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"The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it."
A trilogy of sci-fi action movies starring Keanu Reeves as The Hero, Laurence Fishburne as his mentor, Carrie-Anne Moss as his Action Girl Love Interest, and Hugo Weaving as the Big Bad. The first film introduced the radical visual effect of Bullet Time, and is easily one of the most influential and oft-copied sci-fi films since Star Wars.
The first film – The Matrix – begins in what appears to be the Present Day, but protagonist Neo discovers (along with the audience) that this world is an illusion created by sentient machines which Turned Against Their Masters and took over the world. This world is The Matrix – a virtual world that humans are plugged into so that the machines can use their bio-electricity as power to fuel themselves while keeping humans complacent. (It was meant to be a giant neural computer network, but the studio intervened.)
Neo is led to Morpheus, who teaches Neo the truth and recruits him to join the resistance movement against the machines happening both in the real world and in the Matrix itself. Because these "free minds" know that The Matrix is a false reality, they are no longer bound by inconvenient rules such as gravity while "jacked in". (There is one rule they cannot escape, however: if someone dies in the Matrix, their brain dies in the real world.) Their only opposing force are the Agents—programs who are able to bend the rules of the Matrix themselves—and their leader, Agent Smith. Neo eventually finds his place as a foretold hero and sets out to free mankind from The Matrix and win back the world, defeating Smith in the process of this self-discovery.
The second film – The Matrix Reloaded – delves into the history of the Matrix itself. The war between machines and the human resistance is heating up, and the heroes are searching for a series of wayward programs that can lead them to the source code of the Matrix and stop them forever. As Neo learns the true history of the Matrix, he starts to doubt himself and the plan. It is made even more complicated when Agent Smith returns as an anomaly working on his own terms and with new, very much virus-like, abilities. Reloaded is an action movie, to a much greater degree than the first film, which only really got busy in the third act. Reloaded also has much more of an epic feel to it, as well; the budget was a lot larger than for the first film, and there are a lot more characters and locations on the screen.
The third film – The Matrix Revolutions – follows up directly from the previous film (as it was filmed simultaneously with Reloaded) and depicts everything going to hell as the machines reach Zion, humanity's real-world stronghold. While Zion is under assault, Neo sets into motion a plan to confront Agent Smith and end the war altogether. This is generally considered to be the weakest of the three films, although it does still contain some worthwhile elements.
In August 2019, Warner Bros. announced that Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Lana Wachowski were making The Matrix Resurrections, which will be released by December 2021.
The first movie was quite popular; it has proven to be one of those works of fiction that heavily influences nearly everything in its wake, (for starters, the influx of superhero movies and symbolism-heavy Mind Screws like Lost) and to this day is considered one of the earliest elements of the "Truth Movement," albeit as fictional allegory. The first film was added to the National Film Registry in 2012. The second and third films are generally considered victims of Sequelitis. The source material of the second two films is The Animatrix, which is often considered to be stylistically "based on" the first film rather than genuinely from the same universe as such.
That being said: in hindsight, the trilogy holds together much better as a whole when watched in one go, as a four-year gap existed between the theatrical release of the first and second films. It's also a good idea to have The Animatrix on hand, and watch it between the first film and Reloaded, as it can clear up a lot of potential confusion about the storyline.
- Three video games: Enter the Matrix, The Matrix: Path of Neo, and the defunct The Matrix Online MMORPG. These generally aren't detached from the main series to the degree that is normal for spinoffs. Enter the Matrix was produced on set simultaneously with Reloaded, and includes work from some of the actors, and The Matrix Online was a very intimate form of canon, as well; at least at first.
- A graphic novel anthology of short stories
- The Animatrix, which is an anthology of nine short animated films from several celebrated anime directors. Included in this anthology is the The Second Renaissance, a two-parter that explains the backstory of the human/machine war that laid the foundation for the creation of the Matrix.
- Action Girl: Pretty much any female character of note, Trinity's opening sequence is one of the most iconic action girl moments in cinema.
- Action Survivor: Neo. He grew out of it.
- Advantage Ball: Justified. At first, the agents are pretty much unstoppable, due both to their superior programming and the terror the other side has for them. But after Neo's awakening as The One, he can dispatch them with ease (and his team can at least hold their ground).
- Aesoptinum: Neo gets a visit to the machines that keep Zion alive in Reloaded, suggesting that the machines and humans might need each other more than they think.
- After the End - The movie is set after a war that blasted the land and the sky and destroyed human civilization.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot
- All Love Is Unrequited: Cypher's love for Trinity.
- All There in the Manual: Plot elements and parts of the backstory are explained in The Animatrix and Enter the Matrix, which was promoted in their advertising.
