Film / The Matrix

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This article is for the first film only. For tropes applied to the entire franchise, see The Matrix.

"Have you ever had a dream Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?"
Morpheus

The first film of the trilogy begins in what looks like the Present Day. The film's protagonist, Thomas Anderson, a.k.a. Neo, finds out that this world exists as an illusion created by sentient machines that Turned Against Their Masters and took over the world. The machines plugged humanity into a virtual world, the Matrix, to keep humanity complacent while the machines sapped their bio-electricity to fuel themselves. note 

Neo eventually finds himself face-to-face with Morpheus, who teaches Neo the truth; Neo reluctantly joins the resistance movement against the Machines, which happens in both the real world and the Matrix. "Free minds" know the Matrix only resembles reality, so they no longer have to follow certain inconvenient rules (such as gravity) while "jacked in." (They do have one rule they cannot escape, though: Death in the Matrix means brain death in the real world.) The Matrix has its own defense force, both inside the system (programs known as Agents that can bend the rules of the Matrix) and outside it (hunting machines known as Sentinels). Neo eventually finds his place as a foretold hero and sets out to free mankind from the Matrix; in the process of this self-discovery, Neo defeats one of the Agents — Smith — and sends the others running in terror.


Do you want to know what tropes are in The Matrix?

  • 555: During the opening the trace program reads Trinity's phone number as (3_2) 555-0690. Presumably 312, a reference to the Wachowskis' hometown of Chicago.
  • Action Prologue: The opening chase scene, introducing Trinity as the Action Girl.
  • Alice Allusion:
    • Neo has his first meeting with Trinity after a chatroom message suggests he follow a white rabbit (actually a client's girlfriend, who has a white rabbit tattoo).
    • During Morpheus and Neo's first conversation, Morpheus muses that Neo must be feeling like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole, then tells him that if the red pill is chosen, "you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."
  • Almost Kiss: After Neo saves Trinity from the crashing helicopter, he pulls her up the rope and both have a moment before Morpheus interrupts them.
  • Anti-Climax: Neo's experience in the "jump" program.
  • 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 motifs in that scene.
  • Balcony Escape: Subverted. Neo is told to do this to escape the Agents looking for him at his workplace. He tries but is nearly blown off the skinny ledge and can't make himself go any further.
  • Bald Black Leader Guy: Morpheus.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: When the heroes are trying to escape the Agents by climbing between the walls, Agent Smith punches through the wall and throttles Neo. Morpheus does the reverse to throw himself on top of Agent Smith to get him to release Neo.
  • Beard of Evil / Bald of Evil: Cypher and his pencil-thin goatee.
  • Better Than New / Came Back Strong: After he gets killed by Agent Smith, Neo becomes the One and gets much more powerful than before because of being beaten by the 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 Damn Heroes: Neo using a minigun from a helicopter to rescue Morpheus.
  • Big "NO!": Dozer, before being killed by Cypher.
  • Blind Seer: Invoked, then subverted 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. However...the blind man nods to Morpheus as he and Neo pass by. Not so blind as we thought; he was likely a lookout for the Oracle.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Mentioned by Cypher by name, though not seen, when he tells Neo he's been watching the Matrix Raining Code so long he can see what the code represents but not the code itself.
  • Blood from the Mouth:
    • As Neo is coming back to reality from the jump program, he wipes a bit of blood from his mouth. This leads to the reveal that a person's mind perceives injury in the Matrix and makes it happen in the real world.
    • As Mouse is being riddled with bullets in the Matrix, his body is shown jerking and twitching in his chair, then going limp with blood running from his mouth.
    • Neo coughs up quite a lot of blood at one point during his fight with Agent Smith in the subway scene, with a corresponding spew in the real world, indicating just how badly Smith is hurting him.
  • Body Horror: Along with having Neo's mouth sealed shut as an intimidation tactic, Smith "bugs" Neo with an insectoid machine that burrows into Neo's belly through his navel.
  • Bookends:
    • The Heart o' the City Hotel, room 303, in which both the first and (almost) last scenes of the movie take place.
    • The trace program that opens the movie, and the last scene of the movie. The first time around, it completes, and reveals Trinity's location to the Agents. The second time, Neo uses his powers as The One to freeze it before it can make any progress.
  • Bottomless Magazines:
    • Averted. Neo and Agent Smith exchange fire at each other in the subway station and wind up with their guns at each other's heads, only to point out to each other that they're both out of bullets. It's interesting how both of their weapons lock empty at the same time, since Neo is using a Beretta 92FS pistol, whose magazine has a fifteen-round capacity, and Smith, a Desert Eagle pistol that holds only seven 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' weapons. And any case where people fire more rounds than they should be able to with the gun they are using can be easily handwaved because the Matrix programming can create infinite ammo.
  • Breaking the Bonds: During his rescue, Morpheus musters the last of his strength and breaks the handcuffs he was tied with.
  • Brick Joke: Early in the movie, 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.
  • Bullet Dodges You: At the end of the movie, Neo is able to stop the gunfire of three agents by holding up his hand and making the bullets freeze in the air.
  • Bullet Time: The Trope Codifier, although it's used fairly sparingly in the film itself.
  • California Doubling: In the scene in which Neo says "I used to eat lunch there. Good noodles", the car is clearly driving through the Chinatown end of George Street in Sydney's CBD. Of course, you also see the Sydney Tower and the Maritime Services Board control tower on the city's skyline.
  • Call to Adventure: Neo literally receives a cell phone call to adventure from Morpheus, starting Neo's fight against the Machines (whether he wanted to or not).
  • The Can Kicked Him: Morpheus fights Agent Smith in a dilapidated bathroom. His bald dome is sent hurtling onto a toilet bowl, shattering it.
  • 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: The déjà vu scene does this with an actual cat.
  • Chained to a Railway: Sort of; Smith puts Neo in a wrestling hold in front of an oncoming subway train. Neo breaks the hold and jumps clear, leaving Smith to be hit by the train instead.
  • The Chooser of The One: The Oracle can tell who is or isn't The One.
  • City with No Name: The city in the Matrix is not mentioned by name.
  • *Click* Hello: A number of times, of which Trinity's "Dodge this!" is probably the most memorable.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: While the original script had a lot more swearing, most uses of "fuck" that weren't dropped were replaced with "shit" for the final film.
  • Confiscated Phone: Neo steals a guy's cell phone. The guy complains, and Agent Smith steals his body.
  • Counting Bullets: In the subway fight between Neo and Agent Smith, both note that the other has run out of bullets.
    Agent Smith: You're empty.
    Neo: So are you.
  • Contemplative Boss:
    • Morpheus looks out of a window in a contemplative Reverse Arm-Fold pose right before meeting Neo.
    • Agent Smith oversees the City before interrogating Morpheus.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Trinity does this twice for Neo during the Rooftop Confrontation:
    • First she saves him by throwing a knife at a mook who snuck up from behind him with a gun.
    • Shortly after she performs her the famous Dodge This! on one of the Agents who is about to shoot Neo from close range.
  • Crapsack World: If you think the dystopian virtual world controlled by machines is a bit of a shitty deal, just wait till you see the real world ruled by machines. A Grey Goo scenario is adverted but nanomachines have nevertheless blackened the skies. There's nothing left. This is the primary reason why Cypher turns on his comrades and the Zion human rebellion, wishing he had never chosen the red pill from Morpheus.
  • Creator Cameo: The Wachowskis are the window cleaners in the scene where Thomas Anderson is being chewed out by his boss.
  • Creepy Twins: A subtle version in the Agent Training Program. If you watch it and you're certain that you saw the same extras walk by the camera twice, guess what, you're right: All of the extras are twins. It suggests that Mouse wrote the program and after making half the crowd became lazy and copied them. The producers actually went around looking for basically every pair of twins they could find just for this one scene. Now were you looking for that, or were you looking at the woman in the red dress?
  • Cue the Falling Object: After Neo and Trinity have a big gunfight with the guards to rescue Morpheus, they casually enter the elevator. The camera then shows the extent of the damage to the lobby, and one of the pillars' marble collapses onto the floor. This happened by coincidence during the filming and was not planned, but was left since it seemed appropriate.
  • Darkest Hour: The sentinels have cut open the hull of the Nebuchadnezzar and are about to invade the ship. The crew hears the noises approaching, and the look of utter hopelessness on the faces of Morpheus and Tank tell us that they don't even care. The only hope is with Neo who, in this very moment, is shot dead inside the Matrix. All hope is lost. Trinity, however, brings Neo back with The Power of Love.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The main characters sans Switch are wearing black outfits while in the Matrix.
  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: Neo's eyes hurt when used for the first time.
  • Death-Activated Superpower: How Neo becomes the One.
  • Death Is Cheap: If an Agent is killed, he can simply overwrite a new person inside the Matrix. At the end of the subway fight, Smith knocks Neo into the path of an oncoming train, then jumps down to hold him in place, knowing that the collision wouldn't affect him at all.
  • Déjà Vu: Neo experiences déjà vu after seeing the same cat go by twice. The rest of the cast go on alert, as déjà vu is a sign of a recent change made in the program, caused by A Glitch in the Matrix.
  • Disconnected by Death:
    • A variation: Trinity spends the first minutes of the movie trying to reach a phone booth, and when she finally reaches it and pick up the phone, a truck demolishes the phone booth. Fortunately, since the landline was her exit, Trinity is not injured.
    • This also happens right before Neo and Smith's subway fight, as Smith tries to shoot her before she can leave the Matrix. Once again, she manages to escape Just in Time.
  • Disney Death: Neo is shot multiple times by Agent Smith and killed, but gets revived by a True Love's Kiss from Trinity.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: The iconic "Woman in the Red Dress" moment in the Agent Training Program. Morpheus and Neo are walking in what looks like a crowded part of the Matrix while Morpheus is instructing him that they can't trust anyone still plugged into the system, because there are some people so reliant on the Matrix that they will resist any attempted liberation. Neo is distracted by a gorgeous blond woman in a red dress who strolls by and smiles at him; when Morpheus asks if he was paying attention and Neo looks back at her, she's turned into Agent Smith about to shoot him. Morpheus freezes the program, revealing that this is just another training program, and points out the message: Agents can override any bluepill without warning.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul":
    Agent Smith: Goodbye, Mr. Anderson.
