In The Matrix (1999), there is a scene where Cypher and Agent Smith strike a deal.

Smith wants the access codes to the Zion mainframe. Cypher offers Morpheus, who knows these codes.

Cypher values ignorance (which is "bliss"), and wants to retroactively take the blue pill; getting re-connected into the Matrix, sans the memory of the real world. He also wants fame and glory.


How would Smith be able to fulfill his end of the bargain? How was he affiliated with the machines at this point? In the third movie, The Matrix Revolutions, Smith was a self-replicating virus, and even Deus Ex Machina wanted him gone. Was he working with/for the machines before this? I always thought the agents were "self-employed" so to speak.

  • 10
    In the first movie Smith was a law-abiding Agent program, doing his job for the Matrix. I'm not sure what you mean by "self-employed", but Smith was definitely not working for his own interests until Reloaded Feb 18, 2015 at 21:06
  • See also: Why did Cypher trust the Agents?.
    – phantom42
    Feb 18, 2015 at 21:07
  • 8
    @Richard I don't think so. The original asks why Cypher thinks/assumes the agents will uphold the bargain. This one asks if they can uphold it.
    – phantom42
    Feb 18, 2015 at 21:13
  • 1
    @Richard - Like phantom42, I don't think this is a dupe. My question is more centered around Smith's affiliation with the machines, and less around his trustworthiness. That said, the other question is indeed also interesting to me.
    – Alec
    Feb 18, 2015 at 21:18
  • 1
    Keep in mind that there are two SEPARATE questions here: 1) Could Agent Smith/The Machines keep their promises to Cypher, and B) What is Agent Smith's affiliation with the The Machines in charge?
    – Omegacron
    Feb 18, 2015 at 22:43

2 Answers 2


Agent Smith / Smith

Agent Smith was an agent of the system until after he was destroyed by Neo at the end of The Matrix (when Neo entered his body and caused him to explode). So Agent Smith was working with the machines and was not a virus throughout The Matrix (including his meeting with Cypher). You can tell because he is wearing his earpiece throughout The Matrix but he gives it to Neo at the beginning of The Matrix Reloaded (his suit also turns black -- instead of green -- and his sunglasses change once he becomes a virus). The earpiece is symbolic of his status as a "slave" to the system; when he hands over the envelope with his earpiece at the beginning of The Matrix Reloaded he says:

I have something for him, a gift. You see, he set me free...

Agent Smith:

enter image description here

Smith (virus):

enter image description here

Fulfilling Cypher's Wish: Re-insertion and Memory Manipulation

To fulfill Cypher's wish, the machines would have to re-insert Cypher into the Matrix and erase his memories. There is an example of the machines re-inserting a red pill into the Matrix in the comic Saviors, though in that case the red pill's memories were not erased (he didn't request it). The machines have also demonstrated remarkable abilities to erase the memories of humans (e.g. they can reload the entire Matrix every time The One completes his cycle) so the machines are capable of erasing Cypher's memories.

Since Agent Smith was still working with the machines at the time of his meeting with Cypher, and the machines are capable of granting Cypher's wish, it would have been possible for Agent Smith to fulfill his end of the bargain.

  • Very well put. I guess it all boiled down to my notion of the agents being standalone programs.
    – Alec
    Feb 18, 2015 at 21:23
  • 7
    Excellent answer. I like how you pointed out the subtleties between Agent Smith and his Virus version.
    – Nomkins
    Feb 18, 2015 at 21:35
  • @Alec Happy to help.
    – Null
    Feb 18, 2015 at 21:43
  • 3
    WAIT... the agents wore dark green suits? I always thought it was the green tint they gave everything in the movie.
    – user16696
    Feb 19, 2015 at 1:01
  • 5
    @CreationEdge Plugging a member of the Resistance back into the Matrix is concordant with the machines' goals so there is no reason to think the rest of the machines would oppose the deal. Besides, the Agents are not "bottom-rung employees" -- they have demonstrated considerable authority, including the ability to order Sentinels to conduct strikes in the real world.
    – Null
    Feb 23, 2015 at 15:01

I am afraid I have to disagree with Null. For the first part of his answer, we are exactly on a same ship. in one of the first scenes of matrix reloaded me here this dialog

"You destroyed me, Mr. Anderson. After that, I understood the rules, I knew what I was supposed to do, but I didn't. I couldn't. I was compelled to stay, compelled to disobey. And now, here I stand because of you, Mr. Anderson. Because of you, I'm no longer an Agent of this system. Because of you, I've changed. I'm unplugged. A new man, so to speak. Like you, apparently, free."

based on this dialogue, it is obvious that agent smith wasn't free before his first serious encounter with Neo.

In a part of the movie (I couldn't find the transcript even with great effort), it is mentioned that free and powerful version of agent smith exists only because some codes related to Neo is copied to agent smith code after Neo defeated him at the end of the first movie.

Even The Oracle mentions in a dialog with Neo that Agent Smith's evolution is the answer of the system to the anomaly that is created by Neo; "the result of the equation trying to balance itself out." And the rise of Neo starts at the end of the first movie; it is the moment that his mind is really set free.

But for the second part I think he is using a wrong interpretation of the word 'reloaded'. In the famous dialog between The Architect and Neo, it is mentioned that each time they destroy the whole zion and whole samples (humans connected to the Matrix) and they choose if I remember correctly 5 men and 12 women from Zion to rebuild the Matrix. So it doesn't really mean that they can manipulate human memories.

Anyway in another dialog between Morpheus and Neo, Morpheus says to Neo that they can't let a freed mind go to it's previous state (connected to the Matrix). So from this dialog it may be concluded that this process is possible.

But would they really do that? Would they really accept such a risk? I don't think so.

  • 2
    I don't think you're remembering that correctly - the Architect tells Neo that Zion will be destroyed regardless, and if he doesn't comply and return to the Source then the Matrix will crash (as a result of the free will errors), killing all the humans in it. The One returns to the Source and his programming actually does "Reload" the Matrix, clearing it of all the errors built up through choice. So yes, it is a LITERAL reload of the Matrix (it took me aaages to get that :P).
    – DavidS
    Mar 3, 2015 at 10:09
  • @DavidS: If what you say was correct, there wouldn't be any need for those 6 men and 17 women. :D
    – Masoud
    Mar 4, 2015 at 11:20
  • 6
    Why wouldn't there be? The 6 men and 17 women are needed to rebuild Zion, which is destroyed when the One returns to the Source and reloads the Matrix. The machines need a new Zion to control the humans who can break free of the Matrix, and identify the next One for them.
    – DavidS
    Mar 4, 2015 at 11:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.