The Terminator franchise currently spans six feature films. Dark Fate retcons the middle three entries in which James Cameron had no involvement, but they cannot be wiped from existence so easily. Besides, they still have their moments. Most are enthralled with the franchise because of its time traveling concept and thrilling action, but the compelling characters are also a big draw for some fans.
To acknowledge the large cast accumulated over the years and the best and worst that the Terminator franchise has had to offer, this list will detail five characters we love from the series, and five we would rather not see onscreen again.
10 Love: T-1000
When Terminator first hit theaters, audiences couldn’t imagine anything matching the T-800’s combat prowess. Seven years later, Terminator 2: Judgment Day introduces the T-1000. Not only is the machine stronger and more durable, but it also shape shifts, disguising itself as other people and transforming its hands into deadly objects.
Shotgun blasts and large explosions barely slow it down. The concepts behind the villain are more than enough to earn it a spot here, but it’s Robert Patrick’s stunning performance that solidifies the character’s place in fans’ hearts.
9 Cannot Stand: Dani Ramos
In Dark Fate, the Rev-9 is not looking to exterminate Sarah Connor or her offspring, but is instead focused in on Dani Ramos. The woman, much like Sarah in the first movie, is completely perplexed by this, but comes to understand her place in the future war for humanity by the end of the movie.
Unfortunately, her character comes off as one of the weaker links of the main hero ensemble. She doesn’t get much to do until the last battle, and she doesn’t play off any of the other characters. Juxtapose this with Sarah Connor in the first movie (who is equally helpless at first, but the audience gets to see love bloom between her and Kyle Reese) and it’s easy to see how Dani falls so flat.
8 Love: Kyle Reese
Kyle Reese has been played by a total of three actors in the film series, but Michael Biehn will always be the true embodiment of the character. That’s not meant to degrade Anton Yelchin’s performance in Terminator: Salvation or Jai Courtney’s turn in the role in Terminator: Genisys, since they both do standup jobs as well, but Biehn was the first and did it the best.
Every actor yearns to define an iconic role, and Biehn manages to do just that. And nothing beats a great, yet vulnerable, action hero, and it is even better when they do double duty as a romantic lead.
7 Cannot Stand: John Connor
John Connor isn’t always annoying, and a lot of opinions boil down to how much people like children leading action movies. Some would rather watch a purely grownup story with children being in supporting roles at the most, but in T2 John is front and center the whole time. Edward Furlong does a solid job in the role, however.
Nick Stahl is perfectly serviceable in Terminator 3, but Christian Bale sure likes to yell a lot in Salvation. We get that he’s commanding an army and the stress of living up to his destiny is weighing on him, but there are more dimensions to a leader than screaming orders for two hours. Then there is Genisys, where his character was killed and taken over by a new Terminator model in a twist that would have been nice if the posters didn’t give it away before the movie came out.
6 Love: Grace
Of all the new characters introduced in Dark Fate, Grace is the highlight. Augmented humans are a new concept in the franchise, and her required cool down after fights adds a layer of vulnerability.
Mackenzie Davis also knocks it out of the park as the character during her first role in an action movie. Her character does some fairly ridiculous stunts during the several set pieces, but the drama in between the action always keeps her personality grounded and believable.
5 Cannot Stand: Rev-9
After the T-1000, all the following villains just seem quaint. Even when their abilities far surpass the shape shifting and voice copying of the second movie’s antagonist, none of the performances come close to being as menacing as Robert Patrick’s.
Rev-9 does some cool things in Dark Fate, but he talks too much for a machine. Before the final fight, he even asks for the heroes to hand Dani over to avoid a fight, something which seems completely out of place for a Terminator villain.
4 Love: Sarah Connor
The one constant throughout the three mainline movies has been Sarah Connor. She wasn’t in the three films following T2, but Dark Fate is now considered the new third film in the series, confusingly enough. Linda Hamilton’s transformation between the first two outings is impressive enough, but learning how hard she worked to get into shape at over sixty years old is especially jaw dropping.
It’s not all about physicality, however, as her performance brings an element of humanity to each outing too. In the first film she kept the fantastic concept grounded, as her feelings of fear and bewilderment mirrored the audience’s own reaction to the scenario.
3 Cannot Stand: Carl
Arnold Schwarzenegger always puts his all into performances, and his zeal is the only thing preventing Carl from feeling completely useless and out of place in Dark Fate.
His comedic relief is appreciated, but the idea of Skynet randomly sending T-800s into the past every couple of years is weird. Even worse, it is Carl who does something drastic in the beginning of the movie, completely changing and undoing all the victories from Terminator 2.
2 Love: T-800
The T-800 is what audiences come to the theaters to see. The role skyrocketed Schwarzenegger’s career, and for good reason. In the premier feature, the performance was truly terrifying.
To see it become an ally to the Connors in the sequel was an interesting turn, and served to completely differentiate the second part from the original. Interestingly enough, OJ Simpson was at one point considered for the role, something we’re glad didn’t happen for a variety of reasons.
1 Cannot Stand: Dr. Peter Silberman
This Criminal Psychologist shows up in three of the six films, and is always a pain in the rear. He is Sarah’s doctor during her imprisonment in the psychiatric facility, and does his best to convince her that Judgment Day and Skynet are illusions.
While he is none the wiser about the T-800, it is not enough to forgive him for his and the hospital’s inhumane treatment towards Sarah. In Terminator 3 he comes back for a brief cameo where he tries to convince Katherine Brewster she was imagining things under the stress of being a hostage. Once he sees the T-101, however, he runs off and is never seen again.