The massive time-displacement chamber.
Walking on the bridge to time-displacement chamber.
TDE ConceptArt
T2 Skynet Time Displacement Chamber

The Time Displacement Equipment (TDE, Time Door[1]), or Time Field Generator) is a machine which allows living tissue and mimetic polyalloy to be sent backward and forward in time.

Skynet, the Resistance, and Catherine Weaver all have controlled the TDEs; each has used them to send agents into the past in an attempt to change the future. The Resistance and Catherine Weaver have also used TDEs to send agents forward in time.

Technical data

SCC 106 time machine in the future

Time displacement equipment in The Sarah Connor Chronicles


The TDE powering up within the bank vault in "Pilot"

A deleted scene from Terminator 2 shows John Connor and several Resistance fighters, including Kyle Reese, taking over the building where the TDE is housed in 2029. This "Time Displacement Complex" is located in Los Angeles, with the TDE itself located deep underground, accessible by a long stainless steel elevator shaft. The TDE is located behind vault-like doors, in a large chamber the size of a high-school gym. At the center of the room's floor is a circular hole, with three enormous chrome rings inside it, suspended by a magnetic field. Individuals traveling through time must first be covered with a conductive substance so that the time-field will follow their outline, then step into the hole at the center of the inner ring, where they will be suspended like the rings. As the TDE is started up, the rings rotate around each other on different axes like a complex gyroscope, and the floor splits open like wedges of a pie which pull back from the center. The rings spin faster, and begin to descend into a vast circular space below. Lightning begins to arc in this space below as a charge builds up, and finally there is a blinding flash of light as the traveler is sent through time.

The TDE process is a one-way trip; once they travel back to the set time period, they are unable to return. Only by constructing another device, possibly requiring unique future tech components smuggled back as well, can a person return to the future.[2]

What can be transported?

In order for this time travel to occur, the subject must be a living organism (or must be surrounded by living tissue) in order to generate the bioelectric field needed for the TDE to operate. Nothing else can go through time, not even clothes. However, there is some exception, such as dirt[3] or mimetic polyalloy.[4][5]When time allows, Resistance fighters often take off their clothes prior to entering a TDE departure zone to prevent the destruction of their limited possessions in the time travel process. These could still be useful for personnel left behind.[citation needed]

Skynet is able to send Series 1000 Terminators back through time, while the T-Infinity, is able to travel without any problem by the onboard TDE — but as they do not possess living tissue, it is unclear how they can be transported.

  • One theory states that the T-1000 is capable of generating a synthetic bioelectric field.
  • Another concludes that Skynet grows a synthetic flesh pod, or cocoon, around the T-1000 specifically to send it through time. Once through, the T-1000 would rip out of this cocoon and begin its mission. However, no evidence of such a pod was shown when the TDE was used to transport the T-1000 and the T-X, an endoskeletal unit contained in a mimetic polyalloy infiltration sheath.
  • It is also possible that the T-1000 simulates the structure of living cells for the duration that is required for the time displacement to occur.
  • There is another explanation that the TDE is able to transport the mimetic polyalloy in addition to the living tissue.

In the pilot episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, a T-888 head is transported through time along with Sarah, John and Cameron. According to Josh Friedmann,[6] immediately before the time travel, the head was covered in tissue that was then burnt off during time travel. This could possibly be the way Skynet is able to send the T-1000 prototype and the T-X back in time without traces of cocoons being seen following time travel — a thin layer of skin covering the T-1000 is burnt off during time travel.

Furthermore, a T-3000 that has lost its human cellular coverings is vulnerable to a Time Displacement Device, which can rip the machine apart beyond possible repair and destroy it altogether.[7]

Time Displacement Sphere

Time displacement sphere

A Time Displacement Sphere

TerminatorRobocop time bubble

When a Terminator or human arrives in their predetermined time, the time sphere will appear and cause a small electrical storm. The sphere would burn and/or melt anything around it. The possible reason for the time displacement taking this specific shape it that due to the time machine sometimes having a spinning crescent mechanism thats accelerated movements created a spherical pattern that echoes through time and takes the form of a large sphere of energy. When it fades away, its traveler(s) will appear naked and crouched or lying down.

