Terminator Film Series : All Plots Explained

Here are the plot explanations and timelines of all the Terminator series of films (and TV series) that have been made so far. All terminator movies summarized in one go!

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The Terminator – Summary


Barry’s Time Travel Review Score
Mechanics 1
Repercussion 2
Coherence 2
Rewatchability 5
BaTTR Score 2.5

The Terminator was about the awesomeness of machines, specifically a model being T101. The Terminator movie blew us all away with its story line, concept, intensity of action, the relentlessness of a machine, the one-liners and an awesome theme track. The world of 1984 was shocked by the fact that their blenders can turn to be their worst nightmare, in an awesome way. It introduced us to a world which was ruled by Skynet – human created Artificial Intelligence network that became “self-aware”.

Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), the first officer to John Connor (the leader of the resistance against the machines), is sent back in time to 1984 from post-apocalyptic world of 2029. Kyle is sent to protect Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). T101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a cybernetic organism from 2029 sent to kill Sarah Connor, the mother of John Conner, before she conceives him. If John were never born, the machines would not have to deal with a resistance.

The whole movie has us on the edge of our seats as T101 relentlessly locates and attempts to kill Sarah and Kyle protects her at every step. They even find time to get together and get it on. This results in the birth of John Connor; a sweet little predestination paradox thrown in there. Kyle manages to save Sarah but gets killed in the process. Sarah destroys what is left of the terminator using a pneumatic press. All but the hand of the T101 is made flat.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day – Summary

Terminator 2

Barry’s Time Travel Review Score
Mechanics 1
Repercussion 2
Coherence 2
Rewatchability 5
BaTTR Score 2.5

This movie took the already awesome part 1 and made it more awesome. More story, more concepts, more intense action, TWO relentless machines, further more one-liners and an improved theme track. This time around Skynet attempt to kill John Connor (Edward Furlong) when he’s a 10 year old kid. The two machines come from a time future to 2029 but not really specified. Sarah Connor is in an asylum for attempted bombing of the firm she thinks creates Skynet. An advanced terminator T-1000 (Robert Patrick) is sent to kill John.

T-1000 is made of mimetic polyalloy which means it can change shapes and imitate any person or thing it comes in contact with. This leads to a series of mind numbing special effects, stuff that was far ahead of its time. The humans capture a T101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), reprogram it and send it back to protect John Connor. Arnie is a good guy in this one. And thus starts the endless action sequences with T-1000 persistently coming at John and T101 tirelessly battling to protect John.

This movie gives us a lovely fact about how Skynet is created. An engineer Miles Bennett reverse engineers the chip he salvages from the left-over arm of the T101 from the first part. Miles’ work leads to the birth of Skynet. This gives us a sweet pair of predestination paradoxes. John sends Kyle which results in his (and the resistance’s) creation. Skynet sends a T101 which results in its invention. Beauty! Neither Skynet nor the resistance would exist if not for the use of the time device.

The movie, in all of its amazing action sequences and one-liners takes us through a series of battles and chases which finally leads to the destruction of Cyberdyne labs – where Skynet files are and of T-1000. The movie ends with T101 destroying himself in molten lava to ensure that there are no further chips left behind that could lead to the birth of Skynet. Thus judgement day is finally averted.

Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines – Summary

Barry’s Time Travel Review Score
Mechanics 1
Repercussion 1
Coherence 0.6
Rewatchability 3
BaTTR Score 1.4

This movie came in 10 years after part 2. There was a lot of anticipation for this movie. James Cameron didn’t direct this one. It was a bit of a let-down in terms of a storyline. The action sequences were fine and they brought back some of the old one-liners to help us relive the memories.

This movie is set in the year 2004. Judgement day doesn’t happen in 1997. However, TX (Kristanna Loken) – a hot and advanced Terminator, with built in guns and everything, shows up looking for Kate Brewster (Claire Danes). The humans send another reprogrammed T101 to protect John and Kate. The T101 the humans reprogram has already killed John in the future. John has been off grid and hence Skynet chooses to kill the rest of the heads in the resistance including Kate who is John’s future wife.

Buy now the plot got repetitive with a simple explanation that Judgement Day didn’t get averted but merely postponed. Apparently blowing up that building along with Miles wasn’t enough. Some files still happened to leak and Kate’s father is overseeing the build of Skynet. Really now? Some left-over files He thinks that he’s building a defence system. All their systems are also currently being attacked by a virus. In hope that Skynet can take down the virus, they set Skynet loose. They soon realize Skynet IS the virus and they have brought damnation on to themselves and humanity. John, Kate and T101 are in the hunt for the main core of Skynet and are given the code to it by Kate’s dad.

While the rest of the movie was a bummer, it ended great. The location of the core turns out to be an old bunker. While John and Kate are in there, there is nothing they can do to avoid Judgement Day. They witness it from the safety of the bunker helplessly. They get a call and John answers it as the leader. This ending makes us witness the apocalypse of Judgement Day.

