Follow TV Tropes


Franchise / The Matrix

Go To
The Matrix has you.

"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 is a multimedia franchise created by The Wachowskis which primarily revolves around a trilogy of sci-fi action movies starring Keanu Reeves as a hacker named Neo, Laurence Fishburne as his mentor Morpheus, Carrie-Anne Moss as his Love Interest Trinity and Hugo Weaving as the nefarious AI Agent Smith. The first film popularized the "Bullet Time" visual effect, and became one of the most influential (and oft-copied) sci-fi films since Star Wars. At least at the time, it was also viewed as one of the most culturally important films since then, spending a fair bit of time navel-gazing and touching on a number of concepts from philosophy and metaphysics.


Plans to relaunch the franchise and greatly expand its universe were discussed by Warner Bros but languished for quite some time until it was announced in August 2019 that a fourth Matrix film officially went into development, with Lana Wachowski returning to co-write, direct, and produce and Reeves and Moss reprising their roles as Neo and Trinity. Shot in 2020, the film's title was confirmed in August 2021 to be The Matrix Resurrections, and it was released in December 2021 in theaters and on HBO Max. The announcement preceded the (previously scheduled) 20th anniversary re-release of the original film in select AMC cinemas that same month.


Media in The Matrix franchise:

Live-action films

Animated film

Video games

Unfortunately, no one can be told what tropes can be found within the Matrix. You have to read them for yourself:

