A world inside the computer where man has never been. Never before now... TRON
Enter its world.
: Videogame developer Kevin Flynn, trying to prove that a Corrupt Corporate Executive
has stolen his videogame programs, is sucked into the digital world inside the computer, where anthropomorphic programs are consigned to fight for their lives in gladiatorial games. With the help of Tron, an independent security program, Flynn must try to destroy the evil Master Control Program from within, bringing liberty to the cyber realm, and find a way of returning himself to the real world.
Sounds simple enough, right?
Although computer-generated special effects had appeared in film as early as 1974, TRON
(1982) marked the first time that computers were used to create something "real", rather than to just represent computer graphics (sort of "real", anyway, since the story takes place inside a computer). Ironically, a large portion of the special effects in TRON
were actually hand-drawn; even the computer-generated objects and environments had to have their geometry entered by hand for every frame, since no practical method of automating the process existed at the time. In general, the light cycles, tanks, recognizers and the Solar Sail were CGI — however the huge amount of processing time required versus how much was available at the time required that they be rendered in black and white and hand-colored later.
Despite its bold look and bolder ambitions, especially for Walt Disney Productions which was sinking further into irrelevance at that time, TRON
was a commercial disappointment (it didn't lose money, but wasn't the hit they had intended it to be). The proven boxoffice poison that the Disney name was, for anything but outright kiddie stuff at the time, led to the creation of Touchstone Pictures
two years later.
To add insult to injury, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
considered it "cheating" to have used computers to create the special effects, resulting in the film not getting nominated for Best Special Effects. TRON
's failure put CGI development on the back burner for years; while a few later productions made use of CGI elements (Young Sherlock Holmes
, Flight of the Navigator
and, most notably, The Last Starfighter
), it would not be until 1989's The Abyss
, and later 1991's Terminator 2: Judgement Day
and 1993's megahit Jurassic Park
, that computer-generated effects would become feasible in the eyes of Hollywood and the public. This development and the film's persistent cult fandom
would cause the film to be popularly reevaluated
as a bold experiment in computer visual effects. This was the only project in which legendary futurists Syd Mead and Moebius would collaborate (each working on different aspects of the cyberworld.)TRON
appeared as a level in Kingdom Hearts II
(the game director's admitted first choice for the series, but couldn't find a way to put it in the first game).TRON
has spawned two (mutually exclusive
) sequels, the 2003 video game TRON 2.0
(in which Alan and Lora's son Jethro is transported into the cyber-world) and the continuity consisting of the film TRON: Legacy
and its tie-ins: (in order of publication) the graphic novel TRON: Betrayal
, the video game TRON: Evolution
, and the television series TRON: Uprising
TRON provides examples of the following tropes:
- Advancing Wall of Doom: Near the end of the movie, an energy wall slowly derezzes Sark's Carrier, and Flynn and Yori must escape it while being trapped onboard the carrier. Fortunately, Flynn shields them, so all that's left is a wire-frame carrier with a sole intact control panel. When Yori hops off the Carrier, it finally fades away.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Played straight with Master Control, who figures he can run things 800 to 1200 times better than any human; inverted with the free programs, who are being persecuted because they believe in the Users and want to continue serving them.
- Alternate Universe: Cyberspace.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: The laser lab, the computer facility, and the ridiculously large security door were not sets and props, but an actual location, Lawrence Livermore Labs. Unfortunately, all of it has long since been replaced.*
- Androids Are People, Too: It never even seems to occur to Flynn to think of them otherwise. Though, it's Ram dying that really cements it.
- And You Thought It Was a Game: Ram informs Flynn that he'll be forced to play video games. Flynn laughs it off, saying he plays those better than anyone. Unfortunately, those games turn out to be serious, lethal business, as Flynn discovers when his casual defeat of Crom leads to the latter's death (at Sark's hands, after Flynn refuses to take the killing shot).
Flynn: On the other side of the screen, they all look so easy!
- And You Were There: The programs are all dead ringers for the people who wrote them: Clu for Flynn, Tron for Alan, Yori for Lora, Sark for Dillinger, Dumont for Gibbs... and, down at the level where you'd need freeze-frame to notice, Sark's henchman for Dillinger's PA and Ram for Alan's cubicle neighbor (Flynn Lives in TRON: Legacy gives his name as Roy). The MCP, a product of numerous man-hours by various people, has a geometric abstraction of a face, but when it falls apart at the end, the original core program can be briefly seen, and it has Gibbs's face.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: For programs.
