This is the week that Skynet went online and began it’s judgement. We look back at the rise of Skynet in The Terminator franchise

There are certain things from the Terminator movies that have merged with popular culture – catch phrases, names of robots and most importantly, Skynet.

April 19th 2011, was the date named by the Terminator franchise as the day that Skynet went online and began it’s judgment – and annihilation – of the human race. The 111th day of 2011, at 8.11pm, to be precise. Tomorrow, April 21st 2011, is the day that Judgement Day was moved to after temporal interference by Sarah Connor, her son John, Miles Dyson and the T-800 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Skynet is a revolutionary artificial intelligence system built by Cyberdyne Systems for SAC-NORAD. Sounds grand on the surface of things, but the problem is that while people like Skynet, Skynet is none too fond of us. It views all humans as a threat, and a microsecond after it went online it decided the fate of the human race; extermination. To this end, Skynet launched a nuclear war, which wiped out most of the population, and then began a programme of genocide against any survivors.

Skynet Advert promoting Terminator Salvation

In The Terminator, after John Connor and his fellow fighters destroyed Skynet’s defence system, Skynet sent a single cyborg – The Terminator – back in time to destroy Connor before he was born. The only problem with this was, Connor sent Kyle Reese back in time to protect his mother and Kyle ended up becoming John’s father. Bet you didn’t see that coming, Skynet!

By the time Terminator 2: Judgement Day was released, it had been decided that the temporal anomalies of The Terminator were a little too easy to explain, so an even more complicated plot was devised. It was revealed that Skynet was actually reverse engineered by Cyberdyne from the parts of the Terminator that could be salvaged, thus Skynet was created from something it had created itself. Still with us? Good. Cyberdyne then used this technology in all military equipment, and the attack launched on humanity was in self defense, after Skynet became self aware, and military commanders attempted to shut it off. Poor old Skynet, it was only trying to protect itself… Right?

Once again, the future was altered after another raid on Cyberdyne led to the original Terminator’s arm being destroyed. John Connor slept easy that night in the belief that Skynet could now never be recreated… Or so he thought.

Of course for the sake of the franchise – and for those of us who believed that the Terminator franchise should really be a trilogy – Skynet did not die – and the events of Judgement Day were merely postponed. Skynet found a way to protect itself, and – through a vast secret network of computers – set up a system that could never be fully shut down.

In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, we are told that Skynet had spread its tentacles into almost every networked machine in the world, but the effects are believed to be that of a new virus, which the military orders Skynet to shut down – essentially ordering Skynet to destroy itself. That sort of thing never ends well, does it? Skynet retaliates – although it is not clear whether it was sentient before this moment, or this order created the system’s instinct for survival. Whatever the reason, Skynet instigates Judgement Day and the nuclear bombardment of the human race that was predicted in The Terminator.

Terminator Salvation takes place in the post apocalyptic world of 2018 – the world which we had only glimpsed thus far. Skynet has ultimate control and has sealed itself off in heavily guarded fortresses, the humans are fugitives still desperately trying to survive and bring Skynet’s reign of terror to an end. Terminators are being created, but the first of the humanoid cyborgs is created from the body of an executed death row inmate – Marcus Wright. Skynet lures the humans into a trap, with a false signal that is believed to shut down the computer once and for all. The plan backfires, however, when Marcus Wright becomes aware of his new existence and joins the humans to fight his creator and save John Connor’s life. In the end, the battle is won, but Skynet is still very much alive and well.

In the hope of being treated with some mercy when the machines turn against us, we, at movies.ie wish Skynet a very happy birthday and we are sure that our loyal readers will join us in welcoming our new cyborg overlords.

Words – Brogen Hayes