Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Terminator (character)

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Cyberdyne Systems

First appearance
Android (Biorobotics)

Terminator (character) Online from Terminators Movie

Portrayed by
Arnold Schwarzenegger (1984, 1991, 2003, 2009*, 2015)Roland Kickinger (2009)Brett Azar (2015)*Archive Footage Only

Model 101T-101The "Arnold" Terminator

Uncle Bob (second film)Guardian (fifth film)Pops (fifth film)

Assassin (first film, fourth film and fifth film)Bodyguard (second film, third film and fifth film)Construction worker (fifth film)Infiltrator

James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd

The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment, Terminator Genisys, Terminator Salvation, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machi

T‑1000, John Connor, Sarah Connor, Kyle Reese, T‑600 Suit Performer

The Terminator (also known as T-800 and T-850) is a fictional character from the Terminator franchise portrayed by both Arnold Schwarzenegger and numerous actor stand-ins digitally overlayed with Schwarzenegger's likeness. The Terminator itself is part of a series of machines created by Skynet for infiltration-based assassination missions, and while an android for its appearance resembling a human, it is described as a cybernetic organism for consisting of living tissue over a robotic endoskeleton.


Terminator (character) Character Math 32 The Terminator Samantha from HER

The first appearance of the Terminator was as the titular antagonist in The Terminator, a 1984 film directed and co-written by James Cameron. While the original Terminator was destroyed, other androids using the same "mold" that made them look like Schwarzenegger — said physical template was described in-universe as the "Model 101" — are featured in the sequels. In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Genisys, Schwarzenegger is the protagonist instead of the antagonist, pitted against other Terminators sent by Skynet. In Terminator Salvation, the T-800 appears briefly as a T-RIP (Resistance Infiltrator Prototype) CGI model and T-800. In the context of the stories, the plot device of having various robots looking the same provides a certain continuity for the human characters by exploiting their emotional familiarity with a particular "human" visage associated with each "model".

Terminator (character) Terminator Character Comic Vine

The "Terminator" title has also been used as a generic name for other human-simulating characters in the "Terminator" universe, such as the liquid metal shapeshifting T-1000 antagonist in the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day and a T-850 in the sequel Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Terminator (character) Terminator character Wikipedia

Character nomenclature

Terminator (character) Top 10 Terminator Characters YouTube

The end credits of the first three Terminator films list Schwarzenegger's character as simply "The Terminator", while in Terminator Genisys, he is credited as "Guardian". In Terminator Salvation, a Terminator resembling Schwarzenegger created via facial CGI – used because Schwarzenegger's duties at the time as Governor of California prevented him from working on the film – over Roland Kickinger's on-set performance is credited as "T-RIP" and later "T-800". At different times, the Terminator character is given more specific designations such as "variant", "model" and "series" numbers, in efforts to distinguish Schwarzenegger's character from other mass-produced Terminators. Later films call the newer terminators by their series numbers (T-1000, T-X, etc.). The only consistent name for Schwarzenegger's Terminator character has been "The Terminator". Kyle Reese in The Terminator and Schwarzenegger's character in Terminator 2 refer to it as a "Cyberdyne Systems Model 101". In Terminator 3, the Terminator refers to itself as a "T-101", which could be an abbreviation of its model number.

In Terminator Salvation, the T2 Extreme Edition DVD, and the Terminator 2 video game he is referred to as an 800 series and a T-800. Trailers and a deleted scene of Terminator 2: Judgment Day identify the Terminator specifically as a "Cyberdyne Systems Series 800 Model 101". The T3 extras refer to him as an "850 series Model 101", a "T-850", and a "T-101". Terminator Salvation has the first on-screen usage of the term T-800, when John Connor sees blueprints of said series' endoskeleton. Terminator Genisys is the first to feature the Terminator referring to itself as a T-800.

Additionally, most merchandising for T2 and T3 – both at the time of their original releases and retroactively – (e.g. Action Masters miniatures, Cinemaquette statues, Sideshow Collectables replicas, Hollywood Collectibles statuettes, ArtFX kits, Medicom figures, Hot Toys, and McFarlane Toys) have all used the T-800 and T-850 nomenclature, contributing to this designation having arguably the most popular and widely disseminated usage, especially in direct juxtaposition to the explicitly named T-600s and T-1000.

Physical appearance

In the T2 commentary, Cameron states that the Model 101s all look like Schwarzenegger, with a 102 looking like someone else, leading to speculation that the 101 refers to the physical appearance while the 800 refers to the endoskeleton common to many models. A scene deleted from the theatrical cut, but restored in the Terminator 2 Special Edition, lends the most credence to this explanation. In this scene, John and Sarah shut down the Terminator for modification according to his instructions. When he reboots, the upper-left of his HUD reads "Cyberdyne Systems Series 800 Model 101 Version 2.4". Additionally, the original Terminator 2 teaser trailer further verifies this on a display monitor during android tissue generation, referencing the Series 800 Model 101.


A Cyberdyne Systems series T-800 Model 101 Terminator with living tissue over a metal endoskeleton, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is the main antagonist of The Terminator, the original Terminator film. An identical Series 800 Model 101, having been reprogrammed by the resistance in the future, is the protagonist of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Schwarzenegger plays an updated T-850 unit, with the same outward appearance as the Series 800. His character is destroyed at the end of each of these films. The fourth installment, Terminator Salvation, reveals the origin of the 101 Model. Roland Kickinger was cast as the principal actor but CGI was used to superimpose Schwarzenegger's face from the original 1984 film. The fifth installment, Terminator Genisys, Schwarzenegger plays an aging T-800 Model 101 (reprogrammed by an unknown party) and becomes a mentor and father figure to a young Sarah Connor of an alternate timeline, and Brett Azar portrays the original Terminator from the first film, with Schwarzenegger's then-likeness utilized via CGI.

The Terminator

The original T-800 is sent to terminate a single target, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), in 1984, to prevent the birth of her son, John, the future leader of the Human Resistance. It survives being caught in a truck explosion, though its flesh cover burns away and it is fully revealed as a machine. The Terminator is finally crushed in a hydraulic press by Sarah after a lengthy chase. However, its damaged main CPU and right arm are recovered by Cyberdyne. The remains of the first Terminator are used in Cyberdyne's research to radically advance the company's technology, paradoxically creating the machine intelligence entity Skynet. In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, John Conner recovers the arm and CPU chip of the first Terminator and destroys them in a pool of molten steel.

Judgment Day

Schwarzenegger's T-800's role was reversed in the second film. He was reprogrammed by the future John Connor (Michael Edwards) and sent back to 1995 to protect his younger self (Edward Furlong) from the T-1000 (Robert Patrick). While interacting with the Connors as they work to try to prevent Judgment Day, this Terminator is taught how to speak in slang-like terms, such as "Hasta la vista, baby", developing into an almost fatherlike role for John Connor, with Sarah (Hamilton) reflecting that the Terminator is the first male figure John has ever had in his life who can be guaranteed to always be there for him. At the end of the film, he orders Sarah to lower him into a molten metal vat in order to destroy the CPU and ensure that Skynet cannot be recreated in the future using his technology.

