Y'know, I think I said something about that once here (wish I knew what to search to find it; we need that feature where you can get a list of someone's posts from their profile)-- I can't remember exactly what the topic was. It was probably something like "will Sam go back to the Grid" maybe. And I was saying that they really don't show anything FOR him there-- they don't show much to paint it as an appealing place. You even sort of get the impression by the end that Sam's got a bit of a disgusted "let's get the hell out of here" attitude.
Contrast with first film where we were given reason to sympathize with the Programs and find wonder in their world among the danger. We see the Programs on their own. Ram's an idealist; his belief in Users doesn't seem as hard-coded as Tron's is, but his treatment of Crom is a character establishing moment and infodump. Ram seems to want to treat everyone like they have a chance of surviving, even when it's clear that he doesn't think Crom's got much of a chance. So, we have a friendly, optimistic, idealistic guy in circumstances that really ought to have killed it. His good nature is an act of defiance in and of itself. And the gut punch with his death? Even as he's de-rezzing, and realizes Flynn's a User, the last thing he begs is not for himself, but "help Tron."
We later see Clu 1.0; Egad, Funny Aneurysm Moment! But we get that he fears for his life, he's got just enough of his User in him for the smartass traits and foolhardy bravery to carry over, that Master Control is a dick, and that these artificial life forms feel pain and fear (if the earlier scene with Crom and Ram wasn't explicit enough) .
Tron in the first film? Biggest badass in cyberspace, sure, but a VERY sweet guy otherwise. The bits with him and Ram points to our big badass losing hope until Flynn exploits a programming glitch to get them out. He's visibly upset when the thinks Flynn and Ram were killed. And with an urgent call from Alan on the line, what does he do? Goes to find and free his wife/bundled software (and go back to her place for a little "welcome home").
And the whole I/O Tower? Where to even start? Dumont's role as a de facto priest, the ritualistic nature of contacting a User, the moment of hope on Yori and Dumont when it begins, the awe and joy on Tron's face when he finally
makes contact with Alan.
Given this, we can totally see why Flynn would not only shift his goals from "sticking it to Dillinger"
to "I'm willing to sacrifice myself for this world if I have to."
(after all, Flynn was not privy to the MCP trying to pull an Ozymandias). We can see why he wanted to go back and build a Utopia for the Programs.
Okay, discredited sequel, but another reason I really like Tron 2.0
is the inversion of the themes from the movies. Instead of rogue AIs who want to take over the User world, it's bad Users threatening the Program world. And as Alan's virtual son was a Program that fought for the Users? Well, Alan's biological son turned out to be a User fighting for the Programs!
Jet's goal is to find his dad and go home. Ma3a, though, uploaded him to fight off the viral attack to save her and, by extension, the other Programs. The issue it traced back to a User corrupted by not just a digitization gone wrong, but his own greed. Later, the whole DataWraith problem hits, and the Programs are being bullied by them as F-Con is trying to get them to betray the Users' private information for their financial and political gain. The ICP units are not evil, merely mistaken and led by a Kernel who shoots first and isn't fond of questions. Along the way, he's aided by Programs - Ma3a, Byte, Mercury, I-No. Even the civilian Programs are usually friendly, and often helpful. It's also telling that destroying a Program that isn't actively shooting at you is instant Game Over. It's a first person shooter and it manages to be more optimistic and kinder in tone than Legacy.
Back to Legacy and canon - Sam's experience was just running from one hostile situation to the next. No Program will help him. they all seems to view him as a target to be killed or pawn to exploit. Quorra and his dad, the only ones who weren't trying to get him killed, were fugitives. There were no friendly Programs - no one like Ram, Yori, I-No, or Byte willing to help him.
This world cost him his dad. His dad's absence caused massive fallout on everyone else - Alan, Lora, Roy, his grandparents, Encom. He heard stories of a digital wonderland, and walks into a totalitarian nightmare full of mind rape, brutality, genocide, and betrayal. Even its greatest hero was twisted into what seems to be a barely sentient killing machine
. It gave Sam years of pain before he even stepped into that basement.
It's endangered the human world twice
. Master Control had a pair of nuclear arsenals in his grasp. Clu was (maybe talking out his rear) amassing an army. Both were stopped by a lot of sacrifice and a dose of blind luck.
He'd escaped with the last shard of a miracle. There's nothing to go back for, save revisiting any notes his dad left behind. But those are pretty incidental compared to the danger it would take to get them.
It ruined his life, and that of a lot of other people he cares about.
It threatened his life.
It enacted genocide against something it didn't understand.
It's openly hostile to humans.
It cost him his father - twice.
It's threatened the human world twice over.
It betrayed the one human who had gone inside of it with good intentions.
Given this, why isn't the proverbial pair of nukes and destroying the Program world and declaring The World Will Never be Ready regarding the laser tech the correct, sane response? (Also asking for fanfic purposes; one of the folks in the cast will seriously propose this and take steps to make it happen)