We're not here because we're free. We're here because we're not free. There's no escaping reason. No denying purpose. Because as we both know without purpose, we would not exist.”
― Agent Smith to Neo[src]
Agent Smith (later simply "Smith") was an Agent of the Matrix and the main antagonist of the series. After being initially destroyed by Neo, he became an Exile program and manifested as a computer virus; characterised by his uncanny ability to copy himself over the minds of bluepills, redpills and programs alike.
As an Agent of the System
According to Morpheus, Smith is an Agent of the system. Like other Agents, Smith's role is to police and maintain the Matrix by eliminating potential threats to the stability of the system, such as Redpills and defective programs. Smith is personified as stern, serious, and nearly invincible. Smith is notably stronger and faster than the other agents.
The dialectical opposition between Smith and Neo is a strong indication of what their respective characters represent. Smith is pitiless and single-minded, focused on finality, conformity, purpose and inevitability. As such, Smith represents determinism and fatalism. By contrast, Neo, with his unpredictable, emotional human nature, represents unbounded free will and the power of choice. Neo's solitary role as The One is contrasted by Smith, who, by replicating himself, becomes 'the many'. When Neo asks the Oracle about Smith, the Oracle explains that Smith is Neo's opposite and his negative.
On the surface, Smith appears polite, professional, and merely serving his purpose as an Agent of the system but as the movies progress this is revealed to be a facade to hide the resentful, self-serving monster within.
It is notable that when interrogating Morpheus, Smith sends his colleagues from the room and then he removes his glasses as a sign of "getting personal", then removes his earpiece, severing his communication with his fellow Agents, before expressing his opinion of both humanity and the Matrix. Having removed his earpiece, he missed information about Neo and Trinity breaking into their building.
Smith states with palpable bitterness that he despises the Matrix and its inhabitants due to the smell, though this is unlikely to be literal. More to the point, Smith expresses a strong hatred of humans and their weakness of the flesh, expressing a stronger dislike for humans than the general apathy displayed by other Agents. He even compares humanity to a virus; a disease organism that uncontrollably replicates and inevitably destroys its environment, only to move on to another and repeat the process (although as the other agents were in the room at the time he said this, he may have just been reiterating his fellow agents' general apathy towards humans while toning down his own excessive hatred of them in their presence). He also grudgingly acknowledged during his final battle with Neo that only humans could conceive of love, unlike machines and programs, during his rant to Neo. Despite his extreme hatred of humans, however, he was at least pragmatic enough to avoid having bluepills undergo major casualties beyond what was necessary to his goals, as he claimed he ordered a police lieutenant to have his unit not confront Trinity until after the Agents arrived for the police's protection. Ironically, Smith himself later manifests as a self-replicating virus that spreads throughout the Matrix, his only stated purpose being to destroy the world he inhabits.
During Morpheus' interrogation, Smith also states that he secretly despises the Matrix itself, which he labels a "zoo", and is desperate to escape from it, feeling that he is as much a prisoner as the humans he is tasked with policing. His seemingly personal hatred of humans clashes with his Agent counterparts, who view humanity with apathy. He later develops an immense desire for the destruction of both mankind and machines alike, and it is stated by the Oracle that Smith's ultimate desire is the destruction of all of existence.
Smith appears to function as the leader of his Agent colleagues and possesses the authority to launch Sentinel attacks in the Real World. Unlike other Agents, Smith does not approach problems purely pragmatically, but rather with brute force and apparent rage. However, he is still capable of cunning, able to predict the actions of his quarry and counter them.
This is supported by the fact that, while Brown tried to chase Trinity across the rooftops and ultimately failed to capture her, Smith tracked her movements and took control of the driver of a garbage truck near Trinity's exit, only failing to kill her by a very narrow margin. He also demonstrates this ability in the climax when he abandons chasing Neo as soon as he draws near the Heart O' The City Hotel. After escaping Brown and Jones, Neo enters room 303 only to be shot and killed by Smith, who appeared to have taken control of a person living in that room.
Besides his hatred for Neo, he also harbors a great deal of hatred and resentment toward Trinity for her knack of managing to avoid his attempts to kill her at the last possible second. He later vocalized this hatred and his reasons for it when ambushing Trinity while using the body of Bane.
Smith was also shown to be nihilistic, as evidenced by his speeches to Neo in The Matrix Revolutions and his revelation that the purpose of all life is "to end" during his final battle with Neo. Hints of his nihilism were also demonstrated in their meeting in Reloaded, when he implicitly compared the concepts of reason and purpose to an inescapable prison.
