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In the first Terminator movie, Kyle Reese explains to Dr. Silberman that only living organisms (or things encased within them) can go through time.

REESE: "You go naked. Something about the field generated by a living organism. Nothing dead will go."

SILBERMAN: "Okay. Okay. But this... cyborg...if it's metal..."

REESE: "Surrounded by living tissue."

SILBERMAN: "Of course."

An answer to this question claims that the T-1000 and T-X must have been encased in living tissue. That makes sense, but what happened to the skin of these cyborgs after they time-travelled?

I don't recall seeing either the T-1000 or T-X shed its skin during either movie. Is this mentioned elsewhere?

  • "field generated by a living organism" was such a lame idea, that it's one of pluses of later movies that it was never mentioned again... Changin' rules of time travel was a terrible mistake, though. – Mithoron Oct 19 '19 at 22:27
  • I guess it was kind of a necessity to explain why the T800 in the first movie doesn't arrive in the past with a phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range and just liquidate everything in its path. – delinear Oct 21 '19 at 13:59
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A number of things that Reese says about the nature of time travel in The Terminator turn out not to be exactly true. There are different ways of viewing this. Personally, I just accept that there is a certain amount of discontinuity between The Terminator and Terminator 2. However, there are other possible interpretations; Reese might be misinformed about the teleportation, or things might be changed by the existence of multiple timelines.*

However you want to interpret it though, the upshot is the same: Some of Reese's statements about the time travel process are shown (in Terminator 2) to be incorrect. Besides the issue of fleshy coatings, Reese avers that the time travel facilities were destroyed, so that no other agents could be sent back in time by either side. Obviously, that claim is not consistent with what happened in the later movies.

Regarding the specific question of how the later terminators were able to pass through time without any apparent coating of living matter, the idea that Reese is simply mistaken might actually be a pretty good bet. Reese is obviously unaware of the existence of shapeshifting terminators, and he is not an expert of the scientific underpinnings of teleportation. The way he understands the situation is that the teleportation will not work without the right kind of coating, which (as far as he knows) limits it to living matter. However, we know, even from the first movie, that "living matter" is not quite the right property, as Kyle makes the journal back through time with his (nonliving) hair and fingernails intact. So whatever physical property that living matter possesses that makes time travel possible might conceivably be mimicked by the more advanced liquid metal terminators (of which, remember, Reese knows nothing). What he says about living matter being required is just a rough approximation—what Reese has been told by the human experts who operated the time travel equipment (who may or may not have a complete understanding of what can be sent back themselves).

*The first film presents a clean example of a close timelike loop, but all subsequent media require a model of time travel in which multiple inconsistent timelines can exist.

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