The Terminator is set on May 12, 1984, when two robotic machines from 2029 come to Los Angeles. The first one is Terminator T-800 Model 101, set to kill Sarah Connor while the other one is the soldier Kyle Reese, sworn to protect Sarah from the Terminator. The Terminator kills a bunch of people including two women who are named Sarah Connor. The cyborg finds Sarah in a nightclub and before it can kill her, Kyle comes to the rescue.
As they escape, Kyle informs Sarah that in the future, a program known as the Skynet will develop self-awareness and will start a nuclear holocaust. In addition, it turns out that Sarah’s son, John, will become the leader of the resistance against Skynet and its army of machines. The resistance is about to win the war in the future that is why Skynet has sent the Terminator to the past to kill Sarah and prevent the emergence of John into the world.
The Terminator continues to pursue them and the car chase causes Kyle and Sarah to hit a wall. The police arrive and apprehend Kyle and Sarah. A criminal psychologist named Dr. Silberman examines Kyle and diagnoses him to be mentally disturbed. On the other hand, Sarah is interrogated by Lieutenant Traxler and Sergeant Vukovich. In search for Sarah, the Terminator makes an attack on the police station and kills a number of police officers in the process. Kyle and Sarah manage to escape. They end up in a motel where they makes pipe bombs that they will use against the terminator. There, Kyle also reveals his feelings for Sarah.
The Terminator tracks them down again and as it chases them again, Kyle hurls the pipe bombs at the cyborg. He, on the other hand is struck by a bullet. Sarah hits the Terminator’s motorcycle with the truck she’ driving. The Terminator recovers but it is hit by gasoline tanker truck rushing by. The cyborg steals the truck and carry on chasing them. Kyle then slips a bomb on the tanker and the truck explodes with the cyborg still in it. The Terminator gets up amidst the flames but it collapses after a few moments.
Even though it sustains massive burns, the Terminator recovers and chases Kyle to a factory. Kyle tries to hits the cyborg with a metal pipe but he ends up taking a blow from the Terminator. In the middle of his confusion, Kyle manages to slip his last final pipe bomb into the Terminator’s body. The explosion heavily damages the Terminator and kills Kyle while Sarah is heavily injured as well. Though heavily mangled by the explosion, the Terminator gets up again and chases the wounded Sarah. Sarah leads the cyborg into a hydraulic press and uses it to destroy the machine. Later, an ambulance arrives to take Sarah and Kyle’s body away. The authorities also come to retrieve what remains of the Terminator.
The movie end with a pregnant Sarah traveling to Mexico. On her journey, she makes audio recordings that she will pass on to her soon to be child, John. At a gas station, a child snaps a photograph of her that will eventually end up in John’s hand in the future.