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This question already has an answer here:

During the opening, we hear Trinity and Cypher talking to each other.

Cypher: We're going to kill him, understand?
Trinity: Morpheus believes he is the One.
Cypher: Do you?

Cypher says this in a way which may indicate there have been deaths before.

If so, were these deaths on purpose or accidental? I'm thinking he means taking a risk with the agents.

marked as duplicate by Aegon, Blackwood, Himarm, Paulie_D, KharoBangdo Dec 3 '16 at 10:39

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    In the original versions of the script they go into more detail, talking about previous potential One's Morpheus had found. They trained 'em up, sent them against Agents, and they all died. This is why Cypher (who by this point has given up, after seeing the previous potentials die) says "we're going to kill him". He expects the same result from Neo that they got from the previous potentials. – DavidS Nov 7 '16 at 14:10
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    @FuzzyBoots: Bizarrely, someone's just closed that two year old question as a duplicate of this one!! – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 7 '16 at 17:42
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit: I've raised a Meta topic – FuzzyBoots Nov 7 '16 at 17:48
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    @FuzzyBoots: Thanks! For other readers, it's here: meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/q/10328/1167 – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 7 '16 at 18:04
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Morpheus and his crew don't kill potential Ones, but they have a tendency to get them killed.

During the Agent training program Morpheus tells Neo that

Every single man or woman who has stood their ground, who has fought an Agent, has died. But where they failed, you will succeed.

He also tells Neo that

We've survived by hiding from [Agents], running from them, but they are the gatekeepers, they're guarding all the doors, holding all the keys, which means that sooner or later someone is going to have to fight them.

That "someone" who will have to fight the Agents is obviously the One. All previous potential Ones were encouraged to stand their ground against an Agent but failed since they were not the One.

Cypher's comment that "we're going to kill him" stems in part from his belief that Neo will just be another failed One who will be killed when he stands his ground against an Agent. There's more to that, though, as I explain in another answer. First of all, Neo is relatively old for someone to be unplugged from the Matrix -- the comic Saviors proves that there is a risk of death when an older person is unplugged from the Matrix. Morever, when Cypher says that they're going to kill Neo he's in the act of betraying the crew -- this is a subtle way to cover up his betrayal by making Trinity expect Neo's death so that she won't suspect a betrayal. Furthermore, Cypher is in love with Trinity and was attempting to undermine Trinity's belief in the One.

  • Come to think of it, the message the Oracle gave to Trinity about falling in love with the One probably explains a lot about the story. It's likely why she and Morpheus are shipmates, why she (rather than Morpheus himself) meets with Neo in the club and why Cypher was chosen as a potential (thanks KutuluMike) – Devsman Nov 7 '16 at 18:46
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    Not to mention that with the twisted logic of the infatuated, Cypher may have himself convinced that if he can get Trinity to fall in love with him, it will somehow unlock his abilities, and he'll turn out to be the One after all (and quite possibly vice versa as well). Then the kicker: if it turns out he is the One, he can manipulate the Matrix, and "undo" his previous treachery, so in his imagination this is the key for him to end up saving the world and "getting the girl" and absolving his guilt. – Jerry Coffin Nov 8 '16 at 0:04
  • @JerryCoffin I'm not sure if Cypher knew about the Oracle's prophecy to Trinity that she'd fall in love with the One. But I agree that he would have convinced himself of that twisted logic if he'd known. – Null Nov 8 '16 at 2:58
  • @Null: I don't know of anything that says one way or the other--but I don't recall anything saying it was particularly secret, so it seems within the realms of possibility anyway. – Jerry Coffin Nov 8 '16 at 4:54
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    @Jerry Coffin: actually, the personal prophecies are treated as a secret. This is what Morpheus clearly states after Neo talked with the oracle. Everyone deliberately decides if and when (s)he tells someone else about their prophecies and Trinity hesitates until the end of the movie to tell Neo about it, which wouldn’t make much sense if everyone else already knew it. – Holger Nov 8 '16 at 9:59
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They don't kill the potential Ones, but they all typically end up dying anyway.

What Cypher is talking about is Morpheus plan to train Neo and send him against the agents; because the Agents are programs, they can break the rules of the system better than any plugged-in human, no matter how well trained. Only The One, with his implicit control over the Matrix itself, can possibly stand up to them.

They didn't talk about it much in the movie, but from the supplemental materials (and previous versions of the script) we know that Morpheus has found a number of former One candidates, and done basically the same thing. In fact, Cypher is one of these former potentials, one of the few still alive, which is partly why he's so cynical: he's heard Morpheus pitch before and it turned out to be BS, at least for him.

If Neo had not been the One, and he had tried to rescue Morpheus from the Agents, there's almost no chance he would have survived. He almost didn't survive, since the Agents did kill him before he recovered. Cypher was convinced that Neo was just another false candidate, and that Morpheus was going to send him into the Matrix where he'd get himself killed.

  • thanks mate! I had a feeling but needed to see it written by someone else lol – Cake_Badger Nov 7 '16 at 15:29
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    Do you have a source for Cypher being a former potential "One"? I'd be interested to see the back story surrounding that considering what eventually happens. – Strongo Nov 8 '16 at 16:26
  • I don't remember where I read that; my initial guess would be one of the Animatrix films, but it could have been an early script draft. I'll try to find it again. – KutuluMike Nov 8 '16 at 18:55
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    @KutuluMike I would also love to see the source for that comment, I've never heard it before. – wavetree Nov 8 '16 at 20:03
  • @Strongo This appears to be the best evidence of Cypher as being a potential The One scifi.stackexchange.com/a/43518/73878 – Justas Nov 8 '16 at 21:06

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