15 Secrets Only Real Sci-Fi Fans Know About The Terminator's Body

terminator body

Whether you first encountered him as a Sarah Connor-hunting baddie-bot or a John Connor-saving hero, you know the name: The Terminator. Since James Cameron's The Terminator hit the silver screen in 1984, fans have grown to know and love the iconic T-800 Terminator. As portrayed by the mountain of muscle that is Arnold Schwarzenegger, this cybernetic organism of living tissue over a metal endoskeleton has appeared in five films and inspired a wealth of tie-in novels, comics and video games. With a practical avalanche of lore, there are plenty of facts and tidbits about the Terminator that even the most diehard fans might not know. You think you know all about the Terminator's T-800 body after years of fandom? Think again.

As the Terminator franchise has grown, fans have learned more about the world that birthed Skynet. As the machine that gave rise to the success of the series, the T-800 Model 101 Terminator has grown and evolved over the years, just like the series the 'bot spawned. So grab your best shades, practice your one-armed shotgun reload, and join CBR as we school you on 15 things fans never knew about The Terminator's body!

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Terminator Power Cell
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Terminator Power Cell

Say you're a bloodthirsty rogue A.I. looking to design the perfect robotic killing machine. Said robotic killing machine is going to need a power source. What should you use to power this remorseless murder-happy bucket of bolts? That's right: a volatile nuclear power cell.

Situated within the Terminator's chest in the same area as the human heart is a nuclear power cell, pumping out enough energy to power a small city for a day. Thankfully, the cell is not only thoroughly shielded, but the chest cavity of the Terminator is triple-armored in what is called a hyper-alloy, ensuring that a stray shot won't make the 'bot go kablooey. Still, a Terminator is scary enough. A Terminator with a potential mini-nuke in its chest? That's even scarier.


Terminator T-800 Army

As any Terminator super-fan worth their salt can tell you, the Austrian-accented Terminator we know and love is designated as a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Series 800 Terminator, or T-800 for short. But the Terminator is far from the only T-800 running around; in fact, Skynet is up to its A.I. eyeballs in T-800s, and thanks to Skynet's Hivemind, they all work together in perfect harmony.

That's right: Skynet designed the T-800s, along with all other Skynet foot soldiers in the war against humanity, to connect to the Skynet "Hivemind," a sort of collective conscious that collects data, issues commands, and keeps the robots running efficiently. Effectively, when fighting a T-800 Terminator, you're not just fighting one Terminator; you're fighting every T-800 there ever was.


Terminator 2 Judgment Day Chip Scene

If you're waging a robotic war against humanity, you probably want to make sure that your troops stay committed to the cause. After all, if an armed-to-the-metal-teeth Terminator were to suddenly have a change of heart and side with mankind, it could spell serious trouble for your whole operation. But Skynet devised a solution to this potential issue; unfortunately for Skynet, humanity just as quickly devised a workaround.

Skynet has all Terminators roll off the assembly line with their internal chips set to "read only" mode, preventing the robot from learning and potentially turning on its A.I. master. But, as a deleted scene in Terminator 2: Judgement Day showed, this has an easy workaround: simply open the Terminator up,  change the chip from "read only" to "read-write," and voila! You've got yourself a thinking, learning, human-sympathetic Terminator.


Terminator 1 Arnold Schwarzenegger

No idea ever starts perfect. Rather, it requires tweaking and alteration. With enough changes, and enough time, you'll end up with a better realized version of your original idea. This ethos isn't only true to your movie script or book outline; turns out, it's true when it comes to designing the perfect killer-robot-masquerading-as-a-human.

Yes, when Skynet was fine tuning the Terminator, the A.I. hadn't yet perfected living skin. As a result, the skin on early Terminators had a nasty habit of decaying and discoloring after sustaining damage, and the "dead" skin would even take on an odor, causing the Terminator to smell, which isn't something you want in a covert infiltrator. A partially decayed Terminator that literally smelled like death? It's easy to understand why Skynet fixed this issue in later models.


