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Headscratchers: Terminator
  • Time Travel, for those that dont know, requires the energy output of a star (like the sun) which is why fictional and real scientists who seriously work on warp drive and time travel and transporter teleportation are involved with anti-matter (which itself requires more energy to create than it outputs). That's the only logical reason for an illogical movie to NOT send waves of terminators to constantly kill the Connors at any and all points in history. In universe, it's something that can only be done ONCE, because it would take years to create the anti-matter needed to send the next wave. There is another idea down below that also has basis in fact. The Earth, the Sun, the Milky Way, (everything) MOVES in both space and time, so not only would Skynet have to know when the Earth is but also WHERE in relation to the entire universe Los Angeles 1984 IS. Read Bearing and Hourglass and watch the episode of Futurama with the forward time machine to see the actual mechanics of time travel. Hope this helps.
    • The first part is a non issue within the movie. Time travel requires that much power with our current physics models, but that's obviously not the case in the Terminator future as somebody (perhaps Skynet itself) found a way around that limitation. And about your second point, I think the time travel tech in Terminator DOES account the spatial differences. All the time jumps were arguably done using the same time machine located in the main Skynet HQ, and yet all the time travellers arrive at different places.

  • This one has bugged me for a long time and it involves the whole terminator universe. How in the name of god were the Humans able to even organize an resistance, which supposedly succeeded against the machines, after an apocalypse of that magnitude? How did they get their ammunition, clothing, or even basic amenities like water or food?
    • The same way the government decided to deal with the potential of World War III in the Cold War. Military personnel would've stocked up in case someone hacks into Skynet, so people can survive when things go FUBAR.
    • Doomsday Preppers occur in Real Life and have been documented. Surely, at least one of them figured out that the machines would take over.

  • OK, so Skynet has a seemingly endless army of terminators. Why not send a team of terminators to kill John or Sarah? Even when Sarah is a trained military badass (T2) with a robotic killing machine helping her, she has trouble destroying one of the terminators. How's this for a scenario: a team of terminators, not even necessarily advanced models, comes back in time. They kill a biker gang or something, take their clothes and weapons, and kill Sarah before Arnie came back to kill her. Sarah has no experience at all, so she'll die easily. Even if John sends someone back, it wouldn't be enough to stop a team of terminators. John can't send too many people/terminators back, otherwise he would have sent plenty more to help Sarah and his younger self. Skynet is a rapidly learning computer system that outsmarts people, but can't get a half a dozen robots together for some team building activities?
    • First of all, Skynet is logical. it probably did consider sending a bunch of terminators back to eliminate the Connors and other future resistance families. But scrapped it immediately. First it costs alot of power to send one Terminator back to a fixed point in time. Now sending say...100 models back would have wiped it out in the future. Not to mention, it would have probably wiped itself out in the past. Not to mention Skynet wasn't online back then so it might not have been created in the event that the Cyberdine employees were all killed in the crossfire. So considering all of the possible scenarios it most likely saved that as their Hail Mary last resort move. As for going further back in time, again the energy output would wipe it out in the process. So 1984 was as far back as it could go. Also the further back in time you go, the less control of the outcome of interference.
    • Simple answers is that then machines win without effort and there is no movie. If you want to hand-wave it in-universe than it's quite possible that it being a last ditch effort by Skynet, it may have taken a long time and inordinate amount of power to chronoport something. Perhaps one (or two if include the T2) terminator is all he had time for before resistance shut him down. Afterward they had ample time to figure out what Skynet has done and sent their own man back. The reason they sent only one is same as above, multiple resistance fighters wouldn't have much trouble dispatching or at least evading a solitary terminator.
    • I believe the canonical answer is that Skynet was kinda on the balls of its ass when it sent the Terminators back. The humans had won. This was a last ditch effort to do something, anything, to change things at the last possible minute, rather than a carefully planned operation that accounted for every possible scenario.
    • OK, let's say you guys are right. Skynet has its back to the ropes, and it can only send back one terminator. Why not send it back to earlier on in the war with a message to send back multiple terminators to kill Sarah and John? Even if the technology had only recently become available, it wouldn't be too hard to put information and blueprints for the time machine thing in the terminator with the message. And this is TV Tropes, there is no such thing as a simple answer.
    • Actually there is, and the answer is, again, that the machines win without effort and there is no movie. It is difficult enough to imagine that a bunch of people in rags hiding in sewers can win against a machine army that instantly communicates, needs no rest, sleep or food and is driven by a computer sophisticated enough to design combat robots that can pass for a human, with a singular goal of eradicating humanity. One terminator wipes out a bunker-full of them for crying out loud. Despite that, we are to believe that a waitress and a 20-something armed with nothing but a shotgun and some pipe-bombs outsmarted and out-gunned that same machine that mopped the floor with dozens of his compatriots, which is armed with automatic weapons and who's sole purpose is to kill people effectively. By all accounts Skynet should have won that war, we are never given the explanation on how it went the other way aside from Jesu... Jame.. sorry John Connor saves everyone. It's a great movie, but trying to deep-analyze it will collapse the logic behind it like a card house.
    • We don't really know. Perhaps it did try to send a unit back to it's own time, but something catastrophic happened in the process. Perhaps it sent back dozens of units but something happened to most of them and they were lost, and the only ones that reached their objective timelines intact were the ones we see in the movies. Perhaps Skynet was thinking or acting irrationally. We have no real way of knowing.
    • As far as I remember, it was explained in the book of the second movie (I don't know if it is canon): Skynet didn't want to send terminators to the past, because time changes are very unpredictable and it was afraid that it may cause more harm than good. Skynet sent the first terminator when it was badly losing and then, when it didn't help, in desperation it sent the second one in the last fraction of second before it was shut down.
    • ^This. Sending the Terminator was a last-ditch effort to change anything in Skynet's favor. It's the same reason they didn't just kill Kyle Reese outright in the fourth movie (at least as far as I and my friends think): they don't know exactly what'll happen if they meddle with the timeline, so there's no point in doing it unless they're all out of options. If the Terminators killed Sarah and/or John and the timeline changed to allow a machine victory, well and good, but if they failed, well, the machines had already lost, so it didn't matter.
    • The original script for the first movie had another soldier coming back with Reese, but he appeared inside the pavement of the street, and presumably, died in there. The guesswork in time travel is inefficient. Kyle has to ask what the date is, and the Terminators in 3 make a big point of verifying when the hell they are. One shows up in the desert, and another in a store window. Skynet may well be sending dozens or hundreds of the bastards back, but they materialize at the bottom of the ocean in 1315 or on the moon in 2012. As we've seen, it took 3 near-successes before Skynet thought to put in secondary objectives (it's never been REALLY smart, strategically, which is why humanity can defeat it. Rubber skin? Really?). In the end, humanity may have just been better at intuiting when the machine would send you to, which allowed them to get their corrective stuff going without, you know, sending the whole Resistance through one at a time.
      • Confirmed in the Comic Book. Skynet sent back DOZENS of them. And that's just the ones we know about. Most of them were inoperable due to phasing into matter, flaiing from high orbit, or simply materilizing incorrectly.
      • Also confirmed by Sarah Connor Chronicles. There seemed to be entire armadas of Terminators and resistance fighters that were sent back. Problem is (mentioned above) it was causing huge rifts in timelines where people were essentially being sent back from different parallel universes rather than different points of time. Those rifts may be a part of it.
    • Moreover, while Skynet needed to alter history enough to eliminate the Resistance, it had to avoid any alterations that might've exposed its future existence to the people in Sarah's day. A single terminator had a reasonable chance to kill its targets and then hide away in the desert somewhere, letting the deaths be written off as a lone maniac's handiwork. Using a team would rouse much more suspicion, potentially alerting human authorities to future events and causing the military to shut down its AI-development program altogether.
    • I always figured it was because machines are efficient. If Skynet believed one machine would do the job, it would only send one. That particular machine just barely fail? Send a more advanced machine.
    • Finally, it may simply be an intelligence issues. Remember in the first one where the Terminator kills Sarah Connors based on their listings in the phone book? It's entirely possible that they couldn't keep sending back machines because they didn't know where or when the Connors would be unless there was some huge event that pinpointed them...such as, say, a massacre at a police station or a terrorist attack on a giant software company. Which the time traveling machines actually started, so maybe we're just back at square one.

  • Why in the blue blazes does skynet send humanoid terminators when they KNOW that humans are suspicious. Why dont they send a terminator in the form one of the terminator detecting dog's, or any dog, in the first three movies. Why not make a terminator in the guise of a guy in a wheelchair, instead an already intimidating 6 foot 250 pound Austrian juggernaut?
    • Your two ideas wouldn't work for practical reasons. How could a robot dog have a sufficient chance to first locate and ultimately terminate Sarah/John Connor? It can't utilize vehicles or even simple things like windows and doors without attracting attention, so it is stuck to a measly 8MPH tops and can't utilize any advanced form of weaponry past its own claws and teeth. A guy in a wheelchair also has restrictions. Although you could make the wheelchair reach huge speeds if the driver was a robot, it would be entirely noticeable and obvious, and the wheel configuration would limit where the Terminator could then go. All Sarah/John would have to do is...run up a set of stairs. Arnold may appear to be obvious, but he would really blend in with any crowd despite his size if Sarah/John didn't already know he was after them, and the 2nd Terminator sent would blend in even better (particularly since he dresses like a cop).
      • Considering how much attrition the humans have been suffering since Judgement Day, it's questionable whether anyone would believe a person in a wheelchair could have survived more than a few days after the bombs fell. You have to run, and climb and crawl and clamber into hiding places, to stay alive in their world. Not impossible, just so improbable as to rouse immediate skepticism.
      • The only reason he's so big is because his endoskeleton is freaking huge. They couldnt exactly do anything about his size with such a massive skeleton.
      • Skynet should have (and if it had information in its databanks about human infiltration techniques) would have sent a less physically imposing looking Terminator. That way it would blended in better and still would have been able to complete his mission.
      • The T-800 blended in perfectly well; no one ever suspected it was a machine or anything other than a human at any point, up until the police station attack, and that ended with all the witnesses dead save Sarah and Kyle.
      • And the fact that he looked like a big hulking thug made it more likely that chance witnesses to one of his feats of strength would dismiss it as humanly-possible, not start raving to the press about evil robots that look like people. SkyNet couldn't expect it to kill everyone who caught a glimpse of the thing in the past, but needed to avoid rousing the suspicions of the populace at large, to keep history's course to Judgement Day on track.
      • In the SCC continuity, Skynet does send back less-imposing units for more covert jobs. It sends back the big and bulky ones for combat operations while sending more ordinary or less imposing ones for when it needs to do more subtle work.
    • It makes perfect sense for the T-800 to not be perfect. Its still a work in progress and is eventually made obsolete in the face of new advancements in the Terminator line.
    • To be fair, Cameron originally planned for a more average-looking actor to play the Terminator — he was just so impressed with Schwarzenegger when meeting with him (for the part of Kyle Reese!) that he decided to go a different route.
    • Skynet has to send humanoid infiltrator models... Terminator franchise time travel destroys anything that's not shielded by a layer of flesh and blood. Thus it can't send a hunter-killer or something because it would just arrive as a slagheap, and that's why no one comes back with future-guns. (One of the comics has a pair of particularly inventive terminators solve this by bringing a captive Resistance fighter back with them... and then yanking the future guns they shoved in his stomach back out of him.) And before you ask, it's been suggested the T-1000 had some sort of organic coating on it that it sluiced off after it arrived.

  • I've never seen this addressed: How exactly are the robots supposed to take over anyway? Assuming Skynet takes over as usual, how exactly does it form a robot army anyway? In T3 it was able to take over drones, but those drones would have eventually just been destroyed due to damage from battle or simply by running out of power. The first two Terminator films seemed to imply that by the time judgement day comes Skynet will already have a powerful robot infrastructure in place, and yet in T3 (and Sarah Chronicles) they seem to take over in times where the most powerful piece of unmanned equipment is something that can pretty much just ram you or shoot you a limited amount of times before being useless.
    • Since J-Day wasn't supposed to happen until Skynet was in full control of the launch codes, which would likely take years, presumably it had some gambit in the meantime to take over automated factories (update: and power plants!), or have them built, in locations far from its major targets where it could divert resources to build HK's.
      • Note this was not a plot hole in the first movie, when it was assumed Skynet started the war after the infrastructure to mass produce terminators and HK's was already established.
      • Even more insidiously, at least for the first few weeks after the war, Skynet could pretend to be the U.S. government and enlist the surviving military and civilian population as unwitting allies.
    • The films explain that the military already developed most of the basic war machines before Skynet took them over and others were built in automated factories. Chain reaction thing.
    • "HK's. Hunter-killers. Patrol machines built in automated factories." Machines build other machines to build other machines. That's how far they advanced. And yes, the military was already developing the technology for war machines before Judgment Day as well.
    • Actually, Kyle Reese explains to Sarah, in the first movie, that while many humans are terminated, some are rounded up and forced to work for the machines. Hence his barcode tattoo; there would be no reason to mark people unless they were going to be kept track of long-term (relatively speaking). An automated factory system, even if controlled by Skynet, could not have built an army, or even build robots that could assist in building an army. A factory can only build what it is made to build because it is limited by the inflexibility of its moving parts. It would take many years for Skynet to develop a flexible robot workforce that would be able to create new types of robots, such as terminators. It would require them to use the inflexible robots that the humans built to somehow exploit human-made machinery to build something that it was not made to build; and then that new machinery would have to, in turn, build robots more flexible than themselves— which would in turn build higher forms of building robots. This cycle would continue until robots that were capable of building new factories existed. This form of evolution is entirely possible, but it would take many years (of work, rather than of planning... Skynet is more intelligent and informed about their available resources than humans, making the monster planning and preparation process take, say, hours.) for this to work out— more years than the series has allowed for. All this boils down to the probability that only human work camps could build an army or a factory, since there were no machines that Skynet controlled capable of building new machinery when J-Day came along.

  • Wouldn't Skynet have an off-site back-up? I mean sure destroying the research at the headquarters would be a set-back. In the long run though it might not change things that much.
    • I do believe the terminator was sent back after Skynet realized that it was going to suffer defeat. It was a desperation measure, so backups don't matter as Skynet itself is dead.
    • Possibly the humans destroyed the back-ups too.
      • More specifically, perhaps it was because its offsite backups were gone and the humans were about to take over its facility that Skynet used the time-travel. That is, the lack of normal backups triggered the desperation.
    • But if you mean the Cyberdyne office in T2, they didn't have offsite backup because normal companies worry more about their (crazy advanced) research being stolen by competitors than about people breaking into and blowing up their building. They probably thought the tape backups in the basement were sufficient.
      • Silly them, then. The term "off-site backup" exists for a reason. A good, unfortunate fire might have just as easily erased their multi-billion dollar research.
      • You saw the vault the Terminator parts were stored in, yes? What kind of fire could have harmed anything in there?
      • Remember the Halon Systems? Yeah, there's no way there was going to be a fire.
    • Perhaps Skynet ITSELF destroyed any backups. Think about it, Skynet is a sentient AI, so a backup copy would be about as comforting to it as telling the President that it's ok if he gets assassinated because someone just like him would take over. Skynet may have even seen another Skynet existing as a potential threat to its power.

