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Literature / T2 Trilogy

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The T2 Trilogy is a set of novels in the Terminator continuity, written as sequels to Terminator 2: Judgment Day by S.M. Stirling. When its existence is jeopardized by the destruction of the T-800 remnants in the 1990s, SkyNet sends Serena, one of a new breed of super-realistic cyborg stealth operatives, back in time to ensure its existence and, if possible, the destruction of the Connors. This forces the Connors to team up with Dieter von Rossbach, the Austrian-American ex-counter-intelligence agent who served as the base model for the T-800s, in order to stop SkyNet's plans.

The books are out of the main continuity of the series following Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which chose a rather different path for the universe to take, though they arguably inspired (or at least predicted) certain elements of that film (for instance, the famous Sgt. Candy deleted scene is essentially a major subplot from these novels Played for Laughs). On the Terminator Wiki, they are treated as an alternate timeline, similar to the reboot and alternate continuity entries in the film series. In any case, the trilogy consists of three novels:


  • T2: Infiltration (2001)
  • T2: Rising Storm (2003)
  • T2: The Future War (2003)

Tropes include

  • Action Bomb: Serena's ultimate goal as she infiltrates the Resistance in the future is to get close enough to John Connor and detonate her power core. She's quite close before Skynet recalls her for her time-travel mission.
  • Alternate Continuity: The novels are this to all of the post-T2 movie continuities, setting up their own story that ties into the first two films.
  • Asshole Victim: Two men see young Alissa in a restaurant and decide to take the opportunity of her visiting the restroom to abduct her for unsavory purposes. Of course, despite her young biological age Alissa is still an I-950 with Super Strength and Toughness, to say nothing of being Wi-Fi linked to the three T-800s in the dining room, so this ends very badly for both would-be kidnappers.
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  • An Ax To Grind: A very-injured Sarah takes a fire ax to a should-be-dead-already Serena.
  • Badass Family: The Connors. Sarah and John (John more than Sarah, initially) keep up their physical training (and paranoia) despite believing that they've destroyed SkyNet once and for all. Justified, since they are still wanted for terrorism thanks to blowing up a computer company. Their estancia in Paraguay has all kinds of hidey holes with military-grade weapons stashed away, just in case another Terminator comes calling.
  • Because Destiny Says So: The novels operate on the conceit that time has a kind of inertia, a desire to flow down a specific path and the ability to nudge events towards that path, which is basically the quantum mechanical version of this trope. Thus, the more Skynet tries to kill the Connors (specifically John) and the more the Connors try to stop Skynet before it happens, the harder they fail. The more they move in line with the future history Kyle Reese talked about — the Connors stockpiling weapons and supplies and recruiting allies; Skynet's forces ensuring the AIs birth — the greater success they enjoy.
  • Bond One-Liner: From a Terminator, no less. After killing a man via third floor window, the Terminator answers an inquiry as to his whereabouts with "He just dropped out."
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: This is the only reason why Dr. Kurt Viemeister was allowed to work on the SkyNet program; as much as it disgusts Cyberdyne to employ a practicing Neo-Nazi, the truth of the matter is that he's the only man on the planet who has the programming knowledge to coax a computer into true Artificial Intelligence. Goes both ways, interestingly: Viemeister initially insisted on much more favorable terms for his contract employment with Cyberdyne, basically amounting to "I do whatever I want and own everything I make," because he's just good enough to make such demands and still get hired by every other tech firm out there. Tricker slapped him with super stringent security protocols partly because the project had already been set back by Stuff Blowing Up, partly because Tricker really would have been happy if Viemeister walked rather than accept the restrictions. But Viemeister stuck around because what Cyberdyne was doing (and what they were doing it with) was well beyond anything he'd get to work with anywhere else.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: In a Funny Moment, a Terminator is attempting to kill John, Sarah, and Dieter as they are leaving on a chartered plane. The Terminator is hanging on outside the plane, and the best weapon they have to deal with it is C-4. Sarah is spinning the plastic explosive in her hands into thin ropes, which they wrap around the Termiantor's arms and (eventually) neck to destroy it. Dieter comments that he's never seen someone work plastic explosive like that, and John says that Sarah does it the same way she does with dough for Christmas cookies, to which Sarah helpfully identifies them as Cinnamon Bows.