Terminator: Sarah Connor’s Chronicles – Summary

Sarah connor chronicles

Barry’s Time Travel Review Score
Mechanics 1
Repercussion 2
Coherence 0.4
Rewatchability 3
BaTTR Score 1.6

This TV series that came out in 2007 saw Lena Headey (yes yes, Cersei was much after Sarah Connor) play Sarah Connor. The story is set post the events of Terminator 2 : Judgement Day. The series came after Terminator 3 : Rise Of The Machines but ignored the fact that there ever was a 3rd movie. This series took an alternate path of Derek Reese (Kyle’s elder brother) coming from the future to help Sarah. The Terminator series also saw a beautiful Cameron (played by Summer Glau from Serenity, she’s also there in one of the episodes in Big Bang Theory – the girl on the train).

While the series started fantastically, and got going with a heavy duty pace, they suddenly lost track of the story half way through. In the end, it went nowhere and the show got cancelled.

But it was definitely worth a watch. Lena plays a very convincing Sara Connor and the story had so much potential. If only the writing team showed a clearer pathway of where all the new events were headed, they wouldn’t have been cancelled and we’d have had another brilliant TV show to have watched.

Terminator 4 : Salvation – Summary

terminator 4

This movie was in super anticipation with Christian Bale taking on the role of John Connor. It was however a ginormous failure. The story is set in 2018, in a post-apocalyptic world, where John Connor is one of the elements of the resistance, not the leader. The movie also features Sam Worthington as a cyborg who used to be a man and still thinks he is but is simply an infiltrating machine built to infiltrate without he even knowing it. Did that make any sense? Well it doesn’t matter. The movie does introduce a very young Kyle Reese. Kyle is captured by Skynet but it doesn’t understand the importance of this person.

John and the cyborg set off to save Kyle. Helena Bonham Carter plays the face of Skynet. She explains how the cyborg was created to lure out John to them. They unleash a T-101 (a CGI version of Arnold Schwarzenegger) on John. John and the cyborg manage to overpower the T-101 and make their way out. Skynet locates and destroys the HQ of the resistance. John is left to take charge of the resistance. The problem with the movie is that it focuses on a singled out event that neither has a relevance to the past nor the future. The characters that are created and killed don’t mean anything to the main storyline laid out by the Terminator series. Also the T-101 is introduced way too soon. 10 years before it is sent back in time to kill Sarah. They ignored the fact that Kyle from the first part says that the T-101 was a new series of machines that made it difficult for the humans to identify that they were actually machines. Effectively, there was no particular point to Terminator Salvation.

Terminator 5 : Genisys – Summary

Terminator 5

Barry’s Time Travel Review Score
Mechanics 1
Repercussion 2
Coherence 0.8
Rewatchability 1
BaTTR Score 1.2

The newest installment of the Terminator series sees Arnie taking on the role of the Terminator T-101 machine again. I don’t think anyone was going to watch otherwise. It also has Emilia Clarke (from Game of Thrones) playing Sarah Connor. I would have imagined her to have muscled up for the role but she still continued to look cute and cuddly. She manages to pull off the role decently, nothing too great.

The first half of the movie is a treat for the fans. There is a whole series of events that makes you relive the original two parts. The movie takes a step back from part 1 to see the portions where Kyle in 2029 agrees to travel back to 1984 to save Sarah. While the audience prepares themselves to witness the events from the first part, what we see is that 1984 is somehow altered. Sarah is not a naïve waitress as expected but is already battling a bunch of terminators running loose. Watching the T101 going through the same original dialogues and end up fighting with another older T101 is amazing.

The movie goes back to having one-liners, loud action sequences, and alternate timelines. I can’t say this is a terrible movie, it’s more like part 3 but it does mess around with the timelines of the original movie. It completely ignores part 4. Kyle and John meet in a completely different way, perhaps for the best. At least it’s not the same pattern of one terminator sent back to fight another terminator. There are good tweaks to the characters and the consequences of the various time travels. It’s a good watch which purposely leaves some questions unanswered. Will they make another part? If they hadn’t decided that, they should have bloody well answered all the questions raised by this movie. I felt that trying to push for another part is overly ambitious, they could have wrapped it up with this one but they never can, can they?

Terminator Genisys Explained

In 2029 a losing Skynet sends a T-101 back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor before she conceives John. John in 2029 sends his second in command, Kyle, to protect Sarah. Both T-101 and Kyle are surprised when they reach 1984, well surprise is no programmed into T101 but if it ever felt anything, it would be surprise. T-101 is taken down by an older T-101 (Pops). Kyle is attacked by a T-1000. What is T-1000 and the older T-101 doing in 1984?