    The Man formerly known as Thomas Anderson: My name... IS NEO!
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: When Morpheus is offering to show Neo the Matrix:
    Morpheus: [takes out a pill box and empties the contents into his hands] This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill [opens his right hand, revealing a translucent blue pill], the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill [opens his left hand, revealing a similar red pill], you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. [Neo reaches for the red pill] Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more.
  • Dramatic Chase Opening: The opening chase of Trinity by the agents.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Used often enough to make this film a case of an Affectionate Parody.
  • The Dreaded: The Agents are seen as the ultimate enemy, with good reason. Morpheus' lesson to Neo in the "woman in the red dress" program makes this clear:
    Morpheus: I won't lie to you, Neo. Every man or woman who has stood their ground, everyone who has fought an Agent has died. [...] We've survived by hiding from them, by running from them. But they are the gatekeepers. They are guarding all the doors, they are holding all the keys, which means that sooner or later, someone is going to have to fight them.
  • 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.
  • Driving Question: "What is the Matrix?" It's answered shortly thereafter, but then it's replaced by "What is real? How do you define real?"
  • Drunken Boxing: Subverted; it's one of the many fighting styles uploaded into Neo's head during his training on the Nebuchadnezzar, but he never uses it.
  • Easter Egg: At the end of all the credits, the URL for the (now defunct) website of the film is given, www.whatisthematrix.com, along with a password, 'steak'. There's a 'secret' link on the page that requests a password.
  • Eat the Camera: While Morpheus and his crew are searching for Neo's body in the real world, Neo touches a mirror. The mirror spreads over him like quicksilver and flows down his throat with the camera following. The scene changes, the audio sounds like it glitches out, and Neo wakes up in his real body.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: Agent Smith at the subway station comes out from the shadow, after having overwritten the body of a hobo.
  • Eye Awaken: Close-up on Neo's face as he opens his eye after been brought back to life by Trinity's True Love's Kiss.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Cypher, tired of the hardships of life in the real world and really tired of having to serve under Morpheus, informs the Agents that Neo is who they're going to try to free from the Matrix, and later arranges for the Agents to capture Morpheus.
  • Feet-First Introduction: When Neo enters the lobby of the place where Morpheus is captured, the scene starts with a slow motion shot of his boots coming through the revolving door.
  • Flatline:
    • Flatline beeping from Mouse's lifesign monitor as he dies.
    • Happens with Neo during the Final Battle before being revived by Trinity.
  • Flipping the Bird: During the interrogation scene, Neo gives Agent Smith the finger and demands his One Phone Call.
  • Fly-at-the-Camera Ending: Slightly averted as Neo 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.
    • On the first movie's DVD, you can choose to see the film in "White Rabbit Mode." In this version, a white rabbit symbol appears on the screen during certain scenes and if you click it, you can see brief behind-the-scenes footage of the making of that particular scene.
  • Forbidden Zone: The Machine City, pretty much literally.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • At the very beginning of the movie, we hear the voices of Trinity and Cypher talking over the phone, while in the foreground we see the logs of a tracing program initiating, Trinity then says "Are you sure this line is safe?" and Cypher replies "Of course I'm sure." Cypher, without identifying him as Neo, says to Trinity, "We're gonna kill him, you know that, don't you?" A little bit later an Agent says "The informant is real." All these foreshadow Cypher being The Mole.
    • Cypher commenting how Trinity likes to watch Neo, hinting on her being in love with him.
    • 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, especially the latter.
      Rinehart: You have a problem with authority, Mr. Anderson. You believe that you are special, that somehow the rules do not apply to you.
    • Morpheus's warning to Neo that some people are so dependent on the Matrix that they will resist liberation from it. Then Cypher chooses to turn on his allies and return to it.
    • 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 references in Reloaded, as his powers start awakening after he eats the cookie.
    • During Neo's training he asks Morpheus: "What are you saying, that I can dodge bullets?" Morpheus responds, "No, Neo. What I am saying is that when you are ready, you won't have to." At the end, Neo becomes the One and stops bullets with a mere gesture.
  • Funny Spoon: Of which there is none.
  • Gargle Blaster: Dozer's homemade hooch. In Cypher's words, it's good for "degreasing engines and killing brain cells."
  • Gatling Good: Neo's helicopter rescue of Morpheus involves him shooting up the entire room (including the Agents) with a door-mounted minigun. That the Agents aren't reduced to chunky salsa isn't mentioned.
  • Genre Savvy; During The Oracle's first conversation with Neo:
    Oracle: Well, now I'm supposed to say "Hmm... That's interesting."
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: Trope Namer. An experience of Déjà Vu means that something within the Matrix has been altered. In this case, that the windows of their building have all been filled in with bricks.
  • 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. Cypher's comment to Trinity in the opening scene ("We're gonna kill him. You understand that?") and the "He's gonna pop!" when Neo's reeling from the reveals in the first Construct sequence tie into this.
