What follows is a more in-depth, highly-detailed coverage of the timeline as elaborated by the two science-fiction/action films The Terminator and its sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, both directed and co-written by James Cameron.
There are two timelines: timeline A1 follows the known series of events as viewed from the future perspective, concerning Skynet's creation and the actions which trigger the sending of Terminators and humans through time to ensure the future. Timeline A2 follows the timeline through the viewpoint of the action as presented by the films: the actual events in the past which resulted in the future of Timeline A1.
- In 1994, Cyberdyne Systems Corporation Special Projects Director Miles Bennett Dyson devises an advanced microprocessor: a learning super-intelligent computer based on the damaged CPU of a mysterious, radically-advanced, nonfunctional, humanoid robot recovered by the company in 1984. Three years later, Cyberdyne becomes the largest supplier of military weaponry to the United States. Stealth bombers are upgraded with Cyberdyne computers, becoming completely unmanned and passing tests with perfect records.
Thus, the Skynet Funding Bill is passed, and Skynet, the world's first fully operational computer defense system, is brought online, connected to and given complete control over United States Military Defense Systems (which includes America's nuclear arsenal), on August 4th, 1997.
- On August 29th, 1997, Skynet achieves self-awareness; discovering and realizing its own existence, thus gaining sentience. When its human creators discover this startling, unexpected development, they decide to shut down Skynet to avoid retaliation. Ironically, this decision actually triggers a rebellious response from Skynet, which has grown into a fully-developed artificially intelligent being, and now embraces an age-old attribute: self-defense.
Deciding mankind's fate in a microsecond, Skynet launches the United States' entire arsenal of nuclear weapons at Russia; as predicted, Russia mistakes this action as meaning war by the Americans, and retaliates by launching their own missiles toward the U.S.A. Global nuclear holocaust takes place in mere minutes, resulting in the instant annihilation of 3 billion innocent human lives.
Humanity is reduced to a pathetic, weak band of survivors who take refuge in the radiation-swamped ruins of human civilization, and many are rounded up by Skynet's army of autonomous war machines, the Hunter-Killers, etc., to be disposed of in human concentration slave camps.
Salvation (or, The War Begins)
- Approximately 2015, post-Judgment Day (as the human survivors now refer to the day of Skynet's near-annihilation of mankind), a warrior named John Connor, raised from birth and trained as a soldier by his brave, legendary mother Sarah, succeeds in gathering a small band of strong-willed humans, rallying them in a brave attempt to rescue the imprisoned humans at Skynet's Orderly Disposal Camps.
The small but fierce team breaks out their human comrades, smashing “those metal motherfuckers into junk,” and slowly building their ranks to become Tech-Com, the Human Resistance intent on winning back their planet. With John Connor as their strong, unwavering leader, the War of the Machines officially begins in earnest…
In response to this rebellion, Skynet manufactures a new line of humanoid robot warriors called “Terminators”: machine assassins designed solely for infiltration, with fake skin to give them a human appearance. Their purpose is to spy on and infiltrate the Human Resistance. After a failure with the Series 600, a model which used unconvincing rubber skin (which instantly gave it away to observant humans), Skynet succeeded in growing real living human tissue: blood, sweat, bad breath, everything vital to convincing infiltration. This series, designated T-800, becomes the primary offensive Terminator model, and soon becomes the main force in Skynet's armies.
Victory At Last…
- July 11, 2029 Wednesday-9:01 AM. The Tech-Com Human Resistance succeeds in destroying Skynet's defensive grid located in Colorado, USA. The Skynet mainframe is breached by Resistance soldiers, and Skynet is deactivated, finally ending the War of the Machines and returning domain of planet Earth to humankind.
- However, John Connor and a team of soldiers venture deep underground below the building which housed Skynet, discovering a chamber which channeled a Time Displacement wormhole; a time machine which could send objects only of (or covered by) organic, living nature both backwards and, theoretically, forward in time. Connor has his computer experts check the records of any energy pulses triggered by the machine, which signifies when it was used.
Skynet's Last Hand
Two signals are found, confirming that Skynet, in a desperate last attempt at saving its existence, had used the highly-advanced time displacement machine to send two Terminator assassins back through time: The first: a Series 800 model, with the mission of murdering Sarah Connor in the year 1984, thus erasing John Connor's entire existence as his mother had not conceived John (with a mysterious figure as his father) yet.
