Scenes described in red text appear only in the Special Edition.
The movie opens with shots of traffic and children in playgrounds. The sounds of children's voices die out, followed by a flash-forward to Los Angeles in 2029 AD. The world has become a wasteland of wrecked cars, destroyed buildings, and black-charred playgrounds filled with skeletons and skulls. The voice of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton
) narrates: "3 billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They only lived to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines."
The foot of a metallic android smashes a skull on the ground. A battle starts between human guerrilla troops and a technically far superior robotic army. Crushing skulls beneath their tracks, robotic tanks open a full-frontal assault on the humans, who are trained to make use of what shelter the ruined terrain offers them. Flying aircraft search the ground for targets as T-800 androids sweep the terrain at places the tanks cannot access. Although they suffer heavy losses, the humans manage to destroy several tanks, aircraft and androids. They even use old cars as crude assault vehicles, but the machines' laser cannons are accurate and unrelenting.
John Connor is saluted by his soldiers as he crosses a destroyed hallway and inspects the battlefield from a safe distance. The camera zooms in on his scarred face as Sarah's voice-over continues: "Skynet, the computer that controlled the machines, sent two terminators back through time. Their mission: to destroy the leader of the human resistance: John Connor, my son. The first Terminator was programmed to strike at me in the year 1984, before John was born. It failed. The second was set to strike at John himself when he was just a child. As before, the Resistance was able to send a lone warrior as a protector for John. It was just a question of which one would reach him first."
The opening credits play in a montage of shots of playgrounds burning in an inferno. The credits end as the camera zooms in on the metal face of a Terminator, through the fire, until its red glowing eyes are in extreme close-up, accompanied by the thematic five rapid drumbeats.
The action changes to a truck stop in the middle of the night. The wind scatters trash strewn around several trucks parked in the lot. Electric charges fill the air, jumping among several trucks. Out of nowhere, a brightly-lit orb appears, cutting out parts from the ground and a nearby truck. The orb dissolves, leaving a crouching, naked man in its place. As the electrical charges slowly fade, the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger
) rises to its feet. It has the same appearance as the one that got sent through time in The Terminator
to kill Sarah Connor. We see its red point-of-view processing screen as it approaches the Corral, a biker bar across the street from the truck stop, inspects the motorcycles in front of it, and enters.
The bikers inside watch with a mixture of astonishment and amusement as the naked Terminator calmly walks among them, inspecting every male customer on the way. It even attracts a couple of looks from one of the waitresses. It stops in front of a cigar-smoking biker as it determines that the man's clothes are a match to its body size. The Terminator calmly tells him that it needs his clothes, boots, and motorcycle, causing much hilarity among the other customers. The cigar man tells it that it forgot to say please and blows smoke in the Terminator's face. He puts out his cigar on Terminator's bare chest, only to be surprised that the pain doesn't seem to bother it. The Terminator grabs the man's hand and twists his arm. Another biker hits the Terminator in the head with a pool cue; he's hurled through the window for his trouble. The cigar biker is thrown into the kitchen and lands on the hot stove, burning his hands. A third tough biker pulls a knife on the Terminator. He stabs it, but is then disarmed and nailed to the pool table with his own knife. The rest of the customers scramble away. The Terminator enters the kitchen, approaching the wounded cigar biker. The frightened biker grabs a pistol and tries to shoot the Terminator, but it takes his pistol away from him. Terrified, he quickly tosses his keys to the Terminator.
As George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone" plays, the Terminator steps outside, fully dressed, and mounts one of the motorcycles, a large Harley-Davidson. Before it can ride off, the barkeeper comes out with a shotgun and fires a warning shot, threatening to kill it if it doesn't step off the bike. The Terminator gets off, calmly walks towards the man, and with a quick move, it relieves the barkeeper of his shotgun and sunglasses before riding off.
In a different part of town, a police officer in a trash-strewn vacant lot underneath a bridge calls in a strange electrical disturbance to headquarters. As he inspects the area and notices a strange round hole burned into a chain link fence, he is approached from behind by a naked T-1000 (Robert Patrick
), also a cyborg, less bulky than the Terminator. The T-1000 instantly kills the officer with a quick stab to the gut. Then the cyborg picks up the cop's gun, enters the police car fully clothed as a cop, and uses the car's computer to find the address of John Connor.
The next day, John Connor's foster parents Todd (Xander Berkeley
) and Janelle Voight (Jenette Goldstein
) make several fruitless attempts to get John to clean up his room, but he ignores and ridicules them and leaves on his bike with his friend Tim (Danny Cooksey
In a cell at Pescadero State Hospital, a detention center for the criminally insane, Sarah Connor does chin-ups on her bed frame, which is standing on end. Psychiatrist Dr. Peter Silberman (Earl Boen
) is showing some interns around, telling them about Sarah's acute schizo-affective disorder. It leads her to believe that a machine in human guise, called the Terminator, was sent back through time to kill her, and that the father of her child was a soldier from the future, sent back to protect her. Silberman greets her good morning, to which Sarah pseudo-politely asks about his knee, which she stabbed with a pen some weeks before. Silberman has the interns take a look at her like she is a caged animal, and then asks two orderlies to make sure that Sarah tidies her room and takes her medicine. The orderlies enter the cell, but Sarah refuses the medication. They tell her to be good because she is on review that afternoon, but when she still refuses, they smack her in the gut with a baton, kick her around and zap her with a taser before they force the medication down her throat and leave her.
The T-1000 arrives at the home of John Connor foster parents and ask about John. They tell him John took off on his bike. It asks for John's picture, saying it only needs to ask John some questions. Todd mentions that a big guy on a bike (the Terminator) was asking about John that morning as well, but despite its suspicious glance, the T-1000 assures them not to worry.
