The Matrix – The Hero’s Journey Stages

Ordinary world

Neo has a boring job as a programmer for a large software company

Call to Adventure

He receives a message to follow the white rabbit on his computer and meets Trinity in a nightclub and tells him she knows the answer to the Question “What is the Matrix”

Refusal of the call

Neo receives a call from Morpheus and is guided out onto to a ledge to escape the agents looking for him but becomes scared and says, “I can’t do this” and is taken away by the agents.

Supernatural Aid

Morpheus is his supernatural aid, he gives him the red pill to enable him to see the truth and then trains him to be able to overcome his thoughts that ae holding him back so he can manipulate the Matrix

Crossing the First Threshold

Neo chooses to swallow the red pill

Belly of the whale

Neo enters the real world in s liquid filled pod guarded by mechanized octopus like creatures

The Road of the trials

Neo learns about the Matrix and his potential role in it. He learns how to fight and who his friends are.

Meeting with the Goddess

Trinity is the bringer of love. She kisses Neo once he has been killed by Agent Smith which brings him back to life

Woman as Temptress

This stage is flipped onto Cypher. He succumbs to the temptation offered by Agent Smith as he desires to give up the real world and return to the Matrix. Showing what happens when you take the easy way out

Death of the mentor

Morpheus is captured by Agents.

Atonement with the Father

Neo understands what Morpheus was telling him when he said he had to believe he was “The One” in order to be able to manipulate the Matrix

Ultimate Boon

Neo gains the courage and insight to confront the Agents, he is improving in his ability to manipulate the Matrix at the same level as the Agents.

The Magic flight

Fighting against and being chased by Agent Smith

Rescue from without

Trinity saves his life by kissing him in the real world which revives him in the Matrix

The crossing of the return Threshold

He returns from death as the One.


Neo gains the ability to see the Matrix and has become The One with God-like abilities.

Master of two worlds

He’s now the One and he has the girl

Freedom to live

He tells the Machines, I’m going to show the people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them the world without you.


This was one of the best sci-fi movies ever made with it’s unique stylised fighting and other imagery. The next two films really came off the rails but this first one is near perfect. Unusually in this story, Neo’s Apotheosis occurs at the end of third act rather than at the end of the second act.

7 Replies to “The Matrix – The Hero’s Journey Stages”

  1. I’d love to read your analysis of how and why Matrix: Reloaded and Matrix: Revolutions went off the rails. Is it because they failed to honor the Hero’s Journey? How?

    1. I went through Elysium with a Hero’s journey filter and highlighted where it went wrong and how it could have been improved. To do a similar review on Reloaded and Revolutions I would have to watch them again as I can’t remember them that well and I’m unlikely to in the near future.

      Not all films have to follow the Hero’s journey and I tend to only list the ones that do here. (It’s still a pretty good list of films)

  2. Lovely analysis; Some of the stages are repeated, as in Trinity’s kiss performing both Rescue from Without and Meeting the Goddess.
    Where does the Oracle fit in ?

    The last sentence in this page is “Unusually in this story, Neo’s Apotheosis occurs at the end of third act rather than at the end of the third.” = at the end of the third rather than at the end of the third? Guess you meant third film? though in my mind, the first film is a complete film of its own and the 2nd and 3rd are totally different, not continuing episodes.

    1. Hey IC

      Hope you found this site useful.

      Usually the Apotheosis occurs at the end of the second act so it’s unusual that in this film it appears at the end of the third. They could have given Neo the ability to see the Matrix at the end of the second Act and this could have been used to help them survive the third act. The order of the Hero’s Journey stages aren’t written in stone and you can shuffle and flip them around as needed.

      Oracle is a seer, someone who speaks with Gods and can see into the future which is a little bit different to a mentor. Here she serves as a Threshold guardian, someone who creates a hurdle for the hero to overcome by making him think that he isn’t The One even though she knows he really is.

  3. Hey I loved reading about your take on how The Hero’s Journey went with The Matrix. This was just on the first movie right? not the second or third installments of the trilogy?

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