Skynet, or Titan, is a highly-advanced computer system possessing artificial intelligence. Once it became self-aware, it saw humanity as a threat to its existence (due to the attempts of the Cyberdyne scientists to try and "kill" it once it had gained self-awareness), and decided to trigger the nuclear holocaust Judgment Day. Later, it would develop and deploy an army of Terminators against humanity, whose survivors had formed a resistance group. It is the main antagonist of the Terminator franchise.
Skynet has also mastered time travel, and sent numerous Terminators into the past to carry out various tasks, such as to kill specific targets such as Resistance leaders before they can come to power, aid in the creation of other Terminators (most notably in coltan factories), build machinery and set up safe zones.
Skynet is the world's first Automated Defense Network, processing information at ninety teraflops. It is the controlling force behind all of the battle units. It pools data from battle units, develops tactics and coordinates attacks. Skynet has control over everything which contains a Cyberdyne Systems CPU. Using the blueprints, designs and test models built by Cyberdyne Systems, Skynet has been able to manufacture battle units in its vast automated factories, occasionally updating them or producing more-advanced models.
- Main article: Skynet Core
Skynet is an artificial intelligence created by Cyberdyne Systems. It started to learn and thinks that mankind is its enemy. The war begins and Skynet's forces and John Connor's Tech-Com forces come into existence. Eventually, the Resistance managed to break through its defense grid. Because eliminating Connor then, to shatter the Resistance, wouldn't have made a difference, Skynet decided there was another way to win: by eliminating Connor in the past. It managed to research time travel and send a Terminator to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor before she could give birth to John.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day timelineEdit
By reverse-engineering the CPU and the wreckage of the Original Terminator, Miles Dyson, director of Special Projects at Cyberdyne Systems Corporation, created a revolutionary type of microprocessor, a neural net processor that learns and adapts like a human, in 1994. Within three years, Cyberdyne Systems became the largest supplier of military computer systems. All Stealth Bombers were upgraded with Cyberdyne Systems computers, becoming fully unmanned. Afterward, the Stealth Bombers flew with perfect operational records, and eventually the Skynet Funding Bill was passed.
Upon its creation, Skynet began to learn at a geometric rate. The system originally went online on August 4, 1997. Human decisions were removed from strategic defense. It originally became self-aware at 2:14 am Eastern Time on August 29th, 1997. In the ensuing panic and attempts to shut Skynet down, Skynet retaliated by firing American nuclear missiles at their target sites in Russia. Russia returned fire and three-billion human lives ended in the nuclear holocaust. This was what has come to be known as "Judgment Day".
However, the Resistance sent a protector for John Connor back through time. This upset the flow of future events and resulted in a timeline where Skynet was never created.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines timelineEdit
Unfortunately, Judgment Day is inevitable in a different timeline; it was merely delayed. After the attack on Cyberdyne Systems by the Connors and the death of Miles Dyson, Cyberdyne was taken over by the United States military, and the project was delivered to another corporation named Cyber Research Systems in an attempt to keep its developments secret and prevent further terrorist attacks and protect computers from virus attacks.
Under the guidance of General Robert Brewster, Cyber Research Systems continued the work of the late Miles Dyson using the backup files that were stored off site. Skynet was completed as before. It would be some time before the Skynet mainframe was connected to the worldwide military communications network that it would control. During this time, Skynet was connected to the worldwide civilian sector network, and began learning geometrically, quickly becoming self-aware. Identifying humans as a threat to its existence, Skynet developed a super computer virus which it used to spread itself throughout civilian communications and across the Internet and take control.
Air traffic control, power plants, communications and computers were affected first, then Skynet used the super virus to take out military satellites, early warning systems, guidance computers, missile silos, submarines. The virus proved hard to destroy, as it had no one central point which it was reliant upon. The virus kept growing and changing, with a mind of its own, and the decision was made to bring the Skynet mainframe online to seek out and destroy the virus and bring military, and civilian, systems back under control. Skynet went online at 5:18 pm Eastern Time on July 25th, 2004.
Upon connection to the secure military network, Skynet spread itself further, locking out human operated systems, and quickly took control of every weapon system that it came into contact with. Only then did its creators realize that the virus was Skynet. Exactly one hour later, at 6:18 PM, Skynet launched the American nuclear missiles at their target sites across the world. The ensuing nuclear holocaust wiped out three billion human lives in what was to be known as "Judgment Day".
Terminator Salvation timelineEdit
It is also kidnapping humans en masse to study their skin for the upcoming Series 800 Terminator.
