Sarah Connor (Terminator)
|Terminator films character|
|First appearance||The Terminator|
|Created by||James Cameron|
|Portrayed by||Linda Hamilton|
|Significant other(s)||Kyle Reese|
|Children||John Connor (son)|
Sarah Jeanette Connor is a fictional character in the Terminator franchise. She appears as the protagonist of The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. She was portrayed by American actress Linda Hamilton in the first and second films, and by English actress Lena Headey in the TV series. The character develops greatly over the course of these productions, from a timid victim in the first film to a hardened warrior on the verge of losing touch with her own humanity.
Terminator film series
Very little is known about Sarah's life prior to May 12, 1984. The Terminator film itself never specifies an age or birth date for Sarah Connor, although according to the original script (available on the Special Edition DVD), she was 19 years old. The film was primarily set on May 12–14, 1984, so based only on the script, her birth date would be between May 15, 1964, and May 11, 1965.
In Terminator 2, Sarah's psychologist states that she is 29. The film itself shows on screen that it takes place when John (born February 28, 1985) is age 10. These two on-screen references place Sarah's birth date some time between March 1, 1965, and February 25, 1967, making her age either 17, 18, or 19 during The Terminator. Many of the franchise's hardcore fans and writers of numerous "Terminator" novels have speculated that Sarah's exact date of birth is November 13, 1965, because this exclusive date is compatible with Sarah's given age in The Terminator and her stated age by the end of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles in the final episode "Born to Run".
The tombstone shown in Terminator 3 reads 1959–1997. This birth year would make her age 24 or 25 during The Terminator. Note, however, that she and John were living "off the grid" in her adult years, routinely using false names, birthdates, inter alia. Also her tomb was really a weapons cache. Her death was described as a result of leukemia sometime after the original "Judgment Day" (August 29, 1997). Terminator 3 also changes John's age in the second film from 10 to 13, introducing contradictions in the dating of the films that cannot be reconciled to one timeline.
Involvement in the films
In The Terminator, Sarah Connor is a young Los Angeles college student and waitress who finds herself pursued by a relentless cyborg killer, the Cyberdyne Systems Series 800 Model 101 Terminator (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger). She learns she is in danger from a televised report of two other identically-named Los Angeles women who were shot to death earlier that day. She is rescued from the Terminator by time-travelling soldier Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), who explains that in the future an artificial intelligence called Skynet will be created by military software developers to make strategic decisions.
The program becomes self-aware, seizes control of most of the world's military hardware (including various highly advanced robots), and launches an all-out attack on human beings. However, a man named John Connor eventually leads what remains of the world's military and survivors, The Resistance, to victory, only to discover that in a last-ditch effort, Skynet had invented a means of time travel and sent a robotic killer back in time to destroy John Connor's mother before he is born. John Connor is Sarah's future son, and he sends back a trusted sergeant Kyle Reese to protect his mother at all costs. During their brief time together, Sarah falls in love with Reese.
Reese becomes the only thing protecting her from the Terminator, and her only companion as they flee together. Initially, she is unaware that Reese himself had been in love with her from afar. He had been given a picture of her by John Connor and had always admired her legendary strength and resilience. While they are avoiding the Terminator, they share a night of intimacy that results in John's conception. Their relationship is cut short, however, when Reese dies fighting the Terminator in a Cyberdyne factory. Sarah in turn crushes the Terminator in a hydraulic press. Though Reese's death deeply saddens Sarah, his sincerity and courage inspires her to carry on and develop the necessary skills and abilities that would make her a suitable mentor and teacher to John.
After these events, Sarah becomes a fugitive from society and begins making a voice recording for John (in which she acknowledges his paternity) to later give to her son at the proper age. While recording the tape, she stops for gas and the aforementioned photograph is taken by a young boy and sold to her. This is the same picture John Connor will give to Kyle Reese in the future.
Sarah Connor next appears in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which occurs ten years after the events of The Terminator. She and John have been separated from each other: John is now a preteen and living in a foster home, and Sarah has been institutionalized in Pescadero State Hospital. In the years between films, she has transformed herself from the mousy, timid woman seen at the beginning of the first movie into a muscled, ferocious warrior. In fact, the first image of her in the film is of her doing chin-ups on her hospital bed. After the death of Kyle Reese, Sarah took his warnings, and the responsibility of raising the hope of mankind, to heart. However, her fixation on the disaster and her fanatical desire to keep John safe has made her slightly mentally unstable and very violent, which is only aggravated by her fear and hatred of the T-800. She dropped off the grid to better protect herself and John.
