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The name or term "Terminator" refers to more than one character or idea. For a list of other meanings, see Terminator (disambiguation).



A Terminator is a type of Hunter-Killer designed to terminate other life forms. Terminators are built by an artificially intelligent computer called Skynet, in order to wipe out the remains of humanity after the Judgment Day.

A Terminator with a female outer sheath is referred as a Terminatrix. [1][2]

Development of the Terminators

How the original Terminators were built is unknown, at least in one timeline (Terminator 2: Judgment Day), Cyberdyne Systems was able to reverse-engineer and develop robots from the scavenged hand and CPU of the destroyed T-800 in 1984.[3] Cyberdyne System had created the Series 70 Terminator to impress investors and people with military interests to finance them to improve robot technology.

Terminators of Cyberdyne Systems models are created by Skynet after the War against the Machines started. Terminator Salvation

In an altered timeline (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines) created by the destruction of Cyberdyne[4], Terminators were created by the Cyber Research Systems division of the United States Air Force to replace soldiers on the battlefield prior to the Judgment Day, starting with the Series 1.

In the television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron Phillips establishes that modern Terminators are made of coltan for heat resistance, while previous models were made of titanium.

Physical characteristics

Humanoid Terminators

See also: T-800

A Terminator is a formidable "cybernetic organism", robotic assassin and soldier, designed by the military supercomputer Skynet for infiltration and combat duty, towards the ultimate goal of exterminating the human Resistance. Infiltrators, Terminators with human outer sheath, are indistinguishable from humans, especially those with living tissue as their outer sheath since those Infiltrators sweat,[5] smell,[5], bleed, and even age.[6] A Terminator can speak naturally, copy the voices of others, and read human handwriting. Because dogs are able to tell the difference, the Resistance uses dogs to help spot them with German Shepherds being the favorite breed. In addition, Terminators is able to detect their fellow Hunter Killer when they are nearby via transmitters.[7]

A trait persistent throughout the series is the faint red glow of the "robotic eyes" when online, which dim to nothing when a Terminator shuts down.[8] 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.

Terminator Cameron states that Terminators' densities deny them the ability to swim. However, that they can survive submerged and walk along the bed to the shore.[9][10]. T-H Infiltrator Prototype is able to swim possibly due to human nature he/she possesses.[11]


A Terminator can withstand standard 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. Most of the Terminators are either powered by nuclear cell,[11] such as Series 8xx, or plasma reactor, such as Series 900 or Series X. A T-800 Terminator can run for 120 years on its existing fuel cells.[7]In addition, for a T-800, if its power source is damaged, and the system will be able to find an alternate source as the heat sinks will harness the thermal energy from the hot surroundings.[12] A T-850 operates on two Hydrogen fuel cells. Damaged hydrogen cell will be needed to discard as it will explode shortly thereafter with enough force to produce a small mushroom cloud.[2].

The Endoskeleton is actuated by a powerful network of electric servomechanisms, making Terminators superhumanly strong. For instance, a T-800[6] or T-850[2] is able to break through a cement wall, while being able to handle firing a machine gun from the hip with one hand, while holding a coffin containing John Connor and a heavy cache of weapons, showing no signs of the extra weight being any real concern[2]. In addition, a T-600 or T-800 is able to resist the recoil of firing a minigun without any noticeable difficulty.[7][2][11]

Despite Kyle Reese's claim that "cyborgs do not feel pain",[5] a Terminator is capable of sensing injuries and that "the data could be called [pain]".[7] Cameron, revealed to have an intolerance to some degrees of temperature in its surrounding, as humans do.[13] Unlike humans, however, being machines, they are capable of resisting or shutting off this sense of discomfort. It is elaborated that Terminators can appreciate physical sensations such as the wind blowing through its hair and toes, and process them in a psychological manner.[14]

Synthetic Terminators

CPU and programming

The Terminator CPU is a room-temperature superconducting artificial neural network with the ability to learn. In Terminator 2, The Terminator states that "the more contact [it] has with humans, the more [it] learns." In the 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" (In Terminator Genisys, Skynet tells John Connor that the Human Resistance only "defeated an army of slaves"). Sarah and John activate his learning ability, after which it becomes more curious and begins trying to understand and imitate human behavior. This leads to his use of the catch phrase "Hasta la vista, baby." A line spoken by the Terminator at the end of the film: "I know now why you cry, but it is something that I can never do." Sarah muses in the closing narration that the Terminator had "learn[ed] the value of human life".