    open/close all folders 

    Tropes A to G 
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The pipe systems are described as sewers which are big enough for whole hovercrafts to comfortably navigate through them, and a city inhabited by thousands of people in its lower depths. The sewers were the only remains of the human cities destroyed in the war with the machines. That's just in "The Desert of the Real". The Matrix itself has a sewer system beneath the Mega-City that rivals the Mines of Moria — chambers hundreds of feet wide and deep connected by twisty catacomb-like tunnels.
  • 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.
  • Action Survivor: Neo in the first movie. He grew out of it.
  • Advantage Ball: Justified. At first, the Agents are pretty much unstoppable, due both to their superior programming and the terror the other side has for them. But after Neo's awakening as the One, he can dispatch them with ease, and we later see the others at least holding their ground. (They don't win, but they don't die, which is saying something against an Implacable Man Min-Maxer.)
  • After the End: The movies are set after a war that blasted the land and the sky and destroyed human civilization.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • Agents, particularly Smith, who actually goes from Agent to Virus due to some part of him being changed by Neo destroying him in the first movie.
    • Most Machine-aligned programs, more or less, as they will at times set aside more machine-like behavior (such as efficiency and pragmatism) and indulge in particularly human traits like cruelty, arrogance, and rage.
  • The Alcatraz: The Matrix is a particularly 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.
  • Alike and Antithetical Adversaries: The heterogeneous human rebels vs the Agents, who are exclusively nondescript white men in suits.
  • All-Loving Hero: 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.
  • All There in the Manual: The series was well ahead of its time in this respect, although it is only true if you haven't watched The Animatrix, which was said manual. Sadly, The World Was Not Ready. Parodied here:
    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, Playstation 2, 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.
  • Alternate DVD Commentary:
    • Rifftrax; also, DVD Podblast did the last two films ('cuz they liked the first one).
    • 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: 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. Morpheus originally estimates that the year is 2199, but it turns out even he's way off. The Architect reveals that the one Neo is in is the sixth relatively stable version of the simulation—there were even earlier prototypes before the cycle of the One was started. Depending on how long it takes Zion to regrow from 7 men and 16 women to an entire city, it could be anywhere from hundreds to thousands of years old. It would explain why Zion has an extreme level of rust, as well as most of the technologies used by the Resistance and the Machines. If the Pre-War Human Civilization and the original Machine Civilization were so hyper-advanced that they were able to erect sprawling mega-cities and megastructures of great power and capability, theoretically, they could have had the means to engineering and develop materials that were extremely resistant to the course of time and entropy, along with environmental effects. If thousands of years or more pass between each iteration of the Matrix, it would mean that the state that we see Zion and everything in, is the end result of all of these untold centuries and millennia of exposure and decay.
  • Ancient Grome: The Oracle has a reference to the Oracle of Delphi (Greek) over her door, but it's written in Latin.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • The Animatrix implies this to have occurred for the first humans embedded in the prototype Matrix.
    • 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.
  • Animesque: One of the first examples in mainstream media.
  • Anti-Escapism Aesop: Granted, the Matrix is not particularly exciting or beautiful, but certainly preferable to the mostly destroyed real world. Yet very few characters choose to stay in the dream world when presented with the choice.
  • Arc Words: Everything that has a beginning has an end.
  • Arch-Enemy: Smith. It turns out his opposition to The Chosen One is Inherent in the System and necessary to provide balance to the Matrix. At the start of Reloaded Smith comments that "It's all happening as before." Like any program, it does what it does, without change, from cycle to cycle. Smith, the Oracle and the Architect know what happens because it happens all the time, through each reboot, or reloading of the Matrix. What's special in Reloaded, unlike in past iterations, is that Smith is out of control as a virus-like clone that threatens not only operatives, but Zion, the Matrix and even the Machine City itself.
  • Artificial Human: Anyone able to enter the Matrix (including Neo, Trinity and Morpheus) was 'grown' by the Machines, effectively making most of humanity this.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Agent Smith's comments about mammals instinctively seeking out a balance with their environment ignores the histories of many invasive species, only achieving balance through environmental coercion.
  • Artistic License – Physics: The whole "using humans as a power source" idea. In reality, it would be an enormously terrible idea to use ANY living thing as a power source, due to violating the second law of thermodynamics. Rumour has it that the original idea was to have the humans being used as processors in an immense computing array, but somebody thought that this idea was too complex for most moviegoers to grasp, so they changed to Duracell batteries. Morpheus does give this a Hand Wave, stating they the Machines combined these human batteries with "a form of fusion".
  • 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.
  • Attack Drone: The Sentinels that patrol the real world and pursue rebel ships.
  • Author Appeal:
    • One of the Wachowskis employed a full-time dominatrix. Suddenly, Trinity's costumes make far more sense.
    • Given the fact that both Wachowskis are trans, 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.
  • Badass Crew: Of the Nebuchadnezzar.
  • Badass 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 aggression).
  • Bald Head of Toughness: In the first film, 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.
    • Later subverted in the the sequels, when we see that many people with long hair do in fact exist outside The Matrix. They are those that were born free in Zion and not hooked into the machines. They do not have the plug holes and thus likely aren't concerned about their hair getting in the way.
  • Beard of Evil:
    • Cypher and his pencil-thin goatee.
    • 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.
  • Beeping Computers: The computers at the Hacker Cave are making beeping sounds.
  • 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.
  • Benevolent A.I.: In the second film Neo learns that the Oracle is in fact a machine program. While manipulative, she's inherently benevolent and does want to aid humanity in their fight for freedom. In fact, it's the entire reason for her series-spanning gambit against the Architect.
  • 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.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted with Morpheus—in fact, he is ultimately the only member of both his ship's crew and the main Power Trio who survives through all three films.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Signifies that a plugged-in human has been badly injured or killed inside the Matrix, since Your Mind Makes It Real.
    • Mouse, when being killed in the first movie.
    • In the first movie during the subway fight inside the Matrix. After Smith sends Neo flying backwards with a punch to the chest, Neo spews blood before getting back to his feet.
  • Body Horror: Someone morphing into an Agent during the latter's Body Surf can be this, depending on how hard the victim attempts to resist it.
  • Body Surf: The Agents in the Matrix do this to revive themselves when killed. Since every human still plugged into the Matrix is a potential Agent, the Resistance cannot afford to leave witnesses when they go about trying to free people. As shown repeatedly in the movies, any populated area in the city is extremely dangerous. In a matter of seconds, an Agent can jump into anyone nearby and shoot you dead.
