ENCOM CEO (1983-1989)
Creator of the Tron system
|Vehicles||Light Cycle (1st generation)|
Light Cycle (2nd generation)
Clu 2 (formerly)
|Out of universe information|
Loyd Catlett (stunts and stand-in)
Fred Tatasciore (voice - TRON: Evolution)
TRON 2.0 (mentioned)
Ghost in the Machine
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
Kevin Flynn was a gifted computer programmer who, in 1982, created some best-selling video games for ENCOM which included Space Paranoids, Matrix Blaster, Vice Squad, and Light Cycles. As he developed his games, the code he wrote was stolen by fellow ENCOM programmer Ed Dillinger. Flynn was fired shortly after Dillinger became Executive VP. Later, as the VP of Creative Development, Flynn created TRON - an arcade game based on his experience inside the Computer World alongside the Tron program - and paved the way for ENCOM to become the largest video game company in the world. Meanwhile, Flynn married Jordan Canas and had a son named Sam. Following his wife's death in 1985, Flynn began to focus all of his efforts on creating "a digital frontier to reshape the human condition."
In 1989, Flynn was on the verge of new discovery when he disappeared mysteriously and left behind Sam and his fortune. It wasn't until 2010 that Sam got a tip that led him to his father.
Flynn's hometown is Paramus, New Jersey, where he was born in 1940. Flynn got his doctorate from Caltech before joining ENCOM in 1979. As an up and coming young programmer, Flynn began developing new video games in secret. A competing Encom programmer named Ed Dillinger learned what Flynn was doing and stole Flynn's games. Three months later, Dillinger unveiled the games to the company without even bothering to change the names. Dillinger was quickly promoted, eventually rising to senior executive VP. When Flynn protested, Dillinger fired him.
In 1981, Flynn founded his own establishment - appropriately named Flynn's Arcade - and filled it with his own creations as well as several other classic arcade machines. Flynn saw the arcade as the only way he could profit from the games that were stolen from him.
In 1982, Flynn made several attempts to hack into the ENCOM mainframe via the terminal at his arcade, using his best hacking program - Clu - to try and obtain the evidence that would prove Dillinger's fraudulence.
By this time, Dillinger had developed the Master Control Program from a chess program, to administer the ENCOM mainframe. The MCP found the data that Flynn wanted and attempted to hide it from him, even to the point of blocking him from accessing the system. Flynn's actions led Dillinger to enforce additional security by shutting down all access to the mainframe, including access for ENCOM's programmers. Among those affected was Alan Bradley, who was barred from working on his security program, Tron.
Unable to uncover the plagiarism personally, Flynn asked for help from his former lover Lora and her new boyfriend Alan, who decided to help Flynn get direct access to computer systems that may hold the incriminating evidence. Their plan was to have Flynn forge a Group 6 access so that Alan could gain access to Tron again. Then Alan would command Tron to shut down the MCP, which would in turn release Flynn's stolen file.
Lora took Flynn to her terminal in a laboratory where she had been working on an experimental laser technology that transported matter. Kevin proceeded to access the terminal, located directly in front of the laser, but was spotted by the MCP almost immediately and fired upon. As his body was broken down into digital information, Flynn found himself transported into the Game Grid, where the MCP notified his forces of Flynn's true nature and tasked Commander Sark with killing him in the games.
Shortly afterwards, Flynn met a program named Ram and was told all about the Master Control Program's rules, eventually discovering that captured conscripts were forced to play in the games. Initially unaware that he was participating in "gladiator" games, Flynn realized the danger of his situation when he refused to kill a fellow conscript, Crom, in a ring game. Flynn was later transported to the Light Cycle Staging Pit to play a light cycle game alongside Ram and Tron. He exploited his knowledge of the game program to their advantage, forcing one of the MCP's gladiators to crash into the Game Grid's wall and opening up an escape route.
Flynn gradually discovered that as a user, he possessed far-reaching abilities within the system, enabling him to manipulate the environment around him at will. He managed to reassemble and reactivate a destroyed Recognizer, redirected an energy transport beam after it had been sabotaged by the MCP, and even saved Yori and himself from being derezzed along with Sark's ship after Sark departed for the MCP. Although his understanding of this newfound power was still rudimentary, Flynn courageously engaged the Master Control Program in person and diverted its attention long enough for Tron to disable it permanently. Its destruction returned Flynn to the real world and allowed him to access the incriminating evidence he needed to depose of Dillinger, which in turn saw him promoted to the position of ENCOM CEO, and enabled him to promote Alan and Lora to the board of directors.
TRON 2.0 & TRON: The Ghost in the Machine
- Note: The following section contains information that appears in the TRON 2.0 storyline, which has been classed as non-canon with the TRON mythology and takes place in an alternate timeline.
Like Tron, Flynn does not appear in the TRON 2.0, but is mentioned throughout the e-mail fragments and serves as a major point of explanation for the state of ENCOM during the events of the game.
