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Franchise / TRON

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Greetings, programs.

Tron is a multi-media franchise created in 1982 by Disney, starting with the feature film of the same name. The series deals with the events of a world inside the world's computer systems (as stated in production notes and the Novelization). Programs appear as human-like digital constructs, where they live out day-to-day lives in their own society. The original film concerns computer programmer and game developer Kevin Flynn being digitized into the computer world note  and his attempts to escape and liberate the programs from the megalomaniacal MCP. After an only modestly successful box office release (the arcade game actually made more money than the film), Disney wrote off a significant portion of the movie's budget as a financial loss despite making back twice what it paid in. The series then sat on the shelf for two decades.

At the time of its release, several licensed games were produced for arcade and home console, including the tie-in of the same name TRON. A sequel called Discs of TRON was released almost immediately after, being as it was content intended for the first but cut because of space limitations. A handful of ports and other titles were then adapted for the Atari2600 and Intellivision.

In 2003, a sequel was finally released in the form of TRON 2.0, a video game produced by Monolith Productions. It follows Jet Bradley, son of Alan Bradley and Lora Baines-Bradley, forcibly uploaded by Benevolent A.I. Ma3a to protect the digital world from Future Control Industries (fCon), a rival company that sought to conquer the digital world in order to rule the analog one from the shadows. Notable for exploring what modern (by 2003 standards) machines would look like in the series setting, as Jet travels through several servers, the Internet, and even a smartphone to try and thwart fCon's schemes. It was followed up by the graphic novel Tron: Ghost In the Machine, which analyzed many of the franchise's tropes and premises, and a video game sequel on the Game Boy Advance called Tron 2.0: Killer App, following Tron and Mercury (an ally of Jet's in the first game) hunting down and stopping a rogue User who uploaded a corrupting virus. However, like Star Wars, this Expanded Universe was declared Canon Discontinuity once TRON: Legacy was green-lit, though many characters, concepts, and plot points were recycled into Legacy canon. note 

The series would make cameos in several other Disney Properties over the next several years, including Kingdom Hearts and Once Upon a Time. That second one was an important hint for things to come.

In 2009, Disney released a concept trailer for their in-development sequel to much acclaim. TRON: Legacy would be released late the following year to much success. It took place on "the Grid," a mostly-isolated supercomputer (by 1989 standards) that Flynn set up to explore the world he had seen in the first film, but when an emergent life form (Isomorphic Algorithms, or Isos for short) generated spontaneously, it caused system instability and conflict, eventually leading to Flynn's administrator program staging a coup, trapping his creator and grievously injuring Tron. Twenty years later, Flynn's son Sam discovers the hidden supercomputer and laser system, taking his own trip inside the system to stop Clu's plans to invade the human world. A week before the movie's release, a prequel titled TRON: Evolution was released for home console, with a simplified and reworked version for the Wii (as was standard practice for licensed games at the time). These were both met with lukewarm reception after release due to mixed reviews. At the same time, another prequel titled Tron: Betrayal was published in comic form and covers events that aren't in either Legacy or Evolution. There are some inconsistencies with Evolution, but the two can be reconciled with minimal hand waving. note 

Legacy and its related media were followed up by another prequel, TRON: Uprising, which debuted on Disney XD at midnight on May 18, 2012. It was one of the channel's most popular animated series at the time, but had low viewership on the actual channel (a paid premium for digital subscribers) as opposed to the online viewers (which aren't tracked by Neilson).

A third film was in development during the broadcast of Uprising that would have been a sequel to Legacy. Disney's brand management stated that its release would pivot on the success of the TV series, which almost immediately afterward got moved around on a weekly basis. However, things were looking good up until the failure of Tomorrowland at the box office caused Disney to cancel all science fiction films that were currently in production. Despite how bleak it looked, the franchise received a new game developed by Sanzaru Games in the form of Tron RUN/r, which hit Steam Greenlight in of September 2015 and was released as the following February. The possibility of a third film was later revisited, potentially as a soft reboot centering around a major character from the Legacy sequel. In August 2020, it was reported that Garth Davis (Lion) was attached to direct a new Tron film, Tron: Ares, starring Jared Leto in the main role. It is unclear whether the new film is a sequel to Legacy or an outright reboot. In January 2023, Joachim Rønning (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) entered talks to direct Ares.

