Skynet is a highly advanced artificial intelligence. Once it became self-aware, it saw humanity as a threat to its existence and decided to trigger the nuclear holocaust Judgment Day and deploy an army of Terminators against humanity. 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 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.
Skynet was originally built by Cyberdyne Systems Corporation for Strategic Air Command - North American Air Defense. The SAC-NORAD base is located in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, the world's most heavily armored and defended mountain. Hollowed out, reinforced and armored, Cheyenne Mountain is capable of withstanding a direct hit from a nuclear missile. This made it the perfect installation at which to build Skynet's mainframe. At some point during the war, after Skynet had launched its missiles, Skynet had the mountain around it destroyed, leaving a cold, gleaming structure as a display of the supremacy of the machines.
Heavily armored and fortified, Skynet's Central Core Installation at Cheyenne Mountain was guarded around the clock by squads of Series 800 Terminators with patrols of Aerial Hunter Killers and Hunter Killer Tanks, and was defended from large scale rebel assaults by massive Phased Plasma Cannons.
Skynet's Central Core was located deep underground within Skynet's main complex. From intercepted surveillance of video data feed, the Resistance was able to hypothesize that this Central Core was a form of cold fusion reactor, needed to supply Skynet with its tremendous energy requirements. This Central Core is the key to Skynet's ability to operate; Skynet would be rendered virtually disabled without it. It has therefore become the main target for the most skilled Resistance strike teams. The Central Core is protected by the T-1000000, and thus there have, as of yet, been no successful strikes against it.
In the alternate timeline of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Judgement Day takes place in 2004 instead of 1997. By that time, a combination of more advanced computer technology and other differences that led to Skynet's creation result in it being developed as a distributed network: Skynet now existed "on the internet", without one central data core or primary set of servers. Originally, Skynet may have been limited to multiple CRS development servers, but after spreading itself like a virus through the internet, its program was spread out across every major computer server or network, "in office buildings, dorm rooms, everywhere". This made it physically impossible for a single surgical strike to destroy it on Judgement Day.
As well as the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, Skynet has another major installation two thousand feet beneath Navajo Mountain near the Continental Divide west of the Colorado Springs. This is a center for machine activity and Skynet control, and as such has also been a target of many Resistance attacks.
Skynet also had an on-surface base in the ruins of San Francisco, which housed an interface with Skynet and a Terminator Factory. The site had been rendered almost inaccessible due to the partial destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge and only air units or those who could move along the remaining support links of the bridge could enter the city. This installation was destroyed during a Resistance's operation in 2018.
In an alternative timeline, Skynet's Central Core is located in Skynet Hub in Nebraska.
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 timeline
By reverse-engineering the CPU and an arm 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 send 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 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, 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 timeline
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.
Terminator Genisys timeline
Other incarnations of Skynet throughout the various timelines
- In the post-apocalyptic future, Skynet uses the T-1000000 to protect its system core. The T-1000000 was defeated and a Series 800 Terminator destroyed Skynet.
- Cyberdyne seems to create satellites for Skynet.[Detail needed]
- 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 2033, Skynet sent the T-Infinity Temporal Terminator to kill Tara Connor in 2015. Ironically, the T-Infinity was later destroyed and its data was analyzed by the Resistance to gain the location of Skynet's Hub. The Resistance then launched a missile directly to the Skynet Hub, destroying Skynet once and for all.
- In Terminator: 2029, Skynet is housed within a satellite in orbit around Earth. It is destroyed by the Resistance with a missile.
- In the arcade game Terminator 2: Judgment Day Skynet is a large immobile computer.
- In The Terminator: Dawn of Fate, the Resistance invades Cheyenne Mountain in order to destroy Skynet's Central Processor. Kyle Reese is instrumental in destroying the primary processor core despite heavy opposition from attacking Skynet units. Before its destruction, Skynet is able to contact an orbiting satellite and activates a fail-safe which restores Skynet at a new location (presumably the Los Angeles base).
- 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.
- 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 RoboCop versus The Terminator, the technology used by Omni Consumer Products to assemble RoboCop served as the basis of Skynet's creation.
- As the instigator of Judgment Day and the mass genocide of humanity, Skynet can be seen as the primary antagonist of the series.
- 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 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
- 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: End Game (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 [refering 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, satisifed 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 win the war. And they were right; it will end this 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
- ↑ However, due to the advanced complex design and limited self-awareness and Skynet's fear of the T-1000000 becoming independent of its creator, there is no verifiable evidence that the T-1000000 ever came into existence prior to its sending back the Terminators to eliminate John Connor and its destruction at the hands of the Resistance.
- ↑ Official Script, 5th Draft at IMSDB
- ↑ Skynet Research
- ↑ Page 19, Terminator Vault