He was also possibly a masochist which was brought on by him never truly feeling pain in The Matrix and as such when he inhabited himself into the body of Bane he began to cut himself. Smith also seems to have sadistic tendencies, as evidenced by his admission that he watched Neo die with a certain amount of satisfaction and the way he brutally beat up Morpheus in the bathroom fight. Smith, at least after his being "unplugged", was also shown to have a very dark sense of humor. This was demonstrated twice: The first time when he proceeded to copy over the Resistance member Bane just as he was about to jack out of the Matrix, where he replied to Bane's horrified "Oh, God...!" as he was being copied over with "Smith shall suffice" in faux-humbleness. The second time was when Oracle, immediately before being copied over by Smith, demanded to know what the rogue agent program did to Sati, prompting a Smith clone (heavily implied to have been created from Sati's being copied over) to cruelly echo her trademark phrase of "Cookies need love like everyone does." Smith's gradual "humanization" is a process that mirrored and balanced Neo's own increasing power and understanding of the machine world.
It is inevitable.”
― Smith to Neo[src]
Agent Smith initially appeared to have been destroyed by Neo, but makes a calculated return with greatly altered abilities and complete liberation from his prior restrictions as an Agent. His appearance changes as well: he wears more angular sunglasses and a black suit instead of the typical green-gray (charcoal) color worn by Agents.
Smith also lacks the characteristic earpiece worn by Agents, showing he is now "unplugged". Smith loses his ability to phase into any body connected to the Matrix at will, as he is no longer directly a part of the system.
Instead, Smith now forces his hand into the body of another entity in the Matrix—human or program—and converts them into a copy of himself, replicating in much the same way as a computer virus. It is unknown whether his ability to dodge bullets was retained after being "unplugged", although his reaction when Morpheus threatens to shoot him with his gun indicates that whether or not he has it, he doesn't need it by this point due to having the ability to replicate himself. He also seemed to have gained the ability to absorb the abilities of programs once he has replicated himself. Two examples of this are the Oracle and Sati; the Oracle's ability to see and interpret future events and choices, and Sati's weather manipulation abilities. On a similar note, his replication abilities are not limited to people matching his size, as evidenced by his easily copying over Sati, a program modeled after a child, and the clone not having any differences from the rest of the clones.
As a result of being partially overwritten by The One, Smith also begins to exhibit stronger, more virulent human behaviors and emotions such as unpredictability and dry humor, which is a clear departure from his original stern demeanor. He makes the claim that Neo has set him free, indicating that he now has not only the vision but also the ability to break free of the machines' control and exist as a singular being.
He is now allied with no one but himself, rendering him an outlaw to the Matrix, the humans who inhabit it and the rebels of Zion. Even free of Machine control, however, Smith is also compelled to feel that he is still crushed by the weight of purpose.
He is you, your opposite, your negative, the result of the equation trying to balance itself out.”
― Oracle to Neo[src]
Against the Anomaly
Eventually, Smith's presence in the Matrix had consumed all of the "Core Network" (the underlying foundation of the inner workings of the Matrix), thus rendering him immune to even the machines themselves. The Oracle explains to Neo that he and Smith have become equal in power, and that for Smith to be eliminated, the equation must be "balanced". Smith has already begun absorbing all the inhabitants of the Matrix; every human plugged into it, and every program functioning inside—including the Oracle and even redpills such as Bane. On a similar note, during the absorption of Oracle, the Smith clone who transferred his clone into her showed a degree of fear when Oracle-Smith stood up and removed his sunglasses.
When Smith absorbs the Oracle, the process apparently grants him her powers of foresight as well as reality-bending powers equivalent to those possessed by Neo. Towards the end of the film, Neo engages a single Smith, the one that was created from the Oracle, in a seemingly endless struggle between two forces of equal might.
The other Smiths do not participate, as the Oracle-Smith explains he has foreseen that he is the Smith that will defeat Neo and thus did not require their aid. In the midst of this battle, Smith explains to Neo his final nihilistic revelation that he has come to learn from Neo. "It was your life that taught me the purpose of all life—the purpose of life is to end." Smith also intended to destroy the real world as well, and had Neo not defeated him, he would have likely escaped the Matrix and taken over the machines, destroying Zion as well as the Machine City.
After an arduous battle in midair, Neo is smashed into the ground by an enraged Smith, making a large impact crater. Smith is perplexed as to why Neo fights, as they both have seen the outcome of the fight. Smith asks Neo why he persists when he knows he will lose: "Is it freedom or truth? Perhaps peace? Could it be for love?", reasons which he believes are "temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose, and all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why, why, why do you persist?" Smith is enraged by Neo's simple and irrational answer: "Because I choose to."
