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The Real Reason The Terminator's Hairstyle Changes

"The Terminator" (1984) is notable for its glossy-but-gritty take on the action genre. The battle between an apocalyptic future war between man and machine and the hope of a brighter day – embodied in the soul of one ordinary woman, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), who is set to give birth to a future resistance leader – is explored in electrifying and bloody detail. Director James Cameron balances horror, action, science fiction, romance, and moments of character study in a single film, an impressive feat if there ever was one.

The titular Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), AKA the T-800, goes through some hard-to-notice physical changes throughout the first move. It takes a few viewings before you realize that his hair ends up getting singed off after some rough and tumble action between Connor, the Terminator, and time-traveling future fighter (and father of John Connor) Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn). But what's the reason behind this change in looks for a character that would soon become so ionic? The answer may surprise you.

Gradually terminating the machine's human exterior

"The Terminator" is the only volume in the iconic film series where the hair of the T-800 is changed in a dramatic way, according to Screen Rant. The change occurs after Reese blows up a car, allowing for a quick escape for himself and Sarah. When the T-800 jumps through the resultant flames, parts of his eyebrows and his hair are scorched off. 

This signals two things to the viewer – the fact that the seemingly invulnerable machine can take some damage, and that there is unfathomable inhumanity that lies extent and waiting beneath the human exterior of the T-800. And that's not the only bit of damage it manages to incur throughout the movie. As the bullet holes, burn marks, and indentations begin to mount up, more and more of the metallic center of the cyborg is exposed.

Eventually, the Terminator is nothing but a deadly metal exoskeleton to be vanquished – something that Sarah and Kyle have to do as a team before Sarah can face a challenging future and the T-800 can be reborn into a much more catchphrase-friendly future.