''I'll Be Back,'' the T-1000, and more milestones in ''Terminator'' history

By Chris Nashawaty
Updated May 01, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

1. ”I’ll Be Baaahhhk”
An hour into 1984’s The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s shades-wearing killing machine enters a police station to find Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). He tells the night desk captain he’s a friend of hers. No dice. Then he says those three words… and a catchphrase — and catchphrase-coining career — is born. He does come back, of course, with a pair of very large guns, and blasts the place to hell.

2. Linda Hamilton’s Biceps In T2
In the seven-year gap between the first installment and 1991’s sequel Judgment Day, Hamilton transformed from mousy damsel in distress to Sarah Connor: Warrior Princess — with a new, ripped physique to match. Was it her life on the run? Or maybe all of those pull-ups her character was doing in the Pescadero loony bin? Either way, a new action heroine was born. And also a pumped-up cultural rethink of the feminine ideal.

3. T3 Crane Chase
Say what you want about Jonathan Mostow’s third Terminator, 2003’s Rise of the Machines. But we dig it. Mostly for its deranged, over-the-top chase scene between a flailing crane and a fire truck that leaves more destruction in its wake than an F5 tornado. This is exactly why people love summer movies.

4. Bad To The Bone
When Schwarzenegger’s ”good” Terminator arrives in T2 in all of his Bavarian buffness, he promptly enters a biker bar and proceeds to beat the stuffing out of a bunch of rednecks before exiting in their leathers, shotgun in hand. Cue George Thorogood’s ”Bad to the Bone.” An iconic moment that’s badass and funny.

5. Robert Patrick As T2‘S Liquid Metal T-1000
You could actually hear people in the theater gasp. That’s how freakin’ cool Stan Winston and ILM’s T-1000 was. If you tried shooting him (and, man, how Schwarzenegger tried), the bullet wounds would seal themselves back up. His finger could become a deadly ice pick. He could walk through prison bars. This wasn’t just eye candy of the sweetest, tastiest variety, it was downright revolutionary — the next gambit in Hollywood’s ever-escalating F/X arms race.

6. Judgment Day
Computer network Skynet, as prophesied, becomes self-aware, and the world’s nukes are launched. During the explosive finale of T3, mushroom clouds blossom like a nightmare version of the Fourth of July. It’s only a movie, but it’s completely haunting.

7. She Put The ‘X’ In The Model T-X
Kristanna Loken’s fembot in T3 wasn’t as high-tech as the T-1000, but behind her catwalk looks was a cold-eyed killer. Exhibit A: when she carjacks (in the nude!) a Beverly Hills cougar and drives off wearing the woman’s leather pantsuit.

8. ”I Know Now Why You Cry”
No one will ever call T2 a three-hankie weepie. But you’d have to be made of stone not to get choked up when Ah-nuld self-terminates at the end. Especially when he utters his parting words to lil’ Eddie Furlong. Sniffle.

9. Schwarzenegger’s T1 Face-Lift
He’s been put through the wringer, but Arnold’s Terminator just keeps coming and coming with the fury of a cornered bull. Even after his skin is burned off in the last reel of the film, and he’s reduced to a creepy metal endoskeleton with glowing red devil’s eyes, his mission remains the same: Don’t stop until the target is dead. Twenty-five years later, the F/X may look primitive, but you still feel the dread.

10. The One-Handed Harley Reload
Schwarzenegger and Furlong are on a motorcycle, being chased at high speed by a semi truck that’s got Patrick’s T-1000 behind the wheel. Ah-nuld raises his shotgun with one hand while steering the bike with the other. He aims. He pulls the trigger. Blam! And then he cocks the rifle again by twirling it on his finger like a yo-yo. This is what an action sequence would look like if John Wayne had ever worked with John Woo.