* According to the original treatment (accessible on the DVD version), there were originally two protectors sent back to save Sarah Connor. However, this partner of Reese's would have received very little screen time, as when he traveled through time, he rematerialized right into a fire escape. It is interesting to note that this contradicts what the sequels show about the Temporal Displacement Field (matter in an orb-shaped space is replaced by its counterpart from the future).
* The movie's line "I'll be back." was voted as the #37 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100) and #95 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007. The future terminator who infiltrates the human camp in the dream sequence is played by Franco Columbo, who is a multiple Mr. Olympia title winner like Arnold Schwarzenegger and is a close friend of his.
* The Los Angeles police cars have different mottoes: "To Protect and Serve" and "To Care and Protect." Joe Farago, who plays a news anchorman reporting on the Sarah Connor murders, plays a similar role in another James Cameron film, The Abyss (1989).
* The movie was released in the late 1980s in Poland under the title "The Electronic Murderer". The title was changed because there is a Polish word 'terminator', meaning roughly 'an apprentice', and so the title was changed to something more catchy and interesting to audience.
By the time the sequel was released, the original movie was widely available on pirate copies under its original title, and because of it in the early 90s in Poland the word 'terminator' was widely recognized as the character played by Arnold Schwarzenegger instead of its original meaning, so all the sequels had their titles unaltered.
* The Pacific, local time is given. Set in California, it is one of the last mainland time zones, before the ocean "terminator" separates day from night on the world hemispheres. The building number for the gun store is '14329' this is also the house number of Sarah Anne Connor, the first victim. Bill Paxton is the only actor to be killed by a 'Terminator', a 'Predator', and an 'Alien'.
Arnold Schwarzenegger / The Terminator
* The Terminator is the only character to be listed in the American Film Institute's 100 Heroes and Villains as both a villain (for The Terminator) and a hero (for Terminator 2: Judgment Day). Al Pacino and Arnold Schwarzenegger are the only two actors to be on the list as playing a villain and a hero but Pacino played two different characters. 13 other actors and actresses appear twice or more but either all as heroes or all as villains.
* One afternoon during a break in filming, Arnold went into a restaurant in downtown L.A. to get some lunch and realized all too late that he was still in Terminator makeup - with a missing eye, exposed jawbone and burned flesh.
The Terminator uses the following weapons throughout the movie: - An AMT 1911 .45 Long Slide with Laser Pointer (pretty much everywhere) - An S&W classic type 2.5-inch barrel revolver, caliber .357Mag (during the tunnel chase) - An Uzi .9mm Submachine Gun (in the Tech Noir nightclub and the Tiki motel) - An SPAS-12 Automatic Shotgun (during the police station shootout) - An AR-18 Assault Rifle (during the police station shootout and the tunnel chase)
* 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. Arnold started work two weeks later than the rest of the cast. His first day of work was on the car garage scene where he was looking for Sarah on a police car that the Terminator hijacked.
* In the beginning of the movie, The Terminator drives over a toy semi truck..towards the end of the movie, The Terminator is run over by the same model of semi truck. Arnold was trained for weeks on weapons handling before he started the film, and wound up garnering a compliment in "Soldier of Fortune" magazine for his realistic handling of the guns on camera (whereas the magazine usually lampoons movies for their inaccurate depictions of weapons use).
* The original treatment by James Cameron included the detail that the Terminator needed to eat periodically in order for his human flesh to survive. A scene is included where the Terminator eats a candy bar, wrapper and all. This detail was incorporated into the script for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), with the Terminator selecting Arnold Schwarzenegger's favorite Austrian chocolate wafer. When fans learned that a scene had shot where the Terminator ate chocolate, the reaction was overwhelmingly negative and the scene was omitted.
* Arnold's voice is used in exactly 16 lines, with 17 sentences spoken. The terminator has two other lines on-screen, one with the voice of a police officer overdubbed, and one with the voice of Sarah's mother overdubbed. There are also many lines with the voice of Sarah's mother, and we learn that the terminator is actually saying them, but we don't see it.
* Shots through the Terminator's vision shows a dump of the ROM assembler code for the Apple II operation system. If you own an Apple II, enter at the basic prompt: ] call -151 * p This will give you the terminator view. Other code visible is written in COBOL. Arnold's famous debut line 'I'll be back' was originally scripted as 'I'll come back'. The sunglasses worn by the Terminator were Gargoyles.
Sarah Conner / Linda Hamilton and Kyle Reese / Michael Biehn
* Linda Hamilton broke her ankle prior to production, and had to have her leg wrapped every day so she could do her chase scenes. Those scenes were also moved towards the end of the shooting schedule. In James Cameron's original treatment, Sarah Connor has an old figure skating injury that was fixed with a couple of surgical pins and the terminator would cut the legs open of the first two Sarah Connors to find this identifying mark.