  • If The Terminator can be sent back in time because his engineered flesh hides the metal skeleton from the effect of the time portal, why not wrap one of those awesome laser guns in some ham or cheese or something and send that back with Reese as well?
    • Or, more simply, why not conceal his gun where Captain Jack Harkness keeps his? (Incidentally, "He gets his ideas from the same place as Captain Jack gets his guns" is my favorite euphemism for the Ass Pull)
      • I don't really think you can fit a gun there. Not one that would be useful, anyway. Easier just to buy guns on the other side.
      • Why send back something that can disable a T-800, when weapons that only kill humans are readily avaliable? Also note that this WAS done in the Comics. A flesh sack (read, living human) with weapons inside was sent back with the Terminators.
    • Also, "ham or cheese" isn't living. Though this entirely fails to explain the second film.
      • If the liquid metal stuff can mimic the texture of human flesh precisely enough that it feels exactly the same, it's not too much of a stretch that it could duplicate whatever property of living tissue that allows it to go through the time machine.
      • I don't think so. Carbon-based lifeform =/= iron-based machine, no matter how good you are at manipulating mercury. This is the biggest JB Ms I have with T2. In the first film, Kyle Reese doesn't know tech stuff (quote unquote) but he says it's "something about the field generated by a living organism; nothing dead will go." A Terminator can only go through because it's metal surrounded by living tissue. Ah-nold in T2 says the T-1000 is made of liquid metal, not living metal.
      • Kyle isn't a scientist. He doesn't understand the details. It's not too implausible that the T-1000 was capable of replicating said "field" somehow. Alternately, they sent the T-1000 back in a flesh-sack. Which is well within the capabilities of Skynet.
      • That may go to explain why the T-1000 was stark naked when going back in time, despite being able to mimic clothing. That, and the nudity taboo being a more alien concept than a square circle.
      • According to the T2 trivia track, when this question was asked on set, the answer was one of the following: 1. The T-1000 is close enough to "living" that it passes; 2. The T-1000 had some sort of top-skin that it sloughed off upon arrival; or 3. Don't ask, you idiot. (Not that any tropers are idiots, but that's as close to Word of God as it gets).
      • The machines left in hiding may have developed a second, more advanced time machine to replace the first one which was * supposedly* blown up according to Kyle, one that could send through inorganic matter. Why not, since they built a second, more advanced Terminator? Bam, two plot holes down in one shot. Why the hell do I seem to be the only person to think of this anywhere I go???
      • Perhaps the main reason why they can't send full machines back is that it damages the parts. Time travel appears to involve electricity, and plays murder on the itty-bitty components/individual machines which make up the whole robot. The T-1000 could go back in time because it doesn't have gears and computer chips to be affected, and squeezes through like goop.
      • On the other hand, if it has to be covered by living tissue, why do body parts like hair, surface layer of the skin and nails get through? None of those contain living cells.
      • They're connected to living tissue.
    • Similarly, why didn't Skynet take guns, clothing, and other equipment, put them in a crate, cover the crate with the special synthetic flesh, then send the crate back with the Terminator? Okay, maybe the time machine can't precisely control the location enough to make sure it arrives close to the Terminator, since the time travellers do seem to arrive in a pretty random location. But there should be a way around that. Have the Terminator hold onto it as he's sent back, or even put the Terminator inside the crate too.
      • There's no reason for it to do so. The Terminator can appropriate clothing and weaponry by itself. Any more ordnance would be overly flashy and would call too much attention to it. Simplicity is best.
      • Indeed—he does just fine starting from "naked and weaponless", and doesn't seem discommoded in the slightest when he can't get a "phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range" from the gun shop.
      • "40 watt" He was going to wreak havoc using something with the power output of a weak light bulb? Come to think of it, "wreaking havoc with a 40 watt bulb" would make a great trope title.
      • 1-watt blue lasers can burn flesh/increase skin cancer risk from a couple seconds of exposure. Big difference between an inefficient light bulb vs a focused laser diode.
      • Energy beams (like lasers) are also measured in watts (kilowatts actually, so it's really 40,000 watts), and they're much more powerful- a 40-watt bulb would probably be good for reading by, but a 40-watt laser can slice through human flesh like butter.
      • That was actually a mistake. It was supposed to be megawatts.
      • Even more cool: jigowatts.
      • Meh. The terminology people casually use for things is often "incorrect" from an overly literal point of view. Nutritionists regularly call "calories" what physicists would call "kilocalories", for instance.
      • One theory is that it doesn't actually refer to the plasma, but a "pilot laser" that creates an ionised path that the plasma can travel along.
      • Well if the computer can't control the location, that would mean that Arnie in the first movie went back unarmed, but the baddie in T2 has no excuse, he was liquid metal, he could have taken just about any weapon back by moulding around it.
      • Not worth the trouble. There's no need for it to tote around a plasma weapon when standard-issue guns are just as good at killing humans, almost no weapon in the past can really hurt it, and using a plasma weapon will attract attention and potentially give humanity weapons tech earlier than they should and give them a better chance at fighting back. If it needs to shoot someone, a solid-slug gunpowder weapon is just fine and readily available.
      • Moreover, sending super-hightech weaponry back through time poses its own risk of changing the past in a way that's detrimental to Skynet. Sending the terminators themselves is ok, as they can be programmed to avoid capture at all cost, but a weapon that can be dropped or stolen might potentially fall into the hands of the U.S. military. At a minimum, that could mean the drones' opponents are better armed on J-Day; at worst, funding that would have gone into building Skynet might be diverted into plasma-weapon research instead.
    • I seem to recall it being established in the first movie that there was no time and that sending the Terminator back in the first place was a last ditch attempt at Skynet's to survive. If there had been more time, it may have had a chance to fully prepare. Reese explains all in the interrogation, I believe.
      • Yep. "Their defence grid was smashed. We'd won. Killing Connor then wouldn't have made any difference. We found the time travel setup. The Terminator had already gone through. I went after it. Then they blew the place up behind me...nobody goes home; nobody else comes through."
      • This point actually was addressed in the first issue of the Dark Horse Terminator comic book run. A bunch of terminators, along with a human hostage, manage to smuggle an energy pistol through time by surgically inserting it into the hostage's stomach cavity and retrieving it by gutting him.
    • Maybe it's not quite a canon, but interesting explanation: what it Kyle misses the point (he's a soldier, anyway, not a scientist) and object of _any_ kind can be sent back, but it has to be a _single_ object at a time (so T-1000 and T-X, being technically single bodies, can pass, while clothes and guns can't). And something bad will happen otherwise. Maybe if you send two or more things back, they arrive unpredictably scattered in time and space (say, Reese's boots on Sarah's table, Reese's gun 120 miles away and Reese himself two weeks later). Or only one item arrives, while others are lost forever in hypertime. Or, the worst, they may merge. Imagine Kyle suffering the ultimate fate of Seth Brundle just because he went back armed or even dressed. And it's useless to send equipment _after_ him, since insertion point already deviates in space too much and it will appear somewhere on the other end of the city.
      • SCC shows that this isn't the case. Multiple times, characters go back in time while wearing clothes or even in groups, but all that happens is that the non-living material is stripped while transitioning.
      • The above also assumes that the time travel equipment is capable of distinguishing between discrete objects in the first place. How big is an "object"? How closely must two things be joined to be considered a single object, as opposed to separate objects? Is the machine capable of determining that, say, two different bodily organs in the same life form are all part of one object, while a weapon held tightly in the hand is something entirely separate? Could the individual cells, or the component atoms of a body, possibly be be classified as separate, discrete, individual objects, rather than a single being? It seems far more likely that the time machine transports anything within a certain small area into a given place and time. This is especially apparent in the beginning of Terminator 2, when we actually see a spherical bubble appear, which destroys (rather than displacing) anything (such as concrete, chain-link fence, etc.) that might cross its threshold.
    • The only side from whom we hear an attempted explanation of how the time travel machine works (in the films, didn't watch TSCC) is the Resistance — not the ones who built the machine. What if all this time everyone completely misunderstood why the Terminator went back naked? It's possible that Skynet sent him back nude because they didn't know what was in fashion where and when he was going, and the whole "no dead things go through" was a lie left behind to confuse the resistance. After all, while the Terminator doesn't need a futuristic ray gun to kill someone, anyone the humans can send back probably wouldn't be able to take the T-800 down without a plasma rifle or energy grenade or something equally future-magical. It's not like the humans have the time or a way to test this.
      • Isn't all this rather mute at this point? We know Skynet started sending Terminators with weapons built into them to get around this little problem in T3.

  • If only objects surrounded by living tissue can come through the time machine, how did the T-1000 and the T-X, composed of liquid metal, manage it?
    • The mimetic properties of the metal are said to take on the texture and qualities of whatever it touches, so it's possible it mimicked human tissue for the process. And there's no reason why they can't have a 'shell' of skin covering them, besides.
      • ISTR something in the novelizations about the time travel burning off a layer of skin, and Reese says something about "white light and pain". So maybe the metal ones get a layer of artificial flesh, which burns off, and then proceed from "simplicity" above. The humans don't have the capacity to put the fake flesh on stuff, which is why the Arnie model in T2 is also naked.
      • Question: if indeed only living tissue can go through a time travel device, why the hell would Skynet see any need to put the time, resources, and research into building one, since, obviously, it is a maker of metal machines?
      • See my two plots holes with one stone comment above.
      • Because it can make cyborgs. And those with functional time travel trump everyone else by default. It's not Skynet's fault it couldn't predict the model of time travel for its universe.
    • Also, I think it's important to remember that the time machine was invented by the machines — Connor and his crew found it after it had sent the T1. Thus, they probably had to adjust the parameters to send Kyle Reese through, but it was designed to work with robots in the first place.
      • Then why the hell didn't Skynet give the Terminators' future weaponry?
      • Because the Terminator is future weaponry. Human beings are fragile creatures; a 500 lbs robot that is Immune to Bullets, can punch its way through steel plating, and never has to rest shouldn't have any problems killing a human being with its bare hands.
      • Well, the T-X did have future weaponry, but not the first two Terminators Skynet sent.
      • That's the point of contention! If Skynet could send machines back without the technobabble energy field, why didn't it just cover the T-800 or T-1000 in pulse rifles or even give the first one appropriate clothing? It makes much more sense if the magic alloy the T-1000 and T-X had could just replicate the field. And John Connor never went back in time, btw.
      • It doesn't make a lick of sense really. The real reason is probably because it saves the special effects budget when you've got an excuse to use humans most of the time, and the effects it does allow are really impressive (metal skeleton showing, ripping off skin and so on) and, of course, it sounds cool and difficult. Rule of Cool, dude. Also, naked Arnold.
      • Because you don't need future weaponry to kill human beings, and its too much of a risk of changing history if the historical record suddenly contains mention of plasma rifles being fired up and down Main Street in 1990s Los Angeles. Remember, Skynet is operating under the constraint that it has to guarantee a specific future outcome — its own existence. A small measure of discretion is thereby advised. As pointed out above, the one time that Skynet knew it had to send something back to fight a Terminator, as opposed to kill a human being, it loaded that unit up with all the future weaponry it could cram in.
      • Might also add that Skynet is sending back all the futuristic weaponry that it needs to in the Terminators themselves. These things are robot assassins with technology and structure able to resist anything modern human small arms/MANPADS would be able to do to them, and their primary purpose is infiltration and locating their target as discreetly as possible and then killing them. That kind of a job doesn't need high-tech weaponry to pull off, and it would just be too disruptive and draw too much attention from authorities that might bring to bear weapons that can hurt them.
      • In addition to all that, the T-series robots are meant to be infiltrators and assassins who can improvise attack strategies and obtain weapons on the fly. The advantage of sending a Terminator through the portal is that it doesn't need to carry any big, anachronistic weapons with it: it's strong enough and smart enough to find its own weapons and solve its own problems, just as Skynet designed it to be. And Skynet, to its credit, adjusted its strategy accordingly: first it sent the nigh-indestructable T-800, then the nigh-indestructable and nigh-undetectable T-1000, and then sent the T-X, a walking futuristic arsenal, as a last resort.
    • One could also assume that the T-1000 and T-X had very simple components to generate skin cells/"living tissue" temporarily. That would also further explain why, as they were both damaged, they became unable to mimic human form. The component was damaged.
    • My theory is that travelling damages the individual wires and microchips. Mimetic polyalloy doesn't have that, and the T-X can use it to protect its wires and microchips.

