In the scene in The Matrix where Neo is escaping from work to get away from the agents, he asks Morpheus what the Agents who are coming for him want from him. Morpheus replies that he doesn't know, but if he doesn't want to find out he should get out of there. He also claims that he doesn't know what they were going to do once they apprehended him.

Morpheus can clearly see exactly what's going on inside the building (although he declines to tell Neo exactly how he knows all of that, saying that "we don't have time"). The phone rings almost instantly when Neo opens it, and Morpheus is able to tell him exactly where to go in the building and when to do it.

I understand how Morpheus could see inside the building and ascertain the location of the Agents, but I don't understand how he could know that the Agents were trying to find Neo (as opposed to some other random person who happened to be in the same office) without having any idea why they were looking for him in the first place.

Granted, he could presumably see the people in the office pointing out Neo, but he also would've had to have sent up the phone before he saw that, so clearly he already knew that even before he saw that.

On the other hand, he didn't warn Neo not to go to the office in the first place, so he probably didn't know that they would look for them there on that particular day.

Is Morpheus telling the truth? How can he know that the agents are coming for him without having any sense of why they were coming for him or what they intended to do once they had arrested him?

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    I'm actually not sure I agree with your statement "I understand how Morpheus could see inside the building and ascertain the location of the Agents", that doesn't seem to happen anywhere else in the series and is never explained how they do it then.
    – Paul
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 18:39
  • @Paul I assume that it was similar to the way that Cypher was able to tell stuff like hair color of people inside the Matrix by reading the "raw" feed. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 18:41
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    I haven't seen that scene in a while @EJoshuaS, but I never thought his statement was to be taken as canon; it seemed more like a guy who was dreaming about how much better things were inside than in the "real world".
    – Paul
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 18:44
  • @Paul - The operator can read and know where everyone is, remember in the second one, Link told Neo he was in the mountains. Morpheus was watching Neo while he was in the office and can see the agents.
    – user69923
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 23:18
  • @Paul: This is often shown, it's just not Neo but Tank who takes the role of operator. It happens on every excursion the crew takes into the Matrix (at least in the first movie)
    – Flater
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 11:14

5 Answers 5


She got out.

It doesn't matter.

The informant is real.

We have the name of their next target.

The name is Neo.

The agents know of Neo prior to Morpheus contacting him as Cypher has told them to prove himself as a spy.

At the point the agents go for Neo in the office, Morpheus is not aware of this so doesn't know why they have come for Neo.

  • Good point... he couldn't possibly have known that Cypher had betrayed them yet. Out of curiosity, how do you think that Morpheus found out about the Agents being after him? Clearly, he found out on time to have the package delivery guy bring him the phone, but not early enough to warn Neo not to go to work in the first place. Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 14:02
  • @EJoshuaS - Because they are monitoring Neo, and probably assume that agents will arrive shortly. Remember, Neo isn't the first person they have freed, so they probably take all precautions necessary, for example, assume when attempting to extract someone that agents will eventually show up. That's a good guideline/rule to follow.
    – user69923
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 14:10
  • What do I think? The Matrix is a system of control, the One and the resistance another. The machines/agents actually want Morpheus and Neo to meet so probably left clues so Morpheus would make his move. Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 15:56

Several reasons exists for the agents to want to capture Neo. Let's look at what happened in the movie up to that point.

  • Neo spends his nights searching for Morpheus and what the matrix is?
  • Morpheus and his crew have targeted Neo for extraction.

Do the agents want to apprehend him to tell him to stop his search?

Do they want to ask Neo to help them capture Morpheus?

Why is Morpheus so interested in Neo?

Given the little time they have in the office scene, he simply said he didn't know why they wanted Neo, and to a small extent, he was right.

I doubt Morpheus wasn't aware why they wanted him, but explaining why might prompt Neo to ask more questions, all of which can be answered in a more safer location, in this case the pill meeting.


Neo was a well known hacker who engaged in numerous criminal enterprises, though his motivation did not appear to be wholly mercantile. Morpheus could reasonably have assumed the agents wanted Neo for those activities.


Morpheus and team have extracted many others from the Matrix. They have a pattern. It appears that they first observe, then reach out, then meet within the Matrix, and finally the choice of the pill.

Morpheus knows he's being hunted by the agents because of the "freeing" activities and his knowledge of the location of Zion. (It's later revealed in Reloaded that the machines knew the location of Zion, they help create it in the first place). Anyone Morpheus reaches out to would be an obvious target to get to Morpheus. They have currently been working on Neo's extraction and any Agent activity in the vicinity of Neo (especially with the absence of Morpheus' crew in the vicinity) means one thing. They're coming to apprehend him.

But that said Morpheus is not clear if the agents are trying to nab Neo the get to Morpheus or if they suspect he's The One. Once they release Neo Morpheus confirms that they only used Neo as a tracer conduit to get to Morpheus.

Long story short - Agents near the one they are reaching out to means that that person is under the threat of being apprehended, and Morpheus is simply trying to avoid this.

While Cypher might have sped up the process of the Agents getting to Neo, they would have been able to trace communications to eventually know that the next target is Neo.


Eventually Morpheus knows that the agents are coming for Neo because the agents are merely going after the people that the zionists are trying to free. They observe the zionists actions and deduce the target. Remember that in the Architect's grand design, the agents are never actually meant to succeed, They are only meant to be the force of oppression that The One will be born in centre of. Which in the second design of the matrix, was the architect's strategy to containing the random element in human behaviour.

The Oracle prophesied to Morpheus that he will find the One. Morpheus in turn is very spiritually driven. He locates people that he feels are driven to awaken and rebel. It is somewhat implied that the machines (Aside from The Oracle) are incapable of truly understanding human choice. I also theorize that the oracle was probably built with human biological components to achieve this goal specifically.

Also, I feel that it is somewhat implied from the animatrix movies that the ship crews maintain some form of contact with their extraction targets. Probably also contacting many real and false targets at the same time to try and confuse the agents.

  • Can you support this answer with examples or dialogue? This seems more like speculation than a verifiable answer. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 21:26
  • Make sure you look up some verifiable sources for your answer. Otherwise, good ideas! Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 23:07

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