Terminator through time

If there’s a character ideal for multiple mediums of sci-fi, it’s the Terminator or at least the idea of Terminators. The concept of a cyborg (cybernetic organism, or rather a robotic endoskeleton with living tissue over it) going back in time to kill the leader of the human resistance once the world goes kablooie isn’t that hard to grasp. The difficult part is keeping up with the alternate timelines and paradoxes by each subsequent sequel or TV show.

But for the nonsense the Terminator franchise has become, there's an equal number of insanely cool things about the license that makes the killer assassins from the future so damn likable. And because there’s a major motion picture coming out Thursday for part 4 - Terminator Salvation - we’re here to fill you in on the games of the series. But first, what is a Terminator?



The Terminator – 1984
A cyborg built to resemble an Austrian bodybuilder goes back in time from 2029 to 1984 in order to kill Sarah Connor (because she’ll give birth to the leader of the human resistance). A human - Kyle Reese - is sent back in time to stop her from being killed. Along the way, Kyle impregnates Sarah (he’s the father!), and the movie cements the fact that Terminators will absolutely not stop until they kill their target. The antagonist is shot up, blown up (twice) and only dies under a steel press.


Terminator 2: Judgment Day – 1991
Two Terminators are sent back in time after John Connor, Sarah’s son. One is the cyborg Schwarzenegger from Part 1 and the other is a liquid metal shapeshifter, known as the T-1000. Good Terminator and John bust Sarah out of a psychiatric hospital and blow up Cyberdyne in order to keep the company from reverse-engineering the Terminator tech (left by the first cyborg in Part 1), that will ultimately doom all of humanity. Oh and they melt the T-1000. The future is safe!


T2 3-D: Battle Across Time – 1996
This short film is actually a live attraction at Universal Studios. Guests take their seats in a small auditorium for a Cyberdyne trade show, demonstrating the latest in robotic innovations. Then the video feed is interrupted by Sarah and John Connor threatening to blow up the building. From there, the show continues as live-action with stunt performers playing the main characters from the films - that is until they drive a motorcycle into the future. The rest is a 3D film about Schwarzenegger and John destroying the Skynet system. Extremely cool for how silly the concept is. Embedded is the entire short film, but it’s not in 3D. You’ll have to imagine the wowy-zowy effects. Neato!

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines – 2003
Sarah Connor’s dead from cancer, John Connor lives off the grid and has visions of a terrible future. Meanwhile, the shapeshifting/liquid-y TX (a lady terminator) comes from the future to eliminate all the leaders of the human resistance, John, and his future wife Kate Brewster. Apparently, Judgment Day was just delayed by the events of Part 2, as the Skynet system is now being funded by the US military. The old Arnie model shows up, helps destroy the TX, Skynet goes online and releases rockets anyway, killing most of humanity and setting John up to be the leader of the humans.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles – 2007
We can’t really follow the story anymore. The TV show acts as if T3 never happened and you can read about the crazy events here.


  • KakashiXIII - May 19, 2009 11:11 p.m.

  • GearsofRabies - May 20, 2009 12:33 a.m.

    no the story to TSCC isn't unfollowable. try harder. other wise great article shane.
  • vitoruss - May 20, 2009 12:57 a.m.

    lmao "Is that an AT-AT in the background?"
  • SunshineHobo - May 20, 2009 1:39 a.m.

    Another Seventh Seal reference, yay!
  • phoenix_wings - May 20, 2009 2:29 a.m.

    I remember my friend was absolutely terrified of the original Terminator. Nightmares and stuff. Granted we were like 5 at the time. I really liked T2 though--enough to read the article, but not enough to play any of the Terminator games. Recaptcha: Recital borg
  • jamminontha1n2 - May 20, 2009 3:05 a.m.

    @Shane: Why did you have to go there? I am sure there were a lot of people who enjoyed that show. Just not enough tho.
  • JohnnyFirebird - May 20, 2009 3:16 a.m.

    Man, I always wanted to play those Bethesda Terminator games but the 286 I was rocking at the time just couldn't cut it. (Look it up, kids, that previous sentence does make sense.) Robocop Versus Terminator and the Terminator Genesis games were both awesome in their own ways. If licensing fees hadn't made the prospect unviable, I'd be up there trying to do a petition to get all those games on virtual console. The Genesis Terminator game is about four levels, though. But great graphics for the system. Had a very Euro feel.
  • GearsofRabies - May 20, 2009 3:18 a.m.

    god shane do you have to salt my wounds like that....sob.....
  • Ravenbom - May 20, 2009 3:19 a.m.

    The resistance needs to send someone back in time to stop Fox from creating American Idol.
  • FlashGoron - May 20, 2009 4:05 a.m.

    The Terminator tv show takes place between T2 and T3. That's way it acts like T3 did't happen, because the events haven't happened yet!
  • WaywardRenegade - May 20, 2009 4:10 a.m.

    or stop Fox from making sequels to good movies and adaptaions of comics, videogames, and novels. ALL adaptations and most sequels Fox produce blow big floppy donkey d***.
  • WaywardRenegade - May 20, 2009 4:12 a.m.

    Someone should do an article about that.
  • gmilf71 - May 20, 2009 4:20 a.m.

    @ravenbom they not only need to send a terminator back for that, but they need to just send a terminator back to destroy fox altogether.
  • NipplesTheSuperHippo - May 20, 2009 6:21 a.m.

    Lolz, I never knew there was soooooo much Terminator crap. I knew about the movies and the T.V. show, also the first couple of games, but crap, there was way more Terminator stuff than what was needed.
  • pikachu2000 - May 20, 2009 12:40 p.m.

    All of you seem to forget to mention that in the Genesis/Sega CD version of Terminator 1, you only get one life to live for the entire game. No saving, no mid-level checkpoints, no continues. You must go through the whole game in one try, in one long night. Expect a whole lot of anger that is sadly missing from today's games. (I think that today's games are too damn spoiled by these f****** save points and save anytime anywhere schemes. Give us a game without saving or holding our hand for once, yeesh).
  • Red - May 20, 2009 2:24 p.m.

    I went and saw the T2 3D experince thing at Universal Stuidos back when I was a kid. Most terrifying thing ever at the age of 10.
  • big rudy - May 20, 2009 9:18 p.m.

    its not that you couldn't follow the plot in sarah conner chronicles, its just that it didn't HAVE one. i mean really it was like after a while they just said "fuck, we have so many episodes to make, but we don't know what to do with them, screw it, just make up random shit until the finale".
  • jar-head - May 21, 2009 10:34 p.m.

    wait, concelled wtf? the Show ended with a t-1000 female Helping the resistance? And john is sent forward to the future? then after the credits theres another spark, and you hear Sarah saying he loves him. the end? Then you have dollhouse? wtf? dollhouse=the Matrix, but with tramps...
  • Demonflare - May 22, 2009 8:35 p.m.

    When I was little, my dad make me watch Terminator with him...BORING! I fell asleep. Wasnt interesting to me. Still is today.

Showing 1-20 of 39 comments

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