Cameron Phillips

Cameron Phillips

Infobox character
colour = lavender
colour text =
name = Cameron Phillips
series =

caption = Summer Glau as Cameron Phillips
first =
creator = Josh Friedman
portrayer = Summer Glau
alias = Cameron Baum
Cameron Phillips

species = Cyborg
specialty = Assassination
lbl21 = Manufacturer
data21 = Skynet
lbl22 = Class
data22= TOK715
lbl23 = Model
data23 = Unknown

Cameron Phillips is a fictional character on the FOX television series "", which is a spin-off of the "Terminator" film franchise. Cameron first appeared in the series' as an unknown model of Terminator — a fictional type of cyborg envisioned as a soldier and assassin. She is portrayed by actress Summer Glau who, in 2008, won a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television for her performance.cite web |title= “Enchanted” and “Lost” are the big winners at the 34th Annual Saturn Awards |publisher= The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films |accessdate= 2008-07-12 |url=]

Cameron is from the apocalyptic future described in the timeline of the "Terminator" universe, in which a computer system, Skynet, launches a nuclear holocaust and wages war against a rebellion led by John Connor. In the pilot, Cameron is sent from her time to 1999 to time travel with John and his mother, Sarah, to 2007 and stop Skynet's creation. Cameron's role is that of John's guardian, much like Arnold Schwarzenegger's characters in the and "Terminator" films.

Character concept

Cameron was named in homage to "Terminator" film franchise creator James Cameron,cite news |last= Lee |first= Patrick |title= Glau is Advanced in "Terminator" |publisher= SciFi Wire |date= 2008-10-10 |accessdate= 2008-06-10 |url=] whose original Terminator character concept was referenced by series creator Josh Friedman as he created the character. James Cameron envisioned Terminators as robotic, humanoid infiltration units "that could blend in with humanity."cite news |last= Topel |first= Fred |title= Josh Friedman talks "Sarah Connor Chronicles" |publisher= |date= 2007-09-11 |accessdate= 2008-06-10 |url=] In keeping with this idea, Friedman introduced his character as the most advanced model of Terminator whose ascendancy over other models was defined by her ability to mimic human behavior. The decision to make the Cameron character appear to be a teenaged female with a small physical stature was also influenced by James Cameron's infiltrator idea. According to consulting producer James Middleton, "Terminators — and this is from [James] Cameron's vision of the mythology — are actually infiltrators. If that is the case, then what better infiltrator than a beautiful, petite teenage girl?" [cite interview |last= Middleton, James |first= Headey, Lena |interviewer= Ian Spelling |title= Lena Headey teaches Sarah Connor to fight back as the "Terminator" saga continues on TV |date= 2008-01-14 |accessdate= 2008-06-10 |url=]

Josh Friedman hoped to use Cameron as a device to advance the "coming-of-age" theme he intended on incorporating into the narrative. This theme would concern John Connor's maturation from an adolescent into a man. To do this, Friedman planned on portraying Cameron as a second significant female presence in John's life, after his mother Sarah. He believed Cameron would be instrumental in lessening John's dependence on Sarah, which, Friedman thought, would encourage John's growth into adulthood.

When she first appeared in the pilot episode, Cameron appeared to behave humanly. In subsequent episodes, however, her mannerisms changed such that she behaved more mechanically.cite interview |last= Glau |first= Summer |subjectlink= Summer Glau |title= Summer Glau interview |publisher= |date= 2008-02-01 |accessdate= 2008-06-21 |url=] cite interview |last= Wirth, John |first= Friedman, Josh |interviewer= Eric Goldman |title= WC 08: Exclusive - Terminator Producers Talk |publisher= IGN |accessdate= 2008-06-11 |url=] It has been confirmed by Friedman that this behavioral change was the result of a conscious decision, however the explanations he has given of the logistics behind this decision have varied. At the Television Critics Association press tour, he stated that within the story, Cameron had been prepared for the events of the pilot. Once the characters "jumped forward in time though, she was as adrift as everyone else." [cite news |last= O'Connor |first= Mickey |title= "Terminator" Scoop: John's Gettin' Busy! |publisher= TV Guide |date= 2008-07-14 |accessdate= 2008-07-18 |url=] In an interview with IGN, Friedman stated that as he wrote the second episode, he became interested in exploring the "calmer, odder part of" Cameron, reflected in a scene in the pilot in which Cameron asks questions of John "in a very programmed way." He continued to say that Cameron's behavior may appear inconsistent to a viewer, but that this inconsistency may be operative in the completion of her tasks.

