Reading some of the other Tron questions, it appears that programs require a certain energy intake to survive (that strange silvery liquid they find in the first film).

Flynn also saves his fellow protagonist by transferring energy to her at a point later in the film.

What would happen to the code you've lovingly crafted if the program runs out of energy? Or indeed if it's killed in combat? Does derezing mean it deletes itself from your hard drive? Or just stop it running?

Tron wiki provides this description which starts by saying it means deletion, but the description of the opposite (rezing) is loading/starting rather than creating, which would imply derezing is unloading/stopping.

Derez (short for Deresolution) is a term used to describe someone or something disappearing or dissolving, essentially resulting in deletion. It is a program'sequivalent of death or the destruction of a building or vehicle. The opposite of "derez" is Rez, a program's equivalent of birth, or loading/starting a program in the system.

Stopping running seems to me to be the most logical and would imply the death of a program's current consciousness, but the feel of the films and the above description tends more towards the deletion option. And they don't seem to be familiar with the concept of a program being 'reincarnated' to my knowledge.

Is there any evidence either way?


2 Answers 2


TLDR: I don't know of any place it's stated in canon, but I theorize that a program is stopped, and the code damaged upon derez, but it can be fully repaired and restarted ("reincarnated") unless it has been decompiled (the TRON term decompiled).

An interesting situation to consider is the brawl at the End of Line Club in TRON: Legacy. When Quorra has her arm shattered into voxels by one of the Black Guards, she goes into some sort of unconscious state. After retreating to the solar sailer, Kevin Flynn takes her identity disc, removes the "damaged code", locks it on her back, and tells Sam to give her time to reboot.

To me, the word "reboot" suggests that the program Quorra is stopped and restarted, to allow her program to recompile. During this time, her arm reforms.

If you will recall in the original TRON, Clu is tortured on a Decompiler by the MCP, in which the exact opposite happens, where Clu is decompiled and disappears. This is an entry from the article linked above...

When programs derez in TRON, their circuits fade to darkness and they compress into a flash of light which winks upwards before disappearing entirely. Sometimes, they are enveloped in a red or yellow glow before they disappear. If they slowly derez from grievous injuries or from being decompiled, their circuitry may pulse slowly, dimming until it fades out, and their data scatters into the surrounding terrain as they deresolve.

With this wording, it's difficult to tell the difference between derez and decompile, if there is one. After this happens, I believe the camera shows the console of the computer Kevin Flynn has been using to communicate with Clu, and it reads something like "Program detached from system". I don't know if this is an actual computer code or term from the time.

As an aside, in "our world", to compile a program means to turn human readable code into the bits of machine code. Decompiling is the opposite, turning machine code into human readable code. It doesn't actually mean to start or end a program's work cycle. So, this doesn't make much sense as a correlative to the TRON terms, unless stopping and starting is implied, or the sense of decompile, which is to render the program's code unusable to a computer, is what is meant by this term. More on this later.

Yet another interesting note on "our world" computing is Memory Addressing. The bits and bytes of a program are stored and accessed via a Memory Address. When a program is "deleted" from the storage device, it's actually the address to that program that is removed from the list of all stored addresses (Address Register). The data is actually still stored in that location until another program overwrites it with it's own data. Data can also be chained together so that pieces of a program can exist at different physical locations, and when a piece has finished executing, it links to the next piece which is then executed, and so on.

I know that opinions are discouraged here, but I hypothesize that this relates to the TRON universe in that programs are not necessarily permanently removed from the storage device upon derez, that they are stopped and the memory address to their program is blocked or removed.

When Quorra had her arm "derezzed", it shattered into voxels the same as a whole program does when it is derezzed. However, since her identity disc and most of her body remained, her code was able to be edited and the bug or error or whatever it was was removed. If the "code" for her arm had been permanently deleted, there would be nothing to recompile, her program wouldn't have the data to reconstruct her arm. In addition, when a program is derezzed, it's voxels are still persistent (the term used on the Tron Wikia), meaning they still exist after that program's demise. Perhaps this is representative of that data still existing on the storage device, but being scattered and and not being able to be put back together, because of the unlinked memory addresses. As I mentioned earlier, when Clu (the first one) was derezzed, his program was "detached from the system". I'm not sure if this means that the data is not deleted, but simply the addresses are detached or unlinked and the program isn't able to be run, or if I'm thinking about that scene too literally.

