James Ellison is the head of security for ZeiraCorp and a former FBI agent. He was originally tasked with bringing Sarah Connor to justice for the murder of Miles Dyson and the bombing of Cyberdyne headquarters in the mid-90's, as well as the 1999 armed bank robbery in which several safety deposit boxes were emptied and significant property damage occurred.
Since then, Ellison has seen incontrovertible evidence about the rise of Terminators, and has realized that Sarah is telling the truth and thus not actually insane.
Ellison is a Catholic. In "The Demon Hand", Sarah Connor visited his house and there was a Liturgy of the Hours and a Daily Roman Missal open on his table. Later, he told Peter Silberman that he believes in the Bible. At the end of the episode, he was shown with a prayer group reading a passage out of the sacred book.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season One
When Charley Dixon reported his fiancée, Sarah Reese, had gone missing, Ellison came to the Los Angeles police station to inform him that Sarah was an escaped mental patient who blew up Cyberdyne labs and killed Miles Dyson, yet Dixon refused to believe it.
In search of Sarah, Ellison came to New Mexico, but he was too late and the house that the Connors had purchased was wrecked with signs of fighting but no blood. He relayed to the sheriff that the students at the school where John Connor was had witnessed a shooter with a "robot leg".
James looked into the murder of three Resistance soldiers by Vick Chamberlain, as well as Enrique Salceda. He questioned Carlos, Enrique's nephew, about it. He went to the scene of the murder of Dr. Fleming; he saw that the doctor's eyes were ripped out and missing. After the death of David Lyman, he suspected it was George Laszlo as seen in security tapes. He thought these six murders had a connection and he questioned Laszlo and got a blood sample from him, but ended up being false. He then suspected the murderer of Lyman must have had his face made to look like Laszlo by Lyman. Later, he went to Laszlo's apartment and gave Cromartie, recently looking as Laszlo had, his card.
He later talked to Derek Reese in jail about the six connected murders. He was a likely suspect in the case, murdering Andy Goode. The blood did not link to his though. He later found Vick Chamberlain's hand at the scene of Derek Reese's jail break.
He went to Pescadero State Hospital, wanting to question people who worked there during the escape of Sarah Connor, who helped Derek escape. No one who worked at Pescadero at the time was still there. Peter Silberman, Sarah's former psychiatrist, moved to a house in the mountains. Ellison visited Silberman with the arm. Silberman let him in his house, talked with him a bit, then thought he was a Terminator, and stabbed him in the knee. Silberman realized the mistake and bandaged it. Silberman had believed the Future War story that Sarah had told him before, and Ellison had started to believe it. After Ellison showed the arm to him, Silberman tied Ellison to a chair and burned his house down and took the arm. Sarah Connor arrived and saved Ellison and took the arm back from Silberman.
Ellison then found out about Cromartie impersonating an FBI agent. He and 22 other FBI agents then broke into Cromartie's apartment. The Terminator killed all but Ellison, throwing them into the apartment complex's pool. He spared Ellison because he could lead him to John Connor, his target. He now fully believes Sarah Connor's story.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season Two
Following the disastrous raid on Cromartie's hideout at the apartment of George Laszlo, Agent Ellison and Charley Dixon conspire to blame the deceased actor, whose corpse was found at the scene, rather than have to explain what really happened to authorities. Ellison later officially perjures himself when submitting his report of the incident to his superiors at the FBI. He is placed on a compassionate paid leave to afford him time to cope with the aftermath.
On a late night visit to the burned out site of the Connor's last safe house, he is again confronted by Cromartie. Declaring his refusal to ever lead the Terminator to her, he tells Cromartie he'd better just kill him now if that's why he was spared, and that he would refuse to do "the Devil's work". Cromartie dismissively walks past him again, wryly commenting "We'll see."
He received a call from Catherine Weaver, enticing him with a job offer and hints of knowledge about Cromartie's massacre. She invited him for lunch to talk about "who or what" actually killed his colleagues. He later does some digging into Catherine's past by asking his ex-wife Lila Ellison, at this point James Ellison has stopped wearing his cross.
While starting to work for Weaver, Ellison went to the Serrano Point Nuclear Power Plant to talk to Mr. Nelson about the peculiar incident that happened there. Nelson was planning to write a report about the incident. However, he was killed by Weaver who disguised herself as a skank at the local bar because of the potential that he could reveal too much to authorities.
After Skynet determines that Ellison's knowledge is a threat, it assigned a specific human replacement Terminator to eliminate him and presumably take his place. Agent Ellison is saved from the Terminator by Cromartie, who has determined that his usefulness merits going against Skynet's wishes. Unfortunately for Ellison, the actions of the Ellison Terminator upon arrival of killing a man and stealing his clothing land him in jail for the eyewitness corroborated incident. Calling upon Catherine Weaver for assistance, Ellison is released from custody after the eyewitness is led into psychologically damning testimony by the morphed Weaver (impersonating the investigating detective) that describes the formation of a time displacement sphere and the materialization of the naked "Ellison" in the street.
