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"No one is ever safe."
– John and Sarah Connor in unison

Sarah Connor struggles to keep her 15-year-old son John safe from an enemy Terminator from the future and stop the rise of the machines. She takes John to live in a small town in New Mexico where he befriends Cameron, an enigmatic and otherworldly high school student, who ultimately becomes his protector. Meanwhile, FBI Agent James Ellison is hot on their trail, but may become a powerful ally.


Sarah's dream depicting the death of John and the end of the world.

The story begins on August 24, 1999 with Sarah Connor (age 33) and her son John (age 15) being captured by police. Suddenly a new Terminator appears and kills the police; John flees but is shot dead. With no more reason to live and no hope for the future, Sarah pleads with the Terminator to kill her too because "nothing matters anymore." The Terminator agrees; the future belongs to the machines now. She is being strangled by him as a library is hit with a nuclear blast which exposes his endoskeleton while she is dying. Sarah then awakens next to her her fiancé, Charley Dixon, only for what has just happened to be a nightmare. It has been almost two years since the events of T2 and both her and John have been settled into a seemingly normal life with Charley in West Fork, Nebraska for the past six months. Shaken by her dream, Sarah tells John that it's not safe to stay there any longer.

Charley reports Sarah's and John's disappearances to the police, which alerts the FBI agent in charge of the Sarah Connor case, James Ellison. He tells Charley that his fiancé is actually an escaped mental patient and the killer of computer scientist Miles Dyson. When Ellison updates with FBI computer file on Sarah Connor, a Terminator who has been monitoring the database picks up the new information about Sarah, including the recent surname alias "Reese".

Cromartie attempting to assassinate John Connor.

Sarah and John move to the "hick" town of Red Valley, New Mexico, where he meets a pretty girl named Cameron at school. The Sarah Connor Case being revived, Agent Ellison flies to New Mexico in search of his suspect. He initially lands at a small, general aviation airport outside of Red Valley. Meanwhile, a terminator identifying himself as Cromartie poses as a substitute teacher and targets "John Reese" during attendance call. When Cromartie pulls out a handgun that had been concealed inside his leg, Cameron takes the bullet hits and John manages to escape through a window. The other students notice Cromartie's robotic leg as he heads out the window.

Cromartie is ready to complete his directive.

In a cat-and-mouse game in the parking lot, John dodges Cromartie's shots. Cameron soon arrives in truck, telling him to "come with me if you want to live," and they take off. Sarah arrives at the school and looks at the scene through binoculars. Cromartie surprises her and grabs her neck. Her cell phone rings, which Cromartie promptly answers in Sarah's voice. He tells John to go to the house.

Cameron battles against Cromartie.

Cromartie then drags Sarah back to her house, waiting for John to come home. As John enters with a hoodie, Cromartie identifies him by his voice and shoots. When he goes to look at the body, it turns out to be Cameron using John's voice. The two begin fighting, causing massive damage around the house. She jolts Cromartie with electricity and escapes with the Connors, telling them he will be out for two minutes.

After nightfall, Cameron removes the bullets from her torso. While dressing, she answers Sarah's questions, saying she's from the year 2027 and that she was sent back in time and reprogrammed to protect John. Skynet was activated on April 19, 2011, and launched a nuclear apocalypse on April 21. Cameron advises Sarah that she should have changed her alias, although the terminators would have eventually found them anyway—they always do.

The following day, Ellison and a crew are investigating the Connors' former household. The sheriff notes that though there are scenes of violence, there's no blood. Ellison notes to the sheriff that the killer who attempted to murder John had "a robot leg", as seen by 19 witnesses from the classroom.

While recuperating in a warehouse, John tells his mom they can't keep running and asks her to stop Skynet. She agrees and the three of them head to the Dyson household in hopes of finding a lead on Skynet's new creator. Mile's widow, Tarissa, is infuriated that Sarah showed up, because the FBI pinned Miles' death on her. She proceeds to call the police but Sarah stops her. She asks Tarrisa if Miles told anyone about Skynet. She doesn't know everything was destroyed. Suddenly, Cromartie arrives. Tarissa allows the Connors the use of her van.

John and Sarah watching Cameron constructed the Isotope weapon.

