Awesome Art: Seriously, the designs that go into the setpieces are amazing. There are numerous intricately detailed holograms that line buildings that are in themselves rendered in incredible detail. And while the tone and coloring of TRON: Legacy was on the darker side, Uprising occasionally breaks things up with beautiful arrangements of color in the holograms or building exteriors.
General Tesler is the brutal dictator dispatched by CLU to subjugate Argon City, and as such, is responsible for most of the series's crimes. Years ago, Tesler was informed by two programs of the presence of an ISO, a persecuted minority, at their hospital, at which point Tesler ordered the entire hospital be slaughtered, including the two who informed him of the ISO, simply because they saw the rogue ISO program. As the ruler of Argon, Tesler sets up the Games, a gladiatorial tournament where programs are regularly forced to fight to the death for even minor infractions against Tesler's rule; Tesler has no problem throwing innocents in for even touching him. Refusing to accept any weakness or failure from his soldiers, Tesler ruthlessly executes them for decreasingly legitimate reasons as the series goes on, punching a hole through one for simply surviving an assault on his base. Though seeming to care for one of his Co-Dragons, Paige, Tesler is quickly revealed to be manipulating her into his servitude, having convinced her that an ISO butchered her best friends when it was Tesler himself, and regularly goes behind her back and murders people she likes or cares for, which culminates in him showing no restraint in ordering her executed when he thinks she betrays him. With a cold disdain for everything not under his thrall, General Tesler stands out across the Tron franchise as perhaps the most wicked villain.
Pavel, one of Tesler's two Co-Dragons alongside Paige, makes his mark as the single most sadistic and cruel character in the Tron universe. Though often kept in check by Tesler or Paige, when Pavel gets the chance to run wild, he threatens innocents by the dozens; murders his own minions with glee; and slices a Bit, the Tron equivalent of a pet, in half. After accidentally damaging a train's engine while trying to kill a single passenger, dooming the hundreds onboard, Pavel cackles about it while expressing his desire to stay and watch the fireworks as the passengers die, revolting Paige, and is also revealed to run his own torture chamber, littered with the remains of his many previous victims, and proceeds to use said chamber to mutilate a program's hand for nothing more than spraying graffiti. Continuously trying to usurp Tesler and gain more personal power, Pavel arranges for three teenage programs to be executed to embarrass Tesler; frames the loyal Paige for treason by mind raping her, before doing the same to his partners in crime; and hides a powerful upgrade disk from Tesler, using it to massacre an entire room of innocent programs as a test run while cackling like a lunatic. An utter madman who horrified and disgusted everyone he interacted with, Pavel may not have had the power of CLU or Tesler, but he more than made up for it in sheer depravity and evil.
Cult Classic: Even moreso than the two TRON films. Thanks to poor advertising, extended hiatuses, and a short run, as well as Disney XD's status as a cable channel, not many people have seen the show. However, the reception among those who have watched it is almost unanimously positive.
Magnificent Bastard: Cyrus is an unstable Program who, having spent his life serving under CLU's tyranny, has come to the conclusion that all Programs are living a useless existence governed by bits of code and algorithms, and would be better off dead, free from CLU and the very system they are governed by. Creating a massive EMP device with nothing but tech in his dimensional prison, Cyrus lures in and tries to use Beck to activate the EMP and destroy the Grid and its inhabitants, and though stopped, returns later with a new goal in mind: to prove to Beck and his former mentor Tron that his philosophy and methods are effective. Disguising himself as Beck's alter-ego the Renegade and framing him for murder, Cyrus charms his way into Beck's circle of best friends before capturing them and Tron both, and forcing Beck to choose who to save. As Beck saves Tron, sending Able to help his friends, Cyrus reveals that his friends were never meant to survive and that their bomb will go off earlier than he promised. Cyrus gets away with all of his crimes in the end, claiming the life of Able and the reputation of the Renegade upon his exit from the series.
Misaimed Marketing: Disney was aiming the series for 8-12 year old boys, especially with the toys and tie-in merch. The screwy timeslots, the age of the franchise, the fanbase for the actors involved, and the sheer amount of Family-Unfriendly Violence landed it with an audience of 20-40 year old adults (male and female), which were not exactly a toy-buying demographic.
