When the T-800 hits the T-1000 towards the end, it is in a solid form until Arnold's fist goes through its head, where it can willingly turn into liquid and regroup itself to battle Arnold into the gear.

If it goes into shock every time it is hit with a bullet, how does it withstand that blow? Smaller bullets seem to form craters and knock it back, yet a big slug goes through it and it is seen literally walking up to Sarah Connor unphased?

  • “Based of the previous question (Question About the Composition of the T-1000 Terminator Judgement Day)” — Do you have a URL for that question? That would be more helpful. May 19, 2015 at 8:09
  • I do have the URL; however, that question was edited so much from what it was; it actually does not make sense in reference to this question. May 19, 2015 at 23:44
  • I also don't think big slugs go through the T-1000. They just seem to burrow themselves in a lot deeper than smaller rounds. I never got the impression that any rounds were going clear through his body.
    – Wad Cheber
    May 20, 2015 at 0:05

4 Answers 4


At this stage of the fight the T-1000 has suffered a bit of damage.

  • It's been exposed to an entire Tanker full of Liquid Nitrogen (and subsequently shot into tiny pieces whilst frozen).
  • It was then rapidly heated from sub-zero temperatures due to the nearby molten steel in the steel mill.

Not to mention the multitude of bullets and other debris that it's had to deal with over the course of the movie.

We're shown examples of how it is losing it's ability to hold itself together. In the extended cuts, It puts it's hand on a yellow/black "warning" handrail, and it's hand deforms around the metal and matches it's pattern. Later on, we see that with each step, it's feet melt slightly into the floor. Needless to say, it's not doing so well by this point.

So what does this have to do with the T-800 punching through it's head?

Most of the fight in the mill between the T-1000 and the T-800 is a grapple fight. Grab->Throw->Repeat. The T-1000s body could handle that fairly well and maintain it's cohesiveness.

I believe that - under prime-fighting conditions - the T-800 wouldn't have been able to punch straight through the T-1000's head. However, due to the damage it is suffering, the T-1000's body is losing the ability to hold itself together.

I don't think the T-1000 did that move willingly. I think the T-800 punched hard enough to break through the failing liquid-metal, and the T-1000 compensated by regrowing it's head and turning it's head into it's hands. And this wasn't the only instance of this happening - later, the T-800 finds a large steel bar and swings it straight down through the T-1000, nearly slicing it in two.

In conclusion, I don't think it was deliberately reacting differently to hits, but compensating from it's own current weakness. Both the punch and the steel bar were solid blows, enough to break through the failing liquid-metal. It is clearly suffering from the effects of it's freezing/thawing, and this is noticeable even in fight sequences.

  • 1
    @Wad - Lol ouch. But also the thing to remember is that the T-1000 is, above all else, a very powerful computer. It's body may be failing but it's still capable of reacting faster than any human, to the point that anyone watching that fight (I.e. us) it looks like a planned move. The T-800 never had anywhere near that level of reaction speed, mainly because it was built as a frontal assault unit - get close enough that they can see and suspect you for being a terminator, and whilst they're thinking about it, mow them down with guns. (Cont.)
    – Robotnik
    May 19, 2015 at 23:49
  • 1
    @Wad - Sure, but a martial artist that sees the punch coming is different from one that doesn't. The T-1000 got caught off guard for a split second when the 800 threw that punch. Perhaps the fact that the 800 had been 'learning', and it throwing a punch wasn't what the T-1000 was expecting? We could argue this all day lol, but truth is there isn't definitive evidence either way. I personally put it down to the malleability of the liquid metal at that time, you give the T-1000s ability to predict more weight.
    – Robotnik
    May 20, 2015 at 0:07
  • 1
    Of course it probably has different senses, this doesn't mean that it doesn't use its eyes when it has them. It turns it's head when the kid points to John, sees him, and starts pursuit. It flicks them up to check the mirror in Pescadero State Hospital when the orderly isn't looking. It turns it's head when it hears the chopper at Cyberdyne (before it drives out the window). It uses it's eyes all the time.
    – Robotnik
    May 20, 2015 at 0:50
  • 1
    @Robotnik - I forgot about the scenes where he "looks" when he isn't around anyone else. That definitely proves your point. It doesn't make sense, since his eyes can't contain clear fluid like ours do, which should mean they don't work at all, but I suppose we shouldn't look for logic in a movie about time traveling kill bots sent to assassinate the chosen one. There are bigger problems with Terminator movie logic - like why Skynet didn't send an army of assassins to ancient Africa and wipe out all the ancestors of humans before they were able to defend themselves effectively.
    – Wad Cheber
    May 20, 2015 at 17:27
  • 1
    @WadCheber - Maybe, but still we will never know for sure :). It's open to interpretation. I just reckon they needed Arnie to get a lucky punch in for the T-1000 to compensate and turn in it's favour. :)
    – Robotnik
    May 21, 2015 at 5:03

Fighting effectively isn't just learning how to efficiently damage your opponent. You must also learn how to absorb punishment and keep functioning. The T-1000 started the film with a very limited ability to cope with unplanned deformations of its body. Over the course of the movie as the T-1000 experienced more violent impacts it developed better algorithms that allowed it to restore functionality more quickly. By the end of the film it was mostly unfazed by gun fire, merely jolted by the impacts.


