I was wondering why Cypher was freed. It always seems like he has never liked being in the real world, or even wanted to be part of what they are doing.

  • 33
    Did you ever do something which seemed like a good idea at the time but which you regretted later? That's pretty much Cypher's situation.
    – user11295
    Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 14:58
  • 1
    @user11295 only it wasn't such a terrible idea in the end... from a certain point of view.
    – n611x007
    Commented Jun 9, 2013 at 20:04

6 Answers 6


They freed him, because he had potential and I bet he was good with computers(like everyone they set free).

From the script

He pours Neo a drink from a large plastic jug.

CYPHER I'll tell you, I feel for you, man. I really do. Most of us were still young, just punks, when Morpheus jacked us. But you, you had a real life.

Neo takes a sip and it almost kills him. Cypher pounds on his back.

Also I expect, in the beginning, he was a good person. But after a while he began to regret his option with the pill.

CYPHER Welcome to the real world!


CHAMBER MUSIC and the ambiance of wealth soak the room as we watch a serrated knife saw through a thick, gorgeous steak.

CYPHER That's what he said to me nine years ago.

The meat is so perfect, charred on the outside, oozing red juice from the inside, that it could be a dream.

CYPHER The real world. Ha, what a joke. We recognize the grating voice, the insidious laugh.

CYPHER You know what real is? I'll tell you what real is.

A fork stabs the cube of meat and we FOLLOW it UP TO the face of Cypher.

CYPHER Real is just another four-letter word.

He hated the food, the weakness, the taste and so on. So he made his choice to get back to the Matrix, to feel free in the simulation (his memories of the non Matrix will be deleted when he gets back). All that is explained from him personally, when he talks to the Agent and to Neo and Trinity.

  • 4
    "he had potential and I bet he was good with computers" - is there a canon confirmation for either of those? Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 14:58
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    indirect because every person under Morpheus is obviusly great with computers. Like the Hack trinity mentions in the club at the beginning of the movie. I don't know if there is official confirmation, but it would make sense, as described above.
    – souichiro
    Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 15:07
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    I don't think it necessarily means he has to be good with computers. He just has to know that something is "wrong", and that there is an answer out there. From Trinity's quote: " I know why you're here, Neo. I know what you've been doing … why you hardly sleep, why you live alone, and why night after night, you sit at your computer. You're looking for him...It's the question that drives us, Neo. It's the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did." - So, Cypher was probably looking for Morpheus/Matrix proof like trinity/neo. Doesn't mean he's all swish on a 'puter.
    – JohnP
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 22:53
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    More info on not needing to be a hacker in order to be freed. Really, you only need to be smart and "feel" that something is wrong, as @JohnP stated. Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 18:04
  • @DVK-on-Ahch-To With the name "Cypher", how could be not be some 1337 hacker? Commented Jul 13, 2022 at 2:39

Morpheus says (in the form of an apology to Neo) that they have a rule that they only free people from the matrix when they are still young. An older mind (like Neo) finds it hard to adjust to the reality.

So, following that argument, Cypher was likely young when the freed him. It is possible, even likely, that he has changed a lot since those days. Cypher clearly has come to regret his decision, and is probably not the only one - but perhaps the only one with personality to sacrifice his colleagues to cut a deal with the Agents.

  • 3
    The rebels employ a simulation test program built for the purpose of fishing people trying to defect. We see it in the Animatrix: Program. So, defectors are at least a very real possibility.
    – CyberClaw
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 11:12

It's impossible to say for sure, because Cypher was almost certainly a very different person when he was freed. Why? Because he was almost certainly much younger.

"I feel I owe you an apology. We have a rule...we never free a mind once it reaches a certain age. It's dangerous, and the mind has trouble letting go."

Morpheus said this to Neo, and it makes it sound like virtually no one is freed as an adult. Joey Pantoliano was 48 when The Matrix was made, so we can assume that Cypher was about the same age. He probably had been freed something like 20-30 years earlier. That much time can change a lot about a person.

  • 3
    Doesn't he say "after nine years, I can say, ignorance is bliss" ?
    – SarpSTA
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 21:50

There are some hints scattered through the film and in particular in the original script that support the theory that Cypher was Morpheus' previous candidate for The One, which would explain why he had to be freed. This would both explain his hostility towards Neo as well as his despair in the real world.

