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Sarah Jeanette Connor is a fictional character, the heroine of the first two Terminator films and the television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. She was played by Americanmarker actress Linda Hamilton in the films and by Englishmarker actress Lena Headey in the TV series.

Character history

Early life

Also Known as Sarah Janet Fite Harris,Very little is known about Sarah's age prior to May 12, 1984 (see "birth and death", below). 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 Terminator

In The Terminator, Sarah Connor is a young Los Angelesmarker waitress who finds herself inexplicably 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 being 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 Skynetmarker 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 innovated 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 (Reese - who, unbeknownst to him, is John's father) 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, having been given a picture of her by John Connor, and having 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 her, his sincerity and courage inspires Sarah 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 given to Kyle Reese by John Connor.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Sarah Connor next appears in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, ten years after the events of Terminator. She and John have been separated from each other. John is 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, extremely violent 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. She dropped off the grid to better protect herself and John. She lived a semi-criminal life among various outlaws and survivalists and 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. 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 of the same model which tried to murder her, and was sent back to protect them. When she initially encounters the T-800 she flees in terror, but 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, thus killing 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.

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 regains her humanity and does not kill Dyson. 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. The Terminator then, with the help of Sarah Connor, lets himself be destroyed, despite the protests of the young John. It is at this point that Sarah finally comes to respect the T-800, and offers her hand in friendship to a comrade and brother warrior before his final sacrifice, which he takes. She is last seen holding her son, and comforting him upon the T-800's destruction.

In the first Terminator movie, it is mentioned that Sarah was a legend among members of the resistance, teaching her son to fight and organize while they were still in hiding prior to the war. An alternate epilogue to Terminator 2 shows her living to become a grandmother. That ending, however, was not included in the theatrical release.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Sarah Connor has died, having succumbed to acute myeloid leukaemia in 1997, after the events of Terminator 2, following 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 was cremated in Mexicomarker. Her ashes were spread at sea. Never truly believing that they had beaten Skynet, even at the end, 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.

  • Terminator 3 follows a different storyline to the events in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (see below). In particular, whilst Sarah Connor died from terminal leukemia in 1997 Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, she is still alive in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. (See also Birth and death, with mention that Sarah would have died in 2005, had they not jumped forward in time).

Terminator Salvation

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.

Director McG implied that Sarah Connor could return in future installments of the new trilogy. He revealed that the fifth film would likely be about Connor himself timetravelling to 2011 and be an exploration of a "survivalist creature in our world doing his best to bring the world up to speed on an impending doom... and one could argue he meets his mother. I strongly suspect Linda Hamilton to be the star of the next film." Whether or not this retcons her death as told in Terminator 3 is unknown.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

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.

First season

The series opens in 1999, a few years after the events of T2. 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 disappear 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 given Sarah the time she needs to destroy Skynet in its infancy, faking her and John's deaths to keep the authorities from pursuing them, and to stay off the grid from Skynet despite it aware that they've travelled through time yet don't know which point in the timeline they are at. 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 also 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, seeing as 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 fiance 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, which is later confirmed. Currently, 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 of she's not yet aware that Derek has already deduced of his relation to her son and begins their relationship). Despite their mutual distrust, there are some attractions between them.

Second season

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 is concerned about their friendship because it potentially risks the family's safety from Skynet, but Riley's as well. 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. While 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, just as 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: "Its 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 as 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 since until an incident involving with one of the family's weapons, which he claimed was an accident. Things have changed between them since then, as John is having difficulty of letting go of his guilt for killing Sarkissian and withdrawing from people in life, and Sarah's realization 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 sought counsel from family psychiatrist Boyd Sherman, along with finding 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 FBImarker 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, which she discovers she have seen them before 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 three-dot symbol, on the episode "Strange Things Happen At One Two Point". There, Alexander Agagi II, son of the CEO, Alexander Agagi, is developing an artificial intelligence program under "Emma," named after his late mother. It is also revealed that the technology was based from the winning Japanese team's whom Andy Goode's Turk program were against during 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. Realize that she has been chasing a wrong lead, as Derek and Cameron have suggested previously, her stress has begun to be uncontrollable as 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, which 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 with his former employer, and the drone sightings within Mojave Desert area and government conspiracy as the technology he was working with at the company was so advanced, 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. It led her to a warehouse. As she entered the building, she fought a man, Ed Winston, who works there and 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, and later as she got a good look, the three dots are hauls of a craft: a Hunter-Killer. On the episode, "The Good Wound," she kidnapped and forced a doctor, Felicia Burnett, to remove the bullet from her leg, and told Derek on the phone to destroyed all the evidence of her being hospitalized to prevent the authorities and the machines of 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 to 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 of seeing a Hunter Killer drone, the same machine Sarah saw earlier.

On episode "Some Must Watch While Some Must Sleep," reveals that Ed Winston survived the gun wound delivered by Sarah. While following a lead from Charm Acres led her to Western Iron & Metal factory, Winston kidnapped her. He then subjected her with 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, harkening 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. Finding Cameron's empty shell lying in the basement, and an ever-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 stays behind, sadly, to continue the fight in our time.

Birth and death

The various Terminator film and television productions have given varying—and in some cases mutually exclusive—details for Sarah's age and birth date.

The Terminator film itself never specifies an age or birth date for Sarah Conner, 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 of 1984, so based only on the script, her birth date is 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.

The alternate ending for Terminator 2—available on the Ultimate Edition DVD—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.

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; and that 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).

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 8, 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 the TSCC "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, had they 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.

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