In the beginning of The Matrix there's a scene where policemen (four?) go to arrest Trinity. At roughly the same time three Agents pull up outside the hotel on their way to apprehend her.

Why didn't the Agents take over the policemen while they were still outside the room Trinity was in before she disabled all of them?

  • 6
    If they did, how could the movie have shown a cool chick throwing around burly policemen like kittens?
    – YHZ
    Jan 29, 2012 at 0:21

3 Answers 3


Look at the scene on the street, when the Agents, including Agent Smith, first pull up and deal with the cops. The Lieutenant uses several swear words in dealing with him, so he is either assuming the Agents are something like the FBI or some other agency that will supersede his authority or he knows what it's like to deal with them from experience.

The Agents are going to have to deal with the police from time to time and that scene, where the Lieutenant seems to recognize them as soon as they pull up, indicates they have a reputation with the local police.

As best I remember, once a person is taken over, they're gone. If cops disappear every time Agents show up, it'll make it harder and harder to work with them. It'll lead to cops trying to handle the situations themselves and trying to keep Agents out of the picture.

While the Agents are contemptuous of human beings, they do know what they need to do to keep the Matrix working and part of that is preserving the illusion that life is normal and weird things don't happen. Law enforcement is woven through society and if they start to question disappearances in their own ranks, that will spread.

One or two people in general disappearing won't create a pattern, but if a pattern of police disappearing under certain circumstances starts, that would create problems with the normal passive acceptance of the Matrix by humans, and even a small group having doubts can lead to a bigger problem.

  • 7
    I was just about to say this. In addition: We know that when an agent leaves a host, there is a visible spark like effect. Also, I can't ever recall seeing an agent leaving a living host. Even if that were possible, there will either be a horrific memory or an inexplicable memory gap, which would undermine the machines' attempts to maintain the illusion of reality. Takeover appears to be a last resort.
    – HNL
    Jan 29, 2012 at 9:16
  • 1
    You said "As best I remember, once a person is taken over, they're gone." I don't ever remember seeing an agent leaving someone's body when they are alive so I am not sure where you got that from
    – Huangism
    Nov 26, 2014 at 18:28
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    @Huangism: That's pretty much it: Once an agent takes over someone, that person has passed on. He is no more. He's stiff, bereft of life. He's kicked the bucket. He's shuffled off his mortal coil. He's run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible. He is an ex person. The agent does not leave leave a live body.
    – Tango
    Nov 28, 2014 at 23:09
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    @Tango - Except that this is wrong. We can see in several of the comics and the animatrix that when an agent leaves a body, it simply reverts back to its former self with no memory of having been taken over.
    – Valorum
    Nov 29, 2014 at 21:13
  • @Tango you missed my point, I was asking where you got that idea from since it never showed in the movie
    – Huangism
    Dec 1, 2014 at 13:38

Because the policemen were already dead. Agent Smith said as much. If you watch the movie you'll see that the time it took for Agent Smith and company to drive up and question the lead cop was the same amount of time it took Trinity to dispatch the cops that busted into the room. They cut away from the scene so you'd wonder how she killed them, then they showed you.

  • 5
    It's not clear, actually, that the police were already dead at that point. Smith's statement could also be taken to mean, "there's no chance they'll survive, it's not worth throwing more men into the grinder." It's a common phrase when someone is writing off living people in an unsurvivable situation.
    – Jeff
    Jun 20, 2012 at 14:03
  • @Jeff That's how I took it at the time, but given the lack of relative time references and Smith's statement (and the fact that Agents never lie) it actually makes a lot of sense that what he said was literally true.
    – user11521
    Oct 24, 2014 at 5:27
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    @Michael Who says Agents don't lie?
    – Schwern
    Feb 6, 2015 at 2:55
  • @Schwern That was my impression. Lying seems to be so... human, and Smith in particular loathed humans as seen in his monologue with Morpheus. It would seem out of character to me for any agent to lie, it isn't part of their parameters or purpose, and I can't think of any example where an agent lied, at least in the context of saying something they know to be false.
    – user11521
    Feb 6, 2015 at 3:12
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    @Michael The Oracle lies. The Architect lies. The Agents have to lie to the police about who they are. The whole Matrix is a lie. Agent Smith is far more Human than he admits. I believe the thought disgusts him and he's driven mad by the cognitive dissonance (he's been "infected").
    – Schwern
    Feb 6, 2015 at 3:14

The goal was to destroy rogue programs, not preserve individual human life. The Matrix needed the rogue program(in this case, Trinity) to be in line of sight of an Agent before the Matrix concluded displacing a "citizen" program (a citizen with a suitable weapon or in closer proximity to the target than an Agent) with an "Agent" program (that could use the weapon, or lay hands on the target) was the most likely process to sucessfully purge a rogue program. The police were asked to wait before confronting Trinity. Had they waited and an Agent been able to accompany them into the room with Trinity, the Matrix could have excercised extreme prejudice and displaced one or all of the police as needed(an Agent later displaces a policeman after Neos group leaves the Oracle). The Matrix could deal with resetting program parameters after the fact. As it was, by the time an Agent sighted Trinity, there were no humans close enough to warrant displacing them until the garbagetruck driver that smashes the phone booth is displaced(off screen).

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