If Kyle Reese was always John Connor's father:

  • Kyle pops out of nowhere, impregnates Sarah, dies, and then Kyle Reese is born, becomes a member of resistance and he is sent back in time. John Connor was always Kyle Reese's son.


  • SkyNet sent the Terminator specifically to affect time, (prevent the leader of resistance from being born), and the resistance also sent someone, and they do affect the future: (delaying judgement day, improving SkyNet, killing a bunch of other Sarahs, etc.).

Was Kyle Reese always John Connor's father, or was there a timeline in which someone else fathered him?

  • @e-sushi the second answer correctly concludes that the father of John Connor is unknown scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/37193/… please if you can tell me how a person from the future can impregnate a woman before traveling back in time, post an answer
    – jsedano
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 2:26
  • 2
    He didn't impregnate a woman before traveling back in time, he impregnated a woman after traveling back in time. That is, after he arrived but before he departed. I thought that was obvious.
    – Beta
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 2:40
  • @Beta ok, so who was John Connor father before Kyle Reese was sent back in time for the first time
    – jsedano
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 2:51
  • 2
    I'm looking at the movies, and seeing that everything is consistent with a closed loop. There's one timeline, the one we see. The photo of Sarah that Kyle has is the very same photo that the Mexican boy takes at the end of T1. The technology that leads to Skynet is reverse-engineered from the wreckage of the T-800 that tried to kill Sarah. The only thing that's weird is that sometimes people/machines appear in balls of lightning (events with no local cause), and decades later identical people/machines climb into strange devices and vanish.
    – Beta
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 3:28
  • 1
    Given the radical changes made through edits, you probably should have just posted a new question.
    – Beofett
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 16:14

3 Answers 3


simple answer is that small edits in the timeline didn't effect anything "major"

Less simple answer (beware of timey-wimey stuff):

Consider this.

Kyle was sent back in time because the first Terminator was sent back in time. The first Terminator was sent back in time because the resistance was winning, and skynet wanted to kill John Connor before he could become a problem (by killing his mother pre-conception). This is impossible because to do so would invalidate the reason to send the Terminator back in the first place.

Now, Kyle became John's Father. Had he not been sent back, john would never exist, the machines would not have a reason to send the Terminator back, and stuff would break.

Here's the thing. You ask about multiple futures with a single timeline, but you don't specify WHICH timeline. Each individual has different timelines in relation to the other characters. Kyle's timeline involves him going back in time, fathering John, and dying. However, that's HIS timeline. John's timeline has Kyle eventually being born, then sent back in time. When Kyle gets to the past, he creates John. The same John that sent him back, mind you.

Now the complicated part. the major events, the pieces that influenced the time travel, the core reasons for doing so never changed. skynet was created. The resistance is born. John Connor and the resistance kick ass. The Terminator is sent back in time. Kyle follows him. all that still happens in the "changed" futures from the later films. The details that do change are things like the date of Judgement Day. Regardless of when the war starts, the end result is the same. Thus, the start of the war doesn't matter. It is in something like a temporal flux. Because the exact date it begins is not important to the time travel plots, it can be altered slightly. Causality will not allow the complete prevention of the war. If the war never begins, then the Terminator isn't sent back, Kyle isn't sent back, John isn't born, and there is nothing to stop the war. BUT, because Kyle (and in T2 Arnold) are sent back and tell Sarah about the future, her actions are able to influence events in flux. She can't stop them completely, but they can be changed. Perhaps over the many loops the changes were incremental, but by the time T3 comes around, the changes have pushed the beginning of the war back a good ways.

The major issue at hand is that there are two separate veins of time-travel/causality theories. One says that a new timeline branches off when one goes back in time (not "going back in time" as much as simply going to a different alternate universe/timeline where conditions are identical to how things were at the target point. See: Dragon Ball Z). The second says that causality is absolute, and there is a single timeline. any changes made to the past have already occurred, and thus are not "changes". They're simply events on the (immutable) timeline. Once something has been experienced, it is frozen and will always happen.

The terminator Universe mixes both theories to an extent. They generally follow absolute causality, but allow for some changes. Thus, it is hard to reconcile these things.

tl;dr is that the "changes" are minor enough to not actually effect anything important temporally speaking, though should not strictly have been possible.

