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Film / Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

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John Connor: No, you shouldn’t even exist! We took out Cyberdyne over ten years ago. We stopped Judgment Day.
Terminator: You only postponed it. Judgment Day is inevitable.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) is the third film in the Terminator franchise. It is the first film in the series to be directed by someone other than James Cameron, director Jonathan Mostow.

In the aftermath of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 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. But out of the blue, another shapeshifting Terminator, a T-X Model with a female appearance, shows up 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 with a few minor upgrades), 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 reluctant ally Kate Brewster and the T-850, to once again stop Judgment Day and save the human race.

The film was followed by Terminator Salvation. While it has never been clearly considered as a sequel to Rise of the Machines, it did acknowledge elements the latter established such as Kate Brewster and the T-800 line's unstable fuel cells.


This film provides examples of:

  • All Part of the Show: When the nude T-850 goes into the nearest bar looking for suitable clothes, it happens to have all women patrons for ladies night, and they all are excited at the sight of him and think that he's a stripper for the show. And when a male performer comes onstage with matching clothing for the Terminator, the T-850 goes up to him and asks him to take off his clothes, to which the female audience goes wild and cheers after the cyborg when he leaves.
  • All There in the Manual: In the novelisation:
    • John can disassemble, clean, repair, reassemble, and fire more than 12 dozen different types of weapons, explosives and even light antitank weapons and the Stinger surface-to-air missile. He can also calculate the blast radius damage for various plastic explosives.
    • When the T-X emerges from the wreckage of the crane, there are witnesses too shocked to stop her. She hotwires a car and then heads for Kate's house where she murders Scott. Although we never see his murder, the book tells us she thrusts her hand deep into his chest destroying his heart. He doesn't even get the chance to scream, but he does in the film. She also fastidiously cleans his blood off her hand.
    • At the gas station we learn that the Terminator selects beef jerky for protein; potato chips for carbohydrates; cookies, ice cream bars, and Twinkies for sugar; and bottled water for hydration. The sunglasses that he gets are Sama wraparounds.
    • General Robert Brewster knows Skynet's designed to think for itself, and privately muses whether or not it could ever become a threat to humanity, since it can adapt to anything.
    • When the Terminator promises to let Kate go if she tells him where John Connor is, and then he goes back on his word, the novelization tells us that he wasn't really lying; he will let Kate go, just not right now.
    • When the Terminator is blasted back by the T-X, the novelization clarifies that it wasn't unconscious as it seemed in the film, but it was just paralyzed.
    • The machines protecting Skynet Central were programmed to obliterate anything carbon-based that enters the zone; it was also protected by an enormous wall, integrated gun emplacements and sensors. Skynet didn't need sentries, ambulatory patrols or razor wire; the high-powered instant reactive automated cannons mounted in gimbal turrets detect and annihilate anything organic on the perimeter; machines could pass that by continuously broadcasting their assigned ID to recognized Skynet protocols. Skynet Central had self-aware loaders, welders, trucks, tiny scavenging devices, multi-wheeled clean-up containers, etc. They all shared the same narrow purpose. T-600s patrol the exterior. Skynet Central has a jungle of antennae on the roof. The ventilation shafts generate so much heat, even the machines need fresh air. The top floor is the command centre, that has more processing power than the planet ever had. Skynet uses a series of lights to show if everything is working right; green or white meant yes, red and yellow meant no, but that was rare. Skynet Central has a database on all prisoners. Skynet Central didn't have much in the way of sentries on patrol because the machines thought no-one could get past the outer fortifications so wouldn't waste resources. There are inactive machines at Skynet Central like excavators or delivery trucks, mindless servants that lacked sentience and couldn't make decisions on their own without what Skynet programmed into them. Skynet Central was designed to provide easy access from T-1's to larger wheeled machinery. It was their own constructed world, doorless, clean, polished, functional and nothing human. The controls at Skynet Central were familiar and straightforward, a standard Skynet design. The door locks need a disruptor to short them out.