Rise of the Machines

In the third film, a Model 101 is again portrayed as the protagonist, this time protecting John Connor (Nick Stahl) and his future wife Kate Brewster (Claire Danes) from a T-X (Kristanna Loken). Being a T-850, it is slightly different from the earlier T-800 models that the Connors had encountered. He tells John that his efforts in the second film did not stop Judgment Day, but merely delayed it. They are also running from Judgment Day, trying again to avert it, but they fail, thanks to the counter-efforts of the T-X, a new, highly advanced Terminator designed to be capable of defeating other Terminators; on one occasion, it manages to infect the Terminator with nanites that take control of its body and force it to attack John and Kate, but John is able to 'convince' the Terminator to reboot by reminding it of the conflict between its current actions and its programmed mission to ensure John and Kate's survival. As John and Kate retreat to an underground bunker to wait out the now-inevitable nuclear war, the Terminator is destroyed when it jams its remaining hydrogen fuel cell into the T-X's mouth, resulting in a massive detonation that destroys them both. This Terminator also is revealed to play a very important role in John's possible future: he is the one who kills John in 2032 after being chosen due to John's emotional attachment to his model, based on the events of Terminator 2. The Terminator is then captured, reprogrammed and sent to the past to make sure that young-adult John and Kate would survive the start of the war. As a result of John's death in the future, he follows Kate's orders rather than John's, unlike the Terminator in Terminator 2.


In the fourth film, the T-800 has a small role, though once again as an antagonist. Being the very first T-800 produced, it engages John Connor (Christian Bale) in battle during Connor's attempt to rescue Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) from the Skynet base in San Francisco. John holds his own with his advanced weaponry, but is unable to stop the Terminator until it is drenched in molten metal and then liquid nitrogen, freezing it temporarily. As John begins planting hydrogen fuel cells (similar to the ones powering the model seen in Terminator 3), cyborg prototype Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) arrives to stall the Terminator, able to match its strength due to his own metal endoskeleton, but due to Marcus harbouring biological organs, the Terminator is able to incapacitate him long enough to stab John through the heart from behind, fatally wounding him. Marcus retaliates by jamming the same metal bar through the Terminator's neck and twisting it until its head rips off, destroying it instantly. The hydrogen fuel cells are set off as John and Marcus escape, destroying the base and taking thousands of unfinished Terminators with it. Marcus later gives up his own heart to save John's life.


Terminator Genisys creates an alternate continuity where a T-800 was reprogrammed by an unknown party—it is speculated that knowledge of who sent it back was deliberately erased so that Skynet (Matt Smith) could not track them down later—and sent back in time to when Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) was a child, rescuing her from a T-1000 (Lee Byung-hun) sent to kill her and her parents. The now-orphaned Sarah Connor is subsequently raised by the Terminator to prepare for her future destiny, becoming her surrogate father. Being stranded in the past, the Terminator integrates into human society, able to obtain various employments including construction when raising Sarah and/or for infiltrations, while remain hidden from the T-1000 and other Skynet agents. Throughout the film, the Terminator struggles with its physical limitations of lack of maintenance due to its age- stating at least twice that it is "Old, not obsolete"—include needing Sarah's assistance in destroying the Terminator from the first film before it can begin its search for her despite the two being essentially identical in potential ability. However, the Terminator's knowledge about Skynet and its technology in addition to the training and emotional support it provides are invaluable to Sarah, and its decade of raising her provides it with an unprecedented level of emotional development, to the extent that it keeps her childhood drawings and photographs in its base. After Kyle Reese's (Jai Courtney) arrival, the trio defeat the T-1000 together, but after jumping forward to 2017 to confront Skynet directly, the three find themselves battling John Connor (Jason Clarke) himself, who has been transformed into a nanocyte prototype Terminator T-3000 tasked to ensure Skynet's rise in 2017. John Connor's recognition towards the T-800 implies that he had encountered a same model himself (a nod to Terminator 2: Judgment Day). After multiple destructive confrontations, the Terminator attempts to sacrifice itself to destroy the T-3000, telling Kyle Reese to "protect [his] Sarah," and thus acknowledges that it sees Sarah as a daughter. However, during the battle with the T-3000, while the T-300 is torn apart by a prototype temporal field generator- only currently capable of generating the energy that disrupts all non-living tissue in the field without being able to actually generate a temporal portal- the Terminator is thrown into a vat of liquid metal before the T-3000's defeat, and as a result gains shapeshifting ability similar to the T-1000, as well as repairing earlier damage such as its lost left arm. It rescues Sarah and Kyle and accompanies them to pass a message to Kyle's alternate younger self, giving them its version of an approval to their relationship.

