The long-running Terminator franchise has been dealing with the looming threat of the murderous artificial intelligence known as Skynet since James Cameron’s original 1984 sci-fi hit, which revealed the dark future fate of the world after a cyborg assassin was sent through time to take out Skynet’s greatest enemy in the past.
Despite the overwhelming power and unrelenting drive of the various Terminators that have been sent back in the past by Skynet over the years, there have been a number of humans and even other Terminators that have made themselves enemies of Skynet and proven that strength isn’t always about firepower, though it certainly helps.
10 Miles Dyson
Terminator 2: Judgment Day introduced a brand new Terminator (the liquid alloy T-1000) and a few new enemies that would prove to be essential in the rise and fall of Skynet, including its creator Miles Dyson, played by Joe Morton.
Dyson created the neural-net processor that would eventually lead to Skynet’s awakening, which initially made him a target. However, after the threat of Skynet was revealed, Dyson sacrificed his own life to erase his work and end Skynet, though the AI would still develop in other forms over the franchise.
9 Human Resistance
While the original trilogy revealed the existence of a few key members of the future Human Resistance that still fought against Skynet, it wasn’t until 2009’s Terminator: Salvation that fans got to see more of the Resistance in action.
One of the leaders of the Resistance is Kate Brewster-Connor (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) who first appeared as a target in 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, played by Claire Danes. General Hugh Ashdowne (played by Michael Ironside), Barnes (Common) and pilot Blair Willaims (Moon Bloodgood) are a few other notable Resistance members.
8 Kyle Reese
Another member of the Resistance who would prove to be a continuing enemy of the Terminator is Kyle Reese (originally played by Michael Biehn), who first appeared in 1984’s The Terminator as the lone soldier sent back in time.
Reese was entirely dedicated to his mission of protecting Sarah Connor and was soon revealed as the father of John Connor, who was fated to become the leader of the Resistance and the man who sent Kyle back in the first place. Anton Yelchin played a young Kyle in Terminator: Salvation while Jai Courtney played the rebooted version in 2015’s Terminator Genisys.
7 Dani Ramos
2019’s Terminator: Dark Fate created a new direction (and timeline) for the franchise that ignored most of the sequels and took place after Terminator 2: Judgment Day managed to erase the threat of Skynet.
Unfortunately, a new AI called Legion developed and sent back a deadly new Terminator known as the Rev-9 to take out Daniella “Dani” Ramos (played by Natalia Reyes), the new leader of the Resistance. Ramos was able to survive her encounter with the Rev-9 and was set on her path to the Resistance with a powerful new mentor in Sarah Connor.
6 Marcus Wright
While he was originally a death row inmate in the past, Marcus Wright (played by Sam Worthington) would make a mysterious return in the post-apocalyptic future seen in Terminator: Salvation that further developed the Human Resistance.
Marcus worked with young Kyle Reese and the Resistance before he discovered he was actually a human-Terminator hybrid that had been created to infiltrate the Resistance. Marcus was able to fight his programming and help defeat Skynet, and he later sacrificed his human heart to save John Connor’s life.
5 Grace Harper
When the Legion AI sent the Rev-9 back in time to take out Dani Ramos in Dark Fate, the Resistance also sent back Grace Harper (played by Mackenzie Davis), a resistance soldier who volunteered for the Augment program after she was gravely injured in the future.
As an Augment, Grace’s strength and speed were enhanced and her body was heavily fortified in order to withstand the deadlier Terminators, though it took a heavy toll on her organics. Grace was able to not only protect Dani from numerous lethal attacks, but she also sacrificed her power core and life to finally take out the Rev-9 and bring hope to the future.
The franchise moved to the small screen in 2008 with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which took place after the events of T2 as Sarah and John Connor were again hunted by Terminators from the future as they attempted to stop Skynet’s awakening.
Summer Glau starred as Cameron, who was revealed as a highly advanced Terminator infiltrator with enhanced social programming that was sent back in time by the Resistance. Cameron received a few different designations (T-900/TOK715) and was a powerful ally to the Connors as she became self-aware over the course of the series.
The Terminator introduced fans to the deadly T-800 Terminator (also known as Cyberdyne Systems Model 101), played by Arnold Schwarzenegger as the unstoppable assassin, though a new T-800 was reprogrammed and sent back in time to act as a protector in T2.
Schwarzenegger would return in some capacity for every sequel in the franchise as both good and bad T-800 units as well as the advanced Infiltration/Combat T-850 that debuted in Rise of the Machines. Aged versions of the T-800 were also seen in Genisys and Dark Fate that had grown and developed feelings.
2 John Connor
Skynet’s primary goal in the past has been the termination of the Resistance’s leader John Connor, though he wouldn’t appear until T2: Judgment Day, played as a teenager by Edward Furlong and in the future by Michael Edwards.
Nick Stahl took on the role in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, while Thomas Dekker portrayed another present-day version of John on TV. Terminator: Salvation featured Christian Bale as the Resistance fighter while Jason Clarke starred as a corrupted John/T-3000 in Terminator Genisys, making him the physically strongest John Connor.
1 Sarah Connor
Linda Hamilton debuted as Sarah Connor in The Terminator as a target of the T-800 before she later teamed up with a reprogrammed model, John, and Miles Dyson to defeat the powerful T-1000 and takedown Skynet in T2: Judgment Day.
Lena Headey took over for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which partially explored her looming cancer diagnosis revealed in T3. Emilia Clarke starred as the rebooted Sarah in Terminator Genisys, though Hamilton returned to her iconic role for 2019’s Terminator: Dark Fate as a continuing threat to Skynet, Legion, or whatever the future has left to throw at her.
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