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Every Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Ranked Worst To Best

Having got his start as a bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger burst onscreen after winning the title of Mr. Universe in 1970. That same year, Hollywood took notice, giving him small parts across a few different projects. But when the Austrian-born titan stepped onto center stage as "Conan the Barbarian," there was no looking back. Audiences couldn't get enough of this mountain of a man, who seemingly had muscles upon muscles, unlike any action hero they had ever seen before.

The 1980s were the prime years for Schwarzenegger, delivering his most famous and iconic roles, and establishing him as an unrivaled force on screen. From a futuristic cyborg menace to a jungle-bound soldier facing down alien monsters, Arnold appeared in hit after hit and couldn't be stopped. The following decade saw Arnold become of the biggest stars in the world, recognized for not just his intimidating physical presence, but also his good humor, charm, and media savvy.

A brief political career in the early 2000s took him away from Hollywood for a time, but he made a spectacular return in the 2010s. Even well into his 70s, the star has seemingly never slowed down, always pushing himself, and never afraid to take on an unexpected new challenge. From action to comedies, from sobering dramas to heartfelt family films, he's done it all and now we're here to see how they stack up.

37. Hercules In New York

In the 1960s, bodybuilder Reg Park starred in a series of low-budget fantasy adventures based on the myth of Hercules, and in 1970, it seems someone wanted to replicate that success. Cast as Hercules this time was a 22-year-old bodybuilder named Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first onscreen role. But far from retelling the classic myths centered on the ancient legend, the film saw the hero arrive in modern-day New York City in a comedic fish-out-of-water story. 

Greeted by skeptical locals, Hercules befriends a street vendor (Arnold Stang) who gets him work as a professional wrestler. Up in Olympus meanwhile, the all-powerful Zeus (Ernest Graces) is embarrassed by his son's escapades on Earth and sends the likes of Mercury (Dan Hamilton) and Nemesis (Taina Elg) to Manhattan to bring him home. But Nemesis has devious plans of her own, as does the unscrupulous fight promoter who has been working with Hercules.

A famously terrible low-budget comedy that is only unintentionally funny, Arnold's presence is the only thing worth watching for. Incredibly, producers at the time worried that Arnold's accent and even his name would throw off moviegoers more than the bland script and cheap production values. In the original version, Arnold is awkwardly dubbed over by an American actor, and credited under the name "Arnold Strong." Thankfully, the original audio has survived, and the film can be found with both Arnold's original audio track and the theatrical overdub (via Youtube).

36. Batman and Robin

Following three big box office hits based on the legendary Dark Knight, Batman and Robin returned in 1997 for the aptly titled "Batman and Robin." But rather than return to the darker, grittier tone of the Tim Burton films, director Joel Schumacher doubled down on the camp factor that had slipped through in the previous film, "Batman Forever" and turned the adventure into a bad Saturday morning cartoon come to life. Cast in the coveted villain role was none other than superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger, opposite George Clooney as Batman, his first and only time in the role.

The movie makes Arnold a big-screen version of Mr. Freeze, who had recently been reinvented as a sinister, tragic figure in "Batman: The Animated Series." Cursed to live in the cold after a lab accident, Victor Fries has become an arch criminal in an effort to revive his wife who was frozen in suspended animation after being diagnosed with an incurable disease. Armed with a freeze gun and surrounded by cold-themed henchmen, Freeze teams up with sinister plant lady Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), and together they face off against the dynamic duo. 

Terribly miscast in a role that was turned goofy and childish, Arnold hammed it up as Mr. Freeze, a part that became the laughing stock of his career. Throw in some of the most awful action set pieces in comic book movie history, and the result may well be the worst superhero movie ever to be intended as a summer blockbuster.

35. End of Days

It's funny to look back and notice it from afar, but at the turn of the new millennium, there was a rash of quasi-religious movies about angels, demons, and the coming apocalypse. In 1999, Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in his own supernatural action/horror film "End of Days" by director Peter Hyams.

The film puts Arnold in the odd role of Jericho, a beleaguered detective who hits rock bottom when his wife and daughter are murdered, blaming God for abandoning them. But when he's assigned as personal protection for a banker who just so happens to be possessed by the devil (Robin Tunney), Jericho gets caught up in a holy war with apocalyptic consequences.

As a supernatural thriller, "End of Days" could have worked, but led by muscle-bound action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger it all falls apart rather quickly. What starts as a compelling biblical drama devolves into action schlock, with Arnie blowing away baddies with a big gun in the halls of a church. But perhaps they felt it necessary because at the end of the day, the story was – as Roger Ebert put it – "a head-on collision between the ludicrous and the absurd." Suffice to say, trying to mix horror, theology, and '90s action was a disaster and proved to be one of Arnold's worst films.

34. Iron Mask

A movie that you've likely never heard of and if you have you probably didn't see, the 2019 Russian fantasy adventure "The Iron Mask" slipped past everyone's radar at the time, though maybe that's for the best. But with an impressive international cast that includes Jackie Chan ("Rumble in the Bronx"), Rutger Hauer ("Blade Runner"), Jason Flemyng ("Snatch"), and of course Arnold Schwarzenegger, it's a unique curiosity for sure. Inspired by the story "Viy" by Russian author Nikolai Gogol, the film is actually a sequel to "Forbidden Empire" that starred Flemyng and Charles Dance ("Game of Thrones"), which is more evident when you learn its original Russian title was "Viy 2: Journey to China." 

In this follow-up, Flemyng once again stars as explorer Jonathan Green, this time journeying to China, just as the title suggests. But while in England, he meets Peter the Great, who is being held in the Tower of London by James Hook, played by Schwarzenegger. Jackie Chan also stars as Master Et Al, a martial arts master. 