The "youthful" T-800 from the first film also appears, and is intercepted by the "aging" T-800 and Sarah Connor after it arrives in the alternate 1984. Despite Sarah killing the young android with her high-caliber sniper rifle, the T-1000 reactivates and reprograms it to pursue Kyle Reese. Kyle ultimately retrieves Sarah's sniper rifle and blows the Terminator's head off with a close-range shot, changing the outcome of the predestined battle between them. The young Terminator's endoskeleton is later dissolved in hydrochloric acid and its CPU is used to operate Sarah and the older Terminator's time machine. The CPU is destroyed after the time machine's usage. With both the original T-800's and the T-1000's remains are destroyed in 1984 and the older Terminator's existence is concealed, Cyberdyne Systems lacks the Skynet technology to work with for decades until John Connor is under Miles Dyson's (Courtney B. Vance) employ and assists his son Danny Dyson (Dayo Okeniyi) in the development of "Genisys" technology.

Concept and characteristics

The Terminator is a formidable robotic assassin and soldier, designed by the military supercomputer Skynet for infiltration and combat duty, towards the ultimate goal of exterminating the Human Resistance. It can speak naturally, copy the voices of others, read human handwriting, and even genuinely sweat, smell, and bleed. However it has no human emotions such as pity or fear and never stops until it fulfills its mission. To detect the Terminators, who are otherwise indistinguishable from humans, the human resistance uses dogs to alert humans to their presence since their smell is different. It is explained in the first film that the Terminator, particularly the T-800, is an infiltration unit designed as an alternative for the inferior T-600 models, which, unlike the living tissue Terminator had, used prosthetic rubber skin, which was imprecise and was easily detectable. Later models of the Terminator, such as the Guardian from Terminator Genisys, showed a greater capacity for emotion and even aging when in the past for long enough.

The most notable science fiction characteristics are that of an expert system featuring strong AI functionality combined with machine learning, and the system can interpret arbitrary non-formalized tasks. The other notable science fiction component is that of a power source which can last 120 years.

A trait persistent throughout the series is the faint red (or blue in the case of the T-X) glow of the "eyes" when the cyborg is online, which dim to nothing when a Terminator shuts down. In all four movies, the lack of the glow has been used to show when one is out of action. The trait is so characteristic that light-up eyes are often found on Terminator merchandise, with some even replicating the dimming/reillumination effect that occurs during shut down or start up.

In Terminator Genisys an upgrade was briefly seen to the Terminator of the movie, known as the Guardian: due to falling into a vat of unprogrammed mimetic polyalloy, the Guardian was able to bond with the alloy and gain what it called an upgrade. The upgrade allowed it to repair all the damage it had taken, including a missing arm and even develop shapeshifting abilities similar to the T-1000 where it could morph its arms into bladed weapons. However, how far this shapeshifting ability goes, or if the Guardian could change its whole shape, is unknown, as it retains the appearance of a T-800 Terminator even after the upgrade.


A description from Kyle Reese from the film The Terminator states that:

"The Terminator is an infiltration unit, part man – part machine. Underneath it's a hyperalloy combat chassis, microprocessor-controlled, fully armored, very tough. But outside it's living human tissue. Flesh, skin, hair, blood, grown for the cyborgs."

As seen in the movies, a Terminator can withstand standard normal 20th century firearms, crash through walls intact, and survive explosions to some degree. Repeated shotgun blasts have enough force to knock it down and temporarily disable it, while heavy amounts of automatic fire are able to compromise the organic disguise layer. In the second film, the Terminator says he can fully operate for 120 years on his power cell before it drains. In the finale to Terminator 2, his power source is damaged, and he is able to find an alternate source, described on the DVD commentary as heat sinks, harnessing the thermal energy from the hot surroundings. In the third film, the Terminator—an 850 series rather than the 800 series depicted in the first two films—operates on two hydrogen fuel cells and discards one of them early due to damage. It explodes shortly thereafter with enough force to produce a small mushroom cloud.