She lived a semi-criminal life among various outlaws and survivalists, and she attempted to teach her son the skills he would need to lead the resistance. Sarah was captured and sent to the hospital after she attempted to destroy a computer factory. Several times at the hospital, she has tried to improve her behavior in hope of getting to see her son, but her caregivers do not believe her, especially given that the Cyberdyne Executives who found the remnants of the first Terminator opted to cover the incident up. Her activities and claims of fighting evil robots from the future led to her being deemed incurable.
Sarah only seemed to confirm the judgment of psychiatrists by committing acts of violence against hospital staff (including Dr. Peter Silberman, whom Sarah stabbed in the knee with his pen) and attempting to escape multiple times. During her final escape attempt, Sarah encounters two different Terminator models. One is the T-1000, a liquid metal cyborg sent back to kill her son. The other is a T-800 (the same model which had previously tried to murder her) that was sent back to protect them. When she initially encounters the T-800, she flees in terror, but she goes with him when he utters the first thing Reese had said to her: "Come with me if you want to live."
Sarah finds it nearly impossible to accept that the T-800 is benevolent; throughout the film, she remains hostile towards it and what it represents, while her own son develops a bond with it, resembling a father-son relationship. In the director's cut of the movie, it is revealed that Sarah has an opportunity to destroy the machine's CPU, which would "kill" it. She nearly does so, but John stops her, managing to convince her that they need its help and that no one would listen to his leadership ideas if she did not do so. While in Mexico, watching John do a high-five with the Terminator, Sarah loses her hostility towards the machine and begins to see it as the closest thing John has to a father.
In a moment of desperation, Sarah attempts to murder Miles Dyson, one of the computer researchers who works at Cyberdyne Systems and is destined to build the revolutionary microprocessor that eventually becomes Skynet. In doing this, she loses touch with her humanity, becoming eerily similar to the Terminator itself. Ultimately, she cannot bear to kill Dyson in front of his wife and kids, because he wasn't responsible for anything yet. Shortly afterwards, John and the T-800 arrive and, together, they succeed in persuading Dyson to stop his research and destroy all recovered remnants of the first Terminator. After the T-1000 is finally defeated, the T-800 lets himself be destroyed with the help of Sarah Connor, despite the protests of the young John. It is at this point that Sarah fully respects the T-800 and offers her hand in friendship to a comrade before his final sacrifice, which he takes. She is last seen holding her son and comforting him upon the T-800's destruction. Because of this event, Sarah looks to the future with renewed hope, believing that if a Terminator can learn the value of human life, then perhaps humanity is not doomed to self-destruction.
In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Sarah Connor has died, having succumbed to acute myeloid leukemia in 1997 (after the events of Terminator 2) after a three-year battle with the disease (see note below). As a result, she is not seen on-screen during the film but is mentioned by both John and the T-850 multiple times. She lived long enough to see the original 1997 "Judgment Day" pass without incident, and she was cremated in Mexico. Her ashes were spread at sea. Never truly believing that they had beaten Skynet, her friends, in accordance with her will, store a cache of weapons in a casket for John to find at a false grave site in the event that Judgment Day was not averted and the Terminators returned.
The epitaph on her mausoleum niche reads, "No fate but what we make", which ultimately proves to be wrong when Skynet goes online and starts the war at the end of the film. Linda Hamilton reprised her role as Sarah Connor in voiceovers warning of the future war (in the form of taped recordings for John) delivered throughout Terminator Salvation.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
The alternate ending for Terminator 2: Judgment Day (available on the Ultimate Edition DVD and the Skynet Edition Blu-ray) shows Sarah alive and well on August 29, 2029. She is by then an elderly grandmother (and John is a Senator) in a world where Skynet was never able to start its war on humanity.
With the success of T2, Sarah Connor would appear in the non-canon Terminator / Man of Steel crossover, where DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics teamed Sarah and John Connor up with the Man of Steel in an adventure that pitted Superman up against not only Skynet, but also against his old rival the Cyborg Superman. In this adventure, while trying to protect Sarah and young John from a Terminator incursion, Superman is pulled into the future; the resistance had attempted to recover a Terminator that Skynet had sent back earlier, but the machine targeted Superman by mistake. Superman is then able to help the older John, as well as an older John Henry Irons, AKA Steel) take down Skynet once and for all.
