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The Paradoxes Of Terminator


A Possible Answer To The Many Paradoxes Of The Terminator Series

Works sited:
Temporal Anomalies in the Terminator Series


The many paradoxes of the Terminator movies has always intrigued me, as well as confused me. But thanks to the site mentioned above, I have finally started to make sense of it all. Now, some of the writer's points, I don't agree with; and some, I don't understand. However, reading his thoughts on the matter has inspired my own theory/theories about the series, and I have come to a deduction that truly makes sense to me, and might make sense to others: The entire Terminator series, from events that occurred in the movies to events that were merely mentioned, are part of two universes and/or timelines (possibly three, depending how you'd like to look at it.). Allow me to explain.

It all begins with Timeline 1, the original timeline, which is the one we don't know much of. In this timeline, John Connor was born to Sarah Connor and an unmentioned, unnamed man (possibly a deadbeat or a one night stand). John grows up without a father, with only his mother around, and grows up to be a very strong-willed young man. At some point, an unknown company (very possibly the government-ran Cyber Research Systems, CRS, that was mentioned in the third film) develops Skynet, and upon it being launched on the date of deployment (very possibly the date mentioned in the third film,and the date most people assume it happening on, July 24th, 2005), begins its nuclear war. John survives, as well as others, and that is where the future we know a bit of kicks in. John Connor becomes the great General mentioned in the films, married to his second-in-command, Catherine Brewster. One of his soldiers is Kyle Reese, a young man who grew up in the ruins of the war. After hearing so many stories about John's mother, Sarah, he's willing to go into the past to rescue her when someone is needed. In 2029, when Skynet appears to be beaten, they send one of their machines, a Terminator, 800 series variety, into the past to murder John's mother in 1984, therefore killing John before his birth. In order to save his mother, and himself, he must choose someone to go back and protect her. Kyle Reese volunteers, and follows the Terminator into the past. Their departure from 2029 and arrival in 1984 creates a divergent universe, where history up until that point has remained the same as the original timeline.

Now we have timeline 2, possibly the final timeline in my point, depending on your outlook. Kyle Reese and the Terminator arrive in 1984, in the divergent universe that they have unknowingly created. The events of the first film occur, concluding with Sarah being pregnant with John... but in this timeline, John's father is now Kyle, and Sarah knows of the future war, and is prepared to teach and prepare her son for it. Cyberdyne discovers the chip and arm of the first Terminator and presumably begin research on it. In the original timeline, John assumes that the mission was a success for Kyle because he's not dead... but in all reality, if you think of it, he would have no idea if it succeeded or not... The events of timeline 2 would have no effect on timeline 1.

Possibly a month or a few later, in timeline 1, Skynet believes it has failed and sends back another Terminator to kill John; this time, they send an advanced prototype, the T-1000, to kill John, this time in 1995, at the age of 10. Again, older John discovers this and send back a protector for himself: a reprogrammed T-800, which has physical characteristics that are identical to that of the 800 who went after Sarah.

When the two Terminators from timeline 1 arrive in timeline 2, Sarah is in a mental hospital, driven to the brink of insanity by what she knows. Miles Bennett Dyson, a developer for Cyberdyne, has being doing research, and has been attempting the creation of Skynet. At this point, Judgment Day is scheduled to happen on August 29, 1997. John is in the care of foster parents. The events of the second film occur, ending with the destruction of the T-1000, the parts of the original T-800, and the T-800 that has protected John and his mother. But one must think- if it was truly over, and Skynet was not going to happen... wouldn't the 800 simply had faded from existence after the original pieces were destroyed? The future is somewhat changed... the war has been delayed.

This is the point where you must decide on your own what you'd rather believe. If you like things nice and simple, you will prefer my first point. If you don't mind a bit of complication, like me, you might prefer my second point.

First point: In the original timeline, on July 4, 2032, Skynet realizes that it may be losing, so, in a last-ditch effort, it sends its most advanced machine, the Terminatrix, to kill John's lieutenants, including his wife, the second-in-command. Due to the fact that Skynet had no idea of John's whereabouts on the day that Skynet took control, they assign the T-X to only kill him if he can be found. They also assign her to ensure Skynet's launch. They also send a T-850 with he model 101 packaging to kill the older John. It succeeds, and despite her grief, Kate manages to reprogram the T-850 to protect herself in the past, and possibly John.

The T-X and 850 arrive in timeline 2, the events of the third film occur, with possible differences. T-X ensures Skynet's rise, the war starts on the original date. General Brewster was possibly able to create Skynet due to the fact that possibly some of Dyson's files survived destruction.

Second point: This is the complicated way. Imagine... that once the universe that held timeline 2 diverged from the one that timeline one was in, the events did not occur exactly as they did in the first film. In timeline 1, John presumably did not have the photo of Sarah to give to Kyle, therefore, Kyle did not fall in love with Sarah from afar. Perhaps Kyle and Sarah both killed the Terminator, not just Sarah. Little differences here and there. Perhaps, in following the events of the second film, the T-1000 did not "glitch", they just somehow managed to destroy him. Perhaps they were not able to get rid of the chip and arm, and maybe the war began in 1997, when John was only 12. And lastly, perhaps in the original timeline, the T-X was not sent, making it so that the events of the third film did not occur, or perhaps she came back early, in 1997, to assure that Skynet was launched, but could not find John or Kate, and the 850 was not sent. Basically, timeline 2 was completely altered from the original timeline.

However, some events of timeline 1 repeated themselves, prompting another divergent universe, timeline 3.

In 2029 of timeline 2, John assumes Reese is his father, and gives him the old, tattered photo of Sarah. With this and all he hears of her, Reese falls in love with Sarah, and volunteers to protect her in the past against the first Terminator. Kyle and the Terminator's arrivals in 1984 spring fourth timeline 3. The events of the first film occur, this time exactly.

In timeline 2, still in 2029, but months after Reese and the Terminator's departure, Skynet sends the T-1000 to 1995 to kill the 10-year-old John. Adult John sends back his reprogrammed 800 to protect his child-self, and possibly hopes that there will be a way to prevent the war. T-1000 and 800 arrive in timeline 3, and the events of the second film happen exactly.

After the events of the second film, Sarah and John go into hiding. A bit later in the year, Sarah is diagnosed with Leukemia. She lives nearly three years, barely living long enough to ensure that Skynet did not take control. The day of her death, John takes off, and begins his "off the grid"-style living. He lives this way until the early-morning hours of July 24, 2005.

In timeline 2, on July 4, 2032, Skynet sends back the T-X to fulfill her duties, and sends a T-850, a 101 model, to kill John, due to his emotional attachment to the model number. After John's death, Kate (who has still ended up as John's wife), reprograms the Terminator who killed her husband, and sends it back to save both their lives in 2005.

The T-X and 850 arrive in timeline 3, and the events of the third film happen exactly.

Those are my theories involving the three films. It's not so confusing when you think about it. Oh, and on an interesting note: dialogue in both the first and third films hints that it might be set in another universe. In the first film, Kyle asks a police officer what the date is, the officer replies with, "12th. May. Thursday." May 12th did not fall on a Thursday in 1984. In the third film, the Terminator himself says, "My presence in this timeline was anticipated." Writer's flubs, or subtle hints? You decide.