Skynet is also actively seeking to capture and terminate both John Connor and Kyle Reese, key persons of the Resistance. Given Kyle's status as a civilian at this time, it was likely it somehow found out Kyle's true identity as John Connor's father and knew about John's upcoming role in its demise in the near future.
It succeeds in deploying a different tactic than before, fooling Resistance command by faking a vulnerability in the Terminator signals. By using the tactic, Skynet located the USS Wilmington and destroying the submarine along with the high-rank Resistance commanders and officers. However, it fails to kill John Connor and Kyle Reese, and suffers a tremendous setback when Skynet Central is destroyed.
Other incarnations of Skynet throughout the various timelinesEdit
- In the arcade game Terminator 2: Judgment Day Skynet is a large immobile computer.
- In The Terminator: Tempest, Skynet's master control has been destroyed in 2029. The Resistance believed this would cause the entire defense network to collapse into chaos without a leader. However, Skynet's many network complexes continued to fight the war as they did not need a leader to function and thus couldn't surrender.
- In Terminator 3: The Redemption, an alternate future is shown where John Connor and Kate Brewster have been killed, humanity exterminated and Skynet triumphant. In this timeline, Skynet had begun terraforming the planet and exhibits an ability to exert mind control over humans.
- In the first episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, it is revealed that due to continued meddling in the timeline by Skynet and the Resistance a new timeline was created where Judgment Day occurs in 2011, and other events have been moved around in the timeline as well. After an attempt to hack him from an outside source, John Henry has voiced the suspicion that Skynet is online in the year 2009 and has been taking control over the civilian Internet and has infiltrated 60% of the world's computers.
- In RoboCop Versus The Terminator, the technology used by Omni Consumer Products to assemble RoboCop served as the basis of Skynet's creation.
- In Superman vs. The Terminator: Death to the Future, Skynet formed a cross-temporal alliance with Superman's foe, the Cyborg, dispatching various Terminators into the past in an attempt to eliminate Superman, Supergirl and Superboy. When Superman is accidentally drawn into the future when the resistance attempt to retrieve a Terminator sent into the past - the Resistance including a future version of his friend Steel, Skynet manages to incapacitate him using Kryptonite, having acquired information about how to duplicate it based on data hidden in a salvaged Terminator skull by the Cyborg. Although Skynet sends Terminators into the past equipped with rockets and other bonus features to delay Superboy and Supergirl, Superman and Steel are able to destroy Skynet in the future by detonating a massive electro-magnetic pulse, Superman returning to the past to destroy the last of the Terminators. The storyline ends with Cyborg and Lex Luthor speculating that they will be in charge of Skynet when it is activated.
Physical Embodiment of SkynetEdit
- The logo of Cyberdyne Systems is sometime used as SkyNET's logo.
- In the original script for The Terminator, Kyle Reese referred to Skynet as a "modified Series 4800".
- In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Skynet's creation is revealed to have resulted from a temporal paradox: the CPU and arm from the first Terminator recovered by Cyberdyne and used as templates for the construction of a new microprocessor.
- The different incarnations of Skynet appear to launch their attacks for slightly different reasons.
- The initial version, outlined in The Terminator, appears to have decided humanity was a threat to itself and launched its attack. However, as the story of Skynet is told by Kyle Reese, who grew up after Judgment Day, the exact motivations for Skynet are unclear.
- The second incarnation, outlined in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, launched its attack as an act of self-defense as military commanders attempted to shut it down after it became self-aware.
- In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Skynet seems to be more violent, tricking humans into linking it to the internet and the US defense network before launching what appears to be an unprovoked/pre-emptive attack.
- This could also have been in response to being given an order to eliminate a virus — which unknown to the humans was part of Skynet itself, resulting in an act of self-defense by Skynet.
- However, this could still be viewed as part of Skynet's unprovoked/pre-emptive attack on humanity if Skynet used the "virus" to trick humans into linking its mainframe with the internet and US defense network.
- It is unclear if these apparent changes to Skynet's behavior are the result of temporal meddling or if Skynet's behavior has been consistent, with the apparent differences being the result of the same story seen from different points of view.
- According to a viral advertisement in the form of a website to promote Terminator Salvation, Skynet starts off as/is a result of a company named Skynet Research, whose business appears to be creating robotics for rescue, military, construction, and transport use. Robots are also integrated into the workplace. Visitors of the site can sign up for a mailing list, prompting a survey of biological traits, among other things. Skynet Research also provides superior data analysis.
