John Connor

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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 (1991)
Last appearanceTerminator: Resistance (2019)
Created byJames Cameron
Portrayed by
Voiced by
In-universe information
Man-machine hybrid (Terminator Genisys)
OccupationLeader of the Resistance
FamilyKyle Reese (father)
Sarah Connor (mother)
SpouseKate Brewster (T3 & Terminator Salvation)
Tara Holden (comics)
ChildrenUnborn child (Terminator Salvation)
Sarah Connor (Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle comics)
Kyla Connor (Terminator Dreams novel)
Daughter (T2 alternate ending)

John Connor is a fictional character and the 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). In the character's first appearance, John is portrayed by Edward Furlong as a child, and briefly by Michael Edwards as an adult in a small role. Other actors have portrayed the character in subsequent films, including Nick Stahl, Christian Bale, and Jason Clarke. In addition, Thomas Dekker portrayed John Connor in the television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Terminator film series[edit]

In the fictional universe's narrative, 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 the rogue military AI Skynet, following a cybernetic revolt doomsday event known as Judgment Day. When his mother Sarah Connor was the target of a time travelling Terminator unit (Model 101) in the first film, John sent resistance fighter Kyle Reese to protect Sarah, knowing Kyle and Sarah would later conceive 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 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 the first film. Terminator: Dark Fate also ignores the films that came after the second film.

The Terminator[edit]

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 the latter will be his mother, but John does not make a physical appearance. At the film's end, Sarah is shown to be pregnant with John.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day[edit]

John Connor is played by Edward Furlong in his first appearance in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (a sequel to the first film). He is a 10-year-old juvenile delinquent living with foster parents (Jenette Goldstein and Xander Berkeley) while Sarah Connor (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. While in an arcade with a friend, the Model 101 (Schwarzenegger) - a reprogrammed android sent by John's future self - and the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) 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, Sarah breaks out and he and the Model 101 go to save Sarah, and the three escape. John teaches the Model 101 how to be like a human; teaching sayings like "hasta la vista, baby!." He forms an emotional bond with the Terminator, coming to regard as a father figure, and does not want the Terminator to destroy himself at the film's end, despite the Terminator's warning that allowing to continue existing creates the risk to recreate Skynet at some future date. John is briefly seen at the film's beginning in a flash-forward as an adult played by Michael Edwards while Dalton Abbot (Linda Hamilton's real-life son) also played the character as a toddler in a dream sequence. An alternate ending takes place in 2027, in which John is a U.S. senator and father to a daughter in a world where Skynet was never able to start its war on humanity.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines[edit]

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

John Connor is portrayed by Nick Stahl in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (set 10 years after the second film). Now a young adult, John has been living off-the-grid after the second film's events, 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 predecessors, the T-X's objective was to terminate his future Resistance officers as secondary targets because John's location was unknown. When the T-X encounters John, the T-X changes priority to focus entirely on him and Kate. A protector T-101 (Schwarzenegger), 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 being sent from the future by Kate, John's future wife and second-in-command - John had actually been killed by that very Terminator on July 4, 2032, as Skynet believed to be the most suitable for such a mission due to John's emotional attachment to said model. John and Kate intend to halt Skynet's launching. The two 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[edit]

John Connor is portrayed by Christian Bale in Terminator Salvation (which is set in 2018). Now an older, battle-experienced Resistance soldier, he is 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 also features new character Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), and the teenage 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, considering Connor as 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 Resistance's majority 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. Towards the middle of the film, John learns that Kyle 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 Resistance's current leaders- and sets out to rescue Kyle, with Marcus leading him to the base. Upon arrival, John faces off with a T-800 crafted in the unit's image 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 scenes of Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Marcus helps him destroy the T-800 but John's heart is too badly damaged due to injury and Marcus offers his own to John. In addition, after the Resistance Command is caught into Skynet's trap, John's Tech-Com unit takes over the authority with no opposition. John's ending statement is that though this battle has been won, the war is far from over.

