Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges)
A former programmer at ENCOM whose ideas for video games were stolen by Dillinger. Dillinger subsequently fired him from the company to silence him. When we meet him, Flynn has spent at least a year seeking evidence of Dillinger's theft, with no success. Alan and Lora enlist him to help them put an end to Dillinger's abuse of power, but the MCP responds to their efforts in a way none of them could have predicted.
- Deadpan Snarker: A major snarker:Flynn: I never should have written all those tank programs.
Flynn: Now that is a big door!
- Did Not Get the Girl: Broke up with Lora before the film, and briefly kisses Yori.
- God in Human Form: As a User to the programs.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Thinks jumping into the laser will cause this, but it simply rematerializes him back into reality.
- Hollywood Hacking: Though his methods aren't too unrealistic compared to other examples. Sitting at Lora's terminal, he was getting ready to put the MCP into a logic loop so he could search for his file uninhibited. Had he not been sitting in front of the digitizing laser, he might have succeeded.
- Man Child: He seems to have regressed to this state after getting kicked out of his company. When we first see him, he's the owner of an arcade and wowing his teenage customers with his virtuoso game skills. His office overlooks the arcade, and when he asks Alan about Lora's personal bedroom habits, Lora (his ex) shouts in frustration "Now, you see why all his friends are fourteen years old!"
- Master of Unlocking: Has a talent with electronic locks among his various skills and uses it to open the huge main door at ENCOM.
- Messianic Archetype: From the programs' perspective he is a literal divine being who descends from on high, joins the fight against evil, and returns to his own world by sacrificing himself to save program-kind.
- There's No Place Like Home: although his goals do eventually shift from "get home" to "free the system".
- Trapped in Another World: Ends up physically digitized into Cyberspace by the Deus Est Machina Master Control Program.
Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner)One of the programmers at ENCOM, with big nerdy glasses and a hot-air popcorn machine, he created TRON.
- The Chessmaster: A downplayed and benign form of it. He had been constructing Tron for months, right under the noses of Dillinger and Master Control, while maintaining good relations with Walter Gibbs, the only one who outranked Dillinger. He had also been sending Dillinger regular memos on the project, which Dillinger promptly ignored. By the time Dillinger and Master Control realized what Tron was capable of, it was far too late.
- Glasses Pull: When he's complaining to Lora about Dillinger and the MCP.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Part of the reason he was not inclined to help Flynn at first is because of Lora's past with him.
- Nerd Glasses: His large and unflattering spectacles.
- Only Sane Man: Appears to consider himself as such compared to Flynn and Lora.
- Shout-Out: To Allen-Bradley, a brand of computer equipment.
- Also to Alan Kay, a computer software pioneer, and co-writer Bonnie McBird's husband
- Sour Supporter: He isn't thrilled with the idea of helping his fiancee's ex-boyfriend, at least at first.
- To Be Lawful or Good: He's very much on the fence about warning Flynn, much less helping. The "lawful" option would be to look the other way, let Flynn get caught, and give up on his software. The "good" option involves about a half-dozen felonies for all the right reasons. He takes the "good" option.
Ed Dillinger (David Warner)The Corrupt Corporate Executive responsible for the Master Control Progam, and Flynn's termination from ENCOM. He is now Senior Executive Vice President thanks to his "contribution" to the company line.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: He stole the plans for several of Flynn's games and passed them off as his own. He shows himself to be unethical and dishonest throughout the film.
- Dirty Coward: When Dillinger learns that MCP plans to hack into the Pentagon and Kremlin, MCP dissuades him from going to the authorities by threatening to leak incriminating information about him to the press. This is enough to silence Dillinger.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Dillinger balks when MCP expresses desire to hack into the Pentagon and Kremlin.
- Idiot Ball: He ran with this one, but willingly letting the MCP hack the Pentagon and Kremlin just so it wouldn't tell the world about all the programs he'd stolen will forever be one of the classics.
- Jerkass: His demeanor is arrogant, he passes off Flynn's games as his own, and he hints that he could fire Gibbs after Gibbs criticizes him.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Reacts this way when he learns the full extent of the MCP's plans.
- Oh Crap!:
- He has one when Alan informs him that Tron would be able to watchdog Master Control. As soon as Alan's out of earshot, Master Control seems to share the sentiment.
- Dillinger also gets this when the MCP casually mentions that it plans to take over both the Pentagon and the Kremlin.
- Downplayed at the end of the film after Flynn's documentation of Dillinger's plagiarism is displayed on his desk screen, and he realizes his game is up. He says nothing, but the look on his face is enough.
- Smug Snake: Despite his arrogance, he's not nearly as in control as he thinks he is.
Lora Baines (Cindy Morgan)One of the programmers at ENCOM, specializing in laser research and digitizing objects. Also the current love interest of Alan Bradley, and the former love interest of Kevin Flynn.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Towards Flynn by the end of the first movie.
- Ice Queen: Flynn halfheartedly accused her of acting like this before they broke up; he may or may not have been serious.
- Sweater Girl: Wears a white angora sweater at the end of the movie.
- The Mister and the Ex: Alan as the Mister, Flynn as the ex.
