The Terminator
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Terminator can be found here.

No. The film screenplay was written by director James Cameron, although Cameron admitted that his inspiration for The Terminator were two episodes from the 1960s television science fiction series The Outer Limits: The Outer Limits: Soldier (#2.1) and The Outer Limits: Demon with a Glass Hand (#2.5).

A Terminator is a cyborg or "cybernetic organism" composed of a hyper-alloy combat chassis covered in living tissue. Terminators (in their endoskeleton form) were originally designed by Skynet during the early days of the war with humanity for the purpose of carrying out the ground war against the remaining human forces. Being of roughly equal size to human targets and with similar mobility, terminators were able to follow humans where the larger HK (hunter-killer) tanks and hovercraft could not. Eventually, as the humans developed more and more elaborate methods of hiding to avoid detection by the aerial and ground HKs, the early versions of terminators (known in later films as the 600 series) were produced and covered with a flimsy rubber covering, meant to mimic human skin. After this proved to be very unsuccessful (the rubber skin would deteriorate and the terminators were easily identified), Skynet developed a way to grow human skin and fuse it to the endoskeleton of the terminator chassis (known as the 800 or 850 series). This allowed the terminators to more successfully infiltrate human resistance settlements and proved devastating to their efforts.

Who, or what, is Skynet?

Skynet, despite being largely unseen, is the primary antagonist of the Terminator series. It is an artificially intelligent computer network. Reese explains that Skynet was built for NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), which was America's primary defense during the Cold War. It is stated that it was built by Cyberdyne Systems.

While this conundrum is widely believed to be a plot hole in the story, it is actually indicative of the paradoxical nature of time travel itself. The "Connor Paradox" is best explained via the Novikov self-consistency principle of time travel. In the world presented in the first Terminator film, it is impossible to change the past. Events which happened will always happen. The irony of the story is that Skynet's mission to kill Sarah Connor was always doomed to be a failure and would always result in the birth of the man who would ultimately destroy Skynet.

Two possibilities have been suggested: (1) This was an error or omission in Skynet's programming of the Terminator (directed energy weapons had not yet been invented in 1984), or (2) Reese explains to Sarah that many records of the past were lost. It's likely Skynet didn't know what the exact level of technology was, any more than it knew exactly where/who Sarah Connor was, so the cyborg continued to ask for bigger and better weapons until he passed the current level of tech. The Terminator was just being thorough in it's acquisition of weapons.

As stated by the character Kyle Reese, the Terminator is covered in living tissue, allowing it to go back in time as a living organism.

This was actually part of the original shooting script. A scene was filmed in which Sarah traced the creation of Skynet back to a company called Cyberdyne; she suggests to Kyle that they go there and stop Skynet from being made. This would also eliminate the Terminator from existence. But Reese refuses, saying his mission is to protect her, not alter the future, which leads to a confrontation between the two that ultimately results in Reese suffering the emotional breakdown of being a man out of time. Another scene was set right after Sarah crushes the Terminator in the factory. Employees find a chip fragment that came from the Terminator's head, and suggest sending it to the company's Research and Development department. It is then revealed that the factory belonged to the Cyberdyne company. So the Terminator's mission to protect Skynet actually ensured its creation. This plot element, together with Sarah's intention to prevent Skynet from existing, was revisited in the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

The real-life answer is because that is how the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger talks. The Terminator universe answer is that Skynet obviously can't have every Terminator they create and send out on infiltration missions looking exactly alike. If they did, people would easily recognize them. Skynet's source for various likenesses are probably from either people they have captured and held in custody, or people they have encountered, killed, and/or fought out in the field. Tissue samples would be taken (for cloning, tissue cultivation, etc), visual images captured, and if possible, voice patterns and sound recorded. In a deleted scene from Terminator 3, Arnold's character is shown to be modeled on a military man, Sgt. William Candy who has a high voice and southern dialect. An official says "I don't know about the voice," followed by another official, with Arnold's voice, who says: "We can fix it." However, this idea is a later rationalization created by an author other than James Cameron and also not a consideration made at the time of the film's production. Also, as the scene was omitted from the final cut, it cannot be considered canon. Another problem with this explanation is that it has been established in The Terminator and Terminator Salvation that early Terminators had very obvious rubber skin. While this skin was surely shaped like a human face/body, it was likely similar to a generic rubber mask one might buy in a costume shop, and not intended to look like anyone specific (i.e., Arnold).

Sergeant Techcom, DN38416, 132nd under Perry.

In the film, it's on located on Pico Blvd in LA with a phone number of 555-9175. However, it is not a real club. The production shot the scenes in a space formerly occupied by a restaurant. When the shoot was completed, the set was taken down, despite the fact that many passers-by had mistaken the location for an actual club and were attempting to pay their way in.

It does sound like a perfect opportunity: Kyle and Sarah are held at gunpoint by the police, so the Terminator should have merely drawn a gun and killed them all. However, when the police officers check Terminator's car, the windshield is still there, so the Terminator was not thrown out through the front. Instead, one cop notices that the passenger door is open, implying that the Terminator escaped through there into an alley.

In one of the next scenes, we see Terminator entering a room to perform some repairs on itself. It opens up its arm, because the mechanics inside are apparently jammed, and removes the eye because it probably obstructs its view. Its gun was probably also thrown out of the car during the crash. The Terminator continually analyzes its situation and mission parameters, and probably assessed after the crash that it could not properly handle Sarah, Kyle and an entire squad of police officers with a defective arm, bad vision and no gun, so it chose to leave, make repairs first and then try again.

