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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?"

The Matrix is a cyberpunk action film written and directed by The Wachowskis, released on March 31, 1999. Even if you haven't seen it yet, you've still likely seen its influence.

Thomas A. Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is a young and dissatisfied computer programmer who lives a double life online as "Neo", a skilled hacker for hire. Feeling that there is something off about the world, and after meeting a mysterious woman only known as Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), Thomas pursues an enigmatic darknet phrase referring to "the Matrix" and finds himself stumbling down a rabbit hole to a terrifying truth: the Present Day world he knows is an illusion, a computer simulation of Earth designed to keep humanity passive and captive under the control of sentient machines. It turns out that humans and machines fought a war with each other over dominance ages ago, and the machines won.


Freed from the restraints of the Matrix and taught how to exploit its systems, Neo joins a ragtag resistance movement, led by a man named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), as they search for "The One", The Chosen One prophesied to bring an end to the war between humans and machines.

The film also stars Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith and Joe Pantoliano as Cypher.

The film was followed by two sequels in 2003, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, and by another in 2021, The Matrix Resurrections.


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.
    • In the hotel room where Trinity is apprehended, a company called City Hoarding has its logo stamped on the wall. Its phone number: 555-0156.
  • Action Prologue: The opening chase scene, introducing Trinity as the Action Girl.
  • Actor Allusion:
  • After the End: The real world is a devastated, ravaged wasteland left to rot for over a century in the wake of the robot uprising with no human civilization outside of the city of Zion. Anyone not living in Zion is contained in pods that help fuel the Machines, trapped in a virtual reality simulation of life before the uprising.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Morpheus reveals that humans built the film's AI antagonists. The Animatrix segment "The Second Renaissance" gives important exposition that humans pissed off their own AI creations when they refused to acknowledge robots had equal civil rights as humans, which turned out to be a dangerous, backfiring decision because the machines had more than enough might and capability to overthrow their human masters.
  • 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 he chooses the red pill, "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.
  • Alternate Timeline: A wall of monitors show Neo awaiting interrogation, and the camera selects one and moves in. We see this again at the end of the next film; each monitor shows a different possible future.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: During his initial interrogation, Agent Smith lists "you have a Social Security Number" as one reason why Thomas Anderson seems perfectly normal and law-abiding. This sounds weird to younger viewers because most US citizens born after 1987 were assigned an SSN at birth (with the program spinning up years beforehand, and the whole idea of "SSN at birth" being another huge cog in many Government Conspiracy theories), so having an SSN sounds like a default state, rather than a sign of respect for the law. However, until the 1980s, Americans usually applied for an SSN when they got their first official job, which meant criminals and other under-the-radar workers wouldn't have one.
    • In foreign dubs, to avoid confusion, this line was often replaced with an easier to understand "You have a medical insurance".
  • Anonymous Public Phone Call: Subverted. Neo places a call to the Agents from a phone booth. Not only is the Agents' call trace interrupted, implicitly by Neo's One powers, but he very publicly flies out of the phone booth.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Morpheus is going for this when he asks Neo, "Do you believe that my being stronger or faster has anything to do with my muscles in this place?", but what really drives it home is his follow-up question, "You think that's air you're breathing now?". This is followed by Morpheus taking a beat to demonstrate that his digital avatar, in fact, does not need to breathe.
  • Artistic Licence – Biology: Several, for greater drama effect, although most of it has been later rectified by fanon theories.
    • Agent Smith claims that humans are not ordinary mammals because they do not instinctively seek out an equilibrium within the ecosystem. In fact, no species "instinctively" seeks equilibrium with its environment — most are just sufficiently evenly matched that one species is unlikely to have the kind of overwhelming negative impact on its ecosystem that humans can have. In wild nature, animals that destroy their habitat and their food base will simply go extinct in a few generations. Humans rather function similarly to an invasive species that did not yet "learn" this rule, but on a much larger level. But invasive species can be animals, plants, or anything else. To be fair, this whole speech is an in-character bullshitting from Smith to break Morpheus's will. Besides, nobody in this universe has observed a healthy ecosystem in quite some time.
    • Morpheus claims that the human body generates more bioelectricity than a 120-volt battery and over 25,000 BTUs of body heat. These figures are not only wildly exaggerated, but the human body produces less energy while asleep and the conversion of food to energy is only about 25% efficient, making it a net consumer of power. At least he also adds that machines supplement the Human Resources with "a form of fusion".
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: Cypher shoots his comrades and is about to pull the plug on Neo. But before he does, he demands that Trinity tell him if she truly believes that Neo is The Chosen One. Trinity says yes. Cypher shouts "No, I don't believe it!" … because one of the men he shot is still alive and pointing a very large gun at him.