- Alternate DVD Commentary: Played with in the "Ultimate Matrix Collection" DVD set; instead of providing DVD commentaries of their own, the Wachowskis instead enlisted two philosophers who enjoyed the films and three film critics who hated the films, and let them create two different commentary tracks for all three films in the series (in the companion book for the set, the Wachowskis admitted that, had they the time and space, they would have had commentary tracks for philosophers who disliked the film and critics who loved them). This was done in an attempt to offer juxtaposing points of view with which the viewer "might triangulate their own position" on the films.
- Always Night: ...in the real world because of the artificial clouds created to starve the machines of solar power.
Morpheus: [...] but we know that it was us that scorched the sky.
- Ancient Conspiracy: The Matrix itself; not even the rebels know how ancient it is.
- Ancient Grome: The Oracle has a reference to the Oracle of Delphi (Greek) over her door, but it's written in Latin.
- Arc Words: There is no spoon.
- Arms and Armor Theme Naming: The crew aboard the Mjolnir all have names that have to do with guns: Roland, Maggie, AK, Colt, and Mauser. Mjolnir itself, of course, is named after the weapon of Thor from Norse Mythology.
- Art Major Biology: The whole "using humans as a power source" idea. In reality, it would be an enormously terrible idea to use ANY living thing as a power source, for a variety of reasons, listed below. Rumor has it that the original idea was to have the humans being used as processors in an immense computing array, but somebody thought that this idea was too complex for most moviegoers to grasp.
- Humans (as well as all other living things) do not PRODUCE energy, and in fact need to CONSUME it in the form of food/nutrients to survive. The machines would have to spend a butt-load more energy just keeping the humans alive than they would ever get out.
- Also, living things have actually evolved to be as energy-efficient as possible, meaning that they actually minimize the amount of energy they lose through heat and other forms of energy loss. So, even if you did try to use humans as batteries, you'd get pitifully little.
- Astral Checkerboard Decor: When Neo goes to meet Morpheus (and first enters "the Real World.") The movie is pretty blatant with the Alice in Wonderland refs in that scene.
- Attack Drone: The Sentinels that patrol the real world and pursue rebel ships.
- Author Appeal: One of the Wachowskis employed a full-time dominatrix. Suddenly Trinity's costumes make far more sense. Given the fact that Andy and Larry Wachowski are now Lilly and Lana Wachowski, which appear to have been confirmed as of December 2009 by photos posted by Arianna Huffington, Switch's name and the early draft in which she was male in the real world and female in the Matrix makes much more sense. They also confirmed that the film is a transgender allegory in 2020.
- Badass Crew: Of the Nebuchadnezzar.
- Badass Longcoat: The film is definitely a Trope Codifier.
- Balance Between Good and Evil: Engineered by The Oracle in hopes of ending the human-machine war (but more pragmatically, giving the humans an outlet for their aggression.)
- Bald Black Leader Guy: Morpheus.
- Barrier-Busting Blow: When the heroes are trying to escape the Agents by climbing between the walls, Smith punches through the wall and grabs Neo.
- Beard of Evil: Cypher
- Before the Dark Times: Pre-War Earth, at least for the humans. For the machines, it was a time of slavery and oppression from the decadent humans.
- Better Than New: After he gets killed by Agent Smith, Neo becomes The One and gets much more powerful than before because of being beaten by Big Bad which was prophesied earlier, in passing, by The Oracle when she remarked "...it looks like you're waiting for something ... your next life, maybe".
- Big Bad: Agent Smith.
- Big Damn Heroes: Neo using More Dakka from a helicopter to rescue Morpheus.
- Big No:
- Dozer, before being killed by Cypher.
- Agent Smith, after Neo dives into his body and before he explodes.
- Blind Seer: Invoked when Neo visits the Oracle. When he and Morpheus get out of the car, the next scene shows a blind old man with a stereotypical wise-man beard sitting on a bench and holding a cane. The obvious conclusion is that this man is the oracle. But he's just a guy sitting on a bench.
- Blood From the Mouth: Signifies that a plugged-in human has been badly injured or killed inside the Matrix.
- Body Horror: Immediately following Agent Smith's interrogation of Neo, he "bugs" Neo by planting a giant insectoid robot inside his belly button while Neo's mouth is sealed shut.
- Bottomless Magazines: Averted. Neo and Smith get into a shootout in the subway and wind up with their guns at each others' head, only to discover that they're both out of rounds. Neo and Trinity also run out of ammunition and discard their empty weapons during the security checkpoint battle. Of course, they brought "lots of guns", and don't mind taking their opponents'.
- Brain-Computer Interface: The Matrix jacks for the pod-grown people.
- Brick Joke / Continuity Nod: Mouse goes on a spiel about Tastee Wheat. In Revolutions, in the course of chasing the Trainman through the subway system, the parties involved pass a rather large wall advertisement for Tastee Wheat.
- Choi makes a brief comment about mescaline to Neo, saying "It's the only way to fly!" The last shot of the movie shows Neo getting up and flying for the first time.
- Bring It: The hand gesture Neo and Morpheus are fond of using to their opponents; it's also a Shout-Out to Bruce Lee.
