Angst? What Angst?: John Connor doesn't seem too disturbed or disheartened by the news of his foster parents getting killed by T-1000. In fact, their deaths are forgotten as soon as they're revealed. That they were generally a pair of jerks mildly justifies it, but it doesn't make it less surprising.
Award Snub: James Cameron was so impressed with Linda Hamilton's performance and her dedication to the role (she lost twelve pounds during filming because of her aggressive training regimen) that he campaigned for her to get a Best Actress nomination. He was unsuccessful.
Draco in Leather Pants: Sarah gets toted as a paragon for feminism and an excellent role model by a lot of fans, but this ignores that she now has a Hair-Trigger Temper, has been sectioned because of how dangerous she is, repeatedly mistreats her own son, and is prepared to murder an innocent man over something he hasn't even done yet. She essentially borders on Villain Protagonist, and it is only a fortunate Heel Realization that she refrains from doing the last mentioned act (and she still acknowledges even a robot killer would be a better parent than her). James Cameron even said she wasn't meant to be a role model.
Even Better Sequel: The film is commonly held to be one of the best movie sequels of all time, and many fans prefer it to the original.
Watching Sarah Connor struggle with her emotional instability is a lot harder in light of Linda Hamilton later admitting to suffering from bipolar disorder in real life.
James Cameron first thought of casting Michael Biehn as the T-1000, but ultimately decided that Kyle's actor now being the Terminator would be confusing. Cue Terminator Genisys, and John Connor himself becomes a shapeshifting Terminator.
As if the nuclear nightmare scene weren't bone-chilling enough already, try watching it in post 9/11 times.
Jeanette Goldstein, codifier of Vasquez Always Dies, gets killed off again here (and she would again in Titanic (1997)). However, her character (John's foster mom) is far more feminine than the butch, more hardened Sarah Connor of this film. So Vasquez always does die, even when she's not Vasquez.
Michael Biehn nearly got brought back as the bad guy. He was normally typecast as villains, and his roles with James Cameron were the rare times he got to be heroes. In his next collaboration with Cameron - The Abyss - he would indeed be the bad guy.
On the heroic side, we have Sarah who, despite fleeing to the border in the last film, she somehow got captured and sent to Los Angeles again, where she is thrown into a Bedlam House because she apparently told them openly that she partaked in the Cyberdine incident because killer machines from the future want to destroy mankind. Having become so crafty and determined by the end of Terminator, it is hard to believe she could not have come up with a more credible story in order to get free, like that Reese was a crazy maniac who deceived her and then beat her down or something.
On the villainous side, it can be noted the T-1000 is an awful planner and makes a very lazy usage of his skills. It chooses to impersonate John's foster mother and wait for him to return home even although it knows perfectly he is with the T-800 and aware of the evil Terminator, and it is only later it decides it is better to go to Sarah. Similarly, its favorite tactics are open attacks while keeping its default form, even although its shapeshifting abilities would allow him to impersonate anybody to approach John through deception. It only tries it in the final fight, and it still wastes a precious time forcing Sarah to call John despite it can imitate voices, has already heard her talk before if it needs to sample it, and does it itself minutes later.
It Was His Sled: The idea that the Terminator - at least, the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 version portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger - was the hero of the movie was meant to be a surprise on its first release, as advertising still played him up as the bad guy. Now, any Terminator played by Schwarzenegger is assumed to be the good guy, and it's commonly known that this is where it started.
Jerkass Woobie: Sarah Connor is not exactly the most pleasant person in this film. A harsh, militant woman who barely gives the son the affection he needs and nearly murders an innocent man over something he hasn't even done yet. Given everything that she'd gone through before, it's easy to see where all of that came from.
Memetic Molester: The T-1000 ("He's a good looking boy. Do you mind if I keep this picture?").
Memetic Mutation: This movie is legendary online for being one of those films that can make men cry without shame. A common joke goes something along the lines of: "There are two times in a man's life when it is acceptable for him to cry in public. The first is at the birth of his child, the second is at the ending of Terminator 2".
Moral Event Horizon: If murdering John Connor's foster parents didn't send the T-1000 over, then torturing Sarah Connor as bait for John did. The T-1000 is a special case, because unlike other Terminators, the T-1000 is a fast-learning model both sentient and fully capable of human emotion, to the point where even Skynet was scared away from mass-producing it.
Narm: Many of John's lines due to his voice breaking in during production giving him a very high-pitched screechy voice that can be hard on the ears.
The T-1000 trying to catch up to the bike-riding John on foot can look a bit silly, but it's still a tense scene. Plus, Robert Patrick was actually running that fast, having trained with a sprinter for his role.
The T-800 giving a thumbs-up as he sacrifices himself should be incredibly cheesy and saccharine but the way it's directed and the music make it a genuinely emotional moment.
Nightmare Retardant: The T-1000's glitches in the Special Edition. In fact, this trope was the entire reason Cameron left it out of the original theatrical release, as he felt that it distracted from the tension of the film. Part of the draw of the movie, as many professional critics noted, was that audiences weren't able to figure out—right up until the end—what could actually hurt the T-1000.
Michael Edwards has less than a minute of screentime and no lines, but his appearance as the adult John Connor in the prologue has remained a favourite of fans, one that the three actors to portray him to date (Nick Stahl, Christian Bale, and Jason Clarke) still have not lived up to. It may be because the prologue frames the future John as a mythic figure, whose commanding, war-hardened, scarred yet soulful countenance was simultaneously enigmatic and self-explanatory: one could easily accept that this was the legendary savior of humanity, despite his lack of screentime and dialogue. The later films attempted to flesh him out and have him be much more involved in the plots, but he lost much if not all of his mystique as a result.
Averted with the arcade game based on the film, which was and still is a pretty well-regarded shooting game. The home console ports of the arcade game have more of a mixed reception, but are usually seen as okay.
Played straight, however, with the various console games produced by LJN Toys. The Nintendo Entertainment System game is considered the best of them, and even then no more than being just barely passable. The Game Boy game might have been passable, if not for the various Guide Dang It! moments and only giving the player one life throughout the entire game. And then there's the Super Nintendo Entertainment System game, which is seen as one of the worst games on the platform for its absolutely terrible controls, Fake Difficulty, and again, only giving the player a single life with no continues.
Minor example, but a good eye can spot when Leslie Hamilton-Gearren is being used as a double. In contrast to the military-esque training routine Linda Hamilton was on, Leslie only had to "hit the gym for a few hours a week". So the difference in body types is noticeable.
Schwarzenegger's metal facial prosthetics are pretty obvious, especially the unmoving robot eye.
When the wrecker crashes into the overpass at the climax of the canal chase, the dummy behind the wheel is incredibly obvious.
Tough Act to Follow: None of the three movies that followed Terminator 2 were as well received and successful.
Visual Effects of Awesome: The T-1000 completely blew the audience's minds when Terminator 2 came out and still looks amazing today, to the point it barely looks different from the new T-1000 from Terminator Genisys despite 24 years having passed between both films. Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park are credited for the CGI revolution.
Woolseyism: The famous line "Hasta la vista, baby!" became "¡Sayonara, baby!" in the Spaniard dub. It became just as popular in Spain as the original in America.
What an Idiot!: During the mall escape, the T-1000 chasing after the bike-riding John on foot would have ended a whole lot quicker had it just extended one of its metal arms out to stab John. This is an approach it tries later in the film. Apparently it learned from its initial failure.