John breaks into an ATM using a pin code decoder. Tim finds a picture of Sarah in John's bag (it's the picture that was taken of Sarah at the end of the previous movie
and was later given to Kyle Reese). John comments that Sarah is a complete psycho, because she got arrested for trying to blow up a computer factory. They take off for the mall to spend the money they've stolen, missing the searching Terminator by a few blocks.Sarah is in a deep sleep from the medication when she is woken by a familiar voice. It is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), the man who died protecting her from the first Terminator. He tells her that John is in danger and that she needs to protect him, to which she replies that he doesn't believe her anymore. Reese talks some strength back into her and repeats his earlier message: the future is not set, there is no fate but what we make for ourselves. She hugs him, but when she opens her eyes, Reese is standing in the cell door opening, saying that there is not much time left in the world. He walks away, and Sarah follows him out of the hospital. She finds herself on a sunny grass field behind a fence. On the other side are children playing in a playground. She tries to warn them away, but no sound comes from her mouth. There is a sudden bright flash and she wakes up next to her bed in her cell.
During the psychological review later that day, Sarah watches a video from one of her earlier evaluations, where she described her dream of the world and its children burning in a nuclear nightmare. She went into a fit of rage because no one seemed to believe her prediction. Silberman stops the video, and Sarah tells him that she is feeling much better now; she no longer believes in the existence of Terminators, and recants her claim that the factory where she crushed one covered the whole thing up.
Meanwhile, in a computer lab somewhere, computer developer Miles Dyson (Joe Morton
) is asked permission to conduct a test with a certain device that is only referred to as 'it.' When one of his co-workers asks where 'it' came from, he gives him the same answer he received from his superiors: "Don't ask." Dyson goes into the vault, where he observes a fragment of a computer chip and a metal robot arm that was clearly once attached to a Terminator.
Sarah asks Dr. Silberman to transfer her to a minimum security ward, but he believes that she is faking her recovery, and thinks she will only use this transfer for another escape attempt. When he also refuses to let her see her son, she attacks him before being restrained and drugged by orderlies.
John is driving with Tim through an abandoned canal when the Terminator passes overhead, identifies him and lays in a pursuit. Meanwhile, the T-1000, dressed as a cop, shows John's picture to a couple of girls; they direct it to the Galleria. The Terminator arrives at the Galleria and identifies John's bike. While John is inside playing arcade games, both the T-1000 and the Terminator (carrying a long box full of roses) are searching for him. The T-1000 is directed to the game hall, where it bumps into Tim, who is getting some more quarters. It shows Tim John's picture. Tim pretends he doesn't know the person in the picture, but quickly walks back to John and warns him about the T-1000.
John runs out the back of the arcade into the mall service hallway to escape from the T-1000. He eventually finds himself in a hallway, caught in between the Terminator and the T-1000. As the two cyborgs advance, the T-1000 draws its service pistol and the Terminator produces a shotgun from a longbox full of roses. Entering the hallway, the Terminator shoots the T-1000 in the shoulder and deflects its aim. The T-1000 quickly recovers and empties an entire clip at John, killing a janitor caught in the crossfire, while the Terminator puts itself in front of John, shielding him from the bullets. While the T-1000 reloads, the Terminator breaks a door, pushes John to safety, and marches towards the T-1000, shooting it repeatedly with its shotgun. It isn't until the Terminator fires its last round the T-1000 finally falls on its back.
As the Terminator reloads its shotgun, the large metallic holes its bullets made in the T-1000's chest suddenly heal themselves. It gets up and there is a short struggle between the two cyborgs for the gun. In the fight, they force each other into the wall several times, until one wall finally gives, and they tumble into a clothing store. The T-1000 is quicker on its feet, throws the Terminator out through the shop-window, and gets back to chasing John. Shoppers are amazed to see the Terminator get back on its feet so quickly (one of them manages to take some pictures), grabbing its shotgun and following John and the T-1000.
In the meantime, John has reached his motorcycle, but has problems getting it to start. As the T-1000 enters the garage and dashes towards him, John gets the bike to work and drives away, barely shaking off his assailant as he makes it to the street. The T-1000 hitches an involuntary ride from a passing truck by throwing its driver out and pursues John with little regard for other motorists. It, in turn, is chased by the Terminator on its Harley.
John makes it to an old drainage canal, apparently to safety, but the T-1000's truck suddenly comes up from a bridge, crashes through the railing, and dives into the canal. John drives off, and although the canal is a hard place to maneuver a truck, the T-1000 gains on John. Meanwhile, the Terminator drives along the edge of the canal, firing some shots at the truck, which is nearing a bridge spanning the canal. The bridge rips the roof off the truck's cabin but the T-1000 has ducked away and maintains control of the vehicle. It tries to overrun John as the Terminator reaches a dead end in the elevation and is forced to jump down with its bike into the canal. It manages to pass the truck and drive alongside John, picks him up from his bike, puts him in front of itself, and puts a bullet in the truck's tire. The truck crashes into another column in the canal and a spark in some loose wiring causes it to explode. The Terminator stops the bike and points its gun at the blazing fire, but only a burning tire rolls out. He drives away with John, but seconds later, the T-1000 emerges as a shiny, featureless, liquid metal figure. Its features become more pronounced and its colors return to normal, returning to the form of the unharmed pseudo-cop. When emergency workers arrive, the T-1000 escapes by stealing a police car.
As they ride off, John asks the Terminator to pull over. His rescuer confirms it is a Terminator, a Cyberdyne Systems model 101: a cybernetic organism, made of living tissue over a metal endoskeleton. John checks the bullet holes in the Terminator's back, but still has a hard time buying it. He already realizes that the Terminator has not come to kill him, but to protect him. The Terminator explains that it was re-programmed and sent back 35 years from the future, by John himself, to be his protector in the current time.
It's evening, and while driving the bike, the Terminator explains that the other guy is a T-1000: an advanced prototype made of a "mimetic polyalloy," or liquid metal. It says they have to get out of the city and avoid the authorities. John wants to stop at his house, but Terminator assures him that the T-1000 will try to reacquire him there, as the Terminator itself would try.