  • Good Versus Good: Unfortunately, one of the downer points about the mission. Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, and others frequently kill/injure law enforcement agents, who are simply not aware that they are part of the Matrix. Morpheus gives their stone-cold philosophy on the subject early on: everyone they are trying to save is plugged into the system,note  and "that makes them our enemy."
    • In Trinity's opening sequence, she is cornered by about six police officers in a seedy abandoned hotel room, and proceeds to kill all of them in short order.
    • They are also extremely ruthless about it; they don't so much fight security guards and cops as massacre them, particularly in the Hallway scene. Here is how Neo and Trinity get past the lobby guards: Neo gives the first guard a flying kick. He then uses twin H&K MP 5 K submachine guns to kill all but one of the remaining guards. One of them gets shot while reading a newspaper (which is torn in half by bullets). The one guard who survives this gunfire calls for backup, and then is shot dead by Trinity with a Uzi as he tries to raise his revolver.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Any time you see the first movie heavily edited for language on TV.
    Neo: How about, I give you the flipper, and you give me my phone call?
    Security Guard: [Neo pulls guns out from under trenchcoat] "Holy smokes!" or "Holy Shmucks!"
    Neo: [the bug gets sucked out of Neo's stomach] Jeepers creepers, that thing is real?!
    Cypher: We would have told you [Morpheus] to shove that red pill right up your ear!
    Mouse: Judas Priest, he's fast!
    Tank: Believe it or not, you piece of slime, you're still gonna burn!
  • 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 monologue to Morpheus definitely has hints of this, likening humans to a virus in how they enter an area and multiply until all the natural resources are expended whereas he believes lesser mammals do not.
  • Guns Akimbo: Neo, though most of the cast does it as well.
  • Gunship Rescue: Neo and Trinity rescue Morpheus in a helicopter, complete with a minigun. Somehow he manages to take out the Agents without hitting Morpheus.
  • Hacker Cave:
    • Neo's room before he leaves the Matrix.
    • The operator stations in the hovercraft function as mobile Hacker Caves.
  • Hand Signals:
    • As the Agents and police are entering the hotel where Trinity is, Smith makes a "come with me" gesture to the patrolman standing guard.
    • As the Agents and some police approach Neo's cubicle, Agent Smith gives a hand sign to the police to move down another path.
    • As Morpheus and the others are climbing down the shaft inside the wetwall during the Déjà Vu shootout, Morpheus gives a "keep moving down" signal to the rest of the team.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Smith loves these. In return, Neo delivers a famous Shut Up, Hannibal! in the train station scene; see Do Not Call Me "Paul".
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: The main casts' costumes when in the Matrix.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted; Morpheus does this to allow Neo and the others to escape, but is eventually rescued.
  • Heroic Second Wind: In the climax, Neo is defeated and lies dead on the floor. However, after receiving a True Love's Kiss by Trinity he comes Back from the Dead to kick some serious Agent ass.
  • He's Dead, Jim: After Neo has apparently been shot to death, Agent Smith tells another Agent to "Check him." The other Agent puts a finger to Neo's neck (apparently checking his pulse), then immediately says "He's gone."
  • Hidden Weapons: Neo has plenty of weapons underneath his coat when entering the lobby.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The same lightning rifle used by Cypher to kill Dozer and wound Tank is the same one used by Tank to kill him.
  • Hologram: The bridge of the Nebuchadnezzar (and presumably the other hoverships) has a holographic display that shows other objects (like Sentinels).
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Exact words used by Morpheus when explaining to Neo why he had to pull him out of the Matrix.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Enforced on humanity by the machines, who, as Morpheus describes, liquefy dead humans and feed them intravenously to the living humans in the power plant.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: None of the mooks and security guards in the lobby manage to hit Neo or Trinity with their automatic guns.
  • Intimidation Demonstration: When Morpheus shows Neo the sparring program, he explains: "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.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: In the opening, Agents Smith, Brown, and Jones drive up to the Heart o' the City Hotel where they've dispatched the police to capture Trinity. The conversation between Agent Smith and the senior uniformed cop on the scene suggests that in the simulated world of the Matrix, bluepills see the Agents as the equivalent of the FBI:
    Agent Smith: [getting out of the car] Lieutenant.
    Lieutenant: [under his breath] Oh, shit.
    Smith: Lieutenant, you were given specific orders.
    Lieutenant: Hey, I'm just doing my job. If you give me that "juris-my-dick-tion" crap, you can cram it up your ass.
    Smith: The orders were for your protection.
    Lieutenant: [chuckles bitterly] I think we can handle one little girl. [Agent Smith ignores him and starts walking towards the building.] I sent two units! They're bringing her down now.
    Smith: No, Lieutenant, your men are already dead.
  • Just in Time:
    • Trinity, in the beginning, manages to exit the Matrix right before the truck smashes into the phone box.
    • Neo, in the climax, manages to get out of the Matrix just in time for Morpheus to activate the EMP without killing him.
  • Kubrick Stare: After Neo destroys Agent Smith in the finale, he gives one of these to Agent Smith's two accomplices, which is enough for them to immediately leave.