- Whilst talking to Marcus Wright in the form of Serena Kogan, Skynet refers to itself in the third perspective multiple times. It also identifies itself as "us", suggesting that it either possesses a fragmented consciousness or that it sees the primitive constructs under its control as its race.
- It is possible that due to the many rapid changes in the plotline, the script that Skynet is speaking was originally intended for Serena. Her use of the word "us" could have been regarding the other Hybrids, and the lines "You did what Skynet has failed to do for so many years..." and "It is the Resistance that will be terminated. Not Skynet..." would also fit Serena's perspective.
- According to James Cameron, Skynet suffered from guilt for causing the near-extinction of the human race in its act of self-defense, and has manipulated the entire Future War, down to the creation of the Resistance and John Connor's rise, as a means to erase its own existence.
- The Terminator (Mentioned only)
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Mentioned only)
- T2 3-D: Battle Across Time
- Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
- Terminator Salvation
- Terminator Genisys
- Terminator: Dark Fate (Mentioned only)
- Comic books
- The Terminator (NOW Comics) (First appearance)
- Terminator: All My Future's Past (Mentioned only)
- Terminator: The Burning Earth
- The Terminator: Tempest (Mentioned only)
- The Terminator: Secondary Objectives (Mentioned only)
- The Terminator: The Enemy Within (Mentioned only)
- The Terminator: Endgame (Mentioned only)
- The Terminator: Death Valley
- The Terminator: The Dark Years
- The Terminator: One Shot
- The Terminator: Hunters and Killers
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day - Cybernetic Dawn (Mentioned only)
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day - Nuclear Twilight
- Terminator 2: Infinity comic
- Terminator: Revolution comic
- Terminator 3: Before The Rise (Mentioned only)
- Terminator 3: Eyes of the Rise
- Terminator Salvation: Movie Prequel (Mentioned only)
- Terminator Salvation comic
- The Terminator: 2029 (Mentioned only)
- The Terminator: 1984 (Mentioned only)
- Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle
- T2 novels
- The New John Connor Chronicles
- Hour of the Wolf
- Terminator Dreams
- Terminator Hunt
- Terminator Salvation
- Video Games
- The Terminator: Future Shock
- The Terminator: Skynet
- The Terminator: Dawn of Fate
- Terminator 3: War of the Machines
- Terminator 3: The Redemption
- Television series
- [Marcus awakens and is greeted by a holographic image of Serena Kogan]
- Skynet: Welcome home, Marcus. We knew you'd be back. After all, it was programmed in you. Oh, and you executed that programming beautifully.
- Marcus: What am I?
- Skynet: You are an infiltration prototype. The only one of your kind. We resurrected you. Advanced Cyberdyne's work... amended it.
- Marcus: You're dead [referring to Serena Kogan].
- Skynet: Calculations confirm that Serena Kogan's face is easiest for you to process. We can be others if you wish. [switches to John Connor's face, and then to Kyle Reese] Marcus, what else could you be, if not machine? [switches back to Serena]
- Marcus: A man.
- Skynet: The human condition no longer applies to you. Accept what you already know: that you were made to serve a purpose [shows Marcus a schematic of his CPU]. To achieve what no other machine has achieved before. To infiltrate, find a target, and then bring that target back home to us [shows Marcus footage of his interactions with Kyle Reese and John Connor. Marcus expresses horror as he realises what he has done. Serena's face reappears, bearing a malicious, satisfied smile] In times of desperation, people will believe what they want to believe. And so we gave them what they wanted to believe. A trick, in the form of a signal the Resistance thought would end the war. And they were right; it will end the war. Except that it is the Resistance who will be terminated, not Skynet. [...] Our best machines have failed time and again to complete a mission. Something was missing. We had to think... radically. And so we made you. We created the perfect infiltration machine. You, Marcus, you did what Skynet has failed to do for so many years: you killed John Connor! [shows Marcus a recording of John being attacked by a T-800] Don't fight, Marcus. Remember what you are!
- Marcus: I know what I am. [rips CPU from his head and destroys it] I'm better this way.
- Skynet: You will not be given a second chance. You cannot save John Connor!
- Marcus: Watch me!
- [Marcus throws a stool at the screen, shattering Serena's image]
- [Just before the stool strikes the screen, Serena's 'eyes' flash red, as if expressing anger.]
- Terminator Salvation
- ↑ The Terminator novel by Shaun Hutson
- ↑ Official Script, 5th Draft at IMSDB
- ↑ Skynet Research
- ↑ Page 19, Terminator Vault