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Terminator Wiki

The Terminator timeline is the timeline of the events of the film The Terminator.

Avant notes[]

For the sake of understanding and resolving the story in The Terminator, let's assume there is a previous unaltered timeline, the Alpha timeline. In this timeline, Kyle never met Sarah and never fathered John. It may even be that the future leader of the Resistance is not even named "John Connor". All this does not matter, except that Sarah is the mother of a future leader of the Resistance. That is what triggers Skynet to send back a T-800 to kill her. The next sections are listed several timelines prior to the events of The Terminator in an attempt to resolve some of the paradoxes mentioned in a later section.

Prior timelines[]

These timelines take place prior to the main events of the film. (See Notes for more information)

Alpha timeline[]

An original and unaltered timeline prior to the events of The Terminator.

  • The "leader" of the future Resistance was born to Sarah Connor possibly during the 1980s. (The father is unknown as this topic has not been elaborated in Terminator fictions or related materials so far.)
  • Cyberdyne developed artificial intelligence.
  • Skynet (Alpha timeline) went online.
  • Skynet became self-aware. War broke out after Judgment Day.
  • Sarah's child became the leader of the Resistance.
  • Skynet was losing the war and decided to send a T-800 back in time to kill Sarah Connor before the leader of the Resistance was born.
  • The leader sent Kyle Reese back to the past to save Sarah Connor.

Original timeline[]

These events exist in Kyle Reese's past timeline.

  • The T-800 (Alpha timeline) arrived from the future to kill Sarah Connor.
  • Kyle Reese (Alpha timeline) arrived from the future to protect Sarah.
  • Kyle impregnated Sarah.
  • Kyle died and the T-800 was destroyed.
  • The wreckage of the T-800 was recovered by Cyberdyne Systems and they reverse-engineered its technology.
  • Skynet (Original timeline) became self-aware and initiated Judgment Day. The War then broke out.
Unknown point
  • John Connor led the Tech-Com and won the war, but Skynet sent a T-800 Terminator back to 1984.
  • Kyle Reese volunteered to save Sarah Connor and John Connor sent him back to the past to save Sarah Connor. The Terminator

The Terminator timeline[]

These are the main events depicted in the film The Terminator.

  • May 12th a Friday[1][2][3]
    • At 1:52 AM, the T-800 arrived from the future to kill Sarah Connor.
    • Kyle Reese arrived from the future to protect Sarah.
  • Next day (Saturday)
    • Kyle and Sarah conceived John Connor.
    • The T-800 kills Kyle. Sarah destroyed the T-800.
  • The wreckage of the T-800 was recovered by Cyberdyne Systems.[4]
  • November 10, Saturday[5]
    • Sarah, noticeably pregnant, drove through Mexico and recorded tape messages to her unborn son. A boy took her photograph, which she bought from him.

Deviating timelines[]

Paradox issues[]

The story in The Terminator contains several causality loops, some of which are self-consistent non-paradoxes, and some of which are not self-consistent, and could be considered predestination paradox or bootstrap paradox. A few issues are presented in short here:

  • The most confused and debatable event in The Terminator and the whole franchise concerns the birth of John Connor, the future leader of the Resistance. In the future, John Connor himself sends back Kyle Reese, who eventually meets and impregnates Sarah Connor and later gives birth to John Connor. The question is raised: How can the older John Connor send back Kyle Reese, his own father? It is also revealed that Kyle is the one who mentions the name John as Sarah's future son, which makes her name her son John Connor.
  • The remaining parts of the T-800 created Skynet. In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, it is revealed by the T-800 that the parts from Cyberdyne Systems factory were analyzed and Skynet and cyborgs were created through reverse engineering. Miles Dyson stated that the technology in the parts was so advanced that no human would be able to invent the technology. This leads to the conclusion that Skynet created itself by sending back the T-800 in this movie. It can be argued that Miles Dyson's statement may be more of a personal opinion, rather than a true fact. Humans may very well invent the technology, but with the parts, the creation of Skynet and Judgment Day would occur earlier. The actual date of Skynet's creation and Judgment Day is not revealed in The Terminator, so it's still speculation and a debatable issue.
  • Kyle Reese gives Sarah Connor a message that he got from the future John Connor. Sarah Connor made young John memorize the message that the future can be changed, and makes sure he gives this info to Kyle in the future. The movie doesn't reveal where this message came from originally.
  • Another example of paradox is the picture Kyle has of Sarah. This is the very same picture where Sarah is being photographed outside a gas station. The fact the Sarah Connor is chased by a T-800 and protected by Kyle Reese, brings her to this exact place, at this specific date and time, which makes it a paradox.

Continuity notes[]

Although The Terminator: Dawn of Fate is a prequel to the film The Terminator, several minor facts are different, including:


  • James Cameron has said in the Terminator Vault that in the Original timeline, Skynet felt guilt over eradicating humanity out of fear and created the time machine and orchestrated the birth of John Connor as a means of atonement. In this case, it is possible that the Alpha timeline was one where Skynet was victorious.

See also[]


  1. The Terminator. Sarah's time card at the restaurant is for "pay period ending 5/19/84", placing the date prior to Saturday, May 19, 1984. This corresponds with John's birthday being in February 1985.
  2. The Terminator. When Kyle first arrives in 1984, he holds a police officer at gunpoint, who gives him the date as "Twelve. May. Thursday." But it's early Friday morning. (Easily explained as a common mistake people make 1) Before dawn people tend to consider it the same day regardless if it's midnight or later 2)The policeman was under pressure, he had a crazed man pointing his own seized gun at him so being technically correct with what day it is wouldn't have been a priority.
  3. The Terminator. Ginger states: "He can't treat you like this, it's Friday night, for Christ's sake."
  4. The Terminator (Deleted Scene) - YouTube
  5. The Terminator. Sarah states the date for the recording.