After the events of TRON, Flynn gained the position of Senior Executive Vice President of ENCOM after outing Dillinger and the MCP shady operations. Soon afterward, Lora announced that she was pregnant and asked Flynn to become the baby's Godfather, a title he was honored to accept. Jethro was later born December of 1982 and Flynn announced his birth to all of the employees of ENCOM via e-mail, boasting that the boy was sure to beat his high score in Space Paranoids if was anything like him.
During his time as the head of ENCOM, Flynn toyed with the idea of creating another game (his request to use Alan's name in one of e-mail fragments suggests that the game would be based on his experiences inside ENCOM's server, a literal translation of the original film). In 1984, it was discovered that the destruction of the MCP resulted in the loss of the algorithms necessary to allow objects in the real world to be properly digitized into the computer world. Flynn, Alan and Lora would spend a majority of their time attempting to recreate the algorithms lost with Dillinger's program; one such attempt would be Ma1a (Math Assistant One Audio).
During that time, Flynn began to fear the possibility of users gaining complete control of the Grid; Alan suggested that Tron be upgraded to maintain security. The Tron Legacy Code was initially to be Tron's upgrade, however, a certain flaw (wherein the code couldn't tell a authorized or illegal User from the other), followed by the lack of success in reclaiming the Correction algorithms lost with the MCP, stalled immediate use of the code until it was finally shelved by Flynn for that exact reason.
In 1990, Flynn announced his resignation as head of ENCOM to Alan, alluding that, while the decision was not made lightly, it was time for him to move on "greener pastures". He handed control of the company over to, Walter Gibbs' son, Gibbs Jr., and from thereon-in, vanished from the public eye. Sometime during October of 1999, he contacted Alan, presumably in concerns to his friend's welfare, but it is unknown whether or not he responded to the answer he received from Alan in-kind.
The comic book miniseries, TRON: The Ghost in the Machine, later revealed that Flynn's reason for stepping down from his position at ENCOM was tied directly with his experience inside the computer world. After returning from the computer world, Flynn sought psychiatric help from the likes of Dr. Arnspiger. Like Jet, Flynn struggled with coming to terms with the responsibility and power that a user has over the digital world and as such, presumably refrained from using any and all technology.
The following information is not canon.
Despite all of the success and wealth his new position at ENCOM gave him, Flynn's time in the digital world changed him deeply and he became obsessed with returning there. To that end, he created a digital frontier he called the "Grid". Intended as a playground where he could experiment to his heart's content, the Grid slowly but surely became more complex and began to take on a life of its own as it teemed with programs of all sorts.
Flynn isolated the Grid in a private server he housed in the basement of his arcade. He hid the entrance to this computer lab behind a TRON arcade game cabinet. Within the lab, Flynn set up the digitizing laser used to send him into the system. Prior to entering the Grid each time, Flynn would run a sanity check program, as well as updating his will.
Flynn copied the Tron program from ENCOM's grid and installed it in his own. Although he received help from Tron in keeping the Grid safe, Kevin came to realize that he couldn't be in two places at once and recreated his old hacking program Clu to watch over the digital frontier in his absence and hone it to perfection. However, the relationship between creator and creation was strained by Flynn's duties in the real world, such as being a father to his newborn son Sam. After all, in the hours or days that Flynn was away, years or decades would pass in the grid without any influence from Flynn.
In 1985, Kevin's wife died, which triggered a profound change in him. In the years that followed, Kevin grew increasingly distant from his life in the real world as he devoted more and more time to his pet project and would frequently leave Sam in the care of his parents. His public behavior became more erratic as he began to promote his vision of a "digital frontier to reshape the human condition." He called for computer systems to be open and he began giving away ENCOM software, such as a propriety operating system that Flynn named after himself. Kevin was obsessed with the connection between the human and computer worlds, and in a speech before a large crowd declared "In there is a new world. In there is our future. In there is our destiny." Flynn also wrote a book, called "The Digital Frontier," that spelled out his beliefs.
Some time in 1988, the Grid gave life to a new form of program, which Flynn dubbed "Isomorphic Algorithm". Flynn believed the existence of ISOs could fundamentally improve the real world. Kevin visited Alan Bradley and told him he had made breakthroughs in genetic algorithms and quantum teleportation that could lead to changes in science, medicine and religion. Alan didn't give much consideration to the claims, attributing them to his friend's eccentric nature.
By 1989, Kevin disappeared under what the general public considered mysterious circumstances, which in turn forced his resignation from ENCOM and left Bradley to take his place. Alan assumed Kevin's duties as CEO at ENCOM, but the company's profits fell and Alan was forced to step down. The company's new leadership laid off several longtime employees and veered away from the open source philosophies Flynn espoused. This upset Alan, who believed Flynn was off researching his digital frontier ideas and would return.
Alan was partially correct. Kevin had become trapped in the grid following a surprise attack by the now-renegade Clu, who came to see the ISOs as an imperfection within the system. When Flynn continued to protect the ISOs, Clu turned against him and Tron, seized control of the Grid and began to eradicate the ISOs. Tron was able to distract Clu enough to allow Flynn to escape, but Flynn was unable to return to the portal between the Grid and the outside world. It closed, and since it could only be opened from the outside, Flynn was trapped.