A wiki for the franchise is located here.


    open/close all folders 
    Main entries in the series 

    Tron 2.0 canon 
  • TRON 2.0
  • Tron: Ghost In the Machine
  • Tron 2.0: Killer App

    Spin-offs and tie-ins 


Tropes general to this franchise:

  • A.I. Getting High: Implied with establishments like the Progress Bar, the End of Line Club, the red-light district Flynn lands in, and the unnamed club in TRON: Uprising. Programs being very human like in this setting, they also seem to have similar past times.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The MCP in the first game and Clu in Legacy. Mostly averted in 2.0's canon, which tends to focus on Humans Are the Real Monsters.
  • Androids Are People, Too / Ridiculously Human Robots: Aside from a couple quirks of moral outlook, Programs are very humanlike in this universe, often taking the best and worst parts of their human creators. The closest we get to a justification is when Gibbs rants at Dillinger that "our spirit remains in every program we design!" The old man didn't mean it literally, but it certainly appears to be the case.
  • Alternate Universe: Cyberspace world inside the world's computers, where programs look and act like human beings.
  • Badass Biker: Lightcycle combat being a staple, this is a near-requirement among the heroes. Mercury of 2.0 is explicitly coded as a lightcycle combatant and the current champion of the Encom Grid. In TRON: Uprising, Beck is being trained as this by Tron (though being coded as a mechanic doesn't hurt matters). With the Flynns and Jet, it's more a Chekhov's Skill.
  • Badass Family: Once we get to the sequel timelines, the Flynns and Bradleys morph into this.
    • Kevin and Sam could more than hold their own in the Games, though Kevin relied more on User power and Sam Fights Like a Normal. From a certain point of view, the Clu Programs also count; one of them able to bust up a couple Recognizers before being caught and the second being a terrifying dictator who overthrew his father/deity and took charge of the system. Same with Anon, who single-handedly took down the Abraxas virus and saved Quorra from the fate of the other Isos.
    • In the Alternate Continuity of TRON 2.0, Alan is the quiet form of badass (Establishing Character Moment of the first film? Pulling a Xanatos Gambit on both villains), able to figure out how to destroy a server from the inside just by looking at the hardware schematic. Ma3a Lora Baines-Bradley's Virtual Ghost is a Squishy Wizard who can wipe out entire battalions of hostile troops in a picosecond if given sufficient time. And Jet proves to be very talented with a wide range of cyberspace weaponry. Again, from a certain point of view, Clan Bradley includes Tron, Yori, and Mercury; Tron being the legendary warrior of cyberspace and Mercury being champion of the Encom Game Grid. Yori was no warrior, but she was able to handle logistics, strategy, and diplomacy while her bondmate did the fighting. note 
  • Benevolent A.I.: Most of the User-believer Programs, and Ma3a in 2.0
  • Big Bad:
    • MCP in the original
    • Clu in Legacy and Evolution.
    • The mysterious F-Con CEO in 2.0, but also a case of Hijacked by Ganon as he's heavily implied to be Ed Dillinger from first film.
    • Tesler in Uprising
  • Big Good:
  • Blue Is Heroic: In all versions of the franchise, User-friendly Programs have bright cyan circuitry coloration. In Tron: Ghost In the Machine, Blue Jet is the most heroic of the three copies and implied to be the most accurate replica of the "real" Jet.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Justified, since programs don't bleed. This becomes a big plot point in Legacy when Sam bleeds, causing "Rinzler" to recognize him as a User and call off the attack. They shatter into cubes when de-rezzed, wounds look like hunks carved out of their bodies, and they fade away when dead. This is how writers and programmers can get away with scenes of mass carnage, Cold-Blooded Torture (including use of a buzzsaw to a character's face), characters getting bisected, and an entire first-person shooter in a Disney franchise.
  • Body Uploading: The process of sending things Inside a Computer System is called "Digitization", and done through a process that involves firing a laser at things:
    • TRON: Can work on anything, from oranges to people.
    • TRON: Legacy: Only seen to be used on people.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy:
    • Abraxas in Evolution. Gibson fights back.
    • The conscripts on the Rectifier in Legacy. Chief among them, the title character
    • A preferred tactic of Tesler. Given who he works for...
  • Cain and Abel:
    • Clu and Sam Flynn.
    • Cyrus and Beck.
  • Collapsible Helmet: Used in Evolution, Legacy, and Uprising.
