Inspired by the question When did Skynet send back the t-1000?

I understand the simple out of universe answer is likely "they hadn't come up with the ideas of the newer models yet". But I was wondering if there was some official in universe answer to explain why this would be.
Would it not have been better for Skynet to send back a T-1000 first? Maybe a T-X or something? Surely they would have succeeded without Arnold to stop them.

My best guess is that the T-800 was more easily accessible in the shortest amount of time possible, as I imagine Skynet had to rush to use the time machine as quickly as possible once the Resistance had basically won. But is this addressed at any point?

  • I think we all have to learn that lesson sooner or later @DVK :/ Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 15:20
  • Also, did you mean a Queue? Sounds more like a FIFO thing if something else was added to the structure in order for the T-800 to come out first. Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 15:21
  • 2
    T-800 was what was first added to the queue, so it was the first thing that got popped off the queue. Moral of the story: always choose appropriate data structure. Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 15:25
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    apparently, I'm Skynet and didn't learn that moral either (my original deleted comment said "stack" head hangs in shame)! Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 15:25
  • @DVK LOL. Skynet was defeated because it failed CS 201. I love it. Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 17:44

2 Answers 2


The T-1000 was a prototype. There may literally have only been one fully constructed when Skynet sent the two terminators back in time. Even if more than one was available, they hadn't been fully tested yet (if they had, they wouldn't be prototypes any more!) so Skynet could not be sure how well it would perform, particularly under such unique circumstances.

Sending back one advanced prototype and one model known to be reliable was simply a matter of hedging its bets.

(The third movie messes this up by introducing the even more advanced T-X, but you could argue that the T-X came from a different timeline than the other two, due to the events in T2.)


Kyle Reese indicated that the T-800 was the state of the art in Terminator design:

The six hundred series had rubber skin. We nailed them easy. But the eight hundreds are new. They look human. Sweat, bad breath, everything. Touch it, you’d feel warmth. But by then you’d already be dead. Very hard to spot.

Terminator: Frakes Novelisation

He was of course wrong. After sending its top of the line production model (and realising that it hadn't worked), Skynet also sent along a little something it had cooking in the lab:

"Not like me. A T-1000. Advanced prototype, A mimetic polyalloy."

Terminator 2: Judgement Day - Frakes novelisation

Note that James Cameron felt that sending the T-1000 was an act of extreme desperation by Skynet since the "learning mode" Terminator could easily turn against it:

"I started thinking about the film in two stages. In the first stage the future sends back a mechanical guy, essentially what The Terminator became, and the good guys send back their warrior. In the end, the mechanical guy is destroyed. But up there in the future, somewhere, they say, well, wait a minute, that didn't work; what else do we have? And the answer is something terrible, something even they're afraid of. Something they've created that they keep locked up, hidden away in a box, something they're terrified to unleash because even they don't know what the consequences will be - they being the machines, now in charge of the future.

JamesCameronOnline - Terminator FAQ

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