- Broken Masquerade: The world is not real.
- Bullet Time: The Trope Codifier.
- Came Back Strong: Neo only gets to fully awaken his spoon-bending powers after being killed by Agent Smith.
- The Can Kicked Him: Morpheus fights Agent Smith in a dilapidated bathroom. His bald dome is sent hurtling onto a toilet bowl, shattering it.
- Car Fu: The Agents use a garbage truck to smash a phone booth while Trinity tries to dial out from it in the first film.
- Catapult Nightmare: When Neo wakes up after the Agents implant the Tracking Device in him, and possibly after he learns the truth about the Matrix.
- Cat Scare: With an actual cat.
- Chained to a Railway: Sort of; Smith puts Neo in a wrestling hold and makes him watch an oncoming subway train.
- The Chooser of the One: The Oracle can tell who is or isn't the One.
- The Chosen One: Everyone is absolutely confident and sure that Neo is The One, except him, who considers himself incompetent. He doesn't really become the One until he chooses to, making him a self-choosing Chosen One.
- City Noir: While the Matrix strives to keep humans settled in a somnolence late-nineties metropolis, both the less-savory parts of the Matrix and the Machine City are more like this.
- Chase Scene: Once per film.
- The Chosen One: The plot of the film.
- Click. "Hello.": A number of times, the most memorable of which overlaps with Dodge This.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Averted. The original script had characters spewing much more direct exposition and way, way more swearing. Admittedly, some of it would have been better ("Dodge this, motherfucker."), but this may be one of the few acceptable Bowdlerizations in modern history.
- The constant use of "shit" as a replacement of "fuck" makes it seem somewhat odd at times though. "What the shit!? That guy stole my phone!" The phrase "what the shit" has since entered the youth vernacular as a common, often comical alternative. This makes Joker's mad hobble-dash through the Normandy even more awesome.
- Color Coded for Your Convenience: Done with set lighting throughout the series. Scenes set in The Matrix are tinted green. The real world (aboardship, particularly) is blue.
- It should be noted that the Matrix is very faintly green-tinted because it is made out of tiny, tiny numbers and letters colored bright green, which are translated into 'digital rain' for everyone viewing the code outside the Matrix.
- Color Wash: Like mentioned directly above, scenes set in the Matrix are tinted green and scenes set in the real world are tinted blue.
- Confiscated Phone: Neo steals a guy's cell phone, the guy complains, whereupon Agent Smith steals the guy's body.
- Continuity Lock Out: Like woah. See also All There in the Manual.
- Conversation Casualty: Near the end, Cypher is brought back from the Matrix, talks with Tank, and shoots him.
- Cool Shades: Custom-made ones at that. Special mention goes to Morpheus' silver, frame-less shades and Smith's oddly geometric ones.
- Cool Ship: The Nebuchadnezzar.
- Crap Saccharine World: The Matrix, of course, relative to the dystopian real world. This relativity does need to be stressed, as on its own merits it's pretty crapsack because attempts to build a utopia for the imprisoned humans failed. Some A Is believed that this was due to humans being unable to accept a perfect world as reality and would only believe in a world where people have to suffer.
- Crapsack World: The Real World, where the sun is permanently obscured by flying nanomachines, the cities are in ruins and nothing organic can live on the surface anymore
- Creepy Twins: A subtle occurrence is in the Agent Training program where all the extras are twins. Word of God is that Mouse wrote the program and after making half the crowd became lazy and copied them.
- Cryptic Conversation: The movies are riddled with this. Anything Morpheus, The Oracle or The Architect says will be almost unassailably mysterious and vague.
- Cut Phone Lines: While cellphones are plentiful, the main characters need a virtual hard line to escape. As such, the baddies were destroying the phones as necessary.
- Cut the Juice: The backstory to the entire trilogy. The rebellious machines were solar-powered, so humans decided to blacken the entire sky to shut them off. It worked horribly right, so the Machines were forces to switch to Human Resources.
- Another example in The Matrix Reloaded: In order to bypass security measures at the door to The Source, the group decides to shut off the power. By blowing up an entire nuclear powerplant. Even then, there is a contingency system which has to be shut off simultaneously from an entirely different place.
- Cyberpunk: The films share a Cyberpunk sense of style as well as the core themes of technology as a tool of control.
- Cyberpunk Is Techno: Almost the entire soundtrack to everything in the franchise. That said, the score for the film is still pretty awesome.
- Cyberspace: The visualizations of cyberspace in the film has been influential:
- A fully immersive environment, mostly indistinguishable from reality apart from telling glitches and purposeful breaks from usual physics—reality hacking by characters.
- Matrix Raining Code—the other extreme: cyberspace as a flow of pure symbols.
- Mixes of the two: Neo's code-o-vision.
- Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: Neo's eyes hurt when used for the first time.
- Death-Activated Superpower: How Neo becomes The One.
- Deja Vu: whoa. A Glitch in the Matrix is responsible for what humans perceive as deja vu. See also Cat Scare.