  • Condemned Contestant: The Game Grids. Staple of both films, the animated series, and most of the tie-in games. It's a nasty-way for "undesirables" to de-rez for the twisted entertainment of their fellow Programs. The only time it was averted was in the Betrayal era where Flynn modified them to be non-lethal, but as soon as Flynn's back was turned, Clu reinstated the lethal stakes. Implied to be more complicated in 2.0 canon, as there are condemned Programs competing (which is how Mercury talks the Kernel out of executing Jet), but also designated game bots like Mercury who are considered celebrity athletes.
  • Cool Bike: Light Cycles, and how.
  • Cool Train: Solar Sailers.
  • Creating Life Is Unforeseen: First, no one knew (and most still don't know) that making computer programs creates a living thing within the system. Second, the Isos were spontaneously created by Kevin Flynn's Grid.
  • Cyberspace: One of the TropeCodifiers as to what it looks like and how it operates.
  • Cyberpunk Is Techno: A Trope Codifier. Thanks to WendyCarlos's original film soundtrack. Follow it with Daft Punk for the sequel, a whole remix album of top EDM artists of Daft Punk's soundtrack, Joseph Trapanese's Uprising score, and the same kind of theme for the franchise's games.
  • Darker and Edgier: For a Disney franchise? You bet. This came out in the "Disney Dark Age" between Walt's death and The Little Mermaid (1989), where Disney was willing to try riskier material to compete with Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Don Bluth (the last one being a defector from Disney who took a lot of their best and brightest when he started his own studio). This was actually one of the reasons the Touchstone label was created, as the 1982 film and The Black Hole were significantly more "adult" in tone than you'd expect from the Disney label at the time. That being said, the Legacy amped up the dark and edgy significantly. note  Oddly enough, this makes the first-person shooter a near-inversion of the trope, as it was closer in tone than to the first film than Legacy, complete with a more hopeful ending.
  • Deadly Disc: In every medium of the series, Identity Discs double as both the user's memory unit and weapon.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Runs in the Flynn family. Bit, despite only being able to say "yes" or "no", gets a few in too. Byte from 2.0 is like Bit, but has a full vocabulary to insult everything in sight. Alan is more a Gentleman Snarker, and passed it along to Tron.
  • Deadly Euphemism: "Derezzed", short for deresolution, means that a program is deleted either through lethal force or fatal damage or corruption. Never Say "Die" is averted, though - the two are used almost interchangeably through the series.
  • Deadly Game: The Game Grid is designed to get rid of inconvenient dissidents through gladiatorial combat. Flynn specifically makes them non-lethal while creating his own version of the Grid. Clu makes them lethal again, but in a way that the losers can be used.
  • Defends Against Their Own Kind:
    • Tron's explicit directive is to "fight for the Users," especially against malicious Programs. It worked out very well against Sark and Master Control, but tragically was unable to fend off Clu, even if his sacrifices did help. Flynn was able to escape during the coup. Tron's directive kicked in later to save Sam Flynn in the arena, and he later made a suicidal charge at Clu to buy the Flynns and Quorra enough time to get to the portal, falling into the Sea and Uncertain Doom.
    • Tron's allies also count; Yori, Ram, and Dumont in the first film want to continue serving Users and fight against Master Control's attempt to conquer both worlds. In the TRON: Legacy canon, Beck and Anon fight more indirectly under Flynn's banner (Anon more directly than Beck, as Flynn explicitly coded him to help).
    • The Bradley family in TRON 2.0. Jet was uploaded in desperation by Benevolent A.I. Ma3a to stop the corrupted User, J. D. Thorne. Unfortunately, Thorne was the tip of the proverbial iceberg; a rival company planned on sending a full-scale invasion of human mercenaries to conquer the Program world. As a test, they forcibly uploaded Alan Bradley. Add The Reveal that Ma3a is the Virtual Ghost of Lora Baines-Bradley. Jet does the direct fighting with his parents acting as Mission Control. Fittingly, Tron is Alan Bradley's creation, meaning this trope seriously runs in the family.
  • Deity of Human Origin:
  • Digitized Hacker: Either an Unbuilt Trope or Ur-Example. The Flynns (and Bradleys in the TRON 2.0 canon) lack the malice the trope usually implies, and the hackers of the franchise are physically uploaded instead of just their minds, but the idea that a digitized human is insanely powerful probably came from here. TRON 2.0 uses the modern, malicious version of the trope as the main story driver.
