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The Terminator (1984) Intro - YouTube.flv

The Terminator is the first work in the Terminator franchise and the first film of the movie series. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, and Linda Hamilton, with Lance Henriksen, Paul Winfield and Earl Boen in supporting roles.


The film opens with the depiction of the year 2029—a possible future where mankind has been oppressed by artificially intelligent machines, lead by the rebellious computer system Skynet. This computer became sentient and started a nuclear war by hijacking control of the United States' nuclear arsenal and launching ICBM's in a devastating attempt to annihilate humanity through nuclear war. Subsequently, a post-apocalyptic war is raged in the future, where a small Resistance group of free humans try to win back their planet and survive the machine onslaught, lead by the heroic, influential General John Connor. Connor is the man responsible for the creation of the human resistance, and credited with rescuing mankind from extinction by rallying survivors to combat Skynet's forces.

A scroll appears on the screen, stating "The machines rose from the ashes of the nuclear fire. Their war to exterminate mankind had raged on for decades. But the final battle will not be fought in the future. It would be fought in our present...tonight".

Though the year is not specifically mentioned, the "present day" of the movie starts in the year 1984, in Los Angeles, and introduces the arrival of the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a Series 800 Model 101 Infiltrator unit sent back in time by Skynet to assassinate Sarah Connor, mother of the future saviour of mankind (and Skynet's greatest enemy), before he is conceived by an unknown father the following year.


T-800 Model 101 Infiltrator Unit

Since the time machine Skynet uses is only capable of sending organic matter (clothes, weapons, etc. can't be sent back), any being using the time machine must travel nude. The cyborg assassin, able to travel due to being covered by living organic skin that protects the robotic metal endoskeleton combat chassis, must also abide by these rules and arrives nude as well. The T-800, knowing it must wear clothes to maintain cover and infiltrate modern society, confronts the first people it meets that have compatible clothing sizes. In this case, they are three punk rockers drinking by an observation telescope at Griffith Observatory. The T-800 approaches them and after some verbal sparring, demands their clothing. The punks (Bill Paxton, Brian Thompson and Brad Rearden) refuse, all three pulling switchblades. The T-800 violently shoves one of the punks aside, shoves the first punk away forcefully into a gate, damaging his spine and killing him, then uses its bare hand to tear out the heart of the second punk by punching through the flesh below the ribcage. The third punk, having just seen his two friends so easily killed by what appears to be a nude, muscle-bound psychopath, begins to strip and hand his clothes to the Terminator. After stealing a large amount of deadly weaponry from the Alamo Sport Shop and killing its owner, the T-800 finds a phone book and searches the listings for "Sarah Connor". It finds three women with that name listed and begins to track them down.

Meanwhile, in another part of Los Angeles, human resistance soldier Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) has arrived through time as well, tasked with protecting Sarah from the T-800, which was sent back as a last-second act of desperation by Skynet to eliminate its enemy's entire existence. He steals pants from a homeless man and attacks a police officer, taking his pistol. Reese demands to know the date, more specifically the year but before he finds out from the puzzled cop, he's forced to run. Reese breaks into a department store and steals an overcoat and a pair of Nike sneakers. He escapes the store and steals shotgun from an unattended police vehicle. He slips away and finds a phone book, repeating the terminator's search of "Sarah Connor".

The Terminator mercilessly kills the first Sarah Connor in her home. The next Connor is killed later offscreen. The systematic murder of the first two draws media attention, and the attention of police Lt. Ed Traxler (Paul Winfield), and detective Hal Vukovich (Lance Henriksen). The remaining Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), a hapless 19-year-old waitress with a dull life, who lives with her best friend and roommate Ginger Ventura, finds out about the other two Sarah Connor murders at work on television. Worried by the name connection, and noticing that she is being followed (by her unknown protector, Reese), she takes shelter in a local club called TechNoir, where she calls the police for protection. Her first attempts see her being transferred around within the department, but she stays there.

Meanwhile the Terminator goes to Sarah's apartment where it kills Ginger and her boyfriend Matt Buchanan. While it inspects Ginger's corpse, Sarah calls, leaving a panicky message on the answering machine. The terminator realizes that Sarah is not home and it searches the apartment, finding Sarah's university picture ID. Having mentioned the name of the club she's hiding out in, the terminator sets out again to find her.

At TechNoir Sarah finally is connected to Traxler. He tells her to stay in the club where she'll be safe until a squad car arrives. Reese, not knowing what the Terminator looks like, sits at the bar waiting for the terminator to arrive and make a move on Sarah before he is able to intervene and protect her. The Terminator and Reese wreak havoc at the disco in their ensuing firefight, the Terminator killing six people. Reese empties his stolen police shotgun into the Terminator's chest, knocking it out a window where it lies stunned, waiting for its systems to reboot. To Sarah's utter astonishment, the gunshot-ridden terminator impossibly rises to its feet and marches toward her again. Reese grabs Sarah and they both flee in a vehicle Reese had earlier hotwired, while the Terminator pursues in a hijacked police car. While fleeing, Kyle tells the terrified Sarah about her situation and the terminator. Reese pulls into a parking garage to find another vehicle. When they slip into the new one, Reese tells Sarah that the man he'd shot is actually a sophisticated robot encased in real human tissue that has been programmed to kill her. He also tells her about a computer system named "Skynet" that became intelligent and launched the nuclear war that devastated Earth, nearly wiping out it's entire population. The human race was near to extinction when a single man rallied humanity to fight back against Skynet and it's army of machine killers and defeat it. The man is Sarah's as yet unborn son, John. In a last-ditch effort, Skynet sent the terminator back to 1984 to kill Sarah and wipe out John's very existence.

The terminator quickly finds them again and another chase ensues, with Reese and the terminator trading shotgun blasts. The police arrive and arrest Reese and Sarah. As Sarah is handcuffed, she sees that the terminator has escaped again, despite taking a couple of deadly shots from Reese. The police bring them to West-Island police station where Sarah is informed of Ginger and Matt's murders.

The Terminator escapes unseen, and breaks into a hotel room to perform self-repairs on its damaged eye and right arm, having to cover the damage with sunglasses.

Sarah is reassured and interviewed by criminal psychologist Peter Silberman, who believes that Reese is insane and delusional; a "loon." Reese's hostile claims about the future and the advanced robot's mission are dismissed as those of a raving lunatic; clearly someone suffering from psychotic delusions. The police also have "logical explanations" about the Terminator; they think he survived several bullets with body armor and that when he smashed through a windshield with his bare hand he was probably on PCP and must have broken every bone in his hand and arm.

However, mere minutes later, the Terminator arrives at the station, and when denied access to see Sarah, casually utters to the desk sergeant "I'll be back", before driving a car directly into the lobby, destroying the lobby and killing the desk sergeant. The machine, now heavily armed with an AR-18 carbine and a SPAS-12 shotgun, begins a one-man massacre on the station, killing 17 police officers in its determined search, causing a power outage, setting a fire, and greatly damaging the building in the shootout. Reese is able to free himself from his cuffs and finds Sarah. The two steal another car and race off again.

Under a highway overpass, Sarah bandages a wound Reese received. He compliments her hidden skill and tells her the message John had asked him to give her about the gravity of her new situation and how she needs to be brave in the face of the future she faces. As she dozes in Reese's arms, she asks him what the world is like in his time. He tells her that John's training helps them hide from and fight "HKs". A scene from the future is shown where Reese and his small squad monitor an HK as they sneak through the rubble and arrive at their underground outpost. After confirming they are human, the guards let them in. Reese walks past the non-military inhabitants, including children who are undernourished, hunt for rats to eat, stare at the case of an old TV and lay dying. Reese finds a private spot for himself and relaxes, looking at an old Polaroid of Sarah herself. Suddenly, the barking of dogs at the entrance alerts him and he rushes back with his rifle; a group of people have entered, one of them is a terminator that throws off a cloak and opens fire with a large cannon. It kills the dogs and targets every human in sight. Reese is able to fire off a few shots but misses. A large explosion behind him throws him to the floor. As he lays immobilized, the picture of Sarah burns up.

Sarah herself suddenly wakes up, the scene was a dream she'd had. The two sneak out from under the highway and make find the Tiki Motel. Sarah takes a shower while Reese goes out for supplies. She calls her mother at her cabin in Big Bear Lake; the terminator is already there, having broken in and murdered Sarah's mother and any other guests. The terminator speaks in Sarah's mother's voice, asking Sarah where she is. Sarah won't give the location specifically but give the terminator the phone number. The terminator calls the motel, asking for the address.

Reese begins teaching Sarah how to build homemade explosives from common household supplies like ammonia and corn syrup, her first lesson in weaponry. After they've made several pipe bombs with the plastique, Reese sits watch by the window and the two discuss their feelings. Sarah expresses her disbelief and feeling of shame at being the mother of mankind's only hope. She doubts Reese's account of Sarah being thought of as a legendary warrior in his future, and says he must be disappointed. He quietly denies her suggestion, saying that he was given the picture of Sarah by John himself for good luck, and that he fell deeply in love with the woman in the photo. Admitting his passionate feelings for Sarah, who is deeply touched, Kyle thinks he has made a fool of himself and tries to retain his cool stature stating that he shouldn't have said it; but Sarah reciprocates his desire, and the two start to kiss and have intimate sex.

Later, as Sarah and Kyle (whose tightly wound demeanor has softened considerably) get dressed, they hear the sound of barking dogs; the Terminator has found them. Sarah and Reese flee in a stolen pickup truck as the T-800 chases them on a motorcycle through a tunnel. Reese switches places so Sarah can drive and he makes a valiant effort to destroy the Terminator with the pipe bombs they'd made. Kyle is severely wounded by a gun shot from the Terminator. In a last-ditch effort, Sarah rams the motorcycle, causing both her and the machine to crash violently. As the terminator recovers, it is run over by a large tanker truck. The terminator kills the driver and commandeers the truck, shooing out the terrified passenger. It turns the truck around, determined to run Sarah down. She and Reese run to a nearby factory building. As Sarah keeps running, Reese inserts a pipe bomb into tubing on the side of the tank. The resulting explosion destroys the tanker, seemingly taking the terminator with it. As Sarah and Reese reunite, Reese sees the terminator emerge from the wreckage, it's flesh burned away, revealing the gleaming metal cyborg endoskeleton beneath. The monstrous cyborg continues to chase Sarah and Reese on foot into a hydraulics facility (revealed in a deleted scene to be a Cyberdyne Systems facility). Reese, in another valiant effort to stop the machine, strikes it with a metal bar and is knocked down by a back-handed blow. Kyle us able to light the last pipe bomb and jam it into terminator's chest. The bomb explodes, blowing the endoskeleton apart. Reese is killed and Sarah has a severely injured leg.

As Sarah mourns Reese, the T-800's torso suddenly pops and lunges for her. It begins to crawl after Sarah, who is hampered by her battered leg. She eventually climbs behind a metal slide-gate, while the Terminator tries to reach its arm through the bars in order to strangle her. With the T-800 distracted, Sarah then presses the button—we learn that she has lured the machine under a 1000-ton hydraulic press. As she reaches for the start button, Sarah taunts the Terminator with profanity, then presses it. The Terminator is crushed to oblivion by the press, sparking several bolts of electricity. The red glow from its eye fades. Outside the factory, Sarah is on a gurney and hoisted into an ambulance. She watches as the paramedics put Reese into a body bag.

The scene then jumps forward, showing the aftermath of the film's events. Sarah is now several months pregnant with a boy, revealing the movie's twist: by sending back a protector for his mother, John Connor actually inadvertently created his own existence. In their one-night stand together, Reese had conceived a child with Sarah, paradoxically becoming John's father. She acknowledges this during a recording she has taped, which she will later give to her son when he has reached the proper age.

Sarah then stops at a gas station in Mexico on November 10, 1984. She is driving a Jeep and has a Ruger pistol on the passenger seat and German Shepard. A young boy takes a Polaroid of her and hustles her into paying three dollars for it. In a final twist of fate, we see that this is exactly the same picture that Kyle Reese carries in the future. Sarah then drives off into the distance to train her son in preparation for his destiny. In the distance, storms are approaching over the mountains. The film ends as her Jeep disappears.

Characters and Machines[]

Resistance and affiliates Skynet Others





Continuity notes[]


