Agents (Top: Regular agents; Bottom: Upgraded agents)

Sentient programs. They can move in and out of any software still hardwired to the system. That means that anyone we haven't potentially an Agent. Inside the Matrix, they are everyone...and they are no one.

― Morpheus explaining Agents to Neo[src]

Agents were programs whose primary function was to eliminate anyone or anything that could potentially reveal the truth of the Matrix to its inhabitants or cause harm to its system. Their directive effectively functions in parallel with the role of assassins, hunting down specific individuals and killing them.

Abilities[edit | edit source]

Every single man or woman who has stood their ground, everyone who has fought an Agent, has died. I've seen an Agent punch through a concrete wall. Men have emptied entire clips at them and hit nothing but air.

― Morpheus to Neo[src]

  1. Superhuman Physique: Agents were the most dangerous entities within the Matrix. They possessed extraordinary powers to manipulate their surroundings, including superhuman strength and the ability to flawlessly dodge incoming bullets. However, Agents still had limitations, being "based in a world that is built on rules". Thus, they could not perform any actions outside the boundaries of their programming, such as walking through walls or flying;[1][2] Agent Smith's flight in his final fight against Neo was the sole exception to the rule, as he had essentially gained total control over the Matrix by that point.[3] Agents were programmed to keep order within the system by terminating troublesome programs and human avatars which would otherwise bring instability to the simulated reality. In addition, while capable of dodging bullets, there are limits to that ability, with agents being incapable of dodging bullets if fired at point blank range and/or dodging high-powered rounds from a rotary cannon, which is best demonstrated by how Trinity managed to dispatch Agent Jones and how Neo managed to defeat the agents at the top floor of their hideout, respectively.
  2. RSI Manipulation: Agents had the ability to freely manipulate the RSI of humans that were part of the Matrix. Agent Smith demonstrated this ability by sealing and then removing Neo's mouth completely when Neo demanded for his right to a phone call. They also had the ability to take over the simulated body of any human that was a part of the Matrix, converting it into a copy of their own. If that body was killed, or an Agent needed to change its location quickly, it could assume the shell of any other human hard-wired to the Matrix in a matter of seconds. It was this power that allowed them to simultaneously be "everyone and no one" within the Matrix, in keeping with Morpheus' observation. This process was greatly aided by the Agents' instantaneous communication with each other via their earpieces.[1]
  3. Sentinel Control: Agents also seem to have the ability to communicate with Sentinels. This was demonstrated when, after Cypher's plan to aid the Machines in getting access to Zion's mainframe failed, the Machines were forced to get the codes directly in the Real World. They did so by attempting to get hold of a ship's captain, choosing Morpheus as their target. Once the Nebuchadnezzar was tracked down in the Real World, Agent Brown told Agent Smith to order Sentinels to attack the ship. However, this ability appears to be limited to the leader, as Agent Brown told Smith to "order the strike" once the Nebuchadnezzar was located, alluding to the possibility that only Smith, and his successor, Johnson, could command Sentinels.

Description[edit | edit source]

An Agent's communications earpiece, a modified Telex ET 2 coiled earpiece.

Agents typically appeared as Caucasian males with brown hair, and dressed formally to greatly resemble and appear to possess governmental authority similar to Secret Service, FBI, NSA, or CIA government officials. Their general attire were dark green suits with gold lining, dark green ties, communication earpieces, square sunglasses, and white dress shirts, creating an ordinary if somewhat out-of-place appearance.[1] In contrast is Smith's appearance upon his return as a virus after his apparent destruction, with his sunglasses more angular in shape and a black outfit instead of dark green.[2] Agents appeared to be human but collectively lacked a substantive personality, and so normally worked in trios where one Agent had a more defined personality for discussions or interrogations of bluepills.[1]

Agents were also endowed with incredible agility, strength, speed, heightened damage resistance such that pain appeared more of an annoyance than a hindrance, and the ability to possess other bluepills connected directly to the system. The ability to possess anyone connected directly to the Matrix power plant made any human in the Matrix a potential Agent. As such, Zion operatives working within the Matrix could encounter an Agent at any time.

