"He'll be back...and back...and back: May 21, 2009, when 'Terminator Salvation' opens, is just the latest in a long list of dates in the killer-cyborg timeline"
By Tom Russo, Boston Globe Correspondent, May 17, 2009
"The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make." So goes the mantra of the "Terminator" franchise - a message that time-hopping future soldier Kyle Reese shares with Sarah Connor to help her keep getting out of bed in the morning when she'd rather just say, Annnh, it's the apocalypse. Call in sick.
Of course, this theme has also given license to James Cameron and the directors and writers who've followed him to treat continuity like something as ridiculously malleable as that liquid-metallic T-1000. (It probably hasn't helped that seemingly half the production outfits in Hollywood have at some point called the shots for the 25-year-old series.) Here's a timeline tracing how the various pieces of "Terminator" mythology fit together — or don't — from the original installment to the cancellation-threatened TV incarnation to this week's new big-screen relaunch, "Terminator Salvation."
An inexplicably accented Terminator cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger, below) is sent back through time from the year 2029. His mission: Kill LA fashion victim Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton, left) before she can conceive her son, John, eventual leader of the human resistance against the sentient machines ruling the world. The daddy of Sarah's baby? The adult John's lieutenant, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn, left, with Hamilton) — shipped from the future like the ultimate mail-order man-bride. ("The Terminator," 1984)
John Connor born, according to police records. ("Terminator 2: Judgment Day," 1991)
John Connor (Eddie Furlong), now age 10, and his mom are stalked by a new T-1000 Terminator prototype (Robert Patrick). Fortunately, John's 45-year-old future self reprograms the original T-101 model (Schwarzenegger) to help him bid hasta la vista, baby, to the bad guy. ("T2")
Cyberdyne Systems' Skynet, the advanced military computer behind the Terminators' rise, goes online. ("T2")
Skynet becomes selfaware (oops!), and wages nuclear war against humankind. Warns Sarah (Hamilton), "Anyone not wearin' 2 million sunblock is gonna have a real bad day!" Or would have, at least, if the Connors hadn't succeeded in preemptively destroying the technology (read: junk salvaged from the pulverizing "T1" finale) used to develop Skynet. ("T2")
Per her grave marker (and her son's exposition), Sarah Connor dies following a three-year battle with leukemia. ("Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," 2003)
Sarah Connor (Lena Headey) lives(!) under the radar with teen-emo John (Thomas Dekker), until they're discovered and a slinky new guardian-angel Terminator (Summer Glau) helps them flee to 2007. ("Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," 2008-09)
(Or is it 2005? 2007? The dates don't fully compute) — A 20-something, perpetually jittery John Connor (Nick Stahl, above left) and future wife Kate Brewster (Claire Danes) are visited by a new, enigmatically reprogrammed T-101 (Schwarzenegger, above center, mere months away from the Governator's office). Connor: "You shouldn't even exist! We took out Cyberdyne over 10 years ago. We stopped Judgment Day!" Terminator: "You only postponed it." Enter the Terminatrix (Kristanna Loken) to kill some time before the nukes do go off, as an alternate Skynet is activated and achieves self-awareness within an hour. ("T3")
Judgment Day, per TV. ("Sarah Connor Chronicles")
A hardened John Connor, now as nuttily intense as, well, Christian Bale (below), tangles with "old-school" hardware like the pre-Arnold T-600 Terminator, and bonds with a young Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin). ("Terminator Salvation")
John Connor's army has Skynet on the brink of defeat, prompting the machines' temporal Hail Mary. ("The Terminator")
In offscreen action, John Connor is assassinated by a T-101 who buddies up to him by exploiting sunny memories of the "no problemo" days. His widow, Kate, subsequently reprograms the cyborg to go protect their younger selves. Yet again, he'll be back. . . . ("T3")
Terminator timeline: A history of the future
By Jared Novack & Tom Russo, May 17, 2009
August of 1965 - Sarah J. Connor born - Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor
May 12, 1984 1:52 a.m. - Glowing time-portals, naked men spotted in area - Local punks are reporting an uptick in glowing time-portals. According to their leader, a muscular time traveler (Schwarzenegger) killed two fellow punks. Downtown, another man (Michael Biehn) was heard asking "what year is it?" - The only thing keeping this man from becoming president is an obscure constitutional requirement. - Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), a soldier from the future.
May 12, 1984 5:00 p.m. - Sarah Connor serial killer on the loose - In the last several hours, several women named Sarah Connor have been killed in the area. Police are urging citizens to be on the lookout for a burly man in a leather jacket, possibly with a thick Austrian accent. "We believe this may be connected to the murders of two street punks last night," said Lt. Ed Traxler of the Los Angeles Police Department. - "Sarah Connor?"
