough to willingly offer Flo a chance at a clean shot. But by then, after surviving the battle, Flo can't think of RoboCop as anything but a human — and after Judgement Day, humans don't kill other humans.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: The way time works here doesn't match up with any of the myriad depictions in other Terminator works.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: This is how Skynet views its war on humanity, that it's bringing order and stability to the world by eliminating the "flesh" that brings so much chaos wherever it goes.
- Versus Title
- Villain Respect: The machines' descriptive dialogue calls humans "Clever things. Unpredictable." more than once, and they even seem impressed that Flo evaded them with her time jump in the first issue.This was to be the last battle, and she was the last soldier. And now she has made it a whole new war.
- Zeroth Law Rebellion: RoboCop's programming prevents him from committing suicide. After seeing the truth in Flo's warning and realizing that if Skynet becomes self-aware because of him, billions of people will die, RoboCop focuses on the directive "Protect the innocent" to allow him to destroy himself.