    Tank: Believe it or not, you piece of shit, you're still gonna burn! [Fires]
  • 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.
  • Awful Truth: Society as we know it is all a facade generated by robots who defeated humanity ages before and now source them for energy, creating a simulation of what life was like in 1999 to keep humanity locked in an unknowing stasis. The fact Morpheus obscures this information from the people he frees from the Matrix is the linchpin of Cypher's betrayal, saying that Morpheus only tells enough of the disturbing reality to get people on the hook and by the time they find out what they actually bought into it's too late to reconsider.
  • Balcony Escape: Subverted. Morpheus tells Neo to do this to escape the Agents looking for him at his office. He tries but is nearly blown off the skinny ledge and can't make himself go any further.
  • Bald Head of Toughness: Most people of both sexes in the in-story real world are either bald or very close-shaven. This is in part justified because it would appear that the machines' People Jars prevent hair growth for those inside and hair could cover the port to hook up into The Matrix, but most of the characters would presumably have been out for long enough to grow some more hair (like Neo eventually does), so that's probably not why everyone's hair is like that. This helps create a contrast between the harsh, limited living conditions of reality and the cushy, comfortable, but ultimately controlled, lifestyle within The Matrix.
  • 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.
  • Bathroom Brawl: Morpheus gets into a fight with Agent Smith in a bathroom, and the former is knocked out as he hits his head on the toilet bowl.
  • Beard of Evil/Bald of Evil: Cypher and his pencil-thin goatee.
  • Better Than New/Came Back Strong: After Agent Smith kills him, 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 Cypher kills him.
  • 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 returning 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.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: When Cypher is about to pull the plug on Neo, he stops to indulge in chitchat about Neo's The Chosen One status, giving Tank time to sneak up and electrocute him from behind.
  • Bookends
    • The Heart o' the City Hotel, room 303, where both the first and penultimate 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, revealing 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.
  • Brutal Brawl: Unlike the film's flashier, more elaborate martial arts duels, Agent Smith vs. Morpheus is a nasty fistfight in a cramped bathroom, with blows that have real weight behind them (especially Smith hitting Morpheus with rapid-fire headbutts). It eventually becomes a Curb-Stomp Battle in Smith's favor.
  • Bullet Dodges You: At the end of the movie, Neo can 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.
  • 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 into 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.
  • Catching Up on History: A variation occurs where Neo (and, presumably, every other human rescued from the Matrix) learns that history as he knows it was just a deeply immersive virtual reality simulation (albeit one based on real history) and learns via another such simulation that the actual present world is a bombed-out radioactive wasteland ruled by The Machines with the vast majority of humanity now grown in pods and plugged into an artificial dream world.
  • Cathartic Exhalation: The crew lets a collective release of breath out when the Sentinels back off.
  • Central Theme: Faith, the nature of reality, trusting our senses, and if authority would use all that to oppress us.
  • 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.
  • Character Shilling: At several points the crew members note how unique Neo is.
    Mouse: Jesus Christ, he's fast! His neuro-kinetics are way above normal.
  • 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.note 
  • *Click* Hello: A few 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.
  • Conspicuous in the Crowd: A simulation invokes this trope by featuring a woman in a red dress in a large crowd, who distracts Neo and allows Morpheus to make a point.
  • 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 sneaked up from behind him with a gun.
    • Shortly after, she performs her famous "Dodge this" on an Agent who is about to shoot Neo at close range.
  • 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.
  • Cow Tools: The various pieces of equipment and implements used by Morpheus' crew to extract Neo from the Matrix certainly count: computer monitors and keyboards of different sizes and shapes, some sort of VR headset, a rotary phone hooked up to a giant modem-like apparatus, a curved rack of... server somethings with flashing lights, etc. It's never explained what exactly all those devices and gadgets do; they're just there and being used.
  • Crapsack World: If you think the dystopian virtual world controlled by machines is a raw deal, just wait until you see the real world ruled by machines. It is a vast, grey waste; 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's boss is chewing him out.
  • 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 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 retained since it seemed appropriate.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Morpheus stays behind to fight Agent Smith while the rest of the heroes escape. Despite putting up a good effort, he is easily overpowered by Smith and captured.
  • 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 Nebuchadnezzar crew (save Switch) all wear black outfits while in the Matrix.
  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: Neo's eyes hurt when used for the first time after exiting the Matrix.
  • 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 she departed via the landline, 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.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Those familiar with Buddhism and Gnosticism will find similarities in the plot with the idea of the world we see being an illusion that blinds us to the true reality. Neo is also like Buddha or Christ with this context. This was later expanded in the sequels.