ummer Glau

Four years prior to "The Sarah Connor Chronicles", Josh Friedman had developed another pilot in which he wanted to cast Summer Glau. However, she was already committed to "Serenity", a spin-off film of the television series "Firefly", on which Glau was a regular. Despite this, Friedman "always kept her in mind"cite interview |last= Friedman |first= Josh |subjectlink= Josh Friedman |interviewer= Eric Goldman |title= Guiding the Sarah Connor Chronicles | |date= 2007-06-20 |accessdate= 2008-06-18 |url=] and as the pilot for "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" was being cast, she was called in to audition. Glau did not plan on auditioning however, because she had a preconceived idea that the producers wanted "statuesque, icy blondes" for the role, and felt that she did not suit such an image. After receiving encouragement from her mother, Glau agreed to try out. She finally became comfortable with auditioning upon the realization that Friedman had a different idea for how Terminators would be portrayed on the show.cite news |last= Lash |first= Jolie |title= Access Rising Star: Summer Glau |publisher= "Access Hollywood" |date= 2008-02-12 |accessdate= 2008-06-18 |url=]

The scene used for the audition involved a crying Cameron discussing with John the future in which she meets him, how he saves her life and "how [she] feels about [him] ", even though as a robot, she is technically incapable of any feeling at all. [cite news |last= Topel |first= Fred |title= Summer Glau a Terminator Protector |publisher= |date= 2007-09-07 |accessdate= 2008-06-18 |url=] The audition continued with Friedman and the other producers watching Glau's fight scenes from her previous work on "Firefly" and "Serenity."cite interview |last= Glau |first= Summer |subjectlink= Summer Glau |interviewer= Tasha Robinson |title= Summer Glau |publisher= The A.V. Club |date= 2008-02-25 |accessdate= 2008-06-18 |url=] Glau was cast in February 2007 [cite news |url= |title= "Serenity" comes to "Sarah Connor"|accessdate=2008-06-09 |last=Goldman |first=Eric |date=2007-02-07 |publisher= IGN News] with Friedman feeling that "there was really no second choice [and that Cameron was] basically written for her." Lena Headey, who portrays Sarah Connor, revealed Glau's role to the public a month later. [cite news |last= Lee |first= Patrick |title= Headey Reveals "Connor Chronicles" |publisher= SciFi Wire |date= 2007-03-05 |accessdate= 2008-06-10 |url=]

In preparation for the physical demands of the role, Glau trained with stunt coordinator Joel Cramer. In learning martial arts for her role in "Serenity", Glau referenced her training in ballet to learn fight scenes by counts, as if they were choreographies. About bringing the skill to "Terminator", in which fight scenes involve brute force rather than finesse, Glau has said "when you're working with a stunt guy... and you need to anticipate every swing he's going to take at you... it's important that you know exactly the timing that it's all going to play out." Training focused heavily on the destruction of breakable set pieces, safety in hand to hand fights and the use of a variety of firearms. A challenge Glau faced in fight scenes involved having to constantly remember not to move or react humanly by doing such things as pushing her hair out of her face.


Little is known about Cameron's existence prior to the events of the series. In the , she states she was sent to 1999 from the year 2027 by the future incarnation of John Connor (Thomas Dekker). cite episode |title = Pilot |episodelink= Pilot (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) |series = Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles | serieslink = Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles | credits = Director: David Nutter, Writer: Josh Friedman| network = FOX | airdate = 2008-01-13] Flashbacks detailing Cameron's time in the episode "" exhibit John's uncle, resistance fighter Derek Reese (Brian Austin Green), interacting with Cameron in an untrusting manner, for reasons which have not yet been clarified.cite episode |title= Dungeons and Dragons |episodelink= List of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episodes#ep6 |series= Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles |serieslink= Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles |credits= Director: Jeffrey Hunt, Writers: Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz |network= FOX |airdate= 2008-02-18]

