So I'm watching The Terminator today and it occurs to me that, for a focused killing machine bent on making one change to the timeline, the Terminator does an awful lot of stuff which is going to reverberate into the future. I mean, think about the butterfly effect for a second, a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon and this leads to a change in the weather big enough to result in a hurricane blowing up the Gulf Coast.

If you haven't seen the movies, let me catch you up. Future world-dominating supercomputer Skynet sends the a human-looking robot killing machine, the Terminator, back into the past with the mission of killing this one person, Sarah Connor, before she can bear the son who will one day lead the few remaining humans against Skynet. But the obsessive-compulsive cyborg surely wreaks a lot more havoc than just killing one person. Before I get into that, an observation: if it is possible to change the future by changing the past, how would Skynet know that killing Sarah Connor doesn't change the future in a way that keeps Skynet from going online? Seems like Skynet has it pretty good, but for some pesky humans that it could maybe invent a way around, so why take chances?

But back to the real point, the Terminator fails to kill Sarah Connor, but what it doesn't fail to do (and this is just in the first movie) is to kill two other Sarah Connors, and a whole bunch of policemen (seventeen, according to Wikipedia). Not to mention blowing up a whole bunch of stuff. The second and third movies (and to a lesser degree the TV series) have continued examples of people not targeted by Skynet getting killed, every one of which should have some impact on the future course of the Universe. Also, more stuff keeps gettin' blowed up real good. That has to hurt. The course of the future, I mean. Doesn't every little thing the Terminator does have some impact on the future? Don't those cops have families? Kids? Won't some of them fail to reproduce due to their untimely deaths? And how about those other two Sarah Connors?

Naturally, it could be argued that this is one of those Twelve Monkeys kind of timeline things where you can't change the future at all, where whatever you do is whatever already happened to lead to the future that was going to happen anyway. But if that was the case, why bother sending a robot back in time to change the past? It seems like you would have to know in advance everything that the robot would do to have it done, but then again it seems like everything would turn out exactly as it did whether you had done anything about it or not. Which means sending the Terminator back in time is a waste of resources.

Or maybe.... just maybe.... killing Sarah Connor is just a smokescreen to fool the people trying to protect her, and the Terminator's real objective was to kill those other two Sarah Connors, those seventeen policemen, and to blow up all that stuff just to bring about the future that Skynet desired. In which case, clever, Skynet, very clever.

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