John, Sarah and Cameron go to a bank that was built in 1963. Cameron pulls out a gun and has a clerk lock them in a safety deposit vault. She gains a number of keys and tells the Connors to open each specific vault. They were carrying pieces of something. John asks if they are from the future. Cameron responds that nothing inorganic can travel through time, no clothes, weapons, nothing. She builds what she describes to Sarah as an Isotope weapon, created in this time by an engineer sent back for preparations. The gun can be used to destroy machines like Cromartie. Ellison receives word about the break in, and a SWAT team arrives at the bank. However, Cromartie has also been attracted, ignoring the SWAT, determining them as "not a threat".

Cameron, Sarah, and John time travel to stop Skynet once and for all.

He then begins ripping the vault door apart, piece by piece. Cameron activates a time travel machine built into the bank vault so anyone can have a way back to the future. If they want to take down Skynet, they will have to stop its birth in the future. As the device begins to warm up, Cromartie is near able to break through. John urges his mom that they have to go. Just as temporal energies start swirling, Cromartie gets through the vault door, prompting Sarah to fire at him, taking off his head and flesh. The temporal energies form into a brilliant burst of light.

The trio resting before their battle for the future begins.

The scene switches to a freeway in Los Angeles (Highway 105), where a time displacement sphere appears in the middle, causing a panic. When it disperses, three naked bodies lie on the ground; it's Sarah, John and Cameron. Getting up, they realize where they are, with mother and son hugely embarrassed. One teen takes a video of them with a cellphone. Upon running away into a nearby construction yard, Sarah asks Cameron where are they. She responds, "Same where. Different when", indicated a nearby billboard, saying 2007. She then walks up to an approaching car, driven by three drunken men who attempt to accost her. Cameron swiftly knocks them out and steals their clothes and car for her and the Connors. As they get a household and a cache of weapons, their filmed arrival is viewed by the media as a mere college prank, but an older Charley and Ellison immediately recognize Sarah's face.

Video clips[]

Cameron eats chips.

Continuity notes[]

  • Sarah and John are wanted for the murder of Miles Dyson and the destruction of Cyberdyne headquarters events that happened in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Hence why Miles' widow is hostile at the sight of Sarah when she shows up.
  • Sarah and John visit the home of Miles Dyson and his family, as they did in Terminator 2.
  • John Connor uses the alias "John Reese"; his biological father's name was Kyle Reese.
  • The plot events of Terminator 2 foretold of a judgment day on August 29, 1997. Apparently, by destroying Dyson's work, Sarah Connor was only able to postpone Skynet's self-awareness by a few years.
  • On August 24, 1999, Sarah Connor says that her son John is 15 years old. According to Terminator 2, John Connor was born on February 28, 1985; this would make him 14 and a half. Sarah is either rounding up, or his supposed birthday in Terminator 2 was an estimated guess. This may also be a result of an earlier version of the Pilot script being used on accident, as in earlier versions the year is 1998. (https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/tsccfans/tssc-pilot-complete-script-early-draft-t262.html)
  • Sarah, John, and Cameron finish the episode at a house with a swing set. A swing set at a playground appeared in Terminator 2 in Sarah Connor's nightmare just before a nuclear bomb from Judgment Day obliterated the playground. A burning swing set and playground also appeared in the Terminator 2 opening credits.


Cromartie's red terminator eyes. Note: His chassis can be seen in his eye sockets - he most likely had no organic eyes in at that time.

