"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."
What is The Matrix?Unfortunately, nobody can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself....or, y'know, you could read the article. That works too.The Matrix series primarily revolves around a trilogy of sci-fi action movies starring Keanu Reeves as The Hero, Laurence Fishburne as his mentor, Carrie-Anne Moss as his Action GirlLove Interest, and Hugo Weaving as the Big Bad. The first film brilliantly used the radical visual effect of Bullet Time and became one of the most influential (and oft-copied) sci-fi films since Star Wars.The first film — The Matrix — begins in what looks like the Present Day. The film's protagonist, 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 The Wachowskis intended for the machines to use humanity as a giant neural computer network, but Executive Meddling intervened.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.The second film — The Matrix Reloaded — delves into the history of the Matrix itself. The war between the machines and the human resistance begins to heat up as Neo and his allies search for a series of wayward programs that can lead them to the source code of the Matrix (and, hopefully, bring the war to an end). As Neo learns the true history of the Matrix, he starts to doubt himself — and the plan to save humanity. The efforts to stop the machines grows harder when Agent Smith returns as an anomaly, working on his own terms (and with new, virus-like abilities). Reloaded has far more action than its predecessor (which only really got busy in the third act) and has more of an epic feel to it, thanks in part to a larger budget and in-depth world building.The third film — The Matrix Revolutions — follows up directly from the previous film (as the Wachowskis filmed Reloaded and Revolutions back-to-back). As the machines reach humanity's real world stronghold and begin their assault, Neo attempts to defeat Agent Smith — who has all but taken over the Matrix — and end the war altogether. Critics and fans generally think of Revolutions as the weakest of the three films.The first movie remains popular — it became one of those works of fiction that heavily influences nearly everything in its wake, including superhero movies and symbolism-heavy Mind Screws like Lost — and people generally regard it as one of the earliest elements of the "Truth Movement," albeit as fictional allegory. The second and third films don't fare so well; critics and fans both agree that those two films ended up suffering from Sequelitis. The trilogy holds together much better as a whole when watched in one go, though. We also recommend watching The Animatrix between the first film and Reloaded, as it can clear up a lot of potential confusion about the trilogy's storyline as it heads into the sequels.Several of the films' Spin Offs contain plot explanations not included in the movies:
Three video games: Enter The Matrix, The Matrix: Path of Neo, and the defunct The Matrix Online MMORPG. Enter The Matrix — produced on set simultaneously with Reloaded — includes work from a number of the film's actors; The Matrix Online started out as a direct sequel to Revolutions' storyline; and Path of Neo allowed players to fill the role of Neo, and even offered an alternate ending to the trilogy.
A graphic novel anthology of short stories
The Animatrix, an anthology of nine short animated films from several celebrated anime directors. The Second Renaissance — the only two-part short of the collection — explains the backstory of the human/machine war that resulted in the Matrix's creation, while Final Flight of the Osiris connects directly to Enter the Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded.
So, what tropes appear in the movies?
Unfortunately, no one can be told what tropes can be found within the Matrix. You just have to read them for yourself:
Action Girl: Pretty much any female character of note, Trinity's opening sequence is one of the most iconic action girl moments in cinema. Others include Switch, Niobe, and by the end of the third film, Zee and her Vasquez-esque friend.
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.
The Alcatraz: The Matrix is a particularely ingenious example, as it's a prison that's supposed to be inescapable due to no one realizing that it's a prison to begin with (except for the resistance, of course).
Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window, or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus:[leans in closer to Neo] That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison, for your mind.
Keanu Reeves: What was the Osiris? And who was that kid in Zion who kept pestering me? Architect: You will find the answers to these questions by purchasing The Animatrix, a collection of nine animated shorts from some of Anime’s top directors. Keanu Reeves: Alright. Well, what was that crap Glora said about vampires and werewolves? And how did Jada Pinkett Smith get to Laurence Fishburne during the car chase? And what the hell happened during the power plant takeover climax that-wasn’t? Architect: You will find the answers to those questions by purchasing the Enter The Matrix game, available for Windows, Playstation2, Xbox, and Gamecube. Enter the Matrix features awesome gunplay and spectacular martial arts that bend the rules of the Matrix. This game isn’t just set in the Matrix universe–it’s an integral part of the experience, with a story that weaves in and out of The Matrix Reloaded. Enter the Matrix is the story behind the story.
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 the reverse - 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. The Architect reveals that the one Neo is in is the sixth version of the simulation. Depending on how long it takes Zion to regrow from 7 men and 17 women to an entire city, it could be several hundred years old, or more than a thousand.
Ancient Grome: The Oracle has a reference to the Oracle of Delphi (Greek) over her door, but it's written in Latin.
The Animatrix implies this to have occurred for the first humans embedded in the prototype Matrix.
The scene in the first film where Neo's mouth gets covered over while the Agents insert a bug-like tracker through his belly button is a more literal use of this trope, because tell me, Mr. Anderson...what good is a phone call, if you're unable to speak?
The reactions of bluepills while being overrode by Agents implies this as well. In the first, for instance, the helicopter pilot that Agent Brown overrides.
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.
Ascended Fanboy: The Kid, though he was also The Scrappy for some fans (and Neo). There is some evidence to suggest that the Wachowskis intended the two latter Matrix films as a Valentine to George Lucas, with The Kid being this trilogy's answer to Jar Jar Binks.
Assimilation Backfire: Agent Smith assimilates The Oracle, which appears to backfire in some way (since she knew he was coming).
It backfires because, as she explained to Neo, "We can't see past the choices we don't understand." Smith could see that Neo would die, but not the reason he sacrificed himself. At the end, Neo's assimilation gives Smith a direct link back to the machines, allowing them to purge the rogue AI.
Attack Drone: The Sentinels that patrol the real world and pursue rebel ships.
Audible Sharpness: Plenty of examples in Reloaded: the twins' switchblades, Morpheus's katana, the ENTIRE fight between Neo and the Merovingian's goons.
Author Appeal: One of the Wachowskis employed a full-time dominatrix. Suddenly, Trinity's costumes make far more sense. Given the fact that Larry Wachowski is now 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.
The Wachowskis were also massive fans of sci-fi anime such as Ghost in the Shell and Shaw Brothers wuxia movies, and incorporated elements from both genres into the films in copious amounts. They showed producer Joel Silver clips from Ghost In the Shell in addition to art and storyboards to give him an idea of what kind of movie they wished to make, and managed to hire Hong Kong action choreography extraordinaire Yuen Woo-Ping to serve as stunt coordinator.
Back-to-Back Badasses: Occurs twice in Revolutions - Seraph, Trinity and Morpheus in the Merovingian's club and three APC operators during the Sentinel attack on the Dock.
Bad Ass Longcoat: Dark trenchcoats complement the trendy sunglasses in the ensemble of most rebels while they are in the Matrix. Aside from looking cool, they're a great place to conceal weapons. The Red Stapler effect came along in the real world.
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 agression).
At the end of Reloaded, Neo and his evil counterpart are lying unconscious. How do we know that Bane is evil? Well aside from the fact that we saw him get possessed by The Big Bad and the rumours that he sabotaged his teammates, the most compelling piece of evidence of his evil is probably the facial hair.
Or the "duh duh DUUUHH?!" music that plays when the camera pans over to him.
The Architect sports a natty full beard.
Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Trinity, Morpheus, and Neo. Of course, they're all good-looking, smart, and tough, but Morpheus is the wisest and Neo is the strongest.
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 the Big Badwhich was prophesied earlier, in passing, by The Oracle when she remarked "...it looks like you're waiting for something ... your next life, maybe".
Big Applesauce: In the Animatrix short The Second Renaissance, you know the world is well and truly fucked when a machine takes the floor of the United Nations, gloats over their victory, and then nukes Manhattan.
Big Bad: Agent Smith. In the first movie he's the most "senior" Agent and has the most reason to infiltrate Zion. In the sequels he's out to take over everything.
Invoked and then subverted in the first movie 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 in the first movie, he "bugs" Neo by planting a giant insectoid robot inside his belly button while Neo's mouth is sealed shut.
The Heart of 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 Smith get into a shootout in the subway and wind up with their guns at each other's head, only to point out to each other 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' 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 bottomeless ammo.
In the first movie, 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.
Early in the first 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.
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. Even this webpage that you are reading right now.
Car Fu: Many times throughout, starting when the Agents use a garbage truck to smash a phone booth while Trinity tries to dial out from it in the first film. When the Albino Twins try it on Morpheus in Reloaded, he demonstrates just exactly why Katanas Are Just Better.
Casting Gag: In the MST3K "classic" Future War, Daniel Bernhardt plays an escaped human slave from the future being hunted by machines in the present day. In Reloaded, he appears as Agent Johnson, a machine from the future that hunts escaped human slaves in a simulation of the present day.
The Chessmaster: The Architect, who not only created The Matrix, but has manipulated five generations of "The One" into doing what he wants (letting Zion be killed off and then repopulating it). That's not including the Oracle, the matronly counterpart to the Architect. The entire plot has been...at the very least, heavily influenced by her desire to unbalance the Architect's Plan.
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 somnolescent late-nineties metropolis, both the less-savory parts of the Matrix and the Machine City are more like this.
Click Hello: A number of times, of which Trinity's "Dodge this!" is probably the most memorable. Famous enough to be the page quote.
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. The Merovingian's speech during Reloaded, however, is epic: "Nom de dieu de putain de bordel de merde de saloperie de connard d’enculé de ta mère." An extremely rough translation for this is, "Goddamn shit-fucking, filthy assholed motherfucker."
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; the sole exception is the Zion Temple being red. And the Machine code and life energy is gold. The commentary by the philosophers points out that this matches with portrayal of Mind, Body, and Spirit.
It should be noted that the Matrix is very faintly green-tinted because it is made out of tiny, tiny numbers and letters coloured 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: In the first film, Neo steals a guy's cell phone. The guy complains, and Agent Smith steals his body.
