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Terl is the main antagonist of the 2000 multi-Razzie-award-winning sci-fi/action movie Battlefied Earth based on the 1982 science-fiction novel Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 by controversial Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

He was portrayed by John Travolta, who also portrays Billy Nolan in the 1976 film Carrie, Vic Deakins in Broken Arrow, and Vincent in Pulp Fiction.

History

In the year 3000, Earth has been ruled for 1,000 years by the Psychlos, a brutal race of giant humanoid aliens from their home planet Psychlo. The remnants of humanity are either enslaved by the Psychlos and used for manual labor or survive in primitive tribes living in remote areas outside Psychlo control. Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, a member of one such tribe, leaves his home in the Rocky Mountains on a journey of exploration. He joins forces with Carlo, a hunter, but both men are captured by a Psychlo raiding party and transported to a slave camp at the Psychlos' main base on Earth, a giant dome built over the ruins of Denver, Colorado.

Terl, the Psychlo security chief on Earth, has been condemned by his superiors to remain indefinitely at his post on Earth as punishment for an unclear incident involving "the Senator's daughter." Aided by his deputy, Ker, Terl devises a plan to buy his way off the planet by making a fortune using human slaves to mine gold in radioactive areas. Psychlos are unable to visit such areas due to the explosive interaction of the gas that they breathe with radionuclide particles. Terl selects Jonnie as his "foreman" for the project and gives him a Psychlo education using a rapid-learning machine. Terl gives Jonnie a party of slaves and a Psychlo flying shuttle and orders him to go out and find gold.

After learning the Psychlos' language, history, and myriad other educational forms from the rapid learning machine, Jonnie plots a human uprising against the Psychlos. He obtains gold from Fort Knox to satisfy Terl's demands, instead of mining gold as ordered. Jonnie and his followers find an abandoned underground US military base with working aircraft, weapons, fuel, and nuclear weapons. They use the base's flight simulators to train themselves in aerial combat.

After a week of training, the rebels launch a mass uprising against the Psychlos using Harrier jump-jets and other weapons. Carlo sacrifices himself to destroy the dome over Denver, and the Psychlos inside suffocate in Earth's atmosphere, which they are unable to breathe. Jonnie captures a Psychlo teleportation device and uses it to teleport an atomic bomb to the Psychlo home world. The ensuing detonation causes the entire Psychlo atmosphere to explode, wiping out the planet. Ker and Terl survive on Earth but face different fates: Ker sides with the victorious humans, while Terl is imprisoned as a hostage within a vault in Fort Knox. The film ends with the humans in control of Earth but facing an uncertain future.

Quotes

Who is responsible for allowing this man-animal to run around unsupervised? (Psychlo: The man-animal shot the wrangler, sir.) I'm a little pressed for time, why don't you save the going-away jokes for later! (Psychlo: No joke, sir, I swear. The man-animal somehow got a hold of his gun.) Really? Show me. [Terl takes the gun and hands it to Jonnie] Reach for the gun. (Psychlo: But sir, I might get shot.) Sure, you might. And I might suddenly grew a third arm! (Psychlo: But sir, I swear it shot the wrangler!) Any report filed today still has my name on it and you are out of your skull bone if you think that I am going to write on the report "shot by man-animal" as the cause of the death unless I see it!
~ Terl
(laughs) I do what I can.
~ Terl
(most memorable quote) I can assure you that I was not gloom since birth to have some cushy job that even a moron like you could perform. (Ker laughs) While you were still learning how to SPELL YOUR NAME. I WAS BEING TRAINED TO CONQUER GALAXIES!
~ Terl
(bumps head on ceiling) Agh! Crap-lousy ceiling! I thought I told you to get some man-animals to come up here and fix it.
~ Terl
(Holds rat in front of Jonnie) DO YOU WANT LUNCH?!?
~ Terl
(repeated line) Rat brain!
~ Terl
Why don't you vaporize me? (Jonnie Goodboy Tyler: Leverage. If there are other Psychlo colonies out there, they'll send out their gas drones and exterminate us. But if they learn that it was your greed. . . . . .that destroyed their Home Planet. . . . . .then all the credits in the universe. . . . . .won't equal to the bounty that they put on your head.)
~ Terl
(after finding out that Ker is now on the human's side) You imbecile! What kind of game are you playing?
~ Terl
(As Ker walks away chuckling at the fact that his friend-turned-enemy, Terl is locked up in prison) Ugh! - last lines
~ Terl

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