Dark Matrix Theory Claims Humans Won The War Against The Machines

The Matrix movies take place centuries after humanity seemly lost the war against the machines, but one dark Matrix theory suggests that humans actually won the Machine War. Similar to other works of science fiction created at the end of the 20th century, The Matrix asks the classic of what would happen if the machines humans created somehow rebelled against humanity. The Matrix movies use the Machine War more as a background to tell a much deeper story than just humans against robots, but other entries in the Matrix franchise can help understand and theorize about the original conflict that led to the world audiences met in The Matrix (1999).


In the Matrix movies, most of what is known about that world’s background was revealed by Morpheus during a brief conversation with Neo in The Matrix. The first Matrix film, while a sci-fi landmark, was not too focused on worldbuilding as it was on telling an intriguing story set in that world. There had to be a sense of doubt and questioning throughout the entire movie, and that is why The Matrix does not answer all of the questions that it proposes. The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, on the other hand, tried to bring more definite answers into the story – which might explain why the Matrix sequels were not as well received as The Matrix.

Related: The Matrix: What Happened To The Oracle

The first Matrix movie established very quickly that neither the characters nor the audience could trust everything they were seeing. Neo’s choice between the red and blue pills took up the first half hour of The Matrix, followed by the shocking revelation that the world Neo lived in was not real. However, one fan theory (via Reddit) suggests that Neo never actually find out the real purpose of the Matrix simulation and that it was humanity who was in control of the machines all along. Morpheus briefs Neo on the Machine War and what led to the destruction of the world, but it was later proved in The Matrix Revolutions that Morpheus was significantly incorrect about what he told Neo. If not even Morpheus could be trusted, then nothing established in the Matrix movies can be considered absolute truth.

Matrix’s Machine War Explained

The Animatrix's Machine War

According to Morpheus, at some point in the first few years of the 21st-century humanity was cheering after creating the first AI – an artificial consciousness that would later create its own machines. The Animatrix’s short “The Second Reinassance” takes a look at that period of time described by Morpheus, and it reveals how arrogant humanity became after delegating all of its tasks to AI-powered machines. However, what seemed like a utopia became a time of conflict once a robot killed a person to protect itself. The robot, B1-66ER, was going to be destroyed, and it said it only killed its owners because it did not want to die. That sparked a worldwide debate on machine rights, and after B1-66ER was sentenced to destruction, machines all over the globe started to rebel. Fearing for their safety, the machines founded their own city, 01. Morpheus tells Neo that they are not sure who attacked first, but The Animatrix, which is Matrix canon, suggests that it was humanity who started the war. Humans launched a nuclear attack against 01, making the conflict against the machines into a full war.

Theory: Humans Won The Machine War (But Destroyed Earth)

The matrix neo humans in pods

Morpheus told Neo that humans scorched the sky in a desperate movie against the machines after realizing the AI was close to winning the war, which is corroborated by The Animatrix’s “The Second Renaissance”. According to the Matrix movies, the lack of solar power was not enough to destroy all the machines – and thus humanity was still defeated and turned into batteries. However, according to that fan theory, humans actually won the war when they scorched the sky – but with a price. Blocking the sun would leave the machines without power, but it would also completely destroy life on Earth. The theory suggests that, even with most of the machines destroyed, humanity was bound to be extinct as there was really no planet left to sustain life. Therefore, humans would have reprogrammed the machines to develop a way to prevent humanity from being extinct – the Matrix. When inside the life pods, humans would have all the nutrients necessary to remain alive without the need for a proper ecosystem. In addition, the technique used by the machines to artificially generate new humans, which was the case for most of the Matrix characters, would make sure humanity would never be extinct.

Humans Winning The Machine War Flips Matrix’s Message

Neo had to die in matrix revolutions

According to that theory, the Matrix was not a prison but rather humanity’s final chance at surviving. Instead of having to exist in a bleak world where everything was destroyed, humans created their own paradise – the Matrix simulation. What Agent Smith told Neo about how the first Matrix was exaggeratedly perfect would make even more sense, as humans would surely try to design the best possible world to live in for eternity. Considering how the machines would have to keep functioning to run the Matrix simulation and all the apparatus necessary, the energy would still exist. That is why humans would have turned themselves into power cells. The theory suggests the Matrix machines were programmed by humans to think the AI won the war so that they would never consider betraying humanity and deactivate the Matrix simulation. Therefore, according to this theory, it was the machines who were made prisoners by the humans – and not the other way around.

Related: Why Neo Didn't Kill The Architect In The Matrix Reloaded

How Humanity Winning The War Changes Neo’s Matrix Story

Keanu Reeves as Neo in the Matrix movies

In the Matrix movies, Neo is depicted as the savior who would eventually free humanity. After the events of The Matrix, Neo started to free as many humans as he could from the Matrix, just like Morpheus and the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar had done to him. The “Kid” from The Animatrix and The Matrix Reloaded, for example, was freed by Neo. However, according to that theory, Neo was not the savior but rather someone who was inadvertently trying to take humans out of paradise. The Matrix Revolutions established that the Prophecy of the One was a ploy created by the machines to keep the Matrix simulation running perfectly and to make sure Zion would never become powerful enough to destroy them. Neo was the hero of the story because he was the only one of the “Ones” who managed to break the cycle. As such, under the assumption that the theory is correct and that the machines were just following what humans told them to do, Neo could be how the machines found to try to break their own programming and put an end to the Matrix.

The only unpredictable part of this equation was Agent Smith, who had become self-aware and had his own plans. Neo did not end the Matrix nor freed all the humans. Instead, all he achieved at the end of the original Matrix trilogy was a truce between machines and humans – a scenario that did not change much in The Matrix Resurrections. Therefore, if humans really won the war and created the Matrix to keep humanity from being extinct as theorized, then the horrific plan actually worked.