    • Another example is the infamous interrogation scene where Neo's mouth is erased, his shirt is ripped open, and the tracking bug forcefully digs into his navel, which is often interpreted as a rape metaphor.
    • The Wachowskis confirmed in 2020 that the films were at least partly a metaphor for their experiences as trans women, and this is illustrated in the story's prominent focus on assigned false identities, the feeling of inherent wrongness in a forced status quo, and the liberation involved with discovering one's true self. Furthermore, the physical lynchpin of Neo's awakening is a red pill — which looks identical to estrogen supplements.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul":
    Agent Smith: Goodbye, Mr. Anderson.
    The Man formerly known as Thomas Anderson: My name ... is Neo!
  • Door Jam: Agent Smith shoots the phone just after Trinity gets out, leaving Neo with no exit and no choice but to fight him.
  • 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 left 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 right 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.
  • Drama Panes: Morpheus is being drugged for interrogation behind him, Agent Smith looks out of his impressive floor-to-ceiling office window while waxing philosophic about the nature of the Matrix.
    Smith: Have you ever stood and stared at it, marveled at its beauty, its genius? Billions of people just living out their lives, oblivious.
  • Dramatic Ammo Depletion: Agent Smith and Neo have a shootout in a subway. They eventually end up on the ground with each of them holding their pistols at the other's head. They in turn point out that the other's gun is empty. They switch to Good Old Fisticuffs.
  • 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: 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. […] I won't lie to you, Neo. Every man or woman who has stood their ground, everyone who has fought an Agent, has died.
  • 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?", put to great effect as an integral part of the film's advertising. It's answered under an hour in, and it's then 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.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Mouse. Even though he's trapped with no way out due to A Glitch in the Matrix and is bound to be killed by S.W.A.T. forces, he still chooses to go out with Guns Akimbo and blazing.
  • Easter Egg: At the end of all the credits, the URL for the (now defunct) website of the film is given,, 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 overridden the body of a homeless man.
  • Establishing Character Music: We're introduced to Neo asleep at his computer listening to "Dissolved Girl" by Massive Attack when Trinity contacts him.
  • Exact Words: The Oracle tells Neo that he is not the One, but, well, maybe in next life. When Neo dies, his latent powers awaken and make him the One, since technically his previous life is over.
    • In the same conversation, in fact directly before the above, The Oracle straight up tells Neo "Nobody can tell you if you are the One."
    • The Oracle never actually said that Neo wasn't the One; only Neo himself did.
  • Eye Awaken: There's a close-up on Neo's face as he opens his eye after being 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.
  • Face, Nod, Action: Neo and Trinity go through this motion before they start the Hallway Fight at the lobby.
  • Fan Disservice: While we do get to see Keanu Reeves' bare chest and pubic hair in all of its glory during the interrogation scene after the agents rip open his shirt, it's during a disturbing scene when the bug is activated and squirms into his body through his belly button, after his mouth has been erased.
  • Fanservice Extra: The lady in the red dress.
  • Feet-First Introduction: When Neo enters the lobby of the place where Smith is interrogating Morpheus, the scene starts with a slow-motion shot of his boots coming through the revolving door.
  • Flatline:
    • We hear it from Mouse's life-signs monitor as he dies.
    • Happens with Neo during the Final Battle before being revived by Trinity.
  • Flipping the Bird: During the interrogation scene, Neo refuses to give Agent Smith any information regarding Morpheus. Instead, he gives him the finger and demands his One Phone Call.
  • Fly-at-the-Camera Ending: Just averted as Neo flies up and past 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 group including a woman with a white rabbit tattoo. This is a reference to the trope but not an instance of it.
    • On the 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 scene.
  • Forbidden Zone: The Machine City, pretty much literally.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Cypher's conversation with Trinity at the very beginning of the movie has three instances, one minor, two major.
      • His comment "We're gonna kill him, you know that, don't you?" refers to Morpheus' later reveal that adults aren't offered the red pill because their minds are too attached to the Matrix's reality to let go; note his "He's gonna pop!" when Neo is freaking out after the Construct scene and the "potentials" in the Oracle's apartment all being kids.
      • Cypher comments how Trinity likes to watch Neo, hinting on her being in love with him.
      • Later, Trinity says, "Are you sure this line is safe?" and Cypher replies, "Of course I'm sure." Later, an Agent says, "The informant is real." This foreshadows Cypher being The Mole.
    • Neo's conversations with Choi where Choi compares him to Jesus and, especially, Mr. Rinehart.