  • In the opening sequence, Sarah has yet another nightmare of the nuclear holocaust of Judgment Day. She had similar dreams in Terminator 2.
  • At the beginning of the episode, you can read the words "Rage against the machines" on a pillowcase in John Connor's room. This may be a pun: Rage Against the Machine is an American rock band formed in 1991, while Terminator units are sometimes referred to as Machines. The third Terminator movie is called Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
  • When Cromartie cuts into his leg to gain access to his hidden weapon, it turns out to be a modern day gun. It's unclear whether or not Cromartie brought this gun with him when he chronoported from the future. If he did bring a gun with him, it would have made more sense to hide a futuristic gun inside of his leg. And if he didn't bring a gun and he acquired this gun in the present, it's unclear why he felt the need to hide it inside of his leg. (Except for the obvious explanation, that he did it to sneak the gun into a high school.)
  • From the point of view of the episode, it was important that a modern day gun be hidden inside of Cromartie's leg. If the gun had been a plasma gun, Cromartie would've taken out Cameron and killed John. And the gun had to be hidden in the leg, so that 19 of the 22 students in the class could see inside Cromartie's robotic leg. This information was passed along to the FBI, confirming a key element of Sarah's story about robotic terminators from the future.
  • When Cameron saves John Connor from Cromartie, she says, "Come with me if you want to live." This is the same line that Kyle Reese says in The Terminator, and the Terminator says in Terminator 2.
  • The sign at Red Mountain Airport says it is located at Latitude 35° 08' 42" Longitude 106° 47' 40" Elevation 5834 FT. This is a real sign at Double Eagle II Airport (AEG) located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The top half of the sign is covered up to read Red Mountain Airport. The coordinates were left unchanged. Also, Jame Ellison's location in the parking lot is at Bode Aero (which can be seen on the blue sign above Ellison's head), a real FBO located at AEG.
  • When Sarah, John and Cameron go to the Security Trust of Los Angeles bank, Cameron implies that she opened a safety deposit box in 1963. Of course, the foundation stone and Cameron's later explanations make it obvious that the Engineer probably just built this into the vault at the time.
  • The first time Charley Dixon and James Ellison met, it was 13:37 o'clock.
  • When looking for the safety deposit box, the readout on the bank vault monitor says "E. Boykins 117". Earl Boykins is the shortest active basketball player in the NBA, at 5'5". His NBA jersey number is "11".
  • In Sarah Connor's final voiceover in the episode, she says "It is said that the death of any one person is the death of an entire world." This quote is from the Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a: "Whoever destroys even a single life in Israel, Scripture regards him as if he had destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a single soul in Israel, Scripture regards him as if he preserved the entire world."
  • This episode marks the first time (in the movies or television series) that a human woman has traveled through time in the Terminator universe.
  • The episode marks the second time that John Connor has time jumped to the future. The first was in T2 3-D: Battle Across Time, although that arguably occurred in a different timeline.
  • Similar to the first movie, Sarah is seen working as a waitress at a diner.
  • The song John is listening when he comes home from school is Pardon Me by Incubus
  • After Agent Ellison updates the FBI Record on Sarah Connor, Cromartie's computer receives the update and prompts Cromartie to go to the computer screen. After he reads the new update, his reflection shows on the PC screen and shows his terminator eyes glow red. From a closer look, it can be seen that Cromartie does not have any human eyes - his chassis's frame can be seen where is eye sockets are located.
  • John seems visibly rattled when his "mother" (actually Cromartie impersonating her) says to him that "she" loves him, indicating that while the real Sarah Connor actually did say this once (see: Terminator 2: Judgment Day), it is not a common occurrence. The implication that this allowed him to figure out that a Terminator (namely, Cromartie) has either captured or replaced her, is similar to when John indicates that Janelle Voight is "never this nice" after she had been replaced by the T-1000 (as explained by the T-800) in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
  • One of the aliases of Cameron is E. Boykins, as witnessed by Safety Deposit box A-117 of the Bank.

DVD Extras[]

  • Terminated Scenes
    • Scene 1: Cameron encounters John in computer class and asks him out on a study date, to which he reluctantly refuses.
    • Scene 2: Extended version of the CSI scene in the Connor residence, which includes a moment when FBI Agent Ellison comments that his career might be in danger.
    • Scene 3: Cromartie replays his memory and discovers the numberplate of the truck that Cameron used to incapacitate him.



"There are those who believe that a child in the womb shares his mother’s dreams; her love for him. Her hopes for his future. As told to him in pictures as he sleeps inside her. Is that why he reaches for her in that first moment and cries for her touch? But what if you’ve known since he was inside you what his life held for him? That he would be hunted. That his fate was tied to the fate of millions. That every moment of your life would be spent keeping him alive. Would he understand why you were so hard? Why you held on so tight? Would he still reach for you if the only dream you ever shared with him were a nightmare?"


"It is said that the death of any one person is the death of an entire world. Certainly for parents, the death of a child is no less than a holocaust. In the case of my son, these words are literally true. And even though we’ve traveled through time, bent the rules of nature, they will keep coming for him. Keep trying to kill him. But until that day, it’s gonna be one hell of a dogfight."

Cast and characters[]





Sarah and John are in West Fork, Nebraska. The date is August 24th, 1999.
Sarah: We can't stay here, John.
John: What?
Sarah: It's not safe.
John: Safe from who? No one knows us. No one asks questions. It's been almost 2 years. School starts in like 3 weeks.
Sarah: We need to go.
John: No, you need to go. You're scared. He gave you a ring and now you're freaking out.
Sarah: I know you like him.
John: So do you Mom. So do you, you love him. I know you do.
John: Listen to me, the cops will never find us. We're safe.
Sarah: Don't you think that John. Don't you ever think that. Look at me. No one is ever safe. Half an hour. One bag. Plus the guns. I'll make pancakes.

