If you take a virtual reality world and its maintenance literally, it can become interesting to project how that type of false reality might manifest itself in stories. If you make the assumption that The Matrix is in fact everywhere, then it can color opinions of how other stories (as told in movies) would factor into the Matrix. The following are the top ten examples of characters who seem to be either consciously (or subconsciously) caught in the world which we know as The Matrix.
10. Indiana Jones
The entire concept of the Matrix is that there is a forced reality, with set rules. But some rules can be broken. In any computer program, there are places in which you can save your work. In the Matrix, these “save points” would manifest themselves as physical objects. For obvious reasons, these “save points” would have to be kept secret from not only the people, but from other programs as well.
Given that Indy seems to have a certain immunity to situations which would kill normal men, it would seem that he is a program with a well-defined mission: to protect these “save points,” or “totems” if you will, from other programs attempting to take over the Matrix. In the Matrix we know, they appear as uniformed agents of a government. In Indy’s Matrix, they appear as either Nazis or Soviets or whatever other government or system is hellbent on control.
Ultimately, Indy finds cracks in the Matrix, as well as in the objects. After all, how else would he survive a nuclear explosion by hiding in a refrigerator? Jones is merely using an available portal as a means of escape. He knows where the save points are, as well as where the doors are.
9. J (Men In Black)
Obviously, the Men In Black are either agents or Agent-like programs. It stands to reason that Agents would scour the Matrix searching for important programs, in the same way that Morpheus scours the Matrix searching for the One. In J’s case, he was already a program; he just had no idea. J’s purpose would have been to study human behavior while believing he was in fact a human.
The Agents that J winds up being activated by, serve as a sort of virus protection for the Matrix. Any program is going to have bugs. Worse, the human population has ways to hack into the Matrix. They create programs which simulate Matrix-like conditions. The resistance would also want to insert viruses and programs that would make other humans question reality. That is where J’s Men In Black agents come in. They protect the human population from these bugs, and destroy the ones deemed to be dangerous. The most important thing is that humans do not question the reality they see, or know that these ridiculous bugs exist.
8. Sarah Connor (Terminator)
John Conner may not be the One. However, Connor is a threat to the Machine war. Conner is a captain in the resistance, as well as someone trained since birth to free minds and fight machines. Obviously, the Machines would wish to prevent someone like Connor from being born. The Machines know that a war is coming, and they want to insure that they are the winners. Therefore, they have to reset the Matrix and find Conner before he is born.
Thus, they send a Terminator back in time to destroy Sarah Connor and weaken the initial resistance. In their attempt, they start a series of events which will insure that the Machine War does in fact take place. As an early threat in the war, Connor must be eliminated so the Machines can rise in the first place. The Machines are simply protecting a future in which the Matrix will still exist.
7. Truman Burbank (The Truman Show)
Let’s say that you wanted to convince the majority of the population that they are not in an artificial world that they needed to “wake up” from. What would be a great control mechanism for that? Make them feel like someone else is, and that they are totally in on the joke. Use a program (Christof) to create a Matrix within the Matrix, based around the development of a single pod. You then allow the rest of the human race to watch this one pod grow up in an artificial world, and convince them that they are “outside” such a mechanism.
Truman Burbank eventually realizes what is going on. That is the reason why Christof fights so hard for Burbank not to leave. It has nothing to do with the show or the ratings; it has everything to do with preventing everybody else from becoming aware. The moment that Burbank closes the door and walks out, the next scene should be him waking up in the pod, and setting out to awake others.
6. John McClane (Die Hard)
If you die in the Matrix, you die in real life. However, there are some rules which can be bent, or even broken. If you understand that concept, then you can dodge bullets, take down airplanes with your wits, heal from walking on glass, and possibly become intuitive enough to find a program who can navigate when the system is in fact “shut down.”
John McClane would seem to be a conflicted character. His mind is freed, and he knows exactly what is going on. The issue is that he does not seem to agree with the resistance. McClane appears to be a human who actually wants the system to work correctly. In Live Free or Die Hard, McClane works with hackers in order to preserve the system. In Die Hard and Die Hard 2: Die Harder, McClane fights on the side of order as well, working to restore machines that are down. McClane believes that a working Matrix is essential to the preservation of human life. In return, McClane gets all of the benefits of a freed mind, but the detriment of being scared of the resistance.
