12 'Terminator' Fan Theories That Are Just Crazy Enough To Be True

Voting Rules
Vote up the most plausible Terminator series fan theories.

If you’ve spent any time thinking about Terminator, one of the greatest action films of the '80s, you’ve probably had a few long nights during which you tried to figure out time travel sans clothes, and whether or not Kyle Reese could actually be John Connor’s father. No matter how much you’ve obsessed about how Cyberdyne needed to have a T-800 chip to invent the super evil T-800 (or something like that), the denizens of the Internet who came up with the Terminator fan theories you’re about to read have put more thought into cold-blooded metal daddies of the future than you ever will. The amount of time you'd have to put into deconstructing the entire Terminator series timeline then trying to explain it in a way that makes any sense boggles the mind. 

Don’t despair: not all these Terminator movie theories are about the ins-and-outs of time travel; some of them involve the Terminator shared universe, which crosses over with other science fiction franchises and is totally, 100% accurate... ish. If you made it this far without quoting the Governator's famous catchphrase, you deserve a thumbs up from inside a vat of molten lead. 

How do you feel about naked bros who crouch in alleys and punch on each other with knives and stabbing weapons? What about no-nonsense female protagonists who love machine guns and may or may not have birthed the leader of the resistance? If you’re all about either of those types of characters, these James Cameron movie fan theories are going to make you wish you had a robo-daddy riding a Harley with whom you could discuss alternate timelines. Come with these fan theories of the Terminator franchise if you want to have a deeper understanding of one of the greatest time travel-action series that was ever created.

Photo: flickr / CC0

  • 1
    1,844 VOTES

    Skynet Is Creating An Infinite Loop In Order To Improve Its Technology

    A really interesting theory about the time travel in the Terminator franchise declares that Skynet isn't too concerned with the whole John Connor conundrum. No way, you guys: these robots/AI just want to increase their tech. Basically it works like this - the machines develop something new, like a T-1000, and send it back in time, so new technology can be built from it in the past. This speeds the development of technology such that when time finally gets back to the future, Skynet has access to radically advanced weapons and other technology built from its formerly most cutting-edge developments. Or something like that. 

    1,844 votes
  • 2
    1,598 VOTES

    Kyle Reese Killed John Connor By Schtupping His Mom

    One fan theory suggests that when the original John Connor sent Kyle Reese back in time, he may have unwittingly killed himself and created another John Connor. Before Sarah Connor knew about judgment day, she had a baby by some random guy, and that baby turned into a badass resistance fighter. When Kyle hooked up with Sarah, he managed to erase original John Connor from history, and create an entirely new one. That's why, by the time you get to T3, John is a wimp who's afraid he'll never be able to lead a resistance. 

    1,598 votes
  • 3
    698 VOTES

    Skynet Doesn’t Want To Kill John Connor, It Wants To Discredit Him

    This is the one Terminator fan theory that kind of make sense of the wonky timeline in the series. As per this theory, the Terminator movies make more sense when you realize Skynet isn't actually trying to kill John Connor. The reason it keep sending robots back is to make him a worse leader, and mess with his timeline so he's no longer the badass he is in his original timeline. Basically they're trying to sabotage him and ruin his revolution, rather than martyr him. 

    698 votes
  • 4
    717 VOTES

    Skynet Created John Connor By Necessitating Kyle Reese's Time Travel

    Don't you get it, you guys? If Skynet had never sent a T-800 back to the past, John Connor never would have sent Kyle Reese back, and Reese never would have put a baby in Sarah Connor! Why didn't Skynet know this? It should probably send a T-1000 back to stop itself from sending back a T-800. Then again, it sent the T-800 to kill John Connor, meaning John Connor exists, so...where'd he come from the in the first place? The world must be caught in some kind of time loop. 

    717 votes
  • 5
    689 VOTES

    Terminator Time Travel Only Works In Alternate Timelines

    A truly interesting fan theory about the Terminator franchise posits that all the time travel in the series only effects alternate timelines. As per this theory, each time someone (or something) jumps back into the past, he/she/it creates a new timeline. What's the proof?

    Obviously, the moment Skynet sent a T-800 back to the '80s; there wouldn't have been time for Kyle Reese to be sent back as well, it would have been over baby! Unless John Connor had knowledge of a Terminator going back far in advance of it happening, there's no way he could've sent Reese back in time to save his mother. And since Skynet is a machine network, there's no way for intelligence to slip out through loose lips. So, when Reese goes back, he's entering a different timeline than the one the T-800 entered. But there's also a T-800 in his timeline. So. There's that. 

    This theory asserts that the Terminator franchise's version of time travel only works if each character traveling to the past travels to an alternate timeline. If this is true, by the time viewers get to Terminator Genisys, there's been at least eight timelines. 

    689 votes
  • 6
    961 VOTES

    Skynet Sent Terminators Back In Time To Make Sure Skynet Was Built, Not To Kill John

    Did you ever think maybe Skynet didn't give a hoot about John Connor? The robots just need to exist, baby!

    Reddtor filets thinks the whole Terminator thing couldn't have existed if Cyberdine hadn't found the chip left over from a dead robot. Skynet likely knew this and pretended it was trying to kill Sarah Connor so John would send Kyle Reese back in time to help kill the T-800, specifically so it would drop an arm and chip. It turns out the best move would have been not to send Reese back and let Connor die so the Terminator would have just had to rot in the '80s. 

    Did that make your head hurt a little bit? The only slight problem with this theory is Skynet sending a Terminator back in time so Terminators can exist. Where did the Terminator that went back in time come from? Probably ties into Cameron's whole Biblical allegory thing and the inevitability of certain events. 

    961 votes