Terminator's John Connor Was Not the Original Savior of Humanity

Terminator's John Connor Was Not the Original Savior of Humanity
Image credit: Orion Pictures, Tri-Star Pictures

A clever fan theory solves Terminator’s bootstrap paradox once and for all.


  • In Terminator, John Connor was fathered by Kyle only after he’d traveled to the past and met the younger Sarah.
  • Initially, it was Sarah who led the resistance to success, and she became the target because of that, not because of John.
  • Kyle stayed in the past and became John’s father, raising him together with Sarah into the new leader of the human rebellion.
  • Only from the second timeline forth, John Connor became the machines’ target, because before that, he didn’t exist.

As beloved as it is, the Terminator franchise has its fair share of inconsistencies and paradoxes; most stories that revolve around time travel do. But restless fans are eager to make them make sense, and sometimes — like in this case — their theories are more solid than the original script, resolving said logical issues with ease.

Terminator’s Bootstrap Paradox Ruins Its Logic

To avoid repeating the entire plot of Terminator, let’s quickly rewind. The machines have risen against humans, but there is a rebellious leader who could successfully stop their tyranny and return the Earth to the good old human tyranny. His name was John Connor, and he was supposed to be protected at all cost to save our kind.

But here comes the paradox.

Terminator's John Connor Was Not the Original Savior of Humanity - image 1

In the original timeline, humans successfully rose against the machines and almost defeated them; to avoid said defeat, the machines sent an assassin back in time to kill the human leader who threatened to crush them. Humans sent their own agent, Kyle Reese, to prevent that… But Reese was John Connor’s father. Oopsie.

This means that someone else was the original human leader: John Connor did not yet exist in the original timeline as only after the machines’ near-defeat would Kyle Reese travel back in time and father John. This begs the question, who led the humans in the original timeline? Who brought the machines’ demise upon them?

Clever Terminator Fan Theory Resolves the Paradox

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It’s clear that John Connor could not be the original savior of humanity. The only obvious choice for that role would be his mother, Sarah Connor. In the original timeline, Sarah was the leader of the rebellion, and Kyle Reese was her right-hand man. Upon learning about the machines’ plan to kill the young Sarah in the past, he traveled back in time to save her.

Then, they fell in love, and John Connor was born. Raised by his leader mother and war-hardened veteran father, he became the ultimate menace to the machines’ rule — and, from the second timeline forth, the new leader of the resistance. It’s only from that time that “killing Sarah Connor” was designed to rid the machines of John; previously, Sarah must have been their target because of her own successful fight.

Source: Reddit