Cameron's first on-screen appearance was in the pilot episode, set in 1999. After saving John from being assassinated by another Terminator named Cromartie (portrayed by Owain Yeoman in the pilot and Garret Dillahunt in later episodes), Cameron time travelled with John and his mother, Sarah (Lena Headey), to 2007 with the intention of stopping Skynet's creation, thereby eliminating the threat it would later pose. Several plot lines that spanned the rest of the season were introduced in the three episodes immediately following the pilot; however, the season was cut short because of the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike. [cite news |title= 'The Sarah Connor Chronicles' Will Be Back |publisher= |date= 2008-04-21 |url=,0,6025419.story |accessdate= 2008-07-16]

The season's main story arc concerned the efforts of Cameron and the Connors to locate and retrieve a chess-playing computer called The Turk, which was destined to become Skynet. In the second episode, "," Cameron and Sarah obtained weapons, money and information on Skynet's creation from resistance fighters, including Derek, sent to 2007 from Cameron's time.cite episode |title= Gnothi Seauton |episodelink= List of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episodes#ep2 |series= Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles |serieslink= Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles |credits= Director: David Nutter, Writer: Josh Friedman |network= FOX |airdate= 2008-01-14] This information led Sarah to the man responsible for the computer's creation, (Brendan Hines) in the .cite episode |title= The Turk |episodelink= List of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episodes#ep3 |series= Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles |serieslink= Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles |credits= Director: Paul Edwards, Writer: John Wirth |network= FOX |airdate= 2008-01-21] Two episodes later, Andy was killed, The Turk was stolencite episode |title= Queen's Gambit |episodelink= List of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episodes#ep5 |series= Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles |serieslink= Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles |credits= Director: Matt Earl Beesley, Writer: Natalie Chaidez |network= FOX |airdate= 2008-02-11] and in a story arc that encompassed the second half of the season, Cameron worked with Sarah, John and Derek to acquire it from a man named (James Urbaniak). However, Sarkissian managed to catch Cameron in a car bomb, as part of the season finale's cliffhanger.cite episode |title= What He Beheld |episodelink= List of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episodes#ep9 |series= Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles |serieslink= Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles |credits= Director: Mike Rohl, Writer: Ian Goldberg |network= FOX |airdate= 2008-03-03]

Two additional plot lines are also developed throughout the season. In the fourth episode, "," Cameron discovered that Cromartie continued to pursue John after the events of the pilot;cite episode |title= Heavy Metal |episodelink= Heavy Metal (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) |series=Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles |serieslink= Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles |credits= Director: Sergio Mimica Gezzan, Writer: John Enbom |network= FOX |airdate= 2008-02-04] several episodes later, Cameron identified Cromartie posing as an FBI agent, unsuccessfully looking for John.cite episode |title= Vick's Chip |episodelink= List of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episodes#ep8 |series= Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles |serieslink= Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles |credits= Director: J. Miller Tobin, Writer: Daniel T. Thomsen |network= FOX |airdate= 2008-03-03] The episode "Heavy Metal" also introduced a storyline concerning Cameron assembling materials involved in the construction of a Terminator; she has collected a bar of coltan — a metal used in Terminators' endoskeletons — and a computer chip from destroyed in the episode "." It remains unclear what her true intentions were with these materials and why she was secretive about them.

The episode "Allison from Palmdale" shows a future Skynet prison with a human resistance fighter named . Allison is interrogated by a Terminator about details regarding her life, and it is then revealed that this Terminator is Cameron, whose body has been modeled to resemble Allison's. Once the interrogation is complete and Allison gives up the apparent location of John Connor, Cameron then chokes Allison, possibly breaking her neck, and then leaves to infiltrate the resistance in her stead.


According to a FOX promotional poster, Cameron's class is TOK715. [cite web | url=| title=Cameron's Poster Classification | publisher="FOX" | accessdate=2008-01-31] No model number has been mentioned yet.

