the events of The Terminator 1984 and Terminator 2: judgment day 1991 is now timeline 1 then they blew up cyberdine in 1995 and created timeline 2 where judgment day is now 2004 not 1997 then the events of terminator 3 and salvation took place then in terminator genysis they follow events of the 1st terminator movie but there are some changes like

Upon arriving in 1984, Skynet's T-800 is disabled by Sarah and a reprogrammed T-800 Guardian sent from an unknown origin to protect her when she was nine years old; Sarah has nicknamed the T-800 "Pops". Kyle arrives a short time later and is immediately attacked by a T-1000 Sarah and the Guardian join Kyle and destroy the T-1000 using acid. It's revealed that Sarah and the Guardian have constructed a makeshift time machine similar to Skynet's, and Sarah plans to travel to 1997 to prevent Skynet from becoming self-aware. Realizing the timeline has been altered, Kyle is convinced that the future has changed due to the warning he received in his childhood vision. He persuades Sarah to travel to 2017 instead to stop Skynet. sarah raised by pops in 1973, visions of kyle reeses kid self, Matt smith is skynet, john conner is a terminator

which created timeline 3 and erased the 1st 2 timelines for good and the events of the 4 terminator movies never happened ever so im really confused why count the events of The Terminator (1984) Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) Terminator Salvation (2009) Terminator Genisys (2015) happend in 1 timeline and i woun"t be confused? why did all of the events of the 5 terminator movies get split into 3 timelines ?

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    What makes you think that there's only three timelines? Also, what makes you think that whoever wrote the Wikipedia entry you're quoting has any better handle on this than you do?
    – Valorum
    Apr 9, 2016 at 23:52
  • becuase i found out in a video explaining the timeline Apr 9, 2016 at 23:53

1 Answer 1


The video you've linked was apparently written by someone who really didn't understand the films. There are far more than three timelines and far more inconsistency then they're giving credit for.

Terminator (1) is best described as the Prime timeline. In it, Skynet becomes self-aware on its own and initiates Judgement day. After a brief war with the humans, it realises it's lost and sends back a Terminator to kill the head of the Human Resistance, not realising that in doing so, it's actually creating a predestination paradox in which it's complicit in John's birth.

Terminator 2 opens in the Prime timeline (in which John and his mother have been working to undermine Skynet and to prepare him for war) but Skynet once again becomes the instrument of its own destruction by forcing John to send a T-800 into the past along with detailed plans on how to stop Skynet from being built. This creates a new timeline in which Judgement day doesn't happen at all (Timeline 2).

Unfortunately, Skynet isn't an idiot and has already sent back a T-X (which arrives in Timeline 2) to make sure that John's lieutenants are killed and to jump-start its own creation. This works and it creates a third timeline in which Skynet once again becomes self-aware and initiates Judgement Day. (Timeline 3).

T4 (Salvation) takes place shortly after Judgement Day. The events occur within Timeline 3 and can largely be ignored.

T5 (Genisys) then plays merry hell with the timelines. When the Kyle from Timeline 3 travels back into the past he discovers that the Resistance from a future timeline (Timeline 5?) have sent a Terminator even farther back into the past to protect Sarah when she was a child, thus creating an alternate Prime timeline (Timeline 4)

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Simple really.

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    @AndrewCasali Because they completely changed the situation in 1984, meaning the events that spawned from the Prime timeline (basically everything in the first four movies) couldn't possibly have happened. Apr 10, 2016 at 0:52
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    so the prime timeline everything in the first four movies got erased and never happend ever why! the events of all 5 movies should of been in just one timeline why were the events of the first 4 movies erased? why wasn't th events of the 5 movies be in just one timeline Apr 10, 2016 at 0:53
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    In the Prime timeline, Sarah Connor in 1984 is a helpless waitress and she's saved by Kyle Reese. Everything that happens in the first four movies starts from that point and is built on that key point. If that's not the case then none of it can logically happen, it's just logically impossible. I don't know how else to explain that. Apr 10, 2016 at 0:57
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    When you change the past, it creates a new timeline. That's just the way it works in the Terminator films. You just have to accept that in the same way that you accept that time travel is possible.
    – Valorum
    Apr 10, 2016 at 1:27
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    @AndrewCasali The answer to "why does time travel in such-and-such a fictional universe work in such-and-such a way?" is usually just "because it does". That's how that particular fictional universe is set up. Like Richard says, you just have to accept it even if you don't fully understand it. Time travel is hard.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 10, 2016 at 12:14

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