After reading lots of analyses on the Matrix, I began to doubt the explanation that Smith is an exile.

During his take-over of the Oracle, we could see his code is no different from other normal programs. They didn't appear to be flagged for deletion.

As the Oracle said, Smith was the natural result of the system balancing itself out. Somehow, Smith superseded Agent Smith. I think Smith was re-designed to the new purpose rather than exiled willingly.

His updated purpose was unique. Thus, he couldn't have been outdated. No other programs could have done better than Smith. He stated the reason why he remained in a different form in Part 2:

Smith: ... Appearances can be deceiving, which brings me back to the reason why we're here.


Smith: We're here because of you, Mister Anderson...

Instead of being a guardian for the Matrix, he was endowed with a new and necessary purpose, although his appearances remained little changed.

Some might say he became an exile because he went rogue. But being rogue doesn't mean he was unnecessary. In this case, being rogue seems to be a requisite for Smith to be the opposite of Neo.

Another important evidence is that Smith said to Sati:

You must be the last exile.

You may take it to mean Sati is the last exile for Smith to take over or she is the last exile which returns to the Matrix.

No matter which interpretation is right, Smith can't be an exile himself.

  • He might not see himself as an exile
    – Valorum
    Feb 28, 2016 at 15:20
  • Exiles are flagged for deletion. Otherwise Smith couldn't have identified Sati as an exile. @Richard
    – Kinzle B
    Feb 28, 2016 at 15:27
  • The Machine Mainframe is so keen to delete Smith that it hires a gunslinger to murder him,
    – Valorum
    Feb 28, 2016 at 16:28
  • I fully understand all your arguments. The Machine wants to delete Smith only because Neo and the Oracle make the 'wrong' choice which leads to the uncontrollable power of Smith. @Richard
    – Kinzle B
    Feb 28, 2016 at 16:33
  • Smith is certainly not the usual exile but he certainly fits the criteria for "rogue program hiding in the Matrix". Unlike most exiles, he doesn't keep a low profile but instead uses The Matrix as a base of operations, presumably with the ultimate aim of attack (and taking over) the Machine World.
    – Valorum
    Feb 28, 2016 at 16:40

2 Answers 2


Smith is most decidedly an Exile, in almost every sense of the word. It's clear that he disobeyed his instructions/programming (e.g. to return to the Source) after his destruction in the first Matrix film. The fact that he was apparently able to get back into the Matrix without using the Trainman doesn't make him any less exiled:

Smith: And then something happened. Something that I knew was impossible, but it happened anyway: you destroyed me, Mr. Anderson. Afterward, I knew the rules, I understood what I was supposed to do, but I didn't. I couldn't. I was compelled to stay. Compelled to disobey.

Since the very definition of an Exile is a program that the Machine Mainframe wants rid of (to the point that it's willing to hire an assassin to kill him), it's hard to see how he could be characterised as anything but.

  • That's why he later became a new program with a new purpose, otherwise he would've been deleted. Remember Link said Smith didn't look like an agent. He was something else. Unlike Smith, other obsolete exiles would maintain their original codes and choose to hide in the Matrix.
    – Kinzle B
    Feb 27, 2016 at 9:25
  • @KinzleB - Once a program is inside The Matrix, it can't simply be deleted. It firstly has to be destroyed/killed. Evidently you get judged at that point and are expected to go quietly to be de-rezzed.
    – Valorum
    Feb 27, 2016 at 9:32
  • 1
    I'm guessing that rebooting the Matrix would have largely dealt with the issue of Smith going rogue.
    – Valorum
    Feb 27, 2016 at 10:23
  • 1
    @KinzleB - He's only needed to balance the equation because Neo is acting very weird for a "the one", freeing a lot more people than normal and actively opposing the Agents more than normal. There's also the fact that the Oracle is sending people off in odd directions.
    – Valorum
    Feb 27, 2016 at 10:25
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    @KinzleB agents instantly take over a new body once their shells are destroyed This was different, Neo didn't destroy just the shell. He went inside the shell and attacked Agent Smith's code routines. It was only the result of irreparably damaging Smith "inside" that the shell got blown to bits.
    – Jane S
    Feb 27, 2016 at 11:44

Smith is an exile.

Richard's answer is correct, but I'd like to make some additional points.

Recall the Oracle's explanation of how programs become exiles:

The Oracle: They have their reasons, but usually a program chooses exile when it faces deletion.

Neo: And why would a program be deleted?

The Oracle: Maybe it breaks down. Maybe a better program is created to replace it - happens all the time, and when it does, a program can either choose to hide here, or return to The Source.