The only thing known about her model is that she has the ability to mimic human emotions and behaviors far better than her predecessors. In the pilot, Cameron eats a corn chip, marking the first time a Terminator unit has eaten food on-screen, and in "" she eats a piece of a pancake. It is also shown that her visual display modes include full color and green tinted sections instead of the exclusively all red or blue "Termovision" screens from other models.

In the second episode, "", the Terminator sent to kill the resistance fighters living in 2007 scans Cameron during a fight. He is unable to identify her model, reading her only as an "unknown cyborg". In the , however, Derek Reese recognizes Cameron on sight as a Skynet Terminator, both in the past and in the future.

Cameron is shown analyzing biomarkers in humans by touching them, but claims that she is unable to perform complex scans, such as a CAT scan.

In the initial episodes of the series Sarah Connor is shown trying to teach Cameron to value human life more after she fatally shoots a contact on the mere possibility (later proven correct) that he intends to give away Sarah and John's presence in 2007.

Although Cameron was capable of pretending to be a human when approaching John in the pilot episode, befriending John and even flirting, she no longer displays this behavior. Since Cromartie's attack on John in the pilot episode, she has remained relatively emotionless and has thus far proved to have poor social skills when she and John return to school in the . This regression of abilities has yet to be explained, but she has been shown mimicking the behavior of others, such as the Latina lookout from the second episode, providing a baseline for her current behavior. This is also shown in the fifth episode when she impersonates the voice of a distressed student she met just prior to the girl committing suicide. When John comments on the differences in her behavior at different points, she replies, "Fooled "you"." At times she also displays awkward humor, such as in the fifth episode when she and John are entering a vehicle driven by Sarah. John, wanting to ride in the front passenger seat, calls out "I call shotgun," to which Cameron responds, "I call nine-millimeter." In the episode "The Demon Hand," despite both Sarah and Derek's insistence that she is only a soulless machine, Cameron is shown performing a complex ballet dance.

In the opener for the second season, Cameron sustains significant damage in an explosion, including damage to her chip, right leg, and biological covering. The damage to her chip causes her to designate John for termination. As John is about to remove her chip during this state, she screams that she is "fixed now" and that she loves him and that he loves her. After John only incompletely repairs her chip and reactivates her, Cameron overrides her "terminate" directive. Later in the episode, she tells Sarah to promise to not let John reactivate her should her loyalty be compromised again.

In the episode "Allison From Palmdale", Cameron malfunctions again, confusing herself with Allison Young, the resistance fighter she was built to impersonate. Cameron exhibits apparent emotion when she speaks with a social worker, recollecting aspects of Allison's life that Allison divulged during interrogation.

Unexplained behavior

On the surface, Cameron's role mirrors that of Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in "": she is a reprogrammed cyborg assassin sent back through time to protect John Connor. As the series progressed, however, she developed into an enigmatic and inscrutable character, showing unusual behavior. For example, near the end of the fourth episode, Cameron rolls a truck filled with coltan off a cliff to prevent Skynet from ever using the stockpile to construct Terminators. However, at the end of the episode it is revealed that Cameron saved one bar of coltan.

In the fifth episode, Cameron learns from John that humans write letters to express grief that spoken words can not fully articulate. Later, as Derek Reese is lying on the kitchen table, bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound, Cameron decides at that moment to sit and begin writing a letter.

In "", Derek displays extreme hostility and mistrust of Cameron. He continuously calls her a "liar" earlier in the episode while he is still in shock from his injuries. In a flashback, the episode reveals that Derek encountered Cameron in his original time. Derek "recognizes" Cameron and nearly shoots her before a fellow resistance fighter explains how John Connor has reprogrammed some of the Terminators. Later, a different model Terminator suddenly goes on a rampage before Cameron destroys it. Cameron explains that "sometimes they go bad; no one knows why".

At the end of "" Derek observes Cameron performing ballet, alone. Sarah Connor's ending monologue overlays the dance scene, with Sarah explaining, as Cameron dances, that the machines cannot appreciate beauty or create art, and if they could, "they won't have to destroy us; They'll BE us." Cameron's choice of music for this dance, Chopin's Nocturne in C-sharp minor No. 20, is the same as that played in the basement of the prison where Derek was held in "Dungeons & Dragons," suggesting that Cameron was somewhere within the Skynet prison camp off-screen before her reprogramming. In addition, during her interrogation Allison Young admitted to Cameron that her mother had affection for Chopin's music.