The Terminator and John stop by a pay phone because John insists on calling his foster parents to warn them. Janelle answers, and expresses her concern for John. John is confused, as she is never this nice. He can hear Todd through the phone yelling at the dog for barking continuously, but he is suddenly silenced. John worries that the T-1000 might be there already. The Terminator asks John for the dog's name; its Max. It takes the phone and asks Janelle, with John's voice, what is wrong with 'Wolfy'. Janelle says Wolfy is fine. The Terminator hangs up and tells John his foster parents are dead. On cue, the camera pulls back to reveal that "Janelle" is actually the T-1000 mimicking her. Its arm has formed into a silver blade, which has skewered Todd's head. It retracts the blade, letting Todd's lifeless body fall to the ground, and it slowly reforms the blade into its arm. The T-1000 then resumes its cop form. As it leaves the house, the T-1000 walks toward Max the dog, who is barking loudly. It kills the dog with a quick stab, and rips off its collar; it reads 'Max'. It knows it has been fooled.
The Terminator explains to John that the T-1000 can imitate anything of equal size that it has sampled previously by physical contact. It can't become a bomb or a complex structure with chemicals or moving parts (such as a gun), but it can form knives and stabbing weapons.
At Pescadero Hospital, a police detective shows Sarah Connor some pictures from the West Highland police station, taken by a video surveillance camera in 1984. They show the first Terminator on a killing spree inside the station. The detective explains that the unknown man killed 17 police officers with families and children that night. His colleague shows her pictures taken at the mall that day by a tourist: they show the same man. The officers tell her John is missing and that his foster parents were murdered, and ask her about the guy in the picture, but she doesn't give the slightest response. Dr. Silberman tells them she is fading out of reality, and lets them out. Sarah surreptitiously takes a paperclip from the desk before one of the wardens takes her back to her cell.
John tells the Terminator about his time in Nicaragua, where Sarah hooked up with several guys to gather weapons and teach John to become a great military leader. John now realizes that she was right all the time, and he wants to rescue her. The Terminator refuses, stating that the T-1000 will most likely copy Sarah and wait for John to come to her. When John hears that the subject being copied is typically terminated, he insists on saving her immediately. Terminator restrains him, saying Sarah is not a mission priority. John objects and calls out for help, but when he orders it to let go, the android complies. To his joy, John finds out that obeying John is one of the Terminator's mission parameters. John tests it by ordering it to stand on one foot: it complies. Two guys are responding to John's cry for help. They get into an argument, and John has Terminator grab one of the guys by his hair. When the other guy attacks, Terminator breaks his hand and tries to shoot him; John prevents this from happening and sends the guys away. He tries to explain to Terminator why he can't just kill people, but the robot doesn't understand. John tries to convince it that unnecessary killing is something it just can't do, orders it to help him save his mother, and they ride on.
In the meantime, the T-1000 arrives at Pescadero and is given access by one of the guards. Sarah is restrained to her bed by Douglas (Ken Gibbel
), one of the other guards. He humiliates her further, locks her cell and bangs his baton against several cell doors as he leaves. Sarah spits out the paperclip she stole and uses it to pick the locks of her restraints and the door lock. The T-1000 comes up at a desk and asks the nurse for Sarah Connor. She tells him that other cops have already been with her for an hour, as she sees them coming out. When she looks back at the T-1000, she notices that he has gone; he is nowhere in the hallway. She lets Lewis (Don Stanton
), one of the guards, through the security door; he shows the police officers out before he walks over to a coffee machine. But as he steps on the checkered hallway floor, the T-1000, mimicking the floor, stands up, and slowly copies the shape and image of Lewis, who is unaware of his counterpart forming behind him. When he turns around, he is astounded to be facing a copy of himself (Don Stanton's identical twin brother Dan Stanton
). Before Lewis can react, the T-1000 skewers him through his eye by extruding its finger into an ice pick-like extension, then drags his body into a cleaning room. It makes its way to the maximum security wing.
Meanwhile, Douglas finds that one of the maintenance rooms has been opened, and that a broom handle has been broken off. As he exits the room, he is punched to pulp by Sarah with the broom handle, dragged and locked into her room. She takes his keys and baton and leaves. She hides from Lewis (actually the T-1000) who is walking in one of the adjacent wings. The T-1000 reverts to its cop form as Sarah sneaks up to Silberman and an orderly. She beats the orderly unconscious and breaks Dr. Silberman's arm. She drugs the orderly with a tranquillizer and fills the empty syringe with sink cleaning fluid.
John and the Terminator arrive at Pescadero, and John makes it swear that it will not kill anyone. When the guard cites the visiting hours, Terminator shoots him in the legs, reassuring John that the man will survive. They park the motorcycle in the garage. Sarah arrives with Silberman as her hostage at the security office. She has the poison-filled syringe in his neck, and reassures him that she has no problems killing him, since she already believes him dead. He orders the guards to open the door. She gets through but doesn't notice another guard behind her. He saves Silberman from her hands, but gets punched to the floor. Sarah makes a run for it. The guards sound the alarm, which also attracts the attention of the T-1000, which just discovered the drugged guard. Sarah manages to lock out the chasing wardens by breaking off a key, so they have to find an alternate route.
Sarah makes it to the elevators, but to her horror, an old acquaintance walks out: the Terminator, her tormentor from the past. With a yell of fear and disbelief, she runs back the other way. Sarah is so blinded by panic that she doesn't notice John's calls. The wardens who have found another access route work her to the floor and try to subdue her.
John asks the Terminator to help his mother. It walks over to the wardens, who have a hard time restraining Sarah who is frantically yelling "He'll kill us all!" Dr Silberman tries to give Sarah a tranquillizer shot, but the Terminator grabs the wardens around him one by one (except for Silberman), and smashes them against the windows and walls, knocking them out but not killing them. John crouches down by Sarah, who is looking at him and the Terminator in utter disbelief. John assures her that the Terminator is here to help, and she grabs its hand.