* Near the beginning of the movie, when Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) receives a message on her answering machine breaking her date, the voice on the machine is James Cameron's. Years later, Hamilton and Cameron got married and subsequently divorced.
* The earlier drafts of the script have a scene where Sarah obtains Cyberdyne System's address, and she and Kyle travel to Sunnyvale, California to blow up Cyberdyne. This scene was omitted, and the only relic of this scene in the movie is the fact that Sarah reveals the area code for the Tiki Motel to be 408. James Cameron wrote the part of Sarah Connor as a teenage girl. It was rewritten as a twenty-something woman.
* When Reese saves Sarah at the nightclub shootout, he says, "Come with me if you want to live." The Terminator says the same thing when he saves Sarah in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). Reese again makes the statement to Marcus Wright in Terminator Salvation (2009). Furthermore, Cameron said the same thing to John Connor in the pilot to "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (2008).
* Michael Biehn's character gets bitten on the hand by another character. This happens to him in every James Cameron movie he's in - see Aliens (1986) and The Abyss (1989). Kyle Reese smiles only once during the entire movie, when Sarah makes to playfully throw the bag of dynamite at him after their night of intimacy.
* Reese never turns on the headlights of any of the cars he drives. Possibly deliberate, as Reese probably would have been accustomed to driving without lights to avoid HK's in the future. The front wheel drive car that Reese drove out of the parking garage had it's headlights on, though they seem to have become turned off just before the end of the chase.
* Michael Biehn almost didn't get the role of Kyle Reese because in his first audition he spoke in a Southern accent as a result of working on a part for a stage production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (he didn't get the role), and the producers didn't want Reese to seem regionalized. After a talk with Biehn's agent, the producers called Biehn back for another audition and he got the part.
* There is only one time that Michael Biehn and Arnold Schwarzenegger are in the same frame together. It is when Kyle blasts The Terminator the second time at Tech Noir. When they finally meet in the factory, it is not Schwarzenegger, just a metallic puppet.
Film-makers / Behind the Scenes
* William Wisher Jr., who co-wrote the movie with James Cameron, is featured in a small role as the police officer who attempts to assist the Terminator who was left burned on the curb by Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese, but gets knocked unconscious for his effort. The TechNoir set was actually a downtown L.A. restaurant, redressed to look like a nightclub.
* Most of the car chase scenes were shot at normal speed and sped up slightly. To add more of a sense of speed, other cars rode along with them out of frame with revolving lights attached to them that made it seem like the car was passing other light sources faster. The classic "clank" was made by Brad Fiedel by hitting a microphone with a cast iron skillet. The "screaming" sound at the end of the movie is Brad Fiedel and friends screaming in a microphone and Fiedel playing synth over it.
* The "fog" in the scene after Sarah and Reese leave the bridge where they spent the night is actually bug spray, due to the big "fly scare" in the filming location at that time. The crew was going to wait until the spray dissipated, but decided to use it as fog for the effect instead. This is revealed in a DVD easter egg, which can be found by pressing the right arrow in the languages section until the square on the right is lit up.
* Although stereophonic sound existed in 1984, The Terminator (1984) was filmed in monophonic. This was because during the production, the budget was too low to allow the filmmakers to get all the effects they wanted and still allow for the film to be shot in stereo. Although a stereo remix was produced later for the Hemdale VHS release, it was not until MGM acquired the rights to the film that a fully recognizable 5.1 stereo soundtrack was created, for the 2001 Special Edition DVD.
* Tony Banks, keyboardist for Genesis, was considered to compose the soundtrack and was sent the script, but he was busy doing the score to Starship (1985). There was minimal interference from the film's financial backer, Orion, partly due to the budget offered. However, they suggested two things; the first one being a cyborg canine that accompanies Reese -- an idea turned down by James Cameron; the other one is in improving the relationship between Kyle and Sarah, which was incorporated into the final film.
* The smoke that is flowing out of The Terminator when it is crushed in the hydraulic press at the end of the film, is actually cigarette blown by one of the crew, out of camera view on the right. They used a Hydraulic fist to punch through the windshield when the Terminator jumped on the hood of the car during the Tech-Noir alley getaway scene. This was rehearsed several times and since Arnold Schwarzenegger's face was in the shot too,it all had to be choreographed perfectly since replacing a windshield was too costly and time consuming.
* The laser aimed handgun was specially built by Laser Products Corporation (now Sure-Fire). This was in the early days of laser aimed weapons and the what was seen was actually not a complete assembly. Only the laser was mounted but the required battery pack was hidden from view. In those days the battery packs were very large, about the size of a TV remote control. A wire was hidden underneath his sleeve.