* CrowningMomentOfAwesome: Buck winning the bet for John Thornton by pulling a sled with a thousand-pound cargo, which leads to a...
-->'''John Thornton:''' As you love me, Buck, as you love me.
** The idea of getting overwhelmed by forty dogs and torn to pieces a la Curly if you so much as ''fall down.''
** The Starving dogs part is terrifying: Imagine a group of dozens of dogs some who were probably loyal sled dogs left or lost to the wild come crawling silently into your camp as skeletal animals completely insane and hell-bent on eating everything including the protagonists. On top of that, they basically win despite many of them being killed because the team just couldn't stop them. Not long after this the quiet and gentle Dolly: snaps with a blood-curdling heartbreaking howl, and its so bad that she terrifies everyone, even Buck, chasing him all over until she is brutally killed with an ax.
* TheScrappy: Hal, Charles, and Mercedes for some readers of the book.
* TearJerker: Everything leading up to Buck leaving John, and then Buck coming back to find John's dead body.
* ValuesDissonance: The depiction of the natives as bloodthirsty, unreasoning savages. Also, naming a black dog Nig.
* WhatAnIdiot: Hal, Mercedes, and Charles. Just about everything they do is stupid and they're frequently told as much by the other Alaskans. They all pay for it in the end.
* WhatDoYouMeanItsNotForKids: Because the story is short, the language is pretty easy, and the protagonist is an animal, this often ends up on kid's shelves and read in middle school. It's actually an extremely bloody story and not at all politically correct when it comes to race and gender.