40 Secret Messages In The Matrix That Change Everything

The Matrix and its sequels are groundbreaking pieces of filmmaking. Complex and philosophical storylines combined with cyber-punk aesthetics, innovative fight scenes and CGI genius to create an iconic trilogy that’ll soon be added to with the release of The Matrix 4. Yet creators the Wachowskis really put the devil in the detail and planted hidden messages that even the most dedicated of fans won’t have picked up on.

40. The green code has a rather fishy meaning

The opening of the The Matrix sees green code cascading before us, echoing the tint of early computer screens. But what is that code exactly? Something important, surely? Well, actually, in this case, no. It turns out the art director borrowed some typeface from his partner’s Japanese recipes.

39. Neo’s book is an early ode to hyper-reality

Neo hides his files and cash inside a book kept in his apartment. We can see that it’s titled Simulacra & Simulation. It’s by Jean Baudrillard, a French academic who argued that the society we now inhabit is actually a hyper-reality. And this is one of the key concepts at the heart of The Matrix.

38. Neo’s shabby clothes

You may notice that early in The Matrix, Keanu Reeves’ Neo doesn’t look quite as slick as he does later on. His clothes are worn and ill-fitting. This was a deliberate ploy, all done to represent the fact that Neo – Thomas Anderson – senses that he doesn’t belong in the society he’s inhabiting. It’s all a visual manifestation of the character’s mindset.

37. Morpheus’ ship has an apt name

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In the movie we’re introduced to Morpheus’ crew on his vessel, the Nebuchadnezzar. It’s a strange name but a fitting one, too. King Nebuchadnezzar II features in the Bible, specifically in the “Book of Daniel.” As well as subjugating Israel, Nebuchadnezzar is said to have had a dream that he was unable to understand. He then went to great lengths to find an explanation. Sound familiar?

36. The name of Neo’s firm is pretty apt

You may notice that emblazoned on the side of Neo’s office building is the name of his firm: “MetaCortex.” Break it down and you have “meta,” which denotes transcendence, and then “cortex,” a reference to the brain. “Transcending the brain,” in other words. And that’s where we, and Neo, are about to go, of course.

35. Visual clues reveal the coming story

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The Wachowskis love the concept of foreshadowing – in other words, subtle plot reveals litter the movie. The pair often do this visually in The Matrix, such as when Trinity’s laptop shows Neo’s records before the agents produce the same records in Neo’s interrogation. There are also street signs that announce “kung fu” before the kung fu fight scenes and “guns and ammo” prior to them making an appearance.

34. Neo isn’t the first fictional character to follow a white rabbit

Neo memorably receives a message to “follow the white rabbit.” If you thought to yourself, “I’ve heard this one before,” then you’d be right. The same concept features in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, except in that case it wasn’t referring to a tattoo.

33. A soapy window isn’t just a soapy window

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Hidden meanings are everywhere in The Matrix. In the scene where Neo’s with his manager, we look into the room through a window that’s in the process of being cleansed. And the soapy window bears an uncanny resemblance to the Matrix code. This seems to signify Neo’s growing awareness of the realities of the world around him.

32. The Oracle really likes green

Color is symbolic throughout the Matrix trilogy. You may notice that the Oracle is fond of green objects. Her apartment is plastered in the color, as is the Oracle herself in terms of her clothes when Neo visits. This is deliberately done to symbolize her as a Mother Earth-type character who’s the protector of the Matrix.

31. Neo as a Christ-like figure

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Neo is clearly portrayed in Messianic terms by the Wachowskis. Morpheus and his crew see him as the savior of humankind, and there’s a much more overt reference, too. “Hallelujah. You’re my savior, man. My own personal Jesus Christ,” says Choi when purchasing a file from Neo early in the film.

30. Massive Attack song “Dissolved Girl” is played for a reason

Don’t only pay attention to what you can see, but also what you can hear during the Matrix trilogy. During the scene early in the first film in which we see Neo napping at his desk, Massive Attack’s “Dissolved Girl” is heard playing. The song contains the line “feels like something that I’ve done before”. Of course – spoiler alert – that’s something we discover is the case with Neo, and indeed everyone else, as this is just the latest incarnation of the Matrix we inhabit.

29. Why the Adam Street Bridge?

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The Matrix takes place in a fictional city, although there are plenty of nods to the Wachowskis’ hometown of Chicago. Neo is instructed to meet Morpheus and his team under the Adam Street Bridge, which of course is similar to the Windy City’s Adams Street Bridge. The name change ties the location to Adam, the first man according to the Bible. And seeing as Neo’s name also means “new,” not to mention that he has an important choice to make (red pill or blue pill anyone?), it seems a fitting title.

28. Neo’s baptism

After swallowing the red pill, to give him truth, Neo wakes up in a pod. Naked and fetus-like with his lack of body hair, it resembles the birth of a child. Or, if we were to infer religious meaning, it’s a kind of baptism for Neo whereby he begins a new life – one of truth. And this, of course, makes Morpheus a John the Baptist-type figure to boot. It’s all very fitting in terms of the plot.

27. The Matrix gives a nod to The Prisoner

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Back in the 1960s the BBC in the U.K. produced a groundbreaking series called The Prisoner. In it, a former spy attempts to start a new life, only to be kidnapped. He subsequently awakens in a mysterious settlement known as The Village. It’s his own version of the Matrix. The similarities are striking, so it’s really no surprise that the Wachowskis would include a nod to the show. It can be seen on a television during a chase sequence.

26. It’s all about perspective

A central tenet of The Matrix is perspective. How do you see the world and how do you see yourself? Literally speaking, we see ourselves in mirrors, so it’s stands to reason that these should feature often in the movie. Mirrors offer reflection and truth, too. And there’s no better example than Morpheus’ iconic sunglasses.

25. Look out for red

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There’s a seminal scene in The Matrix in which a stunning woman in red distracts Neo. But did you notice the presence of female characters dressed in the same color when Neo is taken from his office by agents early on the movie? You didn’t? You might just need to watch that bit again.

24. Why does Switch refer to Neo as “Copper Top”?

At one stage in The Matrix the character Switch addresses Neo as “Copper Top,” which seems an unusual nickname. It’s only later than the reason for this moniker becomes clear. Morpheus tells Neo that people are like Duracell batteries – a.k.a. ‘copper tops’ – because they’re used as an energy source by the machines.

23. The red pill is ‘forbidden fruit’

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There are plentiful examples of Biblical references in The Matrix. Perhaps one of the strongest analogies comes in the form of the pills that Neo must choose from. It’s a simple choice: the red pill or the blue pill. Truth, or ignorance. It’s much the same decision Adam had to make in the Garden of Eden when he’s offered the apple by the serpent, don’t you think?

22. Cypher is Judas

If there weren’t enough Biblical references in The Matrix for you, then perhaps you weren’t looking closely enough. Take the character of Cypher, for example. At first he appears to be on the side of the good guys but – spoiler alert – he eventually betrays Neo, much like Judas betrayed Jesus.

21. Keep an eye on Agent Smith’s suit

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Color plays an important part in the worlds as constructed by the Wachowskis. Inside the Matrix, there’s a green-ish hue to signify the digital world the protagonists are occupying. Agent Smith’s very much part of this world, but as he stops following orders his suit begins to turn black. This singles him out from his colleagues.

20. Why’s Neo called Neo?

So what’s the inspiration for Neo’s name? Names are of vital importance in the Wachowskis’ trilogy, and as the core protagonist, Neo’s is crucial. “Neo” is, of course, the “chosen one” in the film. And the eagle-eyed among you would have noticed that Neo is an anagram of ‘one’. It also means “new,” which is pretty fitting. So, Neo isn’t called Neo just because it sounds cool.

19. ‘I’m Beginning to See the Light’

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When we meet the Oracle, there’s an interesting choice of music playing. The track is “I’m Beginning to See the Light”, as performed by Ella Fitzgerald. During his trip to the Oracle’s home, Neo experiences something of an awakening thanks to what he sees and hears. You could, perhaps, claim that it’s from this moment that Keanu Reeves’ character begins to understand everything around him. He begins to see the light, in other words.

18. Cypher from The Matrix

So, as it turns out, the character of Cypher is somewhat of a bad guy. His name couldn’t be better for an antagonist, because it could be interpreted as a shortened version of the Devil himself: Lucifer. Bonus points for also spotting that a cypher is a type of secret code – fitting for a character who seemingly changes sides halfway through the movie.

17. They need new spoons

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There’s an intriguing moment at the Oracle’s house when Neo witnesses a little boy bending spoons. But this isn’t the first time the movie presents us with bent utensils. On board the Nebuchadnezzar earlier, the crew are seen dining with far-from-straight pieces of cutlery, which is once again a great piece of plot foreshadowing by the Wachowskis.

16. Is that really just rain?

In the last movie of the original Matrix trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions, there’s an epic battle scene at the end. All good trilogies should finish with an epic fight sequence, of course. In this particular encounter between Neo and his nemesis Agent Smith, it begins to rain. Yet the rainfall that we see doesn’t come in drops, but in digital code. Why? Because at this stage the Matrix is starting to crumble.

15. Agent Smith has a personalized license plate

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It’s a lovely touch to see Agent Smith driving a car with his own personalized license plate number, don’t you think? What do you mean you never noticed it? Well, in fairness, it’s easy to miss. “IS 5416” is in fact a Biblical reference to Isaiah 54:16. The passage reads:“Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.” How apt.

14. The memorial plaque on the bench

In the very final scene of The Matrix Revolutions, after – spoiler alert – poor Neo has met his demise – we see a park bench. Upon it is a memorial plaque bearing the words: “In Memory of Thomas Anderson.” You may well have forgotten at this stage, but that was Neo’s real name.

