The Terminator – Save the cat beat sheet

Opening Image – Machines crushing human skulls. Machines dominating humans in a futuristic world of no hope.

Theme Stated – Sarah’s co-worker says “In a hundred years, who’s gonna care?” It implies that what they are doing today is unimportant but soon we are going to find out that we do today is going to be important for the future.

Set up – The Terminator and Kyle Reese arrive from the future, one to kill, the other to protect Sarah Connor, a waitress.

Catalyst – The Terminator kills a woman named Sarah Connor and Sarah sees it on the news.

Debate – She ignores the first incident when one of the other Sarah Connors is killed but panics when the second one is killed and calls the police.

Break into two – The Terminator attempts to kill Sarah and Kyle jumps into to protect her. “Come with me if you want to live.” Sarah makes the decision to go with Kyle to get away from the Terminator.

B-Story – The love story between Kyle and Sarah.

Fun and Games – A couple of chase scenes trying to escape The Terminator and exposition revealed through action.

Midpoint – They are taken into police custody. Sarah is told by the police psychiatrist that Kyle is crazy and she begins to believe them, however, the Terminator blasts his way through the station killing everyone. Kyle finds her and she clings to him for her life. For the rest of the film she is totally committed to believing Kyle.

Bad Guys close in – They run away and hide from the Terminator who returns to his hotel room to repair himself. (I know, this is the opposite of  Bad Guys closing in because they are putting distance between themselves and the Terminator but I think the mid point of the film is definitely Sarah committing to Reece and trusting him completely with her life. But where does this leave the beat of Bad guys close in? You could argue I suppose that the Mid point is when they are taken into police custody and it’s a down moment but I think it fits better. Please feel free to argue you point in the comments section if you have a different opinion.)

All is lost – Sarah unknowingly gives away their location thinking she’s talking to her mother.

Dark Night of the soul – Sarah is down, she worries that the Terminator will never stop until he kills her. Kyle tells her he’s always respected her as the woman who trained John and more importantly that he’s loved her all this time. They make love.

Break into three – The Terminator has tracked them down to the hotel

Rally the troops – They construct weapons with the supplies Reece bought.

Storm the castle – Another chase involving hand made dynamite, crashing and swapping vehicles, eventually blowing up the truck the Terminator hijacked.

High tower surprise – The Terminator emerges from the fire of the truck.

Dig down deep – They run into the factory and must battle the Terminator’s skeleton

Victory or defeat – “You’re terminated f@cker!” and crushes him to death. (Removed from the theatrical cut was the scene where Cyberdine engineers discover the chip and the hand of the crushed Terminator)

Final image – She’s alive and preparing for the war against humanity with the unborn child inside her. There is some hope for the future.


Compare with

The Terminator  – The hero’s journey stages

One Reply to “The Terminator – Save the cat beat sheet”

  1. I’m glad to find someone has broken this classic down However, I find theme stated is “You’re gonna die” on page 8. Terminator was written back when films were allowed to develop slower. So theme is not on page 5. It is on page 8. “You’re gonna die” tells us this is a story of Sarah fighting to survive. In order to do so she must evolve into the person Kyle Reese knows her to be. This culminates in her being the one who actually kills the machine. Her survival occurs when she becomes the Sarah Connor of the future. Her story represents the story of mankind in the franchise. Evolving so we can survive.

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