There are very few film and television franchises in the world that have the lasting power of the Terminator series. The upcoming film Terminator: Dark Fate will be released on November, 2019, and is going to be the sixth big screen installment into this sprawling saga, and if the promotion for the film is anything to go by, then it's safe to say that this might just be the best Terminator movie yet. Seeing Sarah Connor back at her most badass is honestly enough to thrill even the most casual Terminator viewer.
But this winding and astoundingly long story can sometimes be a little tough to follow. That's to be expected in any series where time travel is an essential element of the story, and the fact that the Terminator franchise has gone through a few makeovers in the past few years muddies the waters even more. So for your viewing convenience, here are all of the Terminator films, sorted in the story's chronological order.
6 The Terminator (1984)
Of course the entire story of the Terminator franchise saga starts with the original movie, The Terminator. In the film, a teenage and completely clueless Sarah Connor is living a normal life in Los Angeles, and a seemingly unstoppable killing machine known as a Terminator is sent back in time from the year 2029 to kill Sarah before she can give birth to her son John.
By the way, in addition to being her son, John is also apparently the last and best hope for the human race in a war that is going on between machines and humans. But Sarah's last and best hope at surviving this Terminator is a man named Kyle Reese, a human soldier who has been sent back to protect her. Luckily, Sarah survives (and saves herself), and in the plot twist to end all plot twists, it turns out that Kyle Reese is actually John's father.
5 Terminator Genisys (2015)
The entire Terminator franchise has spawned half a dozen films and a TV show, and some of the movies have been more liberal with following the original Terminator canon than others. But the most divergent entry into the series has got to be Terminator Genisys, which is essentially a reimagining of the original film. Once again we see Sarah Connor as a young girl in 1984, but when Kyle Reese shows up to rescue her, it's Sarah who is doing the rescuing.
In this alternate timeline, Sarah's parents were both killed and she was raised by and trained by a T-800 from childhood. But then she and Kyle jump forward in time to 2017, and they eventually come face-to-face with John Connor himself, who is somehow now an extremely advanced Terminator. The movie was intended to be the first part of a trilogy, but this confusing reboot wasn't successful enough to warrant two sequels.
4 Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
The original movie The Terminator is an undeniably amazing classic movie, and the Terminator franchise has spawned a lot of entertaining sequels, but honestly Terminator 2: Judgment Day is probably the best movie in the entire franchise. When the movie begins, we find Sarah and John Connor in 1995, about 10 years after the original movie, and this time they're facing an even more dangerous threat.
A T-1000, a kind of Terminator that is made out of liquid metal and can shapeshift into nearly anything, is after John. And they both find the unlikeliest ally in a T-800 that has actually been reprogrammed to help John instead of kill him. But honestly, Sarah Connor could have probably taken out the T-1000 all by herself if she really wanted to. While it was an incredibly powerful killing machine, Sarah, the naive teen the audience met in the original film, has transformed herself into a certifiable action hero in T2.
3 Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003)
Topping Terminator 2: Judgment Day was pretty much an impossible task, but Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines managed to be a pretty entertaining movie in its own right. Terminator 3 really felt like the first time the franchise was stepping out of line with the original two movies, but the movie at least tried to keep the original spirit alive with the story of a now adult John Connor, his future wife Kate, and yet another Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator that has been sent back in time to help him.
This time, John and his Terminator companion square off against the T-X, an even more advanced model of Terminator that is a fusion of a traditional machine and liquid metal. And after the T2 gang managed to stave off the original Judgment Day, this time the T-800's true purpose seems to be to simply ensure that John ensures the nuclear holocaust, which is how this installment in the Terminator franchise ends.
2 Terminator Salvation (2009)
After literal decades of hearing second-hand stories about the apocalypse and coming war between the human race and the sentient machines that they created, Terminator Salvation gives Terminator fans a first-hand look at John Connor as the leader of humanity's last stand. Sadly, the unforgettable iconic character Sarah Connor is missing from this film as well (she made no appearance in T3 either on account of her untimely death due to leukemia), but Christian Bale does a solid job of carrying the movie with his performance as John Connor.
This movie also introduces a character by the name of Marcus Wright, a death row inmate that agrees to some kind of medical procedure and miraculously wakes up after the world has already been destroyed. But it turns out Marcus is now a blend of human and machine, presumably designed as a weapon to work on behalf of Skynet.
1 Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
No one should count their metaphorical chickens before they hatch, but if the trailers and preliminary informational tidbits that have been released in the lead-up to the release of the latest Terminator film, Terminator: Dark Fate, are any indication, then it would seem that the Terminator franchise is blissfully getting back to basics. The incomparable Linda Hamilton is finally returning to the franchise to reprise her role as Sarah Connor, and it's clear that the intervening years have only made her more badass.
The production has kept pretty mum about all of the details, but it looks like this will once again consist of a showdown between an even scarier evil Terminator versus Sarah Connor and another Terminator sidekick. And the original creator of the franchise, James Cameron, has returned to offer his input into this new film too.