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In Tron (1982) Flynn changes from blue to red and he says "Inverted polarity". This implies that blue and red are positive and negative, respectively (or the other way around, that doesn't matter).

But near the I/O tower we can see orange and purple people.

Why?

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11

According to the Tron Wikia, the suit colours denote loyalty and status;

TRON Era, 1982

  • Blue

    • Neutral programs
    • Believe in and/or fight for users
    • ENCOM mainframe security programs
    • Users (though Kevin Flynn was able to disguise himself in red by touching an MCP-loyal program)
  • Red

    • Does not believe in users, considers them blasphemy

    • Believes in and/or loyal to the MCP

    • Some military programs, like Sark.

  • Yellow

    • Hacker/Search programs
  • Green

    • Military Programs (such as tank drivers)

TRON: Legacy Era, 2010

  • White

    • Neutral programs
    • ISOs
    • Users
    • Arjians
  • Red

    • Does not believe in users, considers them blasphemy
    • Repurposed programs loyal to Clu

There were also some colours used in deleted scenes that have crept into various long-shots and crowd scenes;

  • Yellow / Orange

    • Corrupted/Rogue programs
    • Viruses (Abraxas)
  • Purple

    • fCon programs
    • In the Deleted Love Scene from TRON, Yori briefly has purple circuitry, possibly denoting that circuitry colors can change due to strong emotions
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  • Also Yellow - Clu himself – Izkata Feb 6 '14 at 4:55
  • Clu was Flynn's program. Flynn self-identifies as a hacker so it's not unreasonable that his avatar would be yellow. – Valorum Feb 6 '14 at 6:42
  • Quite extense, but does not address why the only in-film (thus in-universe) reference to the colours include the word "polarity", which is clearly dichotomic. – Envite Feb 6 '14 at 8:16
  • @Envite - I think it's just an example of tech-speak. In the original draft script when the programs die, they're revealed to be real world applications (some good, some bad) crashing – Valorum Feb 6 '14 at 8:38
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Polarity doesn't have to mean electrical polarity (positive/negative). It just means two alternate sides of a dichotomy. For instance, a person with bipolar disorder might be (unofficially) said to have "switched polarity" when going from a manic to a depressive episode. As Richard explained, color was used on the Grid to identify a program's allegiance. Therefore, I think it makes the most sense to believe that the "polarity" Flynn refers to is a just a reference to his allegiance, with the specific wording influenced by his experience with (and current existence inside) computers. Programmers and scientists do this all the time, eg, "Man, my brain segfaulted on that last calculus problem".

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  • This doesn't answer the question of Tori changing colour. Clearly there's an emotional component to it as well as allegiance. – Valorum Feb 6 '14 at 6:44
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Elaborating from previous answers (which do not still convince me) I've come to this. I'll not accept it automatically, I want to see what do you think about it.

Colours would be something like security contexts. You belong to the blue security set (user programs), to the red security set (MCP programs), to the purple security set (guest programs).

Flynn was able to switch from one security context to another (this is supossedly impossible to do for a program, but well, he is not a program) and get the "permissions" of an MCP program in front of the Operating System.

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    But the question wasn't why Flynn inverted polarity, the question was why we see orange and purple people. – SQB Feb 6 '14 at 9:07
  • The answer would be "These are not polarities, but security contexts". I'm not entirely happy with it because Flynn talked about polarity :( – Envite Feb 6 '14 at 9:29
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The colors basically represent their beliefs and their purposes. Clu's forces are orange, and users and their believers are white. Some programs are blue and some are green or pink or yellow or some have multi colors (Tron Uprising).

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