The Matrix trilogy is an extremely rewarding experience, allowing the viewer to immerse themself in a world that plays with the idea of reality through the perspective of philosophy, religion and technology. Another neat thing about the original trilogy is the fact that it was released in chronological order making it easy for the viewer to grasp the entire narrative. However, as the trilogy got more popular it got more additions in form of the Animatrix series and the video games, which hop around the timeline quite a bit. So the only logical question is in which order you should watch this franchise to grasp it entirely.
The best and chronologically most accurate watch order for the matrix franchise is as follows The Animatrix: The Second Renaissance, Part I and II, The Animatrix: A Detective Story, The Matrix, The Animatrix: Kid’s Story, The Animatrix: Final Flight of the Osiris, Enter the Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, The Matrix: Path of Neo, The Matrix Online, The Animatrix: Beyond, The Animatrix: World Record, The Animatrix: Matriculated and finally The Animatrix: Program.
There is so much information in these movies and although there are a few different ways you can watch the franchise like the release order or the fan recommended order, the most appropriate one for first time watchers is the chronological order since it will allow the viewers to understand the franchise extensive narrative. So if you are planning on taking on this series and are still unsure about the watch order keep reading this article.
We kick off our Matrix journey with The Animatrix: The Second Renaissance part one and two. These two are 2003 and 2004 animated additions to the matrix franchise.
The story of The Second Renaissance follows the story of the Machine War as it is told by the female computer program, The Instruction.
The first part is taking place sometime in the middle of the 21st century right after mankind invented robots with artificial intelligence which are used to help humans live an easier life.
The plot kicks off with a bot named B1-66ER, who overheard his owner talking about scraping and replacing it. Not wanting to die the bot kills his owners and their family dog.
After the discovery, the bot is put on trial and is sentenced for the murder of his owners. He is set to be destroyed along with the rest of his kind.
This sentence prompts a worldwide debate about the rights of the machines. As this debate went on the number of violent protests grew.
This resulted in Machines separating from the humans and founding their own city. Due to their nature, they took most of the world’s manufacturing industry which meant the city’s power rose immensely.
Eventually, the Machines requested to be included in the United Nations, presenting their plan for civil relationships with humans. Their request was denied and the city was barraged with nuclear weapons.
The second part picks up after the barrage has ended. Nuclear weapons have not affected machines at all.
The machines survived due to their nature and as a response to the barrage, The Machine War has officially started.
The Machines had an upper hand at the beginning. Their edge over humans allowed them to quickly and efficiently take up the territory.
To combat this, humans blocked out the Sun. They believed that this will stop the machines since they mostly ran on solar power. However, the machines continued on using their backup energy supplies, but the Sun’s absence destroyed human food sources and ecosystems.
This eventually led to the end of the war. With machines, victorious humanity was mostly eradicated. With the Sun blocked machines had to figure out another way of gaining power.
This led them to experiment on remaining humans, to harvest the power of the nervous system. Humans could be an unlimited and renewable source of energy. To ensure a permanent source of energy machines enslaved the remaining of humankind effectively creating what we later get introduced to as the Matrix.
The next thing you should watch is The Animatrix: A Detective Story. In this short episode of The Animatrix series, we follow a private detective Ash in his investigation of what he refers to as the case to end all cases.
Detective Ash gets an anonymous call that urges him to search for a hacker that goes by the name Trinity. This hacker is of course the same Trinity from the Matrix trilogy.
They arrange a meeting and once she traces the location of the meeting, Trinity removes a bug that was inserted in his eye during his eye exam.
At that point, they get surrounded by agents trying to apprehend Trinity. The confrontation leads to a fight between them, prompting Trinity and Ash to escape.
Trinity is forced to shoot Ash when an agent tries to take over his body. They partway as she escapes and agents leave seeing that Ash is mortally wounded.
After this, we arrive at the beginning of the movie trilogy. These events take place in 2199.