- Arcade Sounds: Justifed for once. Journey is also playing on the PA for atmosphere. Journey actually did two songs for the soundtrack: "1990's Theme" and "Only Solutions".
- Artistic License: In computing, bits only have two states. The one in Tron seems to have an additional 'undefined' state.
- Attack Its Weak Point: Alan (aka Alan-1) instructs Tron to hurl his disc at the critical juncture of the MCP to destroy it. However, until Flynn distracts it, the weak point is shielded from Tron's disc.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever / One-Winged Angel: Sark at the climax.
- Attack Reflector: Tron and other gladiator programs can use their discs to knock away an enemy's, even right back at them.
- Audience Surrogate: Flynn
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: In a mild sense between Flynn and Lora in the beginning, despite the fact they've officially broken up.
- Big Bad: The MCP
- Big Damn Heroes: Flynn gets one at the end when he jumps into the MCP's beam.
- Big Good: Tron
- Big "NO!"
- Flynn screams this when Sark orders him to finish off Crom.
- And Tron has one when it seems Flynn and Ram have been killed.
- Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word: Or "Embezzling" in this case.
- Boom, Headshot: During their battle in front of the MCP, Tron takes out Sark with a disk attack that splits Sark's disk... and his head. We even get some gibs.
- Brain Uploading: Word of God says that programs' resemblance to their Users is not a result of this, but is simply a reflection of their personalities.
Gibbs: You can remove men like Alan and me from the system, but we helped create it. And our spirit remains in every program we designed for this computer.
- Convenient Color Change: Users like Flynn can change their color scheme. Likewise, the Recognizers show the color of whoever is controlling them.
- Cool Bike: And how. Check out the concept art sometime.
- Overlap with What Could Have Been: They ran out of polygons halfway through, which is why the front of the light-cycles is so much more detailed than the rear.
- Cool Plane: The Encom Helicopter, with real-life Tron Lines!
- Cool Ship: Sark's Carrier, even if we only see one side of it.
- Cool Train: The Solar Sailer Simulation.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive. Edward Dillinger, who stole Flynn's programs, got promoted, then fired Flynn.
- Creating Life Is Awesome / Creating Life Is Unforeseen: The Encom programmers have no idea that their software is breathing, sentient code that adores and worships them from afar.
- Crucified Hero Shot: Sark tortures disobedient programs by "crucifying" them on a wall with electric impulses.
- Cyber Punk Is Techno: The original TRON score was by electronic music pioneer Wendy Carlos.
- Cyberspace: Trope Codifier. Had at least as much influence on how fiction portrays it as Neuromancer — and TRON was released two years before Neuromancer. However, William Gibson introduced the idea of cyberspace in his short story "Burning Chrome"note , which was published shortly before TRON was released, although after the film had been made. In fact, it was first published in an issue of Omni magazine that also had an article about the making of TRON.
- David Versus Goliath
- Tron vs. Sark.
- Flynn vs. MCP.
- Deadly Disc
- Deadly Euphemism: Programs don't "die"; they "derez" (short for "deresolution"). Averted whenever Sark or the MCP talk to or about Flynn, for obvious reasons. Also averted by Yori speaking about Tron's supposed fate when Sark's Carrier rammed through the Solar Sailer.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Bit, despite only being able to say "yes" and "no".
Flynn: (while driving the recognizer) Pretty good driving, huh?
(He crashes into several things)
Flynn: Who asked you?
- Kevin Flynn is a major snarker as well.
Flynn: I never should have written all those tank programs.
Flynn: Now that is a big door!
- Dumont gets in a good one, too. While being tortured by Sark.
Dumont: What do you want? I'm busy!
- Death Glare: Tron stares down the final Red warrior during his disc match, just before derezzing him.
- Deep-Immersion Gaming: The Trope Maker?
- Deity of Human Origin: Programs revere their Users as humans revere Gods. The novelization lampshades this by having the characters wonder how far the hierarchy goes.
- Deus Est Machina: The Master Control Program, obviously.
