The Terminator
The Terminator poster
Directed by James Cameron
Produced by Gale Anne Hurd

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Michael Biehn
Linda Hamilton
Paul Winfield

Music by Brad Fiedel
Cinematography Adam Greenberg
Editing by Mark Goldblatt
Distributed by Orion Pictures
Release October 26, 1984
Running time 108 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6.4 million
Gross revenue $78,371,200
Followed by Terminator 2: Judgment Day

The Terminator is a 1984 American science fiction action film directed by James Cameron, co-written by Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd and William Wisher, Jr., and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton. It was filmed in Los Angeles, produced by Hemdale Film Corporation and distributed by Orion Pictures. Schwarzenegger plays the Terminator, a cyborg assassin sent back in time from the year 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor, played by Hamilton. Biehn plays Kyle Reese, a soldier from the future sent back in time to protect Sarah.

Though not expected to be either a commercial or critical success, The Terminator topped the American box office for two weeks and helped launch the film career of Cameron and solidify that of Schwarzenegger. Three sequels have been produced: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), and Terminator Salvation (2009), as well as a television series, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008–2009). In 2008, The Terminator was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the American National Film Registry, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".


In 2029, artificially intelligent machines are attempting to exterminate what is left of the human race. Two beings from this era travel back in time to 1984 Los Angeles: One is a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a cyborg assassin programmed to kill an 18 year old woman named Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton); the other is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), a human resistance fighter sent to protect her. He and the Terminator arrive naked, where they obtain weapons and clothing. (The terminator steals clothes from 3 teenagers.) After the Terminator kills two other Sarah Connors listed in the telephone directory, it eventually tracks down its target to a nightclub. Kyle shows up and saves Sarah from the Terminator's attack and the two make an escape.

Kyle explains that in the near future an artificial intelligence defense network called Skynet will become self-aware and initiate a nuclear holocaust of mankind. Sarah's yet-unborn son John will rally the survivors and lead a resistance movement against Skynet and its army of machines. With Resistance on the verge of victory, Skynet has sent a Terminator back in time to kill Sarah before John is born, as a last-ditch effort to avert the formation of the Resistance. The Terminator is an efficient killing machine with a powerful metal endoskeleton, but with an external layer of living tissue that makes it resemble a human being.

Kyle and Sarah are again attacked by the Terminator, leading to a car chase. Their cars eventually crash and break down. Kyle and Sarah are caught by the police and the Terminator disappears. Kyle is questioned by criminal psychologist Dr. Silberman (Earl Boen) who concludes that he is paranoid and delusional. Sarah is also questioned by Lieutenant Traxler (Paul Winfield) and Detective Vukovich (Lance Henriksen) about the events that happened. The Terminator shows up and attacks the police station and kills many police officers including Vukovich in its attempt to locate Sarah but Sarah and Kyle manage to escape and seek refuge in a motel. Kyle confesses that he has long been in love with Sarah, having been given a photograph of her by her son John. Sarah reciprocates Kyle's feelings and they have sex.

The Terminator tracks them to the motel and Kyle and Sarah escape in a pickup truck. In the ensuing chase Kyle throws pipe bombs at the Terminator in an effort to destroy it. Kyle is wounded by the Terminator's gunfire; Sarah manages to knock the Terminator off its motorbike but subsequently loses control of the pickup truck and it flips over. As the Terminator gets up, it is struck by a gasoline tank truck dragging it a short distance. The Terminator hijacks the truck and resumes the chase. Kyle jams a pipe bomb in the truck's exhaust causing a massive explosion. The Terminator emerges from the burning truck and collapses. Kyle and Sarah embrace one another. The Terminator, with its flesh coating burned away, continues to pursue them into a factory. Kyle faces the Terminator by hitting it several times with a metal pipe but it knocks him down. Though dazed, he jams his final pipe bomb into its abdomen, causing an explosion which severely damages it, kills Kyle and injures Sarah. Still partially functional, the Terminator tries to kill Sarah. She then destroys it by leading it into a hydraulic press. Sarah is later taken out of the factory by an ambulance as Kyle's body is taken away.

Several months later, a pregnant Sarah is traveling through Mexico. Along the way she records audio tapes which she intends to pass on to her unborn son, John. She debates whether to tell him that Kyle is his father. A boy takes a photograph of her which she purchases - it is the photograph that John will later give Kyle. She drives on towards approaching storm clouds.


  • Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator, a cyborg disguised as a human being sent back in time to assassinate Sarah Connor. Schwarzenegger speaks only 18 lines in the film, and less than 100 words. James Cameron said that "Somehow, even his [Austrian] accent worked...It had a strange synthesized quality, like they hadn't gotten the voice thing quite worked out."[3]
  • Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, the Terminator's target.
  • Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese, a human Resistance fighter sent back in time to protect Sarah.
  • Paul Winfield as Ed Traxler, a police Lieutenant who questions Sarah.
  • Lance Henriksen as Hal Vukovich, a police detective who questions Sarah.
  • Earl Boen as Dr. Silberman, a criminal psychologist.

External links

Terminator Films vte
Films The TerminatorTerminator 2Terminator 3Terminator SalvationTerminator Genisys
Characters John ConnorSarah ConnorKyle ReeseThe TerminatorSkynetT-1000T-XT-3000
Arnold Schwarzenegger films

Hercules in New York (1969)  · The Long Goodbye (1973)  · Happy Anniversary and Goodbye (1974)  · Stay Hungry (1976)  · Pumping Iron (1977)  · The Villain (1979)  · Scavenger Hunt (1979)  · Conan the Barbarian (1982)  · Conan the Destroyer (1984)  · The Terminator (1984)  · Red Sonja (1985)  · Commando (1985)  · Raw Deal (1986)  · Predator (1987)  · The Running Man (1987)  · Red Heat (1988)  · Twins (1988)  · Total Recall (1990)  · Kindergarten Cop (1990  · Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)  · Last Action Hero (1993)  · Dave (1993)  · True Lies (1994)  · Junior (1994)  · Eraser (1996)  · Jingle All the Way (1996)  · Batman & Robin (1997)  · End of Days (1999)  · The 6th Day (2000)  · Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001)  · Collateral Damage (2002)  · Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)  · The Rundown (2003)  · Around the World in 80 Days (2004)  · Terminator Salvation (2009)  · The Expendables (2010)  · The Expendables 2 (2012)  · The Last Stand (2013)  · Escape Plan (2013)  · Sabotage (2014)  · The Expendables 3 (2014)  · Maggie (2015)  · Terminator Genisys (2015)  ·

Linda Hamilton films

Children of the Corn (1984)  · The Terminator (1984)  · Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)  · Terminator Salvation (2009)  ·

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