  • Writer/director James Cameron provided the voice of Stan Morsky breaking his date with Linda Hamilton on her message machine. Cameron would later marry and divorce Linda Hamilton.
  • The life-size Terminator model was actually made of steel, a production error that complicated the film's shooting. The model was so heavy that it required four people to hold it and move it during close-ups.
  • In 2003, The American Film Institute released its list of the 100 greatest screen heroes and villains of all time. The Terminator appeared as number 22 on the list of villains. He also appeared at number 48 on the list of heroes (for subsequent roles).
  • Schwarzenegger's famous line "I'll be back", which originated from The Terminator, was originally written as "I'll come back."
  • Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen are, so far, the only two actors to play characters killed or injured by a Terminator, an Alien and a Predator. Paxton character was forcefully pushed away and into a gate, damaging his spine and killing him in The Terminator, had acid blood sprayed on him and later was dragged under floors then subsequently killed off-screen in Aliens, also had his spine ripped from his body in Predator 2; Henriksen was shot in The Terminator, ripped in two (as an android) in Aliens and impaled by a Predator in Alien vs. Predator.
  • Every film in the Terminator series has a chase scene featuring a truck. The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day both have scenes in a parking garage.
  • When the Terminator traces Sarah Connor to the motel just after the love scene, the eye-vision of the Terminator is displayed. There are several printouts of assembly code from the MOS Technology 6502 microprocessor.
  • In the UK, The Terminator was originally rated as an 18. When the film was released to DVD, it was re-rated to a 15. In Germany, the uncut version was rated as an 18 and on Germany's legal child-welfare index until 2010, when it was re-rated to a 16 without cuts.
  • The original script had another soldier sent back with Reese to protect Sarah, but the other soldier, called "Sumner", was cut from the final script. He would not have received much screen time, as he died upon arriving, fused into a fire escape by the time displacement field. This contradicts what the sequels show of the time displacement field simply melting whatever is in its path.
  • The original screen treatment and drafts gave Reese's age as 21 or 22 while Sarah's age was only 19. In real life, actors Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton were both 27. The second Terminator film gave Sarah's age at the time of her attack as 19, while the third indicated that she was 25.
  • In the original script, the Terminator had to eat in order to maintain its organic flesh. After killing the first wrong Sarah Connor, the Terminator was shown eating a candy bar - complete with the wrapping.
  • The original script said that Sarah had a pin in her knee from an old skating accident. The Terminator would then go about mutilating its victims in order to find this identifying pin. The novelisation reveals Sarah had to have pins inserted into her leg as a result of shrapnel damage caused by destroying the Terminator, creating the very identifying mark it was looking for when it mutilated the other victims' legs.
  • Although playing the title character, Arnold Schwarzenegger has only 58 spoken words in the film (the Terminator also has more sentences in the voice of Sarah Connor's mother, but they are said off-screen and it is only discovered that it is the cyborg in the last one).
  • Franco Columbu makes a cameo appearance as a Terminator in the future in one of Kyle Reese's dreams. This Terminator also appears in the Terminator 3 video game as a boss character.
  • The scene where the Terminator endoskeleton is chasing Sarah through the factory after having its lower torso blown away was #82 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments.
  • Kyle and the Terminator were sent back in time to Thursday, May 12, 1984. However, the 12th did not fall on a Thursday in 1984, but in the previous year, 1983. In The Terminator Novelization these events happen on March 9, 1984, which was a Friday.[1]
  • A common bit of misinformation states that Brad Rearden played the Unnamed Punk who was left from the credits. However, this role was actually played by New York actor David Kristin. He was kept from the credits after an argument on set with Cameron.
  • Originally the Terminator was supposed to look like an average man, someone who could blend into a crowd. An actor they wanted to play this version was former NFL player and movie actor O.J. Simpson. James Cameron passed over O.J. because he "...couldn't imagine such a nice guy playing the part of a ruthless killer".
  • The Terminator, originally thought of as a low-budget exploitation film that would make a minor buck or two, opened to surprisingly great numbers, generating millions at the box office and becoming one of the top hits of 1984. Critics were caught off-guard by the detailed plot and complexity of the characters' relationships, and subsequently lathered the film with stellar reviews. Many even placed The Terminator on their "Top Ten Best of..." lists.
  • The Terminator character, played by former bodybuilder and upcoming actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, instantly became a pop-culture icon, and arguably the most (in)famous movie character of all time. Overnight, lines such as "I'll be back" and "Sarah Connor?" (best when spoken with a thick, baritone imitation of Schwarzenegger's Austrian accent) became integral to the teenage and sci-fi geek vocabulary, and Schwarzenegger gained everlasting fame for his portrayal of the character. Schwarzenegger would later go on to reprise the role (albeit with a few creative differences) in the two sequels, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, arguably becoming the top action hero star of the 80's and early 90's.
  • The Terminator has a rating of 100% "fresh" reviews at the critic aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes.com.
  • The Terminator is honored with a spot on the "IMDb Top 250".

Deleted and Alternate scenes[]


This scene, which was removed and later fleshed out in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, shows Sarah trying to convince Kyle that they have to destroy Cyberdyne Systems. The famous phrase "There is no fate but what we make for ourselves" comes from this deleted scene.

Real-world references[]

  • The song Ginger is listening to before the Terminator kills her is "Intimacy" by famous writer, singer and artist Lin Van Hek.


Audio/visual mismatch[]

  • Just before the Terminator kills the power to the police station, he comes to a door at the end of a hallway. He fires his shotgun, but we hear the sound of the machine gun instead.
  • When Sarah is walking from her apartment you can hear the heels of her shoes hitting the pavement. Later when she's walking into the disco she's wearing tennis shoes.
  • At the beginning of the film, the garbage truck driver's lines are completely mismatched from his lip movements.
  • Sound synchronization wrong when Kyle and Sarah are getting up to escape from the Terminator robot, arising from the flames Sarah's s are not matching her mouth actions.
  • Reese touches two of the wires together to make the car's engine crank briefly, yet when he re-connects them and twists them together (which he would not do in real life to hot-wire the car; only the "run" wires get connected "continuously"; the starter wires just get connected temporarily till the engine cranks over and starts), the starter is only heard a long moment later.
  • During the second car chase, there is a burst of smoke from the Terminator's shotgun in one shot, but no sound effect.

