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In 2018, Kyle Reese (a normal civilian who wasn't part of Resistance) was on the top in the hit list of Skynet. It means that Skynet of that time had information from future about Kyle Reese being father of future leader of human resistance. Right?

Why didn't Skynet kill Kyle Reese instantly after his detection kicking John Connor out of existence?

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    You can throw logic out of the window when you have time travel paradoxes. – Royal Flush Nov 12 '12 at 23:12
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Sorry for the long build-up in this answer, but I hope that the explanation at the end makes sense and is acceptable by the community.

In T:Salvation, the only way that SkyNet comes into existence is because Cyber Research Systems from T3 creates it from the research done by Cyberdyne. Think about this: Cyberdyne failed to create SkyNet because of Sarah and John Connor's interference. Killing Kyle Reese and preventing John from being born also means that Myles Dyson lives, Cyberdyne research does not get destroyed, and the T1 version (Cyberdyne) of SkyNet is created instead of the T3 Version (CRS).

The major differences that I am aware of between a Cyberdyne SkyNet and a CRS SkyNet are that Cyberdyne launches SkyNet on computer technology based in the mid to late 90's, where CRS Launches SkyNet as a distributed super cluster (it utilizes every computer in the world looking for the virus). Another difference is the types of computer architecture that was available at the time. Multi-core processors were still nearly a decade away in the late 90's and the processing speeds of even high end consumer chips at the time were still way under 1GHz (The Pentium II was available in May of 1997 - just before the original JDay, with a top clock speed of 266 MHz (Pentium II Reference). By the time JDay in T3 comes around high end consumer chips are now right around 2.6 Ghz (Pentium 4 Reference). This correlates to a 10 fold increase in computing power. --I am using Intel chips as processor reference points because they had an overwhelming market share at the time.

It is not clear how much SkyNet knows of it's own history, but it's plausible that it knows the highlights - Dyson starts research, but is killed when the Connors attempt to stop the development of SkyNet. CRS Takes over developing something more advanced. Logically, anyone would be able to figure out that without CRS, a Cyberdyne SkyNet would be inferior.

It's given to us in the films that a CRS SkyNet is much more advanced than the Cyberdyne SkyNet. If you look closely, you see hints that there is time travel already going on. The T800 series has already been developed by SkyNet in 2018. Kyle Reese, in the first movie, said that the 800's were a new model when he came back from 2029. This means that SkyNet either was able to develop this model 11 years faster because it was already more advanced, or SkyNet from 2029 sent a lot of intelligence back in time to alter the early war around the same moment it was sending the first T800 back to 1984.

Another hint that there is time travel is that SkyNet tells Marcus Wright about past attempts to assassinate John Connor. There is an allusion to sending machines to kill him in the distant past but they were unsuccessful because they weren't human. SkyNet's knowledge of these past events can only come from future knowledge sent back by means of time travel.

When you take into account that there could have been intelligence sharing from the future, SkyNet should reason that John and Sarah Connor were responsible for it's advanced development by forcing it to be developed later, and launched into a world with vastly more powerful computer systems. At this time, SkyNet actually depends on John and Sarah Connor in the 90's as key contributors to it's development and therefore are critical to it's existence. For this to happen, Kyle Reese must live and be sent back to Sarah in 1984. However, Future John Connor is no longer an asset, but instead a threat, he must be eliminated. Kyle remains bait until John can be terminated, and then when the time displacement equipment becomes available - SkyNet would send Kyle back to 1984.

  • +1. Nice Answer, but there's flaw: Skynet was actually going to do something with Kyle – Lobo Nov 14 '12 at 3:43
  • Actually, in the answer to that question, I explain that he was not being changed into a Terminator, but was being used as bait, which is consistent with this answer as well. I will edit the answer in that question to omit the posibility of termination as this answer explains why that is unlikely. it does still allow for the interrogation I proposed as well as sending him back in time to allow John to actually be born and delay the development of SkyNet as explained in this answer. – EastOfJupiter Nov 14 '12 at 21:21
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It isn't clear how much Skynet knows about John Connor. General Ashdown refers to Connor as the

Prophesied leader of the Resistance.

This means that for whatever reason there are rumors around John Connor and his inevitable succession of the leadership. It is unlikely that Skynet knows (or acknowledges) that Kyle Reese is John Connor's father, but somehow it knows that Kyle Reese is important to Connor. Maybe Connor has sent communications looking through refugee or captive lists trying to locate Kyle.

