When Neo is first shown about the Matrix, the real world, and how all humans are enslaved by the machines to harness their energy, Neo has a profound panic attack. While watching this, Cypher says "He's gonna pop!"

What does Cypher mean by that? Does he mean that someone can die from the mental shock of learning about the Matrix? Does he mean that Neo could experience a physical "pop" in his body, like a blood vessel bursting, and it could kill him?

  • 9
    I always took "he's gonna pop" for the follow-up vomiting.
    – Jenayah
    Commented Mar 1, 2019 at 20:46

3 Answers 3


No, it simply means that he's going to be sick and/or pass out from the shock of what he has learned.

As Jeff Bowman points out in the comments, it also subtly makes it clear to the audience that this is a common reaction to being told about the matrix, that Neo is far from the first person they've seen go through this. There are other examples of this, such as the "everybody falls the first time" from the jump training.

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    +1; I'd go further to say that this is a clever way of telling the audience that this is a common reaction—enough so that the crew has unfamiliar-to-us shorthand for it. Commented Mar 1, 2019 at 23:43
  • Yeah, absolutely.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 3:01
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    And it's worth noting that the vomit is real, Reeves had food poisoning and the director just let the cameras continue to role when he looked queasy on set during the scene.
    – Moo
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 8:12

Its slightly more than just he's going to puke.

Neo just went through a profound, shocking and for him completely unfathomable situation he can barely process whats going on, his mind, as the kids say,

has been blown

Cypher, the depressing pessimistic person he is, said, "he's gonna pop" probably because he sees Neo literally rejecting reality, or not reality and is probably going to have a heart attack, and die, this is probably a common occurrence to people who are ripped out of this kind of synthetic world.


I'm surprised no one has mentioned this: In the 1989 sea monster movie Leviathan, the actor who would play Cypher in The Matrix says "He's gonna pop!" when the deep sea divers have to do an emergency opening of a diver's pressure suit. The diver falls out of the suit and vomits. 10 years later when Neo comes out of The Matrix he doubles over and vomits as Cypher says "He's gonna pop!' I always presumed it was an ad-lib the Wachowskis decided to keep in.

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    Fascinating if true, but I don't see any mention of Joe Pantoliano being in The Leviathan (1989), either on IMDB or Wikipedia or even Amazon.
    – Tom
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 1:06
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    The Wikipedia page for the actor mentions nothing about him appearing in that movie either. Can you provide some backing evidence for this? Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 5:13
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    A quick search of the script also doesn't have that line in it - though to be fair scripts are not always entirely accurate to the final movie.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 6:19
  • You might be confusing Héctor Elizondo with Cypher, they do look somewhat alike. But they're different actors. Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 11:46
  • 1
    Looks like I need to get checked for prosopagnosia ("face blindness"). -- Matthew Commented Apr 11, 2022 at 11:40

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