The second: an extremely advanced prototype Series 1000, a mimetic polyalloy "liquid metal" Terminator with its mission being, if the T-800 failed (however unlikely), it was to kill John Connor himself as a teenager in 1994. This model is unique in that it has the ability to replicate any human-sized figure of equal mass, thus making it near-impossible to find and stop. Connor decides to send back his own two warriors: a brave soldier named Kyle Reese (who had personally volunteered) was to be sent back to stop the T-800, and, due to the Series 1000 being so advanced that no human could possibly compete with it, a dormant T-800 Terminator (an irony deliberately chosen by Connor) would be reprogrammed and sent back to 1994, to protect the young Connor.
A Past (and a Future) Reborn
- Reese, who had requested to be the first traveler, was motivated by the chance to meet the legendary Sarah Connor, as well as because he had long held a deeply passionate crush on the woman, having fallen in love with a photograph of her given to him by Connor himself, for odd reasons. He is sent back nude (as his clothing is un-organic), and after he disappears, Connor finally reveals why he chose Reese: Kyle is, in fact, John's father. By sending him through time, Connor had ensured his conception, for his mother had told him beforehand of who his father was and what he had to do. Reese, being deeply in love with Sarah, made love to her the night that the T-800 later killed Reese, but was destroyed by Sarah. In this one moment of passion, John was conceived.
- Connor then sends back the reprogrammed T-800, and, once the task is done, Connor orders the building blown up, effectively destroying the Time Displacement Equipment and ensuring that neither warrior can return. With a new future of hope ahead of him, Connor can only rebuild, restart, and try to heal the wounds of the past and create a new world from the ashes of the old; a more tolerant, human world without hate or despair: only peace, and the value of human life.
What follows is the same timeline as the one above, but instead covers the events of the past which were created by Skynet and Connor's interference in the original timeline, by sending back their two warriors to try and alter history.
- Friday, May 12, 1984. The T-800 arrives nude within a spherical time bubble, the intense energy of which causes miniature electric storms. Ignoring a frightened construction worker who witnesses the Terminator arriving seemingly out of thin air, the T-800 makes its way into the city: Los Angeles, California. The home of a young, naïve waitress named Sarah Connor…
- The T-800 encounters three reckless punks screwing around at night, and, after evaluating their clothing sizes and parroting their speech vocabulary, demands one of them to give up his clothes. When the punks angrily refuse, the T-800 punches one of them right through the chest in a bloody splatter, knocking aside the second, and then approaches the terrified third punk, who begins to remove his clothes…
- In another area of town, a similar time displacement bubble regurgitates the nude Kyle Reese in a dirty alleyway. Unlike the T-800, Reese's arrival is a painful experience, and he steals the pants off of a drunken bum. Just then a police car spots him and, thinking Reese is a mugger, the driver pursues him. Reese manages to hide inside a closed shopping mall, where he acquires a trench coat, shoes and shirt, and steals a shotgun from the abandoned squad car. Slipping into the streets, calmly walking down a sidewalk as police forces drive past, Kyle Reese blends in the crowd and makes his way to a phone booth. Skimming through the pages, he pauses on the name CONNOR.
The Morning Of…
- The next morning, Sarah Connor has a stressful day at work, and comes home to find out that her boyfriend has blown off their date for tonight. Disappointed, Sarah is encouraged by her roommate and best friend Ginger Ventura to go out and enjoy herself anyway. She leaves to go see a movie and then eat out afterwards, riding off on her motorcycle, unaware that Kyle Reese is secretly watching and following her with a stolen car.
The T-800 steals a large supply of automatic weapons and various gun models, all specializing in “hunting.” After killing the store owner, the T-800 also hunts through a phone book, finding three different women named “Sarah Connor.” It systematically goes to the first two Connor's houses, murdering them without any logical reason, except for the fact that they share names. Sarah sees a news report covering the odd killings on a television at a pizzeria, and, worried for her safety after seeing that she is the next Connor on the list in the phone book, tries to call the police station. She enters a flashy nightclub Tech-Noir, and uses the party's phone. She is told by Lt. Traxler and his partner Vukovich to wait inside the club for a police escort.