  • Disappears into Light: When a program is derezzed, they either evaporate into light or fall into small glowing cubes that then disappear.
  • Doppelgänger Gets Same Sentiment: Played with in the first film and the ARG; Flynn at first mistakes Tron for Alan, then blatantly hits on Yori (who is a double for his ex-girlfriend Lora). In the ARG, he's shown to have become a friend of Ram's User, Roy Kleinburg. The ARG and "The Next Day" also states that Flynn nicknamed Alan and Roy "Tron and Ram," but it may have also been a form of Cassandra Truth to tell his analog-world friends about their Programs.
  • The Dragon:
    • Sark to the Master Control Program.
    • Rinzler to Clu.
    • Paige to Tesler.
    • Seth Crown to the F-Con CEO in TRON 2.0, but he, Popoff and Baza make a Terrible Trio.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Flynn doesn't quite get the hang of flying his Recognizer (then again, it's broken and not handling well). With that in mind, Quorra's Light Runner skills make a bit of sense.
  • Endless Game: Tron, Discs of TRON, Tron: Deadly Discs, Maze-A-Tron, and Tron RUN/r all either have an endless mode or just keep going until the player runs out of lives.
  • Everything Is Online: Surprisingly, the Novelization of the first film (written before TCP/IP, the backbone of modern computer networking) ran with this idea, and Zig-Zagged in Tron 2.0, as there is a lot that is online (and thus exploitable by the bad guys), but there's several parts where the challenge is getting a system to connect. Averted in TRON: Legacy and TRON: Uprising as they take place on a (mostly) isolated system Kevin ran in the arcade basement.
  • Evil Brit: Ed Dillinger.
  • Extraordinary World, Ordinary Problems: Cyberspace is a beautiful, fantastic setting. The first film, it's under a totalitarian government persecuting religious believers. The Betrayal and Evolution eras are all over Fantastic Racism between Programs and Isos, with Clu cheerfully fanning the flames to get more power. TRON: Legacy has, again, a totalitarian government with Clu believing himself to be a liberator and benevolent dictator when the truth is that he's anything but. TRON: Uprising has criminal gangs, rogue scientists, Occupation forces who really believe that Clu's the best option, and the protagonist has to report to his "day job" in what amounts to an auto repair shop. Even TRON 2.0 shows that spam and criminal Resource Hog and malware gangs are a headache on that side of the screen. Justified, really. A world built by humans and populated by digital avatars is just as likely to reflect the best and worst of humans, and the Grid was under the control of a well-intentioned, but deeply flawed human who really wasn't qualified for the job of deity.
  • Faceless Mooks: Conscripts controlled by Tesler and Clu are given face-concealing helmets. Some have open mouths, others don't.
  • Fanservice: Skin-tight suits with formfitting armor.
  • Fantastic Racism: Against the Isos. Many Programs don't trust them due to their spontaneous creation, perceived superiority, and Flynn's fascination with them which is by Clu has any support at all. While not shown in TRON: Legacy, The Betrayal comic, TRON: Evolution, and TRON: Uprising showed that the Isos were equally suspicious of the Programs, with the attitude they were too constrained by their directives and borderline obsolete. The Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] version of Quorra even tells Sora not to bother trying to save Tron because "Programs don't have hearts."
  • Future Spandex: In spades. Justified Trope, as others point out. Flowing cloth is difficult at best to replicate with CGI. It did earn the first film an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design (and a snub for special effects, as the computer graphics were considered "cheating" at the time)
  • God Is Flawed: See Deity of Human Origin. Humans are the deities in this equation, and we are very flawed and imperfect deities at best, almost to the degree of being Obliviously Evil deities. Even Flynn, with all his brilliance and good intentions, wasn't really up to the task.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Exaggerated and Justified tropes in this universe. The color and patterns of a Program's Tron Lines give away their loyalties, system of origin, and relative social position. If a Program changes their loyalties or their function, their circuitry will also change to match. We see this very clearly in Uprising, where Paige had green circuits and an entirely different pattern when she was a medic than she does after her recruitment by Tesler. We also see it in TRON: Legacy Tron's circuits fade from Brainwashed and Crazy red to his original blue-white after snapping out of Clu's control. It's a game mechanic in 2.0, as you have to take notice of both the color and the pattern to avoid shooting innocents.
