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Here's How You Can Watch Every Movie In The Terminator Series

Few film series have ever blended chilling horror, thrilling sci-fi action, and twisty time travel antics as effectively (or as awesomely) as the Terminator movies. The inaugural entry, 1984's The Terminator, simply caught everybody by surprise. It was a very early work from future King of the World James Cameron, it made a household name out of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it spawned a film franchise almost as difficult to stop as its namesake killing machine, the cyborg sent back from a dystopian future to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the mother of future resistance leader John Connor. Not bad for what was, at its core, a low-budget slasher flick from an unheralded filmmaker, starring an Austrian bodybuilder with a name few Americans at the time could pronounce.

Cameron's follow-up, 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day, was upon its release the most expensive movie ever produced, thanks to Schwarzenegger's greatly increased paycheck, a plethora of large-scale action set pieces, and some (still impressive) early CGI work. The film is a stone-cold action classic — but it took a dozen years for the next installment in the series to surface, by which time Cameron had moved on from the director's chair. Helmer Jonathan Mostow's 2003 effort Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was reasonably well-received, though, and it paved the way for a new generation of filmmakers to take their cracks at the franchise.

Unfortunately, most fans agree that the next two entries — director McG's Terminator Salvation, the 2009 flick that effectively put a fork in the series' narrative to that point; and Alan Taylor's 2015 entry Terminator Genisys, which was intended as a soft reboot — were inessential installments, to put it politely. 2019's Terminator: Dark Fate from Deadpool director Tim Miller was something of a return to form, with Hamilton returning to the role of Sarah Connor for the first time since T2 and Cameron once again having a hand on the wheel in a producing role.

All six Terminator movies are available for rent or purchase on Amazon, but there other streaming options for you if you're in the mood to marathon. Here's how you can watch them all online.

There are a variety of options for streaming The Terminator and T2

You've probably seen them both a hundred times (everybody has), but no self-respecting Terminator-fest organizer would lead off with anything other than Cameron's original two classics. You can rent them both on Amazon for $3.99 apiece, but if you don't mind a few ads, you can actually watch The Terminator for free. Just head over to the YouTube Movies channel, and you can stream the entire flick in 1080p HD with no rental or subscription fee required. 

As for T2, you can avoid ponying up for a rental if you happen to subscribe to Hulu with the Showtime add-on. As of this writing, though, that is the only subscription-based streaming service that has the film. Kind of a bummer, sure — but a few bucks is a small price to pay to relive one of the most entertaining flicks of the '90s, and (if you ask us) the best film of the entire series.

HBO Max has the middle two films in the series

The third and fourth flicks in the series were mightily divisive among fans, but they're both worth a watch — and if you subscribe to HBO Max, then you're in luck, because they're both part of the streamer's ridiculously deep catalog. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines had an incredibly tough act to follow, and many fans would have preferred to have T2's Edward Furlong back to portray the now-adult John Connor rather than Nick Stahl, who turned in a surprisingly charisma-free performance as the savior of humanity. But the flick benefits from some crackerjack action sequences, a steely performance by Kristianna Loken as the new and improved T-X "Terminatrix," and some of the most deadpan Schwarzenegger line readings of the entire series. The movie can also be rented on Amazon for $2.99.

Terminator Salvation saw the role of John Connor taken over by Christian Bale, who has never been anything other than totally committed in every role he's ever played. He acquits himself nicely, but this is the movie in which the entire timeline of the Terminator series started to come off the rails; it serves as both a sequel to Terminator 3 and a prequel to the whole series, exploring Connor's early days in the resistance and his relationship with Kyle Reese (the late Anton Yelchin, stepping into the role originated by Michael Biehn in the first film). If you simply let the craziness wash over you, it's an entertaining enough entry — but if you're not an HBO Max subscriber, it'll cost you $3.99 to rent it on Amazon.

Hulu is your best bet for the latest films in the Terminator series

Salvation was received poorly enough that the new trilogy it was intended to launch was unceremoniously scrapped, and in 2015, we got the movie that was supposed to launch yet another new trilogy: Terminator Genisys, which once again recast most of the key roles and presented a story in which the timeline established by the original film was altered. Genisys gave us Jai Courtney in the role of Reese, who travels back to 1984 on his mission to protect Sarah Connor, now played by Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke — only to find that she has been under the care of a benevolent, reprogrammed Terminator she calls "Pops" since she was a little girl. Many incredibly confusing time travel antics ensue, and if you watch the flick, maybe don't try to keep up; audiences sure couldn't, and once again, the trilogy which the film was supposed to set off was scrapped. Terminator Genisys can be rented for $2.99 on Amazon, and is also available on demand on Hulu with the Live TV add-on.

Finally, 2019 brought us Terminator: Dark Fate, which took a page from the Halloween franchise playbook by ignoring the previous three films and positioning itself as a direct sequel to T2. Hamilton's triumphant return as Sarah Connor (and Furlong's not-so-triumphant, extremely brief return as John) were appreciated by fans, and the plot — which saw Sarah acting as a protector to a new "mother of the future" portrayed by Natalia Reyes, with a little help from an unexpected ally — was refreshingly rooted in the mythology of the first two movies. While the flick's poor box office performance probably put the final nail in the coffin of the franchise (at least for a while), it deservedly garnered the best reviews of any Terminator flick since T2 — and it can be streamed on both Amazon Prime and Hulu with standard subscriptions.