The film demonstrates that Morpheus and the other liberated humans can enter the Matrix while in disguise, and in addition can generate their own virtual environments (eg, Neo and Morpheus sparring).

Doesn't Cypher have plenty of opportunities to enjoy a virtual steak and the other amenities of virtual life without betraying Morpheus?

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    He can enjoy the virtual steak in a virtual construct, but once he leaves the construct he'll still be hungry and have only goop to eat.
    – Xantec
    Mar 3, 2014 at 18:55
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    @phantom42 - I'm questioning Cypher's motivations rather than whether he can trust Agent Smith. I'd think a lot of liberated humans could fulfill desires for fame, food, etc. by simply jacking their minds back into the Matrix.
    – RobertF
    Mar 3, 2014 at 20:15
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    @RobertF if you hack into the Matrix externally, as opposed to just creating a private simulation separate from the Matrix (which wouldn't really satisfy the desire for fame as I said in my answer below), then presumably you're in continual danger of Agents identifying you as an outsider and tracking you down, so you couldn't really enjoy a life of wealth and ease. Why do you think infiltrators from Zion always had safe houses in grungy abandoned buildings in the Matrix (e.g. the one in Reloaded), as opposed to hanging out in luxury apartments or mansions while they planned their next move?
    – Hypnosifl
    Mar 3, 2014 at 20:32
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    @RobertF - He wants to be a blue pill again. It's pretty clear that the zionese use 'the construct' for sex (e.g. the Woman in Red) but I'd guess that it would be pretty hollow enjoyment knowing that you had to go back to the "desert of the real" afterwards.
    – Valorum
    Mar 3, 2014 at 22:03
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    @Hypnosifl - The guy is clearly suffering from PTSD and was probably borderline-psychotic to begin with. On top of that he's watching the love of his life throw herself at some random guy they just met.
    – Valorum
    Mar 3, 2014 at 23:33

6 Answers 6


The transcript for "The Matrix" makes Cypher's motives pretty clear;

  • Not only does he want to re-enter the Matrix permanently but he also wants to return to a state of blissful ignorance as a "blue-pill".
  • He fervently believes that the machines can remove painful memories and reinsert him into the Matrix as someone special.
  • With the arrival of Neo, his unrequited fantasies towards Trinity (arguably the only good thing he's got in his miserable life) have been crushed severing his final connection with Zionese culture.

CYPHER : 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?

AGENT SMITH : Whatever you want, Mr. Reagan.

Cypher takes a deep drink of wine.

CYPHER : All right. You get my body back in a power plant, reinsert me into the Matrix and I'll get you what you want.


Cypher: I know what you're thinking, 'cause right now I'm thinking the same thing. Actually, I've been thinking it ever since I got here: Why oh why didn't I take the blue pill


Cypher: You know, for a long time, I thought I was in love with you. I used to dream about you. You're a beautiful woman, Trinity. Too bad things had to turn out this way.

Also, you can never underestimate the appeal of a really good steak; Cypher Steak

  • I think this is the best answer so far, although I still feel there are too many plot holes in The Matrix.
    – RobertF
    Mar 3, 2014 at 21:56
  • @RobertF - Like what?
    – Valorum
    Mar 4, 2014 at 12:30
  • @Richard - For starters, why didn't the AI give all humans a blissfully happy experience while plugged into the Matrix, so they had no thoughts of rebelling? Or just lobotomize humans? Or throw away their bodies and just keep the brains as batteries (using brains as a power source was also too contrived)?
    – RobertF
    Mar 14, 2014 at 21:17
  • @RobertF - The first matrix was heavenly but unfortunately it was unrealistic and people saw through it right away; To quote the Architect; "The first Matrix I designed was quite naturally perfect, it was a work of art, flawless, sublime. A triumph equaled only by its monumental failure"; youtu.be/2wdKlWXyUkc?t=2m40s. As to why they didn't lobotomise them a) Because they wanted to use their brains as CPUs and b) because they accepted humanity's surrender at the UN (see the Animatrix for more details)
    – Valorum
    Mar 14, 2014 at 21:27

He wanted to reset his memory and forget about the Matrix. There is no evidence that the "liberated humans" could do that to themselves. It was also implied that he would be inserted in the Matrix as President Ronald Reagan (see, for example this).

According to Wikipedia:

Cypher has grown tired of the Man/Machine war within the real world. Harshly disillusioned with the grim existence of living on a hovercraft and tired of following Morpheus and his blind faith in the Prophecy, he has begun to wish that he had never learned the truth and left the Matrix in the first place.