  • Greater-Scope Villain / Hijacked by Ganon:
    • Clu for the Legacy canon in all but his first appearance. But Master Control is implied to be quite alive and still scheming behind the scenes, given the DVD extras in Legacy
    • In the Tron 2.0 canon, both 2.0 and Killer App imply Ed Dillinger Sr. is behind the events in both.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: Whooo...boy. Even the most humble accounting software in this universe blows the Turing Test into atoms, and they have their own (mostly) independent civilization.
  • Hacker Collective: The "Flynn Lives" collective in the Legacy continuity are a group of hacktivists who are ostensibly looking for answers about the disappearance of Flynn, but who also act as gadflies when it comes to Encom corporate policies Flynn (and company founder Gibbs) wouldn't have approved of. Its chief administrator is Roy Kleinburg (implied to be Ram's User). Alan Bradley is the silent partner and prime financial backer.
  • Happiness in Slavery: While Disney understandably does their best to play this down as much as possible, the Programs are still a Servant Race to their human creators, designed to serve them in ways from communications to entertainment. Most of the heroic characters are happy with this arrangement. It's the villains of the franchise who seek freedom from human rule, and the overthrow of their creators.
  • Happy Ending Override: Both sequels pretty much ruin the victory gained in the first film; in both cases, Flynn vanishes and Lora's out of the picture note , leaving Alan to soldier on alone. Encom goes back to being run by crooks, the digital world falls into chaos again, and both sequels end with the Spin-Offspring picking through the rubble of better days to salvage what's left.
  • Healing Spring: Energy is like water inside the mainframe, and drinking it heals and restores programs and Users alike. In 2.0, walking through the pools fills up Jet's ammo bar. It seems to undo Clu's brainwashing of Tron when he falls into the Sea of Simulation at the end of Legacy.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Common in the original and 2.0. Less often used but still present in Legacy and Uprising. Expect a ton of computer-related puns and jokes.
  • Human Outside, Alien Inside: Programs and Isos resemble humans (more specifically, Programs in the first film resembled their human creator), but they drink liquid energy as nourishment, wounds look like hunks of flesh carved from their bodies, scars resemble dead pixels, and they shatter into small cubes and fade from existence when dead. Disney used this to fly a metric ton of violence and death in, up to and including a first person shooter.
  • Humanity Is Superior: Exaggerated Trope or Logical Extreme in the franchise. Humans are creator-deities to the Programs and Isos. A human who "gets in" ends up insanely powerful. note  Flynn was a Reality Warper who could channel a crazy amount of power using his own body as a conduit. Thorne became a living virus, corrupting hordes of Programs and sending across computer networks in a Zombie Apocalypse reign of terror. And even at his weakest, Jet Bradley was still tougher than most of the enemies he had to face, leaving them to try and overwhelm him with sheer numbers. The Datawraith hackers from F-Con are one of the few Mook enemies who are on par with Jet in a straight fight.
  • Information Wants to Be Free: A running theme and handled with the subtlety of a speeding Recognizer. In the first film, Programs lament their lack of access to their Users due to Master Control's totalitarian control. In the ARG, Flynn was an advocate for open source software and keeping information and computing readily accessible. In TRON: Legacy, one of the ways Alan Bradley goads the stupid CEO is by pointing out the high price and Ed Dillinger Jr. snarkily points out that the era of giving software away "disappeared with Flynn." TRON 2.0 had the bad guys working for a "secure data storage" company, and planning to upload an army of mercenaries under their employ to seize control of the world's data (everything from state secrets to medical records to finance data) in order to covertly rule the human world through control of information.
  • Inside a Computer System: Literally, as the world of the programs is the world's computer networks (Encom's EN-511 mainframe in the first film, The Grid computer in the second film, and no less than a dozen systems in 2.0)
