John Connor
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John Connor
John Connor
Terminator character
John Connor (Edward Furlong).jpg
Edward Furlong as John Connor in
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).
First appearanceTerminator 2: Judgment Day
Created byJames Cameron
Portrayed by
Voiced byGideon Emery (Terminator Salvation video game)
Man-machine hybrid (Terminator Genisys)
OccupationMessianic figure
FamilyKyle Reese (father)
Sarah Connor (mother)
SpouseKate Brewster (T3 & Terminator Salvation)
Tara Holden (comics)
ChildrenUnborn child (Terminator Salvation)
Sarah Connor (Terminator Salvation comics)
Kyla Connor (Terminator Dreams novel)
Daughter (T2 alternate ending)

John Connor is a fictional character and the primary protagonist of the Terminator franchise. Created by writer and director James Cameron, the character is first referred to in the 1984 film The Terminator and first appears in its 1991 sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day (T2) initially portrayed by Michael Edwards (briefly as the older Connor) and then by teenage actor Edward Furlong throughout the remainder of the film; in addition, Linda Hamilton's real-life son Dalton Abbot played John as a toddler in a dream sequence. The character is subsequently portrayed in the films by Nick Stahl in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (T3; 2003), Christian Bale in Terminator Salvation (2009), Jason Clarke in Terminator Genisys (2015). John was portrayed by Thomas Dekker as a teenager and John De Vito as a child in the television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-2009) and by Gideon Emery, who voiced the character in a video game based on the fourth film respectively. Furlong reprised the role in the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate (2019).

Terminator film series

In the narrative of his fictional universe, John Connor is a messianic figure (born on February 28, 1985) who will lead the Resistance to defeat an empire of robotic Terminators amassed by Skynet (the rogue military supercomputer) following Judgment Day (a cybernetic revolt doomsday event). When his mother, Sarah Connor, became the target of a time travelling Terminator unit (Model 101) in the first film The Terminator, John sent resistance fighter Kyle Reese to protect her, knowing Kyle and Sarah would later conceive John himself. With foreknowledge from his parents, John fends off Terminator assassination attempts in the second and third films before Judgment Day. In the fourth film, John fights with the Resistance in a post-apocalyptic setting after Skynet has taken over. As the series' central plot heavily involves the concept of time travel, the story of the character is often non-linear and portrays many possible outcomes, for example Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles continue from the ending of Terminator 2 but are depicted as taking place in alternate timelines,[1][2] while Terminator Genisys (2015) revisits and changes the events of 1984's The Terminator. Terminator: Dark Fate also ignores the films that came after Terminator 2.

The Terminator

In The Terminator, John is mentioned and is the basis of the film. The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is attempting to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) because she will be his mother, but John does not make a physical appearance. However, at the end of the film, Sarah is shown to be pregnant with John.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

John makes his first appearance in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, played by Edward Furlong. He is a 10-year-old juvenile delinquent living with foster parents (Jenette Goldstein and Xander Berkeley) while his mother (Hamilton) is at a hospital for the mentally insane. Though he is informed of his destiny of his future conflict with Skynet, young John is skeptical of his mother's claims of his fate as humanity's leader. One day, while in an arcade with a friend, the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) and the Model 101 (Schwarzenegger) - a reprogrammed android sent by John's future self, fight over him. This starts a chase sequence where the Model 101 and John try to lose the T-1000; this event validates John's mother's warning to him about Skynet. Later that night, his mother breaks out and he and the Model 101 go to save her, and the three escape. John teaches the Model 101 how to be like a human; teaching him sayings like "hasta la vista, baby!." He forms an emotional bond with the Terminator, coming to regard it as a father figure, and does not want the Terminator to destroy himself at the end of the film, despite the Terminator's warning that allowing him to continue existing creates the risk that his chip could be used to recreate Skynet at some future date. John Connor is briefly seen at the beginning of the film in a flash-forward as an adult, played by Michael Edwards. Dalton Abbot (Linda Hamilton's son) also played John as a toddler in a dream sequence.

Alternate ending

The alternate ending for Terminator 2: Judgment Day depicts Sarah Connor alive and well on August 29, 2027. John Connor has become a U.S. senator and father to a daughter in a world where Skynet was never able to start its war on humanity. While Sarah states that Judgment Day has been averted, John accepts that he still has a destiny to make a difference, which is what motivated him to enter politics and work with likeminded public servants who share his ideals. In contrast to his alternate self from the beginning of the film, John, despite still struggling to improve people's lives in the new timeline, leads a happier life due to not carrying the responsibility and burden of the weight of the world.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Nick Stahl as John Connor in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, with Claire Danes as Kate Brewster.
Christian Bale as John Connor in Terminator Salvation
Jason Clarke as John Connor in Terminator Genisys.

