I have seen the Matrix movies over and over almost knowing every word off by heart. But the one thing that perplexes me is why the Agents (Smith etc) once they captured Morpheus, not send in more Agents to protect him from being rescued by Neo and Trinity? They must have known Neo would have tried to rescue him.

Besides, Neo is "part" of the puzzle to balance the Matrix right? So killing Neo is out of the question. I believe Agent Smith could have done that from the first movie when they fought in the subway - if he was allowed to (he was still connected to the machines). Smith simply has the skills preprogrammed into him by the machines. Neo only recently had the training given to him.

I am convinced that they needed Neo to fulfill the "prophecy" but they could not kill Morpheus just yet, or at least until Neo has completed his mission to bring order back into The Matrix. This is why they only used "loose" security around Morpheus. Otherwise they would have killed him the moment they captured him.

Furthermore, I also think they wanted Morpheus to gain access to another machine or machine world. I suspect the hard-drives in Zion were the keys to those other 'worlds'. The movies were set in a time when machines were at war with other machines, I think. Zion and humans were like hippies, more a distraction than a threat. But Morpheus, he was numero uno! He had the access codes, the knowledge, etc everything into the 'other' machines or another Matrix if you will.

I do not believe they wanted the codes to break into Zion itself, as they've done that 'very well in the past ... Many times'. So my question is, if Morpheus was THAT important to the machines, then why only the weak security once captured? And I do not believe they were over resourced. Come on, the machines can turn any "human" into an Agent.

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    I believe in the original script before the mythos was expanded, there existed only the three agents. Will try to dig up my source though later works would contradict it. Sep 17, 2014 at 7:08
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    Four agents would have crashed the Matrix. It had too many windows open and the system was bogged down. Sep 17, 2014 at 7:25
  • Where does it say the Matrix was "bogged down"?
    – LoftyWofty
    Sep 17, 2014 at 11:23
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    @LoftyWofty I'm pretty sure that was a joke. Comments aren't always entirely serious. Sep 17, 2014 at 11:26
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    @LoftyWofty: I think if you re-word this and remove the query "why not more agents", but instead focus on lack security (i.e. why not keep Morpheus on a milatry base or in an underground bunker) then the question could be salvaged, and un-marked as duplicate. Sep 18, 2014 at 6:52

2 Answers 2


Leaving aside the later movies, The Matrix needs to be discussed as standalone movie, the expanded cannon had obviously not been created when it was made

Hubris, because they - with good cause - believed they didn't need to take any further precautions, why?

The agents have nothing to fear from the hackers, they're a nuisance, not a threat. The standard hacker response on encountering an agent isn't to fight, it's to run. As Cypher said to Neo

a little piece of advice: You see an Agent, you do what we do. Run!

The agents know if they can corner a hacker then that hacker is toast, even Morpheus was easily contained by Agent Smith.

Also the Agents had their mole, Cypher. He returns to The Nebuchadnezzar and takes out everyone there, then there's no threat from the hackers, no possibility that Morpheus gets unplugged, no possibility of a rescue attempt.

So the agents install Morpheus in the top floor of a secure building, they have every reason to believe that even if the hackers survive Cypher and are crazy enough to try a rescue attempt they can easily take them down.
Who knows, maybe this was part of their plan, if the Hackers did survive Cyphers attack and try to get to Morpheus the Agents could just wipe out rest of the crew of The Nebuchadnezzar. Indeed following that logic, the agents could have put Morpheus in an underground base designed to withstand an atomic bomb, and purposefully removed the entrance (they can control their own reality). However if they had done this the hackers wouldn't have staged a rescue. The hackers knew they should have unplugged Morpheus, if they'd seen him ensconced in the afore mentioned bunker they'd have known rescue was impossible, and would have unplugged him immediately, thereby saving the Zion codes from the Agents.
So that's definitely one possibility, make it look like a rescue attempt might be possible, just to stop the hackers unplugging Morpheus.

