Kyle Reese

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Kyle Reese
Terminator character
Kyle Reese.png
Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese in
The Terminator.
First appearanceThe Terminator (1984)
Last appearanceTerminator Genisys: Future War (2017)
Created byJames Cameron
Portrayed by
In-universe information
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[edit]

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 Model 101/T-800 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.


According to Terminator Genisys, Kyle Reese was born in 2004. He eventually becomes a 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[edit]

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 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 attempts to fight the Terminator but is overpowered, though he manages to wedge the last of his homemade pipe bombs into its chassis and set 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[edit]

Though gone, Sarah continues to love Reese and mourn his death. While she is having a nightmare about Judgment Day, Reese appears in a dream state version of her cell in Pescadero State Hospital and reminds her of the coming danger, and the need to protect their son (Edward Furlong). However, as Reese 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 Los Angeles, which ends Sarah's dreams. Though this scene was cut from the theatrical version, it was later restored for home video releases.

Reese is later mentioned by John himself, who admits to the Terminator protecting him from the T-1000 that despite Sarah's tough exterior, she still loves Reese and he often sees her crying for him. John expresses his own regret for never having the chance to meet Reese in person. The Terminator assures John that one day he will.

Terminator Salvation[edit]

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. Due to the original Terminator failing to kill Sarah and the T-1000 and the T-X failing to kill John in the past, Kyle has become Skynet's primary target in order to stop him from travelling back in time to protect Sarah in the first place. In the film, Kyle is already working with and protecting a child named Star (Jadagrace Berry) when the two later save Marcus from a T-600 attack in the ruins of Los Angeles.

After Skynet captures him outside of Los Angeles, Reese, upon escaping, later works with John and Marcus building a bomb to destroy Skynet's San Francisco command. The two also fight the first T-800 model, though John tricks him into leaving the facility without him. Marcus eventually defeats the T-800 by tearing its head off and escapes the base with John and Reese before they detonate the bombs, destroying the facility and taking thousands of unfinished T-800s with it, changing the future for the better. At the end of the film, Reese is promoted to resistance soldier and becomes part of John's inner circle consisting primarily of Kate Brewster, Blair Williams and Barnes.

Terminator Genisys[edit]

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, turning him into a T-3000 Terminator tasked with ensuring 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: Dark Fate[edit]

Director Tim Miller stated that Reese no longer exists in the altered timeline that is depicted in the 2019 film Terminator: Dark Fate.[1] In the film, a future soldier named Grace (portrayed by Mackenzie Davis) is sent to the past to protect Daniella Ramos – the future leader of the human resistance and her adoptive mother – from a new Terminator known as the Rev-9. Grace's protective role is similar to Reese's in the original film.[2] In Terminator: Dark Fate, Grace gives Daniella her future self's message, "There is no fate but what we make for ourselves", the same message that Reese gave to Sarah.[3]

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles[edit]

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)
In-universe information
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[edit]

The Terminator: Dawn of Fate[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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, but director James Cameron ultimately decided to cast him as the Terminator instead. According to Schwarzenegger, O. J. Simpson was one of the first choices to play the Terminator opposite Schwarzenegger's Reese.

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[4] and for playing the heroic role "unusually sensitive".[5]

Anton Yelchin's performance was also praised,[6] described as "spirited"[7] and being Salvation's "secret weapon".[8]

Jai Courtney, however, was universally considered miscast,[9][10] described as a "dull-witted meathead" compared to Biehn's "skinny, bright-eyed, and very sweet" Kyle.[11] Criticism was also made of Courtney's acting,[12] total lack of charisma[13] and over strong physique for an actor playing a character supposed to have grown up in a nuclear wasteland.[14]


  1. ^ Weintraub, Steve (October 29, 2019). "Tim Miller Talks Terminator: Dark Fate & Why Only One Terminator Comes Back from the Future". Collider. 3:04. Archived from the original on October 30, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  2. ^ Abbott, Harrison (October 23, 2019). "Exclusive Interview – Mackenzie Davis on Terminator: Dark Fate, her 'outrageous' body coordination and watching yourself in IMAX". Flickering Myth. Retrieved May 4, 2020. Much like Kyle Reese in the franchise progenitor, Grace is sent back from a desolate future in order to rescue a potential savior of mankind from the clutches of a cyborg assassin.
  3. ^ Shaw-Williams, Hannah (November 7, 2019). "Terminator: Dark Fate Easter Eggs & References You Missed". ScreenRant. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  4. ^ "'Review: Terminator Genisys'". Slant. July 1, 2015.
  5. ^ "'The Terminator'". Timeout. June 15, 2015.
  6. ^ "'Terminator Salvation'". TV Guide. June 15, 2015.
  7. ^ "'Terminator Salvation'". Digital Spy. June 30, 2009.
  8. ^ "'Terminator Salvation Review'". Empire Online. June 30, 2009.
  9. ^ "'Terminator: Genisys'". Austin Chronicle. July 3, 2015.
  10. ^ "'Review: In 'Terminator Genisys,' Ageless Cyborgs and a Deathless Franchise'". New York Times. June 30, 2015.
  11. ^ "'Terminator Genisys Is Overcomplex and Uninspired, But the Franchise Will Be Back'". Vulture. July 2, 2015.
  12. ^ "'TERMINATOR GENISYS review'". Alternative Lens. July 2, 2015.
  13. ^ "'Terminator Genisys (2015) Movie Review'". Hollywood Outsider. July 3, 2015.
  14. ^ "'Terminator: Genisys' absolutely will not stop, even when it probably should". Cnet. July 1, 2015.