In the first Matrix film, Cypher makes a deal with Agent Smith (to forget about the Matrix and to be put back in as someone rich/famous) betraying Neo, Morpheus and everyone else, in the hope he would be given this new life …

I would have thought that the most likely outcome for Cypher, and the easiest for Agent Smith, would simply be to have had him killed once he was no longer useful. Surely a traitor like Cypher would be wary about his deal.

Why does Cypher believe that Smith would keep his part of the bargain?

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    What do you think they are? Human? May 13, 2020 at 3:04

9 Answers 9


Cypher's act is one of desperation and bitterness. He is bitter because he knows Trinity is falling for Neo. Had she not done that, Cypher may have continued to be loyal to the Real World group. Without her he just regrets the hardships and misery of living without all the comforts of being inside the Matrix. It turns out he probably didn't have a reason to doubt the trustworthiness of the Machines.

In the first Matrix we see Agent Smith trying to deal with Neo in order to find Morpheus.

My colleagues believe that I am wasting my time with you but I believe that you wish to do the right thing. We're willing to wipe the slate clean, give you a fresh start and all that we're asking in return is your cooperation in bringing a known terrorist to justice.

Later when negotiating with Cypher

Agent Smith: Then we have a deal?
Cypher: I don't want to remember nothing. Nothing. You understand? And I want to be rich. You know, someone important, like an actor.
Agent Smith: Whatever you want, Mr. Reagan.
Cypher: Okay. I get my body back into a power plant, you insert me into the Matrix, I'll get you what you want.
Agent Smith: Access codes to the Zion mainframe.
Cypher: No, I told you, I don't know them. I can get you the man who does.
Agent Smith: Morpheus.

It isn't clear to me how they knew that some of the people from the Nebuchadnezzar got back to their ship (out of the Matrix), but somehow they did. It is only then they decide to deploy the sentinels in order to kill everyone and keep Morpheus in the Matrix.

Agent Smith: Never send a human to do a machine's job.
Agent Brown: If indeed the insider has failed, they'll sever the connection as soon as possible, unless...
Agent Jones: They're dead, in either case.
Agent Smith: We have no choice but to continue as planned. Deploy the sentinels immediately.

It is in the third Matrix we get the feeling that the machines (or programs) can be counted on to be trustworthy once a deal has been struck.

Oracle: The ones that want out.
Architect: Obviously, they will be freed.
Oracle: I have your word?
Architect: What do you think I am? Human?

Maybe having studied Machines for most of his life Cypher knew that they could be trusted to keep a deal once one had been struck.

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    I like this answer. I don't think Cypher would have made the deal unless he was convinced the machines would make good on it.
    – hayd
    May 7, 2013 at 17:18
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    @Monty129 but it's more than that, "no reason to not trust them" is different from "reason to trust them". I think Cypher would need reason to trust them (and Jack suggests reasons they're trustworthy).
    – hayd
    May 7, 2013 at 20:13
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    The Merovingian lies to his wife, at least. I don't see why they wouldn't be capable of it, but I think the point is that they would have no reason not to follow through. They get another body in the power plant, and they'd want word to get around to other potential traitors that they're worth talking to.
    – Nerrolken
    Dec 11, 2014 at 20:23
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    @Nerrolken the Merovingian is a rogue program. You can't expect him to be held to the same rules as agents of the system. Dec 11, 2014 at 22:34
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    I only just now noticed that Cypher wanted to be "someone important, like an actor", and his "real" name is "Reagan". I wonder if that's an easter egg. You know, the most important actor named Mr. Reagan ever...
    – Paul
    Nov 23, 2016 at 19:15

Why does Cypher believe that Smith would keep his part of the bargain?

Who said he did?

First we have to understand just how much Cypher hated the real world. From the script:


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.


The real world. Ha, what a joke.

We recognize the grating voice, the insidious laugh.


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 .


Real is just another four-letter word.

He laughs, shoving the steak into his mouth.

The restaurant is located on the top floor of a Chicago skyscraper where the view is breathtaking and the menu has no prices.

Sitting across from CYPHER is AGENT SMITH .


Do we have a deal, Mr. Reagan?

CYPHER chews the steak loudly, smacking it between his teeth.


Mmm, so, so fucking good.

Smith watches him shovel another hunk of meat into his mouth.


You know, I know that this steak doesn't exist. I know when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, do you know what I've realized?

Pausing, he examines the meat skewered on his fork. He pops it in, eyes rolling up, savoring the tender beef melting in his mouth.


Ignorance is bliss.


Then we have a deal?


I don't want to remember nothing. Nothing! You understand? And I want to be rich. Someone important. Like an actor. You can do that, right?


Whatever you want, Mr. Reagan.

Cypher hates the real world. He's willing to sell everyone out just so he doesn't have to experience it. What risks would he be willing to take to get out of it and back into the Matrix?

This is obviously not canon, but I imagine it to be similar to Azrael in Dogma:


Human, have you ever been to Hell? I think not. Do you know that once Hell was nothing more than the absence of Cod?


I'd rather not exist than go back to that. And if everyone has to go down with me, so be it.

He's willing to let all of humanity suffer so he can not be in the real world anymore. Being betrayed by the agents is a calculated risk that he seems to be willing to tolerate.

