SFMZ NOTE: Unlike some of the enhanced scripts we have presented, a large portion of the script below is not adjusted to fit the film's presentation. So obviously some script descriptions don't necessarily fit the screenshot that was provided.


A Screenplay by James Cameron and William Wisher

Revised final shooting script

Downtown Los Angeles, noon on a hot summer day. The lunchtime crowd stacks up into a wall of humanity. They move in herds among the glittering rows of cars jammed bumper to bumper. Heat ripples distort the torrent of faces. The image is surreal, dreamy... and like a dream it begins very slowly to dissolve to:

CITY RUINS: Same spot as the last shot, but now it is a landscape in Hell. The cars are stopped in rusted rows, still bumper to bumper. The skyline of buildings beyond has been shattered by some unimaginable force like a row of kicked-down sandcastles. Wind blows through the desolation, keening with the sound of ten million dead souls. It scurries the ashes into drifts, stark white in the moonlight against the charred rubble.

LOS ANGELES, July 11, 2029: A heap of fire-blackened human bones. Beyond the mound is a vast tundra of skulls and shattered concrete. The rush hour crowd burned down in their tracks. A playground... where intense heat has half-melted the jungle gym, the blast has warped the swing set, the merry-go-round has sagged in the firestorm. Small skulls look accusingly from the ash-drifts. The distant echo of children's voices... playing and laughing in the sun.

A silly, sing-songy rhyme, seared asphalt where the faint hieroglyphs of hopscotch lines are still visible. A burnt and rusted tricycle... next to the tiny skull of its owner.

VOICE: 3 billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare, the war against the Machines...

A metal foot crushes the skull like china.

A humanoid machine holding a massive battle rifle. It looks like a chrome skeleton... a high-tech Death figure. It is the endoskeleton of a Series 800 terminator. Its glowing red eyes compassionlessly sweep the dead terrain, hunting. The sounds of roaring turbines.

Searchlights blaze down as a formation of flying HK (Hunter-Killer) patrol machines passes overhead. Toward the jagged horizon beyond, we see flashes, and hear the distant thunder of a pitched battle in progress. Human troops is desperate combat with the machines for possession of the dead Earth.

The humans are a ragtag guerrilla army. Skynet's weapons consist of Ground HKs (tank-like robot gun-platforms), flying Aerial HKs, four-legged gun-pods called Centurions, and the humanoid terminators in various forms. Explosions, beam-weapons firing like searing strobe-light.

A gunner in an armored personnel carrier fires a LAW rocket at a pursuing Aerial HK, bringing it down in a fiery explosion. Another APC is crushed under the treads of a massive Ground HK. A team of guerrillas in a intense fire-fight with terminator endoskeletons in the ruins of a building.

Three terminator endoskeletons advance, firing rapidly. Another (complete cyborg), with flesh ripped open and back broken, gropes for a rifle on the ground. A Centurion overruns a human firing position. Soldiers are cut down as they run. Fiery explosions light the ranks of advancing machines.

In a blasted gun emplacement at the edge of battle, a man watches the combat with night-vision binoculars. He wears the uniform of a guerrilla general, and a black beret. He is still amid running, shouting techs and officers. The man watches as the battle rages on. He lowers the binoculars.

He is forty-five years old. Features severe. The left side of his face is heavily scarred. A patch covers that eye. An impressive man, forged in the furnace of a lifetime of war. The name stitched on the band of his beret is Connor. We push in until his eyes fill frame, then... Dissolve to fire, slow, boiling, enormous, filling frame.

VOICE (SARAH CONNOR): Skynet, the computer which controlled the machines, sent two terminators back through time. Their mission: to destroy the leader of the human Resistance... John Connor. My son. The first terminator was programmed to strike at me, in the year 1984... before John was born. It failed. The second was set to strike at John himself, when he was still a child. As before, the Resistance was able to send a lone warrior. A protector for John. It was just a question of which one of them would reach him first...

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