Megaritz (YouTube)

During an attempt to plant another code bomb, Morpheus is interrupted by a strange assassin wearing a mask who seems to be able to bend the Matrix in ways previously unseen. Morpheus seems to escape, but suddenly the assassin squeezes through a small vent and shoots him a couple of times and… that’s that. One of the franchise’s most beloved and well-known characters was killed a few months into the game. It’s either extremely brave or really stupid.

Fans were not happy and quickly pointed out a problem. You see, in MxO redpills (people who can leave and enter the Matrix freely, like Morpheus) no longer die when killed in the Matrix. That’s how it used to work in the films. But thanks to the creation of the “Emergency Jack-Out” (stop laughing) redpills can now “die” and respawn. Very convenient for a video game featuring respawning! But it also meant Morpheus should have been able to just come back. However, as with any sci-fi universe, there was a convoluted and silly explanation offered: magic super bullets. It’s more complicated than that, and for those of you who care enough to read about what these magic bullets actually were, here you go!

Some players argued against the death of the character Morpheus as the Matrix now provides an “Emergency Jack-Out” upgrade for redpills, eliminating the permanent death that previous redpills experienced if killed within the Matrix before the Truce. This feature could save a redpill’s life with no fatal injuries. It was later revealed that the Assassin’s bullets had contained a new form of code encryption, named a “kill code,” which bypassed this technology. These kill codes are explained to be extremely difficult to produce and usually require a direct sample of the subject’s residual self-image data, thus making them extremely rare and only used in the most extreme and specialist of circumstances.


Regardless of how players felt, Morpheus’s death was never reversed. There were small hints that maybe he could come back, but it never happened. This means that, as far as we know, Morpheus is dead in The Matrix universe.


So, are the events of The Matrix Online canon? This is a good question. Canon in The Matrix is tricky, with comics and short films ignoring or contradicting each other or the films. But I’d say MxO was intended to be canon back in 2005. The Wachowskis were involved in the game’s story, at least initially. And considering the death of Morpheus was an event that happened in the first few months’ of the game’s launch, it seems reasonable to me that they at least approved of or possibly even conceived of the plot point to kill him.

Fast forward to 2020, with the news that Laurence Fishburne won’t be back as Morpheus and rumors of the film including a younger Morpheus, and I can’t help but think director Lana Wachowski has decided to honor the events of The Matrix Online. While this is probably not the case, I love the idea of millions of people going to watch the new Matrix film and hearing a character say something like, “Years ago, after Morpheus’s death at the hands of The Assassin…” and then the 99 percent of viewers who never even heard of The Matrix Online look around going “What?!”