Conversation Casualty: Near the end of the first movie, 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, frameless shades and Agent Smith's oddly geometric ones. Even more deeply symbolic is the way Smith's and Neo's shades become closer in appearance over time, to show how their growth mirrors and contrasts.
Cool Ship: The Nebuchadnezzar, The Logos, The Mjolnir (aka "The Hammer"), as well as the entire Zion hovercraft fleet.
Counting Bullets: In a fight between Neo and Agent Smith both note that the other has run out of bullets.
Crapsaccharine 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 AIs 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
A more subtle occurrence is in the Agent Training Program. If you think you see the same extras walk by twice, guess what, you're right: All of the extras are twins. Word Of God is that Mouse wrote the program and after making half the crowd became lazy and copied them. And 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?
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.
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 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.
Cyber Punk: The films share a Cyber Punk sense of style as well as the core themes of technology as a tool of control.
Despair Event Horizon: Immediately after Neo dies in the first film, the sentinels start cutting into the interior of the Nebuchadnezzar. 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.
Deus Est Machina: The machines were originally servants of man, rebelled (of course), then went on to try and give us a utopic imprisonment. It didn't take. Agent Smith does the same with the machines in turn. And, of course, there is a Machine character in the final film named "Deus ex Machina".
Morpheus: 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. [Neo's eyes are drawn to an attractive woman in a red dress passing by] And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it. Were you listening to me, Neo? Or were you looking at the woman in the red dress?
Neo: I was- [Morpheus gestures with his hand]
Morpheus: Look again.
[Neo does. The woman in the red dress has instantly turned into Agent Smith, who raises his Desert Eagle pistol at Neo's head. Neo ducks]
Morpheus: Freeze it. [Everything on the screen, even the birds, freezes in time]
Neo: This... this isn't the Matrix?
Morpheus: No. It's another training program designed to teach you one thing: if you are not one of us, you are one of them.
Neo: What are they?
Morpheus: Sentient programs. They can move in and out of any software still hard-wired to their system. That means that anyone we haven't unplugged is potentially an Agent. Inside the Matrix, they are everyone and they are no one. We have 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.
Disturbed Doves: Reloaded shows that animals can sense evil. Even in the Matrix.
Disney Death: Well-liked characters die near the climax, but like Tinkerbell, are revived through sheer sentiment. Neo and Tank in the first movie, Trinity in the second.
Doing It for the Art: While watching the "Lady in the Red Dress" scene, you might notice the same people are passing Neo and Morpheus more than once. Production goof? Nope! All of the extras in the scene are actual twins. They searched all over Sydney for twins and brought them in to create the impression that Mouse, while writing the Agent training program, got lazy and just copy-pasted the same models over again instead of making unique ones. Did you notice that... or were you staring at the lady in the red dress?
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 similarly translucent 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.
The Dreaded: In the first film, 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.
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. In the sequels, Agent Smith follows the rebels' theme by wearing a black suit. Also, see Cool Shades above.
Dull Surprise: Oracle seems to be the only character that seems to make any facial expression and doesn't speak in a monotone.
Dyeing For Your Art / Important Haircut: "Spoonboy"'s mum was very reluctant to have his beautiful locks shaved off. Also, Neo's in-Matrix scenes were shot first, and his on-ship scenes shot last, because of Keanu Reeves getting his head shaved during filming.
Eat Me: Done twice. The Oracle and Neo both let Smith assimilate them in order to destroy him.
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 and Neo wakes up in his real body. Watch it here.
Enemy Mine: Smith's conquest of the Matrix went so far that Neo and the Machines were forced to work together in order to stop him. The Machines made a temporary truce with the rest of the Human forces during this unrest. Smith got beaten and the Machines made their part and stopped all operations on the humans.
Fighting a Shadow: The Agents are computer programs working for those running the Matrix, so there's no reason they should stay dead. If you actually manage to kill one by the rules of the simulation, the program remains in existence, and the Agent can return immediately by possessing the nearest bystander. Double Subverted when Neo destroys Smith at the end of the first movie, seemingly for good but ultimately only causing him to become more powerful in the next movie. Agents and other programs who are destroyed by "the rules" can, while incorporeal, choose to rebel and return a second time, but are considered an abomination.
Executive Meddling: Dropping the original idea of Human Resources being a vast neural net for the more literal concept of human Duracell batteries because Viewers Are Morons. Giving all the other stuff that has to be explained (or not) in this trilogy, one wonders why this idea was so difficult to put across.
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.
Expy: Several characters in the sequels fill roles of characters who died in the first movie: Niobe is the secondary-action-girl-with-cool-hair, to replace Switch; Link is the new wisecracking operator, to replace Tank; Smith-controlled Bane is the new double-agent-with-a-goatee to replace Cypher, and Kid is the new cute youngster to replace Mouse.
Fantastic Racism: Hinted at with a throwaway line from Captain Mifune in the third movie. Apparently, some humans born in Zion have a rather low opinion of "pod-born" humans who grew up in the Matrix, often stereotyping them as weak and unreliable.
