Series 800 and Series 850 Terminators can not self-terminate as an act in and of itself, even when a mission demands they do so. However, these Terminator series can take any actions that may indirectly result in self-termination if they calculate that doing so will allow them to achieve their primary mission.
The self-termination capabilities of other Terminator series remains to be defined.
- In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, a T-850 put an unstable hydrogen fuel cell into the mouth of a T-X in order to destroy it. The explosion destroyed them both and fulfilled its mission of protecting John Connor.
- In T2: Infiltrator, the I-950 Serena Burns was initially deployed during the Future War with a self-contained high explosive device. Her first mission was to infiltrate the Resistance, attain close proximity to John Connor, and detonate.
- During the events of Season 2 in the Sarah Connor Chronicles timeline, Cameron explicitly states that Terminators are not permitted to self-terminate.
- In Terminator Vault, James Cameron talked about the concept, referring that Skynet created time travel and John Connor to manipulate the future war out of remorse of killing all humans — an act of self-terminate.
"Skynet has groomed John Connor to be what he is so he can destroy it by going back in time and taking the whole thing out of existence in a big loop so the war never happens."
- John: (holds up the robot arm) Will this melt in there?
- Terminator: Yes, throw it in.
- John: Adios! (John throws the arm into the molten steel)
- Terminator: And the chip.
- Sarah: (in relief) It's over.
- Terminator: No. There is one more chip... (the Terminator points to his head)... and it needs to be destroyed, also. Here. I cannot self-terminate. You must lower me into the steel.
- John: No! You can't go! You can't go! No, it'll be okay, stay with us!
- Terminator: It has to end here.
- John: I order you not to go. I order you not to go, (yelling) I order you not to go! (he starts to cry)
- Terminator: I know now why you cry... (the Terminator wipes away John's tear) ...but it is something I can never do. (gives elevator controls to Sarah)
- Terminator: Good-bye. (Sarah lowers him into the molten steel. He gives a thumbs up as he is lowered)
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day
- T-850: You cannot self-terminate.
- John Connor: No, you can't. I can do anything I want. I'm a human being, not some god-damn robot.
- T-850: (correcting him) Cybernetic organism.
- John Connor: Whatever!
- Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines