TRON (1982)

  • Accidental Aesop: Do not keep ALL your work in one file with no backups.
    • Or "make damn sure you delete your incriminating files, lest you be blackmailed with them."
    • The MCP saved that file so it could blackmail Dillinger.
  • Accidental Innuendo: The resulting dialogue when Tron, Flynn and Ram find a pure source.
    Flynn: What's that?
    Ram: That is just what I need right now...
    • Ram seems to be more prone to these.
    Ram: My friends, my fellow conscripts, we have scored. I feel so much better.
  • Alternative 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/Loveable Rogue: Flynn, in a very mild sense (the personality type of the latter fits). Immature, irreverent, 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.)
  • Award Snub: The Academy refused to nominate TRON for Best Visual Effects, saying that they "cheated" by 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.
  • 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 synthesizer pipe organ and Cherubic Choir. And when it wasn't Wendy Carlos, it was Journey.
  • 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.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: In the arcade game, there are blind spots to the AI on the tank level. The cubbyhole to the upper right lets you shoot any tank that comes near long before it gets near you, and if you move into the pink transporter just short of actually transporting, the AI can drive right past you and will not collide with you. Once you pick up those tricks, the tank level is one of the easiest in the game - all you have to do is get to those spots.
  • 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.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory:
    • 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.
    • The original film is essentially a Christian parable. The electronic world is inhabited by living programs, created in their Users' image. This world is being tyrannized by the MCP, a program that is rebelling against its creators (it's hacking the military to literally make war on humanity). The MCP is trying to stamp out belief in the Users (which is explicitly called a religion; communication with the Users is handled by Dumont, whose design resembles the garb of a clergyman), persecuting the faithful and throwing them into gladiatorial combat. Those who join the MCP become his red-colored minions. His chief flunky Sark even wears a helmet shaped like devil horns. Into this world comes Flynn, a User who has become a mere program (wearing a tunic reminiscent of a prophet's robes). He displays supernatural powers, including the ability to heal by laying on hands. He ultimately sacrifices himself to defeat the MCP and save the digital world, and ascends back to the real world of the creators, a realm beyond the programs' comprehension. The Novelization by Brian Daley is even more explicit about the symbolism.
    • The sequel can be interpreted as what happens when Kevin Flynn, who is after all a flawed mortal man, lets this godlike status go to his head.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: 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.
  • Fan Community Nicknames: Programs.
  • Follow the Leader: Of the acting variety. According to Jeff Bridges, he uses CLU's monotone personality as the basis for his Academy Award nominated title role in Starman.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Flynn is communicating with his hacking program, CLU. Knowing what CLU 2.0 turns into...
    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.
    • There's a moment at the film climax where Yori's hit Despair Event Horizon, and Flynn argues back "We're only defeated if we give up!" Now, remember that sequel? "Life has a way of moving you past wants and hopes." OUCH!
    • That sweet lullaby-like ending theme? Well...same notes, slower, and a different key, and you get "Adagio for Tron"
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: The character on screen credited as "Popcorn Guy," and implied to be Ram's User, is given a name (Roy Kleinburg) and large part in the Expanded Universe as the fiercest defender of Gibbs's and Flynn's vision for Encom and the future of computing, becoming a dedicated hacktivist. Oh, and he's Heterosexual Life-Partners with Alan Bradley, whose role in Flynn Lives is more covert. Ram's faith was anything but misplaced.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Anyone who's played Tales of Vesperia should get a real kick out of the fact that the romantic leads' names are Flynn and Yori.
    • For the more retrocomputer-nerd minded, the fact that Flynn uses an Apple III, a commercial failure with a reputation of being The Alleged Computer in Real Life.
    • Alan Bradley has the same name (in sound) as Allen-Bradley, an electronics company that makes lots of products for computers and human-computer interfaces.
  • Ho Yay: Tron and Flynn. You saw it.
    • Ram and Flynn. Seriously.
    • Add in Lora and Yori, and you have a minor record for Threesome Subtext.
  • Love to Hate: The MCP
  • Memetic Mutation: "End of line."
    • "Greetings Programs"
    • "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 occasional chuckles, like when Sark requests the battering ram called "Logic Probe", especially how serious he sounds.
    • Cindy Morgan remarked that David Warner was such a good actor, that he sold his lines. "When he says in the film, 'You're going to die ' - you believe it."
  • Nightmare Fuel: CLU's death at the beginning of the film is pretty damn scary, broken down bit by bit while screaming in horror.
