Kyle Reese
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Kyle Reese
Kyle Reese
Terminator character
Kyle Reese.png
Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese in
The Terminator.
First appearanceThe Terminator (1984)
Created byJames Cameron
Portrayed by
FamilyDennis Reese (T2 novel trilogy)
Mary Shea (T2 novel trilogy)
SpouseSarah Connor
ChildrenJohn Connor (son)

Kyle Reese is a fictional character in the Terminator franchise, who serves as one of the main protagonists in the first film with a supporting role in other works. The character is portrayed by Michael Biehn in The Terminator (1984) and Jonathan Jackson in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-2009); Anton Yelchin played him as a teenager in Terminator Salvation (2009), and Jai Courtney portrays him in Terminator Genisys (2015).

Terminator film series

Reese is a soldier in the human resistance from the post-apocalyptic future of The Terminator (1984), where most of humanity has already been wiped out in a deadly nuclear war on August 29, 1997 sparked off by an artificial intelligence known as Skynet. The survivors fight extinction against the sentient computer system's genocidal war on humanity. The resistance is led by John Connor, under whom Reese serves.

In The Terminator and Terminator Genisys (2015), Skynet sends one of its most feared machines, a T-800 series Terminator, back to pre-apocalypse Los Angeles, California on May 12, 1984, to assassinate John Connor's mother Sarah Connor and prevent his birth. Reese volunteers to travel back to 1984 and intercept the Terminator.


Kyle's mother apparently died in childbirth, while his father died when he was a young child. He soon became a soldier and by 2019 he held the rank of Sergeant (dog tag number DN38416), working in the Tech-Com facility of the Resistance. He is one of the personal soldiers to John Connor, and is often selected for personal infiltrator missions by John.

Reese learned to make explosives as a child. He also assisted in stealing and reverse-engineering most of the Skynet technology, conducting raids on armories and stealing most of the laser-rifle equipment with his troops for the Resistance, along with the time-traveling technology that Skynet had developed.

The Terminator

In response to Skynet's attempt to assassinate Sarah Connor before she can give birth to John, the resistance decides to send a soldier back to defeat the Terminator and protect Sarah's life. Reese personally volunteers for a one-way mission back to pre-apocalypse Los Angeles to save her.

Once he had been sent back, he was told that the time displacement equipment would be destroyed, stranding him and the Terminator in 1984. Arriving naked and unarmed, and not knowing what the Terminator looks like in its human disguise, Reese steals clothes and a police-issue shotgun. He locates and follows Sarah (Linda Hamilton), shadowing her until the T-800 Model 101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) attempts to carry out its mission. Reese rescues her from the Terminator's attacks in a nightclub and police station, warning her of the impending doom of the human race and of the future significance carried by her and her unborn son.

Though initially hostile towards Reese, Sarah grows to trust him as he becomes the only thing between her and the Terminator. The two grow closer as they continue to run from the Terminator and Kyle eventually reveals that he volunteered for the mission. Though battle-hardened and world-weary, Reese had fallen deeply in love with Sarah, a woman he had only known through a photo given to him by John, and traveled back in time to meet her. After Reese tells Sarah of this history, the two consummate their relationship and ultimately conceive John. The Terminator tracks them down and chases them through Los Angeles; Reese is wounded by gunfire, but manages to blow up a fuel truck driven by the Terminator before it can run over Sarah. However, its now-bare metal endoskeleton emerges from the fire and pursues them into an automated factory. Reese wedges the last of his homemade pipe bombs into its chassis and sets it off; the explosion kills Reese and blows the Terminator apart. The machine's upper body continues to crawl after Sarah, who crushes it in a hydraulic press to stop it once and for all.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Michael Biehn reprises his role for a cameo in T2. Though it was cut from the theatrical release, it was restored in an extended edition on LaserDisc. When Sarah Connor is having a nightmare about Judgment Day, Kyle appears in a dream state version of her prison cell and reminds her of the coming danger, and the need to protect their son (Edward Furlong). However, as Kyle begins to walk out of the cell, Sarah desperately follows him only to be led to a courtyard of kids playing before an explosion hits in Los Angeles, Sarah wakes up in shock after that.

Terminator Salvation

Kyle Reese is portrayed as a teenager by Anton Yelchin in Terminator Salvation. The film takes place in 2018, and it revolves around his first meeting with his future son John (Christian Bale). As a teenager, Kyle was the leader of the Los Angeles Resistance cell, even though it only consisted of two people. Because of this, he aspires to join the formal Resistance regulars, who mark themselves with a red stripe on their left sleeve, once he has "earned it".

It is clear that Kyle is immediately drawn to the charismatic figure of John Connor because he leaves his Los Angeles base after hearing the latter's Resistance broadcast. Inspired by Connor's example, he frequently quotes segments of the broadcasts and adapts strategies that Connor suggests for taking down Terminators. He similarly shares a unique bond with Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), who helps hone Kyle's strategies in close-quarters combat, whereas Kyle's lectures on what humans are fighting for reminds Marcus of his humanity.