I'm using the script version, because it's much more pronounced in the text and we see the stage directions. However, some of these things were changed or left out in the film (I suspect because of budget and time) but some made it in.

I'm going to list all parts in the script that strongly indicate this connection; I tried to give them descriptive titles:

The 'INT. MAIN DECK' conversation

Here's the first hint we hear from him, that insinuates this theory:


CYPHER: Did he tell you why he did it?

Neo nods.

CYPHER: I'll bet the didn't tell you that this wasn't the first time he thought he found the One.

Neo shakes his head as Cypher fills his cup and laughs.

CYPHER: Let me give you a piece of advice. Between you and me, if Morpheus says you can fly, I wouldn't go jumping out any windows to find out if he's right. Understand?

If we combine it with the slightly condescending intonation Joe Pantoliano uses in the film, it leaves us with the impression of a scorned protégé talking to the mentor's new favourite.

The 'INT. RESTAURANT (MATRIX) - NIGHT' perspective.

Sorry to repeat part of that conversation — it gets a completely different meaning when interpreted from the scene in the expensive restaurant (with Cypher and Smith).

CYPHER: Let me give you a piece of advice. Between you and me, if Morpheus says you can fly, I wouldn't go jumping out any windows to find out if he's right. Understand?
CYPHER: Welcome to the real world!


CHAMBER MUSIC and the ambiance of wealth soak the room as we watch a serrated knife saw through a thick, gorgeous steak.

CYPHER: That's what he said to me nine years ago.

What is he referring to, here? Is it really the part about the real world as we might be thinking (given what he says afterwards) or is there more to it? When it comes to conversation in The Matrix I stopped believing in coincidences; He first talks to Neo "I wouldn't go jumping out any windows to find out if he's right" and then moments later we see him saying "That's what he said to me nine years ago.". Observe the grammatical construct he uses when talking to Neo: "Between you and me" creates a connection between them, then he formulates his advice to Neo in the first person, as if it were to apply to Cypher himself.

The escape in the wet-wall incident

In the final film when we see Cypher trip and fall, Morpheus already sacrificed himself for Neo and we see Trinity flee, while giving Cypher up. It's not clear what this means, but the original script makes much more sense, and there is a very significant difference, Morpheus sacrifices himself much later. The events were originally intended to go like the following. I'm giving you context while emphasizing the relevant parts:

This part of the basement, a dark concrete cavern, was the main mechanical room. There are four enormous boilers, dinosaur-like technology that once pumped hot water like arteries.

Black and bloody, they squeeze out from the ceiling into the tangled web of pipes.

Their enemies are waiting for them.

Blinding lights cut open the darkness as gas-masked figures FIRE GRENADE LAUNCHERS.

Smoke blossoms from the green-metal canisters.

Morpheus never stops moving. Searching the floor, he finds what he needs; the cover of the catch basin.

Cypher watches him pry open the grate, when a gas can bounces near him.

MORPHEUS: Come on!

Cypher seems to trip as the cloud envelops him.


Cypher's body begins to shiver uncontrollably.

TANK: Nerve gas.


Morpheus watches Cypher disappear into the smoke then follows the others down the wet-black hole.

Morpheus escapes with all the others (who are still alive, Mouse and Cable are already dead by then) while abandoning Cypher in the nerve gas. While later, as we know from the film, he sacrifices his own life to safe Neo:

MORPHEUS: You have to get Neo out. Understand? That's all that matters now.

TRINITY: Morpheus, don't --

MORPHEUS: He must get out. Do you understand me?

She nods.

A font of water erupts as Morpheus leaps for the manhole ladder, his coat flying open like the wings of a manta ray.

Escaping the Matrix, right behind Cypher

Very small and inconspicuously hidden in the script, the group, now consisting of Trinity, Switch, Apoc and Neo follow Tanks instructions to use the same exit Cypher used:


Neo crawls through the window that Cypher opened.

"The window that Cypher opened" is another hint that Cypher laid the path for Neo to become The One. Why else would Neo be singled out in this line. Certainly the entire group goes through that window.

His inevitable betrayal


He walks over to Trinity's body, staring down at it hanging in its coma-like stillness.

CYPHER: You know, for a long time, I thought I was in love with you, Trinity. I used to dream about you...