A problem with this theory is that I don't know of any instance in the canon where this is explicitly mentioned as the case, or of a program being "reincarnated" as you put it, as would logically be possible. That being said, there is the matter of the Tron program being "transferred" or "copied" to the server in Flynn's Arcade Basement. There is a question here about this, that concludes that there is not a copy of Tron on the old ENCOM server, that it was transferred, whatever this may mean. I, personally, am not satisfied by this answer. On the TRON Wiki, there is an article about the Tron system which states:

Initially Flynn copied the program Tron into the system to assist with the construction and soon created Clu 2 as a digital copy of himself to manage the construction while Flynn was away.

This uses the word "copy". I don't see why the Tron Program would be totally removed from the server, just as a backup. The old ENCOM server may have been shut down, but I think the program still would have existed there on the hard drive. If this is true, and this is just speculating, say the old ENCOM server was restarted, there would have been two copies of the Tron Program running, giving evidence to the idea that programs are not "unique" so to speak, that if they are derezzed, and their code is undamaged or repairable, that they would be able to be restarted ("reincarnated") and be brought back to proper function, the same as if an identical copy of them was made, saved to that storage device, and run. In that respect, a program would be able to be reborn, in the same way that we might treat the exact clone of a human with all the same memories as the same person (or would we?)

As far as running out of energy goes, I haven't researched this much, but I think there was an episode from TRON: Uprising, which is considered canon, in which a program was derezzed "bit by bit". In this case, the energy and data was sucked out of the program, and the only thing left was a colorless husk. Here is a quote from the Derez article from the wikia:

Deresolution in TRON: Uprising is much the same as it is in TRON: Legacy. However, it is also mentioned that programs can be derezzed "bit by excruciating bit," as opposed to an instantaneous and comprehensive shatter. This may refer to the decompiler used to suck both energy and data out of programs, leaving them empty, colorless husks which shatter into dust instead of voxels.

This sounds to me as if every bit from was erased from it's location on storage, that the trace of there even being a program (voxels) has been obliterated, meaning that the program is totally gone, memory addresses are irrelevant, and the program cannot be restarted or rebooted, unless a copy of it was made prior and then saved back to the storage after derez.

That was pretty long. If you have any questions or clarifications I would love to discuss them. Also, I'm not an authority on any of this, so if anyone would like to correct me on a computing concept or "TRON history" concept, feel free.

  • interesting theory, although, should we consider it normative since Quorra and her kind are by definition distinctly unique as opposed to other derezzed objects seem in universe?
    – NKCampbell
    Aug 7, 2018 at 21:13
  • @NKCampbell That is an interesting point. There are a few other instances of non-ISO (I assume this is what you mean by "other derezzed objects") being partially damaged, like Bartik (program with scar on his face) in Legacy, and Rasket in Uprising, having his hand "derezzed". However, these programs didn't regenerate their lost voxels as far as I know, so perhaps this ability is unique to ISOs. BUT, these programs weren't able to have their code repaired by Kevin Flynn either, so perhaps it is an ability unique to users or something.
    – Heymac
    Aug 8, 2018 at 6:35

It is probably simply akin to kill command

Or more specifically, a SIGKILL signal which forces a process to stop.

enter image description here

Given that:

  1. We see that the world Tron has some link to Unix
  2. What we see in Tron is visualized versions of programs
  3. De-rezzing is referred equally to characters and objects (ie Tron and Tanks)
  4. It would make sense that "Rez" and "Derez" are visual interpretations of "spawn" and "kill" respectively.
  5. The "pain" programs "experience" is simply in line with the rest of the anthropomorphism that we see with particular programs


it appears that programs require a certain energy intake to survive (that strange silvery liquid they find in the first film).

Flynn also saves his fellow protagonist by transferring energy to her at a point later in the film.

Energy in this case would effectively be a visualization of CPU time.

However, this begs the question of deletion. As you noted the wiki refers to that specifically and the MCP Torture Device refers to decompiling. This is bothersome because these are very, very, very different things. Deletion in the vernacular would be to remove the compiled code itself. While it is possible that is was derez implies, it wouldn't make much sense in terms of derezzing things like tanks because then all tanks would be instantly vaporized. It more likely refers to the deletion of the program from memory, which also occurs with the kill command.

This would keep decompilation as a distinct action separate from derezzing. This also fits the metaphor. Reverting compiled code back into source would be a computer analog to removing one's insides and even somewhat explains how it could make another program "more powerful" (by adding lines of code).

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