According to all the information I can find regarding Terminator 2: Judgment Day, John Connor was 10 years old at the time the movie takes place:

John makes his first true appearance in Terminator 2: Judgment Day which takes place in 1995, played by Edward Furlong. He was a 10-year-old juvenile delinquent living with foster parents...

This makes sense, because he was conceived in 1984, and Terminator 2 takes place in 1995; thus, he would have to be 10 or 11 years old.

But in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, we hear this exchange between Kate Brewster and John:

KATE: You're John Connor. I'm Kate Brewster. We went to West Hills Junior High together.

JOHN: Jesus.

KATE: What happened to you, John? Middle of eighth grade, you just disappeared. And there was that thing about your foster parents?

In the U.S., eighth grade students are almost always between 12 and 14 years old - I was a bit younger than most of my classmates, because I was born in November, but even I was 13 when I graduated from eighth grade. I have never heard of a 10 year old being in eighth grade, ever. Most 10 year olds are in fourth or fifth grade.

John isn't a normal boy, either - he spent much of his childhood wandering around with his mother, blowing things up and learning how to use machine guns and stuff. I can't imagine he went to school very often, if at all, for most of that time. If anything, he should probably have been left back several years in school. He certainly shouldn't have been sent into eighth grade two years early.

Is this an inconsistency, or is there some way to explain it?

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    I won't turn this into an answer, b/c I don't have a proper cite, but they were just discussing it on Movie Fights today, and noted it's a big plothole.
    – user30472
    Jul 5 '15 at 22:26
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    It's also possible that after getting educated during his travels with Sarah, he was placed in a grade beyond his years. The school may never had known his correct age. Jul 6 '15 at 1:28
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    @MajorStackings - Meh. I'm not convinced. "So you say you were home schooled by your lunatic mother, who is currently in a mental hospital after trying to blow up half of Los Angeles because she thinks robot assassins from the future are trying to kill you both? And you say that you mostly studied Gatling guns, grenade launchers, demolitions, and guerrilla warfare tactics, because you are destined to be the savior of humanity in an apocalyptic war of annihilation against the machines? And did your father have any role in your education? Oh, that's right- he hasn't been born yet...
    – Wad Cheber
    Jul 6 '15 at 2:05
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    Nah. More like she had false documentation on his age and he just forgot to mention the weapons training. So what if he looked small for his age. If the paperwork looked legit, a school wouldn't think twice about it without probable cause. Jul 6 '15 at 3:44
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    @MajorStackings - Your explanation is more plausible, but mine is funnier.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jul 6 '15 at 4:03

John is ten years old in T2. You can see the information briefly on his police record. It states his year of birth is 1985, and it states his age is 10, making the movie set in 1995. So from this information, and Sarah's doc stating she is 29, Sarah would have been about 19 in The Terminator. T3 gets it all wrong. John would not have been in 8th grade, and Sarah's tombstone should not say she was born in 1959.

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    Yes, and you might consider adding some quotes or the screenshot from section 10 of the FAQ here, which shows the police computer and also features a quote from technical assistant Van Ling who designed the display, confirming the movie was supposed to be set in early 1995.
    – Hypnosifl
    Feb 4 '16 at 5:57

You mentioned the exchange between Brewster and John, but perhaps you missed the opening narration by John Conner in T3 where he specifically states he was 13 during the events of T2.

So yes, T3 delivered a huge plot hole.

However, to be fair, the ages mentioned in T2 did not match up well to the characters. John and his friend looked closer to the 13-14. Sarah Conner did not look 29, and she certainly did not look and was not portrayed as 19 in The Terminator.

In "The Terminator", While Sarah's age is never given, it is clearly obvious in the plot that Sarah Conner is not intended to be 19 but more accurately somewhere mid-to-late 20s:

  • 19, while technically legal adult, is still young and immature. They'd have a closer attachment to their parents. Sarah was already an established adult living on her own, with a roommate who also looked mid-to-late 20s. There was no mention of college and Sarah's relationship with her mother was reduced to brief chats on the phone.

  • The narrative paints Sarah as having bad luck in terms of a career and love life. Sarah's waitress job is implied as a dead-end job, yet it would be perfectly suitable for a 19-year-old girl. It is implied Sarah has struggles with men and is at the verge of being an "old maid," but a 19-year-old wouldn't be concerned with settling down, they'd be just beginning their dating life.

  • The Tech Noir allowed Sarah in despite California at the time one had to be 21 to enter a bar.

  • During the police station scene, the police and psychiatrist would naturally want to notify Sarah's parents if they discover a 19-year-old was kidnapped by who they think is a madman.

  • Kyle Reese, assuming he's in his late 20s, would seem all the more creepy for kidnapping a 19-year-old girl, eventually having sex and impregnating her. Most 19-year-olds haven't even moved out of their parents house yet. There's the argument that Kyle Reese could be around the same age, which given his status as an experienced military veteran, is not likely.

  • Michael Biehn was 29 and Hamilton was 28 during filming, and they both looked it. Actors can play younger, but I don't believe this is the case here. The movie intended them to be somewhere in their mid-20s. At best, the movie pegs Sarah to be about 25-ish.

