In all Terminator movies John Connor's mother is Sarah Connor while his father is Kyle Reese.

Does anyone know why John uses his mother's surname "Connor" when his father's surname was "Reese"?

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    More importantly: if he knows that Skynet is out to kill him by looking for "John Connor", why hasn't he adopted a completely new identity? Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 0:03
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    John uses the surname Connor because John uses the surname Connor. Welcome to time paradoxes. Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 11:43
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    Security aside, adopting the last name of a father he only vaguely heard references to and never met, because he only knew his mother for a few days? I think adopting the mother who was alive and with him day-in, day-out seems more plausible. Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 15:43
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    Why would John use his fathers surname even if he knew it? Not everybody takes their husbands surname on marriage, and not all children take their fathers surname, I know plenty of people who kept their mothers maiden names or used double barrel names Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 17:57
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    @RANSARA009 If you feel comments on this question are inappropriate or obsolete for various reasons, feel free to flag them with the corresponding reason. @adimins does nothing of this sort.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 14:34

4 Answers 4


If you remember at the end of the first Terminator movie, Sarah Connor was recording tapes of everything that happened for John to listen to, and one of the important details was she told him he had to send Reese no questions asked-- which means he had no idea that Reese was his father at least until he could probably deduce from the tapes, even though it's never explicitly said.

I postulate that John grew up not knowing who his daddy is. And even if you find out when you're 20 what are you going to do change your last name?


Because John is a bastard child of a one-night stand that typically ends with the father dying at the hands of a killer android and the unwed mother raising him alone 9 months later. A child of that situation rarely gets the father's name, in movies or real life. A bastard being:

bastard [bas-terd]
1. a person born of unmarried parents; an illegitimate child.

Slightly insulting depending on the usage, but that's the meaning. In some laws, a bastard doesn't have the right to inherit property or the surname of the father.

John also sees his mother as strong, so would never drop her name from his. He also never met his father as a child, and wouldn't want the name of the man who "abandoned" him (child psychology).

Then you have the time travel aspect. Kyle told Sarah about John Connor, Sarah names him Connor, John grows up and saves Kyle as Connor, Kyle travels back in time and tells Sarah about John Connor. Rinse, Lather, Repeat. It's a predestination paradox.

Out of universe, the reason is simple. That was the plot twist. If John's name was Reese, it would ruin the surprise.

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    @RANSARA009 a bastard is person born outside of wedlock. Kyle and Sarah were not married. A bastard is also someone who doesn't have/know their father. Kyle died before John was born. A bastard is also an insult for a person of bad repute. John was a bastard when Skynet infected him in the last movie, and some of the TV series. But here, bastard means the first two.
    – cde
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 5:28
  • your answer is very good. i just want to know details in your answer did john connor mentioned any where?
    – user34693
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 6:39
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    There is also the little detail about Kyle not being allowed to know that he's John's father, in order to avoid messing with the future (except in Genisys, but we're yet to see how this revelation will affect the future events). Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 9:11
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    @cde "bastard" simply meant "a person born outside of wedlock", regardless whether they have/know their father, although the latter generally implies the former.
    – smci
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 20:12
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    @kylestrand spoilers. Genisys.
    – cde
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 22:19

That's how surnames and paternity work IRL

Let's take a look from the very practical side - a baby is born, is given a name and issued a birth certificate.

The mother isn't married, so there isn't an automatic assumption of paternity. In order to list someone as a father of the child, you need either a signed consent from the father, or a court decision establishing paternity. Kyle Reese cannot give consent, since he's dead. A court decision establishing paternity requires identifying the father - and that's not really possible in the case of a time traveller like Kyle Reese; legally, he doesn't exist; the only suggestion that he's actually called Kyle Reese is her own memories. You can't list someone as a father just because you want to and claim that it's true. You're simply not getting a court decision to establish paternity with an unidentified (possibly made up) person without hard evidence. Even more, you're definitely not getting a paternity judgement if you don't want to, and it's quite likely that Sarah does not.

So, from the legal perspective, John Connor's mother is Sarah Connor and the father is not listed. The only surname normally available is Connor.

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    You can name your child what you want, just leave the father section blank
    – user001
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 13:05
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    @user001 okay, yes, it seems to be dependant on the state - while in some places the surname must match the listed father or mother, in California (where the events of Terminator take place) the mother could give any surname she wants; she actually could name him John Terminator or anything else.
    – Peteris
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 13:23
  • @Peteris, [citation needed].
    – Kijewski
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 13:38
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    @Kay for what exactly? Here's the CA guidelines for paternity - courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-parentage.htm and the law mandating that Kyle Reese couldn't be on birth certificate in CA leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/… , and here's a state that would require him to be named Connor legis.la.gov/legis/Law.aspx?d=98398 "If the child is born outside of marriage, the surname of the child shall be the mother's maiden name". That CA law has no restrictions on baby last names, so it allows anything; other CA sources also agree on that.
    – Peteris
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 14:17

There are 3 easy reasons why Sarah would have named the child Connor and not Reese.

First, when being asked who the father was it is easier not mentioning that he was a solider from the future in a army led by your son, and generally keeping all information at a minimum.

Second, evil robots from the future are trying to kill Sarah's son by killing her, so she would know that would make any husband a potential target and if the robots found out who he was and that he was from the future they would realize they could achieve victory by simply not building a time machine in the first place.

Lastly, if Kyle Reese was a favored solider under John Reese, and John gives him a picture of his mom as soon as anyone hears about a time machine, everyone would figure out the plot.

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