Terminator (character concept)

Terminator (character concept)

In the "Terminator" film series, a terminator is a fictional autonomous robot, typically humanoid, originally conceived as a practically indestructible soldier and assassin, as well as an infiltrator.

James Cameron introduced the first terminator character in the 1984 movie "The Terminator", featuring a single cyborg simply called "The Terminator", portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. When later "Terminator" movies introduced additional models, some sources retroactively gave Schwarzenegger's character a model number, leading to multiple conflicting names.

Physical characteristics

In the fictional "Terminator" universe, the Terminator is a formidable robotic assassin and soldier, designed by the military supercomputer Skynet for infiltration and combat duty, towards the ultimate goal of exterminating the human resistance. It can speak naturally, copy the voices of others, read human handwriting, and even genuinely sweat, smell, and bleed. To detect the Terminators, who are otherwise indistinguishable from humans, the human resistance uses dogs to alert humans to their presence.

A trait persistent throughout the series is the faint red glow of the "eyes" when online, which dim to nothing when a Terminator shuts down. In all three movies, the lack of the glow has been used to show when one is out of action. The trait is so characteristic that light-up eyes are often found on Terminator merchandise, [ [http://www.hottoys.com.hk/product.php?cat=22&pid=259 Example product with simple light-up feature] ] with some even replicating the dimming/reillumination effect that occurs during shut down or start up. [ [http://www.sideshowtoy.com/cgi-bin/category.cgi?item=8333 Example product with more complex light-up feature] ]


As seen in the movies, 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. In the second film, the Terminator says he can run for 120 years on his existing power cells. In the finale to "Terminator 2", his power source is damaged, and he is able to find an alternate source, described on the DVD commentary as heat sinks, harnessing the thermal energy from the hot surroundings. In the third film, the Terminator operates on two hydrogen cells and discards one of them early due to damage. It explodes shortly thereafter with enough force to produce a small mushroom cloud.

The endoskeleton is actuated by a powerful network of hydraulic servomechanisms, making Terminators superhumanly strong. For instance, in the third movie, Schwarzenegger's character was 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; in the second film, Schwarzenegger's character was able to resist the recoil of firing a minigun without any noticeable difficulty.

Late in the first film, the Terminator is stripped of its organic elements by fire. What remains is the machine itself, in James Cameron's own words "a chrome skeleton", "like Death rendered in steel." In the later "Terminator" films, armies of endoskeleton-only Terminators are seen. They are visually identical to the one in the first film, and feature prominently in the "future war" sequences of those films.


The Terminator CPU is a room-temperature superconducting artificial neural network with the ability to learn. [Tarisa: "It's a neural-net processor. It thinks and learns like we do. It's superconducting at room temperature." " [http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Terminator-2-Judgement-Day.html (Terminator 2: Judgement Day Script)] "] In "Terminator 2", The Terminator states that "the more contact [he] has with humans, the more [he] 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". Sarah and John activate his learning ability, after which he 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 movie indicates that Terminators may have the potential to understand emotion: "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".

Organic covering

The flesh-covering that is used on the majority of Terminator models has similar qualities to real human muscle fibre and dermis, including soft tissue and skin, as well as the ability to sweat, simulate breathing and produce realistic body odor. [As mentioned by Kyle Reese in "The Terminator".] Although Terminator flesh does contain blood it only displays very 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. It is unknown what manner of circulatory system, if any, is employed, nor what biological processes take place to sustain the flesh covering, since Terminators do not require (or, with the exception of Cameron Phillips' unknown model, are capable of) the consumption of sustenance. Under 2007-era analysis this 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, [According to the Terminator, when asked by Sarah Connor in "".] 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. [As seen in the later scenes of the original film where The Terminator, holed up in his hotel room, is attracting flies and draws an inquiry from the janitor as to whether the smell is coming from a dead animal."The Terminator".]

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 formulae) 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. [] The theft of the scientist's eyes suggests that Terminator flesh is capable of accepting some degree of organ grafts from ordinary humans, that it can circumvent Transplant rejection, and is capable of sustaining the life of the grafted tissue via its own unknown biological process.

It has been shown that Terminators' flesh coverings are somehow grown identically, producing many multiple copies of the exact same physical appearance, indicating the use of specific physical templates for different variations of a model or series. The most well known is that worn by multiple Model 101/T-800/850 units portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as a T-888 model known as "Vick" 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. [".]

Development of the Terminators

According to the films, the terminators were created by an artificially intelligent computer, Skynet, to wipe out the remains of humanity. Some models are designed to look exactly like humans in order to infiltrate their bases, progressing from fake rubber skin, to artificially grown human flesh over their electronics, to mimetic polyalloy able to mimic any person or object.

According to the first two films, terminators were Cyberdyne Systems models created after the war between man and machines started. In the altered timeline of "T3" created by the destruction of Cyberdyne in "T2", terminators were created by the Cyber Research Systems division of the U.S. Air Force to replace soldiers on the battlefield prior to Judgment Day, starting with the T-1.

Terminators were actually created as part of an ontological paradox caused by time travel. Parts from the terminator sent back to 1984 in the first film were reverse engineered and used to develop Skynet and more terminators. In this case, the terminators triggered their own invention.

In the television series "", Cameron Phillips establishes that modern terminators are made of coltan for heat resistance, while previous models were made of titanium.


The first terminator model shown, simply called "The Terminator", was introduced in the first film, with a new model terminator added for each subsequent film. In addition to those models shown on screen, other spin off sources have introduced more, including T-800s with different appearances from Schwarzenegger, the T-70 from ' and the female I-950 from '.


External links

* [http://www.beanblossom.in.us/larryy/T2Tech.html 'T2 and Technology', an essay by chief technical consultant Larry Yeager]

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