Why Neo Is "the One" in the Matrix Trilogy

Updated on April 14, 2020
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Robert Odell, Jr. is a seasoned video analyst with several years of experience in the creation and observance of film and digital assets.

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Blockbuster Movie Trilogy

After being released on Wednesday, March 31, 1999, according to IMBd (Internet Movie Database), The Matrix made $21 million the following weekend in the United States. Grossing $463 million worldwide, The Matrix was a movie blockbuster sensation. Along with its two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded (Friday, May 16, 2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (Wednesday, November 5, 2003), the films earned more than $1.6 billion at box offices throughout the world.

The three Matrix movies earned more than $1.6 billion at box offices throughout the world.
The three Matrix movies earned more than $1.6 billion at box offices throughout the world.

Viewers Had Theories

The engaging storyline, stop-motion action, and cutting edge special effects had viewers talking and theorizing about the productions for years. After seeing the first trailer and later watching the movie, I became an unshaken Matrix fan. I expressed to many naysayers that The Matrix was one of the greatest cinematic marvels of all time. The majority of individuals who have seen The Matrix movies come away believing that Neo is "The One." However, some theorists have stated otherwise. Here is undeniable proof that Neo is, without a doubt, truly "The One."

Who Is Neo?

The main character and hero of the trilogy, Neo (Keanu Reeves), also called Thomas Anderson, is a computer programmer for a prestigious software corporation by day. At night he is one of the most brilliant and skilled computer hackers of his time. Neo's life should be on point with any prosperous individual living in a big city environment. However, day in and day out, he is plagued by the feeling that something isn't right in the world.

Neo's life should be on point with any prosperous individual living in a big city environment. However, day in and day out, he is plagued by the feeling that something isn't right in the world.
Neo's life should be on point with any prosperous individual living in a big city environment. However, day in and day out, he is plagued by the feeling that something isn't right in the world. | Source

The Plaguing Question

Neo wants to know the answer to his plaguing question, and ardently seeks out Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne). Morpheus is an elusive, highly-skilled, cyber marauder considered by authorities to be the most dangerous man alive. Neo is awed by the legendary exploits of Morpheus. Neo feels that if anyone understood the world's enigma, it would be Morpheus. Neo wants an answer to the question, "What is the Matrix?"

Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) is an infamous and mysterious computer hacker who guides Neo to Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne).  Neo is shocked when he discovers that Trinity is not a guy but a beautiful woman.
Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) is an infamous and mysterious computer hacker who guides Neo to Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne). Neo is shocked when he discovers that Trinity is not a guy but a beautiful woman. | Source

Trinity, a Beautiful Female Hacker

Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) is an infamous and mysterious computer hacker. Neo is shocked when he discovers that Trinity is not a guy but a beautiful woman. Trinity contacts Neo and guides him to the world of Morpheus. Surprisingly, Morpheus has been seeking to find Neo more avidly than Neo has been looking for him. Morpheus believes that in Neo, he has discovered "The One." Interestingly Neo is an anagram of One. "The One" is a deliverer meant to save the last vestige of humanity from total annihilation.

Trinity contacts Neo and guides him to Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne).
Trinity contacts Neo and guides him to Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne). | Source

Is the Villian "The One"

A notable YouTube theorist postulated that "The One" is Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). Agent Smith is the main antagonist of The Matrix trilogy. In the last scene of The Matrix, Neo destroys Agent Smith. In The Matrix Reloaded, we discover that Smith reinvents himself as a rouge program and exists as a renegade virus. Ironically, in the first Matrix movie, Agent Smith states that humanity is the virus of the earth, and he is the cure. Smith gets totally out of hand and is so disruptive that even the machines (the rulers and architects of the Matrix) want him destroyed. So why would anyone theorize that the bad guy would be "The One" (the savior of humanity)?

A notable YouTube theorist postulated that "The One" is Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). Agent Smith is the main antagonist of The Matrix trilogy.
A notable YouTube theorist postulated that "The One" is Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). Agent Smith is the main antagonist of The Matrix trilogy. | Source

A Theory About "The One"

A theory meant to prove that Agent Smith is "The One" begins with a quote from the first Matrix movie. "When the Matrix was first built, there was a man born inside that had the ability to change what he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit. When he died, the Oracle prophesied his return and envisioned that his coming would hail the destruction of the Matrix and the war, bring freedom to our people." The theory goes on to say that according to the above quote, "The One" should be:

  • Born in the Matrix
  • Able to change the Matrix
  • Destroys the Matrix

Born Inside the Matrix

In the first Matrix, Morpheus mentions to Neo that humans are no longer born, but grown. So why would Morpheus think that Neo was "The One" when he knew, like millions of other humans, Neo came from a pod field used to generate power for the machines? Born is an adjective meaning existing as a result of birth. Birth is the emergence of a baby or other young from the body of its mother or just the start of a new life. Human beings growing in the pod fields were synonymous with babies developing in a womb. Babies grow in there mother's body. The machines fostered human development in the artificial organs of the pod fields.

In The Matrix, machines fostered human development in artificial wombs.
In The Matrix, machines fostered human development in artificial wombs. | Source

Was Neo Born?

Neo had three births in the Matrix. One was a cyber birth inside of the Matrix when he came into the digital world as the child Thomas Anderson. His second birth was when he burst through the artificial womb located in the pod field, unplugged (cords separated like a baby's umbilical cord is disconnected), and was thrust out. The third birth was when he was killed in the Matrix and came back to life — arising from a spiritual birth with powers that the domineering agents feared.

Neo's three births were a:

Natural but cyber birth in the Matrix

Delivery from the artificial womb in the pod field

Rebirth after being killed in the Matrix

Was He Ever Out?

At the end of The Matrix Reloaded, Neo is seemingly outside of the Matrix and is still able to exhibit some of the same powers he had within the Matrix. If he were still in the Matrix, as some have theorized, that would further cement the notion that he was born in the Matrix. The Matrix he displayed those powers in was the same Matrix that he was thrust out of in his birth from the artificial womb of the pod fields.

In The Matrix Reloaded, Neo is seemingly outside of the Matrix and is still able to exhibit some of the same powers he had within the Matrix.
In The Matrix Reloaded, Neo is seemingly outside of the Matrix and is still able to exhibit some of the same powers he had within the Matrix. | Source

Stamp of Completion

Biblical symbolism permeates The Matrix trilogy. One of those is the use of the number three. In the Bible, the number three represents completeness. Giving Neo three births puts a stamp of completion and fulfillment on the idea that he was born in the Matrix.

Giving Neo three births puts a stamp of completion and fulfillment on the idea that he was born in the Matrix.

More About Agent Smith

A theory surmises that Agent Smith is "The One" because he was around at the beginning of the creation of The Matrix. The argument goes on to say that Neo could not be "The One" because he was not around at that time. We learn in The Matrix Revolutions that Neo is in the sixth installment of the Matrix.

Five Other Neos?

In the second movie, The Architect (Helmut Bakaitis), the designer of the Matrix says, "I prefer counting from the emergence of one integral anomaly to the emergence of the next. In which case, this is the sixth version." The purpose of the integral anomaly is to balance and reboot the Matrix. It stands to reason that the Matrix had been recreated five times before Neo. That means that someone referred to as "The One" existed every time that Smith was around.

In the second movie, we meet The Architect (Helmut Bakaitis).  According to The Architect, there was someone around referred to as "The One" from the beginning of the Matrix.
In the second movie, we meet The Architect (Helmut Bakaitis). According to The Architect, there was someone around referred to as "The One" from the beginning of the Matrix. | Source

The Opposite of Neo

We find out in the third movie that the Oracle (Mary Alice) refers to Agent Smith as the opposite of Neo. Smith and Neo are representative of the governing equations within the Matrix, trying to balance themselves. That means that "The One" always had to be around to produce balance in the Matrix. Smith and "The One" form a sort of yin and yang concept. Yin Yang expresses the duality in nature, which includes negative/positive. That being the case, if Smith represents the yin, then Neo represents the yang. As a concept of dualism, yin and yang always exist together at the same time. That means "The One" had to be there when the Matrix came into being.

"The One" Is a Title

Let's remember that "The One" is a title. Neo has the title or office of "The One." The prophecy refers to "The One," as an office or title. The title was around at the time The Matrix came into existence. Fostering the idea of birth, the theory concerning Agent Smith as "The One" states that in the third movie, Smith refers to The Oracle as "mom." Also, Agent Smith, who is killed by Neo in the first movie, emerges in a kind of "rebirth" in the second movie. Remember that the number three puts a stamp of fulfillment on something. Smith's two births fall short of the three that Neo experiences as "The One."

Neo has the title or office of "The One." The prophecy refers to "The One," as an office or title. The title was around at the time The Matrix came into existence.

Able to Change the Matrix

The next trait that "The One" should have is to be able to change and remake the Matrix as he sees fit. According to the theory that Agent Smith is "The One," compared to Smith, Neo never makes any notable changes in the Matrix. The supposition mentions that Neo's jumping into Smith in the first movie and changing him is about the extent of his next-level hacking. The theory goes on to say that Smith made the Matrix almost unrecognizable at the end of the third movie. Making the Matrix unrecognizable proves Smith's ability to change the Matrix as he saw fit. Being able to change the Matrix is a sign that Smith is "The One."

What Do You Think?

Do You Think the Argument About Agent Smith Being "The One" Is a Sound Argument?

