Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In the sci-fi movie Tron: Legacy, Flynn creates a virtual world with its own rules and physical laws, and as a side effect he discovers (or creates) a strange race of conscious creatures called ISOs.

Today, physics tells us that the Anthropic Principle doesn't hold: that the universe was not created to allow our existence, but we are a mere side-effect of the physical laws that govern our universe.

Is this the idea the authors of Tron wanted to convey?

share|improve this question
As far as I can tell with a skim through Wikipedia's introduction, the Weak Anthropic Principle does hold, while the Strong Anthropic Principle is undecided. We can observe that our universe is "tuned" for life because only in such a universe would we exist to observe it. – Izkata Jul 20 '12 at 12:49
@SandroDzneladze off topic, sorry, the anthropic principle is undecided, so today physics only tell us that "we don't know". Note that string theory itself is also undecided so it can't really be used as a justification yet. Still a good question, though (+1) – KutuluMike Jul 20 '12 at 14:51
I thought it was created because we wanted to see people racing light cycles. – Chad Jul 20 '12 at 15:22
The anthropic principle does hold. The multiverse hypothesis is nothing more than rhetorical slight-of-hand, if for no other reason that it implies an omniverse (in which the multiverses exist) that is still bound by the anthropic principle. But there's absolutely no evidence for it - indeed, a moment's thought reveals that there couldn't be, making it a non-falsifiable hypothesis. – Chris B. Behrens Jul 20 '12 at 15:39
If you're detecting background radiation from an outside universe, your definition of "universe" is wrong. As is so often the case with these kinds of arguments, the problem is with terminology. I mean, look - this is a sci-fi board, and not a physics board, but a lot of our thinking is poisoned by sci-fi thinking rather than scientific thinking...if there is radiation coming from somewhere, it is from another place in the UNIVERSE. "Universe" is a perfectly fine word...we don't have to start saying "multiverse". And in any case, you haven't escaped the consequences of the anthropic principle. – Chris B. Behrens Jul 21 '12 at 13:57
up vote 10 down vote accepted

I always thought the ISO where more a way to say perfection is not a matter of control and order, but a matter of creation and beauty.

Flynn created the second grid to be the perfect system, but his view of perfection was short-sighted. The appearance of the ISO showed him there are things that are behind his understanding and he saw the beauty in them. Clu didn't evolve from his original programming and wanted to get things perfectly ordered and sorted, but the ISO where uncontrollable because of their unstable nature.

While Kevin thinks it is amazing to see the Grid creating its own programs, Clu is worried that the ISOs are somewhat unstable, and attracting gridbug swarms to their sections of the Grid.
- excerpt form the TRON: Betrayal summary on tron.wikia

The ISO are a way to depict the balance between order and freedom.

Finally, here a quote from an Interview with Tron Legacy director, Joseph Kosinski :

Clu is given the directive to create the perfect system and Kevin Flynn didn’t realize at the time that, if he did that, what kind of monster that would create. Perfection is not something that you can create and, in attempting to do so, you are going to find yourself in this kind of potentially very dangerous situation. So it is a balance, there’s the risk of a completely open system, and there is the risk of over-controlling it. It is a balance. I think that’s what the film says – that we need to keep things in check and above all focus on what’s important — which are the people in our lives.

share|improve this answer

No, or at least not likely. It seems that the major arc of the film is more about the battle between Order (aka Clu's perfection) and Chaos, a well know trope

The Tron world is a world of metaphor where beings represent symbols. Clu represents Order whereas Quorra, as well as being the love interest in the film, also represents Chaos. Her explosive entry to the arena and subsequent destruction of the light cycle game signal this very well.

So, by extension, the ISOs, of which Quorra is the only representative shown in any detail, are a chaotic element in the ordered world of the grid. They spontaneously arose from chaos (note their appearance from the rocky 'wilds' in Flynn's expository flashback) and destroyed by clu in his enforcement of order.

This cycle bears little, if any, relation to the anthropic principle. It may be that their appearance out of nothing is more likely to be an expression of the idea of Spontaneous Generation

share|improve this answer
Were ISOs programs? – user35971 Dec 24 '14 at 22:25

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.