  • Clark Kenting: Clea goes to great lengths to alter her appearance from that of her progenitor Serena, starting with hair dye and glasses. She also uses makeup and a very eye-catching dress to draw attention away from her face. She's helped by the fact that she is, personality wise, a completely different person than Serena.
  • Complexity Addiction: Subverted, Sarah and John are certainly weirded out by the fact that their new neighbor looks exactly like a Terminator, but Sarah really has a hard time believing he is one, since he has a full backstory, job, personality, paper trails, and a whole bunch of other things the previous Terminators never had. She doesn't doubt that SkyNet could instruct its minions to engage in convoluted plots, but she does doubt that it would feel the need to, since it's unlikely anything in SkyNet's past experience has taught it to be any more subtle than a sledgehammer. This is contrasted with Serena, who is creating a false identity and backstory and worming her way into human society so she can ensure SkyNet's existence in the future, but as an I-950 this kind of long-term infiltration is exactly what she was designed for.
  • Cyborg:
    • The Infiltrator 950s are the most traditional example of this trope in the Terminator-verse (up until Terminator: Dark Fate), being human beings (with some extreme gene-modification) who are implanted with various cybernetic upgrades from birth, mostly focused on neural modifications. They can even reproduce sexually, though only with other I-950s or through parthenogenesis.
    • Serena has the most critical components for T-800 cyborgs surgically implanted in her body before being sent back through time, allowing her to create T-800s as backup.
  • Death by Sex: Averted for Sarah; She and Dieter become lovers, but survive through the end of the trilogy, played straight for John, who loses not one, but two lovers who die shortly after he sleeps with them.
  • Deconstructed Trope: The books live on this trope. Dieter's main red flag that something truly bizarre is going on with Sarah Connor isn't just that pictures of him were taken with her, once when he was apparently trying to kill her and again when he was working with her (and Dieter is confirmed to be elsewhere during both events), but the fact that, while Dieter is a top-notch special forces agent and crack shot, even he couldn't nonfatally shoot people in the legs as often as the T-800 does. John and Sarah are wanted criminals for their previous antics and hiding out in Paraguay, and both have some pretty severe PTSD to deal with (the first time Sarah sees Dieter's face, and recognizes it as the T-800's, she runs). Numerous other examples abound, mostly deconstructing the common action movie tropes the Terminator series lives.
  • Designer Babies: The I-950s. The basis for them were ova harvested from a female human survivor that managed to impress SkyNet, before being artificially grown to maturity, having their DNA spliced with select animal chromosomes, and implanted with neural cybernetic relays.
  • Electronic Telepathy: Serena and her Terminators have this through basically a Wi-Fi link.
  • Every Scar Has a Story: In this timeline, at least, the facial scars John Connor had in the brief look at his future self in T2 are the result of an attack by a leopard seal, nanite-controlled by Clea.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Cyberdyne's government liason/watchdog, who only goes by Tricker (not even Mr. Tricker).
    Is that is his first name or his last?
    Hell, for all I know it's his job description.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Tricker is genuinely offended and downright angry when Colvin and Warren try to dismiss Kurt Viemeister's Neo-Nazism by stating lots of geniuses, when they have political ideas, tend to have "airy-fairy notions about how things should be run."
    Tricker: I have never heard Nazism seriously described as an "airy-fairy notion."
  • Evil Corporation: Averted. Cyberdyne might be responsible for SkyNet's existence, but they're actually being played for suckers by future!SkyNet and Serena; they just want to make a profit through innovative design in military cybernetics and programming, they have no idea that their creation is going to destroy civilization.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog:
    • Referenced; as per Terminator-verse canon, dogs can sense the artificial nature of T-800s and T-1000s and react with aggression. Seeing a stray dog instantly take a liking to Dieter helps reassure Sarah that he actually isn't another T-800 come to kill her.
    • Defied; I-950s have much more subtle cyber-components and so can pass the "dog test". While it's noted that dogs still won't like them, they won't immediately blow their cover. That said, the fact the MP dogs at Cyberdyne's military base location can't keep discipline around Serena, growling and baring their teeth, is a sign to a sufficiently-observant Major that something is not right with her.
    • A woman notes that her dog hates her brand-new SUV. . . which just so happens to be controllable by Skynet.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: After being sent in the past, Serena is several times confused, impressed, or annoyed by the differences between this time and the future where she comes from. Humans in a "free" society like pre-apocalypse America behave in such bizarre and illogical ways — but they do have "Human Resources" departments, which she finds hilarious.