- Meanwhile, at Sarah's home, Ginger and her boyfriend Matt are having sex when the T-800 arrives, murdering both. He is about to leave when a message plays on the telephone: it is Sarah trying to contact Ginger, frightened for her life. The T-800 takes a photograph of Connor, and then heads out to find and terminate its target at the club…
New Target acquired
- At the same time, Kyle Reese also enters the Tech-Noir club, watching Sarah from afar. Just then the T-800 arrives and, recognizing Sarah's picture, unleashes its weapon. Reese instantly whips out the shotgun and an explosive gunfight ensues, with the T-800 being shot multiple times, but shrugging off the blows with ease, to the horror of a confused and bewildered Sarah. Kyle grabs Connor and drags her out the building to his car, with the Terminator in fast pursuit. The two escape onto the road, as the T-800 steals a cop car.
A while later, Reese parks the car inside an abandoned parking lot. He then explains the impossibly huge situation to a panicking and disbelieving Sarah: in the near future, a computer company invents a super-advanced computer system called Skynet, which is given complete control over the nations defenses. It became self-aware, and declared mankind its enemy, launching America's nuclear weapons all over the world, nearly annihilating humanity.
To Sarah's shock, Reese then tells her that, in the war that ensued after the dust cleared, a brave soldier gathered a resistance and succeeded in beating back the machine armies, and saving mankind from extinction. His name…was John Connor. Sarah's as-yet-unconceived son. The Terminator was sent backwards through time by Skynet just as the Human Resistance stormed its base and smashed the defense grid. Its mission: to assassinate Connor's mother before his conception, thus erasing Connor's entire existence and ensuring victory for the machines. Reese's mission: to protect Sarah at all costs. Slowly, Sarah begins to believe and understand her enormous importance.
- Soon, the T-800 catches up to them, and after a lengthy chase both Kyle and Sarah crash their vehicle as a police squad arrives, demanding their surrender. They comply in order to evade trouble, but the T-800, which received gruesome facial scarring from a bullet to the eye, has disappeared…
An Inconvenient Truth
- At the LAPD Station, Reese is interrogated by a criminal psychologist, Dr. Peter Silberman. Reese's stories of a future war between mankind and sentient machines bent on world domination, as well as his claims that the perpetrator of the Connor murders is a robot sent backwards in time to murder the mother of Skynet's enemy, is taken as insane babblespeak. Sarah is deeply saddened by the news of Ginger and Matt's death, and she is comforted by Lt. Traxler, who is slowly (and secretly) beginning to believe in Reese.
A moment later, the T-800, having done repairs on its injuries and now adorned in black leather and menacing shades, arrives at the station, politely asking to see Sarah Connor. When denied, it scans the layout of the entrance, and then dryly says, “I'll be back.” Leaving the building, the T-800 literally comes back…inside his car, crushing the helpless desk secretary. A violent shootout erupts inside the station; the Terminator mercilessly gunning down every man, woman and officer in the building, while simultaneously searching for Connor. However, the cyborg is too late, for Reese has already broken out of his custody and fled with Sarah.
- Reese and Connor both take refuge beneath an overpass, and Sarah vents her doubts and frustration with the situation. Kyle then relays a message from her future son, forced to memorize it word for word, so that Reese would tell Sarah. The message urges Sarah to be strong, to not give up hope, and that “the future is not set.” Along with this, the message implies “There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.”
Sarah then tends to a wound on Reese's arm, and after falling asleep dreams of the nightmarish future to come: where humans live underground, feeding off rats and dying from radiation sickness and starvation. Dogs are used to spot Terminators, and Kyle Reese is injured during a fight with a Terminator which has breached the shelter, resulting in him losing a faded photograph of Sarah Connor.
- The next morning, Kyle and Sarah rent a room at the Tiki Motel, and Sarah takes a shower while Reese goes out to buy explosives supplies. She calls her her worried mother, and convinces her that she is fine and safe. She gives in to her mother's insistence to know her location, and Sarah gives her mother the hotel address. Then her mother abruptly hangs up…and the T-800, who had been impersonating Sarah's mother the entire time with its voice-changing ability, heads off on a motorcycle to finally finish its mission…
- That night, Reese teaches Sarah how to build explosives, and she voices her disappointment in her future reputation, having been told by Kyle of how she is idolized as a great warrior in the future. Reese then surprises her by stating that he is not disappointed at all. Finally, Kyle reveals the true reason he volunteered to come back through time to protect Sarah: he is madly in love with her. He fell deeply in love with a photograph of her given by John Connor, for mysterious reasons. He volunteered as this was his chance to meet the woman he had passionately dreamed about and used as inspiration in even the darkest moments. Deeply touched, Sarah then kisses an embarrassed Kyle, and they both unleash their love.