At that time, the T-1000 appears at the end of the hallway, blocked by a set of bars. It walks through them with ease, its liquid metal pouring through the bars like pudding (except for its pistol). John and Sarah run to the elevator as the Terminator fires several shots at the T-1000, which slow it down. The T-1000 runs past a stunned Silberman, firing, but the Terminator serves as a shield again until the elevator doors close behind him. The T-1000 uses its knife-arms to pry the door open, but the Terminator quickly fires a point-blank shot, splitting the other cyborg's head apart.
The elevator descends as the T-1000 fuses its head back together. It pries the doors open again and jumps on the roof of the elevator, stabbing its knives through the roof hoping to hit one of its targets. The Terminator and Sarah fire several shots back through the ceiling before Sarah's shoulder is cut by one of T-1000's lucky stabs. The elevator arrives at the garage and they all exit. Sarah commandeers a police car that is just arriving. The T-1000 has perforated the roof enough to pour itself through a small hole as an amorphous blob of metal. It quickly reshapes into human form, opens the elevator door and gives chase, so the Terminator is forced to drive away in reverse. They fire several clips and shells at it, but it keeps gaining. After exiting the garage, the Terminator spins the car 180 degrees, but this momentary slow-down allows T-1000 to jump and haul itself onto the trunk with its arm-hooks. It smashes the back window and slices at John, but the Terminator manages to shoot it off the moving car. It gets back on its feet, but stops its pursuit as it realizes it cannot keep up with the car on foot. John pulls the severed hook from the car's trunk, and throws it on the street. The T-1000 walks towards it, merges the hook back into its foot, and walks back to Pescadero.
John, Sarah, and the Terminator drive away at high speed, safe from the deadly T-1000, at least for now. Sarah opens her arms to John, apparently to give him a big hug, but she only wants to check him for wounds or bruises. Sarah reprimands him for risking his life trying to save her; he is too important for that. John is baffled by Sarah's cold reaction, saying that he just needed to get her out of there, but she bluntly responds that she can take care of herself. Terminator asks John about the tears in his eyes, but he says it's nothing.
The T-1000 returns on foot to Pescadero, where the police have arrived. A cop on a motorcycle asks if it is okay. It affirms, and compliments the cop on his nice motorcycle.
The three fugitives arrive at an abandoned gas station and hide the car in the garage. The Terminator tends to Sarah's shoulder wound, saying that it knows what it is doing because it has detailed files on human anatomy. Sarah remarks that this makes it a more efficient killer; the Terminator confirms the notion. Sarah in turn removes the bullets from the Terminator's back. John asks is it feels any pain, to which the Terminator replies that it senses injuries, which could be regarded as pain. It explains that its wounds will heal, which is good according to Sarah, because the Terminator won't be of much use if it can't pass for human. The Terminator tells John that it will last 120 years with its existing power cell; that its CPU (central processing unit) is a learning computer and that it can learn more about being human as it has more contact with humans.Alternative scene: Terminator explains to John that its CPU is a learning computer, but Skynet disables the learning ability when Terminators are sent out alone. When John suggests that they can reset the switch, he and Sarah operate on the Terminator. She removes part of its scalp, opens its metal skull, and removes the chip inside, shutting down the android completely. However, to John's horror, she wants to destroy the chip, because she doesn't trust John's new friend. She wants to use this opportunity to disable it, but John convinces her that they need it, and that if he is to be a great military leader, she should start listening to some of his ideas for a change. Reluctantly, she concedes, and they reinsert the chip.
The Terminator keeps watch all night, and at dawn, he hot-wires another vehicle. John teaches him that some cars have the keys tucked behind the sun visor. To get away from the city as fast as possible, they drive through the desert to one of Sarah's hideout places. John notices that the Terminator always uses words like "affirmative;" he teaches it to use more colloquial expressions such as "no problemo," "eat me," "hasta la vista, baby," and "chill out, dickwad." They stop at a gas station for some food. John sees how serious his mother is all the time, and he tells the Terminator that it could smile once in a while too. To give an example, John unsuccessfully attempts to make one of the restaurant attendants smile, then points at a guy at a phone booth smiling. The Terminator tries to imitate him, but the result is less than convincing, so John advises it to practice in front of a mirror first.
John sees some children playing with toy guns. He ponders that humans as a species probably won't make it; the Terminator comments that it is in their nature to destroy themselves. Sarah inquires about who is responsible for building Skynet. As they start driving again, the Terminator tells her that it is Miles Bennett Dyson, a high- ranking employee at Cyberdyne Systems, who will invent a new microprocessor that will revolutionize the entire landscape of military computing. Cyberdyne computers will completely replace human functions and decisions in strategic defense systems as the Skynet program goes on-line on August 4th, 1997. It learns at such a fast rate that it becomes self-aware on August 29th. As the humans try to shut it down, Skynet starts a nuclear strike that plunges Earth's nations into a nuclear war, in which the humans destroy each other. Sarah asks for detailed files about Dyson.At the Dyson residence, Miles is frantically working at his computer, though he promised his wife Tarissa (S. Epatha Merkerson) to take the children out swimming. Miles tries to explain to her that his work on the new microprocessor is very important and that he is very close to completing it. Tarissa jokingly wonders why they started a family anyway, since he seems more concerned with his project. Miles surrenders and takes the kids out to play.