In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, set 10 years after the previous film, John Connor, portrayed by Nick Stahl, is now a young adult. John has been living off-the-grid after the events of the second film, even as the original Judgment Day deadline in 1997 came to pass without incident. His mother eventually developed terminal leukemia and died. In the film, John crosses paths with Katherine "Kate" Brewster (Claire Danes), a former classmate from when he was living with his foster parents. He is attacked by a T-X Terminator (Kristanna Loken), which was sent from the future. Unlike its predecessors, the T-X's objective was to terminate his future Resistance officers as secondary targets because John's location was unknown. When it encounters John, it changes its priority to focus entirely on him and Kate. A protector T-101 (Schwarzenegger), who is a doppelgänger of John's previous protector, is also sent back in time to protect him, explaining that Judgment Day had only been delayed and is now only hours away. The T-101 also states that it was sent from the future by Kate, who is John's future wife and second-in-command - John had actually been killed by that very Terminator on July 4, 2032, as Skynet believed it to be the most suitable for such a mission due to John's emotional attachment to its model. John and Kate intend to halt the launching of Skynet. They mistakenly believe Skynet's core is in a facility, only to find themselves locked and protected in a secure bunker as the first nuclear assault is launched on the United States as a result of Skynet's manipulations. Skynet is pure software and has already spread to every server worldwide, making it impossible to shut down. It is via the radios in this bunker that John begins to broadcast messages to lay the groundwork to help survivors and organize the Resistance.

Terminator Salvation

In Terminator Salvation, which is set in 2018, John Connor, portrayed by Christian Bale, is now an older, battle-experienced, Resistance soldier married to Kate Brewster (Bryce Dallas Howard), who serves as a medic and is now pregnant with his child. Kate also assists command with her husband's Tech-Com unit. Since Judgment Day, John has been broadcasting radio messages to both the Resistance forces and surviving refugees in an effort to maintain morale and hope. The story features a new character named Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), and a younger Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin). John starts as one of the many foot soldiers who make up the Resistance movement based in California. Despite having extensive prior knowledge of the machines and Skynet's capabilities, John is largely dismissed by General Hugh Ashdown (Michael Ironside) who runs the resistance organization. He considers Connor a delusional false prophet at best and a dangerous liability to their operations at worst. Nonetheless, there are pockets of people within the Resistance who have come to believe in John's experiences and judgment based on their own first hand experiences serving with him. In addition, the majority of the Resistance is gradually losing faith towards the Resistance Command due to Ashdown's ruthless and vicious tactics that cost many of his own soldiers and civilians' lives. Later on, towards the middle of the film, John learns that Kyle Reese has been placed in a detention center by Skynet which is aware of Kyle's future role as John's father, classifying Kyle as its primary target and John as its secondary objective even over the current leaders of the resistance- and sets out to rescue him, with Marcus Wright leading him to the base. Upon arrival, John faces off with a T-800 crafted in the image of the android unit that he and his family have encountered previously. John is hurt during his encounter with the T-800 and receives multiple cuts to the face, mirroring the same scars seen on John's face in the opening scene of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Marcus helps him destroy the T-800, but due to injury, John's heart is too badly damaged and Marcus offers his own to John. In addition, after the Resistance Command is caught into Skynet's trap, John's Tech-Com unit takeover the authority of its forces with no opposition. John's ending statement is that though this battle has been won, the war is far from over.

Terminator Genisys

John Connor is portrayed by Jason Clarke in the fifth installment, Terminator Genisys. In an alternate timeline, following a confrontation with a T-5000 (Matt Smith) on the seemingly final day of the war, just as Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is being sent back to save Sarah (Emilia Clarke), John is forcibly transformed into a cyborg, the T-3000. Although all other recorded test subjects were left irreversibly insane and then died by the transformation into the T-3000, John Connor came through the process reasonably intact, albeit now a sociopath dedicated to ensuring the rise of Skynet at the cost of humanity. Skynet then sends the T-3000 back in time to ensure its creation in the altered timeline, John now believing that the future requires man and machine to come together like he has.