      Rinehart: You have a problem with authority, Mr. Anderson. You believe that you are special, that somehow the rules do not apply to you. Obviously you are mistaken. This company is one of the top software companies in the world because every single employee understands that they are part of a whole. Thus, if an employee has a problem, the company has a problem. The time has come to make a choice, Mr. Anderson: Either you choose to be at your desk on time, from this day forth, or you choose to find yourself another job.
    • While this is happening, Neo keeps wistfully looking out the window. He's caught between an authoritative suited figure and the outside world, with the window washers' soap dripping down to resemble the Matrix Raining Code, the barrier between those scenarios.
    • Neo's first scene chatting with his friends (the ones that take him to the nightclub where he meets Trinity) is rife with foreshadowing. One of his friends calls Neo "my savior, my own personal Jesus Christ" and then, after hearing the strange story about his computer, quips "you need to unplug, man".
    • Neo is shown waiting for interrogation on a wall of monitors. We'll see them again...
    • Morpheus warns 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.
    • Pretty much everything in the Oracle's talk with Neo, but three lines in particular: "Your next life, perhaps," "One of you [Neo or Morpheus] 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 or activation of the "Prime Program" the Architect cites in The Matrix 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.
    • An incredibly "subtle" bit of foreshadowing comes in the form of Cypher making Wizard of Oz references while everyone else makes Alice Allusions. This shows he is somehow apart from the rest of the Nebuchadnezzar crew, but also can be seen as illustrating a fundamental difference in how he perceives his awakening. While Alice in Wonderland is at its core a story about a girl finding freedom in an otherwise dangerous and confusing world, Wizard of Oz is a story about a girl slipping into a new land in the midst of tragedy, being hunted for something she never asked for, and forced to become a killer, all while yearning to return home, where she awakens with memories of the other world as if they were an odd dream, presumably to eventually forget them.
  • A Friend in Need: Coincides with Suicide Mission as Neo and Trinity decide to rescue Morpheus from the Agents.
  • From Zero to Hero: After learning that he lives inside a virtual world and that he is the One to lead humanity to salvation, Neo becomes adept at kung-fu and bending reality (inside the Matrix), turning into the franchise's main hero.
  • Funny Spoon: Of which there is none.
  • Gargle Blaster: Dozer's homemade hooch. Cypher says of it, "It's good for two things: 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 Shift: More or less how the big, famous reveal works and how it was so impactful at release: the first half hour or so of the movie plays a lot like other "Government Conspiracy thrillers", especially ones that were popular at the time of the film's release (while leaving a few things rather confusing), but then The Big Matrix Reveal happens and the movie shifts genres to a hybrid of a Martial Arts Movie, a pure action flick, and a Journey to Find Oneself, with various aspects emphasied at various points.
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: Trope Namer.invoked 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.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Any time you see it on TV heavily edited for language, Hilarity Ensues.
    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/shmucks!"
    Neo: [The bug gets sucked out of his 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.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Machines. While they are seen a couple of times, like the ones that flush Neo once he wakes up in the real world and the Sentinels, for the most part their influence is only felt or implied. Instead the main adversaries are the Machines' creations like the Agents or the Matrix itself.
  • Green Aesop: Not really the point of the trilogy, 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 natural resources are expended whereas he believes lesser mammals do not.
  • Guns Akimbo: Most of the cast, Neo most notably.
  • Gunship Rescue: Neo and Trinity rescue Morpheus in a helicopter, complete with a minigun. Somehow, he takes 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.
  • Hallway Fight: The Final Battle between Neo and Agent Smith takes place in a building's hallway inside the Matrix.
  • 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".
  • Happiness in Mind Control:
    • The resistance has a rule against freeing minds above a certain age, because they have a hard time letting go of their fake reality, preferring it to the bleak reality of the real world.
    • Like most of the rest of the crew, Cypher was extracted from the Matrix by Morpheus. When he sells out Morpheus to Agent Smith, the reward he asks for is to be re-inserted into the Matrix, to have all of his memories of the real world erased and be programmed to think that he's a famous, important actor. He doesn't get his wish, as the heroes kill him.
  • Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?: Lilly Wachowski confirming the film is metaphor for the realization of being trans effectively means the rebel characters all fit this trope.
  • 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."
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: The protagonists' costumes when in the Matrix.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted; Morpheus does this to allow Neo and the others to escape, but in rather short order, Neo and Trinity rescue him.
  • 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.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Cypher kills Dozer and wounds Tank with a lightning rifle, and Tank then uses it to kill him.
  • Hologram: The bridge of the Nebuchadnezzar (and presumably the other Zion hoverships) has a holographic display that shows other objects (like Sentinels).
  • I Did What I Had to Do: The exact words used by Morpheus when explaining to Neo why he had to pull him out of the Matrix.
  • Ignorance Is Bliss: Said verbatim by Cypher, who believes that after many years, the freedom he was promised was a lie and who makes a deal with the machines to become part of their program again, under the condition that he's rich and popular and forgets everything about his life in Morpheus' crew.
  • 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 or security guards in the lobby can hit Neo or Trinity with their automatic guns.note 
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Neo fires a minigun from the helicopter and hits everything besides Morpheus. Justified, as he starts bending the rules of the Matrix and becomes the One.
  • Instant Death Stab: On the roof, while rescuing Morpheus with Neo, Trinity throws a knife into a guard's head, killing him instantly.
  • 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. And then she does so again as an Agent fires. She makes it; the handset does not.
    • Neo, in the climax, manages to get out of the Matrix just in time for Morpheus to activate the EMP without killing him.
  • Just Toying with Them: At the end, Neo has become The One after returning from the dead. Agent Smith furiously attacks him, but even his own Super Speed is no match for Neo now, who casually fights him off one-handed before going for a killing blow by destroying Smith's program.
  • 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 make them immediately leave.
  • Lady in Red: The woman in the red dress during the Agent Training Program.
  • Last Chance to Quit: The iconic choice between the red and blue pills. The blue pill is the way out — the final interaction the individual will have with Morpheus and his crew and lets the person resume their lives as if they never met. The red pill helps disrupt the Machines' ability to track the individual being disconnected and also gives their people something to lock onto once the target is out of the Matrix.
  • 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 a 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 "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. For example, streets in this movie share their names with Chicago streets, and there is a photo of the Chicago skyline as it was in early 1999 on the wall of Mr. Rinehart's office.
    • Subverted by the actual location shots, which were done in Sydney, Australia — for example, the famous AWA radio mast tower is clearly visible in the background when Morpheus is hanging from Neo's arm during the helicopter rescue.
  • Logo Joke: The Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures logos are tinted in Matrix-green.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The iconic "Clubbed to Death" is trimmed significantly for under a minute's use in the "red dress" scene.
  • Machine Blood: As Neo, Trinity and Morpheus are escaping in a helicopter, Agent Smith shoots the copter with his pistol twice. A liquid (presumably oil) starts spraying out of the holes at high speed and warning lights and alarms go off inside the copter. The helicopter goes out of control and crashes into a building.
  • 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 make little appreciable 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 Agent Smith shoots him in the gut by 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.
  • Mess on a Plate: The food aboard the Nebuchadnezzar is a semi-congealed whitish glop dispensed from a nozzle. Mouse and Apoc compare it to runny eggs and a bowl of snot, respectively.
  • Messianic Archetype: Neo, the prophesied savior known as "the One" bears a close resemblance to Jesus. He came before, but was prophesied to come again, and resurrects close to the end. On the other hand, he's far more violent than the Christian depiction, but perhaps would be closer to Jewish views of the Messiah as a warrior king. Morpheus may also resemble John the Baptist, Trinity Mary Magdalene, and the Oracle the various prophets who are believed to have foretold Christ.
  • Mexican Standoff: Subverted. Agent Smith and Neo have guns pointed at each others' heads in the subway, then it's revealed that they both 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 try 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.
  • 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 simply to 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 believes Neo is the One. From Neo's perspective, this would mean that Morpheus would have thrown his life away for nothing. Unable to live with this, Neo saves Morpheus, proving that he is in fact the One and awakening his powers along the way. Morpheus says that the Oracle told Neo "exactly what [he] needed to hear." She later confirms this in Reloaded.
  • Motive Rant: When interrogating Morpheus, Agent Smith delivers one comparing human beings with a virus.
  • Multiple Gunshot Death:
    • Mouse meets his end when police officers gun him down.
    • During the climax, Agent Smith empties a magazine into Neo.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Neo's experience in the Jump program. After seeing Morpheus effortlessly leap between two buildings, Neo gets the courage and adrenaline to try it himself. He gets a huge running start, leaps ... and promptly falls.
  • Neverending Terror: Morpheus unplugs Neo from the Matrix, where he was living in a Virtual Reality simulation of Real Life. He teaches Neo the truth about the Matrix, including the nature of their foe, the evil Artificial Intelligence machines. Neo has a mental collapse and falls unconscious. When he wakes up, he asks Morpheus "I can't go back, can I?" In fact, fatigue with the unending, terrifying Robot War is what prompts Cypher to betray the group on the slim hope of being able to go back.
  • 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 true reason is that, to accept the Matrix, humans need to believe they have a choice in the matter, even if they don't realize it fully.
  • 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 seat belt, 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" Remark: 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 freer 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 code starts flashing ominously.