Sarah, John and the Terminator arrive at a farm in the desert that seems abandoned. However, her friend Enrique Salceda (Castulo Guerra
, being very suspicious of unannounced visitors, comes out of hiding at the sound of her voice. He welcomes Sarah, John, and the Terminator (who John introduces as Uncle Bob) and tells them that they are all over the news as wanted persons. Enrique is not too thrilled to hear that Sarah has come to collect most of his stuff -- clothes, food and a truck -- and she orders John and the Terminator to gather weapons. The Terminator opens a secret stash filled with lots of weapons and ammunition. Sarah notifies Enrique about her plans to cross the border after nightfall, and tells him to leave the range as well, since it is dangerous for him too. He expected that Sarah would bring trouble, but he seems to be used to it. While working in the weapons stash, John tells how he grew up learning about weapons and explosives, and how he had a hard time adjusting to a normal life after Sarah got arrested. He learns from the Terminator that it has no fear of death, nor feels any other emotion about it; it just has to stay functional until its mission is complete. John thinks about himself the same way, although he is not too keen about the important role he has yet to play.
The Terminator uncovers a minigun, which makes even the android smile.
While helping the Terminator repair a truck, John wonders about his real father, who he will meet when he is in his forties, but who hasn't even been born yet. John thinks Sarah still cries about him sometimes. Terminator asks him why people cry. John says it happens when people are hurt, although not physically. The machine doesn't understand. When the truck works again, John teaches Terminator how to do a high five, as Sarah watches them from a distance. She narrates: "Watching John with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The Terminator would never stop, never leave him, never hurt him, never shout at him or get drunk and hit him, or say it was too busy to spend time with him. It would always be there, and it would die to protect him. Of all the would-be fathers who came and went over the years, this machine was the only one who measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice."
Sarah carves at a wooden table with her knife and watches Enrique playing happily with his family. She falls asleep, and finds herself in a green pasture, behind a fence. On the other side, children are playing in a playground. She tries to warn them away, but no sound comes from her mouth. She sees a younger, innocent version of herself among the people: dressed in her old waitress uniform, playing with infant John, also seemingly aware that something is wrong. As Sarah pounds the fence in frustration, a blinding white flash illuminates the area. People scream in terror as the bright light dies down, revealing a huge nuclear cloud column at the horizon. In an instant, temperatures rise to extremes, causing Sarah, everyone and everything to spontaneously burst into flames. A panoramic shot shows a nuclear shock wave propagating through downtown LA, turning every building in its path into instant rubble. Cars, buses, buildings, and trees are singed and blown to pieces, and as the fire reaches the burnt people, their ashes spread like black dust in the wind. As the fire burns Sarah's flesh away, leaving only her skeleton hanging by the fence, she wakes up with a shock, realizing it was a dream. She looks at the words she just carved into the table: NO FATE; she knows that she can only stop her dream from becoming reality if she acts now.
Sarah sticks the knife into the table, gathers an M16 rifle and her gear, and gets into the car. John sees it, and hears from Enrique that he and the Terminator are supposed to proceed towards the south, where Sarah will meet up with them tomorrow. John runs towards Sarah, but she drives off quickly without a word or looking back. John reads the words on the table: NO FATE. John explains to the Terminator that it was a message from his future self to Sarah, passed on by his father Kyle: The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves. When the Terminator guesses that Sarah intends to change the future, John suddenly realizes that she is going after Miles Dyson. They take off after her in the repaired truck.
As Sarah races ahead, the Terminator warns John that the T-1000 has the same data and might be waiting for them at Dyson's house, but John is intent on stopping Sarah. The Terminator suggests that Dyson's death might actually prevent the war from happening, but John does not want to hear about it. He angrily blames Terminator for still not understanding the value of human life, and insists that it try to learn.At the Dyson residence, Sarah sets up her silenced gun behind the swimming pool, where she can see Miles working at his computer, unaware of the danger outside.
Dyson's son Danny (DeVaughn Nixon
) is playing in the house with his remote-controlled car, waving off his mother's orders to go to bed like his sister. Outside, Sarah loads the rifle and takes aim, pointing a red laser at the back of Miles's head. At the moment of firing, Danny drives the remote car against Miles' foot, making him quickly bend over to pick it up. The bullet misses him and hits the computer screen. As Miles realizes the shot came through the window, Sarah fires again but misses. Miles takes cover behind his desk, so Sarah rakes the house with rapid fire. Miles warns away his wife and son as Sarah reloads and empties another clip into the room. She takes a handgun and walks to the house. Miles sees her and makes a run for his living room. Sarah fires several shots at him, and the third one hits Miles in the shoulder. He collapses to the floor as his wife and son get to him. Sarah tries to force them away at gunpoint, but the young boy stays, pleading for his father's life. Miles pushes the boy away to his mother, asking Sarah to let the boy go, but her eyes are wild with rage. She raves at the bewildered man that everything is his fault and that she will not let him do it. Miles starts to cry uncontrollably, and Sarah realizes what she is about to do; she does not pull the trigger. She backs away and sinks to the floor, crying.
John and the Terminator enter the ravaged house, fearing that they are too late. John takes care of his mother and tells the Terminator to check on Miles Dyson. Sarah is traumatized, realizing that she nearly killed a man, and John hugs her, assuring her that they will find a way. Finally she is able to tell him she loves him, and he returns her affection. The Terminator diagnoses Miles's injury as a flesh wound and instructs Tarissa to stop the bleeding by putting pressure on the wound. Miles asks John and the Terminator who they are. John gives the Terminator a knife, tells it to show Miles what it is, and takes Danny away to his room. With gasps and cries of horror and disbelief, Miles and Tarissa watch the Terminator make large cuts in its arm, and remove the skin to reveal a sophisticatedly crafted, bloody metal arm and hand, the same kind Miles saw on display at Cyberdyne. The Terminator requests that Miles and Tarissa listen carefully.
