* AdaptationDisplacement: The plot originally comes from a ScienceFiction short story involving a man who can see the messages after being hypnotized. The aliens in there also [[ToServeMan eat humans]].
* AlternateCharacterInterpretation: How truly evil are the aliens supposed to be? Despite the fact they are obviously manipulating humanity, they don't do anything overtly malevolent throughout the film, with most of those actions actually being done by humans themselves. Why do they bother telling humans about the conspiracy? It's clear they ''don't'' need to reveal themselves, or else why bother with the hypnotic signal in the first place? Also much of what we are told about them is contradictory at best, such as the scientist's idea that they're xenoforming Earth's atmosphere to match their homeworld, [[FridgeLogic which begs the question]] of ''why'', given that they easily can survive in Earth's own atmosphere anyway?
** The aliens are exactly as evil as the rich of the United States in the 1980s--which, in John Carpenter's view, was pretty damn evil.
* {{Anvilicious}}: In spades.
* MemeticMutation: "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. [[OhCrap And I'm all out of bubblegum."]]
** The subliminal OBEY/CONSUME/etc signs have been remixed all over the place, notably into Shepard Fairey's OBEY GIANT campaign.
** [[http://iruntheinternet.com/lulzdump/images/they-live-glasses-mlp-my-little-pony-never-marry-and-reproduce-1375809560C.jpg This edit]] is pretty popular among [[FanHater anti]]-[[MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic bronies]].
* ParanoiaFuel: The whole point, in a way. That commercial you just saw on television ... just a commercial or a subliminal message telling you to "OBEY" and "CONFORM"?
* SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped[=/=]ValuesResonance: The only things outdated in this film are the hairstyles.