Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Terminator (1984)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Terminator (1984)

In James Cameron's tech-noir, action-packed, low budget, beautifully-paced, original science-fiction film that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger in his breakout role - portraying an invulnerable, ruthless, assassin-terminator cyborg:

  • in the opening, a future-world of a dark, ruined post-apocalyptic Los Angeles AD 2029 was portrayed; AI machines ruled the desolate world, led by a computer network called Skynet; massive machines were programmed to hunt down humans in order to exterminate the entire human race
  • a title card explained: "The machines rose from the ashes of the nuclear fire. Their war to exterminate mankind had raged for decades, but the final battle would not be fought in the future. It would be fought here, in our present. Tonight..."
  • in the next sequence, a time traveler materialized in Los Angeles of 1984 - a "Terminator" (36 year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger); the crouching, muscle-bound, powerfully-strong figure materialized nude; it was an indestructible android assassin - a T-800 Series (Model 101); the robot was a muscular, 6 foot tall, indestructible, intelligent, killing-machine (without a moral conscience); it was humanoid-shaped with a human tissue exterior and a cold chromium/metallic, skeletal interior, with advanced X-ray vision

Terminator's X-Ray Vision
Terminator T-800 Cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger)
  • the fearless, relentless, villainous, and almost wordless T-800 killing machine brutally murdered a group of three young LA punks (Brad Rearden, Brian Thompson, and leader Bill Paxton) in the film's opening moments that were confronted in the parking lot of the Griffiths Observatory; the Terminator demanded their clothing: ("Your clothes. Give them to me, now!") and quickly dispatched with the group
  • in a different, litter-strewn downtown LA alley, a second time-traveling individual named Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), a soldier of the Tech-Com human Resistance movement of the future (led by Resistance leader John Connor) that was fighting against Skynet, was also teleported back
  • both were on a systematic search to hunt down a female named 'Sarah Connor' for unspecified but different reasons; the 'real' Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), a 19 year-old independent-minded brunette, was introduced as a waitress at Big Jeff's Restaurant, who arrived late at her place of work
  • meanwhile, in the ALAMO Sport Shop that sold guns and ammo, the Terminator inquired about four specific weapons from the clerk (Dick Miller); the Terminator loaded a 12-gauge shotgun with shells, and when the clerk objected: ("You can't do that!"), the Terminator blasted him to death with a simple one word reply: "WRONG!", and then took the other three weapons with him
  • at first, the killing machine mistook two other 'Sarah Connors' located in a Los Angeles telephone book for the real one; a 35 year old mother of two named Sarah Connor (Marianne Muellerleile) was targeted and shot in the forehead in her Valley suburban home; soon after a second Sarah Connor had been executed (off-screen) in Santa Monica; when the 'real' Sarah Connor realized that she was the third Sarah Connor listed in the phone book, she feared and suspected that she was next
  • at a construction site, Reese experienced a brief flash-forward to the year 2029; he was fighting against the machines as part of a Resistance movement
  • after 11 pm on a Friday night, and worried about her safety, Sarah ventured to the crowded Tech-Noir bar/night-club, a grimy dance place a block away, noticing that she was being followed by a sinister-looking figure in a long coat (Reese); back in her apartment, Sarah's roommate Ginger Ventura (Bess Motta) and her sex-obsessed boyfriend Matt Buchanan (Rick Rossovich) were both brutally murdered by the Terminator
  • afterwards, both Reese and the Terminator converged there to pursue the innocent young Sarah Connor; during a shootout in the bar/nightclub, Reese saved defenseless Sarah from being killed by blasting the Terminator backwards with a sawed-off shotgun; as pandemonium mounted during a flurry of shots, dead bodies and shattered glass were left in the wake of the dueling time-travelers from the future
  • Reese convinced Sarah that he was there to protect her, and he grabbed her by the arm and offered her life: "Come with me if you want to live"; they fled from the club to his stolen vehicle followed by the Terminator in pursuit; the Terminator lunged for their car through the flames and landed on their car's hood and tried to grab Sarah through the windshield and strangle her; when the android was thrown off the car and appeared injured, police responded to a reported 'hit-and-run felony' and wrongly assumed that the Terminator was the victim; he turned on the responding police officer, killed him, hijacked his squad car, and then imitated or mimicked the officer's voice on the radio
  • during their escape Reese explained his mission and the reason for the Terminator's quest to kill her; the Terminator was an assassin - a Model 101 android (or cyborg) created by Cyberdyne Systems; Reese had come back from 45 years into the future to protect her; he tried to impress upon her that he wasn't exaggerating about the Terminator's relentless stalking: "Listen! And understand! That Terminator is out there! It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever! Until you are dead!"
  • Reese further explained what he knew about the grim future - about how the AI computer Skynet (a network of defense computers) was responsible for initiating a global nuclear holocaust intended to eliminate the human race; to her surprise, he continued with a description of one brave Resistance fighter-leader and rebel-soldier named John Connor, Sarah's future unborn son, who would eventually become a liberator and lead the revolt against the evil machines to prevent the world from being annihilated; his quest, therefore, was to rescue and save innocent Sarah's life and ensure the conception and delivery of her son who would form the resistance movement