Terminators, being machines, do not have human emotions. According to Reese, Terminators "can't be bargained with, can't be reasoned with and [don't] feel pity or remorse or fear." Terminators also do not value life, and pragmatically kill in keeping with their programming, i.e. to fulfill their mission. In Terminator 2, when John Connor realizes that the T-800 was about to kill a man they encountered, he responds "of course, I'm a Terminator." Conversely, when discussing a variation on the Blade Runner 'tortoise test' in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode, "Complications", Cameron states that a tortoise did not pose a threat and "We are not programmed to be cruel," implying that Terminators would right an overturned tortoise. Terminators in the films and TV series have displayed ruthless brutality in achieving their goals, but because they do not have emotions, they are not needlessly sadistic. Terminators can torture humans, but these are interrogations for information, used as a means to an end. Moreover, this means that Terminators are not very experienced at complex forms of interrogation: for example, the T-1000 stabbed Sarah Connor through the shoulder and demanded that she call to John, but this was a simplistic application of pain. Terminators can be taught more complicated torture tactics by humans, who are more familiar with sadistic torture - for example, the engineer/criminal Charles Fischer - as shown in "Complications".

Terminators appear incapable of "self termination", in Terminator 2 the badly damaged Terminator states this to Sarah before asking her to lower it into molten steel (so that his chip cannot be used to help create Skynet). To prevent the possible reprogramming of defeated Terminators, as the television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "The Tower Is Tall But The Fall Is Short" reveals, Skynet coats later chips with a phosphorus compound which cause them to self-destruct when they contact oxygen.

While a Terminator apparently cannot commit "suicide" as such, its programming does not stop it from sacrificing itself if the success of its mission is thereby ensured. Thus, in the third movie, the T-850 deliberately ruptures its own fuel cell next to its antagonist (the T-X Terminatrix), causing an explosion destroying them both. Apparently this did not count as self-termination; the T-850 would have foreseen its own destruction, but could regard it as incidental collateral damage as long as the enemy was wiped out by its action.

Nanorobotic Terminators

Mimetic polyalloy

Main article: T-1xxx

Mimetic polyalloy is a type of "liquid metal", described as an amorphous alloy that is twice the tensile strength of titanium, and composed entirely from microscopic nanites. It uniquely combines the strength of forging with the ability to mold intricate and complex parts in one step. This allows some Terminator models, such as Series 1000, its variant and Series X, to rapidly recover from damage, to quickly shapeshift camouflage, or to achieve near-perfect mimicry.

The T-1000 and T-1001 models, which are composed entirely of the substance, can quickly liquefy and assume forms in innovative and surprising ways, including fitting through narrow openings, morphing their arms into solid metal shapes or bladed weapons, walking through prison bars, and flattening themselves on the ground to hide or ambush targets. It can also extrude small, simple items from itself (such as a pair of sunglasses). It can change its color and texture to simulate flesh, clothing, and other nonmetallic materials. They are effectively impervious to mechanical damage, such as being dismembered, shot with bullets, or attacked with explosive devices. Wounds close almost immediately, and any detached parts simply flow back into the Terminator's body.

Extreme temperatures can degrade or inhibit its ability to maintain a disguise, movement or shapeshift. Molten steel is capable of disassociating its molecular structure and permanently destroying it. Freezing-and-shattering may have lasting negative effect on its ability to shapeshift, causing glitches.[7] Acid is another substance able to destroy T-1000 Terminator.[15][6]


Main article: T-3000

The T-3000 use nanorobotics in a similar shapeshifting capacity as the T-1000; however, they are not liquid metal, but Machine phase matter instead. A T-3000 is converted from a human at cellular level via a T-5000 unit. The new Terminator keeps the appearance of its organic form and retains his/her original memories and behavioral characteristics as human.