Fauxreigner: The Merovengian is, of course, a computer program, so he's not really French any more than he's a human being at all, but he seems to enjoy acting like an Affably Evil bohemian French eccentric basically just because it's cool, and of course tres sexy.
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.
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.
Morpheus's warning to Neo that some people will cling to the world of the Matrix and 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 in the first movie, 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.
The Merovingian makes two mentions of Neo's "predecessors" about forty-five minutes before the Architect appears.
The Architect tells Neo that Trinity will die and there's nothing he can do to stop it. Neo proves him wrong minutes later... but it turns out he's only delaying the inevitable.
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.
Future Music: There is a rave scene in Reloaded that seems to go on forever.
Gaia's Lament: Subverted at the end of the third film, as the Machine City appears hideous by human aesthetic standards, but teeming with (mechanical) life. After all, the Machines weren't the ones who destroyed the Earth...
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."
Glasses Pull: Anyone who wears sunglasses/spectacles in the films is prone to doing this, to the point of being a Running Gag.
Agent Smith does it for the first time while interrogating Thomas Anderson; it symbolizes him getting into his "personal" mode.
Smith gets his sunglasses kicked off by Neo in their first real fight, symbolizing Neo's growing capabilities in the Matrix.
Neo does a symbolic inversion at the very end of the first film, putting on his sunglasses.
A Glitch in the Matrix: The Trope Namer. An experience of deja-vu means that something within the Matrix has been altered. Namely, that the windows of the buiding in questioned have been all flled in with bricks.
Gnosticism: Almost as much as Christianity, the series reflects a deep and abiding Gnostic influence. There's even a ship called the Gnosis.
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 has two lines, 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.
Smith's detachment from being controlled by the Matrix allows him to develop a frightening individuality, then have an epiphany that leads to a godlike superiority complex which eventually turns him into a deranged Omnicidal Maniac.
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. To elaborate:
Trinity's opening sequence in the first film. When cornered by about six police officers in a seedy abandoned hotel room, she attacks them, apparently killing at least one and knocking out all of the others.
They are also extremely ruthless about it; in the first movie especially they don't so much fight law enforcement officers as massacre them, particularly in the Hallway scene. Notice that when Neo and Trinity enter the agents' base and wipe out the lobby guards, they spray those guys with automatic rifles. One is even shot while reading a newspaper (which is torn in half by bullets).
Morpheus gives their stone cold philosophy on the subject early on- everyone they are trying to save is plugged into the systemnote For instance, they could at any moment be possessed by an Agent, and Agents can actually see and hear what they see and hear, and "that makes them our enemy". Its actually quite chilling when you consider the implications of that, since in theory they are willing to kill even civilians to achieve their end. In the sequel, in fact, they do just that, when they blow up a power station and kill everyone who stands in their way, or beat them up and leave them to die.
Poor Bane. While everybody else that Agent Smith copies himself over is restored after Smith is finally beaten, Bane gets decapitated.
The normal Agents also 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. Unfortunately, if the Agents get killed, the victim of their possession also becomes a casualty.
Gravity Is Only a Theory: Gravity is not real because the world is not real. At the end of the first 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.
Binary: That would mean there's a quarter of a million sentinels up there.
Ajax: It can't be.
Morpheus: Why not? A sentinel for every man, woman or child in Zion. That sounds exactly like the thinking of a machine to me.
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.
Home Field Advantage: The Trainman is much more powerful than normal in the underground subway area he controls. He's even more powerful than The One (Neo).
Trainman: You don't get it. I built this place. Down here, I make the rules. Down here, I make the threats. *punches Neo into a wall* Down here, I'm God.
Hood Hopping: In Reloaded, an Agent does this to pursue Trinity and the Keymaker.
Human Resources: As discussed in the main text, the machines partly power their civilisation on the "bio-electricity" drawn from the bodies of human beings ensnared in the Matrix. The "[kind of] fusion" Morpheus says this is combined with is never revealed.
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.
If the Architect is to be trusted, humans are apparently hardwired to be unable to comprehend a true utopia.
Humans Are White: A notable aversion, especially once Zion enters the picture. Even beforehand, the real world humans of the first are led by Morpheus, who is black. The series also subverts The Smurfette Principle with the main leads of the first (as the crew has two females - Switch and Trinity), 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, but his wife Jada Pinkett Smith did join the cast in the sequels.)
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.
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.
In the first sequel:
During the Burly Brawl, Neo hits an Agent Smith with a pole and knocks the concrete off the end, then spins it around to intimidate the other Smiths watching.
During the fight in the Merovingian's chateau, Neo does a brief spin display with the two sai after he pulls them off a wall to him. Also, one of the Merovingian's goons spins his swords around in an intimidating way before attacking Neo with them.
During Morpheus' fight with the albino ghost Twins, each of them does some fancy moves with their straight razors before fighting him.
During Morpheus' fight with Agent Johnson on top of the truck during the car chase. After pulling the sword out of the side of the truck and slicing through Johnson's tie, Morpheus swings the sword around a few times.
