|“||Forget it, mister high-and-mighty Master Control! You aren't making me talk.||”|
|Out of universe information|
Clu, which stands for Codified Likeness Utility, was a hacker program written by Kevin Flynn and played by Jeff Bridges. Clu looked just like his user, Flynn, but talked in a very different voice than his human counterpart. Not much is really known about Clu, except for the fact that Flynn used Clu a lot for hacking and for fixing Flynn's banking statements and phone bill problems. Even Flynn himself said that Clu was his best program.
He is one of the few characters in the TRON Universe to have yellow circuitry. The reason for this is the design of programs in TRON. Free and usually benevolent programs were blue while those under the control of the MCP were orange/red. Clu 1 (like Clu 2) was created outside of the system by the coding and technology of Kevin Flynn and therefore not a free program in the Game Grid or under the MCP, and is differentiated in the movie by the color yellow.
They used this as the basis of Clu 2 as a specialized program design by Flynn, for these reasons as well they both have his appearance as according to TRON philosophy; all programs contain the spirit of the user, and this is demonstrated by their appearance.
On the early evening of September 22, 1981, arcade owner Kevin Flynn gave Clu commands to hack the ENCOM computer system. Clu began searching—along with Bit—in his modified Tank for code that would prove that an ENCOM programmer named Ed Dillinger stole Flynn's video games and presented them to the ENCOM executives as his own. The games soon became fantastic sellers and Dillinger was promoted to Executive V.P.; Flynn had been fired by Dillinger shortly after.
While Clu was searching for the evidence, the system's security found him and began hot pursuit via Recognizers. Clu tried to destroy them with his tank projectiles, but there were too many of them. As Clu attempted to get away, he was ambushed by a Recognizer. Clu fired at it and successfully destroyed it, but its remains rained down on Clu's tank. The vehicle went out of control as the blast radius lifted the tank to its side and crashed into one of the many walls in the maze of the memory sector.
Clu quickly escaped the tank and tried to run away, but the recognizer caught him with its legs and "detached" him from the system. Flynn had failed again in trying to get the evidence he needed.
A little while later, Clu was sent to the heart of ENCOM system, where the Master Control Program was located. The MCP briefly interrogated him:
- Guard: "Got a pirate program here... says his name's Clu."
- MCP: "What did he pull?"
- Guard: "He came into the system with a stolen password, and we caught him trying to raid a high-clearance memory."
- Clu: "No! I must've gotten in there by mistake, I was-!"
- MCP: "Who programmed you?"
- Clu: "I was simply-!"
- MCP: "You're in trouble, program. Make it easy on yourself. Who's your user?"
- Clu: "Forget it, mister high-and-mighty Master Control! You aren't making me talk."
- MCP: "Suit yourself. Get me Dillinger!"
Clu screamed as the device on the wall derezzed him, with the MCP absorbing all of his functions so he could enhance and expand his own. Right after Clu was derezzed, the MCP found out that Clu's user was Kevin Flynn.
Clu was loyal to Kevin Flynn. He refused to give the name of his user to the MCP, despite the fact that he was in a near-death situation. As a result, he was deleted by the MCP.
Clu's place would later be taken by his user himself Kevin Flynn, who was later digitized into the Game Grid and would finish what Clu had started.
Clu 2 is a completely new version of Clu. Because the original Clu was derezzed by the MCP in 1982, Flynn rewrote the program from scratch. The only relationship between Clu 1 and Clu 2 is that they have the same name and user: Flynn. The distinction between them is that Clu was a hacker tool designed to find the proof that Dillinger stole Flynn's intellectual property while Clu 2 was created to perfect the TRON system, but ultimately went rogue after believing Flynn had betrayed it.
- Clu is a nod to the CLU programming language, developed by Barbara Liskov and her students at MIT between 1974 and 1975. CLU was a key step in the direction of object-oriented programming, and influenced certain elements of languages used today, such as C++, Java, Python and Ruby.
- The TV Tropes website notes that a "stealth pun" was used with Clu in TRON: when his Light Tank crashes into a maze wall, his user Flynn also reacts realizing that his program had "crashed".