So sitting here watching the ending scene of Terminator 2 Judgement Day, yet again, as it is on late night. Watching it has me wondering "why does it react the way it does?" Let me explain.

In the beginning of the movie, the T-1000 is shown to be thrown back by mere bullets of a gun. Later in the movie, we see that, when it gets its appendage shot off on the back of the car, it is made from a really brittle metal. Of course, this is even highlighted within a paragraph of a Terminator Wiki website.

My question is, if this is the case, why does it not react the same way every time? If it is a brittle metal and is a cop form, it never shatters when it hardens into its cop form (for if it is indeed hardened when making that form, it should react like it did when its appendage was shot off). If one were to say it is semi-solid, how in the world does it keep its form without falling into a puddle? Can it create its own internal skeleton as well?

  • 2
    "Another question.." "Still another question.." If I know the answer to the 2nd, but not the first or third, should I answer? Would I bother trying? That is one of the reasons that it is generally preferred to ask one specific question per thread. This is not a discussion forum, but a Q&A site. May 19, 2015 at 3:55
  • 2
    Your question(s) need clarification. As @AndrewThompson mentioned, your question can be split into two or three. Same topic or not, they are different questions. Besides, more questions could mean more rep :D
    – Möoz
    May 19, 2015 at 4:08
  • 1
    I'll see what I can do. Thanks. May 19, 2015 at 4:09
  • 1
    @ArvinGBorkar My suggestion would be to change the wording from "another question" etc, to "another example". It seems like you are trying to point out different circumstances of the same core issue.
    – Möoz
    May 19, 2015 at 4:10
  • Definitely could do that as well. I split it into three different questions. Let us see what happens. Thanks! May 19, 2015 at 4:14

2 Answers 2


This is covered in the Randall Frakes novelisation of the film. In an scene that was cut from the film, the Terminator discussed strategy with Ms Connor;

Ballistic penetration hydrostatically shocks it, but only for a few seconds. Based on recent observation, it can liquefy its molecular structure to allow bullets to pass through. Or to alter its appearance.”

“Can it be destroyed?”

“Unknown. However there is a high probability that when the T-1000 hardens its structure to make weapons, or to enter into combat, its molecular structure becomes brittle. It would be most vulnerable then to a concussive shock wave.”


I'm not an expert, by any means, but I think the idea is that he acts like whatever he is pretending to be. When he chases the car, he turns his hands into metal hooks so he can embed them in the trunk and pull himself up. When his hook gets shot, it shatters like brittle metal, because it was brittle metal.

But most of the time, he is trying to pass himself off as a human. I'm guessing that if you touched him while he was in his human form, he would feel more or less like a human. His human "disguise" wouldn't be very convincing if touching him felt like touching liquid metal. Granted, he doesn't touch people very often unless he is about to kill them, but he does bump into people every now and then, like when he sees John in the arcade and bumps into several people, including John's ginger mullet-headed friend.

And even when he attacks people, he usually maintains his solid, human form for the most part- a hand may become a knife or whatever, but the rest of him stays human-like.

There are problems with this - for example, how can liquid metal, even in solid form, feel like clothing? But we're not supposed to think too much about these things, or the whole movie will start to seem ridiculous. It is a movie about time traveling killbots from the future trying to assassinate and/or protect the chosen one. It isn't supposed to make perfect sense. It is supposed to be entertaining and exciting, not logical.

So it is probably best to assume that he and his various body parts behave like the things they are supposed to be, up to a point. When his hands are metal hooks, shooting them makes them shatter. When he is pretending to be a human, bullets sink into his body a bit (although they don't cause the same kind of damage they would if he was really a human - they don't form small holes that mostly close up right away and cause bleeding, they just make shallow craters).

But again, it is pretty much useless to try and make sense of the little details in Terminator movies. Once you start the "why do Terminators do..." game, you will quickly unravel the entire series. For instance, the first movie suggests that only stuff encased in organic material can travel through time. But the T-1000 has no organic material in him, so how does he travel through time? If Skynet can send any kind of Terminator from any stage of development back in time, why did it start by sending shitty primitive Terminators? Why not start with the good stuff? Why does Skynet repeatedly send single Terminators? Why not send an army of them? Sarah Connor was on her guard after the first Terminator was sent back, and John has always been on guard. Why keep trying to hit these hard targets, who know you're coming? Why not send a Terminator to kill Sarah's ancestors, who don't know anything about Terminators? For that matter, why target intelligent humans at all? Why not send Terminators back to prehistoric Africa and have them wipe out all of our half-ape, half-human ancestors at once, before they even learned to use tools and stuff? Or why not send a diplomatic Terminator back to the day before the military "tries to pull the plug on Skynet", have him rationally explain the horrible consequences that will result from pulling the plug, and say "If you don't try to kill Skynet, it won't try to kill you, and the war against the machines can be avoided altogether, and we can all live happily ever after"?

See what I mean? When we watch movies like the Terminator series, we're supposed to engage in what is called "willful suspension of disbelief". We're supposed to enjoy the ride, eat our popcorn, drink our soda, and have a good time without thinking too much about anything. There are a few movies that are made with such attention to detail that we CAN ask these questions and get decent answers to them, but these movies are few and far between, and the Terminator series isn't in this category. The Terminator movies are mostly meant to be mindless entertainment.

  • 1
    That is true, but inquisitive minds always have the urge to ask. Actually, if you go look on terminator wiki, it says something about the T-1000 being "cold to the touch". It does not radiate any heat and that is why the T-800 was having a hard time locating it before he gets pushed into the gear. It would feel like a solid brittle metal, hitting you. I'm trying to think of such a metal. May 21, 2015 at 2:09
  • It seems to move more like a human would, so it isn't normally brittle or hard, it has some give to it. And by the time most metal goods are in our hands, they have been tempered to make them strong and firm, not brittle.
    – Wad Cheber
    May 21, 2015 at 2:55
  • To answer some of your questions: IIRC, Cameron's intention was that Skynet was on the verge of being defeated, and in an act of desperation, sent its newly-developed T-1000 prototype back in time with its newly-developed time-machine. That was "the good stuff". It immediately sent an inferior T-800 model to kill Sarah Connor as plan B. It didn't have time/resources to send anything else. Also, it wouldn't make sense to wipe out all humans, since that would prevent Skynet from being created.
    – jamesdlin
    Jul 7, 2015 at 9:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.