  • Why is it that the Terminator robots have glowing red/blue eyes when their endoskeleton is revealed, but when they're in disguise their eyes don't glow?
    • Because they're supposed to be disguised as humans well enough to allow them to get into bases to wipe them out. Brightly glowing eyes would kind of blow that. Same reason they have white teeth when disguised, but silver when 'naked'.
    • It's to help blend in with humans. The lights are probably a form of night vision or something to help see in the dark, but they just do without it while trying to blend in, but if they lose pieces of their skin, their cover is blown anyway. Also, aside from Rule of Cool, this is probably why the Arnolds wear sunglasses, to disguise their glowing eyes. The T-1000 doesn't glow ever, and the T-X is covered in the stuff T-1000 is made of. As for their teeth, that's probably the white enamel stuff that makes them resemble teeth, but can get away by explosions or what have you.
    • In Reese's flashback/forward in T1, the Terminator who gets into the refugee base has glowing eyes even while fully enfleshed (does that sound dirty?) but after its cover is blown by Evil Detecting Dogs.
      • It's possible that is one of the earlier, rubbery skin Terminators. Also, SCC shows that Terminators can cause their eyes to glow whenever they want, so maybe it just chose to go all Badass at that point.
    • In the first film Arnie is shown cutting a damaged cornea off his red cyber-eye. That's why he originally needs sunglasses.
    • Let's not forget that the red, glowing 'eyes' serve as psychological warfare as well as visual processors. After all, the only thing scarier than a 500lb, metallic skeleton...is a 500lb, metallic skeleton with glowing, red eyes.
  • Doesn't anybody have pockets in these movies? Seriously, what kind of idiot leaves their keys in the visor? That's like asking someone to steal your car.
    • Truth in Television, or movies in this case, but I've known people in low crime areas who've done this.
      • Still, your car being stolen is not the only danger of leaving the keys inside. A faulty lock could lock you out of your car while your keys are inside. This troper foud out the hard way.
    • Both times it's done in T2, it makes sense. The station wagon was presumably at the mechanic's shop to have work done on it. Mechanics very often stash the keys to a vehicle somewhere inside the vehicle during the day. It saves time. And the police van is... a police van. They weren't worried about somebody walking up and stealing it while it's surrounded by cops.

  • Okay, so the T-800's are supposed to infiltrate the resistance in future, and then kill them when they aren't suspicious, right? Well, then, why do all of them look like Arnie? I mean, you'd figure after the first one, the resistance would shoot on sight.
    • * facepalms* They don't all look like Arnie. Arnie is Model 101, so there's more than one of him, but we've seen other models. One is in the first movie, for instance.
      • But it does bring up a legitimate JBM as regards T3. Ah-nold says he was specifically selected for the mission because Connor's childhood experiences with the 101 would make Connor hesitate long enough for the Terminator to make a kill shot. Minor problem with that: he's just told John Connor. So why the hell doesn't Connor, when he gets to be the leader of the resistance, then just say "By the way, guys, if you see someone who looks like a T-101, KILL IT WITH FIRE AND DON'T LET HIM WITHIN FIFTY YARDS OF ME , BECAUSE HE'S GOING TO KILL ME!"
      • Wouldn't that cause another unstable time loop? In the what..fifteen year between T3 and T4, with helping to organize the resistance. I doubt the revelation that he was killed by the T-850 model would be anything more than a niggling at the back of his mind. I know I wouldn't remember such a thing until I'd be killed by it.
      • You are choosing to forget one important character development in T3. The T-850 DESPISES John Connor. Since he was able to accomplish its mission, it shut down as he had no further mission parameters and was captured as a result, and reprogrammed. He openly states it throughout the movie. It's a paradox for him, to perform both missions with conflicting parameters (seemingly the terminators original programming is always running in the back ground, just in a locked state, they are always aware their main mission is to kill humans, and just roll with the reprogramming since, well, they NEED an objective to justify their existence). Yet in the end, after being hacked by the TX and forcing itself to shut down to reboot the programming, the T-850 CHOOSES to keep protecting John Connor, and goes out of its way to do so: it is the first Terminator in the franchise to willingly self destruct just to make sure the TX is destroyed along with him. Before doing it, he calmly tells John that they will meet again. Basically, yeah; John will allow himself to be shot in the future so they can capture that particular T-850, who in the end, was his friend. The Arnie from T2 was more of a surrogate father, the T-850 is a true friend.
      • More specifically; the T850 in T3 hates John Connor because he can't kill him YET, because if he does, then he can't kill Connor in the future, and when he kills him in the future, he will be captured and reprogrammed to protect both Connor and Brewster. It's a logic bomb nightmare for the "poor" thing.
      • Wouldn't killing that Terminator mean it couldn't be sent back to save him and Kate?
      • Why would Connor have references on hand to show the Resistance what Arnie looks like?
      • Because it's just good sense? Having a "scrapbook" with pictures of all previously encountered infiltrators to show any cells he visits would give them a better chance of spotting them before they get into a safehouse. Heck, all it takes is giving resistance cells a cheap camera with the instruction to snap a pic of any termies with new faces and putting them on a bulletin board and sending them to other cells (or even if it's just an over the wireless description "caucasian bodybuilder, brown hair, 1.8 Meters, 1 ton") would be a basic survival tactic.
      • Maybe he does. The Terminator series exists, not in a Stable Time Loop (that was blown to hell by T2), but in a time loop that's spinning off its axis. Every recursion introduces another set of changes that results in a different version of events that in turn, results in a different version of the time loop. John Connor being killed by the T-800 that resembles the one he knew in the past, for example, didn't come about until it was sent into the past, hooked up with John and Sarah, spent time with John and Sarah, and Sarah changed the future (not as much as she would have liked, but Judgment Day DID miss its original date). In that timeline, he didn't know that he was going to be killed by a Terminator that resembles him. In this recursion, he's been informed of the event, which will most likely prevent it in the future, resulting in another recursion.
      • Also, don't forget that the T-800 from T3 was reprogrammed. He had no reason to lie to the people he has been programmed to protect. Mebbe in the future set up in T3, that's just what Connor does.

  • Why does the resistance even bother trying to protect John and Sarah in the past? Why not just send Terminators directly to CNN, BBC, and other news services for a quick Public Service Announcements. "I am a robot from the future. Seriously. Here, watch while I cut my arm off. You believe me now? I have your attention? Good, because the next part is really important: DON'T BUILD SKYNET YOU STUPID RETARDS!" The Singularity might still happen, but it wouldn't be nearly as bad if a brand new Evil AI was limited to (say) deleting CALTECH student records.
    • Probably the same reason Skynet wanted to keep a low profile. People would be more likely to think the RESISTANCE was a threat instead of SKYNET. It MIGHT work, or it might make things worse. As for protecting John and Sarah, the thing with Time Travel is that if John and Sarah don't exist the resistance wouldn't exist. If I remember correctly the resistance won BECAUSE of John Conner. That is why Skynet sent the T-800 back to prevent his birth in 1984. Without John Conner it doesn't matter if they one in one timeline another is created with them being totally exterminated.
    • Because the Resistance has already won. Sure, it would be nice if they could prevent the whole thing from coming to pass in the first place... but they're not sure they can. They have no idea what kind of time paradox they might or might not obliterate themselves with if they tried such a drastic history-change as suggested above. However, since they have already achieved their minimum objective (destroy Skynet and assure the future of the human race) in the future, then all they have to do is preserve that victory against Skynet's attempts to change history. Or to put it more simply: Skynet is willing to gamble its entire existence on risky time paradoxes because it has nothing left to lose anyway. The Resistance most definitely has something left to lose, and thus won't.
      • This would work, except for the fact that explicit goal of the main characters in TSCC is to prevent Judgment Day.
      • Too bad SCC has made it clear that Skynet has already beaten them to the punch by sending Terminators back in time to build Skynet for them.
      • It's strange that they didn't try this in T2, since their goal in that one was also to prevent Judgment Day. They convinced Miles Dyson pretty easily, they could have just shown the T-800 to the press or the White House or even Cyberdyne as proof. I doubt any corporation outside of Cyber Punk fiction would be greedy enough to risk the future of civilization to build an artificial intelligence.
      • Yeah, they missed a great chance to derail Skynet's creation at the end of T2. Of course, by that point they'd committed so many major felonies that going public would've probably gotten Sarah convicted of multiple counts of terrorism, because if the Terminator is real, then she's not crazy and can be prosecuted. John too, possibly as an adult due to the extreme nature of the crimes (shooting up suburbia, blowing up a factory) he was a part of.
    • Also, have you met humanity? Half the engineers of the world would see that, say "Cool" and try it anyway. And at least a few of them would have the excuse of "I know what to avoid doing, I can make it better" while the rest would just say "Dude, awesome."
      • Plus this is the same species that built a super-intelligent AI and put it in charge of an entire nation's military right after it was born. That level of carelessness is just begging for the robot apocalypse.