  • Flawed Prototype: Not Serena herself, but the first clone she makes, Clea. Whether from being pushed too hard in the growth acceleration stages, being raised by a Terminator and never knowing Skynet's presence, or just inherent instabilities in the brand-new I-950 line, Clea is definitely flawed compared to Serena.
  • Fridge Logic: In-Universe (and addressing a similar question from fans of the franchise), Serena wonders why humans feel it's safer to move around at night when SkyNet's HKs and Terminators have infrared, making humans more visible at night than during the day. She concludes it's largely psychological, that because humans don't see as well at night they feel invisible, and thus more secure, when they are anything but.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: The Luddites, an extremist environmentalist group that wants to wipe out humanity to save the planet. In the present day, they are merely a noisy lobby, but in the dystopian future, they supply a large number of Skynet's human collaborators.
  • Gambit Pileup: John and Dieter go to some Good Ol' Boy gunrunners to buy stock for Judgment Day caches. Unfortunately, those gunrunners also fancy themselves bounty hunters, and just saw a TV spot about the guy who shot up a police station some years ago (the T-800, who's appearance was based on Dieter). So they call the show ask about the reward, and prepare to try and snag Dieter at the planned arms deal. The Sector was monitoring the show and its phone lines to try and figure out what the hell's going on with one of their top retired agents, and I-950 Alissa was monitoring the show and the Sector. So John and Dieter arrive at the meeting expecting to buy lots of guns, the gunrunners arrive expecting to arrest a dangerous fugitive and collect a fat reward, Alissa's Terminators arrive expecting to Terminate everyone, and the Sector arrives just hoping to start making sense of this weirdness. More Dakka ensues.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: The novels credits Sarah's noticeably more unhinged persona in T2 to her confinement in Pescardero State Mental Institution. Not only were they medicating her for a mental illness she didn't have (it's not paranoid schizophrenia if Killer Robots from the future really are trying to kill you), a different psychologist looking over her case opines that she was overmedicated based on her symptoms. The combination of the drugs and withdrawls from same meant that, for pretty much the entirety of T2, sheer force of will was keeping Sarah Connor remotely functional, and in a more cogent state of mind she probably wouldn't have tried to terminate Miles Dyson, among many other questionable decisions she made in that film.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Serena hires a PI to look into Von Rossbach and the Connors, verifying priority targets to send her Terminators after. She gets a young man whose day job is a dishwasher in his uncle's restaurant and watches way too many Bogart flicks. His attempts to emulate Bogart's speech are noted several times to be near incomprehensible, uses the slang of old noir PI films, and wears an authentic trenchcoat in Paraguay (which makes him a bad PI, as one of the most important things is to not stick out, and thus get noticed by the people you're investigating). He's gone so far as to construct a whole noir-film story around Serena's job, even remarking to himself that what he's come up with "had plot." He's aided a bit by Serena correctly identifying and exploiting his mental picture of her as a leggy seductive blonde just desperate for his help (though he really should be Genre Savvy enough to at least suspect Femme Fatale is in play. . . which it is). After escorting one of Serena's Terminators to near the Kreiger estancia, he overhears the ensuing gunfight. . . then decides maybe being just a dishwasher isn't so bad after all.
  • Heroic BSoD: John has a huge one after he realizes that the computer code he uploaded into Skynet's database at Cyberdyne's Antarctic base was tampered with by the I-950, and that he has, in fact, made Skynet sentient instead of sabotaging it. Sarah likewise has one when John tells her and Dieter... for all of two minutes before she gets back on-mission.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Wendy turns out to have a lot more inner steel than even she suspected. Sarah initially dislikes her, seeing in Wendy who she used to be: a soft, clueless suburban girl utterly lacking the skills and fortitude to survive in a world with Terminators. It takes Sarah some time to see she and Wendy have something else in common: being The Determinator.
    • Snog, one of Wendy's college buddies, seems a lazy nerdy hacker. But he's surprisingly insightful in his and John's first meeting, challenging him and accepting him as the challenges are met. He's also capable with firearms, as his family has always owned guns and maintains a hunting lodge.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: The T-800s; as Serena realises all too late, this makes them more remarkable amongst humans, making it much harder to deploy multiple ones at a time and go unnoticed. She attempts to get around it by artificially styling and coloring their hair to make them look at least a little different on a cursory inspection. This also comes into play with the basis for their appearance, Sector agent Dieter von Rossbach; his associates in the Sector start thinking something hinky is up when he's shown to be first trying to kill Sarah Connor (and murdering seventeen police officers in the process) then helping her, when both times Dieter himself was confirmed to be nowhere in the vicinity.
