Ellen Ripley in Aliens and Sarah Connor in Terminator 2
Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) were two capable characters who showed their capibilities and limitations in the first sequel. This article has spoilers to the original movies and to the first sequels. Ellen Ripley first appeared in Alien (1979) and Sarah Connor first appeared in The Terminator (1984). These characters dispatched their nemesis in the original movies but they earned the title of action hero in their first sequel.
In Terminator a cyborg, a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), was programed to kill Sarah Connor, a restaurant server. When the Terminator was under a press Sarah Connor was within reach of the activation button. Sarah Connor activated the press and the press crushed the Terminator. The movie ended with an armed and pregnant Sarah Connor in Mexico. She seemed to be handling her plight and the fate of the human race very well.
Terminator 2 has Sarah Connor in a mental institution for the criminally insane. She got there by attempting to blow up a building belonging to the company that will inadvertently cause the impending nuclear holocaust. She had made many escape attempts. When her psychiatrist, Dr. Silberman (Earl Boen), shows her to other psychiatrists Sarah sardonically asks him about his knee. Dr. Silberman explains she stabbed him with his pen. During an interview she does a poor job of pretending to know time travel and killer robots were delusions. When Dr. Silberman denied her request to go into minimum security and see her son Sarah attempted to assault him and the staff had to sedate her.
When Sarah Connor leaned there was another Terminator she attempted to escape. During Sarah Connor's escape attempt she proclaimed her willingness to commit cold blooded murder. Her logic was everyone is dead anyway. She is running from the institution’s security when the Terminator appears. She reverses her direction and runs from the Terminator and into the arms of the security people. The Terminator disables the security guards and Sarah’s son, John (Edward Furlong), tells her the Terminator is on her side. The new nemesis, a T-1000 (Robert Patrick), moves through a set of bars. Sarah springs into action. She and the Terminator fire on the pursuing T-1000. Sarah commandeers a car and they escape the institution and the T-1000.
She is out of the asylum and immediate danger from the T-1000 but she doesn’t look well mentally. She asks the Terminator who was responsible for bringing about “Judgment Day”, a nuclear holocaust. The Terminator tells her the person most responsible was Myles Dyson (Joe Morton). Sarah decides to kill Myles Dyson. She fires at him with a rifle but misses because Myles made a lucky movement at just the right time. When she has him at gunpoint with a handgun she is unable to commit cold blooded murder. The Terminator proved what he was and told Myles about Judgment Day and his part in it. Sarah goes off on a diatribe against Myles. John diplomatically tells Sarah she is not being constructive. Sarah, John, the Terminator, and Myles go to the plant and destroy all the research related to the first Terminator. Myles is killed and the T-1000 reacquires the trio. The T-1000 pursues them into an industrial plant where Sarah and the Terminator destroy the T-1000 by causing it to fall into a vat of molten metal. The Terminator explains to Sarah it must also be destroyed. Sarah agrees and presses the button which lowers the Terminator into the molten metal. The human race is no longer doomed to a nuclear holocaust.
Alien ended with Ellen Ripley realizing the Alien was in the escape pod with her. Ripley calmed herself by singing, “You Are My Lucky Star”, as she put on her space suit and strapped herself in a chair. She fired a grappling hook into the alien then blew off an escape hatch. The decompression blew the alien into space. Ripley made the final log entry and went into the stasis capsule.