In the film, Kyle's father had initially survived Judgment Day but died prior to the events of the movie, and Kyle is the primary target of Skynet due to its awareness that he would eventually travel through time to 1984 and become the father of John Connor. In the film, Kyle is already working with and protecting a child named Star (Jadagrace Berry) when the two later save Marcus Wright from a T-600 attack in the ruins of Los Angeles.

After Skynet captures him outside of Los Angeles, Reese, upon escaping, later worked with his future son building a bomb to destroy Skynet's San Francisco Command. The two also fought one of the first T-800 models together during this time. Connor took Reese into the Resistance with Star, granting him the promotion to Tech-Com regular. Kyle and John have begun developing a friendship as mentioned in the first film, evidenced by the way in which Kyle's promotion (signified by inheriting John's tactical jacket with red stripe) comes alongside his joining of John's inner circle at the end of the film.

Terminator Genisys

Reese is portrayed by Jai Courtney in Terminator Genisys, and by Bryant Prince as Reese's 12-year-old self. In this film, Reese lost his parents when he was a child and meets John Connor (Jason Clarke) after he rescued him from a Terminator beneath the ruins of the city of San Francisco, and has been raised and trained by Connor since. Reese sees Connor as a surrogate father, not yet aware that he himself is Connor's father as the result of his forthcoming time travel.

In 2029, Connor sends Reese back through time to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), only to discover that she has been raised and trained by a reprogrammed T-800 (Schwarzenegger). Consequently the events of the first film has been negated due to a chain of events related to Skynet's (Matt Smith) actions throughout the timeline, and Reese's future as John Connor's father becomes ambiguous, as he meets an alternate timeline version of Sarah Connor instead of his own timeline's, who has been erased from existence and replaced by her counterpart. Skynet's manipulation of the timeline also inadvertently turned Kyle into an aberration as he traveled through time, having memories of two timelines and coexisting with an alternate variant of himself. When the original T-800 is destroyed by both its reprogrammed doppelgänger and Sarah, Kyle works with them to battle against a T-1000 (Lee Byung-hun) and destroy it with acid. After the timeline's alteration, Kyle -- who has fragments of memories that belong to his alternate self -- realizes that Skynet will attack in 2017 instead of 1997.

The trio discovers that Skynet has also compromised John Connor prior to the timeline's alteration, turned him into a nanocyte prototypical Terminator designated T-3000 and tasked to ensure Skynet's rise in the altered timeline. Kyle ultimately learns of his paternity of John Connor and his own death in the original timeline. Despite his reluctance to fight John and his hopes to find a cure, Reese ultimately chooses to stop John for the sake of the world. Kyle gradually sees John as the monster Skynet turned him into, and their friendship deteriorates due to John's deceptions and Skynet's actions. Kyle, Sarah, and the T-800 fight a battle to ensure that Skynet and its machines never rise. After multiple destructive confrontations, Reese, Sarah, and the T-800 successfully thwart Skynet's attack and defeat the T-3000 at Cyberdyne Systems headquarters after bombing the company's mainframe, and thus preventing Skynet spreading from its system core worldwide.

Afterward, Reese meets and instructs an alternate version of his 12 year old self to repeat the warning in a mirror - vital assurance that the events lead to their arrival in 2017 and thus the T-3000's defeat. He then pursues a romantic relationship with Sarah under his own terms instead of John's, and promises her that he will never leave her again.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Kyle Reese
The Sarah Connor Chronicles
First appearance"Dungeons & Dragons" (2008)
Last appearance"Born to Run" (2009)
Created byJames Cameron
Josh Friedman
Portrayed byJonathan Jackson
Skyler Gisondo (young)
FamilyDerek Reese (brother)
ChildrenJohn Connor

In the parallel universe television show, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, it is revealed that Reese has an older brother named Derek, who becomes one of the show's main characters. He is also a Resistance soldier from the future.


In this series, Kyle Reese is played by Jonathan Jackson in the episode "Dungeons & Dragons" which details how he and his brother are separated during a recon mission before he made his trip through time to protect Sarah Connor; further details are in the episode "Goodbye to All That" of the second season, during Derek's recollection of the future war. An eight-year-old version of Kyle Reese, portrayed by Skyler Gisondo, briefly appears in the episode "What He Beheld" when Derek Reese takes John Connor out for ice cream on his 16th birthday.

They find a younger Kyle and Derek playing baseball at the park, with Derek admits his knowledge of John's relation to Kyle; John then sees his uncle as a surrogate father since. In the episode "Goodbye to All That," during one of Derek's recollections of the future war, Kyle (when he was a Corporal) and a small group of his unit attempted to save forty prisoners, including General John Connor, from Skynet's forces. However, he became trapped and one of the Resistance's senior officers, Martin Bedell, sacrifices his life to save him and free Skynet's prisoners. In the episode "The Demon Hand", it is hinted at by Sarah to Derek Reese that Kyle's ashes were scattered "in the grass"; a later episode shows that he was in fact buried in a grave marked only by the year of his death, and in the next-to-last episode of the series, Derek's own ashes are buried next to his brother, or at least in the same cemetery where his brother rests.