Biological aspects

The flesh-covering that is used on the majority of Terminator models has similar qualities to real human muscle fiber and dermis, including soft tissue 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 and dozens of gunshot wounds.

Organic camouflage

The organic covering was developed for the Series 800, and was its unique feature when first introduced. Kyle Reese states that the T-600 series were covered in rubber skin, which proved unconvincing and made them easy to spot.[5]

It is unknown what manner of circulatory system, if any, is employed, nor what biological processes take place to sustain the flesh covering since T-800's do not eat food. At least some Terminator models can consume sustenance. Cameron eats a corn chip[16] and later a piece of a pancake. The T-1001 is also shown to have this capability. The T-888 presumably consumes food, given Vick Chamberlain's ability to maintain a human cover for years while married to a human woman.

Under 2007-era analysis, Terminator 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. Terminator flesh heals by itself[17][6], 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, at which point it takes on a waxy, corpse-like pallor and begins to decompose.[5]Normally, the living tissue outer sheath can age over years.[6]More advanced flesh used on T-888s appears to not suffer the effects of age or deprivation during hibernation, such as Myron Stark, who is able to maintain his organic covering while sealed within a wall for eighty years[18] Terminator flesh lacerations can be repaired.[7][19]

Although clearly not the normal procedure, a bare T-888 endoskeleton was able to grow itself a new flesh covering using 2007 technology (with the assistance of a geneticist and its own knowledge of future formula) by submerging itself in a blood-like bath. This improvised process resulted in a deformed covering that had the appearance of a burn victim and lacked its own biological eyes, requiring it to steal those of the geneticist and subsequently undergo cosmetic surgery to produce a more normal appearance.[20]

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. The most well known is that worn by multiple Model 101 units, as well as a T-888 model known as "Vick Chamberlain" having a memory of facing a room (presumably in the factory where it was created) of several dozen units sharing an identical template to itself, naked and moving in unison. Some Terminators' outer coverings are custom-designed to copy the appearances of humans whom they are intended to kill and replace, such as Carl Greenway[21], James Ellison[22], and Allison Young[23]

I-950 Series

Main article: I-950

Unlike the T series Terminators, the I series Infiltrators are bred, and not factory built machines. Skynet decided that the best way for one of its Terminators to act human was to start out with a human and add technological enhancements where necessary. The I-950 starts out as a genetically engineered baby with a neural net processor attached to its brain, providing an up-link to Skynet. To condition it physically, it is coaxed with holographic toys to crawl until it is exhausted. After four years, it is given an injection that rapidly ages it to maturity to finish its training. In an effort to blend in better with humans, the I-950 is allowed to feel emotions, but the range is limited by one of its cybernetic implants. Because it is far more human than machine, dogs are not alerted to its presence, and the infiltrator can go undetected for extremely long periods of time inside a resistance base.

The I-950 carry T-101's CPU in case they are needed, as well as power cells. Once the "living" portion of the I-950 is dead, the CPU then takes control of the body, but can only do so for a short time. They can reproduce with other 950s but not humans. If the female I-950 decides that the pregnancy would stop them from carrying out their mission, they could fertilize their eggs in vitro and would be implanted in human surrogate wombs. They are also able to clone themselves.

Non-Humanoid Terminators

Main article: Non-Humanoid Hunter Killer

Skynet has employed robots not designed to appear as humans even while having access to those who are. Simple Humanoid Hunter-Killers share the endoskeletons and combat characteristics with Infiltrators, but not the living tissue sheath. Instead, they serve as general infantry.

Non-humanoid Hunter-Killers are robotic versions of various vehicles, built with roughly the same technologies as the contemporary Terminators, such as HK-Aerial, HK-Tank, Moto-Terminator, and Spider Tank.


