It is basic/common knowledge that our skin/flesh requires proteins etc carried by blood and pumped by a heart to travel around the body to live.

Its possible that Terminator's have blood underneath their living tissue, we certainlly have seen blood on Terminator's through out the universe cannon, but have not seen they have some sort of a heart to pump this blood around and they certainly do not eat.

So the question is: How does a terminators living tissue actually live?

Is there some EU information how it technically works?

5 Answers 5


In the third movie, we are revealed that the T-800 model has two (quite unstable if hit) batteries (no information on the T-1000 power circuit, so to speak.)

It could be that these batteries, on top of powering the whole mechanical body, also serves as power supply for maintaining the tissues alive, using required chemicals reserves stored somewhere inside the T-800, in the empty space left between the skin and the metallic skeleton (when you see the skeleton alone, there is room at hips level for organic fluid that could be used to keep the skin/hairs/eyes alive.)

  • 5
    This answer is 100% speculation.
    – user20155
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 3:53

The caloric requirements of the living tissue layer are probably pretty small; it has very little muscle mass and no brain, and isn't responsible for maintaining body temperature (although it must distribute heat normally, so as to look normal in infrared). It must heal normally, and maybe replenish lost blood-- but it doesn't bleed much, even if you, say, strip all the flesh off a forearm.

So the T-800 will need a heart (not very big or strong, perhaps mechanical), a small lung (somewhere), some kind of blood filter, maybe a little bone marrow, and either a small reserve of fat or a sugar synthesizer. That should keep it looking good for at least a few weeks without maintenance, which is all an infiltrator really needs.

  • 1
    This is pretty much spot on what what I've gathered.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 0:24

A tiny chicken heart.

Yup, each T-800 has a tiny chicken heart that keeps the skin and other 'organic' components ticking. Or at least, from my sources below, a heart the size of a chicken, probably synthesised.

Here is a link to my answer on another question - in short, this is mentioned in the novelised-script:

...and there's a little tiny heart and internal organs about the size of a chicken's in a recessed compartment."


From the original movie, I had the impression that the living tissue starts to die pretty much right away. Certainly, the original terminator starts to smell bad an attract flies pretty soon after his first injury.

I gather that's been changed subsequently - the Wikipedia article on the Terminator goes into some detail, with references to the Sarah Connor Chronicles TV show.

  • 3
    His injuries get infected/necrotic and start to stink and draw flies, because he's dedicating no time to cleaning or treating them. It's about what would happen to a human leper who was getting into knife fights in alleys (minus the blood poisoning). In the second movie we see Sarah treating the T-800's bullet wounds, presumably to prevent just that.
    – Beta
    Commented Feb 14, 2012 at 21:20
  • Certainly arguable either way, since it wasn't addressed directly in either movie. Like I mentioned, the TV show apparently came up with an explanation for how a Terminator that wasn't on a short-term mission would be able to repair their outer covering. Commented Feb 14, 2012 at 23:20
  • -1 I would argue this answer is more speculation than anything, could you back it up from anywhere? Even if it's the 'retcon' in SCC?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 0:23
  • 1
    The tissue can recover from traumatic injury if provided with medical treatment. In T2, Sarah asks "Uncle Bob" as she removes bullets from his back- "Will these heal up?" He nods yes. "That's good." She goes on to say (as she digs in) "Because if you can't pass for human, you won't be much good to us." Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 3:06

As Reese says in the first Terminator film:

These were different. Sweat, bad breath, everything. Very hard to spot.

So, the living tissue must have something like normal biological processes, right down to having sweat glands and hosting bacteria to cause bad breath.

In addition, we see in Terminator Genisys that

the Terminator's living tissue can survive for decades, aging as if it were normal human flesh; and it can regrow flesh after it has been stripped away from the metal skeleton, although for something the size of an arm the process takes years.

It seems unlikely that the Terminator has enough onboard nutrients to sustain and regrow its flesh in this way. So, it must be able to absorb nutrition from food, which would imply some sort of rudimentary digestive system. Possibly the food has to be of a special type -- perhaps it requires a liquid nutrient solution, similar to that used for intravenous feeding.

It would also need an equivalent of lungs, as well as a circulatory system. We don't see injured Terminators bleed much, but this might be explained by a very efficient clotting process.

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