Hayes was originally a journalist who worked for a time in New York. He met director George Miller when he did the novelisation of the script to Mad Max (1979). He and Miller got on well and the director subsequently hired Hayes to help on the script for Mad Max 2 (1981). Hayes went on to become an in-house writer for Kennedy Miller, working on the scripts for all their subsequent mini-series. He also wrote the script for Dead Calm (1989).
He wrote the unused screenplay of Planet of the Apes, titled Return of the Apes in 1994.
His debut novel, I Am Pilgrim was published by Transworld Publishers on 18 July 2013. That same month, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired the film rights to the novel with Hayes attached to adapt it into a screenplay. He is also working on a stand-alone novel entitled The Year of the Locust.
- Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) - co-script
- The Dismissal (1983) (TV mini-series)
- Bodyline (1984) (TV mini-series)
- The Cowra Breakout (1984) (TV mini-series) - producer only
- Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) - also producer
- The Riddle of the Stinson (1987) (TV movie) - producer only
- The Year My Voice Broke (1987) - producer only
- Vietnam (1987) (TV mini-series) - also producer
- Dirtwater Dynasty (1988) (TV mini-series) - also producer
- The Clean Machine (1988) (TV movie) - also producer
- Fragments of War: The Story of Damien Parer (1988) (TV movie) - producer only
- Dead Calm (1989) - also producer
- Bangkok Hilton (1989) (TV mini-series) - also producer
- Flirting (1991) - producer only
- Mr. Reliable (1996) - also producer
- Payback (1999)
- Vertical Limit (2000)
- From Hell (2001)
- I Am Pilgrim (2013)
- The Year of the Locust (2018)
- David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p82
- Scott Murray, "Terry Hayes: Interweaving the Fabric", Cinema Papers, November 1989 p25-29, 76
- "MGM Acquires Terry Hayes Thriller 'I Am Pilgrim'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation. 17 July 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
- Cooper, Elise (7 June 2014). "Q&A With Terry Hayes". Crimespree Magazine. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
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