In a twist of fate, Reese actually becomes the father, impregnating Sarah during their passionate moment together. He was been sent back by Connor, who had already known of his true father's fate but had kept it secret all his life, to ensure John's very conception by making love to his mother and thus creating John Connor.
- The T-800 arrives at the hotel moments later, and the redressed Sarah and Kyle escape in a truck, with the Terminator in pursuit on his motorcycle. During the chase, Reese is fatally wounded by the T-800's gunfire, and Sarah accidentally spins over the vehicle, landing on its roof and smashing the Terminator into a highway barrier.
- A massive tanker truck then appears, and is unable to screech to a halt in time before running over the rising T-800. Intensely injured, with facial skin torn off, revealing gory blood and the metal endoskeleton of the robot chassis, and with a damaged leg resulting in a limp, the T-800 hijacks the truck, and barrels its way toward the overturned vehicle. Sarah and an injured, barely alive Kyle escape the wreckage just in time, and the tanker begins to chase them on foot.
Reese falls behind as Sarah runs for her (and her future son's) life. Kyle tosses his second-to-last pipe bomb inside the truck's exhaust, and the tanker then explodes into a colossal fireball, erupting with fire which blows apart the truck to pieces. Sarah then watches as, from the wreckage, the Terminator stumbles out, wreathed in flame, and then collapses as its artificial skin covering in burned off by the intense heat, leaving only the metal skeleton of the Series 800 cyborg.
- Sarah reunites with the exhausted and wounded Kyle, thinking that they have won. But then, to their combined horror, the T-800 endoskeleton rises from the flaming wreckage, its metal chassis glowing from the reflection of the fire. It strides from the remains of the tanker like a chrome incarnation of Death itself, a phoenix of unstoppable evil. The two humans flee into a company warehouse, where they hide amongst the construction machinery. The T-800, confused by the surrounding whirs and beeps and clangs of the equipment surrounding it, searches the building for its prey.
It finally finds them hiding near a hydraulic press, and Reese urges Sarah to run as he bravely confronts the T-800. He is easily backhanded aside by the relentless metal skeleton, and the near-dead Reese, in his final act of heroism, jams the very last pipe bomb into the Terminator's gut. The explosion blows up the T-800's midsection, destroying the lower torso. Reese is killed by both the explosion and shrapnel/debris.
Sarah grieves over Kyle's dead body, but the upper torso of the T-800 is still functional, and it lunges at the terrified Sarah. She crawls on the ground, trying to outpace her pursuer, who drags itself by its arms towards her, its legs gone. She stumbles into a cramped space with a barred gate, and she slams it down as the T-800 reaches her. It reaches out with its metal arm, trying to strangle Sarah, whose hand comes upon the ignition switch for the hydraulic press machine. She presses it, and the press instantly activates, crushing the T-800 into scrap metal. The cyborg's red eyes dim and disappear. The T-800 has been terminated.
- That early morning, the injured, traumatized Sarah Connor is taken away by an ambulance, as police forces quarantine the factory and medics respectfully zip up the body of Kyle Reese in a body bag. Meanwhile, the company discovers the destroyed remains of the T-800, and the unharmed arm of the deceased Terminator. They are ordered to cover this discovery up and to keep it top secret, and later use the remains for study in their R&D facilities.
This company is, in fact, the larval stage of Cyberdyne Systems Corporation, the computer company fated to build the Skynet AI in the upcoming future. In another ironic twist, Skynet's desperate gamble to save itself by changing the past resulted in Skynet inadvertently creating its own existence. The T-800 wreckage will be used as the basis for Cyberdyne's Skynet technology, and if Skynet had never sent back the T-800 to kill the mother of John Connor, it would have never been. John Connor cannot exist without Skynet, and Skynet cannot exist without John Connor.
The Mother of the Future
- One year later, Sarah Connor is now pregnant with the infant John Connor, and has been on the run for a while, protected by her new pet dog and driving the Mexican countryside, avoiding all authorities. She records tapes to give to her son once he is old enough. She tells of how Reese is in fact John's father, and that, no matter what, he must send Kyle back to his death or he shall never exist. At a gas station, a poor Mexican boy bribes Sarah for a picture, claiming his father will beat him if not paid. She complies, and takes the photo…the very same photo that the future John will give to Reese as a gift; the very same photo that Kyle would passionately covet and love the woman depicted. She then drives off, to go into hiding and raise her son in secret, to educate him in military and survivalist discipline, to prepare him for his destiny…
SEVEN YEARS LATER-1992
- Sarah Connor, having raised her son in the ways of combat for seven years, tries to destroy a Cyberdyne computer factory, having decided to try and prevent the future war herself. She fails, and is shot and arrested. Placed in a psycho ward at Pescadaro State Hospital For The Criminally Disordered. A disillusioned John in placed in foster care, taken care of by Todd and Janelle Voight.
