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Morpheus seeks out Neo because he's convinced he believes Neo's The One. He openly tells Neo while he's still part of the Matrix that he's only alive because "they" don't know what he knows.

We later learn that he is referring to Neo being the prophesied One. We also know that The Oracle who made that prophecy, also prophesied that Morpheus was to find The One.

But what information led Morpheus to believe Neo was it? They didn't know each other (as far as Neo was concerned) before Morpheus contacted him because he already believed Neo to be The One.

What did he know? How did he stumble upon Neo in the first place? What's the back-story?

  • 5
    You like him, don't you? You like watching him. They didn't know each other... only Morpheus (and the crew) knew Neo. :) – n611x007 Jul 1 '12 at 3:18
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    Isn't it obvious? His name is an anagram for "One". (I am being facetious a bit). – NominSim Jul 2 '12 at 12:54
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    I like to believe Morpheus didn't know he was the One, he just believed everyone he freed was the one. He's like one of those guys who starts dating a new girl for a few weeks and then tells everyone she is "The One". – Kitt Basch Feb 28 '13 at 9:51
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    His midiclorian count was the highest he'd ever seen. – John O Feb 28 '13 at 14:29
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    @KittBasch Ugh, tell me about it. Every single time my roommate starts dating a new girl, give it two weeks and he's telling everyone that she's the prophesied savior of humanity. I really need to get my own place... – Nerrolken Jun 17 '15 at 22:05
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+50

In the interrogation scene with Agent Smith after they apprehend him at his job, Smith says

As you can see we've had our eye on you for some time now, mr Anderson. It seems that you've been living two lives. In one life you're Thomas A. Anderson, program writer for a respectable software company. You have a social security number, you pay your taxes, and you... help your landlady carry out her garbage.
The other life is lived in computers. Where you go by the hacker alias "Neo" and are guilty of virtually every computer crime we have a law for.

Earlier, in the club where Neo meets Trinity for the first time, Neo says

Trinity? The Trinity? That cracked the IRS keybase?

It seems that Morpheus has a habit of keeping an eye on the hacker scene inside the Matrix.

From the script, lines that didn't make it into the film:

MORPHEUS: Let me tell you why you are here. You are here because you have the gift.

NEO What gift?

MORPHEUS: I've watched you, Neo. You do not use a computer like a tool. You use it like it was part of yourself. What you can do inside a computer is not normal. I know. I've seen it. What you do is magic.

NEO It's not magic.

MORPHEUS: But it is, Neo. It is. How else would you describe what has been happening to you?

Since Neo is presented as a pretty notorious computer criminal, that is likely how Morpheus first heard of him, also corroborated by the fact that they never refer to him as anything other than his online alias.

As for how he knew Neo was the One, once he came to his attention, perhaps he also knew about Trinity's prophecy from the Oracle, that she would fall in love with The One, and noticed, as Cypher did, that Trinity likes looking at Neo. Or, maybe he just had a feeling, which would not at all be out of character for him. He takes a lot of things on faith, and the rest of his crew doesn't seem to have any reliable reason to believe that Neo is The One, other than Morpheus' word.

A further possibility builds on a theory that I personally think is heavily implied, but is never outright stated, regarding The Matrix and how the Red Pill People are able to bend it to their will. The act of skirting the rules, jumping long distances and doing super fast martial arts and dodging bullets, is a form of hacking. It's hacking that uses the interface provided by The Matrix for interacting with the simulation, and is only performed on a subconscious level for most Red Pills, with the exception of Neo at the end of the first movie where he gains the ability to see the Matrix interface for what it is and more directly exploit its weaknesses. As such, seeing as how that ability was what defined The One in the first movie, it's not unfeasible that Morpheus was able to glean that Neo was capable of that level of Matrix hacking by observing his simulated Blue Pill hacking.

4

I just want to complete @jono answer, i totally agree with him except for this part

As for how he knew Neo was the One, once he came to his attention. Or, maybe he just had a feeling, which would not at all be out of character for him. He takes a lot of things on faith, and the rest of his crew doesn't seem to have any reliable reason to believe that Neo is The One, other than Morpheus' word.

In fact it's not the first time morpheus "find" The One that's why "his crew doesn't seem to have any reliable reason to believe that Neo is The One"

Again from the script

CYPHER Good shit, huh? Dozer makes it. It's good for two things: degreasing engines and killing brain cells.

Red-faced, Neo finally stops coughing.

CYPHER Did he tell you why he did it?

Neo nods.

CYPHER I'll be the didn't tell you that this wasn't the first time he thought he found the One.

And later

CYPHER If Morpheus was right, then there's no way I can pull this plug, is there?

She turns to Neo, eyes wide with fear, and he knows he is next.

