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?

  • I thought I saw them dump the arm in the same furnace arnie was deposited in, but don't have the movie to check. Commented Apr 20, 2012 at 18:33
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    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
    Commented Apr 20, 2012 at 18:42
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    @Xantec: Aha, I forgot about the second leftover arm.
    – gnovice
    Commented Apr 20, 2012 at 18:55
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    I always thougt it was because the second leftover arm had his own plan to achive global domination.
    – DavRob60
    Commented Apr 20, 2012 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
    Commented Dec 13, 2014 at 12:52

6 Answers 6


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. Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 7:43
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    EXTREEEEEEEME Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 8:55

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.


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?


There was an image on the Terminator 3 website that implied that they had recovered the arm and were adapting technologies to use it. I had to do some digging to find the image but I found it at:


2nd Terminator's (from Terminator 2) left arm in Terminator 3 movie.

Why this wasn't in the movie (I only saw theatrical version) I don't know.

  • 1
    Can you embed the image so that the rest of us can see it if the external link breaks for some reason?
    – amflare
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 21:11
  • Sure. I did that just now. Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 21:19

Well....it did actually kinda-sorta come up. Before T3 came out were the series of novels by S. M. Stirling (in my opinion superior to all the post-T2 movies).

Short version, secret spy military guy Tricker grabs the two guys in charge of Cyberdyne and says right, you lot screwed up, this can't happen again, I let you have freedom before to build your silly little company and look where that lead. Here's a new arm and now you live in this bunker and study it.

The arm, as a nice detail, is superior to the old arm as they only managed to recover the forearm-forward from the T1 terminator. But the T2 terminator had his arm ripped off at the shoulder. So not only did they have more, but more complex parts too- the range of motion necessary to a shoulder socket, how the "tendons" in the forearm connected to parts along the upper arm, etc.

So this doesn't answer your question directly (you asked about subsequent films) but remember that at the time these were written, there were no subsequent films.


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.

  • Although an interesting thought-experiment, this answer doesn't address the question asked.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 27, 2015 at 8:20

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