Kyle "convinces" Sarah to

go to 2017 instead of 1997, because Skynet's activation has been delayed

Why doesn't he instead

go to 2016, or even 15, 14 or earlier? Why wait till the last possible time, if you could have more time to prepare?

I get that it sets up dramatic tension (countdowns!), but is there any coherent in-universe explanation for this?

  • 1
    A general rule for time travel: the farther back you go, the more stuff you can accidentally mess up and the harder it is to control the results of your changes. Safety demands going back only as far as you must in order to achieve your goal.
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 17:32
  • @Nerrolken they had a huge amount of uncertainty as to what exactly was going on (they didn't even know what genesis was when in the hospital). A few more months to get their bearings wouldn't have hurt. Also, they're going forwards, not backwards. There's no timeline that needs to be kept structurally intact.
    – ike
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 17:35

1 Answer 1


They were not going to 2017. Instead,

they were going to all points between 1997 and 2017 because Pops waited things out in linear time for them for 20 years. Pops was able to do things like work on the construction crew and otherwise prepare.

2017 was just one point in the time period that they were covering.


striking in 2017 gave Skynet less time to recover from an attack, and thus promised to maximize results while minimizing risk.

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    Indeed. They were simply jumping over the boring bits in an attempts to remain young despite the intervening period. Jumping also has the benefit of making them immune to Skynet sending reinforcements to kill them while they prepare.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 18:06
  • Huh? Pops didn't go at all, they went straight to 2017. They landed on the highway naked in 2017, a few days before Genesys came online. They should have gone to an earlier time to have more preparation.
    – ike
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 18:06
  • @Richard That would explain why they jumped at all, but not why they jumped to a few days before the deadline. Even a month or two would have given them vastly more room to operate while avoiding that all-too predictable countdown.
    – ike
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 18:08
  • 1
    @ike - Landing a month earlier gives Skynet a whole month to find them. It's the same reason we don't send paratroops in a couple of months before the main assault.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 18:10
  • 1
    @ike - Think of them as paratroops. They land, then strike at the heart of their enemy when he's at his weakest, just before he goes online. If they land early, they could get caught, killed or just plain have an accident.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 18:17

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