Character error[]

  • Before the TechNoir scene, Reese pumps his shotgun at least twice, which would load a shell into the chamber and make it ready to fire. But when he identifies the Terminator at the nightclub, he has to pump the gun again before firing.
  • When the Terminator tosses the bearded man away from the phone booth and begins searching the phone book for Sarah Conner, he uses his finger sliding down the page to assist separating the lines of type, the way human beings do when they read. Yet the Terminators have specially enhanced telescopic vision that allows them to zoom in/out, etc., on anything, even in the dark. It therefore makes no sense that this Terminator would have to use his finger to assist with his reading, he should be able to merely glance at the book and zoom in on the entire page, or on the smallest part of the page and process this information in seconds.
  • When the psychologist is talking to Reese, the attending police officer in the interrogation room has his sidearm on his hip. Police officers don't wear their pistols when in an interrogation room with a suspect.
  • Kyle would not have told Sarah to screw the end cap onto the pipe bomb till he had the fuses ready, since he would have to insert the fuse in through the cap and into the explosive paste.
  • When the Terminator is heading into the gun store, there is a sign on the glass that says "Clearnce Sale".
  • When Det. Vukovich laughs at Dr. Silberman's ray gun joke, he can be seen reacting to an off-screen crew member who must be gesturing for him to stop looking at Sarah Connor and back to the video monitor.
  • Sarah gives the Terminator, who mimics her mother, her phone number as 4085551439. The Terminator is listening and when she hangs up he dials 1639 but should have dialed 1439.
  • The Terminator goes to a phone booth and looks up Sarah Connor. He finds 3 numbers, 1823, 2816 and 2309 but the first house he goes to is 14239.


