This article is about the fictional computer network. See Skynet (disambiguation) for other meanings.

Skynet is the fictional computer network created by Cyberdyne Systems Corporation for Strategic Air Command-North American Aerospace Defense Command featured as the never-seen villain of The Terminator film series.

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Origin and Nature

Skynet is only vaguely described in the first two movies, but is shown in more detail in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Originally, Skynet was created by Cyberdyne Systems Corporation, which in Terminator 3 is a sub-contractor for the United States Air Force's Cybernetic Research Systems.

In The Terminator

In the first movie, The Terminator, Skynet is portrayed as a revolutionary neural net-based artificial intelligence built by Cyberdyne Systems. It was given control over the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal for reasons of efficiency, and programmed with a directive of defending the United States against all possible enemies. It started to learn at a geometrical rate, and soon concluded that its greatest threat was humanity itself. To neutralize this threat it initiated a nuclear war August 29th, 1997 (known as Judgment Day) between the United States, Russia, and China with the intent of killing as many humans as possible.

Skynet gained access to several autonomous military drones (such as the T-1 in Terminator 3), using them to round up survivors, who were forced to build automatic factories and robots that were better at construction than the military robots. Skynet then killed these human slaves, and using the infrastructure they had been forced to start, rapidly designed newer and better machines until it controlled an extremely advanced empire centered on a city-state located in the state of Colorado in the United States, known as Sector Zero on Earth by 2029, at the Cheyenne Mountain complex, presumably the precise former location of NORAD.

As a computer, Skynet craved efficiency, so after a while, rather than killing humans on sight it would have its drones round them up into concentration camps for orderly and efficient disposal. The only humans kept alive were the ones forced to run the corpse disposal teams, which ran "night and day." Humans in the camps were all painfully laser branded with bar-codes on their arms (an allegory to similar treatment of Jews under Nazi Germany). This efficiency contributed to Skynet's undoing: John Connor was able to free these grouped-together humans and use them to build a Tech-Com resistance army.

While Skynet was winning the global man/machine war on a strategic level, a last-ditch offensive by Connor and his men in North America was able to capture its time displacement device and destroy its primary Sector Zero mainframe. In order to prevent its defeat, Skynet sent a Terminator cyborg back in time to try to kill Connor's mother Sarah before he was born (see grandfather paradox). Connor sent back his own operative, a young man named Kyle Reese, to save Sarah. While the Terminator did not succeed in killing Sarah, two events occurred that would have a direct impact on the future. Reese impregnated Sarah, becoming John's father. Similarly, the Terminator's CPU chip was retrieved by Cyberdyne systems for study, implying that it would serve as a basis for Skynet's design. Paradoxically, by sending their agents back in time to destroy each other, both Skynet and Connor created their own existence (see predestination paradox).

In Terminator 2: Judgment Day

In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a partially sympathetic origin was given to Skynet: it was a learning computer invented by Dr. Miles Bennett Dyson that unexpectedly became sentient. Horrified at this development, humans tried to turn it off, an act that would have meant death for the intelligence. Thinking fast, within milliseconds Skynet fired its nuclear missiles, beginning its reign of terror in an act of self-defense.

In Terminator 2, the future was altered slightly when Sarah and a young John, together with a second Terminator from the future (this one reprogrammed and sent by the future John Connor) raided Cyberdyne Systems and succeeded in destroying the CPU from the first movie, along with all research into the technology that would create Skynet.

In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

In Terminator 3, Judgment Day has been altered and postponed by 6 years. In contrast to Terminator 2, it is implied that humans are ignorant of Skynet's sentience, which attacked humanity without any provocation whatsoever. The events of Judgment Day were ultimately not prevented, merely postponed. Ten years after the events of Terminator 2, Skynet was created as a United States Air Force project, a distributed computer network designed to create new military vehicles and make strategic decisions as well as protect their computer systems from virus attacks. One such virus had infected their defense computers, crippling them all. Under pressure, the Air Force attempted to use Skynet to remove the virus, not realizing that Skynet was sentient and had created the virus in order to manipulate humanity into giving it control over the world's computers. Skynet was initially thought to be capable of being shut down if only someone could reach its system core, but ultimately it was discovered that the Skynet software had spread throughout the world's computer networks and was incapable of being disabled from a central point. Judgment Day occurred, but John Connor survived. It is suggested that future events unfolded as they were supposed to.

In video games

The video game Terminator 3: Redemption portrays an alternate future where Connor and his wife Katherine Brewster were killed, humanity exterminated and Skynet triumphant. In the game Terminator: Dawn of Fate, a prequel to the movies and other games, Skynet exhibits an ability to exert mind control over humans.

There is also a non-canon game "Robocop vs. The Terminator," where SkyNet's intelligence is caused by Robocop interfacing with Skynet.

Skynet also features in the video game Fallout 2.

Skynet Machines

  • CSM-10 anthropomorphic service robots, first soldiers
  • T-1
  • T-100 Seeker
  • T-105 Autonomous Battle Droid (from T3 Rise Of The Machines)
  • T-20 (service robot)
  • T-70 (from T2-3D)
  • T-200 "Scarecrow"
  • T-300 "Fast Walker"
  • T-400 and 500 Endo
  • T-600 Infiltrator "Gaunt"
  • T-700 Infiltrator
  • T-800 Terminator Infiltrator
  • T-850 Terminator Infiltrator (from T3)
  • T-900 Newest TI models
  • T-950 (first TI model to use onboard weapons)
  • I(nfiltrator)-950 Human/Machine Hybrid created by Skynet's captured human scientists - final union of Man and Machine
  • T-1000 (mimetic poly-alloy)
  • T-X (from T3) "Terminatrix"
  • H(unter) K(iller) Tank
  • HK "Centurion"
  • HK Aerial
  • HK Drone
  • Heavy Assault Aerial HK
  • Aerial FHK M-A8 T-770c S-500 Transport
  • T-1,000,000 - Protects Skynet CPU, T2-3D
  • Series 1200 and HK Scouts
  • Series 1500 Anti-Personnel Unit
  • Type 12 FOB "Flying Eyeball"
  • Guardian (Installation defense unit that originally protected Skynet in Terminator: Dawn of Fate before the creation of the T-1,000,000)
  • Model 75 FHK
  • HK "Chrome Widow"
  • Pre-Judgment Day semi- or fully-autonomous service maintenance robots, automated and remote-controlled vehicles, and stealth aircraft
  • HK Carrier
  • HK Bomber
  • HK Titan

Key members of Sector Zero

  • HK Command, represents Skynet in controlling the Machines that rule Los Angeles
  • Skynet Core, supreme dictatorial ruling Head of State and Government of the Machines and Earth (Main CPU hub located somewhere underground in the Los Angeles and Cheyenne Mountain areas, as seen in T2:3D and The Terminator: Dawn of Fate)
  • Mir (Skynet's Soviet counterpart, appears in a Terminator comic that takes place in the former Soviet Union)
  • T-X, commanding military leader (Terminatrix from T3, advanced model)