The 10 Best Arnold Schwarzenegger Movies of All Time

Updated on March 15, 2019
Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator
Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator | Source

The Top 10 Arnold Schwarzenegger Films

In my opinion, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the greatest movie action hero of them all. His unmatched physique, awesome screen presence, and witty one-liners, combined with an array of incredible action scenes and special effects, make him the best of the best.

Although he made a very poor start in the film industry with Stay Hungry and Hercules In New York, he went on to become one of the most successful movie stars ever, dominating the film world in the 80s and much of the 90s.

But of the 30 or so films that Arnold has starred in (and with more to come), these are what I consider to be the 10 best Arnold Schwarzenegger movies ever.

10. The Running Man (1987)

Loosely based on a Stephen King novel of the same name, The Running Man sees Arnold starring as Ben Richards, an ex-soldier wrongly accused of participating in a massacre.

As punishment, he is forced to compete in a TV reality show where he has to fight for his life against a series of professional killers. An action-packed film with some witty one-liners and great special effects, it may be a bit silly but it’s excellent entertainment.

9. Twins (1988)

In a departure from his usual action hero-type roles, Arnold plays Julius Benedict, a perfect human specimen created in a lab experiment. However, the experiment had an unforeseen side effect as, whilst he got all the good genetic material, the bad genes went to create a twin, Vincent—played by Danny DeVito. The twins are of course complete opposites, yet share a connection that draws them gradually closer to one another as the movie progresses.

The film starts off with Julius leaving his sheltered life on a remote island behind to go and find his twin brother. Then the two of them go in search of their natural mother who had been led to believe that her offspring had died at birth. A terrific family movie that’s full of excitement, adventure, romance and of course comedy. Highly recommended.

8. Eraser (1996)

In this fast-paced action movie Arnold plays U.S. Marshall John Kruger, also known as ‘The Eraser’, as he specializes in “erasing” the identities of federal witnesses by faking their deaths.

In this instance he is assigned to protect Lee Cullen (played by Vanessa Williams), an employee of Cyrez Corporation who manufacture top secret weapons for the military. She finds out that weapons are being sold to terrorists and informs the FBI. At this point she becomes a target; the bad guys come after her and only John can save her.

A terrific action film that’s full of suspense with some great special effects and just the right amount of humour. It’s now something of a cult classic and essential viewing for anyone who likes action movies.

7. Predator (1987)

When Arnold, in the role of Alan “Dutch” Schaefer, and his team of elite special-ops commandos, go into a Central American jungle on a rescue mission they find themselves hunted by a powerful extraterrestrial being that can blend in perfectly with its surroundings.

One by one they are picked off until only Dutch remains to take on the alien threat. This is an extremely violent and creepy film, but it has a solid story line and excellent special effects. It’s also one of Arnold’s best ever performances and is one movie that’s definitely not to be missed.

6. Conan The Barbarian (1982)

Long ago in the mythical Hyborian Age, a young Conan watches helplessly as his village is destroyed, his people massacred and his parents killed by the evil wizard Thulsa Doom. Taken into slavery, Conan is chained to a large mill called the “Wheel of Pain” for years, during which time he grows into a strong man. Conan is then sold to another master and trained as a gladiator. Eventually he is freed and goes in search of Thulsa Doom to seek revenge for his parent’s death.

This is one of Schwarzenegger’s earliest starring roles, yet it’s one of his best. A dark and violent, yet superbly compelling fantasy adventure movie of the highest calibre.

Conan The Barbarian trailer showing what makes this movie great

5. Commando (1985)

In this over-the-top, non-stop action film, Arnold plays retired special-ops commando, Colonel John Matrix whose daughter is kidnapped by a psychotic dictator.

But rather than performing the assassination that he is told to do, Arnold goes after his daughter’s captors, killing everyone in sight until he rescues her.

Despite the fact that it’s a bit dated now, and the acting isn't the best, the incredible action scenes, explosions and hilarious one-liners combine to make this one of the best action movies ever made.

4. Total Recall (1990)

Set in 2084, this classic sci-fi action thriller sees Arnold starring as Douglas Quaid, a construction worker who’s having troubling dreams about Mars and a mysterious woman there. His wife Lori tries to discourage him from thinking about Mars, but one day he decides to visit Rekall, a company that provides memory implants of dream vacations. He chooses a vacation on Mars as a secret agent, but something goes wrong during the implant. So the company wipe his memory of the visit and send him home.

On the way home however Quaid is attacked by his co-workers and is forced to kill them. He then finds out that his entire life is just a memory implant and he is in fact really a secret agent. Or is he? He’ll have to go to Mars to find out.

Although the special effects and the fashion are a bit dated now this is still an excellent and high powered action film with an interesting story line and some weird and wonderful characters. A must see for any Arnie, sci-fi or action movie fan.

3. The Terminator (1984)

Probably the most memorable of all Schwarzenegger’s movies and the one that really made him a star, The Terminator is one of the best sci-fi/action movies ever.

In it Arnold plays a cyborg killing machine sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor before she can give birth to John Connor, who is to become leader of the human resistance in the future. But the humans also send someone back, lone soldier Kyle Reese, to protect Sarah from this seemingly unstoppable menace.

Then follows a gripping, action packed sequence of events that sees Sarah torn from her comfortable world into the stark and terrifying realization of a future where everything we know has been destroyed and all that remains is the constant battle against the machines, controlled by the supercomputer Skynet. A sensational movie and definitely not to be missed if you like sci-fi or action films.

Highlights from The Terminator movie

2. True Lies (1994)

In this action comedy Arnold plays Harry Tasker – a man who leads a double life. His wife and daughter believe he is a computer salesman, but in reality he is a James Bond type super spy working for the US government.

His wife however inevitably becomes involved in a case and the two must then work together to combat a militant Islamist organisation. A hilarious and action packed movie that offers the very best in family entertainment.

1. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

Schwarzenegger is back as the T800 in this stupendous sequel to The Terminator. But this time he’s the good guy, looking to protect the young John Connor, rather than kill him. Protect from whom? The new, more advanced, liquid metal shape shifting T1000, played by Robert Patrick.

This emotion-packed, non-stop action, sci-fi film has a great story line and outstanding special effects, making it Arnold’s best ever movie.

So those are what I believe to be the 10 best Arnold Schwarzenegger movies of all time. The best of the rest are Terminator 3 (hard not to put this in the top 10 really), Kindergarten Cop and Last Action Hero. But you may have other ideas of course; so what are your favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger films? Let me know in the comments below.

Questions & Answers


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      • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR


        14 months ago from Birmingham, UK

        Yes, I agree. It would have been good if he had starred again in Predator 2.

      • aziza786 profile image

        Zia Uddin 

        14 months ago from UK

        I would choose Predator and Terminator 2 as my favorite Arnie movies. It's a pity he wasnt in Predator 2, it would have been a lot different.

      • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR


        22 months ago from Birmingham, UK

        Yes, I agree Ryan.

      • Ryan Cornelius profile image

        Ryan Jarvis Cornelius 

        2 years ago from Hollywood Florida

        Each terminator film I loved so I agree. Wish he did more terminator films. True lies was good too

      • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR


        4 years ago from Birmingham, UK

        Thanks Flint. Yes, I would have loved to see a sequel to True Lies too.

      • flint3099 profile image


        4 years ago

        I definitely agree with you that Terminator 2 is his best. I also like your 2nd choice being true lies, I would have loved to see a sequel to that.


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