In the beginning of the first movie the Terminator​ starts killing all the 'Sarah Connors' he can find because he has no information on what the real Sarah looks like. Later he breaks into the apartment of the 'right' Sarah. Although he doesn't find her, he does see her picture and from that moment the machine looks for Sarah based on her appearance.

But what if Sarah tried to disguise herself? For example, with a mask that would hide her facial features or with clothes that would cover her almost completely? Would it be possible for her to remain unrecognised when the terminator sees her or there are some additional aspects of her personality that the Terminator uses for recognition?

  • 1
    If not, they'd be terrible at hide & seek.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jan 11, 2020 at 17:57

1 Answer 1


The very short answer is yes(ish). Although the Terminator is zeroing in on Sarah based on her facial features, having seen her picture, we can assume that it also took into account other factors such as probable height, hair colour, probable weight, eye colour, distinguishing features, build, gender and racial and ethnographic characteristics such as skin colour, likely accent, etc.

This image from T2 shows the range of identifying marks that a T-800 can use to assess a target-match. Facial recognition is one of the tools that it uses and hiding/disguising your face would certainly lower the match percentage. Whether it would lower it to the point that the Terminator would miss you if it saw you is another matter entirely.

set of criteria

Note that it's also able to assess her clothing for neck measurement, shoulder width, sleeve length

second set of criteria and size assessment

At the point that the Terminator attacks Sarah, it also has a voice ident

He hesitated long enough to hear, “Ginger, this is Sarah. Pick up if you’re there.” Terminator came back into the living room.

Terminator: Official Novelisation

As well as a copy of her address and telephone book, which would allow it to access her friends and relatives so that it could fool them into betraying her.

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