Terminator – The Story So Far


Our tale begins way back in 1984, a time when the dead rose from the grave and beat stepped with a red leather glad pop star, a certain long necked alien was left stranded on Earth and a wise cultural guru called Frankie nonchalantly advised everyone to relax.

On May 12th of that year a huge muscley cyborg with human skin, inadequately designed to blend in with normal people, arrives naked from the future. It isn’t clear why he was in the buff. Apparently a thick combat jacket would have burned right off him in transit even though his hair it totally unsinged. The robot is a killer sent with one purpose; to wipe out a woman named Sarah Connor. Having got hold of some threads, he goes about trying to find said lady by looking in the phone directory, clearly having come from an advanced age where humanity was oppressed before it could invent Facebook.

The cyborg locates his target having already blown away two other Sarah Connors, and quite possibly some Susan, Stephanie, Selena and Sally Connors. (I don’t know, did US phone books have full names in or just initials?) Fortunately just as he was about to kill Connor and the whole film franchise with her another future boy turns up and saves her.

This second time traveller tells Sarah that in his future a sentient computer defence network named Skynet turned on its creators and wiped out most of humanity with nuclear bombs. Quick history lesson here kids; nuclear bombs were something that everyone used to be scared of because there were loads of them primed and ready to go all over the planet but since then world leaders have got wise and set about a program of disarmament so now there is nothing to worry about. Also Superman threw them all into the Sun in 1987. (These two resolutions to the Cold War being equally believable.)

Sarah’s new best friend Kyle Reese explains that humanity had partially survived. (Ha cockroaches, it isn’t just you that would live on after a holocaust so bite me!) In Kyle’s time the leader of the resistance against Skynet and its army of mechanoids is one John Connor, Sarah’s yet to be conceived son, which is why the cyborg had been sent back to assassinate her. Adult John had sent Kyle back to prevent this.

Sarah, Kyle and the cyborg, or terminator as it were, get into various scraps leaving the terminator to patch up his fragile human exterior and Sarah and Kyle in the nick. After the terminator’s brutal but clumsy attack on the police station allows the couple to escape they hide out in a cheap motel. Despite the fact that they are being hunted by an invincible and unstoppable murderbot Sarah and Kyle are clearly moved by the beautiful romance of the whole situation and have sex. 

Resourceful Kyle builds some homemade grenades and when the cyborg next finds them craftily combines them with a petrol tanker and succeeds in blowing up their automated assailant. Unfortunately all this does is burn off his skin and trash his shades and Kyle has to sacrifice himself by ramming a pipe bomb into the robots abdomen. 

Minus an arm and both his legs but with no less resolve the terminator pursues Sarah into a factory but, clearly never having seen the original version of The Fly, crawls through a hydraulic press which Sarah turns on and squishes him flat. Finally it is over. 

Except it isn’t.


Eleven years later John Connor, the son of Kyle Reese his future comrade, is ten years old and living with foster parents because his mum is in a mental hospital having tried to blow up a computer research facility. Another terminator is sent back to kill John as a child even though it would have made more sense to send this new advanced model to kill Sarah before they sent the original robot back to kill her, maybe when she herself was ten years old. Everyone who saw this second film thought of that straight away yet Skynet couldn’t. So much for artificial intelligence.

Once again wise to this plan (the robot overlords need to hold their cards closer to their chest) future John sends back a protector. Knowing that a mere human is unlikely to stop this new shapeshifting liquefying and solidifying metal mega-machine John has reprogrammed a terminator like the one sent first time around and posted that through the time vortex.

Both terminators conveniently catch up with the adolescent John at the same time and the older model inexplicably bests his opponent and he and the boy get away. They go to get Sarah from the nut house for fear that the other machine will go after her and, having inexplicably fought it off again, the three of them head to Mexico.  

 Understandably uncomfortable in the presence of a robot exactly like the one that had tried so diligently to kill her and presumably becoming aware that she and her son will never be safe in any place or any time, Sarah decides to track down the guy she believes is responsible for creating Skynet. It is her intention to kill the parent of her enemy in the same way it had wanted to do with her. Uncomfortable parallels between the mother figure and a cold emotionless rampaging entity blindly focussed on destroying anyone who stands in the way of its progeny begin to emerge.

On finding Miles Dyson, the creator of the first real smart computer (and a range of smart vacuum cleaners?) Sarah can’t dispatch him. This turns out to be a good call because when the older terminator shows him his cool special effects arm he decides to help. Miles tells them that it was actually the remains of the first terminator, retrieved from the factory press, that gave him the key to designing the psychotic CPU in the first place. They all go and steal the robotic components so that they can destroy them and stop Skynet ever being born.