After being converted, he travels back in time to 2014 and joins Cyberdyne Systems to help create a new version of Skynet, working with Miles and Danny Dyson to perfect the development of the new Genisys system, turning Skynet into a massive digital network rather than a single computer system like it was originally. Three years later, despite his superior physical strength, he was destroyed by "Pops" (Schwarzenegger) - a T-800 reprogrammed and sent into the past by an unknown party to protect Sarah Connor - when both of them were trapped inside a prototype time machine. With the machine just capable of generating the electromagnetic energy that prevented non-living tissue travelling through time without actually generating a temporal portal, Connor is ripped apart while trapped at the heart of the machine after earlier battle-damage disrupted his ability to maintain his organic shell. It is ambiguous as to whether a version of John Connor will exist in the altered timeline, with John himself stating that his existence is a paradox that is no longer tied to Sarah and Kyle conceiving him.

Production background

The T-3000's sole mission is to protect and ensure the ultimate survival of Skynet, which seeks to eliminate the human race with its global machine network. The T-3000 describes itself as neither machine nor human; rather, it is a hybrid nanotechnological cyborg.[3] Producer David Ellison explains that the title Terminator Genisys "[is] in reference to genesis, which is in reference to the singularity and the man-machine hybrid that John Connor ends up being."[4]

The on-screen representation of the T-3000 was made by British effects company Double Negative. Footage combines Jason Clarke filmed on set, keyframed animation, and motion capture. Supervisor Peter Bebb said that the company tried to design the T-3000 like a computer would do it, focusing on design and battle efficiency, "form follows function". Given it is a Terminator built out of a human, the result is "a pure robot that sits under flesh structure", still retaining an overall human shape. The mechanical cells tried to resemble the material on stealth aircraft, with a result described as "more matte than metal", resembling a slightly iridescent ceramic carbon.[5][6]

Terminator: Dark Fate

Edward Furlong briefly reprised his role as John Connor in Terminator: Dark Fate,[7] which served as a sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Jude Collie served as the body double for a young John, with CGI applied to recreate Furlong's facial likeness from the 1990s in flashback scenes.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

John Connor
The Sarah Connor Chronicles
John Connor (Thomas Dekker).jpg
Thomas Dekker as John Connor in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
First appearance"Pilot" (2008)
Last appearance"Born to Run" (2009)
Created byJames Cameron
Josh Friedman
Portrayed byThomas Dekker
John De Vito (young)
AliasJohn Reese
John Baum
OccupationHigh school student
FamilyKyle Reese
Sarah Connor
Derek Reese
(paternal uncle)
(guardian, confidant)

Thomas Dekker portrays John Connor in the parallel universe television series, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. John is Sarah's son and the future leader of the human resistance. He is only fifteen years old at the beginning of the show, turning sixteen in the season one finale, and seventeen throughout season two, although it isn't mentioned (born 14 November 1983). As the series progresses, John struggles with his feelings for Cameron, who is a Terminator. John De Vito plays a young John Connor in two episodes "Queen's Gambit" and "To the Lighthouse".

Casting and production background

Dekker was cast after Lena Headey secured the role of Sarah Connor.[8] Regarding the Terminator films, Dekker says "They are like my favorite films when I was younger. So it's very ironic that I'm getting to do this. And I know for the younger generation and for myself, John was equally important to me as Sarah was, and I know a lot of the people that I hear from really, really care about John".[9] Dekker described his character as "a continuation of Eddie Furlong's character" but "he's in a darker, more mature place now".[]

The show tells the story of the Connors in alternate timeline from Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.[1] It branches off from the shared back story of Terminator 2, and according to consulting producer James Middleton "is [a new] version of T3."[10]


At the beginning of the series in 1999, John and Sarah try to settle down to normal lives after the events of the second film, but they are in fear of being captured for blowing up Cyberdyne. While at school, John is attacked by a Terminator posing as a teacher, and is protected by a reprogrammed Terminator named "Cameron". John learns that Judgment Day has not been prevented, only postponed to April 21, 2011. John does not want to run anymore and asks Sarah to stop Skynet from being created. Cameron uses time dilation technology (built by "The Engineer" from the future) to send all three of them to 2007, just before Skynet is created, so that they can stop it.

