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* AcceptableTargets
** [[BadGuyBar "Populated with every reject and cutthroat from Bombay to Calcutta...]] [[PlaceWorseThanDeath it was worse than]] [[UsefulNotes/{{Detroit}} Detroit."]]
** The various religions and charitable causes being pitched in the airport, especially when Kramer starts charging through them all.
** "WZAZ in Chicago, [[FamousLastWords where disco lives forever]]!" ''[plane smashes through radio tower and takes out the antenna]'' In its original theatrical run, it was not uncommon for the audience to ''cheer'' at this point.
** Pedophiles.
* AndYouThoughtItWouldFail: This was the first shot at a mainstream movie by the people who made ''Film/TheKentuckyFriedMovie''. With its obsession with puns and its throwing of conventional plotline out the window, many believed it had box-office disaster written all over it. It became one of the highest-grossing films of 1980.
* BaseBreakingCharacter: Johnny the control tower employee inspires this reaction from some viewers, especially during his ForTheFunnyz moment with the runway lights. Others consider his antics to be one of the [[CrossesTheLineTwice funniest things]] in the movie.
* BigLippedAlligatorMoment: The naked woman [[{{Gainaxing}} who bounces her naked breasts]] ([[ValuesDissonance in a PG film!]][[note]]The PG-13 rating did not exist at the time[[/note]]) in front of the camera as the passengers are panicking.
** [[CloudCuckooLander Johnny]] is a walking BLAM. He rarely leaves [=McCloskey's=] side and seems to actually work there (as his opinion is asked and he's tasked with talking to reporters) but he seems to live on a different planet, yet no one reacts to his strangeness, even when he physically manhandles them.
-->'''[=McCloskey=]:''' Bad news. The fog's getting thicker.
-->'''Johnny:''' (leaping up and wrapping his arms around an overweight man from behind) And Leon's getting ''laaaaaaaarger''!
* CrossesTheLineTwice: Several gags, but particularly:
** The "[[GetAholdOfYourselfMan hysterical woman gets slapped]]" one, not to mention stewardess Randy's disastrous attempt to cheer up the LittlestCancerPatient; both are played as BlackComedy.
** Not to mention the argument between the Male and Female PA announcers at the beginning, which degenerates into the male announcer pressuring the female announcer to have an abortion.
** While in the Peace Corps, Ted briefly shows some African tribesmen how to play basketball; within seconds, they're dunking on him and perfectly nailing free throws.
** The RunningGag with Captain Oveur asking a young boy creepily inappropriate questions like "You ever seen a grown man naked?"
** The passengers next to Striker are DrivenToSuicide by listening to his long, boring life story.
** The kids dressed up and speaking like well-behaved adults. Cute and all, until the boy asks the girl if she would like some cream for her coffee, she responds with:
-->'''Little Girl:''' "No, thank you. I take them black. [[FromTheMouthsOfBabes Like]] [[TroublingUnchildlikeBehavior my]] [[WhereDaWhiteWomenAt men.]]"
* SugarWiki/CrowningMusicOfAwesome: The Zuckers and Abrahams were actually disappointed when the film ended up with a genuinely good score, rather than a cheesy one that would add to the parody. They probably shouldn't have hired Music/ElmerBernstein.
** Given [[ComicallySerious the overall tone of the film]], they're probably the only ones who feel like this.
* [[CrowningMusicOfAwesome Crowning Music Of Funny]]: When Rumack (Nielson) tells Striker the end of the "George Zipp" story. Whether or not one's a fan of the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_NxSTX0jkc&playnext=1&list=PL6C4A870152E947AA Notre Dame Fighting Irish]], the moment is hilarious.
* FunnyAneurysmMoment: The tagline "...and able to hit tall buildings at a single bound", and the plane running into and destroying a radio tower on a building.
** A Roman Catholic nun reading a ''Boys Life'' magazine.
** The turban-wearing passenger who douses himself in gasoline and tries to blow himself up to avoid listening to Striker reminiscing. (Though he was probably meant to be [[UsefulNotes/{{India}} East Indian]] rather than Middle-Eastern.)
