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Trivia / The Terminator

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  • Actor-Inspired Element: It was Michael Biehn's idea that Kyle goes up to the wall and scream into the wall when he's being questioned by Dr. Silberman.
  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Based on a Dream: James Cameron originally based the movie on a nightmare he had of a robot skeleton emerging from a fiery explosion and coming after him.
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  • 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, yet are billed below The Terminator, who is the Big Bad and isn't seen as frequently.
  • Completely Different Title:
    • Angel of Death (Sweden)
    • The Exterminator (Peru)
    • Electronic Killer (Poland)
  • Creator Cameo: James Cameron is the voice on the answering machine.
  • Dawson Casting:
  • 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."
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    • 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, while several witnesses immediately flee the scene. 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. This changes the crafting of the pipe bombs from a deterrent against the Terminator to a means of destroying Cyberdyne.
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    • 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 (which is where Kyle's gun comes from in the next scene).
    • The scene where Reese shows Sarah how to make homemade 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 Bittersweet 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 predestination 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 bodybuilder 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.
  • Economy Cast: The girl soldier in the first future flashback is played by Jean Malahni, who was Linda Hamilton's stunt double
  • Executive Meddling:
    • Studio executives tried to push Cameron to give Kyle a cyborg dog as a sidekick. James Cameron nixed that idea completely.
    • A more positive example had the studio push Cameron to expand the romance between Sarah and Kyle. Cameron liked that idea, so he complied.
    • In 2018 Gale Anne Hurd revealed they were also skittish about the film's Bittersweet Ending, and tried to get Cameron to just end the film where the Terminator is apparently destroyed in the truck explosion. Since much of the crew were working on their first major film they came close to caving despite what an obviously terrible idea it was, but luckily a few execs were on their side and got the true ending pushed through.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't think much of the initial screenplay and was only going to do it for the money and because he felt a contemporary film would be beneficial to his career.
  • No Budget: To the extent that some scenes had to be shot without permits.
  • Playing Against Type: Arnold Schwarzenegger as the ruthless, terrifying villain of the title. Both before and after this film, even in the later Terminator films, his roles have primarily been action heroes.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Arnold was interviewed for the role of Kyle Reese to make his producers happy, but Cameron never intended to give the role to him. Further, Cameron knew after meeting him that Arnold would never be able to provide plot exposition like Kyle Reese needed to. However, the intense and powerful look on Arnold's face while they spoke made Cameron realize that he was born to play a cyborg killing machine. The entire script was thus rewritten to fit Arnold as the Terminator, and turn him into a walking behemoth.
  • Screwed By The Studio: To a small extent. While the film was a hit, James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger were both convinced that Orion Pictures did not believe enough in the film to give it a strong advertising campaign. Both Cameron and Schwarzenegger vowed never to work for the studio again.
  • Troubled Production: The action scenes were shot at a tight schedule given the nighttime setting, Linda Hamilton spraining her ankle at the beginning of the shoot and spending the rest of the movie in pain, and the Terminator endoskeleton being heavy and hard by Stan Winston's team to carry (as they found out that building a prop robot out of metal is realistic, but not practical). Also, James Cameron's Mean Boss tendencies started to show, leading to the first T-shirts written "You can't scare me, I work for James Cameron" among the crew.
    • During post-production, John Daly, the producer, tried to shorten the film by insisting it end when the truck the Terminator is driving blows up, eliminating the whole scene with the now-skeletal Terminator chasing Sarah and Reese through the factory. Cameron physically threw him out of the editing suite.
  • Wag the Director: Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to have the iconic line "I'll be back" changed as he had difficulty pronouncing the word I'll. He also felt that his robotic character would not speak in contractions and that the Terminator would be more declarative. James Cameron refused to change the line to "I will be back", so Schwarzenegger worked to say the line as written the best he could. He would later say the line in numerous films throughout his career.
    • Arnie allegedly delayed the start of filming by two days by claiming that the custom made leather jacket wasn't manly enough.
  • What Could Have Been
    Reese: (to Dr. Silberman) The Terminator had already gone through. Connor sent two of us, but Sumner didn't make it.
    • The whole Cyberdyne plot from the sequel was meant to be in this film, but was cut due to budget reasons. Hence why as RedLetterMedia 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.
    • In Cameron's original treatment, Sarah Connor has an old figure skating injury that was fixed with a couple of surgical pins, and the Terminator cut the legs open of the first two Sarah Connors to find this identifying mark. In the novelization of the story, the pins were instead inserted into her leg after it was broken during her final fight against the Terminator. SkyNet knew Sarah had surgical pins in her leg, but not when or why she got them. The Terminator was therefore looking for a sign of an injury she had not yet sustained.
    • In the original script the Terminator was supposed to steal a car at the beginning of the film. The scene involved the Terminator observing an elderly woman getting into a car and as she saw the Terminator she panicked and put it into reverse hitting a trash can then correcting herself put it into drive and sped off. The Terminator then enters the car, puts it into reverse then into drive mimicking the woman's actions. This was cut from a later script.
    • Tony Banks was considered to compose the soundtrack and was sent the script, but he was busy doing the score to Lorca And The Outlaws.
    • "I'll be back" was originally written as "I'll come back".
  • The Wiki Rule: The Terminator Wiki.
  • Written-In Infirmity: Linda Hamilton injured her foot early on during production, and so every scene that involved Sarah Connor running (such as the alley chase behind Tech Noir and the tanker chase) was saved until the very end of filming so that Linda's foot could heal as much as possible. During the aforementioned alley chase, you can actually spot Linda slightly struggling to keep up with Kyle. This made the scene that much more tense and believable, because even with a Killer Robot closing in on her, there's no way an ordinary young woman can keep that up for long.


Example of: