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A look at ‘Terminator’ history

With three little words and a pair of sunglasses, Arnold Schwarzenegger turned a movie character into a pop-culture icon. The original 1984 “Terminator,” now considered a modern classic, catapulted the careers of the body builder-turned-actor as well as now-Oscar winning director James Cameron with its story of time travel, cyborg assassins and memorable one-liners, including the often-imitated “I’ll be back.”

And he was true to his word. Returning again. And again. And now once again this week with “Terminator: Genisys.” Here is a quick look at the four previous “Terminator” films and the television series.

“Terminator” (1984)

Setting: 1984

A killer cyborg is sent back in time from 2029 to 1984 to kill the future mother of John Connor, the leader of the resistance and the savior of humanity in a war against an artificial intelligence network called Skynet. John sends soldier Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) back to protect his mother, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), a meek and terrified young woman. On the run from the seemingly indestructable T-800 cyborg (Schwarzenegger), they fall in love and set in motion events that affect the future.

“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991)

Setting: 1995

This action-packed sequel is perhaps most memorable for the transformed buff and tough Sarah, a character who opened the way for more strong film heroines. Sarah’s ramblings of an impending apocalypse (set for Aug. 29, 1997) lands her in a mental hospital, while her son is newly targeted for death by the arrival of a very cool shape-shifting T-1000 (Robert Patrick). Showing up to save the 10-year-old whiner John (Edward Furlong), and his mom, is a reprogrammed T-800 (Schwarzenegger).

“Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” (2003)

Setting: 2004

Picking up less than a decade after the second film ends, Sarah has since died from leukemia and Judgment Day has been averted, but John still anticipates an attack from Skynet – for good reason. The company sends a sexy new advanced Terminator, the T-X (Kristanna Loken), to kill members of the resistance. Another reprogrammed Arnold arrives to help yet again. (This was his last role before going into politics.)

“Terminator Salvation” (2009)

Setting: 2018

The battle between the human resistance and Skynet is at its peak in this stylish film from noted director McG set in a post-apocalyptic desert landscape of the future. Failing to stop John Connor’s birth in the past, Skynet now targets John and a young Kyle Reese for death. The film benefits greatly from the intensity of the two lead actors: Christian Bale as John and Sam Worthington as Marcus, a death row inmate from 2003 whose appearance is shrouded in mystery.

“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (TV, 2008-09)

Setting: 1999, 2007

A goth-looking Sarah (Lena Headey) and her teen son, John (Thomas Dekker), are hiding out in New Mexico when their location is exposed to Skynet. John’s life is saved by a terminator named Cameron (Summer Glau), who has been sent back from 2029 by an adult John to save his own life. Cameron takes Sarah and John to 2007 on a mission to stop Skynet.


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