The Matrix Reloaded

Agent Smith almost literally "broke down" when his shell was broken apart by Neo at the end of The Matrix. Also, he was arguably replaced by the upgraded Agents Johnson, Thompson, and Jackson. So he definitely fits the criteria of a program that is forced to choose between hiding "here" (in the Matrix) or returning to the Source.

A few minutes later Smith explains what happened from his perspective:

You destroyed me, Mister Anderson. Afterward, I knew the rules, I understood what I was supposed to do but I didn't. I couldn't. I was compelled to stay, compelled to disobey. And now here I stand because of you, Mister Anderson, because of you I'm no longer an agent of the system, because of you I've changed - I'm unplugged - a new man, so to speak, like you, apparently free.

It's clear that Smith was faced with a choice just like the one the Oracle described, and he says that he stands "here" -- i.e. in the Matrix, just like the Oracle said of an exile (they even use the same word). Smith also explicitly says he's no longer an agent of the system. If Smith is no longer an Agent, that can mean only one of two things: he's been flagged for deletion, or as you suggest, he's been re-purposed by the Machines. He can't be re-purposed, though, because the Machines lost control of Smith and made a deal with Neo to stop him:

Neo: The program Smith has grown beyond your control. Soon he will spread through this city, as he spread through the Matrix. You cannot stop him. But I can.

Deus Ex Machina: We don't need you!

Neo: If that's true, then I've made a mistake, and you should kill me now.

Deus Ex Machina: What do you want?

Neo: Peace.

The Matrix Revolutions

Since Smith hasn't been re-purposed by the Machines, by process of elimination he has been flagged for deletion. Considering the Machines were willing to grant peace to Zion in exchange for Neo destroying Smith, it's obvious that the Machines were trying to delete him. To quote the Oracle:

...it's tough to get any more obvious than that.

The Matrix Reloaded

[That quote from the Oracle might come across a bit condescending, but that's not my intention -- it's just too perfect and relevant of a quote, and I can't resist omitting it. :)]

Addressing your specific objections:

Another important evidence is that Smith said to Sati:

You must be the last exile.

You may take it to mean Sati is the last exile for Smith to take over or she is the last exile which returns to the Matrix.

Smith almost certainly means that Sati is the last remaining exile in the Matrix because by that point Smith had assimilated almost everyone in the Matrix (and was about to assimilate the Oracle). A single quote with a perfectly reasonable alternate explanation is not enough to overturn the evidence that Smith is an exile.

You also mentioned an objection about the color of Smith's code:

During his take-over of the Oracle, we could see his code is no different from other normal programs. They didn't appear to be flagged for deletion.

We only see two colors of code in the films: green and gold. The vast majority of programs in the Matrix have green code, whereas gold code is generally seen for the Machines in the real world. The only exception is Seraph, but this has nothing to do with his exile status. Seraph was an exile, but lost his exile status when he was hired by the Oracle to protect her. Since the Oracle is "that which matters most", Seraph has a very important purpose and is not going to be deleted. Incidentally, Smith's comment that Sati was the last exile is the best proof that Seraph is not an exile since Seraph was standing right next to Sati when Smith said it. The fact that Smith's code is green tells us nothing about his exile status.

  • Thx for detailed answer! I really do! But like I said, The Machine or the Architect didn't regard Smith as a threat until Neo and the Oracle made the 'wrong' choice. If Neo had chosen the door on the right, the Matrix would have re-booted and Smith would have never posed any threat to the system. Besides, if Seraph hadn't been an exile, why would Agent Smith have fought against him once? I agree the color of code may have nothing to do with it, though.
    – Kinzle B
    Mar 1, 2016 at 7:13
  • BTW, the code of the Oracle was gleaming in white light. :) Neo was gleaming slightly in green light too, but Trinity wasn't.
    – Kinzle B
    Mar 1, 2016 at 7:47
  • @KinzleB Yes, if Neo had followed the normal path of The One the system would have been rebooted and Smith should have been taken care of. When Neo didn't follow the normal path, he grew even stronger than past Ones and Smith grew in power as the system attempted to check Neo's power. This is another reason why Smith wasn't re-purposed by the machines -- since they expected Neo to follow the normal path and reboot the system, they wouldn't have known to re-purpose Smith in order to check Neo's power.
    – Null
    Mar 1, 2016 at 15:27
  • @KinzleB Agent Smith fought Seraph before because Seraph is a former exile.
    – Null
    Mar 1, 2016 at 15:28

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