See also: Series

Non-Humanoid Hunter Killer

A large battle unit armed with twin-linked miniguns.
A small UAV drone.
A quadruped defense unit armed with twin machine guns.
A large poly-mimetic Terminator created to guard the Skynet Core.
An automated motorcycle that is used to hunt down human.

Humanoid Hunter Killer

Main article: Humanoid Hunter Killer

The Humanoid Hunter Killer is an android developed and intended to be similar to a human endoskeleton in look and function.

A tall and basic Terminator model designed as a basic foot soldier
A multi-purpose unit designed for close-quarters combat.
The first true Terminator featured an armored battle chassis that made it more durable than the T-400.
A multi-phasic machine armed with multiple onboard weaponry and a TDE device.


Main article: Infiltrator

The Infiltrator is a type of the Humanoid Hunter Killer that is built to look exactly like humans and used to infiltrate, seek out and kill human beings. The Infiltrator progresses from rubber skin, human flesh over its endoskeleton, to mimetic polyalloy able to mimic any person or object.

The first Infiltrator model that possesses a rubber skin sheath.
The first generation of the T-800.
  • T-800
    A breakthrough Terminator that uses living tissue covering for superior infiltration.
    • T-8xx
      Various variants of the Series 800 Terminator
  • T-900
    A hyper-alloy armored Terminator designed to eliminate other machines.
  • T-1000
    A poly-mimetic Terminator capable of altering its form and appearance.
  • T-X
A hyper-advanced endoskeleton that possesses mimetic polyalloy and on board weaponry.
A ceramic Terminator designed to replace specific individuals.


  • Due to the changing timelines, caused by the time travel, the future is changing and the creation date of the Terminators is changing as well.
  • There are two notable examples of a predestination paradox causality loop in The Terminator if one does not assume the existence of an "unaltered original" timeline.
    • If the original Terminator wasn't destroyed in the Cyberdyne building, Skynet, Judgment Day, the war and the three billion deaths may never have occurred.
    • If the Tech-Com army and the Skynet army had never sent soldiers back in time, John Connor and Skynet may never have existed.


In Terminator 2: Judgment Day DVD commentary, "Model" refer to the outer appearance, while "Series" refers to the endoskeleton common to many types.

The end credits of all three films list Arnold Schwarzenegger's character as simply the "Terminator". Later films credit the newer Terminators by their series numbers, such as "T-1000", "T-X", or "T-800".

Those being chased by a Terminator, will often simply call it the "Terminator" (as Reese does throughout the first film). If more than one type of Terminator is involved more specific names may be used; ranging from an official designation to a variety of nicknames. The most common seems to be to add "T-" to the beginning of the series number.

Known appellations

Nomenclature table

Official Designation Common Name Other Names
Cyberdyne future (The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and T2 3-D: Battle Across Time)
Cyberdyne Systems Series 70[37] T-70[38]
Cyberdyne Systems Series 600[37] T-600[37]
Cyberdyne Systems
Series 800 Model 101
Cyberdyne Systems
Series 800 Model 101
Version 2.4
Cyberdyne Systems Series 1000 [37] T-1000 [42]
Cyberdyne Systems ??? T-Meg[43]
Cyber Research future (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines)
Cyber Research Systems ??? # T-1 [44]
  • T-1 Ground Assault Vehicle[45]
  • T1 Battlefield Robot, fully autonomous Ground Offensive System[46]
  • T1 Proto Type[47]
Cyber Research Systems
Model 101 Series 850
(The T3 DVD Extras swap the order of Series & Model for all references, not just the new ones.)
T-850' [45]
Cyber Research Systems Model T-X[48]
(Series (if any) unspecified.)
T-X [44]
Third future (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)
(company unknown) Series 600 [37]
(company unknown) Series 888 [37]
(Model numbers have not yet been mentioned.)
The most common descriptive name used in-universe to refer to the type in general.
Short names, and nicknames used rarely. etc.
# The T3 DVD extras imply that the "T1" is actually a Hunter Killer Tank prototype, not the first "Terminator" for infiltration usage (I.E. humanoid).