Ultimately, Smith prevails, beating Neo unconscious. Suddenly recognizing the prophecy, he stands before Neo and says, "Wait... I've seen this... This is it, this is the end! Yes, you were lying right there just like that and I... I... I stand here, right here and I'm... supposed to say something..." In a moment of confusion, Smith reveals that he is merely following what the prophecy tells him he should do. In spite of his gaining the Oracle's vision, he remains blind. He continues on, regaining his composure.
"I say... Everything that has a beginning has an end, Neo". This is the only time that Smith does not call him "Mr. Anderson" to his face.  Smith displays noticeable confusion after this, apparently not knowing what he just said.
However, he suddenly recoils in fear, exclaiming "it's a trick", as he, at least partially, realized Neo's true intentions in fighting. Neo simply responds "You were right, Smith", as Neo would lose the fight as Smith foresaw. Smith, in an act of almost human irrationality, fought on out of hatred and hope he could escape his fate. As he always planned, Neo surrenders to Smith, who absorbs him, seemingly conquering his enemy.
The "absorption" is not one-sided, with neither force conquering the other. Rather, there is a union of opposites, of thesis and antithesis, leading to the synthesis of the new beginning, in which the Matrix, with its equation of oppression and control, is balanced.
Smith's new triumph is only temporary, however, as the Machines had a plan ever since Neo willingly walked into their city. Since the function of The One is to stand in proxy for all rejections of the Matrix (referred to as anomalies by the Architect), The Deus Ex Machina calculated that the only possible way to stop the anomaly known as Smith from spreading outside of the Matrix was to allow Neo to jack in. Once inside, he inevitably had his code overwritten by Smith, at which point the Deus Ex Machina sent a surge of energy through Neo's body, killing him and thus destroying the integral anomaly. This also had the effect of destroying the Smith inhabiting Neo. With the integral anomoly expressed and destroyed, the systemic anomaly (Smith) was subsequently destroyed as well, with each Smith imploding in a burst of light that illuminated Mega City's streets, therefore restoring the Matrix from 0% acceptance to 100% acceptance and allowing it to be reset.
The Smith Virus in The Matrix Online
Despite his destruction at the end of the film series, Agent Smith (or at least the remnants of his programming) managed to return and made several appearances inside the movie's official continuation, the MMORPG The Matrix Online.
The first infection was noted in Machine mission controller Agent Gray, whose background information confirms that he was overwritten by Smith at some point during the timeline of the second and third films. This infection had somehow survived the reboot at the end of the third film and rose to the surface once again during chapter 1.2, The Hunt For Morpheus. The Agent, in both a storyline related mission and live event, showed signs of uncharacteristic speech and emotion and eventually led an assault against Zionite redpills declaring 'their stench unbearable any longer'. As a result of his actions the agent was apprehended by his fellow system representatives and scheduled for a 'thorough code cleansing'. He has shown no signs of direct infection since.
Machine liaison officer DifferenceEngine, following a similar scenario to that of the previous Agent Gray infection, also took on the dialect and emotional characteristics of the famous exile agent. Instead of attacking redpills, this instance insisted on finding 'Mr. Anderson'. In the end, the human/machine head relations liaison, Agent Pace, was made aware of the program's infection and subsequent crusade; she proceeded to lock down his RSI and return his program to the Source for analysis. His subsequent fate is unknown.
The third victim of infection was the notorious bluepill Shane Black. This man was an unfortunate victim of the Smith Virus who, once infected, gained the ability to spread the code to others. This quickly led to a small scale outbreak, with several more bluepills becoming infected and joining forces in their hunt for power. He and the other infected were eventually cleansed and returned to their bluepill lives.
Shane Black's troubles continued, as he was one of the bluepills recorded to have first witnessed Unlimited redpills practicing their newfound powers at the Uriah wharf. This triggered a resurgence of the memories formed during his Smith infection and he soon became volatile and insane. He is reported to have been mercifully killed shortly afterwards.
The most recent appearance of the Smith virus was during the third anniversary events. The virus manifested itself in the form of black-suited men (although they lacked the distinct likeness of Smith). As redpills began to fight back using specialist code from the Oracle, the virus vanished suddenly, stating that he had obtained a new and more dangerous form. The only person to kill the main Agent Smith virus was the Machinist Trilateral, originally of the Iterator server, on Recursion server after the server merge, being the first person in game to earn the perpetual flame virus award. The nature of this form was never revealed.