  • Lady in Red: The woman in the red dress during the Agent Training Program.
  • Lecture as Exposition: Morpheus gives lengthy ones to Neo about the Matrix.
  • Liberty Over Prosperity: Everyone who lives outside of the Matrix has basically chosen this. Cypher, however, has second thoughts. Of course, since the Matrix is a representation of the world as it was in 1999, not everyone has prosperity there anyway. Agent Smith states an utopia was once attempted, but no one would accept the programming, with it being seen as a dream they "kept "trying to wake up from" and "entire crops were lost."
  • 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.
  • Little "No": Agent Smith utters one when he sees the helicopter outside the window and Neo says another one before he stops all the bullets after becoming the One.
  • Living a Double Life: Neo, which Smith lays out at the start of the interrogation sequence.
    Agent Smith: It seems that you've been living two lives. In one life, you're Thomas A. Anderson, program writer for a respectable software company. You have a social security number, you pay your taxes, and you...help your landlady carry out her garbage. The other life is lived in computers, where you go by the hacker alias "Neo" and are guilty of virtually every computer crime we have a law for. One of these lives has a future, and one of them does not.
  • Local Reference: The Wachowskis are from Chicago, and drop several references to it. Namely, every street is named after a Chicago street, and there is a photo of the Chicago skyline as it was in 1999 on the wall of Mr. Rinehart's office.
  • Logo Joke: The Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures logos are tinted in Matrix-green.
  • Longing for Fictionland: Cypher is so tired of real life and its hardships 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, Cypher prefers it to real life. Because after nine years, what has he learned? Ignorance is bliss.
  • Magic Countdown: During the climax of the movie, the sentinels start cutting into the interior of the Nebuchadnezzar and it looks like only seconds are left for the crew. But then Trinity starts giving her The Power of Love speech to Neo during which the sentinels don't progress because Talking Is a Free Action. Then Neo has his Heroic Second Wind and overpowers Agent Smith in the Matrix, all while the sentinels still don't seem to make any progress on the Nebuchadnezzar. Only by the time Neo is finally able to get out of the Matrix, do the sentinels charge the crew, but the EMP disables them Just in Time.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Neo's Dull Surprise reaction when being shot in the guts by Agent Smith during the climax. It's implied to be shock and disbelief from being taken by surprise, given that he reacts appropriately when Smith proceeds to empty the rest of his clip into Neo.
  • Mexican Standoff: Subverted. Agent Smith and Neo have guns pointed at each others' heads in the subway, then it's revealed that both of them ran out of bullets at the same time.
  • Military Moonshiner: Dozer distills liquor. Word of Cypher is that it's good for just two things: Degreasing engines and killing brain cells.
  • Mind Rape: Implied to happen to Morpheus as the Agents attempt to "hack" his brain for the access codes to enter Zion.
  • Missing Mission Control: The away team is rendered helpless against Cypher who has incapacitated the Mission Control crew and starts killing off the team members one by one.
  • Mister Exposition: Morpheus provides most of the exposition.
  • Mobstacle Course:
    • During the Agent Training Program scene, Neo is continually bumping into people as he and Morpheus walk through a crowded city street. Conveniently, the crowd parts for Morpheus, but that's because he's done this simulation many times before and knows each person's programmed walking path.
    • Later, Neo is forced to do this while running through crowds of people in the streets while escaping from the three Agents near the end of the movie. The Agents tend to just throw people out of their way...or shoot them...or simply change places with them.
  • More Dakka: The minigun scene is just one example.
    Tank: So, what do you need? Besides a miracle.
    Neo: Guns. Lots of guns.
  • Motivational Lie: The Oracle uses this, 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. Morpheus says that the Oracle told Neo "what he needed to hear." She later confirms this in Reloaded.
  • Multiple Gunshot Death: During the climax, Agent Smith empties a magazine into Neo.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: Agent Smith believes this to be the reason behind the failure of the "paradise" Matrix that preceded the current one. He rationalizes that humans define themselves through misery and suffering, and thus paradise was a dream they couldn't accept as reality. The actual reason is that, to accept the Matrix, humans need to believe they have a choice in the matter, even if they aren't really aware of it.
  • No Sell: Throughout the film, the Agents are all but immune to anything that the rebels try against them due to their programming; Neo's evolution to the One begins when he manages to land a telling blow on Smith for the first time. Later, he learns to No Sell the Agents' attacks on him, until the upgraded Smith comes along.
  • Not in Kansas Anymore: Just before the red pill taken by Neo kicks in, Cypher says, as Layman's Terms to summarize what Morpheus was saying, "Buckle your seatbelt, Dorothy, because Kansas is going bye-bye!"
  • Not Quite Dead: When Cypher shoots Tank and Dozer, it's assumed that he killed them both. However, Tank regains consciousness and has enough energy to kill Cypher.
  • Not So Different: Along with his fatigue with the hardships of life outside the Matrix, this is part of what ultimately leads Cypher to betray La Résistance. As he explains at length, while Zion and the rebels have freed him from the tyranny of the Machines' simulated world, the Zion military themselves are not above using lies of omission and forced conscription in order to draft more soldiers, and all he is able to do as a member of the military is what he is ordered to do; he is ultimately no more free under the rebellion than he was under the machines.