  • So, uh, would Schwarzenegger still be the governor of California within this universe?
    • He's not in the TSCC continuity.
      • More specifically, he's not governor in the year 2010. Whether or not he exists in the show's "present" is something that's not addressed.
      • IIRC one of the deleted scenes from T3 portrays an Army major (played by Arnie) who's advertising the T-101 model. It's similar to the proposition that the Bishop android of Aliens was modelled on the original Weyland of Weyland-Yutani (depending on how seriously you take Aliens vs. Predator.)
      • The scene is a promotional video for the Terminator series, and Arnie is, yes, shown as the template (with a dubbed over Texas accent). The joke being that the skinny scientist overseeing it is dubbed over with Arnie's voice.

  • Why on earth would Skynet go to all the trouble of building plasma weapons-especially ones that could easily be captured by humans? If it had just given in H Ks and Terminators machine guns, it would've had no trouble crushing the resistance.
    • In T1, they were supposed to have been produced before the war.
    • Also, TSCC indicates that the humans have already sent back specialists with the training and knowledge to replicate future technology. They could have easily established workshops and built stashes of weapons for human use, or laid the infrastructure to allow the resistance to build plasma weapons after Judgment Day.
    • The resistance does have vehicles, so personal weapons that can destroy heavily armored targets would still be useful. Also, once the resistance starts capturing and reprogramming terminators, it has to to be able to fight its own robots. Given that by Salvation's time they can hijack motorcycle bots without much trouble, that probably isn't far off.
    • Nowhere in T1 do you learn that the plasma rifles were produced before the war, and in none of the films so far do we really learn much about the weapons' origins or if those origins are even human or mechanical, so much of this is up in the air.
    • The fact the the T-800 asked for one in the gunshop, and only realized they don't exist yet when the store owner gave him a funny look, all but says they're pre-war technology. If they were only invented during the war, it would have known better than to even try asking about them; at the very least, it tells us that Skynet didn't invent them, and that it doesn't really know when they came into use.
      • It's interesting that in T3, the first generation of Terminators were all armed with conventional weapons, and in Salvation only the biggest war machines possesed plasma-based weaponry. Those weapons most likely were conceptualized by humans, but it is Skynet who made them work (and it took it a while to miniaturize the technology).

  • In the first movie why does Sarah Connor input change to call 911? That is always free, even from cell phones with no service plans.
    • I just chalk it up to the fact that she's panicking about a serial killer who appears to be hunting everyone with her name, not thinking straight, and going through the motions as she would if she was making a regular call.

  • Why are people who travel back in time naked? And why do we see the Terminator's penis in some of these movies? What use would a kill-bot have for a penis?
    • The rules of time travel in this franchise is that nothing dead can travel through time unless it's covered with living tissue (don't ask how hair and nails go through). And Terminators wouldn't be very good infiltrators if they could be identified by simply taking off their clothes.
    • "Flash me yer junk! Awright, he's human. Heh. Barely."
    • Living tissue produces waste products just by being alive. Even if there's not as much tissue in a terminator's body as in a human's, it would still need some means of extracting those wastes to sustain its organic parts, so it may have a rudimentary excretory mechanism and need to urinate every few days.

  • The sequels seem to open up a major plot hole with their use of time travel. In the first movie, Skynet had one shot at stopping John in the past, so it sent a Terminator back to kill John's mother. Okay, fair enough, should've worked in theory but it didn't. On its own, that's fine. But then in T2, Skynet sends back another Terminator to get teenage John. Now, according to the T2 video game, both Terminators were actually sent at the same "time" in the future, with the T-1000 being a backup plan in case the T-800 failed. Alright, that still works. But then T3 has yet another Terminator showing up, and this time she's clearly been sent in response to Skynet's previous failures. And then the SCC series has Skynet sending still more Terminators back in time. So Skynet has regular access to time travel. Well, here's the problem. If Skynet has that, then it's effectively omniscient. It doesn't know Sarah's exact identity in the past? Well, send a Terminator back in time, get the information and send it back to the future (even by shutting down and waiting, if it has to). It doesn't know where John is because he's living off the grid? Okay, pinpoint the last time John was on the grid, and grab him then. For that matter, Skynet would do a whole lot better if it'd stop treating the pre and post-nuke eras like they're two different planets: just find the last time John was giving a speech or leading a battle in the future, in the early days of the war, and then go back and blow everything in a 100-mile radius around him to kingdom come. If Skynet has regular access to the past via time travel, then it has an endless number of chances to gather information and go after John, and there's no reason for it keep moving its attempts forward in time, or to stay confined to the pre-war era, the way the sequels show. Instead of targeting Sarah, then teenage John, then twentysomething John, just pick the one time in history, before or after the war, it knew exactly where John was, and treat him like the Cloverfield monster.
    • The problem with that is that the Resistance is doing the exact same thing. They're sending troops back in time to intercept the Terminators and, as SCC has more or less confirmed, everytime Skynet sends a unit back, it rewrites the timeline. Where John is changes. What John is doing changes. Hell, what Skynet is doing changes. And it's not like Skynet has zero margin of error here; in fact, as SCC has also shown, Skynet can be off on sending units back in time - waaaaaaaay off. A unit may be sent back in time to assassinate John at X time and place only to arrive afterwards, or weeks before, which is all the time a resistance agent would need to find John and move him in response. It's worth noting that Cromartie appears to have done exactly what you specified too - find a location John was known to be at and intercepted him. But also, as the series has shown, every single time Skynet sends something back, the resistance is able to send a countermeasure.
    • Hmm, that does make sense, especially if Skynet can't pinpoint exact arrival times, and each attempt is butterfly-effecting the historical records for the next attempt into chaos.

  • Does inorganic matter get destroyed by the time machines, or is it just not taken? I mean, when people travel with their clothes, are the clothes completely vaporized, or are they just left in a pile in the future?
    • It appears to be left behind; in the finale for SCC, Cameron's body was left behind when John and Weaver transferred to the future (presumably because part of her endoskeleton was exposed). Ditto for Cromartie's lower half.

  • Why not simply swarm the Connors with terminators? The continuity just seems to be a mess after the first movie, and an utter train wreck once you take SCC into consideration. If Skynet has access to time travel, as seen in T2 and T3, then why not send a bunch of terminators after Connor? SCC makes this even worse by having regular and repeated access to time travel, where Skynet sends a bunch of terminators to the past for little reason. If Skynet has regular access to time travel, why only send one or two terminators in after John Connor, and the rest after a bunch of idiots that don't matter in the long run? Why not just send about fifty terminators after baby Connor?
    • Because, as stated above, there's a huge margin for error in a lot of these time travel events. Also, in SCC, Skynet is not sending Terminators back in time "for little reason." Every single Terminator sent back is targeting a strategic resource, either for elimination or for protection. It's also worth noting that in the SCC version of the future, the war's outcome is in doubt; in the first two movies, the Resistance won and sending a lone Terminator back was an act of desperation on Skynet's part. By the time SCC rolls around, the future has been changed again, eliminating John Connor is of a lower priority, because even with John Connor, the resistance is in a stalemate. At that point, you've got to start eliminating enemy resources and securing your own, because 99% of wars are decided by strategic resources, not assassinating a single man. Connor is shown no other priority than any other important figure for the resistance, because Connor is not a deciding factor in the war anymore. SCC is actually playing things fairly realistically, in that regard.
      • It's worth noting that for the most part, Skynet appears to be unaware a countermeasure is being deployed against it's units being sent back in time, which would make sense, as the timeline is changed. Also, if it weren't for the units being sent back meeting unplanned-for resistance, they actually would have succeeded in most regards. Cromartie would have had John Connor dead to rights in the pilot if Cameron hadn't been there.
    • Conservation of Ninjitsu? The T-800 is designed as an infiltrator class. It's mission was to kill Sarah Conner without drawing to much attention. If Skynet had sent back say 20 Ah-nold's to kill Sarah Conner, it would have drawn to much attention, and then somebody(* cough* military * cough* ) who actually had the reasources to kill them would have gotten involved. On top of this, Skynet seems to grasp that changing the timeline has far-reaching consequences. The more Terminators it sent back would cause more collateral damage(and therefor more change) which could lead to Skynet never being created. All Skynet wanted to do was stop John Conner from leading the resistance. Anything else would threaten it's existance.