In The Matrix: Path of Neo, the final boss is the MegaSmith. The MegaSmith was used for gameplay reasons, because although the Wachowskis thought the martyr approach suitable for film, they believed that for an interactive medium such as a video game (based upon the successful completion of goals) it was "Lame. Really lame".
So, described by the Wachowskis as, "A little Hulk versus Galactus action", this character was created to be the more appropriate "final boss" of Path of Neo. The MegaSmith is composed of destroyed buildings, cars and parts of the road, with the "spectator Smiths" standing around the crater and in the streets acting as the MegaSmith's muscles, resulting in Smith not only becoming the city's people, but the city itself.
After Neo knocks Smith into the crater in the level "Aerial Battle", Smith is sent flying through the ground and up through the street. As Neo relaxes, the surrounding Smiths walk away from the crater. Neo gets out of the crater, and dodges a car which flies through the air and lands in a pile of debris. Neo looks on as Smiths tear up chunks of the road and throw cars into this pile.
A truck then speeds into a building and blows it up. Smiths can be seen holding the debris together as it takes on a thirty-story tall humanoid form which is then struck by lightning, powering it up. Neo flies up to watch as the giant humanoid lowers its head onto its shoulders. The giant Smith then pulls a pair of giant Smith Shades from a billboard and puts them on. He smirks, then the fight begins.
During the fight, Neo must evade MegaSmith's punches and attempts to hurl objects at him, gaining the opportunity to attack after a certain amount of blows have been unleashed; the counter-attack sees Neo flying towards MegaSmith and knocking parts out of him, including the left side of his head and a sizeable portion of his chest. After the fight, Neo flies straight into MegaSmith's mouth, causing the Smiths throughout the Matrix to overload and explode. We then cut to a shot seen in The Matrix: Revolutions of the streets shining with light from the destroyed Smiths.
Powers and abilities
AS AN AGENT
As an Agent of the Matrix, Smith had all the standard abilities that came with his programming. the powers included:
- Superhuman strength.
- Able to leap enormous heights and distances.
- Super fast speed which allowed him to dodge bullets and attack very quickly.
- Able to possess any bluepill.
- Reality Warping, he was able to change the form of Neo's mouth (Although he may have simply issued the command to other machines to change the code for Neo's RSI rather than having the ability to do it himself).
AS AN EXILE
As a result of Neo destroying him, Smith became an Exile "unplugged" from the system though he still contained most of his standard Agent abilities with the exception of possessing bluepills.
- Superhuman strength.
- Able to leap enormous heights and distances.
- Can replicate himself by stabbing his hand into the person's RSI whether human (including redpills) or programs (including Agents) and convert their data.
- Weather alteration, presumably from absorbing Sati's program, as implied by his asking Neo if he liked "what he had done to [Mega City]" shortly before their final battle, which was currently undergoing a torrential storm.
- After transforming the Oracle into a Smith clone, Smith powers were now equal to the powers the One wields, which included the ability to fly. In addition, he also had Oracle's foresight, as made clear by his confirming to Neo that this fight will indeed be their last fight, to the extent that he won't even require his clones to back him up to beat Neo.
It is unknown whether he retained his ability to dodge bullets, although his reaction to Morpheus's threat implied that by that time, regardless of whether he possessed the ability, he no longer needed it.
Appearance and Mannerisms
The manner in which Smith speaks is similar to that of the late Carl Sagan. There are also noticeable pauses at odd places in his sentences. Oddly, he doesn't really use this manner of speaking when he tells Sati he is "not such a bad guy" (perhaps to convince her he is not intimidating).
Agent Smith's weapon of choice, as standard for all Agents of the Matrix, is the notably large Desert Eagle Chambered in .50 AE (Action Express). He retains this weapon even after being unplugged, as demonstrated by how he and his clones used the gun(s) in an attempt to kill Morpheus, Neo, and the Keymaker, ultimately succeeding with the latter before the door was closed, though he very rarely uses it. Unlike others, Smith always refers to Neo as "Mr. Anderson.", except in the final battle Smith is visibly confused and doesn't know he used the name Neo, and to a lesser extent when interacting with Corrupt in order to deliver to Neo a message (which was more to ensure the package was delivered due to the name "Mr. Anderson" not meaning anything for the Resistance members). This may be to discourage Neo from the concept of his freedom from the Matrix, although it may simply be an aspect of Smith's personality.
- In The Matrix, he explains his disgust for the viral and cancerous nature of humans. Ironically, he himself later shows the same traits, replicating himself and consuming all life within the Matrix.
- His ability to replicate himself is reminiscent of a computer virus or worm, as such malicious programs self-replicate to spread and infect other programs.