Sarah narrates: "Dyson listened while the Terminator laid it all down. Skynet, Judgment Day, the history of things to come. Its not every day that you find out you are responsible for 3 billion deaths. He took it pretty well." Miles is taken aback by the story, but tries to defend himself against accusations for things he has not even done yet by asking how he was supposed to know. Sarah sneers that this is the excuse of all men, thinking they are great and creative, while inventing nothing but death and destruction. John cuts off the discussion as it won't get them anywhere. Miles tells them he will stop working on the processor and quit his job at Cyberdyne, but Sarah and the Terminator convince him that nobody must be allowed to finish his work; the lab and all relevant files in his home must be destroyed also. Miles tells them about the chip at Cyberdyne, which came from the first Terminator, although he was not informed about its origin at the time; this confirms all of Sarah's suspicions about the factory covering up the whole incident with her and the first Terminator. The chip was broken, but it gave Miles the inspiration for his revolutionary new chip design. Miles offers to help them pass Cyberdyne's security to completely destroy the remnant chip and all traces of his work.
While driving to Cyberdyne, Sarah narrates: "The future, always so clear to me, had become like a black highway at night. We were in uncharted territory now, making up history as we went along." The group arrives at the Cyberdyne lab headquarters, packed with large bags full of equipment. Miles gets them through the main entrance to the security desk, and tries to convince the guard that they are friends who he wants to show around. As the guard berates him for bringing visitors without special authorization, they draw their weapons and restrain him. They use an elevator to move to the second floor, where Miles explains how they need his key and another one in the security station to open the vault holding the chip and Terminator arm.
Meanwhile, another guard returns to the front desk and grumbles at his partner for leaving the desk unattended, only to find the man tied up and gagged inside the toilet. Miles and Sarah enter the security station as the guard triggers the silent alarm. Miles's access card no longer opens the key locker; the alarm has neutralized all codes inside the building. He wants to abort, but Sarah convinces him they have to go all the way. John assures them that he can open the safe and gets his pin code decoder out. The two guards downstairs have identified Sarah and the Terminator as the two wanted criminals from the news; they call the police and ask for all police units in the area. Miles's entry code won't open the door to the lab, so the Terminator suggests using his, which means blowing through the door with a grenade launcher. This sets off the Halon fire extinguishing system, which displaces all oxygen to put out the fire. Sarah and Miles wait to enter the lab until the Halon dissipates, but the Terminator walks through the lab and retrieves two breathing masks for them. They enter the lab and get to work.
The T-1000 arrives at the Dyson residence appearing as a motorcycle cop, wearing a helmet and reflective sun glasses. He finds the house deserted, all of the computers destroyed, and a garbage can full of burning paper. His police radio broadcasts a call for all units to respond to Cyberdyne Systems, and describes the suspects: Sarah Connor, escaped from Pescadero State Hospital the night before; and a white male, the possible killer from the West Highland Police Station massacre in 1984.The Terminator chops up several computers and servers with a fire axe. Miles directs Sarah to all the disks and processors containing important data that must be destroyed. Sarah tells him they will blow it all up. Then Miles sees the enlarged model of his new chip design. He asks the Terminator for the axe, says he worked a lot of years on the model, then smashes it apart with a violent strike of the axe.
A large police force arrives at Cyberdyne, surrounding the building while a police helicopter hovers outside, shining its spotlight inside a deserted office area. John opens the key locker and retrieves the vault key. As he leaves, he narrowly avoids being spotted by the helicopter. A quick glimpse on a monitor shows him the entire police force barricaded outside. Sarah and the Terminator place barrels of explosive liquids and detonation packs. The Terminator gives Miles a remote control, showing him how they are going to set off the explosions. John enters the lab with the key, telling the others they have company -- all of the police have arrived. Sarah says she will finish up and orders them to go ahead. The Terminator says it will take care of the police; John reminds him of his promises, but the Terminator reassures him with a simple "Trust me."
The android walks to the front of the building and kicks a desk out a window. It ignores the police's order to surrender and fires a M134 Minigun with Chainsaw grip at the police cars below, avoiding the humans. The helicopter pilot moves away. The minigun empty, Terminator uses a M79 grenade launcher to destroy two more vehicles. Its heads-up display indicates no human casualties. Terminator turns back into the building and the police open fire with Heckler & Koch HK94A3 submachine guns. John and Miles reach the vault and open it. John breaks the glass cases containing the chip fragment and metal arm. He gloats that they've got "Skynet by the balls."
A heavily armed SWAT team enters the building and climbs the stairs to the second floor as Sarah and the other three prepare to leave. She gives John the gas masks and he and the Terminator leave the room. As Sarah asks Miles for the detonator, the SWAT team bursts into the lab, opening fire. Sarah takes cover behind a desk, but Miles is hit several times, and sinks to the floor. John tries to get to his mom, but the Terminator prevents him from endangering himself. Sarah looks at the mortally injured Miles, who holds the detonator in his hand. With a silent expression, he assures her that he will take care of it. Sarah waits for the SWAT members to reload, fires several shots from her sidearm into the air, and then makes a run for the back of the lab. Glass windows around her break as the SWAT team opens fire on her, and she barely rolls herself to cover in the room where the vault is. John is following her escape on a monitor and tells the Terminator there is no other exit for her there. With a loud thud, it breaks through the wall and pulls Sarah in through the hole. It breaks a steel door with another blast of its grenade launcher, and the three make their way through a safe corridor to the elevator.
The SWAT team advances through the lab towards Miles, who is holding a piece of his chip model above a detonator switch. With heavy dying breaths, he tells the SWAT leader that he doesn't know how much longer he can hold it up. Realizing the imminent danger, the SWAT leader (Dean Norris
) orders his team to pull back immediately. As John, Sarah and the Terminator get into the elevator, Miles' rate of breathing becomes slower and slower. Finally, it stops, and he drops the part onto the trigger. An enormous explosion erupts from the building, destroying the entire lab.