Of course the super terminator, who also has cool special effects with a wow factor such as we are unlikely to ever see again now that advanced CGI is common place, is still on their tail. He catches up with them by a steel works full of hot metal and powerful machinery and, having learnt nothing from his predecessor, heads keenly inside to catch his prey.

The two terminators fight in spectacular fashion and eventually, having taken some hard knocks, the older model melts the other in molten steel. The stolen computer parts are dropped in to the vat too as, by his own volition, is the victorious terminator. John tries to dissuade him as he’s had fun trying to get Arnold Schwarzenegger to emote but the robot knows that all evidence of future tech needs to be eradicated if the future is to be changed.

The future is changed and a paradox is created because since Skynet was never built the war never happened so Kyle was never sent back to father John so John was never born so he wasn’t there to stop Skynet being built so none of this ever happened.

Except it did. 

At this point there are two alternate versions of the story. According to television show ‘The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ Sarah, John and another tame terminator time leap to 2007 where they encounter various other terminators and freedom fighters from the future including Kyle’s brother Derek. As far as the movies are concerned though none of this took place. In that reality Sarah passes away from leukaemia instead. (Linda Hamilton should be genuinely flattered they killed off her character rather than recast.)

Incidentally, around the same time a doctor named Serena Kogan convinces a death row criminal called Marcus Wright to sign his body over to medical science.

Anyway, getting back to John Connor, following the death of his mother he has deliberately dropped off the grid and is in hiding, pessimistically convinced that the war with the machines is still coming even though the apocalypse scheduled for 1997 has not happened. Mind you, just because you are paranoid it doesn’t mean they are not out to get you and sure enough a new terminator arrives from the future to mess thing up.

This model is even more advanced that the previous one in three ways. 1. It still has a liquid metal morphing outer layer but beneath is a versatile robo body that hides various weapons and tools. 2. It can control other machines. 3. It is a woman. Unable to locate John (you knew where he was in 1995, go there genius) the femininator goes after his future wife and fellow resistance fighter Kate. It lucks out as the moment it finds her for the first time is also the moment John finds her for the first time. The duo get away though because low and behold those in the future have once again sent back a hero to ensure that they would be safe. Despite all of the new and improved terminators rattling around in 2032 though they could still only drum up another one of the originals. This one it turns out killed future John before he was reprogrammed and set on his mission by future Kate. He also tells them that the start of the war had only been postponed by John’s efforts as a child and it is now due to happen that very evening.


Bummed out by this news John and Kate and their pet terminator head off to see General Brewster, the man with his finger on the Skynet activation button and Kate’s father. Of course the super super terminator gets to the general just as they do and more droid smack downs ensue. Skynet has been set off so the war machines under its command get joyously involved too. The general is killed but with his dying words tells the young couple to head to the Crystal Peak army base where John believes he can pull the plug on the newly dominant defence system before it fires its missiles. 

John and Kate’s buddy terminator is turned on them by the bad lady one but they get away and head off to Crystal Peak. Both terminators follow them in separate helicopters but the good one has turned good again and wipes out the bad one by self distructing. 

As it turns out though Crystal Peak is just a bunker and there is no way of stopping Skynet. The bombs go off, killing billions. 

Another fourteen years on in a now nuclear devastated world a now mature John Connor leads a mission to infiltrate a Skynet base. In doing so he finds presumably familiar plans for the at the time very advanced skin coated terminator. John’s superior is uninterested in this discovery though being more focussed on a radio signal they have found which they think is an order to shut down the Skynet battlebots. Wouldn’t that be handy?

Meanwhile a certain Marcus Wright (remember him?) has wandered out of the base John had just been sneaking around in. He gets into a scrap with a standard clunky, skinless, unmorphing terminator and is saved by none other than Kyle Reese. They pal up and make their way to where John is. Marcus is wounded by a land mine and it is discovered that he is actually a cyborg which he had not been aware of himself. John wants him destroyed but he escapes only to later save John’s life. 

•  •

Forming a tentative partnership John and Marcus, with Kyle, work together to break into another Skynet base to rescue some captured humans. Once inside Marcus comes across a projection of old friend Dr. Serena Kogan through which Skynet tells him he was created specifically to lure John Connor into a trap. What’s more the radio signal the humans are so ardently tuning into is actually tracking their whereabouts so that they can be wiped out. 

One of the brand new Schwarzenerminators attacks John which must have been emotional as unlike his mother he’d only ever encountered goody ones before. Marcus comes to his aid and together they beat it. John is injured though and once he, Marcus and Kyle are back at base they realise he is not going to make it. Marcus donates his own heart, dying so that John may live and leaving the franchise as soon as he joined it (which actor Sam Worthington may not have gone with if he’d realised he’d have no career to speak of six years later).

Presumably a short time after this Skynet sends one of its new terminators back to 1984 to kill John’s mother before he is conceived and John sends Kyle Reese back to save her, or so we’ll see…


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