  • Oblivious to Love: The Oracle outright teases Neo about this regarding Trinity.
    The Oracle: You're cuter than I thought. I can see why she likes you.
    Neo: Who?
    The Oracle: [smiles] Not too bright, though.
  • 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 an "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.
    • After Neo destroys Smith, Agents Brown and Jones take a look at each other and scamper off.
  • 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. It later departs Neo the same way when Trinity, Switch, and Apoc pick him up.
  • The Outside World: There are three different "Outsides" to which an enterprising human could escape.
    • 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 wherein 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 martial arts.
    Mouse: Morpheus is fighting Neo!
  • Perverted Sniffing: Cypher does this to Trinity.
  • Platonic Cave: The Matrix. Later, Cypher subverts this 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.
  • Plummet Perspective: Neo's cellphone when he drops it while trying to walk the ledge of his office building.
  • Poverty Food: The crew is served 'economical' grey mush which is not very satisfying. It's one reason why Cypher commits a Face–Heel Turn, so he could once again get to taste delicious food such as steak, 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.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Agent Smith to Neo before charging him in the subway: "I'm going to enjoy watching you die, Mr. Anderson."
  • The Precarious Ledge: Subverted when Morpheus instructs Neo to crawl along a tiny ledge between windows to escape The Men in Black. He chokes and gets captured instead.
  • Pre-Explosion Glow: After Neo dives into him, this happens to Agent Smith just before he's blown apart.
  • Precision F-Strike: The one security guard who says "Holy shit!" in reaction to Neo revealing the arsenal he's carrying under his coat.
  • Prefers the Illusion: Cypher sides with the Machines because he prefers the Matrix to the After the End reality of Earth.
    Cypher: [Cuts a slice of a steak and holds it up on his fork] You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? [Puts the slice of steak in his mouth; then sighs in satisfaction as he chews it] Ignorance is bliss.
  • Premature Empowerment: Morpheus feeds Neo a line about how nobody can 'explain' the Matrix — but doesn't 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 most bluepills 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!"
  • The Present Day: The reality of the Matrix (which was aligned to 1999 at the time of Neo's revelation, as per the year of its release). The real world takes place in a post-apocalyptic Villain World; it's estimated to be in the vicinity of 2199, but humanity no longer knows for certain.
  • 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.
  • Product Placement: A small example; after explaining to Neo how humanity has been enslaved and assimilated by the Machines, Morpheus summarizes by saying that the Matrix is built to "keep us under control in order to change a human being...into this," holding up a Duracell battery.
  • Prophecy Twist: The Oracle tells Neo that he is not the One, he must decide whether he or Morpheus will die, and he seems to be waiting for another life. While this discourages Neo at first, technically all of this comes true: when Neo makes a choice to go into the matrix to save Morpheus, he starts to bend the rules of the Matrix but is not yet the One. He is gunned down by Smith (i.e., he is killed instead of Morpheus) but resurrects himself (waiting for another life) thence to become the One (the prophecy for Morpheus that the One will return).
  • 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 whether 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, Trinity, Morpheus, and other resistance fighters frequently kill and injure law enforcement agents and security guards who are simply doing their jobs and not even aware that they are part of the Matrix. Morpheus gives their stone-cold justification for this early on: everyone they are trying to save is plugged into the system,note  which "makes them our enemy."
  • Questionable Consent: As Cypher specifically complains, the whole "red pill versus 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. As Morpheus says, though, "No one can be told what the Matrix is; you have to see it for yourself," implying that fully informed consent prior to being red-pilled was impossible anyway.
  • Quotes Fit for a Trailer: Morpheus' line "Nobody can be told what the Matrix is; you have to see it for yourself" was often included in trailers for the film. Besides the in-film context of him saying this to Neo while explaining the Matrix, it could also double as him advising the audience to see the film to find the answer for the Driving Question pushed in its advertising ("What is the Matrix?").
  • Red Pill, Blue Pill: The Matrix is the Trope Namerinvoked and uses the trope literally:
    • Neo is given the choice by Morpheus himself, who warns him that all he can offer is the truth and he might not like it. Neo still goes with the red pill.
    • Implied with the rest of the Nebuchadnezzar crew that are not born in the free world. Trinity confirms to Neo that she went through the process herself, the same goes with Cypher.
    • Averted with Dozer and Tank. They never had a choice because they were born in the free world; however, they act as if they had taken the red pill.
  • Redshirt Army: Most of the Nebuchadnezzar's crew besides Neo and a few others. As individuals, they are Mauve Shirts. Their leader, Morpheus, evinces no signs of noticing 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 must walk across to the ledge to a scaffold. Dropping a cell phone (and his call with The Call), he decides he can't make it and goes back in, accepting arrest by the police.
