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The Nike Terminator, a Standout Sneaker from the '80s, Returns for 2022

The original Terminator celebrated Georgetown University's 1984 collegiate basketball championship. The reissues are coming in all-new colorways.

nike terminator shoe

Two Terminators debuted in the 1980s: the character played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and a Nike sneaker of the same name. The first Terminator movie premiered in 1984. Coincidentally, they say, the sneaker arrived a year later. But unlike the Air Jordan 1, which also debuted in 1985, this wasn't a widely available shoe. It was a special edition design for the Georgetown Hoyas men's basketball program, which was fresh off of winning a national championship the season prior.

The team's head coach, John Thompson, was the connective thread between Georgetown and Beavertown (where Nike has been headquartered). At the start of the 1985 season, Nike rolled out its plan to strengthen its relationship with college athletes (and the programs, and coaches, that supported them). Thompson was on Nike's board of directors and was currently coaching one of the most popular teams in the sport. As such, his players were spoiled.

Nike sent team-exclusive colorways of the popular Nike Dunk to several collegiate programs: Kentucky, Michigan, UNLV, Syracuse, St. John’s, Villanova and Iowa, according to Sotheby's. Georgetown, on the other hand, received the first-ever Terminators, an amalgamation of the Nike Dunk and the Air Jordan 1. For seasoned sneakerheads, the overlap is obvious. To the untrained eye, though, all three look nearly the same.

The Terminator, however, is the easiest to identify — just look at the heel. The original Terminator had "HOYAS" across the back of both shoes. It also has a pronounced pull tab, whereas the Air Jordan 1 has a flat saddle across the back. From afar, you'll also notice that the Terminator looks much more upright. When tied tightly, there's a steep, direct drop from the collar to the forefoot, and it flattens out as you approach the toe. There's a much more gradual incline along the toe with both the Dunk and Jordan 1.

Now, on the reissued Terminators set to hit (digital) shelves later this year, the backs say Nike, a shift that allows Nike to experiment with colorways outside the original set, but the shape stays the same. An homage to the original, the 'Georgetown,' dropped earlier in 2022. 'Black/Phantom' and 'Noble Green' are due out on January 1st, 2023.


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Nike Terminator 'Black/Phantom'
Nike Terminator 'Noble Green'
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