Following her questionable "repair" after the explosion that ended the first season, Cameron has been displaying unusual and, as yet, unexplained behavior that is inconsistent with her actions in the first season. In "Automatic for the People", she experiences a delay in making a decision when Sarah orders her to pursue another terminator, and in "The Mousetrap", Cameron displays odd behavior such as expressing disappointment at not being allowed to kill a bird and gauging the exact center of the Connors' house for the purpose of determining when it will need to be painted.


In 2008, Glau won the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television for her portrayal of Cameron. In the same year, she was also nominated for two Teen Choice Awards for her work on "Terminator", in the categories of favorite action adventure television actress and favorite female breakout television star. [cite web |title= 2008 Teen Choice Awards TV nominees |publisher= |date= 2008-06-18 |accessdate= 2008-07-20 |url=|author=Jason Hughes]

In a poll held by E! Online columnist Kristin Dos Santos after the series premiere, 60% of participants voted Glau their favorite series regular.cite web |author= Kristin Dos Santos |title= "Terminator" Kills in the Ratings—and a Breakout Star Is Born |publisher= E! Online |date= 2008-01-14 |accessdate= 2008-07-20 |url=] Her performance has been praised as one of the show's best elements, with "The Star-Ledger" commenting, "if there's a reason to stick with "Sarah Connor," it's Glau," [cite web |author= Alan Sepinwall |title= Sepinwall on TV: Moms vs. machines |publisher= "The Star-Ledger" |date= 2008-01-11 |accessdate= 2008-07-20 |url=] and exclaiming that Glau was "the stand-out in early episodes." [cite news |last= Feinberg |first= Daniel |title= TV REVIEW: 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' |publisher= |date= 2008-01-13 |accessdate=2008-07-20 |url=,0,4749136.story] However, Mark Wilson of called Glau "infinitely [flat] " and wrote, "I know robots are supposed to be emotionally muted, but Glau's character comes across as lobotomized." [cite web|author= Mark Wilson |title= Review: Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles |publisher= |accessdate= 2008-07-20 |url=] In another negative review, Tim Goodman of "The San Francisco Chronicle" wrote that Glau "looks like a teenage Ally McBeal" who might "get her teeth punched in by wispy Willow from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"." [cite web|author= Tim Goodman |title= Review: 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' is a running gag |publisher= "The San Francisco Chronicle" |date= 2008-01-11 |accessdate= 2008-07-20 |url=]

The actual character, Cameron, has also received a mixed response. A reviewer for the "LA Times" said that Cameron "conveys an intriguing, if limited, humanity that, one hopes, will enrich future story lines."cite web |title= Her future is looking brighter |publisher= "LA Times" |date= 2008-01-11 |accessdate= 2008-07-20 |url=] In another E! Online poll, the character was voted the favorite model of Terminator, accumulating 53% of the vote. [cite web|author= Kristin Dos Santos |title= "Terminator": Barring Any Vats of Liquid Metal...It'll Be "Bahk" |publisher= E! Online |date= 2008-03-07 |accessdate= 2008-07-20 |url=] Criticisms have focused on the character's seemingly uneven ability to behave humanly. In a review of the episode "," Marc Bernardin of "Entertainment Weekly" called her an "inconsistent machine," saying that in the first episode she could "navigate high school like a pro," but that after, she "displayed an alarming lack of savvy when dealing with members of the human race." [cite web|author= Marc Bernardin |title= "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles": Judgment Date |publisher= "Entertainment Weekly" |date= 2008-01-22 |accessdate= 2008-07-20 |url=,,20172942,00.html] Travis Fickett of IGN also noted the change in the character's writing, calling it "an unintended continuity problem," and describing the response as "a point of contention with fans." [cite web |author= Travis Fickett |title=Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Season 1 Review |publisher= IGN |date= 2008-03-12 |accessdate=2008-07-20 |url=]

ee also

*List of women warriors in folklore, literature, and popular culture
*List of fictional doppelgängers
*Terminator (character concept)


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