In the original film, The Terminator, Schwarzenegger's character was a "Cyberdyne Systems Model 101". Likewise for Terminator 2 & 3.

However, in the video game adaptation of Terminator 3, this same cyborg is referred to as a T-800. Terminator: Salvation reused this same model name.

Was there ever an explanation as to how this paradox originated? Or was this just the most embarrassing fluke in film writing history?

  • 1
    This kind of thing is not exactly uncommon in the real world. The iPhone 5s comes in models called "iPhone6,1" and "iPhone6,2", Windows 7 is really Windows NT 6.1, and so on.
    – Mike Scott
    Sep 18, 2014 at 6:55
  • 1
    Not to mention the new "Windows 10". Microsoft didn't even bother with a "Windows 9" product. Oct 7, 2014 at 4:14
  • Just a quick prod that you've not marked any of the answers as "accepted". Is there anything else you think should be addressed?
    – Valorum
    Jul 2, 2016 at 17:38

3 Answers 3


According to the Terminator Wiki, James Cameron explicitly addresses this point in the DVD Commentary for Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The T-800 is the name of the series (i.e. the metal endoskeleton) and the 101 model number is the name of the skin overlay:

"...the model 101s all look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, with a 102 looking like someone else..." - James Cameron: T2 Commentary

This was also confirmed in the official trailer for Terminator 2 : Judgement Day as you can see in the image below:

enter image description here

  • 12
    The Model 102s probably look like Sylvester Stallone.
    – Compro01
    Sep 19, 2014 at 18:08

The T-800 is a series of terminators, of which the CSM (Cyberdyne Systems Model)-101 was just one implementation of the T-800 series. The CSM-102 had an identical skeletal structure, but looked like someone else (IE, not Swarzenegger). Likewise for the CSM-103, 104, 105, etc.

In other words, T-800 is the model number of the metal body, whereas CSM-101 is the skin, hair, etc.

I'm not 100% sure, but I think the CSM-101 could also be implemented in the other T-8xx series cyborgs, such as the T-831, or the T-850.

  • 4
    If I remember right we see one of the other models during one of Reese's flashbacks in the original movie.
    – Xantec
    Sep 16, 2014 at 20:57
  • 9
    CSM-102 seems to based on Sylvester Stallone, if you check Arnold's other movie Last Action Hero... ;) Sep 17, 2014 at 10:12
  • 2
    @JuhaUntinen Still more canonical than that last abomination of a movie...
    – John O
    Sep 17, 2014 at 16:36
  • 2
    The Terminator in T3 was a T-850, so I'd say the CSM-101 is confirmed for other series. Sep 17, 2014 at 17:04

Just to add in another point here. Remember that this was the Infiltrator series, and despite Arnie being the model we see most, he is not the ONLY one that we see. In the very first movie, when Kyle is sitting in the base looking at Sarah's photo, an Infiltrator comes in who is very clearly a different model.

Now, if we take Stirling's books into account, the Infiltrator series were actually humans who were cybernetically advanced in a variety of methods.

Hope this has muddied the waters a little better.

  • I wonder if there was ever a Sylvester Stallone T-600 series, with the rubber skin. May 12, 2015 at 8:01
  • 1
    Correction - the "initial" Infiltrator series was made up of cybernetically-enhanced humans. In the comics by Dark Horse, the Infiltrators were the prototype for the T-800 series. Presumably, Sam Worthington's character in Terminator: Salvation would be the prototype for that initial Infiltrator process. In the comics, SkyNet was capturing wounded resistance fighters and turning them into Infiltrators.
    – Omegacron
    Oct 5, 2016 at 16:51

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