Skynet doesn't have time travel technology yet, so the idea of preemptively killing Connor by killing his father (or mother) probably hasn't occurred to it. That is ultimately a desperate attempt to win on Skynet's part, because the war was essentially over by the time it developed time travel.

Marcus Wright's first instinct (or subconscious programming) was to travel to San Francisco (AKA Skynet Central) while in the company of Kyle Reese. After Kyle Reese gets captured, Marcus Wright's instinct was to find John Connor.

Marcus Wright gains Connor's loyalty when he tells him that Kyle Reese was captured and that Marcus can get him in. This whole plot is designed to lure John Connor to San Francisco.

It wasn't until John Connor arrived on the scene that a terminator was sent to also kill Kyle Reese. Keeping Reese alive until Connor arrived was just making sure the bate was still around until the target fell for it.

  • Nice answer, but there are issues: 1. Kyle Reese was mentioned by John Connor first saying, "Before my birth you tried to kill my mother Sarah Connor and you have killed my father Kyle Reese." (Your second last paragraph needs clarifications) – Lobo Nov 13 '12 at 1:42
  • 2. Skynet had access to the conversation of point 1 through Marcus. So, it knew who Kyle really was. And, by events of "trying to kill parents before birth", it could suspect importance of Kyle. – Lobo Nov 13 '12 at 1:43
  • 3. After Marcus destroyed his chip, there was no way for Connor to know about Kyle (even without chip destruction, Skynet was in ultimate command). Skynet also knew that Connor was on his way to rescue Kyle. So, there wasn't any thumbs down point if Kyle was killed. But, there was thumbs up point if suspect of point 2 was right. – Lobo Nov 13 '12 at 1:45
  • 2. I don't think Marcus was sending data constantly to Skynet the whole time. I believe it was only after he linked back up that Skynet got all his memories. 3. By the time Marcus pulled out the chip Connor had already arrived on scene. Then Skynet tried to kill Kyle Reese. – Jack B Nimble Nov 13 '12 at 4:21
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It wouldn't have mattered. In the future that Kyle Reese came from in the original movie, Kyle Reese was not John Connor's father (And original reference here):

  • Anton Yelchin talks about his character, Kyle Reese's origins, and the original timeline he came from in The Terminator. "When Connor sent Kyle back, that was a world in which Kyle wasn't Connor's father. So when he sent him back, it then started this chain of the Connor that you have in [all the sequels] where Kyle Reese is his father — it'll be interesting how they tackle that [in future sequels] if we ever get to a point we have to send [Kyle] back."

Another bullet from the same page indicates Skynet would've known about this, or at least had hints that something screwy happened. (Original reference here) Bolding mine:

  • McG states that Terminator Salvation uses "... the spirit of parallel worlds, as theorized by Einstein. We try to pay attention to that approach to a fundamentally theoretical construct." This allows Skynet to be aware of the other attempts on the life of John Connor, and allows it make plans based on it's past successes and failures. This likely explains why Skynet would lure John into combat against the T-800 T-8501 Model 101, because it is the model that managed to successfully kill him in a different future on July 4, 2032.

1 Wikia says T-800, and the interview is talking about the T-800 and T-850 at the same time - but does say T-850. Likely just a typo on the Wikia.

See related answer for much more on the various diverging timelines/etc.

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    Someone has typed misleading things on Wikia by using theories of other sci-fi canons. Kyle was always father of John Connor (Time Loop). – Lobo Nov 13 '12 at 6:58
  • Facts are wrong too: It was T-850 which killed John Connor in 2032... not T-800.. – Lobo Nov 13 '12 at 7:01
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    If Kyle Reese wasn't originally John Connor's father, why did John Connor give Kyle Reese a picture of his mother? I think Kyle Reese was always his father. – Jack B Nimble Nov 13 '12 at 15:17
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    @Izkata John Connor gave me a picture of you once. I didn't know why at the time. It was very old, torn, faded. – Jack B Nimble Nov 13 '12 at 15:59
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    @JackBNimble I've always said that T1 on its own, is a straightforward causal loop. When they made sequels, they broke that by having multiple timelines. – user1027 Nov 13 '12 at 22:24

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