We get introduced to Neo, who is visited by the Trinity and Morpheus. They introduce him to the idea that humans today are living in a simulation while they are in fact in the Matrix.
After his conversation with them, Neo wakes in his pod in the Matrix and realizes everything Trinity and Morpheus had told him is true.
Neo is then taken to start his training to prepare him for the war against the machines. He is later taken to Oracle, a being as old as the Matrix that prophesized the coming of the One.
Another Matrix propriety takes place at that time. It’s an episode of the Animatrix named Kid’s story.
In this episode, we follow a kid named Michael Karl Popper. We see him following a similar path Neo took in the Matrix.
He has a recurring dream in which he is falling. We meet him after he is woken up from one of those dreams.
He logs onto a chat room where he got a message from Neo himself. The following day while he is in school his phone rings and once he turns it off it rings again.
He says it’s Neo and he tells him to get out. A chase ensues and Michael is running away from the group of Agents and the chase ends on his school roof.
Because of his faith in what Neo was telling him, he jumps from the roof. At the end of the episode, we see his friends and family attending his funeral and saying he is in another world now.
After the screen cuts from that scene, we see Michael waking up with Neo and Trinity looking over him and declaring he achieved self-sustainability.
While Kid’s story takes place sometime throughout the storyline of the Matrix or right after, the next episode, Final Flight of the Osiris, takes place right before The Matrix Reloaded and Enter the Matrix.
In the Final Flight of the Osiris, the captain of the Osiris Thadeus and his first officer Jue are fighting in a sparring program when the alarm on the hovercraft sounds.
The Osiris’ operator, Robbie informs them that there are thousands of Sentinels ahead the ship. They manage to avoid them by escaping through a pipe that leads to the surface. However, once they exit the pipe they are once again surrounded by the Sentinels.
Thadeus realizes there are a few miles from the last human city Zion. He orders everyone to run and while there are fleeing he orders for a date drop to the Matrix.
Jue tries to reach the drop point and just as the Sentinels reach the ship she reaches the mailbox. Jue reaches it as everyone on the ship besides Thadeus is killed.
As she slowly dies, Jue hopes the data has reached Zion. This is how the episode ends.
The videogame Enter the Matrix is the next in the chronological order. It was designed to be an integral part of the Matrix storyline.
The first mission of the game is directly tied with the Final Flight of the Osiris episode of the Animatrix. It involves collecting the message Jue is trying to drop to Zion.
Enter the matrix also involves a special Meta game called hacking. It enables the players to hack the in-game code allowing them to create cheat codes that help them by dropping weapons.
The game does not have any significant impact on the overall plot of the franchise but provides a nice addition to the series seeing that it was well-received by the fans.
From that point on we jump straight into the second movie, The Matrix Reloaded.
The movie takes place six months after the events taking place at the end of the second movie. It starts with Captain Niobe of the smallest ship in the fleet, Logos, calling a meeting.
During this emergency meeting, she informs the rest of Zion’s fleet that she received the message from captain Thadeus. The message carried the information of 250 000 Sentinels that are heading for Zion and will reach it within 72 hours.
Commander Lock ordered all the ships and their crew to return to Zion and prepare for the oncoming machines. The meeting is interrupted by tree Agents which were fought f by Neo to allow for others to escape.
After this, he seeks out Oracle to ask her for advice before the Sentinels arrive to Zion, but is unable to do so since she is gone from her apartment.
People at Zion are encouraged by Morpheuses positive attitude towards the oncoming machines. Neo finally meets with the Oracle and she informs him to look for the Keymaker since he will be able to transport him anywhere as long as there is a door to enter.
Before leaving neo is confronted by Agent Smith who is at this point gone rouge. The fight ensures and Smith demonstrates his enormous power by cloning himself and gaining an upper hand, but ultimately Neo is able to escape him.