Terminator Genisys Arnold Schwarzenegger

Time means nothing to a machine. Ditto for a Terminator. After all, when you've been programmed for one task. you don't tend to focus on anything else, so the passing of time doesn't really matter all that much. But just how long can a Terminator go on terminating? Even the most committed Terminators eventually would give out to rust, right? Actually, Terminators are designed so that such an issue can be avoided for many, many, MANY years.

Skynet designed the Terminators for longevity. With a fully charged power cell, a T-800 Terminator unit can be sustained for hundreds of years, though regular maintenance is required to keep the units running properly. Still, a killer robot that won't die for hundreds of years is pretty terrifying.


Terminator Sarah Connor Dog

Nailing down all the little quirks of humans is no easy task, even when you're a hyper-intelligent A.I. From hair to finger prints, every man, woman, and child has a quality about themselves that makes them utterly unique. While Skynet managed to get most facets of human beings replicated, there was one quirk the A.I. couldn't quite nail: that good, good human smell.

Yes, when a Terminator is sent to infiltrate a group of humans, it is given a scent intended to replicate the standard smell of a person. Problem is, dogs are able to sniff out this unique scent, making them extremely useful in sniffing out a disguised Terminator. As a result, sniffer dogs are posted in human camps to weed out any potential hiding robots.


Terminator eye

We all remember that iconic poster for The Terminator: Schwarzenegger, clad in leather and adorned in a slick pair of sunglasses, wielding a gun, with one menacing red eye glowing from behind his shades. The T-800s famous red peepers are an integral part to what makes this robot so darn scary. But one feature of those classic eyeballs is less "terrifying" and more "kinda goofy."

As Skynet designed the T-800 and, by extension, the Terminator, to function as the perfect soldier, these robots need to be able to keep tabs on their surroundings. Thus, a feature was built into these bothersome 'bots to do just that: by allowing the machine's eyes to move independently. As a result, a Terminator can keep one eye fixed on the target, while using the other eye to scan the surrounding area. The visual of a lazy-eyed Terminator is hilarious, but we wouldn't laugh at these remorseless killing machines.


Terminator John Connor hugging

While we're on the subject of the eyes of a Terminator, their ability to move independently isn't the only oddball thing these peepers can do. In fact, one feature of the Terminator's eyes are definitely practical, but the visual of the feature being utilized is definitely weird. That's right: a Terminator can cry.

Skynet designs Terminators from the ground up with the express purpose of creating a convincingly human robotic infiltrator. As such, a Terminator needs to be able to do anything a normal human being could do, lest the machine could risk blowing its cover. Terminators are thus outfitted with tear ducts, which can be triggered to allow the Terminator to convincingly show emotion. Sure, Arnie famously said he couldn't cry in T2, but tie-in books and subsequent movies have established that Terminators can cue the water works when needed.


Terminator T-Rip

Remember earlier when we talked about how Skynet needed to fine-tune the Terminator, and thus had to make a few changes along the way?  Turns out, this wasn't just true of the skin used to cover the 'bots; in actuality, Skynet didn't start with the T-800 Terminator we all know and love. The A.I. created a prototype before landing on the T-800, dubbed the T-RIP.

The menacingly named T-RIP (short for Terminator Resistance Infiltrator Prototype) was Skynet's first crack at a robot designed to infiltrate humans. Featuring a boxier chest, a more narrowed skull, and an exposed spine, the T-RIP wasn't quite as durable or advanced as the T-800, and as such was eventually discarded by Skynet in favor of the upgrade T-800s, leading to the iconic 'bot that has become synonymous with the Terminator franchise.


Arnold Schwarzenegger has become synonymous with the Terminator series. This imposing former world body building champion gave the Terminator a terrifying presence. Across four movies, Terminator fans have seen the Austrian Oak return to aid or menace as the titular Terminator. But seeing that the Terminator's express purpose is to be able to blend in with humans, this might be tough for the walking mountain of muscle that is Arnie. Turns out, Skynet thought of this, and the A.I. has produced plenty of non-Schwarzenegger T-800 Terminators over the years.