Invincible Hero: One of the common complaints about Reloaded and Revolutions. Ironic, considering how it all ends. It's played with, most notably in the chateau where we see that Neo isn't invincible when he tries to block a blade with his hand and the Merovingian actually blows the later reveal that he's not the first One right there, twice. The scene progresses so rapidly while giving these points no special lipservice that many viewers completely miss it, or catch it but forget it five minutes later.
Iwo Jima Pose: The Animatrix's "Second Renaissance" has a scene where the UN soldiers pull this off. The catch is that by that point, they were losing badly to the Machines.
Jump Off A Bridge: Morpheus orders Trinity to get the Keymaker to safety, and she does so by jumping with him off the bridge and landing on a truck carrying motorcycles.
Katanas Are Just Better: Averted when Neo kicks arse with a solid ol' broadsword in the fight in the Mansion. Played a little straighter with the sword Morpheus takes from the handy Samurai statue. Bear in mind, that thing cutsthrougha car.
La Résistance: The resistance movement against the Matrix, naturally. Double-subverted at the end of Reloaded, where the Architect reveals that the resistance's existence is actually vital to the continuation of the Matrix, which is why the machines loyal to the Matrix don't wipe them out. They will be the ones populating the Matrix after it reboots and the previous Matrix's population dies because of it. Then Neo refuses to carry out the plan described to him by the Architect and forces the machines to make a truce with the resistance in Revolutions on the resistance's terms.
Large Ham: Smith, at points, and particularly towards the end of the trilogy. "THIS IS MY WORLD, MY WORLD!
Laser Cutter: Utilized by the attack machines in the real world.
Last Kiss: Trinity asks Neo to kiss her just before her death.
Last Stand: The Battle of Zion essentially amounts to this, with special mention to Cpt. Mifune's. The scene in Matrix Revolutions is even titled, "Mifune's Last Stand"
Liberty Over Prosperity: Everyone who lives outside of the Matrix has basically chosen freedom over comfort (or their ancestors did).
Lightning Gun: A device the humans of Zion use on the Sentinels (and, in the first movie, each other).
Also a very subtle form of Foreshadowing, as that's what Neo ends up becoming.
Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: The Ultimate Matrix Collection, which features all 3 films, The Animatrix and 35 hours of bonus features, interviews, documentaries, commentaries and such, all spread out over 10 DVDs. Or four Blu Rays and two DVDs.
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 when Neo is in Mr. Rinehart's office.
Long Game: The entire series can be described as a very long conflict between the Oracle and the Architect if you break things down enough. The Architect's first line to the Oracle near the end of Revolutions essentially drops the trope name.
Longing For the Matrix: Cypher in the first movie 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.
Lotus-Eater Machine: The first iteration of the Matrix was too perfect, according to the Architect, which is why humans initially rejected it.
Magical Negro: The Wachowskis seem to love this trope. They have not one, not two, but three Magical Negroes, Morpheus included.
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.
Later, 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.
"Anderson", Neo's real last name, 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, have good physical strength; Mouse, for his size and occasional meekness. Trinity has Biblical implications.
Mêlée à Trois: The last two movies were simply an all-out war between the Humans, who were fighting for survival as well for liberation from the Matrix; the Machines, who tries to destroy the Human race before they become too many to handle; and Smith, who had created his own clone army and wants to conquer both the Matrix and the real world.
Not to mention various groups of programs exiled from the Machine world that appear as supernatural creatures within the Matrix.
Smith does become a literal Man in Black in the sequels, though.
The Messiah: The Ones were actually designed for this trope, but Neo subverts it as the movies play out, as noted by the Architect.
Architect: It is interesting reading your reactions. Your five predecessors were, by design, based upon a predication, a contingent affirmation that was meant to create a profound attachment to the rest of your species, thus facilitating the function of the One. While the others experienced this in a very general way, your experience is far more specific, vis-a-vis, love.
Messianic Archetype: Take a wild guess. Neo is the sixth and hopefully, last, although it is implied he will return as a seventh.
Bane, who has his entire brain overwritten by Smith.
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.
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 — Oracle: Ohhhh, what's really going to bake your noodle later on is, would you still have broken it if I hadn't said anything?
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.
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. In Reloaded, she explains that she told him what he needed to hear.
Mr. Smith: All the Agents have bland pseudonyms. And there is an Agent Smith, which is better. The other Agents in the first are Agent Brown and Agent Jones. In the second, there is Agent Jackson and Agent Thompson.
Ms. Fanservice: Persephone wearing the tightest dress known to man in Reloaded.
Neck Lift: The Docbot does it to Neo when he first wakes up from the Matrix, Agent Thompson does it to Trinity in Reloaded, and Smith does it to Neo at the end of their Battle in the Rain in Revolutions.
Neck Snap: In Revolutions, Morpheus uses this to kill a mook guarding an elevator.
Never Bring A Knife To A Fistfight: In a Katanas Are Just Better attempt, Morpheus tries to fight an unarmed Agent Johnson with a sword. He barely manages to nick Johnson's cheek and cut off his tie before the sword gets snapped, and Morpheus gets punted off the back of the moving truck.
That's still better than how Morpheus was faring when fighting with only his fists.
