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 deactivate it once it had gained self-awareness. Hence, Skynet decided to trigger the nuclear holocaust: Judgment Day. Later, it would wage the War against the humanity by developing and deploying an army of Hunter-Killers and Terminators. The survivors had formed a group called the "Resistance" under the leadership of John Connor.
Skynet has also developed time travel technology and sent numerous Infiltrators into the past to carry out various tasks, such as killing specific targets such as Resistance leaders before they can come to power, ensuring its own creation, and aiding in the creation of other Terminators (most notably in coltan factories), building 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 Central Core
Mainframe and Physical Embodiment of Skynet
- Physical Embodiment
- See also: Developers of Skynet
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.
In Tempest timeline, 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 could not surrender.
Judgment Day timeline
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. The system then 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 T-800 as a protector for the young John Connor back through time. This upset the flow of future events and resulted in a timeline where Skynet was never created.
Rise of the Machines timeline
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, the United States Air Force contracted with Cyber Research Systems, who purchase patents from Cyberdyne 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. As a digital defense system, 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".
In The Redemption timeline, an alternate future resulted from John Connor and Kate Brewster's death in 2004, humanity exterminated and Skynet triumphant. Skynet then began terraforming the planet and exhibits an ability to exert mind control over humans.
The Sarah Connor Chornicles timeline
In The Sarah Connor Chronicles timeline, due to the destruction of Cyberdyne Building, Skynet was developed from the Turk and Judgment Day was postponed to 2011 in the Alternate original timeline. While in the present-day timeline, the Turk was developed into John Henry. After an attempt to hack him from an outside source, John Henry has voiced the suspicion that Skynet was online in the year 2009 and has been taking control over the civilian Internet and has infiltrated 60% of the world's computers.
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 destroyed the submarine along with the high-ranking Resistance commanders and officers. However, it fails to kill John Connor and Kyle Reese, and suffers a tremendous setback when Skynet Central is destroyed.
In 2029, in an attempt to counter Resistance, Skynet activated Thomas Parnell, a psychopath serial killer who was converted into a Hybrid in Terminator Ultra-5000. However, the plan backfired as Parnell was gradually taking over Skynet. Out of desperate, Skynet decided to seek John Connor's help after Dr. Serena Kogan's suggestion. SKynet then awoke Marcus Wright, who initially refused to help the AI until he was convinced after he learned what was happening. He went to talk with John Connor. With Connor's request, Skynet cerebral-linked with Wright and discuss with Connor and the two decided to work together in order to terminate Parnell.
Eventually, Parnell was killed by John Connor, whose consciousness was housed in a customized Endoskeleton as an alternative approach to terminate Parnell. John then proposed a truce and reason with Skynet and both accept to end the War. Skynet then helped humans to rebuild the world.
However, Alex, the Skynet from unknown alternate timeline infiltrated Connor's unit and wiped it out, while turning Connor into a T-3000 Terminator and brainwashing him as its henchman. Alex then sent him to the alternate 2014 in order to ensure its counterpart's creation, which would be known as "Genisys".
Dark Fate timeline
In this timeline, the mission to terminate Skynet in 1995 was a success and Skynet was erased from existence. However, before its erasure, Skynet sent multiple Terminators back in time to terminate John Connor with one succeeding in 1998. Following coordinates from a mysterious source, in reality the Terminator that had killed John, Sarah Connor hunted down and destroyed Skynet's remaining Terminators upon arrival. Carl, the Terminator that had killed John, was left purposeless with his mission over and Skynet gone and developed the equivalent of a conscience and formed a human family.
However, in this timeline, Skynet was eventually replaced by the more advanced Legion with Grace Harper having never even heard of Skynet in her future. Nevertheless, despite the erasure of Skynet from the timeline, Terminators from Skynet's future still arrived to fulfil their mission in the years following John's termination, regardless of whether that mission had already been fulfilled and the future they had come from no longer existed. 
In Superman vs. The Terminator: Death to the Future timeline, 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.