Cameron: Come with me if you want to live.

Sarah: (referring to Cromartie) Did you stop him?
Cameron: 120 seconds and the system reboots.

Sarah: What year are you from?
Cameron: 2027.
Sarah: How long have you been looking for us?
Cameron: 73 days.
Sarah: And the war?
Cameron: The Skynet missile defense system goes online April 19, 2011. Declares war on mankind and triggers a nuclear apocalypse two days later.
Sarah: Miles Dyson?
Cameron: Someone else built Skynet.
Sarah: Who?
Cameron: I don't know.
Sarah: You don't know who builds the computer that blows up the world?
Cameron: I wasn't sent here for that.

John: Why is this happening again?
Sarah: I don't know.
John: You stopped it.
Sarah: I guess I didn't.
John: But you can. You changed the future, you just didn't change it enough. So you can do it again.
Sarah: I don't know, John.
John: I can't keep running. I can't. I'm not who they think I am. Some Messiah.
Sarah: You don't know that.
John: I know. I can't lead an army. Maybe that's you, but it will never be me, so you've got to stop it. Please. Mom...
Sarah: All right.
John: All right what?
Sarah: I'll stop it. I'll stop it.

John: What model are you? Are you new? You seem... different.
Cameron: (reaches over, takes a chip and eats it) I am.

Walking towards a bank
John: So you just have like an account here?
Cameron: Safety deposit box.
Sarah: When did you open that?
Cameron: 1963. (walks by an engraving that says, "THIS STONE WAS SET 1963 THIS DAY MARCH 7")

John: Is that from the future?
Cameron: Can't bring anything through when you come. Not weapons, not clothing. Nothing. You send someone back to build it.

Cameron: Engineer got a job building the vault. So we'd always have a way back home.

Sarah: What have you done?
Cameron: You want to find Skynet? You want to stop Skynet? This is the way.
Sarah: You don't know who builds it.
Cameron: No. But we know where and we know when. We can go kill it before it's born. You can stop running. Stay in one place. Fight.

Cameron: You're safe.
Sarah and John: (in unison) No one is ever safe.

Changes and deleted scenes[]

Major differences between the Leaked & Aired Pilots[]

  • In the leaked pilot the opening dream sequence takes place at Highland High School rather than R. Hadely Public Library, however the same building is used in both pilots for exterior shots (the name of the building was changed using CGI in the aired pilot to say it was a library) and during the brief scene where Sarah and John are attempting to flee the premises.[1]
  • In the leaked pilot, when Sarah attempts to help John escape during the opening dream sequence, John is in a classroom surrounded by other students. In the aired pilot he is sitting alone between shelves of books doodling on public property.[2]
  • The firefight between the Nightmare Terminator and the police officers sent to detain the Connors lasts considerably longer in the aired pilot.[3]
  • In the leaked pilot the character of Charley Dixon is replaced by the character of Burke Daniels, who is played by a different actor.[4]
  • In the leaked pilot Agent Ellison arrives at John's school to survey the damage done by Cromartie during his pursuit of John.[5]
  • The scene featuring Cameron Phillips eating a potato chip is not included in the leaked pilot, rather the scene following Sarah's stating her determination to stop SkyNet is that of the party's arrival at the Dyson residence. This scene also includes a brief narrative from Sarah, something that was omitted from the aired episode.[6]
  • Like the scene with Cameron and the potato chip, the scene where Sarah is shot in the shoulder during the trio's escape from the Dyson home wasn't part of the leaked pilot.[7]
  • The leaked pilot featured a more dramatic soundtrack, as opposed to the surreal, dreamlike music played the aired episode.

DVD deleted scenes[]

The following scenes were released on the DVD:[8]

  • "Pilot Terminated Scene A TRT - 01:02" In computer lab at his new school, John pulls up Cameron's class schedule. Cameron arrives and banters with him. She claims she isn't good with computers and asks to hang out after school and he could "help [her] with this computer stuff." John declines, saying he'd like to but he has to help his mom.
  • "Pilot Terminated Scene B TRT - 01:08" Ellison and the deputy have an extended conversation at the Connors' house.
  • "Pilot Terminated Scene C TRT - 00:42" After rebooting, Cromartie reviews his memories of the events and identifies the license plate number on their truck. This transitions to the scene where Cameron is filling the truck and John offers her a chip.
  • "Pilot Terminated Scene D TRT - 02:06" Extended scene as Cameron stitches up Sarah's bullet wound. Sarah tells Cameron about a dream she has where she tries to protect John "but he dies every time." She asks Cameron if she dreams, but Cameron says she doesn't sleep. Sarah says she's "lucky." This transitions to Sarah saying that they can't keep running.
  • "Pilot Terminated Scene E TRT - 03:37" Extended scene in Sarah's dream as the terminator approaches and attacks the cops.