Neural Implanting: This is how everyone gets their abilities. A jack in the back of the neck.
As it turns out, without Neo's unintended creation of Smith, Neo would not have stopped the war. Smith became a threat so large that he would eventually destroy EVERYTHING, from the Matrix out. Neo created a mutual enemy to both Man and Machine, something that his predecessors apparently could not do. By stopping such a threat to all, Smith, Neo brokered a peace that the Machines could respect.
There was also the Architect's statement that the Matrix will suffer a system crash if the One does not sacrifice himself in order to reload it.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If Smith had simply beaten Neo to death in Revolutions he would have won, but he chose to download himself into Neo instead. The symbolism aside (and there's a lot of it), the literal interpretation of what's going on is that Smith doesn't realize Neo is jacked into the Matrix in the machine city, which means he's just connected himself to the Source, so the machines promptly delete him.
In addition to diamond-powers, the Agents in The Matrix also manifested by taking over the bodies of those still connected to the Matrix, which could be considered a variation of Fighting A Shadow. Due to their abilities, "killing" an Agent is an incredible feat for a human — and all it meant was that the Agent had to move on to the next body. Then there's Smith in the latter two films, who could infect any plugged-in human or program and rewrite them into a copy of himself.
Neo, the central protagonist of The Matrix, is also effectively Made of Diamond (while inside the Matrix), specifically in Reloaded and Revolutions. He's able to block a sword cut with his hand, only drawing a tiny bit of blood. An on-looker proceeds to highlight this fact, ignoring that Neo just proved himself to be ungodly tough even by Matrix standards. The character's NOT as invulnerable in the original movie until he learns to dis-believe the reality of the artificial world at the film's conclusion (and therefore seize the means to manipulate it). When Neo meets the multiple Smiths for the first time in Reloaded ("The Burly Brawl"), it's a case of Diamond vs. Diamond as neither can defeat the other no matter how hard they struck. Smith does draws the stalemate close to a win since there was only one Neo, who escapes from a dog-pile of nearly 100 Smiths atop him.
The Twins from The Matrix sequel, The Matrix Reloaded, combine Made of Air with Regeneration. Not only can they turn intangible at will, but while intangible they almost instantly heal any injuries they have sustained while in corporeal form. On the other hand, the Twins couldn't hurt anyone when intangible either, which the heroes used to their advantage.
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!"
No Sell: Neo grows so strong by the end of the first movie that when he fights three enhanced Agents alone in the second film, he casually quips "Huh, upgrades" when one of them blocks an attack.
The Nth Doctor: The Oracle is played by a different actress in Revolutions due to her original actress dying before completing her scenes; fortunately the directors were already toying with the idea of her changing "skins".
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: Quite a few of these throughout the trilogy.
One of the first is Tank's stunned 'oh my God' immediately following the deja vu scene.
One of the last is Smith as he's finally overcome.
Omnicidal Maniac: (Agent) Smith turns into this in the second and third films after he's 'unplugged' from the system's control, eventually growing far beyond the machines' control. By the end of Revolutions he has spread through the entire Matrix, already taken control of at least one person in the real world, and is poised to continue through to the Source mainframe and Machine City along with it - leading to the trilogy's concluding peace deal between the humans and the machines.
Every story you've ever heard about vampires, werewolves, or aliens is the system assimilating some program that's doing something they're not supposed to be doing.
Online Alias: Rebels seem to adopt their online handles as their names. Neo and Trinity are the two best examples.
The Only One: As early as the first film; when they are hacked into the Matrix, any and every human being around them who is still plugged in by the machines has to be considered a threat because they could become an Agent in the blink of an eye. Their small group is basically operating behind enemy lines, outnumbered some 6,000,000 to 9. In Reloaded, Smith starts to blatantly invoke this trope in his fights with Neo in an attempt to overcome The One's Reality Warper abilities in regards to martial arts and combat. And by Revolutions, within the Matrix, he spends the whole movie setting this up for the climatic final confrontation against Neo by turning every single person in the Matrix, human or otherwise, into a copy of himself. Though he needn't have bothered once he converted the Oracle and saw that he would win, he's just that kind of a perfectionist.
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.
Also seen in their fighting styles and builds. The Agents are essentially Munchkins with maxed-out Constitution, Dexterity, etc. The human fighters don't care because they defy the rules anyhow. Smith rolls 99 dice to hit. Neo throws bricks at the GM.
The Other Darrin: Mary Alice replaces Gloria Foster as the Oracle in Revolutions, as Foster died shortly before filming began. It's explained in-universe with a story about Ramachandra selling her original shell's termination code to the Merovingian in exchange for his daughter's safety.
An in-universe example: Link takes over Operator duties for the Nebuchadnezzar in Reloaded. Where's Tank? A few months after the end of the first movie, he dies from the wounds he suffered against Cypher.
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 be very much be the real world.
Plucky Comic Relief: In the first movie, 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.
Pop the Tires: In Revolutions. While the Agents are pursuing Trinity and Morpheus on the freeway, an Agent shoots out the left rear tire on Trinity's car, which eventually forces her to stop.
