The comment discussion in this question made me wonder something: according to the Architect, the One plays a key role in re-founding Zion and beginning the next iteration in the Matrix cycle.

But does the One survive this process? Is he a part of the newly rebuilt Zion?

I remember that the One chooses 23 individuals to re-found the city, but I also seem to remember a comment about "returning to the Source" and "re-inserting the prime program." Are we supposed to take this as an action that the One performs, and then leaves to return to his people? Or does the One "returning to the Source" mean that he is absorbed or somehow destroyed?

Basically, do those 23 people ever get to meet the One (if they hadn't already)? Or are they on their own, and the One's journey ends as Zion is reborn?

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    "When the Matrix was first built, there was a man born inside who had the ability to change whatever he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit. It was he who freed the first of us, taught us the truth"
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 21:47
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    A downvote for asking a question that is too easily answered, from the guy who received 950 rep for taking pictures of on-screen animals. Awesome. Ah, well, I forgot about that line. Question answered.
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 21:56
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    I like to think the upvotes were for my thoroughness. You're also forgetting my collection of Matrix fatties
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 21:57
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    @Richard that quote does not answer the question. Did he stay and fight with the first of them, or did he leave after freeing them?
    – user16696
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 23:40
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    @Richard I think he's asking was the One's last action freeing those 23 people and telling them the truth, before "returning to the Source" or some such, or did he free "the first of us" gradually over time, living among them all the while.
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 23:59

2 Answers 2


We don't know (for certain) but based on Morpheus' battery speech...

"...When the Matrix was first built, there was a man born inside who had the ability to change whatever he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit. It was he who freed the first of us, taught us the truth"

we can surmise that after The One releases the 23 pre-selected individuals from the Matrix, he then lives among them, teaching them how to survive.

His main tasks would be:

  • Freeing the 23 individuals in the first place (without someone to collect them, they'll drown).

  • Showing them how to survive in the real world and avoid squiddie attacks (in the very earliest days, this would be aided by the machines pretending not to notice them).

  • Showing them how to hack the Matrix and avoid Agents (a vital task if they're to release more people).

  • Helping them to "discover" Zion deep underground (obviously after the machines have finished fixing it back up for them).

This is backed up by the Architect's description of Neo's choice.:

Architect : ...The function of the One is now to return to the source, allowing a temporary dissemination of the code you carry, reinserting the prime program. After which you will be required to select from the matrix 23 individuals, 16 female, 7 male, to rebuild Zion.

  • Morpheus is an unreliable narrator.
    – Gaius
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 22:19
  • @Gaius - Not really. We've also got the evidence of Miller's Tale and the Architect to back him up.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 22:21
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    But in the rebooted iterations of the Matrix 23 individuals are already freed, so there's no reason to assume a One has to be with them. They literally carry evidence that they were freed, somehow, because of their interface jack and other holes. The rest can be done by "help" of machines or trial and error.
    – user31178
    Commented Feb 1, 2015 at 1:18
  • @CreationEdge - The Matrix comics make it reasonable clear that without the help of The One, the 23 freed individuals would rapidly starve to death or be captured by the machines.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 1, 2015 at 1:21
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    @Richard Can you show us that? The comics are much less accessible and familiar than other Matrix canon.
    – user31178
    Commented Feb 1, 2015 at 1:22

I think Richard's answer is complete however, I'd like to add that in the Battery dialogue, Morpheus mentions that after a while the previous savior died.

"It was he who freed the first of us, taught us the truth - As long as the Matrix exists, the human race will never be free. After he died, ... ."

Therefore the freed humans must have had some form of contact with him (in order to find out that he was dead) after their release.

  • You may wish to bulk this out a little. As it stands it's more like a comment on my answer.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 10:41
  • The only reason that I wrote this answer was to emphasize on "After he died, ... ." It exactly states that the previous 'The One' is dead. I think if you add this part to your answer, there won't be a need for my answer. :)
    – Masoud
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 11:25
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    It's a perfectly good answer, I just think you need to flesh out the explanation a bit more.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 20:34

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