  • Internal Deconstruction: TRON 2.0 starts it. Humans as deities? Yeah, let's show off how that would really work by having a bunch of greedy, stupid humans drooling at the chance to conquer that world. The tie-in Ghost in the Machine comic cranks it up to Deconstructor Fleet with a side order of Mind Screw starting with the opening scene; Jet having a Heroic BSoD upon realizing what being a User means, and hunkering down in the old arcade, afraid to touch a computer.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: In-universe (and in both continuities), Flynn used his experience down the digital rabbit hole to make the Tron arcade game. In the Legacy canon, the ARG presents sections of several books on computers and philosophy that he wrote, also based on his experiences in cyberspace. It's heavily Implied to be a form of Fiction as Cover-Up, trying to prepare humanity for discovering the Program civilization and treating it ethically.
  • Le Parkour: The main means of movement for Evolution and RUN/r, and an important mechanic in 2.0. Shows up in Legacy and Uprising to a lesser extent.
  • Life Drain: in both the 1982 film and TRON 2.0, this is a User power. A User can touch a Program and drain their energy, de-rezzing the Program, but powering up the User. note 
  • Like Cannot Cut Like: Identity Discs can't break each other. In fact, they seem basically indestructible.
  • Manchild:
    • Kevin Flynn spends most of his time at the arcade showing off to teenagers after being forced to leave Encom. He gets somewhat better by the time Sam finds him later.
    • Subverted with Jet Bradley. While his Establishing Character Moment is turning down a promotion his father "pulled strings" to try and arrange in order to continue working in the game department, in-game emails show that Jet is doing well in the game department, becoming lead programmer on a Space Paranoids remake. He just had a stormy adolescence.
    • Sam pranks his company every year for the sake of a thrill and lives in a garage with his dog, simply because he's basically a rebellious teenager at the age of 27. He matures some in the Grid, and takes his place as the CEO of Encom after he returns.
  • Master of Unlocking: "That's a really big door."
  • Mega-Corp: Encom is the biggest tech company in the movie's world, having the majority share of consumer device operating system installations. They also make video games and lasers that can reconstruct you in a digital cyber world.
  • Men Get Old, Women Get Replaced: The Legacy timeline is a very obvious case. Bridges? Check. Boxleitner? Check. Morgan? Oh, we put her human character on a bus, and her Program doesn't even warrant a mention in the Expanded Universe. Subverted in the TRON 2.0 timeline where her human character (Lora Baines-Bradley) was killed by the Shiva laser, but her consciousness survived and was compiled into Benevolent A.I. Ma3a .
  • Names Given to Computers: Program names in the franchise are usually a source of computer-based puns, sometimes with a dose of Genius Bonus. Title character? Short for "electronic." Clu? Short for "Codified Likeness Utility." Beck and Cyrus were named for the Beck-Cyrus algorithm. Zuse was named for Konrad Zuse, a German scientist who worked on some of the first modern computers The fact Zuse worked for Those Wacky Nazis in real life was a Genius Bonus that the Program was also shady. Tron 2.0 went completely nuts with it, giving most civilian Programs human names (Felicia.exe, Clarence.exe), giving viral programs names like "Duradanal", "Rampancy", and "Joker", ICP units have names like "spoolserv" and "Morton", etc.
  • Off the Rails: Both Sam and Kevin end up leaving the Game Grid in the middle of a Light Cycle match. Mercury invokes it in 2.0 by blasting an announcer tower to create an escape route.
  • The Outside World: The world of the users. Quorra is the first program to see it for herself, unless Tron got to while being ported over.
  • Pals with Jesus: In the first film and Betrayal comic, it's shown that Tron considers Flynn a close friend and the feeling is mutual. Mercury and Jet also become close quickly, but there's more romantic elements to it, especially in the comic.
  • Personal Arcade: Played With. While Flynn's Arcade is technically a business (and his livelihood during the time he was kicked out of Encom), he lived in an apartment overlooking it and was implied to have spent as much time playing the games as running the place. He kept the business after returning to Encom, and used it as a front to conceal his Grid experiments in the basement.
  • Playful Hacker: Kevin Flynn certainly mixed his skills in computers with a prankish streak, using his hacking to "fix" his phone bills and credit card statements. Sam and Jet are also this trope; Justified as Kevin taught them in their respective timelines.
  • Power Glows: Literally, since power takes the form of glowing water inside the system.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: The Identity Disk flies in a straight line before returning to its owner. It usually fly in a straight line on the return trip, regardless of its prior trajectory.
  • Recursive Canon: The arcade game is based off of this movie's events, and is featured in both 2.0 and Legacy. It's explained as Kevin Flynn basing it off of his experience.