  • Let me get this straight, the "John always existed (terminator I)" follow causality is absolute, and there is a single timeline. any changes made to the past have already occurred, and thus are not "changes". But the sequels seems to follow a new timeline branches off when one goes back in time (alternate universe/timeline), so time travel is not consistent in theterminator movies?, because, then, the only way time travel is consistent in terminator movies is by saying that it always follow the a new timeline branches off when one goes back in time (alternate universe/timeline)
    – jsedano
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 15:59
  • @anakata did you read my entire answer? I address that.
    – acolyte
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 16:03
  • You are saying They generally follow absolute causality, but allow for some changes. Thus, it is hard to reconcile these things. Im asking you, so time travel is not consistent in the terminator universe?
    – jsedano
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 16:04
  • 1
    @anakata The only timelines we know about from the movies are the timelines depicted in the movies. Interestingly enough, acolyte's answer not only answers your question, but also explains why the movies show different timelines at different times (decades apart from the stories on other timelines… hint-hint). [+1]
    – e-sushi
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 16:22
  • 1
    @anakata they claim to follow absolute in T1 and T2, but past that the directors/writers started changing stuff and disrupting the semi-established rules.
    – acolyte
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 17:44

I don't know if this has been covered better elsewhere, but... consider closed time-like loops.

As I said in a comment above, the lightning balls have no local cause. If you want to know "what caused the loop", they do a good job of that.

If you want a deeper pattern, I think that maybe once you assume time travel is possible, a history in which Kyle and the first T-800 don't appear is non-self-consistent and therefore impossible. Perhaps such a history leads inevitably to someone climbing into a time travel machine and vanishing, after no such person had ever appeared naked in an alley, which is forbidden. Once you accept time travel, the universe can no longer just bumble along from moment to moment, it must seek out self-consistent states-- which it can choose by means of lightning balls appearing at crucial moments.

(This stuff doesn't seem nearly so daunting after you've studied some quantum.)

  • [+1] for mentioning "quantum". Yet, I'm sure that throwing in the evidence of chaos theory and that all things are interconnected would have put a cherry on that cake! ;)
    – e-sushi
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 6:14
  • @Beta but then the way time travels works in Terminator is different in the original movie and in the sequels, because in T1 there is a future where the liquid terminator didn't appeared naked in the past
    – jsedano
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 15:35
  • @Beta please drop by scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/40560/…
    – jsedano
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 16:48

The reason to send Kyle Reese back in time to become John Connor's father is because he is John Connor's father and has to be sent back in time in order for that timeline to exist.

Also, please remember we're talking SciFi here… with time-traveling and a perfect example of a so-called "predestination paradox". For John to exist and send Kyle back, John has to "create" Kyle… creating that so-called predestination paradox.

A predestination paradox (also known as "temporal causality loop") is a theoretical phenomenon, which is said to occur when a chain of cause-effect events is circular; for instance: if event A causes event B, and event B causes event C, and event C causes event A, then these events are said to be in a causality loop.

I might as well ask back: "if you can tell me how to solve the predestination paradox, please post an answer" because no one could explain or prove the Bootstrap paradox yet! The "logic explanation" or even "proof" you're asking for is impossible to provide because whether or not a scenario described in this paradox would actually be possible, even if time travel itself were possible, is not presently known.

As soon as time traveling becomes possible, I'll gladly check on the paradox for you. Until that time, it is a given fact that it is impossible to state where the original originated. Thinking of it, you could compare your question with the quest to the answer which was first... chicken or egg? One thing is for sure: one was first.

Terminator (first movie) says Kyle travels back through time to protect Sarah. Sarah isn't pregnant before they meet. The movie tells and shows us, it's Kyle who was first and created "a new future" by not only protecting Sarah, but also making love to her in the tunnel where they hide out and spend the night. That causes Sarah to become pregnant as shown at the end of movie as she drives off into the desert with a fat belly and records a first message for her yet-to-be-born son… while a storm is coming up.

The movie even keeps ample room for interpretation that John planned his own birth by sending Kyle and not somebody else. But that was never really explained in any of the Terminator movies, so it's just room for interpretation… nothing more, nothing less. If you're willing to accept time traveling in SciFi, you'll have to accept it comes with a "bootstrap paradox", a "reverse grandfather paradox", a "predestination paradox", and some exceptional contradictions to the second law of thermodynamics. That's SciFi for you... it has Fiction in the Science. ;)


Thinking of it, there's another great example of the paradoxes involved in the time traveling we see in Terminator movies.

Remember the part in the first Terminator movie where Kyle tells Sarah that John will hold that "big speech" in the future?

  1. Kyle (the dad) tells it to Sarah (the mum),
  2. Sarah tells it to John (the son), and
  3. in the future it will become a big speech by John directed to all humans, and Kyle will hear that speech for the first time (according to what Kyle tells Sarah while talking about John's speech).
  4. Kyle travels back in time to tell it to Sarah (see "1.")

Welcome to another causal loop. Who wrote the speech? Common logic implies "no one… it exists all the time without a clear indication where or when it origined".

