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The Matrix movies in order

Matrix movies in order - Image shows a pair of open hands. In the left hand there is a red pill and in the right hand there is a blue pill,
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

From the minds of the Wachowski sisters, Lilly and Lana, The Matrix quickly became an iconic sci-fi franchise with four feature-length movies, comic books, video games, and nine animated shorts that make up The Animatrix.

The Matrix revolves around the concept that Earth has been taken over by machines and the Matrix itself is a simulated reality where most humans live through virtual reality, or to put it another way, are kept there. The few that have escaped the simulation battle against artificial intelligence in the real world to free humanity. There’s a lot to get your head around, but fortunately The Matrix franchise has built up enough story with multiple movies for you to absorb.

Whilst we discuss the four movies of the franchise, there’s also The Animatrix (a collection of nine animated short films) which can essentially be enjoyed in any order. We highly recommend you give them a watch as it supplies side stories, prequel, and sequel stories to the Matrix universe that only adds richness to the sci-fi tapestry.

If you’re considering using this guide to watching The Matrix movies in order, but aren’t sure where to stream them online, our The Matrix streaming guide will help you. If you want to see what we think about the franchise, then check out our The Matrix movies ranked, worst to best to find out which is the one.

The Matrix movies in order

  • The Matrix
  • The Matrix Reloaded
  • The Animatrix
  • The Matrix Revolutions
  • The Matrix Resurrections

1. The Matrix

Here we see a man and woman facing the camera, both completely dressed in black leather and wearing black sunglasses.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)
  • Release date: March 31, 1999
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving

In 1999, The Matrix invited us for the first time to make a choice. Take the blue pill and believe whatever you want to believe, or take the red pill and discover how deep the rabbit hole goes. But why? Because in The Matrix, reality is artificial and computer programmer, Thomas Anderson aka Neo, has been given the chance to discover the truth and wage a war against the computers that rule over human beings' very existence. 

The journey begins with the introduction of four stalwarts of The Matrix franchise: Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), and Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). Morpheus is instructed by The Oracle to find “The One,” someone with incredible powers that could end the Machine War once and for all. Through this search, he finds Neo and invites him to see both sides of the coin, the real-world and the simulated reality in which humans have found themselves constrained. 

With battles to be had, Neo learns a unique set of skills through direct download, including kung fu. This paves the way for some epic fight scenes taking on the Agents, namely Smith, to free his mind from the Matrix and launch the beginning of an exciting franchise.


2. The Matrix Reloaded

A still from The Matric Reloaded (2003). Neo (slicked back hair, black sunglasses, and a long black trench coat) standing in front of dozens of TV screens, all displaying him.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)
  • Release date: May 15, 2003
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving

Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus continue their revolt against the repression of the machines by returning to the city of Zion, as impending doom from the Sentinels is approaching within 72 hours. At the same time in the Matrix, Agent Smith’s power is multiplying as he gains strength from his previous encounter with Neo. 

The Oracle continues to use her power of foresight to aid the humans and quickly becomes a staple character in the Matrix franchise. Similarly, we’re introduced to The Architect, the creator of the Matrix and a figurehead that Neo must confront. Whilst there’s a big cliffhanger ending to The Matrix Reloaded, fans didn’t have to wait for long as the sequel, The Matrix Revolutions, was released later the same year.


3. The Animatrix

In this illustration we see a person with dreadlocks wearing a vest and shorts running away from three person wearing black, mid-length trench coats, black ties and black sunglasses.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)
  • Release date: June 3, 2003
  • Cast: Kevin Michael Richardson, Pamela Adlon, John DiMaggio

Whilst released as a bridge between the two films, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, The Animatrix, is an anthology of nine animated short films that detail the backstory of the Matrix. These side stories expand the universe of the film franchise as well as showing the origin story behind the Matrix’s very existence with the tale of the fight between human and robot, as well as the end. 

As such, whilst the short films were released as an anthology series in 2003, they can be watched at any point to expand understanding of the Matrix. A combination of CG animation and anime, The Animatrix has its own visual style but still remains a set piece in the Matrix universe.


4. The Matrix Revolutions

A still from The Matrix Revolutions movie showing two men fighting in the rain. On the left we see Neo, wearing a black trench coat and sunglasses with this right arm outstretched in a punch. On the right is Agent Smith, wearing a suit and sunglasses, with his right arm outstretched in a punch. In the background you can see an army of Agent Smiths.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)
  • Release date: November 5, 2003
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving

In 2003 came the supposed end to the Matrix trilogy of feature-length films with The Matrix Revolutions. As the Oracle so eloquently put it, “everything that has a beginning has an end.” We, of course, know now that 18 years later, The Matrix Resurrections would follow. The war for humanity still holds strong as well as the battle to save Zion. 

As mentioned in The Matrix Reloaded, Agent Smith’s powers in the Matrix still remain strong and Neo must first focus on taking on his arch-nemesis before it’s too late and free himself to fight for humanity in the real world. The Matrix Revolutions picks up the baton from its predecessors with poignant existential questions laced with action-packed battles.


5. The Matrix Resurrections

Here we see the silhouette of a man wearing a long trench coat walking on a slick road at night time,

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)
  • Release date: December 22, 2021
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff

In 2021, the Matrix, as the title suggests, is resurrected. Thomas Anderson is seemingly living an ordinary life 60 years on from the events of The Matrix Revolutions. Until, that is, he is revisited by Morpheus once again putting forth an offer to re-enter the Matrix. This time though, the Matrix has developed. It’s stronger, more powerful, and everything is not as it seems. 

For The Matrix Resurrections, whilst Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprise their roles as Neo and Trinity, there’s a new Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and Agent Smith (Jonathan Groff) as well as a host of new characters and big names. Once again, The Matrix is action-packed, full of sci-fi ponderings, and will leave you questioning your own reality. Perhaps 22 years on makes it time for a final trip through the looking glass…

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Grace is a freelancer who started writing for Space.com since 2021. She's a huge fan of movies, TV, and gaming, and if she's not clutching her Xbox controller or scanning the streaming platforms for the next must-watch shows, you'll find her spending copious amounts of time writing about them on her laptop. Specialties include RPG, FPS, and action-adventure games as well as 80s sci-fi movies and book adaptations.