The Gifted is almost halfway through its first season, and things are looking good for FOX's latest X-Men TV series. While it's not receiving the same level of critical acclaim as Legion, The Gifted has definitely built up a solid fanbase who are thrilled to see more mutants on screen.
The Gifted follows a family after they discover their children are mutants and end up on the run from the Sentinel Services; a government organization dedicated to tracking down 'dangerous' mutants and bringing them in. The family is helped by the Mutant Underground, turning their personal story into a way to tell the larger story of the Mutants vs. Sentinels.
These Sentinels, however, are not the ones that fans might expect from the comics or other depictions of the universe on screen. Rather than enormous humanoid machines, these 'Sentinels' are a branch of the US government, and while they have some cool tech, they have nothing like the classic comic Sentinels... yet. With six episodes to go and a second season all but confirmed, are the original Sentinels going to be making an appearance in this world? Or is The Gifted going to keep things a little more realistic, for the moment?
The Sentinel Services of The Gifted are, in many ways, like any other TV-universe government agency. There are a lot of suits, policies, procedures, and mysteriously angry higher-ups. However, in The Gifted we get to see the agency from both sides, as Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer) actually worked for the government and dealt with prosecuting mutants brought in by Sentinel Services. He believed that the mutants convicted were legitimate threats to public safety, and that mutants who did not pose a threat would be left to live their lives. However, it soon becomes clear that Sentinel Services hunt down all mutants - including children who cannot control their powers.
To do this, the Sentinel Services has access to all the usual agency resources: firearms, transport, lawyers, money, satellites, etc. In addition, however, they also have some unique and impressive tech. Sentinel Services has developed collars that nullify a mutant's powers, so that when they are caught they can be put into a normal prison with no special requirements. They have also figured out how to weaponize a captured mutant, Pulse (Zach Roerig), and use him to neutralize all mutant abilities within a limited area. They also have robots that, while significantly smaller than the classic sentinels, can be sent into dangerous areas and are packing heat. It's likely that Sentinel Services has some other tech that hasn't yet been revealed, as well.
The Sentinels And The Wider X-Universe
In the broader X-Men Cinematic Universe, Sentinels have also appeared in X-Men: Days of Future Past, as well as in the Danger Room in both X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Apocalypse. In Days of Future Past, it was established that Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) was the one who created the Sentinels in the '70s, when he was given the go-ahead by the US Government for a Sentinel program after mutants were revealed to the world. In the original timeline, Mystique's (Jennifer Lawrence) blood was collected and analyzed, allowing Trask to update his designs to create Sentinels that adapt to mutant powers and attacks. This led to a dystopian future where the mutants were being wiped out; a future that Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) traveled through time to prevent. In the current timeline, Wolverine succeeded, and the Sentinel program was disbanded after Mystique saved the President, convincing the government that mutants are not all bad.
The appearances of the Sentinels in the Danger Room in X-Men: Apocalypse is the same as that of the Sentinels from the '70s, suggesting that these robotic mutant-hunters have not been re-developed since then. This means that there are no newer versions of the Sentinels in the present day, at least within the primary timeline of the X-Men universe.