As a supernatural fantasy adventure, it has its highlights, including a one-on-one fight scene between Schwarzenegger and Chan, but otherwise, it's not worth more than a brief skim of its best scenes on YouTube. It looks slick, and there are some fun performances, but don't feel like you've missed much if you've never heard of it.

33. Collateral Damage

In the late '90s, Arnold Schwarzenegger had tried exploring different genres, but with the failures of superhero adventure "Batman and Robin" and the supernatural horror of "End of Days," he wisely returned to over-the-top action, including 2003's "Collateral Damage." Here Schwarzenegger plays a Los Angeles firefighter named Gordon Brewer whose wife and son were killed in a deadly bombing perpetrated by a Colombian arch criminal called "El Lobo." But when the FBI and CIA call off their operations in the region, Brewer himself decides to seek justice and take down those responsible for the death of his family.

With a major terrorist plot at the center of the film, "Collateral Damage" had to be seriously reworked after the events of September 11, 2001, according to a contemporary report in Entertainment Weekly. Re-edited and chopped up, this did the film no favors, and it was released to a critical drubbing and became a box office flop. There's no way to tell if the planned original version of the film was any better, but the biggest complaint levied by reviewers was that it was little more than a by-the-numbers action movie with few surprises and nothing new to offer the genre. Plus having Schwarzenegger star only served to remind audiences of other, better action movies.

32. Red Sonja

In 1985, Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared in the role of ancient sword-wielding warrior Lord Kalidor in the "Conan" spiritual spin-off "Red Sonja" that starred Brigitte Nielsen in the title role. Directed by Richard Fleischer, who'd previously had success with period adventures like "The Vikings" and "Barrabas," the film was produced by the same team as the Conan films. However because it was made with a different studio, that didn't have the rights to Conan, the writers simply gave Arnold's character a new name.

The film is centered on title character Red Sonja, a young woman who survives a brutal attack and seeks vengeance for her family. Gifted superhuman strength, stamina, and fighting skills by the goddess Scáthach, she seeks out Queen Gedren (Sandahl Bergman), who has stolen an ancient relic that will allow total domination of their world. Though hesitant to accept help from a man, Sonja teams up with the powerful Lord Kalidor (Schwarzenegger) to do battle with Gedren, and restore peace to the land.

"Red Sonja" was sadly a lackluster spin-off of a bigger franchise that didn't help the reputation of adventure movies focused on strong women. A bit campier than the "Conan" films, and poorly made, it did not impress the audiences it brought back to theaters, nor the critics, who lambasted it as a pale imitation. Schwarzenegger regretted taking the role; he wasn't fond of the final product, and once called it the worst film he'd ever made.

31. Jingle All the Way

Into the 1990s, beefcake action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger had begun a transition to comedies, with a string of popular laughers like "Twins," "Kindergarten Cop," and "Junior." In 1996, he went for a Christmas comedy, starring alongside Sinbad, Phil Hartman, and Rita Wilson — and a pre-"Star Wars" Jake Lloyd — in the cult classic "Jingle All the Way." A pure fun family film, it was an unconventional movie for the actor, whose previous entries in the genre had been a mix of action and adult-oriented comedy. 

Inspired by the kinds of toy crazes that have caused mass hysteria in the past, "Jingle All the Way" has Arnold playing Howard Langston, an overworked father and husband who doesn't make enough time for his family, especially little Jamie. To make it up to his son, Howard sets out to get him the hottest Christmas gift, an action doll called Turbo Man. But to succeed, he has to go up against Myron (Sinbad), another father eager to get his hands on the toy, and decide whether getting his son the best material gift is really what's important.

Despite some fun moments, "Jingle All the Way" is a disappointment, but over the years has grown a dedicated following for its send-up of the ridiculous lengths parents often go to around the holidays. 

30. Sabotage

Continuing his acting comeback in 2014, Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in "Sabotage," by director David Ayer. Around him was an all-star cast that included Terrence Howard, Mireille Enos, Joe Manganiello, Sam Worthington, and Josh Holloway. A pure run-and-gun action movie, Arnold plays John "Breacher" Wharton, the leader of a crack team of DEA agents who bust notorious drug lords and are the best in the business at doing it.

After their latest raid, the team sneaks off with $10 million in drug money, and believes they've gotten off scot-free. But when members of the team begin to turn up dead, it's clear that someone is on to them, the only question is who. With every lead turning into a dead end, Breacher begins to wonder if the assassin may be one of their own.

Thanks to its strong direction and a good cast, "Sabotage" stays mostly afloat, thanks in large part to Arnold, even if it isn't anything you haven't seen before. Go into it with low expectations and you might find a decent action movie that will satisfy your desire for fast-paced shootouts and over-the-top Arnie action.

29. Terminator Genisys

Back in Hollywood after a brief career in politics, Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to the role that made him a megastar in the soft reboot of the "Terminator" franchise, the Alan Taylor-directed "Terminator: Genisys." With the hopes of kicking off a new trilogy, Arnie played multiple versions of the T-800 this time, which included recreating an iconic moment from the 1984 original through the magic of CGI and motion capture. He also played an older, friendlier version, reprogrammed by Sarah Connor, in an alternate timeline.

It all begins in the post-apocalyptic future where resistance fighter Kyle Reese is sent back to 1984 to protect Connor in a rehash of the first film, only to discover the timeline altered. Now with the help of a battle-hardened Sarah Connor, Reese teams up with the reprogrammed T-800 to restore history and stop the war before it starts. 

Though the film looked promising, and Arnold's return was celebrated and satisfying, "Terminator: Genisys" couldn't live up to the legacy of the first two films in the franchise. A muddled story and ineffective twists led to a movie that soured fans on the franchise instead of exciting them. The third failure in a row after "Terminator 3" and "Terminator: Salvation," there would be no follow-ups, and only a relaunch from original series creator James Cameron some years later.

