The Matrix trilogy was not only a pop-culture revolution; it arguably changed the direction of cinema and storytelling as we moved into a new century. The special effects were mind-blowing, and the characters managed to be iconic yet somehow incredibly relatable. The core themes of the Matrix were profoundly philosophical, while the message of personal freedom in the wake of a technological apocalypse struck a deep and terrifying nerve that continues to resonate to this day.
No one tied to the movie ever gave hints that they would expand further into this futuristic world, yet fans continued to hold hope that they would once more be able to visit the Matrix. One reason is how the trilogy ended. In an impressive feat, the third movie concludes on a note that is both extremely satisfying and utterly tantalizing. Through the last conversation between the Oracle and the Architect, we get a clear sense that this story, these characters, are not quite done.
Now, twenty years after the first film premiered, fans are rewarded for their dedication and patience with the announcement that there will be a fourth movie, Matrix: Resurrections, out December 2021. While we wait, we’ve gathered 10 of the most powerful quotes to help you prepare to re-enter the Matrix.
“You take the blue pill… the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill… you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes." —Morpheus, The Matrix (1999)
Even people who haven’t seen The Matrix know the red pill/blue pill reference. This is the beginning. Or the end. Or the beginning of the end, depending on your perspective.
The fact that this quote is not only recognizable, but that the meaning is so definitively captured, makes it one of the most powerful quotes in the entire series. The Matrix is a story about choice, but it’s also a multi-faceted examination into the various struggles we face to make those choices.
No matter who we are, or where we are in our lives, the question at the core of every decision we make is: will we take the red pill, or the blue one?
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“We can never see past the choices we don’t understand.” —The Oracle, The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
Going even deeper than the idea of choice itself, the trilogy explores when choice starts and what choice means. All of the characters made choices, just like we do, a million times throughout the day. Some are conscious and some aren’t. But when does choice become choice? When we become aware of it?
It seems the Oracle has an answer to that. In this scene she tells Neo that by being there with her, the choice was already made. But understanding why he made that choice is far more complicated than the choice itself. Making a choice is never the conclusion, but the beginning.
It’s easy to decide one way or another. But to move forward and stop repeating cycles, we have to understand why we’re making those choices. If we don’t understand them, we’re destined—or doomed—to repeat them.
“How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, taste, and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.” —Morpheus, The Matrix (1999)
Of course, choice isn’t the only philosophical rabbit hole The Matrix takes us down. The entire premise that we exist in a virtual world created by machines while our bodies sleep is chilling—especially as we rely more on technology now than we did in 1999. So what is real?
As virtual technology, artificial intelligence, and algorithms continue to infiltrate our lives, it’s a question we should tackle as a species—before the machines decide to handle that for us.
“There is no spoon.” —Spoon boy, The Matrix (1999)
Speaking of our perception of reality, this is another quote most people have heard. It’s easy to apply this quote to the literal interpretation of the movie, but when it comes to this trilogy, there are always layers of meaning wrapped in everything.
Maybe we aren’t living in a virtual world, but the idea that we can view objects and circumstances in our lives as immovable is true. What happens when we stop seeing the problem as the problem, and look beyond the problem, or around it? What might we then become capable of?
It’s questions like these that make this series so incredibly insightful, and are why it continues to resonate with so many people around the world.
“Why do you do it? Why? Why get up? Why keep fighting? […] You can’t win. It’s pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson, why? Why do you persist?”
“Because I choose to.”
—Agent Smith and Neo, The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
Honestly, any quote where Agent Smith growls the chilling but memorable, “Mr. Anderson," deserves to be on this list. But this tirade where he simply can’t fathom why Neo continues to fight in the face of defeat, defying logic and reason, sends chills down our spine every time.
It’s a testament to the resilience of humanity, offering us hope in a single sentence. We can choose to go on, choose to fight, choose to be our authentic selves, just like Neo.
“Kiss me. Once more, kiss me.” —Trinity, The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
The love story between Trinity and Neo is understated but plays an important role in both plot and theme. They are destined to find each other, and even Trinity admits that the Oracle tells her the person she’ll fall in love with will be the Chosen One. But she didn’t fully believe it.
Even when she started to fall in love with Neo, Trinity was presented with a choice: Believe that the man she loves is the Chosen One, or continue to fight that destiny and perhaps doom them to yet another failed attempt at revolution.
Instead, she and Neo learn to rely on each other, to become two halves of the same whole. And by doing so, they become capable of more than either would have been by themselves. This scene at the end of the final movie is so powerful because it highlights all of this, as well as the themes of faith and destiny. They embrace their futures, even if that means death, because they know they loved each other fully and wholly and without regret.
The Matrix trilogy may not be a romance, but the power of Neo and Trinity’s love is undeniable, making it one of the most impactful and long-lasting facets of the series.
“It is, of course, the way of all things. You see, there is only one constant, one universal. It is the only real truth. Causality. Action, reaction. Cause and effect.” —Merovingian, The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
If the Matrix is nothing but code, and Agent Smith is a virus born from that code, it makes sense that other sentient programs would also live and operate within that system. Merovingian is one of those programs.
As a rogue program, Merovingian operates as a broker within the Matrix, presiding over a powerful underworld within the system. His machine logic view that the world is nothing outside of cause and effect is as enigmatic as Merovingian himself. It’s true, and it’s not.
This quote offers the opportunity for the viewer to further examine the philosophical theory of causation, adding further nuance to the layered and complex themes woven into the plot.
“That’s how it is with people. Nobody cares how it works as long as it works.” —Councillor Hamann, The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
For all the messages of hope written throughout the trilogy, there is also a healthy amount of cynicism. How many people would choose to open their eyes to the hard truth versus staying comfortable in the virtual lie? It’s a disturbing but important thought, particularly as we begin to understand the way technology can be used as a means of power and control.
“I believed.” —The Oracle, The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
It’s impossible to have a discussion on philosophy without delving into the concept of faith, but rather than tackle it through doctrine or scripture, the Wachowski’s stick to philosophical themes.
All of the characters show belief, and how in order to progress forward, they have to give up their illusion of control. But it’s especially powerful that this quote comes from the one individual who is thought to be all-seeing and all-knowing.
The Oracle believed there was a path and rather than try to force that belief on anyone else, she simply presented the truth as she understood it and allowed everyone to make their own choice. There is so much hope and confidence in those two words, and it’s a message that resonates with anyone searching to find their own truth and their own belief in themselves and their path forward.
“After all these years. To be going back to where it all started. Back to the Matrix.” —An Agent, The Matrix Resurrections (2021)
While it’s still a few months from the movie premiering, we couldn’t help but include this teaser from the preview. Details on what we can expect in this latest installation in the series have been closely guarded, but one thing is for sure: We’re going back to the Matrix. And we cannot wait.