Shaken by his brush with death and the looming Terminator threat, Ellison spends some time in his car outside his old home, still occupied by Lila Ellison and her new husband Paul. After Lila notices him sitting there, she invites him inside for coffee with her and her husband, which he declines. During a short conversation in the car, it is revealed their breakup happened approximately five years ago. They divorced over Lila's termination of her pregnancy following the events of September 11, 2001.
While jogging one day, Ellison receives a call from an FBI agent about John Connor being in custody in Mexico. He immediately makes his way there, only to find that Cromartie is also there looking for John. Ellison narrowly escapes with John and Riley in town, and they soon find Sarah locked in the trunk of the car. While Sarah is initially skeptical of Ellison, he states that he "owes her one" for saving him from Silberman's exploding cabin. Ellison later goes into a church, apparently to pray, but it is soon revealed that this was a part of a trap in order to destroy Cromartie. Derek, Sarah, Cameron, and John successfully terminate him. After that, they bury Cromartie's endoskeleton with the intent on coming back with the proper materials to destroy it, Sarah destroys Cromartie's CPU beyond repair, and Ellison goes his own way.
Ellison dug up Cromartie's body and gave it to Catherine Weaver after a while. He suggested they study it in order to find a way to stop them from being created. Towards the mid-season finale, James was introduced to "John Henry", the Artificial intelligence that was in development by ZeiraCorp. James interrogated John Henry concerning the death of Dr. Boyd Sherman and he determined that, while the death was not intentional, John Henry was still responsible.
James later learns that Catherine Weaver has implemented Cromartie's endoskeleton as a vessel for the John Henry A.I. Catherine then asks James to teach John Henry the difference between right and wrong (using the Ten Commandments as a guide). Ellison then explains to John Henry that "We are all God's children", to which John Henry replies: "Am I God's child?"
At a certain point, John Henry lures Savannah Weaver into a game of hide and seek, with the particular variation involving a series of clues to be given after answering riddles. Ellison is not amused, but Catherine Weaver insists on playing the game. This causes Ellison to become suspicious of Weaver. He ends up figuring out where Savannah is hidden and proceeds to lecture John Henry on the dangers of such games and the value of human life.
It is revealed by John Henry that Catherine Weaver has forged documents about the relocation of deceased employees, and has similar documents pertaining to Ellison with the dates left blank, implying that she is willing to kill Ellison if he does not comply with her plans.
- James Ellison is possibly inspired by Jordan Dyson, Miles Dyson's brother, from T2: Infiltrator. Both characters are FBI Agents who attempted to apprehend Sarah Connor only later to be convinced of the truth of her claims.
- According to a dialogue between him and John Henry, Ellison has a brother in Atlanta.
- It has been hinted at in some episodes that Ellison could originally have some connection to Skynet in some way:
- Upon hearing his name, Cromartie seemed to be slightly surprised and asked to confirm that the "Agent Ellison" referenced was James Ellison.
- Also, when the FBI attempted to capture Cromartie, the Terminator spared only Ellison, later explaining to him that the reason was because he thinks Ellison will lead him to the Connors. Ellison tells the machine that he'd better just kill him now if that's why he was spared, as he would "never do the devil's work," and Cromartie replies "we'll see" before dismissively walking away.
- For some unknown reasons, Ellison still hasn't told Weaver about the Connors. It is possible and likely he just doesn't trust Weaver completely and fears she would use the technology for her own ends. For her part, Weaver did not tell Ellison about her developing an Artificial Intelligence until after he handed over Cromartie's endoskeleton.
Behind the Scenes
- Ellison's last name might be a tribute or an allusion to Harlan Ellison, a science-fiction author and writer of the television series The Outer Limits who famously threatened to sue Hemdale Films because of Cameron plagiarizing ideas and material from his stories "Soldier" and "The Demon With a Glass Hand." The issue was quickly settled out of court due to Ellison's possession of clear evidence and he is in now credited on all subsequent prints of the first film.
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
- Season 1
- Season 2
- "Samson & Delilah"
- "Automatic for the People"
- "The Mousetrap"
- "Allison from Palmdale"
- "Goodbye to All That"
- "The Tower Is Tall But the Fall Is Short"
- "Brothers of Nablus"
- "Mr. Ferguson is Ill Today"
- "Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point"
- "Earthlings Welcome Here"
- "The Good Wound"
- "Today Is The Day, Part 1"
- "Today Is The Day, Part 2"
- "To the Lighthouse"
- "Adam Raised a Cain"
- "Born to Run"
• Aaron • Carlos • Vick Chamberlain • Chola • Kacy Cotton • Michelle Dixon • Andy Goode • George Laszlo • Morris • Matt Murch • Margos Sarkissian • Sayles • Boyd Sherman • Greta Simpson • Sumner • Timms • Cheri Westin • Ed Winston •
• Main characters • Recurring characters • Minor characters •