Sarah Connor in jeep as the photograph is taken, from Terminator.

Intro

This story offers us a lot of information that should allow us to date these events with some accuracy. We will have some issues working out the sequencing. By carefully reading the data given, and taking deleted scenes into consideration, we should be able to get an accurate accounting.

 

Events

Opening Chyron: Los Angeles 1984 1:52 a.m.It begins... When the T-800 arrives we are told that it is 1:52 am and that it is 1984.
Kyle pointing gun at police officer."What day is it? The date!" Kyle arrives shortly after this. Within minutes of arriving, Kyle confronts a police officer and asks the date, the officer says "12th...May...Thursday".
Headed for Jeff's. As Sarah is driving to work, we see medium long shadows indicating either mid-morning or mid‑afternoon.
Close up of Sarah's timecard."I'm late!" When Sarah clocks in at work her time card says "Pay period ending 5/19/84".
Sarah serving customers."Who gets the Burly Beef?" In the ice cream incident the customer's watch appears to read 4:00.
Sarah in the breakroom watching the news."You're gonna love this!" When Sarah is on break at work, and hears about the first Sarah Connor killing, the clock says 5:08.
Shot of construction site at sunset where Kyle falls asleep.Sunset at the construction site. Kyle falls asleep just after sunset.
Sarah with Pugsley over her shoulder."Pugsley still loves me." When Sarah gets stood up by her date that evening, Ginger says "It's Friday night, for Christ's sake!".
Vukovich giving Traxler the files on the killings."What do you got?" When Traxler first hears about the killings, the clock says 8:10. He refers to them as the "one day pattern killer".
Traxler talking to Vukovich."Call her again!" In the police station scene, after Sarah goes out to the movies, the clock says 9:40.
Lt. Traxler."How do I look?" Traxler wants to get on the news before 11:00.
Sarah watching news report at pizza parlor."35-year-old Sarah Ann Connor was pronouned dead at the scene..." Sarah hears about the second killing while at the pizza parlor, possibly the 10:00 news.
Close up of Sarah's student ID.Wonder what she was studying? Sarah's college ID says "Spring 1984".
Sarah at Tech Noir calling the police."I'll have a car there in a hot minute." When Sarah finally contacts Traxler from Tech Noir, her watch appears to read 11:15.
Sarah at the police station watching Kyle's video."So Reese is crazy?" When Sarah is watching Kyle's interview tape, her watch appears to read 2:15.
Lt. Traxler."Stay here!" After Sarah beds down at the police station, she is awakened by the arrival of the T‑800, the clock says 3:17.
Kyle and Sarah in stolen car as it runs out of gas."KFLB Newstime 4:36" When Sarah and Kyle ditch the car before spending the night under the bridge, the radio tells us it's 4:36.
Sarah in phone booth talking to her mother."I want you to grab a few things and go to the cabin for a few days." In a deleted scene, after leaving the bridge, it is daytime. Kyle attempts to start a truck. Sarah calls her mother and tells her to go to Big Bear.
Kyle handing Sarah cash as they arrive at the Tiki Motel."Is this enough?" When Sarah and Kyle get dropped off at the Tiki Motel it appears, by the length of shadows, to be either early morning or late afternoon.
Sarah after taking shower talking to her mother on the phone in the motel room.Talking to the T-800. While Kyle is out getting supplies, Sarah phones her mother who is now at the cabin in Big Bear.
Kyle and Sarah building bombs in motel room."I'm in your world now." In a deleted scene, while they are making the bombs, Kyle says they will leave at 0200 and that leaves 4 hours for Sarah to sleep.
Kyle and Sarah as T-800 arrives at motel.Dog starts barking... It is dark when they are preparing to leave the Tiki, are found and chased by the T‑800.
Sarah on gurney being wheeled out of robotics facility.Poor kid... It is light when Sarah is taken out of the factory.
Sarah in jeep talking into tape recorder.Talking to John. In the final scene, while making the tape for John, Sarah says "Tape 7, November 10th"
When the T-800 arrives we are told that it is 1:52 am and that it is 1984.
Opening Chyron: Los Angeles 1984 1:52 a.m.
It begins...
Kyle arrives shortly after this. Within minutes of arriving, Kyle confronts a police officer and asks the date, the officer says "12th...May...Thursday".
Kyle pointing gun at police officer.
"What day is it? The date!"
As Sarah is driving to work, we see medium long shadows indicating either mid-morning or mid‑afternoon.

Headed for Jeff's.
When Sarah clocks in at work her time card says "Pay period ending 5/19/84".
Close up of Sarah's timecard.
"I'm late!"
In the ice cream incident the customer's watch appears to read 4:00.
Sarah serving customers.
"Who gets the Burly Beef?"
When Sarah is on break at work, and hears about the first Sarah Connor killing, the clock says 5:08.
Sarah in the breakroom watching the news.
"You're gonna love this!"
Kyle falls asleep just after sunset.
Shot of construction site at sunset where Kyle falls asleep.
Sunset at the construction site.
When Sarah gets stood up by her date that evening, Ginger says "It's Friday night, for Christ's sake!".
Sarah with Pugsley over her shoulder.
"Pugsley still loves me."
When Traxler first hears about the killings, the clock says 8:10. He refers to them as the "one day pattern killer".
Vukovich giving Traxler the files on the killings.
"What do you got?"
In the police station scene, after Sarah goes out to the movies, the clock says 9:40.
Traxler talking to Vukovich.
"Call her again!"
Traxler wants to get on the news before 11:00.
Lt. Traxler.
"How do I look?"
Sarah hears about the second killing while at the pizza parlor, possibly the 10:00 news.
Sarah watching news report at pizza parlor.
"35-year-old Sarah Ann Connor was pronounced dead at the scene..."
Sarah's college ID says "Spring 1984".
Close up of Sarah's student ID.
Wonder what she was studying?
When Sarah finally contacts Traxler from Tech Noir, her watch appears to read 11:15.
Sarah at Tech Noir calling the police.
"I'll have a car there in a hot minute."
When Sarah is watching Kyle's interview tape, her watch appears to read 2:15.
Sarah at the police station watching Kyle's video.
"So Reese is crazy?"
After Sarah beds down at the police station, she is awakened by the arrival of the T‑800, the clock says 3:17.
Lt. Traxler.
"Stay here!"
When Sarah and Kyle ditch the car before spending the night under the bridge, the radio tells us it's 4:36.
Kyle and Sarah in stolen car as it runs out of gas.
"KFLB Newstime 4:36"
In a deleted scene, after leaving the bridge, it is daytime. Kyle attempts to start a truck. Sarah calls her mother and tells her to go to Big Bear.
Sarah in phone booth talking to her mother.
"I want you to grab a few things and go to the cabin for a few days."
When Sarah and Kyle get dropped off at the Tiki Motel it appears, by the length of shadows, to be either early morning or late afternoon.
Kyle handing Sarah cash as they arrive at the Tiki Motel.
"Is this enough?"
While Kyle is out getting supplies, Sarah phones her mother who is now at the cabin in Big Bear.
Sarah after taking shower talking to her mother on the phone in the motel room.
Talking to the T-800.
In a deleted scene, while they are making the bombs, Kyle says they will leave at 0200 and that leaves 4 hours for Sarah to sleep.
Kyle and Sarah building bombs in motel room.
"I'm in your world now."
It is dark when they are preparing to leave the Tiki, are found and chased by the T‑800.
Kyle and Sarah as T-800 arrives at motel.
Dog starts barking...
It is light when Sarah is taken out of the factory.
Sarah on gurney being wheeled out of robotics facility.
Poor kid...
In the final scene, while making the tape for John, Sarah says "Tape 7, November 10th"
Sarah in jeep talking into tape recorder.
Talking to John.

Notes

The display of the year 1984 and the police officer saying "12th...May...Thursday" seems definitive. The problem with this is that May 12th, 1984 fell on a Saturday not on a Thursday.

Therefore, at least part of this is incorrect. Either it is not 1984, it is not May, it is not the 12th and/or it is not Thursday.

  • Not 1984
  • The screen clearly states that its 1984, Sarah's time card says 1984 and Sarah's student ID is for 1984. Additionally, when we examine the other stories, they all refer to events as occurring in 1984.
    Therefore, we can be certain that Terminator takes place in 1984.
  • Not May
  • Sarah's time card clearly indicates that it is May. As her time card reads "Pay period ending 5/19/84" we can assume that these events took place between Sunday the 13th and Saturday the 19th, if she was paid weekly, or between Sunday the 6th and Saturday the 19th if she was paid every two weeks.
    Either way, we can be confident that it is May.
  • Not Thursday
  • Ginger says "It's Friday night, for Christs sake!". This occurs the same day that the Terminators arrive, the killings begin and we see Sarah at work. Therefore, the Thursday part of the officer's date is incorrect.
    We accept that the day is Friday.
  • Not the 12th
  • As the 12th falls on a Saturday in May 1984, and we know the day is Friday, this part of the officer's date is wrong as well. We are certain that it was not the 12th.

Assuming that it is Friday and not the 12th, we have to explain how the officer thought it was Thursday the 12th. The confrontation with Kyle occurs sometime around 2:00 am, very early Friday morning. If the officer came on duty the evening before, that is, late Thursday evening, he might understandably think of it as Thursday even though it is after midnight, and therefore already Friday. To the officer, this is his Thursday shift.

If we assume that Sarah was on a two-week schedule this Friday would have to be either the 11th or the 18th. If we go with the 11th then the officer is only a single day off on the date, and this we don't find hard to believe, especially as he was staring down the barrel of his own gun.

Given all of this, we can state that the events in Terminator began on Friday, May 11th, 1984.

Working out the sequencing is a bit tricky and we need to look at several deleted scenes to understand exactly where events take place.

It would appear that the T‑800 and Kyle arrive early in the morning of the same day that we see Sarah going to work. There is no reason to think otherwise. Traxler's statement about a "one day pattern killer" tells us that both Sarah Connor killings happened on the same day. Therefore, Sarah's hearing about the second killing at the pizza parlor takes place the same day that she hears about the first killing while at work.

Sarah's arrival at work, then, is most likely is mid-afternoon which fits with the shadows as she is riding her scooter. She is probably working the dinner shift, say 3:00 to 7:00. She gets in late, around 3:15 pm. Shortly after this the T‑800 steals the car and gets the addresses of Sarah Connors.

At 4:00 pm Sarah has the ice cream episode and we then see the T‑800 buying guns. The owner of the shop states that he "might close early". The first Sarah Connor, Sarah Louis Connor, is killed very shortly after this as, an hour later at 5:08 pm, Sarah hears about this killing while on break.

(It is true that the gun shop owner's watch appears to say 6:00, but that simply won't work. If the Terminator is buying guns at 6:00 Sarah cannot hear about the first shooting while on break at 5:08. It is possible that the clock in the break room is incorrect but it seems more likely that the shop owner's watch is incorrect rather than the break room clock at the restaurant.)

The second Sarah Connor, Sarah Ann Connor, is killed sometime before 8:00 as Detective Vukovich tells Lieutenant Traxler about both kiilings at 8:10.

Sarah gets off work at 7:00 pm as she is able to go home and shower all before Traxler is told about the killings at 8:10 pm. Also around this time we see Kyle at the construction site getting a car, sleeping and dreaming. This occurs just after sunset which would be around 8:00 pm, sunset on May 11, 1984 occurred at 7:44 pm. Sarah finds out that she has been stood up for her date, changes clothes and says she's going to the movies leaving her apartment around 8:15 - 8:30 pm.

At 9:40 pm, Sarah gets out of the movie and goes to the pizza parlor. Traxler attempts to contact her. Matt and Ginger are busy and ignore the phone. Traxler decides to make a statement to reporters hoping to get on the tube before 11:00.

Around 10:00 pm while eating pizza Sarah hears the special announcement on the news.

This just in. Police have announced the name of the victim of the second of two execution style murders that took place today ...
Two hours ago 35-year-old Sarah Ann Connor was was pronounced dead at the scene ...

Sarah attempts to phone, leaves and walks, finally entering Tech Noir shortly after 10:00 pm. She calls Ginger and leaves a message, then attempts to contact the police - "they keep transferring me". She finally reaches Traxler around 11:15 pm.

While waiting for the police, the T-800 arrives, Kyle rescues Sarah and they escape. The T-800 chases them, as do the police, and it takes about 30 minutes until the police finally catch them, around 11:45 or so.

So, the timing of Day 1 works out. A more puzzling problem occurs with Day 2 after Sarah and Kyle leave the police station. They leave around 3:20 am and arrive under the bridge around 4:40 am. When they leave the bridge it is early morning. The next scene we see them in they are arriving at the Tiki Motel and it is either early morning or late afternoon by the shadows.

If they arrive at the Tiki in the early morning what do they do all day? Kyle goes out for supplies as soon as they arrive, they build bombs, make love and then prepare to leave. When they leave it is night time. We have no explanation of what transpired all day long. If they arrived at the Tiki in late afternoon or early evening, what were they doing all day after they left the bridge?

In a deleted scene Sarah is calling her mother urging her to go the cabin in Big Bear. This scene takes place either mid-morning or mid-afternoon. While Kyle is attempting to start a vehicle, Sarah gets Cyberdyne's address from a phone book. The address in the phonebook is Sunnyvale. Additionally, in the parking lot is a trash dumpster on which is a sticker that says "Santa Clara Disposal". Later, when Sarah is calling her mother from the Tiki Motel, she gives the area code as 408, this the area code for Santa Clara.

Therefore, in this scene Kyle and Sarah must be somewhere in Santa Clara county and fairly close to Sunnyvale and Cyberdyne. They must have spent the night outside of Los Angeles, gotten another vehicle, perhaps the grey truck Kyle is trying to fix in the deleted scene, and driven north to Santa Clara county. The deleted scene takes place in mid-afternoon. Sarah is arguing with Kyle that they should blow up Cyberdyne and prevent the war. (In another deleted scene we learn that the factory in which they crushed the T‑800 is indeed Cyberdyne. This tells us that Sarah is successful in convincing Kyle that they should try.)

Sarah tells Kyle she can get them a ride hitchhiking and when they arrive at the Tiki Motel they get out of a semi which must be one of the rides they got. Therefore they arrive at the Tiki in the early evening.

Now the sequencing makes sense. They leave the police station around 3:30 am and drive for a little over an hour, ditching the car at 4:36 am. They spend the rest of the night under a bridge. When they leave the bridge they commandeer a vehicle and drive north. The vehicle finally quits somewhere in Santa Clara county. This is where Sarah calls her mother and where they fight over whether to attempt to blow up Cyberdyne, finally decide to do so, and hitchhike to Sunnyvale. They arrive at the Tiki Motel early in the evening.

Kyle goes out for supplies, Sarah showers and calls her mother who has had time since the afternoon call to actually get to the cabin in Big Bear. Kyle returns and they spend a couple of hours building bombs up to around 10:00 pm.

Another troubling fact now makes sense. Sarah calls her mother from the Tiki Motel sometime around 7:00 pm. Although she doesn't realize it, she is actually talking to the T‑800. The T‑800 doesn't arrive until around 2:00 am, 7 hours later. It would take the T‑800 about this long to drive from Big Bear to Santa Clara.

So, now we have the sequencing for Day 2 - Saturday, May 12th 1984. This means that the chase scene and the factory fight take place on Sunday, May 13th 1984 very early in the morning.

Timeline

Friday, May 11th, 1984
1:52 am T‑800 arrives
2:00 am Kyle arrives, confronts officer
3:15 pm Sarah goes to work, T‑800 steals car and gets addresses
4:00 pm The ice cream incident, T-800 buys guns
4:30 pm Sarah Louise Connor shot
5:08 pm Sarah hears about the first killing
7:00 pm Sarah gets off work
7:30 pm Sarah Ann Connor shot
8:10 pm Traxler learns about killings
8:30 pm Sarah gets stood up and goes to movies
9:40 pm Traxler and Vukovich attempt to contact Sarah. Sarah gets out of movie, goes to get pizza.
9:45 pm Traxler decides to tell media about second Sarah Connor
10:00 pm Sarah hears about second killing on news bulletin, goes to Tech Noir, calls Ginger just after Ginger and Matt are killed.
11:15 pm Sarah finally talks to Traxler. Terminator arrives, fight and flight.

 

Saturday, May 12th 1984
12:00 am Kyle and Sarah at the police station
12:00 - 2:30 am Kyle interviewed, Sarah interviewed, Sarah sees Kyle's tape, Sarah beds down in Traxler's office
3:17 am T‑800 arrives at station, Kyle and Sarah escape
4:36 am Kyle and Sarah ditch car and spend night under bridge
Day They get a vehicle and drive north to Santa Clara
Mid afternoon Kyle tries to get a vehicle, Sarah calls her mother, they decide to try to blow up Cyberdyne
7:00 pm They arrive at the Tiki Motel, Kyle out for supplies, Sarah showers, calls mother at Big Bear
10:00 pm Building bombs, Sarah tries to sleep

 

Sunday, May 13th, 1984
Before 2:00 am Sarah and Kyle talk, make love
2:00 am Terminator arrives at Tiki Motel, chase to factory, Terminator crushed, Kyle killed
After dawn Sarah wheeled out of factory

 

Saturday, November 10th, 1984
Daytime Sarah stops at gas station while dictating Tape 7 to John