Judgment Day, also known as J-Day, refers to the day that the artificial intelligence —Skynet— becomes self-aware and starts a nuclear strike on the United States of America, Russia, and other places, killing three billion people.
Date of Judgment Day
In one of the timelines, Judgement Day occurred in 1995, much earlier than it originally is.
The first specific date of Judgment Day as described by both Sarah Connor and the T-800 occurs on August 29, 1997. Skynet becomes self-aware at 02:14 am Eastern Time after its activation on August 4, 1997 and launches nuclear missiles at Russia to incite a counterattack against the humans who, in a panic, tried to disconnect it.
Since Sarah and the Terminator both share the same information (which it would in any case if both it and Kyle were sent back at the same time to different destinations. Cyberdyne managing to reconstruct and create the Terminators from the remaining parts of the T-800 sent to 1984 from the future. At this stage, quality may have improved, but the timing has not yet changed.), this date has not changed as a result of
In Russia, a routine day at sea turns into a nightmare when it seems the US has launched a massive nuclear attack on the rest of the world.
This event is not prevented, and occurs as predicted with the T-850 indicating "Judgment Day is inevitable".
- The date "July 25, 2004" is also mentioned as Judgment Day in the novel "Terminator Salvation: From the Ashes".
- "Terminator Salvation: The Official Movie Souvenir Magazine" marks that Judgment Day occurs in the year 2004.
After John Connor and Wendy Dorset inadvertently participated in the creation of Skynet while attempting to stop Clea Bennet in 2002, the date for Judgment Day was altered into a progressively developing scenario of machine-based homicidal mania that takes years to develop until the full fledged nuclear strikes of Judgment Day now occurred sometime in early 2000s when it executed the program Firefall.
This sequence of events was directly attributable to the temporal intervention by Skynet and the deployment of the I-950 Infiltrator Serena Burns to ensure Skynet's creation as well as Dr. Kurt Viemeister's involvement. .
As a result of an assassination attempt on Sarah Connor's life in 1973, she has a T-800 known as the Guardian as her protector. When the T-800 arrives to assassinate her in 1984, it is confronted by Guardian almost immediately and deactivated by Sarah with a .50 caliber round to its power cell. Though its later reactivated by the T-1000, it is once again deactivated by Kyle Reese blowing its head off. The T-800 is dissolved in acid and its CPU used to act as the crude version of the Time Displacement Equipment's operating system at which point it burns out and is presumably destroyed by Guardian. As a result of the total destruction of the T-800, Cyberdyne doesn't get its CPU to study, Skynet is not created and Judgment Day does not occur in 1997 and is postponed to 2017 which Kyle learns due to the memories of the new timeline he received while time traveling. In this new timeline, after being converted into a T-3000 by Alex, John Connor is sent back to 2014 where he helps Cyberdyne build Genisys, an operating system that when activated, will control and connect all worldwide hardware, including military hardware. Genisys is actually Skynet in a new form and once it comes online, Judgment Day will begin. Kyle, Sarah and Guardian work to stop it and destroy Genisys before it fully comes online. They are hampered in their efforts by John, but assault Cyberdyne anyway, resulting in John pushing up Genisys' activation from thirteen hours to fifteen minutes. Despite John's best efforts, the three destroy the facility and apparently Skynet. Judgment Day is averted, but unknown to them, Skynet's system core survives underground and it becomes self-aware. It is likely that Judgment Day has just been postponed to another time as a result.
In the Dark Fate timeline, after the termination of Skynet and the destruction of a Cyberdyne building, a new timeline was created, in which Judgment Day happened in the 2020s. In this timeline, a different AI, Legion, was responsible for the new Judgment Day, which it began by cutting humanity off from necessary utilities and electronics.
- An early script draft of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, John Connor, who is the narrator instead of Sarah, mentioned Judgment Day as having occurred in 1999.
- In T2: Rising Storm, John Connor remarks the original Judgment Day happening "fifteen years ago". Since the story takes place in 2001, this makes Judgment Day happens approximately in 1986 instead of 1997 as mentioned in the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Note that in the film The Terminator, in 1984, Kyle Reese says that a nuclear war would occur "a few years from now". It is unknown if this is a continuity error, or a change caused by time travelling mission(s).
- Sarah Connor: Three billion human lives ended on August 29, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines.
- "It's like a giant strobe light, burning right through my eyes, but somehow I can still see. Oh, God. Look, you know the dream's the same every night, why do I have to -?. The children look like burnt paper, black, not moving. And then, the blast wave hits them and they fly apart like leaves. It's not a dream, you moron. It's real. I know the date it happens. On August 29th, 1997, it's gonna feel pretty fucking real to you too! Anyone not wearing two million sunblock is gonna have a real bad day, get it? What, you think you're safe and alive?! You're already dead! Everybody! Him, you, you're dead already! This whole place, everything you see is gone! You're the one living in a fucking dream, Silberman! Because I know it happens! It happens!!!" — Sarah Connor
- T-800: The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. 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 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.
- Sarah Connor: Skynet fights back.
- T-800: Yes. It launches its missiles against the targets in Russia.
- John Connor: Why attack Russia? Aren't they our friends now?
- T-800: Because Skynet knows the Russian counter-attack will eliminate its enemies over here.
- John Connor: My name is John Connor. They tried to murder me before I was born. When I was 13 they tried again. Machines from the future. Terminators. All my life my mother told me the storm was coming. Judgment Day, the beginning of a war between man and machines. Three billion lives would vanish in an instant, and I would lead what was left of the human race to ultimate victory.
- Cameron: The Skynet missile defense system goes online April 19, 2011. Declares war on mankind and triggers a nuclear apocalypse two days later.
- Sarah Connor: Miles Dyson?
- Cameron: Someone else built Skynet.
- Sarah Connor: Who?
- Cameron: I don't know.
- Kyle Reese: Skynet, a computer program designed to automate missile defense. It was supposed to protect us, but that's not what happened. On August 29, 1997, Skynet woke up. It decided all humanity was a threat to its existence. It used our own bombs against us. Three billion people died in the nuclear fire. Survivors called it Judgment Day.
- Dani Ramos: Grace, tell me what happens when this all falls apart.
- Grace: Nothing happens. There's no warning. Day one, everything just stops. No phones, no power. Cities go dark. They told us we had to leave, just until things got back to normal. But normal was never coming back. Day two, they launched nukes. They thought they could contain Legion with tactical EMP strikes. And by day three, the whole world was at war. Millions died. And then, when the food ran out, billions.