THE TERMINATOR (1984)
Mostly takes place in: 1984.
Plot: Future resistance fighter Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) is sent back in time to protect leader John Connor’s mother (Linda Hamilton ) from the evil cyborg Terminator (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger).
John Connor played by: Doesn’t appear, though his conception does.
Terminators featured: T-800, HK (Hunter-Killer) tank & aircraft. The T-800 features living skin and tissue over a metal endoskeleton.
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991)
Mostly takes place in: 1994, with an expected “Judgment Day” of Aug. 29, 1997.
Plot: Connor sends a reprogrammed Terminator (Arnie) back in time to protect his 10-year-old self from the liquid metal, shape-shifting T-1000 (played by Robert Patrick).
John Connor played by: Newcomer Edward Furlong and very briefly in a future scene by Michael Edwards, who is a model and Priscilla Presley’s former live-in boyfriend.
Terminators featured: T-800, T-1000. The T-1000 can change its shape and impersonate people; also make “knives and stabbing weapons” out of its arms.
TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES (2003)
Mostly takes place in: 2004, the original Judgment Day having been averted.
Plot: Kate Brewster (played by Claire Danes) reprograms the T-850 that killed her husband, John Connor, and sends it back in time to protect them from the T-X.
John Connor played by: Nick Stahl, who also portrayed Yellow Bastard in the film “Sin City.”
Terminators featured: HK, T-1, T-850, T-X. The T-850 (again played by Arnie) was basically an upgraded T-800. The T-X, or “Terminatrix” (played by Kristanna Loken), had a liquid metal covering surrounding an endoskeleton with advanced weaponry.
TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES (2008-2009)
Mostly takes place in: 2007. The recently canceled TV show deviates from the timeline and disregards “T3.”
Plot: A few years after the events of “T2,” Terminators return to the lives of John and Sarah Connor (Lena Headey). A reprogrammed female Terminator named Cameron (a nod to franchise creator James Cameron) is sent back as a protector.
John Connor played by: Thomas Dekker, who will also appear in the upcoming “A Nightmare on Elm Street” remake.
Terminators featured: Cameron (played by Summer Glau) is an unknown model but most likely some variation of an 800-series; T-888, T-1001 (played by Shirley Manson).
TERMINATOR SALVATION (2009)
Mostly takes place in: Post-apocalyptic 2018.
Plot: John Connor battles Skynet, tries to save his father (Reese), and make sense of the mysterious Marcus Wright.
John Connor played by: Christian Bale, a guy you may know from a little film called “The Dark Knight.”
Terminators featured: T-1, T-600, T-700, T-800, the enormous “Harvester,” Hydrobots, HKs, Motorcycle-Terminators and the unique Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), who was converted to a Terminator from his human self — he retained his original brain and heart but also has a metal endoskeleton.