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John Connor is a fictional character appearing in the American science fiction 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 2007 television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Thirty-five-year-old English actor Christian Bale portrays Connor in the film series' fourth instalment, 2009's Terminator Salvation.
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 the rogue military supercomputer, Skynet following Judgement 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 Judgement 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.
In this film, set in 1984, a T-800 (Model 101) Terminator is sent back in time to 1:52 am on May 12, 1984 by Skynet from a post-apocalyptic 2029. The Terminator's mission is to kill Sarah Connor before she can give birth to John Connor, the leader of the human resistance in the future war. John Connor of the future sends a soldier, Kyle Reese, to 2:01 am on the same day to protect Sarah, knowing that Reese is his father and that he and Sarah will conceive during the mission.
Sarah and Reese fall in love and have one night to spend together. Reese is later killed during his attempt to obliterate the Terminator, but Sarah Connor manages to destroy the machine in a hydraulic press. The film ends with a pregnant Sarah, hiding in Mexico to ensure she will not be arrested for the destruction caused during the adventure and that John will be born in safety. Reese relays a message to Sarah from John saying: "Thank you, Sarah, for your courage through the dark years. I can't help you with what you must soon face, except to say that the future is not set. You must be stronger than you imagine you can be. You must survive, or I will never exist."
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