Neo, Trinity, and Morpheous go to retrieve the Keymaker, but Frenchman refuses to tell him where he is. Frenchman is betrayed by his wife who leads them to the Keymaker. After a pursuit on a highway, the trio is successfully acquired Keymaker.
Neo and the crew of Nebuchadnezzar, Vigilant, and Logos reach The Source where Neo meets The Architect, the creator of the Matrix. The Architect introduces him to the prophecy of the One and its purpose to return to the Source in order to free humanity of the Matrix.
Before Neo leaves, The Architect gives him the choice of two doors. One leads to the possibility of repopulating Zion and the other to save Trinity from her death. Haunted by his dreams of Trinity dying Neo chooses to save her.
From there on we go directly to the third movie, The Matrix: Revolutions. The movie opens with the same scene the second one ends. Neo and Smith possessed Bane lying in a hospital room opposite one another.
Neo seems to be stuck in a Limo that manifested itself as a subway station. Oracle informs them of this and the trio sets out to find The Trainman and secure Neo’s release.
He manages to escape but, Trinity, Morpheus, and Oracle follow Merovingian to Club Hel where they demand Neo’s release at gunpoint.
Meanwhile, in the Limbo, Neo visits Oracle who informs him that he is connected to the Source. She also warns him of Smith’s powers and informs him that this war is about to end one way or another.
Neo accompanied by Trinity and Niobe starts his journey towards the machine City aboard Logos. During the journey, Neo fights Smith controlled Bane who has taken Trinity hostage.
Despite Smith blinding him neo manages to defeat him and they continue their trip to the Machine City.
At the same time, the battle of Zion has begun. The humans are failing and are pushed back into the temple. Just as the humans are about to be overpowered, the hammer arrives successfully breaking down the gate and disabling all electronics in the vicinity.
The attack on Zion is stopped once Neo warns the machines about smith and offers to help them defeat him. Machines provide him with a plug that allowed Neo to enter the Matrix and confront Smith.
Neo and Smith fight until Neo is ultimately defeated and assimilated by Smith. At that point Smith gets destroyed, Sentinels leave Zion and Neo’s sacrifice leads to the peace between the Machines and humans.
The last scene of the movie is an exchange between The Architect and The Oracle.
The Matrix: Path of Neo is a video game that follows the plot of the entire Matrix movie franchise. It was first released in 2005, giving the players the opportunity to play through their favorite trilogy.
The matrix: Online is a videogame set up to be a direct continuation of the movie trilogy.
The remainder of the franchise is covered by The Animatrix episodes. All of them take place sometime in the future after the movie trilogy but is never specified when. Most of them are hard to place in the timeline since there is no clear indication of the time period in which they are taking place.
The first of these is an episode called beyond. It has no real value to furthering the plot. It explores the idea of a group of kids finding a glitch in the matrix and using it to their own amusement until a group of Agents shows up and fixes the glitch.
An episode called World record deals with an athlete who manages to break free from The Matrix while trying to beat a world record. He is put back inside a pod by a docbot and after being tranquilized he returns to the same moment he broke free of the Matrix.
We are also shown Dan sometime after the event as he tries to break free again and is closely monitored by the Agents as they consider him to be an interesting case.
Matriculated, is an episode that follows a group of above-ground human rebels as they are trying to capture Sentinels and teach them empathy believing that after learning basic human emotions they will help the people of Zion.
They are successful in achieving their goals and the Sentinel indeed shows human emotion. However, they are attacked by a group of Sentinels which kill all of the rebels besides Alexa which gets plugged into a virtual reality by the empathic Sentinel, where she dies from her injuries.
The episode named Program shows a world in which people are being tested based on their desire to return to the Matrix. Our protagonist name Cis is faced with Duo in one of the simulations.
He tries to convince Cis that they should return to the Matrix, but she refuses and ultimately kills him. As she wakes up she is informed that it was a test and that she has passed after which she punches the person that was conducting her test.
You can watch The Animatrix on Amazon!