If I am the father of the Matrix, she...would undoubtedly be its mother.”
― The Architect[src]
The Oracle is a major supporting character in The Matrix franchise. She is a program with such insight into human psychology that she has clairvoyant abilities. She was initially created to interpret aspects of the human psyche and was responsible for the key principles behind the third "current" version of the Matrix. After having served her purpose, she went into Exile and aided The Resistance in the Machine War; she ultimately is responsible for ending the war through her manipulation of key members within The Resistance, including Neo.
The Oracle appears as a African American woman in her late 60s. She frequently enjoys making cookies and likes the smell they make while they are cooking; she also has a penchant for candy. The Oracle aids the human resistance in freeing humanity from the oppression of the Machines. According to Morpheus, The Oracle has been in the service of The Resistance "since the beginning."
The Oracle gives predictions and insight to Zion operatives who choose to hear her. The One prediction she relays to The Resistance of Zion is that of the Prophecy, where the war will end when The One returns to end the hold of the Matrix.
The Oracle's powers of precognition appear amazingly accurate, even knowing that Neo was about to knock over a vase in her kitchen. She refers to a Latin saying on her wall "know thyself" - a popular tenet of Greek life. She leaves Neo in doubt as to his true path, noting that he has the "gift", but appears to be waiting for something: "Your next life, maybe." This presumably meant the moment where Neo dies and comes back to life at the end of The Matrix, aware of his powers as The One. She also predicts a time when Neo will have to choose between his life and that of his leader, Morpheus. One of them will be saved, but the other will die.
The Oracle's prediction leads Neo to rescue Morpheus, but lose his own life at the hands of Agent Smith in the process. But Trinity intervenes. She confesses to Neo's lifeless body in the real world that The Oracle had said she would fall in love with The One, which meant that Neo could not actually be dead. With a kiss from Trinity, Neo's consciousness rejects the idea that he has actually died, and he re-awakens within the Matrix, enlightened, and empowered as The One.
In a later meeting, Neo can now see that The Oracle is not a human at all, but yet another program within the Matrix, perhaps yet another form of control over humanity. But The Oracle warns Neo to make up his own mind as to whether she was a friend or enemy. She directs Neo to find the entryway to the Source by finding the Keymaker, a program that can open hidden and locked backdoors within the Matrix. Unfortunately, The Keymaker is being held by what The Oracle describes as "a very dangerous program, one of the oldest of us. He is called The Merovingian."
While Neo is successful in reaching the Source, he meets with the Architect, who tells him that The Oracle, a sentient program designed to understand human psychology, is the Matrix's "mother", for lack of a better term. Neo also learns that the Prophecy is just another form of control to use him to reload the Matrix. Unlike his predecessors, Neo defies The Architect's blackmail of the extinction of man should Neo not comply. The Oracle apparently has changed the rules in making The One fall in love—not just with humanity, but with one specific person. Neo breaks the death/life cycle of Zion but leaves a new path to be forged if humanity — and the Matrix — is to be saved.
The Oracle, meanwhile, has problems of her own. Her bodyguard, Seraph, protects her from her enemies by never letting her stay at any one place for too long. However, an event occurs where The Oracle's original appearance (or The Oracle herself) is destroyed, forcing her to return in a new appearance. In a conversation with Ghost, she explains that this occurred when two programs made a deal with the Merovingian to smuggle their child into the Matrix by offering him the termination code for The Oracle's outer shell. The Oracle promised to watch over the child after Rama-Kandra and Kamala left the Matrix, allowing the deal to go ahead as she believed that Sati was important, and able to restore herself in a new physical appearance.
When Neo finds himself imprisoned in Mobil Avenue, Trinity and Morpheus, with help of Seraph who is given to them by Oracle to guide them and protect them from Agents if the need arises, takes the initiative to find Neo and rescue him from the clutches of The Merovingian, whose henchman, The Trainman, runs the construct imprisoning Neo. The Merovingian proposes that Neo can be freed if Trinity brings him the eyes of The Oracle but is forced to release Neo by Trinity, who holds him at gunpoint.
