So you've failed once, so you send back your shiniest poly-mimetic alloy terminator, but it fails because the resistance sent back a reprogrammed T-800! You know, or could reason that the T-800 would have to have encountered the targets of the T-1000, and they would have become familiar with each other as they evaded your near perfect killing machine.

Why not send back another with real infiltration programming (the T-800 is supposedly an infiltration unit, no?) so that it spends some time getting Connor to grow familiar with him, fooling him into thinking they are chased and then when he least expects it, the unit turns on him.

Is Skynet not capable of thinking in this out of the box manner? Did it not have enough T-800s to send back? Was it just designed by a physicist, and thus brute-forced every problem?

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    But various T-800s were sent back in time! Not to mention the great number of T-850s and T-888s! Oh, wait.
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 6:06
  • @MrLister SCC reference?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 12:40
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    Sorry, but that was what irked me the most about the SCC. Why would Skynet send back one terminator to 1984, one to 1992 and three hundred terminators to 2007? That was never explained.
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 12:52
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    @MrLister Ping, new question!
    – Izkata
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 2:58
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    perhaps there was an exponential increase in energy costs when sending people/metal back in time. and four years back is cheap enough to send a bunch, but further back just too much. SkyNet was probably once an accounting program. :) Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 19:38

3 Answers 3


This was not a plan which Skynet had the ability to leisure over. ISTR in the book they mention that the building which had the time displacement equipment (TM) was in the process of being stormed when they did this plan, which is how the resistance was able to send people back too. As soon as they had been sent Connor destroyed the equipment (as explained, I think, by Reece in T1).

The order of events was Skynet sent two terminators back, one at each time when they had information on their targets. The resistance broken into the room and John (with his advanced knowledge due to Sarah's tapes) arranged a defender to sent back at each point, gave Reece a message for Sarah and then destroyed the building. From the moment Skynet turned the machine on to the moment John blew it up could easily be half an hour or less.

  • I like it. This makes more sense to me.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 8:15
  • Sill keeps one question open (unless it's simply due to limited ressources or bad timing): Why only one facility?
    – Mario
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 10:11
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    'It's defence grid was smashed - we'd won' - Reece. By the time they had made the scientific breakthrough to travel through time they lacked the resources for mass production. This facility was basically a prototype and this plan was a last wild swing from a boxer on his way to the canvas.
    – Stefan
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 10:20
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    I agree with Stefan on this one. It was mentioned in the films that sending the T800's and T1000 back was a last ditch effort. Another thing worth exploring as a thought experiment is, what if there were dozens sent back, but the field was unstable and unpredictable, so only a few actually survived the trip? Same thing with the resistance. Maybe they had to try over and over again to actually get one back to the right time and place. No where in the Canon does it say that the technology was perfect or predictable when SkyNet developed it. Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 13:08
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    Conceivably, there could be a hundred Terminators floating through the timestream and emerging at various points. One of the comics touched on this, with humans encountering Terminators who had been scattered throughout time with no instructions other than "find & kill Sarah/John Connor". Since SkyNet didn't have John's family history available, these Terminators were all just basically laying low until a target presented itself.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 20:53

There are different considerations and ideas out there, but to me it always seemed to be one simply issue: Skynet isn't able to learn from previous attempts, because the future is altered. Add the fact that it probably doesn't expect any interference from the rebels and you've got the solution (from an efficiency standpoint you only need one unit).

Limited ressources (for time travel, not actual units) might be another reason, but Skynet could just send like one unit per year and let them all appear around the same time.

Also considering how the previous appeared terminators have been handled by officials (not even knowing they've been machines as depicted in T2), there probably aren't any useful records regarding this either.

I'd even ask the question a little bit different: If all the information Skynet has is limited to the fact that John (or Sarah) have been in some specific town at some specific point in time... why not simply send a nuke back and blow them to bits?

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    A nuke would almost certainly alter the future to the point that SkyNets very existence would be in jeopardy. Let's also not forget that only living things can go back. As for building a nuke in the past... Well that's incredibly difficult to do, even for a terminator. With so-called black market nukes, if they existed, I'm sure our real world terrorists would have used one by now. Keep in mind that most records were lost during the nuclear war, and thus John and Sarah's location was only know twice. After that they went off the grid. SkyNet didn't know where to attack next. Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 4:52
  • They could still pull the "transport inside living tissue" card, but yeah, this might have a more significant impact (or a bigger chance to do so).
    – Mario
    Commented Sep 27, 2012 at 12:43
  • @mario yeah, after seeing the explosion of the T-800's dead cell in T2, I think that, if they wanted, they could have made a literal Rocket Raccoon!
    – xDaizu
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 13:49

Due to its infinite superiority in quality, I tend to assume James Cameron's work as the only canon. For this reason it is quite easy for me to answer this question: After T2, the Judgment Day is not due to happen anymore. So, no Skynet, no war, happy ending :)


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