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Total recall

The title character in "The Terminator" (1984), "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991), and "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" (2003)

Schwarzenegger actually plays a different character in each "Terminator" movie. They're all the same model of deadly cyborg assassin, but each is programmed for a different purpose. In the original he's a scary robot who goes back in time to kill a woman. In the two sequels he's a good guy who protects humans against evil animatronics. The character has the unique distinction of appearing on the American Film Institute's 100 Greatest Villains list and on the 100 Greatest Heroes list.

Bing: More about 'The Terminator' | More about 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day'

The role was a perfect vehicle for Schwarzenegger and launched him to international stardom. He could discover the cure for cancer and would probably still be best known for playing the Terminator. The James Cameron-created franchise is exploring ideas for a fifth installment after a Schwarzenegger-free reboot, "Terminator Salvation," stalled in 2009.

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(Orion Pictures/Tri-Star Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures)