It was stated in the novelization and hinted in the script that Programs have some vestigial memories and emotional patterns from their Users. Also, the closest we get to an explanation of why the Programs are what they are is Gibbs's line about "our spirit remains in every program we design." Gibbs may have meant it metaphorically, but the in-universe explanation is probably very literal.
It also makes for an Accidental Aesop. Technology is only as good or bad as the people who build it. Good people, like Alan, Roy, and Gibbs? Their Programs are User friendly. Someone like Dillinger who isn't as ethical? Well, we get a power-hungry jerk like Sark. And in the case of Flynn? Well, we see his best traits (optimism, determination, clever thinking) in Clu 1.0 and his dark side (ambition, tendency to abuse his friends, need for the crowd's adoration) with Clu 2.0.
Whenever a program is derezzed rather than fall down dead, whats left of them floats upwards presumably to nowhere. After learning about what MCP does to dead programs, this troper thinks that the ones that get killed also get assimilated by him. In other words the heroes are making him stronger by killing the bad programs.
The ending is a Heartwarming Moment. Flynn comes out of the helicopter, vindicated at last. He's got Dillinger's job running day to day operations, he's made peace with Lora and Alan, and they're now a Power Trio, walking off into the sunset. It is the high point in the entire franchise. Because no matter whattimeline you pick, it all goes to hell from there and their victories and happiness will be fleeting at best. By the time the sequel(s) end, Encom is in shambles, over 2/3 of the characters are dead/de-rezzed, and the other 1/3 end up with dim survival odds or even a Fate Worse than Death with one of the Spin-Offspring left to pick up the pieces of what's left.
As brought up in Cracked's "Five Lighthearted Films With Dark Moral Implications," if video games are horrifying Blood Sport on the other side of the screen (explicitly shown in the Novelization), then Flynn continuing to run the arcade after seeing what he did in the virtual world would be cruel at the very least and a huge case of God Is Evil at worst. We'd better hope that arcade games are more or less like Wreck-It Ralph, where no one actually was supposed to get hurt, and that Master Control was just perverting the whole setup.
Some prime Fanfic Fuel if anyone wants to take a crack at it; When the Power Trio break into the building, Master Control signals Dillinger and says "Get those programmers out of the system and get me that Chinese language file." And he had all three of them on the cameras. We saw his blatant attempt to kill Flynn off by Shiva laser, which blew up in his face. But it's a bit far fetched to think he didn't at least try to kill Alan and Lora too.
Another dose of Fanfic Fuel and Nightmare Fuel; the world of the Programs is an outright theocracy. Think about all the disturbing and awful things humans have done to one another in the name of religion. Now, think about how Programs take the best and worst parts of their human creators and have 100% certainty of their deities' existence. (Meanwhile, the "deities" are oblivious, and that's probably for the best.) At the very least, we have malicious Users and cyberwarfare making for a Religion of Evil. At worst, even those serving benign or benevolent Users may be perfectly fine with committing disturbing actions against fellow scripts because of User command or a self-serving interpretation of a User command. (Clu from TRON: Legacy would be a good example of the "self-serving interpretation" idea). And also factor in that the Game Grids likely pre-date Master Control's rule (he can only re-purpose, not create), and are kept around as a form of punishment in the TRON 2.0 timeline. Top it off that there is no way for the Programs to reject their religion in the long run as they cannot self-replicate and depend on the humans for the systems they live on.
As stated elsewhere, Tron is a firewall, even though the term had never been used before. In fact, few companies in 1982 had anything like a firewall, save a simple password protect.
When Flynn repairs the Recognizer, it makes perfect sense, since he wrote Space Paranoids. He probably is the only User who could repair one, at least so quickly, because he is familiar with the code!
The whole Tron/Yori ship: I realize that, in-film, the whole ship was probably just an "as above, so below" shout out to the Bradleys and a means to point out that the Program and User worlds were Not So Different. It was still very sweet, especially in the Daley novelization. A moment of fridge brilliance is involved when it hit me - she's a system maintenance utility and he's the damn firewall. Of course they're practically designed for one another.
Is she? I thought she ran simulations.
She does - and therefore has local admin access within the minicomputer that's running the research simulations. in the "outside", and in real life, if ENCOM's running, say, IBM's family of mainframes and minis, then the lab would have most likely been running off a System/34 mini, which would talk onwards to the main kit. Or the Solar Sailer project would have been running on this gear. Lora would have higher-level access locally, hence Flynn was trying to authenticate at a higher level and ride admin privs in. - alcockell
She is some kind of debugging or rendering utility for the laser. When Gibbs & Lora are shooting the laser at the orange, there's a readout in the lower right that says "Rom Yori, Load Yori." — Allronix
This makes sense when you realize she knows how to fly a vehicle over a beam of light in the computer world. Beams are her thing.
According to Cindy Morgan , she was told that Yori has some instinctual knowledge of Lora's life, and she even has an inkling she and Flynn used to fool around.
The original movie makes more sense if you make it your personal canon that the MCP is oppressing the other programs on the system not by depriving them of energy, but rather CPU time. And the Space Whale Aesop is, don't give an AI program sysadmin privileges over the system it runs on. — SuddenFrost
After Walt Disney's death, there were (very false) rumors that he was put in cryogenic stasis. The rumors were fueled inadvertently, in part, by Disney staff making comments about proceeding with company decision making, "as if Walt were still here." Now, think about this and the "Flynn Lives" movement...
The debate between Dillinger and Gibbs about what their processing goals should be (serving the end user versus serving the business's bottom line) is surprisingly prophetic, as this debate eventually fueled the entire evolution of the PC market that was still in its infancy at the time. In Hindsight, the Dillinger/Gibbs relationship even has a Steve Jobs/Steve Wozniak vibe going on.