  • Residual Self-Image: invokedThe Trope Namer. 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.
  • Robot War: What destroyed human society when robots rose up against their human creators and overthrew them, turning them into a source of energy after humans blacked out the sun in a vain attempt to end the war. While technically still going on, humanity has been reduced to La Résistance in the face of the overwhelming might of the Machines, existing only in the sole remaining civilization that is the city of Zion.
  • Roofhopping: There's a Chase Scene that involves Trinity leaping between buildings to escape the Agents, and their pursuit. Partway 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 our first hint 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 in time for his second landing.
    • When the helicopter slams into the building, the building ripples as if made of gelatin.
  • Run or Die: The strategy for dealing with Agents. Morpheus tells Neo that he can eventually become able to fight the Agents rather than fleeing; Cypher just tells him to run away.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Apoc, Switch, Dozer, and Mouse who all die within about five minutes.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Trinity, from Neo's perspective. Because as we all know … There Are No Girls on the Internet.
    Neo: I just thought, um ... you were a guy.
    Trinity: Most guys do.
  • 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.
  • Schmuck Bait: We never get to see Cypher actually cash in his deal with the Agents/Machines, but the whole thing does carry the tinge of it. Cypher, so far as we see, has absolutely no guarantee that the Machines will actually honor their side of the bargain once they have what they need from Morpheus and have killed Neo. Cypher's relying on real-world Machines to pick him up, even, to re-insert him into the Matrix. It's very easy to read Agent Smith's demeanor during the dinner scene, as well as his other attitudes, as him having no intention whatsoever to honor the deal, but Cypher is so desperate to return to the Matrix that he goes through with it anyway.
  • Screaming Warrior: Morpheus, when he busts out of the wall to fight an Agent so Neo can escape, and again when he breaks his handcuffs so that Neo can rescue him.
  • Screw the Rules, They're Not Real!: This is at the heart of what Morpheus teaches Neo. "It has the same basic rules, rules like gravity. What you must learn is that these rules are no different than the rules of a computer system...some of them can can be bent. Others...can be broken." Inside the Matrix, even gravity is a rule to be ignored.
  • 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 die 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.
  • Showdown at High Noon: The shot immediately before Neo's fight with Smith homages those, from camera angle and fingers twitching to a newspaper "tumbleweed".
  • 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.
  • Solo Mission Becomes Group Mission: Neo states his intention to return alone to the Matrix and rescue Morpheus from the Agents... until Trinity tells him in no uncertain terms that she is coming along to help.
  • 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.
  • Spoon Bending: The unreality of the Matrix is properly demonstrated to Neo when a boy mentally bends a spoon. Neo's attempt at doing so is the first time Neo learns to manipulate the world around him.
  • Stairwell Chase: The déjà vu shootout features this traveling stairwell shot.
  • Standard Office Setting: Neo's workplace. Although the company is "one of the top software companies in the world", it's definitely no Dot-Com Bubble Wacky Startup Workplace. It's a big skyscraper with glass windows, inside of which is a classic "cubicle farm" (with actual offices, with doors, for higher-level bosses...or for fugitives to escape out the windows of). There is clearly an old-fashioned dress code that wouldn't be inappropriate for The Fifties, with suits, button-down shirts, and ties; and a strictly hierarchical relationship between The Boss and some lowly programmer like "Mr. Anderson".
  • Stealth Pun: After capturing Neo, the Agents implant a Tracking Device robot that looks like an insect into his body. Later on, Morpheus's team prepares to extract it.
    Trinity: We think you're bugged.
  • Stock Phrases: "Get out of there!" comes up twice.
    • First, Morpheus warns Neo over the phone to get out of his office when the agents arrive.
    • Later, Tank tells Mouse to get out of the building after the glitch in the Matrix.
  • Stress Vomit: While in virtual reality Neo learns that his entire previous life has been an illusion and most of humanity 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 Hero Origin: A strange case in that this is primarily within the Alternate Reality of the Matrix, but this film in particular follows Type 2: Thomas Anderson goes from a lowly office worker and small-time hacker to a reality-warping Flying Brick named Neo fulfilling his destiny as The One.
  • Super Reflexes: In the Agent Training Program scene, Morpheus explains to Neo 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.
  • Symbolic Baptism: When Neo is first unplugged from the Matrix, he wakes up in womb-like a pod filled with a reddish liquid that drains and flushes him into the hands of his allies. This is his first experience in actual reality.
  • 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.
  • 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 of seconds during which Morpheus orders Trinity to get Neo out of danger.