Terminator Genisys[edit]

John Connor is portrayed by Jason Clarke in Terminator Genisys (which alters the last three films' events). Following a confrontation with a T-5000 (Matt Smith) on the war's seemingly final day just as Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is being sent back to save Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), John is forcibly transformed into the T-3000 cyborg as a result of a Skynet program to use nanites to convert living flesh into machine matter. Although all other recorded test subjects for this process were left irreversibly insane and then died during the transformation, John came through the process reasonably intact, albeit now a sociopath dedicated to ensuring Skynet's rise at humanity's cost. 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. He travels back in time to 2014 and joins Cyberdyne Systems to help create a new version of Skynet, working with Miles Dyson and Danny Dyson to perfect development of the new Genisys system, turning Skynet into a massive digital network rather than a single computer system. 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 – 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 the character 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.

Terminator: Dark Fate[edit]

John Connor appears in Terminator: Dark Fate, an alternate sequel to Judgment Day. In the opening scene, set three years after the events of Judgment Day, it is revealed that Skynet was indeed erased from existence with Cyberdyne's destruction, but John and Sarah are found in Guatemala by a T-800 that was sent by Skynet to kill him before its erasure. John is caught by surprise and shot dead by the T-800, which leaves shortly thereafter. In the following years, with its mission fulfilled, the same T-800 develops a form of conscience and atones for John's death by sending Sarah encrypted messages revealing the location of Skynet's remaining Terminators, allowing her to track down and destroy them so that their technology will not be used to rebuild Skynet, and ultimately sacrifices itself to destroy the Rev-9, a new Terminator built by Skynet's successor, Legion.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles[edit]

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)
In-universe information
AliasesJohn 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. He is only fifteen years old at the beginning of the show, turning sixteen in the season one finale, and seventeen throughout season two. As the series progresses, John struggles with his feelings for the Terminator Cameron. John De Vito plays a young John Connor in two episodes "Queen's Gambit" and "To the Lighthouse".

Casting and production background[edit]

Dekker was cast after Lena Headey secured the role of Sarah Connor.[3] 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".[4] Dekker described his character as "a continuation of Eddie Furlong's character" but "he's in a darker, more mature place now".[citation needed]

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."[5]


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[edit]

Terminator Salvation[edit]

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

Terminator: Resistance[edit]

John Connor appears in the video game Terminator: Resistance, which is set during the original future war depicted in the first two Terminator films. He is voiced by Eric Meyers and serves as the player character, Jacob Rivers's commanding officer within the Tech-Com Resistance group. John makes a physical appearance towards the endgame where he briefs and debriefs Jacob during the final assault on Skynet's base.


T2-3D: Battle Across Time[edit]

Furlong reprised 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[edit]

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.


Furlong won an MTV Movie Award and a Saturn Award for his performance in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, while Bale was nominated for a Teen Choice Award for his performance in Terminator Salvation.[citation needed]

The decision to kill John off in the opening scene of Dark Fate was met with an overwhelmingly negative reaction.[6][7]

Fred Hawson of ABS-CBN News wrote: "By deciding to lose John Connor early on in this one made the emotional heart of the first two classic Terminator films stop beating as well."[8] Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times argued that killing John Connor ruined what the previous two films established: "Even though Dark Fate tosses aside the third, fourth and fifth entries in the series like a Terminator disposing of a hapless cop, it also undercuts the impact of the first film and the follow-up (which is one of the two or three greatest sequels of all time). First, they get rid of the John Connor character in almost casual fashion."[9] He also stated: "This three-quel, if you will, is so derivative of Judgment Day, they should have asked us to forget about that movie as well if they wanted us to believe it has anything fresh or original to add to the franchise."[9]

Corey Plante of Inverse, who was critical of Furlong's portrayal of the character in Terminator 2, ironically found his character's death off-putting: "The character at the focus of every previous Terminator movie — the same young boy I irrationally hated since I was a young boy myself — was dead. Needless to say, it rattled me."[10] He also found that replacing him with new heroes undermined the Connors' importance established in the previous films: "The future that made [Sarah Connor] important died with John, and now there's a new Terminator story with a new set of heroes that makes it seem like no matter how many times Skynet or its next iteration sends a murder robot back in time to kill someone, there will always be a new hero waiting to rise up."[10] Robert Yaniz Jr. of CheatSheet described the twist as unthinkable: "In an instant, the entire crux of the franchise — the human resistance led by John — is torn away."[11] Di Placido put the killing of John Connor at the top of his list of things wrong with Dark Fate and predicted that the film would fail at the box office because of it: "Those first five minutes completely disregard the only sequel that fans love – Terminator 2. What was the point of all that struggle, all of Sarah's desperate attempts to keep herself, and her son, alive? John Connor might be dead weight at this point, narratively speaking, but he was our main connection to the original films, and his death renders both of those movies pointless."[12]