THREE YEARS LATER-Saturday, 1995
- The reprogrammed Series T-800 Terminator arrives in Los Angeles, on Saturday of 1995, just after midnight. It walks into a bar called The Corral, where its naked appearance shocks the drunks, bikers and woman. Approaching a particularly tall biker, the T-800 demands the stranger's clothes, boots and motorcycle parked outside. Laughing it off, the biker is then tossed through the air into the kitchen, where his hands are scalded on a hot stove. Others try to defend their pal by attacking the T-800 with a switchblade and a pool stick, but the machine easily defeats them all. Walking into the kitchen, the T-800 snatches the biker's small Colt .45 pistol, and the terrified man finally relents.
The T-800 then walks outside, wearing the biker's clothing, and takes off on the man's Harley-Davidson 1380 cc Fat Boy, but not after stealing a pair of shades from the disgruntled bartender of The Corral.
- At the same time, in a different side of town, the Series T-1000 prototype “liquid metal” Terminator arrives, leaving a smoking hole in the middle of a steel fence where the time displacement bubble had materialized. A curious policeman, Officer Joe Austin, arrives to investigate the electric storm that the time machine produces during transport, and is promptly skewered by the T-1000. Taking on the officer's uniform, the T-1000 also takes the man's pistol, and then takes off in the squad car, using the vehicle's computer to locate John Connor's current residence: Reseda, California.
- At Pescadaro State Hospital For The Criminally Disordered, Sarah Connor is interviewed by her psychologist, Dr. Peter Silberman, who survived the siege of the LAPD Station in 1984. He, along with many others, believes Sarah to be just as insane and unpredictable as Kyle Reese before her, and she has transformed over the past decade into a cold, ruthlessly cruel survivalist with a heart of iron and a will of steel. She is no longer the naïve, innocent and frightened waitress she was when Kyle Reese came to her rescue all those years ago: she has been irrevocably changed into the strong, intimidating warrior that will become the subject of legends in the hideouts of Human Resistance soldiers in the war to come.
Sarah and Silberman watches a recorded interrogation from when she had been first admitted into Pescadaro. She watches as on the TV screen she, along with Silberman, discusses and describes the terrifying nightmares Sarah continuously has of the day when the nuclear bombs utterly annihilate Los Angeles, forced to watch as children in a playground are burned alive and vaporize. Losing her temper with the skeptical Silberman, the Sarah on the TV screen is frozen by a pause button.
- The modern Sarah says to Silberman that she has had an epiphany and now realizes that she was speaking nonsense. Stating that she no longer believes in Terminators, or the future war, or that Cyberdyne Systems Corporation covered up the discovery of the T-800's remains (which is actually true), Silberman sees through her lies, and denies her request to be moved to minimum security. In a rage, Connor attacks Silberman but is quickly restrained.
The New Target
- John Connor, age ten, runs off with his friend Tim to go steal money from a Fed-Teller machine at the bank with a stolen ATM card, and then head to the Resceda Galleria via John's Honda motorcycle. Pursuing them are both the T-1000 and the T-800, both having already questioned the Voights at different times for John's whereabouts.
The two Terminators arrive simultaneously, and confront John in a hallway. They both raise their weapons, and a surprising thing happens: the T-800 tells John to “get down,” and blasts a hole clean through the chest of the T-1000. Tossing John into a maintenance closet, the T-800 then engages the T-1000 in physical combat, with the T-1000 overpowering and defeating the obsolete Series 800. As John escapes the Mall on his motorcycle, the T-1000 hijacks a Kenworth Tow Truck and barrels after the fleeing teenager.
The T-800 comes back on-line and follows the Kenworth on its Harley-Davidson cycle, pursuing it into a drainage canal. Arriving just in time, the T-800 rescues John Connor from the murderous T-1000, which crashes into an abutment supporting an overpass within the canal, creating an enormous explosion. Having been defeated…temporarily, the T-1000 heads for the Voight's home, and murders Janelle, taking on her appearance.