The endoskeleton is actuated by a powerful network of hydraulic servomechanisms, making Terminators superhumanly strong. For instance, in the third movie, Schwarzenegger's character was able to handle firing a Browning .30 machine gun from the hip with one hand, while holding a coffin containing an alive John Connor and a heavy cache of weapons, showing no signs of the extra weight being any real concern.

Late in the first film, the Terminator is stripped of its organic elements when the tanker truck it is driving is blown up. What remains is the machine itself, in James Cameron's own words "a chrome skeleton, like death rendered in steel." In the later Terminator films, armies of endoskeleton-only Terminators are seen. They are visually identical to the one in the first film, and feature prominently in the "future war" sequences of those films.


The Terminator CPU is an artificial neural network with the ability to learn and adapt. It was also briefly referred to as a room-temperature superconductor. In Terminator 2, The Terminator states that "the more contact [he] has with humans, the more [he] learns." In the original film, he learns how to swear from the punks he encounters in the beginning of the film, and when a janitor of his building visits him to ask about the odor from his room, he replies with "Fuck you asshole", from a list of responses. In the second movie's Special Edition, he says that Skynet "presets the switch to 'read-only' when [Terminators] are sent out alone", to prevent them from "thinking too much". Sarah and John activate his learning ability, after which he becomes more curious and begins trying to understand and imitate human behavior. This leads to his use of the catchphrase "hasta la vista, baby". He ultimately "learn[s] the value of human life" as mused by Sarah in the closing narration. The Terminator apologized – something he had never done previously – when John was frantically trying to convince him not to be sacrificed. His last words to John were "I know now why you cry, but it is something I can never do." The Terminator shown in Genisys underwent an even greater degree of personal development after spending over a decade raising Sarah Connor after her parents were killed when she was a child, with Sarah referring to it as "Pops" and the Terminator referring to her as "my Sarah", its words reflecting a reluctance to allow harm to come to her for emotional reasons rather than just its programmed mission.

Organic camouflage

The flesh-covering that is used on the majority of Terminator models has similar qualities to real human muscle and skin, as well as the ability to sweat, simulate breathing, and produce realistic body odor. Although Terminator flesh does contain blood, it only displays minimal bleeding when damaged and has never been shown to experience any kind of profuse bleeding even from massive lacerations, dozens of gunshot wounds, or even complete removal. In the absence of a circulatory system, the flesh uses a system of "nanobots" which maintain the skin. It is unknown what biological processes take place to sustain the flesh covering, since Terminators do not require the consumption of food. Under 2007-era analysis, this blood is shown to be similar to human blood, using a synthetic oxygen carrier rather than human red blood cells, as Terminator endoskeletons contain no bone marrow. There is debate as to whether the T-800 is truly a cyborg, despite its claims it is so in the second film and its flesh/systems's organic characteristics, but it is shown it can function even when its organic systems are completely gone/dissolved, thus some argue that the T-800 is really a robot underneath an organic disguise, and that a machine with an organic covering does not truly constitute a cyborg.

Terminator flesh heals by itself, and at a much faster rate than normal human tissue and has never been shown to bruise or discolor from trauma, even after several days. However, a Terminator's flesh covering can die if it sustains adequately massive damage without maintenance, at which point it takes on a waxy, corpse-like pallor and begins to decompose. In Terminator Genisys its shown that a T-800's covering ages; the Guardian is shown as having aged over eleven years and then a further thirty-three. By contrast, a T-888's undamaged flesh can remain un-aging for decades; Myron Stark immured itself for 89 years, emerging from its wall unchanged. In Genisys is it also shown that after the T-3000 threw a T-800 (credited as 'The Guardian'; nicknamed 'Pops') into a T-1000 type liquid, "The Guardian" attained characteristics and abilities of a T-1000.