There are more scenes were the Terminator seems to make a careful assessment before chosing a course of action that has the best change of fulfilling its mission. When it has been run over by a truck later on, the Terminator could have simply walked towards the turned-over car with Sarah and Kyle inside, and killed her; however, knowing that its leg is damaged (it can merely limp) and Sarah may be able to outrun it, Terminator chooses to take no chances, confiscates a truck and tries to run them over.

Several possibilities exist. 1) Sarah didn't record the address in her address book, as she knew it by heart. 2) The cabin's address was listed first in the book so he started his search there. 3) The cabin was closest to his present location when he began his search. As such, it takes less time to start there, than going back and forth to different locations. 4) The terminator did check her mother's home address before moving on to the cabin, we simply aren't shown this in the film. After all, there's no reason why the filmmakers would show us every dead-end along the way. 5) the cabin was her house.

As Reese tells the police and Dr Silberman, the terminator was "just being systematic." Skynet had almost no information about John Connor's mother. They knew her name and that she was living in Los Angeles in 1984. The Terminator was simply methodically carrying out his mission to kill Sarah Connor by going through the phone book and killing every Sarah Connor listed. When he gets to Sarah's apartment she is not there but her roommate is. The Terminator doesn't know what Sarah Connor looks like, so he kills the woman in the apartment just to make sure. When Sarah telephones her roommate, Ginger, the Terminator hears her voice for the first time and knows he has missed his target. He then searches the place and finds Sarah's address book and continues his mission.

According to Kyle Reese, "Skynet's defense grid was smashed; we'd won." meaning that John Connor's forces had defeated Skynet & the supercomputer's defeat was inevitable. Sending a Terminator back was a last ditch effort on Skynet's part to try to erase the leader of the Human Resistance from history. It is unknown whether Skynet had the time, resources, or troops in general, to send back more than one Terminator. However, unused parts of the script from Terminator 2: Judgment Day detailed a backstory in which the Resistance enters the Skynet facility, which contains the Time Displacement Device. They also find a cold storage full of inactive T-800 model 101 Terminators, of which only one has been sent, indicating that lack of infiltration units was not the issue. Most likely, the process of time travel takes a lot of time and energy, only allowing for one person or object to be sent at a time; if more could be sent at a time, the Resistance would most likely have sent more people back than just Kyle Reese. We can also assume that time-travel is pretty much Skynet's last resort, something they would only do on the brink of destruction. The reason for this may be that time-travel always carries a danger of making unwanted changes to the past, which may lead to unpredictable, but very negative consequences in the future. So Skynet probably did not start sending back Terminators until their very last moments; they had time to send just two (one T-800 and the T-1000) and got interrupted before they could send a third one. After sending Kyle back, Connor and his team destroyed the Time Displacement Device to insure that neither Skynet or anyone else could use it again.

However, assuming they were able to send back a few Terminators or a whole army, they are likely to run into significant resistance from present day human armies pretty quickly, which number in the millions and are backed by intact governments with fully functional industrial bases. Not to mention, while Terminators are virtually impervious to bullets, they don't fare so well against explosives. So it wouldn't take long for a modern army to discover this. It therefore makes sense that Skynet sends Terminators back one at a time, but to different time periods: it would minimize the risk of detection, while at the same time doubling the chances that one of them will be successful.

We're also talking about what is essentially a stealth mission: the Terminator is, as described by Reese, "an infiltration unit", designed to be mostly undetectable. Skynet obviously recognized this as a mission parameter and probably wanted the Terminator to complete its mission as "quietly" as possible without anyone finding out about the technology used to create it, or unnecessarily changing the future. So sending one Terminator (in this movie alone, we know there were more sent back) for the sake of maintaining the original timeline as much as possible, was much more prudent. Think about it this way: if there were, say, a dozen or more or a whole army of Terminators marching around, humans would find out about their future much faster, and Skynet needs to protect its own existence. The whole theme of the future war is predicated on the idea that only Sarah, John and John's future wife know about it.

Lt. Traxler was shot in the gut by the Terminator. He is seen laying in the doorway holding his gut when Vukovich checks on him, he is still alive. Gut shots are famous for being very painful and causing a slower death. So chances are a surviving officer was able to call for medical attention so it's likely that he lived. After checking on Traxler, Vukovich stands in the doorway and opens fire on the Terminator, who turns and fires back. When the Terminator fires his AR-18, we hear Vukovich grunt, implying he was hit. It's unknown whether the shot killed him or not, the Terminator also fires one shot from his SPAS-12 at Vukovich but it's unknown whether it hit him. It can be implied that Traxler lives and Vukovich dies. In a deleted scene when Reese and Sarah are running through the station trying to avoid the Terminator, Traxler stops them and finally believes them about the Terminator and hands them a gun to protect Sarah. After they thank him and run off, Traxler succumbs to his wounds and dies. But seeing as how this was omitted from the film and Traxler isn't mentioned in any of the subsequent films, it is left to the viewer to decide.

The Terminator's eye was badly damaged during the car chase with Reese and Sarah. The living tissue covering the Terminator's body heals in a manner similar to regular human tissue. The same would also be true for injures that are sustained to a Terminator's exterior flesh that cannot be easily heal or heal at all. In this case, the T-800's eye was damaged beyond repair and, more than likely, was clouding his vision through his true cyborg eye, so he removed it to regain his perfect cybernetic vision.

So he could steal the weapons that he required for his mission to terminate Sarah Connor.

So far, there are four. The Terminator was followed by Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), and Terminator Salvation (2009). There was also a short-lived TV series, 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' (2008-2009). Terminator: Genesis is supposedly in the works, but no release date has yet been set.

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