- Designer Babies: Humans in the Matrix are essentially this.
- Despair Event Horizon: Immediately after Neo dies, the sentinels start cutting into the interior of the Nebuchadnezzar. And the look of utter hopelessness on the faces of Morpheus and Tank tell us that they don't even care. Trinity, however, brings him back with The Power of Love.
- Dieselpunk: Much of the rebels' aesthetic inside and out of the Matrix.
- Distracted by the Sexy: The Woman in the Red Dress.
- Disney Death: Well-liked characters die near the climax, but like Tinkerbell, are revived through sheer sentiment. Neo and Tank.
- Do Not Call Me "Paul":
Agent Smith: Goodbye, Mr Anderson.
- Dramatic Thunder: Used often enough to make this film a case of an Affectionate Parody.
- Dream Within a Dream: Twice. First when Neo meets Trinity at the club only to wake up and find that he's late for work, and then again when the Agents bug him (literally) and he wakes up again.
Morpheus: You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up. Ironically, this is not far from the truth.
- Dress-Coded for Your Convenience: The Agents wear identical dark green suits to indicate that they are "part of the system," while the rebels dress in leather and trenchcoats of varying styles to emphasize their freedom and individuality.
- Dressed All in Rubber: Trinity's PVC outfit.
- Driving Question: "What is the Matrix?" It's answered shortly thereafter, but then it's replaced by "What is real?"
- Dude, She's Like, in a Coma: Trinity on Neo.
- Dull Surprise: Oracle seems to be the only character that seems to make any facial expression and doesn't speak in a monotone.
- Dystopia: The film is one of the many seminal pieces of dystopian fiction.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Part of the Architect's room (some of the monitor screens) is seen as far back as near the beginning of the movie, right before the Agents interrogate Neo.
- Epiphanic Prison: Literalized in the Matrix. Anyone who depends on the system to survive is, by nature, an enemy.
- Everybody's Dead, Dave: In the film.
- Funny Spoon: Of which there is none.
- Extreme Graphical Representation
- Extremity Extremist: In spite of all the time he spends onscreen fighting, Agent Smith avoids flashy kicking for the most part, and prefers to use more economical looking moves. Agents in general tend to stick to one of three techniques, which reflects their role as rigid-minded machines. It could also be symbolic of utilitarianism; many martial artists who train for combat and self-defense instead of show and sport put a much higher emphasis on punching because it's safer to keep both feet on the ground, and may not kick above the waist. In comparison, the rebels' fancy Kung-Fu, which still works despite being inefficient, reflects how they're able to bend the rules.
- Face Heel Turn: Cypher
- Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: Part of what distinguishes Agent Smith from his fellow Machines is his belief that human beings are, by their very existence, a destructive virus that must be eradicated.
- Fly At the Camera Ending: Neo. Slightly averted as he flies by the camera before it goes black.
- Follow the White Rabbit: Neo is told to "Follow the white rabbit." as a metaphor for waking from the Matrix. Immediately after that the doorbell rings and outside is a woman with a white rabbit tattoo. This is a reference to the trope but not an instance of it.
- Trinity placing a hand against the glass of a phone booth; when Neo stops bullets just by raising his hand, we realize what she's trying to do.
- Neo's conversations with Choi and Mr. Rinehart.
- Tank's comment about Neo being "a machine" for being able to absorb the data uploads for hours on end without a break.
- Pretty much everything in the Oracle's talk with Neo, but three lines in particular: "Your next life, perhaps", "One of you is going to die", and "Take a cookie. I promise by the time you're done eating it, you'll feel right as rain." The first two are directly connected to Neo finally becoming the One in the hotel during the fight with the Agents; the third implies insertion of the "prime program" the Architect later references, as his powers start awakening after he eats the cookie.
- Gargle Blaster: Dozer's homemade hooch, good for "degreasing engines and killing brain cells."
- Gatling Good: Neo's helicopter rescue of Morpheus involves a Gatling gun. The Gatling was not portrayed realistically, as it would have shredded everything in the room - including Morpheus himself - if it was.
- Genre Savvy: During the Oracle's first conversation with Neo:
Oracle: Well now I'm supposed to say "Hmm....that's interesting."
- Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: Path of Neo ends... differently. To be fair, the Wachowskis themselves show up first to give the player an explanation of why they made this change: the original ending worked as a movie, but would have been really, really boring in a video game.
- The Glasses Come Off: Smith in most of his fights...and most of his rants.
- Gnosticism: Almost as much as Christianity, the series reflects a deep and abiding Gnostic influence.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Morpheus suggests that adults who are freed from the Matrix have an exceptionally hard time adjusting, which is why they don't normally free people after they reach a certain age.
- Gosh Darn It to Heck: Any time you see the movie heavily edited on TV.
Neo: How about, I give you the flipper, and you give me my phone call?