  • When the Terminator is stalking Kyle and Sarah in his police car, the sticker on the driver's door reads "To care and protect". When the car is later wrecked in a tunnel, the sticker has changed to "Dedicated to serve".
  • Just before the car crashes into the police station, the officer at the desk is alerted to the car by the headlights flashing in his face, yet when we cut to the car, the lights are off.
  • In some scenes, Reese has a clean shaven face. In others, he looks like he's growing a beard.
  • The number 14239 appears above the front door of the first Sarah Connor (a similar number 14329 appears above the entrance of the Alamo Gun Shop) but does not match any of the addresses for Sarah Connor shown in the telephone directory.
  • When the Terminator punches the windshield he shatters it completely, but in later scenes there is only a fist-sized hole in the windshield.
  • As Kyle and Sarah are sneaking toward another car in the parking garage, a police car with the serial number 1874 drives by. The number 1874 is also visible on the Terminator's police car. The first car that drove by couldn't have been the Terminator's because a second cop is visible in the passenger seat.
  • When Sarah is first holding the iguana, she is holding it across her body, the shot then switches to a head-on and the iguana is resting on her shoulder. It then switches back to it's original position.
  • Just before the Terminator crashes his car through the police station door, the officer is writing on a form with his left hand on the table. In the next cut he has his left hand on the form. The position of the pencil also changes in the two shots.
  • The same woman - blonde with a pink dress - appears simultaneously on the dance floor at Tech Noir and behind Sarah as the laser beam is pointed at her.
  • None of the addresses in the phone book that the terminator consults for "Sarah Connor" match the address above the door of the first Sarah Connor he visits and kills.
  • When Reese tosses the third pipe bomb, we can see that the pick-up and motorcycle are almost at the end of the tunnel. But when Reese tosses the fourth bomb, the two vehicles still have a long way to go. After the fourth bomb explodes, the truck and motorcycle have cleared the tunnel.
  • When the T-800 punches the door window of the car, some broken glass hangs in the window. As he is sitting in the car, the broken glass disappears in the next frame.
  • When Sarah is in Tech Noir walking towards the phone, she passes a man in a blue vest with a blonde mullet. In the next shot, she walks past him again, now in a entirely different spot.
  • The face of Michael Biehn's stunt double is clearly visible for an extremely brief moment (noticeable only by using super-slow motion) at the end when the endo-skeleton is smacking Reese around. He is seen, for an instant, right before the Terminator knocks the steel bar out of his hands. It is not known who the stunt double is.
  • Both Reese's and The Terminator's outfits change inexplicably throughout the film. Reese first steals a pair of trousers and then a long gray coat and a pair of sneakers, but in the next scene he is shown also wearing a T-shirt. The Terminator wears a military style jacket for the first part of the film, but when he returns to the apartment to repair himself he is wearing a leather jacket which he keeps wearing for the rest of the film.
  • Amount of time between Sarah dialing phone at Technoir to the time of answering machine pick-up.
  • An easily audible ripping sound is heard when the Terminator tries to drag Sarah out of the car by her shirt, yet in subsequent shots, her shirt is undamaged.
  • During the chase with Reese and Sarah in the Eldorado, the police car the Terminator is driving is forced onto the sidewalk, at which time the same car passes by in the opposite direction three times.
  • The tanker truck has single headlights. When the terminator jumps out of the burning wreck, the semi has twin headlights.
  • The first-aid dressing on Reese's right hand disappears when he and Sarah climb into the black pick-up truck. During the following chase, it is back on his hand.
  • When Sarah tries to escape from Reese in the first car chase, he grabs her by the hair. His grip on her (grabbing her hair, pinning her to the seat with his arm, shoving her head to the floor, or not holding her at all) changes frequently during the chase.
  • Without reason The Terminator has no eyebrows for a couple of scenes. Later on he has eyebrows again.
  • After the Terminator finishes operating on himself and puts on the sunglasses, he only has a shirt on, but when he walks towards his bed to get the guns from underneath the mattress, he is suddenly wearing a leather jacket.
  • When the Terminator gets into the tanker truck, there is a close-up shot of his left hand grabbing onto the type of door handle that protrudes from the door, and pushing the button on the handle with his thumb. But when he is chasing Sarah and Kyle with the truck, the door handle is the rectangular type that is recessed into the bottom right corner of the door.
  • The broken window in the Gray Ford changes sides during the movie.
  • When the tanker truck runs over the Terminator and comes to a stop, the driver gets out to check on him while the passenger waits in the cab. The driver however doesn't close his door and the door fails do so on its own. After the Terminator kills the driver, he opens the door and commandeers the truck. Who closed the door? There's no reason for the passenger to have done it.
  • At the beginning of the chase with the Cadillac, bullet holes can be seen appearing in the front windshield several times, but during most of the chase, it only has one hole.
  • In the first two car chases between Reese and the Terminator, Reese's headlights are turned off. What's more, when Kyle Reese steals the second car from the parking garage, he again doesn't turn the headlights on. When we see the car exit the parking garage, the headlights are on. But when we see the car again, the headlights are off again.
  • When we see the Terminator's leg was damaged after being run over by the tanker truck producing a noticeable limp, the Terminator's limp is gone a few moments later when it's trying to escape the tanker just after the explosion.
  • In the parking garage, when Reese and Sarah get into the car to steal it, Reese's coat gets caught in the door of the car and is pulled tight enough to restrict his movement. A moment later, the coat is free and loose around his neck.
  • In the tunnel after ditching the car Sarah realizes that Kyle is wounded and dresses his wound, which Kyle comments on as being a pass-through wound. After spending the night in the tunnel, upon leaving, the bandage has no blood on it. Yet, later, after Kyle returns to the motel with supplies, they bandage is saturated with blood.
  • In the garage chase scene with the Cadillac Eldorado, the police car stolen by The Terminator alternately has low beams (two headlights) and high beams on (all four headlights lit up).
  • In the final scene at the gas station, the dog next to Sarah as she sits in her Jeep disappears in some scenes of extended dialogue.
  • After repairing his damaged eye, the Terminator's jacket has changed from grey to black leather biker style jacket.
  • The Terminator suddenly has acquired a motorbike to go with the jacket. Unlike the cars you don't see where the bike comes from.
  • Sarah was wearing yellow socks during the scene Sarah and Kyle spent the night under the bridge. They woke up and hitchhiked to the town. She was wearing white socks when she arrived at the town. She didn't have any chance to carry spare socks with her.
  • Terminator can be seen leaving his hotel room heading to Big Bear wearing flat casual shoes and not the black biker boots worn throughout the movie. The bike ride to the Tiki Motel soon after shows he is now wearing the trademark biker boots.
  • The black pickup truck that Sarah rolls onto its roof appears soon after undamaged.
  • When the Terminator kills the wrong Sarah Connor (first time), he comes through the door and extends his gun arm fully. After a brief cutaway he fires, but he is now behind the door frame and his arm is in a different position.
  • When Traxler and Vukovich arm up with assault rifles during the police station massacre, an officer with a shoulder rig is seen behind them grabbing his own M16. Later, when the station is on fire, the Terminator steps over the same officer dead on the floor, armed with only his revolver.
  • In Tech Noir, there is a man wearing a white and black tank top on the dance floor. In the next shot, the same guy is standing behind Reese as he's preparing to fire at the Terminator.
  • In the shootout at the police station, the Terminator twitches in response to being shot while taking out the building's power supply, yet is not phased at any other point when he's shot, including by the police officers armed with M16's.
  • When Kyle steals the Nikes they are red. When they arrive at the motel they are black.
  • At the gas station Sarah uses an English to Spanish dictionary to speak to the attendant. A moment later, a boy takes her photograph then speaks to her in Spanish about a storm coming. Sarah then asks the attendant what the boy said, and he translates the boys Spanish into English for her.
  • In the TechNoir club, the music changes between when Sarah gets her answering machine and when she hangs up.
  • In the Tech Noir club, the Terminator passes by a woman on the dance floor wearing an orange shirt. A few shots later, when the Terminator focuses on Sarah, the same woman can be seen in the background sitting at a table and talking with friends. There wasn't enough time for her to move.
  • In the TechNoir scene, when Sarah Connor sits down, there is no Canada Dry drink in hand. Seconds later, during the same "You've got me Burning" song that is playing in the disco, the bottle is in hand.
  • When Reese starts his explanation in the Ford LTD, he appears to have a brand new wound under his lower lip. When he continues his explanation in the other car (which is only a few minutes later) the wound has been healed and replaced by a scar.
  • Position of Sarah's right hand (on Reese's cheek) before she starts kissing him and when she is kissing him.
  • In the chase with the gray Ford LTD, dents, and hubcaps appear, disappear, and reappear on the vehicle throughout the chase.
  • Sarah grabs Kyle's shotgun to stop him from getting out of the Cadillac. When the camera switches to the other side of the car, she is holding Kyle's arm, then she grabs the shotgun.