Walter Gibbs (Barnard Hughes)An ENCOM scientist. Gibbs founded ENCOM, originally running it out of his garage, before Dillinger took over, and doesn't approve of Dillinger's methods.
- Cool Old Guy: He was the guy who founded ENCOM, but was more interested in scientific development than money. He invented the laser that got it all started. He was also the only person on-screen who dared to tear Dillinger a new one to his face over the way things were run.
- For Science! : He was so happy to be working in a lab with his laser project that he all but handed Dillinger the company he built.
TRON (Bruce Boxleitner)
A security program (basically the 1982 version of a firewall), written by Alan, that threatens the Master Control Program's plans to infiltrate and take over government computers. Held prisoner by Sark as a Game Grid gladiator when Flynn first sees him.
- Bruiser with a Soft Center: Yes, he's the biggest Badass in cyberspace. He's also a very loyal and sweet guy. He's visibly shaken when it looks like Flynn and Ram were killed. When he's running through the city, an urgent call from his User pending, he goes to rescue his girlfriend first (and if you believe that Deleted Scene, go back to her place for a while). His Kingdom Hearts incarnation is even more so.
- Combat and Support: He handles combat. Yori handles support.
- Establishing Character Moment: TRON's Badass cred is established in his very first appearance, where he is seeing taking on four other Programs in a blatantly-unfair disc duel...and wins. Then he raises his disc to the sky, as if dedicating his victory to the Users.
- Friendly Sniper: Is an expert at throwing his disc.
- Meaningful Name: TRON means "trace on," similar to his functions in the game. Also abbreviated from "electronic."
- NameTron: According to Lisberger, TRON is a shortening of the word elecTRONic. He didn't learn until years later that there was a BASIC command that was also TRON (a debugging tool, short for "trace on"). note
- Three-Laws Compliant: Will not injure a User, or by inaction allow Users to come to harm? Check. This is a big plot point in the sequel Obeys orders given by Users unless it comes into conflict with the first law? Check. Will fight to preserve his own life unless it comes into conflict with the first two directives? Check, and tragically so.
- Tron Lines (Imagine that): Blue, with a large T on his chest made of light squares.
Master Control Program (voice of David Warner)
The Big Bad. An artificially intelligent program used by Dillinger to advance his career at ENCOM by assimilating the functions of all the other programs on their mainframe. It eventually begins planning to take over other systems, like the U.S. Military's computers, and even overcomes Dillinger's control. Inside the computer world, the MCP is a totalitarian dictator attempting to stamp out even the belief in users.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: He's a sentient program who kills other programs and seeks control of the Pentagon and Kremlin. He figures he can run things 800 to 1200 times better than any human.
- Bad Boss: He inflicts pain on Sark whenever Sark disappoints him or shows trepidation.
- Big Bad: The main antagonist of the film who rules his network with an iron fist, and plans on expanding to others.
- Evil Sounds Deep: His voice is a baritone version of Dillinger's.
- Flat-Earth Atheist: Is not one himself, but promotes the attitude among the programs.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: Even though he hates Flynn, he tries to talk him out of destroying him by reminding him of all the times they played Chess together.
- Huge Holographic Head: And the Uncanny Valley is Grand Canyon deep, emphasizing what undiluted Nightmare Fuel he is to the programs. Although upon his final defeat, the holographic walls come down to reveal his original true form- an incredibly aged chess program whose face slowly fades out, as Dumont had noted prior; see Instant Ai Just Add Water entry.
- Instant A.I., Just Add Water: Started as a chess program, then various people gradually rewrote it to perform sysadmin duties on its own hardware. After this, it continued to gain intelligence by assimilating other programs' code into itself.
- Ludicrous PrecisionMCP: There's a 68.71 percent chance you're right.
- Nay-Theist: Although his public position on the matter is less Nay-Theist and more "Users don't exist, period".
- Never Found the Body: The last we see of the MCP is an old man furiously typing on a keyboard, then disappearing into the darkness. Word of God hinted it was a Sequel Hook.
- Orcus on His Throne: Zig-zagged. MCP is adept at navigating the world's computer systems, setting the Kremlin and Pentagon as his next targets. In cyberspace, however, he's physically limited to the building he inhabits and to Sark's interface on board the carrier. He relies on underlings to carry out his will and monitor the day-to-day operations of his world. In the movie's climax, Sark has to physically defend MCP against Tron. MCP can only raise shields around his base to defend himself.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: He appears to Sark as a multifaceted face with red eyes.
- Sinister Geometry: He appears to Sark as a digital, multifaceted face. His true form is a rapidly rotating cylinder with a humanoid face.
- Turned Against Their Masters: Intends to hack into the Pentagon and take control of the US's missile defense system, using it to force the world to obey.
- Verbal Tic: When finishing conversations, the MCP says, "End of line."
- We Used to Be Friends: Unless what he says was a lie, this piece of dialogue implies it.MCP: You shouldn't have come back, Flynn.Flynn: Hey hey hey, it's the big Master Control Program everyone's been talking about.MCP: Sit right there, make yourself comfortable. Remember the time we used to spend playing chess together?