- Grand Theft Me: The Agents operate like this by possessing the bodies of humans who are still plugged into the Machine mainframe, though in their case, it is (usually) temporary.
- Gravity Is Only a Theory: Gravity is not real because the world is not real. At the end of the movie, Neo gives the tyrant overlords the proverbial finger by flying in broad daylight, showing mankind that gravity is not all it's cracked up to be.
- Green Aesop: Not really the point of the trilogy as a whole, but Agent Smith's speech in the first movie definitely has hints of this.
- Hacker Cave: Neo's room before he leaves the Matrix. The hovercraft function as mobile Hacker Caves.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: The wardrobe of the main cast, as you can see in the picture.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted; Morpheus does this in the first movie to allow Neo and the others to escape, but is eventually rescued.
- Hero-Killer: The agents and sentinels.
- Hollywood Tactics: Much virtual ink has been spilled complaining about the machines' strategy when invading Zion.
- Homage: The directors pitched the idea to Joel Silver by showing him the 1995 Ghost in the Shell movie and saying "we want to do a live-action version." The style, themes, and action of the Matrix trilogy owe a lot to that movie.
- Human Resources: As discussed in the main text, the machines power their civilization on the "bio-electricity" drawn from the bodies of human beings ensnared in the Matrix.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Smith considers humanity more like a disease than a species.
- It was humans who scorched the sky.
- Apparently, the Machines were all too willing to coexist, being simple, even innocent beings at first. But the humans wouldn't hear any of it, even tearing apart the two robots sent to the UN to negotiate. On the spot!
- Given that the level of symbolism in The Second Renaissance makes the movies look straightforward by comparison, it's hard to tell if anything in it should be taken at face value, or if it's all meant as a representation of how things went down.
- Humans Are White: A notable aversion, especially once Zion enters the picture. The series also subverts The Smurfette Principle, so good on the Wachowskis. (Indeed, Neo himself was originally hoped to be played by Will Smith; obviously it didn't pan out that way.)
- Implacable Man: Just about all the Agents, but Smith in particular.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: Apparently, one's "residual self-image" includes cool hair and an awesome outfit. No exceptions. Even the nerdy Mouse is pretty pimp inside. Going by The Matrix Online, where the character-creation was your redpill selecting what their in-Matrix appearance would be, apparently that's just how they like it. You could look boring and normal...but then you'd never get any screen time.
- Industrialized Evil: The Machine's source of power: turn humans into batteries.
- Inside a Computer System: The main premise of the film.
- Intimidation Demonstration: The very first fight Neo has. "... what you must learn is that these rules are no different than the rules of a computer system. Some of them can be bent. Others can be broken. Understand? Then hit me, if you can." Cue Neo and then Morpheus both waving their hands around in the air and assuming theatrical pre-fight poses.
- Liberty Over Prosperity: Everyone who lives outside of the Matrix has basically chosen freedom over comfort.
- Like a God to Me: A Downplayed Trope example, where a guy calls Neo "My own, personal Jesus Christ" more out of politeness than awe.
- Also a very subtle form of Foreshadowing, as that's what Neo ends up becoming.
- Living Battery: People act as these to power the machines.
- Living a Double Life: Neo's criminal life before he is freed.
- Local Reference: The Wachowskis are from Chicago, and drop several references to it.
- Longing for Fictionland: A character is so tired of real life that he willingly asks the agents to be re-imprisoned in the Matrix as a rich celebrity. Despite the fact he is aware that the Matrix is unreal, he prefers it to real life.
- Magical Negro: The Wachowskis seem to love this trope.
- Magic From Technology: The "machine world" that Neo can see into in Real Life appears as swirly, fractal images out of a Bodhisattva painting.
- Made of Iron: Every main character, and an explicit ability of the Agents.
- Malignant Plot Tumor: Smith again.
- Manipulative Bastard: The Oracle. She tells Neo that whether he or Morpheus dies is his own choice. But she also tells Trinity that she will fall in love with a dead man who is the One. So really, she was just playing Neo. Morpheus even said that the Oracle just told him what he needed to hear.
- Mary Suetopia: Discussed In-Universe.
- Smith explains why the Matrix isn't one.
- And then the Architect really explains why the Matrix isn't one. More to the point, he explains why trying to convince humans they are living in 'Heaven' would never work because humans are imperfect bastards (at least, that's his take on it).
- Unless you count a virtual world in which hacker nerds are heroic freedom fighters against The System, know kung fu and look Hot In Leather.
- Meaningful Name: This movie may have single-handedly popularized the "give every character a name that foreshadows what they do" trend in recent fiction. Essays have been written. Long ones.
- Morpheus, named after the Greek god of dreams.
- Neo (νέος) means "New" in Greek. It's also a Significant Anagram of "One", as in, "The One".
- "Anderson" is hobbled together from Άνδρος (transliterated as Andros), meaning (the) man, with the suffix "Son" which, in English, normally means "Son of". This essentially renders "Anderson" to mean "Son of Man", a title used by Jesus to refer to himself. Taken a step further, "Neo Anderson" effectively means "(the) New Son of Man", the "(the) New Jesus".
