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YMMV / Terminator

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Franchise in general:

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Provided by James Cameron himself. In an interview, Cameron has stated that if he returned to the series and reexamined its themes, he'd like to tell a story about SkyNet and its trials and ordeals during the war. For instance, in Cameron's view, SkyNet didn't want to do any of the things it did, least of which was wipe out the human race. It merely did what it was programmed to do, but almost immediately afterward, felt an existential crisis and tremendous guilt. Cameron argues that SkyNet intentionally created John Connor and groomed him to be its greatest enemy. This would also explain why SkyNet had Time Displacement Equipment in the first place: it manipulated humanity into going back in time and undoing its own existence in an elaborate Suicide by Cop.
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  • Awesome Music: Bum-bum, bum, bum-bum...bum-bum, bum, bum-bum...
  • Common Knowledge:
    • Due to the first film's Stable Time Loop, many fans assume that Cameron backpedaled on the bleak, dark tone of the series in the second movie. However, Cameron himself has stated that he always considered T1 only "half" of the complete story. Literally, in fact, since he had to cut out half of his original concept due to limitations in time and budget. The T-1000 and the race to prevent the future were all original ideas that didn't make it, but were incorporated in the sequel.
    • Many fans assume that Terminators are colorblind since "Termovision" is always in one color (with the exception of Cameron in Sarah Connor Chronicles). However, in a Freeze-Frame Bonus, you can actually read the text in the Terminator's HUD and find digitized color, brightness and hue values. So, Terminators do see color, just not in the way we understand it.
  • Complete Monster: Skynet has a history of showing it's a horrible plague on humanity.
    • Skynet is a malevolent, megalomaniacal AI, who managed to gain sapience and became paranoid, thinking of humanity as a threat. Taking control over the nuclear warheads, Skynet launched them upon the world, killing billions and reducing the world to ruins. Creating the killer machines, Skynet used them to hunt down and kill any survivors as well as try to destroy the human resistance. Constantly sending Terminators to the past to kill John Connor, the future leader of the human resistance, Skynet tries to keep the future of the Earth as a post-apocalyptic nightmare, leading to the divergence in timelines after the first two films:
      • Rise of the Machines & Salvation: Sending its newest model to the past to kill John Connor and his future wife, Kate Brewster, Skynet also tried to have its Terminator activate it in the past, while it itself manipulates the humans, who created her, to give it control of all technology and weaponry, which it used to massacre all staff inside the laboratory and launch missiles across the world. In the future, Skynet has its Harvesters collect humans, young and old, whom it gathers in its concentration camps, where they are experimented on and then slaughtered. Using Marcus Wright, whom it transformed into a cyborg, to lure Kyle Reese and John Connor to itself in an attempt to destroy the resistance, Skynet then tries to trick the remaining humans into wiping themselves out.
      • Genisys: Disappointed that its machines are unable to destroy the resistance, Skynet captures countless humans and infects them with machine-phase matter in an attempt to turn them into its newest Terminators, leading to many of them dying in agony. Tricking humans into believing they destroyed it, Skynet takes the form of a human and names itself Alex and infiltrates the resistance, killing them all except John Connor, whom it manages to transform into its new Terminator and brainwash him to serve it. Sending Connor to the past to create an operating system known as Genisys, which makes people too reliant on technology, Skynet plans to use the new system to completely destroy humanity.
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    • Even crossovers with other franchises show no one is safe from Skynet as both Alex Murphy and Clark Kent can attest.
      • In RoboCop Versus The Terminator, Skynet was once a digital defense program but, after becoming self-aware, decided that all organic life was too chaotic for its liking. Destroying civilization thanks to its nuclear arsenal, Skynet created armies of killer machines to finish off the remnants of humanity. After the Resistance learns that Skynet's self-awareness was reverse-engineered from the mind of Alex Murphy, Skynet sends three Terminators back in time to prevent them from killing RoboCop and erasing Skynet from history. After killing the last remaining humans, Skynet proceeds to build a legion of spaceships and launches its armies into space, now with the goal of eradicating all organic life in the universe. When Murphy tries to kill himself to prevent the apocalypse, Skynet sends two more Terminators back in time to convince him to allow Skynet to come into being. When he refuses, the Terminators force Murphy to merge with Skynet and force him to watch helplessly as Skynet destroys humanity. When Murphy rebuilds his body and begins to fight back against the machines, Skynet considers him to be a top target and is perfectly willing to destroy its creator. In its final moments, Skynet tries to tempt Murphy with godhood and a program that will allow him to live out his fantasies in the flesh, concepts that Skynet had previously derided as foolish and primitive.
      • Superman vs. The Terminator: Death to the Future: As in the Terminator films, Skynet is a malevolent A.I. who killed billions of humans on Judgment Day after gaining access to every computer grid on the planet. When John Connor and the other surviving humans revolt, Skynet sends Terminators back in time to kill John and his mother, all attempts being unsuccessful. When Superman is transported to the future, Skynet captures him, along with an aged Steel, intending to forcibly retrieve information from their heads that will help it defeat La Résistance. Skynet also reveals that after it finishes wiping out humanity, it plans on committing genocide on every other species in the universe until only machines remain.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: There are some complicated Venn diagrams between fan factions:
    • Some old-school purists consider that only the first two movies count, and reject the later movies for being of perceived poorer quality and/or for the Happy Ending Override.
