Why does agent Smith seemingly behave differently than the other agents in movie one? They seem totally cold and algorithmic in their behaviors, whereas Smith seems to combine this behavior with a sort of capability for pseudo-emotion (hatred, repulsion, the feeling of being trapped and infected.)

Is it as Smith said in movie 2? Despite all the agents being presumably crafted in the same way, does Smith's unique purpose define him and separate him apart from the others? Is his purpose explicitly stated anywhere?

  • Smith appears to be the "Senior Agent". Possibly that would imply that his program is more sophisticated or simply that he's been in the Matrix for longer than the others.
    – Valorum
    Jun 29, 2016 at 19:03
  • Other programs behave differently, implying they all have the capacity. Normal Agents are probably just being professionals. Crazy agents... well, Smith gets to play.
    – Radhil
    Jun 29, 2016 at 19:07
  • 1
    All the other agents put together don't get as much screen time as Smith, so it's natural we'd see more of Smith's personality. Perhaps if we saw more of Agent Jones, we'd catch him playing with dolls or something. Jun 29, 2016 at 19:42
  • Would like to add that in M1 some agent tells Smith to order the sentinels strike on the ship, but he stalls and goes to duel Neo in the Metro. Only after Smith is killed he calls in sentinels. It would have been over, but no! Smith's masculinity was hurt and he wanted have to spar Neo. Such an arrogant agent-boy.
    – skfd
    Sep 5, 2020 at 1:35

5 Answers 5


I'm going to answer differently from the others because I think it's pretty clear that Smith is different from the other Agents, even in the first movie, so I'm going to answer only with respect to movie one.

First of all, I think Smith himself gives the answer to your question.

I hate this place. This zoo. This prison. This reality, whatever you want to call it, I can't stand it any longer. It's the smell, if there is such a thing. I feel saturated by it. I can taste your stink and every time I do, I fear that I've somehow been infected by it.

Note that everything that makes Smithy unique also makes him more human. He gets angry and emotional, feels desperation, holds deep personal grudges. He desires privacy (hence the moment of surprise when he asks his fellow agents to leave him and Morpheus, and then takes out his earpiece, the physical symbol of his communication channel to them), which shows that he he is aware that his emotional outbursts are somehow wrong.

Conclusion: Smith has spent so much time in the Matrix that humanity has begun to taint him.

Remember, these are programs, but still artificially intelligent programs, with all the capacity for growth and change that this entails. Smith seems to take charge in most situations, so perhaps he is the oldest, and so has had time to be corrupted - to be humanised - by the inhabitants of The Matrix. Perhaps not, and he - as an individual - is simply more capable of change than his counterparts. Either way, the result is an increasingly erratic program that shows signs of that which it despises - humanity.


Smith is the anti-Neo. The architect made him as an opposite to Anderson because his program is to balance things, the oracle's program was to debalance them. As Neo changes so does Smith, Neo gets more powerful when getting close to the prophecy and Smith is balanced in response, but then Neo chooses a different path than his earlier versions and the result is that Smith gets out of control.

Neo is used to control a statistic error of humans rebelling against the machines; he gives them hope so they can be under control and the prophecy resets the entire system. Smith is there to act as the devil and antagonist to him, and as an obstacle to overcome. When Neo decides not to return to the source, the answer of the machines is to destroy Zion, but Smith losses his purpose and is only stopped when Neo is destroyed.

Oracle: "He is you, your opposite, your negative, the result of the equation trying to balance itself out." –source

  • Anything you can do I can do betterYouTube
    – Mazura
    Jun 30, 2016 at 0:45

The behaviour of programs in the Matrix is always portrayed as being on a spectrum from complete compliance to rebellious individualism.

At the 'rebellious' extreme we have the programs that follow the Merovingian in the sequels. Too well adapted to previous versions of the Matrix they are obviously their own beings and seem to enjoy their brutal work and sadistically provoking their victims.

By contrast the non-Smith agents are entirely loyal in their role as watchdogs of the system. They very rarely show any emotion (barring a few unhappy expressions when the sprinklers are activated in the first movie) and are interchangeable enough that they can finish each others' sentences.

Agent Smith is a special case in that his connection to Neo compels him to stay rather than being killed/reprogrammed as he should have been on death. However, even before this he was showing signs of individuality. His eloquent speech to Morpheus and admission that he was 'satisfied' in killing Neo show that he had some fairly advanced and complicated emotions. Arguably he might have followed a more rebellious path even without Neo's intervention.


I think Smith is unique. In the Matrix Revolutions Neo learns that programmes can develop feelings and emotions too. Smith in my own opinion was that twist on the story within the first film, that machines can have emotions and go rouge too.
Smith feels hatred for humanity and he really shouldn't. It isn't what he is supposed to feel. He orders his colleagues out of the room when Morpheus is there so he can tell Morpheus that he hates "this place"......This is a surprise to the other agents because it's not what is supposed to be done. He unplugs and expresses a personal mission. To be free of the "zoo" he is in. I don't think there is a reason behind his behaviour that can be defined with explanation in regards to his ranking or whatever. I just think Smith is what he is. A machine that behaves human, has developed to feel. Hatred being the primary feeling.

Neo: I just have never...

Rama-Kandra: ...heard a program speak of love?

Neo: It's a... human emotion.

Rama-Kandra: No, it is a word. What matters is the connection the word implies. I see that you are in love. Can you tell me what you would give to hold on to that connection?

Neo: Anything.

Rama-Kandra: Then perhaps the reason you're here is not so different from the reason I'm here.

Smith is a programme who feels hatred. He is a walking contradiction in the story. He hates humanity because they are like a virus, and he becomes a virus in the end.


Initially, I don't think Smith was that different. They're all cold and indifferent. We just don't see a lot of the other Agents for a good comparison (Smith, being the guy apparently in charge, does virtually all of the talking). The only place he really exhibits any significantly different behavior is when he's gloating over Morpheus. His disdain for humans is palpable. The other Agents are surprised he went off-net just to gloat. In that way, he's closer to the Architect.

After Neo seemingly destroys him, Smith changes and gains his virus-like powers. I don't think it was because he was unique, I think it had a lot more to do with the fact that Neo destroyed him. The system knew what to do with an Agent shot in the head but what do you do with a human who just seemingly willed him destroyed? Furthermore, he didn't just want to protect the Matrix anymore, he wanted Neo dead. As such, it appears that those two factors combined and Smith became able to see through the choices of the Matrix (like Neo). Thus he chose a different path, one the system didn't know how to handle.

  • Agree other agents lack air time, but Smith's not cold & indifferent at all. From his first meeting with Neo he displays a pattern of unique expression that isn't present in the other agents. When they put the bug in Neo he subtly smiles and takes pleasure from causing Neo suffering. He's angry when humans escape or he loses ground whereas the other agents never once lose their cool. Rather than finish Neo by hand he waits to let a train hit him. The opening scene is basically the ONLY time he's cool and collected, which correlates with Neo's awakening.
    – Jane Panda
    Nov 8, 2017 at 22:14

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