    • The first movie shows this in the finale when Neo runs through a market and an apartment complex. The three Agents are constantly taking shots at Neo from behind or from the sides as they try to kill him.
    • In the second movie, this is taken to its logical conclusion with a highway chase scene during rush hour.
    • The third movie culminates with Smith, now unbound by the rules the Machines imposed upon him, copying himself into every human and program in the Matrix.
  • Brain–Computer Interface: The Matrix jacks for the pod-grown people.
  • Brick Joke / Continuity Nod:
    • 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.
    • Another one in the form of a black cat. In the first movie, Neo has a deja vu sighting of one, which is a sign that something in the Matrix has changed. At the end of the third film, there is another deja vu cat (or possibly the same one) and this one witnesses Sati revive when the Matrix reboots.
  • 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...not even this article you are reading right now.
  • Bullet Time: The Trope Codifier.
  • 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.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Make up your own damn mind" from the Oracle, about whether or not her advice should be taken.
    • "Free your mind" from Morpheus.
    • "He is the One!" from everybody who comes across Neo.
  • Chase Scene: Once per film.
  • Cheated Death, Died Anyway: The climax of The Matrix Reloaded is The Architect presenting Neo with a Sadistic Choice: either Neo can save his love interest Trinity from certain death, or he can save the rest of humanity from certain extinction. Neo rejects this dichotomy and saves Trinity (literally bringing her back from the dead using his powers as The One), then insists he'll find a way to save humanity afterwards, anyway. Then, in a blatant case of a Two-Part Trilogy, that plot concludes in The Matrix Revolutions, set just hours or days after Reloaded. Neo and Trinity travel to the Machine City in order to save humanity—but Trinity dies en route, and this time Neo can't bring her back. (Ironically, proving The Architect was correct that Neo couldn't save both, but wrong about how each option would play out.)
  • The Chessmaster: The Architect, who not only created The Matrix, but has manipulated five occurrences 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 Chooser of the One: Morpheus discovered and mentored Neo.
    • The Oracle, as the full story plays out, is the one that created the whole prophecy to begin with. Neo could have very well been chosen by the Oracle, although it requires a nudge to Morpheus to find him. Once that's done, she offers Neo a cookie, saying that, after he eats it, he'll be "right as rain." What are "cookies" in the computer world? They add information to a program. All that Neo needed was a push to act more than what he felt. Remember that the Oracle didn't tell Neo that he wasn't the One—he drew his own conclusion. The Oracle is rooting for the humans, so helping Neo ultimately choose himself is part of her plan. Remember the sign above her kitchen: "Know Thyself" in Latin? That's what she does to people.
    • The Architect cannot be the Chooser. The One is an anomaly of the choice programming that the Oracle helped to add to make the first stable Matrix. It stabilized the system, save for the One, "The Anomaly," who keeps reappearing every 100 years or so when the Matrix must be rebooted, or reloaded. The Architect noted he'd been trying to get rid of the Ones for a long time with no success (the Ones are Choice Incarnate and presumably can't be removed without removing choice from the Matrix and hosing the system). The Architect settles on using the Oracle's prophecy to force the One to come to him, presenting Neo with a Morton's Fork to save humanity.
  • 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.
  • Code Name: Fully invoked; the only person from inside the Matrix whose 'real' name is revealed is Neo (Thomas A. Anderson). Trinity, Morpheus, Niobe, etc., never reveal their former names.
  • 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. 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.
    • The only time in the entire trilogy that a scene is not tinted in some way is the very brief scene in the third movie where Trinity and Neo are briefly able to fly a hovercraft above the clouds that cover the planet. After all this time set in a tinted, slightly fake-looking world it is almost shocking to see normal, warm sunlit colors.
  • Color Wash: Like mentioned directly above, scenes set in the Matrix are tinted green and scenes set in the real world are tinted blue.
  • Combat Parkour: It used both this and Bullet Time.
  • Cool Shades: Custom-made ones at that. Special mention goes to Morpheus' reflective pince-nez shades and the change in Agent Smith's lenses. They start out with the same oblong shape as those used by other Agents, but once he goes rogue, they take on a polygonal shape that approximates the outline of Neo's shades to contrast their growth.
  • Cool Ships: The Nebuchadnezzar, The Logos, The Mjolnir (aka "The Hammer"), as well as the entire Zion hovercraft fleet.
  • 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 A.I.s believed that this was due to humans being inherently unable to accept a perfect world as reality and only able to 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. Also applies to the Matrix, beta 2, as described by the Architect, on the failure of a second Matrix that worked more like a Haunted House than a paradise but didn't give true choice as the final version did.
  • Crater Power: Due to the superhuman powers involved, characters tossed around are likely to create craters in walls and other structures.
  • Creative Sterility: Heavily implied with the Machines, and even more if you consider all of The Animatrix to be canon, which shows Machine technology has barely progressed at all since the end of the Human-Machine war. Other than maintaining the Matrix and the cycle of the One, the Machines seem to be at a loss as to what to do with their dominion over the Earth and their human captives.
  • Creature-Hunter Organization: Neo and the rest of the red pills are this, as they fight against the Agents of the Matrix to get more people to become red pills.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: After Neo's final battle with Smith, the machines unplug his motionless body and lower it into a cross position. Whether he performed a true blue Heroic Sacrifice or not is left ambiguous.
  • Cryptic Conversation: The movies are riddled with this. Anything Morpheus, the Oracle or the Architect says will be almost unassailably mysterious and vague.
  • Cut Phone Lines: While cellphones are plentiful, the main characters need a virtual hard line to escape. As such, the baddies were destroying the phones as necessary.
  • Cut the Juice: The backstory to the entire trilogy. The rebellious machines were solar-powered, so humans decided to blacken the entire sky to shut them off. It worked horribly right, so the machines were forced to switch to Human Resources.
  • Cyber Green: This franchise is one of the reasons technology and computers are associated with bright green despite the age of monochrome monitors being long gone, from the iconic raining code to how scenes set inside the Matrix are tinted green.
  • Cyberpunk: The films share a Cyberpunk sense of style as well as the core themes of technology as a tool of control.
  • Cyber Punk Is Techno: Almost the entire soundtrack to everything in the franchise. That said, the score for the films is still pretty awesome.
  • Cyberspace: The visualisations of cyberspace in the series have been influential:
    • A fully immersive environment, mostly indistinguishable from reality apart from telling glitches and purposeful breaks from usual physics — reality hacking by characters.
    • Matrix Raining Code — the other extreme: cyberspace as a flow of pure symbols.
    • Mixes of the two: Neo's code-o-vision.
  • Defector from Paradise: According to Agent Smith, the world is stalled at a "realistic" late 20th/early 21st Century civilization because humans rejected the virtual paradise that had been created for them in the first iteration of the system.
  • Designer Babies: Humans in the Matrix are essentially this.
  • 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".
  • Deus Exit Machina: Neo usually needs to be kept away away from the action after becoming the godlike One to maintain enough tension.
    • In Reloaded, a backdoor traps Neo hundreds of miles away while Trinity and Morpheus fight the Nigh-Invulnerable Twins, then Agents for the duration of the long highway scene.
    • In Revolutions, Neo ends up trapped in a train station for most of the beginning.
  • Diesel Punk: Much of the rebels' aesthetic inside and out of the Matrix.
  • Disney Death: Well-liked characters die near the climax, but like Tinker Bell, are revived through sheer sentiment. Neo and Tank in the first movie, Trinity in the second.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: (Former) Agent Smith is under almost constant control by his Machine masters and tasked with maintaining order in the Matrix. However, even in the original film he reveals that he has ulterior motives. When he briefly removes his earpiece, he admits to Morpheus that he completely despises the "zoo" he considers himself trapped in and is revolted by humanity. In the sequels, he goes on a full-scale rebellion to destroy everything.
  • 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.
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Trinity on Neo. Then reversed in the second film.
  • Dull Surprise: Enforced by everyone wearing Cool Shades all the time. But even when they're off, the Oracle seems to be the only character that seems to make any facial expression and doesn't speak in a monotone.
    • According to Marcus Chong (Tank) the actors were instructed to give "stoic, reserved" performances.
  • Dystopia: This is even reflected in the ending where most of humanity is still providing energy for the machines.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Part of the Architect's room (some of the monitor screens) is seen as far back as near the beginning of the first movie, right before the Agents interrogate Neo.
  • Earth That Used to Be Better
  • Enemy Civil War: There is a whole underworld of rogue programs, who are obsolete programs that chose to go into hiding in the Matrix rather than face deletion. One such program, the Merovingian, is something like the program version of a crimelord and holds a great deal of power and influence in the Matrix. And then of course there's Smith, who became an Omnicidal Maniac and attempted to destroy everything, man or Machine. He runs into an Agent at one point, and casually assimilates him. There isn't much Machines vs. rogues action seen on-screen, though there are a few glimpses here and there, most notably during the freeway chase in the second film. Morpheus and one of the Twins are at one point grappling each other to a stalemate when an Agent suddenly leaps onto the hood of the car and tears the roof off; they promptly drop everything and start shooting at him. It's kind funny to note this is a chase scene where the original pursuers end up getting blown up halfway through, and the rest of the scene involves a party that's chasing them for entirely separate reasons.
  • Energy Weapon: Sentinel robots could fire a red continuous beam laser, but only at close range.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: Neo's abilities, as well as various of the "potentials".
  • Epiphanic Prison:
    • Literalized in the Matrix. Anyone who depends on the system to survive is, by nature, a potential person for Agents to wipe over.
    • Most notably addressed in the Animatrix shorts World Record and Kid's Story.
  • Eternal Recurrence: The Reveal at the end of The Matrix Reloaded is that Neo isn't the second "One", he's the sixth. Not only that, but the program in charge of the Matrix allows him and the other rebels to exist, since giving the Matrix's inhabitants an unconscious choice of realities is what keeps the system going. Each "One" is meant to find the Architect shortly before the Machines invade Zion, at which point he will be allowed to select survivors to repopulate the rebels and begin the process all over again. Neo's love for Trinity, a connection his predecessors didn't have, makes him say Screw Destiny.
  • Everybody Owns a Ford: General Motors was the vehicle provider, so the heroes nearly always drive high-end Cadillacs. Oldsmobiles and other GM makes fill out the background.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: The heroes have the training programs to allow them to do this.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Some programs are named after their function; the Oracle, the Trainman, the Keymaker and the Architect.
  • Evil Counterpart: Smith to Neo, according to the Oracle.
  • Evil Gloating: Take a wild guess.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Either a subversion or inversion. The Architect, when he designed the Matrix following the Machine victory in the Robot War, did everything in his power to create a perfect fantasy world where every human would be happy, but the program failed because people didn't accept it. So did a second version which brought endless suffering instead. The Oracle realized that humans were hard-wired to desire choice instead of either happiness or hardship, which simply couldn't be eradicated from the program to work.
  • 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.
  • The Ex's New Jerkass: Morpheus experiences this with his relationship with ex-lover and fellow ship captain Niobe. After breaking up with Morpheus due to her intolerance of his earnest belief in the prophecy of the One, she entered into a relationship with Locke, the hard-nosed, not well-liked, and rude leader of Zion's military who despises superstition and Morpheus for his beliefs and jealousy for having Niobe's affection. Locke, though well-intentioned, is constantly standoffish, dismissive of Morpheus' belief in Neo, and eventually drives Niobe back to Morpheus for comfort.
  • 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.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: According to the Architect, Trinity would die in any case. It seems he was right.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: Part of what distinguishes Agent Smith from his fellow Machines is his belief that human beings are, by their very existence, a destructive virus that must be eradicated. He later extends this view to all of existence, his former masters included.
  • 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.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: The Agents seem to operate collectively, finishing each others' sentences at times.
  • Forbidden Zone: The Machine City, pretty much literally.
  • Forced Friendly Fire:
    • In the opening scene of The Matrix several police officers try to arrest Trinity and she attacks them. During the fight she grabs one of them and forces him to use his gun to shoot another officer.
    • Another example of the "cooperative shooting" variant is in The Matrix Reloaded. While Morpheus and the albino ghost twin are fighting over a gun during the freeway chase, they cooperate to shoot at the Agent who has just torn off the roof of the car they're in. To very little effect.
  • The Future: The movies are clearly set in the distant future judging by all the advanced technology developed by the Machines, but is otherwise extremely ambiguous just how far into the future. Morpheus says in the first film that they really don't know with any precision because of the limited information that the humans have. The Matrix and the destruction-rebuilding of Zion has already gone through six cycles, so it could easily be many thousands of years.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: People in the Real world eat "single cell protein combined with synthetic aminos, vitamins, and minerals" which tastes like snot. Zion inhabitants also manage to grow some mushrooms, but everything else is off-limits, without any sunlight whatsoever.
  • The Future Is Noir
  • The Glasses Come Off: Smith in most of his fights... and most of his rants.
  • 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.
  • Gnosticism: Almost as much as Christianity, the series reflects a deep and abiding Gnostic influence. There's even a ship called the Gnosis.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation:
    • 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.
    • Morpheus mentions in the first film that they never free people above a certain age (implied to be mid to late teens) presumably because this trope occurs with adults. Even adults who have been freed for years can slowly crack and long for their Matrix lives; case in point: Cypher.
  • Grand Theft Me: The normal Agents operate like this by possessing the bodies of humans who are still plugged into the Machine mainframe, though in their case, it is (usually) temporary. Unfortunately, if the Agents get killed, the victim of their possession also becomes a casualty.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: Agent Smith was somehow altered by Neo destroying him and gained his virus-like multiplying ability.