Acknowledged by Steven Lisberger and Donald Kurshner, who said that in 1982, it was still unknown which medium the computers would gravitate to: the artists or the businessmen.
The religious parallels between "programs-users" and "humans-gods". Not just the parts where Flynn is basically a Christ figure for the computer world, but the whole fact that not only are most programs not entirely sure if users even exist, but the users aren't even aware that they have created these intelligent beings in their computers. Take this setup a step up into the real world (the novelization takes a few more steps in this direction than the film), and you basically have real-world Deism - the reason we don't see God(s) is because they don't even realize we're here, or self-aware!
More Fridge Sadness, but...Ram was the one who drove the RED cycle. And we all know what happens to the dude in red...
Minor one, but whenever a program or a user in the guise of a program expresses extreme emotions, their Tron Lines light up intensely. The big example, being Tron's Big "NO!" causing his blue lines to glow brighter. The same effect happens whenever a program consumes energy from a pure source or is close to dying. Much like how us humans get tired if we are angry or upset, a program's emotional state is burning energy faster the more intense it is.
Adding to the overt religious subtext, the TRON theme features heavy use of a church organ.
Yori is a character that operates on nothing but Fridge Brilliance. In the theatrical film, it's difficult to discern what use she has outside of being Satellite Love Interest...unless you're watching closely and get your hands on that Deleted Scene and/or the Novelization. Her Early-Bird Cameo is shown on a screen well before she shows up in the film (when they're digitizing the orange, the lower right hand side of the screen reads "ROM Yori, LOAD Yori"), establishing she pretty much runs the laser. (Which is why she was captured and turned into a drone instead of being sent to The Games like her husband - Master Control needed her alive). Secondly, notice that even with an urgent call from his deity on the line, Tron goes and finds her first? Okay, so maybe showing some Disney Prince origins here, but...Then we get the Deleted Scene. Yori's providing the hideout, she's adept at sabotage (highly illegal power reroute), she's the one who actually makes the plans on how to get into the I/O Tower. (And incorporates them into foreplay!) It's her connection to Dumont that gets the old Guardian to relent. And she is the one who designed and piloted the getaway vehicle (the Solar Sailer). The only thing she isn't handling is the combat, which is her husband's job.
Which actually adds new significance to Tron's Always Save the Girl attitude for her: if Yori had been derezzed or assimilated into the MCP, then even after the latter was destroyed, there'd be no program left who could operate the laser system. Meaning that Flynn would never have gotten back to the User world.
And her being a Sequel Non-Entity is one of the reasons in the TRON: Legacy timeline got as bad as it did. She likely could have operated the portal from the inside, meaning Flynn wouldn't have his foolish ass trapped on the Grid. Her diplomatic skills could have been very useful when it came to the whole Iso-Program conflict. And while Tron could teach Beck how to fight in TRON: Uprising, that's all Tron really knew how to do, which is why he kept giving Beck bad advice on how to grow the revolution (such as sending away Mara after she expressed both the willingness and the skill to be an active participant), or how to handle the aspects like logistics and diplomacy. And you can bet that Yori not being around didn't help Tron's dubious grip on sanity during the series. She was that small nail that could have saved the kingdom.
One would wonder why Dillinger was stupid enough to keep incriminating evidence of his stealing Flynn's game designs and programs. He didn't. The MCP kept them as blackmail; one scene has MCP threatening to publish the evidence on the front page of the New York Times, hinting that the MCP had been blackmailing Dillinger for years.
It's easy to underestimate Alan; nerd glasses, unflattering fashion sense, conduct like a boy scout. However, that may be part of the point. He had clearly been working on Tron for months, meaning he suspected Master Control was up to no good well before anyone else did. And he followed all the proper procedures for memos and paperwork, probably knowing Dillinger wouldn't read them anyway. This being the early 80's, he bypassed Master Control's notice by making sure those memos were handwritten or typewritten (with appropriate copies kept in a desk drawer if anyone asked him to provide proof). And he also kept up good relations with Gibbs, the only guy who went higher than Dillinger in the corporate hierarchy. Dillinger and Master Control clearly did not understand until it was laid out to them that as soon as Alan completed Tron and hit "run," their whole house of cards would collapse, and they wouldn't have even known what hit them. Sure, they locked Alan out of his software (and locked up said software in the Game Grid), but they wouldn't have been able to keep that up forever. And Dillinger couldn't fire Alan without drawing a massive amount of suspicion and a likely investigation that would have exposed his scam and Master Control's "extracurricular" activities. And if they destroyed Tron without firing Alan, then that would also draw a ton of suspicion, given how many other programs went MIA, with nothing to prevent Alan from coding up another try. Alan pulled a glitching Xanatos Gambit on those clowns and they didn't realize it until it was way too late.
Why was Tron's disc able to shatter Sark's when most cases of disc combat have Like Cannot Cut Like? Well, first, that upgrade from Alan turned the disc into a Holy Hand Grenade, capable of destroying a full-blown AI. Secondly, Sark was implied to be Dillinger's Program, and Dillinger, while a sneaky and posturing corporate type, wasn't actually very good at programming (he had to steal Flynn's creations instead of succeeding on his own). Then factor in that Alan, while lacking Flynn's raw talent, is probably the better coder Think about TRON: Legacy - Clu was Flynn's finest work, Tron was Alan's, and twenty years of tampering from the former couldn't completely override the latter. Sark was outclassed from the get-go and probably didn't know it.
We see humans in the real world working at their computer terminals, running Programs. We then see Programs inside the computer world, also working at computer terminals, which must also contain programs. So is it turtles all the way down?