  • The problem I have with this is that the machines are (I claim) predictable, and Cypher would have most likely known, one way or the other, the most likely outcome. Are you saying even if he judged the probability only 1% (that he would be put back in the matrix), he may still have thought it was worth it? I could see that point.
    – hayd
    May 7, 2013 at 13:22
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    He knows that there are two options if he goes through with the deal: 1) the agents will keep their promise and re-insert him. 2) the agents will just kill him. Alternatively, at this point, should he NOT go through, A) The agents could kill him or B) The agents could let him go. In three out of four of these scenarios, Cypher is not going to be in the real world much longer - and that's all he really wants. Does he really believe scenario 2 will occur? Deep down, probably not - but to him, it's still better than the real world.
    – phantom42
    May 7, 2013 at 13:32
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    ... I don't think I like Cod enough to think its absence would be hellish, but I guess some people are really obsessed with their fish 'n chips.
    – Tacroy
    May 7, 2013 at 17:19
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    Yeah, I thought about fixing the typo from the script, but then I wondered if Keven Smith just REALLY likes fish sticks.
    – phantom42
    May 7, 2013 at 17:34
  • @Tacroy ha! I thought that was a joke...
    – hayd
    May 7, 2013 at 20:16

Cypher being the cold and calculating person he is, he would have come to the conclusion that logically the machines gain nothing by killing him once he's completed his part of the deal. They gain an additional "Battery" where they to agree to re-insert him permanently into the Matrix. Machine's having no emotions, they wouldn't feel slighted or hold a grudge against Cypher for the fact that he originally chose to join the rebellion. Their main goal is to capture Neo and the rest of Zion and re-insert them into the Matrix.

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    I guess the concern I would have is that they would prefer to discard a (previously) "faulty" battery rather than put it back in the system where he may cause further problems... they can always feed him to the other batteries so he wouldn't necessarily be "wasted".
    – hayd
    May 7, 2013 at 13:58
  • I hadn't considered just using him as food stuffs for the people already in the Matrix, but I would think the power output of a human battery would outweigh the nourshiment quantity. Especially considering he probably didn't have the best diet in the Real World (all they seemed to eat was that protein glop)
    – Monty129
    May 7, 2013 at 16:12
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    @Monty129: but it had electrolytes :)
    – coblr
    Feb 9, 2016 at 23:16

The machines were, for the most part, rule-followers as explained by both the Oracle and Agent Smith in the second film. While there were renegade programs, the Agent programs were the machines' version of the FBI. I'm sure, just like any other law-enforcement entity, if they struck a bargain, they would uphold it; breaking their word would limit or deny other potential deals and traitors in the future if others ever considered the possibility.


Even if he doesn't entirely trust them, the deal represents his only chance to going back to the matrix.

Even if it's only a slim possibility, he's willing to take the risk and trust the agents since the alternative is stay in the real world.

  • So it's like a lottery ticket but if you lose you die. Hmmmm.
    – hayd
    Mar 6, 2015 at 20:14

Cypher doesn't want to "be free" anymore...

For him, the best solution, is to be re-inserted ito the Matrix with no memory of anything.. Wanting to be rich/important is just icing on the cake. However, if Agent Smith does not honor the deal,he'll most likely kill Cypher (a betrayed double agent is too dangerous to keep alive), which will also take care of Cypher's problem: He want out, he's just too much of a coward to kill himself..


Apparently, the now defunct MMO which took place after the Trilogy ends had a group called the Cypherites who wanted the same thing Cypher did (re-insertion), but who eventually have it leaked to them by Zion and confirmed by an Agent that the Machines can't do it:

After Cryptos was stable, Agent Gray informed him that there was no process for reinserting an awakened human. This was devastating as many Cypherites longed to return to the bliss of the Matrix. Many of them vanished or left the organization.

I think there was some other form of media where an operator betrayed his crew in the hopes of being inserted for the first time, only for a Sentinel to kill him...

Though I don't know that Cypher much cared. His motive rant right before he tried to unplug Neo seemed to me to show that he couldn't go on and needed something else. I think he was probably smart enough that it at least occurred to him that the Machines might reward him as a traitor deserves, but either way he doesn't have to remain in the world he wishes he hadn't learned was real.

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    I don't see a mention of the confirmation by an Agent that the Machines can't do it in the Cypherite article on the Wiki for The Matrix (I added the link to it). Do you have a source for this event? Do you remember which Agent revealed it?
    – Null
    Dec 11, 2014 at 19:39
  • This is very interesting, would be great to see a link!
    – hayd
    Dec 12, 2014 at 3:10
  • @Null this now appears in the link - I suggested an edit to include it.
    – hayd
    Feb 19, 2015 at 3:22

It's interesting that the Wachowskis did not address this in the film. There is no [direct] hint what the agents would do with Cypher once they had Morpheus. So we are forced to speculate.

I had always laughed at Cypher's assumption that the agents would in fact insert him back into the power plant. I figured he was dead, dead, dead. Reason being: a) we have Morpheus and Trinity stating that you can't go back [to the Matrix], although they don't state why, and b) we the audience know that the primary agent Cypher is dealing with HATES humanity, and is unlikely to give a traitorous human a comfortable life. But since Cyber doesn't know this yet he may have have deluded himself into trusting the machines, and since he is massively disgruntled, and since he now has no hope of making love to Trinity, he takes the Judas plunge.

But I think on balance the message to the audience was the Cypher was due to become Soylent Green if he hadn't been killed by his own people. Given the layered philosophical context of the movie, the death of Cyber, however it came about, was a way of reaffirming the old saying "You can never go home again".


The psychological reason is that he ascribes his bad life to living in the real world or remembering the truth instead of being controlled by the Matrix or machines. So he said:

Ignorance is bliss.


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