Here's every version of The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger has played. While Conan The Barbarian proved to be a big hit for Schwarzenegger early in his career, he had a difficult time convincing studios to take him seriously as a leading man. It wasn't until he was cast in The Terminator by James Cameron (Avatar) that his fortunes changed. He was initially approached about playing hero Kyle Reese, but after a long conversion with Cameron discussing how the cyborg should be portrayed, it was clear he was the perfect choice.
The original Terminator is essentially a slasher movie like Halloween, with the Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator being a masked villain wearing a human mask. The success of the movie led to other projects like Commando and Predator and he would soon become one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. The Terminator is still his signature role, however, and he's returned to the franchise repeatedly.
Arnold Schwarzenegger will return to the franchise once more for Terminator: Dark Fate directed by Tim Miller. The sixth movie will mark Schwarzenegger's fifth appearance in the role, with Linda Hamilton also returning as Sarah Connor and James Cameron as a producer. While Schwarzenegger's likeness was used on a body double for 2009's Terminator: Salvation, he didn't actually film anything for the fourth entry. Here's every version of the Terminator played by Arnold.
The Terminator (T-800)
The T-800 in The Terminator is sent back in time to assassinate Sarah Connor, the mother of an unborn resistance leader who will later guide humanity through a war with the machines. James Cameron originally conceived of the character as someone who could easily blend into a crowd and Lance Henriksen (Aliens) was considered for the part before Arnie signed on.
The reason the Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator is so terrifying is because of the small touches he brought to it. His eyes move like a surveillance camera, with his head slowly turning to follow. He reloads weapons without looking and moves in a robotic, unnatural manner. Despite barely having any dialogue, most of his lines would become iconic too, including the famous "I'll be back."
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (T-800)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day flipped the original concept on its head and made the T-800 a hero programmed to protect ten-year-old John Connor. This was likely a nod to Schwarzenegger's rise as a movie star since the original movie was released. Nonetheless, he's still iconic in the role, being gifted with great one-liners and forming a genuinely touching friendship with young John, as this T-800 slowly learns what it means to be human.
Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (T-850)
Despite the enormous success of Terminator 2, rights issues and other problems would hold up the next chapter for 12 years. Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines would ultimately feel like a repeat of the second movie, with Arnold's T-850 model protecting an older John Connor from the T-X model.
The T-850 doesn't have much in the way of differences from its previous model, although they're programmed to act in a more human manner. While he has to deliver some cringe-worthy lines ("Talk to the hand") Schwarzenegger is still great in the part, and again forms a surprisingly touching bond with Connor and even sacrifices himself to save him.
Terminator: Genisys (T-800 "Guardian")
Terminator: Genisys is easily considered the weakest of the sequels, but yet again, the Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator is the highlight. This machine actually gets an emotional arc too, being sent back in time to protect young Sarah Connor and eventually having to raise her like a father, making him the most human T-800 to date. This T-800 is dubbed "The Guardian" and it was James Cameron's suggestion the machine age like a regular human. This version of The Terminator also receives an upgrade at the end, by being dunked in a mimetic polyalloy and gaining the abilities of a T-1000.
- Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) release date: Nov 01, 2019