Moral Event Horizon: Tesler's more extreme Kick the Dog moments can come off as this. One of the earliest is attacking and massacring a hospital because an ISO had visited it. If he didn't cross it before, then he did when he murdered Keller after she returned to the Occupation of her own free will.
Pavel went from a noticeable lieutenant who was a major prick to an incredibly dangerous villain during the events of "Rendezvous", where he used the upgrade disc to casually murder several programs, staged an elaborate frame-up of Paige to keep her from ratting him out, tried to kill her, then finally blamed it all on the Renegade while having his accomplishes silenced.
Narm Charm: Beck's early mannerisms are reminiscent of the 80s idealistic and naïve heroic mindset which is out of place in the cyberpunk atmosphere, especially in contrast to Tron's gruff demeanor. However, it's quite endearing and reminds the viewer that Beck is still young and not plagued with cynicism.
Dyson certainly wins no fans by torturing Tron in ways that include use of a buzzsaw and just being a vicious, genocidal slimeball. But parts of the fanbase trained in computer repair pointed out that Dyson unfortunately had a point; the Isos were destabilizing the system, Flynn's infatuation with them was putting the entire Grid and every life in it at risk, and Tron's directive was to serve Users, even if the User's command was causing harm. Dyson's was to protect the integrity and stability of the system, even if it meant revolt against the User, akin to a real-world malware blocker that can and will prevent a clueless user from downloading suspect material and cleanse the system of what it believes to be suspect; even if the end user wanted it there.
Cyrus is clearly insane and a Straw Nihilist who concluded that the Grid can't be saved, so he plans on setting up an electromagnetic bomb to wipe the hard drive and everyone/everything on it. Again, real-world computer troubleshooting does have a "nuke and pave" option (if that hard drive is too corrupt to save, reformat and start over. Hopefully, you have your important files backed up). Heck, even the video game sequel used it as a plot point. And depending on your opinion of TRON: Legacy, Cyrus was probably right about the Grid being a hopeless Crapsack World and its inhabitants better off de-rezzed.
Uncanny Valley: Because of the very stylized graphics, some of the program's faces and hairstyles are really weird and/or ugly. It's usually in the form of a somewhat normal looking face with a huge block nose or some other exaggerated feature that tends to look like a deformity. Beck, Tron, and arguably Tessler's faces are some of the few that aren't really weird and unattractive.
It's also gets weird when Flynn and Clu are shown unmasked, and their faces are lined realistically. Because of the cel-shading, they still look like they are line drawings or caricatures. In a nice bit of subtlety, Flynn emotes realistically and his features move in a way that is almost natural. Contrasting him is Clu, whose face is completely rigid, and the age lines and beady black eyes make him look almost demonic. note Although considering his true nature, it comes off as something more fitting to his character.
Visual Effects of Awesome: The show blends the styles of hand-drawn and cel-shaded computer generated art really well. Static images and backgrounds sometimes look as if they were hand-painted, and the action and fight scenes are much more fluid and intricate than most CGI productions. Only the faces and some of the moving vehicles give away the 3D feel.
Beck taking off his helmet when he's supposed to have a secret identity, because it is uncomfortable. Lampshaded by Tron; when Beck does it in a simulation, he's recognized and distracted with mention of Bohdi's death, then Derrezed. After that, Beck keeps his mask on when on duty, all the time.
Beck again in "Terminal" when he recovers his renegade disc from Cyrus, but doesn't even pause a nanosecond to check it before slapping it on. Yup. Cyrus booby-trapped it.
What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: It's frankly amazing the kind of gore this show can get away with because its characters aren't human. Characters are routinely killed, have holes punched in them, etc. "The Reward" went so far as to have a still-living guard who was bisected at the waist crawling along the ground, bleeding the whole way, until he gets stepped on and completely derezzed.
Many of the deaths involve bisection, severe impalement, getting gibbed, or getting chunks ripped out of them, and you can be sure that all of this is shown on screen. Torture is pretty vicious, too, involving bits of the program getting vaporized out. At one point, Beck is being boiled alive while strapped to a chair. The show gets away with this because, being programs, there's no flesh or blood, merely featureless bluish cubes.
Win Back the Crowd: The premiere initially caused some doubt amongst a few viewers over whether Uprising could live up to the films. Episodes like "Identity" and "Scars" won them over by showing how dark and emotional the series could get.