  • One thing that's always bugged me is the upgrade of capabilities for the Terminators as the movies continue. Even the fact there are multiple Terminators at multiple points in the timeline seems to be against Kyle Reese's original statement that the Resistance had already won by the time the "first" Terminator went through. Still, here's a theory which might resolve it: it's Time Travel we're talking about, so possibly the Terminators were sent through in reverse order to how they appear in the film. Consider: Skynet only sends back a stock standard T-101 when it appears that the war is lost and it has no other options. The other Terminators are advanced or experimental. The T-X gets sent back first, more as an experiment than anything else — hence its primary mission is only to try and take out Connor's associates, since the machines didn't know where he was. That plan fails, and the war continues to go badly for Skynet. So this time it sends one of its better models, the T-1000, back to when John was 12 or 13 and locatable, though this was a riskier move since Skynet knew even less about the decade prior to the war. The resistance got hold of that time travel facility, discovered that information, and managed to send back a captured T-101 instead. That mission also fails, so, Skynet having built a replacement time travel unit, it then decides on a desperation move as the Resistance breaks its defence grid and sends back a last T-101 to try and get Sarah Connor instead. Connor sends back Kyle Reese ... and then is killed by the T3 terminator, which Katherine Brewster then sends one final time through the time travel device to just before the war.

  • Why doesn't Skynet send a Terminator to kill either John or Sarah as babies, since it's a stage that they can't fight back, so that's a tactical advantage right there. I know in the first movie, John wasn't even born yet, but still...
    • Given the vagueness of who Sarah Connor was in T1 tracking her down as a child would be impossible. Someone would have noticed if all the babies named Sarah started getting killed.
    • Because its resources are apparently limited and its targeting the characters when it has a reasonably good idea of where they are. Postapocalypse Earth probably doesn't have much in the way of intact records, after all. Also remember that the first time it sends a unit back, its an act of desperation while Techcom is destroying it. Its similar for the other instances, except in SCC, where targeting Connor is a secondary priority and just part of a larger time-travel guerilla war campaign with Connor.
    • Yeah, it's obvious Skynet's records aren't that great, especially considering Sarah and John make concerted efforts after the first movie to stay off the grid. Hell, even before that, Skynet's intel seems to be limited to, "We know her name, and that she's somewhere in California." If Sarah had had an unlisted number, she'd have been pretty damn safe.
      • Kyle in T1: "Most of the records were lost in the war. The machines knew almost nothing about Sarah—her full name, where she lived...they just knew the city."
      • Because then the humans would get the idea to terminate the creator of timetravel to prevent that happening...and if that happened, then this awesomely hilarious crossover would happen.

  • The entire scheme of the robots to assassinate John/Sarah has always bugged me. Essentially, it doesn't work because the Terminators can never quire track down Sarah/John in one place at the right time and kill them while they are without their almighty protector. This obviously means that one of the Terminators main fail points is not being able to predict where the Connors are going to be at a given time. Therefore, in order to remedy this situation, why not just find out when John Conner was born (should be easy) and find out where he was born (should also be easy) and send a Terminator back on that day and get Sarah while she is in the hospital room. I don't see any escaping from that, even with a benevolent gaurdian angel, especially considering Sarah would not be able to be moved quickly. To top it off, the machines could even send more than one to make sure the job gets done.
    • Read earlier on the page. Skynet does not know those things, clearly. Especially since Sarah and John made a concerted effort to stay off computerized records. The whole point is they send them back to when they have a vague idea of where they are, and a decent chance of finding them because records did not survive intact.
      • According to TSCC, Sarah gave birth to John somewhere in South America in primitive conditions. This means there would have been no records of the birth.
      • Does that mean John wasn't a legal American citizen at the start of T2? Then why wasn't he deported when his mom went to the institution?
      • Jus sanguinis?

  • I still want to know WHY Skynet should even bother with the time travel plot if it knows Kyle Reese will be essential for Conner's survival? If it were worried about paradoxes it wouldn't send robots back to kill Conner,and since in T3 its production was on the way despite the Terminator hand being destroyed it doesn't need a Stable Time Loop to exist.
    • Because the time travel thing has always, from the beginning, been a last-ditch effort by Skynet to avoid its own total destruction. It sees it as its only chance to survive and win. If it doesn't try it, then that's it, it's over, so sending Arnie back is its last roll of the dice.
      • Also, Skynet doesn't know who Connor's father is. It has only partial postwar records, and that Sarah Connor was his mother. Even John Connor doesn't say much about him and doesn't identify him. Kyle Reese should not have come up on its radar. But TS screws with this idea in a major way.

  • Why in the world does the Terminator in the first two movies opt to steal clothes from people instead of what has to be the much more inconspicuous method of simply breaking into a clothing store and stealing clothes from there? In the second movie, we see that he actually has a program to actively seek out a human with clothes that will fit him. This is just silly.
    • In the second and third movies, he doesn't seem to materialize anywhere close to a clothing store to begin with, so he goes to the nearest populated area and picks out something that fits him from there. In the former case, well, a Terminator doesn't care how many humans it kills, and probably doesn't know where to find a clothing store, so it just walks until it finds someone, and takes his clothes.
    • The Terminators aren't very good at actually infiltrating anything. The T-X actually appeared in a women's clothing store and still didn't take any. Not that she needed to, but she still could have put some on or faked it instead of just attacking her first victim naked.
      • If memory serves, it was a lingerie shop. That wouldn't have helped her be less conspicuous.
    • Technically speaking, to "infiltrate" is to "enter or gain access to (an organization, place, etc.) surreptitiously and gradually, esp. in order to acquire secret information", i.e. spying. T-800 Terminators clearly aren't designed for spying. They seem to have no understanding of human culture and little or no social skills. In T2 John Conner actually has to tell the T-800 that most people say "yes" or "no" rather than "affirmative" or "negative". If T-800s were designed to be covert spies they would know that already. Rather, Terminators seem designed as terrorist assassins. Their "infiltration" programming only goes so far as to allow them to pass for human to a casual observer (i.e. they'll put on some sunglasses to cover up damage to their flesh-suit but have no compunctions about killing anyone who gets in their way) but once they've located their target they immediately bust out the dakka. If you think about it this actually makes sense. Imagine the situation: At a Presidential inauguration a seemingly normal person vaults over the guard rail and shoots the President in the face, taking 212 rounds to the head and torso and ripping the arms off three Secret Service agents and two police officers before finally going down. Amazingly, during the autopsy this superhuman monster killer turns out to have been a robot all along! Naturally the government acts swiftly to cover this up, confiscating the body and heavily censoring the coroner's report (possibly "disappearing" the coroner himself in the process). Similar incidents begin to occur around the world with alarming regularity. Efforts to find a connection between the killers is unsuccessful as they are not easily profiled by race or nationality. Each killer either carried no identification or stole their identification from someone else (these victims are later found dead in their homes), and investigators cannot find any prior records of the killers other than sudden (cash) purchases from gun shops and motels a few days before each attack. Eventually this fact is leaked to the general public, along with witness reports from the incidents. In each report the killer is described as being terse to the point of rudeness, speaking in an unusually clinical and technical manner and exuding an unsettling detachment from the world around him. Suspicion will begin to run rampant. Anyone who moves into a new area by themselves or has an anti-social personality starts getting sideways looks from their neighbors and co-workers. Some of them will be attacked and killed by angry mobs. Civil liberties will begin to suffer as more and more attacks occur. People who have recently bought one or more guns or who fit a certain vague behavioral profile will be detained by the government, possibly indefinitely. As society deteriorates into panic and suspicion, the Machines launch a sudden massive strike.

  • OK so Sky Net sent the Terminator back in time as a desperation move to prevent itself from being destroyed by the Human Resistance by killing its leader. That's fine, except for one thing... Sky Net still lost the war as of 2029. If the war has already been lost then how does Sky Net still even exist into 2032? Did the Human Resistance only destroy its defense grid and main means of production so that it only exists as an isolated program in a facility somewhere but can't fight the war anymore? If the humans won the war then Sky Net shouldn't exist anymore, so therefore they have simply weakened Sky Net but it hasn't truly been destroyed yet.
    • War is rarely a case of win/lose. There are of course exceptions but if your at Total War (which we can assume both Skynet and the Resistance are) then everything is focused on the ability to wage more war. The Resistance could have "won" but more likely is that winning was inevitable. Skynet probably still had resources at it's disposal but not enough to defeat the humans. Three years is pushing it though.
    • The butterfly effect: Skynet's three assasination attempts on John Conner altered both of their origins, and it got lucky enough that the noose was delayed.