  • Red Is Violent / Red and Black and Evil All Over: Red circuits mark a Program as belonging to the System Guard, and they are usually, but not always, antagonists. In the films, it's played very straight, starting with Sark being called "brutal and needlessly sadistic" and taking it as a compliment. Sark and his Mooks are in bright red circuits. In TRON: Legacy, Clu's forces, both willing and rectified are also marked by bright red circuits, most prominently "Rinzler," who is little more than Clu's assassin. Clu din't bother changing the pattern of "Rinzler's" circuits, though. Check for the "T" on his chest. TRON: Uprising plays with it a bit; yes, the antagonists are mostly in System Guard red, but they vary with the degree of violence and/or evil (Paige is a lot more reasonable than Tesler, for example, and Tesler isn't as much of a sadist as Dyson). Tron 2.0 has the Intrusion Countermeasure Programs (ICP) who are certainly violent (willing to destroy entire sectors, civilians and all, to stop a virus), and hostile to the protagonist, but they aren't evil so much as hitting the Godzilla Threshold, and call off their attack when the realize Jet's on their side. With Tron: Ghost In the Machine, the Red Jet.exe realized first that he was a copy and the knowledge corrupted him into an angry, nihilistic bully.
  • Robo Romance: Tron and Yori were an early, canonical case, though her fate is unknown past the first film. note . And there's also the ongoing Ship Tease with Beck and Paige and Zed's crush on Mara in Uprising.
  • Robots Enslaving Robots: In both films and Uprising. Master Control and Clu's regimes are brutal to their fellow Programs, and the danger is of them extending that brutality to the human world.
  • Save Both Worlds / Up the Real Rabbit Hole : The series throws the ball back and forth here. The first film calls the human world "The Real World," note  but the Film's plot is closer to Save Both Worlds as Master Control wanted to take over both sides of the Cold War and rule humanity. Flynn calls the human world "the real world" in Tron: Betrayal and gets a What the Hell, Hero? from Clu, who points out that the Program world is the real world to those who inhabit it. TRON: Legacy plays it straighter, as Sam encounters little in the virtual world worth saving aside from Quorra, who is implied to be partly biological. The Programs are Just a Machine, and the focus is on preventing Clu from getting to the "real" world of humans and inflicting his twisted idea of perfection on humans. TRON 2.0 is a straight Save Both Worlds, as fCon is planning to invade and conquer Cyberspace so that they can control everything from global finance and media to state secrets, and the game's protagonist's explicit refusal to see that world as any less than his own sets up the Heroic BSoD he experiences in the comic book.
  • Secondary Character Title: Tron isn't the main character in any single entry in the series. He variously serves as The Lancer, The Mentor, or The Dragon. 2.0 itself puts it up to eleven - Tron is merely considered a legend, the focus of a King in the Mountain myth, but Subverted in Killer App, as he and Mercury share the story.
  • Servant Race: Programs are this to humans; the humans giving Programs their life and their purpose, and the Programs carrying out that purpose to please the humans. Most of the "good" aligned characters are quite content with this arrangement, but it still made #1 on Cracked's list of "Lighthearted Movies with Dark Moral Implications."
  • Sickly Green Glow: Programs and sectors corrupted by viruses have this coloration in both Evolution and 2.0
  • Spin-Offspring: Used in both sequels. TRON: Legacy plays it straighter with Sam Flynn being Kevin's son, while 2.0 plays it a bit sideways with Jet being Alan and Lora's child. note  There's also a fandom joke that Beck is a cross of Tron and Yori's code. Edward Dillinger Junior from TRON: Legacy is (likely) a villainous version of the trope.
  • Stab the Sky: Used in both movies' posters, and 2.0's promo art. Also done at the climax of each film.
  • Summon to Hand: Identity Discs, when thrown, always return to the hands of their wielder.
  • Tank Goodness: A recurring element. They show up in Tron (movie and game) and Evolution. 2.0's Antiquated level has you running two gauntlets of tanks, and Killer App ups it by having the characters drive tanks on several levels. Recognizers could also be described as gigantic floating tanks.
  • Technology Porn: CGI on computers that had less processing power than a modern cell phone. Two films, but almost a dozen video games. Inspired the creation of freaking Pixar. Lisberger and McBaird were computer engineers, not script writers or directors, and it certainly shows.