Matt Goldberg of Collider felt the opening did irreparable damage to the legacy of Terminator 2 by rendering it pointless: "Every sequel since has diminished the ending of Judgment Day because the story 'needs' to continue (because studios like money and can't leave well enough alone). But Terminator: Dark Fate may be the worst offender thus far as its prologue directly follows T2 and goes for shock value rather than considering what it means to continue the narrative."[13] Richard Trenholm of CNET felt the opening twist summed up everything wrong with Dark Fate: "The joy [of seeing the de-aged characters] instantly becomes cringeworthy, as this prologue undermines Terminator 2 by killing a major character in such a cursory fashion it just feels silly."[14]

Ian Sandwell of Digital Spy suggested that the twist was not particularly important given that in the other films John Connor only exists to "motivate the other characters and sets the plot in motion", and that John's role as a future leader had already been rendered moot through the elimination of Skynet.[6]

About the controversial scene, Furlong also responded negatively, and expressed his hope of one day reprising the role for an entire future film.[15]


  1. ^ a b Goldman, Eric (22 June 2007). "Guiding the Sarah Connor Chronicles". Pythian Remote DBA. Archived from the original on 27 October 2007. Retrieved 22 June 2007.
  2. ^ "Sarah Connor Chronicles To Create New T Timeline". Terminator Chronicles. Archived from the original on 27 October 2007. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  3. ^ Goldman, Eric (December 7, 2006). "Heroes Star Set to Play John Connor". Pythian Remote DBA. Archived from the original on 15 September 2007. Retrieved 3 August 2007.
  4. ^ Brokaw, Francine (August 2, 2007). "Inside The Sarah Connor Chronicles". MovieWeb, Inc. Archived from the original on August 25, 2007. Retrieved 5 August 2007.
  5. ^ Svetkey, Benjamin (11 January 2008). "Sarah Connor Chronicles". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Archived from the original on 17 October 2008. Retrieved 13 January 2008.
  6. ^ a b Sandwell, Ian (October 29, 2019). "Terminator: Dark Fate anger over *that* character is missing the point". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on October 30, 2019. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  7. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (October 30, 2019). "Terminator: Dark Fate is as good as the first two films — because it ignores what happened in the last three". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 31, 2019. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  8. ^ Hawson, Fred. "Movie review: Terminator: Dark Fate has failed the franchise". ABS-CBN News. Archived from the original on October 31, 2019. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Roeper, Richard (October 30, 2019). "Too much deja vu makes Terminator: Dark Fate a boring retread". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on October 31, 2019. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  10. ^ a b Plante, Corey (October 31, 2019). "Terminator: Dark Fate boldly retcons the most cringeworthy part of T2". Archived from the original on November 1, 2019. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  11. ^ Yaniz, Robert, Jr. (November 3, 2019). "Terminator: Dark Fate: Where Does the Ending Leave the Franchise?". Archived from the original on November 3, 2019. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  12. ^ Di Placido, Dani (November 2, 2019). "Where Did Terminator: Dark Fate Go Wrong?". Forbes. Archived from the original on November 3, 2019. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  13. ^ "How Terminator: Dark Fate Damages the Legacy of Terminator 2". November 4, 2019. Archived from the original on November 5, 2019. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  14. ^ Trenholm, Richard (November 1, 2019). "Terminator: Dark Fate review – Linda and Arnie are back, but it's no T2". Archived from the original on November 2, 2019. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
  15. ^ Chichizola, Corey (November 27, 2019). "Why Terminator's Edward Furlong Was 'Bummed Out' About His Dark Fate Role". CinemaBlend. Archived from the original on December 9, 2019. Retrieved December 18, 2019.