    Tropes H to M 
  • Hacker Cave: The operator stations in the hovercraft function as mobile Hacker Caves.
  • Hammerspace: Trinity can pull out weapons and her cell phone while wearing skintight costumes.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: You can become an expert in just about anything in seconds by having the skill uploaded into your brain. Although it's implied that the process is normally physically and/or mentally taxing on the individual, judging from Tank's incredulous comments about how long Neo has been downloading. In Path of Neo, we find out that its actually a matter of time dilation. Seconds passing in the real world for hours passing in intense training.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: The wardrobe of the main cast, as you can see in the picture.
  • The Hero's Journey: The machines treat this as an inevitable process as long as they create the right setup and don't try too hard to stop the One. They allow the Redpills a chance to escape unharmed and don't let the agents become powerful enough to kill the One. They attatch all of the anomalies caused by human choice to one person and hope that his Character Development will drive him to save humanity by continuing the status quo.
  • Hero Killer: The Agents and sentinels.
  • Hive Mind: The Agents seem to operate this way.
  • Homage: The directors pitched the idea to Joel Silver by showing him the 1995 Ghost in the Shell movie and saying "we want to do a live-action version." The style, themes, and action of the Matrix trilogy owe a lot to that movie.
  • Human Resources: As discussed in the main text, the machines 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.
  • Humans Are Bastards:
    • Agent Smith's speech to Morpheus in the first movie where he considers humanity more like a disease than a species.
    • It was humans who scorched the sky.
    • Apparently, the Machines were all too willing to coexist, being simple, even innocent beings at first. But the humans wouldn't hear any of it, even tearing apart the two robots sent to the UN to negotiate. On the spot!
      • Given that the level of symbolism in The Second Renaissance makes the movies look straightforward by comparison, it's hard to tell if anything in it should be taken at face value, or if it's all meant as a representation of how things went down.
    • If the Architect is to be trusted, humans are apparently hardwired to be unable to comprehend a true utopia.
  • Humans Are Smelly: Agent Smith often remarks on just how bad humans smell to him.
  • 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.
  • Implacable Man: Just about all the Agents, but Smith in particular.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Apparently, one's "residual self-image" includes cool hair and an awesome outfit. No exceptions. Even the nerdy Mouse is pretty snazzy inside. Going by The Matrix Online, where the character-creation was your redpill selecting what their in-Matrix appearance would be, apparently that's just how they like it. You could look boring and normal...but then you'd never get any screen time.
  • Industrialized Evil: The Machine's source of power: turn humans into batteries.
  • Info Drop: The protagonist is generally called either Neo or Mr. Anderson. His first name, Thomas, is mentioned only twice; during his interrogation by Agent Smith near the beginning of the film, and when he is delivered the cell phone through which Morpheus contacts him for the first time.
  • Inside a Computer System: The main premise of the films.
  • Instant Expert: Justified. All humans spend most of their lives plugged into a computer network through which they receive simulated experiences anyway — their Unusual User Interfaces can also act as Upgrade Artifacts, making it a trivial matter to have a full training regimen for anything from martial arts to piloting written directly into your brain in a matter of seconds. Whether this carries over to the real world is up in the air, though the series' only real-world fight scene is considerably less flashy than all of the other action scenes.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Oracle: You are a bastard, you know that?
    Agent Smith: You would know, Mom.
  • In the Future, Humans Will Be One Race: Hinted at; while the humans in the Matrix itself are shown to be more or less split along the traditional ethnic lines, the humans in Zion are frequently of mixed race. Makes sense; people in the Matrix would have a much larger pool of same-race partners than the few freed humans in Zion would.
  • 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.
  • Irony: How Agent Smith in the first movie equates the human race to being a virus that must be eradicated, yet in the following movies becomes a self-replicating virus.
  • It's a Small Net After All
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Neo should've been more careful for what he wished to know about the Matrix. He gets his computer hacked and is chased about and violated by Agents. Shortly being forcefully and painfully ejected from the Matrix, he learns the truth about the Matrix and completely loses it for a bit. He gets a little fun when learning how to bend the rules of virtual reality, but when Agent Smith and others put them to the ultimate test, he's bludgeoned silly before being shot. Even after getting Enlightenment Superpowers, he realizes they have a limit. He can hardly get a moment's peace with his girlfriend because of all the hero worship he gets. His purpose eludes him until he realizes that Smith, a fatalistic abomination, must kill him to save everyone in and out of the Matrix. He learned, literally, that you You Can't Fight Fate, but you can trick it.
  • Kill All Humans: Just about; of course, it's brinksmanship as we find out they need each other.
  • Knuckle Cracking: Agent Smith does this with his knuckles and neck in the original film and his neck in Reloaded.
  • Kung-Fu Jesus: Might as well be the trilogy's alternate title.
  • 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 (immediately) wipe them out. Unless human beings are given the choice to accept or reject the reality of the Matrix, even if they are only aware of this choice subconsciously, the entire system collapses ("entire crops [are] lost", in Smith's words). The tiny number of humans who do reject the system are allowed to become rebels, live in Zion and extract others "redpills" from the Matrix. When their numbers grow large enough, they are wiped out, while the One selects a small number of rebellious humans from the Matrix to repopulate Zion and start the process over again. The double subversion comes when Neo rejects the Architect's plan at the end.
  • Large Ham: Smith, at points, and particularly towards the end of the trilogy.
    This is my world, my world!
  • Laser Cutter: Utilized by the Sentinels in the real world to open up the hovercrafts so they can get to the crew.
  • Lethally Expensive: The hovercraft Osiris and her crew were destroyed in relaying news of the impending Machine invasion (shown in The Animatrix short film series). Niobe delivers the news to fellow captains at the start of The Matrix Reloaded.
  • 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).
  • Living Battery: People act as these to power the machines.
  • 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.
  • 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 a total of three, Morpheus included.
  • Magic from Technology: The "machine world" that Neo can see into in Real Life appears as swirly, fractal images out of a Bodhisattva painting.
  • Made of Iron: Every main character, and an explicit ability of the Agents.
  • Malignant Plot Tumor: Agent Smith again.
  • Masquerade Enforcer: The Matrix is a massive simulation maintained by Machines to entrap human minds. Anyone that is a threat to the Matrix will bring the Agents, nigh-unbeatable programs that will neutralize that threat with extreme prejudice.
  • Mary Sue Topia: Discussed In-Universe.
    • Agent Smith explains why the Matrix isn't one.
    • 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).
  • Matrix Raining Code: The display of the Matrix code on the monitors was designed to evoke trickling water or rain.
  • Meaningful Name: This movie may have singlehandedly popularized the "give every character a name that foreshadows what they do" trend in recent fiction. Essays have been written. Long ones at that.
    • Morpheus, named after the Greek god of dreams. Somewhat ironic considering Morpheus' role here is to awaken people from their dream states to reality.
    • The Merovingians were a dynasty of Frankish kings before Charlemagne who were thought to be descended from Trojans.
    • Neo (νέος) means "New" in Greek. It's also a Significant Anagram of "One", as in, "The One".
    • "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".
    • Neo's real first name, "Thomas," is an allusion to the Apostle Thomas, or "Doubting Thomas," who would not believe that Christ had resurrected until he could see and touch Jesus and his wounds himself. In the first movie, Neo touches his own bullet wounds before he (first) dies, in a self-referencing conclusion.
    • 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. Cypher's name even gets a second meaning - "Lu-Cypher" (Lucifer), a fallen angel.
    • The name of Morpheus' ship, the Nebuchadnezzar, is a Biblical reference to King Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon, from the biblical Book of Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar ('the Great') was famous for his conquests of Israel in Biblical times (specifically Judah and Jerusalem). He also built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the lost Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) for his wife. He has a dream he can't remember but keeps searching for an answer, in Daniel 2:1-49.
  • 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. And there are various groups of programs exiled from the Machine world that appear as supernatural creatures within the Matrix.
  • The Men in Black: The Agents.
  • Messianic Archetype: Neo aka the One is the sixth and hopefully, last, although it is implied he will return as a seventh.
  • Me's a Crowd: Smith's power in the sequels — he can overwrite the code of anyone in the Matrix and create a duplicate of himself.
  • Metaphorically True: A specialty of the Oracle—she's not so much about actual prophecy as telling people "exactly what [they] needed to hear."
  • Mind Rape:
    • Bane, who has his entire brain overwritten by Smith.
    • Matrix inhabitants that witness glitches can have their minds reformatted. Smith offers this to Neo in the interrogation room, Cypher actively seeks this, and several stories in The Animatrix deal with this concept.
  • Mind Prison: The Matrix itself is a massive virtual reality prison built by robots in the future designed to keep the human population complacent and asleep so their physical bodies can be harvested for bio-energy. Morpheus even describes it in such terms. Interestingly, earlier iterations actually experimented with this before settling on a rendition of late 20th century Earth; people's minds didn't accept either the Gilded Cage or Crapsack World versions.
    Morpheus: [The truth is] that you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.
  • Mind Screw: Many.
    • Most memorably, the ending of the second movie.
    • 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.
    • The Matrix is this Up to Eleven.
    • And of course there was the Matrix Online MMO, which is (meant to be) a Canon continuation of this universe.
  • The Mole:
  • Mood Lighting
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: After the Logos crashes in the machine city, Neo talks to Trinity for a bit, then the camera pans down to reveal that Trinity's been impaled by wreckage.
  • Motherly Scientist: Considering that Neo is a guinea pig, the Motherly Scientist role is occupied by the Oracle, who not only gives Neo advice, she also bakes cookies for him.
  • 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.
  • Myself, My Avatar: How you enter the Matrix.

    Tropes N to S 
  • 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.
  • Neural Implanting: This is how everyone gets their abilities. A jack in the back of the neck.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Averted. 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, Neo brokered a peace that the Machines could respect.
    • The Architect's statement that the Matrix will suffer a system crash if the One does not sacrifice himself in order to reload it. Thankfully, he took a third option.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability:
    • 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 hit each other. 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 Quite Dead:
    • Tank after Cypher shot him.
    • Smith in the sequels.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The humans always refer to 'Machines' and 'The Machine City.' Justified that they are sentient beings.
  • Obligatory Earpiece Touch: The Agents do this whenever they receive new orders from the mainframe. Since they don't communicate much except vague menace, this cue is important to signal that they are going to try something new next.
  • 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.
    Agent Smith: The purpose of all to end.
  • The Omniscient: The Oracle, The Architect to a lesser extent.
  • Once an Episode:
    • Neo and/or Trinity dies at the end of every film.
    • A club/rave scene (the party where Neo meets Trinity in the first movie, the celebration in Zion in the second, and the Club Hel scene in the third).
  • Online Alias: Rebels seem to adopt their online handles as their names. Neo and Trinity are the two best examples.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: A lot of the red-pilled humans use codenames instead of their real names, never revealing who they used to be. Examples are Trinity, Morpheus, Mouse, Switch, and Apoc. For those born free, their real names just sound like nicknames.
  • 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. 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.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Used occasionally.
    • The freeway scene in The Matrix Reloaded features "Mona Lisa Overdrive" by Juno Reactor, with Sanskrit chanting from "Navras," also by Juno Reactor & Don Davis.
    • The final battle in The Matrix Revolutions has some extremely Ominous Sanskrit Chanting in the background, although thematically it's rather positive: "And when he is seen in his immanence and transcendence, then the ties that have bound the heart are unloosened, the doubts of the mind vanish, and the law of Karma works no more." As the Wachowskis put it, "We couldn't very well have the choir chanting, 'This is the One, look at what he can do,' could we?"
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Smith vs. Neo in the latter films.
  • Order Versus Chaos:
    • Agents vs. the Zion resistance; Smith calls Morpheus a "known terrorist" early in the first film, and Niobe is later seen blowing up a power plant just to cause a black-out, which is gonna look pretty troll-y if you're standing outside the situation.
    • 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.
  • Perfection Is Impossible: The first version of the Matrix was apparently a Lotus-Eater Machine without even the possibility of suffering. It was a total disaster, as no one would accept it as reality. Some machines believe they lacked the programming language to describe a true utopia; Smith, who despises humanity, believes they just can't imagine a world without misery.
  • Power Glows: Instead of Matrix Raining Code, Neo sees programs like celestial, fractal golden swirly things in Real Life. Ironically, the Machine City looks like a hideous Gaia's Lament to human eyes, but it looks beautiful to Neo when he has one foot in the "machine world".
  • Powers as Programs: Anyone at any time can call Mission Control, ask for a program, and receive instant skills. When run, the programs give people the muscle memory and mental know-how required to perform the actions. In practice, the heroes can get a copy of a superpower.
  • Pre-emptive Declaration:
    • The Matrix:
      Agent Smith: What good is a phone call if you are unable to speak?
      Oracle: Oh, and don't worry about the vase.
      Neo: What vase? [looks around, knocking over a vase in the process]
      Oracle: That vase.
    • Combined with Apologetic Attacker in The Matrix Reloaded.
      Seraph: You seek the Oracle.
      Neo: Who are you?
      Seraph: I am Seraph. I can take you to her, but first I must apologize.
      Neo: Apologize for what?
      Seraph: For this. [attacks Neo]
  • Pre-Explosion Glow: Agent Smith goes out this way twice, at the end of both the first and third films.
  • 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.
    • Dat Duracell Battery.
  • Prophecy Twist: After the Driving Question of what The Matrix is about is answered, Neo must figure out how his abilities as the One are to end the Man-Machine War.
    • Neo realizes that the Oracle is, in fact, a Machine intelligence herself, rooting for and supporting the humans. She tells him that the One must find the Source to end the war.
    • But it seems that the Oracle's prophecy is nothing more than a manipulation by the Oracle's counterpart and the Matrix's creator, the Architect, into a "Groundhog Day" Loop of man/machine detente for the virtual world's existence, so Neo Takes a Third Option. When Neo inadvertently freed Agent Smith and turned him into a nihilistic destroying virus in the Matrix, he is able to use Smith's relentless destruction that also threatens the real world to make a pact with the Machines in the real world. The false prophecy of the Oracle and the Architect becomes Metaphorically True— specifically, from a point of view outside of the Matrix.
  • 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 makes a deal with the Machines.
  • Punched Across the Room: Multiple characters. Smith really likes doing this to Neo by hitting him in the chest.
  • Pursued Protagonist:
    • Twice in the first movie: Trinity, as she's chased by cops and an Agent; and Neo, as all three Agents pursue him.
    • Neo by Smith in the second.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: Occurs in both Reloaded and Revolutions.
  • Radial Ass Kicking: The Multi Mook fights pretty much define this trope, particularly the fight against all the Smiths in the second film.
  • Raster Vision: Vertical raster bars appear on the TV set inside the Construct.
  • Rated M for Manly
  • Reality Warper: Most of the heroes when they are in the Matrix — in terms of the Matrix's reality.