  • Obfuscated Interface: The Matrix Raining Code provides any information required for 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 shootout is about to go down, however, we cut back to Tank's workstation and the raining code starts flashing ominously.
  • Oh Crap!:
    • The "déjà vu" sequence — and what the heroes discover has been altered in The Matrix — causes several for the entire team: Neo's "Huh, déjà vu" immediately stops the team dead in their tracks in fear, Tank's "Oh my God" when he realizes their exits have blocked by newly-created brick walls, and Mouse and Tank have a "Oh no" when they both realize Mouse is trapped in the safe house with a full police force about to barge in.
    • Neo gets one when Morpheus alerts him of the Agents in his office.
      Neo [ducking back down after spotting them]: OH SHIT!
      Morpheus: Yes.
    • The security guard who sees all the guns Neo has under his coat yells out "HOLY SHIT!" before the carnage ensues.
    • Cypher answers the phone, and not Tank or Dozer. Trinity, horrified, realizes he's caused theirs and Mouse's death along with Morpheus' capture. Apoc and Switch can only react with an "Oh God!" as they know they are completely vulnerable and about to be murdered via an abrupt disconnection.
  • One Phone Call: Neo demands one when being interrogated by Agent Smith in the beginning.
  • The Only Way They Will Learn: "No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself."
  • 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."
  • Orifice Invasion: The "bug" Smith implants in Neo enters through his navel.
  • The Outside World: There are a number of different "Outsides" to escape to.
    • The first level of the Outside is escaping the Matrix itself and getting to the real world. However, the real world is a prison, more specifically a human body farm in which the people are living batteries.
    • The next "Outside" is getting from the power plant to the colony called Zion.
    • Outside of Zion is the rest of the world, which is totally dark and inhabited by robots. So the True Outside World is a depressing Crapsack World.
  • Pass the Popcorn: The crew of the Nebuchadnezzar rush to the monitors to watch Morpheus training Neo in Matrix-style martial arts.
    Mouse: Morpheus is fighting Neo!
  • Perverted Sniffing: Cypher does this to Trinity.
  • Platonic Cave: The Matrix. It is later on subverted by Cypher, by claiming that 'reality' is merely a subjective-relative state post empirical evidence, which drops down on one's perspective and ideals. Thus, the Matrix can very much be the real world.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Mouse. That ends the second he gets backed into a corner and the armored personnel under the command of the Agent overwhelm him with their combined gunfire, leaving him dead as a doornail.
  • Plummet Perspective: Neo's cellphone when he drops it while trying to walk the ledge of his office building.
  • Poverty Food: The crew is being served economical grey mush which is not very satisfying. It's one of the reasons why Cypher commits a Face–Heel Turn, so he could once again get to taste delicious food, if only as an illusion inside the Matrix.
  • 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. Then again, it could be the Prime Program activating and fully awakening Neo's powers.
  • Powers as Programs: Skills are literally computer code, and any of the rebels at any time can call Mission Control, ask to be hacked, and receive instant upgrades.
  • The Precarious Ledge: Subverted when Neo is instructed by Morpheus to crawl along a tiny ledge between windows to escape the men in black. He chokes and gets captured instead.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Agent Smith to Neo before charging him in the subway: "I'm going to enjoy watching you die."
  • Precision F-Strike: The one security guard who says "Holy shit!" in reaction to Neo revealing the arsenal he's carrying under his coat.
  • Pre-Explosion Glow: After Neo dives into him, this happens to Agent Smith just before he's blown apart.
  • Premature Empowerment: Morpheus feeds Neo a line about how nobody can explain the Matrix — but doesn't exactly try very hard before giving Neo the choice of which pill to take. (Later, Cypher complains about Morpheus having done this when recruiting him, citing it as one of the reasons for his Face–Heel Turn.)
    • Justified, as trying to do this when you're in the Matrix itself is one of those things that the Machines' search programs tend to pick up on (which generally means the Agents will be after you — and before Neo became the One, you did NOT want to mess with the Agents). Besides, any explanation of the reality (or lack thereof) of the Matrix is a lot more believable once the person in question is actually out of the Matrix.
      • Not to mention that it seems like most of the blue-pills had already picked up on something wrong with the Matrix.
    • Parodied by xkcd here.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Besides the famous "Dodge this" example, there's also another one; before frying Cypher, Tank says: "Believe it or not, you piece of shit, you're still gonna burn!"
  • Pretty Little Headshots: The mook who got the "Dodge this!" treatment by Trinity on the rooftop, is subsequently seen to sport nothing more than a little red entry wound on his forehead.
  • Proscenium Reveal: The entire Agent Training Program scene is written this way. We see Neo and Morpheus apparently walking down a street inside the Matrix. After Morpheus asks Neo if he was listening or looking at the woman in the red dress, he tells Neo to look again. The woman has instantly turned into Agent Smith, who draws his pistol on Neo. When Neo ducks, Morpheus says "Freeze it," and everything on the screen freezes where it is (except for Neo and Morpheus), revealing that we are inside a training simulator.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Neo goes into the lobby to rescue Morpheus and goes to kill unarmed security guards. As Morpheus explains every single human who has not yet been freed could change into an Agent. So they've been trained to kill on sight to make sure they won't have to deal with Agents.
