In The Terminator we see Skynet sent a Terminator from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor.

Kyle Reese also came from 2029 to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor, so did the Terminator and Kyle Reese come to the past using the same time machine?

If so, when Reese was using the time machine, why didn't Skynet try to kill him before he could?

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    Skynet was really just trying to teach humans how to share. Mission accomplished! Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 12:53
  • May be of interest scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/197276/… Commented Aug 21, 2023 at 4:08
  • Why does every T-800 Terminator sent back look like this? Because all three of them used the same equipment. T1, T2 and Kyle; T1000... dunno. "[John] walks to the end of a row. There is one empty rack. He faces the terminator in the next rack. Its eyes are closed. John seems distant as he studies that face."
    – Mazura
    Commented Aug 23, 2023 at 3:21
  • "Their defense grid was smashed; we'd won. Taking out Conner then would make no difference." (that's from memory; how'd I do? ;) ... Why didn't Skynet blow the place? Because then it'd be Spaceballs : the Credits Scene.
    – Mazura
    Commented Aug 23, 2023 at 3:27

2 Answers 2



They used the same machine and Skynet couldn't kill Reese because it was no longer in control of the facility.

Resse explained that to Sarah in an early draft of the movie. The actual dialogue is slightly different but the essence is the same. (Hat tip to Logic Dictates)

Skynet had to wipe out his entire existence. We captured the lab complex. Found the...whatever it was called...the time-displacement equipment. The Terminator had already gone through. They sent two of us to intercept, then zeroed the whole place. Sumner didn't make it.

  • " They sent two of us to intercept, then zeroed the whole place. Sumner didn't make it." which film was that?
    – jim
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 13:13
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    @jim - The dialogue quoted in this answer is from an early draft of the script for the first film. The dialogue in the finished film is a little different, but conveys most of the same information in slightly different words. Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 13:22
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    Thanks for the comment about the early draft. I was not aware.
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 15:39

Yes, the Resistance sent Kyle to 1984 using the same Time Displacement Equipment (TDE) that Skynet used to send the T-800 from the first film to 1984.

DR. SILBERMAN: "Is that when you captured the lab complex and found that, uh, what is it called, uh... the Time Displacement Equipment?"

KYLE REESE: "That's right. The Terminator had already gone through. Connor sent me to intercept, then they blew the whole place."

The Terminator (1984)

In fact, according to the official novelisation of the second film, the T-800 from the first film and the T-1000 from the second film were both sent through the TDE before Kyle. Hours later, the Resistance used the TDE to send Kyle through and subsequently obtained a T-800 from cold storage in the same underground complex, reprogrammed it, and sent that through as well. So both assassins and both protectors from the first two films were sent through the same TDE on the same day in 2029.

Lightning burst up from the generator and streaked across the room above the heads of the techs. Winn ducked, smelling the strong odor of ozone. A huge charge of energy was building up. Everyone fell back behind the makeshift barriers and hastily put on their safety goggles. This was going to be big. And Kyle Reese was right in the middle of it.

The chamber below had become a hell of energy with the young soldier at its center. The drone and crackle of the generator built to a pounding thunder. John's heart was racing as fast as the rings. There was a ripping scream, as if a god were being disemboweled. The room filled with hot-white light. Without the goggles, they would have been blinded.

When the glare faded, the floating rings were empty. They slowed to a stop, seared and smoking. In that endless instant of time displacement, Kyle Reese had vanished. Oddly, in its place was a sphere filled with whirling debris: crushed beer cans, faded yellow newspapers, dated 1984, and a slice of a dumpster, filled with garbage from that year.


John turned from the smoking chamber, seeming years older as his features drained, sagging. He put a hand on Fuentes shoulder for support.

Fuentes realized this was the first time he had seen his commander lose strength. He'd seen him tired, lonely, and haunted before, but not like this. He shouted an order in Spanish to the sapper team behind him. "Set your charges. Let's blow this place back to hell."

John struggled to recover, shaking his head. "Not yet. There's one more thing we have to do." He turned to Winn. "What's your reading?"

Winn glanced down at a palm-sized power meter dangling off his belt. Looked up at John with a puzzled expression. "Just like you said."

John took a deep breath, feeling the wheels of destiny grinding near. Then, mustering his courage, he abruptly strode out of the room. Winn started to follow. Fuentes frowned in confusion and hurried after, grabbing the tech's arm. "What reading? What are you talking about?"

Winn indicated the meter. "This is the energy signal put out by the time displacement. I recorded two other identical pulses as we were fighting our way in here."


Winn impatiently continued walking. Fuentes stayed with him. "What are you talking about?"

"The first one must have been the Terminator going through to 1984."

Fuentes was still confused. "Yeah?"

Winn careened into the corridor and quickened his pace to catch up to his commander. Fuentes dogged the tech. "What was the second?"

"Another terminator, probably."


The last fragment of uncertainty in John's mind was blasted away. It was time to make the last move in the chess game he had been unwillingly playing with Skynet for fifteen long years. He knew a lot of what would happen, but past a certain point in his memory, he wasn't sure of the outcome. A knife embedded in a weathered picnic table with the words NO FATE carved in them was the dividing line between what he knew had happened and what might happen. His very existence could be erased. Or maybe everything would still turn out the same. Or ... what? For the first time since he was a boy, John no longer had the answers. With growing apprehension, he handed the rifle to Winn, took the probe, and abruptly walked across the room to a heavy steel door covered with a thin sheet of melting ice. John punched out the code and waited....

Ice shattered like glass as the door broke its seal and opened inward. He started to enter when Fuentes stepped in his way, rifle at the ready, and moved inside ahead of him, scanning the room for potential attack. His breath formed in front of him. They were in a coldstorage room. Fuentes gasped as his beam fell on a row of naked bodies, hanging on steel racks suspended from the ceiling.