- Wrong Genre Savvy: He isn't overly arrogant toward the threat Flynn poses to him, but he still insists on making him fight until he dies in the gaming grid... until he escapes with Tron and Ram.
- You Will Be Assimilated: Kills programs and takes on their functions.
Commander Sark (David Warner)The Dragon to the MCP, with Dilinger's face and voice. Runs the gladiatorial games.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Sark becomes a giant after the MCP transfers all its functions to him.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Sark might be terrifying in his giant form, but he's also slow and lumbering.
- YMMV on the impractical: Sark demonstrates his power by deflecting Tron's multi-striking disc with his bare hand. If not for Flynn's intervention, it's entirely possible Tron would have lost.
- Bad Boss: Sark is insulting and violent to his subordinates.
- Blood Knight: He's delighted when MCP gives him new victims to compete against in the Game Grid. MCP even admits that Sark is "brutal and needlessly sadistic", which Sark takes as a compliment.
- Boom, Headshot: During Sark's battle with Tron, Tron's disk slices off the top of his head, exposing his brain.
- The Dragon: He is the MCP's right-hand man.
- Eye Lights Out: When Tron's disk slices through his head, his eyes go dark.
- Jerkass: Even moreso than his user, Dillinger. Sark is arrogant and cruel toward everyone except the MCP.
- Nay-Theist: But pretends to be a Flat-Earth Atheist for agitprop purposes.
- Robots Enslaving Robots: Sark is essentially a kapo, lording over the other programs while MCP lords over him. He carries out MCP's will by forcing his fellow programs to engage in gladiatorial games.
- Size Shifter: In the movie's climax, Sark grows to giant size after MCP transfers his power to him.
- We Can Rule Together: He offers Tron a place by his side.
CLU (Jeff Bridges)One of the programs Flynn used to hack into the ENCOM system.
- Hollywood Hacking: An actual hacking program, albeit a custom one.
- Machine Monotone: Unlike almost all of the other programs. Granted, he was the only one from a different system.
- Not as You Know Them: Following the events of the movie, CLU was rebuilt and vastly upgraded into a powerful Admin program who later became the Big Bad of the sequel. Some fans consider them the same character because they have the same name and actor, but they have very distinct functions and characterization.
- Sacrificial Lamb / Sacrificial Lion: To prove that the MCP is a jerk
Yori (Cindy Morgan)A program written by Lora. She appears to be a 3D simulation program and may play a role in the digitization process.
- Combat and Support: She isn't a warrior. That's Tron's job. However, she handles diplomacy (getting Dumont to help), piloting (building and flying the Solar Sailer), and some of the planning (the deleted scene)
- The Engineer: She designed the Solar Sailer that gets them out of the city and most of the way to the fight with Master Control.
- Last Kiss: With Flynn as Flynn jumps into the beam.
Ram (Dan Shor)An actuarial program for an insurance firm conscripted into the gladiatorial games. An ally to Tron and eventually Flynn.
- Badass Bookworm: Ram seems pretty damn good at the gladiator games he was forced into despite being an actuarial program with no security features.
- Go Out with a Smile: After realizing Flynn is a User.
- Mr. Exposition: He gives Crom, and by extension the audience, the low-down on the MCP's regime and the game grid.
- Nice Guy: Imagine a friendly neighborhood insurance agent who genuinely loves his job helping people. He might be the most uncorruptable guy in the whole franchise.
- Sacrificial Lion: Just to piss us off.
Dumont (Barnard Hughes)A Tower Guardian who is nearly killed by the MCP for trying to help the heroes communicate with the real world.
- Cool Old Guy: He was the one who allowed Tron to get in contact with Alan via his tower and download the upgrade that eventually destroyed Master Control. Sark's forces eventually catch him, and he's remarkably snarky and sarcastic to them, even in the face of certain de-rez.
- Obi-Wan Moment: Sark's troops storm the gates of his tower, intending to arrest him and drag him to certain de-rez. He calmly (but sarcastically) addresses Sark as just another Program seeking communion with a User.
- Turbulent Priest: Guardians serve a priest-like role in the system, and he maintains the last free tower. He's cranky and embittered for a good reason, but he's just fine with being a pain in the ass.
Crom (Peter Jurasik)A banking program conscripted into the games.
- Jewish and Nerdy: He has a pronounced New York Jewish accent and is essentially a pencil pusher.
- Sacrificial Lamb: To prove that the Game Grid is truly dangerous
BitA binary digit resembling a compound of dodecahedron and icosahedron, Bit can only say "yes" or "no" when asked a question, and is used by other programs for advice.
- Big "NO!": Says "No no no no no" when scared.
- Big "YES!": Says "Yes yes yes yes yes" when amused.
- Deadpan Snarker: Despite only being able to say "yes" and "no."
- Living Polyhedron
- Oh Crap!: Bit gets this when it realizes that Flynn's about to crash his Recognizer.
- Verbal Tic: Only says "yes" and "no."
- Zeroes and Ones: Acted as a sidekick to the hero and could only say "yes" or "no" (with a corresponding shape-change).