  • Internet Jerk: John, monitoring Luddite chat rooms on the Internet and noting the movement is getting more mainstream — and more violent — every day, muses on exactly this trope, that people will say things on the Internet they would never say face-to-face. But it's still probably a good thing not to be in the same room with them when they are saying such things; who knows what could happen.
  • Irony:
    • SkyNet learned a significant part of its anti-human prejudice from its Neo-Nazi programmer.
    • Ronald Labane's efforts to set up a group of neo-Luddites would lead to that group's descendants actually helping SkyNet to destroy humanity for "the sake of Mother Earth".
      • Furthering the irony, as Serena notes in Infiltrator, SkyNet is actually more likely to destroy all life on Earth than humanity is, since it is neither hindered by the need for oxygen and organic fuels nor possessed of the emotional attachment that humans feel, however dimly, for other life. If SkyNet's needs are best served by massive smoke-belching factories that blot out the sun and poison air, earth, and water, SkyNet will have massive smoke-belching factories.
    • John Connor is almost directly responsible for SkyNet becoming sentient (see Nice Job Breaking It, Hero).
  • Jerkass: Ronald Labane, a self-righteous eco-nut who abandons his commune, including his long-term lover and infant child, because he feels they have "sold out". In reality, he's a self-righteous, lazy, self-proclaimed leader and an all-around asshole, who blew up at them because they expected him to start actually working to help out around the commune instead of sitting around and typing up reams of drivel. His end goal is to actually foment a Neo-Luddite uprising, to save the planet from wanton consumerism and impose a better set of values (namely, his) on everyone. He even cites the old chestnut about omelettes and eggs when thinking about the likely cost of his revolution.
  • Les Collaborateurs: SkyNet actually has a small contingent of humans who serve it in various capacities, ranging from humans who sold out in hopes of having at least some small comfort to eco-nut zealots who actively seek the destruction of humanity.
  • Made of Iron:
    • The T-800s, obviously.
    • The I-950s are able to repress pain through their combination of intense training and neural implants, allowing them to keep functioning despite considerable injury. The computers in their brains can even keep them functioning for a short time after fatal organic damage (such as having half the I-950s head blown off). That said, they are still fundamentally organic human bodies, and so are much easier to take out than "proper" Terminators.
  • Magnetic Hero: John is growing into this, able to convince, inspire, and reassure people... even as he's threatening to kill them if he doesn't get his way.
  • Meaningful Name: The I-950, "Serena." Two concepts immediately suggest themselves from the name: Siren, which fits as SkyNet deliberately chose the "donor" who supplied the genetic material to make Serena and her fellow I-950s because of her physical beauty, and Serena has no problem using her beauty and charm to advance her goals. The other is "serene," and Serena is indeed a very cold and calculating person by design. It was noted that, because of the genetic manipulation that went into growing her, Serena would have been inhumanly cold without the added cybernetics, which regulate her body's hormones and chemicals to keep her within a strict operational range. She'll feel fear and anger and excitement and happiness, but as mere shadows of what humans actually feel, and has to make up the difference through acting.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: John Connor is believed to have killed his foster parents, never mind that at his age at the time he didn't have the height or upper body strength to inflict those kinds of wounds, because who would believe a shapeshifting robot from the future could have done it?
  • Mistaken for Terrorist: Both John and Sarah, for blowing up Cyberdyne in Terminator 2. Well, technically they are terrorists, even if what they did was justified given the circumstances.
  • Monstrous Seal: Clea uses nanotechnology to control some leopard seals into attacking Dieter and John. She laments their overall ineffectiveness on land and that Antarctica doesn’t have polar bears.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Serena takes a woman hostage and uses her apartment as a temporary base to set up an identity for herself in order to complete her mission. Before leaving, she takes some of the woman's clothes.
  • Mundane Utility: Between sending her Terminators on missions to terminate, Serena has them cook her dinner. There is a practical side to this: she can coach them on suspicious behavior (such as chopping vegetables with inhuman speed and precision) in a controlled environment before she sends them out into the world.