13. The Oracle gives Neo two types of cookies

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There are two worlds present within the Matrix trilogy. One’s the “real” world while the other is a digital representation. Cookies are something that exist in both worlds, of course. You might enjoy a snack of cookies with milk, or you might find them online as pieces of data. It’s therefore symbolic that while Neo is visiting the Oracle, she offers him some cookies at the same time as offering him some advice. Or data, if you will.

12. Black cats and deja-vu

Did you spot any black cats in the Matrix trilogy? You should have done. In The Matrix Neo observes a black cat that moves across the doorway twice, revealing a fault in the code. Of course, it also acts as a point of déjà-vu, much as it does when the same cat reappears in The Matrix Revolutions. Double déjà-vu, you could say!

11. Neo lives in room 101

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The Wachowskis gave symbolism and meaning to pretty much everything they could in The Matrix and its sequels. We meet Neo in his apartment. Room 101 to be precise. And fans of George Orwell will have noted that in his classic novel 1984, that’s the room in which prisoners are psychologically tortured.

10. What’s in a name?

The Wachowskis considered every little detail in their movies, so the names of their characters are particularly meaningful. Morpheus – played by Lawrence Fishburne – is an integral character. He’s the one who shows Neo the light. And in Greek mythology, Morpheus is the dream deity. Quite a fitting title for a protagonist who plays the role of revealer.

9. Neo’s boss and Agent Smith look alike

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It’s quite a coincidence that Neo’s boss looks like Agent Smith, don’t you think? There are no true coincidences in the worlds created by the Wachowskis, of course. Neo’s fear of authority within the Matrix – represented by his boss – is mirrored by his struggles with Agent Smith – his boss’ doppelganger – in the real world.

5. The Holy Trinity isn’t only reflected in one character’s name

The Matrix and its sequels are awash with religious imagery. Trinity’s name is, of course, a nod to the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The idea of trinity pops up elsewhere, too, most notably where the character is discovered at the beginning of the film. She’s hiding out in the Heart o’ the City Motel, in room 303. There’s also a nice parallel here to Neo’s apartment number of 101.

7. Scenes with green and blue tints are symbolic

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The Matrix uses color beautifully in terms of both imagery and symbolism. Any shots from inside the Matrix are given a green hue, whereas those that take place within the “true world” have a blue shade. The Wachowskis did this to contrast the realms in which the movies take place.

6. The blind man can see Neo

Did you notice that when Neo arrives at the Oracle’s apartment, there’s a blind man sitting in the lobby outside? And did you notice that the blind man salutes Morpheus? Yet how could he – he’s blind, right? But just as in Greek mythology with the seer – or oracle – Tiresias, the man has greater perception because of his blindness. The moment also foreshadows Neo’s blindness in the sequels.

5. Know thyself!

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When Neo finally meets the Oracle, there’s an interesting exchange regarding whether he believes himself to be “the one” or not. When Neo states that he doesn’t know, the Oracle points to a sign above her door. It reads “Know thyself!” in Latin. Not coincidentally, that’s also the exact inscription above the entry to the famed Delphic Oracle from Greek mythology.

4. Is that green code on the cop’s face?

Green code crops up often in the Matrix trilogy. That’s unsurprising, really, considering it’s symbolic of the Matrix itself. But in an easy-to-miss moment during the first movie, the cop who discovers that Morpheus and his followers have crawled through a hole in the wall turns into Agent Smith. As he does so, green code seemingly crawls down his face. It’s another representation of the program that runs the Matrix world.

3. The same hotel at the beginning and the end

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Circularity is an often-used tool within plots, enabling the audience to feel they’ve moved full circle with a story. Obviously big fans of the device, the Wachowskis use the Heart o’ the City Motel at both the beginning and the end of The Matrix movie. It’s the location where Trinity is chased by the agents at the start of the movie, and it’s where Agent Smith pursues Neo to towards the end of the film. Agent Smith even takes a look up at the motel in recognition.

2. The trans subtext of The Matrix starts in the very first scene

Did you realize that there’s a strong trans-gender aspect to the whole concept of the Matrix? Co-writer and co-director Lily Wachowski, who made the film as Andy Wachowski, admitted as much in a 2020 interview with Netflix Film Club. “I’m glad that it has gotten out that that was the original intention,” Lily stated. And “Call trans opt: received” is the very first thing we read on Neo’s computer screen at the start of the movie, too.

1. Trinity’s kiss is a gender reversal

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The Matrix trilogy has deep-rooted trans subtexts and also explores gender fluidity and androgyny. In a powerful symbol of gender reversal, we see Trinity plant the kiss on Neo that seemingly brings him back to life. It’s a theme we’ve seen time and again in traditional fairytales, but always with a prince kissing the princess. It’s a fitting tribute to the film’s themes.

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