28. Aftermath

A rare true story for Arnold Schwarzenegger, the 2017 drama "Aftermath" was far from the kinds of action movies that audiences had grown accustomed to seeing him in. Also starring Scoot McNairy ("Halt and Catch Fire"), Maggie Grace ("Lost"), and Martin Donovan ("Weeds"), it recounted the harrowing real-life tragedy of the 2002 Überlingen mid-air collision. In the movie as in real life, a cargo plane collides with a passenger jet, resulting in nearly 70 deaths, and the film explores the unbelievable events that unfold in its wake.

Arnold plays Roman, a construction worker who loses his wife and pregnant daughter in the calamity, while both were traveling aboard an airliner en route from New York City. Meanwhile, air traffic controller Jake (McNairy) is distraught after the accident, feeling responsible for the loss of both aircraft, and the many lives that it claimed. As Roman struggles to heal and tries to move on with his life, Jake becomes the target of the community's rage, and he is forced to leave town. But when Roman cannot live with the death of his family, he sets out to track down Jake and get justice for himself.

Praised as a compelling and unconventional role for Schwarzenegger, it unfortunately couldn't muster enough to make it a solid entry on his resume. Despite its uncompromising look at real-life events, critics knocked it for not living up to its true potential.

27. The Jayne Mansfield Story

The only biopic in Arnold Schwarzenegger's filmography, he appeared in a prominent role in the 1980 dramatization of the life of Hollywood bombshell Jayne Mansfield. A made-for-TV movie, "The Jayne Mansfield Story" starred future "WKRP in Cincinnati" actress Loni Anderson as the titular beauty, and Arnold as her husband, Mickey Hargitay, father of "Law and Order: SVU" star Mariska Hargitay. As a Hungarian-born bodybuilder in real life, there was nobody better to play Hargitay than bodybuilding champion Schwarzenegger.

Chronicling the life and times of the beauty queen and sex symbol Mansfield, the film is told mostly in flashback, with Arnold's Hargitay narrating the events of his wife's turbulent life after her untimely death in a tragic car accident. From her first troubled marriage to a man who left her a single mother, to her early struggles in modeling where she's forced to portray a certain type of woman. Eventually though, Mansfield's dreams of striking it rich in Hollywood come true, and she soon becomes the most sought-after screen goddess in Tinseltown, leading to her marriage to Hargitay.

"The Jayne Mansfield Story" is typical of early '80s tear-jerking TV melodrama with a compelling real-world twist. But unless you're a diehard Mansfield fan, the only real reason to watch is Arnold.

26. Junior

Though "Junior" isn't a sequel to the hit comedy "Twins," it reunites Arnold Schwarzenegger with that film's director Ivan Reitman and co-star Danny DeVito. Combining a similar premise surrounding the creation of human life, with the same off-color comedic tone, it becomes a strong spiritual successor to their 1988 classic. The movie tells the story of Alex Hesse (Schwarzenegger), an Austrian geneticist and researcher, and his colleague Larry Arbogast (DeBito), an OB/GYN, and their creation of a revolutionary fertility drug. But when the FDA refuses to approve them for human trials, they decide to experiment on themselves, with Hesse taking the drug and quickly finding himself the first man to ever become pregnant.

Unfortunately, despite all the talent involved, the attempt to recapture the magic of "Twins" was a big misfire. It flopped with audiences and critics, and couldn't muster anything close to the same success at the box office, becoming one of the biggest bombs of the year. Cheap lowbrow laughs don't help, and through today's lens, the film might look even worse, with plenty of offensive, cringe jokes. But the one thing it did do was reinforce that the comedic chemistry between Arnold and DeVito was alive and well, and there have been hopes of a third collaboration between the two actors ever since.

25. Killing Gunther

An unexpected action comedy that seemed to come and go without anyone even knowing it existed, "Killing Gunther" dropped in 2017 with little fanfare. A direct-to-streaming release written, directed by, and starring "Saturday Night Live" alum Taran Killam, with his "SNL" co-star Bobby Moynihan, and Hannah Simone in supporting roles. Arnold plays the eponymous Gunther, who serves as the catalyst for an adventure told in a mockumentary style.

But the film isn't actually about Gunther, instead following an assassin named Blake (Killam) who hires a film crew to document his personal mission to kill the world's greatest contract killer, Robert "Gunther" Bendik (Schwarzenegger). Assembling a team of highly skilled killers, we meet explosive expert Donnie (Moynihan), Sanaa — whose father was a notorious assassin in his own right — and tech guru Gabe. Driven by his resentment for Gunther, who stole his girlfriend, Blake and his crew are determined to get their man, but when Gunther finds out they're after him, he decides to make their lives a living hell.

A black comedy that works more than it probably should, it comes across as a big-budget "SNL" sketch with a big-name guest star in Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's nothing to write home about, but has a handful of clever moments, and Arnold gives an appropriately silly performance.

24. Raw Deal

Off the back of "The Terminator," "Conan the Barbarian," and "Commando," Arnold Schwarzenegger was the biggest big-screen action star, known for his big muscles and bigger guns. To follow those films, he starred in "Raw Deal," which may not be the most memorable of his '80s classics, but remains characteristically full of over-the-top spectacle and guns-blazing action. A revenge flick at its core, Schwarzenegger plays Mark Kaminski, a local sheriff who has been booted from the FBI after beating a suspect half to death. 

Years later, Kaminski's life has hit rock bottom; his wife has become bitter and resentful and the former government agent feels that he's been given a raw deal. But when a former colleague at the bureau, retired agent Harry Shannon (Darren McGavin), comes to him with a problem, Kaminski sees it as an opportunity for redemption. Looking for payback for the death of his son at the hands of the mafia, Shannon recruits Kaminski to get even, sending him undercover in the mob to take them down from within. 