  • All There in the Script:
    • The name of the woman the T-X stole her clothes and car from was Nancy Nebel. The woman was also wearing a thong, something else the T-X puts on. The T-X also talks to Nebel's boyfriend over the phone, in Nebel's own voice. She links with the Skynet in this era.
    • The name of the traffic cop who pulls the T-X over is called Barnes, and when he saw how sexy she is, he decided to rip up the ticket and ask her out. The T-X killed him in a parking lot.
    • The T-X gets to Edwards Air Force Base by radioing a police helicopter flying overhead after the altercation at the cemetery. She kills the pilot and flies on ahead. It was probably the same helicopter she crashed at the climax.
    • Skynet's time machine is called the continuum transporter. It was allegedly built at Area 51. It creates an artificial wormhole between two time periods, as long as power isn't an issue.
  • Alternate Continuity: This movie, T2 3D, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles go in three different directions after the events of Terminator 2. Although Sarah Connor Chronicles also gives T3 a Broad Strokes treatment; it features a John and Sarah time displaced from 1999 specifically so it wouldn't have to worry about this film's canon status, but keeps Sarah's death from cancer.
  • Alternate Timeline: Again, the movie sets up one of these. Given Judgment Day was originally in 1997, now it happens in 2004 (and it's implied Kyle Reese's departure in the original film was also postponed from 2029 to 2037).
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Near the end when Connor and Kate arrive at the bunker, the T-X makes her entrance by smashing through the hangar doors in a Bell Jetranger helicoper. Before she can even get close enough to threaten the two, however, 850 enters the scene in a Sikorsky Seaking which promptly crushes the smaller Jetranger and the hapless T-X, pinning her to the floor long enough for Connor to get the hangar open and 850 to explain the true reason for sending them to the bunker.
  • Arm Cannon: The T-X can turn its arm into an energy gun and a flamethrower, among other weapons.
  • Artistic License – Cars: The T-X hacks into and remotely operates two police Crown Victorias, a Ford Econoline ambulance, and a 1985 Chevy C-30 crew cab. None of those vehicles had the type of computers that would allow this. All four used cable-driven throttles, ignition cylinders that require a physical key to operate and mechanical steering with hydraulic boost. In fact, the types of computer controls that might allow remote control (drive-by-wire throttles, computer-controlled ignition modules and remote start, self parallel-park) weren't commercially or, in the case of remote start, commonly available until a few years after the film's release.
  • Artistic License – Physics: When the T-X is launched into a gravestone, by the T-850’s RPG, chunks of the grave are seen bouncing off the dirt. Concrete doesn’t bounce, at least not like that.
  • Balls of Steel: The Terminator is a cyborg and may not even feel anything from this attack, even if the attacker is a cyborg as well.
  • Bathroom Brawl: T-850's fight against T-X results in the total destruction of a public restroom at Edwards Air Force Base. Highlights include T-850 ripping a urinal off the wall and whacking T-X with it, shoving her through several stalls, and T-X grabbing him in the junk, picking him up and ramming him through the wall.
  • Batman Gambit: When John wallows in self-pity, the T-850 gives him a Neck Lift and says he's wasting time with him. He only releases him when John curses at him.
    "Anger is more useful than despair."
  • Because Destiny Says So: The Terminator said it best in this film why John Connor will save humanity: "Because you're John Connor".
  • Big Damn Heroes: Just as the T-X arrives at Crystal Peak... the T-850 comes, ramming her with a helicopter. "I'm back!"
  • Big "SHUT UP!": From the BMW driver after getting rear-ended by John. John also delivers one to Kate during the car chase.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • With heavy emphasis on the bitter. The film heavily implies that You Can't Fight Fate, overriding the more hopeful tone of the previous film, with John and Kate realizing they are powerless to stop Skynet's nuclear assault on humanity. It's also heavily implied that John will be unable to avert his fate of dying at the hands of the T-850 in the future. At the same time, John will still be able to fulfill his destiny and defeat Skynet, giving humanity a chance to rebuild.
    • The T-X fails its primary objective, but successfully kills off several of John's future lieutenants.
