In the 1990 film Total Recall, Dr. Edgemar tells Quaid he is suffering from a 'delusion caused by acute neurochemical trauma'; and the first step to wake up from this delusion is to swallow a red capsule Edgemar gives him.

In The Matrix, Morpheus gives Neo the choice of taking 'a red pill' to escape the simulated world known as the matrix or a 'blue pill' to stay part of the Matrix.

Was the scene in The Matrix involving the red pill/blue pill decision inspired in any way by the scene in Total Recall where Quaid is given the chance to 'wake up' by swallowing the red capsule?

  • 1
    I think it was inspired by "The Yellow Pill" by Rog Phillips; they changed the color to avoid plagiarism suits.
    – user14111
    Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 22:58

2 Answers 2



Total Recall was based on a short story by Phillip K Dick. The book's scene does not have a pill and Quail goes willingly into another mind wipe. So the 1990 movie and book would be the first source of the "red pill".

The other catch is the Wachowskis weren't afraid to plug inspirations, but I can't find any mention of Total Recall. Wikipedia has this note

The Wachowskis' approach to action scenes was influenced by Japanese animation[7] and martial arts films, and the film's use of fight choreographers and wire fu techniques from Hong Kong action cinema influenced subsequent Hollywood action film productions.

And this footnote (original link on Wikipedia is defunct)

[7] "Matrix Virtual Theatre". Warnervideo.com. Warner Bros. Pictures. November 6, 1999. Interview with the Wachowski Brothers. Retrieved November 29, 2012.

We liked Ghost in the Shell and the Ninja Scroll and Akira in anime. One thing that they do that we tried to bring to our film was a juxtaposition of time and space in action beats.


Likely. Since the first Matrix movie is full of such references.

And I wouldn't rely on Wikipedia with this. It's just a secondary source, nor more or less reliable then this page fe.

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Do you have any evidence for this? Please note that the other answer provides some references for its argument; you should do the same here, instead of just asserting an answer. You might want to read How to Answer and take the tour.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 22:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.