The Architect: Quite right. Interesting. That was quicker than the others.

The responses of other Neos appear on the monitors: "Others? What others? How many? Answer me!"

The Architect: The matrix is older than you know. I prefer counting from the emergence of one integral anomaly to the emergence of the next, in which case this is the sixth version.

Again, the responses of the other Ones appear on the monitors: "Five versions? Three? I've been lied too. This is bullshit."

Neo: There are only two possible explanations: either no one told me, or no one knows.

However, one day before this conversation he had a similar conversation with the Merovingian:

The Merovingian: Handle us? You'll handle us? You know, your predecessors had much more respect.

The Merovingian: Mark my words boy, Mark them well, I have survived your predecessors and I will survive you.

Note: I am aware of this question, however it is clearly a different question. I am asking about the behaviour of Neo, not about the hints presented in the movie.

  • 9
    Why would you assume that Neo would hear the word "Predecessors" and immediately jump to the (frankly unbelievable) conclusion that there had been other versions of Zion? It's a great big leap of the imagination, as compared to, for example, assuming that the Merovingian just means "other rebels who've come before you"
    – Valorum
    Jul 27, 2020 at 20:37
  • 6
    Neo is fully aware that there have been previous "chosen ones" (albeit that turned out not to be quite up to the task) within the current iteration of the Matrix. Possibly he thought it was one of these.
    – Valorum
    Jul 27, 2020 at 20:48
  • 1
    He wasn't surprised. He barely registered the comment which seems to be little more than an offhand reference to other people who've attacked the Merovingian before.
    – Valorum
    Jul 27, 2020 at 20:50
  • 2
    @C.Koca "This is not how you describe someone to a person whom had dealings with that person" True, the Oracle wouldn't describe him to Neo that way if Neo himself had already had dealings with the Merovingian. But I don't see why you would think this dialogue would imply that no rebel ever had dealings with the Merovingian before. If Neo thought that maybe some had in the past that he didn't know about, he could have taken "your predecessors" to just mean other rebels the Merovingian had met with.
    – Hypnosifl
    Jul 27, 2020 at 22:05
  • 3
    If George W. Bush went to meet some foreign leader who had in the past met with lower-level representatives of the U.S. government, I don't see why the leader couldn't call them "your predecessors", meaning "the previous U.S. officials who met with me". Besides, "The One" was more of a belief about Neo's special fated role than an office, if the Merovingian was a nonbeliever why shouldn't he lump Neo in with any other rebel?
    – Hypnosifl
    Jul 27, 2020 at 22:40

3 Answers 3


Two thoughts:

I'm not sure I accept the headline interpretation, here.

The audience may project surprise onto this Neo, but it's much harder to make the case that it's on the page or in the scene.

  • When The Architect says "That was quicker than the others", our Neo says nothing--he just quietly takes in the reactions of the others.
  • While the others flip out about what version they're in, our Neo calmly does the math about what it means.
  • After The Architect tells him the anomaly is systemic, he gives us a quiet twirl to take in the reactions of the screaming, swearing, bird-flipping Neos before him--and turns back to the camera with the solution to the problem.

It's clear that this is news to our Neo, but I don't think his behavior is "surprised" in this iteration.

Focusing on the semantics and connotations of the word "predecessor" ignores the elephant in the room.

The Merovingian is a shifty, scheming character--and the clue he drops twice is ambiguous until The Architect drops the proof:

Neo, looking at the other previous Neos reacting on the monitors around him

  • However the screens do not represent previous Ones.
    – Matteo
    Aug 16, 2021 at 23:24
  • 1
    [citation needed]
    – abathur
    Aug 18, 2021 at 3:51

He knew there was at least one other before him: Morpheus explicitly told him in the first film, as the person who founded Zion (with there having only been that single One as far as Morpheus and the rest were aware).

As for the Merovingian, "your predecessors" is sufficiently vague that it could be interpreted different ways: remember, Neo wasn't alone when they met, and the everyone could have easily interpreted "your predecessors" as "The first One and the sidekicks that he brought with him, as opposed to you three I'm talking to right now". Or he might not have even registered the plural at all: you can remove the final s off of "predecessor" and the sentences are completely grammatically correct.

In fact, given the reveal with the Architect, this might have been entirely intentional on the part of the script as the audience might have had similar interpretations or have missed that plural as well. I know that when I saw the film, the assumption he meant "the first One and his buddies" as opposed to "Neo and his buddies" was the interpretation I went away with until the later reveal.

  • 1
    I upvoted it, but I have reservations. When someone says George W. Bush's predecessors, you wouldn't include Al Gore. Predecessor has a very specific meaning.
    – user65648
    Jul 27, 2020 at 22:34
  • 1
    @C.Koca Predecessor literally means, "one that precedes". It may have other interpretations, but it can be anything that has come before. It doesn't even have to refer to a previous "the One"; just people (most likely people in the Real World) that have gone before the Merovingian.
    – MivaScott
    Jul 28, 2020 at 0:12
  • @MivaScott Cambridge dictionary disagrees with you: dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/predecessor
    – user65648
    Jul 28, 2020 at 0:54
  • Wester agrees. It states that it especially (but not only) refers to position
    – MivaScott
    Jul 28, 2020 at 1:03
  • @C.Koca, but, that might be arguable if he was only addressing to Neo. But Trinity and Morpheus were also in the room and took part in the conversation, and if you thought the Merovingian was addressing all three at the same time, and not simply Neo, then arguments about specific people are moot. So to use your example, yes Al Gore wouldn't be included if you were talking about George W. Bush. But if you were talking about the Bush Administration, then Gore would be. Jul 28, 2020 at 16:57

I think it's worth noting that there's another aspect of surprise that could be gotten from this - not just that there are multiple previous Ones, but that there are multiple previous Ones who got to the Architect, and could have this particular conversation.

Up until this reveal, it was presumed by Morpheus' team that their current One (Neo) needed to go here to deal with the problem of The Matrix at it's core, rather than the solution the previous One that founded Zion did.

From there, it stands that, had there been previous Ones, the much simpler presumption is that none of the other Ones would have gotten to here; that is, this conversation should have only happened once, and if it's happening six times in a row according to the Architect, this isn't the solution to the problem of The Matrix and the Machine War that they thought it was.

Which is what leads to Neo's final line in your quote:

Neo: There are only two possible explanations: either no one told me, or no one knows.

Because, had Morpheus and co. known, he would have chosen a different strategy than the one that repeats.

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