The Matrix and The Terminator are two sci-fi masterpieces about killer AI in the future that spurred massive movie franchises with pioneering special effects, so it’s only natural that a new fan theory is making the rounds on the internet proposing that the two are actually connected.
According to GameRant, one of the more popular interpretations of this theory is that The Matrix takes place in an alternative timeline of The Terminator, in which the T-800 is successful in murdering Sarah Conner, preventing her son, John Conner, from successfully leading the human resistance against the machines in the mid-21st century.
With John out of the way, the evil network of AI, Skynet, is able to defeat the humans in the war. In this alternative branch timeline from the Terminator universe we’re familiar with, it is here that humans resort to their last-ditch effort to defeat the machines due to John not being there to lead them to victory. The humans cut off the machines’ solar power source, or in other words, humans “scorch the sky,” as Morpheus mentions in the first Matrix film. This eventually leads to the AI retaliating by using humans as batteries and enslaving them in an artificial reality, as seen in The Matrix.
Of course, the respective Terminator and Matrix film franchises don’t always line up perfectly. For instance, one criticism of the shared universe theory is that the robots look different in each franchise, with the Terminators taking on a more humanoid look and the Matrix’s diggers taking on a more squid-like appearance. However, this can be explained by positing that The Matrix‘s dystopian future is much further along than the one in The Terminator, hence the design of the robots evolved to better suit function over form and be able to dig down into the human’s underground city, Zion.
Perhaps we’ll all find out more about how The Terminator and The Matrix are connected when the newest installment of the Keanu Reeves-helmed franchise hits theaters on December 22. To get your head around the entire canon of the franchise ahead of The Matrix Resurrection‘s release, you can check out this article to watch the entirety of The Matrix movies in chronological order.