Thursday, 30 January 2020

The Problem With The Terminator: Part 1 - Single or Multiple Time Lines?

"Skynet does not plan ahead... Or behind..."

The purpose of this post isn't to knock an excellent movie. The Terminator is one of the best Sci-fi movies of all time.
I am not one of those people that moan about movies not fitting into current hypothesis or theory and roasting them because of it.
This is more of a thought experiment only and shouldn't be taken too seriously or critically.

The Premise

In the future, Skynet fights against the human resistance movement lead by John Connor.
The resistance movement push Skynet to the brink of defeat.

Skynet retaliates by building a time machine, and sending a Terminator back in time to 1984 to kill John Connor's mother, Sarah Connor, to prevent John Connor from being born, growing up and leading the human resistance.

John Connor gets wind of this and sends one of his soldiers, Kyle Reese, back in time to 1984 to protect his mother from the 1984 Terminator.

"Causal Loop THIS!!"

The Problem

In a single time line, as soon as the Terminator arrives in 1984, the future would instantaneously change. This would now be the future of a Terminator in 1984 killing Sarah Connor.

John Connor would not be around to get wind that a Terminator had been sent back to kill his mother as it would already have happened and John Connor wouldn't exist.

"And this Autumn, T800 will be wearing..."

The Discussion

Kyle Reese may or may not give us a hint mid movie in a conversation had whilst he is in a car with Sarah Connor. 

He states that judgement day is "One possible future. From your point of view. I don't know tech stuff." Does this mean that the time line can change, or multiple time lines?

As I have identified a potential flaw in the single time line theory, lets explore multiple time lines.

When the T800 goes back in time to kill Sarah Connor, the time line would split where he arrives:

Time line 1 would be the original preserved time line with no 1984 T800, with Sarah Connor alive  and with John Connor and Kyle Reese existing in the future.

Time line 2 would be with 1984 T800 present, and with Sarah Connor almost certainly dealt with and no John Connor in the future.

Now we have Kyle Reese going back in time from time line 1 original preserved future.

If he were to arrive in 1984 later than the Terminator, he would arrive in the original preserved time line 1 with no Terminator present, and he would then cause the timeline to split again.

Timeline 1 would still be the original preserved time line with no Terminator or Kyle Reese present in 1984.

Time line 3 would be a future with 1984 Kyle Reese in it but no Terminator and Sarah Connor still alive.

Out of the three time lines, we don't yet have a time line with both Terminator and Kyle Reese present.

What if Kyle Reese jumped back to 1984 and arrive before the Terminator arrives in the original time line? 

Time line 1 would be original preserved time line with no 1984 Kyle Reese.

Time line 3 would be 1984 Kyle Reece time line with Sarah Connor alive and no Terminator.

When Terminator arrives later, He would arrive in time line 1 with no 1984 Kyle Reese and cause the same split again in the original no 1984 Kyle Reese time line.

Original time line 1 with no Kyle Reese or Terminator
Time Line 2 with Terminator present, no 1984 Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor Terminated.

So what if the two of them arrive in 1984 at the exact same point in time?

Would the simultaneous arrivals become a single time event causing a single split?

Time line 1 - Original preserved time line with no 1984 Kyle Reese and no 1984 Terminator and Sarah Connor alive.

New Time line 2 - New future with (drum roll please...) 1984 Terminator, 1984 Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor all in the same time line.

"Look, understanding time lines is perfectly simple..."
But is this satisfactory... Not really

Whilst its satisfying to find a potential solution that fits into current hypothesis, it leaves more questions than answers!

1. If sending a Terminator back would not help Skynet in its original time line, then why would Skynet bother? And for that matter, when the Terminator was sent back, and the future didn't change immediately for John Connor and Kyle Reese, why did John bother sending Kyle back?

2. The Terminator movie franchise is dotted with the saying "The future has not been written. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves." This would suggest that there is a single time line in the Terminator universe.

So back to the single time line hypothesis. This can only work one way on a single time.
  1. There are two time machines in the future. One belongs to Skynet and the other belongs to the resistance. After all, Arnie knocked one up himself in Terminator Genisys and the only difficult component to find was a T800 processor, something that is common in the future.
  2. The resistance have hacked Skynet's time machine and the their time machine is linked and synchronised directly with the Skynet's.
  3. The T800 and Kyle Reese both time travel into the past at the exact same point in time, and arrive in 1984 at the exact same point in time so neither gets to change the others future first.
Result! This works with no doubt or unanswered questions in regards to my original problem.


Single time line both plausible and possible... but at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. 
Its a great movie and that's the important part!

"I'm the 'Star' of the movie..." 

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