These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Ram: My friends, my fellow conscripts, we have scored. I feel so much better.
Alternate Character Interpretation: See section under Film. The characterization being a bit thin, the characters and motivations could be read in several ways across both films.
Anti-Hero (or Loveable Rogue): Flynn, in a very mild sense (the personality type of the latter fits). Immature, irreverant, not above using means of questionable legality (cracking computer systems, breaking and entering the ENCOM building) to achieve his goals, and he's trying to right Dillinger's wrong for mostly personal reasons. Yet in doing so, it's heavily implied he saves the world from being effectively taken over by the out-of-control MCP. (This is possibly an Alternate Character Interpretation.)
Awesome Music: ... Yes. This was Wendy Carlos (who released the first commercially successful electronic music album and the soundtrack for A Clockwork Orange,), backed up the London Symphony Orchestra. Lots of synthezyzer pipe organ and Cherubic Choir. And when it wasn't Wendy Carlos, it was Journey.
Award Snub. The Academy said TRON "cheated" for using computers. Then Young Sherlock Holmes was nominated three years later, and The Abyss won six years later, both for computer digital effects. Now, the only winner of Best Visual Effects are CGI effects.
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The Grid Bugs appear briefly on-screen with Yori explaining that "if [they] get us, we've had it". However, they never appear or get mentioned in the rest of the movie.
There was supposedly a scene in the original script where the heroes did battle with the bugs, but it was cut.
Cult Classic: Despite a disappointing box-office turnover, the movie didn't fade from memory and developed a devoted cult following. Its cult status is one of the reasons why it got a $170 million sequel 28 years later.
Much is made of the "Users" being godlike to the programs, and Flynn himself seems to parallel the life and accomplishments of Jesus (especially at the end of the film, which is the Harrowing of Hell in all but name). A lot of scenes also seem to be reminiscent of Ben Hur and other big Christian epics of the 50s.
Sark is red, has devil horns, and keeps hammering on the enslaved programs that users don't exist, like those Dirty Communists.
Ensemble Dark Horse: Ram gets a lot of fanfic and fanart, to the point where his User (credited only as "Popcorn Guy") was given a name and substantial role in the Flynn Lives ARG.
Flynn:I wrote you. I taught you everything I know about the system...Now, you're the best program that's ever been written. You're dogged and relentless..."
The other ones come from the tie-in games. Intellivision got an early draft of the script to work from, so Tron: Deadly Disks depicts the title character as an orange figure cutting down blue colored "enemies." Simple color goof in 1982, but considering what happens later...
The other one was Maze-A-Tron, again from Intellivision. Playing Flynn, you're alone and trapped in a circuitry maze. There is no way to win this game, just keep playing until an enemy recognizer or other obstacle does you in. Again, consider the sequel...
Harsher in Hindsight: After watching the sequel, watching the first film can be painful. That cheerful smartass protagonist ends up a broken, ruined man; widowed before age 35, goes half-crazy from the stress, is betrayed by his creation, and spends the rest of his days (the equivalent of 1000 years) in a Hopeless War or exile. The title character? There are fates worse than de-rez and he gets handed them all. Sark's taunt about how Tron should have joined him? "Rinzler" ends up serving the same function for Clu 2.0 as Sark did for Master Control. The last scene where the three human protagonists have a Group Hug and walk off into the sunset? Well, no matter what timeline you use (2.0 or TRON: Legacy), that Power Trio breaks up, with Alan left to carry on alone. It's actually nicer in the Legacy timeline as Lora's Put on a Bus instead of Stuffed into the Fridge.
Hate Dumb: Of the Nostalgia Inversion variety. It's been slammed by many in retrospect for the fact that the CGI scenes have dated horribly, but at the same time, this was cutting-edge stuff that inspired the use of CGI in many other works.
He's Just Hiding: One theory about the MCP. The last we see of it is an elderly man furiously hammering away at a keyboard, before vanishing into darkness. Some think the MCP got itself out of there and went someplace else.
The featurette "The Next Day" on the TRON: Legacy DVD confirms it.
"I Fight for the Users" (To the point where the Electronic Frontier Foundation has cheerfully appropriated it)
Narm Charm: Aspects of this film's visuals, acting, and dialogue have not aged well. But many find this cheesy camp to be a great reason to watch the movie, while others don't find anything cheesy about it.
Even the producers on the DVD's Audio Commentary had occational chuckles, like when Sark requests the battering ram called "Logic Probe", especially how serious he sounds.
Nightmare Fuel: CLU's death at the beginning of the film is pretty damn scary, broken down bit by bit while screaming in horror.
No Problem With Licensed Games: Both the 1982 arcade game (which earned more than the film's original release!) and Tron 2.0. The Intellivision games, especially Deadly Disks, were also solid sellers for Mattel.
Seinfeld Is Unfunny: TRON is a manifestation of the power of CGI... and a testimony to how quickly the effects become dated.
Ironically, much of it has held up surprisingly well, in part because a lot of practical effects were used to achieve the Tron Lines and green-screen environments; the CG rotoscoping and vehicles look great. But the fully-CG environments used in a couple scenes to "show off" ironically look their age.
First, Alan and Lora show up at Flynn's arcade. Flynn acts a little overly familiar to them both (even though Lora's his ex), snarking that "nothing classes up the joint like a clean-cut young couple." Once they're upstairs, he casually changes his shirt in front of them, remarks Lora isn't one for small talk, and asks Alan if she still leaves clothing on the floor. The end of the scene is Lora brandishing a set of car keys and asking, "Shall we dance?".
Once Flynn's in cyberspace, there's buckets of subtext when he allies himself with Ram and Tron. The scene at the Power Pool? Three pretty men in skintight, neon-lit spandex gasping and giggling over how good power from a "pure source" is.
And after Ram dies and Flynn's found Tron and Yori? Well, see the arcade scene above. Tron and Yori are doppelgangers of Alan and Lora and in an established relationship already. Doesn't slow down any of the subtext from earlier, nor does it stop Flynn from giving Yori a very passionate Last Kiss before making what he believes to be a Heroic Sacrifice to save them all.
An inversion since the arcade game came out just shortly before the movie did.
Vindicated by History. It may have been a flop at first, but now it's considered a classic revolutionary pioneering effort in film science fiction and visuals. John Lasseter, in an interview which is part of The Making Of Tron, stated that "without Tron there would have been no Toy Story."
Visual Effects of Awesome: The special effects are revolutionary for their time, and are still impressive, especially if you consider the fact that they were made on computers slower than your cell phone.
The most powerful computer they had for rendering was the size of a refrigerator, had a CPU core that ran at about 10Mhz, 2MB of RAM, access to barely 300MB of storage on a room full of storage devices also the size of refrigerators, and each one of those boxes cost many tens of thousands of dollars. And these folks had the audacity to decide to make movies on them!
(In comparison, the average smartphone today costs a couple hundred bucks, fits in your hand, has two CPU cores running about 750 times faster, each, 1000 times more memory, and you can buy a memory card 1/4 the size of a postage stamp that offers 10x the amount of storage for about $20. Technology Marches On, indeed.)
Not only that, but this was one of the first major uses of outsourcing. With a certain Taiwanese animation company behind the familiar Tron lines (and most of the other coloring as well).