How independent are the copies of Smith from each other?

It seems that mostly the copies are subordinate to him. For example, they come only after the real Smith appears, they do not make other copies (I think), in the last fight with Neo they stand patiently just because the real Smith told them to, etc.

If this is not the case, I would guess that they are at least independent of each other but working towards the common goal of completely overrunning The Matrix, but is there any source that states this?

However the main question is, if any of the above are true, why did Smith look terrified after he infected The Oracle? The maniacal laughter of the Oracle-Smith is also not very clear. Was she just happy to be infected? Did she feel more powerful than the real Smith? This also doesn't seem to be the case, as the Oracle-Smith is also one of the Smiths that are standing patiently during the last fight, just because the real Smith told them to.

So how independent are the copies of Smith from each other, or what kind of authority hierarchy do they have?

  • 3
    I don't think you're right that the one fighting Neo at the end is the "real" Smith. It actually seems to be the one that overwrote the Oracle: he says "I've seen this", ie as the Oracle. Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 10:51
  • did you mean it's the Oracle who was fighting Neo at the end? Or just the one that infected the Oracle? Wasn't the real one the one going around infecting others?
    – user13267
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 11:24
  • 5
    Don't have canon answer, but I see them as a single program with multiple threads. They are executing the same codebase. But when you need access to limited resources (fighting Neo 1-on-1) one thread blocks the others via semaphore :) Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 12:40
  • 4
    After all the Smiths are purged, the Oracle's body is at the bottom of the pit where the Smith was, so it was Oracle-Smith that was fighting Neo in the final fight.
    – Roger
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 14:06
  • 1
    Also, all of the Smiths could infect others. If we assume that Smith 1.0 is the one talking to Neo before the Burly Brawl in Reloaded, then when the second agent appears and is infected, it has to be a different Smith that did it.
    – Roger
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 14:08

1 Answer 1


I think the answer is deceptively simple: they're copies. Any perfect copy of a living, thinking person (or program) is going to act, behave, and operate almost exactly the same to the other copies. Put in terms of software operations, the algorithms and experiential data driving each copy's behavior are the same, so the results for internal operational queries like "where should I go now", "how should I fight", or "what should I say" will return the same values during each copy's runtime. They're not being controlled, they're just all coming to the same conclusions about everything.

As for why the Oracle-Smith behaved differently, it is well-established that the "Eyes of the Oracle," presumably a poetic term for a predictive subroutine or algorithm unique to the Oracle, are a source of great power, and given the Merovingian's pursuit of them, we know they/it can be transferred from user to user.

Therefore, when Smith copied himself into the Oracle and started laughing and the others reacted with confusion, it was because that copy included the Eyes of the Oracle subroutine, making it not a perfect copy and therefore capable of doing things (i.e. capable of returning behavioral output) that the other copies weren't. In this case, that behavior was laughter in response to acquiring (and presumably using/experiencing) the Eyes. Then, when it came to the final battle, it made sense for the copies to defer to Oracle-Smith, because he was the one with the Eyes of the Oracle, which both gave him a tactical advantage and set him apart from the otherwise-uniform crowd.

To the best of my memory, there doesn't seem to be any indication that the Smiths are "connected," in the sense of sharing data non-conventionally after the copying process is complete, or "hierarchical," in the sense of some individuals being controlled by others. They're more like the brooms in the "Fantasia" short, The Sorcerer's Apprentice: perfect copies, behaving similarly because they're perfect copies.

  • Your first paragraph is talking about Idempotency
    – Möoz
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 20:56

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