- Did Not Get the Girl: Flynn does not get back together with former girlfriend Lora although he does kiss her counterpart Yori before his would-be Heroic Sacrifice.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Sark's reaction to the news that MCP has captured and enslaved one of the creators of their world.
- Disappears into Light: All programs derez this way. Somewhat justified, being in the computer system.
- The Dragon: Sark
- Dramatic Pause: Ram gives a particularly good one when Flynn first meets him.
Ram: You're a... (pauses, thinks for a moment, stands up and walks over to the wall to lean against it while half-smirking) ... guest of the Master Control Program.
- Dressing as the Enemy: Flynn turns himself red (but not evil) by absorbing the energy from one of Sark's warriors, derezzing him. He uses this disguise to blend in with Sark's other troops and approach the Solar Sailer. It almost fatally backfires on him when he charges more troopers boarding the Sailer, causing Tron and Yori to mistake him for an enemy boarder and almost push him to his death.
- Drives Like Crazy: Flynn trying to control the Recognizer he's commandeered.
Flynn: Pretty good driving, huh? (accidentally drives off cliff, and crashes to the bottom)
Flynn: Who asked you?
- Duel to the Death: —er, Deresolution.
- The Eighties: In its purest form. Ironically, 1990's Theme by Journey sounds like an early 1980's song (which it is).
- Electric Torture
- Inverted. The MCP tortures Sark by "depriving him of cycles". In this case, he RUNS on electricity, so this requires the opposite action to get the desired effect.
- Also played straight, when the MCP captures Clu and threatens him with total de-resolution if he fails to tell the MCP who his User is.
- Dumont the I/O Tower Guardian is also given this treatment when he was captured by Sark and brought on board his Carrier.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Dillinger is horrified to learn that the MCP wants to hack the Pentagon and Kremlin, but continues to appease it to save his own ass.
- Evil Brit: David Warner plays the trifecta of the movie's villains: Dillinger, Sark and the MCP.
- Evil Is Sterile: The MCP cannot create programs, only repurpose existing ones.
- Evil Overlord: The MCP, again.
- Expose the Villain, Get His Job: At the end of the movie, Flynn has Dillinger's old job as vice-president of Encom. More justified than some instances of the trope, since it probably wasn't just exposing Dillinger that got him the job: the work that got Dillinger the job in the first place was all really Flynn's.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Crom seem to burn to death while falling.
- Famous Last Words:
Rom: (to Flynn) Flynn.... help Tron... (expires)
- Fanservice: Yori; Flynn; Tron. Put it this way: Cyberspace has mirror images of the attractive Users from our world and slips them into lit-up skintight spandex.
- Finish Him!: Sark insists Flynn finish off Crom, quoting the trope title verbatim. Flynn refuses, so Sark kills Crom anyway.
- Follow the Leader: Of the acting variety. According to Jeff Bridges, he uses CLU's monotone personality as the basis for his Academy Award nomined title role in Starman.
- Forced Prize Fight: Gladiator combat.
- Forcefield Door: The holding cells for the competitors at the Gaming Grid.
- Future Spandex: A particularly noteworthy example.
- Genre Motif: Wendy Carlos intentionally scored all scenes set in the real world only with orchestral music, saving the electronic music for cyberspace. (Daft Punk doesn't follow this convention in TRON: Legacy, instead saving the orchestral music for the more emotional moments of the movie, on or off the grid.)
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- At one point, Flynn passes by a shady-looking area where a couple of female programs with red circuits are lounging about. It appears to be a Red Light District of sorts.
- Gladiator Games: Ranging from Lightcycles to Killer Frisbees.
- Glasses Pull: Alan, when he's complaining to Lora about Dillinger and the MCP.
- God in Human Form: What happens to Flynn to get the plot in full gear, except that in this case humans are the "god" level and programs are the "human" level.
- God Is Flawed: Flynn being a fallible human being is no surprise to us, but to the programs...
Tron: If you are a User, then everything you've done has been according to a plan.
Flynn: Heh heh, you wish! You guys know what it's like... you just keep doin' what it looks like you're supposed to be doin', no matter how crazy it seems.
Tron: That's the way it is for programs, yes.
Flynn: I hate to disappoint ya, pal, but most of the time, that's the way it is for Users, too.
Tron: (amazed) Stranger and stranger.
- God Was My Copilot: Flynn himself, from the point of view of his program allies.
