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Matrix in a Matrix theory

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The Matrix in a Matrix (MIAM) was a popular fan speculation which circulated after the release of The Matrix Reloaded in discussions online. The theory was that the Real World was not actually real, but rather another level of the Matrix simulation: i.e. the Redpills were always remaining in the Matrix, and everything regarding their Extraction, Zion etc were also a simulation.

This theory expected a possible major turnover in the next movie, The Matrix Revolutions, which would eventually reveal the truth.

The hints which originated and fueled the theory were mainly these two elements of Reloaded:

  • Smith is shown to possess programs or Bluepills alike inside the Matrix; yet he managed to possess Bane, who was not part of the Matrix, and the possession persisted even after he jacked out.
  • Neo is seen at the end of the movie to be able to disable the Sentinels by telekinesis, manipulating the "real" world as he was doing with the bullets inside the Matrix.

Fans were divided into sides, others arguing that Zion and the Real World were not real but digital; others argued that the theory was unnecessarily complex. Both sides isolated elements (hints in dialogue, symbolism, colors, the trailers of Revolutions) to support their position.

Variants of the theoryEdit

Variants of the theory also evolved.

For example there was a speculation that the Real World as seen in The Matrix and the better part of Reloaded was indeed real. However after Neo's meeting with the Architect, he was somehow trapped in the digital world, and did not actually jack out of the Matrix at the end of Reloaded. This would explain his powers 'outside' the Matrix at that particular point.


Matrix Revolutions eventually did not elaborate on this concept and the whole trilogy did not take any significant turnovers. The theory was perhaps never into the the Wachowskis' conceptions, and started only as an audience misinterpretation.

Revolutions showed that Neo had indeed powers outside the Matrix, but those had only to do with Machines; he could not fly or manipulate his speed and reality the way he did in the Matrix. As for Smith's existence outside the Matrix, it can be explained simply by suggesting that he erased Bane's brain and replaced his personality through his headjack.

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