  • Naked on Arrival: Serena is naked when she is sent to the past, as is the norm for the series.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Enforced due to the trilogy conceit that history has an "inertia," and will mold events to play out as closely as possible. The more success John and Sarah have delaying or destroying SkyNet, the more events push back to bring SkyNet about. Taken to Up to Eleven in the second book, when they attempt to simply stop SkyNet from ever becoming sentient. Wendy Dorset basically has to write an AI program, then write a program to prevent AI from happening. But she forgot to label the disks, and ends up inserting the AI program first, and is promptly killed. Thus, Wendy, who was only involved because of her relationship with John Connor, actually makes SkyNet self-aware.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: In the future, Serena's role as a deep-cover Infiltrator of the Resistance requires her to behave as a Resistance soldier, including shooting T-90s (non-Infiltrator Skynet footsoldiers). Serena hates having to do it, she thinks T-90s are cute.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Downplayed. Serena was rather an Action Girl while infiltrating the Resistance, though that was mostly to maintain her cover. Her main weapons are misdirection, subterfuge, and judicious assassination. These same tools are her most important once she's sent to the past to protect Skynet, while her homemade Terminators take care of most of the physical violence that becomes necessary. That said, Serena (and later, her replacement Clea) are still Terminators, and incredibly dangerous if confronted directly, even if they're not as Nigh-Invulnerable as Meatsack Robot Terminators.
  • The Nose Knows: Dieter stocks the guest bathrooms of his estancia with shampoo that has a strong and distinctive scent, so he can tell if guests are sneaking about his home.
  • Not So Above It All: Serena and other I-950s do feel emotions, and so while they try to repress them, they are occasionally caught off-guard by them.
  • Off with His Head!: John specifically requests the head of a Terminator they're trying to kill, wanting to attempt to get some useful information from its memory and programming.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Deconstructed when Dieter takes a look at the unedited reports of the T-800s rampages; the leg actually has a number of major blood vessels that are very hard to avoid, meaning a leg-wound is actually pretty likely to be fatal. No human would be likely to make consistently non-lethal leg-wounds.
  • Only Sane Man: Dieter, when it comes to talking about Judgment Day, at any rate. Even Sarah's friends who genuinely like her just politely put up with her delusion about time-traveling robots, and to the wider world she's a psychotic terrorist and source of "can you believe this crap?" humor. And of course, young John was raised in this insanity, of course he'd give his dear, crazy mother the benefit of the doubt. Dieter, on the other hand, has an absolutely impeccable reputation as grounded and level-headed, so when he starts backing up Sarah's claims, some people start paying attention. After all, mental illness isn't contagious, and no one's that good in bed.
  • Other Me Annoys Me: Clea doesn't have much respect for Serena, despite them being genetically identical. Part of it is resentment that Serena actually knew Skynet, while Clea, "born" in the past, never really will. Part of it is some harsh (but not unjustified) criticism of Serena's personality, plans, and approach.
  • Outside Ride: Attempting to intercept and Terminate the Connors before they leave, a Terminator hitches a ride on their charter plane. A tense sequence ensues where they use C-4 to keep it from getting in the plane.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Serena couches it in terms of logic, but still, she chooses to leave the woman she mugs for initial clothing and shelter alive (and even adds a thousand dollars to her bank account), and actively makes it her goal to avoid killing unless necessary during her efforts in Infiltrator.
    • There's also her seemingly instinctive desire to protect the female slave who was her caretaker, even though she considers SkyNet to be her "true parent".
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: John looks down on people who do this as engaging in macho bullshit that's bad for your teeth. But when he finds himself needing to chuck termite grenades at Terminators while riding a motorcycle, he doesn't have another option.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Tricker has shades of this, though mostly when dealing with Kurt Viemeister, though he gets some double-barreled sexism when he opposes hiring Serena, because she's too pretty and will distract all the hopeless computer geeks from doing their jobs.
    Tricker: Oh, so you've got a kraut that talks to a box. How nice.
    Warren: He's not a kraut. He's Austrian.
    Tricker: So he's a kraut in three-quarter time who talks to a box. No go.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Serena is the typical Steve Stirling beautiful lesbian Action Girl in this novel, and suffers from severe Lack of Empathy due to being a semi-lobotomized cyborg. Though due to being a genetically-altered human implanted with cybernetics and raised from infancy as basically an extension of SkyNet, she herself has little, if any, in the way of sexual drive, desire, or preference. Sexuality is simply another tool in her arsenal to infiltrate and eliminate humans. She is noted to have been in a fairly serious relationship with a female Resistance soldier (serious from the Resistance soldier's perspective, at least), but Serena will use her beauty and wiles against anyone if it will give her an advantage.
