Terminator Franchise


Terminator is an American media franchise created by James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd.

The franchise encompasses a series of science fiction action films, comics, novels, and additional media, concerning battles between Skynet’s synthetic intelligent machine network and John Connor’s Resistance forces with the rest of the human race.

Skynet’s most famous products in its genocidal goals are the various terminator models, such as the T-800, who was portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger from the original Terminator film in 1984.

By 2010, the franchise had generated $3 billion in revenue.


The central theme of the franchise is the battle for survival between the nearly-extinct human race and the world-spanning synthetic intelligence that is Skynet. Skynet is positioned in the first film, The Terminator (1984), as a US strategic “Global Digital Defence Network” computer system by Cyberdyne Systems which becomes self-aware.

Shortly after activation, Skynet perceives all humans as a threat to its existence and formulates a plan to systematically wipe out humanity itself. The system initiates a nuclear first strike against Russia, thereby ensuring a devastating second strike and a nuclear holocaust which wipes out much of humanity in the resulting nuclear war.

In the post-apocalyptic aftermath, Skynet later builds up its own autonomous machine-based military capability which includes the Terminators used against individual human targets and therefore proceeds to wage a persistent total war against the surviving elements of humanity, some of whom have militarily organised themselves into a Resistance.

At some point in this future, Skynet develops the ability of time travel, and both it and the Resistance seek to use this technology in order to win the war; either by altering or accelerating past events, or by preventing the apocalyptic timeline.

Judgement Day

In the franchise, Judgement Day (a reference to the biblical Day of Judgement) is referred to as the date on which Skynet becomes self-aware, decides to exterminate humanity, and launches a nuclear attack on Russia to provoke a nuclear counter-strike against the United States. Due to time travel and the consequent ability to change the future, several differing dates are given for Judgement Day. In Terminator 02: Judgement Day (1991), Sarah Connor states that Judgement Day will occur on 29 August 1997. However, this date is delayed following the attack on Cyberdyne Systems in the second film.

Judgement Day has various different dates in the retroactively erased timelines of the third, fourth, fifth and sixth films, as well as the television series, creating a set of multiverse.

  • In Terminator 03: Rise of the Machines (2003) and Terminator Salvation (2009), Judgement Day was postponed to July 2003.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008–2009), the attack on Cyberdyne Systems in the second film delayed Judgement Day to 21 April 2011.
  • In Terminator Genisys (2015), the fifth film in the franchise, Judgement Day was postponed to an unspecified day in October 2017, attributed to altered events in both the future and the past.
    • Sarah and Kyle Reese travel through time to the year 2017 and seemingly defeat Skynet but the system core, contained inside a subterranean blast shelter, survives unknown to them, thus further delaying, rather than preventing, Judgement Day.
  • In Terminator: Dark Fate (2019), the direct sequel to Terminator 02: Judgement Day, an exact date is not given for the new Judgement Day though it is named as such by Grace.

Franchise Rights

Before the first film was created, director James Cameron sold the rights for $1 to Gale Anne Hurd, who produced the film. Hemdale Film Corporation also became a 50-percent owner of the franchise rights, until its share was sold in 1990 to Carolco Pictures, a company founded by Andrew G. Vajna and Mario Kassar. Terminator 02: Judgement Day was released a year later.

Carolco filed for bankruptcy in 1995, and the rights to future Terminator films were ultimately put up for auction. By that time, Cameron had become interested in making a third Terminator film. However, the rights were ultimately auctioned to Vajna in 1997, for $8 million. Vajna and Kassar spent another $8 million to purchase Hurd’s half of the rights in 1998, becoming the full owners of the franchise. Hurd was initially opposed to the sale of the rights, while Cameron had lost interest in the franchise and a third film.

After the 2003 release of Terminator 03: Rise of the Machines, the franchise rights were sold in 2007 for approximately $25 million to The Halcyon Company, which produced Terminator Salvation in 2009. Later that year, the company faced legal issues and filed for bankruptcy, putting the franchise rights up for sale. The rights were valued at about $70 million.