He nuzzles his face against hers, feeling the softness of it.

CYPHER: You are a beautiful woman. Too bad things had to work out like this.
He stands over the body of Morpheus, as his anger boils up out of him.

CYPHER: You see, the truth, the real,truth is that the war is over. It's been over for a long time. And guess what? We lost! Did you hear that? We lost the war!

He is talking about him and Trinity, not about the resistance. "It's been over for a long time" — being the One entails being in love and being loved by Trinity, both no longer the case. Another indication that he once had the potential to being the One.

Neo's immortality versus Cypher's

CYPHER: If he is the One, then in the next few seconds there has to be some kind of miracle to stop me. Because if he dies like the others that means Morpheus was wrong. How can he be the One if he's dead?

Remember that Cypher himself cheated death just moments ago:


They are outside a pawn shop. Trinity has a new cellular.

TRINITY: We need an exit!

TANK (V.O.): Gotcha. You're not far from Cypher.

TRINITY: Cypher, I thought --

TANK (V.O.): So did we. That boy's got nine lives. I sent him to Franklin and Erie.

It's subtle, but he was thought to be dead by the crew but "miraculously" survived, which was, of course, staged. But now, this is his final attempt to settle the issue of who is the One: himself or Neo.

Some of these points are weak arguments taken alone, but in summation, and with taking into account that there is very little that was left to be random or coincidence in The Matrix, the theory of Cypher being one of the early potentials, which Morpheus freed, seems plausible. It would explain why such a character as Cypher would be on Morpheus' crew to begin with.

  • The problem with this answer as I see it, is that it's using the original draft of the script, not the final or shooting scripts which calls into question it's canonicity.
    – Monty129
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 22:45
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    @Monty129: It's in the film, too, but much less pronounced. However, I'd consider the script even more canon than the film, because it wasn't cut down, yet. I see your point though.
    – bitmask
    Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 8:08
  • It is all rather more Judas being the brother of Jesus (and Thomas and lots of the other disciples) which is not the canonical version of the testament we currently have. I can see why that might have been a little more hard to sell and may have been dropped. If any one of them could have been the saviour, in what way is he so unique and special? It all still has its biblical undertones, just a slightly different telling.
    – TafT
    Commented Nov 9, 2016 at 9:47
  • 3
    I think Cyphers comment in the restaurant supports this too, if he was first told "9 years ago": That strongly implies he was to old and was freed as an adult (just like Neo). If he was just anyone, the risk of freeing him in his older years doesn't make sense
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 4, 2017 at 23:45
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    Something that was missed when discussing the possibility of Cypher formerly thought to be The One is when He says to Trinity. " I don't ever remember you bringing me dinner."..........as if the candidates were always treated special. This would strongly imply that he was once thought to be the one.
    – James
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 15:46

The answer is even easier than any potential Cypher may have displayed. He was willing to be freed. Morpheus' goal was to free everyone from the Matrix (mental slavery as he puts it) so anyone willing to have the "veil" removed from their eyes would be freed. The fact that he may or may not have had any skills with computers is incidental (any such skill could have been uploaded via the Construct program as long as a previous Operator had taken the time to create such a program) The only stipulation on why they never just randomly grabbed people from the Matrix to free was that they had to be both able to comprehend the reality of...well...Reality, and that they had to make the choice (take the Red pill as it where)


I believe that Neo was supposed to be The One. And without the plotline that Cypher set up, he wouldn't have been able to die and revive if everything had gone according to as it is. May be it was another one of Oracle's predictions.

  • 2
    Why -1? Given that the Oracle/Architect are generally puppetmastery, it's not inconcievable that the oracle told Zion people to free Cypher, to get in a mole. Plots within plots within plots. Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 14:57
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    I would say the -1 is because of the speculation, there is not even one fact inside this. Never mentioned or anything.
    – souichiro
    Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 15:08
  • 3
    Its still a good answer. This forum has been and should continue to be supportive of reasoned speculation like this. Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 18:27
  • 3
    The thing is that this isn't a forum for discussion. It's a question and answer site
    – user11154
    Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 20:18
  • 1
    I -1'd because it looked like doylean conjecture (He was freed because the plot demanded it) when the question was asking for watsonian. It might help to expand on the Oracle-puppetmaster angle. Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 23:36

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