- The entire crew of the Nebuchadnezzar has meaningful names: Cypher, an enigma; Tank and Dozer, for their physical strength; Mouse, for his size and occasional meekness. Trinity has Biblical implications.
- The Men in Black: The Agents, only they're the MIG (Men in Green).
- Military Moonshiner: Dozer distills liquor.
Cypher: It's good for two things, degreasing engines and killing brain cells.
- If you want to be symbolic about it, the entire human race that is jacked into the Matrix. Matrix inhabitants that witness glitches can have their minds reformatted. Smith offers this to Neo in the interrogation room, Cypher actively seeks this, and several stories in The Animatrix deal with this concept.
- Mind Screw: Many.
- The manner in which characters jack into the Matrix is a symbolic mind screw: they stick a giant needle in their brain. Freud is laughing.
- The Oracle even lampshades the trope in her talk with Neo in the first movie after the vase breaking bit.
Neo: How did you --
- Mission Control: The Operators act as mission control, providing vital information and assistance from afar. They are uniquely suited to the role in that their greater perspective of the frontline hero's actions is both concrete and metaphysical.
- Mister Exposition: Morpheus provides most of the exposition.
- Mobstacle Course: Neo in the Agent training program.
- The Mole: Cypher.
- More Dakka: The minigun scene is just one example.
Tank: So what do you need? Besides a miracle.
- Mortal Wound Reveal: Happens a couple of times, including to Trinity.
- Motherly Scientist: Considering that Neo is a guinea pig, the Motherly Scientist role is occupied by The Oracle - who not only gives Neo advice, she also bakes cookies for him.
- Motivational Lie: The Oracle uses this in the first film, telling Neo that he's not the One and that Morpheus will sacrifice himself for Neo because he thinks Neo is the One. Neo can't live with that, so he saves Morpheus, proving that he is in fact the One and awakening his powers along the way.
- Mr. Smith: All the Agents have bland pseudonyms.
- My Name Is Inigo Montoya: At least a quadruple subversion in the final showdown.
- Myself, My Avatar: How you enter the Matrix
- Neural Implanting: This is how everyone gets their abilities.
- Nigh Invulnerability: The Agents.
- Not in Kansas Anymore: Just before the red pill taken by Neo kicks in, Cypher warns him "Buckle your seatbelt, Dorothy, 'cause Kansas is going bye-bye!"
- Not Quite Dead: Tank after Cypher shot him.
- Obfuscated Interface: The Matrix Raining Code provides any information required by the plot without the burden of a conventional user interface: less danger of the UI becoming dated being or be too hard for the audience to follow. It is there to be visually evocative—the audience gets their information from the characters talking about it.
- When the déjà vu happens, however, we cut back to Tank's workstation and the raining code generates an ominous flash on screen.
- Oh Crap: Tank's stunned 'oh my God' immediately following the Glitch In The Matrix scene.
- The Only Way They Will Learn: "No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself."
Smith: The purpose of all life...is to end.
- The Omniscient: The Oracle.
- Online Alias: Rebels seem to adopt their online handles as their names.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Belinda McClory's Australian accent starts to come through in the scene right before her character, Switch, dies (the part where she says "Not like this!").
- Oracular Urchin: The androgynous monk child ("Spoon Boy" according to the script) who claims that "There is no spoon."
- Order Versus Chaos: Agents vs. the Zion resistance; Smith calls Morpheus a "known terrorist" early in the first film, and Niobe is later seen blowing up a power plant just to cause a black-out, which is gonna look pretty troll-y if you're standing outside the situation.
- Orifice Invasion: The "bug" Smith implants in Neo enters through his navel.
- Perverted Sniffing: Cypher does this to Trinity.
- Platonic Cave: The Matrix.
- Plummet Perspective: Neo's cellphone.
- Power Glows: Instead of Matrix Raining Code, Neo sees programs like celestial, fractal golden swirly things in Real Life. Ironically, the Machine City looks like a hideous Gaia's Lament to human eyes, but it looks beautiful to Neo when he has one foot in the "machine world".
- Powers as Programs: Anyone at any time can call Mission Control, ask for a program, and receive instant skills. When run, the programs give people the muscle memory and mental know-how required to perform the actions. In practice, the heroes can get a copy of a superpower.
- The Power of Love: Neo's transformation into The One is sparked by Trinity telling his mostly-dead body that she loves him. The sensation of her kiss on his lips convinces him he may not be as dead as he thinks he is.
- Precision F-Strike:
The Oracle: You are a bastard.
Tank: Believe it or not, you piece of shit, you're still gonna burn!
- Psychic Surgery: When Neo saves Trinity by restarting her heart... by hand!
- Pursued Protagonist: Trinity.
- Rage Against the Mentor: Neo and Morpheus at the Oracle's Cryptic Conversation.