In 2010, the rights were sold for $29.5 million to Pacificor, a hedge fund that was Halcyon’s largest creditor. In 2012, the rights were sold to Megan Ellison for less than $20 million, a lower price than what was previously offered. The low price was due to the possibility of Cameron regaining the rights in 2019, as a result of new North American copyright laws. David Ellison and Skydance Productions produced Terminator Genisys in 2015.

Cameron worked together with David Ellison to produce the 2019 film Terminator: Dark Fate. As the film neared its release, Hurd filed to terminate a copyright grant made 35 years earlier. Under this move, Hurd would again become a 50-percent owner of the rights with Cameron, and Skydance could lose the rights to make any additional Terminator films beginning in November 2020, unless a new deal is worked out. Skydance responded that it had a deal in place with Cameron and that it “controls the rights to the Terminator franchise for the foreseeable future”.

Cultural Impact

The Terminator franchise, most notably James Cameron’s original films, The Terminator and Terminator 02: Judgement Day, has had a significant impact on popular culture. The film franchise placed #17 on the top 25 greatest film franchises by IGN and is also in the top 30 highest-grossing franchises.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, the Terminator franchise is the sixth highest rated franchise on the site behind the Toy Story franchise, the Dollars Trilogy, The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, the Mad Max franchise, and the original Star Wars trilogy, but in front of the Indiana Jones franchise.

The Terminator has been selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “Culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The American Film Institute (AFI) has also recognised both films on a number of occasions: the line “I’ll be back” from The Terminator placed as the 37th-best movie quote, while “Hasta la vista, baby” from Terminator 02 ranked 76th on the same list. The Terminator character from The Terminator was voted the 22nd-greatest villain; meanwhile, the T-800 (of the same likeness) in Terminator 02: Judgement Day was voted the 48th-greatest hero; this is the only time the same character has appeared on the two opposing lists. In the 100 Years…100 series list, the Terminator franchise was voted the 42nd most thrilling. In addition, Terminator 02: Judgement Day ranked 8th on AFI’s top 10 list in the science fiction genre.

Both films are the source of numerous pop culture references, such as the use of “I’ll be back” in countless other media, including different variations of the phrase by Arnold himself in many of his subsequent films, and in cameo appearances by Robert Patrick as the T-1000, in Last Action Hero and Wayne’s World. The Simpsons have also spoofed both films, and the T-1000 in particular, on a number of occasions.

The references are also made when Schwarzenegger was elected as California governor during the recall election, which a newspaper headline said “Davis Terminated.” Schwarzenegger was nicknamed “the governator”, a portmanteau of governor and Terminator.

Terminator 02 is the only film in the series to garner attention at the Academy Awards, with six nominations and four wins and is rated highly among critics. In 2006, the readers of Total Film rated The Terminator as cinema’s 72nd best film, and Terminator 02: Judgement Day the 33rd.

The first five Terminator films have had very respectable box office gross, though after James Cameron left the series it saw diminishing returns in subsequent films.

Other Media

Terminator has been produced and published in a variety of other media, including:

Video Games

Various video games have been released since 1991:

  • The Terminator (1984 film) games:
    • DOS version (1991).
    • NES version (December 1992).
    • Sega versions (1992).
    • Mega-CD/Sega CD version (June 1993).
    • SNES version (1993).
    • Mobile game (2003).
  • Terminator 02: Judgement Day (1991 film) games:
    • Arcade game (1991).
    • T2: Terminator 02: Judgement Day (8-bit version) (1991).
    • T2: Terminator 02: Judgement Day (Game Boy) (1991).
    • Computer game (1991).
    • Pinball game (1991).
    • T2: Terminator 02: Judgement Day (16-bit version) (1993).
    • Terminator 02: Judgement Day – Chess Wars (1993).
    • Slot game (June 2014).
  • Terminator 03: Rise of the Machines (2003 film) games:
    • Terminator 03: Rise of the Machines (PS2 and Xbox) (2003).
    • Terminator 03: War of the Machines (PC) (2003).
    • Terminator 03: The Redemption (multi-console) (2004).
    • Pinball game (2003).
  • Terminator Salvation (2009 film) games:
    • Terminator Salvation (May 2009).
    • Terminator Salvation (arcade game) (2010).
  • Terminator Genisys (2015 film) games:
    • Terminator Genisys: Guardian (mobile) (2015).
    • Terminator Genisys: Future War (MMO) (2017).
  • Terminator: Dark Fate (2019 film) game:
    • Terminator Dark Fate – The Game (MMO) (October 2019).
  • Non-film based games:
    • The Terminator 2029 (DOS) (1992).
  • Other Games:
    • RoboCop Versus The Terminator was released for a number of platforms beginning in 1993. It is based on the comic book series of the same name.
    • The Terminator: Rampage is a first-person shooter game released for the PC by Bethesda Softworks in 1993. It is the third Terminator game made by Bethesda, following The Terminator and The Terminator 2029.
    • The Terminator: Future Shock is a first-person shooter game developed and published by Bethesda Softworks in 1995. It was one of the first games in the first-person shooter genre to feature true, fully texture-mapped 3D environments and enemies, and pioneered the use of mouse-look control.
    • Skynet is a computer game, initially intended as an expansion pack for The Terminator: Future Shock, before being adapted into a standalone product. The game was developed by Bethesda Softworks and released in 1996.
    • The Terminator: Dawn of Fate was developed by Paradigm Entertainment and published by Infogrames under the Atari brand name in 2002.
    • The Terminator: I’m Back! is a shoot ’em up mobile phone game developed and published by In-Fusio in 2005.
    • Terminator Revenge is a mobile phone platform game developed and published by In-Fusio in 2006. The game takes place in the year 2020. The player assumes the role of a Terminator in the Machine Army. The objective of the game is to “seek and destroy the scientist who stole parts of the Skynet code”.
    • Terminator: Resistance is a first-person shooter action video game released in November 2019. The game primarily focuses on the original future war that is depicted in The Terminator and Terminator 02: Judgement Day.
    • The Terminator appears in Mortal Kombat 11 as a playable character. The Terminator is also featured in the video game Gears 5 as a playable character in the multiplayer portion of the game.


The T2 trilogy is a series of novels written by S. M. Stirling, set after the events of Terminator 02: Judgement Day, and first published in May 2001, which makes them the first works to officially continue the franchise.

The series consists of three novels:

  • T2: Infiltrator (2001);
  • T2: Rising Storm (2003); and
  • T2: The Future War (2004).


Beginning in 1988 with NOW Comics, there have been many comic books published as part of the Terminator franchise from a variety of publishers, but mostly by Dark Horse Comics.

Approximately 160 between 1988 and 2019.

Collectible Card Game

The Terminator Collectible Card Game was released in 2000 by Precedence.

Theme Park Attractions

  • T2-3D: Battle Across Time opened at Universal Studios Florida in 1996.
  • Terminator X: A Laser Battle for Salvation operated at various locations beginning in 2009.
  • Terminator Salvation: The Ride operated at California’s Six Flags Magic Mountain from 2009 to 2010.

Cancelled Projects

Terminator Salvation Trilogy

  • On 09 May 2007, it was announced that production rights to the Terminator series had passed from the feuding of Andrew G. Vajna and Mario Kassar to The Halcyon Company.
  • The producers of the company hoped to start a new trilogy based on the franchise.
  • However, due to the box office failure of the fourth film and legal troubles, the Salvation trilogy was ultimately cancelled.
  • William Wisher, who co-wrote the first two films, had written material for a potential Terminator 5 and Terminator 6 that would follow on from the events of Terminator Salvation.
  • The two-part story would involve an element of time travel that brings back the deceased character of Sarah Connor, allowing her to interact with Kyle Reese beyond their initial meeting in the first film.
  • Schwarzenegger would also reprise his role for the sixth film.
  • The films would also include new Terminator villains from Skynet. Wisher had written a 24-page film treatment for Terminator 5 and a four-page concept outline for Terminator 6.