* GeniusBonus: [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manny_Mota Manny Mota]] was the all-time leader in pinch hits - but he never pinch hit for Pedro Borbon.
* HilariousInHindsight: It's funny enough on its own, but the moment where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar finally breaks down and starts talking basketball is even funnier since Jabbar himself [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h03QVlrwI_s misidentified the line on Celebrity Jeopardy]].
** The film itself has inevitably had this effect on ''Zero Hour'', the major inspiration for its plot and many of its lines. It's downright surreal watching that film now and seeing lines like "I picked the wrong week to quit smoking" played completely straight.
** The film opens with a ''Film/{{Jaws}}'' parody, with the wing of a plane doubling as a shark fin. Years later, Robert Hayes would cameo in a [[Film/Sharknado2TheSecondOne film]] where sharks actually attack a plane.
** Julie Hagerty plays Claus von Bulow's lover in ''Film/ReversalOfFortune''. Listening to her testify in court, you're all too ready to hear her say "And I used to sit on [his] face and wiggle..."
* MemeticMutation:
** "Surely you can't be serious." "I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."
** "I just want to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you."
** "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking[=/=]drinking[=/=]amphetamines[=/=]sniffing glue."
* MisaimedFandom: As with any popular work, ''Airplane!'' isn't free of being misunderstood for what was funny. Following parody movies that took after its manic style, including those by [=ZAZ=] themselves, seem to believe that the cartoony slapstick was the main reason why it was hilarious. They tend to forget that other aspects, such as random background gags and deadpan dedication to the insanity, were big parts of why it was so funny. As a result, the slapstick and literal humor is there, but falls flat due to more reaction shots and LampshadeHanging.
* RetroactiveRecognition: David Leisure (''Series/EmptyNest'', Joe Isuzu) is one of the Hare Krishna. Robert Hayes voiced ComicBook/IronMan in the 90s Marvel cartoons[[note]]''WesternAnimation/IronMan'', obviously, in addition to guest spots on ''WesternAnimation/SpiderManTheAnimatedSeries'' and ''WesternAnimation/TheIncredibleHulk''[[/note]], as well. Julie Hagerty would later voice Carol Pewderschmidt on ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy''.
* SeinfeldIsUnfunny: Hiring [[ComicallySerious non-comedic actors]] in a broad comedy. At the time, the entire joke with Creator/LeslieNielsen's character was seeing a serious actor bringing every bit of his usual gravitas to such ridiculous material. [[LeslieNielsenSyndrome Nielsen proceeded to make this kind of material his bread and butter]], so that viewers these days will likely just be surprised that he's not playing the lead role. So many other dramatic actors have done it since that it's impossible to cast anyone in this kind of movie without them being in on the joke.
* SpecialEffectFailure:
** During Oveure's phone call with the Mayo Clinic, it's hard to watch [[BeatStillMyHeart the jumping heart in the foreground]] without noticing the wire holding it up.
** In the scene where the man opens the vent to give his wife air resulting in hurricane-force winds, note the man with the fake beard behind them. The beard was supposed to come off in the wind (you can tell the guy is waiting for the beard to come off), but they couldn't get it to work - they left the scene in anyway.
** When the man dancing with Elaine in the "Stayin' Alive" scene get stabbed in the back, you can see the pad in his back and the actor doing the stabbing pausing to aim for the target.
* TastesLikeDiabetes: the "River of Jordan" scene uses this to set up the punchline with the IV.
* ThisIsYourPremiseOnDrugs: ''Creator/MontyPython'' plus Creator/MelBrooks on speed.
** To get the film made, Zucker and company told film executives it was ''Film/AnimalHouse'' on a plane. It wasn't.
* ToughActToFollow: For the Zucker-Abrahms-Zucker team. Most of their later films both together and as solo directors were basically variations on the same theme with varying success. It may have arguably been this for the entire sub-genre of parody movies as well.
* WeirdAlEffect: ''Film/ZeroHour'', the movie it was based on. In fact it's technically a remake, not just a parody.
** The film also parodies many of the subplots from the ''Film/{{Airport}}'' film series.

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