If you really want to wrap up all theories which might or might not explain the time travel paradoxes in the Terminator movies, you might want throw in total confusion by checking the end of T2 which states "The future is unknown; and the only future is, one we make for ourselves" which could very well indicate that John might also have influenced his own "present" and "future" by sending Kyle back to the past.

And looking at the end of T1… a pregnant Sarah is traveling through Mexico. Along the way she records audio tapes which she intends to pass on to her unborn son, John. She debates whether to tell him that Kyle is his father. A boy takes a photograph of her which she purchases (it is the photograph that John will later give to Kyle) and then she drives on towards approaching storm clouds.

It's pretty much reasonable that she is in doubt if she should tell John about Kyle because it would make the paradox obvious and it could influence John in maybe not sending Kyle back into the past… which would mean John would never be given birth to by Sarah later on… and without John existing (and leading the resistance) who knows if humanity would survive at all.

Looking back, the Terminator movies are full of predestination paradoxes…

In T1, the cyborg T-800, sent back in time to assassinate Sarah Connor, is destroyed… but its parts are salvaged, for the formation of the Skynet network which leads to Skynet becoming self-aware in 29th August 1997. Kyle Reese (who has been sent to protect Sarah Connor), ends up fathering John Connor (his future commander) with her. The former predestination paradox, however, is prevented by the characters' choice to destroy all of the remains of the Cyberdyne Systems, thus breaking the loop.

In T3 however, the Terminator T-850 sent back to protect John from a new powerful T-X killing machine, states that the events of T2 only postponed the date of Judgement Day to 24th July 2004 at approximately 18:18 — but never stopped it, and that Skynet's rise is inevitable. He turns out to be right, as the movie ends with Skynet coming online.


I couldn't help adding a quote of the script of "The Terminator" (first movie) to point to the answer if Kyle Reese always was John Conner's father:

Sarah speaks quietly into a hand microphone as a dark-complected attendant laconically fills her tank. She cradles the cassette recorder in her lap, in the lee of her SWOLLEN BELLY. She looks to be about SIX MONTHS ALONG. Under her down vest she wears a leather shoulder holster and the butt of a .357 REVOLVER presses against her breast. She tugs the vest closed as the attendant glances her way. A German Shepherd sits in the back among taped boxes and suitcases.

Should I tell you about your father? That's a tough one.
Will it change your decision to send him here... knowing?
But if you don't send Kyle, you could never be.
God, you can go crazy thinking about all this...
I suppose I'll tell you... I owe him that.
And maybe it'll be enough if you know that
in the few hours we had together
we loved a lifetime's worth...

Now tell me... who's more trustworthy to give an answer than John Conner's mom? ;)

Oh, and if you want to know how logic makes that possible - read this answer to another Terminator question which provides a nice insight on why it was Skynet who actually *created John Connor by sending the first terminator back to kill Sarah... resulting in the resistance sending Kyle back to protect her and - by doing so - making John's creation and birth possible in the first place.

  • So you are telling me that my answer that doesn't cause any paradoxes is wrong, but your answer that does causes paradoxes is right, but it is impossible to proof ?
    – jsedano
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 5:03
  • @anakata I didn't say anything about your own answer here… my answer was intended to answer your question. But since you're pointing me to your answer with your comment, I might as well drop a line about that too: your multiple-timelines theory causes the same paradoxes I describe in my answer here. Practically, what you are describing in your answer is a "temporal causality loop". Now, I would love to see you prove your "multiple timelines" theory solves the predestination paradox because that would instantly cause a revolution in physics and be a big step forward in time travel theory.
    – e-sushi
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 5:16
  • @anakata I added an EDIT to my answer to give you another perspective on the whole time travel thing.
    – e-sushi
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 5:37
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    The events in T1 affected the future, the events in T2 affected the future. In T3 however, the Terminator T-850 sent back to protect John from a new powerful T-X killing machine, states that the events of T2 only postponed the date of Judgement Day to 24th July 2004 at approximately 18:18, So before T2, the future was different, then before Kyle Reese was sent back in time for the first time the future was different too.
    – jsedano
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 14:06
  • @anakata I added EDIT 2 to explain why there is/was no "alternate" timeline with John (or an unknown father of John). It takes Reese to make Sarah pregnant, so there is no John in any timeline before Reese travels back in time in "Terminator" (T1) to meet and protect Sarah… and making her pregnant while he's at it. Sarah's own words explain that there will be no John, if Kyle isn't send by John in the future. (see T1 script I quoted with source). Maybe also check the answer I've linked to in the last paragraph. It explains the timeline thing a bit different… which might explain it to you.
    – e-sushi
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 15:09

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