* BigLippedAlligatorMoment: Prideaux killing a bird. {{Justified|Trope}} in the original novel, where it foreshadows how [[spoiler:Prideaux would kill Haydon.]]
** It also demonstrates how on edge Prideaux could be, how brutally violent he could be, and how unhinged he was that he didn't give a thought to how it would impact the schoolboys.
** Also, Lacon buttering a toast really, really loudly during his meeting with Bland and Alleline.
* NarrowedItDownToTheGuyIRecognize: A lot of viewers guessed that the traitor is [[spoiler: Colin Firth's]] character purely on the strength of him being [[spoiler: Colin Firth]].
** The fact that the actor [[spoiler: received second billing]] on the movie poster may have also been something of a giveaway.
* NightmareFuel: A quick shot of Irina's husband sitting in a bath full of blood with his guts ripped out.
* TearJerker: Irina's fate. [[spoiler:After Prideaux is tortured and confesses how far Control's investigation into the mole has gone, Karla drags in a beaten and tortured Irina and asks him if he knows her. Prideaux of course doesn't. Irina then smiles sweetly as if to say 'I forgive you'. Then Karla has her shot right in front of him.]]
* TheyChangedItNowItSucks: Peter Hitchens' [[http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2011/09/tinker-tailor-soldier-travesty.html review of the film]] was essentially a point-by-point list of every alteration from the novel, and why each was a change for the worse.
* WaistcoatOfStyle: Almost all the male characters have one. Guillam's fits him very well indeed.