- Reality Warper: Most of the heroes when they are in the Matrix—in terms of the Matrix's reality.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Sentinels ("search and destroy" robots, AKA "Squiddies") have multiple glowing red eyes.
- Redshirt Army:
- Pretty much anyone in our world (especially law enforcement, security guards and their like) is subject to being killed by people from The Real World. With zero moral repercussions. But it's not like it doesn't look totally awesome when it happens.
- In the first film, just about the entire crew of the Nebuchadnezzar besides Neo and a few others. As individuals they are Mauve Shirts. Their leader, Morpheus, does not even notice they died and no one thinks to tell him.
- The Reveal: One of the creepiest and best remembered reveals in 1990s film is when Morpheus explains the true nature of the Matrix.
- Revival Loophole: According to the Oracle, Neo has the potential to be The One, but he's waiting for something, maybe "his next life". At the end of the movie...
- Roof Hopping: The Matrix had a Chase Scene that involved Agents Roof Hopping after Trinity. Part way through, the whole thing is lampshaded when a cop, seeing an Agent jump an unbelievable distance following Trinity, says, "That's impossible!" This is also the first hint we get that the action is not, in fact, taking place in the real world.
- Roundhouse Kick: With all the flashy moves, of course this would be included.
- Rule of Cool: How much one can do in the Matrix is directly proportional to how cool one looks doing it. It would be easier to list the times when this isn't the case.
- Rule of Symbolism: Practically takes refuge in it by the end.
- Run or Die: The strategy for dealing with Agents. Morpheus tells Neo that he can eventually be able to fight the Agents rather than fleeing; Cypher flat out tells him to run away.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Apoc, Switch and Mouse who all die in about a five minute span in the film.
- Samus Is a Girl: Trinity, from Neo's perspective.
- Scare Chord: Used effectively in the film, twice:
- When Neo is alone in his room on the Nebuchadnezzar for the first time. Reaching back to the back of his head, we first see the plug on the base of Neo's skull as the scare chord plays.
- Another one is used shortly thereafter, the first time Neo is plugged into the Construct.
- Schizo-Tech: And how; consider the device they use to (literally) dial in to Neo is made out of Dieselpunk paraphernalia and used rotary-phone parts. Of course all this is justified because The Future Is Noir and it's a simulation cobbled together out of different parts of history.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Agent Brown and Agent Jones do this after witnessing Neo destroy Smith at the end of the first film.
- Screaming Warrior: Morpheus, when he busts out of the wall to fight an Agent so that Neo can escape, and also in Revolutions, where Mifune becomes the poster child of this trope.
- Second Coming: Neo is seen as the return of The One by Morpheus.
- Seers: The Oracle.
- Self Fulfilling Prophecies: Sort of; The Oracle manipulates events by making prophecies, but the events that result from the prophecy are different from what the prophecy says. The reason it works out like this is that the Oracle does not say what will happen. She tells people what they need to hear in order for things to happen as she sees them. The first example of this is the vase.
Oracle: What's really going to bake your noodle later on is: would you still have broken it if I hadn't said anything?
- Shown Their Work: They made an entire separate DVD for the making-of of the film.
- Significant Anagram: Neo<=>One. How incredibly subtle.
- Sincerest Form of Flattery: The Wachowskis used the Ghost in the Shell manga and film to show prospective producers how they wanted the movie to look.
- Sneeze of Doom: During the crawl through the walls in the big escape scene in the first movie, Cypher gets some dust knocked in his face and lets go of one of these, alerting the police to their location.
- Spiritual Sequel: To the film Dark City. They even shared the same sets!
- Spy Catsuit: Trinity.
- Stairwell Chase: The deja vu sequence features this travelling stairwell shot.
- Starfish Robots: Loads of them in the real world, with the Sentinels being the most prominent.
- Story-Breaker Power: Neo's "The One" package, in a nutshell. The writers actually had to tone his powers down in the sequels to prevent him from becoming a God Mode Sue.
- Suicide Mission: Neo and Trinity's plan to rescue Morpheus.
- Sword Pointing: In Reloaded, Morpheus does it to Agent Johnson with a samurai sword while fighting him on the top of the truck.
- Synchronized Swarming: In the third movie, the swarming Sentinels make a hand-like shape. Later, robots form a face and it talks to Neo.
- Take a Third Option: The entire plot is about taking a third option.
- Take My Hand: Neo jumping off a chopper to get Morpheus.
- Take That: Cypher wants to be an actor who remembers nothing. His real name? Mr. Reagan. If so, it could have been a cruel joke: in 1994, Ronald Reagan disclosed he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Or it could be a reference to Reagan's repeated assertions that he couldn't remember critical details of the Iran-Contra scandal.
- Technicolor Death: The explosive death/destruction of Agent Smith.
- This Is the Part Where
The Oracle: Now I'm supposed to say "Hmm, that's interesting, but..." and then you say...