In their last conversation, The Oracle tells Neo that he must still reach the Source, but now she states that the Source resides in the Machine City, a vision he experienced while in Mobil Avenue. She warns that Smith, whose clones are assimilating everyone in the Matrix and causing it to fail faster than normal, is Neo's opposite. The Oracle gives Neo a final comment before he departs: "Everything that has a beginning has an end, Neo."
After Neo's departure, Smith appears and confronts The Oracle, mocking her with her inability to act against him and imitating a familial connection to her by her role as mother of the Matrix, but The Oracle simply coolly tells him to do what he came here to do. He replies with a yes Ma'am and absorbs her. Her calm demeanor and unwillingness to run both confuses Smith and makes him afraid and uncertain. He then copies over her, creating a new Smith who laughs as he receives her power. She is one of the only people that Smith showed even a modicum of respect to, looking down on everyone else he meets.
Neo succeeds in reaching the Machine City, at a price: Trinity is killed in the crash of their hovercraft, the Logos, and Neo was blinded by Bane (who had been possessed by Agent Smith earlier before he had a chance to exit the Matrix) some time earlier. He makes a proposal to the Deus Ex Machina for peace between Humanity and the Machines in exchange for ridding the virulent Smith from the Matrix.
This proves to be a challenge, as the Smith who now has the abilities of The Oracle also seemingly gained powers similar to Neo's, finally putting Smith on equal footing with The One. The two have an epic fight on and above the streets of the damaged Mega City, but Smith's powers from the assimilated Oracle prove too strong for Neo to counter. Upon his imminent defeat, an exhausted Neo listens to Smith proclaiming victory, telling that, with The Oracle's powers, he can already see his victory. Neo may have remembered The Oracle's conversation about choice on the apartment playground days before:
Neo: Do you already know if I'm going to take it?
Oracle: Wouldn't be much of an oracle if I didn't.
Neo: But if you already know, how could I make a choice?
Oracle: Because you didn't come here to make the choice. You've already made it. You're here to try to understand why you made it.
― The Oracle[src]
Smith also finds himself repeating the words said to Neo by The Oracle hours before: "Everything that has a beginning has an end, Neo." In his final act of enlightenment, Neo finally understands the why of his choice before he commits to it. Neo gives in and lets Smith copy over him, killing Neo. When the Machines realize that Neo is dead, they get the opportunity to retrieve the prime program from within Neo, thus resetting the Matrix and destroying Smith. Once the Matrix resets, The Oracle is seen lying on the ground in the crater where Smith slammed Neo into the ground, soaked with the rainfall.
After the Matrix is reloaded, all of the programs possessed by Smith are free. The Oracle reappears sitting on a park bench, looking at a sunrise created by Sati. The Architect appears and the two converse. The Architect comments on the great risk The Oracle took as he asks her how long she thinks the peace will last, to which she replies, "As long as it can."
As The Architect then departs, she asks him whether the Machines will free the humans and he says they will, after which she also asks whether the Machines will also honour the peace agreement, and The Architect snorts and snidely remarks, "What do you think I am, human?", alluding to humans' proclivity towards breaking terms of agreement.
Then Sati and Seraph appear to The Oracle saying that Neo saved everyone. When Sati asks if Neo will come back, The Oracle is hopeful that he will return. Seraph also asks The Oracle if she knew this new day of peace would come. The Oracle simply replied, "No. But I believed."
Sixty years later, a resurrected Neo recalled the memory of his first meeting with The Oracle amongst other memories that haunted him while living in a new version of the Matrix. Niobe later tells Neo that amidst a civil war between the Machines, they got word from The Oracle of a new power rising. However, they never heard from her again after that. Bugs states that when the current version of the Matrix was implemented, there was a program purge and The Oracle was deleted in it.
- Cinematically, the change in appearance is due to the death of actress Gloria Foster before shooting of her scenes for the two Matrix sequels was completed. The Oracle is portrayed by Mary Alice in The Matrix Revolutions
- Based on Neo's conversation with The Oracle in the quest for The Keymaker, as well as The Merovingian's probable role in the creation of the second failed Matrix, The Merovingian's hatred of The Oracle's power can be reasoned out to jealousy for her success in stabilizing the final Matrix design.
- The fact that Smith, who has always called Neo in person by his bluepill name, "Mr. Anderson", refers to him as "Neo" enables Neo to realize the choices (Smith's victory) have already been made as it relates to his next course of action.