* AccidentalInnuendo: "When you come, use the back door."
* AwardSnub: It lost that year's Tony to ''Theatre/TheMusicMan''.
** Many, like "Mambo" and "America".
** "Tonight". Big time.
* EnsembleDarkhorse: Both [[SpicyLatina Anita]] and Anybodys, although Anybodys' joining in taunting Anita during the rape scene can make her unlikable for some (although in the film when the taunting gets to the attempted rape she's seen in the back looking disgusted and it's clear she isn't on-board anymore).
* FauxSymbolism: The virginal Maria wears a white dress to her first dance (and unsuccessfully asks Anita to dye it red so she'll look more "grown up"), but a red one following the loss of her virginity to Tony. Also, in the final scenes, she's wearing a black shawl around her head. Probably representing her mourning for her brother, but it comes in handy when she has to mourn Tony as well.
** The popular fan-theory of Maria killing herself off-screen has never exactly been confirmed.
** It is common among theater groups to think that the Jets actually rape Anita in the original musical, but this is toned down to empty taunting in the film version. The original script for the musical is also kind of ambiguous if they are only taunting her (Baby John is said to be lifted on her by the others, rather than willingly going on her). Even if they were seriously going to rape her, it is also possible that Doc stops it in time.
* HarsherInHindsight: The line of "the money owing" in "America" is this due to, in 2016, the government of Puerto Rico started to miss payments on its debt, requiring the government of the United States of America to step in.
* HoYay: Playwright Arthur Laurents (a gay man himself) supported the idea that Tony and Riff may have previously been lovers and that Riff is still in love with Tony even though the latter has moved on. Under his direction, the 2009 Broadway revival played up the subtext. Of course, they are based on [[Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet Romeo and Mercutio.]]
* ItWasHisSled: Tony dies.
* MemeticMutation: A rare case of a memetic dance--the Jets snapping their fingers and leaping in the air.
* MisaimedFandom: The entire argument over which gang is more sympathetic. It completely spits in the face the theme that both sides are adding to the conflict.
* MoralEventHorizon: It's pretty hard to root for the Jets after [[NearRapeExperience they attempt to rape Anita]]. Granted, [[RealityEnsues the entire point]] is to ''[[MisaimedFandom not]]'' [[MisaimedFandom root for either side]], but even so [[ALighterShadeofGrey the Sharks never do anything that horrific.]]
** The fact that Action in the film looks like Matt [=LeBlanc=].
** Or the fact that "Baby John" doesn't look or sound that much younger than the other Jets.
** A lot of the slang used by the Jets is cringe-worthy by today's standards. Ironically, it's not even real '50s slang, but was invented by the writers so as ''not'' to date the piece.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: Whether Tony's original plan would have really finally settled things between The Sharks and The Jets, it was at least a way to have the rumble without anyone getting seriously hurt. Maria sending Tony to break up a fist fight between to men ultimately led to three deaths and a possible rape. Also, Maria's sending Anita to tell Tony to wait for her at Doc's drugstore leads to Anita's traumatic encounter with the Jets, which results in Tony's death.
* NightmareFuel: 'Cool' in the film is a little unsettling to watch, especially with the multiple shots of all the Jets coming towards the camera, and the dancing makes them seem a tad unhinged, especially with the intermittent 'POW!'s.
* NotHisSled: Instead of killing himself like [[Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet Romeo]], Tony is killed by Chino, and unlike Juliet, Maria lives.
** In the stage version, the unnamed girl who sings the song "Somewhere".
** John Astin as the MC at the dance in the film.
* SeinfeldIsUnfunny: It can seem horribly cliche nowadays -- not least because it's adapting ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'', which itself underwhelms many readers who find it trite, shallow, and immature. There's also the fact that it's meant to be [[SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped against bigotry and racism]], but the Sharks have much less stage/screen time than the Jets and the film casts white performers with affected accents in major Puerto Rican roles.
* SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped: Maria's closing speech where she chews out everyone over [[spoiler:Tony's death]].
* TearJerker: The Wedding Scene is cute out of context, but not if you know the ending.
** "You're a girl, Anybodys. ''Be'' a girl!" is supposed to be part of Tony objecting to the senseless gang violence, but now it just sounds sexist, as if the violence is especially bad because ''even a girl'' wants to fight. Due to the ambiguity over Anybody's gender identity (some productions play the character as a transgender boy), there's another layer of dissonance added in that they might be misgendering Anybodys on top of the sexism.
** In "Gee Officer Krupke", the reasons for the Jets being delinquents are pretty fair (My father is a bastard/My ma's an S.O.B./My grandpa's always plastered), until we get to "My sister wears a mustache" and "My brother wears a dress" which sounds pretty ignorant against crossdressers and trans people.
* ValuesResonance: The song "America", in which the Puerto Ricans discuss how it feels to live in America and the differences between it and their homeland, feels a lot more relevant today with regards to the treatment of immigrants and Mexicans.
** For a part of a Puerto Rican in a musical, a Russian-American was cast, who couldn't sing (okay, Creator/NatalieWood actually could sing, but she wasn't good enough for this movie).
** Compare white Carol Lawrence in the original Broadway cast (although she could sing).