In the comment section here: Why don't Agents take over people before they swallow the red pill? I was told that it isn't possible for someone to know about the nature of The Matrix and still continue to live inside it. This phenomenon is apparently called "popping". This makes sense in terms of the plot of the movie. However, I'm curious about what the actual mechanism behind this might be. Is it that The Matrix just reads all your thoughts and determines you know and kills you? Or is it something intrinsic about the people within that causes this, not requiring any monitoring?

And what about someone who strongly suspects that it is a simulation but doesn't know other details about the outside world? What about someone like Elon Musk who says there is a 1 in billion chance we're in base reality?

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    Denial. Commented Sep 18, 2021 at 3:46
  • The extent of denial should depend on the personality of the person. Commented Sep 18, 2021 at 3:48

1 Answer 1


It would appear that knowing about the nature of the Matrix and not being able to get out causes the individual to suffer some manner of fatal illness. It's not really clear what the mechanism for this is, but it has to do with "the choice" devised by the Oracle.

Architect: Please. As I was saying, she stumbled upon a solution whereby nearly 99% of all test subjects accepted the program, as long as they were given a choice, even if they were only aware of the choice at a near unconscious level.

The Matrix: Reloaded

Simply put, the Matrix is not a realistic depiction of our reality. It's riddled with errors, the physics is nonsensical, it's constantly being patched and fixed by the Agents and periodically crashes, etc. Once someone becomes aware that they're inside a simulation, they can't choose not to (subconsciously) ignore the errors and at that point they die. This appears to be what Cypher is referring to as "popping".

Note that this is not an isolated phenomenon. It can happen to multiple individuals within the same program.

Smith: Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world. Where none suffered. Where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed that we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that as a species, human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from.

The Matrix

  • Still strange that redpills do just fine inside the matrix being aware of its glitches. Ill just consider it a plot hole or unexplored area. It might also be possible that most but not all people "pop" when they realize the true nature and the ones that are capable of learning the truth and not popping are highly likely to become red pills. Commented Sep 19, 2021 at 0:02
  • BTW, slightly orthogonal, but I really want to get my hands on a soft copy of the matrix comics you referenced in the other post but it seems they aren't on thematrix.com anymore. Do you happen to know where I can get them? Commented Sep 19, 2021 at 0:07
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    @RohitPandey - Can't help you there. Gnorb used to host the copies that had been published on the web, but they seem to have gone. Wayback Machine might be able to help you.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 19, 2021 at 0:15
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    @RohitPandey, the ones who go back into the Matrix have already accepted and know its unreality, so for them the glitches and such don't bother them any more than you're bothered playing a video game that sometimes has janky physics or things like instant-heal medical packs. Commented Sep 19, 2021 at 4:31
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    @RohitPandey - There appears to be a physiological harm being caused. The glitches will cause their brains keep trying to wake up and the machines are trying to keep them under. Something has to give.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 20, 2021 at 13:33

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