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YMMV / The Terminator

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  • Alas, Poor Scrappy:
    • If you don't like Ginger for generally just being sleazy, obnoxious, and being stuck in Headphones Equal Isolation in the stupidest and worst time, then you may feel sorry for her death. Unless, of course, Draco in Leather Pants and/or Rooting for the Empire is in effect, then it'll be Take That, Scrappy! Sarah herself is definitely devastated with her death.
    • The same goes for Ginger's boyfriend, Matt, if only because he's just a stereotypical stupid boyfriend character like in many horror movies who's only there just for Sex Scene with a female character and to get killed in a gruesome manner.
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  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Arnold Schwarzenegger took the role despite thinking it would be a "shit movie" because he thought it wouldn't damage his career too much if it failed. How wrong he was...
  • Angst? What Angst?: By the end of the film, Sarah expresses deep grief over the death of Kyle Reese, whom she knew for two days, yet she doesn't seem particularly affected by the death of her mother at the hands of the T-800.
    • But she had no way to know her mother was killed until after the factory scene, by which point she'd evolved into the badass of the second movie.
  • Awesome Music: Brad Fiedel's pounding, relentless, electronic score is the perfect evocation in sound of an unstoppable, murderous machine. The now-classic theme evolves this idea by adding layers of sadness and melancholy, a requiem for a dead humanity.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The T-800 is a classic example of this trope, gathering so many fans at his debut that it becomes a heroic character in the sequel, as well as giving Arnold Schwarzenegger a rise to stardom. He may be a merciless mass-murdering monster, but something about his massacre at the police station clicked with the anti-authoritarian youth culture of Reagan Era 1980s America. Not to mention that he's actually wearing leather pants for most of the series.
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  • Ear Worm: The pop songs. Not only quintessentially 80s (synth, drum pads, rock guitar, New Wave sounds, high-pitched whining/urgent singing), but they're mostly indistinguishable from other middling pop songs of the era. Making the earworm they give even more amazing. Especially Tane Caine's song "Burning in the Third Degree", heard during the Tech Noir scene, just before the Terminator and Reese battle it out for the first time. The chorus: You've got me burnin'/you've got me burnin'/you've got me burnin'/you've got me burning in the thiiiiiirrrrrd degree! doubles nicely as a bit of subtext as to the fate of humanity. In fact, the lyrics of most of the pop songs heard in the film can be seen as subtle commentary on the characters and their motives.
  • Ending Fatigue: Inverted. The producer insisted that the film would have to end with the oil-truck explosion, but Cameron locked him out of the editing suite to make sure it didn't. No one has ever regretted that he did.
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  • First Installment Wins: Terminator 2: Judgment Day may have been the big box office smash and the one which deeply ingrained itself in pop culture, and a lot of people still consider it the Even Better Sequel. However, there are also many people who prefer the first film for its greater focus on sci-fi horror and its darker tone, as opposed to the more action-oriented sequels.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Before Arnie was cast, James Cameron actually considered Lance Henriksen and O.J. Simpson to portray the killer robot of the title. Henriksen ended up getting a different role in the first movie, but Simpson wasn't cast in the role because Cameron apparently "couldn't imagine such a nice guy playing the part of a ruthless killer" (it can also be a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment to some). And Henriksen eventually did wind up playing a human-looking robot in another James Cameron film.
    • A then-unknown Bill Paxton plays one of the Terminator's first victims. He would play an evil cyborg himself 30 years later in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
    • Brian Thompson plays another of the Terminator's first victims, specifically the one that gets his heart ripped out of his chest, ala Mortal Kombat. Brian would later go on to play Shao Khan in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
    • James Cameron himself provides the voice of the guy who leaves a message for Sarah cancelling their date. He later left his wife for Linda Hamilton.
  • It Was His Sled: The fact that the T-800 endoskeleton can move perfectly well without its flesh covering. Promotional materials for later films generally show this upfront, but the original film sets it up as a shocking eleventh hour reveal to emphasize just how implacable the Terminator is.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "I'll be back."
    • "Come with me if you want to live."
    • "Phased Plasma Rifle with 40 Watt range." note .
  • Misaimed Fandom: See Draco in Leather Pants entry above.
  • Narm Charm:
    • The T-800 mimicking Sarah's mother's voice. It's a tense scene, showing not only that the terminator has murdered Sarah's mother, but can imitate her voice so perfectly. However, seeing Arnold talking in an old lady's voice makes it a bit ridiculous.
    • Sarah and Kyle's romance has some tremendously cheesy dialogue, most of all her final statement "In the few short hours we had together, we loved a lifetime's worth." But the circumstances and the actors somehow make it work.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games:
    • The Sega CD version. While far from perfect (and quite grueling), it's actually a fairly competent run-n-gun game with an amazing soundtrack by Tommy Tallarico.
    • Ditto the Sega Genesis version, which was another highly competent run-n-gun game, albeit nowhere near as hard as the Sega CD version. It folows the story quite closely thanks to text and stills from the film in-between levels and having a great soundtrack by Matt Furniss. However, it is also criminaly short, with a full playtrough taking about 20 minues from beginning to end.
  • Periphery Demographic: The E! True Hollywood Story on the first movie pointed out the love story attracted lots of women. Because obviously women would never be into action sci fi. Arnold even points out in his autobiography that he suggested making ads centered around Kyle and Sarah instead of just the action. The studio refused, thinking the movie wouldn't last very long in the box office.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Future movie star Bill Paxton and future B-movie legend Brian Thompson play two of the three punks in the opening scene.
  • Squick: John Connor spent his whole friendship with Kyle getting him to fall in love with John's mother so they would have sex and John could exist. Genisys has Sarah call him out on this, but only in regards to her telling Kyle that that's basically what their friendship was about.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • Watch the background when the endoskeleton rises out of the fire. Someone partially stands and grabs the lever, pulling it down to lift the endoskeleton.
    • The dummy Terminator head used in the "eye removal" and "Fuck you, asshole" scenes is very obvious (although good by 80s standards).
    • The endoskeleton itself is considered as such by several people. Largely with the poorly animated, poorly composited stop-motion model. The SFX team built it out of steel, not realising how difficult it would be to move and animate.
    • As mentioned in Artistic License – Cars, the truck Kyle steals is missing its drivetrain when it flips over.
    • In the shot immediately before Kyle wakes up from his nightmare, it's quite obvious that the fire is superimposed over the shot.
    • Downplayed in one of the shots immediately before; when the car is being chased by the HK, the gunner up top is obviously a model, but the way he's violently thrown back and forth makes perfect sense given the bumpy ride.
    • Another classic film that has really suffered from the effects of high-resolution modern reproductions; during the famous moment where the Terminator leans close to the glass at the police station to promise "I'll be back", you can see both of Arnie's eyes behind his sunglasses, despite the fact that the Terminator had cut out its damaged right eye in the previous scene and was wearing the sunglasses to cover up the exposed glowing red optic lens.
    • A few seconds after, the policeman behind the front desk is alerted to the Terminator about to ram-raid the station in a car by the leadlights illuminating him... but when the car comes crashing through the door it clearly has its headlights turned off.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Reese claims to have been in love with Sarah ever since seeing her picture. Sarah is suspicious of him at first, but comes to trust him. Then, thanks to the fast pacing of the movie, they suddenly have sex, followed by them being too busy fighting the Terminator to develop their relationship for the rest of the movie. At the end, Sarah says in a recording she's making for her son that she and Reese "loved a lifetime's worth".
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Most of the video games based off of this movie are pretty bad, with clunky controls, overbearing difficulty, and a plain style that doesn't fit the film:
    • The NES adaptation is one of the most notorious games on the platform, due to its grating, repetitive soundtrack, bizarre control scheme and overly finicky level design, which combines with bad collision detection to make getting past the early stages a Luck-Based Mission.
    • While the SNES game isn't anywhere near as bad as its NES counterpart, and features some comparatively decent arcade-style gameplay, its main issue is that the stages are both difficult and ludicrously long, making it far more of a chore to play than it needs to be.
    • The first Sega Genesis game is good (albeit it's not nearly as good as the later Sega CD game), but the Master System and Game Gear versions are definite Porting Disasters. While the graphics are impressive for both systems, the controls and hit detection are very finicky, and the levels were severely cut down, making it quite easy to complete the game in just ten minutes.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: The 2000 DVD release had several sound effects changed, most notably the gun sounds to match the ones from the sequel. Some fans were not amused. This is lessened by the fact that the release also contains the original monaural soundtrack.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: A deleted scene showed Kyle Reese suffering a brief breakdown over being a man out of time, complete with a No Place for Me There monologue. Kyle's thoughts and feelings over the world before the war are never touched on in the finished film, which is too bad since it would have added some more depth to him.
  • The Woobie: Poor Kyle Reese. The guy was born and raised in one of the suckiest worlds imaginable, what with a lack of food, questionable-at-best shelter, and the constant threat of death from killer machines. He was then sent back in time (naked, no less), for the purpose of protecting the mother of the person he looked up to more than any other, knowing he wouldn't be coming back. He met the man's mother, only to find she wouldn't listen to a word he said, and was then taken into custody by law enforcement that didn't believe him either. Only after watching these same law enforcement officers get brutally murdered did Sarah believe him, and he spent the next day on the run, before finally suffering a slow and painful death, never knowing if Sarah would survive or not.


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