Meanwhile, back in the past, Cyborg makes a deal with Skynet, leaving a message in a Terminator's skull about Superman's weaknesses, subsequently allying himself with a T-X sent back from the future to assist him, while Supergirl, Superboy and even Lex Luthor continue to protect Sarah and young John from wave after wave of Terminator cyborgs, the later models being specifically upgraded to cope with the Superman family with the addition of such features as jets in their backs to enable flight. The story concludes with Superman aiding the resistance in destroying Skynet by detonating an EMP in Earth's atmosphere powerful enough to shut down Earth's machines before returning to the past, where the Cyborg is defeated and all Terminator components disposed of in the sun.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
|Sarah Connor Chronicles character|
|Created by||Josh Friedman|
|Portrayed by||Lena Headey|
|Children||John Connor (son)|
This incarnation of Sarah Connor is an alternate future version of her film series counterpart. In November 2005, 20th Century Fox announced that it would produce a television series called Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles featuring the adventures of the title character and her son in the years after Terminator 2: Judgment Day. This was followed by a November 2006 announcement that Lena Headey had been chosen to play Sarah Connor. The choice to cast Headey was criticized by several fans and critics who argued that she bore no resemblance to the athletic, muscular woman established by Hamilton, who transformed her body into that of a muscled warrior for Terminator 2. The controversy was covered by the Los Angeles Times The Boston Herald, and The Guardian, as well as in online forums.
In a deleted scene of the episode "The Demon Hand", the first details of Sarah's childhood are revealed during a session with Dr. Peter Silberman. When she was seven, her father—a chronically depressed war veteran—loses his mattress factory job to a machine, which leads to dysfunction within her family and her father's subsequent abandonment of them. Her mother finds a job as a waitress. Even as a child, Sarah has an intense technophobia. After her father leaves, Sarah stops spending her afternoons with her childhood friend whose father is an engineer with IBM. Instead, she takes to visiting the factory where her own father had worked to watch the gears and belts of the machines, knowing something is wrong with what she sees.
The "Pilot" episode of The Sarah Connor Chronicles picks up Sarah and John on the run in 1999. Her FBI file lists her age as 33 on August 24, 1999, placing her birth date between August 25, 1965, and August 23, 1966, and making her age 17 or 18 when John was conceived in The Terminator. She claims in "Strange Things Happen at the One Two Point", whether truthfully or not, to have been 19 when John was born (around nine months later). Due to the forward time-travel jump in "Pilot", Sarah and John are now eight years younger than their birth-dates would otherwise indicate.
In the "Gnothi Seauton" episode, Cameron Phillips mentions that Sarah would have died from cancer on December 4, 2005, if they had not jumped forward in time. Cameron also mentions that John Connor sent Cameron back in time to help leap over Sarah's death. At the end of the episode, Sarah is at a doctor's office, where her forged drivers license shows her alias' birthday as February 4, 1974.
The series opens in 1999, a few years after the events of Terminator 2. Sarah and John Connor seem to be living a peaceful life. Living undercover after being blamed for the murder of Miles Dyson, Sarah is even engaged to paramedic Charley Dixon. However, Sarah, fearing discovery, and perhaps, as John suggests, the certainty of a stable life, forces the two of them to flee again. On his first day in his new school, John is attacked by a T-888 Terminator posing as a substitute teacher called Cromartie. He escapes with the help of Cameron Phillips, a Terminator (in a Skynet-manufactured body that resembles a teenaged girl) sent back in time (by the future John) to protect him. Sarah hears of the shooting and rushes to the school but is captured by Cromartie, who uses her to lure John into a trap. Again with the help of Cameron, they flee to a bank where resistance members have hidden the parts of a time machine. As Cromartie attacks them, the trio disappears into the year 2007.