Although clearly not the normal procedure, a bare T-888 endoskeleton is able to grow itself a new flesh covering using 2007 technology (with the assistance of a geneticist and its own knowledge of future formulae) by submerging itself in a blood-like bath. This improvised process results in a deformed covering that has the appearance of a burn victim and lacks its own biological eyes, requiring it to steal some and subsequently undergo cosmetic surgery to produce a more normal appearance (While escaping detection from law enforcement as it was able to undergo this procedure without the use of pain medication). Whether or not this replacement flesh possessed the T-888's original flesh's un-aging properties, it appeared healthy despite the T-888's deactivation for many days. The theft of the eyes suggests that Terminator flesh is capable of accepting some degree of organ grafts from ordinary humans, that it can circumvent transplant rejection, and is capable of sustaining the life of the grafted tissue via its own unknown biological process.

Although a T-800's physical covering ages like regular human skin, it can be regrown with enough time. During a confrontation with a T-1000 in 1984, the organic covering on its right forearm is destroyed while it is holding the T-1000 under a shower of acid, and it states that its dissolved covering would take years to regrow. By the time it is seen thirty-three years later, its covering was fully regrown, and the Terminator had spent some time working in construction, implying that it had become operational in time for it to regularly interact with humans.

Physical template

It has been shown that Terminators' flesh coverings are somehow grown identically, producing many multiple copies of exactly the same physical appearance, indicating the use of specific physical templates for different variations of a model or series The most well known is that worn by multiple T-800/850 Model 101 units portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger; a scene in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles displays a memory of a T-888 model, referred to as "Vick", facing a room (presumably in the factory where he was created) of several dozen units sharing an identical template to himself, naked and moving in unison to his direction. However, not all T-800's are made with an identical appearance, such as Cameron and the Terminator from the future bunker scene in the original movie.

The 'Arnold' model came to be known as the 101, which refers to its likeness and skin type. A deleted scene from Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines reveals that the Model 101's appearance was based on Chief Master Sergeant William Candy, portrayed by Schwarzenegger with a dubbed-over Southern accent, which was replaced by the more menacing Austrian-accented voice of one of the developers. One part of the scene shows Candy next to a partially complete endoskeleton, indicating that the Terminators were being developed by humans before Judgment Day. This contradicts information from the first film, where Kyle Reese refers to the Model 101 as "new", replacing the older rubber-skinned 600 series, also seen in Terminator Salvation (Although this can be explained due to Judgement Day having been delayed in the second movie, suggesting that humanity was able to come up with some of the ideas that Skynet would have taken longer to conceive of on its own). The T-800 is shown to be stronger physically, tearing a malfunctioning T-600 in half. It is also the first model to be manufactured using a titanium alloy. However, titanium loses strength when heated above 430 °C (806 °F) which later prompted Skynet's decision to use coltan, which is also referred as columbite–tantalite, for better heat resistance as its metal base as stated in Terminator—The Sarah Connor Chronicles; it is also used for the T-850 and T-888 models.

According to Terminator Salvation, the T-800 was the first terminator to have a human styled skeleton built using coltan and titanium alloy. The earlier Terminators had a bulkier appearance.

An entirely different origin of the Model 101's physical and vocal templates was provided in the novel T2: Infiltrator (published prior to T3), in the form of former counter-terrorist Dieter von Rossbach, who meets and joins forces with the Connors in the present (The novel reveals that he was never questioned about the Terminators' actions as his superiors always knew that he was somewhere else during its rampages). The reason stated for copying Dieter was that Skynet was looking in the old military files for someone whose body could effectively conceal the Terminator's massive endoskeleton.

The teaser trailer for Terminator 2 shows a T-800 having its flesh covering applied by a large industrial mold.


  • In a rating of 100 Heroes & Villains made by the American Film Institute the character takes two positions at once — № 48 as the hero and № 22 as the villain. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself presented this on television.
  • The character holds the 14th place in Empire magazine's rating of 100 greatest film characters.
  • References

    Terminator (character) Wikipedia