The movie Aliens begins with a salvage crew entering an escape pod and finding Ellen Ripley. In a space infirmary Carter Burke (Paul Reiser), who works for the “Company”, tells Ripley she has been in hyper-sleep for 57 years. Then there is an inquiry where the board disbelieves Ripley’s account. In the Alien universe an alien creature was a realistic possibility. The planet where her crew found the alien eggs, LV-426, has been colonized and the board told her they have found no eggs or evidence of the alien creature she reported. Ripley was in her words, “thrown to the wolves”. She lost her flight rating and was working as a cargo loader. She was having recurring nightmares about the alien. Carter came to her apartment with Lieutenant Gorman (William Hope) and told her they lost contact with the colony. He asked her to come with him and a squad of Colonial Marines as a consultant. Ripley refuses but later, after clarifying the only purpose was to destroy the creatures, agreed to go on the mission. On the space ship the squad is unimpressed with Ripley and confident in their ability to deal with whatever awaits them. There she learns, by accident, Bishop (Lance Henriksen) is an android. In the movie Alien while Ripley and the rest of the crew were in a life and death struggle with the Alien one crew member was an android that was helping the Alien. Burke claimed he forgot to tell her since now an android is standard on such missions. Bishop claimed “…It is impossible for me to harm or by omission of action, allow to be harmed, a human being.” This didn’t impress Ripley.
On LV-426 they find the only colony survivor, Rebecca “Newt” Jorden (Carrie Henn), a little girl who has been hiding from the aliens. Lieutenant Gorman directs the squad from a command vehicle. He directs the squad into an ambush. Lieutenant Gorman doesn’t do anything useful while the aliens are killing the Marines. Ripley takes control of the vehicle and drives to the Marine squad. The Lieutenant is incapacitated and the sergeant is dead. Ripley takes charge of the situation. Their landing ship is destroyed when an Alien kills its crew. They are trapped with little hope of rescue. After a series of fights with the Aliens and a betrayal by Burke they developed a plan to escape the planet and blow up the Aliens. Their plan depended on Bishop. As they are executing their plan the aliens get Newt. Normally when the Aliens get someone Ripley accepted they were lost. Ripley refused to give up on Newt. Ripley fights her way to Newt and they make their way outside. They are trapped with the Aliens closing in. Bishop flies in with a landing ship just in time. They escape to the mother ship and a nuclear explosion on LV-426 destroys the Aliens. A wounded Private Hudson (Bill Paxton) is the only Colonial Marine to survive. All seemed over when the Alien Queen appears. It severely damages Bishop and closes in on Newt. Ripley gets in a cargo loader and fights toe-to-toe with the Alien Queen. The fight ends with the Alien Queen being blown out the air lock. The survivors go into hyper-sleep for the voyage back to Earth.
Parallels & Differences
Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley had androids as their enemies in the original movies. They had androids as allies in the sequel. Sarah Connor accepted The Terminator as an ally within seconds of its appearance. Ellen Ripley kept her mistrust until Bishop proved itself. Newt’s appearance enabled Ripley to show her maternal side. She showed Newt a gentle hand. Newt gave Ripley a purpose beyond survival. Sarah Connor seemed too far gone. At her first opportunity she chastised John for rescuing her rather than leaving her to certain death at the hands of the T-1000. Later she concluded The Terminator would make an excellent parent. She went off to kill Myles Dyson which would almost certainly mean death or imprisonment for her and permanent separation from John. Sarah Connor was well versed in combat skills. She and The Terminator made a good fighting team. Ripley didn’t know how to use the Marine fire arms until Hudson taught her on LV-426. She had excellent leadership skills and prevailed over the Aliens despite impossible odds. In these movies corporate greed, if it succeeded, would cause mass slaughter. The movies ended where Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley had every reason to believe the nightmare was over.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2015 Robert Sacchi
Robert Sacchi (author) on November 15, 2017:
Thanks for reading and commenting. These movies are often shown on television, with various degrees of editing depending on the channel.
Ian Rideout from Alberta, Canada on November 15, 2017:
Definitely two of my favourite movies ever. I need to give them another watch sometime.
Robert Sacchi (author) on July 11, 2016:
Yes, arguably these movies were the strongest in their genre. Fair warning, the movie versions of these movies have gruesome death scenes. The TV versions cut down on most of the blood and guts.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 10, 2016:
Sounds like I have missed seeing a couple of good movies! Thanks for this review of them.
Robert Sacchi (author) on October 07, 2015:
Yes, they are both good movies and were innovative in their day.
Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on October 07, 2015:
I couldn't decide which was the better but watched both movie frequently!