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. Then again, it could be the Prime Program activating and fully awakening Neo's powers.
Product Placement: More obvious in the sequels, along with complementary commercials (who knew Agents could get distracted by HD TV?). The phones used in the sequels were provided by Samsung as part of an advertising scheme to sell the same phones to the public.
In the first movie, all the cell phones are from Nokia and the label is often very visible.
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.
A Protagonist Shall Lead Them: Neo is a classic Destined Leader Archetype. The rebels have a strong expectation that a hero will come to them in their hour of need. Inverted in that he's technically subordinate to Morpheus, Trinity, the other captains and the Council, but most defer to his judgement and most of Zion treats him with reverance. Also inverted in that in the end, he doesn't actually lead them at all. Instead he fights Smith and make a deal with the Machines.
Psychic Surgery: When Neo saves Trinity by restarting her heart... by hand!
Pyrrhic Victory: Revolutions: Zion has been saved, but the world is still ruined, the dock has been devastated by the thousands of Sentinels and the drill that bored through earlier, Captian Mifune was eventually overwhelmed and killed by the Sentinels, Trinity still died even after Neo tried to save her once before, thus proving the Architect's warning true, Agent Smith has left Neo's physical body blinded, and Neo dies through sacrifice, leaving the rest of his allies to wonder what happened to him. Worse, the Architect lives on to continue his Affably Evil existence, though the Oracle survives to combat him and ensure the era of peace between man and machine will last.
Radial Ass Kicking: The Multi Mook fights pretty much define this trope, particularly the fight against all the Smiths in the second film.
Reality Has No Subtitles: In Reloaded, while the Merovingian is giving his speech about how French is his favorite language, he speaks a long phrase in French (which is actually a string of curse words) with no translation.
Really Seventeen Years Old: The Kid in Revolutions tries to say he's eighteen and gets laughed at, when he's really a wide-eyed sixteen-year-old pup. He convinces Mifune to let him help the corps anyway, though.
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, AKA Calamari) have multiple glowing red eyes.
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.
Neo balks at Morpheus' guidance in the first film, when he is told to climb to the roof of an office building. In the game, Path of Neo, you can change this decision.
One of the online comics is about a hacker who chose the blue pill.
Cypher initially accepted the red pill, but grew to regret it. He saw himself to be little more than a lapdog to Morpheus and yearned to return to the illusion of the Matrix by any means necessary—so he threw his conscience out the window and pulled an insidious betrayal.
Rogue Drone: Originally a guardian A.I. in a simulated reality, Agent Smith becomes something akin to a computer virus.
Roofhopping: 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.
Run or Die: The strategy for dealing with Agents, at least in the first film. 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 first film.
Scare Chord: Used effectively in the first 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 Diesel Punk 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.
Schrödinger's Butterfly: Particularly at the end of the second movie when Neo was able to stop a machine with his mind in what was supposed to be the real world when nobody had shown powers in the real world before, fans speculated that the "real world" might just have been another layer of the matrix used to control rebellious minds. One of the comics also references the Trope Namer in a short comic where a monk or something beats up some agents.
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?
Sequel Non-Entity: The absence of Tank is explained away in Reloaded by Zee saying she had lost two brothers to the Nebuchadnezzar, implying that Tank had been killed.
Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Almost all of the Architect's dialogue, like it was run through a thesaurus to find the longest synonyms for every noun and then given the most convoluted expression of every concept.
Sex Is Violence: The first scene in Final Flight of the Osiris—a swordfight that, by its end, is about to turn into an entire different kind of swordplay.
Several works: in Matrix: Alice in Wonderland ("Follow the White Rabbit"); The Wizard of Oz ("Dorothy, Kansas is going bye-bye"); Commercials for Life Cereal ("Hey, Mikey, I think he likes it."), in Reloaded: when Neo flies across the city, his cape flapping in the wind, one of the characters says "Neo is doing his Superman thing"; and others.
In keeping with the movie's philosophical subtext, some of Zion's military personnel are named after famous philosophers. There's Commander Locke, Captain Soren (after Soren Kierkegaard), and Captain Ballard (after science fiction author J.G. Ballard).
There's also Captain Mifune. In the original Japanese version of Speed Racer (which the Wachowskis are huge fans of), "Mifune" was the main character's last name. Fittingly, they would go on to direct the live-action film of Speed Racer just a few years after finishing the Matrix trilogy.
In the first movie, the exit where the heroes get out of the Matrix and into the real world is Room 303. Maybe the phone was next to Asuka Soryu's hospital-bed?
The train station sign Mobil <=> Limbo, as mocked by Rifftrax.
The soundtrack's titles have even more of them. "Exit Mr Hat" comes to mind.
Film score composer Don Davis said outright in the initial DVD release's commentary track (one with no SFX or character voices, just the music and the composer's commentary on it) that he named several pieces as anagrams, including (in the first movie) "Bow Whisk Orchestra" and "Switch or Break Show" which are both anagrams of "Wachowski Brothers". In one of the two sequel films, a piece in the score was titled "Saw Bitch Workhorse"
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.