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    Where is the implication he'd be Ronald Reagan? Agent Smith called Neo "Mr. Anderson", its more likely that before he left the Matrix, Cypher's name Was "Mr. Reagan". Reagan isn't an uncommon surname.
    – user20155
    Mar 4, 2014 at 0:03
  • I like how the source for the claim is a post on the internet "Contributed By: Anonymous on 11-13-1999" Mar 4, 2014 at 0:28
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    @LegoStormtroopr "I don't want to remember nothing" + "And I want to be rich. Someone important." + "Like an actor." + "Mr. Reagan". The combination of a rich, powerful, actor who can't remember anything (Alzheimer's) and the name seems to suggest this - though it may just be some writer putting in a reference to Mr. Reagan than actually saying that he would be the president.
    – user12183
    Mar 4, 2014 at 0:30

I agree with what the other answers are saying about why he wants to go back to the blissful state of the "blue pill".

As for why he betrays Morpheus, what he says when he reveals his betrayal indicates that he resents and feels betrayed by Morpheus.

Cypher: "He lied to us, Trinity. He tricked us. If you'da told us the truth, we woulda told you to shove that red pill right up your ass."

Trinity: "That's not true, Cypher, he set us free."

Cypher: "Free? You call this free? All I do is what he tells me to do. If I had to choose between that and the Matrix, I choose the Matrix."

He feels like a slave to the person who has tricked him into a dystopian reality.

  • Agreed. He doesn't feel liberated.
    – Valorum
    Mar 4, 2014 at 12:32
  • Well, I have never looked into this from this perspective, and now I finally understand Cypher and even agree with his choices. Having someone order you around all the time is just bad. Morpheus should have brought more women there. Being in love with Trinity, then some poster boy arrives and takes the only thing you care about. Well, what will you do? Nov 20, 2020 at 8:40

Because metaphor.

Neo represents every teenage boy; you are leet, you discover something secret but world-changing, you are initiated into a new world and the scales fall from your eyes. It is a metaphor for becoming an adult.

Cypher represents defeatism, the impulse to give up and run away and be turned back into a little boy. He is the embodiment of the moment after you are rejected by a potential partner for the first time. I want to go home.

Morpheus, by contrast, is the father. He is the one who affirms Neo's maturation and believes completely in him.

Why does Cypher betray Morpheus? Because Morpheus' role to support the rite of passage into adulthood is worthless if it is better to remain a child, and Cypher rejects the truth. Also, as an allegory it illustrates how futile it is to attempt to return to the child state; once we know, we cannot unknow.

Following the logic, this allegory is telling us that hedonism (satisfying the senses) is not sufficient for happiness; the story embraces purpose (and even ideas of destiny) over sensuality.


Certain physical pleasures like steak could presumably be reproduced in private simulations, but I think the restaurant scene was meant to illustrate his overall desire for "the good life" of a wealthy person in the Matrix, and a lot of the supposed appeal of great wealth is interpersonal in nature, not just physical--like the desire for a shortcut to getting the respect of lots of people (including glamorous wealth-seeking mates), getting into certain high-profile "in-crowds", paying people for creative services like DJing your party or painting your portrait, being able to buy influence in politics or the media, etc. None of these would likely be very satisfying if he was just in a private simulation with a bunch of simple simulated people like the woman in the red dress (and even if Zion had the ability to create more genuinely intelligent simulated people, they probably wouldn't because of fear that they would take the side of the machines in the Matrix and rebel from within).

Edited to add that this section of the Cypher's lines that Richard quoted above supports the idea that this was at least part of Cypher's motivation: "And I want to be rich. Someone important. Like an actor. You can do that, right?"

  • I believe the short version of this answer is "for steak". +1 for mentioning steak. Mar 4, 2014 at 4:30

CYPHER : 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?

AGENT SMITH : Whatever you want, Mr. Reagan.

Cypher takes a deep drink of wine.

CYPHER : All right. You get my body back in a power plant, reinsert me into the Matrix and I'll get you what you want.

Surely his reasoning is flawed when he says he wants to remember nothing, is getting your memory totally wiped not the same as being killed? The Cypher who wakes up after such a procedure shares nothing with the old Cypher except his body

  • Not necessarily, I would imagine he would have his memory wiped from the point at which he learned the truth about the Matrix on, otherwise he'd be essentially a newborn in an adult body, which would create it's own set of problems. This also doesn't answer the question of why he betrayed Morpheus in the first place.
    – Monty129
    Mar 3, 2014 at 23:51
  • In the matrix comics we see that the machines have the ability to edit memory
    – Valorum
    Mar 4, 2014 at 12:34

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