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In the movie Terminator 2: Judgement Day, future John Connor sends the Terminator back in time to save himself from being killed.

But from the perspective of past John Connor (the kid), he sees a Terminator saving him, he grows up, and is alive right up to the day future John would send the Terminator to the past.

The confusing part: Why would the 'new' future John he send the Terminator back in the past? It already happened in his childhood, so he should have known that he will be safe, noone will kill him etc, so why did he bother?

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    ...are you asking why John Connor decided to save his younger self instead of let the liquid Terminator kill him? – Izkata Aug 19 '13 at 2:19
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    It's a time travel story. You just have to ignore this plot hole common to all time travel stories. Here's my favorite example youtube.com/watch?v=oqo37eH-Vjc – Bogdanovist Aug 19 '13 at 2:55
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    @Izkata - I've edited to make it clearer. – Robotnik Aug 19 '13 at 3:18
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    @Akash The question confuses me because I don't see how there is a paradox. 1) Liquid Terminator goes back in time to kill young John Connor and 2) old John Connor sends solid Terminator to stop liquid Terminator. It doesn't matter that he knows the solid Terminator will succeed in protecting him. (And, in-universe, he doesn't know, as the timelines can shift) – Izkata Aug 19 '13 at 16:46
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    A bigger question is why the Robots even bothered to send the liquid Terminator to the past, knowing full well that it will fail his mission since John is alive and fighting them. – Lie Ryan Sep 18 '13 at 8:48
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In-universe, this is a case of a self-fulfilling prophecy. To quote Wikipedia:

A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior.

In this scenario, 'New future' John would send back the Terminator to save himself, because he knows from being told in his past that's what he does to save his own life.

Out-of-universe, this is an example of a time paradox known as the Ontological Paradox (or, more commonly, the Bootstraps Paradox). In fact, the entire premise of the Terminator Series revolves around such a paradox. This link provides a good write up of the Bootstraps Paradox, but to summarise the part that relates to the Terminator series:

In the future, a Terminator is sent back in time to kill the mother of resistance leader John Connor before he is born. While the original T-800 is ultimately destroyed, the leftover pieces are found by scientists who use the technological to...develop and create SkyNet, and the Terminator-series robots.

Note, the T-800 is the same as the T-101, but I digress. The point is that time travel movies, by their very nature, have plot holes like this related to time-travel paradoxes. We, as the audience, just need to go with the flow, and take such things as a grain of salt.

  • This is a very good answer. I would only add that the Terminator series is full of several plot-holes for this very reason, which has led to several websites (most notably Cracked) writing articles specifically pointing out these plot-holes. See below for an example: cracked.com/… – James Sheridan Aug 19 '13 at 6:19
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The 'new', 'future' John Connor sent the T-101 to save himself from T-1000 because when he was younger he must have witnessed the same event: A T-101 comes and tells him that a war will wage between humans and machines, future Connor has sent him(T-101) bcoz he(Connor) will be the leader of the war & lead mankind to victory.

HOWEVER

You never know when and how in the fabric of time this event was created. The whole sending back the Terminator-101 thing. How did the first ever younger Connor in Time Fabric met T-101 when he has not yet aged. This is closely related to Bootstrap Paradox

  • Future-self John Connor sent the Terminator back to save himself. It's a loop that repeats continuously because any point in time in a time travel story has a past and a future. Consider yourself, you were once an adolescent and will one day be an older self. That elder could travel back in time to have this dialogue with present you or past you. So could present you if this were a time travel story. There is no first you, there is just you, located along a timeline. Discuss further when you greet future you. – Ihor Sypko Aug 19 '13 at 19:29
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The notion I get from the Terminator series (incl Sarah Conner Chronicles), is Time has already happened.

John will make some choices that in the end will put him in the leading chair. During his time he will learn he needs to send 2 back to safe himself. He will send his father, otherwise he won't be born. And he needs to send a model T-800, to take the fall from the T-1000.

If he doesn't he will mess with Time as it has already come to pass.

The whole Terminator concept bites itself in the tail. Things they do, things that happen will in the end result in the end scene we know. So the Time trail has already been laid out and all John has to do is follow it.

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Maybe, even after all his adventures, the future John Connor did not consider himself to definitely know how time travel paradoces would turn out, and thus did not feel the plan to be perfectly safe, of potentially causing/allowing his own death by not sending back the robot. (I mean, seriously, would you choose to not send back the robot?)

Or maybe he was not especially philosophical, and it never occurred to him to not do it (or it occurred to him, but the idea only ever looked really stupid to him).

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Well, you can think of it this way. This ENSURES his survival. In a time loop, there could be infinite John Connors sending Terminators back to save him from this instance in time, so that, in the future, he will not be harmed.

Going by the first ever John Connor, let's put it this way, he could have nearly been killed by this T-1000. So he sends a T-101 back to that time, knowing fully well that any altering event, could prevent him from winning this war. Perhaps, he knew Skynet would send a Terminator back to kill him, thus ending this first ever time loop. Well, in actuality, the time loop was created when Reese was sent back to impregnate Sarah Connor so he would be alive.

Also, maybe he thought that sending terminators back in time would probably influence the outcome of the war. If he sent one back and it DID manage to succeed in killing anything that harmed him, it would also help to end the war sooner by giving out essential knowledge that he was never armed with, the first time he grew to being the John Connor he is now.

These are a couple of ways to reason this out.

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