The Terminator is a 1984 American science fiction horror film written and directed by James Cameron and produced by Gale Anne Hurd, who also polished the script. The film establishes a post-apocalyptic future in which Skynet, an artificial intelligent network intent on exterminating the human race, is at war with the Resistance. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as the titular Terminator, a cyborg from the future sent by Skynet to assassinate Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the mother of the leader of the Resistance, in present-day 1984.
Development of The Terminator began in 1982 when Cameron sketched and conceived a story around a nightmare he had while on production of Piranha II: The Spawning in Rome, Italy. A major influence on the plot was several Outer Limits episodes written by Harlan Ellison, with Randall Flakes also contributing to certain scenes and additional dialogue. Principal photography commenced on March 1984 in Los Angeles.
The Terminator was released on October 26, 1984 and became a sleeper hit, becoming a critical and commercial success despite low expectations from studio executives. As a result, it launched the start of an extensive media franchise as well as the careers of James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film is now often considered a classic of science fiction cinema and was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" in 2008.