In 2018, Skynet has Kyle Reese at the top of its kill list. Why?

I first thought it was because Kyle is John Connor's father. But only John and his mother know about that. (Even Kyle himself doesn't know ;)

This element is central to the plot of Terminator Salvation, but I can't remember it ever being explained or justified in any way in Salvation or the other movies.

  • @Richard, so the "first" Terminator somehow(?) found out Kyle's full name (2) surmised that Kyle would become Jonh's father and (3) left his name in a time capsule for Skynet to find later? Sep 6, 2014 at 19:14
  • Related: scifi.stackexchange.com/q/22515/1027
    – user1027
    Sep 6, 2014 at 19:30

2 Answers 2


In Terminator 2: Judgement Day, the psychiatrist in the mental hospital says that John's father is from the future. He also knows all about the concept of terminators. In an attempt to avert Judgement Day, Sarah Connor has apparently not been very circumspect about hiding her knowledge of the future. It is highly likely that she flat-out told the staff at the mental hospital, or one of her other acquaintances over the years, Kyle's name and bio. Even if she did not, it wouldn't take a huge logical leap for Skynet to figure out that if John Connor's father is from the future, and Kyle Reese was the soldier sent back to protect her, then Kyle Reese must be John Connor's father.

Depending on how much of the pre-Judgement Day computer network survives, Skynet may be able to simply check out the birth certificates for every Kyle Reese in existence, then systematically go through them. Kind of like the terminator was doing with Sarah Connors in the first film.

The question, of course, is if Skynet knew Kyle Reese was the soldier sent back to protect Sarah Connor. It's likely Sarah Connor blabbed, but it's also possible that Skynet found out some other way; possibly from the female terminator in the third film.

  • 1
    I'm not sure of the timing, but was Kyle born before or after Judgement Day? There likely aren't a whole lot of birth certificates or other documentation for babies born after then. Sep 7, 2014 at 2:47
  • @PaulDraper: I'm unsure of the timing myself, and the continuity changes surrounding the shifting of Judgement Day don't help matters. That would only eliminate one method of finding Reese though; not all of them. Sep 7, 2014 at 13:16
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    +1. Skynet probably knows Reese was sent back to protect Sarah, because Reese himself told the police while he was in the past. In the first Terminator film, he is completely open about his name, service record, and the fact that he is from the future while the police are questioning him. Assuming the records of Reese's interrogation were computerised, it is very likely Skynet was able to obtain them. Sep 9, 2014 at 11:47
  • @RoyalCanadianBandit: Oh, snap! I had forgotten all about that scene. As probably the stupidest scene in an otherwise great film, I guess I blocked it out. Sep 9, 2014 at 12:19
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    It wasn't very smart of Reese. But since he'd grown up in a nuclear wasteland fighting an all-powerful computer, we can maybe forgive him for not having much idea how to interact with 20th-century police. :-) Sep 9, 2014 at 13:03

Actually, according to Terminator Director Joseph "McG" Nichol, Skynet is fully aware of the fact that Kyle Reese is John Connor's father by the events of the fourth Terminator film.

This is strongly evidenced by the fact that Kyle is at the top of its kill-list and by the fact that its infiltration agent (Marcus) seemingly knows that Kyle Reese is John's father.

McG doesn't go into great detail other than to describe it as part of their "recon".

Q: In the earlier movies, Skynet is not aware of Kyle Reese. So, why are they aware of him now?

McG: It’s a function of their recon during the dark period, and a function of their awareness of the events that had happened since Kyle Reese traveled back. By virtue of John Connor being alive, that means Kyle Reese did meet Sarah Connor and impregnate her. That data exists, and was brought into the fold at Skynet.

My personal theory is that since the Terminators are able to communicate with (future) Skynet by leaving time capsules, there's every chance that they've submitted mission reports, images, DNA samples, etc that Skynet could analyse at its leisure.

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