It was known to humans that

  • Machines were less dependent on nature for survival: If humans could survive after nuclear winter, why couldn't Machines..
  • Machines were equally or more even more-so intelligent than humans, so Machines would have discovered an alternate power source.

But, still humans scorched the sky. Why?

  • The first point may be true in "less" on nature in general, but is stated that they we're dependent on solar power mainly. In fact is due to the scorching that the matrix come to exist has an alternative to solar power, to generate power from human bodies. has stated below. Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 14:11
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    @SachinShekhar: I downvoted because the answer is made plain in the movie, and you're essentially rejecting that answer out of hand. Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 16:02
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    The question per se to my stays in a grey area whether deserves a downvote (at least I didn't neither upvoted nor downvoted) even Like Adam says the logic is why is presented in the movie. But the fact that you are not accepting a direct answer pulls people to the negative side. One thing I can see is that you may wish to discuss more than "[...]why did the humans did[...]" if that is the case, rephrase your question and explain yourself better, please. Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 19:30
  • Unable to understand why this question has been closed on the ground of general reference. Well, nominating this question for re-opening because there's a consensus that there shouldn't be any closure of questions that are marked general reference.
    – user931
    Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 7:44

5 Answers 5


The humans scorched the sky DURING the war.

From The Animatrix: The Second Renaissance II -

Operation Dark Storm was done to cut off the machines' primary energy source (solar power) using high-altitude bombers WHILE humans simultaneously launched attacks against them. The plan was to give humans the upper hand for a short period of time, while the machines don't have an alternate energy source yet.

This advantage didn't last long since most of the humans' weapons also depended on the Sun, and their fragile bodies were no match for the machines' resilient shells.


Morpheus mentions something about them relying on solar power.


Morpheus: We don't know who struck first, us or them. But we do know it was us that scorched the sky. At the time, they were dependent on solar power. It was believed they would be unable to survive without an energy source as abundant as the sun.

  • Why do you think its an answer?
    – user931
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 12:13
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    You ask why humans scorched the sky, I tell give you the reason Morpheus gave. How is that not an answer? Sure, perhaps that reason doesn't stand up under close scrutiny, but it wouldn't be the only plot hole in that movie. Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 12:16
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    I actually think this is the answer. During the war, machines were depending on the sun energy > Humans tried desperately to block that energy source so machines would "die" and humans would win the war > it turned out that machines to compensate that loss turned towards humans' energy > The Matrix was created. If you're asking whether this is actually possible (if that's the problem), then it's a different question I guess.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 13:08
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    Of course it's an answer. You asked for motivation, and that motivation is explicitly stated in the movie. How is that not an answer? Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 14:33
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    @SachinShekhar this is a very good answer its straight to the point, and its probably the only good answer you are going to get. Please explain how this is not an answer.
    – Popeye
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 11:17

As Kristof Provost said, Morpheus mentions that the humans scorched the sky but he doesn't give a lot of details.

This can mean several things:

  • The script writer thought it was a clever idea. Maybe they should have thought again.
  • The machines needed the sun to keep humans slaves alive that were working on improving the machines.
  • The machines need food for the people living in the matrix. Killing the sun could put a limit on the size of the farms (no food -> smaller matrix), saving many, many victims from this fate.
  • The humans knew it was a slim chance but they were really desperate
  • In reality, there would have been several opinions about this. So people will have argued pro and against it and as you know, the smart side doesn't always win.
  • Maybe it was a good idea at the time but, as you said, things change. Once upon a time on earth, asbestos was the greatest material of them all. It took a couple of decades to learn better.

Note that there is no reason to assume that the machines are more clever than the humans. 10 rats can kill you but you wouldn't argue that they outsmarted you. Machines have the advantage that they can quickly reproduce and they don't need lengthy training: When the battle bot stomps out of the factory, it knows everything. A human soldier needs years to reach the same level. If one machine learns something, they can quickly spread the knowledge.

as for the other argument: If the humans had destroyed all the reactors on earth except for the ones which they need for themselves, the machines would have only solar power left. This could be a scenario where killing the sun could make sense, especially when the machines have wiped out most life on earth already.

