At the last fight scene in Matrix Revolution, Mr. Smith told Neo:

Do you believe you're fighting for something ? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom? Or truth? Perhaps peace? Could it be for love? ...

Neo responds:

Because I choose to.

My question is, what did he choose? Choose to free humankind from the Matrix? Maybe they didn't want to get free. Maybe people inside Matrix were happy to stay there, and Neo was arbitrarily making a choice on behalf of them.

I can understand that he had to fight for the peace, otherwise the human race would get destroyed. But all in all, why not let people live their lives in peace inside Matrix.

  • 9
    He fought for the users... No, wait...
    – HorusKol
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 12:27
  • 6
    @HorusKol - Is he fighting, for the right, to paaaaaarty?
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 12:37
  • @Valorum he's fighting for the future of the OASIS Commented Feb 19, 2019 at 8:17

3 Answers 3


One of the major themes of the Matrix trilogy is that of, essentially, predestination versus free will. The Oracle, while treated as being capable of seeing the future, states that she can't see past choices that people don't understand. She counsels Neo to "know thyself" in the first movie.

Many of the Machines, however, believe in as little choice as possible. From the Keymaker's "we do only what we are meant to do", to the Architect's creation of the Matrix to keep people's choices locked down. In the second movie, the Architect explains that the first Matrixes were "perfect" but lacking in choice, so humans rejected it.

The first Matrix I designed was quite naturally perfect, it was a work of art – flawless, sublime. A triumph equalled only by its monumental failure. The inevitability of its doom is apparent to me now as a consequence of the imperfection inherent in every human being. Thus, I redesigned it based on your history to more accurately reflect the varying grotesqueries of your nature. However, I was again frustrated by failure. I have since come to understand that the answer eluded me because it required a lesser mind, or perhaps a mind less bound by the parameters of perfection. Thus the answer was stumbled upon by another – an intuitive program, initially created to investigate certain aspects of the human psyche. If I am the father of the matrix, she would undoubtedly be its mother.

(Matrix Reloaded Transcript)

It took the Oracle to add choice into the Matrix so that people would subconsciously accept it as real. According to the Architect, the mathematical errors that choice causes are summed up in the One, and the One is used to rebalance his equation.

Smith, as an Agent, was originally bound by the rules of the system, even as he attempted to rebel against it by privately interrogating Morpheus for the codes to Zion. When 'destroyed' by Neo at the end of the first movie, it instead left him with something that allowed him to not be deleted, but he still doesn't think himself, or anyone, free.

Smith: I killed you, Mister Anderson, I watched you die… With a certain satisfaction, I might add, and then something happened. Something that I knew was impossible, but it happened anyway. 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.

Neo: Congratulations.

Smith: Thank you. But as you well know, appearances can be deceiving, which brings me back to the reason why we’re here. We’re not here because we’re free, we’re here because we’re not free. There’s no escaping reason, no denying purpose – because as we both know, without purpose, we would not exist.

(Also Matrix Reloaded Transcript)

Smith also does things without understanding, he denies others the choice of what they want to be and do, and he spreads himself because he can. He is the virus he railed about humanity being in the first movie.

When he assimilates the Oracle in the third movie, he believes himself to have the power of infallible foresight, which would only be possible if there were no choices to be made. When he asks why Neo fights, all of his reasons are ones of purpose, and ones that could be interpreted as reasons of duty or obligation, rather than free will.

Neo's response to Smith is very simple, and a refutation of Smith's entire worldview: he made a choice. He could have decided to fight or not to fight, and he chose to fight. He wasn't artificially constrained into doing it. He could even have chosen to run away from both Zion and the Matrix. At the end of the fight, he chose to give himself up, which allowed Deus Ex Machina to purge Smith from the Matrix, and allowed the truce that he brokered with Deus Ex Machina to come to pass.

For himself, he chose to be able to choose, and he also chose to let the others in the Matrix make choices for themselves.