  • Q: Who sent the terminator Cameron Phillips?
    • A: In a conversation with Sarah, Cameron states that the future John's intention for Sarah was to jump to 2007 and fight Skynet. This implies that John possibly sent Cameron himself to help with this.[9]
  • Q: What type of terminator is Cameron Phillips?
    • A: A promotional poster lists Cameron as a "TERMINATOR CLASS TOK715"
  • Q: Where did Cameron Phillips get her name from?
    • A: Cameron was named in homage to Terminator film franchise creator James Cameron.
  • Q: Was Agent Ellison named after Harlan Ellison, a science-fiction author and writer of the television series The Outer Limits who accused James Cameron of stealing his ideas and material from his stories "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream", "The Demon With a Glass Hand", and "Soldier"? Could this be a hint then?
  • Q: How could the FBI explain Cromartie's school shooting and keep the students who saw him for what he was quiet?
  • Q: How does Cameron blow up the parked car when driving away from Tarissa Dyson's residence?
    • A: She used a VBIED (Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device) command detonated from her cell phone. She probably put it in the car while checking the engine in the warehouse where they hide after Cromartie's initial attack.
  • Q: Did Cameron really personally open the safety deposit box in 1963? Or was it the Engineer, or someone else?
    • A: Unknown (see the discussion here).
  • Q: Who built the weapon Cameron put together in the vault?
    • A: The Engineer, or one of his associates, if he wasn't alone.
  • Q: Was the original mission of Cameron to use the Time Displacement Equipment?
    • A: In a conversation with Sarah, Cameron states that the future John's intention for Sarah was to jump to 2007 and fight Skynet before she dies.[10]
  • Q: How does the time displacement equipment get the massive amounts of energy required to generate a time displacement field?
  • Q: The TDE managed to transport Cromartie's endoskeleton head Cromartie through time even without being surrounded by living issue.
    • A: In his Producer's Blog Josh Friedman (Creator/Executive Producer), says "Please be assured that I am VERY familiar with the rules of time travel as explained by Kyle Reese in the first movie. When Cromartie's head goes through the time bubble, THERE IS FLESH ON IT. If you can’t see it, that’s because a) it's burning off very quickly and b) certain people don’t like it when we show burning flesh, cyborg or not."
  • Q: What happened to the plasma-rifle used by Sarah Connor to shoot Cromartie?
    • A: It was destroyed by the time displacement sphere, just like their clothes.
  • Q: Why was Cromartie's lower endoskeleton part brought to a waste dump (the place Cromatie was destroyed is now a highway)? Did nobody recognize it is something advanced and an important evidence in the "bank robbery" case?
    • A: The only explanation would be that the endoskeleton was scooped up in the general removal of debris from the site by uninspected construction equipment and concealed by the bulk wreckage removal.
  • Q: Since Sarah, Cameron and John time traveled to 2007, what happened to the 24 year-old John Connor?
    • A: The John Connor played by Nick Stahl in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is this John. Unless John travels back to his proper time, the 24 year old John of 2007 will not exist. When traveling forward in time, there is no duplication of single people (i.e. present and future Fischer) due to the fact that the person traveling through time appears to be gone for the time that was skipped. Had a future John traveled back in time, there would be two Johns.
  • Q: Why is Cameron shot down for some time by Cromartie with only around 4 pistol shots?
    • A: To keep her human fake identity: She plays dead allowing Cromartie to dismiss her as a non-threat (see Terminator vs. Terminator). (And probably also for the episode's dramaturgy; in later episodes, she is capable of taking far more damage without going down.)
  • Q: The road block sign reads '09-03-07' where the Connors were sent forward, and the date when they were in the past is '09.10.1999' based on the display of the time machine in the vault. The target date of time travel read '2007' Why is there one week difference?
  • Q: Also, right before Sarah told Cameron to do it and she executed, the time machine shows countdown as 'T+ 78892.31166' and it soon changed to 'T+ 78892.31163' in splitting second. What does this number mean?


External links[]

  • IMDb favicon.png Pilot on the Internet Movie Database
  • Pilot at TV.com