Within the lore of the Terminator franchise it has been established that most Terminators are mass produced, coming off of a conveyor belt in a SkyNet factory. T-800’s are one of SkyNet’s most reliable elements of infantry. The unit, though mainly deployed in the future war for search and destroy missions, are even entrusted to go back through time and carry out vital operations like that of terminating the mother of the future leader of the human Resistance, Sarah Connor.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has become synonymous with the title character of the Terminator franchise, ‘The Terminator’; usually portraying a T-800 Terminator unit (except for in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines where he played a slightly upgraded 800 series unit T-850).
There have been other iterations of T-800 Terminators over the course of the franchise, which have been portrayed by different actors, and though these other cybernetic organisms have had much less screen time than Arnold Schwarzenegger – they are still participants in the Terminator universe and further expand upon the use of Cyberdyne Systems Model (CSM) numbers as a storytelling device to explain why Terminators may look different to one another.
Terminators are also infiltration units and as such require that the outer genetic identity which covers the metal endoskeleton resembles that of humans in order to avoid detection – this requires SkyNet to deploy many aesthetically diverse Terminator units to successfully exterminate the survivors of Judgment Day.
T-800 CSM-101 Portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger has starred in five Terminator movies, only missing the fourth movie (Terminator Salvation) due to two terms as Governor of California; beginning November 17th, 2003 and ending January 3rd, 2011. This was a total of 8 years where the bodybuilder, turned actor, turned politician was unavailable to make Terminator movies – though his Model 101 T-800 Terminator still technically appeared in the 2009 movie as a CGI cameo; carried out with the assistance of body double Roland Kickinger.
Arnold portrayed a T-800 Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 (CSM-101) in The Terminator (1984), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Terminator Genisys (2015) and Terminator: Dark Fate (2019).
In Terminator Genisys and Terminator: Dark Fate Arnold portrayed aged versions of T-800 cyborgs, as the human skin on Terminators is known to age, but the two later instalments also had younger iterations of his T-800 characters which were again aided by VFX; in these instances the body double work was performed by Brett Azar.
All in all, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the actor that has been the face of the Terminator franchise since the first movie hit theatres in 1984, with his likeness being the most associated with the T-800 character, and the Terminator property, through the years.
Terminator 800 series CSM-102 Portrayed by Franco Columbu in The Terminator (1984)
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best friend and bodybuilding partner Franco Columbu made a cameo in the first Terminator movie as a future war Terminator unit.
We first see this particular Terminator in a future war flash forward / memory from The Terminator’s hero Kyle Reese, when an underground bunker is breached by a Terminator CSM-102 Terminator unit which then begins eradicating Resistance soldiers and human survivors.
Though, if fans really want to argue the details, then Franco’s Terminator has also been referred to as a T-808 CSM-102 and a T-810 CSM-107 in The Terminator Collectible Card Game.
Due to the fact that the laws of Terminator state that a model number is what represents the outer appearance of a Terminator, then, not all Terminators look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and as such it is without doubt that if a T-808 (part of the 800 series of Terminator) has a CSM-102 identity which resembles Franco Columbu – then a T-800 can also logically have that same flesh identity applied to it.
Franco’s CSM-102 did ultimately end up becoming a T-800 in Terminator: Resistance the video game with the Infiltrator Mode DLC, which was then followed by The Annihilation Line DLC for the game which gave a much welcome origin story to CSM-102.
As fans it’s easy to regard Franco Columbu’s Terminator from the first movie as a T-800 and a CSM-102, because Franco’s Terminator is exactly what Kyle Reese had described to Sarah Connor.
If the T-800 was new to Kyle Reese, and Franco Columbu’s Terminator visibly doesn’t look like rubber, but does sweat, then it probably has terrible breath…
We have also previously mentioned that Franco was meant to appear in Terminator 2: Judgment Day’s future war opening scenes but these scenes were cut for budgetary / runtime reasons, and even though these planned scenes didn’t make it to celluloid – concept art for these proposed scenes clearly show that Franco’s metal Endoskeleton is of the T-800 design.
The detail and time that was put into the Franco Columbu concept art suggests that this was an idea that Mr. Cameron had very much intended on using, despite the constraints which would come later via finances or studio suggestions.
Refugee / Terminator T-800 Portrayed by Aaron Williamson in Terminator Genisys
Although credited as Refugee / Terminator, Aaron Williamson portrayed a T-800 in Terminator Genisys.
The infiltration unit is about to terminate Kyle Reese as a child when John Connor saves him. The damage from John Connor’s plasma rifle reveals that Aaron Williamson’s Terminator has a T-800 endoskeleton. To our knowledge a model number was never given to this T-800, and it’s not listed in the movie information / credits.
A leaked statement by Aaron from social media in 2014 stated:
The future of the Terminator franchise has the potential to explore many different model numbers for T-800 Terminator units but for now we’ve seen a total of three different 800 series model numbers in the Terminator movies.
Would you like to see more T-800 model numbers in the movies, more Arnold CSM-101 models, or a mix of both?
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