  • Raised Hand of Survival: In one big homage to classic zombie films, one of the homegrown Terminators has to appear to be a person who died and was buried. After a time, it breaks out of its grave and goes to join up with the others. The actual breakout begins with a perfect description of this trope, and goes on to describe the Terminator's flesh sheath mostly rotting, and the Terminator clearing some of that rotted tissue to reveal its glowing red eyes.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Literally. After Cyberdyne is blown up again, Tricker is put in charge of security for the US government's clone Skynet project, which is operating out of a secret facility in Antarctica.
  • Reconstruction: The novels take the impression lots of viewers of Terminator 2: Judgment Day had of Sarah Connor ("Wow, she's such a badass now!") and runs with it. As pointed out several places on that film's trope page, Sarah is far from good role model, being neglectful of John, emotionally distant, more than a little unhinged, and, in one of her biggest moments in the film, acting exactly like a Terminator! This Sarah is a lot more stable (though still flawed), having had time to cope with her assorted traumas, and is genuinely a good mother for John, and their relationship has vastly improved. Sarah remains a badass Action Girl, but loses a lot of her very questionable personality traits from T2 (see Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul).
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: The neural implants in an I-950 can actually take over the body and use it like a meat puppet after the organic brain is fatally damaged. The heroes have to blast the brain to total mush, or sever the head, or just kill the body to stop one.
  • Retired Badass: Dieter von Rossbach, an ex counter-intelligence agent. The man was picked as the base for the T-800's disguise for a reason. Notably, John and Sarah initially consider Dieter more dangerous for the fact that he's retired, since he'll be bored and able to pursue idle fancies that cross his path (like the suspicion that his pretty next door neighbor and her well-mannered son are actually wanted terrorists).
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Serena is trying to locate John and Sarah Connor, she hires a local private investigator (who's day job is a dishwasher in a restaurant and who watches way too many Bogart movies) to find them. When he does, she has the poor guy drive one of her Terminators out to deal with the Connors. The PI only hears the ensuing firefight in the distance, then decides that being a dishwasher isn't so bad.
  • Series Continuity Error: The novels make the same error as Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, identifying the T-800 as a T-101. For the record, the Terminator type featured throughout most Terminator media is the Cyberdyne Systems Series 800 Terminator, or simply T-800. "Model 101" refers to the outer flesh coating a Terminator is given to create a distinct appearance.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Interesting in that "what once went wrong" is the Bad Future of Skynet's attempted extermination of humanity. Time wants to resume as close to its original shape as possible, so Serena enjoys her greatest success merely preserving Skynet's existence. When she tries to Terminate the Connors is when things start getting ugly for her. Of course, preserving Skynet's existence means preserving its ultimate defeat by John Connor.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: As a result of overenthusiastically hugging John after he'd been on the deck of the yacht acclimating to Antarctica's weather, Wendy gets one of these. At her insistence, John is quick to help her out of it.
  • Sleeping Their Way to the Top: Played straight, then deconstructed. Serena fakes a truly impressive resume to land a job as Cyberdyne's head of security, so she can protect SkyNet, but to add further incentive to hire her, during her interviews she subtly implies that some of her "upward mobility" was due to her "horizontal agility." The Cyberdyne directors find the implication very persuasive, but their security liaison immediately sees it as a red flag.
  • The Spartan Way: SkyNets efforts at rearing the I-950s, which started when they were babies; they would be given hologrammatic toys to chase and compelled to chase them as long as possible to build up physical conditioning and stamina. Those who failed were punished and eventually eliminated. Serena actually kills one of her brothers during puberty after he is judged "emotionally compromised".
  • The Stoic: I-950s do feel emotions, and SkyNet concedes that this is necessary for their function, but between their training and the chemical-regulating neural implants they sport, they are inhumanly cold and logical by nature.
  • Strawman Political: The Luddites are portrayed as gullible fools at best, and their leader comes across as a massive hypocrite and whining sociopath. To make clear how stupid their fanatical environmentalism is, the first book even has Serena and Skynet commenting condescendingly on it.
