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Trivia / The Terminator

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  • Acting for Two: Maïk Darah voiced both Sarah's roommate and friend Ginger and Sarah's co-worker Nancy in the French dub.
  • 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:
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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Blooper: Schwarzenegger apparently got a haircut in the middle of the Tech Noir shootout because his hair is in a crewcut by the time he chases Sarah and Kyle outside, as opposed to the longer style he had until then.
    • The T800's hair got singed when it ran through the fire caused by a car explosion which also burns off its eyebrows. Notice the T800's hair is longer when it begins chasing Kyle and Sarah, when it jumps on the windshield its hairstyle has changed.
  • Breakthrough Hit: James Cameron became one of the most successful filmmakers of all time after The Terminator was released.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: Arnold Schwarzenegger was originally considered for the role of Kyle Reese, 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".
  • Completely Different Title:
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    • Angel of Death (Sweden)
    • The Exterminator From the Future (Brazil)
    • The Implacable Exterminator (Portugal)
    • The Exterminator (Peru)
    • Electronic Killer (Poland)
  • 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."
    • 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.
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    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Doing It for the Art: Arnold was originally up for Kyle and was encouraged by his agent because Kyle was a bigger role and had more lines, but he was more interested in the Terminator because of the challenge of creating a convincing robot character: the Unflinching Walk, the unblinking stare and the casual displays of Super Strength.
  • 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.
  • The Foreign Subtitle:
    • Finland: Terminator: The Destroyer
    • Hungary: Terminator: The Death Dealer
  • 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.
  • Pop Culture Urban Legends: Contrary to popular belief, Lance Henriksen was never going to be the Terminator. However, James Cameron did base some of his early sketches of the Terminator on Henriksen's likeness, and Henriksen also helped Cameron pitching the film's idea to the producers in a rather unique way. He prepared himself for the meeting by dressing up in some leathers, adding a cut on his head and putting gold foil on his teeth. Fifteen minutes before the meeting, he kicked the door to the office in. He then just silently sat there while staring at the producers, making them gradually uncomfortable. When Cameron arrived, Henriksen left the room. He later overheard that one of the producers even said "I don't care who you use for the Terminator, not him."
  • 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.
  • Sleeper Hit: No one involved had much faith in the movie. Orion buried it with Invisible Advertising, Arnold Schwarzenegger thought the script was schlock and only signed on for the money, and James Cameron's only previous director credit was for the infamously terrible Piranha Part Two: The Spawning. Furthermore, the entire production was on a shoestring budget and a rushed schedule.
  • Star-Making Role: For Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ironically, he thought the movie would flop, but it became his most iconic role.
  • 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 for 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 because he felt with his accent "I'll" just felt weaker and the robotic character would not speak in contractions and 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 found that his earliest fans would ask him to repeat THAT line, and it would become his career-defining line showing up in other films.
    • 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: See the franchise's page.
  • 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.

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