The elevator comes to an abrupt halt on the first floor. The T-1000 arrives on its motorcycle between the burnt-out car wrecks in front of the Cyberdyne building. The elevator doors open and the Terminator checks the lobby, which is full of the SWAT team members. They fire tear gas grenades to the elevator, which forces John and Sarah to buddy-breathe with the only remaining gas mask. Terminator tells them to stay there; it will be back. It advances towards the SWAT team, ignoring their leader's orders to lie down on the floor. They open fire, the bullets ripping pieces of flesh from its metal body, but they cannot stop its advance. As it closes in on them, it uses its sidearm to shoot the men in the legs; it uses the gas grenade launcher to disable the remaining two members. The T-1000 drives its motorcycle up one of the staircases of the blown-out building. The Terminator exits through the main entrance and fires the remaining gas grenades at the police, disabling the entire force. It relieves two remaining SWAT members of their van (remembering to look for the keys behind the sun visor), drives it through the main entrance and picks up John and Sarah. It takes off at high speed as several police officers fire shots at the van. As the T-1000 drives through the destroyed lab, it hears the gunshots and sees the SWAT van leaving in the distance. When it notices the helicopter flying near the building, it accelerates, jumps its motorcycle out of the building, and grabs hold of the helicopter as the bike crashes to the ground. The dumb-struck pilot watches the T-1000 break the canopy with its head, pour into the cockpit in its amorphous chrome form and instantly resume its previous appearance. It tells the pilot to get out and he jumps. Now in control of the helicopter, the T-1000 pursues the van.
In the back of the van, Sarah buries John under a pile of bullet-proof vests, telling him to stay under them no matter what happens. She also covers the van's back windows with vests, as she notices the helicopter closing in; the Terminator tells her it is the T-1000. Sarah and the T-1000 exchange automatic weapon fire as the Terminator navigates the highway, narrowly missing several cars. It drives under a bridge, but the helicopter simply follows. They pass a large semi, which forces the T-1000 to fly over another bridge. It quickly gains on the van and manages to shoot Sarah in the leg. The Terminator abruptly stops, causing the helicopter to collide with the back of the van; it crumbles and crashes violently onto the road. The crash causes one of the van's tires to rip, and the van topples over on the road. The driver of the large truck has come to a halt at the crashed helicopter, as the driver of a pick-up truck comes to check on the tipped-over van. The large truck's driver is amazed to see the T-1000 appearing unharmed from the wrecked helicopter, but the T-1000 simply skewers him with his blade-hand and mounts the truck. The Terminator, John and Sarah stumble from the SWAT van; the pick-up truck driver backs away from the Terminator's large facial wounds, as it sees the large truck emerging from the smoke several hundred yards back; it reads LIQUID NITROGEN on the side. The three commandeer the pick-up truck as the T-1000's truck rams a stopped car out of the way in the distance. The Terminator drives away as the T-1000 smashes the remains of the SWAT van; the pick-up driver barely gets out of the way.
John uses a T-shirt from the truck to slow the bleeding from Sarah's leg. The Terminator tries to stay ahead of the liquid nitrogen truck, but 60 mph is the pick-up truck's top speed. As Sarah binds her leg and howls in pain, the large truck rams the back of the pick-up. The T-1000 tries to crush the pick-up against the side-rail, but another truck coming up ahead forces it to move away. The Terminator tells John to take the wheel and fires a grenade at the large truck, which takes it slightly off course. The Terminator directs John to take the off ramp, but the T-1000 follows. John narrowly misses another truck as the Terminator fires another grenade. It hits the truck on the side; the truck rams into the pick-up from behind again, causing the Terminator to drop a grenade shell. John drives the truck through the gates of a steel mill, closely followed by the T-1000. The Terminator grabs its M16 rifle and climbs onto the hood of the T-1000's truck, where it empties the entire clip into the liquid android. Then it turns the wheel quickly to the left, causing the liquid nitrogen truck to topple over and slide behind John and Sarah. The Terminator holds on to the still moving, tipped-over truck as John drives through a hangar-sized steel foundry full of workers.
The pick-up truck comes to an abrupt halt when it impales itself on a parked lift-truck, one lifter passing between John and his mother. As the sliding liquid nitrogen truck comes screeching into the hangar and crashes against one side of the entrance, the Terminator jumps off, rolls himself to safety and comes to a stop against a couple of pipes. The enormous momentum causes the truck to split open in the middle and liquid nitrogen pours from the rupture. As the evaporating nitrogen invades the work area, one of the workers sounds the alarm and all workers instantly evacuate. John, Sarah, and the Terminator watch the T-1000 clambering out of the truck cabin under a pouring rain of liquid nitrogen. As the android appears from the cloud of vapor, it seems to be moving much more sluggishly than usual. A layer of frost covers the creaking T-1000 as it attempts to walk, but its frozen feet keep sticking to the floor. Its continuous efforts to walk cause the legs to break off at the ankle and knees. Trying to break its fall with its hand, the T-1000 finds the hand frozen to the floor as well. With a violent pull, it breaks free, snapping off its arm to its own astonishment. A few creaking tweaks and turns follow, and it remains motionless. Terminator picks itself up from the floor, points its gun and shoots the frozen android into hundreds of small pieces, saying "Hasta la vista, baby."
John gets out of the truck to watch his broken enemy. However, one of the pools of molten metal in the hangar has begun to overflow, and the heat starts to thaw the frozen pieces of the T-1000. The metal becomes liquid again, and the drops start to coalesce into one big blob. The Terminator says there is not much time any more, and John helps Sarah get up; the liquid metal blob is already shaping into the familiar human form again. The Terminator reloads its grenade launcher with the shell it dropped earlier and helps John move Sarah. The T-1000 regains its cop form. It follows John, Sarah, and the Terminator on foot as they head deeper into the steel mill.While holding a yellow-and-black striped bar, the T-1000 finds that it has been damaged: its arm has mimicked the striped pattern of the bar. It pulls the hand loose from the bar, changes it back to normal with a flick and starts following its targets again
. The Terminator leads John and Sarah through the maze of equipment and machinery in the steel mill. As the T-1000 closes in, there is a glitch going over its surface. Apparently, it has difficulty keeping its current form; its feet keep taking on the color and texture of the metal floor.
