In Terminator 2, during the escape from the mental hospital, how is it that Sarah Connor, John Connor and the Terminator suddenly become a well trained team? This becomes very apparent just after the trio exit the elevator to the parking garage. While watching the scene, Sarah stops a patrol car and forces the officer inside to exit the vehicle. The Terminator then throws the officer aside and takes the driver seat. John enters the rear seat and his mother takes the front passenger.

Now while the car is driven aggressively backwards, Sarah is firing shots from her pistol until she's empty at the approaching T-1000. When she's empty the terminator takes to firing his shotgun, and in between John is rapidly handing out spare magazines for the pistol and shoving shells into the shotgun.

Once the trio break out into the open, again they appear to working as a team with Sarah being told to drive while the terminator stands up out of the vehicle and engages the T-1000 hanging onto the rear of the patrol car.

I only say that they appear to be using teamwork because of the ease of duties being delegated without much being said to anyone. Even with highly trained special operations teams, the ease that this happens takes years of practice.

So how is it that these three mesh so well as a team?

  • 4
    "Even with highly trained special operations teams, the ease that this happens takes years of practice."...umm...no it doesn't. If you've made it past boot camp, you know how to work as a unit. What advanced units do has nothing to do with cohesion, its training muscle memory. Jul 22, 2015 at 19:10
  • @searchengine27 - The vast number of people killed and wounded by friendly battlefield fire would suggest otherwise
    – Valorum
    Jan 20, 2023 at 11:33

3 Answers 3


Before Sarah was sent to the mental hospital she was training with weapons as she was told in T1. The trio later shows up at her Mexican friend's place where she stored tons of weapons. John knew about this vault and she probably taught John how to use them as well. So it is basically just mother and son who are already an experienced team.

The T-800 also is proficient with weapons and in this scene he basically is just driving the car and is trying to give Sarah some clear shots. For me it isn't very surprising that they work together well.

  • 2
    To add to this, the Terminator that was sent back by John and co would likely have been programmed to work with their training. Not that the present day Connors would know this, but it makes some sense it would initially behave in a manner that the others could easily work with.
    – Mr.Mindor
    Jul 22, 2015 at 18:36

I think you've misread the scene. There's no teamwork, what you're seeing is three people operating under a loose chain of command with the Terminator taking control of the situation:

  • Sarah and the Terminator both fire into the ceiling as fast as they're able. The only coordination is on Sarah's part, standing aside while the Terminator shoots.
  • When entering the vehicle, Sarah allows the Terminator to drive because she's just suffered a massive shoulder wound.
  • John can drive, but Sarah shoves him roughly into the rear seat.
  • The Terminator gives Sarah another magazine. He's clearly expecting her to open fire immediately (which she does).
  • John is given the Shotgun and assumes the junior role, reloading the guns.
  • As soon as the shotgun is reloaded, Terminator fires it. This is the same pattern throughout, no coordination of fire, just two people firing their weapons as fast as they can be reloaded
  • The Terminator orders Sarah to "Drive" before embarking on a solo mission. Again, no coordination but a clear order given.
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    I would also add that this isn't a complicated situation - once they get into the car, they have to (1) drive and (2) shoot a single guy as many times as possible. This is a pretty straightforward task.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jul 22, 2015 at 20:11

I don't think the characters are doing anything especially impressive here.

  • Sarah manages to get most of the way to the elevators on her own. John and his pet Terminator show up just as the T-1000 does. The most remarkable thing she does at this point is to trust the Terminator, albeit with serious reservations. They watch as the T-1000 melts through the prison bars, which is enough to get Sarah, John, and the T-800 up and moving again.

  • With the guards and doctors now out of the way, the group has only one enemy to deal with. As such, the obvious move is now to shoot that one enemy as many times as possible. Therefore, they do so. Sarah has presumably decided that she can worry about the T-800 later, because the T-1000 is clearly the bigger threat. Everyone knows that the most important thing is to get the hell out of Dodge. Therefore, they vamoose.

  • They run to the elevator. Once inside, it is incredibly obvious that their top priority is to make sure that the T-1000 doesn't get in. Hence, more shooting.

  • In the garage, a cop car pulls up; it goes without saying that the group needs a car, and they can't afford to lose any time, so Sarah puts a bullet through the windshield and yells "Get out!" The cop is startled, so he hesitates; therefore, the T-800 helps him along and tosses him aside.

  • They get in the car. Everyone realizes that the priority here is to keep John safe at all costs, so they toss him in the back seat and tell him to stay down. The T-1000 chases them, so no one has to be told that speed is of the essence. The T-800 puts rubber to metal and they race away.

  • Holy crap, that metal guy is fast! The car is moving as quickly as it can, and with no other options available, the solution is clearly more bullets. Since John's most important job is to not get shot in the face, he has to keep his head down while mom and Uncle Bob do the shooting. He isn't useless, however, so it is only natural that Sarah and the T-800 let him do the reloading. He has spent most of his life learning how to fight, so he is more than capable of doing it.

  • From this point onwards (and really, this has been the case since they got into the car), there are only two things to do: drive and shoot. This is well within everyone's capabilities, and it is so obvious that it doesn't need to be said. This isn't a real battle: in actual warfare, there are tons of variables, enemies all over the place, and usually, a great deal of confusion. The situation our heroes find themselves in is not so complex - there is one bad guy, and the idea couldn't be more simple: shoot him repeatedly until he is far enough away that you can stop worrying about him. And that is precisely what they do.

Note that at no point during this sequence of events was there any room for confusion about what everyone should be doing. It was always totally apparent that the T-800 was the bulldozer, Sarah was his backup, and John was the guy who had to avoid dying. Sarah's previous experience with Terminators was entirely negative, but she knows enough about them to know that she should let the T-800 do the heavy lifting, whether that means letting him absorb gunfire, letting him go toe to toe with the T-1000, or letting him drive.

For the most part, everyone understood their respective roles without the need for discussion. How did they know this? Because it had been ingrained in them all along. John grew up hearing about his destiny - to be the savior of humanity. Sarah was the one who taught him this, and also taught him everything he needed to know in order to become a military leader. So both of them had already been in this mindset for as long as John had been alive. They had been steeped in a combat mentality for over a decade.

And of course, the T-800's rason d'être was to shoot things. He exists solely because he can fight. Everything else is secondary to his combat abilities. If he wasn't a skilled warrior, he wouldn't have been made in the first place.

So, in a nutshell, there is nothing surprising about three warriors being able to fight like a well oiled machine at a moment's notice. Of the three, only Sarah hadn't been training for this her entire life. John and the T-800 had never known a time when they weren't focused on tactics, strategy, weaponry, combat training, and armed conflict.

Frankly, it would be much more surprising if they didn't work so well together from the word go.

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