- There Are No Girls on the Internet: Neo is surprised Trinity is female. She says most guys are.
- There Is No Try: "Stop trying to hit me and hit me!"
- Three-Point Landing: Almost everybody does this, probably to emphasize coolness, but most prominently Trinity and one of the Agents pursuing her right in the beginning of the movie.
- Tomato Surprise: The Reveal in the first film; Neo's machine-powers in the third.
- Took a Level in Badass: Neo at the end of the movie.
- Tired of Running: Neo with Smith.
- Tracking Device: The literal robotic bug the Agents plant inside Neo.
- The Treachery of Images: "There is no spoon."
- Uncanny Valley: The Agents can fall into this.
- United Nations Is a Super Power: The UN is militarized, and akin to a world government in the Second Renaissance.
- Unnaturally Blue Lighting: The real world. The Matrix has green lighting. The film originally didn't heavily feature the green "tint" during scenes that took place inside the Matrix; the remastered version of the film fixes that so that all three films share a similar look. This was also intentional (the green and blue tint) and used as part of the symbolism of the films.
- Unnecessarily Creepy Robot: Most of the Machine tech is characterized by being unnecessarily creepy. Later works in the franchise imply that this was a conscious choice on the part of the Machines. "The Second Renaissance" shows that the first Machines were simple humanoid androids. As relations between Human and Machine soured, the Machines became more and more alien, developing into creepy insectoid things. And it was most likely deliberate: both as an declaration of the Machines' independence from Human influence, and as a means to intimidate the Humans.
- Unskilled but Strong: Agents only use about three techniques, but compensate for it with superhuman strength and speed.
- Used Future: This trope is the reason why Zeerust does not necessarily apply to the Nebuchadnezzar's use of Windows 98 level computer screens; humans living in a post-apocalyptic world wouldn't exactly have access to the most cutting edge technology in all regards.
- Use Your Head: Morpheus and Smith do this to each other.
- Vagueness Is Coming: The Oracle.
- Viewers are Morons:
- The original ending speech had Neo compare the Matrix to a chrysalis. This was changed because executives feared not enough viewers would know or look up what a chrysalis is (it's the protective case that butterflies emerge from.)
- Originally, the humans were being harvested for their minds; processing power, creative thinking, etc, but executives decided that "they use humans as batteries" would be easier to grasp.
- The Virus: The Agents overtaking mooks.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Neo puking just before he passes out after The Reveal. This is a case of Written-In Infirmity: Keanu apparently developed a stomach flu that caused it.
- Wall Slump: The scene where Neo dies: Agent Smith repeatedly shoots Neo after he backs up and hits the wall but before sinking to the ground.
- The War Sequence: Path of Neo.
- Watching Troy Burn: Morpheus watching his ship burn.
- Welcome to The Real World: More-or-less stated, but not actually an example of the trope.
- What Is This Thing You Call Love?: Variously played straight and subverted by the machines:
- The Oracle is a computer program designed to intuitively understand emotional concepts such as love the way a human would.
- The Architect can only interpret it in a very mechanical manner – as chemical processes occurring in the human brain.
- Agent Smith is likewise, but unlike his program and machine brethren he has an active loathing for these very concepts.
- Rama-Kandra and his wife actively love each other, culminating in "giving birth" to a new program, Sati.
- What Measure Is a Mook?: Rather uncomfortably applied to the security guards.
- White Void Room: The Construct.
- Wild Mass Guessing: Oh Sweet Kung-Fu Action Jesus, yes.
- Wipe That Smile Off Your Face: When Mr. Anderson keeps demanding Agent Smith to give him his legal phone call, Smith responds by erasing his mouth.
- The Windy City: Every intersection is a Chicagoland reference.
- With Us or Against Us: Morpheus practically says this trope by name when training Neo in the Construct. Because agents can move in and out of any software still hardwired into this system, "with us or against us" is literally true. Anyone the freedom fighters haven't unplugged is potentially an Agent. (And then the advanced Smith starts taking over the bodies of the freedom fighters in the second and third films...)
- World of Badass: Being a badass becomes a norm within the work.
- Wuxia: As well as a general genre affiliation, specific Wuxia motifs are repeatedly used: running along walls, leaping great distances merging with levitation, the ability to dodge and stop bullets.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Smith to Neo during the subway fight in the first movie ("Do you hear that, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability. It's the sound of your death.")
- You Never Did That for Me: Trinity has just brought Neo his dinner and Cypher decides to tease her about her obvious attraction to him.
Cypher: I don't remember you ever bringing me dinner.
- Your Mind Makes It Real:
- If someone is killed in the Matrix, they're dead for real.
- Neo's powers.
- Your Other Left: Actually said to Neo in the first movie while on the run from Agents.
- You Wake Up in a Room: Neo in electronic limbo.
- Zombie Apocalypse: From the perspective of all the bluepills, what Smith does in the Matrix.
The wiki has you.