The Agents were also assisted by a system, through the eyes of numerous programs and bluepills alike, that continuously monitored the Matrix for aberrations and anomalies. An example of this tactical advantage was when a homeless man spotted Morpheus exit the Matrix, seemingly melting away, through a public telephone. The homeless man's heightened reactions alone were enough to tip off Agent Smith of their whereabouts. Another example was when another Agent, without being in proximity of the anomaly, was alerted by a program to a haunted house with a programming glitch where the laws of physics were suspended.[4]

Agent Jones dodging Neo's incoming fire during the rooftop fighting.

While redpills connected to the Matrix outside of pods and power plants and, so, could not be possessed, Agents still posed a significant threat. Should a Zion operative be discovered by an Agent, their only option was to flee, it being common knowledge that everyone who stood their ground against an Agent had died. Agents were endowed with superhuman agility, allowing them to easily outpace the average redpill in hand-to-hand combat and to avoid bullets, notwithstanding point-blank shots or weapons with extremely high rates of fire.[1]

An Agent's programming allowed them to bend or break the laws of physics just like trained redpills, albeit to a much greater degree. Should a redpill be fortunate enough to defeat an Agent, the victory would be short-lived as the Agent would simply possess another body or call upon their comrades, cultivating a fearsome reputation as relentless and nigh-invincible killers.[1]

Compared to redpills, Agents appeared to rely less on martial arts skills and more on their superior agility and reaction times, tending to favor more conventional punches and kicks. When necessary, they called on their extensive list of acrobatic skills and fighting moves, utilizing their superior speed and strength to overpower and outpace their enemies in combat.[1]

An Agent's Desert Eagle .50AE

An Agent's primary sidearm was usually the Desert Eagle chambered in .50 Action Express. Their aim was incredibly accurate, demonstrated when Agent Smith was able to track and shoot Morpheus in the leg through a wall during Neo and Trinity's rescue mission.[1] When an Agent possessed a new body, their sidearm, clothing and general appearance were all carried over as well,[1] a procedure continued with the replication of each Smith clone.[2]

Agents were also tasked with the elimination of Exiles, rogue programs who had outlived their purpose within the Matrix but refused to return to the Source; The Keymaker and Seraph were notable Exiles. All Agents prioritized targets based on their potential threat level, as seen during the freeway chase when the Agents ignored the Twins in favor of focusing on eliminating the Keymaker, who, because of his having a means of accessing the Source, was a far greater threat than the Twins.

History[edit | edit source]

Agents (from left to right) Brown, Smith, and Jones.

Agents came to existence when the machines defeated humanity during the early stages of the Machine War and their creation of the Matrix. They were old enough to witness the creation of the Paradise and Nightmare Matrix prototypes before its final design that was used for centuries. Their only goal was to protect the Matrix itself and the truth. Neo first saw Agents Brown, Jones, and Agent Smith. Of these, Smith had a more defined personality, and expressed hatred and contempt towards both humanity and his work within the Matrix.[1] He later became a virulent rogue Agent, disconnected from the system, psychotically choosing as his new purpose the destruction of the Matrix and Neo in particular.[2]

Upgraded Agents[edit | edit source]

Upgraded Agents (from left to right) Jackson, Johnson, and Thompson.

Six months after Neo's transfiguration into The One, the Matrix retrieved agents Brown and Jones back to the Source and deployed the Upgraded Agents Jackson, Johnson, and Thompson.

Upgraded Agents, unlike the original Agents, had a change of appearance: their suit jackets were lighter and had more of a grayish-green tone, they were bulkier, wider and taller in appearance, and their last names were two syllables long and all ended with "-son". The Upgraded Agents also spoke with a slight, almost unnoticeable reverb effect to their voices, which made them sound intimidating even while discussing mundane matters, unlike the regular agents who sounded perfectly normal.