  • Questionable Consent: As Cypher specifically complains, the whole "red pill vs. blue pill" choice was dishonest. Only the Matrix was explained in full, not the "real world," and many, like him, would reject it had they known.
  • Redshirt Army: 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.
  • Refusal of the Call: When Neo is standing out on the ledge of his workplace, he has been told he has to walk across to the ledge to a scaffold. Dropping a cell phone, he decides he can't make it and goes back in, accepting arrest by the police.
  • Residual Self Image: A person's avatar within the Matrix is generated by a combination of will and programming parameters established by the Matrix. This appearance can be markedly different from the "outer" self.
    Morpheus: [speaking to Neo in the Construct] [...] Your clothes are different; the plugs in your arms and head are gone. Your hair has changed. Your appearance now is what we call 'residual self image'. It is the mental projection of your digital self.
  • The Reveal: One of the creepiest and best remembered reveals in 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...
  • Rewriting Reality: Hacking the world.
  • Roofhopping: There's a Chase Scene that involves Trinity leaping between buildings to escape the Agents, and their pursuit. 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.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: Two — the Agent chasing Trinity across several rooftops in the opening sequence, and the confrontation between Neo and another Agent featuring the Bullet Time gunfire dodges each does.
  • Rubbery World: This happens twice.
    • When Neo falls in the Jump Program. When he hits the pavement, it collapses under him, bounces him up in the air and becomes solid again.
    • When the helicopter slams into the building, the building ripples as though it were made of gelatin.
  • 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, Dozer, and Mouse who all die in about a five minute span.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Trinity, from Neo's perspective. Because as we all know... There Are No Girls on the Internet.
  • Scare Chord: Used effectively, 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.
  • Screaming Warrior: Morpheus, when he busts out of the wall to fight an Agent so that Neo can escape, and again when he breaks his handcuffs so that Neo can rescue him.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Agents Brown and Jones do this after witnessing Neo destroy Smith at the end of the film.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: In the climax when Smith shoots Neo in the chest, all sounds drown out, and only the empty shell hitting the ground is audible.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: The first team member to bite the dust is Mouse.
  • Shoot the Rope: Multiple times in the movie; most notably, when Neo shoots the elevator cables to drop it, and Trinity right before she leaps from the helicopter.
  • Slow-Motion Fall: The helicopter with Trinity inside drops in slow motion.
  • Sneeze of Doom: During the crawl through the walls in the big escape scene, Cypher gets some dust knocked in his face and lets go of one of these, alerting the police to their location. It's possible this was deliberate.
  • Spent Shells Shower: Two places:
    • When Neo and Trinity are trying to rescue Morpheus from the building, shell casings are ejected from all the automatic weapons that were being used.
    • When Neo is attempting to rescue Morpheus from the building using the helicopter with a belt-fed Gatling gun, the shell casings fall like rain.
  • Stairwell Chase: The déjà vu shootout features this traveling stairwell shot.
  • Stress Vomit: While in virtual reality Neo learns that his entire previous life has been an illusion and most of the human race is enslaved by the machines. He can't accept this, and after returning to the real world he throws up on the deck of the hovership.
  • Suicide Mission: Neo and Trinity's plan to rescue Morpheus is considered one by Tank.
  • Super Reflexes: In the Agent Training Program scene, Morpheus explains to Neo about why the Agents are The Dreaded, and how every single person who's ever attempted to fight one ended up dying. Then when Neo runs into Agent Brown on the helipad while attempting to rescue Morpheus, he (along with the audience) finds out exactly why Agents are so feared; Neo empties two pistols at one, only for the Agent to dodge each bullet, and appearing like a blur as he does so. Neo then finds out he's also capable of moving the same way as well, though one bullet does graze his leg.
  • Take My Hand: Neo jumping off a chopper to get Morpheus. The shot where you see the two men diving for each other from below, arms outstretched, was called the "I Love You, Man" shot among the crew.
  • Take That: Easy to miss. Cypher wants to be an actor who remembers nothing. Agent Smith calls him Mr. Reagan. If so, it could have a rather cruel joke; in 1994, Ronald Reagan disclosed he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Though it could be a reference to Reagan's repeated assertions that he couldn't remember critical details of the Iran-Contra scandal.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: When Morpheus does a Barrier-Busting Blow and jumps onto Agent Smith in the bathroom, the latter lies still for a couple if seconds during which Morpheus orders Trinity to get Neo out of danger.
  • Team Shot: The crew of the Nebuchadnezzar gets one when they take Neo to The Oracle, with the exception of Tank and Dozer, who can't jack in to the Matrix.
  • Tempting Fate: Cypher tells Trinity that Neo can't be The One, since it would take 'a miracle' to stop him from killing him right there. A few lines later, Tank hauls himself to his feet with a gun and kills Cypher before he can unplug Neo.
  • Terminally Dependent Society: Morpheus describes humans from before the machine rebellion this way. Paraphrased:
    Morpheus: Humans have always been dependent on machines. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.