Settling down in 2007, John enrolls in Campo de Cahuenga High School under the name of John Baum, after author L. Frank Baum who wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a book that Sarah says was John's favorite when he was younger, where he is friends with his fellow students Morris and Riley Dawson. He becomes acquainted with his father's older brother, Derek Reese, who is also a resistance fighter sent back in time to help them. This version of John is shown to be a highly skilled computer hacker (a nod from Terminator 2), even being able to hack into a Terminator's CPU in order to read the information it contains, as well as easily hacking into the LAPD database. He claims that he could hack a computer system 'in (his) sleep'. He is also proficient in chess, lock-picking, self-defense, and weaponry, all of which were part of his training during his childhood. The relationship dynamic between John and Cameron is different than with the Model 101 seen in the second film by virtue of her size/gender, with some degree of sexual tension. He also develops a relationship with Riley Dawson, a high school classmate, who, unknown to him, is also from the future and working with Jesse Flores, a resistance fighter and lover of Derek Reese. Jesse's plan was for John to become infatuated with Riley, making her a threat to John's security. This would force Cameron to kill Riley, thereby alienating John from her. Apparently, after Judgment Day, rumors abound of an unnatural relationship between the two that affects John's tactical decision making, and some are unsettled that he has appointed a Terminator as one of his lieutenants.

Video games

Terminator Salvation

John Connor appears in the video game Terminator Salvation, which is set two years before the events of the film. In 2016, John Connor (voiced by Gideon Emery) and Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood) are on a mission to rescue a man named David Weston (Sean Cory Cooper), until they team up with Angie Salter (Rose McGowan) and Barnes (Common) to fight the machines.


T2-3D: Battle Across Time

Edward Furlong reprises his role from Terminator 2 in this Universal Studios attraction, in which he and a T-800 attempt to stop Judgment Day. They travel to the future and infiltrate Cyberdyne to prevent the completion of Skynet. After fighting various machines and succeeding in their mission, John is sent back to the present.


Comic books

With the success of T2, John Connor would appear in the non-canon Terminator/Superman crossover Superman vs. The Terminator: Death to the Future, where DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics teamed Sarah and John Connor up with the Man of Steel in an adventure that pitted Superman up against not only Skynet, but also against his old rival The Cyborg. In this adventure, while trying to protect Sarah and young John, Superman is pulled into the future - the resistance had attempted to recover a Terminator that Skynet had sent back earlier but the machine targeted Superman by mistake, and is then able to help the older John, as well as an older John Henry Irons (AKA Steel) take down Skynet once and for all. Meanwhile, back in the past Cyborg makes a deal with Skynet - leaving a message in a Terminator's skull about Superman's weaknesses and subsequently allying himself with a T-X sent back from the future to assist him, while Supergirl, Superboy, and even Lex Luthor continue to protect Sarah and young John from wave after wave of Terminator cyborgs, the later models being specifically upgraded to cope with the Superman family. The story concludes with Superman having aided the resistance in destroying Skynet by detonating an EMP in Earth's atmosphere powerful enough to shut down Earth's machines before returning to the past, where the Cyborg is defeated and all Terminator components disposed of in the sun. However, at the end of the comic it is revealed that Lex Luthor has multiple parts of other Terminators. He was continuing to research them since he never was able to capture a fully functional Terminator. This leads the reader to believe that Luthor played a hand in Skynet's creation in the future.


  1. ^ a b Goldman, Eric (22 June 2007). "Guiding the Sarah Connor Chronicles". Pythian Remote DBA. Archived from the original on 27 October 2017. Retrieved 2007.
  2. ^ "Sarah Connor Chronicles To Create New T Timeline". Terminator Chronicles. Archived from the original on 12 November 2007. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ Wickline, Dan (April 13, 2015). ""I'm Not Machine, I'm Not Man... I'm More." - New Trailer For Terminator Genisys". Retrieved 2015.
  4. ^ Woerner, Meredith (July 3, 2015). "Why was 'Terminator Genisys' spelled with a 'Y'?". Retrieved 2015.
  5. ^ Failes, Ian (July 5, 2015). "Terminator: New makes. New models. New VFX". FX Guide. Retrieved 2015.
  6. ^ Loftus, Marc (July 1, 2015). "Summer Movies: 'Terminator Genisys'". Post Magazine. Retrieved 2015.
  7. ^ Libbey, Dirk (August 20, 2019). "Terminator 2's Edward Furlong Is 'Really Happy' To Return For Dark Fate". CinemaBlend. Archived from the original on August 22, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  8. ^ Goldman, Eric (December 7, 2006). "Heroes Star Set to Play John Connor". Pythian Remote DBA. Archived from the original on 15 September 2007. Retrieved 2007.
  9. ^ Brokaw, Francine (August 2, 2007). "Inside The Sarah Connor Chronicles". MovieWeb, Inc. Archived from the original on August 25, 2007. Retrieved 2007.
  10. ^ Svetkey, Benjamin (11 January 2008). "Sarah Connor Chronicles". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Archived from the original on 17 October 2008. Retrieved 2008.

External links

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