So the crew should have been dead (Cypher) any rescue attempt was against impossible odds with very little likelihood of a successful outcome. Neo himself didn't expect to get out alive, and he was in fact killed by an agent, he just didn't stay dead.

Whatever way you cut it, it comes back to hubris, they felt secure in their belief that they were invincible, had planned for all contingencies and could easily deal with any potential attack.

  • CodesInChaos: That would be correct. Your nuanced observation isn't a nuisance :p Sep 18, 2014 at 6:41
  • In other words, it came down to the ever omnipotent human trait - choice. Choice is the one thing the machines cannot yet simulate. Their 'choice' is the outcome of a result of complex analytical equations and forecasting formulas, but REAL choice, real human choice is not possible to be programmed. I gave you the answer I was looking for. Thanks
    – LoftyWofty
    Oct 5, 2014 at 21:38
  • "real human choice is not possible to be programmed" really? Have you never see a Derren Brown show? Oct 6, 2014 at 7:59
  • Also it's not about some holy human privilege of "choice", it's standard strategy. Leave them some hope, no matter how small and they'll keep Morpheus alive. Remove that hope and they'll unplug him. Oct 6, 2014 at 9:00

I think you misunderstood the story (or more specific: the agents' motivations).

I'm not 100% sure that's all been set back when they filmed The Matrix, but from my understanding the Agents' initial interest in Neo hasn't been about him being special or an anomaly. They just tried to use him as a tool to get Morpheus. Morpheus has been too elusive to them (Trinity as well, which can be seen in the very first scenes), so they tried to get a hold on someone with obvious contact to them, who's far more open to manipulation and inexperienced.

In the end they wanted Morpheus because he's obviously been the captain of a ship, which means he'd know the access codes for Zion. They wanted his knowledge, less likely his death. (I think) It's not shown whether any other captains actually dive back into the Matrix as well, so this might have made him special in that way. The access codes aren't there to protect any computer system(s). They're used for authentication to open access doors around Zion. Without the codes they'd have to fight their way in (which they later do with the giant drill).

At that point in time it's not yet known that Neo is indeed the one from the prophecy and only Morpheus is really sure about it. The agents (or in general: the machines) didn't necessarily know of the role Neo as an individual would play later on. Later on it's hinted at, that there've been multiple chosen ones before, yet they failed to fulfill the prophecy.

This is also quite clear in the way the agents attack Neo. They obviously use their "standard methods" only, i.e. pistols, "recruited" inhabitants, and police/military.

  • I appreciate that they needed Morpheus alive for the access codes, but they must have known (they being the ones controlling the Agents) about Neo already as being the One, especially when the Architect said he was the 6th one. And especially when Neo's predecessors all looked like him. This is why I think Smith or any Agent for that matter could not kill Neo on the spot. He had to fulfill his role. But Morpheous on the other hand was a rogue and still was long after Neo's death it seems. Morpheous was the true threat to the machines themselves.
    – LoftyWofty
    Sep 17, 2014 at 11:14
  • I've rephrased somewhat my original question
    – LoftyWofty
    Sep 17, 2014 at 11:15
  • @LoftyWofty Neo's predecessors all looked like him - that's debatable.
    – Rawling
    Sep 17, 2014 at 11:27
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    The Agents themselves may not know of Neo's role but the Architect probably does (and by extension so do the Machines in general). He watched Neo's initial interrogation from his room with all the TVs.
    – Null
    Sep 17, 2014 at 14:00
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    @Null: What is it about Neo's initial interrogation, in which he looks perfectly ordinary considering he's still plugged in, would have tipped the Architect that he was the One? The only thing they know is that Neo is on the path to being unplugged just like Morpheus, Trinity, et all, and the machines are hoping to find Morpheus during Neo's unplugging process.
    – Ellesedil
    Sep 17, 2014 at 17:43

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