- Good Colors, Evil Colors: Blue denotes free programs, red is programs controlled by the system (in this case, the Big Bad MCP). The different colors of the light cycles is due to a change in the movie's script, where gold was good and blue was bad. CLU has the old color scheme of yellow, but this might be Justified as he was an infiltration program. However, considering what his successor became, it also works as accidental Foreshadowing. Gold/yellow was later retconned into being for independent programs. This is also the reason the insides of the tanks chasing the escaped light cycles, and the programs driving those tanks, are blue (actually more blue/green). The scenes were finished before the red=bad & blue=good edict was handed down.
- Go Out with a Smile: Ram after realizing Flynn is a User.
- Group Hug: The final scene. Flynn gets off the helicopter, hugs Alan and Lora, and off they go into the sunset.
- Happiness in Slavery: The User-Believer Programs are delighted to serve their human creators and worship them as gods, seeing their service as the main focus of their existence. It is the villains of the franchise who seek freedom and autonomy from human commands.
- Healing Spring: Doubles as I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin.
You forget how good the power feels... until you get to a pure source!
- He Didn't Make It: Flynn says it about Ram.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Flynn intends his jump into the beam to be this trope, but he is returned to the analog world instead. From the point of view of the programs, it doesn't make a difference that he ascended instead of derezzed. He's gone either way, and despite what they think, they really can't tell one User from another on the other end of the beam.
- Hold Your Hippogriffs
- "Who does he calculate that he is?"
- "I knew you'd escape. They haven't built a circuit that could hold you!"
- Hollywood Hacking: One of the earliest instances of this trope in film. Arguably, Flynn's 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. Furthermore, Clu is an actual hacking program, albeit a custom one.
- Huge Holographic Head: Master Control Program
- Humans Are Cthulhu: And/or Gods.
- Humans Are Flawed
- Humans by Any Other Name: "Users"
- Humongous Mecha: For lack of a better category, the Recognizers go here.
- I Don't Pay You to Think: Sark tells an underling, "Don't think anymore. I do the thinking around here."
- I Knew There Was Something About You: Ram figures out that there's something strange about Flynn from the beginning. When he's dying, he flat out asks Flynn "Are you a User?" Flynn's confirmation allows him to Go Out with a Smile, happy to not only be right in his suspicions, but knowing that the Users exist and one is there to help.
- I Know Mortal Kombat: Flynn succeeds at the games inside the computer partly because he's so good at them outside. Justified in the novel by saying that he based the ones he wrote on real-life skills he was familiar with.
- Indy Ploy: Flynn does not know what he's doing, and is clearly making it all up on the fly. He only survives the games because of what he knows about video games, and his User abilities are invoked only by guesswork and "this might work." Of course, the apple won't fall all that far from the tree.
- Inside a Computer System
- Instant A.I., Just Add Water: The MCP 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. That still doesn't explain why every other program seems to be an A.I. too, even when they don't need to be. Ram, for example, calculates insurance premiums, and Tron is basically just a firewall. May be a case of Science Marches On. There was a time not too many decades ago when the simple tasks of playing chess or recognizing speech commands was seen as the benchmark of intelligence. We now know actual intelligence consists of much more.
- Kiss Me, I'm Virtual: Flynn says goodbye to Yori, a program within the System, with a kiss.
- Last Kiss: Flynn kisses Yori just before his attempted Heroic Sacrifice.
- What makes it unusual is that apparently in the computer world, kissing is completely unknown. When Yori kisses Tron, he's confused - but very happy.
- Like Cannot Cut Like: Identity Discs normally block each other when used in combat. In the final battle, however, Tron's disc shatters Sark's disc, just before splitting his head apart.
- Load-Bearing Boss: MCP's tower literally blows apart mere seconds after its resident is destroyed.
- Logic Bomb: Flynn attempts to use this to hold off the MCP while searching for evidence. He ends up provoking the MCP into firing the Deep-Immersion Gaming Laser at him, which was for some reason conveniently positioned directly behind its control panel.
Flynn: How are you gonna run the universe if you can't answer a few unsolvable problems?
- Love Triangle: Between Alan, Lora (and their program counterparts) and Flynn. Specifically, Flynn is Lora's ex and she's currently going out with Alan, though there's still a certain amount of attachment between them. As the programs resemble the Users who created them, this carries over into the computer world with Tron and Yori. (Some read Threesome Subtext into this- see YMMV.)