  • Breast Expansion: The T-X increases its breast size to distract the traffic cop.
  • The Can Kicked Him: In the bathroom brawl scene, both Terminators use the toilets, sinks and stall walls to beat each other.
  • Captain Obvious: After the hearse they were driving gets shot up and has its top half shorn off by a semi trailer:
    "We need a new vehicle."
  • Chekhov's Gun: "When ruptured, the fuel cells become unstable." Guess how T-X is finished off?
  • Coffin Contraband: Sarah Connor's coffin turned out to be a weapons cache. She was actually cremated in Mexico.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The T-850, of course, is associated with red, while the T-X is associated with blue.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • The opening of this movie has John state that he was 13 during the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Except his age on a computer in that movie is stated to be 10 and furthermore, as that movie states he was born in 1985 and 2 states the original date of Judgment Day was August 29, 1997, so John would be 13 after Judgment Day.
    • John also tells the T-850 that the attack on Cyberdyne was done 10 years before the events of T3. T3 takes place in 2004 and again, T2 took place in 1995, so he's off by a year.
    • Sarah's "grave" lists her year of birth as 1959. Expect it was stated in the first two films that Sarah was 18 during the first film, which takes place in 1984, and 29 in the second, again set in 1995, meaning Sarah would've been born around 1966.
  • Dangerous Key Fumble: When the T-X invades the pet store, Kat manages to sneak out and avoid the gunfire. She runs outside to her car, gets inside, and frantically tries putting the key in. But her shaky grip causes her to drop them when she's about to insert them into the keyhole. She leans down to get them back, only to sit up again and notice the T-X already there and staring at her from the driver's window.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: When SkyNet goes online, someone says that it's processing at 60 teraflops a second. So, that's 60 000 000 000 000 floating point operations per second a second.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The T-X analyses some human blood she finds by licking it...then gets an orgasmic look on her face when it comes back as belonging to John Connor.
  • Double Take: The T-X has this reaction when she sees the T-850 riding a fire truck that is tailing her, even though she just crashed him into that same one.
  • 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.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Given that it's Ladies Night and there's already a male stripper on stage, no-one restrains their enthusiasm when a naked Terminator walks in.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: While it wasn't specifically said that all of John Connor's lieutenants went to school with him, it would appear that most of them did. From this we can conclude that the future ran out of professional soldiers and he had to fall back on people he knew for less than a year when he was ten (or thirteen, depending on which film you're watching).
  • Everything Is Online: Including sentient genocidal software. Even though it also isn't (such as credit card machines, who are on the phone lines but not the Internet).
  • Exact Words: As he lays dying, Kate's father Robert tells her and John about Crystal Peak, a nearby military facility. John asks if that's where Skynet's system core is, and Robert says that it's their only chance. When they finally reach it, they find that it's a fallout shelter. Their only chance to survive Judgment Day.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The movie takes place over the course of about two days.
  • Facial Dialogue: When a running Kate sees what seems to be her fiancee Scott (really the T-X in disguise), she seems relieved and starts running towards "him". But as the T-X starts walking toward her while smiling in satisfaction, Kate notices this and stops running, clearly realizing that something is wrong. And then the T-X transforms back into her default form, including revealing her liquid metal skin and machinery endoskeleton, right before Kate's eyes. Kate can only staring and gaping in horror.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: The T-X analyzes blood samples this way. Unlike a human cop she's highly unlikely to be poisoned as a result of tasting something nasty. Of course, this was mostly used as an excuse to have the actress suck on her finger, given that it's Kristanna Loken and all.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • See I Cannot Self-Terminate below. The Terminator responds to Kate's request because she's actually authorized to give him commands.
    • As the T-850 explains that there's no known way to take down the T-X, he's removing one of his fuel cells and it explodes, after he had just explained that his fuel cells are highly explosive when ruptured.
  • Forgot About His Powers: The T-X has on-board ranged weapons! She never uses them effectively because if she did John and Kate would be dead.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • When the T-850 is looking at a watch in a car that he just acquired upon first arriving, the time analog quite quickly calculates from the presumed time in which he was sent from (28th October, 2033) and the time that he arrived in and is currently in (24th July, 2004).
