Top 10 Terminator Moments

As Terminator Salvation opens, relive the series' most memorable scenes

by | June 1, 2009 | Comments

Finally, it is here. Plagued by fanboy outcries, rumoured script changes, one legendary on-set tirade and a rash of mixed-to-rotten reviews from critics in the US, Terminator Salvation arrives this week in Australian cinemas for audiences to make up their own minds. In the meantime, remind yourself why you still care, as we take a step into the flashing blue lightning and travel back through 10 of the best moments of the Terminator series.


10: The resistance begins

Terminator 3 may have turned James Cameron’s “no fate but what we make it” theme on its head — thanks for saving the future, Sarah Connor, but Judgment Day’s coming anyway — but whatever its faults as a story, it’s pretty hard not to be moved by the bleak final moments of the film that put John Connor right where he was doomed to be. As Skynet unleashes the missile attacks that will decimate the human population, Connor and future wife Kate hole up in an old underground bunker, their fate weighing heavily upon them. And then, the moment we’ve all been dreading. “Who’s in charge there?” a desperate voice crackles over the radio. Connor’s reply leaves the lump in our collective throats: “I am.”


9: Clouds on the horizon

The iconic photo of Sarah Connor has been a recurring motif across all four Terminator films, travelling through time, and between father and son. Moments after taking the fateful image that will send Kyle Reese across time, a young Mexican boy offers a telling portent of the future. “What did he say?” Sarah Connor asks the old man at the gas station. “He says there’s a storm coming in,” is the response. Cue Connor and unborn son on the open highway, driving toward an ominous vista of dark clouds — and a future that may well be in their hands.


8: “Come with me if you want to live”

The series’ enduring line gets its first — and best — airing in the terrifying showdown at the Tech Noir nightclub, as the T-101’s attack on Sarah Connor is narrowly repelled by Kyle Reese. Unsure whether this guy in the trench coat with the deranged look in his eyes is a lunatic, a killer, or both, Sarah has no choice but to accept his help — and, in that moment, the future changes forever.


7: “Hasta la vista, baby”

Arnie’s famous line from T2 has gone down among his most quoted moments ever, capturing the future Governator at the stratospheric peak of his stardom and heralding the Terminator series at its commercial high water mark. No matter that the gunshot that follows it fails to finish off the decomposing T-1000 (he quickly reassembles himself), this is all about action-movie quip-timing as art: dry, instantly memorable, and proof that the wisdom of John Connor’s teachings began early. But would it have been the same if he’d said “Chill out, dickwad”?


6: Liquid metal!

CGI’s so commonplace (and over-used) now that it’s easy to forget just how jaw-dropping T2‘s liquid metal morphing was to cinema audiences back in 1991. Incredible moments abound — the T-1000 emerging dazzling from the flaming wreckage of a truck, pouring itself inside a police chopper (“Get out!”, indeed), and reconstituting its shape from liquid droplets before the climactic showdown — but for wit and surprise, the scenes in the psychiatric institution are hard to top. The T-1000 ascending from through floor, like some primal digital ooze, to assume the form of a hapless security guard, is funny, scary and just about perfect — even all these years and advancements later.


5: Cybernetic surgery

Up until this point in The Terminator we’d only seen hints of what Cyberdyne’s T-101 was made of — including that priceless look that Arnie gives as his eyes strobe the road, turning in advance of his head — but this left the audience with no doubt as to the lethal technology buried beneath the living tissue exoskeleton. The queasy scene begins with Schwarzenegger slicing open his arm to reveal that cyborg limb (brilliantly executed by Stan Winston) and proceeds to have him remove his eyeball, at which time we see that eerie, glowing red iris for the first time — and Arnie donning his killer shades.


4: The canal chase

It begins with a kid on a trail bike blasting Guns N’ Roses and ends with an evil robot from the future striding through a raging fireball of wrecked metal — do we need to explain any further? Evidence of director James Cameron’s action talent at its finest, T2‘s best chase combines a breakneck pursuit through the sewers of Los Angeles with some incredible stunt work, all while establishing the emotional bond between John Connor and his unlikely protector. Terminator 3‘s magnificent construction crane carnage might have topped it for scale and spectacle, but this remains the series’ most compelling sequence of sturm und drang.


3: “I’ll be back”

Newcomers to The Terminator might be excused for wondering how this particular line came to assume such towering status in the series’ mythology. After all, it’s only three words, issued in the most monotone of voices — hardly the makings of one of the American Film Institute’s “Top 100 Movie Quotes” of all time (it ranked number 37, for the record). Yet it’s precisely Arnie’s deadpan delivery — offering no indication to the police clerk as to the absolute mayhem that will follow — that makes it so unforgettable. If you thought Schwarzenegger was no Brando, you’d better take another look at how deeply immersed in his character he is here.


2: Bad to the Bone

Not just the greatest introduction of any character in the Terminator series, it’s one of the all-time best meet-and-greets in movie history. Arnold’s reappearance is a textbook example of reacquainting the audience with a legendary character and setting the tone for his unlikely change of sides. The Terminator doesn’t hesitate in destroying a bar full of bikers, but the humour in the scene — “I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle” — eases us in to Arnie’s repurposing and his almost-human moments that will follow.