Basically it has to do with kinetics. Energy imparted on target by any missile (and bullet is missile) depends on speed of said missile and it's mass. Bullet, despite having low mass, has great velocity, which causes T-100 to reel back from impact (how much? that's another answer). However, T-800 fist is a somewhat different missile. It would be a piledriver of sorts, actually, with much greater energy due to the speed of the fist (low, of course, compared to bullet) but with greater mass (which, in this instance, would be T-800 body). This much force can, apparently, break the cohesion of the molecules comprising T-1000.

Or can it? Maybe the right question here is Tactics?

I'd say that it "willingly turn into liquid and regroup itself to battle Arnold into the gear" and that had much less to do with being hit, but rather gaining advantage over T-800. And it apparently worked.

Also, from what I know the "wounds" from Sarah's shoutgun would be more than likely with solid shot (not "buckshot" - and this is intended simplification) - biiig bullet, average velocity... but it's still just a bullet. Compare that to 40mm later...

  • The "wounds" caused by Sarah's shotgun suggest that she was firing solid slugs, not buckshot.
    – Wad Cheber
    May 19, 2015 at 23:15
  • Your answer seems to hold some validity. But why not allow small bullets to go through it? I am guessing, if it can really "choose" what goes through it and what it can deflect, the mechanisms within it would rather have something big go through and damage when it is solid. May 19, 2015 at 23:43
  • @ArvinGBorkar reacting to a punch before it hits you is easier than reacting to a bullet before it hits you. He isn't that fast.
    – Wad Cheber
    May 19, 2015 at 23:45
  • 1
    My understanding of concept of "mimetic poly-alloy" would be that there's no need for allowing bullets through - they don't harm him anyway. slow down? Maybe. Harm? No. Maybe except tank round. Man shot at doesn't die from wound per se - it's the hydrostatic shock that does most damage. This depends on the diameter of the bullet - FMJ is less lethal than HP precisely because of that and because doesn't tumble inside much, if at all. What in the bullet will kill T-1000? And @WadCheber is right - he's not fast enough to react to being hit. But doesn't have to.
    – AcePL
    May 20, 2015 at 8:32

For starters, I wouldn't say that he was "unphased" by Sarah's shotgun rounds - he recoils, halts for a second, then continues his slow advance towards her. This is not consistent with his much more dramatic response to the 9mm rounds fired by the T-800 earlier in the movie. We can only speculate about why he reacts so differently, and why a much larger round causes less of a reaction than a much smaller round.

As for the question of why the T-800's fist went straight through the T-1000's head, I have always assumed it did so because the T-1000 wanted it to. He turned a strong attack against him to his advantage by using it as a chance to grab his opponent's hand, spin him around, and launch a counterattack. It was a brilliant maneuver, and it worked out better than he had probably anticipated.

The suggestion that he was malfunctioning by this point doesn't hold up, in my opinion. Just before the head-punch, he is thrown against a wall, and instantly liquifies, then reforms with his body pointed the opposite way (he hit the wall face first, and a second later his back is to the wall and he is facing the T-800 again. I think he had suffered some degree of cumulative damage (after he is frozen, shattered, and reassembled, we see a ripple course upwards through his body, which I interpret as some sort of glitch), but not enough to significantly impair his functionality.

Yes, he is knocked back by bullets, but we never see him being shot while he is in his liquid form. I suspect that shooting T-1000 while he was liquid would be useless and the bullets would pass right through him. We don't know, however, because every time we see him being shot, he is in solid form.

The short answer is basically as follows: As a previous answer points out, a giant robot fist imparts far more force than a measly little bullet. T-1000 didn't want to endure that amount of force if he could avoid it, and he wanted to gain the initiative in the fight, so he very cleverly allowed the fist to pass through his head without doing any damage, then exploited the fact that the T-800 was now off balance by grabbing his arm and whirling him around. It was simply what the T-1000 chose to do, and it worked out very well for him. He regained the upper hand, and temporarily incapacitated his opponent as a result. He is just a very skilled combatant.

  • That is actually not a bad answer at all. I do wonder if the self-awareness of the poly mimetic can choose what to let through and not. Then I would ask, why do the small bullets cause craters instead of going through while bigger bullets do that? Can it somehow anticipate the damage each can cause and so lets the small bullets hit it and the bigger bullets go through so they do not shatter his overall solid form? Like the metal can self-liquefy at will. Interesting. May 19, 2015 at 23:39
  • @ArvinGBorkar - he may be faster than a human, but not by much. It is tricky to anticipate and dodge a punch coming at you, but it is possible. No one can move fast enough to dodge a bullet. He probably doesn't have enough time to react to being shot at and liquefy his body before the bullet hits him. It just happens too fast.
    – Wad Cheber
    May 19, 2015 at 23:43
  • And I don't remember ever seeing a bullet pass clean through him. Some just penetrate deeper than others.
    – Wad Cheber
    May 19, 2015 at 23:46
  • If he could react that quickly, we might expect him to respond to the grenade round entering his torso by liquefying himself before it explodes. I don't know what a 40mm grenade round would do to a puddle of liquid metal, but it would definitely do less damage than it did to the T-1000 in his solid form.
    – Wad Cheber
    May 19, 2015 at 23:51
  • Well there was one that did. I mean we did not actually see a side angle of it; but towards the end, when Sarah shoots the T-1000, it goes straight through. This was the scene right before the T-800 splices him with the rod, that the T-800 later gets stabbed with. May 20, 2015 at 0:48

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.