In The Matrix Reloaded, the Oracle explains what happens to programs that are flagged for deletion:

Neo: Programs hacking programs. Why?

Oracle: They have their reasons, but usually a program chooses exile when it faces deletion.

Neo: And why would a program be deleted?

Oracle: Maybe it breaks down. Maybe a better program is created to replace it - happens all the time, and when it does, a program can either choose to hide here, or return to The Source.

According to the Oracle, programs are flagged for deletion "all the time". However, while I can think of many programs that chose to hide in the Matrix as Exiles, I can't think of any program that chose to return to The Source (i.e. voluntary deletion). Obviously, we are more likely to see Exiles rather than programs that chose deletion for two reasons:

  1. a program that chose deletion wouldn't be around for us to see whereas Exile programs often still exist and can be seen
  2. the Oracle says a program "usually" chooses exile.

Nonetheless, the fact that programs "usually" choose exile implies that some do not.

Do we know of any programs that voluntarily chose deletion instead of exile? We know some of the history of the Matrix and it's possible that a program figured prominently enough to be mentioned in that history yet also chose deletion after breaking down or becoming obsolete.

Note: The program does not necessarily need to be humanoid (e.g. Agent, vampire, etc.). The Oracle mentions that programs have been written to govern birds, trees, the wind, etc. An example of any program that voluntarily chose deletion is acceptable.

  • 1
    Most programs aren't in the Matrix, they're working out in the main Machine system (like Sati's parents, who only visited the Matrix to drop off their daughter). Aside from those few programs who natively live in the Matrix, like the Agents, I'd say we mostly don't see programs bound for deletion because we only ever see the Matrix (where the Exiles go), and not the rest of the Machine existence beyond it.
    – Nerrolken
    Jun 10, 2015 at 17:41
  • @Nerrolken I don't think we know enough to determine whether there are more programs in the Matrix or the real world. The Oracle mentions programs written to govern the birds, trees, wind, etc. -- there are potentially billions of programs in the Matrix, and not all of them are humanoid.
    – Null
    Jun 10, 2015 at 17:45
  • 1
    I don't think that's what the "usually" in the Oracle's statement means. It surely means "Of the programs who choose exile, usually it's because they face deletion", rather than "When a program faces deletion, usually it chooses exile". Jun 10, 2015 at 19:48
  • @DanielRoseman I don't think so. Why would a program choose exile unless it faced deletion? Why would a program even need to go into exile unless it faced deletion? Your second re-writing of the Oracle's statement (the one appearing after "rather than") essentially just switches the clauses in the Oracle's quote, so it's closer to her words. I think that is clearly what she means.
    – Null
    Jun 10, 2015 at 19:54
  • We don't know why else, because the Oracle only gave us the "usual" reason. There may be many others, she just didn't feel it was worth going into them. Jun 10, 2015 at 20:04

2 Answers 2


The very short answer to this one is "no".

There are a considerable number of programs and exiles seen in the Matrix Trilogy, but the overwhelming majority of programs we meet (Agents, for example) are doing precisely what they're supposed to be doing. Those that aren't are invariably exiles with their own agendas that aren't aligned to the Zionese rebels.

At no point do we see a program accept deletion although we do see a number of programs who've been superseded that don't return in the films such as Agent Brown and Agent Jones. It's certainly possible that they chose to return to the Source.


Yes, we know of one, but it's likely that he isn't actually deleted.

I am of course referring to the Keymaker. After the lengthy chase scene in which Trinity and Morpheus attempt to escape with him, an agent has him cornered on top of the truck, leading to this exchange:

Keymaker: We do only what we are meant to do.

Agent Johnson: Then you are meant for only one more thing. Deletion.

Ignoring the question of who knows what (the agents don't know that they can't really delete the keymaker, because he is needed for the Architect's plan, and the keymaker probably knows that there is still a rescue attempt in progress, give how his eyes seem to shift around briefly as if to see where Morpheus is) it seems like the keymaker is pretty much resigned from the beginning to whatever fate will befall him, in fact he apparently knows that fate already:

The Keymaker: Only the One can open the door. And only during that window can that door be opened.

Niobe: How do you know all this?

The Keymaker: I know because I must know. It is my purpose. It is the reason I am here. The same reason we are all here.

Given what he says about doing what he is meant to do, it seems obvious to me that once he has completed that purpose, we would not haven any motivation to go into exile. And, after Smith shoots him and he is about to die, he is at peace and gives no indication that he is going to choose exile to deletion.

BUT there is one little hiccup. The Keymaker was portrayed as already being an exile before Morpheus and company ever met him! And he was being held prisoners in the Merovingian's chateau, which is basically in the company of other exiles. However, given what we find out at the end of the second movie, this is exposed as a ruse to gain the trust of the humans so the Oracle's plan can move forward. And given what we learn, it is reasonable to believe that the Keymaker has taken place in the same place 5 previous times. So it's quite possible that after his shell is killed, when he returns to the source he isn't actually deleted until he is needed the next time. But it seems likely that he doesn't know this, because there is no reason for him to. At one point the Oracle tells Neo that when programs are no longer needed they have a choice: to face exile, or return to the source. In the eyes of a program, returning to the source and deletion are probably synonymous.

  • I think you may have talked yourself out of an answer. Once the keymaker's purpose is completed, he goes and sits quietly until the next iteration of the Matrix arrives. He's not choosing deletion although he does appear to be compliant to the wishes of the Architect/Deus Ex Machina.
    – Valorum
    Dec 16, 2016 at 20:51
  • Well, deletion is where you get deleted :-) It's not entirely clear what happens to a running program that gets killed in the Matrix, whether it faces deletion (and a new version is created) or whether it's simply given a new shell and sent on its merry way.
    – Valorum
    Dec 16, 2016 at 20:56
  • @Valorum thinking about it a bit more, it seems that while there is a distinction between returning to the source and deletion, programs in the matrix may not see it that way. updated. will think about it more tonight.
    – user11521
    Dec 16, 2016 at 20:59

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