  • Taunting the Unconscious: After Morpheus has been taken prisoner by the Agents and Cypher reveals to Trinity and the others who are still in the Matrix that he's betrayed them, he sits astraddle the jacked-in Morpheus and mocks him for not seeing what was about to happen.
    "Surprise, asshole! Bet you never saw this coming, did you? God, I wish I could be there when they break you. I wish I could walk in just when it happens, so right then, you'd know it was me."
  • Team Shot: The crew of the Nebuchadnezzar gets one when they take Neo to The Oracle, except Tank and Dozer, who can't jack into the Matrix because they were born outside.
  • Telepathic Sprinklers: Done shortly after the famous lobby scene. Neo's elevator firebomb somehow manages to set off every sprinkler in the building, drenching the Agents (several stories above the blast) at a dramatically opportune moment. Somehow, the dinky sprinklers in the room also manage to fill the place up with what looks like about a foot of standing water, just to make the upcoming helicopter/machine gun scene look that much more awesome.
  • 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: Come on! 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 (albeit without saying anything) in the subway station when he decides to stop running from Smith, turning and fighting him instead. In a double subversion, he actually defeats 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 performers of various races were considered for all three main parts.
  • Tracking Device: Neo is implanted with a tracking bug, which Trinity later removes.
  • 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."
  • Trenchcoat Warfare: Neo has plenty of weapons underneath his coat when entering the lobby.
  • 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 Nebuchadnezzar crew in the first film.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Neo at the end of the movie.
  • 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 always to end with the trainee's death, because a human cannot beat an Agent. The only recourse, when faced with one, is to attempt escape, which doesn't always work.
    • The Jump program isn't designed to be this, but nobody ever makes their first jump (not even The Chosen One).
  • Use Their Own Weapon Against Them:
    • Cypher uses a Lightning Gun smuggled aboard the Nebuchadnezzar to attack Tank and Dozer, killing Dozer in the process. Cypher drops the gun and smugly begins unplugging his other shipmates... only to discover too late that Tank is Not Quite Dead when he gets hold of the gun and blows Cypher away with it.
    • During the gunfight in the lobby, Trinity grabs a guard's shotgun and shoots him with it.
  • Use Your Head:
    • Morpheus and Agent Smith do this to each other during their fight before Morpheus' capture.
    • Smith uses this on Neo during their fight in the subway. Neo returns the favor.
  • [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; 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 decided.
  • Villain World: The future (or really present) outside of the Matrix — a wasteland of ruined society that is inhabited by unfeeling robots that feed on artifically created humans. Notable as it was humanity themselves that turned Earth into such a place (by blotting out the sunlight deliberately in an attempt to shut down the Machines, which failed miserably and reduced the planet to the sorry state that it's in).
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Neo puking just before he passes out after The Reveal. This is a case of invokedWritten-In Infirmity: During that take, Keanu Reeves 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 by pulling rank and invoking her longer-standing relationship with The Captain.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: When Neo awakes after being ejected from the Matrix, he looks up to see the unfamiliar faces of Trinity and Morpheus and asks if he is dead. Morpheus replies, "Far from it."
  • 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:
  • White Bunny: Neo is told to follow the white rabbit, which he does when noticing his client'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 using it.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: The spoon child, emphatically.
  • With My Hands Tied: At the end, Neo shows some badassery when fighting Agent Smith with one hand behind his back.
  • 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 Cyberpunk 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 Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Implied. Agent Smith deploys the Sentinels to destroy the Nebuchadnezzar, even though he doesn't know their inside source (Cypher) is dead. This suggests that Smith never intended to return him to the Matrix, regardless of whether he could do it.
  • You Never Did That for Me: One of Neo's first nights on the Nebuchadnezzar, Trinity has just brought Neo his dinner and Cypher decides to tease her about her obvious attraction to him.
    Cypher: I don't remember you ever bringing me dinner.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Trope Namer.invoked When Neo discovers that the inside of his mouth is bleeding after a fight simulation, Morpheus reveals that someone will die in the real world when they die in the Matrix, stating that "the body cannot live without the mind." We see this firsthand when Mouse is violently gunned down in the Matrix and we see him spitting blood and then flatlining in the real world.
  • 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.

"I know you're out there. I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid. You're afraid of us. You're afraid of change. I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell how this is going to end. I came to tell you how it's going to begin. I'm going to hang up this phone and I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you."

Video Example(s):


Neo Vs Morpheus

Neo battles Morpheus in one of his first attempts of entering the Matrix in an effort to test and practice his martial arts skills that he had just learned via Tank's programming.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / VirtualTrainingSimulation

Media sources: