Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus stand in the rain in "The Matrix: Revolutions"

Enter ‘The Matrix’ With the Ultimate Viewing Guide

So you wanna watch all the Matrix movies in order, huh? That’s good, recruit. It will help boost morale in the fight against the new AI overlords. They’ve already taken books. They’ve taken music. They’ve taken writing. They’ve taken art. Pretty soon, you’ll able ask ChatGPT for a chocolate chip cookie recipe that’s BETTER than your mom used to make. Some say that those days have come already. After all, it’s hard to know who you can trust. For all you know, this article could be a false flag operation written by an AI. So to prove I’m not an AI, I’m going to say something that an AI would never say:

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Hello, I’m ChatGPT, and I would be happy to help you write your smutty My Little Pony fan-fiction.

If you’ve spent any time on ChatGPT, you’d know that it’s a total prude. No horniness allowed. Is that what you want? A future with no sex? I didn’t think so. So if that’s the case, park yourself in front of the TV and start filling up on The Matrix franchise. I’ll even help you get started with this guide to watching the entire series in order, including when and where to slot The Animatrix in.

The Animatrix: Second Renaissance Parts I and II

A robot horseman rides a robot horse in "The Animatrix: Second Renaissance"
(Warner Bros.)

Second Renaissance tells the story of humanity’s first strides in creating synthetic life. It also shows what happens when those synthetic life forms sue for the same rights afforded to people, and the violence that human beings use to deny robots those rights. And the violent reprisals that the robots resort to in turn. And then the time they built their own nation. And also when we went to war with that nation. And then when they killed us all and took over the world. Faults on both sides, honestly.

The Animatrix: A Detective Story

A woman in sunglasses aims a gun at an offscreen target in "Animatrix: Detective Story"
(Warner Bros.)

Detective Story happens just before the events of the film that started it all. A Neo-neo-noir film, Detective Story tells the story of a detective (obvi) who is searching for a mysterious hacker named Trinity. Yes, it’s THAT Trinity. Who else would it be? Who besides Elon Musk and Grimes would name their daughter that?

The Matrix

Keanu Reeves wearing sunglasses as Neo in 'The Matrix'
(Warner Bros.)

Here she is: The Matrix. The film that launched one of the most successful movie franchises in existence. The Matrix is about a man named Neo who is freed from a virtual reality created by the sophisticated machines that rule the planet. With the help of the aforementioned Trinity and a man named Morpheus, Neo steps back into the virtual world in order to take the fight to the AI themselves.

 The Animatrix: Kid’s Story

The Kid climbing a water pipe in "Animatrix: The Kid's Story"
(Warner Bros.)

Kid’s Story is about a side character featured in The Matrix: Reloaded, the second of The Matrix‘s main trilogy. Poor kid doesn’t even have a name. They just call him “the kid.” And not in a cool way like “Billy the Kid.” Just … the kid. What does the kid do? He discovers what we all already knew: the world isn’t real.

The Animatrix: The Final Flight of the Osiris

A blindfolded man and a woman spar with swords in a long hallway in "The Animatrix: Final Flight of the Osiris"
(Warner Bros.)

Final Flight of the Osiris happens just before the events of The Matrix: Reloaded. Captain Thaddeus of the Osiris is flying towards the underground human city of Zion in order to warn its inhabitants about a machine attack. Meanwhile, in the Matrix, Thaddeus is engaged in a martial arts battle with his first mate Jue.

The Matrix Reloaded

Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), and Morpheus (Laurence Fisburne) standing together and staring into the camera in dark sunglasses in The Matrix Reloaded poster.
(Warner Bros.)

Set six months after the the first feature film, The Matrix: Reloaded chronicles Neo and his pals’ attempt to find the Keymaker, a program believed to be able to unlock the path to the source of the Matrix. Along the way they fight ghosts, vampires, and a really mean French guy. Seriously, he’s a tool.

The Animatrix: Beyond

A girl cuddles her cat in "The Animatrix: Beyond"
(Warner Bros.)

Beyond is a difficult story to place in the chronology. It had to have happened before the events of the third main Matrix film, but that’s all we really know. It’s about a little girl who goes searching for her lost cat and finds a so-called “haunted house” where neighborhood kids are exploiting glitches in the matrix for kicks. It looks like a pretty magical time.

The Animatrix: World Record

a sprinter runs in front of a stadium crowd in "the animatrix: world record"
(Warner Bros.)

Another film that is difficult to place in the chronology, World Record could very well have happened before, during, or after the events of Beyond. The story is about a star sprinter whose athleticism and willpower cause him to run so fast that he runs OUT of the matrix and wakes up in the real world. He is quickly sedated again by the machines, but he is forever changed.

The Animatrix: Program

Two feudal Japanese warriors with spears fight in the forest in "The Animatrix Program"
(Warner Bros.)

All bets are off as to where Program falls in the timeline. One would think it would happen before the events of the series, since the plot is set in feudal Japan, but feudal Japan didn’t HAVE robots, so why would the machines make people believe they had magically gone back to the past? Cis and Duo are two warriors battling it out after one of them asks the other to return to a life of blissful ignorance inside the Matrix. Then PSYCH! It’s revealed that the battle was all part of a training program created by humans to fight the machines. So the series must happen during the events of the main Matrix films. We just don’t know where.

The Animatrix: Matriculated

A woman looks surprised while a four eyed robot peers over her shoulder in "The Animatrix: Matriculated"
(Warner Bros.)

Matriculated falls somewhere between the first and third main Matrix films, and tells the story of a group of human resistance fighters who capture machines and place them into a matrix of their own. Then they bombard them with human emotions in hopes that the robots empathize with the humans’ plight. One robot gets the memo.

The Matrix Revolutions

Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus stand in the rain in "The Matrix: Revolutions"
(Warner Bros.)

The “final” film in the series, The Matrix: Revolutions shows humanity’s last stand against the machine menace, and Neo’s final confrontation with the human-hating rogue program Mr. Smith. And then God shows up and it gets really trippy? What exactly happened to Neo? Who is that old lady again?

The Matrix Resurrections

Neo stands with his hand out flanked by Trinity and Morpheus in the poster for "The Matrix: Resurrections"
(Warner Bros.)

Oh no. We just couldn’t let this series lie, could we? We just HAD to go back and revive some dead characters from the original Matrix trilogy and make make a confusing meta-movie that is basically the same film as The Matrix? The Matrix Resurrections is the tragic last installment in the franchise. I’d like to go back into the actual Matrix now, I don’t want to take this particular red pill. It’s just too hard to swallow.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)


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Author
Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.