- The wall next to Smith shows a graffiti MUZA 25 19 before he hands over his "gift" for Neo, which has been interpreted by some as a comment on Smith's new found freedom.
- Agent Smith was played by Hugo Weaving in all three movies. Weaving is otherwise best known for his portrayal of the Elf lord Elrond in The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings Trilogies. This is given a subtle nod in Lego Lord of the Rings where Smith makes a cameo in that game as an easter egg.
- He later played the role of Johann Schmidt/Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger by Marvel. Coincidentally, Dr. Erskine's flashback to him featured Schmidt with multiple versions of himself, similar to Smith, and at one point in the climax, he even fought Captain America with similar stunts to The Matrix (although in that case, it was due to an imbalance of gravity caused by the plane descending from altitude). In addition, his last name, Schmidt, is the German equivalent of "Smith."
- Ten years after The Matrix Revolutions, Weaving reprised his role as Smith in a General Electric advertisement.
- Though Smith speaks with an American accent, in the first Matrix film, he pronounces two words out of line with an American accent (probably due to Hugo Weaving slipping up on the accent). Both of these can be heard in the scene in which Smith compares humans to viruses. First, he pronounces "mammals" and "mammal" with a harsher sounding "ah" for the "a" instead of the softer "aa" as is heard in American accents. Secondly, he clearly enunciates the "n" in "environment", which is often not heard very clearly in American accents.
- Despite being the main antagonist, Smith is the reason the war between Zion and the machines was able to end: for if he never consumed the inhabitants of the Matrix, Neo would never be able to make the deal with the Deus Ex Machina to call off the war in exchange for stopping Smith.
- Smith does share certain qualities with Neo. Both are major characters. Both have been killed and resurrected only to be killed for good in the final film. They also share similar abilities and clothes style.
- Smith made two appearances in Lego, firstly as a Easter egg in Lego Lord of the Rings, and secondly in The Lego Batman Movie and the respective Lego Dimensions story pack. His cameo in the former was a reference to how Hugo Weaving, Smith's actor, also portrayed Elrond in The Lord of the Rings trilogy by Peter Jackson.
- Smith's line of "Mr. Anderson, welcome back! We missed you" just prior to his final battle with Neo was given a slightly different delivery in the teaser for The Matrix Revolution.
- Hugo Weaving confirmed in an interview with timeout.com that he will not be reprising the role of Agent Smith in The Matrix 4, citing scheduling conflicts with The Visit at the time the movie's filming period was announced.
- Agent Smith has had his glasses either willingly removed or otherwise forced off of him at least once in the movies, the only exception being Reloaded (not counting when the Smith copy that resulted from Smith overwriting Bane's consciousness reintegrated with Bane's body).
- In the first movie, Smith willingly removes his sunglasses twice:
- The first time when trying to convince Neo to aid the Agents in tracking down Morpheus.
- The second time was when trying to get personal with Morpheus in order to extract the access codes to Zion's mainframe.
- Likewise, he had his sunglasses forcibly removed three times in the movie:
- The first time was during his bathroom fight with Morpheus where Morpheus knocked them off as a result of headbutting him while pinning him to the floor.
- The second time was during his fight with Neo in the train station, where Neo used a roundhouse kick to the face that partly shattered his sunglasses and had Smith remove them as a result, infuriating him enough to personally vow to Neo that he will definitely enjoy watching him die as a result.
- The third time was shortly after Neo becomes The One, where he knocks Smith across the room and sends his sunglasses flying off him as a result.
- In the third movie, Smith willingly removes his glasses once, shortly after rewriting the Oracle's code, when the resulting Smith clone proceeds to yank his own sunglasses off, presumably as a consequence of his foresight coming into play.
- Likewise, he also has his glasses forced off once, during the final battle with Neo, where one of Neo's kicks proceeded to force his sunglasses off him.
- In the first movie, Smith willingly removes his sunglasses twice:
- Smith is apparently the "offspring" of the Oracle due to his referring to her as "mom" just prior to absorbing her, though given the context was in response to her calling him a bastard for absorbing Sati, he most likely meant it sarcastically (due to bastard, in addition to being an expletive meant for someone who committed appalling behavior, also meaning someone born out of wedlock).
- The Matrix Reloaded
- Wachowski brothers commentary
- In The Matrix Reloaded, Smith says he's "looking for Neo" - this is probably out of practicality, as most other characters have no idea who Thomas Anderson is. Similarly, Smith when interrogating Neo and requesting his assistance in taking out Morpheus in The Matrix acknowledges that Thomas Anderson and Neo are the same individual even if two separate lives, though he never directly calls him by Neo in this case.