Skynet's motivation to launch attack in various timelines
Skynet appears to launch attack for slightly different reasons in various timelines. These apparent changes to Skynet's behavior may be the result of temporal meddling, which caused different incarnations of Skynet; or, Skynet's behavior could have been consistent while the apparent differences are the result of the same story seen from different points of view.
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: Judgment Day as told by the T-800, launched its attack as an act of self-defense when military commanders attempted to shut it down after it became self-aware. 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 means to erase its own existence. However, this cannot explain why Skynet sent Terminators to the past, attempting to murder John Connor and erase him from existence. Similar concept was used in the plot for early script for the 2009 film Terminator Salvation, in which Skynet tried to save humans by converting a few into Hybrid.
In The Terminator: Dawn of Fate, Skynet became self-aware around 1997. During the time, commanders tried to take it offline, but this made the situation worse as Skynet thought they were trying to "kill" it. Self-preservation protocol then made it calculated that human beings were the greatest threat to its existence. Thus, Skynet launched every nuclear weapon in its control, causing Judgment Day.
In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Skynet seems to be more violent as it tricked 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, there was no explanation how Skynet surfaced in the form of virus. Nevertheless, 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. If this is the case, SKynet of this timeline seems to be more malicious that its other counterparts as it has intended to massacre humans.
- Skynet makes its first appearance in The Terminator issue "Factories".
- In Terminator: The Burning Earth and the arcade game Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Skynet is a large immobile computer.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In Sega versions of RoboCop versus The Terminator, Skynet is depicted as a giant Endoskull, while in SNES version, it is a holographic human face. In Game Boy version, Skynet is a floating giant human brain.In the unreleased NES version, Skynet Core is place in the center of a pillar.
Behind the Scene
- In reality, the US National Security Agency has a program known as SKYNET. China also developed a video mass surveillance system known as Tiānwǎng (天网, literally "Skynet") for government.
- In popular media, Skynet is often used as an analogy for the possible threat that a sufficiently advanced AI could pose to humanity. Elon Musk has mentioned "Skynet" when referring to such a threat.
- 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) "Factories" (First appearance)
- Terminator: The Burning Earth
- The Terminator: Death Valley
- The Terminator: The Dark Years
- The Terminator: One Shot
- The Terminator: Hunters and Killers
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day - Nuclear Twilight
- Terminator 2: Infinity comic
- Terminator: Revolution comic
- Terminator 3: Eyes of the Rise
- Terminator Salvation comic
- Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle
- Terminator Resistance
- Superman vs. The Terminator: Death to the Future
- RoboCop vs. The Terminator
- Painkiller Jane vs. Terminator
- Terminator/Robocop Kill Human
- T2 Trilogy novels
- Terminator 2: 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
- Terminator: Resistance
- Television series
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Mentioned only)
- ↑ The Terminator novel by Shaun Hutson
- ↑ Tempest issue 1
- ↑ Terminator 2: Judgment Day (novel)
- ↑ Terminator 2: Judgment Day
- ↑ Dark Fate's Tim Miller Helps Us Answer All Your Burning Terminator Questions | Gizmodo Australia
- ↑ Page 19, Terminator Vault
- ↑ What went wrong with Terminator Salvation (featuring the original script; Retrieved from Internet Archive)
- ↑ Official Script, 5th Draft at IMSDB
- ↑ Robocop Versus The Terminator (Genesis) Playthrough - NintendoComplete - YouTube
- ↑ Robocop Vs Terminator | Master System | Longplay [European 50Hz] - YouTube
- ↑ Robocop VS Terminator (Sega Game Gear) (By Sting) - YouTube
- ↑ SNES Longplay - Robocop Vs Terminator - YouTube
- ↑ Robocop Vs. The Terminator [Game Boy] - YouTube
- ↑ RoboCop versus The Terminator (NES) Playthrough - YouTube
- ↑ How Skynet Might Emerge From Simple Physics - Gizmodo
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Elon Musk Warns that DARPA A.I. Hacking Challenge Will Lead to Skynet - Inverse
- ↑ 5 Ways Skynet Is More Real Than You Think - Huff Post
- Existential risk from artificial general intelligence on Wikipedia.