- Ludicrous Precision:
Master Control Program: There's a 68.71 percent chance you're right.
- Make My Program Grow:
MCP: Sark, all my functions are now yours!
- Man Child: Kevin Flynn, who 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, Lora (his ex) shouts in frustration "Now, you see why all his friends are fourteen years old!"
- Master Computer: MCP
- Master of Unlocking: Flynn
- Medium Blending : The film qualifies, as it involves live actors in a computer world, animated by computer.
- Mega Corp.: Encom. They make cool Arcade Games and have a Digitizing Ray.
- Messianic Archetype: Flynn, intentionally, within the system.
- Mickey Mousing: Several instances, notably during Sark walking to the MCP core, where his footstep punctuations are actually in the score, not sound effects. According to the liner notes of the CD release of the soundtrack, composer Wendy Carlos actually used this much more in the original drafts of the score, but was requested to lessen it by the production staff.
- Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Fairly soft.
- Mr. Fanservice: Jeff Bridges as Flynn was quite the beast in his shirtless scene.
- In an interesting case of What Could Have Been, the filmmakers originally wanted an actor who looked more like a stereotypical nerd, very thin and unremarkable in build, the kind of person people might expect to be a computer programmer (probably someone more like Bruce Boxleitner, who played Alan/Tron), not a big, rugged, manly man like Jeff Bridges.
- 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
- Nay-Theist: The MCP and Sark, although their public position on the matter is less Nay-Theist and more "Users don't exist, period".
- Nerd Glasses: Alan Bradley's large and unflattering spectacles. Most of his co-workers too, actually. Apart from marking them as computer nerds, it helps keep them visually distinct from their electronic counterparts. They come across this way now, but were much less so when the film was made. Large-lensed glasses were quite common in the '80s.
- Nerds Are Sexy. Kevin Flynn, Alan Bradley, and Lora.
- Never Say "Die": Programs dying or being deleted is referred to as de-resolution, or "derezz" for short. This isn't consistent, however; there's a scene where Yori tells Dumont that Tron is dead.
- Nice Hat: As is typical of costumes designed by Moebius. All programs wear helmets, but special mention goes to Dumont's hat, which resembles both a bishop's mitre and the abdomen of an insect. And, looking at how he sits on the ground, makes him look like a real sphinx.
- No Body Left Behind: When Programs de-rez, they flicker out and vanish.
- No OSHA Compliance: The digitizing laser should have been constructed and installed in such away that it could never target anything that was outside of a clearly-marked danger area, let alone one of the computer terminals that control it.
- No Plot? No Problem!: Deconstructed — the games played at Flynn's gaming hall are this trope in the physical world, but once you are inside the Grid you discover that these simple games are surrounded by all kinds of drama.
- Not the Fall That Kills You: Averted. Crom derezzes mid-fall. Hilarious in Hindsight, since many videogames have adopted a midair death for most tremendous falls now.
- Off the Rails: A near-literal case in the lightcycle arena. Flynn sees the glitch on the wall and decides to make a run for it, escaping the arena. Ram and Tron think he's completely nuts, but that the idea's Crazy Enough to Work.
- Oh, Crap:
- The look on Dillinger's face 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 then gets another "Oh crap" when Master Control casually mentions that it plans to take over both the Pentagon and the Kremlin
- Sark asks what kind of program Flynn is:
MCP: He's not any kind of program, Sark. He's a user.
- Bit realizes that Flynn's about to crash his Recognizer:
Bit: NO NO NO NO NO
- In a downplayed sense at the end, after Flynn's desired information is displayed on Dillinger's desk screen, and he realises his game is up. He says nothing, but the look on his face is enough.
- Oh My Gods!: The inevitable, "Oh, my User!"
- The Outside World: The real world in this film and TRON: Legacy. Programs are barely aware of its existence, except as a place where the nearly-mythical Users live, but some of them are anxious to break out of their computerized life and enter reality. The MCP in Tron is trying to use Dillinger to access more powerful systems, namely the Pentagon, and Clu 2.0 in Legacy actually wants to invade the real world to make it "perfect".
