I was always under the impression that a cyborg was a being, partially robotic partially flesh. Wikipedia backs me up here:

A cyborg, short for "cybernetic organism", is a being with both biological and artificial (e.g. electronic, mechanical or robotic) parts. The term was coined in 1960 when Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline used it in an article about the advantages of self-regulating human-machine systems in outer space.

In another question & answer session here on SE, a comment alerted me to the point that Terminator's always refer to themselves as cyborgs. I'm aware they have 'organic disguise layer'. But is that truly enough to consider them cyborgs?


5 Answers 5


It is the combination of living and mechanical components that makes them cyborgs. The outer-tissue is also interactive with the endoskeleton inside. As the Terminator from Terminator 2 says: “I sense injuries. The data could be called pain.” Implying a bio-mechanical feedback from the skin to the CPU.

The Terminators are also always called cybernetic organisms. From the movie transcripts:

Terminator 1: Reese: Not a robot. A cyborg - cybernetic organism.

Terminator 2: T-8xx: I'm a cybernetic organism. Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton.

Terminator 3: T-8xx: T-X is designed to terminate other cybernetic organisms.

Terminators that would be considered cyborgs would be:

  • T-8xx series.
  • Marcus Wright (T-RIP / T-700 / Hybrid Models)
  • Cameron Phillips (series TOK715?)

Cameron Phillips (from the Sarah Connor Chronicles) is the only Terminator to ever be shown to eat something. She also had functioning tearducts, and can feel heat and wind on her skin.

While they have blood and skin it isn't the same as normal human tissue. In the Sarah Connor Chronicles and Terminator Salvation there is a comment that the Terminator's flesh heals at a much quicker rate than normal humans. Cromartie is also shown to have procured eyes from a living person. He was not able to artificially make eyes for his outer-layer.

In contrast the following Terminators are not considered to be cyborgs:

  • T-1
  • T-600
  • T-1000 / T-1001
  • T-X
  • Actually, there is a deleted scene from the first Terminator movie in which the Terminator eats a chocolate bar... Without removing the wrapper first. So he eats, but he's really stupid.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jul 7, 2015 at 1:49
  • 5
    @WadCheber: or the wrapper also contains essential Terminator nutrients! It could be as much as 60% of his recommended daily aluminium. Jul 19, 2016 at 14:45
  • 1
    Don't forget the T-1000000 from the theme park attraction! Definitely not a cyborg. Sep 16, 2016 at 22:46
  • But doesn't the T-1000 and T-X need an outer tissue of skin to make use of the time displacement unit?
    – user66716
    Sep 10, 2018 at 10:21
  • @jim the time displacement device seems ro be easily fooled "eh, you look human enough, Next!" Sep 10, 2018 at 15:21

The skin isn't the only organic part to certain models. I managed to find this from wikipedia, cited from a novelised-script that pre-dates the first film:

"It's called a cyborg really. Cybernetic organism. A machine put together with a living thing. The skin, and some layers under it, the hair, the surface of the eyes, and the inside of the mouth... all that stuff's human tissue, genetically designed for the cyborgs. But underneath it's all steel and titanium. Hydraulic actuators instead of muscles. Controlled by a microcomputer. It has to eat and breathe to keep the skin alive, though a lot less than us... and there's a little tiny heart and internal organs about the size of a chicken's in a recessed compartment."

As unlikely as it sounds, each T-8* series seems to have tiny organs just for the skin.

I don't think the other models without skin count as cyborgs though.

  • That wasn't part of the first three movies though, right? Apr 12, 2012 at 19:36
  • @Wikis I think given more production time etc. it could have been.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Apr 12, 2012 at 19:46

I don't know why the others here that said the same thing as I'm about to say gained negativity, but it doesn't matter what they call Terminators in the movies if you want to know what they really are defined as in real life.

A cyborg is born human (or other living species) that was turned cybernetic whether the changes were small or completely changing of the living being into a robot. An android was not born human, is not living truly real "life," and is a robot built to resemble and act as if they were a living species like humans.

^That's how it is in most modern pop-culture.

In Terminator they are defined as cyborgs. In real life by real common-use, anything like them would usually be referred to as androids, or simply robots because there isn't any real good definitive line as to when a robot can also be considered human-like enough to also be an android.

  • 6
    Where is this definition sourced from?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jul 19, 2016 at 14:08
  • You are absolutely right, the term "cyborg" was coined in a context of space exploration as a human, whose body was extended with mechanical parts in order to survive in extreme conditions en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyborg#Origins
    – eugenekr
    May 3, 2021 at 8:57

A cyborg is a living biological entity with artificial parts which is therefore has a enhanced with there abilities are basically mechanical or electronic devices, also a human with a bionic implants or mechanical body parts.

An android is a artificial created being in human form that is made to resembling a human with skin covered an organic materials.

The Terminator is not a cyborg, in other hand is basically an android that moves usually an animatronic or self-moving machine to sent him off an mission to kill sarah connor.

  • 4
    Data from Star Trek was an Android, because he resembled a human but had no living components. The Borg are cyborg (along with flesh covered Terminators) because they integrate organic matter with robotics. Sep 12, 2013 at 20:09
  • 1
    No, the Terminator is a cyborg, which is why an actual Terminator says "I'm a CYBERNETIC ORGANISM - LIVING TISSUE OVER A METAL ENDOSKELETON"
    – Wad Cheber
    Jul 7, 2015 at 1:55
  • 1
    Daleks and Cybermen have a lot in common, since they are both cyborgs.
    – user66716
    Jul 3, 2016 at 19:47

Terminators are androids, not cyborgs. Terminators are the killing machines with living tissue over robotic endoskeleton with organic marital. Cyborgs are living organisms with a robotic or mechanical parts. Androids are robots that are made to look and act like human beings or a human-like characteristic in form.

  • 4
    Except by the terminators admission it's a cyborg...
    – AncientSwordRage
    Aug 17, 2013 at 14:44
  • 1
    I like the way you say that Terminators don't know what they are. An actual Terminator says "I'm a CYBERNETIC ORGANISM - LIVING TISSUE OVER A METAL ENDOSKELETON"
    – Wad Cheber
    Jul 7, 2015 at 1:52
  • 2
    @WadCheber yeah a Cybernetic Organism.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jul 19, 2016 at 14:08
  • @AncientSwordRage you understand that even Terminators can be mistaken or mislead, especially when they are figments of scenarist's imagination, right?
    – eugenekr
    May 3, 2021 at 9:00
  • @eugenekr I'm not sure what you're saying or getting at?
    – AncientSwordRage
    May 3, 2021 at 12:19

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