I've never quite understood why Neo cannot or doesn't want to just teleport all over the Matrix, or transform objects around him as he sees fit, large-scale. The promise about the One is that he is the, heh, one,

inside who had the ability to change whatever he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit.

But Neo hasn't gained many special abilities from the end of The Matrix till the beginning of Reloaded, or maybe he just doesn't want to use them. Why is that? In fact he doesn't need to gain any abilities as he should already be able to do whatever he wants.

Why is it that he is just not doing any new things? Maybe it's not about being cool, but why doesn't he do practical things like teleporting to the highway when his friends are in danger?

Inspired by a comment by by Andres F.. (Why doesn't Neo turn into a dragon?)

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    Alternatively, if the promise about his total freedom is already proved to be a lie, why wasn't everyone more suspicious? Was Neo suspicious?
    – n611x007
    Jun 30, 2012 at 16:50
  • Simple; He would be a cheap Deus Ex Machina, and a killer for all and any plot.
    – bitmask
    Jun 30, 2012 at 17:06
  • @bitmask But you said it yourself - how can the prophecy be true if the war isn't over? I'm sorry. I know it isn't easy to hear, but I swear to you it's the truth.
    – n611x007
    Jun 30, 2012 at 17:11
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    @bitmask I can't accept that so easily. In 1, Neo constantly progressed. In Reloaded, he doesn't seem to progress at all! The directors could just keep adding him random abilities. That would actually fake that there is a plot - not adding them just makes you focus on why is Neo suddenly changed.
    – n611x007
    Jun 30, 2012 at 17:14
  • See my answer to your "code" question. He is utterly free. Making him progress, adding more and more fancy features would destroy the beauty of the ending of the first film.
    – bitmask
    Jun 30, 2012 at 17:19

3 Answers 3


I don't have a canon answer, but looking at it from computer programming perspective; think of Neo's abilities as a combination of root access and ability to code in Assembly.

He can access anything and do anything on the raw Matrix hardware, bypassing the Matrix simulation.

BUT he still can not either violate whatever limitations hardware/BIOS place on him; nor do things that the low-level machine instructions don't allow.

Having an Assembly compiler and root access on a Linux server won't give you the ability to divide by zero (which can be thought of as teleportation - his velocity is infinite).

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    I'd see teleportation as less infinite velocity, and more Neo.localCoords = new coord(120, 354, -10); Jun 30, 2012 at 18:49
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    @Gabe - depends on whether coordinate assignment is one of the opcodes. Jun 30, 2012 at 19:45
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    @GabeWillard: some physical laws like relativity might in some way be hard-coded, making it impossible to just change coordinates at random. Even more pragmatically, different points in space might be simulated on different processors in a distributed computing network, with the network topology tesselating the continuous physical position space, and no way to bypass literally passing through these "processing cells". Jul 2, 2012 at 19:24
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    Teleportation can be thought of as dividing by zero, except in the case that 0 is divided by itself. In this case, it can be thought of as "omnipresence" (0/0 can be anything ;-) ) Jun 1, 2013 at 1:50
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    @DVK: You don't need an opcode specifically for that -- if you have RAM access and can change ANY value you want in memory, you can easily reset the coordinates of an object just by directly changing the numbers. However that might be what the problem is: perhaps the Matrix simulation does not have a discrete object called "Neo", but rather some collective of simpler objects, like atoms. Without perfect control of every such object, we could end up with a "stretch-'em" glitch like in video games today, where part of a doll gets "stretched" way over (cont'd) Jun 24, 2015 at 11:14

Neo's progression is limited by his ability to conceive of the Matrix as a place where he is potentially in complete control of what he sees and does. Powers like teleportation are likely limited by the Matrix-verse programming, to simulate an Earth-like environment.

Consider this. All his life he has believed:

  • in the laws of physics, unable to be altered, fundamental to the universe as he understands it.
  • his mind and body have been conditioned to believe in those laws and as such his natural sense of himself
  • Neo's proprioception in relationship to the universe says there are simply things he cannot do, i.e. superhuman strength, superspeed, limited invulnerability, super-leaping and eventually flight. These things are the stuff of legends
  • The Matrix reinforces this perception of the universe because it keeps humans believing in the existence of a world like the one they believe they are inhabiting. Legendary beings do not, cannot exist.

Now imagine one day, he is Awakened and told that nothing he sees is real and is moved from that world to another one (the question of whether THAT world is another layer of the Matrix is a different question) and now has to question what he is to believe.

His mind has been his interface to a world that he has come to accept intuitively and completely all his life. Morpheus' first mission is to make him question that very world and to see that he is not exempt from those laws, those fundamental rules of the Matrix, but once he believes, he can "flex the rules" of the Matrix, like a muscle and enter a "God Mode" state, much like in a video game, possess superhuman abilities.

He comes into this ability slowly at first but as his belief in his abilities improves he begins to conceive of himself matching and even surpassing things he has seen done in the Matrix. But, and this is important, he only does things he can conceive of.

  • Fighting an agent in hand to hand, taking a brutal beating and surviving
  • Dodging bullets in the fashion of an agent, thought impossible to the human mind
  • Using superhuman strength, speed and reflexes in various confrontations
  • Stopping bullets by literally visualizing them as "programming" and altering the program. (This was a critical moment in his conception of the Matrix as a field of programming and not as reality.)
  • Eventually he even learns to "do his Superman thing" but it is still as a conceptual ideal limited by his ability to visualize the Matrix.

His abilities were limited by the Matrix as part of the programming of the Matrix-verse itself. Even programs who had special abilities that appeared as dematerialization, were more likely to be illusions or obfuscations and as such to normal people in the Matrix these abilities would be extraordinary.

By the end of the series, the Matrix was corrupted and nearly overrun by the Smith Entity. Even then, Neo could not conceive of himself winning and thus COULD NOT despite his nearly complete control of himself. Neo did not control the Matrix. He controlled himself in relationship TO the Matrix, as long as his manipulations did not violate rules in place he could not temporarily overcome by changing his program and program state entering his temporary "God Mode." The Matrix did not allow teleportation, so Neo did not or could not teleport.


I think Morpheus puts it best when he describes the nature of the Matrix and the powers that some (but not all) of the Zionians possess when they enter the Matrix

Morpheus : The program has rules, like gravity. But as in many computer programs, some rules can be bent while others can be broken.

The reality is that some rules obviously can't be broken, even by The One. He can't seem to stop the progress of time, he can't simply wish Agents away (he has to fight them) and he can't simply jump from place to place.

When Neo learns to "free his mind" and that "there is no spoon" he finally learns how to bend the rules to breaking point, but it's only in special environments like the Sparring Program or Club Hel that the basic rules underlying The Matrix can be fully broken.

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