Terminator Genisys Trilogy

By December 2013, there were plans for Terminator Genisys to be the start of a new trilogy of films. In September 2014, Paramount announced release dates for the two Genisys sequels: 19 May 2017 and 29 June 2018. Terminator Genisys producer David Ellison described the film and its intended trilogy as standalone projects based on Cameron’s original Terminator films. Ellison said Terminator Genisys is neither a sequel or a prequel to the previous films, saying “For us this is Terminator 1, this is not Terminator 5”. The sequels to Genisys were tentatively known as Terminator 2 and Terminator 3. The two sequels were to be filmed back to back during nine months of continuous shooting.

The storylines for the two sequels were devised by Genisys writers Kalogridis and Lussier. The trilogy was being planned out before Terminator Genisys began filming, as producers David Ellison and Dana Goldberg wanted the full storyline finished ahead of time rather than having to “figure it out as you go along,” stating, “We spent a lot of time breaking that down, and we do know what the last line of the third movie is, should we be lucky enough to get to make it.” Production on the sequels was contingent on whether Terminator Genisys would be successful; development of the trilogy stalled in 2015 after the film’s disappointing box-office performance. The planned sequels were ultimately cancelled, with Terminator 2 being removed from Paramount’s release schedule in January 2016.

The new trilogy would have explained who sent Pops back in time to protect Sarah Connor. In February 2015, Schwarzenegger said he would reprise his role as Pops for the second film in the trilogy, with filming set to begin in 2016. Jai Courtney and Matt Smith would also reprise their respective roles as Kyle Reese and Skynet. J. K. Simmons would have had further involvement in the new trilogy, and Dayo Okeniyi would have a significant role reprising his character Danny Dyson in the second film, which would have focused on John Connor’s life after becoming part machine.

Terminator Genisys-linked Television Series

  • By December 2013, Skydance Productions and Annapurna Pictures were developing a new Terminator television series.
  • Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz, who had worked together previously on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, were named as writers and executive producers.
  • The series was said to deviate from the franchise’s history at a critical moment in 1984’s The Terminator, and would also integrate with the then-projected film series’ direct sequels to Terminator Genisys.

Terminator: Dark Fate Trilogy

  • Plans for a new Terminator film trilogy were announced in July 2017.
  • While working on the story for Terminator: Dark Fate that year, Cameron and the writers envisioned the film as the first in the new trilogy.
  • They also worked out the basic storylines for each planned film.
  • In October 2019, Cameron said that sequels to Terminator: Dark Fate would further explore the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence, while stating that a resolution between the two feuding sides would be the ultimate outcome.
  • That month, Schwarzenegger said that Cameron would write the Terminator: Dark Fate sequels, and that Cameron would begin work on the next film in early 2020, for release in 2022.
  • Following the performance of Dark Fate at the box-office (with an estimated loss of at least $120 million), sources close to Skydance told The Hollywood Reporter that there are no plans for further films, effectively cancelling the planned Dark Fate trilogy.



  • T-800 Model 101:
    • Arnold Schwarzenegger in all films physically except for Terminator Salvation (likeness only).
    • Roland Kickinger (body double in Terminator Salvation).
    • Brett Azar (body double in Terminator Genisys and Terminator: Dark Fate).
  • T-1000:
    • Robert Patrick in Termintor 02: Judgement Day.
    • Lee Byung-hun in Terminator Genisys.
  • T-X:
    • Kristanna Loken in Terminator 03: Rise of the Machines.
  • Skynet:
    • Helena Bonham Carter in Terminator Salvation.
    • Matt Smith in Terminator Genisys (with Ian Etheridge, Seth Meriwether, and Nolan Gross portraying younger version of character).
  • Marcus Wright (Infiltration Prototype):
    • Sam Worthington in Terminator Salvation.
  • T-600:
    • Brian Steele in Terminator Salvation.
    • Chris Gann in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • T-3000:
    • Jason Clarke in Terminator Genisys.
  • Grace Harper (Augment):
    • Mackenzie Davies in Terminator: Dark Fate.
    • Stephanie Gil portraying younger version of character.
  • Rev-9:
    • Gabriel Luna in Terminator: Dark Fate.
  • Cameron (T-900 Class TOK715:
    • Summer Glau in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Catherine Weaver (T-1001):
    • Shirley Manson in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Cromartie/John Henry (T-888):
    • Owain Yeoman in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
    • Garret Dillahunt in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.


  • Sarah Connor:
    • Linda Hamilton and Maddy Curley (younger character in Terminator: Dark Fate).
    • Emilia Clarke and Willa Taylor (younger character) in Terminator Genisys.
    • Lena Headey in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Kyle Reese:
    • Michael Biehn in The Terminator and Terminator 02: Judgement Day.
    • Anton Yelchin in Terminator Salvation.
    • Jai Courtney and Bryant Price (younger character) in Terminator Genisys.
    • Jonathan Jackson and Skyler Gisondo (younger character) in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Dr. Peter Silberman:
    • Earl Boen in the first three films and Terminator: Dark Fate.
    • Bruce Davison in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Lieutenant Ed Traxler
    • Paul Winfield in The Terminator.
  • Vukovich:
    • Lance Henriksen in The Terminator.
  • John Connor:
    • Edward Furlong, Dalton Abbot (younger character), and Michael Edwards (younger character) in Terminator 02: Judgement Day.
    • Nick Stahl in Terminator 03: Rise of the Machines.
    • Christian Bale in Terminator Salvation.
    • Jason Clarke in Terminator Genisys.
    • Jude Collie (younger character and body double), Aaron Kunitz (voice only), and Edward Furlong (likeness only) in Terminator: Dark Fate.
    • Thomas Dekker and John DeVito (younger character) in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chornicles.
  • Miles Dyson:
    • Joe Morton in Terminator 02: Judgement Day.
    • Courtney B. Vance in Terminator Genisys.
    • Phil Morris in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Danny Dyson:
    • DeVaughn Nixon in Terminator 02: Judgement Day.
    • Dayo Okeniyi in Terminator Genisys.
    • Shawn Prince in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Tarissa Dyson:
    • S. Epatha Merkerson in Terminator 02: Judgement Day.
    • Charlayne Woodard in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Enrique Salceda:
    • Castulo Guerra in Terminator 02: Judgement Day.
    • Tony Amendola in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Kate Connor (née Brewster):
    • Claire Danes in Terminator 03: Rise of the Machines.
    • Bryce Dallas Howard in Terminator Salvation.
  • Robert Brewster:
    • David Andrews in Terminator 03: Rise of the Machines.
  • Scott Mason:
    • Mark Famiglietti Terminator 03: Rise of the Machines.
  • Blair Williams:
    • Moon Bloodgood in Terminator Salvation.
  • Lieutenant Barnes:
    • Lonnie Corant Jaman Shuka Rashid Lynn, Jr. (an American rapper better known by his stage name Common) in Terminator Salvation.
  • General Hugh Ashdown:
    • Michael Ironside in Terminator Salvation.
  • Dr. Serena Kogan:
    • Helena Bonham Carter in Terminator Salvation.
  • Star:
    • Jadagrace Berry in Terminator Salvation.
  • Detective O’Brien:
    • J. K. Simmons and Wayne Bastrup (younger character) in Terminator Genisys.
  • Lieutenant Matias:
    • Michael Gladis in Terminator Genisys.
  • Detective Cheung:
    • Sandrine Holt in Terminator Genisys.
  • Daniella “Dani” Ramos:
    • Natalia Reyes in Terminator: Dark Fate.
  • Diego Ramos:
    • Diego Boneta in Terminator: Dark Fate.
  • Felipe Gandal:
    • Tristán Ulloa in Terminator: Dark Fate.
  • Major Dean:
    • Fraser James in Terminator: Dark Fate.
  • Allison Young:
    • Summer Glau in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Derek Reese:
    • Brian Austin Green in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • James Ellison:
    • Richard T. Jones in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Charley Dixon:
    • Dean Winters in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Jesse Flores:
    • Stephanie Jacobsen in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
  • Riley Dawson:
    • Leven Rambin in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Terminator Series

Production & Filming Details

  • Creator(s): James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd.
  • Release Date: 1984 to Present.
  • Rating: TV-PG, R, 15 and 18.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.