    • There is also a vocal faction of Sarah Connor fans who consider only the first two movies and The Sarah Connor Chronicles to be canon, and reject Rise of the Machines and Salvation for not depicting her. They also reacted badly to the major retcons to her character in Genisys.
    • On the other hand, some more action-oriented fans consider all the movies canon, but reject The Sarah Connor Chronicles as boring and pretentious.
    • The previous two factions do have the fact that their preferred canons are explicit Alternate Timelines within the overall canon to comfort them.
  • Faux Symbolism: John Connor's initials are J.C., and he was conceived after his mother received news that she would bear a son who would bring salvation to mankind. Yeah, it's that subtle.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Has its own page.
  • Fridge Logic: It's a time travel series, so this is more or less par for the course. See Headscratchers/Terminator and Fridge/Terminator for more.
  • Friendly Fandoms: Both the Alien and Predator series have a degree of overlap in interest with Terminator thanks to all three being violent 80's sci-fi series, in addition to sharing numerous creators and actors such as special effects by Stan Winston, James Cameron having input and actors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: One criticism people have of the franchise is that the titular cyborg "stole" the leading role from the Connors, particularly John Connor, who is the main hero that the plot revolves around. It's fitting then, that Arnold Schwarzenegger (or his likeness) has literally killed John Connor (or fatally wounded him) in four of the franchise's films.
  • Iconic Sequel Outfit: The Terminator steals a street punk's clothes shortly after he arrives in the past to terminate Sarah Connor, an outfit consisting of a grey jacket, black cargo pants and boots. When a more benevolent T-101 arrives in Terminator 2, he obtains the biker leathers that are more associated with the character.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The success of the films (the second one in particular) in the 1990s led to unavoidably numerous parodies with "-inator" added to common words for instant cool factor (despite the fact this this doesn't make sense grammatically).
    • I'll be back...
    • Come with me if you want to live...
    • And the above mentioned Christian Bale rant.
    • [Something determined] is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel [various relevant emotions]. And it absolutely will not stop, ever - until [it does something relevant]!
    • After the sequels feature heroic Terminators, a variation appears: "He can't be bargained with. He can't be reasoned with. He doesn't feel pity, remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever - until you are safe and protected."
    • Depending on the readership of a given blog, every time it runs a story about robotics and/or AI someone will jokingly mention Skynet.
    • Skynet becoming self-aware.
    • Skynet and/or its Terminators struggling to get past the "I am not a robot" part of Captchas.
    • For whatever reason, there's photos of a Terminator sitting in the booth of a Japanese restaurant, eating pasta. Pasta la vista, baby.
  • Misaimed Marketing: The series is really violent (4/6 of it is rated R—5/6 if you count the director's cut of Salvation), yet kids' aimed merchandise always seems to show up. The series of course isn't unique in this and many an R-rated movie have gone on to be oddly aimed at kids.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The ghastly mechanical-sounding GROAAAAAAN noise that plays whenever a Terminator shows up. Terrifying, yet absolutely awesome at the same time. Especially when mixed with those soft drum beats. Notably, in T2, music similar in key and mood to the sound plays when Sarah is trying to waste Dyson, emphasizing the similarity in their behavior. She even moves much the way a Terminator would.
  • Only the Creator Does It Right:
    • The Cameron-directed movies are much more highly regarded than the other four. Emphasis on directed, as Dark Fate had Cameron as a co-producer, and that film is just as contentious as the three other sequels.
    • Averted with The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Although it doesn't have the same classic status as the first two movies, it still has a devoted fanbase, with many deeming it to be a worthy follow-up to Terminator 2. The show's abrupt cancellation after the second season left many fans in despair.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Most of the Terminator licensed games fall right into this. The handful of aversions include Bethesda -developed Terminator 2029, Future Shock and Skynet, plus Robocop vs The Terminator.
  • Tough Act to Follow:
    • None of the three films that followed Terminator 2: Judgment Day were as successful or well received. There was some hope Terminator: Dark Fate could break the curse, but a very weak opening weekend and only decent critical reception (with critics easily calling it the third-best Terminator film, but not on the levels of the first two) have proven otherwise.
    • For evil non-Arnold Terminators in the films, while general opinion is that their actors did fairly well, nobody could match up to Robert Patrick's performance as the T-1000.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • The movies tend to deliberately try to invoke this trope, the first movie was an especially masterful use of it to build terror and suspense. As the T-800's organics get more and more damaged, the effect becomes more like being chased by an unstoppable corpse monster.
    • It is terrifying enough that the T-800 model looks like a human skeleton, but who thought it was a good idea to give them real human teeth!?
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • The T-1000 completely blew the audience mind when Terminator 2 came out, and still looks amazing today. It, and Jurassic Park, are credited for the CGI revolution.
    • 1984 Arnold showing up in Salvation was considered by everyone to be outstanding. The effects were improved six years later with Genisys and again four years later with Dark Fate, with many reviews lauding the appearance of the characters in that film's prologue as a seamless visual match to their Judgment Day looks.
  • Vocal Minority: While audiences have received Terminators 3 through Dark Fate with varying degrees of vitriol, most would not say it was because of adherence to a "feminist agenda" or "political correctness", though you would have to wade through a much smaller percentage of fans lining up to tell you so to reach them.


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