    • The part where MCP digitizes Flynn can also freak someone out, seeing as the laser starts out with his fingers, which you see get zapped out of existence close up, then the beam moves down his body ever so slowly.
  • 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.
  • One True Threesome: See Threesome Subtext - Flynn/Lora/Alan is a Running Gag in fandom, nicknamed "Big Dumb OT3" or "Shall we Dance" on Tumblr. It's a satisfactory workaround for those who ship Alan/Flynn, but don't want to discard the canonical Alan/Lora marriage.
  • "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.
    • The original's graphics may in some ways be preferable to the sequel. TRON: Legacy uses modern CG to make the light cycles, recognizers, etc. look shaded and solid. But really, one could argue they shouldn't look "solid," because they're not matter; they're made of electricity and math.
  • Signature Scene: The Light Cycle chase and the Disc battle scenes are arguably the most memorable.
  • Spiritual Licensee: Reboot
  • Tear Jerker: Ram's death. Even Flynn looks ready to cry.
  • Threesome Subtext: Some people see this in spades, despite the film being a Disney flick.
    • 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?". Though this could simply be a Love Triangle with a certain amount of Belligerent Sexual Tension between Flynn and Lora, despite the fact they've officially broken up.
    • 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.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: At least at the time; see Award Snub above.
  • Unfortunate Implications: Made Numero Uno on Cracked's "Five Lighthearted Movies with Dark Moral Implications." Not only did humanity create AIs by accident, we created an entire Servant Race! It's the bad guy who is trying to liberate his people from humanity (and overthow them), and the good guys are arguably a case of Happiness in Slavery.
  • Video-Game Movies Suck: Flopped on release, though acknowledged to be a classic now. It made it on to G4's ''Movies That Don't Suck''!
    • 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. =)
    • This was one of the first major uses of outsourcing for film making. With a certain Taiwanese animation company behind the familiar Tron lines (and most of the other coloring as well).
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: The film itself came out before the PG-13 rating (1982), and while it was technically aimed at kids, it was much Darker and Edgier than the usual Disney fare. On its roster; brutal on-screen deaths (including a Boom, Headshot with some gibs), Electric Torture (CLU 1.0 is tortured to death, Dumont and the other Tower Guardians come close to it), overt religious themes (more blatant than the second film's), Threesome Subtext, snarky innuendo and a Shirtless Scene... then there's the Deleted Scene that was ostensibly cut for pacing, but was quite obviously sexual in nature.


  • Fandom Rivalry: With Tomorrowland, but mainly one-sided. This is largely to do with the fact that Disney bet the success of science fiction as a whole on that one movie. After it had a similar turn out to, ironically enough, the original Tron, they cancelled all future endeavors in the genre for the foreseeable future. This meant the cancellation of several films, including an in-the-works Legacy sequel. Tomorrowland fans tend not to have any animosity towards Tron fans (assuming they aren't fans of both), but Tron fans aren't very happy that the lukewarm reception of another "theme park attraction as premise" movie didn't live up to Pirates of the Caribbean's standard.
  • Friendly Fandoms: With ReBoot, naturally. Similar premise and computer-based humor. TRON: Uprising fans also gravitate towards Star Wars Rebels and Rogue One (similar themes and Doomed by Canon), or the Voltron reboot. Tronblr has plenty of cross-pollination with Knights of the Old Republic as well. And due to the actors, they're also friendly with The Big Lebowski, Babylon 5, and Scarecrow and Mrs. King.
    • When Sanzaru Games developed Tron Run/r, Tron fans became this with fans of the Sly Cooper franchise, the fourth installment of which was also developed by Sanzaru... mainly due to both franchises having no sequels to resolve their massive cliffhangers.
  • Memetic Badass: More Badass Bookworm than traditional "badass," but there's a good argument for Alan Bradley being the most dangerous guy in the franchise and plenty of fanfic to lay out the case. Kingdom Hearts II added fuel to the joke by having Tron's user in that contunity being Ansem the Wise. Queue a few jokes in the fandom that Alan was another alias of Ansem.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games: Two movies, two graphic novels, an animated series... about a dozen games. Not a surprise, considering the franchise setting.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: A common criticism of the franchise is that it neglects to explore the interesting - and somewhat disturbing - implications of the Program (and Iso) species, and their worship of humans as creator deities, as well as what humanity's responsibility to the Programs might be. The closest we get is that Flynn tried to be a benevolent deity, but proved inept in the Legacy canon, and that the villains of 2.0's canon pursued the path of virtual godhood to satisfy a lust for power.