* BigLippedAlligatorMoment:
** The movie has an early {{Foreshadowing}} scene where Stanley sees the ghosts of Sam and Mary Lou while his bus passes through the desert. Stanley never even learns who they are and this event is never mentioned again.
** Right after Stanley turns down Zero's request to teach him how to read, Armpit swaggers out of the Wreck Room and starts dancing. The music even sounds like it's going to lead into a sudden all-camp coordinated dance, but it ends abruptly soon after Armpit raises his, well, armpits.
* CompleteMonster: [[spoiler: Charles "Trout" Walker]] was the adult version of a JerkJock in Green Lake; sleazy, amoral, jerkish, [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking and absolutely no hygiene sense]]. He crossed the line into Monster-dom when he responded to Kate Barlow rejecting him for the black onion seller Sam by [[spoiler: burning down the school Kate taught at and organizing a lynching party against Sam]]. He also [[AndYourLittleDogToo killed Sam's donkey, Mary Lou]], [[ForTheEvulz just because]]. 20 years later, he was not the least bit repentant, and he went bugfuck insane trying to find Kate Barlow's hidden treasure, working his family, children, and grandchildren to the bone. The narration even implies ''God Himself'' punished the town of Green Lake for going along with [[spoiler: Trout's lynching party]] by creating a century-long drought that destroyed the once-prosperous town.
* EarWorm: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHcX6fBIrSo Dig it, oh-oh-ooh, dig it!]]
** If Only by Fiction Plane
* EnsembleDarkhorse: Whether you like the book or not, ''everyone'' remembers Katherine and Sam, and they're nearly universally-beloved in the fandom. Katherine even still has fans after she becomes Kissin' Kate Barlow. (Some people loved her even ''more'' after that.)
* GeniusBonus: Mr. Sir creates a tough, cowboy persona in order to get over the embarrassment of his real name: [[spoiler:Marion]]. This is very similar to '''Marion''' Robert Morrison, better known as [[spoiler:Creator/JohnWayne]].
* GrowingTheBeard[=/=]HeReallyCanAct: The movie could be considered the start of this for ShiaLabeouf, who was still known primarily for his role on ''Series/EvenStevens'' before it came out.
* JerkassWoobie: The Warden, if only because of her harsh childhood under her aforementioned grandfather's thumb making her a cynical and bitter woman.
* MagnificentBastard: The Warden. Intimidating, [[AffablyEvil unsettlingly nice]], wears rattlesnake venom as nail polish [[spoiler:and uses it to punish her employees]], and opened Camp Green Lake [[spoiler:to find Kissing Kate Barlow's buried treasure]].
* MemeticMutation: There's a post going around {{Tumblr}} which includes a gif of Madame Zeroni, and it says if you forget to reblog her, "You and your family will be cursed for always and eternity."
* MoralEventHorizon: When Stanley and Zero come back to camp Green Lake, The Warden, Mr. Pendanski, and Mr. Sir show a lack of concern when [[spoiler:the boys are covered with yellow-spotted lizards.]] What makes this a tragic example for The Warden? See JerkassWoobie and UnintentionallySympathetic for how she became the uncaring jerk she is in the main story.
** Trout killing Sam.
* SpecialEffectsFailure: In the film, the dead yellow spotted lizard.
* UnintentionallySympathetic: The Warden in some ways, despite being the BigBad in the story [[spoiler:and actually allowing Stanley and Zero to (hopefully) be killed in a pit full of poisionous lizards]], her life was constantly nothing but a wild goose chase thanks to her [[AbusiveParents greed-obsessed grandfather]]. In the film adaptation you can see the loss and anguish on her face when [[spoiler:she's denied of the treasure her family has been looking for a hundred years.]]