5. Jobe Smith (The Lawnmower Man)
Before you go teaching a person to fly a helicopter in under five seconds, don’t you want to see the effects of jacking information directly into the human brain via virtual reality? To check on the total effects of what all this might do, wouldn’t you want to take someone whose brain only operated on the basest level to test its limits?
That is where Jobe Smith comes in. The Resistance filled Jobe’s brain beyond capacity, to find out what the true capacity was. Result: Jobe started to develop superhuman powers. Once his brain was fully awakened to the point where the Resistance could no longer control it, Jobe then downloaded himself into the machines. In a strange way. Jobe’s evolution would mirror that of Neo. The only difference is, Jobe disappears at the end, content to spread chaos from somewhere in the virtual shadows. Neo, on the other hand, continues to publicly defy the machines, even though he is freed from his physical form.
4. Raymond Shaw (The Manchurian Candidate)
Seen from a bit of a different light, Raymond Shaw is not very much different than Neo himself. Shaw’s handlers use phones in order to control him and move him into place. Shaw is calm and convinced subconsciously to obey commands in order to commit violent acts (Smith was not exactly lying when he called Morpheus’ group terrorists.) Shaw is constantly drugged and, like Neo, always seems to be waking up.
The difference is that Shaw commits suicide, rather than knowingly take a human life or perpetuate the resistance, while Neo takes down a building full of people willingly. That would seem to make Raymond Shaw a failed early attempt at finding “The One.”
3. Bill And Ted
If the Machines are interested in preserving a timeline in which they won with Terminators, then it makes sense that the Resistance would be interested in preserving their timeline as well. Enter Rufus, the time-travelling guru form the year 2688 with Rufus. His world absolutely depends on the musical success of two friends from 700 years prior who can barely play guitar. There is the potential that the Wyld Stallions become the code to conquering the Matrix in the future, and Rufus has to make absolutely sure they stay together long enough to reach their potential.
In addition, the society of Zion is also always on search for the One, so there had to be an original One somewhere. If you look at the scene in which the Architect is confronting different “Ones,” they all just happen to look like Keanu Reeves. And who just so happens to play Ted Logan? Keanu Reeves! The first One, who would go on to shape a wonderful future, may well have been an airheaded High School student on the verge of totally flunking history class.
2. The Narrator and Tyler Durden (Fight Club)
Psychologists have a term called “gaslighting,” which refers to a 1944 movie starring Ingrid Bergman, where her husband protects his own secrets by driving her insane. The husband accomplishes this by flickering the various gaslights in the house. When Bergman’s character is met with disbelief over the gaslights turning on and off, she is slowly driven insane.
In the Matrix, if you are not with the Resistance, then you are against them. However, that doesn’t mean that you’re not usable. The Resistance seems to specialize in taking down buildings that power the structure of the Matrix. And what is the ultimate goal of the events of Fight Club? Project Mayhem takes down various buildings associated with financial institutions. The human conduit for this is the Narrator, who is convinced by a series of illusions and interactions with a member of the Resistance that no one else can see or hear. That member’s given name is Tyler Durden. The Narrator is “gaslighted” into being convinced that he and Durden are one and the same. Just like with Neo believing he is The One, the goal is accomplished either way.
Slowly, everyone in the Narrator’s life is replaced by Resistance members setting him up. This would be up to and including Marla. Remember that pay phone the Narrator uses? It cannot take incoming calls. Remember how they travel back and forth in the Matrix? They do it through tapping the phones as a doorway.
1. Kevin Flynn (Tron)
The Matrix and the machines did not simply come into being on their own. Somewhere down the line, they had to have human programmers and human creators. None of these creators would have been more prominent than a man who entered the mainframe, and then lived there for several years. In Tron: Legacy , it is revealed that the Program Clu’s task is to create a more perfect world. Clu is theoretically erased, but the overall purpose of society continues: create a perfect society, eliminate anomalies, create an army, and find a way to invade and conquer the human world.
Clu and Flynn dissolving would not change this directive for the society any more than the defeat of the Master Control Program apparently did. Kevin Flynn dissolved into the computer world. With him and Clu, their shared vision survived into the very fabric of what would become the Machine War and the Matrix. Flynn admits that there are anomalies and imperfections. The Clu side does whatever they can in order to eliminate them. If you reconstitute them back together, you get a being that is scarily close to what we now call The Architect of The Matrix.