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In Tron: Legacy, during the disc wars, Sam is slightly cut by one of Rinzler's identity discs, and he bleeds. We see that when programs are hit by identity discs, they shatter into thousands of cubical voxels and disappear and die. Can this happen to Sam?

In one hand, he bled, so I guess that makes him somehow different from programs. But in other hand, if I understand correctly, when he got into the grid by being digitalized through the laser beam, he just became magnetic charges like any other program in the computer, didn't he?

Would Sam be killed just like programs if hit by an identity disc?

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  • I assume that being hit in the chest with a razor-sharp flying disc would probably kill most people.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 8:47
  • @valorum but it would be a human death, not a death like programs have, or since he's digitalized he would die just like programs do?
    – Pablo
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 10:09
  • 2
    If it bleeds, we can kill it.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 11:10
  • Honestly...who throws their identity disc. That really hurt. Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 1:10

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I think the most that we can say is that multiple things that are reliably lethal to ordinary programs do not destroy transported humans, and code discs are not the deadliest things that can hit a program, anyway. (The Tron series has no reliable continuity. Over the years, there have been several attempts to continue the story, each of which takes the original 1982 film as its backstory and often ignores everything else. Consequently, I am not going to try to reach for answers in sources between Tron and Tron: Legacy, since they are not generally canonical for the 2010 film.)

It is clear in Tron that a user transported into the system can survive things that the regular programs cannot. Flynn survives the vehicle crash that cripples and eventually kills Ram, the deresolution of Sark's command ship, and direct contact with multiple energy beams. In fact, by the end of the original film, he has figured out how to take advantage of his invulnerability to things that would derez programs, and this plays a key role in the heroes' ultimate triumph. The Master Control Program appears to believe that Flynn can be killed in the games, the way rebel programs normally are (although Sark is initially skeptical). However, the MCP is proven wrong about this—and this is thematic, with the MCP's failure to understand how "real" Flynn the user is inside, mirroring Dillinger's failure outside to recognize how "real" the programs are. As a bit of in-story justification for the transported users' extra durability, there is Dr. Gibbs' remark, while he is explaining the operation of the laser near the beginning of Tron, that "the molecules remain suspended in the laser beam"—which confirms that the physical nature of the user is still being stored somewhere, which (symbolically, if not particularly realistically) means that the a user who has come in from the outside will not be so easy to wipe away.

On the other hand, there is ample evidence that users inside the system can be hurt (as Flynn is when he is "tased" upon his first arrival), dazed (after his and Ram's bike accident), winded (after diverting an energy beam), etc. This is consistent with Sam bleeding and feeling pain, but recovering, which we see both him and his father do.

Getting hit with a code disc in combat is not the most destructive thing that can happen to a program. Sometimes, a hard hit with a code disc leads to a program being instantly derezzed. However, that does not always happen. Sark lingers around as a dead or dying corpse (which the MCP is able to reanimate) after Tron's disc shatters the command program's head. Other program erasures can happen much more quickly and completely. So being hit by a disc is probably one of the less lethal forms of injury that a program can endure. That suggests that while a user like Sam could be hurt, temporarily, by being attacked by a disc, there is no reason to expect it to kill him.

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