    • When the T-850 stabs and electrocutes the T-X whilst locked in her struggle, sparks fly from her onto them, and a brief flash onto the face of the T-850 reveals his red endoskeleton eye.
  • Future Badass: Most of the people TX goes after; Kate is a veterinarian, Jose Barrera is a Burger Fool employee, and Bill and Elizabeth Anderson are throwing a Wild Teen Party, but all were destined to be influential enough to the future of the resistance that killing them was judged likely to make a difference with John Connor off the grid.
  • Godiva Hair: When the T-X first arrives, her naked breasts are covered by her long curly hair.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Scott gets killed by the T-X, there's only the sound of a buzzsaw, his scream and then a blood splatter on a family photo of his.
  • Groin Attack: During the fight between T-X and T-850, the female Terminator grabs and squeezes his nuts and then lifts his body as if he's just a styrofoam before she ram him to some fences. Could be considered funny when you realizes this happened in a toilet.
  • Happy Ending Override: Many of the events of the previous movie turn out to have been All for Nothing because, as the T-850 points out, Judgment Day is "inevitable".
  • Hope Spot: John and Kate are able to escape the T-X and reach air force base that has control over Skynet. Turns out to be a 1960s presidential War Room built to survive a nuclear holocaust. Kate's father sent them there for protection.
    John Connor: There was no system core. It could not be shut down. ... I should have realized: our destiny was not to stop Judgment Day. It was merely to survive it … together.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Played with. The T-850 commits Murder-Suicide with the T-X in order to save John and Kate. It’s possible his reprogramming made him Three Laws-Compliant, and saving John and Kate allowed him to override this command.
    • When Katherine Brewster (whom, unbeknownst to herself and the audience at that point, the T-850 must obey), says "Drop dead, you asshole," the T-850 responds: "I am unable to comply."
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Subverted. The TX is speeding in a stolen convertible and a police officer stops her. She spots a big Victoria Secret billboard with a model wearing a wonderbra and inflates her bust size before the cop walks up next to her. It works and the cop is momentarily distracted by her cleavage, but instead of using it to get away with speeding, she kills him for his gun.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: When T-850 is hijacked by T-X. Also crosses with Logic Bomb when John makes him realize that if he followed T-X's command, he would fail his mission. Subverted in that "I know you're in there" fails, because, as the Terminator points out, desires have no bearing on its programming. The Logic Bomb does work, however.
  • I Lied: The Arnie Terminator pretends he'll let Katherine Brewster go if she tells him where John Connor is before admitting he lied, showing the epononymous machine has become ridiculously human enough to lie (he's been expanded with psychology routines). Or to reference Arnie's old movies.
  • Impact Silhouette: Played straight when the T-X crashes through the Crystal Peak entranceway, it leaves a visible silhouette of her helicopter in the entranceway. Averted with the T-850's entrance to Crystal Peak, in which his much bigger helicopter completely destroys the entranceway.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: A cop gets the T-X's arm through him - while she's in the back seat!
  • Insistent Terminology: John refers to the T-850 as a robot. It quickly corrects him with about as much annoyance as possible for an emotionless killer robot.
    John: No I can do whatever I want, I'm not a robot like you!
    T-850: Cybernetic organism.
  • Instant Convertible: The hearse that the T-850 is driving goes under a large truck for this trope in order to lose the T-X that is barging through the roof trying to kill John and Katherine.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Not only does John have to fend off Terminators and spend years off the grid, but (as he tells Kate) the greatest thing he will ever do can only happen if billions of people die first.
  • Just Before the End: When the movie turns out to be set, thanks to the ending.
  • The Ketchup Test: This is how the T-X can determine the identity of her victims if there is ever any doubt. (DNA scanners in her tongue. Who'd have thought it?)
  • The Kindnapper: The T-850 kidnaps Kate Brewster and hands her over to John's custody (without him being aware of it) since Katherine would become a central figure in the war against Skynet.