1: “You’re terminated, fucker”

As hard as it is to choose a mere 10 great moments from a series (or at least two films) filled with so many, there’s something still so devastating about the tense, terrific seconds that bring the original movie’s factory fight to a crushing close. The creepiness of the T-101 as it crawls unrelenting, despite being only half a robotic skeleton, toward the trapped Sarah Connor is among the film’s most powerful images — the claw, scrape, claw of the metal hand inching closer, never stopping, unable to be reasoned with. But it’s the image of the previously helpless young woman suddenly asserting herself in the face of this mechanical monster that sears the series’ human-vs.-machines struggle into memory. If meek little waitress Sarah can become a badass mercenary and mother of the future of the human resistance, then maybe there’s hope.

Tag Cloud

zombies Mary Tyler Moore crime thriller Chernobyl DC Universe Hallmark Toys television Turner Classic Movies Box Office GoT historical drama romance Martial Arts SDCC Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Mary Poppins Returns Rocketman Disney Shondaland Pop comiccon TIFF Best and Worst revenge Sony Pictures APB Song of Ice and Fire award winner Awards Tour aliens serial killer canceled TV shows Women's History Month IFC Films Mudbound Winners mutant Sundance Now LGBTQ elevated horror batman San Diego Comic-Con Film Festival Adult Swim Shudder Marvel Television politics rotten movies we love Classic Film theme song Academy Awards breaking bad screenings cancelled television Showtime diversity Arrowverse OWN children's TV History Peacock Paramount Network Mystery Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Freeform dc VH1 green book medical drama Anna Paquin Quiz A24 Netflix Christmas movies Premiere Dates binge Certified Fresh Photos OneApp psycho Election RT History Superheroe Sneak Peek Summer Interview sports talk show versus supernatural Film Trailer Apple TV+ HBO Max Western transformers 2015 Black Mirror RT21 AMC X-Men Heroines composers The Purge travel movies Pixar strong female leads crossover hispanic Teen Cartoon Network streaming CBS latino Apple TV Plus Netflix Cannes canceled Ellie Kemper robots See It Skip It slashers MCU sitcom Calendar game of thrones Syfy Video Games Musicals festivals Logo GLAAD Bravo finale Amazon Elton John IFC TV renewals cars E3 Holidays vampires WGN spanish language Oscars BBC America discovery Schedule HBO Trivia south america justice league Kids & Family Tomatazos VICE Universal Tubi Set visit comics E! TCA Winter 2020 Musical YA Crackle facebook Animation Nat Geo stand-up comedy zombie Starz comic Tarantino Spring TV Cosplay Emmy Nominations ghosts Red Carpet ratings TV 24 frames romantic comedy FOX 21st Century Fox Awards name the review Marathons First Reviews The Arrangement Fox News cats Reality kids Discovery Channel Disney Channel Fantasy Writers Guild of America book 2016 El Rey sag awards quibi dragons jamie lee curtis game show Superheroes Countdown Warner Bros. video spinoff Columbia Pictures spider-man FX Horror Ghostbusters disaster biography CBS All Access Watching Series American Society of Cinematographers President Sundance TV Christmas Fall TV BBC ITV technology Amazon Prime Video Year in Review Disney+ Disney Plus based on movie cults Avengers witnail Mary poppins docudrama natural history Lifetime Christmas movies Pride Month 007 singing competition CNN The CW Winter TV Opinion Disney streaming service what to watch NBC Rock PBS Stephen King Action Rocky Ovation crime drama 45 cooking 2019 GIFs anime TCA Pirates DirecTV Lifetime WarnerMedia First Look Endgame New York Comic Con CW Seed TCM 2017 SundanceTV TNT Trophy Talk Apple harry potter adaptation casting Sundance true crime toy story zero dark thirty cops DC Comics BET science fiction Podcast Star Wars Binge Guide dceu Star Trek Britbox TV Land spain TruTV USA Brie Larson Acorn TV blaxploitation blockbuster spy thriller richard e. Grant DGA National Geographic social media adventure Emmys Drama cartoon police drama Marvel Studios space Comedy The Witch Esquire ABC Family FXX hist Infographic Country nature Masterpiece Music halloween Rom-Com free movies 2018 cancelled TV shows Creative Arts Emmys 2020 Sci-Fi Marvel Super Bowl A&E YouTube Premium Television Academy indie Nickelodeon thriller joker TLC psychological thriller ABC Extras Lionsgate SXSW werewolf teaser Disney Plus Thanksgiving LGBT foreign cancelled TV series mockumentary Captain marvel Grammys Paramount series Vudu Walt Disney Pictures Nominations Mindy Kaling NYCC renewed TV shows animated Turner 20th Century Fox Comedy Central The Walking Dead Valentine's Day anthology golden globes Hallmark Christmas movies MTV Character Guide Tumblr TCA 2017 sequel Lucasfilm Spectrum Originals TBS tv talk Epix 71st Emmy Awards miniseries Amazon Prime political drama DC streaming service unscripted cancelled MSNBC Hulu Biopics ESPN crime Comics on TV cinemax Reality Competition Family boxoffice Holiday YouTube Red directors Comic Book Dark Horse Comics Pet Sematary reboot independent war USA Network Spike Crunchyroll screen actors guild period drama dramedy Polls and Games PaleyFest Baby Yoda christmas movies CMT YouTube Food Network doctor who