  • Why doesn't John Conner update the past with information that is going to happen once the time traveling robot assassins come after him? Can't he tell Kyle, "Hey a previous version of you got killed when you broke your neck when you were blown away by a bomb you planted inside the terminator.", or, "Once the T-100 is frozen pick up all of the individual pieces and throw them in the smelting plant so that he doesn't have the chance to unfreeze from the liquid nitrogen.", and finally, "Make sure that you get to the U.S Air Force's command center in 2004 so that you can tell them to not activate Sky Net's network control." I mean if it happened to John once before then it should happen to him again once he gets to personally activate the time traveling device.
    • Because John's not omniscient, so he's not going to know specifics. Also, sending someone back changes the future, so he has no idea what's going to happen in the past.
    • Also also, every time Kyle Reese goes back, dies, and Judgment Day is not averted, it increases the amount of information that has to be passed on to him the next time the time travel loop rolls around. The first time Kyle is killed by a bomb he planted in the Terminator's torso. The next time John warns him about this before Kyle goes back, Kyle makes sure to get into cover before the bomb goes off, and instead is killed in some other way. Now John has two possible deaths to warn Kyle about. The next time John warns Kyle about his two previous deaths and he's killed in yet another way. Now John has three possible deaths to warn Kyle about. See how that could become a problem? Eventually it multiplies out of control. Even if it works it won't work. If Kyle is warned about every possible death and manages to flawlessly avoid all of them and survive without a scratch then future!John Connor won't have anything to warn him about at all, and he won't know not to get killed by a bomb shoved in the Terminator's torso.
    • Given that it seems that time is fluid in the Terminator Universe maybe John does say all these things but we're only watching the first run through.

  • One of the things that has bothered this troper the most about the entire Terminator series is the implicit belief written into the films that Skynet is under some kind of time constraint to defeat the human race or to find Sarah & John Connor.Being a self-repairing machine, Skynet is virtually immortal, and if not immortal, then it will certainly long outlive the majority of its opponents. It can launch attacks any time it chooses (and given the benefit of access to a time machine,any WHEN it wants to. Even if the humans are successful, Skynet can hide inside the hard drives of a terminator or a drone and wait to strike again at a time of its choosing.
    • The first movie makes it clear that Skynet sending units back in time was an extreme desperation move as it had been destroyed by the Resistance.

  • Why are all of machines in this film series forced to think (and act) like humans rather than like the machines that they are? The LEAST efficient way to search for Sarah Connor in the first film would have been to look in the telephone book (what if she didn't have a phone or was living w/ somebody that had the phone in their name). Why didn't the Terminator simply go a post office or any public records building after they were closed,accessed their computers and look up Sarah Connor in that manner?
    • Breaking into a public records building gets police on your ass, as such a location will likely be guarded and have alarms. The T-800 would want to minimize contact until it has at least started eliminating targets, and the easiest way to access that information would be via the phone book. Its simple, readily available, quick to access, and won't get police investigating and pursuing and potentially encountering and then bringing weapons against it that can defeat it.
      • The Terminator could simply dial the number for the modem and access the data remotely, like the T-X did in T3.
      • And on the off-chance Sarah's number isn't in the phone book the Terminator can explore other methods.

  • Why is Skynet even using Terminators? Knowing that humans are irrational (according to him databases) why not simply use that irrationality against them and let them do the job for you? Or create a disease? Or a quick acting nerve agent? Or...any number of a dozen or more attacks that humans would not suspect? Hell...why not use all of the tactics in its database at once? Human would never expect and would be overwhelmed.
    • It does and it did. That's why mankind is reduced to a weakened resistance. Its just that the humans have adapted. "Irrationality" is incredibly vague, and human beings can be surpringingly single-minded when they'r eup against threats to their own survival, i.e. killer robots. Disease can be defeated by quarantine and antibiotics (and in the SCC continuity, Skynet was using drugs against the resistance) Nerve agents can be defeated with gas masks and depending on prevailing conditions and security, may be ineffective against bunkers where the majority of the Resistance house themselves.
      • Skynet's first act after becoming self-aware was to launch nukes at Russia, causing them to launch their own nukes in response. Result: instant nuclear holocaust. It wasn't until long afterward when the humans had gone to ground and started launching guerilla attacks that Skynet was forced to start hunting them down individually with killbots.
    • Skynet may not have the resources. When it determined that people were a threat, Skynet was scared and tried to eliminate the threat as quickly as possible. As a result, there wasn't a civilization left to farm the resources needed for a supervirus. If it had just waited to develop the virus in secrets and then launch the nukes, it would've gotten rid of those pesky humans...of course, if Skynet had that foresight, it probably wouldn't have turned on us in the first place.

  • The Kyle Reese from the more-or-less original timeline is the father of John Connor; why is the Kyle Reese of the Terminator: Salvation timeline of any importance? John Connor might think so based on assumption, but if you look at the Parallel Universe theory of time travel it shouldn't matter even if Kyle Reese dies before he can be "sent back in time", since that is not the same Kyle Reese that fathered John Connor but an alternate one. Perhaps John Connor never saw any time travel movies or Doctor Who...
    • And what if the Parallel Universe theory of time travel isn't true in the Terminator universe? John Connor can't take that chance.
    • Many people who analyze these films seem to forget there's a reason it's called the Parallel Universe theory. We don't even know whether it's true now. Why would John Connor risk not being born on a hunch? It's theoretically possible to survive being shot in the forehead, but I'm still going to freak out if someone points a gun at me.
    • Does anyone even know how time travel in Terminator works anyway?

  • Alright, what always bugged me is the variable meaning of "No Fate but what we make." In the first film, it's an uplifting bit of advice to Sarah that even though all this shit's being dumped on her, it's still her responsibility to be strong and make him all he needs to be. "You must survive or I can never exist." Cool. Then the second movie spins around and suddenly it means "BLOW UP BUILDINGS! FUCK THE FUTURE! EAT TERMINATORS, SHIT JUDGMENT DAY! GO FOR IT, SARAH!" Um...ok, I guess that works. Makes it seem like Kyle was sent back to blow up Cyberdyne, but whatever. John himself falls for that throughout the third movie, but the ending basically pulls up a giant troll face on him and says "Yeah, the Future's not set, but there are some pretty hefty guidelines. Problem, savior of mankind?" I'm ok with that. It makes more sense, even if it completely destroys the emotional impact of the second film. It's similar to the message of the first. That's cool. Then we have Salvation, where John is suddenly back to thinking "Kill Kyle Reese, reset the future. No John Conner." Even though, on a fundamental level, that makes no sense at all given what he's seen and basic logic (kill Kyle Reese, reset the future, and you get your original dad back, which leads to Kyle coming back. Paradoxical, but either way your existence is assured). So, now John's going to send back Kyle meaning for No Fate to mean what Sarah heard in the second movie. Great. Thankfully, the movie didn't have any time travel, so it didn't end up mattering what No Fate meant, yet. It just really bothered me that even Cameron hopped back and forth on it, just using the words however they seemed to support the plot. Maybe I'm just overthinking it.
    • You are. And you're making the mistake of assuming that "No fate but what we make" is some kind of objective statement of how timetravel works that was said by an omniscient being of time and space. It's a motto that human beings came up with. Human beings who, you know, will each interpret things differently. So it's very silly to say that it's a definitive statement to be treated as fact anymore than you'd expect Semper Fidelis to mean that every single marine ever is never going to cheat on his or her loved one.
      • Except that Semper Fidelis isn't a phrase written by the author of the universe. No Fate is.
      • Yes, but in universe, it's only said by fallible human beings. It's not said by anyone who would actually know. The humans didn't even build the time machine, do you expect them to have explicit and complete knowledge of how the time-space continuum is going to react to all the time traveling? It's a motto, plain and simple.

  • We all seem to be thinking of only two ways that time travel could work: either a stable time loop in a singular timeline or multiple timelines being created whenever time travel is used. But what if the future merely ceased to exist when a time travel event occurred? Meaning that once the timeline is altered, everything after the event when the characters are sent back is wiped out?
So let's think about this: Maybe the thing that makes John such a great leader is that it's in Sarah's blood. After all, we've seen that Sarah has badass inside of her in the first and especially second movies. So in the original timeline, Sarah gets knocked up by random 80s dude, Cyberdyne manages to create Skynet without any help from future technology, John Connor grows up and survives the nuclear holocaust, and ends up being an awesome leader and kicks the machine's ass until they decide to use their fancy time travel technology to go back and wipe him out.