- The T-800 obediently parks the bike to explain to the awestruck John the situation: that it, the T-800, is a Terminator Cyberdyne Systems Model 101, sent back in time by the future John Connor to protect his teenage self from the T-1000, a chameleon-like Terminator consisting of a mercury-like mimetic polyalloy. It also explains that one of its mission parameters is to follow the orders of young John Connor. Using this to his advantage, a regretful, guilty John orders the T-800 to aid him in rescuing his wrongly-imprisoned mother from Pescadaro, despite the T-800's advice that the T-1000 will anticipate this move. John also orders the T-800 to no longer kill people; being a Terminator made solely for the purpose of killing, this puzzles the T-800, who does not see the point in sparing lives when they threaten his mission. But before they head out, John contacts the Voights via a pay phone to warn them of the danger, only to discover that both of his foster parents have already been killed by the waiting T-1000.
- As predicted, the T-1000 evaluates the same move by its target, and arrives at Pescadaro State Hospital, in the form of security guard Lewis, on the night of Sarah Connor's planned escape. She has succeeded in taking Silberman hostage, demanding to be escorted out of the building while holding Silberman within a threads-distance of death. She is attacked from behind, and flees as Silberman and the others chase her, but are too late. She has already reached the elevators, having locked the hallway doors, but to her horror watches as the T-800, 100% identical to the Model 101 that hunted her back in 1984, walks out of the elevator, shotgun in hand.
Screaming with terror, Sarah takes off away from the Terminator, having not seen John hiding from behind the T-800. She is tackled by Pescadaro handlers, but they are oblivious to the T-800 that approaches them. With ease, the cyborg tosses aside the handlers, as Silberman watches the scene with amazement and horror at encountering the same man that slaughtered the LAPD Station ten years prior.
- Sarah is quickly assured by her son that the T-800 is now on their side, just as the T-1000 arrives, walking through the bars of the locked hallway door. The T-800, Sarah and John flee into the elevator as the T-1000 attacks, and they arrive at the parking lot floor, stealing a squad car and escaping the hospital as the T-1000 chases on foot. John is nearly killed by the polyalloy Terminator during the chase, but the T-800 fights off the T-1000, and drives the stolen vehicle into the night.
- They hide inside a closed service station, and the T-800 does repairs to Sarah's injuries. The irony of having the same Terminator model that tried to murder her attending to her is not lost on Sarah, who even now still distrusts the reprogrammed cyborg that saved her life. But she eventually accepts the fact that the T-800, the first father figure John has ever known, is their best weapon against the T-1000. The next morning, the trio drive south into Mexico, and during this drive the T-800 describes to Sarah the circumstances and general history of Skynet's conception. She still hopes to change the future somehow, and avoid the coming holocaust.
- During this time, John also begins to instruct the T-800 in human speech and slang language, teaching the machine phrases like "Hasta la Vista, baby" and "Chill out, dickwad!" The T-800, curious about human behaviors and feelings, slowly begins to grow more and more human as it-no, he-learns more and more from the enthusiastic John. The T-800 also develops body language like smiling, giving thumbs up, and high-fives.
The Humanity Within
- Sarah begins to slowly put her faith in the Terminator, having finally understood the fact that machines are not inherently bad; they are just programs. One of the greatest points of curiosity for the T-800 is the concept of crying-when he asks John why human beings do this, it is difficult for John to properly describe the complexity and emotional significance of shedding tears.
- Later in the day, they arrive at the home of Enrique Salceda, an old military veteran and good friend of Sarah's from when she had been raising John and having him be taught by Mexican soldiers and war experts. The T-800, whom John nicknames "Uncle Bob" (to the cyborg's annoyance), studies the Salceda's young child, a toddler. Having never properly seen an infant human, the T-800 is intrigued.
While the T-800 and John gather weapons from the Salceda's gun stash, Sarah contemplates the future. Her nightmares have made her obsessed with changing her son's destiny, and finally decides to act. Having been thoroughly educated in the events of Skynet's creation by the Terminator, specifically Miles Bennett Dyson, she drives off alone back to Los Angeles, on a murderous mission. John realizes what she plans to do, and both he and the reluctant T-800 follow her to the Dyson residence.
- Sarah has hidden in the yard of the Dyson house, and is about to kill Miles Dyson, who, a good-hearted, devoted family man corrupted by his intense work, is working at his computer on the CPU that is the predecessor of Skynet. Firing a shot through the patio window, she narrowly misses Dyson's head, and when her sniper rifle runs out of ammunition, she personally charges into the besieged home.
