In this scene did the Terminator receive burns and his hands and legs/feet?

This has always bothered me when watching Judgment day, considering that the terminator is living flesh over a metal endoskeleton, when he is sent back in time and arrives it leaves a huge hole in the ground and around him.

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In the scene you see the red hot metal on the truck and the red hot glow on the ground. He stays there for a while so I can't understand how he does not receive burns. The red glow is from heat as you can see the metal cool down:

At 1:30 he arrives:

I can't seem to find anything that shows he was burnt here, was there ever anything mentioned in or out universe?

2 Answers 2


I think the answer lies not in looking at the Terminator, but at the humans. Several times in the series, humans have transported, appearing on bare ground (unfortunately, Kyle Reese is NOT an example as he appears in mid-air and falls):

In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles we see humans travel to the future at least twice, in the first episode and the last. In the last, you can see, they land on the ground. Now, the ground is not red-hot, but they are there signs of fire around the immediate area.

In Terminator: Genisys we see Sarah and Kyle travel into the future, landing on a freeway (much like in the pilot of SCC, but with more action):

Again, no visible glowing dent in the ground that I could spot... but it looks like roughly the same material as where the T-800 landed (asphalt) and the humans don't seem adversely affected (then again, Sarah gets hit by a car and is walking a few minutes later, so, movie magic!)

So, in neither of these cases do the humans seem to have any trouble as you might expect from someone who had their bare feet in contact with something extremely hot.

I think the logical conclusion is that, looks aside, the area immediately around a time travel arrival is NOT hot enough to burn or severely hurt human flesh. Perhaps the "red hot" appearance is some artifact of time travel, excess low-wavelength photons bleeding through, or just one of those things that filmmakers throw in because it looks cool but does not accurately represent the "physics" of time travel at all.

It should be noted that in Terminator: Genisys, they do almost a shot-by-shot remake of the two arrivals from the original movie. You can see a comparison here:

It's uncanny how close they get, but there is one pertinent difference I noticed... in the original, the T-800 does NOT arrive in a glowing depression in the ground, despite arriving in exactly the same location, while the remake follows the convention of the Terminator sequels. However, the discrepancy does pose a problem if you want to take the "what appears on screen is canon, and on-screen it's red-hot!" approach, because it wasn't what happened in the original movie and now you need an explanation as for why.

  • Sarah is probably a terminator in disguise. There's no other way to explain walking shortly after getting hit by a car. (Other than ridiculously dumb writing, of course.) Oct 20, 2016 at 14:05

"Terminator Rules" Time Travel, using Skynet-branded Time Displacement Equipment (TDE), from all relevant sources, tells us that:

  1. Only Living Flesh, "...something about the field generated by a living organism...." can be transported via the "Temporal Bubble"
  2. The TDE requires obscene, huge amounts of power to function.

Whatever mechanism of physics allows this "Temporal Bubble" to be selective to living tissue reacts to non-living tissue in a violent manner, displacing or disintegrating the matter that would exist within the boundaries of the "Temporal Bubble" at its destination, leaving the matter directly outside of the bubble in an excited state - a state that displays the glowing properties noticed in the time travel scenes. The nature of this state is not determinable, as its effects are only observable.

Due to this effect, we see sections of matter, like the cut-open truck and the concave impression in the ground during the events of Terminator 1, glowing - as if gouged out by a sphere shaped implement.

This glowing effect could be a phosphorescent or light based effect and not a heat effect - it may be only perceived as a heat effect due to the reddish coloration of the visual effects used.

The "Temporal Bubble" is associated with lightning-like effects while being observed, and these elements may be the cause of any fires seen during "Temporal Bubble" scenes, as opposed to a result of the glowing effect.

If the glowing effect is, in fact, indicative of a high temperature, the living tissue of an T-series Infiltration Unit would only be in contact with this for a short duration, and as seen by fire-walking humans, this can be withstood by human flesh for a short duration of time. This assumes that Skynet engineered Terminator flesh has the same exact properties as regular human flesh, and I submit that Skynet engineered it to be better than regular human flesh, therefore higher durability is likely.

A T-series Infiltration unit is designed to mimic human appearance enough to get close to a target while being resistant to damage - something so insignificant as a third degree burn on the feet is not going to be a consideration for the machine, especially since the injury can be covered up by any footwear of appropriate size the infiltration unit can acquire. As demonstrated in several scenes, a T-series infiltration unit is very good at acquiring inventory for a mission.

Skynet is a machine intelligence that is constantly trying to improve its equipment and technology, and I propose that the differences in the effects of the "Temporal Bubble" leave upon its destination are the result of this improvement cycle - leaving less evidence of a "Temporal Bubble" is advantageous as it retains the element of surprise, not giving those sneaky humans any evidence that an infiltration unit, flesh covered weapons pod, mimetic polyalloy, or nanomachine colony has been sent to the target area.

In canon, power generation was always an issue for Skynet, who still competed with humans for resources - a TDE device which wasted less power during temporal insertion, as observed by less of an effect to the target area, would be advantageous in several ways. More temporal insertions could be accomplished with less power, allowing that energy to be put into interdimensional transportation or timeline-altering research processing.

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