John, Sarah, and the Terminator come up at the edge of a molten metal pool, but Sarah can't stand the heat. They return, but see the T-1000 approaching a few yards ahead. The Terminator sends John and Sarah on their way, despite John's desire to stick together. Sarah drags John away while the Terminator readies its gun and grenade launcher. Its internal processing screen searches for the T-1000, which suddenly emerges from the side and kicks away the launcher. There is a nasty and violent fight between the two Terminators, in which they pound each other against the metal surfaces around them. The T-1000 is thrown head first against a steel wall, but it quickly morphs itself backwards, ready to fight again. The Terminator punches into its head, but its opponent simply liquefies, reforms around the Terminator's fist, launches it against some more walls, and finally forces its arm between two large cog-wheels. Out of reach, the T-1000 takes on its human texture again and leaves the Terminator stuck in the machinery.
Sarah and John take a few steps towards a platform. The Terminator picks up an iron bar and uses it to amputate its arm to free itself. John and Sarah see the T-1000 already coming up to the platform. Sarah lowers John along a chain onto a conveyor belt below, but stays behind herself, despite John's desperate calls to come along. Sarah reloads her shotgun and fires at the T-1000's head: it leaves a large hole around its right eye, which fills up quickly. It figures out that John has escaped. Before Sarah can reload and fire another shot, the T-1000 extends one of its fingers and skewers her left shoulder to the wall. It orders Sarah to call John, but she refuses. It tortures Sarah by moving its finger-blade inside her wounded shoulder, threatens to pierce her head with its other finger, and repeats the order, but she still doesn't comply. At that moment, the Terminator takes a slice at the T-1000 with the iron bar, almost chopping off its arm and side. But the T-1000 kicks the Terminator back, mends its body and simply pulls the bar out. It pounds the Terminator with the bar, throwing the Terminator in front of a large suspended beam. The T-1000 uses the beam to crush the Terminator against the wall several times, causing its right eye to come out and exposing its red robotic eye and metal skull. The heavily crushed Terminator attempts to pull itself away with its remaining hand, towards a lower platform where its grenade launcher still rests. But before it can grasp the launcher, the T-1000 forces the metal bar into the Terminator's chest. It retracts the bar again, but before the Terminator can make another attempt at the launcher, the T-1000 forces the bar all the way through it and the grated floor. Electrical discharges erupt from the metal body as the red dot in the Terminator's eye slowly dies and its body goes limp.
Sarah grabs her shotgun and reloads with the little remaining strength she has. John crawls out of the conveyor belt tunnel and hides behind some equipment. The Terminator's mechanical eye seems to come back to life. Its internal processing screen shows that an alternate power route inside the metal body has been found, and the eye becomes fully red. It pulls the iron bar from its body and the floor and grabs the grenade launcher.
In his hiding place, John hears his mother calling him. He walks several steps and platforms over to her, to find her limping along a wall. She asks for his help, but then another Sarah appears behind her, armed with a shotgun. She tells John to get out of the way. John looks down to see that Sarah's feet have seemingly been fused to the grated floor, and realizes it is the T-1000 (played by Linda Hamilton's identical twin Leslie Hamilton Gearren).
John yells "shoot!" and a large metal hole appears in the T-1000-as-Sarah's body. In an instant, the wound closes and the T-1000 morphs back into its familiar cop face. Sarah fires a volley of shots at the T-1000, which brings it staggering towards the edge of the platform, above one of the molten metal pools. But as it's one step from falling in, Sarah's shotgun is empty. The T-1000 heals its wounds and Sarah fires again, but the gun only clicks. The T-1000 makes a childish naughty-gesture with its finger, then starts advancing on John and Sarah. They turn around to see the Terminator emerging on a conveyor belt, armed with the grenade launcher. They get down, and the Terminator fires his grenade into the T-1000's gut. It gives a look of astonishment before the grenade violently explodes inside; its body is completely burst open, the head and arms hanging from mere threads, as it loses its balance and falls screeching into the pool of molten metal. The effect is devastating: as John and Sarah watch, the T-1000 splashes and thrashes in the pool, screaming in agony, uncontrollably morphing through the forms it previously adapted: the policeman, Janelle , Lewis, the motorcycle cop. Desperately screaming and fighting, several more heads and arms pop out of its body. It takes the rough shape of a giant open-mouthed head that turns inside-out, before it finally returns into a terrified face that dissolves in the metal, singling it's death.
John helps the Terminator up. It looks like a wrecked car and says it needs a vacation. They look at the molten pool and John asks if the T-1000 is dead. The Terminator replies that it is terminated. John throws the metal arm and the chip in the steel. Sarah sighs that it is over, but the Terminator reminds her that there is still one more chip which must be destroyed; it points at its skull. It hands Sarah a remote control for one of the electrically operated pulleys, saying that it cannot self-terminate and needs to be lowered in the molten steel. Sarah looks confused, but John can't accept this, and pleads with the Terminator to stay with them. When it apologizes and tells him that it has to do it, John tearfully orders it not to go. The Terminator remains silent for a while, looking John in the eyes, and tells him it knows now why he cries; but it is something it can never do. John hugs the android, which shakes Sarah's outstretched hand, then grasps one of the chains. Sarah activates the pulley, lowering the Terminator into the pool. Its clothes burn as it slowly melts away from below in the hot steel. It looks up to John, who is in tears. After the hot metal immerses the face, its hand does a final thumbs-up before it sinks in the molten metal. There is a last look into its internal processing screen, which goes static, and finally blacks out like a TV screen. Sarah drops the remote and holds the sobbing John to her shoulder. The camera flies over the highway at night again as Sarah speaks: "The unknown future rolls towards us. I face it for the first time with a sense of hope. Because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too."
Credits roll to the Terminator theme music and "You Could Be Mine" by Guns 'N Roses. Special Edition Credits follow.