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Why Agent Smith Was The Key To Neo’s Prophecy In The Matrix

Despite being an antagonist, Agent Smith was the key to Neo’s prophecy of The One in the Matrix films. Introduced at the beginning of The Matrix (1999), Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith quickly showed audiences that he would not be a classically evil, disposable sci-fi villain film. Whereas all the other Agents in The Matrix showed no personality traits, Agent Smith had a distinctly cruel way of acting and talking throughout the movie. Smith seemed to have his own agenda even before merging with Neo at the end of The Matrix, and that is what essentially helped defeat the machines.


Morpheus believed that The One would put an end to the Second Machine War and free humanity. However, while Neo was indeed The One as Morpheus believed, not even he would have been able to destroy the machines and save humanity by himself. That is because, in reality, the Path of The One was nothing but a part of the machines’ plans to keep humanity in check for centuries. Neo was simply not powerful enough to destroy the machines, as the machines would have never designed something that powerful at will. However, when combined with Smith’s powers and ambitions, Neo became the threat that no previous machine-designed messiah figure had been.

Related: Why Matrix Resurrections’ Recast Trick Worked For Morpheus (Not Smith)

The One Was Bound To Fail In The Matrix

Keanu Reeves as Neo in the Matrix movies

What Morpheus and the rest of humanity failed to realize was that their hopes for victory against the machines had always been fed by the machines themselves. The One was never meant to save humanity from the machines, but instead give them false hopes. Neo was not the second The One as Morpheus believed. Instead, Neo was the sixth iteration of The One – at least according to The Architect in The Matrix Reloaded. Instead of a hundred years since the First Machine War, it is likely that more than 600 years had passed between the day humanity scorched the skies and the events of The Matrix.

The Prime Program, which was executed through the Path of the One, is what powered Neo and made him so special. However, the Prime Program was designed and uploaded by the machines themselves with the intent of choosing one “champion” for the humans that would later have to make a difficult decision. The One was designed to fail in every iteration of the Matrix, and so it happened. The idea was that, at the “end” of every Matrix iteration, The One would have to choose between continuing the war and risking the extinction of humanity or choosing 23 humans to rebuild Zion and restart the Matrix simulation.

All first five The Ones, which were not necessarily Neo despite the TV screens behind The Architect, did exactly what the machines wanted them to do – they chose to restart the Matrix simulation and give up on the fight. The legend told by Morpheus to Neo about how The One freed a few humans from the Matrix and build Zion was mostly accurate, except for the fact that Zion was bound to be destroyed and rebuilt forever. Even if Neo did everything right, he was still set to fail – so why didn’t he?

The Machines Could Not Predict Agent Smith’s Actions

Agent Smith in The Matrix

Agent Smith breaking out of his programming to pursue his own agenda was the variable that the machines’ equation could not have predicted. While some Matrix programs, such as The Oracle and The Merovingian, had a level of agency, none of those had ever come close to acting on their own behalf as much as Smith did after The Matrix. Agent Smith did not want simply to break out of his programming, he wanted to keep evolving to the point he would become more powerful than the machines’ unity. Whereas the machines wanted to keep the cycle running, Smith despised humanity and had no interest in playing the Matrix game.

Related: The Matrix 5 Has To Forget About Neo & Trinity To Succeed

Even if Smith already showed signs of having slightly more agency than other Agents, the machines could have never predicted that he would merge with The One at some point. Smith merging with “Mr. Anderson” briefly toward the end of The Matrix is what completely changed the course of Smith’s journey, as it powered an already complex consciousness with fragments of the Prime Program. Not only did Neo make Smith stronger, but he also freed the former pawn of the machines. A regular Agent program merging with The One was the receipt of chaos, which is the exact opposite of what the machines wanted for the Matrix simulation.

Agent Smith Is What Broke The Cycle Of The One

Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith in Matrix

Considering how powerful and chaotic a freed Smith was, it becomes easier to understand why Neo was able to break the cycle of The One. Until the beginning of The Matrix Reloaded, Neo was doing exactly what the machines wanted him to do – freeing more humans and giving Zion hope that they could win the war. However, once a freed Smith appeared to fight Neo in the park, Neo deviated from the script he was supposed to follow. Smith became a third party in the vicious conflict between humans and machines, someone who only cared about himself and had no problem with taking down everything on his way.

Suddenly, Neo’s mission as The One was no longer just defeating the machines but also stopping Smith from destroying the world – which had the machines in check. Smith could not win, as he was a threat to everything the machines had built in more than 600 years. Yet, Neo should not have been able to learn and evolve with a program as powerful as Smith. The machines were in a no-win situation that only escalated during the events of The Matrix Revolutions. Once Smith got into the real world through Bane, the machines’ usual plot of threatening to destroy Zion had to change as they now had to stop Agent Smith first.

After Smith assimilated most of the Matrix, including highly powerful programs such as The Oracle, the character became a bigger threat to the machines than The One ever was. While Smith did not have noble goals, he strangely became humanity’s only chance of triumphing against the machines. Obviously, Smith’s actions would also doom humanity, which is why Neo had to act. The One was the only person able to stop Smith, and that gave Neo the leverage he needed to negotiate with the machines. Neo beating Smith in The Matrix movies in return for a truce between humans and machines freed humanity and finally broke the cycle of The One.

Related: What Happens When An Agent Takes Over A Person In The Matrix

The Matrix Resurrections Pays Off Smith’s Twisted Hero’s Journey

Smith talks to Neo in his office in Matrix: Resurrections

Smith was, by all means, a villain in the Matrix original trilogy, yet he was also the closest thing to a powerful ally Neo ever had against the machines. Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus by themselves would have never defeated the machines, not even reached a point at which a truce could be achieved. That twisted alliance between Neo and Smith is something that The Matrix Resurrections incorporate by bringing both characters back. While Smith was destroyed at the end of Revolutions, the fact that Neo was revived in Resurrections allowed a fraction of Smith to return. Smith realized how important Neo’s existence was to him, and that is why Smith helps Neo in Resurrections.

Next: Neo Could’ve Lost If The Analyst Was In Matrix Reloaded (Not The Architect)

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