Upgraded Agents were deployed to defeat The One, whom they called "the Anomaly". Since Neo's powers far outmatched those of regular Agents, Upgraded Agents were allowed to bend the rules of the Matrix to a greater degree than the original Agents, possessing increased stamina and speed, more powerful punches and much faster reactions. Neo realized the nature of Upgraded Agents when Johnson blocked one of his lighter punches, but even still they were greatly outmatched. While these Upgraded Agents were quicker than previous iterations, they did not present more threat to The One than their predecessors. For example, just as Agent Smith failed to hit Neo upon realizing he was The One,[1] so too did Agent Johnson fail to do so when he attacked Neo.[2] In both cases, Neo blocked all of the respective Agent's attacks, countering the blows without any real effort, all with one arm behind his back.

However, Upgraded Agents were a more serious threat to other redpills, being even more difficult to kill than typical Agents. Trinity was outmatched and nearly killed by Thompson while trying to save Neo and Morpheus, until she was saved by Neo himself. Even Morpheus, despite his best efforts and improved fighting abilities, was eventually overpowered by Agent Johnson and only caught him with a surprise attack after managing to save The Keymaker.[2]

Appearance and Design[edit | edit source]

The look and manner of Smith and his fellow Agents seem to be drawn from the common pool of paranoia and American pop culture. One influence appears to be the popular image of the Men in Black agents from the 1997 film, Men in Black, as well as the black suit-and-tie getup from the 1992 film, Reservoir Dogs, the 1994 film, Pulp Fiction and the 1980 comedy film, The Blues Brothers, merged with the depictions in media of federal law enforcement agents as ruthlessly efficient automata who carry out their duties with cold precision and General American Accent.

Agents wore dark, square, frame-less sunglasses with corners or smooth angles, dark green suit jackets with gold satin lining, matching dress pants, a dark green tie with a communication earpiece on the right ear, along with a tie clip, and a white dress shirt. Their choice of suit color was based off of the green encoding for the Matrix itself, further identifying themselves as programs. With the minor exceptions of African-American Agent Perry and female Agent Pace,[5] nearly all Agents appeared as Caucasian males,[1][3][2][5][6][7][8][9] in stark contrast to the majority population of Zion which consisted of many diverse cultures and walks of life.[2][3]

Agents looked down on humanity and, apart from Agents Smith, Jones and Johnson, simply showed blandness and apathy for the human race. Smith had been obsessed with destroying humans, even specifically mentioning their smell, while Jones implied at one point that he, too, had a strong dislike of humanity, uttering "Only human" in a disgusted tone of voice, though his contempt for them was not as strong as Smith's.[1] Johnson repeated Jones' words at the start of The Matrix: Reloaded before the fight between him and his fellow agents against Neo that occurred during the Crisis Meeting, adding a snide smile at the end to denote his contempt.[2] Regardless of any apathy or dislike of humans Agents might have, the agents are nevertheless pragmatic enough to make sure that bluepill casualties are kept to a bare minimum, as implied by Smith telling the Lieutenant of Law Enforcement that he had specific orders to have stand by orders for the police until after the agents arrived regarding dealing with the Redpill resistance member Trinity.[1]

Other Agents had names like Brown, Johnson, and Thompson; common, innocuous, Anglo-Saxon names.[10]

Quotes[edit | edit source]

Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet; you are a plague, and we - are the cure.

― Agent Smith[src]
Agent Jackson: It's him.
Agent Johnson: The anomaly.
Agent Jackson: Do we proceed?
Agent Johnson: Yes...
Agent Jackson: ...he is still...
Agent Johnson:  ...only human.
― The Upgraded Agents discussing Neo prior to their fight[src]

Only human.

― Agent Jones[src]

Tell me, Mr. Anderson... What good is a phone call... if you're unable to speak?

― Agent Smith[src]

Then you were meant for one more thing. Deletion.

― Agent Johnson to the Keymaker[src]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 The Matrix
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 The Matrix Reloaded
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Matrix Revolutions
  4. Beyond
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Matrix Online
  6. The Animatrix
  7. The Matrix Comics
  8. Enter the Matrix
  9. The Matrix: Path of Neo
  10. It was mentioned in the Philosopher Commentary on the DVD collection that the names of Smith, Brown and Johnson may be endemic to the system itself, demonstrating a very 'robotic' mindset on the part of the Machines.
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