Visible crew or equipment[]

  • When the Terminator finishes punching the hole in the door to the computer factory and walks in, a puppeteer's head can be briefly seen behind him.
  • When the Terminator is rising to his feet after getting blasted out the window, a production vehicle and a huge stage light are visible behind him.
  • As Vukovich is rushing toward the auto-weapons storage room, the camera light is briefly visible on his back.
  • As the Terminator walks toward the wall at the Griffith Park observatory, the shadow of the camera can be seen on the far left of the screen before the shot ends.
  • When Reese and other fighters are just entering the underground 'base', you can see a camera crew off to the left as the scene pans out.

Geographical errors[]

  • The Tech Noir club is on West Pico Blvd. At around 38 mins Kyle and Sarah Connor leave through the back door and get into Kyle's stolen car, pursued by the terminator. They back down the alley, emerge onto a street and hit a car. A policeman calls it in, stating that the incident took place at 7th and Broadway. This intersection is six blocks (3/4 of a mile) away from Pico. It is quite conceivable that the club could have been within a block of 7th and Broadway, but not on Pico. Clearly the distance has been compressed, and in such a way as to be in conflict with the story.

Factual mistakes[]

  • As has been demonstrated on MythBusters: Brown Note, and re-confirmed in MythBusters: Mythbusters Revisited, Newton's Third Law establishes that bullets and shotgun blasts do not have the momentum to knock a human body backwards, although the trauma of being shot may cause them to fall backward. Since the Terminator is made of a solid alloy, is much heavier than a human, and cannot feel pain (confirmed by Reese), much less trauma, it should not react at all to being shot, much less be thrown backwards by the shotgun blasts in Tech Noir.
  • Thousands of rounds are fired by various automatic weapons and shotguns throughout the movie, yet none of them ejects any empty shell casings when they're being fired.
  • Even with a taped-together pair of large-capacity magazines, there are far too many shots fired from the Terminator's machine gun at the police station.
  • The Terminator would be considered an android, not a cyborg. A cyborg is a technologically enhanced living organism whereas an android is a robot with a human appearance.
  • The Terminator purchases firearms at a gun store, including a short-barreled, automatic Uzi. There are strict federal laws, and California has had bans on these for decades. No gun store sells them, and no criminal enterprise would have them readily visible on the wall. Converting a long barreled semiautomatic Uzi to full auto takes completely different internal parts, a machine shop and precise tooling.
  • May 12th in 1984 was a Saturday not a Friday.
  • In the future human hideout, some children are watching a hollowed-out TV with a fire burning inside it. But even a small fire would cause heat accumulation at the top of the cabinet which would melt and/or ignite it within minutes.
  • During Reese and Sarah's car swap from the Ford LTD to the Eldorado, Reese hits the ignition with the butt of his shotgun and the ignition tumbler suddenly loosens. This is impossible. Reese would have only knocked the chrome fob off. The tumbler itself can only be removed if a hardened bolt is removed that is inserted through the tumbler itself that both locks the tumbler in place and stops the tumbler itself from twisting when you start the car.
  • After he has stolen the cop's pistol and hid inside the shopping centre, the police search for Reese using only flashlights. An fleeing armed fugitive with a stolen cop's gun should have warranted at a minimum drawn pistols from the police.
  • Reese starts the car by twisting the starter wires together; this is incorrect. The "run" wires (these get connected when the key is in the "run" position to allow the spark plugs to fire; they get disconnected and stop the engine when the key is turned off) get twisted together, but the starter wires are just temporarily held together till the engine is cranked and started; they are not connected continuously to keep the engine running.
  • In the beginning of the movie the T-800 had full eyebrows but a couple of minutes later they were hidden with makeup.