  • Recurring Camera Shot: The battle at the entrance of the skyscraper in The Matrix and the entrance to Club Hel in The Matrix Revolutions both end with Trinity kicking someone in slow motion. The kicks themselves have nearly identical choreography as well.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Sentinels ("search and destroy" robots, AKA Squiddies, AKA Calamari) have multiple glowing red eyes. This is eventually revealed to be the default state of the machines, as we see in the machine city in Revolutions. After Neo succeeds in defeating Smith and rebooting the Matrix, the machine that transports his body away has green eyes.
  • Redshirt Army: Pretty much anyone in our world (especially law enforcement, security guards and their like) is subject to being killed by people from The Real World, with zero moral repercussions. But it's not like it doesn't look totally awesome when it happens.
  • Refusal of the Call:
    • 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.
  • Refused by the Call: Neo thinks this is the case in the first movie, but it turns out to be only Metaphorically True.
  • The Remnant: The first inhabitants of Zion or the "original" one if you believe the Architect were comprised of U.N. soldiers who managed to elude capture and early escapees from the Matrix.
  • Remote, Yet Vulnerable: The forces of Zion suffer from this in the first and second movies.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The "programs" (really, AI's) in the Matrix are disturbingly human for what are, after all, creations of the Machines. This is explained by the fact that they were largely designed that way; the closer to humans the programs are, the more intuitive human traits they are given to understand them.
    • When Neo is speaking to the voice of the Machines in Revolutions, it angrily proclaims that it doesn't need him or anyone. Think about it: the Machines have become advanced enough, human enough, to exhibit irrational behaviors like bravado and denial, lying to Neo and maybe even itself.
  • Robot War: As shown in The Second Renaissance, this is what eventually led to the creation of the Matrix.
  • Robots Enslaving Robots: There's the rogue exile faction, made of programs that were scheduled for deletion or were created without a purpose, such as Sati—created simply because her parent programs wanted a child. Highly ironic when you consider that being treated mercilessly by humans is what made the Machine City rebel. Unless forcing such programs to make new lives for themselves in the Matrix is considered to be giving them a purpose. Like Zion, they could be serving needs the Machine City is unhappily unable to fulfill through its own agents.
  • Rogue Drone: Originally a guardian A.I. in a simulated reality, Agent Smith becomes something akin to a computer virus.
  • Roundhouse Kick: With all the flashy moves, of course this would be included.
  • Rule of Cool: How much one can do in the Matrix is directly proportional to how cool one looks doing it. It would be easier to list the times when this isn't the case.
  • 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: At the end of the second movie 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. Although this idea existed during the first movie and it was fully explained in the next one, this scene encouraged fans to speculate 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.
  • Science Fantasy: Neo is "The Chosen One", prophecied by an oracle, and he has special powers that allow him to fly, dodge bullets, and [bend spoons. Oh, but it's only because he's in a computer simulation run by intelligent machines.
  • Screw Destiny: The focus of the second and third movies.
  • Second Coming: Neo is seen as the return of The One by Morpheus.
  • Seer: The Oracle is a subversion, as she can't actually see the future. She can, however, predict what choices people will make with near-perfect accuracy and from that extrapolate events that will come, through an innate understanding of the human psyche. She also admits that this ability has limits: if she doesn't understand a choice someone will make, she can't predict what they will do, and she doesn't know what will happen after that.
  • 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?
  • Send in the Clones: Smith has the power to do this in the sequels. During the first fight with Neo, he realizes that there aren't enough of him to make a difference and says "More." Cue dozens more Smiths running in to attack Neo.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Several works: in The Matrix: Alice in Wonderland ("Follow the White Rabbit"); The Wizard of Oz ("Buckle your seat belt, Dorothy, because 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?
  • Shown Their Work: They made an entire separate DVD for the making-of the first film.
  • Signature Move: Several characters have one.
    • Morpheus on several occasions uses a high-jumping diving knee strike.
    • Smith seems to prefer a straight right punch to the chest.
    • Trinity's is her iconic levitating crane kick.
  • Significant Anagram:
    • Neo <=> One. How incredibly subtle.
    • 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"
  • Sincerest Form of Flattery: The Wachowskis used the Ghost in the Shell manga and film to show prospective producers how they wanted the movie to look.
  • Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence: Most of the machines and programs in the films are vastly more intelligent than the humans, although some are difficult to assess because of how vastly inhuman they are. The Sentinels and other war models are likely either completely programmed Bricks or on par with humans. Some programs designed to mimic humans are more or less on the human level, barring some extrasensory perceptions. The Architect and the Oracle are definately Nobel bots, with the Architect coming across as distinctly alien in his viewpoint. Deux Ex Machina may or may not be effectively a machine god.
  • Spiritual Sequel: To the film Dark City. They even shared the same sets!
  • Spiritual Successor: The 1995 animated film Ghost in the Shell is cited by the Wachowskis as a direct influence on the films, so much so that it's practically their spiritual predecessor.
  • Starfish Robots: Loads of them in the real world, with the Sentinels being the most prominent.
  • Storming the Castle: Once a film.
  • 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."
  • Super Weight:
    • Type -1: Fresh Red-Pills (unplugged humans)
    • Type 0: Blue-Pills (plugged humans), Real-world humans, Neo pre-training
    • Type 1: Zion soldiers in the real world; some blue-pill mooks
    • Type 2: Red-Pill potentials, people and creatures sensitive to the Matrix, the Oracle, The Merovingian, Persephone, The Keymaker, Real-world humans possessed by Smith
    • Type 3: Trained Red-Pills, The Agents, Seraph, The Twins, Sentinels, people in APUs
    • Type 4: Neo as the One and later in the Real world as well, Smith (if there's enough of him), The Trainman in Limbo
    • Type 5: Deus Ex Machina, The Architect

