The Terminator franchise has been in a weird spot for decades. After Terminator 2: Judgment Day, no sequel has done the series justice. Some of them are fine movies on their own, but living up to the classics seems impossible.
Regardless of where the series goes, the first two will always be incredible. Yet, the question remains—which one of the first two people prefer? T2 was more successful, but the original has a lot going for it as well. The following list will present five arguments in favor of the premier film's superiority, and five arguments explaining why the sequel beats it out.
10 Better Than T2: Did It First
There's a lot to be said about Terminator's originality. Granted, writer Harlan Ellison claimed the idea was taken from an Outer Limits episode he wrote titled "Soldier," but even he admitted his fascination with Cameron's work despite the alleged plagiarism.
The exceptional visuals and idea of a robot from the future hunting humans down enthralled audiences. Even if future movies executed a similar concept better, they will never be quite as groundbreaking as the original. It also propelled Arnold Schwarzenegger's career to new heights and established James Cameron as a filmmaker.
9 T2 Is Better: Visual Effects
The series' first outing was produced on a shoestring budget. Considering their limited resources, it still impresses visually, though signs of its budget show. The sequel, however, was made with a seemingly blank check and ended up being one of the most expensive movies ever made at the time.
None of that money was spent superfluously, however, as every dollar shows on screen with its magnificent effects, both practical and digital. It's the combination of the two which makes the world shine. Even though the shots with CGI have aged, it manages not to look jarring.
8 Better Than T2: Feels Like A Horror Movie
While the first film is all about action, the first one has a slower pace. Because of their budgetary constraints, the production could not opt for high octane set pieces.
This works out to its advantage, however, and makes the cat and mouse game through the streets of LA feel like a suspenseful sci-fi horror film. Even those who prefer the sequel over this one can thoroughly enjoy it for its different tone.
7 T2 Is Better: Adds To The Lore
A common complaint about the series is how often it retreads the same ground. To be fair, the one time is strayed from the typical framing device with Terminator: Salvation, people complained even more. T2 avoids this by adding the twist regarding the T-800's allegiance and the T-1000's upgraded abilities. Additionally, the latter half of the movie pushes the lore forward when the heroes attempt to stop Judgment Day from happening altogether.
6 Better Than T2: No Kids
Some people really have a grudge against kids in starring roles in films. It is a risky move, as their lack of acting experience can pull a film down. Edward Furlong does a stand-up job as John Connor, but some fans prefer a story without children. For those with a problem regarding the youngest members of society, Terminator is wholly without kids for the entire duration.
Just remember, don't blame the child for a movie's poor outcome. They had nothing to do with it. Even if their performance was lackluster, they were following the coaching of a mentor or director.
5 T2 Is Better: The Action
The set pieces in Terminator 2 are simply phenomenal. From the first encounter kicked off by the T-800 blasting the T-1000 with a shotgun to the final confrontation in the factory, each action scene keeps the audiences nearly falling out of their seats with excitement.
While the first one is brimming with tension and terror, the sequel wows with its unbelievable stunts. As fantastic as they are, they never break suspension of disbelief, always feeling grounded and believable by the rules of the lore.
4 Better Than T2: Grittier
By having all the money in the world, Terminator 2 looks sleek and shiny. By comparison, the original is dark and dirty. Which one is better is ultimately up to personal preference, but the grim atmosphere of Los Angeles in the 80s gives the 1984 film a certain edge.
The differences between the two shine most in the ending. Terminator 2 ends on a positive note, with the characters acknowledging humanity's capacity for change after having prevented Judgment Day. Terminator ends with Sarah Connor knowing the battle with the T-800 was only the beginning, and the real war is on its way.
3 T2 Is Better: Linda Hamilton
In between the two films, Sarah Connor is institutionalized for the events of the first movie and everybody refusing to believe her story. While in captivity she spent most of her time exercising, obtaining one of the best physiques an action heroine has obtained on-screen.
She also delivers one of the best performances of the movie. Her opening scenes convince the audience she has been imprisoned for years, and one can feel the tension between her and the T-800 as she struggles to trust and fight alongside it.
2 Better Than T2: Love Story
Terminator isn't only about two people running away from an unstoppable force. It is just as much focused on Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese's developing relationship. In a short amount of time, the two fall in love and Sarah becomes pregnant with John.
As sweet as this is, it does bring up the franchise's biggest unanswered question—who was John's father before Kyle Reese? Furthermore, with different DNA, John Connor would grow up to be a different person, changing the future entirely.
1 T2 Is Better: T-1000
The T-1000 was Robert Patrick's breakout role. He's not as muscular as Arnold, but the character makes up for it with its shapeshifting abilities. The villain also raises the stakes considerably. Despite having the T-800 on the heroes' side, even it is almost powerless to stop the more advanced machine.
The T-800 was once nearly impossible to destroy, but Arnold's character now just barely makes it through scrapes with the T-1000. The role was also a godsend for Patrick, who was broke at the time.