The Architect says that The One must choose 23 people (16 female, 7 male) to create new Zion.

After which, you will be required to select from the Matrix 23 individuals - 16 female, 7 male - to rebuild Zion.

But this doesn't seem to make any sense considering the following two statements (listed in un-cited form on Matrix Wikia)

  1. Zion, according to the Architect, has been completely destroyed five times by the time of the sixth One, Neo, meets the Architect. As a result, the actual year on Earth is estimated to be closer to 2699, not 2199.

    This means that Zion grows to its final pre-destruction size in only 100 years.

  2. Yet, the current Zion has - at least according to Wikia - a population of over 250,000 humans.

How can one square those 3 facts?

It seems completely impossible to both generate a population of quarter million, AND all that advanced Zion infrastructure, in just the space of under 5-6 generations (100 years) if you start with 23 people. (Even allowing for non-natural population growth - i.e., culling out people from the Matrix, the way Neo was extracted. That seems a very labor intensive and non-scalable process - one ship can not extract more than a couple of people a day given its size and medical facilities).

Is there some canon explanation for this discrepancy? Are one of the two facts that Wikia lists incorrect/noncanonical? Did Architect lie to Neo? Do the machines somehow help build up Zion and populate it further?

  • 2
    I wouldn't call uncited wikia claims a fact, especially these.
    – n611x007
    Commented Jun 9, 2013 at 14:30
  • You're assuming that Zion is physically destroyed each time, but we don't know that. We only know that the people are captured/killed.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 19:08

4 Answers 4


Even in the present day, there are some countries with birth rates of ~7 children per generation. It's also not clear what the rates of extraction are; if the founders could manage an extraction a month for the first decade, and kept up the 2/1 male-to-female ratio, they could cut the births-of-women per woman down to about 5.15 to get 250k population after ~5 generations. If they could additionally maintain a skewed gender ratio, this could be consistent with what's observed today.

Thus, while certainly not consistent with lifestyle in modern industrialized countries, it is not completely impossible.

Here's an example scenario, assuming a first child at 15, two children every five years (equally likely to be male or female), a last child at 40 (a total of 11), that people are extracted at age 18 (including the founders) and are extracted once per month for the first 15 years, twice for the next 15, three times for the next 15, etc., that lifespan is 75, and that all extractions and births are gender-balanced:

Hypothetical Zion population graph

However, even though this generates the right number of people, the age distribution is kind of screwy; the median age is 11. Still, there are a non-negligible number of adults (~100k over 15).

  • "are extracted once per month for the first 15 years, twice for the next 15" - would this be per universe, or per each existing Zion individual? Thx Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 12:17
  • @DVK - Per universe. So that means at the end of the hundred years they're bringing in a couple a week or thereabouts.
    – Rex Kerr
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 12:26
  • that definitely sounds plausible, then. Thanks! Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 14:35
  • 2
    @dvk - It's also worth pointing out that the city of Zion is a complete sham. It's rebuilt by the machines for the next generation of Zionians to find and populate.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 18:54
  • 1
    Demographics! Not enough blockbusters feature demographics. Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 14:25

IIRC there is no verifiable information as to what year it is. For all we know its 3199 or something. Plenty of time to rebuild a few times.

Also remember minds are being freed. So you have to add that to the formula above. The rate at which minds are freed will likely increase as the cycle continues and we closer to the anomaly.

OR Zion could just be part of the second level of the Matrix, and therefor not require any justification at all :)


Zion may have been created with only 23 individuals, but that does not mean additional people can't be unplugged to join Zion. Neo managed to make new people join the 6th Zion. The kid who taught Neo the spoon trick is one example.

  • 1
    The "Spoon Boy" had already been freed from the Matrix when Neo joined, but overall a good point. Unfortunately it's one that's already been made repeatedly above.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 0:57
  • Ok this seems logical! :)
    – Obsidia
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 0:59

Are we taking into account the breeding of freed folk?

And it seems like at the end of the cycle, 10 years accounts for a whole lotta people.

The WAR went for 100 years. What about the years before the war, when Zion was just trying to exist? I imagine there could easily be a few extra years if not decades before we are assuming the count starts, as well as the possibility that when Morpheus says 100 years, he's rounding down by a few years, 10 not being unreasonable to believe...

All in all, that's a lot of fudging room.

  • I’m not entirely sure what your answer is to be honest. Are you saying the wikia is wrong and there are a lot of years unaccounted for?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 8:22
  • The war seems to be counted from the entire time of awakening
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 9:02

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