Terminator’s Huge Programming Weakness Undermines Skynet’s Superiority

When Terminator’s Skynet took control of nuclear weapons around the world, it gave humanity a swift and catastrophic lesson in global superiority by firmly placing itself at the top. Unfortunately, it seems to be the Terminators themselves that are effectively undermining that established superiority–specifically, the Terminators’ huge weakness in its programming.


The human resistance of the future has used reprogrammed Terminators in a number of its time-sliding missions to protect its leader, John Connor. The first T-800 reprogrammed by the resistance was introduced in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and that android’s success led to another being sent back in time to protect John Connor and his future wife Katherine Brewster in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. The movies brush off exactly how the Terminators get reprogrammed, leaving audiences to assume it’s some complex feat of computerized mechanics. But, as it turns out, reprogramming a Terminator is as easy as swinging a hammer.

Terminators’ Programming Flips Objectives After Experiencing Head Trauma

terminator damage reprogrammed

In Terminator 3: Before The Rise #5-6 by Miles Gunter and Kieron Dwyer, readers are introduced to yet another Terminator who was sent back in time to kill John Connor, except the Terminator didn’t know that. When the comic began, the Terminator found itself in a house fire with a spike through its head as it was being attacked by a SWAT team. All the Terminator knew was that it needed to find John Connor, and it killed every SWAT team member to do so. When it did finally find him, it told John that he was sent back in time to protect him. However, John was then accosted by another Terminator, who attacked the first one before grabbing John and running away with him, saying that it had been sent back in time to protect him. The confusion as to which Terminator was really there to protect/kill John was cleared up in issue #6, when it was revealed that the injury the first Terminator suffered to the head flipped his programmed objectives, making it think that it had to protect John Connor, not kill him as it was sent back in time by Skynet to do.

terminator protect john

This weakness is absolutely absurd for a number of reasons. Firstly, Skynet never wants its Terminators to protect humans under any circumstances, so the fact that a Terminator’s objective can go from ‘terminate’ to ‘protect’ doesn’t make any sense. Secondly, these Terminators are battle androids, they’re supposed to be able to take heavy fire and keep going, meaning more than a few of them are going to experience head damage. This issue implies that all a person has to do is hammer a spike into a Terminator’s head, and they’ll completely change their focus from trying to murder someone, to trying to protect them, which is a weakness that makes Skynet’s seemingly unstoppable ground forces utterly laughable.

It’d be one thing if the Terminator’s programming was simply damaged by the head trauma, leaving it confused and effectively worthless in terms of its assigned mission, but to have it actually flip mission objectives completely when this happens gives the impression that Skynet actually isn’t that smart after all. Also, if this is true for all Terminators, it’s no wonder the human resistance is able to send its own Terminators back in time, it seems all they have to do is stab one in the head, and it’ll become loyal to humanity’s cause. No matter how one looks at it, this is a pretty significant weakness for Terminators, and it totally undermines Skynet’s superiority.

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