In Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Sarah starts off being terrified of the Terminator.

Then she accepts its presence, primarily because it is useful to her at the time, but she still doesn't want it around.

In a deleted scene, the Terminator reveals that its CPU is set to a "read only" setting, and if they want it to learn how to behave like a human, they need to open its head, pull out the CPU chip, flip a switch, and reinsert it. After Sarah has pulled out the chip, which also has the effect of shutting down the Terminator, she attempts to smash it, but John stops her, pointing out that they need the Terminator's help if they are going to live long enough to stop Skynet. She reluctantly accepts his argument, and allows him to reinstall the CPU and reboot the Terminator.

She gradually becomes more tolerant of the Terminator, but still remains aloof from it, and doesn't interact with it very much. Still, in the scene in which they are at Enrique's camp, her narration says that she now knows that the Terminator is the best possible guardian for John, and is not susceptible to the same flaws that human men are - "It will never get angry and hit him, it will never be too busy to spend time with him", etc.

Finally, at the end of the film, just before she lowers the Terminator into the molten steel, she smiles and shakes his hand, showing her respect for him and everything he has done for her and John. In her outro narration, she even goes so far as to say that the Terminator taught her to appreciate the value of humanity.

Is there any explanation of when she began to trust the Terminator? If such information is available, I imagine it would be in the novelization.

  • 6
    There was a novelisation?
    – Valorum
    Jul 7, 2015 at 7:59

1 Answer 1


There are two different things going on: Trust and affection.

Trusting the Terminator

After Sarah, John and the T-800 reach the garage (and in the deleted scene, they flip the T-800's chip to "learning mode"), Sarah says in so many words that she doesn't trust the T-800, and stays awake all night to watch it in case it turns on them.

By the time they reach Enrique's camp, Sarah has made up her mind to trust the T-800. For example, she leaves the T-800 alone with John in the weapons bunker. She understands it's a machine, and it will follow its programming, protect John and obey his orders. She still doesn't like the T-800, because it was built by Skynet, and it closely resembles the one which killed Reese and nearly killed her.

(Incidentally, Sarah only got a good look at the original flesh-covered T-800 for a few seconds, in the nightclub and again when it punched through the car windshield. Otherwise, she was mostly running away from it as fast as possible. But one can see how those few seconds would make a strong impression.)

Sarah's Turning Point

The big emotional turning point for Sarah isn't directly related to the T-800. It's when she stops herself at the last moment from murdering Miles Dyson in front of his wife and son. Until this point, she has maintained the persona of a merciless warrior, for example checking John for wounds instead of hugging him. (Ironically, her behaviour has become very much like that of her mortal enemy, the Terminator.) When she steps back from killing Miles, that persona breaks down, and she is more open to love and affection.

Over the next few scenes, she gradually develops respect and affection for the T-800. It's still following the directives of its programming, so it may not be choosing to help her and John -- although at the very end, it disregards John's tearful "I order you not to go", so it may have attained some form of free will.

Be that as it may, the T-800 looks (sort of) human; so regardless of logic, Sarah comes to like it, until at the end she steps forward to shake its hand.

  • 5
    That reminds me of the great performance of Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. The point of her breakdown after Miles is saved was well done and unexpected for an action cliché movie. She really made it memorable Jul 8, 2015 at 19:50
  • 2
    Edited after watching T2 again yesterday. Important point: Sarah chooses not to kill Dyson, she lowers the gun and collapses before John and the T-800 arrive. Jul 12, 2015 at 22:46

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.