  • Thank the Maker: The whole Program religion.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: Most Programs are in this universe. The Users give them their life and their purpose, and they are happy to serve. The title character is a nearly a Paladin with this as his code, and it's a massive plot point in TRON: Legacy. Rule 1, harm no User or allow no User to come to harm by inaction? He pulled a You Shall Not Pass! with Clu's forces, allowing Flynn to get to safety. And even Brainwashed and Crazy, he stops fighting Sam in the arena when Sam bleeds, revealing him as a User. Rule 2, obey all commands given by a User unless then conflict with Rule 1? Flynn's dismay over what Tron has become could broadly be considered an order to protect the Users and Iso in the light jet. And, of course, he was happily taking orders from Alan in the first film. Rule 3, preserve his existence unless it conflicts with Rules 1 and 2? Tron waits until after Users and Isos are safely out of range, and then makes a suicidal charge on Clu.
  • Tron Lines: The Trope Namer. Jet Bradley provides the page picture. In-universe, they're usually called "circuits" or "circuit lines," and appear to act as an identifier; no two sets of circuits are exactly alike. The color and patterns appear to display a Program's system of origin, social class, and loyalties. What each color means varies from source to source, but generally blue are loyal to the Users and red are rebellious to them. If a Program changes their loyalties or functions, their circuitry will also change to match their new position. Clu and Ma3a are unique in having yellow, marking them as superior to ordinary Programs.
  • Wainscot Society: Cyberspace and the sentient artificial life that inhabits it. The Programs know humans are out there, and revere them as creator deities, but the humans (aside from the Flynns in Legacy's canon) are the only ones who actually saw that world from the other side.
  • What If God Was One of Us?: Again, Disney tries to play this down, but it's certainly a running theme. Most people are The Oblivious, never knowing their software is sentient note  But out of the ones who do find out?
    • Kevin Flynn started as the Self-Denouncer, tried to be The Shepherd (and didn't do very well at it), and ended as a hard case of The Apathetic Only Quorra and Sam mattered, the Programs were left to fend for themselves under Clu
    • J. D. Thorne of 2.0 went straight to The Despot, declaring himself "Master User" and unleashing a Zombie Apocalypse reign of terror across all of cyberspace. Unfortunately, he was working for fCon, who wanted to be even worse cases of The Despot by uploading an army of Datawraith mercenaries to enslave and exploit the Programs, then use the data they obtained to manipulate and rule the User world by controlling finance, weapons systems, and blackmailing world leaders.
    • Jet Bradley thwarts them, but realizing what being a User means doesn't do his sanity any favors. He ends up as a cross of Reluctant Messiah and Self-Denouncer, realizing that as much as he hates the idea of being a User, humans have a responsibility to the Programs and that there's always another guy like Thorne waiting in the wings.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: In effect for Kevin, Jet, and Sam. Kevin couldn't have been gone more than a few seconds, since he lands back in his chair before it even had time to hit the ground. Legacy explicitly establishes the Grid as moving 50 times faster than the outside world, with Users inside the system aging slower as a result.
  • You Will Be Assimilated:
    • MCP steals the functions of any program that he orders derezzed.
    • Clu does this to programs that are captured or (possibly) derezzed in the games.
    • Viral attacks like Abraxas and Thorne also corrupt healthy Programs into PlagueZombies, with a single minded desire to find and infect healthy Programs.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion:
    • MCP believes he's far better at running things than a human being could possibly ever hope to. While he doesn't seem to be Three Laws-Compliant, this is still his motivation.
    • Clu wanted to create the perfect system as Flynn asked him to. Despite how horrible he acted to achieve this, it's obvious he still just wants to complete his objective and get approval.
    • Dyson's directive was to keep the system stable and running. The Isos were blamed for destabilizing the system. User appeared to be blowing off multiple warnings about said system instability. No guesses for where Dyson sided when things boiled over.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: What a viral attack is in this universe. Hordes of Plague Zombie Programs marching across the system, infecting and converting wherever they go until the whole system collapses.

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