Trivia: The Terminator

  • AFIS 100 Years Series:
  • Author Phobia: Cameron originally based the movie on a nightmare he had of a robot skeleton emerging from a fiery explosion and coming after him.
  • Breakthrough Hit: James Cameron became one of the most successful filmmakers of all time after The Terminator was released.
  • Billing Displacement: Kyle and Sarah are the main characters in the first film - The Terminator isn't seen that often, making it more effective.
  • Completely Different Title:
    • Angel of Death (Sweden)
    • The Exterminator (Peru)
    • Electronic Killer (Poland)
  • Dawson Casting:
    • 27-going-on-28-year-old Linda Hamilton playing 19-year-old Sarah Connor. Terminator 3 later retconned her character's age as 23.
    • Also, 27-going-on-28-year-old Michael Biehn playing 21-year-old Kyle Reese.
  • Deleted Scene:
    • Sarah's introduction was originally longer with an extra scene of Sarah trying to get herself psyched up for work by rehearsing her waitress greeting in the mirror, and remarking "I'm so wholesome I could puke."
    • The scene where the Terminator kills the first "wrong Sarah" ended with the Terminator walking away after the kill, getting into his car and driving away. Cameron wanted the audience to be surprised at how calm and unworried he was, before the reveal of what was actually going on.
    • One of Reese, who only knows the world as a ruined wasteland, breaking down over being unable to handle simply standing in some grass once he gets the chance to slow down and notice all the normal things he was never meant to see. This was part of a scene where he and Sarah, who is now trying to be more proactive and forward thinking, got into an argument over trying to destroy Cyberdyne, the company that would create the Terminators, thus completely averting the war (which of course was revisited in Terminator 2), where he refused to go along with her idea simply because, in his words, "That's not my mission." Sarah angrily tries to run away from Reese, Reese chases her down and she hits him, which causes him to reflexively pull the gun on her; when Sarah points out to him what he's doing - and goes on a rant about how she doesn't want to spend the rest of her life living in fear of the Terminator and the big bad future - Reese completely falls apart and has a No Place for Me There monologue where he quite literally says "I don't belong here" before he laments how painful it is for him to see the world as it once was, which causes Sarah to feel more sympathy for him before he points out that Sarah doesn't understand what it feels like to know that "it's all gone." The scene ends with Sarah reminding Reese that together they have the chance to save the future by changing the past.
    • Several short deleted scenes show a subplot where Lt. Traxler, realizing that something is off about the entire situation, gradually comes to believe that Reese is telling the truth. In the final scene, now fully convinced after seeing the Terminator's unstoppable rampage at the police station, he survives his bullet wounds long enough to give Reese and Sarah his gun as they leave.
    • The scene where Reese shows Sarah how to make home made bombs was originally longer, with Sarah trying to cheer Reese up by telling him about all the amazing things she would show him once they had survived their ordeal and saved the world, and then the scene gets progressively more dramatic as she laments the situation and how utterly cut off they are from help, as it really is just them and the Terminator.
    • A post-love making scene where Sarah tickled Reese.
    • Adding even more bitterness to the already Bitter Sweet Ending, as Sarah was taken away by paramedics we would learn that the factory where Sarah and Reese had their final fight with the Terminator was actually Cyberdyne in its earlier, more humble years, with two employees managing to hide the remains of the Terminator to show to their bosses, adding another layer to the pre-destination paradox. This of course was later revisited in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
  • Dueling Movies: Runaway, a film also about robots and starring Tom Selleck and Gene Simmons (and written/directed by Michael Crichton), was projected to be the big sci-fi film of 1984. Who would have thought that it would be overshadowed by a low-budget film, with B-list actors, written and directed by an unknown who got the idea while having a fever? Not to mention one actor was mostly a theater actor (Biehn), the other one was a body builder with a thick accent who had more bad movies than good ones then (Arnold), and Cameron only had one directorial credit to boot before doing The Terminator: the film Piranha Part Two: The Spawning.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Private Hudson and the Alien Bounty Hunter are two of the punks the Terminator kills in the film's opening.
  • Playing Against Type: Arnold Schwarzenegger as the ruthless, terrifying villain of the title.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The entire sequence at Tech Noir, a nightclub that could not be more '80s if it tried. Most of the movie, actually. The Honda scooter. Oh, the technology, including the old answering machine and gigantic video tape recorder in the police station...Plus, of course, the hairstyles and clothes on all of the actors. Then again, the opening text states it was set in 1984.
  • What Could Have Been
    • OJ Simpson was originally considered for the role of the Terminator. The studio did not go with this casting choice because they could not see a nice guy like OJ playing a killer. Uh, yeah....
    • German actor Jürgen Prochnow, known for his role as the Captain in Das Boot, was also considered for the part. Hilarious in Hindsight, as he ended up playing Arnold in See Arnold Run (a film about Arnold's run for governor of California).
    • Lance Henriksen (Bishop from Aliens) was considered for the part of the Terminator, back when the role was conceived as someone who could blend in. Instead he ended up playing Detective Vukovich.
      • This idea ends up being used in the sequel.
    • One of the concept art showed a T-800 skeleton crawling after Sarah with a butcher knife.
    • The film was actually meant to end with the tanker explosion and Reese living through the movie. But Cameron found this too anti-climatic and rallied for the factory ending. He won out leading to the much more Bittersweet Ending.
    • Arnold Schwarzenegger himself was originally considered for the role of Kyle Reese (the hero) while Lance Henriksen was the original choice for the Terminator as Cameron originally envisioned the killing machine as having a more ordinary appearance in order to blend in with the rest of society, but changed his mind when he met Arnold and felt that he was in the presence of "a living machine".
    • Michael Biehn almost didn't get the role of Kyle Reese because at his audition he read his lines in a Southern accent because he had just come from an audition for a stage version of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and hadn't reverted to his normal voice, which the producers didn't like since they didn't want Reese to seem "regionalized". Biehn's agent had to call and explain what happened, after which he got the job following another reading.
    • Ally Sheedy reportedly auditioned for the role of Sarah.
    • In a first script, Reese wasn't the only soldier sent to the past. There was another guy called Sumner who died after materializing just in the place of a fire escape structure.
    • The whole Cyberdyne plot from the sequel was meant to be in this film, but was cut due to budget reasons. Hence why as Red Letter Media put it in their commentary, the sequel is essentially a remake that allowed Cameron to do the things he couldn't do in the first film, but reimagined.