Terry Carter gained theatre experience in several productions on the Broadway and off-Broadway stage. His Broadway credits include playing the male lead opposite Eartha Kitt in the play Mrs. Patterson and performing the title role in the musical extravaganza Kwamina.
From 1965 to 1968, Carter worked as a weekend newscaster for WBZ-TV in Boston, where he became an anchor-reporter. Some sources said he was the world's first black TV newsman. During his three-year stint, he also served as New England television's first black opening-night movie and theater critic. Although WBZ said he resigned from the station, Carter told the black press that had been fired, because Westinghouse (which owned WBZ) objected to his personal involvement in numerous community projects. His departure left Boston without any black TV news reporters.
Carter also acted in numerous TV series, specials, and theatrical films. Carter was a regular cast member of The Phil Silvers Show (popularly known as Sergeant Bilko), appearing as Pvt. Sugie Sugarman in 91 episodes between 1955 and '59. Carter played boxer Rosie Palmer in a 1964 episode of the ABC drama Breaking Point. In 1965 he was the only black actor to have a role in the World War II drama Combat!. He played the part of Police Officer Tuttle in the 1974 children's film Benji.
He is best known internationally for his co-starring role as Colonel Tigh in the popular science-fiction TV series Battlestar Galactica. He was originally cast as Lieutenant Boomer, but was cut following a roller skating accident that fractured his ankle. After replacing Carter with Herb Jefferson, Jr., producer Glen A. Larson instead offered Terry Carter the role of Colonel Tigh, second in command of the ragtag fleet of starships.
Carter also starred as Dennis Weaver's partner, ''Sergeant Joe Broadhurst'' in the detective series McCloud for seven years. He played opposite Pam Grier in the motion picture Foxy Brown. He played the role of CIA chief ''Texas Slim'' in Hamilton, a multinational action-adventure Swedish film (1999). More recently, Carter had a recurring role in Hotel Caesar, Norway's most popular soap opera, as Solomon Tefari, an Ethiopian businessman and father of one of the main characters.