  • Layman's Terms: While explaining to John the features of the T-X, the T-850 mentions as an example that she has nanotechnological transjectors. John is confused and asks for more explanation, to which the T-850 simply says, "It can control other machines."
  • Lighter and Softer: In a way - the plot is as grim as the predecessors, if not darker, but there's much more comedy this time around and the violence is slightly less graphic.
  • Logic Bomb: When Ahnold gets captured by the T-X and reprogrammed to kill John Connor, Connor saves himself by making the T-850 realize that accomplishing that goal would mean failing its original mission; the logical conflict between the two causes the T-850 to destroy a truck instead of Connor, then shut itself down. He gets better, briefly.
  • Ludicrous Precision:
    T-850: Based on your pupil dilation, skin temperature and motor functions, I calculate an 83% probability that you will not pull the trigger.
  • Making a Spectacle of Yourself: After getting the clothes off the bar performer, the T-850 puts his hand in one of the pocket's of the jacket, feeling a pair of sunglasses. They are quickly revealed to be a pair of large, sparkly, star-shaped sunglasses. The T-850 is not satisfied with these, so he drops them on the ground and crunches them beneath his feet.
  • Male Gaze: When the naked T-X is walking to a rich woman's car to steal her clothes, we have a very clear shot of the T-X's rear.
  • Meaningful Echo: The T-X materialises in a boutique with, "I like this look" on the window. Her first two lines of dialogue are, "I like this car" and "I like your gun".
  • Moment Killer: While in the RV, John and Kate bond over shared memories that they had in their youth, possibly rekindling a romance. The T-850 in the front seat then butts in, saying that their levity is relieving for tension and fear of death. This suddenly leaves John and Kate feeling quite nonplussed.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The T-X.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The whole sequence reintroducing the T-850.
    • "Drop dead, asshole!" "I am unable to comply."
    • "She'll be back." (and later, "I'm back")
    • The return of Dr. Silberman - who is in denial of anything that happened to him involving killing machines until he sees Arnie again.
    • When John Connor enters the animal hospital, he's armed with a BB pistol which is less lethal than a "real" one. This is a reference of him not accepting killing people in any circumstances in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
    • When the T-850 steals a pickup truck from the Desert Star, he checks the sun visor. But there's just a watch there, so he hotwires the truck.
    • The T-X's death scene is nearly identical to the death of the original Terminator from the first film, complete with the classic line "You are terminated!".
    • After the truck gets wrecked, a passerby tries to see if T-X is okay, but unlike when this happened with the T-1000 in the climax of T2, the guy runs away when he sees T-X's checking her weapons.
    • During the fight in the military base, T-X walks past a bunch of restroom mirrors and briefly turns to look at her reflections with confusion, likely detecting movement in her visual sensors. This is a reference to when the T-1000 did the same thing when it saw a chrome store mannequin resembling itself during the mall fight in T2.
  • Naked on Arrival: T-X and T-850.
  • Neck Lift: T-850 deliberately does this on John at one point to get the latter to stop pouting like a manchild.
  • Neverending Terror: After the events of the second film and the death of his mother Sarah, John has been living off the grid for years, even though he hopes that their actions in the last movie have prevented Judgment Day and the machine uprising. Unfortunately for him, it didn't work and the machines send yet another Terminator to find him. Fortunately for him, because he's been living off the grid, it can't find him easily
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: What's that? You're currently being attacked by some computer virus and don't know what to do next? Then, you get a call from your chairman telling you to execute an untested advanced AI called Skynet. Right...
  • No OSHA Compliance: When John and Kate are trying to escape from the Cyber Research Systems facility, they have to go through the particle accelerator to reach the runway.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted, which is explained in a deleted scene and the novelization. While the Connors were able to destroy everything at the lab in the last film, it turns out Cyberdyne kept copies of all the important notes off-site and when the company went bankrupt, they sold them to the Air Force's research and development branch.
  • Not So Stoic: The T-X has a look of terror before blowing up.