  • the Terminator slipped away as Reese and Sarah were apprehended by police; the two were interrogated by criminal psychologist Dr. Silberman (Earl Boen), who was astonished by Reese's incredulous tale (the film's premise!); Silberman regarded Reese's complete story as the paranoid, insane delusions of a psychopath; Reese stressed what he knew for sure - the Terminator would hunt down Sarah and kill her: ("That's what he does! That's all he does! You can't stop him!")
  • in a dingy hotel room, the Terminator performed two gruesome surgeries upon himself (his left eye and his damaged forearm) after the Tech-Noir shoot-out and after crashing the stolen police vehicle
  • to continue his assault on Reese and Sarah, the Terminator approached the heavily guarded CENTRAL DIVISION of the LA police department where the two were being held; he entered the lobby and claimed: "I'm a friend of Sarah Connor" to the desk sergeant Wright (Bruce M. Kerner); when denied entry, he delivered a much-quoted, dead-panned and straight-faced promise to the police officer: "I'll be back"; he briefly left and then rammed into the station with his vehicle to initiate a vicious shoot-out sequence in which he assaulted and completely destroyed the police station; the two fugitives were able to flee in another stolen vehicle
  • the two found brief moments of refuge and peace in LA's economy-styled Tiki Motel where they rented a room (with kitchenette); while assembling materials for creating pipe bombs, Reese mentioned an old faded and torn picture of her that John Connor had given him, and that he had vowed to come across time for her; he boldly asserted his love for her: "I came across time for you, Sarah. I love you. I always have"; in an affecting love scene (to the accompaniment of piano music), they clenched and held hands together - ultimately, their love-making conceived and produced future liberator John Connor
Romance Between Sarah and Reese - Resulting in Future Birth of Resistance Leader John Connor
  • the Terminator located them, forcing the two to flee from the hotel in a stolen pickup truck, while he pursued them on a motorcycle; Sarah took over driving duties as Reese hurled the pipe-bomb explosives at the T-800; when Reese was seriously-wounded in the chest by a gunshot, Sarah hit the brakes, then abruptly swerved the truck and violently rammed into both the Terminator's cycle and the android - both skidded along the pavement as the truck flipped over
  • they watched as the Terminator was suddenly run over by a massive JG Oil company tanker-truck; the two continued to be pursued by the hijacked tanker-truck with the Terminator commandeering it, until Reese was able to detonate the entire truck with one of his bombs; it was blown up in a massive fireball, creating a fiery inferno; the explosion burned the outer fleshy frame of the Terminator down to his red-eyed exo-skeleton
  • Kyle and Sarah watched in disbelief at the unstoppable android's gleaming metal/chrome exo-skeletal frame (with glowing red eyes) that rose up from the fiery debris and gazed directly back at them
  • the film concluded inside a large factory building filled with giant GMF robotic, hydraulic-powered machines; the two crawled and scrambled through the maze of noisy machinery during a tense chase, followed by the advancing metallic android
  • Reese did not survive - he sacrificed himself when he placed his last homemade pipe-bomb into the Terminator's open rib-cage or torso, successfully blowing its lower half away - he was the last victim (the 27th) of the Terminator's rampage; although blown to bits, the upper-half torso of the battered but relentless android survived and continued its pursuit of Sarah; she escaped death by strangulation from the outstretched arm and hand of the android, by luring it underneath a massive hydraulic press and crushing it; as she pressed a red START button on a control box to initiate the process of stamping out the robot, she yelled out: "You're terminated, f--ker!"; the glowing red eyes of the Terminator dimmed and extinguished as it was flattened; shortly afterwards, Sarah was placed on an ambulance stretcher, and Reese was zipped into a body bag
  • in the film's short epilogue, a 6-months pregnant Sarah audio tape-recorded her 7th tape of thoughts on November 10, 1984 (to preserve for her unborn son) as she drove in an open red Jeep Renegade through a Mexican desert; at a gas station, she continued her recorded narration - and spoke about her time with Kyle and the love she had for him during their brief time together; she was startled by the click of a Polaroid picture being taken of her by a young Mexican boy (Anthony Trujillo) -- it was the same exact picture given by Connor to Kyle Reese that he had carried with him and fallen in love with; the circularity of the film's paradox seemed complete

Epilogue: Sarah's Polariod Picture

Sarah's Last Words: "I know"
  • the young Mexican boy forecast an impending storm, translated: "He said there's a storm coming in." Before driving off into the distance toward some mountains, Sarah replied: "I know"

Film's Prologue

The Terminator - Viewing the Lights of LA

Entrance of Resistance Fighter Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn)

Sarah Connor (at Big Jeff's Restaurant)

The Terminator's Murder of Gun-Shop Owner

The Terminator's Murder of First 'Sarah Connor'

Kyle Reese to Sarah Connor: "Come with me if you want to live"

Kyle's Words of Warning to Sarah: "It can't be bargained with..."

Criminal Psychologist Dr. Silberman (Earl Boen)

Terminator's Damaged Eye


Terminator to Police Officer in Station: "I'll be back"

The Metallic Skeletal Frame of the T-800 After the Flesh Was Burned Off

The Terminator's Crushing Ending by an Hydraulic Press ("You're terminated, f--ker!")


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