Cameron suggests to Sarah that their primary mission should be to stop Skynet, estimated to go online in the year 2011. Sarah argues that time traveling was the wrong move and that if she had been allowed to stay in 1999, she would have had longer to prepare John and to prepare to destroy Skynet. It is at this point that Cameron informs her that she would have died from cancer (similar to the film version of Sarah) in 2005. Traveling to the future has served several purposes: it gives Sarah the time she needs to destroy Skynet in its infancy, faking her and John's deaths keeps the authorities from pursuing them, and staying off the grid hides them from Skynet (which is aware that they've travelled through time but doesn't know which year they have been sent). As the three of them attempt to evade discovery and track down the origins of Skynet, Sarah is burdened with the extra knowledge that her own body might betray her. The third episode of the series shows Sarah at a doctor's appointment, where she is informed that she is completely healthy. Nevertheless, she seeks preventative measures from the doctor to avoid cancer altogether. Later episodes show her more intensively training her body, and she is seen taking a handful of vitamins and medications.
Sarah's relationship with Cameron has been repeatedly antagonistic and they share a mutual distrust. As Sarah attempts to teach Cameron the value of a human life, Cameron argues the importance of their mission to thwart Skynet's creation even if killing is necessary. During battles with Terminators programmed to kill the Connors, Sarah and Cameron often find themselves working together. Also, since Cameron is the only other person who knows of her cancer situation, Sarah often approaches her for advice in the matter.
In the episode "Queen's Gambit", she discovers that her deceased lover, Kyle Reese, has a brother named Derek, who is also a time-travelling Resistance agent. Tormented by the memory of being unable to save Kyle, she hopes to save Derek from a similar fate after he is badly wounded by another cyborg (a T-888 Terminator). After she revealed his true identity to John, he seeks the aid of her former fiancé Charley Dixon to save his uncle from dying. It is revealed that despite her knowledge of his connection to Kyle, Sarah continues to harbor distrust of the man, because she does not believe that he didn't murder Andrew "Andy" Goode, who was one of the creators of Skynet. They have an antagonistic relationship because of their opposing approaches to their respective mission to stop Skynet and its machines as well as their importances and concerns in John's life. Despite their mutual distrust, there are some attractions between them.
In "Automatic for the People", Sarah worries that the likelihood of her contracting and dying of cancer has dramatically increased. In the same episode, Sarah meets John's new friend from his English class, Riley, and she is concerned about their friendship, because it potentially risks not only the family's safety from Skynet, but also Riley's safety. Sarah tries to understand the loneliness and isolation from people his own age that John is experiencing. In the next episode, Sarah and Derek aid Charley in rescuing his wife from Cromartie, but she dies from shrapnel injuries received in a bomb explosion. Although the Connors, Derek, and Cameron do not attend her funeral, they do seem to mourn her death at the dinner table.
In episode "Goodbye to All That" Sarah shelters a young boy named Marty Bedell who is being hunted by a T-888 because he shares his name with Martin Bedell, a future high-ranking member of the human resistance. (This is similar to the way two other Sarah Connors were terminated in 1984 because of their name.) Sarah helps Marty read the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for a book report; Cameron suggested the book after finding it on a shelf in their rented house. In "Self-Made Man", Cameron cites the novel when explaining another Terminator's accidental killing of forty-three innocent people in a fire started by his time displacement bubble: "It's just like in the Wizard of Oz, when the house falls on the witch."
The episode "The Tower Is Tall But The Fall Is Short" revealed that the attack from Margos Sarkissian has left John traumatized, because he killed a man to save Sarah and may have considered suicide to escape the violence in his life. Sarah took the blame of Sarkissian's death for John, however, which Derek and Cameron later find out in the mother and son's argument. She never has realized what is happening to her son until an incident involving one of the family's weapons, which he claimed was an accident. Things have changed between them since then. John is having difficulty letting go of his guilt for killing Sarkissian and is withdrawing from people in life. Sarah is realizing that she cannot always be able to protect her son. At first, she was reluctant to seek psychiatric aid for John and herself, possibly because of her experience from Pescadero Institution, but eventually she sought counsel from family psychiatrist Boyd Sherman, and then she found out the doctor's role in Skynet's future.
In the next episode, she is kidnapped by Cromartie, but she is rescued by John and James Ellison, the same FBI agent who was originally determined to bring her to justice. Along with Derek and Cameron, they devise a plan in which Ellison lures Cromartie into a nearby church. Sarah and Derek land multiple shots from the upper windows, Cameron comes in and blows the left side of its head off with a shotgun, and John finishes it off with a Desert Eagle. After burying Cromartie with the intent on coming back to destroy it later, Sarah maniacally smashes his CPU with her MP5. Her stress after the battle with Cromartie results in nightmares and sleepwalking. She visits Dr. Sherman again but is unable to be honest with him due to secrecy. She remembers a part of the dreams where there's a three-dotted symbol. She has seen this before: it was left by a dying Resistance soldier in her basement.