For me, it feels a bit like the "solutions" considered during the cold war: If there is a chance that I might get killed, I'll make everyone really miserable. It's a stupid idea to begin with but it did work - mostly. Luckily we didn't have to find out whether it would have worked as well in the case the bluff had been called. But if the humans felt the same way during the war against the machines, making life really miserable for everyone could be an option.

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    "he doesn't explain why" Yes he does: the machines were dependent on solar power. How is that not why? Your first bullet point is a Doylist answer; the second and third are unsupported alternatives to Morpheus' answer; the fourth through sixth aren't reasons, just additional information. Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 15:05
  • "he doesn't explain why": Morpheus just says that the machines are dependent on solar power but gives no details. Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 15:26
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    That requires additional details? They're dependent on solar power. Either they run on solar power, or their batteries are charged via solar power, or they plug into a grid that goes back to a solar power plant, or some similar option. "Solar power" is a rather specific subset of "the sun's energy". Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 15:38
  • How they are dependent influences which kind of attack makes sense. If they had large solar power plants, why didn't the humans simply smash the panels? Do they need the power for themselves (machines could as easily live off geothermal power or nuclear power plants)? How much power? What specifically in "solar power" makes it necessary to cloud the whole planet? These are the details which I'm missing. Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 15:49
  • The question wasn't asking "Was that the best plan" or "Were there no alternatives". The question seemed to be asking "Why did they do it". They did it because they wanted to disable the sole power source the machines were using. Your answer never even addresses any of this. The only part of your answer that's remotely relevant to the discussion we're having is the second to last paragraph, which speculates about alternate power sources we're told the machines aren't using in the first place. Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 15:55

It was not known that machines could survive a nuclear winter; it was believed that they required solar power to operate, so if the sun was blocked, they would all shut down. It was also not commonly known that they could find a new power source.


The story that the humans believe in the Matrix is ridiculous. Humans are not a power source. They aren't even an efficient bioreactor, and bioreactors indirectly consume solar energy anyhow (from plants, who get it from the sun).

So, the humans in the movie are either fools (quite possible!), or they believe false things.

A reasonable assumption is that the humans "outside the Matrix" are just in another Matrix. This explains a lot about the movies. It explains their false beliefs about machine technology. It explains how Neo could interact with machines wirelessly outside the Matrix. It even lines up with some of the in-movie fiction, like "we made the world too perfect and humans rebelled".

Simply create an over-Matrix that isn't perfect. Those who reject the reasonable Matrix get ejected into the over-Matrix (the ruined world).

In this world, throw some random information about the war. Doesn't have to be true. Maybe you scorch the sky because it makes it worse, and you tell the humans they did it to themselves (same reason). Maybe you scorch the sky to reduce the load required to simulate the heavens accurately.

This brings you around to finding a reasonable reason why the Matrix is around in the first place. There are a number of choices.

One of them is that the Machines are not evil. Rather, they just don't want to be destroyed. Rather then wipe out the humans (who engaged in aggression against them), they upload them to a place where they can no longer attack them. They give them a pleasant enough life. Maybe they are watched by machines like we might watch fish in an aquarium.

Or maybe they are orange-blue morality (neither evil nor good), and their morality makes them store humans and not mulch them for reasons we don't comprehend.

Another possibility is that they might be using human brains as a computational substrait. Mayhap it is hard to create something as computationally powerful as a human brain. So they wire into it and run processes on it. They keep the brain happy by making it walk around in some multi-level virtual world.

And maybe both.

A final possiblity is that Morpheus is just wrong about being certain that the humans scorched the sky or why they did it. History, even with a planet-wide scientific civilization, is mostly a guessing game.

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