John panned his light around. There were hundreds of men and women, in rows of ten. Within each row, the bodies were absolutely identical.

"Terminators," Fuentes whispered, his hand on his rifle butt, uneasy.

John quickly walked along the synthetic bodies to the end of a row and hesitated. He scanned the faces. No, not here. Then he gazed down the other row. All the same. Strange to him. Then ... he turned to another row and stopped. It was filled with identical, familiar faces. The broad, brutally handsome features sent a shock of recognition through John.

It was he.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day novelisation by Randall Frakes

As for why Kyle wasn't attacked while he was being sent through the TDE, the novelisation explains that Skynet itself had already been destroyed by that point, and that all the terminators under its direct control were deactivated as a result of that.

Something was happening over on Pico and Robertson. John raised the glasses again and zoomed in on an aerial HK, suddenly spinning out of control like a Frisbee, slicing down to burst into a massive fireball that lit up the ravaged terrain all around. Somebody had just made a good kill. If they survived, John would decorate them. But two other HKs suddenly tilted at a crazy angle and dropped to the earth, without being hit. In the bright flare of the flaming debris, John saw a bizarre sight; a squad of endoskeletons, standing nearby, oddly frozen in place like toy soldiers, their metal surfaces burnished by the blaze. The flashing of beam weapons lessened, then, miraculously, ceased altogether.

John's forces were cautiously emerging from their emplacements and approaching the frozen machines. Another aerial HK, about a mile beyond the battle, hurled down to a fiery death. John was astonished to see the sky suddenly clear of gunships. He scanned the battlefield. None of Skynet's machines were moving!

And then an awesome thing happened.

It grew quiet.

Now all John could hear was the high wail of the wind. No guns. No explosions. No turbine whine or grumbling engines. Even the radios behind him fell silent, until one voice spoke out, the awed emotion detectable under howling static: "This is New Orleans Division. They're not moving! They ... just stopped!" Another voice came on the line, more excited: "This is Chicago. HKs are falling ... my God, they all crashed — " Another voice overlapped: " — San Francisco reporting. I don't get it. The terminators are just standing there—" Another: " — nothing came out to stop us. We're inside the factory now and — " Then all the radios from all the battlefields began to babble the news. But John already knew what they would say. Had known it for most of his life.

Lieutenant Fuentes approached and stood alongside John, gaping at the scene beyond. He spoke so softly John almost couldn't hear. "Just got confirmation....Skynet has been penetrated and destroyed."

The two men looked at each other, their faces blank with shock and the awareness of how inane the monumental can seem. "The war is over, John. We won."

Terminator 2: Judgment Day novelisation by Randall Frakes

There were still some terminators operating autonomously, but the Resistance fought their way through them while approaching the underground complex containing the TDE, and spent three hours clearing that complex before they sent Kyle through.

They didn't just walk in. Although the mainframe computer in Colorado had been destroyed, there were hundreds of autonomous terminators not under direct link command, still free to seek out human targets, and eliminate them. Their internal power cells would keep them lethal for over a hundred years. John realized that the casualties would continue to mount, even after the war was won, until all the terminators could be eliminated.

They had to fight their way past a dozen wild card terminators into the complex. Three hours later, the place had been cleared out. John's handpicked sapper squad formed a protective phalanx for John and the tech team as they rode a huge freight elevator deep into the bowels of the building. They were tiny figures on the open platform that descended at a forty-five-degree angle into the concrete-lined tunnel, rapidly becoming a speck in the overscaled industrial landscape.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day novelisation by Randall Frakes

Terminator Genisys is probably the weakest film in the franchise, but I like the opening scene, which shows the Resistance capturing the complex containing the TDE and Kyle being sent through to 1984. This isn't the original timeline from the first film, so the version of events shown here should be taken with a pinch of salt, but for the most part, it's pretty close to what was described in the first film and the official novelisation of the second film.

Terminator Genisys (2015)

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    As one more addition to your very detailed answer, you might consider adding something about a cut scene in Cameron's original T2 script that would have shown Connor and Reese discovering Skynet's time machine facility. A number of the details of the Genisys scene seem to be from this scripted scene, including the fact that it was a division in Colorado that destroyed Skynet and Connor's reference to the "first tactical time weapon", along with the gyroscope-like design of the machine itself.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Aug 20, 2023 at 23:16
  • 1
    An excellent answer. Can't fault this one at all.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 21, 2023 at 19:02
  • "the T-800 from the first film and the T-1000 from the second film were both sent through the TDE before Kyle. " wait, what? why did they send the T-1000? It only made sense to send it back in time to when john was a teenager if they already knew that the T-800 would fail in killing sarah connor. How does the novelisation justify that? Commented Aug 22, 2023 at 18:08
  • @Hypnosifl - I think the link provided in your comment is sufficient for anyone interested in the degree to which the opening scene in Genisys was based on that early script draft for T2. Skynet being located in Colorado is mentioned in the last quote already present within my answer. There are additional such quotes in the novelisation, but they're not really relevant to the actual question asked here. I feel like I may already have gone a little overboard with the amount of text I quoted as is. Commented Aug 22, 2023 at 22:07
  • @Joao Pincho - The following quote suggests that the T-1000 was sent as a back-up in case the T-800 failed: "Skynet was so certain that time displacement could save it from defeat that it had sent two terminators through: on in 1984, and one now. To terminate the mother, and if that failed, the child." James Cameron originally planned to include the T-1000 in the first film, but removed that part of the story because nobody knew how to pull off the necessary effects at the time: fandom.com/articles/… Commented Aug 22, 2023 at 22:25

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