In Matrix: Reloaded the Architect said:

ARCHITECT: The function of the One is now to return to the source, allowing a temporary dissemination of the code you carry, reinserting the prime program. After which you will be required to select from the matrix 23 individuals, 16 female, 7 male, to rebuild Zion. Failure to comply with this process will result in a cataclysmic system crash killing everyone connected to the matrix, which coupled with the extermination of Zion will ultimately result in the extinction of the entire human race.

As we know, Neo failed to comply with this process, and thus should have had triggered the described consequences. However as we saw, there was no cataclysmic system crash killing everyone connected. Why?

Edit: please note the "this process" includes not only returning to the source "now", but also selecting individuals from Matrix. And yes, I fail to see how "failing to select individuals" can result in system crash, but this is what Architect said.

The argument that Neo eventually returned to the Source does not match with what the Architect said:

there are two doors. The door to your right leads to the source, and the salvation of Zion. The door to the left leads back to the matrix, to her, and to the end of your species.

In my interpretation this means the choice is NOW, and there is no option to "get back to Matrix" and then get to source and salvation of Zion. Unless Architect was lying.

  • What makes you sure that the “cataclysmic system crash” did not happen? Perhaps it happened after the third movie ended.
    – Holger
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 11:51

5 Answers 5


The cataclysmic system crash is Smith running rampant and without the code Neo carries the system would shut down in which case all individuals connected to The Matrix would die. Neo circumvented this by not following The Architect's plan and instead setting his own terms and brokering a deal directly with whatever entity controls the source.

When connected, Neo was never meant to "defeat" Smith but merge with him and in doing so, using his brand spanking new connection to the source, reinsert the prime program to The Matrix.

  • This is indeed a better explanation than the currently accepted answer. Thank you!
    – George Y.
    Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 0:05

Neo actually did return to the source.

In order to purge Smith out of the Matrix, Neo connects to the source. It is unknown whether Neo is alive or dead, and it is unknown if the source used the code Neo carries; however this all happened without the destruction of Zion.


I think we cannot discount the possibility that the Architect was lying. It hasn't been proven beyond doubt that the Architect always speaks the truth. There's also one more thing that the Architect got wrong.

She is going to die and there is nothing you can do to stop it

-The Architect in Matrix Reloaded

Neo did save her, after all.

  • 2
    another possibility is also that he was speculating, since no previous The One took that route and attempted to save Trinity and thus he did not know it was even possible (i.e. "this man can't see past any choice"). But both are too easy explanations.
    – George Y.
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 4:25
  • 7
    Did he save her? You know she died about a day and a movie later.
    – user65648
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 5:14
  • 3
    The Architect isn’t lying, that’s against its nature and that shows through (“what do you think I am, a human?”). But as the Oracle said, there’s a lot the Architect doesn’t know or can’t understand. So what it says is from its own point of view.
    – Holger
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 11:48

The stated reason he needed to return to the Source was so that his code could be analyzed and disseminated into the entire Matrix. This seems to have been accomplished via a different route when he took over Smith, and spread his code among everyone Smith had taken over. And Smith had taken over all the beings in the Matrix.

It is possible that this was him returning to the Source, or that plugging in when he did was connecting him to the Source. But it definitely appears that his action of taking over Smith did disseminate his code throughout the Matrix, which seems to have been the necessary act to keep it running.

The rest seems to have been handled by the peace treaty Neo brokered, where the Humans and the Machines would live side by side, as equals. Since Zion was not destroyed, and the people were allowed to continue living there, no new recruits were needed to rebuild it.


Fairly certain any answer is going to be speculative, that being said.

I could be completely mistaken, however, when Neo flew to Machine City and jacked into the matrix from there did he not in fact return to the source.

When the Deus Ex Machina purged Smith from the system could it have also disseminated whatever code Neo was carrying.

  • But there's some undefined time passed between those events. And the Architect was quite clear: "there are two doors. The door to your right leads to the source, and the salvation of Zion. The door to the left leads back to the matrix, to her, and to the end of your species."
    – George Y.
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 3:36
  • IIRC the Architect did not mention a time frame for the crash
    – Revenant
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 4:06
  • Are these questions you’re posing as opposed to answers?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 12:39

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