It would appear that Skynet has more than one TDE laboratory. This second TDE laboratory is very similar to the first TDE laboratory captured and used by the Resistance.[citation needed]


It is shown in multiple sources that the equipment can have errors, delivering subjects to either the wrong location, the wrong time, or both.

  • The original script of The Terminator was to show another soldier who traveled with Kyle Reese, but due to a mishap in the time travel, he materialized and died under the pavement.
  • When D810.X and D800.L were deployed simultaneously to Death Valley, yet arrived slightly offset, leading one Terminator to suffer internal errors resulting in the survival of their targets.
  • In the final issue of RoboCop vs. The Terminator, a Terminator accidentally arrives in Earth's prehistory and is immediately squashed by a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Terminator Fictions

See also: Time travel Missions

The Terminator film

Kyle Reese mentioned that the Resistance used the TDE in the Resistance-occupied Skynet base to send him back to 1984.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

SCC 101 time machine target date

TDE display from the pilot episode.

Sometime between 1963 and 1999, a person known only as the "Engineer" constructed Time Displacement Equipment in a bank vault with intention of being able to travel from the past to the future. It was used by the Connors and a Terminator named Cameron to travel to 2007 to escape the pursuing Cromartie and continue their mission to prevent Skynet's birth.[8] But for some strange reason, this particular use devastated the bank.[9] A contributing factor to this destruction may have been the simultaneous firing of an Isotope weapon from within the forming time sphere. Another may have been failure of the contemporary materials used in its construction.

In 2027, the Resistance was able to create their own time displacement machine from one of their bases. To stop Skynet from existing, Connor sent four men to 2007 to prepare to help his younger self and his mother. Cameron was probably sent through the device. In the series, resistance TDE operators are called Bubble Techs.

Terminator Genisys

After learning that Skynet has sent back a T-800 back to kill Sarah Connor, Kyle Reese volunteers to go back and save her, but sees a T-5000 attacking John Connor and experiences an alternate reality where Judgment Day didn't happen in 1997, where his younger self relays a cryptic warning that "Genisys is Skynet." In the past he finds the timeline altered by the fact that Skynet sent a T-1000 back to kill Sarah in 1973 and she is protected by another T-800 known as the Guardian. They have built their own time displacement sphere and finish it with the CPU of the destroyed T-800, though the crude recreation would only last one trip. Sarah intended to use the machine to travel to 1997 to destroy Skynet. Realizing the timeline has been altered, Kyle is convinced that the future has changed due to the warning he received in his childhood vision. He convinces Sarah to travel forward to 2017 while the Guardian stays behind due to damage to his coating preventing him from being able to make the trip. In 2017, John Connor and the Dysons have created their own prototype Time Displacement Equipment, but during the battle to destroy Genisys, the Guardian destroys the T-3000 by sending it into the prototype activating it, causing the machine's magnetic field to rip the T-3000 apart and then explode due to the inorganic material that enters it (It had already been established that the machinery at this point was merely capable of generating the energy field rather than a full time portal). The explosion sets off all the charges planted to destroy the facility as well. Terminator Genisys


The time-field generator. or something






Video games

Television series

Video gallery

Terminator Dawn of Fate - Ending

Terminator Dawn of Fate - Ending

Terminator : Dawn of Fate - Ending
Terminator 3 The Redemption - Intro

Terminator 3 The Redemption - Intro

Terminator 3 The Redemption - Intro


  1. Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle
  2. Dialogue between Kyle Reese and Dr. Peter Silberman in the film The Terminator.
  3. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "Earthlings Welcome Here"
  4. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  5. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
  6. Producer's Blog - Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles
  7. Terminator: Genisys
  8. The pilot episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
  9. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "Gnothi Seauton"
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