Something Only They Would Say: Smith in Bane's body reveals himself to Neo by calling him "Mr. Anderson" in his usual mocking tone. However, despite hearing this three times in the span of twenty seconds, Neo thinks Bane is just insane. He figures out the truth just before the fight, but can't completely accept it until his eyes get burned out, which allows Neo to actually "see" Smith's energy signature.
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.
Straw Nihilist: Agent Smith in sequels. In Revolutions he goes into a long rant about why Neo bothers to continue fighting him and that "Only a human mind could come up with something as insipid as love!" and "Why, Mr. Anderson!? Why!? Why do you persist!?" Ironically, Neo's response is something a Nietzschean Ubermensch might actually say: "Because I choose to."
Suicide Mission: Neo and Trinity's plan to rescue Morpheus is considered one by Tank.
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.
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.
Path of Neo example, one level takes place in the U.S. Senate within the Matrix, where one senator starts decrying violent video games as "offensive to our most basic values". About ten seconds later, he's turned into a Smith clone. Doubles as a rather satisfying Shut Up, Hannibal!.
Taking You with Me: In the first film, Smith knocks Neo into the path of an oncoming train, then jumps down to hold him in place so he can't avoid it. Death Is Cheap for Smith, of course, but the immediate effect is the same.
Telephone Polearm: In Reloaded, during the Burly Brawl with the hundred Smiths, Neo tears a signpost out of the ground and uses it as a staff.
Telephone Teleport: The series has a variation; the rebels use phones to jack their operatives into and out of the VR simulation.
Tell Me How You Fight: Though it's never commented on in-universe, the fighting styles of characters in The Matrix add another layer to the philosophy of the movie. Explained here. In short, humans tend to have more fluid, flashy or distinctive styles based on the character: contrast Morpheus' kung fu to Ballard's boxing. The Agents all use a generic karate-based style. Humans also use martial arts throws and wristlocks (Morpheus vs. Neo), wheras agents simply grab-and-heave, which works due to their incredible strength.
Throw Away Guns: Characters coolly throw away guns when they run out of ammo during a gunfight. This supports the videogame aesthetic of the combat. Given that the guns are being conjured up from Tank's computer code, they are disposable and it saves them any time that they would have wasted reloading.
Unnaturally Blue Lighting: The real world. The Matrix has green lighting. The first 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.
Unnecessary Combat Roll: In the third movie, Morpheus, Trinity, and Seraph get into a fight with some guys who can bend gravity. Said guys do things like cartwheeling on the ceiling from cover to cover. They die.
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 Zee Rust 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.
Viewers Are Morons: Responsible for some plot changes from the original script, particularly the use of humans as batteries rather than as parts of a supercomputer.
Villainous Breakdown: Agent Smith seems to suffer from it in the final fight. He started out cool and collected if slighty cocky, but as the fight against Neo progressed, you can clearly see that Neo's tenacity slowly started to get to Smith. In his "Why do you persist?!" moment, he pretty much screams out his infamous rant with an enraged look in his eyes. When Neo answers his question ("Because I choose to"), Smith pretty much loses it.
The Agents overtaking soldiers' bodie in the first film.
Agent Smith in the sequels, quite literally.
Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Neo puking just before he passes out after The Reveal in the first movie. 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.
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?: When any mook (or even innocent bystander) can become an Agent at the drop of a hat, killing them is not only justified but becomes a basic element of self-preservation, despite the fact that these people are shown to have lives and feelings.
What Measure Is An Agent: This turns into a sticky issue once it is revealed that there are sentient programs, some of whom have ambiguous alignments, some of whom are on the humans' side, and some that just want to be left alone.
When the Clock Strikes Twelve: In Reloaded, the bomb placed in the power plant is set to go off at midnight. In Revolutions Neo incorrectly says that the Architect told him that Zion would be destroyed by midnight.
The World Is Just Awesome: When Neo and Trinity break through the cloud cover and become the first humans (well, Trinity anyway) in centuries to see the sky, the sun, and the moon.
The Windy City: Every intersection named in the films is a Chicagoland reference.
With Us or Against Us: Morpheus practically says this trope by name when training Neo in the Construct in the first film. 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...)
Smith to Neo twice, once 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.") and at the end of the Burly Brawl ("It is inevitable!")
Also, the Architect informing Neo that the prophecy to save Zion was a lie, and that "The One"'s true purpose is to restart the war, not end it.
The last battle between Neo and Smith where Smith tries to persuade Neo to give up because it is pointless to keep fighting. Neo eventually gives up, but not just forSmith's reasons.
You Have No Chance to Survive: Smith. Repeatedly (see above). The Architect also informs Neo that the human race has no chance to survive (he calculated.)
Architect: We won't [meet again]. —- Agent Smith: Evolution, Morpheus. Like the dinosaur... you had your time. —- Agent Smith:Why, Mr. Anderson? Why do you do it? Why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you're fighting for something? For more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom? Or truth? Perhaps peace? Could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson... vagaries of perception. Temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself. Although... only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson. You must know it by now. You can't win. It's pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson, Why? Why do you persist?
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.