In this scene

of The Matrix Agent Smith tells Morpheus that there were multiple Matrixes, the first one being "perfect". There is reference to this throughout the trilogy and in the Animatrix and it is revealed that there was more than one "failed Matrix". So how many Matrixes were there? I'm aware that an exact number probably isn't divulged but what conclusion can we draw from the evidence given?

  • 2
    Possible dupe of "Is there good evidence for the Nightmare Matrix?"
    – Valorum
    Nov 30, 2015 at 11:12
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    Am I alone in thinking it should be "Matrixes" unless we're on Math SE? I realise both are acceptable plural forms but it just feels wrong.
    – user42419
    Nov 30, 2015 at 15:15
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    @Lilienthal: You're right. Using 'Matrices' as the plural for a proper noun without any evidence that's the proper plural, and when 'matrixes' and 'matrices' are both correct for the general usage, isn't right. This is like assuming that someone likes to use the plural '-men' for their last name ending in '-man'. It could be whatever the designee says it is, but you wouldn't assume it without having some canon basis. Nov 30, 2015 at 15:40
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    Actually to me "Matrixes" feels wrong.
    – Jim Conant
    Nov 30, 2015 at 17:34
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    @JimConant: What's the plural of the mutant Cycplos? Obviously it is either Cyclops or Cyclopses, not Cyclopes Nov 30, 2015 at 19:18

2 Answers 2


There were the two Beta Matrixes and then Neo lives in the 6th cycle of the Matrix 1.0.

Now it depends if you count those as one Matrix or as 6, making the answer either 3 or 8.

The Architect explains that, in addition to two unstable versions of the Matrix, there have been five iterations, or cycles, of the Matrix. In each stable iteration, an incarnation of The One has appeared. Neo is the sixth One to appear in this sixth Matrix iteration.

Matrix Wiki

  • 1
    I'd count them as one; they were 6 iterations within a living cycle of a single system. If a server crashes and reboots, is that a new system or the same one?
    – Möoz
    Nov 30, 2015 at 20:15
  • The Matrix is the software not the hardware and it was redone like from paradise to nightmare just with really small changes so the question is more like you change from xp to win 7 then to win 8 and then you go for win 8.1. For some that counts as a new OS for some it doesn´t, it is still worth noting in any way though.
    – Eumel
    Nov 30, 2015 at 20:25

Three. Or four including the pre-Matrix beta

We know about the Pre-Matrix Beta 1:

After the Machine war ended, the remaining surviving humans were taken to be studied and plugged into an initial first power plant matrix without their awareness of being plugged into that matrix.

Which was followed by the Paradise Matrix:

The Paradise Matrix was the first prototype Matrix, which was designed by The Architect to control humanity by putting their minds into a constructed virtual reality. Unlike later versions, it simulated a perfect world with no suffering to try to pacify their minds, but the human minds did not accept this version. Many of those connected died, and a Nightmare Matrix was designed in its place that tried to correct its flaws.

Which was followed by the Nightmare Matrix:

The Nightmare Matrix was the second prototype Matrix, designed by The Architect after the massive failure of the Paradise Matrix in the hope that human minds would more readily accept an imperfect world with suffering. Unlike the first version, this Matrix instituted a basic cause-and-effect programming and forcibly made those connected to it accept the program.

And finally the Modern Matrix, which is the one we see in the movies:

The solution was ultimately stumbled upon by an intuitive program, originally intended to study aspects of the human psyche: The Oracle. She discovered that if humans were given a choice, even at a subconscious level, to accept the reality of the world around them, ninety-nine percent of humans would accept the virtual world.

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    Or five, if we include the one we're currently in... dun dun dunnnnnn
    – corsiKa
    Nov 30, 2015 at 16:27
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    Why that few? Those are just kinds of matrix. There could be more than one Modern Matrix or Paradise Matrix running side by side, each with subtle differences in order to test and improve for future iterations, and in order to support more than 7 billion-ish human batteries at a time. "Endless fields" could provide for enough hosts to populate multiple simultaneous matrices. Nov 30, 2015 at 17:01
  • @JoelCoehoorn, these are just the ones explicitly mentioned. Personally, I'd say that there certainly has to be far more. Surely the machines would want to also to experiment with other ideas on the side. After all, the modern matrix is rather flawed and has room for improvement. And of course, there's the whole thing that you described. Presumably that if they want to use humans as batteries, they're going to reproduce humans like mad, yet the matrix has a limited population if they don't want to rewrite history.
    – Kat
    Nov 30, 2015 at 23:10

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