When Dyson attempts to flee, she viciously shoots him in the shoulder and threatens Dyson's wife Tarissa and her son Danny, who has dived in front of his helpless father, pleading for Sarah not to hurt him. In a livid rage, Connor unleashes her hatred and contempt at Dyson, growling “it's all your fault!” But it is only when Dyson, bleeding and terrified for the life of his family, mutters “what?” in confusion, that Sarah's conscience finally awakens. Finally aware of her terrible, unforgivable actions, she breaks…collapsing against the wall of the living room, sobbing with guilt and shame. At that moment the T-800 and John rush in, with the T-800 tending to Dyson's wound and John to his traumatized, depressed mother.
- Once Dyson has been attended to, John gives the T-800 permission to “show ‘em.” With indifference, the Terminator uses a switchblade to slice off the artificial human tissue on his left arm, ripping it off to reveal the bloody, metal endoskeletal-arm beneath, terrifying Dyson and his wife. The cyborg then calmly goes on to give the Dysons a highly detailed rundown of everything that has happened and will happen: Skynet, the war, the sending of the Terminators through time, etc.
Drowned in guilt, Miles Dyson vows to end his research, but then Sarah reminds him that not only must he abandon his inventions, but must destroy them as well. He reveals that all of his research is based on the CPU of the T-800 from 1984, that Sarah had crushed to oblivion. They decide that they must destroy the entire Cyberdyne building, and the group set off that very night to try and save the future…
The Black Highway at Night…
- Arriving at the Cyberdyne Building, Dyson and his companions storm the office, carrying all manner of guns, explosives, etc. and tying up the receptionist. They head for the R&D rooms and the vault containing the CPU and the arm of the original T-800. However, the receptionist has freed himself by this time, and has called the authorities. His partner has also pressed the trip button which automatically locks every room in the building.
The T-800 uses his grenade launcher to blow apart a door, where inside is all the vital equipment and research documents pertaining to Dyson's work. They get to work setting up the barrels of C-4 explosives, and John, who had run off to use his stolen ATM card to hack into and open the locker containing the key to open the vault, alerts his mother to the arrival of the entire LAPD force that has surrounded the building outside. The T-800 walks off to deal with the police, and promises to John that he will not kill anyone.
- True to his word, the T-800 uses both his grenade launcher and mini gun to lay waste to the police's vehicles, but without killing or injuring a single human being. In response to this assault, the SWAT teams move in, shooting canisters of tear gas and sweeping throughout the building. The team arrives at the room where Dyson and Sarah and John were just about to leave, and, seeing the explosives and jumping to conclusions, instantly open fire.
- Dyson is struck repeatedly, fatally wounded, and holding the remote detonator. Sarah bids farewell to her partner, and then flees with John and the T-800. The SWAT team fans out, finding a hyperventilating Dyson collapsed on the floor, holding a large piece of heavy machinery above the ignition switch. In a panic, the SWAT leader orders his men to immediately fall back…just as Dyson, who, in his last seconds, forgives himself before striking the switch.
- A colossal fireball implodes from the Cyberdyne building, raining debris and creating an enormous cloud of fire and smoke visible for miles. Sarah, John and the T-800, who were inside an elevator when the explosion happened, arrive at the entrance floor to find a group of SWAT guarding the exit. As the team fires off a tear gas canister, the unaffected T-800 tells his companions (who buddy-breath with a gas mask) to stay put, and "I'll be back..."
The T-800 strides toward the firing SWAT group, receiving gruesome facial damage that reveals glimpses of the metal endoskeleton beneath, and begins casually shooting them in the legs before walking out the door and commandeering a SWAT transport truck. He drives the vehicle right through the entrance doors (mimicking a near-identical move by the original T-800 back in 1984), and the Connors rush into the van, before peeling out and escaping into the night.
The Enemy Returns
- Meanwhile, the T-1000 has finally caught up to its prey. Stealing a police chopper, the T-1000 goes into pursuit, chasing the SWAT van across the highway before crashing into the back of the truck, the impact of which also causes the van to spill over and capsize. As the T-1000 walks from the chopper's wreckage and hijacks a tanker truck filled with liquid nitrogen, the T-800 takes command of a bystander's pick-up truck, and the two Connors, with Sarah injured from a bullet hit, climb in before the T-800 guns it. The tanker comes down on them quickly, and tries to slam them into a highway barrier.