The Terminator has received numerous tie-in comics and books, and these tie-ins have introduced a smorgasbord of new Terminators. With catchy names like C890.L and D810.X, these T-800 Terminators resemble normal men and woman, making them much more adept at blending in. We love Schwarzenegger, but the man is as subtle as a bull in a china shop, so we understand Skynet mixing it up.


Terminator rubber skin

Remember earlier when we were talking about early Terminators having wonky skin that had a nasty habit of necrotizing? Well, even this ill-fated attempt at outfitting Terminators in convincingly human skin wasn't the first time Skynet had tried slapping skin on a T-800. No, before the poorly realized living tissue 1.0, Terminators were covered head to toe in rubber skin, which went about as well as you could expect.

Yes, early iterations of the Terminator were covered head to toe in ridiculous looking, not-at-all lifelike rubber skin. As this made Terminators look less like humans and more like terrifying living dolls, their infiltration abilities were less than stellar, leading to Terminators being easily identified. Over time, Skynet would perfect living tissue, leading to the A.I. ditching the horrifying rubber skin.



The scary thing about a Terminator isn't its relentless drive to kill its target. Well okay, that actually is scary, but that isn't the only scary thing about it. What's scary about a Terminator is that it always seems two steps ahead. But a Terminator's effectiveness at terminating isn't only thanks to its ability to plan ahead. A Terminator is effective at being a Terminator because it has learned from the mistakes of every Terminator that has come before it.

As every T-800 Terminator is linked to Skynet's Hivemind, this means that every experience and bit of information is sent back to the Hive, where it is cataloged and distributed among the machines. Consequently, the "memory" of every Terminator is saved and uploaded to every Terminator subsequently made. This means that you're never dealing with just one Terminator: you're essentially dealing with every Terminator that has ever existed.


Terminator Sergeant William Candy

If you are designing artificial skin for your hulking robotic monstrosity, you probably want to mold the aforementioned artificial skin into something imposing. After all, why drop all the money into designing the perfect human-replicating robot and then make the machine look like a soccer mom? No, for an imposing robot, you need an imposing model, and they found the perfect model in Sargent William Candy.

In the divergent timeline of Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, the Terminators were designed by the US Department of Defense-affiliated Cyber Research Systems as a potential army of mechanical soldiers to replace flesh-and-blood infantry. In a deleted scene, a video package introduces investors in the project to Candy, an affable, yet physically imposing, United States Air Force Sargent who was scanned and used as the basis of the artificial skin of the Terminator units. Unfortunately, Candy's goofy Southern accent was not as imposing as his hulking frame, but more on his voice in a minute...


Speaking of Sargent William Candy, the human model for the human appearance on Terminators, he was the perfect physical specimen to base the Terminator on. However, his voice didn't have quite the same level of intimidation. This is because Sgt. Candy was a down-home country boy, and he had the Southern accent to match. What's a war-hungry machine manufacturer to do? Thankfully, the scientists at Cyber Research Systems found a solution.

In the same Terminator 3 deleted scene that introduced fans to Sgt. Candy, viewers watched as the military leaders watching the video package expressed distaste for Candy's Southern drawl. A politician states "I don't know about that accent," to which a CRS representative responds, in Schwarzenegger's trademark Austrian timber, "We can fix it." That's right: the Terminator rocks a body copied from an Army Sargent, and a voice from a random representative.


Robocop vs Terminator

So here's the thing about Terminator canon: it is a mess. As a series built on the concept of time travel, the Terminator story has received more tweaks and changes than Donatella Versace's face. So the canon-ness of the Terminator franchise's legendary crossover with Robocop is debatable, but this classic story birthed one of the strangest tidbits in the Terminator tale.

In 199'2 Robocop vs The Terminator, a Resistance member is sent back in time to kill Alex Murphy, aka Robocop. Turns out, Robocop's mind is responsible for causing Skynet to go rogue and raise an army of robots. In the ensuing story, Robocop fights a group of T-800s and nearly wins the day, but is ultimately disabled, allowing the time-traveling machines to upload Murphy's mind into Skynet, thus giving birth to Skynet's robot army, and, by association, the Terminators. It's a twist that is as ridiculous as it is dumb, but it's awesome, and fans ate it up.

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