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Neo's Notable Changes in the Matrix

Neo, however, does make notable changes in the Matrix. At the end of the third movie, we see Niobe, the female heroine, and captain of the Logos hovercraft, embracing Morpheus at the end of the war between humans and the machines. Realizing the changes that Neo has made in the Matrix by plugging himself into it, Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) says, "Neo, wherever you are... Thank you." Ending the war nullifies everything that Smith does in the Matrix. As a result, Neo proves to be more potent than Agent Smith, rendering Smith's program and his accomplishments useless. Neo's most significant modification in the Matrix is the ability to reverse all of the notable changes that Agent Smith made.

Realizing the changes that Neo has made in the Matrix by plugging himself into it, Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) says, "Neo, wherever you are... Thank you."
Realizing the changes that Neo has made in the Matrix by plugging himself into it, Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) says, "Neo, wherever you are... Thank you."

Able to Destroy the Matrix

Another quality that "The One" should have is the ability to destroy the Matrix. "...his coming would hail the destruction of the Matrix and the war, bring freedom to our people." Agent Smith performs extraordinary acts of gruesome change in the Matrix. However, even though he becomes unplugged from the Matrix and goes rogue, he still is nothing more than a machine and has to abide by the mechanical rules of the system.

When Neo allows Smith to kill him, Neo tricks Agent Smith and causes Smith's destruction.
When Neo allows Smith to kill him, Neo tricks Agent Smith and causes Smith's destruction.

Morpheus says in the first movie, "...their strength and their speed are still based in a world that is built on rules." In the cyber world, the deletion of useless programs is the norm. Whether he wants to or not, Agent Smith cannot overcome that cyber rule. As a human, Neo can always outsmart and rebel against any cyber law. When Neo allows Smith to kill him, Neo tricks Agent Smith and causes Smith's destruction. That is why Agent Smith and all of his copies explode and vanish. Neo causes Smith to feel as if he has won. As a rogue virus, Smith's primary purpose had become that of destroying Neo. After vanquishing Neo (winning), Agent Smith no longer has a reason to exist. Deletion comes to all programs that have no purpose in the Matrix.

After vanquishing Neo (winning), Agent Smith and his copies no longer have a reason to exist.  As a result, they explode and vanish.
After vanquishing Neo (winning), Agent Smith and his copies no longer have a reason to exist. As a result, they explode and vanish. | Source

What Did the Oracle Say?

In the first movie, when Neo visits the Oracle (Gloria Foster), he makes the statement, "I'm not the one..." The Oracle responds by saying, "Sorry, kid." She doesn't tell Neo that he is not The One. She just says, "Sorry, kid." Neo interprets her remarks the way he wanted to. Neo, of his own accord, believes he is not the one. In The Matrix Reloaded, The Architect accuses The Oracle (Mary Alice) of playing "a very dangerous game." That dangerous game was allowing Neo to think that he was not The One.

In the first movie, The Oracle (Gloria Foster) doesn't tell Neo that he is not The One. She just says, "Sorry, kid."
In the first movie, The Oracle (Gloria Foster) doesn't tell Neo that he is not The One. She just says, "Sorry, kid." | Source

Trinity's Love

In the first movie, we learn that The Oracle has given a prophecy to Trinity also. The Oracle told Trinity that she would fall in love with a man, and that man would be "The One." Trinity's revelation of her deep feelings for Neo is the spark that causes Neo to acquire his fantastic abilities and overcome Agent Smith. Nowhere in the Matrix movies is there seen a fraction of a hint that Trinity has any love for Agent Smith. Trinity, like Morpheus and the rest of the crew, strive always to avoid Smith and other agents.

How Do You Feel?

Do You Feel That Trinity's Love for Neo Is Proof That Neo Is "the One"?

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The Oracle told Trinity that she would fall in love with a man, and that man would be "The One."
The Oracle told Trinity that she would fall in love with a man, and that man would be "The One." | Source

Neo Comes Forth

Agent Smith and Neo exhibit traits that coincide with the Oracle's prophecy. They are opposites, representative of the governing equations within the Matrix, trying to balance themselves. However, after reloading the Matrix, when the storm clears, and the rainbow appears, Neo comes forth as truly being "The One."

After reloading the Matrix, when the storm clears, and the rainbow appears, Neo comes forth as truly being "The One."
After reloading the Matrix, when the storm clears, and the rainbow appears, Neo comes forth as truly being "The One."

Sources

Animatrix. (2003)

Film Theory: Neo ISN'T The One in The Matrix Trilogy. (2015, September 12). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/VkMU1mKdwPI

The Matrix. (1999)

The Matrix Reloaded. (2003)

The Matrix Revolutions. (2003)

Trinity Believes - The Matrix. (2010, January 19). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/bKKaGzSb7Tg

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Robert Odell Jr

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      • Muchsuccess profile imageAUTHOR

        Robert Odell Jr 

        5 months ago from Memphis, Tennessee

        You're welcome. Thank you for reading the article.

      • Cheryl E Preston profile image

        Cheryl E Preston 

        5 months ago from Roanoke

        Interesting. Thank you

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