Tron Lines

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Before and After.

When your technology isn't just bleeding-edge, but laser-edged, disruption-fielded-with-motorized-teeth high-tech. Power Glows, and now so does your tech. A common design scheme used for this glow is a series of lines along the edges or between panels of the machine. Others will have flat surfaces crossed by circuit-like lines that glow when activated, or have occasional pulses of light race down their length in tandem. Others have glowing components such as engines, weapon barrels, forcefield projectors and the like.

"Tron Lines" are strongly influenced from the wireframe graphics used in early video games, especially as it appeared in Atari's "Quadrascan Display"-based games such as Tempest, Battlezone and Asteroids. As 3D modeling transitioned from empty frames to solid polygons, the edges were still rendered, ergo, "Tron Lines".

If taking place in a physical world, this is all pretty inefficient. A big waste of power to maintain the glow (assuming this was electricity and not some power source that glowed on its own), and impossible to conceal, but damn, it looks cool. When your tech uses this, Hard Light systems and Holographic Terminals are pretty much prerequisites. It's implied that Tron Lines indicate some non-electrical (or "differently electrical") form of technology; and those lines are the visible "power" veins.

Of course, Tron Lines are Color Coded for Your Convenience. Usually blue is "good" or at least standard; if they turn red or purple the A.I. Is a Crapshoot or else has been taken over by some virus or hacker. The lines get fainter or even turn off the closer the person or device is to deactivation. Likewise any power-up usually results in brighter lines; pushing this to the limit causes every line to have a fan of light shining out.

The ultimate expression of Shiny-Looking Spaceships. See also Instant Runes, essentially the Magic version, and Volcanic Veins, an organic equivalent seen among Elemental Embodiments. Equipping your car or computer with neons and strobes counts as Truth in Television to some degree, though it's well known these things need their own power supply to get them running.

Examples of Tron Lines include:

Anime and Manga

  • Tower of God: Rabdevil's Devil of the Right Hand is a magically equipped device enclosing the arm and greatly increasing it's power. And it has shiny stripes.
  • In GaoGaiGar FINAL, Evoludar Guy gets them glowing through his skin sometimes due to his body being composed of G-Stone based Nanomachines or something like that.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, whenever the 4 main Gundams go into the super powered Trans-Am mode, they gain Tron Lines and a healthy red glow.
  • In Infinite Ryvius, the Ryvius lights up with Tron Lines when first activated.
  • Kiddy Grade: Lumiere emits these when she invokes her machine-controlling powers.
  • Appears on Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha's Boost Devices, such as those used by Caro and Lutecia, when they're in use.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Chao displays these as a Marked Change during the Battle of Mahora.
  • Since Scrapped Princess's magic comes from technology, Tron Lines are traced along the air every time a spell is cast.
  • The ultra-tech STRAINs in Soukou no Strain, compared to the GAMBEEs piloted by the Redshirt Army.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
    • Post-Time Skip Nia gets these when she becomes an Anti-Spiral.
    • The Mugann mech/attack craft as well.
  • Most of the Majeran technology (especially anything upgraded by the Paksis) in Vandread.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh
    • In the earlier seasons of the anime, whenever a card was played onto one of the many hologram-generator playfields present in the series, Tron Lines would flash briefly around it. Justified in that the field (or Duel Disk, for that matter) has to read the microchip that's embedded within the card, and a full scan is necessary to locate said chip.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh 5 Ds', whenever a character performs a Synchro or Dark Synchro Summon, the outline of the non-Tuner monsters glow (usually golden, but a white outline appeared when a monster had a Negative Level).
    • The Earthbound Immortals are also covered in them, themed after the Nazca Lines.
  • Just about every mecha in Zegapain.
  • People with the Boson Jump-enabling Nanomachines in Martian Successor Nadesico get glowing Tron Lines over their body when they activate them.
  • Tiger and Bunny both have some on their suits that light up whenever they use their Hundred Power.

Comic Books

  • Non-Technological example: the runes on Hellboy‍'‍s Red Right Hand glow when he plugs it in to a demonic power source.
  • Iron Man has had at least one armor with this feature.
  • Grant Morrison's redesign of DC's New Gods feature this, particularly Darkseid, Metron, and Mister Miracle.
  • In honor of Tron: Legacy, Marvel made a series of illustrations for heroes such as Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-Woman, and a Lightcycle-riding Ghost Rider done TRON-style.
  • The latest big Marvel storyline has some ancient evil Norse god creating a bunch of knockoffs of Mjolnir and giving them to carious characters such as Hulk and Juggernaut, with varying levels of Tron Lines accompanying them.
  • The current Buck Rogers comic book has the heroes wearing uniforms with Tron Lines.

Films -- Animation

Films -- Live-Action

  • Named, of course, after the computer world of Tron, which, being a representation of technology itself, has pretty much everything and every character covered in them.
    • It's worth pointing out that one shot in TRON in the real world includes a black Encom helicopter with fluorescent red paint stripes, effectively real-life Tron lines.
  • It shouldn't seem surprising that Tron: Legacy, the movie sequel, uses this. What is surprising is how controlled this effect is.
    • Interestingly, Technology Marched Sufficiently Onward that what was expensive visual effects in the original film was replaced by actual glowing light strips sewn into the costumes. Yes, you now can have Tron Lines in the real world with relatively little effort.
  • Based on the first image, it seems Ryan Reynolds will sport lines that look a bit like muscle striations on his uniform in the Green Lantern film.
  • The Fallen from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
  • Busby Berkeley used an early version of this aesthetic during the "Shadow Waltz" sequence in Gold Diggers of 1933, by outlining a few dozen violins with neon lights; unfortunately, the visible electrical cords coming from each violin (which apparently shocked more than a couple dancers, who were wearing dresses that were lined with metal wire) undermines the effect.

Live-Action TV

  • Automan in "hero mode", his car and his helicopter. The similitude with Tron is not unexpected, as the AutoCopter seems lifted directly from the corporate helicopter from TRON, and Cursor is suspiciously similar to the Bit sidekicks of the tank pilots in said movie. Both TRON and Automan were produced by the same person, Donald Kushner.
  • Present in all the riders of the Kamen Rider Faiz universe, which powers all the gears. The lines only glow during the Transformation Sequence, although the finishers all involve a pulse of energy traveling from the Rider Belt to an arm or leg. The supplementary materials say that these lines carry a substance known as Photon Blood, which may explain why they need actual 'lines' to carry it. It's part of Faiz's the slightly more "realistic" idea of the way a Rider suit works. Energy is always seen traveling from the power source to the place it's going to be used (not just the arm or leg, but specific devices on it). For Rider Kick finishers, it's the circle on the boot with the Rider's emblem.
  • Power Rangers
    • In Power Rangers in Space, Ecliptor's body is covered with green Tron Lines. The Dark Fortress is also half-solid and half-green Tron Lines (as in, half of it seems to be made of green Tron Lines) in many scenes. Interestingly, most establishment shots make it appear to be in another dimension, and when it's in normal space, the Tron Line half becomes solid before it actually interacts with the outside world (such as sending out fighters or putting the Rangers' ship in that web thing). It stays Tronified during Make My Monster Grow scenes, though. This makes even more sense when you consider that the Super Sentai season that provided the basis for In Space was themed not around space, but rather technology; its title, translated into English, was Electromagnetic Task Force Megaranger.
    • In Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, the in-scene non-Transformation Sequence morphs and demorphs are very much like Kamen Rider Faiz, though a lot faster and with optional dramatic use of the Overdrive logo.
  • In Star Trek: Voyager, one mid-series episode had some of Seven's nanoprobes infect the Doctor's 29th century mobile emitter, eventually resulting in a highly-advanced Borg drone, featuring extrapolations of the Borg in that century. More sleek and organic-looking than the usual drone, it also had embedded Tron Lines which pulsed at regular intervals.

Music Videos

Tabletop Games

Board Games

  • BattleTech has the Enhanced Imaging system, a cybernetic interface between the pilot and his Mech. One side effect of the system is that the user's body is covered in what looks like full-body tattoos, but are in fact cybernetic circuitry. In the cartoon, they glowed when activated, and EI visuals outlined mechs color-coded by IFF.
  • The Necrons in Warhammer 40,000 revel in this trope, as nearly all of their buildings possess these. Depending on the painter, they themselves might be glowing as well.

Card Games

  • In The Spoils Collectible Card Game, the Gearsmith artifacts such as the Runic Cannon or the Runic Whale often have curly glowing runes of power running around their surface.
  • from the Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG, any paraphernalia coming from the 5D's era (Deckboxes, Binders, Sleeves, Deckmats, etc.) would have Tron Lines all over it, designed so that it looks like a microchip.

Video Games

  • The Ur-example would be numerous coin-op titles from the 1970s and 1980s that used a vector display. As graphics technology advanced from wireframe objects to solid ones, the wireframe was, for a period, still rendered onscreen.
  • All over the place in the video game sequel to the Tron movie, Tron 2.0.
  • Naturally, "Space Paranoids", the TRON-themed world of Kingdom Hearts II, has them as well.
  • Tron Evolution
  • Happens a lot in .hack GU. Then again, it is in a MMORPG setting, so impracticality doesn't need to count.
  • El Vibrato Island in Kingdom of Loathing is often accrediting to being inspired by either Tron, Atlantis the Lost Empire, or The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker (or some combination of the three).
  • Orbital Frames in Zone of the Enders. The color changes as the frame becomes more and more damaged.
  • Several ships, especially Lost Technology, in the Galaxy Angel gameverse.
  • Added to most of the Balmarian/Aerogater mecha in Super Robot Wars Original Generation: Divine Wars.
  • The Stonehenge base in EarthBound. Also, Moonside would count.
  • The Legend of Zelda
    • The Tower of the Gods boss in The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker, as well as the controllable statues from the same dungeon.
    • And in Twilight Princess, everything remotely associated with Twilight has a sort of Lovecraft+TRON thing going on. The Dominion Rod imparts Tron Lines to statues, similar to the ones from Wind Waker, when you take control of them.
  • A common puzzle design in many games, such as Final Fantasy X and Simon Tatham's port of Net, involves rearranging blocks and switches to connect glowing Tron Lines from point A to point B, where point B is often the exit door.
  • The Prince in Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones has a magical version of this running down his wounded/partially transformed arm. The "Dark Prince" persona has this all over his body.
  • As does the protagonist of Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, whenever he uses his Deadly Upgrade.
  • Halo
    • Cortana is practically made of these.
    • Forerunner artifacts (and the Covenant technology styled after them) often have tiny geometric patterns carved on most flat surfaces. These lines often glow, or have tiny lights flickering behind them.
  • Skies of Arcadia's final dungeon is an entire continent covered in these.
  • The ruins found in Mega Man Legends have this design aesthetic, and its re-appearance in the Mega Man Zero series more explicitly spells out a continuity connection between the two.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Silver has these on his gloves/hands. Since things he grabs with his psychic powers light up the same color, there's probably some kind of connection.
  • Metroid
    • Much of the tech in the Metroid Prime subseries glows, usually so you can tell what happened when you hit a switch; in the case of Samus's cannon, the color of the glow tells you the weapon you're currently using.
    • Not to mention the green glowing lines between the panels in Samus' armor.
    • Sanctuary Fortress, a Cyberpunk-styled city in Metroid Prime 2, had its share of Tron Lines.
    • Let's not forget the third game. When Samus's Phazon corruption reaches the highest levels near the end of the game, her suit really starts to show those blue lines.
  • Every single character and object in Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus. Nomura was obviously still on the same high from when he put the world in Kingdom Hearts II, because "Space Paranoids" was nothing short of awesome and he understood that.
  • Some areas in Final Fantasy IV, such as the Towers of Zot and Babil or the Lunar Whale. Especially in the DS remake.
  • The Black Omen and some of the Zeal kingdom in Chrono Trigger.
  • Likewise for Chronopolis in Chrono Cross.
  • In the game City of Heroes, certain of the conduits found in Council installations display the "racing pulse" variation.
  • Deus Ex
    • In a game that heavily influenced Project Snowblind, nano-augmented individuals have silvery lines across their bodies.
    • Also, thermoptic camos, which render the wearer invisible, are covered with light blue, glowing patches and lines.
  • Justified in Phantasy Star Universe, as the "Tron Lines" woven into all clothing are part of a protection system called a "line shield" they perform the same effect of looking cool as most Tron Lines, but also perform the function of being the means by which energy barriers are projected, the game's form of armour.
  • The agents' suits in Crackdown display this, as do vehicles in the process of upgrading.
  • In Fable, powerful magic-users naturally have glowing-blue tattoos. They seem to break through your skin more and more as you attain more magical power. Possibly hinting at a potential Energy Being future—it is said in Fable II that particularly powerful Will-users can live a long time.
  • Mass Effect tech has this as well.
    • Specifically: VI holograms have brighter lines going through them. Additionally, the Geth Armory Medium and Heavy suits for the Krogan Wrex has glowing cables and lines.
    • In Mass Effect 2, some of the suits or armor have these. A few glowing lines are present on the back of all of Shepard's N7 armor, and glowing lines are especially noticeable on some of the krogan armors, particularly Gatatong Uvenk's suit. The downloadable Kestrel Armor features a number of these lines as well, on each of the armor components. A couple of the alternate appearance packs also feature armor with glowing lines, most notably Garrus and Grunt's. Jack even gets a leather jacket that has a couple of bright red lines down the back.
    • Also from Mass Effect 2 is Shepard's glowing orange scars. A case of Evil Is Sexy (YMMV), Evil Is Cool, and Made of Evil all wrapped into one if you pursue the renegade path.
  • Beowulf from Devil May Cry has these, but Light Is Not Good.
  • Baldur in Too Human.
  • The tutorial and final levels of System Shock 2.
  • Digital Circuit and Mad Matrix in Shadow the Hedgehog, both cyberspace levels which aesthetics are pretty much ripped off from Tron.
  • In EVE Online, turning on an armor repair unit causes this.
  • The main character in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne gets as version that looks like ordinary full-body tattoos, but then they start glowing in the dark! Apparently becoming mostly-demon does that to ya.
  • Metal Gear Solid
    • The "VR Training" level of the "LittleBigPlanet" level pack has them in a grid arrangement on most of the walls and obstacles. The material you get for Create Mode from this level comes in red, green, and blue flavors. Even the glowing of the lines is visually close to the ones from TRON.
    • There's also an unlockable skin and helmet that are clearly evocative of TRON; they even glow in the dark!
  • Some of the instances and bosses in the Ulduar area of World of Warcraft have these of one sort or another. It's arguable whether they are Tron Lines or Instant Runes since Ulduar is Titan architecture and represents something between technology and magic. (but closer to technology)
  • Red Faction 2 gives us the nano-soldiers with glowing lines on their skin. The lines appear and pulse when they show strong emotions and when they are healing. The nano-based weapons also tend to have pulsing Tron Lines.
  • Transformers: War for Cybertron, by all indications, loves this trope immensely, given how it's used on pretty much all the characters and lots of the scenery.
  • Okami
    • Yami has these, with the color (red, blue, orange, or green) being indicative of which form and powers he's using.
    • The The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, a spaceship made by moon people.
  • Rez, and how.
  • The Cuotl units and buildings from Rise of Legends combine this trope with Mayincatec deisgns for some really cool looking stuff
  • God of War III, oddly enough, gives Poseidon these. They flicker on and off after wounding him.
  • StarCraft II
    • Ghosts and Spectres have these. Ghosts are blue and Spectres are red; which ones are "good" and "evil" is largely a question of your perspective.
    • Protoss technology also tends to include glowing blue bits, although they seem to have an aversion to straight lines.
  • In Achron, units are depicted as mostly-translucent silhouettes with edges that glow with the unit's team colour. This is an interface concession to make your troops easier to spot: according to the setting, all three of the species use advanced camouflage on their military units, making them near invisible. This doubles as an explanation for why your units have extremely short sight (insofar as they have RTS-standard near-blind line of sight radii). You can actually hear battles occurring outside your vision radius.
  • Pokémon
    • Groudon, Kyogre and Rayquaza all have these as natural markings. They only glow on the title screens, though. Additionally, the fake Groudon from Pokémon: Jirachi Wishmaker had all its marks glowing once it deteriorated into its more monstrous state.
    • Dialga and Palkia.
    • Umbreon has Tron Rings. And (in the anime at least) they glow in the dark.
    • The Embedded Tower in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver.
    • Opelucid City in Pokémon Black.
  • The "Aegis" ship equipment set in Star Trek Online has optional Tron Lines for the player's starship. It's even Color Coded for Your Convenience: the glow on Starfleet ships is blue, and that on Klingon ships is red.
  • All of Homeworld 2's Progenitor space warships that are frigate-sized and larger emit Tron Lines along the side of their hulls either when powering a Phased Cannon Array, or in one particular case, when temporarily resisting enemy fire.
  • Tomorrow City from Epic Mickey is Disney's Tomorrowland decorated with Tron Lines. The boss, "Petetronic", wears armor that glows with Tron Lines as well.
    • It should be noted Petetronic's suit is specifically modeled after Sark, The Dragon of the original TRON, and his "purified" form uses Kevin Flynn's. Tomorrow City also borrows heavily from the movie in more than just the lines.
  • The Virtual theme in the Time Splitters 2 mapmaker has Tron Lines as decorations.
  • Most of the armor in Global Agenda.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy has Cosmic Monoliths, an enemy from the "monolith" line. It is black and has red Tron Lines on it. Those also have really high Evasion and drop an immensely damaging attack every three turns. Their side length proportions probably would be 1:4:9 if they were ever measured.
  • Althena's Tower in Lunar Silver Star Story Complete sports these.
  • Shows up a lot on ancient Magitek manipulated by the heroes in Golden Sun games.
    • A recurring puzzle is a broken circut, and a few movable blocks lying around that happen to have corresponding circut lines etched on them. When finished, the circut glows, and a door opens.
    • Dark Dawn takes this a few notches further; summons such as Tiamat and Coatlicue now involve towers covered in Tron Lines, and a Mineral MacGuffin material, zol, apparently is covered in such lines naturally. Plus the "fix the circut" puzzle shows up several times.
    • Zol nothing, the Mountain Roc's guts have Tron Lines on them.
  • In Assassin's Creed, all the tech left behind by Those Who Came Before features this, particularly the Temple of Juno underneath the Colloseum in Rome.
  • The Spirit Stones and the titular Ark in Ys: The Ark of Napishtim.
  • It's subtle, but Spider-Man 2099 in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and Spider-Man: Edge of Time has glowing blue lines on his costume.
  • The Demigods from Asura's Wrath have these, to emphasize the fact that the game is South Asian Mythology meets Scifi.
  • Borderlands has them on some of the many, many, weapons the game has, as well as on large rocks lying around, typically related to The Vault.
  • Saints Row the Third features a gang made up entirely of cyber punks, whose clothing was all black with neon blue Tron Lines. Also, their story-arch culminates with a mission where the player character is transported inside their user mainframe to stop their hacking/money laundering schemes, and render the gang powerless. This entire mission's design was a clear reference to Tron, and finishing it unlocks two vehicles with Tron Lines as a major design point, as well as the Cyber Blaster used throughout the mission.
  • Nezha from Warriors Orochi has these.