Sarah's obsession with the three-dotted symbol led her to Dakara Systems, a technology company whose logo includes the symbol (episode "Strange Things Happen At One Two Point"). There, Alexander Agagi II, son of the CEO, Alexander Agagi, is developing an artificial intelligence program, named "Emma" after his late mother. It is also revealed that the technology was based on that of the winning Japanese team (who beat Andy Goode's "Turk" program in a chess tournament before his death). However, its CEO conned her money, and his son's technology revealed to be useless, which shocked the young Agagi. Realizing that she has been chasing a wrong lead, as Derek and Cameron have suggested previously, Sarah's stress has begun to be uncontrollable, and she smashed mirrors in her bathroom. Derek also has begun to question if Sarah is losing her sanity (or already has, as he knew her history in a mental hospital from John).
On the episode "Earthlings Welcome Here", she attended a UFO convention to further her investigation with the three-dotted sign. This led her to a woman named Eileen, who was later revealed to be Alan Park, a scientist who specialized in Light Detection and Ranging, an optical remote sensing technology used for robots. After he completed his work for an anonymous company, he found himself being targeted by someone. In fear of his life, he changed his identity and underwent sex reassignment surgery. He was convinced that it had something to do with the project for his former employer, and that the drone sightings within Mojave Desert area were a government conspiracy, because the technology he was working with at the company was so advanced that it shouldn't have existed. He revealed that the company sent a blacked out van to pick him up, along with other people, every morning and drove them to an office/facility. Sarah took him to a hypnotherapist, Dr. Barbara Morris, to unravel his memories to find out the location of the facility. An assassin arrived during the session and murdered Dr. Morris and Park. However, Sarah recorded the session with her tape recorder and used the clues he revealed, which led her to a warehouse. As she entered the building, she fought a man, Ed Winston, who works there. During the struggle, Sarah apparently accidentally killed him, but not before he wounded her leg. As she crawled outside the warehouse, she saw three bright dots in the sky. Later as she got a better look, and realized the three dots are hauls of a craft: a Hunter-Killer from the future. In the episode, "The Good Wound," she kidnapped and forced a doctor, Felicia Burnett, to remove the bullet from her leg, and then she told Derek to destroy all the evidence of her being hospitalized to prevent the authorities and the machines from learning her identity and tracking her. After Derek found her, Sarah finally decided to tell Derek of his relation to John, but he revealed he already knew. Later, on episode "Desert Cantos," the family arrives at the company town, Charm Acres, looking for potential survivors of the warehouse's explosion. At the end of their search, Sarah, John, Derek, and Cameron are shocked to see a Hunter-Killer drone, the same machine Sarah saw earlier.
In the episode "Some Must Watch While Some Must Sleep", it is revealed that Ed Winston survived the gun wound delivered by Sarah. Following a lead from Charm Acres, Sarah went to the Western Iron & Metal factory, where Winston kidnapped her. He then subjected her to hallucinogenic drugs to find out why she apparently bombed the factory and who her accomplices are. After enduring Winston's physical and psychological torments, Sarah breaks free and attacks him. Sarah overcomes Winston and shoots him in the head, killing him for real this time. At the end of the episode "Adam Raised A Cain", she is arrested by the police, being beaten in the process, and is taken to jail.
During the second season (and series) finale, Sarah is rescued from jail by John and Cameron. Sarah accompanies the two to go see the T-1001 impersonating Catherine Weaver, where it is hinted at that she is in fact not building Skynet but is building something like it in the hopes of defeating Skynet. This hearkens back to the episode "Today is the Day", where we find out that future John was trying to forge an alliance with a resistance movement among the machines themselves. But before Sarah can find out more, the prototype Hunter-Killer from earlier in the season assaults the building, forcing the group to escape. Meanwhile, in the building's basement Cameron gives her A.I. chip to Weaver's creation, now stored in the exhumed Cromartie's body, who takes it into the future. John finds Cameron's empty shell lying in the basement and repeating message on the large computer monitors reading "I'm sorry, John". John discovers he cannot just let her go. In an attempt to save both Cameron and Weaver's creation, both John Connor and Catherine Weaver go to the future after the Cromartie shell, while Sarah sadly stays behind to continue the fight in our time.
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