Looks like after Kyle is sent back, Skynet realizes it can’t win the battle by sending machines back to the past. Skynet attacks John soon after Kyle is sent back to 1984. It attacks John and infects him, converting him to a cyborg. Once this is done, John is sent back in time before 2017 to help create Genisys a.k.a Skynet. After John is sent back, Skynet presumably continues to invent and update the terminators and creates a T-1000 and sends it back in time to 1984 to kill Kyle. That explains the T-1000 in 1984, Sarah and Pops set a trap and take down T-1000. After sending T-1000 back to 1984, Skynet presumably sends another T-1000 back to 1973 to take out Sarah when she was kid. To prevent this from happening, somebody sends back a T-101 (Pops) to protect Sarah. Who that somebody is is not given out in this movie. But Pops seems to know a lot of info about the events of the future, about Kyle, Sarah and John. Pops saves Sarah and brings her up on his own. This explains the presence of the older T-101 in 1984.

Question here is : how does Skynet know that all its future plans of sending T-1000s all fail and that it must send John to around 2017 to do the job and not earlier? The original Judgement Day was 1997 wasn’t it? Shouldn’t have John been sent to before 1997?

When Kyle gets transported back to 1984, he sees a vision of an alternate reality, a time where he’s a young boy living with his parents in a world that has not seen Judgement Day. He also remembers the lines “Genisys is Skynet”. This is his memory from an alternate reality that could possibly happen. The reality where Kyle is from is that he was born into the post-apocalyptic world.

Sarah, Pops and Kyle head to the time device Pops has been building for a decade and use the chip from the T-101 to activate it. Sarah wants to go to 1997 when she thinks Judgement Day would happen. Kyle tells her about his visions from an alternate reality and the events have changed and moved Judgement day to 2017. Since Pops has his metal hands exposed, he can’t join Kyle and Sarah. Instead Pops just hangs around and prepares for Sarah’s and Kyle’s arrival in 2017.

Kyle and Sarah land in 2017, in the middle of traffic, naked. They get taken into custody, of course. They land just before Genisys goes live. John Connor greets them to everyone’s surprise. This is the John Connor that has been infected, converted into a cyborg and sent back to oversee the creation Genisys (Skynet). Pops identifies John to be a threat and shoots him. Kyle, Sarah and Pops flee while John gets caught in the magnetic field of an MRI machine.

Question here is : Why doesn’t John just terminate Kyle and Sarah? Was he, a machine, counting on the fact that Sarah and Kyle would join him to destroy all the humans? Pah!

Wait, Kyle and Sarah never really stayed in 1984, they traveled to 2017 and never made out. John shouldn’t even exist, even if he is, he should be a very young person.

From here on begins a race between John and Kyle/Sarah/Pops to get to Cyberdyne. All of them make it in one piece. John needs to keep the building safe till Genisys goes live to take over the world. The rest try to bring it down. Pops and John end up fighting near the time device and get trapped in the magnetic field while the explosives go off destroying the building. Pops is thrown in to mimetic polyalloy and gets upgraded. Kyle and Sarah take protection in a bunker. They end up averting Judgement Day in 2017, but it’s not done. They show the core of Genisys still active with Skynet looking on. So there is more that is coming up in the Terminator Series.

Terminator 6: Dark Fate – Summary

Terminator 6 Dark Fate Summary

Barry’s Time Travel Review Score
Mechanics 1
Repercussion 2
Coherence 1.2
Rewatchability 1
BaTTR Score 1.3

This sixth film in the Terminator series takes place three years after Terminator 2: Judgement Day and is set in an alternate timeline where none of the events of the movies Part 3 to Part 5 occur. Three years after Part 2, another Terminator shows up and kills John Connor, making the entire efforts in the Judgement Day movie feel fully wasted.

This timeline has no Skynet, but another AI called Legion. There is no John Connor, so he doesn’t start any resistance. Hence Terminator that killed John is left in this timeline without a purpose. It hangs around and eventually becomes self-aware and grows a conscience. It calls itself Carl and begins a new life and family (adopted). Over the years, Carl identifies and anonymously informs Sarah Connor the location of arriving terminators, which she promptly vanquishes.

A terminator called Rev-9 is sent by Legion from 2042 to kill a person named Dani. Dani is basically John Connor to this new AI threat. In the future, Dani starts a resistance that defeats Legion. To stop Rev-9, the resistance sends Grace, a cybernetically enhanced soldier.

Grace helps Sarah locate where the anonymous messages are coming from, and Dani, Sarah and Grace find the apologetic Carl who joins the team. After many chases, explosions and fights, Grace gives Dani her power source and dies. Carl pins down Rev-9, Dani stabs it with the power source, and Carl and Rev-9 are killed in the explosion.

The film ends with Dani seeing a young Grace and realizing that she needs to grow old, save Grace, stop Legion, and hopefully change the past such that one more movie’s events are erased from existence.


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