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This has always bugged me.

In Terminator 2, it is made clear that the terminator that came in the first movie resulted in a changed history, with Skynet being developed at a faster rate by Cyberdyne systems based on research they did on the terminator arm and chip.

This plot point is emphasized during T2 when they blow up Cyberdyne systems, and at the end where arnie must destroy himself to prevent the same thing from happening.

But the "Uncle Bob" Terminator had to break off his lower arm in some machinery after a tussle with the T1000. Why then were they so oblivious to the arm he left behind in the factory? Why was it not mentioned in any subsequent films?

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I thought I saw them dump the arm in the same furnace arnie was deposited in, but don't have the movie to check. – Clockwork-Muse Apr 20 '12 at 18:33
They dumped the arm from the first terminator, in Terminator, into the furnace. But the Terminator 2 terminator, the second one, had to break off its lower arm in some machinery after a tussle with the T1000. – Xantec Apr 20 '12 at 18:42
@Xantec: Aha, I forgot about the second leftover arm. – gnovice Apr 20 '12 at 18:55
I always thougt it was because the second leftover arm had his own plan to achive global domination. – DavRob60 Apr 20 '12 at 23:05
Given the excellent answer from @MajorStackings (covering both the behind-the-scenes DVD and the official novelisation) you should probably mark this as 'accepted'. – Valorum Dec 13 '14 at 12:52

My source didn't mention why the scene was left out of the movie, but according to Randall Frakes novelization of the film, John tossed the crushed arm into the vat and destroyed it.

I found this reference while watching the Extreme Interactive Mode with Graphic Commentary and Rare Behinds-the-Scenes Footage included in the special features menu on the T2:EXTREME DVD

Terminator's crushed left forearm is still stuck in the chaindrive...a point addressed in Randall Frakes novelization of the film... by having John later retrieve it and toss it into the molten pit as well.

Frakes Novelisation

Then John remembered Terminator’s other arm back down the row of smelters, and ran to get it. It was a pile of useless, twisted metal, but the metal was from the future and this time they weren’t leaving anything to chance.

When John tossed the pieces in, one by one, he and Sarah felt a shudder deep within the bowels of the earth.

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I would guess that no one thought about this loose end until after filming had been completed. – Kyle Strand Jun 18 '15 at 7:43

The left over android arm might advance the material sciences, robotics and/or prosthetic industries. But without the CPU, the computer science advances needed for the development of Skynet were left unaccelerated.
Ultimately, the arm made little impact in the overall story, possible until such time as Skynet was already active and on its killing rampage. At that point the arm may have contributed to the development of the T800 endoskeleton, but who would have been keep track at that time?

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The crushed arm would likely have been discarded as scrap. The shattered forearm and hand were mangled and left snarled in the gears of a machine in a foundry. The worker who found the mess would likely prise the metal out of the gears to get them turning freely, and then move on to other tasks. Superintelligent machines would not be on his mind.

On the other hand, at the end of The Terminator, the crushed head, arms and torso of the T800 were left behind in a highly mechanized factory. The parts would have been crushed, but they would not look like mere scrap metal to the people who worked there. They would be set aside and examined, and once their unique properties were discovered, off we go on an expedited path to Judgment Day.

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Personally, my head-canon is that the arm that Uncle Bob leaves behind is what splits the Terminator franchise into two after T-2:

  1. The arm is left behind - It ends up being found and advances Skynet, albeit a bit slower than originally planned and sets in motion the events that cause T-3 to happen. Basically that whole "There is a fate and it's Judgement Day always" that T-850 spouts off? Yeah, turns out it's actually avoidable if they had gotten rid of the arm.

  2. The arm is destroyed - This allows Judgement Day to be postponed a bit longer than T-3 would've had it, kicking off the events that cause the Sarah Connor Chronicles to happen.

It makes sense seeing as Judgement Day is further away in SCC than in T-3, and the fact that SCC is an alternate timeline.

As for why they didn't mention the arm after T2, it was most likely an oversight or intentionally left alone to not repeat what T-2 has already done. In-universe, we don't see what they did after the T-800 is destroyed, but one of the novels states that John takes the arm and throws it into the molten pit as well.

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Although an interesting thought-experiment, this answer doesn't address the question asked. – Valorum Sep 27 '15 at 8:20

A deleted scene from the first movie shows Two scientists/engineers take the chip out to look at it. An officer says not to touch anything until they are done. One of them slides the chip into his jacket pocket. The scene goes outside to see Sarah being put into an ambulance. The camera pans up to show the factory is Cyberdyne Systems. The start of things to come

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Interesting to know about the deleted scene, but it's not really relevant to the question. – Paul D. Waite Feb 27 '13 at 12:14
The deleted scene described here is from the original Terminator, not Terminator 2. See – Kenster Sep 27 '15 at 15:34

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