Now in exile from the system he had created, Flynn attempted to lead a counterattack against Clu's rule. Since the two were connected, however, Flynn's resistance only provided Clu with more power, and it became evident that the only way Flynn could stop Clu was to reintegrate him, an act that would destroy them both.
Clu continued his genocide against the ISOs, until only one remained. Clu's Black Guards had cornered this final ISO, named Quorra. One of Flynn's last surviving and loyal monitor programs, Anon, sacrificed himself to assist Flynn in rescuing her. Together, Flynn and Quorra retreated to his hideaway in the Outlands, far from Tron City.
Realizing he could not defeat Clu without killing himself, Flynn remained in exile, training Quorra while adopting a Zen lifestyle in a quest for inner peace to come to grips with what he considered his personal failure in allowing Clu to control the Grid and subvert his dream.
After two decades of living in exile in the Outlands, Flynn was surprised out of his meditations by Quorra bringing a guest to him. His now-adult son Sam had been lured into the system and captured by Clu's forces, later to be rescued by Quorra, and now stood before him. During their reunion Kevin told the story of Clu's betrayal and how Sam's arrival had opened the portal again for a millicycle (about 8 hours). When Sam suggested that they leave for the portal, Kevin disagreed. The elder Flynn knew that such a move would play into Clu's plan and insisted that remaining in hiding was the safest option.
With the dispute still unresolved, father and son retired for the night. When Kevin awoke, Sam was already gone, heading back to Tron City in Kevin's old Light Cycle. Kevin had no choice but to follow his son.
When Kevin and Quorra finally caught up to Sam at the End of Line Club, Sam was fighting for survival in the midst of a pitched battle with Clu's Black Guards. Kevin and Quorra intervened, however Quorra was left critically injured, and worse; Kevin's own identity disc was snatched from his back as they fled.
Pondering their options, Kevin decided that Sam's earlier idea of racing for the portal would have the best merits, and so he and Sam stole aboard a Solar Sailer that was headed in the direction of the portal. Once on board, Kevin set about repairing the damage to Quorra's code. He spoke at length of the complexity of the code, explaining Quorra's status as the last of the ISOs. He also used the opportunity to exchange stories of the years that he had been unable to spend with his son.The journey to the portal was cut short however, when their transport docked with a huge Carrier Ship that had unexpectedly appeared in their path. They hid and watched as hundreds of programs were unloaded into the bowels of this colossal craft. Clu's plan to create an invasion force soon became apparent.
Before they could do anything more, they saw Rinzler moving towards them. Quorra handed her identity disc to Kevin and broke from cover in a bid to lead Rinzler away. Kevin recognized Rinzler as Tron, corrupted into serving Clu. Helpless to aid Quorra, Kevin and Sam retreated to formulate a new plan. Sam would recover his father's identity disc, while Kevin procured a Light Jet fast enough to escape in. Kevin was relieved when they rendezvoused at the captured Light Jet, that Sam had also rescued Quorra along the way.
The trio were making good progress in escaping to the portal when they found themselves pursued by Clu, Rinzler and a quartet of Black Guards in small personal Light Jets of their own. During the protracted dogfight that ensued, Kevin and Rinzler caught sight of each other at close range, sparking Rinzler to remember his mission as Tron. Tron eventually shook off the shackles of Clu's dominance altogether and turned his attack on Clu, allowing Kevin and his younger allies to escape. Out of Sam's view, Kevin secretly switched his identity disc to Quorra.
Upon reaching the portal they discovered Clu had survived Tron's attack and found his way to the portal before them. Kevin and Clu confronted each other, with Kevin trying to explain that he'd been wrong, and Clu still arguing in favor of system-wide perfection. Then Clu attacked, sparking another brief conflict.
With Clu blocking Kevin's way to the portal, and Sam and Quorra close to escape, Clu turned to Kevin to retrieve his prize — the identity disc that would unlock the way to the real world. When Clu learned that Kevin in fact possessed Quorra's disc, he ran to the portal to stop the younger pair from escaping. Although Sam tried to turn back for his father, Kevin insisted that he go and take Quorra with him, hopeful that her existence would change the outside world.
Kevin then tapped his power to block Clu from reaching Sam and Quorra. Dragging Clu back by force of will, Kevin pulled the program back into himself in a bid to finally destroy it. Reintegrating Clu, Kevin sacrificed himself in order to save his son and Quorra. A huge blast erupted from the reintegration, consuming the portal and destroying the carrier ship that was drawing close overhead.
- According to the 4th draft of the script for TRON, Flynn's hometown is Paramus, New Jersey.
- In TRON: Legacy, Flynn has developed a more detached sense of self in addition to his more spiritual view on life, and is also shown meditating. Furthermore, he still uses phrases from the 70's and 80's like "radical" whenever something piques his interest. Following an argument with his son, Kevin told Sam "You're... You're messing with my Zen thing, man." This is likely in part due to Jeff Bridges being a Buddhist.
- A scene in TRON: Legacy shows Clu rotating a pair of Baoding spheres in his hand, while a later scene shows Flynn to possess a Yoshimoto cube.