While "Raw Deal" may not have the best script or strongest performances, it does have some of the best of what audiences want from Schwarzenegger: raw, uncompromising, non-stop, blood-soaked violence.

23. The Sixth Day

Returning to science fiction, Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in the 2000 futurist thriller "The Sixth Day," co-starring with Michael Rappaport, Robert Duvall, and Michael Rooker. Though it doesn't quite live up to his sci-fi classics like "The Terminator" or "Total Recall," the movie does examine some more thoughtful genre themes and real-world issues, with the subject of cloning being a hot-button issue in the 1990s. Exploring the dark implications of future technologies, "The Sixth Day" mixes it with patented Schwarzenegger spectacle in a big-budget adventure. 

In a world where cloning animals has become the norm, we meet Adam Gibson, an otherwise ordinary husband and father. But after unwittingly escaping an assassination attempt, he arrives home to discover that an exact replica of himself has taken his place. On the run from shadowy assassins who must silence him to keep their illegal human cloning a secret, Gibson must stay one step ahead of his pursuers as he works to uncover the truth behind a vast conspiracy that could have dark implications for all of humanity.

A box office flop, "The Sixth Day" may be one of Arnold's most forgotten films, released during a downturn in his career before his run for political office. Still, the movie is not without its merits as a compelling sci-fi adventure. It's also notable for being the acting debut of former pro football player Terry Crews, who has gone on to have a successful Hollywood career of his own.

22. Conan the Destroyer

Just two years after "Conan the Barbarian," Arnold Schwarzenegger traveled back to the mystical worlds of Robert E. Howard and strapped on the leather tunic once more for a sequel, 1984's "Conan the Destroyer." This time around, Arnold was surrounded by an even more impressive cast of living legends, with pop star Grace Jones, basketball star Wilt Chamberlain, and a young Olivia d'Abo joining him in the fantasy follow-up. Frequent Arnold collaborator and fellow bodybuilder Sven-Ole Thorson returned as well, but in a new role.

In this big-screen follow-up, Conan finds himself on a new and mighty quest. Promised by Queen Taramis of Shadizar (Sarah Douglas) that she can bring his lost lover Valeria back from the dead, she sets Conan out on a mission to protect the young Princess Jehnna (d'Abo) and obtain several ancient relics, with which she can fulfill her destiny. Together with a group of allies — including the wizard Akir (Mako), petty thief Malak (Tracey Walter), woman warrior Zula (Jones), and Taramis' royal guardsman Bombaata (Chamberlain), Conan must defeat a series of powerful and more dangerous enemies than ever before.

While noted critic Roger Ebert gave it three stars, calling it "sillier, funnier, and more entertaining," it's the more comedic tone of the sequel that has kept "Destroyer" from reaching the same heights as its more beloved predecessor over the years.

21. Terminator: Dark Fate

With the rights to "The Terminator" finally reverting to series creator James Cameron, a more faithful relaunch of the franchise was promised, and the result was "Terminator: Dark Fate" in 2019. Original series star Linda Hamilton was back as Sarah Connor, and Arnold followed. Also, while he didn't sit in the director's chair, Cameron developed the story, helped tweak the script, and executive produced, handing directing duties to "Deadpool" helmer Tim Miller, with new cast members McKenzie Davis ("Blade Runner 2049"), Gabriel Luna ("Agents of SHIELD"), and newcomer Natalia Reyes rounding out the cast.

Erasing all three earlier sequels, "Terminator: Dark Fate" begins nearly 30 years after the end of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" with the shocking revelation that John Connor was killed shortly after the previous film. Distraught, Sarah Connor (Hamilton) has spent the last three decades tracking more time-displaced Terminators, and now a new Terminator (Luna) has arrived to kill a young woman named Dani Ramos, the key to the future resistance. With the help of a mysterious woman from the future named Grace (Davis), Sarah Connor — and an aging T-800 (Schwarzenegger) — must stop Skynet's latest attack.

Despite its promise, "Terminator: Dark Fate" is only slightly better than "Terminator: Genisys." While the return of Schwarzenegger and Hamilton is worth the price of admission, the rest of the film is a huge letdown. Sloppy direction, a meandering story, and plenty of repeated plot points made it yet another disappointment.

20. Escape Plan

Having found success appearing alongside former action movie rival Sylvester Stallone on "The Expendables 2," Arnold Schwarzenegger reunited with the former "Rocky" star in the 2013 prison movie, "Escape Plan." Just their second on-screen collaboration, this film is less star-studded, and while the likes of Vincent D'Onofrio, Curtis Jackson, and Jim Caviezel do well, the biggest selling point is undoubtedly Stallone and Schwarzenegger sharing the screen.

Set inside a mysterious supermax prison, we meet Ray Breslin (Stallone) a high-priced security consultant who is famed for being able to break out of any secure location. He's seemingly hired by the CIA to test their latest top-secret facility intended for the world's worst, but when he gets there, he realizes he's been lied to, and the warden (Caviezel) intends to keep him there at all costs. But inside, he meets and befriends fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer (Schwartzenegger), who says that he too is an imprisoned security expert, and together they set out to free themselves from their shadowy captors.

Despite its fun action and strong cast, the unnecessarily complex plot of "Escape Plan" bogs down the movie, but for the team-up of the two lead stars alone, the movie satisfies.

19. Maggie

An unusual film for the veteran action hero, the post-apocalyptic drama "Maggie" sees Arnold Schwarzenegger give a more somber, muted performance than his fans are used to. Set in a world besieged by a zombie virus, society is largely collapsing, and Arnold plays Wade Vogel, whose daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) has contracted the deadly virus that has ravaged the population. With just weeks until she turns into a mindless flesh eater, Maggie calls her father to say goodbye.

Despite warning him to stay away from her, Wade is compelled to seek his daughter out. When they finally reunite, he pledges to stay by her side until the end finally comes and they are forced to admit her to quarantine. As Maggie's condition deteriorates, Wade struggles with the decision to take her away, even as she begins to hunger for human flesh.

A grim, downright depressing tale unlike any other, "Maggie" impresses with its serious take on the reality of a potential zombie plague. Though it received mixed reviews, most critics complimented Schwarzenegger on his unexpectedly heartfelt and moving performance as a father forced to care for his dying daughter.

18. The Expendables 3

Thanks to the tremendous reception to his big screen comeback in "The Expendables 2" in 2012, Arnold Schwarzenegger returned alongside Sylvester Stallone, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, and the rest of the veteran merc squad in the 2014 threequel. Added to the sprawling cast of action stars in this go-round were Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson, Ronda Rousey, Antonio Banderas, and Harrison Ford, among others. 

For the third installment, Barney Ross (Stallone) and his team have recruited new members to the Expendables team for their biggest mission yet: taking down the diabolical villain named Stonebanks (Gibson). But this new threat is more than just a dangerous lunatic with dreams of world conquest and destroying Ross' squad, he's also the founder of the Expendables, thought dead for years. Back on the government's radar, CIA handler Max Drummer (Ford) tasks Ross with bringing him in to face formal justice for war crimes.

Bigger, bolder, and with a cast as impressive as any film that Hollywood has ever mustered for a major motion picture, "The Expendables 3" bit off a little more than it could chew. If you were looking for massive action and more superstars than the screen could handle, you got what you came for. Unfortunately, it didn't quite stack up against the first two films in the series.

17. Stay Hungry

The rare film on this list that features Arnold Schwarzenegger in a supporting role, the 1976 drama "Stay Hungry" starred Jeff Bridges and Sally Field. For the story, producers needed an actor who could believably play a bodybuilder in the process of training for the title of Mr. Universe, making Arnold the ideal — and really only — choice. Only in his second feature film, he was allowed to use his native accent this time around, making "Stay Hungry" his first role on the big screen where he could flex his acting talent in full.

"Stay Hungry" centers on Craig Blake (Bridges), who has been left with his family's tremendous wealth, now leading a leisurely lifestyle in Birmingham, Alabama. But when his family's investment firm asks him to manage a business deal that means buying and closing a local gym, he gets far more than he bargained for. At the gym, Craig becomes smitten with the pretty young receptionist Mary (Sally Field) while befriending aspiring bodybuilding champ Joe Santo (Schwarzenegger), whose more exciting life inspires him. But Craig's high-class upbringing and his new ordinary life soon clash, with his socialite cronies mocking his new townie friends, forcing him to finally choose what kind of life he really wants.

Though it's held back by an uneven script, "Stay Hungry" is a promising drama, and Arnold's charismatic performance makes it worth watching. Showing off his charm and undeniable screen presence, the film let Hollywood know that Arnie was ripe for leading man status.

16. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Returning to the role that made him a global sensation, Arnold Schwarzenegger suited up as the T-800 for the long-awaited threequel, "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines." But without Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, or James Cameron behind the camera, Arnold was the only real link to the previous two films, and he was forced to carry the film on his rather sizable back. He mostly pulls it off, but new director Jonathan Mostow simply couldn't muster the same strong sense of story or stylish direction as Cameron, and even the combined talents of Nick Stahl and Claire Danes couldn't match Hamilton's dynamic performance.

The story opens after the death of Sarah Connor, with her son — future resistance leader John (Stahl) — wandering the streets and acquiring the skills he knows he'll need to stop Skynet in the future. Another newer, deadlier Terminator, the T-X (Kristanna Lokken) arrives with deadly new weapons to locate and kill John, but also his future fellow soldiers, including young veterinarian Kate Brewster (Danes). Yet again, a T-800 (Arnold) arrives to stop the T-X and save John, and ensure that the future resistance survives.

Though packed with fun action and some genuinely innovative set pieces, the film simply can't compare to the first two installments. Trying too hard to replicate their success, it becomes a mostly mediocre action movie that survives only on the strength of Arnold's intimidating screen presence. 

15. The Last Stand

After his explosive return to the big screen in "The Expendables 2," Arnold Schwarzenegger went smaller — if you can call it that — with "The Last Stand," a more down-to-earth story of a small town sheriff besieged by violent thugs. Alongside Arnold are Jamie Alexander ("Thor"), Forrest Whitaker ("Rogue One"), Rodrigo Santoro ("Westworld"), Luis Guzman ("Narcos"), and Johnny Knoxville ("Jackass") as the comic relief. 

Schwarzenegger anachronistically stars as town sheriff Ray Owens, who leads a small and inexperienced group of officers in the Arizona burg of Sommerton Junction. There they are the last line of defense against drug smugglers, who often pass through the town along their way from the Mexican border. A veteran lawman who left his posting with the LAPD after an operation gone wrong, Owens soon finds himself at the mercy of a drug lord named Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega), who escapes federal custody in nearby Las Vegas. With an FBI agent as a hostage, he must get past Owens and his ragtag squad if he wants to make his escape. 

A fast, fun, and breezy action flick, it offered up enough character drama for Arnold to chew on, and plenty of smash-and-dash violence to earn some decent reviews. Richard Roeper unapologetically loved it, praising Schwarzenegger for nailing another role, saying simply, "This is what Arnold does best: big-gun violence and one-liner laughs."

14. Eraser

The early 1990s saw Arnold Schwarzenegger in a string of mostly comedic roles like "Kindergarten Cop," "Junior," and "Last Action Hero," but in 1996 he balanced out his family Christmas movie "Jingle All the Way" with the straight action thriller "Eraser." Co-starring Vanessa Williams and a trio of Jameses — Caan, Coburn, and Cromwell — the film put plenty of big machine guns back in Arnie's massive muscled arms, blasting away baddies at a feverish clip. 

U.S. Marshal John Kruger is given the nickname Eraser for operating a witness protection program that helps fake the deaths of state witnesses in major criminal investigations. His latest mission is to protect Lee Cullen (Vanessa Williams), a corporate whistleblower who had warned the FBI that her firm was planning to sell their latest technology — a powerful electromagnetic weapon — on the black market to foreign terrorists. But a conspiracy involving a mole in his own agency threatens Kruger, who must now work with Cullen to expose the truth.

A decent hit on its release in theaters if not with reviewers, Arnold's return to pure action may not have been among his best, but it succeeded thanks to some fiery action and the star's indomitable on-screen power. Look past its sometimes contrived story, and focus on the big bangs, and you'll get everything you want from an Arnold action thriller.

13. The Expendables 2

The superstar ensemble action franchise started by Sylvester Stallone in 2010 assembled a team of Hollywood heavyweights including Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, and Jet Li. But the sequel went bigger and bolder, adding plenty of star power to the already impressive roster, including Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Chuck Norris. But no team of action heroes would be complete without Arnold Schwarzenegger, who joined the film in his triumphant return to the movies after a stint as California's governor. 

Schwarzenegger joins The Expendables as Trench, a former mercenary rival of Barney Ross, played by Arnold's real-life action movie competitor Sylvester Stallone. The action begins when a new enemy named Jean Vilain (Van Damme) emerges leading his own team of mercenaries called the Sangs. They're on a mission to retrieve a valuable computer databank that contains the whereabouts of a stash of 5 tons of plutonium that was leftover from the Cold War, and now the Expendables are out to stop him. But with his new ally Trench by his side, and plenty of big guns and massive munitions, Ross and his team will stop at nothing to save the world from total armageddon.

Doubling down on the action, "The Expendables 2" bettered its predecessor, thanks in no small part to the presence of "The Terminator" himself.

12. Last Action Hero

In an effort to combine the success of his family comedies like "Twins" with the violent action of blockbusters like "The Terminator," Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in "Last Action Hero," an action comedy by John McTiernan, director of "Predator" and "Die Hard." Though not one of Arnold's top 10 movies, it's been sorely underrated over the years, as it boasts some strong action, hearty laughs, and self-referential meta moments that were well ahead of their time. A buddy movie of sorts, Schwarzenegger is this time teamed with a kid sidekick, played by pre-teen star Austin O'Brien ("My Girl 2"). 

Taking place ostensibly in the "real world," a young man named Danny (O'Brien) receives a magical golden ticket that catapults him into the world of the newest action movie starring his favorite actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thrust into the fictional world of the Jack Slater movie series that stars Schwarzenegger as a heroic cop, O'Brien gets caught up in the detective's battle against several devious villains, while trying to find his way back to his own reality.

With the villains played to perfection by a cast that included F. Murray Abraham, Tom Noonan, Charles Dance, and Anthony Quinn, and a string of celebrity cameo gags — including Arnold playing himself — "Last Action Hero" was full of great performances and plenty of fun. A strong comedy too, the only thing holding it back was its reliance on saccharine sweetness that muddled its tone, which confused critics and limited its audience.

11. Twins

The first true comedy for the action star, Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in "Twins" in 1998 opposite Danny DeVito, who'd already established himself as a comic superstar on both television ("Taxi") and on the big screen ("Throw Mama From the Train"). Putting his size and strength to good use, Arnold was the polar opposite of the diminutive DeVito, which perfectly served the film's preposterous premise. A big hit in theaters, the off-color dark comedy classic was directed by Ivan Reitman and also starred Kelly Preston and Zoe Webb.

Schwarzenegger stars in the film as Jules Benedict, the model of a man physically, mentally, and even morally. Raised on an isolated island, Jules learns that he was the product of a scientific experiment to create the perfect human specimen, but as part of his creation, a fraternal brother was born, who was his exact opposite in every way. Enter Danny DeVito as Vincent Benedict, a slimy, snarky, and morally dubious petty criminal, who Jules sets out to reunite with. Though Vincent at first tries to use Jules to help him in his schemes, they soon form an unlikely brotherly bond and set out to discover the truth of their origins.

Though there's some fun action and a story with real heart, the true appeal of "Twins" is the perfect chemistry between Schwarzenegger and DeVito, one of the era's most underrated comic duos. The pair would reunite nearly a decade later on the spiritual successor, "Junior," while a true sequel, with the inspired title "Triplets" has been long in development.

10. Red Heat

By the late 1980s, Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the biggest new stars in action following a run of all-time greats like "The Terminator," "Predator," and "Conan the Barbarian," but the actor wasn't satisfied, and was looking to expand his repertoire. In 1988, he'd add a dash of humor to his filmography with the action-packed buddy comedy "Red Heat." Schwarzenegger plays a Russian enforcer in the midst of the Cold War, but he's not the film's big bad as you might expect. Instead, he's a military captain named Ivan Danko, on the hunt for a criminal kingpin who's been terrorizing his homeland. 

Having tracked his prey to the United States, the humorless Danko arrives in the mean streets of Chicago where he is paired with a sarcastic cop named Ridzik, played by Jim Belushi, who is looking for the same man. What follows is a no-holds-barred action comedy with plenty of comic zingers and explosive shootouts. After a string of roles playing stone-cold killers, "Red Heat" allowed Arnold to flex some of his comedic chops, and his chemistry with Belushi is a highlight of the film.

Though it never became a classic and was mostly overshadowed by his other comedy "Twins" which was released the same year, "Red Heat" is arguably Arnold's most underrated '80s film.

9. Kindergarten Cop

With the success of "Twins," Arnold Schwarzenegger took to starring in movies that were more comedy than action. His next up was the 1990 film "Kindergarten Cop" also directed by Ivan Reitman, and was more of a wholesome family comedy than you might have expected from the action star. But like his best sci-fi thrillers and military actioners, "Kindergarten Cop" originated some of Arnie's most famous catchphrases and iconic moments, and remains one of his most beloved roles.

The movie introduces us to undercover Los Angeles cop John Kimble, on the hunt for notorious drug dealer Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson). Tracking his estranged wife and son to a small town in Oregon, Kimble goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher in Crisp Jr.'s classroom, hoping to get information on his crooked father. What follows is a classic caper filled with slapstick moments, as Kimble is out of his element where he's wrangling a classroom of kids and fighting off dangerous criminals at the same time. But while serving as a teacher, Kimble meets and falls for fellow educator Joyce (Penelope Ann Miller), who has no idea he's actually a manhunting detective on a mission.

Proving that "Twins" was no fluke, "Kindergarten Cop" established Arnold's legitimate comic ability, and deftly straddled the line between genres, allowing it to attract action fans and families of the day. Another movie in his catalog that was the subject of sequel talk for years, it finally received a follow-up in 2016, but Arnie did not return, instead replaced by fellow '80s action hero Dolph Lundgren.

8. Conan the Barbarian

For nearly half a decade since his debut in pulp magazines, Hollywood hadn't dared adapt Robert E. Howard's sword-and-sandal hero Conan into a motion picture. Perhaps it was because nobody could find a suitable actor for the oversized warrior role, but when Austrian-born bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger came around they found their man. Arnold Schwarzenneger, a massive mountain of muscle with an exotic other-worldly accent that seemed tailor-made for the square-jawed Hyborian hero, arrived in the 1982 film "Conan the Barbarian."

Written by Oliver Stone ("Platoon") and directed by John Millius ("Red Dawn"), the film saw the larger-than-life barbarian Conan seeking revenge following the death of his family as a young man. Years before, the vicious warlord called Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) had attacked his home in Cimmeria, killed his parents, and taken his father's powerful sword as his own. Now an elite warrior in his own right, Conan sets out on a violent, unrelenting quest for blood. With the help of a sorcerer, an archer, and a powerful woman as his allies, Conan becomes a heroic adventurer on his way to exacting his vengeance.

A big success that showed Arnold could lead a major motion picture, it was followed by a sequel and a quasi-spin-off, while talk of a long-awaited sequel, "King Conan," has been perpetually circulating in the rumor mill.

7. Commando

Before "Predator," Arnold Schwarzenegger played another beefed-up soldier in the jungle in 1985's "Commando." The mid-'80s action movie put him in the role of gun-toting hero for the first time, proving that his menacing gaze and Austrian accent need not confine him to medieval warriors and evil cyborgs. Starring alongside the former Mr. Universe is Alyssa Milano ("Who's the Boss") and Rae Dawn Chong ("American Flyers"), while future co-stars Bill Duke ("Predator"), and Bill Paxton ("True Lies") also make appearances.

Schwarzenegger plays Matrix, a retired soldier who discovers that members of his old squad have been systematically assassinated by a South American dictator named Arius (Dan Hedaya), who they had helped depose years before. With his own private army, Arius kidnaps Matrix's daughter Jenny (Milano) and blackmails Matrix into helping him overthrow the current rulers of his homeland. But after his plane to South America takes off, Matrix overpowers Arius' men and escapes. Now it's a race against time to lead a one-man assault and rescue his daughter before Arius discovers that he's loose and gunning for him.

A clever blend of classic '80s action and a spoonful of tongue-in-cheek humor, "Commando" in many ways set the tone for the rest of Arnold's career. Building off the success of early classics like "First Blood," the film also showed that Arnie was as good or better than any action hero in the genre.

6. The Running Man

Inspired by a story by Stephen King (written under his early pen name Richard Bachman), the sci-fi adventure "The Running Man" is a dystopian action movie that predicted the rise in reality television, but with a startling twist. Arnold Schwarzenegger headlined a fine cast that included Maria Conchita Alonso ("Predator 2"), Yaphet Kotto ("Alien"), Jim Brown ("Mars Attacks"), and Jesse Ventura ("Predator"). 

In the dark future of 2017, a reality-based game show called "The Running Man" is part of society's criminal justice system, pitting convicted murderers through a gauntlet of deadly challenges as a new kind of punishment for the public's amusement. But when a good cop named Ben Richards (Schwarzenegger) is framed for the mass slaughter of innocent protesters, he's sent onto live TV to try and survive attacks by a series of killer gladiators, including the chainsaw-wielding Buzzsaw (Gus Wethwisch), the hockey-themed madman Sub Zero (Professor Toru Tanaka), and the flame-throwing Fireball (Brown). But Richards manages to defeat every opponent sent after him one by one, and with the help of two dedicated rebels, is determined to expose the government's terrifying conspiracy.

Though disowned by Stephen King because it bore little resemblance to his original story, the movie is its own thrilling animal, complete with fast-paced chase scenes and plenty of graphic violence that Arnold fans crave. Though mostly overlooked at the box office, it's gone on to become a cult classic that made some eerily accurate predictions of the future.

5. True Lies

In 1994, Arnold Schwarzenegger re-teamed with "The Terminator" writer and director James Cameron for an action movie that went on to become a classic in its own right. "True Lies" starred Arnold opposite scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, alongside comedian Tom Arnold, and fellow action veterans Bill Paxton, Tia Carrere, and Charlton Heston

The action comedy centers on Harry Tasker, a covert ops agent for a clandestine counterintelligence agency. But Harry leads two lives, as he has lived under the guise of an ordinary computer salesman with his unsuspecting wife Helen (Curtis) and daughter Dana (Eliza Dushku). Though his family thinks he's at work hawking tech, he's really gunning down international terrorists around the globe. Balancing the life of a super spy with that of a working family man puts a significant strain on his marriage, but when a new villain kidnaps Harry and his wife, his two lives suddenly collide.

An epic action movie, it may not have matched the level of Arnold's best, but it remains a fan favorite for its pure fun factor. Well-reviewed and considered one of the '90s' best, it's been the talk of constant reboot and sequel rumors, but sadly no follow-up has ever materialized.

4. Total Recall

Though Arnold had tackled science fiction already with "The Terminator," he went a more cerebral route with the 1990 sci-fi action movie "Total Recall." Based on the short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick (whose work had inspired "Blade Runner"), the film was originally developed as a darker dystopian tale with a more everyman hero — the likes of Patrick Swayze, William Hurt, and even Richard Dreyfuss were considered for the role (per Cinemablend). But when the broad-shouldered, big-biceped Schwarzenegger snagged the lead, the movie quickly transformed into an action flick. 

Set in the not-too-distant future, the story centers on Douglas Quaid, an ordinary blue-collar worker looking for a vacation who pays a visit to Rekall, a company that can implant false memories of an exciting adventure. Choosing to remember being a secret agent, the procedure seemingly goes wrong, and we discover that Quaid's entire life may have been a lie. Allied with a mysterious woman who belongs to a group of rebels on Mars, Quaid learns that he may have once worked for the planet's iron-fisted regime. Determined to get to the truth, he sets out to find Kuato, the mysterious rebel leader who has all the answers.

A nail-biting thriller punctuated by nonstop action and blood-curdling violence, "Total Recall" brought something new to the table by mixing Arnie's patented persona with a mind-bending science fiction story. While it may not have been as faithful to the source material as some would have liked, there's no doubt it's a rollicking roller-coaster joyride from start to finish.

3. Predator

The first of two iconic '80s action movies directed by John McTiernan — just a year before "Die Hard" — 1988's "Predator" is equal parts slasher flick, sci-fi adventure, and over-the-top action movie. Gut-bursting violence, thrilling suspense, and a pulse-pounding musical score too helped it become one of the purest adrenaline-fueled macho movies of the decade, with pumped-up action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger at the center of it all. A nearly perfect story of man vs. beast, it quickly became the blueprint for an entire sub-genre of sci-fi monster movies.

Alongside Schwarzenegger as the cavalier commando Dutch, the film stars Carl Weathers ("Rocky") and pro wrestler Jesse Ventura as members of a guerrilla squad tasked with rescuing a group of hostages held in a Central American war zone. But when they get there, they find a dangerous invisible creature stalking them, and the harder they fight it, the deadlier it becomes. As the mysterious monster picks them off one by one, Dutch realizes that he's going to have to use his wits if he's going to stay alive and defeat the Predator.

Voted as one of the 10 best action movies of all time by Rolling Stone readers, "Predator" is a true classic.

2. The Terminator

The bare-bones premise of "The Terminator" resembles any number of low-budget 1980s sci-fi action thrillers, but thanks to the presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and director James Cameron's strong flare for storytelling (on only his second film) it became something else entirely. Released in 1984, the film made both Arnold and Cameron superstars, catapulting them not just to fame, but into the annals of cinema history, as the film became one of the most beloved action movies of all time.

Arnold stars as the titular Terminator, a sinister cyborg from the future, thrown back in time to the present day. He's here on a mission to assassinate Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), whose unborn son John will one day grow up to become a powerful military leader, and the only threat to Skynet, a vast artificial intelligence that seeks to destroy humanity. But Connor has help in the form of Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), a mysterious soldier sent back in time to stop the Terminator, who also happens to be John's father.

On paper, "The Terminator" isn't much more than sci-fi action schlock, but in the hands of James Cameron, and with the towering presence and intimidating performance of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the terrifying Terminator, it soars. It's arguably Arnold's greatest performance, if for no other reason than its legendary status and for being his first time in his most iconic role.

1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

In what might be the greatest pure action movie of all time, Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to his signature role as the T-800 in 1991's "Terminator 2: Judgement Day." Reunited with director James Cameron and co-star Linda Hamilton, Arnie led the biggest blockbuster of its day, with a whopping $100 million budget, making it the most expensive movie ever made at that time (per Yahoo). Most of the budget went to crafting the groundbreaking CGI that helped create the villainous T-1000 played by Robert Patrick, while the sequel flipped the script by turning Arnold's steely-eyed cyborg killer into a hero, as the protector of Sarah and John Connor.

Set more than a decade after the first film, we meet Sarah Connor (Hamilton), now a hardened, damaged woman who has been imprisoned for her apparent delusions of a future apocalypse and deadly robot assassins. But when teenaged John Connor (Edward Furlong) is targeted by a newer, deadlier liquid metal terminator, the T-1000, she'll have to team up with a reprogrammed T-800 dispatched from the future to protect her son, the future rebel leader destined to save humanity.

With some of the most jaw-dropping action scenes, eye-popping visual effects, and impeccable storytelling, Cameron and Schwarzenegger managed to somehow top the original "Terminator." With a one-handed shotgun, a rapid-fire mini-gun, and fists of steel, Arnold is at his best as the monstrous robot protector. But it's not just the crowd-pleasing action and memorable one-liners, as the actor also delivers a powerful and emotional performance that helped transcend the genre and set a new bar that no filmmaker has been able to top.