  • Tempting Fate: After Ssrah was caught in the successful attempt to blow up Cyberdyne again, she manages to work the system and get moved to a halfway house fairly quickly. She reflects that this is so much easier with a more gullible doctor and not being pumped full of drugs she doesn't need by the unlamented Dr. Silberman. Guess who turns out to be running the halfway house?
  • Terminator Twosome: Half of one. Skynet sends Serena to the past to ensure its own creation, but the Resistance doesn't send anyone to stop her. It's up to Sarah, John, and whatever allies they can make.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Dr. Kurt Viemeister, the Austrian scientist who is integral to SkyNet developing into a full-fledged AI, is a full-blown Neo-Nazi. Initially, Cyberdyne's government liason doesn't want anything to do with him, but is eventually forced to accept him because he is just that good. Infiltrator contains a chilling scene of him teaching the infant SkyNet to vocalise by reading aloud Mein Kampf, calling it "one of my favorite books". Serena can barely resist smirking, noting that this, more than anything, is laying the foundation for SkyNet's future genocide of the entire human species. Not because the AI was persuaded by Nazi propaganda, but because it showed the AI how dangerous and insane humans were, that they believed things like that. And let's not forget when the Cyberdyne executives tried to excuse his political leanings by dismissing them as "airy-fairy notions of how things should be run," Tricker is appalled.
  • Truly Single Parent: A female I-950 can choose to self-fertilise and conceive a clone-daughter, which she can then either carry to term or implant in a human surrogate mother.
  • Uncanny Valley: In-Universe. Serena is unable to grow actual organic eyes for her first crop of homemade Terminators, so equips them with glass eyes. Well aware this will just look wrong, she has them wear sunglasses. At one point, she e-telepathies one of her Terminators to take off the sunglasses while trying to persuade a human, using this effect to make the Terminator that much more intimidating.
  • Unhand Them, Villain!: Self-inflicted. A Terminator is holding Victor Griego out a third story window, and begs "Let me go," then immediately realizes his mistake. Downplayed in that the Terminator had already decided upon this method of Termination.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Wendy keeps the discs with Skynet sabotage programs in the lining of her bra. So they don't freeze and shatter during the trek across the Antarctic.
  • Victory Sex: How Wendy insists she and John celebrate her finishing the program that will prevent Skynet from becoming sentient. Subverted when this program is ultimately what makes Skynet sentient.
  • Villain Decay: Played With. Serena can make several T-800s, which she sends against the Connors as Elite Mecha-Mooks. John and Sarah have a noticeably easier time dispatching them than in the films proper, but mostly because they know a lot more about the Terminator's vulnerabilities (and, for a change, usually have the right tools for the job easily to hand). This could be due to, as Serena admits, her Terminators being of the "homegrown" variety. She only brought the CPUs and power supplies with her from the future, everything else was custom ordered and manufactured in the present; not on Skynet's assembly lines with all of its advanced resources and technology. This doesn't seem to hamper their performance, but the differences could be small but exploitable by the Connors, who have some experience with terminating Terminators.
  • Villain Override: Skynet can reach out and take direct control over pretty much any of its forces whenever it wants. To Serena, the sensation is akin to religious rapture.
  • Weirdness Censor: Deconstructed. When Dr. Silberman makes his reappearance, his POV notes that he knows what he saw the night the Terminators came to the asylum was real, and that Sarah had been telling the truth the whole time. But knowing no one else will believe him, he uses his own psychiatric knowledge to go along with the counseling he gets, allowing himself to be talked into believing it wasn't real, into being "successfully treated" for his mild delusion that night. Seeing Sarah makes it all come back, he acknowledges that he always knew he was lying to himself, and he offers Sarah whatever assistance he can provide in her fight against the machines.
  • Western Terrorists: Neo-Luddites, of the "psychopathic ecological preservationsts" variety, actively serve SkyNet in the future, and are beginning to form around Ronald Labane in the present.
  • Wolverine Claws: Serena added titanium claws to the fingers of her Terminators, concealed under their flesh and fingernails.
  • You Got Spunk!: When Tricker, Warren, and Colvin finally agree to hire Serena, she hands Warren and Colvin the disks she "found" in Miles Dyson's house which she used to secure her employment. Tricker initially seems very put off by this, before slamming his hand on the table and crowing "The little girl knows how to play hardball!" indicating that he's starting to warm up to Serena as a good hire for Cyberdyne.