- Pac Man Fever: Flynn's handheld. Justified, since this is the '80s. It's actually Coleco's "Electronic Quarterback" handheld game.
- Physical Religion
- Power Glows: Have we mentioned this yet?
- Prepare to Die: Sark to Tron before their final battle.
Sark: I don't know how you survived, slave! It doesn't matter! Prepare to terminate!
- Product Placement: Flynn's computer is an Apple III.
- Psychic Link: Tron can sense Alan trying to contact him from the real world. Presumably, all other programs have the same ability.
- Pure Energy: (Sort of) justified.
- Put on a Bus: Alan and Lora, after Flynn is sucked into the computer. They don't show up again until the ending, although Tron learns how to defeat the MCP by contacting Alan from Dumont's I/O tower.
- Reality Warper: As a User, Flynn is essentially this inside the digital realm. It takes him sometime to master his powers, but near the end of the film he's able to redirect a conduit of raw power, resurrect YORI from being de-rezzed, and keeps the carrier intact even after Sark tries to delete it.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Tron gets off an epic one with just five words after Sark dismisses him as a slave.
- Recursive Canon: The TRON arcade game from the 1980s appears in both the Legacy and 2.0 continuities; the explanation is that Kevin Flynn created a game based on his adventures in the film, which was later published by Encom.
- Red Lines, Take Warning: Sark's lines burn a rather brilliant light orange when he gets pissed.
- Robot Buddy: Bit qualifies.
- Robots Enslaving Robots: the MCP to other, smaller programs both on its own and outside systems.
- Robo Romance: Tron and Yori are one of the earliest film examples, depicted as a parallel to their Users who are also a romantic couple.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Clu to prove that the MCP is a jerk, Crom to prove that the Game Grid is truly dangerous, and Ram just to piss us off.
- Scenery Porn: The film is full of it, which was almost the entire basis for Roger Ebert's rave review.
- Schizo Tech: Sentient programs and a laser which can dematerialise (and digitise) objects which are straight out of The Future... and yet Flynn is still using an Apple III as a remote terminal, and there's even a teletype machine in the laser lab.
- The MCP, despite being the height of "technology" in the game world, is shown to be just an old guy with what looks like a typewriter.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Clu.
- Secondary Character Title: Because calling this movie "Flynn" wouldn't have fit the themes nearly as well.
- Shirtless Scene: In a movie that takes place mostly in a computer system where the characters are programs who technically aren't wearing clothes to begin with, they still managed to sneak one in.
- Sinister Geometry: Again, the MCP.
- Smoking Gun: The evidence that Flynn and the others were looking for would supposedly be undeniable proof that Dillinger stole Flynn's program. And they were right!
- Some Kind of Force Field: The holding cells are bounded by the kind of force field that's invisible until touched. Flynn discovers this by walking straight into it.
- Standard Establishing Spaceship Shot: Sark's cruiser gets a lot of ominous flybys.
- Stealth Pun
- Near the beginning of the film, Clu runs his tank into a wall after being attacked by Recognizers. That's right, Clu, the program, crashed.
- All the characters in the Grid (except for Flynn, of course) are computer programs. And they're sometimes running.
- The Stoic: The MCP. When Sark is killed, however, the MCP is visually audibly distressed and saddened.
- Supporting Leader: Tron
- Sweater Girl: Lara's white angora sweater in the last scene of the movie.
- Take My Hand: Tron pulls Flynn to safety while he's hanging off the Solar Sailer.
- Take Over the World: The MCP informs Dillinger that it's planning to do this, establishing that Flynn's success matters in the real world, not just to the oppressed programs.
- Tank Goodness
- Technically a Smile: Dillinger gives an epic non-smile after learning Tron will "watchdog" the MCP too, adding, "Sounds good."
- Technology Porn: The whole damn movie qualifies.
- Tempting Fate: Invoked by the MCP when he tells Flynn, "You shouldn't have come back, Flynn."
- Thank the Maker: The blue programs hold their Users in awe in a manner akin to worship; the red-tinted MCP denies the existence of the Users (publicly, anyway), claiming that nobody has ever seen one, and wants to establish rule over the computer system in which "liberated" programs no longer believe in something so archaic as Users. Thanks to the I/O nodes being turned off by the MCP, programs are reduced to faith. Sark does believe in Users, simply because he and the MCP are the only ones in direct contact with them.