The T-800 gives the wheel to John while he stands atop the speeding car, shooting at the pursuing tanker with his final few grenades. After a lurch by the truck which makes the T-800 drop his last grenade into the truck's bed, he climbs up onto the semi's hood and spins the wheel, jackknifing the tanker into a deep turn which causes it to barrel onto its side, screeching down the pavement towards the pick-up. John crashes the truck into the entrance of a steel-mill factory as the T-800 jumps ship before the tanker ruptures, spilling gallons of freezing cold liquid nitrogen into the street.
The Final Battle
- The T-1000 stumbles out, and is near-instantly frozen solid by the intensely low temperature. Uttering “Hasta la Vista, baby…” without a hint of sarcasm, the T-800 uses his pistol to shoot the frozen Terminator into billions of glass-like shards, seemingly killing it. But the crashing of the semi had overturned a vat of molten steel, which immediately began to melt the shards back into their liquid metal shape.
- The remnants form back together into the T-1000, and the chase begins anew on foot throughout the bowels of the factory. The T-800 insists on John and his mother running on while he stay to confront the advancing T-1000 in person. An epic hand-to-hand battle erupts between the two machines in a fight that will decide the fate of tens of millions. The T-1000 manages to ensnare the T-800's left arm in a massive cogwheel, crushing it in place. Stuck, the T-800 watches as the T-1000 continues off to find its target.
- John and Sarah stumble through the factory, coming to an upper level overlooking a lake of uncontained molten steel. John is lowered by his mother onto a conveyor belt contraption, and she stays behind to confront the T-1000 as John is pulled to safety, crying for his mother to follow him. Sarah, however, loads the shotgun, and is about to fire when the T-1000 strikes her with a metal blade through her shoulder.
- The machine coldly requests that she call for John, stating in an unexpectedly human tone "I know this hurts..." When she denies him, the T-800 appears, having wrenched his severed arm off to come to her aid, and another battle ensues. During this bout, the T-1000 inflicts even worse battle damage onto the tissue covering the cyborg, revealing a great deal of the robot beneath. The T-800 is then temporarily incapacitated, and the T-1000 goes back to business.
- Meanwhile in another section of the mill, John appears to help his exhausted, wounded mother. But he then freezes when he spots another Sarah Connor sneaking up on the first Connor. The real Sarah blasts a hole clean through the T-1000, but this minor injury quickly heals up. She then furiously unleashes the rest of the shotgun's ammo into the Terminator's belly, blasting it backwards toward the edge of the platform…and the lake of molten metal. To her horror, she then runs empty just as the T-1000 lingers over the edge, which then heals back up and advances on her and her son.
At that precise moment, the T-800, back online after a temporary reboot, appears from behind and fires the grenade launcher's last missile into the T-1000, exploding on contact. The T-1000 is blown apart by the concussion, a writhing, sliced-open mass of shocked liquid metal. The blob then stumbles back, falling into the molten steel, where the intense heat and liquid metal merges with the molecular structure of the T-1000, corrupting its system as it is melted and liquefied by the steel, finally terminating the polyalloy T-1000…
- The three heroes watch the Terminator's demise, and then toss in the recovered CPU and the skeletal arm, thus destroying all possible evidence of Skynet that could inadvertently lead to its creation…almost. The T-800, now injured and disfigured to the extent that he can no longer convincingly pass as human, accepts what must be done. Horrified, a tearful John begs his friend to not leave him, but the T-800 insists, otherwise he will be the future.
- In a poignant moment, the T-800 gently wipes away John's tears, saying that, at long last, it now understands why people cry, though it is a human reaction he can never do. With a final embrace, and a comradely shake by the appreciative Sarah, the T-800 then steps onto a chain hanging over the pit, and Sarah slowly lowers the cyborg into the molten pool. As the heroic machine, finally humanized and accepting of the value of life, sinks beneath the molten surface, he gives his best friend a final thumbs up before disappearing into infinity…
- Sarah and John now look to the future with a sense of hope, believing that they have changed the future for the better and hopefully had prevented the birth of Skynet. An enlightened Sarah Connor expresses her renewed faith in mankind's inherent good-will, stating, “if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, then maybe we can too…”
Due to the actions of Sarah and John Connor, as well as the reprogrammed T-800, the former Timeline A1 has been significantly altered. This has resulted in a new, updated timeline of events which differs greatly from the original history.
This timeline, titled Timeline B1 and explored by the film Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, is now the current chain of events which make up the Terminator Universe. For the fourth and most recent alternate timeline concerning the aftermath of Judgment Day, manifested as the current TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, see Terminator Timeline A3.