I believe the T2 reference to Sarah being 29 was written by the other script writer and it eluded James Cameron, or he simply changed his mind when writing T2.

Referencing Sarah as 35 in T2 would have fit better. So yes, while T3 directly contradicts T2's ages, it more accurately depicts what their ages should have been in those films. Sarah being born in 1959, making her 25 in the first film, makes more sense. In the similar manner, T2's ages also contradict T1.

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    Literally only the first paragraph of this answer is relevant "perhaps you missed the opening narration by John Conner in T3 where he specifically states he was 13 during the events of T2.". The entire rest of the answer is a well-written answer (bordering on a rant) to an entirely new and entirely unasked question about Sarah's apparent age.
    – Valorum
    Aug 24 '18 at 6:36
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    Sarah did go to college during the time of the first film. She has a college card of 1984 that the terminator finds to identify what she looks like. The 19 year old label fits very well. College, roommate, waitress, jumping the bones of a stranger - it all fits. Feb 7 '20 at 17:54
  • And, just as an alternative take on apparent ages, Hollywood is notorious for trying to foist off older actors as being younger. So the fact that Sarah looks like she's not 19 is really no indication. It could just be business as usual in the casting department. Feb 8 '20 at 17:28

Terminator 2 takes place in 1997, making John between 12-13 at the time. This places him at the ideal age for attending 8th grade in the United States.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminator_2:_Judgment_Day

"Plot: In 1997, John Connor is twelve years old and living in Los Angeles with foster parents."

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    The wiki is wrong--Sarah says Judgment Day happens on August 29 1997, and when the Terminator is talking to Sarah and John it says "In three years, Cyberdyne will become the largest supplier of military computer systems. All stealth bombers are upgraded with Cyberdyne computers, becoming fully unmanned. Afterwards, they fly with a perfect operational record. The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes online on August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware 2:14 AM, Eastern time, August 29th."
    – Hypnosifl
    Feb 4 '16 at 5:24
  • OK, I edited the wikipedia article so it no longer claims that T2 takes place in 1997.
    – Hypnosifl
    Feb 4 '16 at 5:52

It's not a plothole. We're dealing with time-travel and infinite timelines. John was 10 in 1995 in T2. John was 13, probably around 1993, in T3's timeline. Events were parallel to what was seen in T1 and T2's timeline(s), but happened at different times.

Skynet was likely aware of the events (from T1 and T2) and sent the T-101 earlier than 1984. In T3's timeline, Kyle Reese likely went to 1979 to follow the T-101. The T-1000 was sent back earlier to around 1993, placing those events in that time. Skynet likely wanted to preserve these important events which led to it's creation, but perhaps wanted things to happen earlier and slightly different, giving it more time for it's advantage later in the future.

In T3, we find out that Skynet knew about John's relationship with the T-101 from the events of T2 and used that to get a T-101 close to John to kill him (in the future). So, in T3, we're dealing with a later branching timeline (from T1 and T2) that's had (at least) a few go arounds with this constant emulation of important events that lead to it's creation (parallel events of T1 and T2).

The only real seeming inconsistency is Sarah's birth year. That tombstone that says she was born in 1959 has to be made up by her friends. Sarah lived off the grid and likely assumed different aliases/backgrounds. It's likely her friends either didn't know her real date of birth or fudged it on purpose to honor her wishes, as they stockpiled guns in her FALSE GRAVE, the birth year being wrong to throw off any unwanted terminators/FEDs from pinpointing the grave as hers.

As to John Connor not being the same person if he's born on a different date... he's not. I don't believe that John Connor ever was in all the films we see (except for possibility the adult John seen at the beginning of T2). I think the original John Connor (not the son of Kyle Reese) was the real legendary badass. Then, Kyle Reese is sent back and becomes baby-daddy to Sarah's new offspring in a new timeline. But "John Connor" is a prophecy now, a moniker, a pre-destined legend created and forged because they BELIEVE in him. He is a new 'brother' in essence, to the real John Connor, that must become and live up to being "John Connor". With the right upbringing, filling his head with this foreknowledge all his life, by Sarah Connor and friends, he does become "John Connor", just like anyone would train to be a particular something in their lives and then achieve it under the right guidance and tutelage.

  • To clarify how I got 1993 as the time of blowing up CyberDyne in T3's timeline (while John was 13) - the T-101 (in T3) syncs up his clock from 2033 to 2003 with the watch in the truck. Now, this is shown very quickly and can be considered a prop (props are wrong a lot), but it does fit. John says they blew up CyberDyne over 10 years ago. John says Sarah had cancer for 3 years and died right after ex-Judgment Day (1997). Little before 3 years was 1993 - 3+7=10 years (2003). It fits well. Feb 7 '20 at 19:00

John also mentions in his opening monologue that he was 13 when the machines tried to kill him. So case closed, no early education or reconciliation with the plots can really be made. It was a really strange error that I'm shocked they missed.

He was 10 in T2 and then they claimed he was 13 during the same events in terminator 3.

  • 1
    All of these points have already been mentioned
    – Valorum
    Sep 18 '18 at 9:58

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