  • Novelization: The film was novelised by David Hagberg. More details here.
  • Oedipus Complex: After Kate destroys an Aerial HK drone with a machine gun, a visibly attracted John stares at her in awed silence.
    Kate: What?
    John: Nothing. <<beat>> You remind me of my mother.
  • Oh, Crap!: Doctor Silberman's face as he sees the T-850. And the T-850 before the T-X throws him into a bathroom wall. The T-X herself gets one when she realizes that the T-850 is about to kill them both.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Carry: The T-850, upon meeting her for (in her case) the first time, he grabs her and does this trope to put her in the truck and interrogate her.
  • Plasma Cannon: The T-X's primary Arm Cannon weapon is said to be a plasma weapon. Being a Swiss Army Weapon, she has several alternates built in, including a flamethrower.
  • Plot Hole / Writers Cannot Do Math: Right in the opening narration there is a goof as John mentions he was 13 during the previous movie - not only it's canon that he was 10 (it even appears in John's file the T-1000 looks up), but that would set it in 1997, the same year of Judgment Day!
    • It also doesn't help that John mentions Sarah suffered from leukemia for three years before dying, which would correctly set the events of T2 in 1994.
  • Police Are Useless: The police who attempt to intervene in the T-X's rampage are swiftly terminated, inadvertently giving her a gun and even some cars to control in her pursuit of John Connor and/or his lieutenants.
  • Pre-Explosion Glow: The hydrogen fuel cells that are in the bowels of the T-850 glow a bright orange before detonating. And just before the second fuel cell explodes in the mouth of the T-X, the orange glow overtakes her blue inner lighting.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "You are terminated."
  • Product Placement:
    • The T-X gets an idea for its Breast Expansion from a Victoria's Secret billboard.
    • John and the Terminator refuel at an Arco gas station and AM/PM minimart.
    • The scene with the T-X recovering from getting knocked off the heroes' hearse prominently features a trailer for Xenadrine EFX (a weight-loss pill) throughout.
  • Quizzical Tilt: Done by the T-X in a reproving way, similar to the T-1000's Finger Wag.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: After spending the whole film trying to avert Judgment Day, the heroes fail at the end and the machines nearly wipe out all life on earth. Of course, the T-850 knew it would happen all along. John finally accepts his destiny as leader of the resistance, and begins his long journey to the eventual defeat of Skynet.
  • 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.
  • Refusal of the Call: The Central Theme. Even at the very end, Kate suggests they could just "let it go". But when the other bases started calling for help, he took up the role of The Chosen One.
  • Resigned to the Call: When asked who's in charge at Crystal Peak, John hesitates for a moment before saying that he is.
  • Retcon / Tech Marches On: Nice job of accounting for the development of the internet and distributed computing, which arose between the second and third films.
  • Robot Girl: The T-X.
  • Saved by the Coffin: The Terminator carries John Connor and Kate Brewster through a hail of bullets and out of harm's way in a steel coffin.
  • Scenery Censor: When the naked T-X walks towards the camera, there's a tactically placed side view mirror, so we can't see her full body. Then we cut to a POV from behind her, and we can see it.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: 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. 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.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!: Subverted when the Terminatrix uses her rather extensive equipment to give herself an "upgrade." She then utters a rather sultry, "Hello, officer," and it appears that she'll use her assets to avoid a ticket. Instead, she kills the police officer and takes his pistol. Not that she really needs it.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: 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.
  • Sensing You Are Outmatched: T-850 is pessimistic about defeating the T-X.
  • Series Continuity Error: The Terminator refers to itself as a "T-101". There's no such thing as a T-101. He's internally an 800-series terminator. Arnie's external appearance is a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101. His official name is a Cyberdyne Systems Series 850, Model 101, or T-850 Model 101 for short.
  • Sexy Silhouette: When the T-X is walking down the street naked, her whole body from behind is covered in shadow.
  • Sexy Walk: Complete with this too.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: John, as noted by his opening narration.
    "I should feel safe, but I don't, so I live off the grid: no phone, no address, no one and nothing can find me. I've erased all connections to the past, but as hard as I try, I can't erase my dreams... my nightmares."
