The Terminator Movie Poster Image

The Terminator



Terrific sci-fi action, but too violent for some.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1984
  • Running Time: 108 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Though the heroes' goal is ultimately a noble one -- save the future from decimation by robots and other machines -- the movie's bleak, dark tone and frequent bloody violence makes it hard to think of this as a positive movie.

Positive role models

The heroes are ultimately pacifists, although they, as well as the villain, use killing as a means to solve problems. Sarah Connor is one of cinema's most powerful female action heroes.


Graphic and gory violence, with lots of fights, explosions, and car accidents. There's a very high body count.


Some partial nudity (buttocks, breasts) -- some of which is sexual and some of which isn't. Implied sex and passionate kissing.


Several uses of "f--k"; other words include "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," "bitch," "goddamn," and more.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adult characters drink in a bar; some smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that kids will want to see this film due to its reputation as a "classic" action film and the fact that it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger. But this isn't the sweet, exasperated Arnold of Kindergarten Cop or the comedic action hero of True Lies -- or even the huggable father stand-in of Terminator 2 and 3. This is a relentless, shark-eyed killer Arnold. His systematic destruction of the inhabitants of Los Angeles is unsettling even for adults. Expect virtually nonstop tension and violence, as well as swearing (including "f--k"), some partial nudity, drinking, and smoking.

What's the story?

The story of THE TERMINATOR begins with the arrival of a pumped-up, naked Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is "The Terminator," a cyborg sent from the post-apocalyptic future where machines have taken over the world via nuclear Armageddon. His mission is to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the woman who will eventually become the mother of the leader of the future resistance. Soldier Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) is sent back as well; in this case to prevent the Terminator from carrying out his mission. Reese must protect Sarah long enough for her to give birth to her son, John, who will lead the fight against the machines.

Is it any good?


Terminator is more serious than the second two movies in the series. Schwarzenegger's character bears none of the playful ambiguity of the sequels; he simply kills. True, he does utter the infamous phrase, "I'll be back," a promise that the character utterly fulfills, but the effect is less ironic than horrifying.

Co-written and directed by James Cameron, THE TERMINATOR is an excellent vehicle for his facility with sci-fi action and spectacle, as well of his integration of themes like humans versus machines, the destructiveness of war, capitalism, and the questioning traditional gender roles in his films.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the conventions of action movies and director James Cameron's statements regarding corporate culture, unchecked technological development, and nuclear war.

  • What do you think of Sarah Connor's transformation from sweet, defenseless damsel-in-distress to strong and independent action hero?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 26, 1984
DVD/Streaming release date:February 21, 2001
Cast:Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn
Director:James Cameron
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:108 minutes
MPAA rating:R

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Parent of a 10 year old Written byloghlr July 22, 2014

Skip the sex scene at 81 minutes and an 11-year-old can watch it

Skipping the sex scene takes nothing away from the movie, and it made it ok for my 10-year-old. He loved it. There is a lot of swearing, but we're getting used to that and he's not picking it up at all from these movies.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 17 years old Written byJosh Lambert October 3, 2010

This is the Real, Truthful Review

Great Movie but definitely a high R movie..........there is one seen where breasts are fully vissible. Violence is gory, and language is pervasive. Recommended rating R: For Bloody Sequences of Action Violence, a scene of sexuality/nudity, and pervasive language, and a scene of drug content not very noticeable but the Terminator takes weed
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent of a 10 year old Written bybgbio September 28, 2010
Parents must judge whether or not their child's behavior will be effected by this movie, it is really a judgment call because the movie is very good but probably suited more for young adults.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking