Some of the dialogue in T2 hints that Skynet was a network of some kind. Less than a month after it came online, it seems that the US military attempted to turn it off again.

The system goes on-line August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn, at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 P.M. eastern time, August 29. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Yet the novelization of Terminator 2: Judgment Day clearly states that Skynet is housed in a single location:

One day the computer designed to automatically control the U.S. nuclear strike force would become “alive,” and Skynet’s first sentient decision would be that mankind was obsolete. It would launch a first strike, riding out the firestorm of retaliation to follow, safe in a hardened underground complex in Cheyenne Mountain...
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day (official novelization)

Bear in mind that Cheyenne Mountain is NORAD, and hundreds or thousands of men are stationed there, and that the reason Skynet is safe is because Cheyenne was built to survive a nuclear attack. This means that Skynet is now surrounded by hundreds or thousands of men who know that their families were just killed by Skynet.

Surely the angry men inside Cheyenne with Skynet would have every reason to tear Skynet to pieces, since they have nothing better to do with their time and have to stay put in order to survive?

Did James Cameron recognize these problems? Has he commented on this issue?


This is specifically dealt with in the T3: Rise of the Machines novelisation by David Hagberg. The men and women inside the Cheyenne Mountain base were gassed by Skynet in the initial stages of Skynet's takeover of the US' defence infrastructure:

Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Parsons was dead. His body had lain beside his computer console in the second tier of consoles in the control room of the North American Aerospace Defense Command deep within the mountain for the past twenty-six years.

On Judgment Day those personnel caught inside were massacred when Skynet pumped all the oxygen out of the Redoubt, replacing it with pure nitrogen from the spare liquid nitrogen stores used to super-cool the high-power low-mass equipment.

Parsons's body lay on its side, its face dark purple, its flesh surprisingly intact after more than a quarter of a century. But rotting meat required oxygen, of which there was none inside the mountain.

  • No.. Richard is a Time Lord, clearly. – K-H-W May 21 '15 at 21:40
  • Terminator: Salvation just crossed my mind. Skynet chooses to use a female face as its avatar, but this doesn't necessarily mean it is actually female. – Wad Cheber May 21 '15 at 21:41
  • @Richard - Belated question: What happens when Skynet runs out of nitrogen and no one is alive to replace it and the Terminators haven't been built yet and Skynet overheats?? It would take an immense amount of nitrogen to replace all the oxygen inside Cheyenne Mountain. However much nitrogen Skynet has, it isn't enough to fill Cheyenne and still cool itself for any significant length of time. – Wad Cheber Jun 1 '15 at 22:47
  • @WadCheber - As we see from T3, Skynet already has access to various rudimentary robots. It also (evidently) has some manufacturing capability in T1 or it couldn't have built the first terminators/ – Valorum Jun 1 '15 at 22:56
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    @WadCheber - That sounds like a reasonable question in its own right; "How did Skyney V1.0 survive Judgement Day?" – Valorum Jun 1 '15 at 23:16

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