CYPHER If he is the One, then in the next few seconds there has to be some kind of miracle to stop me. Because if he dies like the others that means Morpheus was wrong. How can he be the One if he's dead?

if he dies like the others can also be referring to Apoc and Switch, it's a matter of interpretation. (thx @bitmax]

How many Died ? We don't know. Morpheus find "The One" after a lot of "Die and Retry" and Matrix The Movie is in fact the story of the last part of Morpheus's quest to find the One.

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    In the last scene you quote, it is my distinct impression he is referring to Apoc and Switch with "the others". – bitmask Mar 1 '13 at 11:46
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    @bitmask hmmm, good point, i think you are right – Paul Valla Mar 1 '13 at 13:25
  • what if the matrix took a generation, and it was percieved as a millenium gap or maybe 40 years instead of a generation, to find the One. The search could still be on – Sidhartha Jan 27 '15 at 12:36
  • The others were "The One" in this 19970603 draft script, which would have also explained the ludicrous battery claim. – Cees Timmerman Jul 17 '15 at 13:18
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We aren't told how exactly Morpheus identified Neo, and that is part of why The Matrix has such wide appeal.

Plenty has been written about how the film is infused with Gnostic principles, that it is an exploration of Plato's Allegory of the Cave, realistic 'hacking', etc. The Wachowskis left things open enough that all sort of philosophies and back stories could fit. We are free to pick our own interpretation and enjoy that. A definitive explanation would lock the story down to a particular philosophy (or lack of) and thus reduce the appeal of the film.

3

The Matrix is simply Thomas Anderson's fantasy of personal liberation via computers/the Internet. Morpheus, Trinity, Cypher and the rest are projections in his dream of fellow hackers he knows of but has not met. They represent different aspects of his subconscious. Morpheus - the greek god who can appear in peoples dreams - represents his belief in himself, his drive, and contrasts with Anderson's conscious self (represented by the Oracle), who knows that Neo is not 'the one' and that it's all a dream state. In short, Morpheus is a real life hacker that Anderson looks up to, and dreams about being identified by him as the great liberator.

  • 1
    Interesting interpretation. – bitmask Sep 28 '13 at 20:21
  • interesting indeed :) – Sidhartha Jan 31 '15 at 10:35
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Neo was a notorious online criminal so maybe that's how he grabbed Morpheus' attention. Plus on the first scene when Neo appeared, his search results on his pc displayed articles about Morpheus.

2

'Being the One is like being in love. Nobody can tell you you're in love, you just know it.'

Nobody told Morpheus that Neo was the one. The oracle told Morpheus that he would find The One, not who it would be. And after spending so long looking, it really is probably as simple as he just had a feeling. Morpheus found the one person who, for some reason he couldn't explain, made him believe that he had succeeded. The fact is, to Morpheus, belief was the same as knowledge. He believed he would find The One, and thus, he 'knew' Neo was it.

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    This did not address how Morpheus actually came-upon Neo. – Solemnity Feb 28 '13 at 6:23
  • @Solemnity "It's the question that brought you here. You know the question just as I did. It is a hacker's question." - Trinity to Neo, first meeting. – Cees Timmerman Jul 17 '15 at 12:44
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I believe because he is an extremely great hacker and programmer.

Eventually, Neo is the One because he was chosen from Morpheus, what made him The One. It could be that Neo is so special, because he was freed at his age, what normally isn't allowed (as Morpheus said). Trinity falls also in love with Neo and sealed his fate to become The One. But as a characteristic of the Oracle, Neo is merely just random. But because of Trinity and Morpheus, they indirectly fulfilled the prophecy and created The One. He was randomly chosen. So he gets the title The Chosen One.

  • That's not what the OP is asking though. The OP is asking what made Morpheus believe Neo might be the one, before he (Morpheus) met him (Neo)? – Paul D. Waite Feb 28 '13 at 11:58
  • forgot to add the answer :( – souichiro Feb 28 '13 at 12:54
  • no worries! Done now! – Paul D. Waite Feb 28 '13 at 13:07
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Basically morpheus doesn't know that neo is the one, the thing is he believes that he might be the one. During the trainings & missions with neo and what he experiences, makes him believe, that he could be the one. In the end when neo proves that "you don't have to dodge the bullet anymore", which morpheus imagined i hope then Neo is labeled as THE ONE.

Morpheus could have recruited & trained many before recruiting neo, he could have believed at first that any one of them could be the one, but as he got to know them, he might have judged or believed that they are not the one, so he went on searching and recruiting for the one. Otherwise who would have recruited people like cyphers, because of him 2 people died. Its just a hunch first, then comes belief & trust, after that its just leap of faith.

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    You just re-iterated what previous-answer said. How did Morpheus even find out about Neo? – Solemnity Feb 28 '13 at 7:12
  • "You're the One, Neo. You see, you may have spent the last few years looking for me, but I've spent most of my life looking for you." - Morpheus to Neo, first contact. (19970603 draft script) – Cees Timmerman Jul 17 '15 at 12:49

protected by TheLethalCarrot Oct 27 '18 at 21:27

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