  • My question is mostly about: Why Neo chose to make a choice for people inside Matrix ? Maybe they want to stay there and don't suffer in real world. Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 8:11
  • @MichelGokan According to the Architect in the second movie, humans always had the subconscious choice to accept or reject the Matrix, and "nearly 99% of all test subjects accepted the program". At least some of the ones who rejected it became members of Zion. Zion probably can't get to everyone who wants out, and that's the choice that's given to the rest of the connected humans at the end of the third movie: the ones who want to be freed can be freed, and the rest can stay. No one is being kicked out who is comfortable and wants to stay.
    – Dranon
    Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 14:44
  • So, from where did you make this conclusion: "the ones who want to be freed can be freed, and the rest can stay. No one is being kicked out who is comfortable and wants to stay." ? Where did you see this statement? Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 18:19
  • 1
    @MichelGokan Based on the exchange between the Architect and the Oracle at the end of the third movie: "Oracle: What about the others? / Architect: What others? / Oracle: The ones that want out. / Architect: Obviously, they will be freed." That covers the anyone who wants to be freed will be freed. Implied is that everyone else will stay. The Machines want their batteries, after all, so they won't be kicking out anyone who doesn't want to go. I can edit this into my answer if you think it will help clarify it more.
    – Dranon
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 18:29
  • 2
    @MichelGokan I think it's fairer to say that Neo fought for all humanity. He fought for the humans still in the Matrix so that each of them could choose if they wanted to be free or not. He also fought for the people of Zion who had already chosen to be free (and who were about to be wiped out by the Machines).
    – Dranon
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 19:30

Neo knew something that Smith didn't, that he'd already done something entirely unexpected, negotiating a side-deal with the Deus Ex Machina.

What did Smith think was happening?

Smith was under the impression that Neo was dialled in from a Zionese hovership and that his goal was to kill him, forcing him to return to the Mainframe for judgement. Smith is positively gleeful at this idea. By killing Neo he prevents the Matrix from rebooting and rids himself of a key enemy. Even if he dies, there are millions of other Smiths to replace him and they'll swarm Neo immediately afterwards. As far as he's concerned there's no way this fight can result in anything other than a total win-win for him which is why he chooses to fight him 'mano a mano', for the sheer fun of it.

What does Neo think was happening?

Neo needs to goad Smith into doing something dumb, trying to take him over (like he did to Bane and like he tried to do to Neo earlier in the film) instead of just killing him. By first weakening him, then connecting with him, this will give access to his program to the Machine Mainframe, enabling it to dispose of Smith and reboot the Matrix. This is why Neo fights. He fights for no lesser goal than the freedom of the entire human race, for an end to the war between the humans and the Machines and the end of the tyranny of the Matrix. Accepting defeat isn't an option.

So why did Neo feel that he had the "right" to choose what happens to humanity?

Neo seems to enjoy the support of the only surviving elected body, the Zionese Council. Their stated aim was the defence of Zion and to aid "The One" in whatever actions he personally deems suitable to end the war. They seem perfectly happy for Neo to functions as humanity's representative in negotiations with the Deus Ex Machina and when he's ultimately successful, they're very happy indeed.

  • So many thanks for the great answer. My question is actually that maybe people inside Matrix were really happy and didn't want to "get freed" ... and Neo or even the council doesn't have the right to make decision for the entire human race as they are elected by the minority of people who chose to leave the Matrix and apperantly people inside the Matrix didn't choose that Zionese Council Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 12:32
  • @MichelGokan - They're the only elected body in the entire world. That gives them the right
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 12:36
  • People inside Matrix have already the right to get freed as soon as they realize they are in a computer generated dream world (as they can choose between real world and matrix world), so what's the point to "force" them get out of the system? Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 15:32
  • @MichelGokan - Because the choice is only provided on a subconscious level. And they aren't freed as soon as they begin to reject the Matrix, they need to wait for the Zionese rebels to collect them. I'm assuming there are many potential redpills who simply lead lives of quiet misery
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 15:33
  • Yes but anyway they can choose...just like Neo or Trinity or others did. What do you mean by subconscious? Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 15:35

One reference: "What's So Bad about Living in the Matrix"

One of the possible answers:

... So it seems rotten if the machines control our fates and our civilization. One thing we place a lot of value on is being in charge of our own lives, not being someone else's slave or plaything. We want to be politically free.

And plausibly, what people mean by "political freedom" and "being in charge of our own lives" is the same inside the Matrix as outside it. We're not indifferent between the real thing and some Matrix simulation of it. We want to have the real thing. When we're inside the Matrix, we haven't got it. We just don't realize that we haven't got it.

  • 1
    I don't see that this answers the question in any meaningful way.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 11:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.