According to the following conversation, if you die in the Matrix, you die in "real" life:

Neo: [in pain] I thought it wasn't real.

Morpheus: Your mind makes it real.

Neo: If you're killed in the Matrix you die here?

Morpheus: The body cannot live without the mind.

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Does that mean when Neo and Trinity are taking out security guards and policemen that they're actually killing real people?


4 Answers 4


Yes, they are killing those people in real life. This was justified by claiming they were trying to save the human race as a whole, and that those people were (unknowingly) fighting against that goal.

Here's the quote from the girl in the red dress training program:

The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.

  • 40
    No more or less "good" than a soldier stuck in a war he or she didn't start, but having to kill or be killed just the same. Th war against the machines was just that - a war, against an enemy that showed no mercy, and used (effectively) human shields. The ethics of killing human shields to win the war is tricky. But for the most part, it was kill or be killed. They were rescuing a fellow soldier. Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 19:17
  • 4
    @DjangoReinhardt: See for comparison the subversion of the trope in the first Austin Powers movie -- where several times when a henchman is killed, it cuts to a scene connected to that henchman's life.
    – Aesin
    Commented Dec 9, 2012 at 0:27
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    That justification never sat well with me. "These people are innocent but they're part of the system we oppose" is the defense of every terrorist ever. Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 1:57
  • 5
    It was also the defense of the firebombing of Dresden
    – horatio
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 20:26
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    Yep, and considering that all the people in the Matrix would actually live out perfectly normal, happy, lives without ever being aware of the system they were plugged into, it makes the aims of the resistance even more dubious. As the Wachowskis both agreed: They'd take the BLUE pill! Commented May 11, 2013 at 23:05

As DaleSwanson says above, but we've missed the most immediate justification for killing the security guards, which is they would each, in turn, become Agents once the Agents learned that they were there, so, it was preemptive self-defense.

  • 4
    The blessing and curse of alternate realities that movies like this generate is that such questions come up. Each security guy would willingly kill them because of "orders". Negotiation would be meaningless. And a failure to react would have an agent step in and do it anyway. Those still plugged in are at the will of that system. Until you are unplugged, you're their agent, willing or not.
    – killermist
    Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 21:29
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    Be that as it may, these security guards were hired to lay down their lives to guard a fence. And you're not exactly going to get through that fence by asking nicely if you can speak to Morpheus.
    – Ernie
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 20:10
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    Ironically it was killing them all, and causing chaos within the matrix, that alerted the Agents to their precence Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 18:49

It is not clear in the movie if the security guards are people or AI constructs that have been hobbled to be more convincingly human.

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    This is true. It's never explicitly stated. Commented Dec 9, 2012 at 23:29
  • It may be true, given the fact that they are security guards. They may not fit DaleSwanson's response.
    – JNat
    Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 19:54
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    Actually, it's made clear enough that every time they kill an Agent, the person that the Agent took over is the one that's actually dead. The Agents themselves are actually immortal.
    – Ernie
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 20:12
  • @Ernie AI constructs... not Agents Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 15:15

Yes and no.

For the most part, the security and police you see are indeed blue-pills (as we see in the Matrix comic An Asset to the System) but according to Matrix film editor Zach Staenberg in the Matrix DVD commentary the guards you see in the iconic 'Lobby Scene' are in fact virtual constructs rather than real people:

"And one thing, the one thing that I find pretty interesting about this scene is that, um, nobody actually dies. That all these people are virtual. Which is the wild thing about this whole movie, that and is the stuff of, uh, great discussion and that is, if you're killing a computer construct then is it really violent at all? If it's just an amorphous computer simulation and a cathartic experience..."

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    I had actually had that comment in mind when I wrote the question. I remember wondering if he was right, or if he just didn't understand that aspect of the movie :) Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 12:25
  • @DjangoReinhardt - That was exactly my thought. My first assumption was that he didn't understand that these are real people, just at a remove. Then again, he's the film's editor. You have to take his statement at face value.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 12:36
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    Yes, but even Carrie Ann Moss misremembers some details about scenes she's in when she's talking about the movie, so I'm not 100% convinced that we can trust his interpretation completely. I would love to know the Wachowski's thoughts (personally I think it would have been an interesting angle to explore in the sequels), and we can't forget the fact that they signed off on that official comic, too. Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 13:52
  • @DjangoReinhardt - I concur with your guess that he's simply misunderstood what he's been told by the Directors. Good luck getting a confirmation out of the Wachowskis. It's like pulling teeth getting them to talk about their films.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 14:03
  • 1
    Lol. Ah well. Still, I'm glad you pulled that quote. I couldn't remember who said it, or on which commentary, so I'm grateful it's here for posterity anyway. Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 14:55

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