- Trapped in Another World
- Tron Lines: The Trope Namer.
- Turned Against Their Masters. Yet again, the MCP, who intends to hack into the Pentagon and take control of the US's missile defense system, using it to force the world to obey.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: Implied. The inspiration is very much that of the contemporary computing and videogame revolution and the visuals heavily invoke such, yet several key technologies (sentient AIs, the digitising laser) are more advanced than 1982 could manage. The sequel would appear to subvert this trope, though.
- Twirl of Love: Tron to Yori after he helped her off of Sark's derezzing ship.
- Unbuilt Trope: TRON was cyberspace before cyberspace was invented. In fact, the digital world isn't referred to as "Cyberspace" at all; the creators seem to favor the term "Electronic World".
- Undercrank: Just before the credits roll, the film becomes undercranked to show that the high-sped nighttime cityscape looked just like the computer world. This is done just after Flynn greets his friends, "Greetings, programs!" to hammer the point home.
- Underlighting: Used to make the computer world glow. (Called "back-lit animation" by the development team.)
- Upload the Sky. One of the original theatrical posters, complete with near-Leg Cling.
- Unintentional Period Piece: The general look and feel of the computer world, meant to resemble the computer displays and games of the time (black backgrounds! semi-wireframe 3D graphics!), as well as the computer technology itself (command-line interfaces! teleprinters!) must have looked awfully cutting-edge and modern at the time. Now, it looks pretty retro.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight / Apathetic Citizens: No-one seems to notice/care when Flynn crashes a Recognizer in a populated area. The various programs around him go on their normal business.
- Verbal Tic: The MCP's "End of Line."
- Videogame Cruelty Potential: In-universe. MCP and Sark force rebellious programs into fighting each other to death.
- Voice with an Internet Connection: Alan when he speaks to Tron in the I/O Tower. Justified, as Alan's dialogue is most likely words that he is typing into his computer's command prompt.
- Also, Flynn giving Clu his orders near the start.
- Watching the Sunset: The final shot of the film is the cityscape going from daylight to a neon-lit light scene that looks a lot like the digital world, almost saying that we are Not So Different.
- What Happened to the Grid-Bugs?: Said Grid-Bugs appear once, briefly at the start of the Sea of Simulation sequence, and never again. Speculation is that they were included solely so that Midway could use them as an antagonist in the coin-op.
- While You Were in Diapers
- Dumont is one of the programs created by Walter Gibbs, one of Encom's founders:
Dumont: What do you want? I'm busy!
Sark: Busy dying, you worn-out excuse for an old program?
Dumont: Yes, I'm old... old enough to remember when the MCP was just a chess program. He started small and he'll end small!
- In a similar conversation in the real world, Gibbs admits he sometimes wishes he was back in the garage where he started the company, years ago. Dillinger darkly replies, "That can be arranged, Walter."
- World-Healing Wave: The result of the MCP's death, as all the power it was hoarding for itself is released.
- Year Inside, Hour Outside. They kind of got this one right; computer processes are so fast that subjectively, the perception of time would be vastly different. Programs reference time in "microcycles" and "nanoseconds".
- This carries over to the second movie; when Flynn's son Sam says it's been a long time since they last saw each other, Flynn says, "You have no idea."
- You All Meet in a Cell: A rare, heroic (instead of anti-heroic) example. Ram's in the middle cell, Tron's on one side, Flynn gets thrown on the other side. The film's first scene is where the poor newbie Crom is tossed into prison.
- You Will Be Assimilated: The MCP has expressed an interest in assimilating you.
Ram: (on the MCP's directives) If he thinks you're useful he'll take over all your functions so he gets bigger.
- You Have Failed Me: The MCP keeps threatening to pull this on Sark, but never goes through with it. When Sark does finally fail, rather than abandon him, it resurrects him and powers him up as a form of Desperation Attack.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Averted with Dumont. Sark can't kill him because, as Dumont notes, he's the I/O interface and even the MCP needs him to communicate with those people "out there". At the climax, however, the MCP intended to simply take over their functions and integrate them into itself.
- Zeroes and Ones: Bit, who can only say "yes" and "no". He also has a "neutral" state, corresponding to the high-impedance state of a tristate electronic output.
End of Line.