A mental image of Kyle Reese appeared to a wounded Sarah in the episode "The Good Wound". Throughout the episode, her image of Kyle guides her in finding medical treatment for herself along with getting help from Derek Reese, Kyle's brother. In the season two finale "Born to Run", John is led by Catherine Weaver to an alternate post-Judgment Day timeline where John Connor has never led the Resistance due to the displacement from his present. There, he encounters his father for the first time.

Video games

The Terminator: Dawn of Fate

Kyle Reese appears in the video game, The Terminator: Dawn of Fate, developed by Paradigm Entertainment, set before the events of the first film. He was voiced by Julio Cesar Cedillo.

Terminator Genisys: Future War

Kyle Reese appears in the mobile MMO strategy video game, Terminator Genisys: Future War, created by Plarium. The events of the game take place in the alternate, post-apocalyptic future timeline of Terminator Genisys, where an older Kyle becomes the leader of the resistance movement against Skynet instead of John Connor.

Production background

It was originally scripted that Reese and another soldier, named "Sumner", were sent to protect Sarah from the Terminator, but Sumner died upon arriving after the time portal fused him into a fire escape (the first two sequels show the time displacement field melting through whatever object is in the way; e.g. Terminator 2: Judgment Day shows the field melt a hole in a chain link fence when the T-1000 arrives, and obliterate part of a semi truck when the T-800 arrives). In the original script, Reese says to Dr. Silberman, "The Terminator had already gone through. Connor sent two of us to intercept it, then zeroed the whole place, but Sumner didn't make it." Sumner would later appear in a Sarah Connor Chronicles episode and make it alive through the time portal with Kyle's brother and two other Resistance time-traveling agents.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was the original choice to play Reese while director James Cameron intended to use a thinner, more ordinary looking actor as the Terminator; Lance Henriksen and O. J. Simpson were among those considered. Upon meeting Schwarzenegger, Cameron decided to cast him as the Terminator instead, and Henriksen was recast as Detective Vukovich while Simpson ultimately had no participation. However, Cameron would revisit this idea when he cast Robert Patrick as the T-1000 in the sequel.

Michael Biehn almost did not get the role of Reese because, at his audition, he spoke in a Southern accent after having just auditioned for a role in a stage production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof earlier that day and could not shake the accent. The producers did not want Reese to have an accent. After Biehn's agent explained the situation to the producers, he got a second audition and won the part. The original scriptment gave Reese's age as 21, while a later draft gave his age as 22. In real life, Biehn was 27 years old at the time that he was cast as Reese.

In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Michael Biehn reprises the role of Kyle Reese; Sarah Connor, under heavy sedation, imagines him visiting her in a mental institution. Largely unchanged from his appearance in the first film, he embraces her and implores her to go to their son's aid, reminding her that "the future is not set." This scene was removed for the original theatrical release, but restored to the extended editions released.


Michael Biehn's performance was met positively with critics, highlighting his ability to develop Reese's wounded core and longing despite the fast paced nature of James Cameron's first film[1] and for playing the heroic role "unusually sensitive".[2]

Anton Yelchin's performance was also praised,[3] described as "spirited"[4] and being Salvation's "secret weapon".[5]

Jai Courtney, however, was universally considered miscast,[6][7] described as a "dull-witted meathead" compared to Biehn's "skinny, bright-eyed, and very sweet" Kyle.[8] Criticism was also made of Courtney's acting,[9] total lack of charisma[10] and over strong physique for an actor playing a character supposed to have grown up in a nuclear wasteland.[11]


  1. ^ "'Review: Terminator Genisys'". Slant. July 1, 2015.
  2. ^ "'The Terminator'". Timeout. June 15, 2015.
  3. ^ "'Terminator Salvation'". TV Guide. June 15, 2015.
  4. ^ "'Terminator Salvation'". Digital Spy. June 30, 2009.
  5. ^ "'Terminator Salvation Review'". Empire Online. June 30, 2009.
  6. ^ "'Terminator: Genisys'". Austin Chronicle. July 3, 2015.
  7. ^ "'Review: In 'Terminator Genisys,' Ageless Cyborgs and a Deathless Franchise'". New York Times. June 30, 2015.
  8. ^ "'Terminator Genisys Is Overcomplex and Uninspired, But the Franchise Will Be Back'". Vulture. July 2, 2015.
  9. ^ "'TERMINATOR GENISYS review'". Alternative Lens. July 2, 2015.
  10. ^ "'Terminator Genisys (2015) Movie Review'". Hollywood Outsider. July 3, 2015.
  11. ^ "'Terminator: Genisys' absolutely will not stop, even when it probably should". Cnet. July 1, 2015.

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