Visual Novels

  • Lisa Basil from Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations has a futuristic suit with flashing lights running up and down the sides and front of it. It's implied that she may or may not be a robot (yes, the game is that vague).

Web Comics

  • Alice's more advanced forms in the webcomic Comedity have these around her face, and her "upgraded body" displays them when her holographic clothing generation system isn't covering them. Presumably, as a computer with conscious awareness of her own power consumption, she deactivates them when they aren't needed.
  • Eve from Apple Geeks.
  • Coga Suro: Blue on Persephone, red on Styx, and either red or purple on Hades.
  • Goblins: Anyone wielding the Axe of Prissan gets a magical armor whose design was directly inspired by the outfits in Tron.
  • Trawn from Electric Wonderland has these on her traditional outfit.

Web Original

  • Fate Nuovo Guerra has the sword Clarent, owned by the heroic spirit Mordred. The red lines very well reflect his... erm... her status as an antihero.

Western Animation

  • Tron Uprising
  • Ben 10's "Upgrade" form does this to whatever he touches.
  • The future Batsuit from Batman Beyond shows them when interfacing with the Batmobile, or under its surface when damaged.
  • Teen Titans, in its animated incarnation, has Cyborg covered with these, outside and (as we saw in a Fantastic Voyage episode) inside.
  • Danny Phantom. Valerie Grey gets loads of these, color-coded red, when Technus upgrades her battle suit.
  • Generator Rex, whenever Rex uses his nanites to interface with machines or cure E.V.O.s and while changing his limbs into mechanical devices. His new transformations in season two have blue-white lines and black coverings not unlike Tron: Legacy.
  • Kim Possible's battlesuit from season 3 finale, So the Drama, throughout season 4 is pure white, with glowing light blue stitching and padding. As a Disney property it's probably an intentional Shout-Out, it can even change Kim's gloves into a scoop like Flynn used in the games in the first movie.
  • South Park, when Stan is sucked into Facebook.
  • The kids' fluorescent costumes give off this effect in the dark.
  • In Monster Buster Club, parts of the kids' costumes are fluorescent and give off a Tron Line effect in the dark.

Real Life

  • Running Lights under the car can be seen as a way of imitating this in Real Life, as would be gratuitous use of neon.
    • The Buick Lacrosse now comes with Tron Lines of a sort as standard ambient lighting in the interior.
    • There are several entire websites devoted to selling products of this nature.
    • As a result, every single car in the Fast and the Furious series has neon lights all over the body. Of course, they need extra batteries to keep them glowing.
    • With LEDs becoming cheaper a lot of concept and higher-end production cars are getting this treatment, especially in the headlights.
      • Audi: LED daytime running lights, also taillight design.
    • This has even bled into the world of computing, there is no modder unfamiliar with blue CCFLs.
  • The Luxor casino/hotel in Las Vegas was designed as a huge black glass pyramid with Tron Lines flowing to and from the giant column of light at the peak.
  • The Connection Machine, a supercomputer which was never as amazing as its price would indicate, but which looked damn cool.
    • Though those are more Blinkenlights, actually.
    • The Connection Machine is one of the most beautiful computers ever made, but pretty much every supercomputer made after the '70s looks pretty awesome. After all, if a machine's going to cost over a million dollars, why not throw a few thousand into the case?
    • It looks like someone Pimped the monolith...
  • Truth in Television: Try looking at your feet next time you ride an escalator. They are actually there to warn you not to put your feet there as you may fall, but still pretty cool.
  • The Corpus Clock, which ironically uses no computers whatsoever. (Everything is controlled by bleeding edge clockwork, including the evil blinking grasshopper on top.)
  • The Wii console: the disc slot has a steady blue glow around the edge when powered on, and will pulse when a system upgrade is availible or a new message is in your inbox. Possible connection of Everything Is an iPod In The Future.
  • This trope is practically the reason EL-wire exists.
  • Waterproof LEDs that can be implanted underneath your skin.
  • Razer products, particularly the company's logo, a glowing blue or green triquetra made of snakes placed on everything.
    • At one point, Razer even had products specifically intended to be Tron themed.
  • The Motorola RAZR cellphone has this on its keypad.
  • While neon accents on buildings have existed well before this trope came into existence Metreon in San Francisco is clearly inspired by it with plenty of lines to showcase how high-tech and cyberpunk it was intended to be.