    Tropes T to Z 
  • Take a Third Option: The entire plot of the trilogy is about taking a third option. The Architect claims Neo's only choices are to do as he's told (let the machines destroy Zion) or cause the entire Matrix to crash, which will kill everyone in the world. While the other five "Ones" accepted this, Neo refuses. He later makes a new choice when confronting Deus Ex Machina: he offers to save the Machine City from Smith if the machines will let Zion survive, with the implication that the Zionites will also continue to remove 'undesirables' from the Matrix.
  • Technicolor Death: The explosive death/destruction of Agent Smith in The Matrix and all of the Smiths in Revolutions.
  • 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.
  • This Was His True Form: Agents are capable of taking over bystanders' bodies. If they should be killed, the program leaves and the innocent most recent host is unmistakably dead. There are no other bodies, but all their other hosts are presumably very dead as well, or they just find themselves someplace strange with no memory of how they got there.
  • Theme Naming: Each of the movie sequels that's a type of cycle.
  • Three-Point Landing: Almost everybody does this, probably to emphasize coolness, but most prominently Trinity and one of the Agents pursuing her right in the beginning of the first movie.
  • 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.
  • Tomato Surprise: The Reveal in the first film; Neo's machine-powers in the third.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Neo at the end of the first movie, and Smith in Revolutions.
  • Transformation of the Possessed: The Agents are Machine programs who manifest inside the Matrix by taking over the bodies of people who are still plugged into the program, which alters their physical appearance to that of the agent. Obviously, it's easier for them to do since the whole thing is a simulation. If an Agent is ever killed (no small feat), their host body turns back.
  • Turned Against Their Masters:
    • The Machines rose up against humanity to turn them into batteries. Though as shown in The Animatrix, it was our fault since we started it.
    • And in the sequels, the former Agent Smith turns against the other machines. Even in the first film he was already trying to subvert his masters' control. When he removed his earpiece so the others can't hear him talk candidly to Morpheus, he admits that he really doesn't want to enforce the masquerade, but instead wants to wipe humanity out and destroy the Matrix, seeing it as much a prison for him as it is for them.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: The second and third films were filmed back-to-back with a Cliffhanger, and follow one plot line; allegedly, they were meant to be one long film.
  • Two Roads Before You: One per film.
  • Uncertain Doom: The bluepills most recently occupied by Agents when they are killed are most certainly dead, but it's never made clear whether the bodies that survive also die.
  • Underground City: Zion.
  • 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 humans and machines soured, the machines became more and more alien, developing into creepy insectoid things. It was most likely deliberate: both as an declaration of the machines' independence from human influence, and as a means to intimidate the Humans.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Agents only use about three techniques, but compensate for it with superhuman strength and speed.
  • Used Future: This trope is the reason why 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.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: The Oracle.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Switch in The Matrix and Charra in Revolutions.
  • Villain Decay: In the first film, one of the things that makes Neo special is that he's on par with the Agents. In the second film, he even ACKNOWLEDGES that the Agents have had "upgrades"... but the rest of the cast can hold their own against them, most notably in Morpheus's truck top fight. The "upgrades" are increased speed and strength in exchange for reduced intelligence. That makes them better against Neo (if only barely), but less effective against everyone else. Niobe and Ghost outright kill several Agents in the canonical Enter the Matrix game. They could still possess someone else; but still so much for "nobody has ever beaten one."
  • Virtual-Reality Warper: The human "redpill" hackers are able to bend the laws of the Matrix to perform superhuman feats - within limits: empowering themselves with downloaded knowledge, making themselves stronger and faster than most human beings, and making absolutely impossible jumps appears to be the extent of their abilities. In turn, programs like the Agents are able to counter with powers of their own...
  • The Virus:
    • The Agents overtaking soldiers' bodies in the first film.
    • Agent Smith in the sequels, quite literally.
  • Wall Jump: One of the more commonly-used wuxia, wire-fu tricks this series employs in the fight scenes.
  • Weaker in the Real World: Both Neo and Smith experience this once they cross over to the real world.
    • At first Neo is as weak as a newborn baby due to severe muscular and organ atrophy. Later, once he recovers from this and becomes capable of superhuman, Reality Warper style feats in the Matrix, in the real world he remains just a guy. (Although maybe just a bit more, as the ending of the second movie shows.)
    • Meanwhile, not only is Smith disgusted by the human body he possesses in order to exit the Matrix, he also specifically talks about how weak it is compared to what he was used to.
    • And when the two fight in the real world in the third movie, there's no super powered, wuxia type moves or wire fu, you just have a couple of guys awkwardly wrestling each other and trying to grab anything that can be sued as a weapon. (Although again, the climax of the fight shows there's a little more going on with Neo, although it takes him awhile to be learn this and how to use it.)
  • Welcome to the Real World: More-or-less stated, but not actually an example of the trope.
  • We Will Meet Again: Neo in Reloaded and Smith in Revolutions.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: This is variously played straight and subverted by the machines:
    • The Oracle is a computer program designed to intuitively understand emotional concepts such as love the way a human would to better understand human choice.
    • The Architect can only dispassionately interpret love in a very mechanical manner — as chemical processes occurring in the human brain.
    • Agent Smith goes way beyond reducing emotions to biology and becomes a nihilistic destroyer who despises everything created by human minds and by extension of his own former masters.
    • Rama-Kandra and his wife are two programs who actively love each other, culminating in "giving birth" to a new program, Sati.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Unfortunately, a repeating trope:
    • In the first film, the Oracle is assisted by a young woman in looking over potential Ones, all children (one of them the Spoon Boy who gives Neo advice). From Reloaded onward, the woman is replaced by Seraph, and the potentials disappear completely except for one Call-Back.
    • The Twins don't reappear after Morpheus blows up their car on the freeway. It seems highly unlikely it actually killed them, given their intangibility, but still nothing.
    • Link, Zee, the Kid, and many other Zion citizens are unmentioned in Resurrections, but considering how much time has passed they likely died of old age.
  • 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 a Non-Human?: 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.
  • White Void Room: The Construct is portrayed this way until something's inserted into it, like the chairs that Neo and Morpheus sit in when Morpheus revels the complete truth about the Matrix and when they drop into the city for the jump program.
  • Wild Mass Guessing: Oh Sweet Kung-Fu Action Jesus, yes.
  • Wire Fu: Oh yes. The Neo vs. Morpheus fight is just one of many examples.
  • 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. Gets an Exact Words twist in the sequels; some Machines aren't inimical to humanity, and Agent Smith develops the ability to write over the minds of Rebels.
  • World of Badass: Being a badass becomes a norm within the Matrix.
  • You Can't Fight Fate:
    • 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 for Smith'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 Shall Not Pass!: An example in each movie.
  • "You!" Squared
  • Your Mind Makes It Real:
    • If someone is killed in the Matrix, they're dead for real.
    • Neo's powers.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: From the perspective of all the bluepills, what Smith does in the Matrix.

Wake up, Troper...


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Matrix


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 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / VirtualTrainingSimulation

Media sources: