And that brings me to the T-800. Good ol’ Arnie. When I shifted my perspective of the film and looked at him as the protagonist, the Hero became clear and the entire story took on a new meaning. T2 became a Pinocchio story of the machine who would become a man.
Probably one of the most interesting aspects of the T-800’s Hero’s Journey is that almost the entire path of Departure (that is, the first five steps of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey) takes place before we even see Arnold on-screen.
Look at it this way: at some point in the future, the T-800 is built and is living its Normal Existence as one of Skynet’s Terminator cyborgs. So, you have to imagine that there is a “Call to Adventure” for every cyborg: to break away from its programming. The cyborg naturally refuses this call to adventure (revealed in a T2 cut scene when Arnie...I mean...the T-800 says that Skynet sets all the machine processing chips to Read-Only), but along comes future John Connor (Supernatural Aid) and reprograms the T-800 to be something other than what it was built to be. So, by the time we see the T-800 for the first time it is right in the process of Crossing the First Threshold and entering The Belly of the Whale by simply being fully committed to its mission to protect young John Connor.
I realize that it could easily be argued that the T-800 is just a programmed machine and it has no real choice in what it does, but this is often the case with heroes: adventures are often flung upon them and they are not given a choice as to whether they will accept or not. They have to take up the call or die.
And how are we much different from a T-800? Society programs us to be good workers or spouses or children or religion-followers or ideologists or consumers or any number of things. Until we receive some sort of alternate programming, we often cannot break out of our tin..