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Name: Terminator
Creator: James Cameron
Date(s): 1984-
Medium: movie series, television series
Country of Origin: USA
External Links: http://fox.com/terminator
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Terminator refers to the franchise encompassing the Terminator movies The Terminator (1984), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator Salvation (2009), Terminator Genisys (2015), and Terminator: Dark Fate (2019), as well as the television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and related tie-in media, including novels, comics, and video games.

Crack_van has an excellent explanation of how the movies and show fit together.

A Muliplicity of Fandoms

Because so many different series and media comprise the Terminator franchise, the fandom itself is often difficult to define as a single entity. While the majority of fans accept the first two films as canon, there is less agreement about other media. The result is that many fans selectively choose which works they accept as canon, while refusing to acknowledge the others.

There are multiple Terminator franchise fandoms, really. I think the two that are hardest to reconcile are the ones focused on Future War and the one, such as the Sarah Connor Gothic Charm School is part of, that focuses on Sarah Connor/Linda Hamilton as the real lead of the first two movies.[1]

These divisions are often along gender and cultural lines, or between curative fandom and transformational fandom.

Fan Debates and Controversies

Role of John Connor

Many fans consider the character of John Connor to be essential to the mythology of the franchise, and were upset by the character's death at the beginning of Dark Fate. Much of the disagreement stemmed over fans' interpretations of which character they considered to be the protagonist of prior films:

I wouldn’t even say [John Connor]'s the protagonist in Terminator 2. He still takes a backseat to Sarah and hell, even the T-800. Sarah and the T-800 kill the T-1000 together. John really has nothing to do with it. John doesn’t go on a hero’s journey in T2 at all. Sarah is the one making the big decisions to stop Judgment Day from happening. John is just along for the ride.

That’s very different from Sarah in the first Terminator. I’d disagree that she’s an object with no agency in that movie. Yes, she has to be pulled into the hell by Kyle, but that’s pretty typical for the unwilling hero. She even has the big scene of rejecting her destiny (“I didn’t ask for this ‘honor’ and I don’t WANT it”), which is common in a hero’s journey. But the first Terminator movie is about her becoming the “legend” Kyle knew her as, and who she’s fully become in T2. By the end of the movie, she’s the one dragging Kyle along, treating him like a fellow soldier, and she’s the one who kills the Terminator.

John’s a Macguffin. Sarah’s the protagonist. It’s always been that way.[2]

Female fans also pointed out the double standard between Dark Fate's reception compared with previous films, which they noted had happened with other female-driven movies like 2016 Ghostbusters reboot and Oceans 8:

it’s funny how action movies have such high regards in the film community but take the same formula and replace the all male cast into women and suddenly it’s the worst movie of all time with several plot holes. [3]

Popular Tropes in Fanworks

While most of the fandom appears to be gen, there are quite a few popular ships as well. Sarah Connor/Kyle Reese is the most popular het pairing, followed by John Connor/Cameron, and John Connor/Kate Brewster. Following the release of Dark Fate, femslash became considerably more common, with Dani Ramos/Grace Harper, and Grace/Dani/Sarah the most common pairings.

Notable Fanworks

(Due to the heterogeneity of the Terminator franchise, this list only includes works that encompass multiple films and/or media that does yet have its own fandom page. Please see each sub-fandom's page for more specific fanworks.)





External Links