  • Shout-Out: The T-X has a M-41 Pulse Rifle in its list of available weapons to change its hand into.
    • The T-850 locks Kate in the back of a pickup truck, with Kate's response and the T-850's counter-response of "I Lied" to this greatly resembling a conversation in Commando.
    • The T-X and T-850 demolish a restroom while fighting.
  • Slow Doors: This allows Ahnold to jump under the door and hold it long enough for John and Katherine to crawl under it.
  • Sniff Sniff Nom: The T-X picks up a bloody gauze and uses her tongue to do a DNA sampling. To a hidden Kate Brewster, it just looks like some random blonde woman who likes to chew medical waste.
  • Stable Time Loop: Not quite as strong as in the first film, but one of the first things the T-X does on arrival is release a computer virus that starts wreaking havoc with the internet. The military believes unshackling Skynet will solve the problem, which only leads to Judgement Day.
  • Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: John Connor tries this against the Terminator sent to protect him. The Terminator deduces from his vitals and body language that he's probably bluffing. Before either side has to reveal their hand, Kate gets the Terminator to comply.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: In comparison to the Bittersweet Endings of the first two films, this is the first one to end on a depressing note. Yes, our heroes live, but Judgment Day just happened, billions of people are dead, the world is a nuclear wasteland, and the Robot War has begun. In fact, the heroes being alive is the only thing that makes it a "Ray of Hope" Ending.
  • 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.
  • Swiss Army Appendage: The T-X has one of these: the liquid metal lets it be a normal hand, else it can fold about into a variety of weapons. The ones we see used are a plasma cannon, a nanomachine injector, and a flamethrower, but her navigational screen indicates there are around two dozen alternates. Including an M-41 Pulse Rifle, apparently.
  • Tae Kwon Door: When the Terminator walks up naked to a strip club, the bouncer thinks he's part of the act and tells him to go round to the front entrance. The Terminator just walks past him and yanks open the door, slamming it into the bouncer as he does so.
  • Take Off Your Clothes: Played for Laughs when the Terminator does the requisite clothes acquiring from a Camp Gay male stripper. "Patience, honey!"
  • Take the Wheel: The Terminator instructs John Connor to take the wheel so that he can perform improvised surgery on himself. John holds the wheel while the T-850 carves out his abdomen and removes one of his fusion reactors that was damaged by a plasma attack from the T-X. It explodes spectacularly after he throws it out the window.
  • Taking You with Me: How the T-X is dispatched. The T-850 jams one of his fuel cells into her throat, causing an explosion. ("You are terminated!")
  • Technopath: The T-X is designed by SkyNet as an "Anti-Terminator Terminator", presumably to counteract the human resistance's repeated reprogrammings of captured Terminator models. Her design includes nanotech to reprogram and remote control other machines. Throughout the film these include cars, trucks, primitive T-1s, and even the Arnie T-850 at one point.
  • 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.
  • Took a Third Option: The T-850 ends up infected by the T-X hacking ability, and its' body attacks John all the while telling him to get away. On the edge of killing him, John reminds of its primary mission to keep him safe. Faced with that conflict of programming, it shut itself down entirely. Doing a complete reboot cleared away the T-X influence, allowing for another rescue at the end.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: While the final trailer doesn't give the storyline away, the fact that it has scenes from all over the movie through 2:30 minutes provides quite a few hints.
  • Tuck and Cover: John seems to shield Kate from everything almost by reflex, once even dragging her below him.
  • Twist Ending: Judgment Day is inevitable, and we get to watch The End of the World as We Know It. The purpose of the Terminator, and Kate's father, was to ensure the two of them survived the apocalypse.
  • Uncertain Doom: Elizabeth Anderson is The Ghost when T-X arrives and shoots her brother, right before heading upstairs looking for Elizabeth. While she likely would have been killed by T-X, the large number of people at the party might have made identification difficult and it's unclear if TX was able to find the right girl and kill her before moving on to the next name on the list (Kate).