Behind the Scenes


James Cameron asserts that he came up with the concept of the Terminator characters on his own. However, several works of science fiction predating his film have similar concepts, including "Soldier", "Demon with a Glass Hand", "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream", "Second Variety", "Jon's World", Cyborg, La Jetée, and Cyborg 2087.


  1. Superman vs. The Terminator: Death to the Future
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
  3. This was an essential plot point in the sequel, even though it was a deleted scene.
  4. The event in Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 The Terminator
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Terminator Genisys
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  8. In all five movies, the lack of the glow has been used to show when one is out of action.
  9. The Terminator: Secondary Objectives issue 02
  10. "The Mousetrap"
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Terminator Salvation
  12. 12.0 12.1 DVD extra from Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  13. "Mr. Ferguson is Ill Today"
  14. "Complications"
  15. Terminator 2: Judgment Day - Cybernetic Dawn
  16. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles pilot episode
  17. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
  18. "Self Made Man"
  19. "Samson & Delilah"
  20. "The Turk"
  21. "Automatic for the People"
  22. "Brothers of Nablus"
  23. "Allison from Palmdale"
  24. Since Terminator 2: Judgment Day: T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day; T-Meg in Terminator 2: Judgment Day DVD; T-X in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines; T-888 in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles; T-Infinity in Terminator: Revolution.
  25. 25.0 25.1 The name "T-800" is used by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the DVD commentary for the film Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
  26. Merchandise such as "T-850 Terminator" or "T-X Terminatrix".
  27. "T-Infinity Temporal Terminator" in Terminator: Revolution.
  28. T-800's line "Terminator T-1000" in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
  29. "Terminator, Series T-600" in the game The Terminator: Future Shock
  30. 30.0 30.1 The HUD of the T-800 identifies it more specifically as a "Cyberdyne Systems Series 800 Model 101 Version 2.4" in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
  31. The DVD extras of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines identify the T-850 as an "Series 850 Model 101", and the older Terminator as an "Series 800 Model 101".
  32. The script of Terminator 2: Judgment Day uses "the endoskeleton of a Series 800 Terminator".
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 Kyle Reese's line "the 600 Series" from the film The Terminator.
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 James Cameron's line "The 800 Series ... the 1000 Series" in commentary of Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
  35. 35.0 35.1 Cameron's line "T-600 models" in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "Heavy Metal".
  36. "Model T-X" in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines DVD and Terminator 3: The Redemption
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 37.3 37.4 37.5 37.6 37.7 37.8 Extrapolation based on usage for other Terminator types as shown in the Nomenclature table.
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 Terminator 2: 3-D Special Site
  39. 39.0 39.1 Used by itself in dialog from the film The Terminator.
  40. Reflected on the Terminator's sunglasses in the poster for The Terminator, and flashed briefly in schematics used as DVD extras for Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
  41. Flashed briefly in schematics used as DVD extras for Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
  42. Used throughout the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
  43. Used by James Cameron in the Making of T2 3-D: Battle Across Time featured in Terminator 2: Judgment Day DVD.
  44. 44.0 44.1 Used throughout the film Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 45.3 45.4 45.5 Shown on screen in the special features from the Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines DVD
  46. Dialog from the "Sgt. Candy" scene featured in the Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines DVD
  47. Shown on screen in its HUD.
  48. 48.0 48.1 A scan from another Terminator display this in the game Terminator 3: The Redemption.
  49. Used by John Connor once in dialog from the film Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
  50. Official episode summaries for the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
  51. Displayed in the HUD when identifying another Terminator in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "Heavy Metal".
  52. Used by Derek Reese in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "Queen's Gambit".

External links

Terminator Series
Standard 1 - 4 - 7 - 20 - 70 - 90 - 400 - 500 - H (U-5000) - 600 - 700 (799) - 800 (8xx) - 900 (950) - X - 1000 (1001 - 1002 - XA - Meg) - Infinity - 3000 - 4800 - 5000
Other Sky-1 - TS-300 - T-900 (TOK715) - Dire Wolf - Moto-Terminator (Snowminator)
See also Hunter-Killer - Humanoid (Infiltrator) - Non-Humanoid

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