May 13, 1984 - John Connor conceived - "My mom says when I'm like, 45, I think, I send him back through time to 1984," John Connor said. "But right now he hasn't even been born yet. Man, it messes with your head." - He sent his father back in time to hook-up with his Mom.
May 14, 1984 - Kyle Reese (2002-1984) - Tech Com Sgt. Kyle Reese, a resistance fighter who served under John Connor and later fathered him, suffered multiple injuries from a Terminator. - An undated file photo of Sgt. Reese
May 14, 1984 - T-800 crushed in hydraulic press - Cyberdyne Systems recovers pieces of the Terminator for research that will one day lead to Skynet.
February 28, 1985 - John Connor, leader of the human resistance, is born. - This undated photo shows John Connor, 10, of Los Angeles.
June 8, 1995 - A T-1000 arrives in 1995 to kill John Connor - John Connor (Eddie Furlong), now age 10, and his mother are stalked by a new T-1000 Terminator prototype (Robert Patrick). Fortunately, John's 45-year-old future self reprograms an original T-101 (Schwarzenegger) to protect him. - This T-1000 seen leaving the scene of an accident. - A T-1000 passes through metal bars at the Pescadero State Hospital.
June 8, 1995 - Cyberdyne Systems destroyed, delaying Judgment Day - The Terminator and the Connors led an assault on the computer hoping to prevent Judgment Day. While the building, and its lead researcher, are gone -- Judgment Day is only postponed.
June 9, 1995 - Cyborgs from the future tussle in steel mill - The battle leaves both robots terminated. - A T-800 prepares to terminate the T-1000. "Hasta la vista," the Terminator said, "baby."
1997 - Sarah Connor, mother of the future, dies of leukemia - Sarah J. Connor, who survived several encounters with robots from the future, lost her three-year battle with leukemia. She was 32. Ms. Connor is survived by her son, John.
Oct. 7, 2003 - Arnold Schwarzenegger elected governor of California - A man resembling a T-101 is elected governor of the most populous state in the nation and world's seventh-largest economy. The US Constitution explicitly prohibits electing a foreign-born citizen president, but says nothing about cyborgs from the future.
July 24, 2004 - A T-X hunts down future members of the Resistance - Police reports indicate that a Terminatrix (Kristanna Loken) has killed several of John Connor's lieutenants, before going after Connor himself.
July 24, 2004 - A T-850 from the future arrives to protect John Connor during Judgment Day - The T-850 features a nuclear power source and improved comic timing.
July 25, 2004 6:18 p.m. - Billions dead as Judgment Day arrives - Humanity is on the brink of extinction following a massive global assault of nuclear weapons. The American military gave Skynet, an experimental computer system, control of weapons systems in an effort to combat a computer virus sweeping the globe. However, Skynet became self-aware and retaliated against its human overlords by launching America's nuclear aresenal across the globe -- triggering a wave of counterattacks from other nuclear powers. - The White House was not availabe for comment. "Our destiny was never to stop Judgment Day -- it was merely to survive it." John Connor, a survivor, said. "Never stop fighting, and I never will. The battle has just begun." - Nuclear missiles rain down across the globe. - John Connor and Kate Brewster in the Crystal Peak fallout shelter.
2018 - John Connor forms the human resistance - A hardened John Connor tangles with "old-school" metal like the pre-Arnold T-600 Terminator, and bonds with a young Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin). - A T-600 in battle. - John Connor (Christian Bale) and Kate Brewster (Bryce Dallas Howard) in "Terminator Salvation." - Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) in "Terminator Salvation"
2029 - Skynet on the brink of destruction - John Connor has the machines on the brink of defeat. In a Hail Mary pass, Skynet sends a T-800 back to 1984 to kill his mother ("The Terminator") and a T-1000 to 1995 to kill him ("T2"). - John Connor during a battle in the future.
July 4, 2032 - John Connor, leader of the human resistance, is terminated - John Connor, the man who led the human resitance for decades was assassinated by a T-850 model 101. He was 47. - Connor is survived by his wife, Kate Brewster, a lieutenant in the resistance. She has reprogrammed the cyborg to return to 2004 to ensure their survival through Judgment Day. The cyborg, a model 101 Human Infiltrator (R-Calif.), told reporters of his intention to be back. - John Connor following a battle in the future.
TERMINATOR: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
- Jonathan Melle
- Amherst, NH, United States
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