  • Unconventional Vehicle Chase: John Connor flees the scene in a veterinary van belonging to his future wife. The T-X hacks then hacks into several police cars she can operate remotely, while driving an oversized crane truck herself. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator then steals a police motorcycle and pursues as well. Shortly afterwards, he abandons the motorcycle and falls onto a fire truck, where he promptly pushes out the occupants and continues to give chase in his new vehicle.
  • Under the Truck: The Terminator drives a hearse underneath a tractor-trailer, to scrape off the TX who is on the roof, forcing herself into the cabin. The whole cabin is torn off, but it works.
  • Un-person: The reason why the T-X originally goes after John's lieutenants instead of John himself. He severed ties with everyone and went off the grid. The T-X only found him by accident.
  • Unusual User Interface: The T-X calls up a modem and "speaks modem" to it on the phone to access a computer.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: The T-X is the newest, most advanced model Skynet has sent back, and while the T-850 is slightly more advanced than the T-800 of the previous films it is still outclassed. But the film does introduce the T-1, the first generation "Terminator" with a semi-humanoid upper body, gatling gun appendages and tank treads. The T-850 easily slips behind one and uses its own gatling gun to disable another.
  • Vanity Is Feminine: The T-X (a female "Terminatrix") walks past a mirror while battling the male T-850, and her head immediately whips to the side for as long as she's reflected in it. There was no reason offered for why she'd do this in the middle of a fight (aside from the obvious point of this trope) and it happens so fast that many viewers likely missed it.
  • Wall of Weapons: Sarah Connor hid a weapon cache IN HER COFFIN (of course, SHE isn't in it.) Of course that probably moves into Crazy-Prepared territory.
  • The War Has Just Begun: Almost said verbatim by John in his closing narration:
    Maybe the future has been written. I don't know; all I know is what the Terminator taught me; never stop fighting. And I never will. The battle has just begun.
  • We All Die Someday: Upon hearing the T-850 say that John was dead and therefore couldn't reprogram him, John says that this sucks. The T-850 responds that humans inevitably die, and John retorts that he knows this for a fact.
  • Wham Line:
    John: There doesn't have to be a war! We can stop it.
    T-850: There is insufficient time. The first launch sequences will be initiated at 6:18 p.m.
    • And later: "There was never any stopping it."
    • The Mojave area will sustain significant nuclear fallout; you will not survive.
  • Who Needs Their Whole Body?: The T-X detaches her (presumably crushed) legs after Arnold finds that the perfect parking space for his stolen helicopter is right on top of her.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Kate does this when she sees the T-X still alive on the reactor. She screams "Just die, you bitch!"
  • 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.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The T-X guns down William Anderson in front of his family.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: As stated with Continuity Snarl, a bit of this going on with this film in relation to fact and the events of the first two.
    • Changing John's age in the second movie to 13 would've placed the events of that movie after the original date of Judgment Day, August 29, 1997, as John was born in 1985.
    • In addition, John states "we took out Cyberdyne over 10 years ago", which is incorrect; the attack on Cyberdyne happened in 1995, while T3 takes place in 2004 which makes it only 9 years since.
    • Sarah would've been 24 or 25 during the first film and 36 in the second going by the year on her "grave" — expect T2 explicitly states she's 29 during those events and she's stated to be 18 during the event of the original, making her birth year more likely to be 1966.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The previous movie tried to imply the future is not set. This time, it's clear Judgment Day is inevitable, that all outcomes foretold by Kyle Reese are inevitable. Of course, many of John Connor's future revolution partners wound up killed before doing so, but this kind of thing comes with time travel.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go/I Lied: Delivered by Arnie after tricking Kate, who is kept locked in the back of a pick-up. A Shout-Out to a famous scene in Commando with almost identical dialogue.

"All I knew was what the Terminator taught me. Never stop fighting. And I never will."

Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Terminator 3


T3 Ending

Despite the final arrival of Judgment Day, John Connor will be there to rally the survivors to save humanity.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / RayOfHopeEnding

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