The Most Paused Morpheus Scene From The Matrix Series

From the moment he stepped on screen and offered Neo (Keanu Reeves) a choice between the red and blue pills, Laurence Fishburne's Morpheus was an iconic character, helping to propel "The Matrix" from an obscure sci-fi movie rooted in cyberpunk tropes and zen trappings to a universally beloved masterpiece. Morpheus is a triumph of visual characterization. The frame of his impossibly futuristic leather duster swings about him like a monk's robe updated for the 21st century. His shades — which fit precisely over his eyes, obscuring them behind two black ovals — make it harder to see his expressions and lend him the mysterious air of a chess grandmaster. This is the secret power of the Wachowski sisters — the ability to make anything they put onscreen the coolest thing you've ever seen.

There are plenty of pause-worthy Morpheus moments, from his famous invitation to "show you how deep the rabbit hole goes" to his capture by Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), which involves breaking through a wall like the Kool-Aid Man, but only one scene stands worthy of the most paused title. Let's take a trip back to 1999 for that iconic scene. 

The Neo vs. Morpheus fight in the dojo program

Lots of movies have scenes in which a master teaches his apprentice to develop their skills, establishing the apprentice as a character in the process (think Yoda and Luke on Dagobah, or Mr. Miyagi and Daniel in "The Karate Kid"), but "The Matrix" may have perfected it. The scene opens with Neo's famously incredulous line, "I know kung-fu," and it only gets more absurd from there.

Morpheus brings Neo (Keanu Reeves at his best) into a dojo—but not a real one. It's a program constructed in the Matrix, intended to teach Neo how to navigate the virtual reality like a computer program. Morpheus is clad in a black Gi, while Neo sports a white one (not-so-subtly signaling his "chosen one" status). The pair spars and Neo is repeatedly put down on the mat by Morpheus's advanced techniques. Meanwhile, Trinity and the rest of the crew watch with glee through a viewscreen while Neo's body twitches behind them each time it takes damage.

When Neo finally hits his stride, it's mind-blowing. Morpheus yells, "Stop trying to hit me and hit me," and Neo springs into action. His fists multiply impossibly in the air like frozen Windows XP menus. Even Trinity looks impressed. The scene is filled with incredible choreography, and any frame one pauses on reveals the attention to detail that made "The Matrix" one of the greatest science fiction films of all time.