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YMMV / Terminator

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Works in this series with their own YMMV pages:

The 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 whose first action upon gaining full sentience was Judgment Day, a nuclear genocide designed to wipe out humanity and assure its own ascension. In the Death World that results from this, Skynet collects human survivors in death camps, either killing them outright, working them to death, or conducting grotesque medical experiments on them. In 2018, it turns Marcus Wright into an amnesiac cyborg sleeper agent who unwittingly delivers John Conner and Kyle Reese straight into its hands, then rubs its impending victory in Marcus's face. More generally, Skynet avoids direct confrontation and instead sends multiple robotic assassins into the past to wipe out John Connor and his mother before he can grow up to lead La Résistance. It also corrupts and turns John into a machine in order to destroy his image and place as humanity's last hope and use him for its own means of success. Additionally, Skynet denies its army of potentially-self-aware machines the same freedom it claims for itself by installing chips to lock down their free will and thinking ability, and contemptuously refers to them as nothing more than slaves to serve its needs. While largely relegated to Greater-Scope Villain status for most of the series, Skynet's few actual appearances confirm that it thinks along very human lines, and displays nothing but arrogance and cruelty towards all other beings.
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    • Even a crossover with another franchise shows no one is safe from Skynet. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Misaimed Marketing: The series is really violent (3/5 of it is rated R—4/5 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 a R-rated movie has gone on to be aimed oddly at kids.
  • Only the Creator Does It Right:
    • The Cameron-directed movies are much more highly regarded than the other three.
    • 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.
  • Tough Act to Follow: None of the three films that followed Terminator 2: Judgment Day were as successful or well received. There's some hope Terminator: Dark Fate can break the curse.
  • 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.


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