  • At the end of the film, when Sarah stops at the gas station, you can read in spanish "cigaros" this is incorrect, should be "cigarros"
  • The second Sarah killed is given the full name of "Sarah Louise Connor". However, she is listed in the phone book as Connor, Sarah J.

Possible goofs[]

  • When Sarah is in the night club she has to put change into the pay phone to call 911. While 911 calls are free, many pay phones in the 1980s required you to insert a coin in order to obtain a dial tone.
  • The three "Sarah Connors" are listed in different sections in the phone book when Reese, The Terminator and Sarah Connor look them up (right page, left page, right page). They might have been different editions, though books at pay phones are generally all replaced at the same time.
  • During the gun shop scene, the Terminator asks the clerk for a 'phased plasma rifle', presumably a weapon from its own time (2029). Some claim that the Terminator, as an advanced infiltration unit, should have had detailed files on the current time period. Therefore it should have known that the plasma rifle did not exist yet in 1984. However, as Reese explained, most of the records were destroyed during the war. Skynet knew very little about Sarah Connor, apart from her name and city in 1984. It therefore doesn't seem unlikely that the information on weapons availability in the 20th century had been lost as well. The 'phased plasma rifle' may have been an earlier version of the energy weapons seen in 2029, something that might have existed in the late 20th century, so the Terminator just tried if it was available.
  • Cutting the power in the electrical box would not cause the florescent lights to come apart and explode; they would just go dark. The Terminator doesn't cut the power - he actually surges the lights with the wire from the high-voltage box. A high voltage surge like that could definitely cause fluorescent lights to explode, if they got hot enough.


The Terminator's successful reception lead to the birth of many fans, and the film's intriguing sci-fi twists sparked a new respect for the science fiction genre, proving that it was not a hapless B-Movie theme and instead had the potential to become a "work of art." Future movies such as The Matrix and RoboCop were heavily influenced by the themes and style of the Terminator franchise (the philosophical subtext and religious overtones in The Matrix non-withstanding), and opened the floodgates to inspire moviemakers to try out "hard sci-fi" and to give more credibility to science fiction as a film genre.

However, some critics have bemoaned the fact that, apparently, the violent action and gruesome darkness of The Terminator also lead to numerous cash-ins and derivative rip-offs which focused on the violence and gore, instead of following the film’s example of using violence to serve the story, not to dominate it. Therefore, some critics accuse The Terminator for being responsible for the endless stream of super-violent, gunfire-laden action flicks of the succeeding decades.


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Plagiarism Controversy[]

Harlan Ellison, famed science-fiction author and writer of the television series The Outer Limits, accused James Cameron of stealing ideas and material from Ellison's stories I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, The Demon With a Glass Hand, and Soldier (the latter of which were episodes from The Outer Limits). Cameron insists to this day that the concept of The Terminator was his idea and his alone, though he admits that The Outer Limits was an influence while writing. To avert a lawsuit, production companies Hemdale and Orion settled the issue outside of court, and a new title card was inserted into the credits of The Terminator: "Acknowledgment to the works of Harlan Ellison."[2][3] This acknowledgement was also featured in the fronts of the T2: Infiltrator, T2: Rising Storm and T2: The Future War novels.



  1. The Terminator (Frakes novel)
  2. James Cameron's profile at EOnline.com says, "Hemdale and Orion gave veteran fantasy writer Harlan Ellison an 'acknowledgment to the works of credit on 'The Terminator' and a cash settlement lest he sue for plagiarism of two episodes he wrote for 'The Outer Limits' in the 1960s and a Hugo award-winning sci-fi story" (obtained February 26, 2009).
  3. The article "Why is there an acknowledgment to Harlan Ellison in the credits of THE TERMINATOR? or Doesn't THE TERMINATOR have the same plot as a TWILIGHT ZONE episode?" at Stason.org says, "Ellison filed suit against the studio claiming that THE TERMINATOR was plagiarized from his two teleplays for THE OUTER LIMITS. One was 'Soldier' (...). The other teleplay was 'Demon With a Glass Hand', in which a lone man with a glass-and-computer-chips hand and a woman he meets up with are on the run from some unknown enemy. (...) The concept of Skynet, the military supercomputer that sees all humanity as the enemy, was taken from Ellison's short story 'I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream' (...). Ellison's computer called itself AM (...).
    The studio was going to fight the suit, but in preparing their defense, they found out from someone in the production crew that Cameron had quipped on the set about how he'd 'ripped off a couple of OUTER LIMITS episodes"
    (obtained February 26, 2009).

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