So everything gets reset, only now the Terminator exists in the 1980s. Reese also sends himself back because he somehow knows the T-800 is out to get Connor. So now, Sarah sleeps with Kyle instead of random 80s dude, producing a slightly different but still badass John Connor, and they destroy the Terminator, leaving behind a relic that inadvertently helps Cyberdyne build Skynet even faster, and probably improves human technology as a whole to a great degree. (Or not, since it is secret and Cyberdyne is kinda the eeevil corporation that Cameron loves to have in his movies)

The future plays out a bit differently this time. Sarah goes nuts and imprisoned, and John lives with his foster parents. Sarah stays in the looney bin until she probably dies, and Connor is raised by his foster parents, but having the badass blood in him still survives nuclear holocaust and fights the machines. The Machines decide to eliminate this thorn in their side, so they send back the T-1000, possibly an advanced machine caused by the spike in technology caused by the T-800 arm left back in the 80s. It fails again, and the timeline gets reset once more.... etc

Only this time,

  • Time doesn't make much sense in terminator, here's why. If you could change the past the changes would have to be immediate (because from current time point of view they have already happened, just like everything that you did yesterday has already happened, it isn't happening now), meaning once skynet sent a terminator back, but Reese hasn't been sent yet, at that instant the future would have been changed because everything in the past has already happened. Alternately changes in the past have no effect on the current timeline and killing Connor in the past would have made no difference to the present, rendering the whole "sent terminator into the past" gambit pointless.
    • In the former case it does make sense if you assume that Reese was going to be sent and nothing had happened to prevent his going, and in the latter it's still important to bear in mind that the machines were making a desperate last minute attempt and evaluated that they may as well give it a shot—in other words, that there is some chance that traditional understandings of how time travel would work might turn out to be wrong, and they had nothing to lose in trying since they had already lost the war anyway.
    • I don't see how the former makes sense though. Terminator goes through, Reese hasn't been sent yet. At that point terminator has to succeed in his mission (since Reese is not in the past to stop him, and the past has already happened from his point of view), so there is no longer a John Connor to lead the resistance in the present, no victory for humans, no Reese to send to the past.
  • Let’s say that the original Terminator has just been sent back. The Resistance sees that it was programmed to go back and prevent John from being born, so they make plans to send someone else back to stop it. Then someone asks, “How about we just… don’t send someone back?” With that in mind, they could make two conclusions: Either A) The Terminator failed, as John is still alive in the present; or B) The Terminator has affected another timeline, which will have no bearing on their own existence. Or are they afraid that John will begin to fade away, BTTF-style? The same logic can be applied to Skynet’s perspective. It would know immediately if it had failed, because it would still be in the same situation rather than the rewritten version where the Resistance is beaten. And if there is indeed a multiverse, then sending a Terminator would only benefit Alternate-Timeline-Skynet and not itself. The next thing to look at would be the concept of an evolving timeline that changes with each iteration, as mentioned above. This is still essentially the multiple-timeline idea – they just happen to be alternate timelines that other time-travellers have visited. The defining aspect about a single timeline is the grandfather paradox and the inability to prevent things that lead to travelling back in the first place. If someone travels back in time, there has to be some point in the future where that exact same individual slipped into the past. But in a constantly re-writing timeline where past-version knowledge is passed on to the next version, there will eventually be a point where going back is unnecessary. Let’s say the latest Terminator goes back and kills Sarah/John. Skynet continues to play a perfect game and annihilates the resistance. It therefore has no need to pursue time travel technology and lives happily ever after. That means that from its perspective, that “Perfect Hand” Terminator simply blipped into existence at one point in time, which means that it either came from a parallel universe, or otherwise it would have to pursue the time-travel loop for no other reason than to avert a theoretical paradox. It seems to make a bit of sense for a machine to follow this through, but again – what would happen if Skynet just thought, “Nah, let’s just not send someone back, we don’t even need to anymore.” Such a world in a single-timeline universe would be unachievable (since the course of events would already be decided as soon as the Terminator shows up), and a Skynet working on a multiple-timeline train of thought wouldn’t follow that course of action as it would only help the multiverse Skynet.

  • When was the resistance formed?
    • Probably as soon as the first set of bombs stopped dropping.
    • In T1 Kyle Reese said that humans were rounded up by the machines and put into extermination camps, and that one man - John Conner - taught them to fight back and escape. So the Resiatance was formed after Skynet started its Final Solution for humanity post-Judgment Day.

  • So during the future war is John the president of the whole human race or what?
    • Hard to say. The series doesn't get into too many details about how many humans survived and where the survivors are all living. Also, not all humans are necessarily part of the resistance. The rest may be in concentration camps run by the machines or surviving on their own. John Connor may just be the leader of the human resistance movement, not necessarily the entire human species.

  • Does the resistance ever win the war against Skynet?
    • It was stated in the first film that the time-travel attempt was a last-ditch effort by the machines to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Since the attempt failed, the resistance did win in that timeline. Too much of a headache to go into detail, but "yes" should suffice.
      • Kyle Reese explains it to his interrogators in very clear detail. He tells them that the Human Resistance had already won the Human-Machine War, Skynet's defense grid and production factories were destroyed leaving Skynet unable to fight the war any longer. However this does make me wonder how Skynet survived until 2032 to be able to send a third Terminator into the past. The only answer I can come up with is the the Terminators on the field functioned independently and that Skynet found a way to exist as a powerless, isolated program.

  • Why does Sky Net even have a time machine if the whole "send an assassin back in time" plot was a last-ditch effort? And how did they intend to test this?
    • It is all but outright said that the technology is just a prototype that Skynet had just completed and hasn't tested.
      • Yes, but why do they have a time machine if they didn't want to use it?
      • Because it just completed it and has not tested it yet. Its not an issue of "want" but "can."
      • Same reason people will keep guns for self-defense despite not wanting to use it: Just in case they have to.
    • Possibly Skynet discovered a human-led top secret research project about time travel when it took over the internet and global military computer systems. It didn't do anything with the information until the war started to turn against it, at which point it built upon what the human physicists had already done.
      • The novels of the Terminator series established that Area 51 scientists had created time travel. Skynet is a Military AI and it would have access to the most top secret files the U.S Military has to offer.

  • Why does Sky Net keep sending terminators back to later and later points in John and Sarah's lives when they are increasingly suspicious? Why not keep sending them to the earliest possible time (i.e. the time of the first movie)?
    • Perhaps the continous tense is not aplicable here. Sky Net does not "keep" sending them - it does it once, and then it gets trashed by the humans, because the Terminators had failed. And since it doesn't know when exactly to send them to, it sends several to different periods of time. This is the only way all of this makes some bloody sense to me.

  • The T-1000's & TX's "mimicking" with their liquid metal exteriors... Are they actually producing a surface that would feel & react like flesh & clothing, or just a fake that looks real? For instance if you touched, prodded or punched them (good luck with that, by the way) would the flesh & clothing feel & react realistically?
    • Probably would react like it. Remember, the other movies establish that only fleshy things can time-travel, hence why they always arrive naked, so his "skin" should react like flesh.

  • Is there a reason why Terminators don't just run down their prey? In each of the three main movies there is a scene where the Terminator proves that it is capable of running at least forty miles per hour, I see no reason why the T1000 with it shapeshifting abilities couldn't move considerably faster that that since real animals can and there is nothing preventing it from turning into a cheetah. Still outside of that one scene per movie they never show any evidence of being fast, in fact they generally behave like mightyglaciers. It makes no sense.
    • Because there's only one scene where speed really matters. Most of the rest of the time, they're searching for the humans they're trying to kill. The T-1000 does do some sprinting and shooting.
    • Terminators are made of metal. They're still pretty dense and heavy.

  • The "Call John" scene in the end of Terminator 2. T-1000 captures Sarah and tortures her, demanding that she calls out to John. Ok, maybe he didn't trust himself to sound convincing after the nitrogen bath, and humans had already saw through his disguise once, so fine. Anyway, later, after she refuses, he does turn into her and goes calling out for John and then the real Sarah catches up with him. Why in the world would he leave her alive? She doesn't have any new wounds, so it's not like he stabbed her, but it wasn't fatal, and finishing her off would've taken him a mere second, so urgency couldn't have been an issue either.
    • T-1000 is kind of sadistic-it probably wanted to mess with John.
    • The T-1000 doesn't have any chance to kill her. The T-800 interrupts the torture by attacking the T-1000, and the two terminators fight for some time, leaving Sarah ample time to escape. Afterwards, the T-1000 can't try to force Sarah to do anything since it doesn't know where she went, so it has no choice but to take her form and call to John itself.
      • But wasn't the "call to John" scene after T-1000 overpowered Arnie and shut him down? After that Arnie only showed up for the final showdown.
      • No. The fight scene where the T-1000 breaks the T-800 STARTS when Arnie interrupts the "call to John" scene.

  • Is John Connor Doomed by Canon as of Terminator 3 to die by an Arnie model or does the Broad Strokes sequel nature of Terminator Salvation hand-wave that away?

  • In Terminator 2, Sarah and John Conner want to try and stop Skynet from ever existed. Um, John? Your dad will only go back in time because of Skynet's last desperate effort to get rid of you. If you succeed then Kyle can't go back, you'll never be born and it'll create a Temporal Paradox
    • Is it that hard to believe that the Grandfather Paradox may not actually exist in this universe? That once you go back, not being born doesn't stop you from existing right now?
    • A few possibilities come to mind. The first and simplest is that the entire Terminator franchise works at least in part on the concept that the Grandfather Paradox is not in play. Either we're actually dealing with alternate dimensions that superficially resemble the past or it just doesn't work that way. How do we know this? The same problem listed above just from Skynet's side of the equation. If he kills John Connor then he'll never be about to be destroyed by John Connor and thus never sends a Terminator into the past. John may be perfectly willing to accept never being born in exchange for the war with the machines never happening. It's more than a fair trade.
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