  • That Man Is Dead: "My name... is Neo!"
  • There Are No Girls on the Internet: Neo is surprised that Trinity is female. She says most guys are.
  • There Is No Try:
    Morpheus: Stop trying to hit me and hit me!
  • This Is the Part Where...
    The Oracle: Now I'm supposed to say "Hmm, that's interesting, but..." and then you say...
    Neo: But what?
    The Oracle: But you already know what I'm going to tell you.
  • Tired of Running: Throughout the movie, Neo is repeatedly told that anyone who has fought an Agent has been killed, and that he should run away from them. He follows this trope (without actually saying anything) in the subway station when he decides to stop running from Smith, turning and fighting him instead. He actually manages to defeat Smith, but defeating an Agent is meaningless as Smith simply body-hops to another person, so Neo ends up running away anyway.
  • Title-Only Opening: There are no opening credits beyond the production logos and the title.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Cypher.
  • Token Trio: Done by happenstance, as actors/actresses of various races were considered for all three main parts.
  • Tracking Device: Neo is implanted with a tracking-bug, which is later removed by Trinity.
  • Trash Landing: Neo, while running from the three Agents in the final act, jumps from a window and conveniently lands on a pile of cardboards and bags of trash.
  • The Treachery of Images: "There is no spoon."
  • True Love's Kiss: After Neo is killed by Agent Smith, Trinity brings him back to life with a kiss.
  • Try and Follow:
    • In the beginning of the movie, Trinity jumps across a roof to escape an Agent. The first time, he follows. The second time, she jumps into a window in the side of the building. He doesn't follow.
    • Subverted when Morpheus gave Neo the ultimatum of either escaping by jumping onto a window-washing platform or being captured by the Agents. Neo tries the first, but ends up choosing the second.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Switch and Trinity, the only two female members of the Matrix crew in the first film.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Neo at the end of the movie.
  • Unfamiliar Ceiling: When Neo awakes after been ejected from the Matrix, he looks up to see the unfamiliar faces of Trinity and Morpheus and asks if he is dead.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation:
    • The Agent training scenario ("Were you listening to me, Neo, or were you looking at the woman in the red dress?"). Even Neo is fooled into thinking it was the real thing. The scenario is designed to always end with the trainee's death, because a human cannot beat an Agent. The only recourse when faced with one is to attempt escape, and even that is iffy at best.
    • The jump program isn't designed to be this, but no-one ever makes their first jump (not even The Chosen One).
  • Use Your Head: Morpheus and Agent Smith do this to each other during their fight before Morpheus' capture.
  • [Verb] This!: Trinity's famous Pre-Mortem One-Liner, "Dodge this," to an Agent right before blowing his brains out at point-blank range. He does dodge the bullet, just not in a natural way, and the body he was using as a host was not so lucky.
  • Villain Has a Point: Cypher betrays and murders his comrades for a chance to get back inside the Matrix, making him clearly villainous. However, he claims one of his grievances with Morpheus is the admittedly shady way that Morpheus gains new recruits by piquing their interest with cryptic conversations and not telling them the truth about the real world being a bombed-out wasteland until after they've already made their decision.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Neo puking just before he passes out after The Reveal. This is a case of Written-In Infirmity. During that take, Keanu was suffering food poisoning he got from eating some bad chicken. It caught up with him during the take that ended up in the film's final cut.
  • Wait Here: When Neo decides to go in and rescue Morpheus on his own, Trinity demands to tag along.
  • Walking Armory: Neo brings nearly twenty guns underneath his trench coat to the lobby shoot-out.
  • 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.
  • Wham Line: Agent Smith in the opening scene: "No, Lieutenant, your men are already dead."
  • Wham Shot: Showing the endless fields of humans being grown by the machines.
  • White Bunny: Neo is told to follow the white rabbit which he does when noticing the customer girl's shoulder tattoo of a white rabbit.
  • Wipe That Smile Off Your Face: When Neo asks for his One Phone Call, Smith responds by erasing his mouth.
    Smith: Tell me, Mr. Anderson, what good is a phone call if you're unable to speak?
  • Wire Fu: The first film properly introduced this to Western audiences at large and led to more Hollywood movies utilising it.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: The spoon child is definitely in that category.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Initially, Neo believes he is in a Cyber-Thriller set Next Sunday A.D. and the Men in Black who kidnap him are government agents who are hassling him about his computer hacking. Of course, it turns out that this is not the case and he's actually living in a Lotus-Eater Machine in a Crapsack World in a distant future, after a Class 2 Apocalypse How, and the world inside the machine is only Cyber Punk because computers and telephones in the virtual world act as symbols of communication with the real world outside the Matrix.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: You are not meant to pass the Jump program first time. Much to Mouse's confusion. The entire point of the simulation is to show what you can eventually do, to open and free your mind from all doubt, and most poignantly, that if you die in the Matrix you die in the real world.
  • 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 Other Left: Actually said by Tank to Neo while on the run from Agents when he tries to dodge into an apartment to escape them.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/TheMatrix?from=Main.TheMatrix