John Connor

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For other people named John Connor, see John Connor (disambiguation).
John Connor
Terminator character
John Connor T4.JPG
Christian Bale as John Connor in Terminator Salvation.
First appearance Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Created by James Cameron
Portrayed by Edward Furlong
(second film; tween)
Michael Edwards
(second film; adult)
Nick Stahl
(third film; teenager)
Thomas Dekker
(television series; teenager)
Christian Bale
(fourth film; adult)
Jason Clarke
(fifth film; adult)
Gideon Emery
(video game, voice)
Gender Male
Family Kyle Reese (father)
Sarah Connor (mother)
Spouse(s) Kate Brewster (T3 & TS timeline)

John Connor is a fictional character in the various universes depicted within 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, portrayed by teenage actor Edward Furlong, in its 1991 sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The character is subsequently portrayed by 23-year-old Nick Stahl in the 2003 film Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and by 19-year-old Thomas Dekker in the 2008 television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. English actor Christian Bale portrays 34-year-old Connor in the film series' fourth installment, Terminator Salvation and Jason Clarke portrays Connor in the film series' fifth installment, Terminator Genisys.[1][2]

Terminator film series[edit]

In the narrative of his fictional universe, John Connor is a messianic figure 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 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 The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Terminator 3 both continue from the ending of Terminator 2 but are depicted as taking place in alternate timelines.[3][4]

The Terminator[edit]

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

Terminator 2: Judgment Day[edit]

John makes his first true appearance in Terminator 2: Judgment Day which takes place in 1995, played by Edward Furlong. He was a 10-year-old juvenile delinquent living with foster parents while his mom was at a hospital for the mentally insane. One day, while in an arcade with a friend, the T-1000 and the Terminator T-800 (who looks exactly like the Terminator in the original film but has, in this film, been sent as a protector) fight over John. This starts a chase sequence where the T-800 and John try to lose the T-1000. Later that night, his mom breaks out and he and the Terminator (the T-800) go to save her. The three escape. John teaches The Terminator how to be like a human. He teaches him sayings like "hasta la vista, baby!" He forms an emotional bond with this 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. Also, John Connor is briefly seen as an adult, played by Michael Edwards, at the beginning of the film in a flash-forward. In this battle scene, his face is heavily scarred.

Alternate ending[edit]

The alternate ending for Terminator 2: Judgment Day depicts Sarah Connor alive and well on August 29, 2029. 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 still accepts that he still has a destiny to make a difference, which is what makes him decide to pursue his political career.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines[edit]

Four on-screen versions of John Connor (clockwise from top left): Edward Furlong, Nick Stahl, Christian Bale and Thomas Dekker.

In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which takes place in 2004, John Connor, portrayed by Nick Stahl, is now a young adult. John has been living off-the-grid after the events of T2, even as the original Judgment Day deadline of 4:20 on August 29, 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, which was sent from the future. Unlike its predecessors, the T-X's objective was to terminate his future 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-850 (Model 101) is also sent back in time to protect John, explaining that Judgment Day had only been delayed to 2004. The T-850 also states that it was not sent from the future by John, but by Katherine, who is his 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. Although John and Katherine spend much of the film trying to halt the launching of Skynet, they are misled to believe Skynet's core is in an underground 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. It is via the radios in this bunker that John begins to organize the resistance.

Terminator Salvation[edit]

In Terminator Salvation, which is set 14 years later in the year 2018, John Connor, portrayed by Christian Bale, is now an older, battle-experienced, resistance soldier married to Kate Brewster, who serves as a medic and is now pregnant with his child. The story features a new character named Marcus Wright, and a younger Kyle Reese. 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 Ashdown 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. Later on, towards the middle of the movie, 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 cyborg 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 the second Terminator movie. 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. John's ending statement is that though this battle has been won, the war is far from over.

Terminator Genisys[edit]

John Connor will be portrayed by Jason Clarke in the upcoming film, Terminator Genisys.

Superman crossover[edit]

With the success of T2, John Connor would appear in the non-canon Terminator/Man of Steel 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.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles[edit]

John Connor
The Sarah Connor Chronicles character
First appearance "Pilot"
(episode 1.01)
Last appearance "Born to Run"
(episode 2.22)
Created by James Cameron
Josh Friedman
Portrayed by Thomas Dekker
Aliases John Reese
John Baum
Gender Male
Occupation High school student
Family Kyle Reese
Sarah Connor
Derek Reese
(paternal uncle)

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 15 years old at the beginning of the show, turning sixteen in the season one finale. As the series progresses, John struggles with his feelings for Cameron, who is a Terminator.

Casting and production background[edit]

Dekker was cast after Headey secured the role of Sarah Connor.[5] 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".[6] Dekker describes 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 before Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.[3] It branches off from the shared back story of Terminator 2, and according to consulting producer James Middleton "is [a new] version of T3."[7]


At the beginning of the series in 1999, John and Sarah try to settle down to normal lives after the events of T2, but they are in fear of being captured for blowing up Cyberdyne during the events of the second film. 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 "Uncle Bob" T-800 by virtue of her size/gender, with some degree of sexual tension. He also develops a relationship with Riley, 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.


  1. ^ "Christian Bale: American Psycho". IMDB News. Retrieved 2008-07-21. I was born in Wales but I'm not Welsh – I'm English 
  2. ^ Serpe, Gina (2 December 2007). "Bale Goes Batty For Terminator 4". Entertainment. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  3. ^ a b Goldman, Eric (2007-06-22). "Guiding the Sarah Connor Chronicles". Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Goldman, Eric (December 7, 2006). "Heroes Star Set to Play John Connor". Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  6. ^ Brokaw, Francine (August 2, 2007). "Inside The Sarah Connor Chronicles". Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  7. ^ Svetkey, Benjamin (2008-01-11). "Sarah Connor Chronicles". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-01-13. 

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