Big Damn Heroes: Travis fantasizes about being one for months leading up to his eventual rampage. It's one reason people think the ending is entirely in his imagination as he's dying (though Word Of God says no).
The Big Rotten Apple: Travis, as a night cab driver sees the worst side of New York. "All the animals come out at night - whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets."
Black Blood: In order to attain an R rating, Scorsese had to desaturate the shootout scene, making the blood a dull pink rather than bright red. (General consensus is that the muted colors work in the scene's favor.)
Dark and Troubled Past: Averted. We learn almost nothing of Travis' past and, based on the anniversary card, he keeps in contact with his parents and cares about their opinion to lie to them about his life. It makes the film more interesting as you really wonder what happened to Travis to make him the way he is. (See Vietnam below)
Dawson Casting: A controversial aversion with thirteen-year-old Jodie Foster playing a twelve-year-old prostitute in a graphically violent film. She had to go through psychological analysis to prove she could handle the role, and her older sister acted as her body double for some scenes.
Deconstruction: Of the Vigilante Man. Technically, on his first and only outing as a vigilante, he may or may not have died (though Word Of God says no). This is what happens when an ordinary man takes up arms and goes against common thugs. And a physically fit ordinary man who supposedly had military training at that.
Discretion Shot: Travis's awkward phone call to Betsy, where the camera pans away from him to look down an empty hallway as though feeling his embarrassment, is an unusual example.
Don't Tell Mama: Travis lies to his parents about what is really going on with him to reassure them.
Dying Dream: A common theory about the ending, since Travis is let off for brutally murdering multiple people in front of a 12-year old girl, reunites said 12-year-old girl with her parents, gets his brief girlfriend back, and keeps his job with the cab company.Word Of God says no, however.
Dyeing For Your Art: DeNiro surprisingly did not shave his head for the role (the film was shot out of sequence, and he was shooting 1900 in Italy as well). He did however drive a cab for twelve hours a day and studied mental illness.
Embarrassing First Name: Iris hates her first name and prefers to be called "Easy." Travis insists upon calling her by her proper name.
Finger Gun: Done a few times by Travis in the seedy porn theatres. Also, after his rampage, Travis tries to shoot himself, but he's out of ammunition. When the police arrives, he places his index finger against his temple like a gun and pretends to shoot himself in the head several times.
Hypocrite: Travis advises Iris to return to her parents, but he has (mostly) cut himself off from his own parents.
Travis is a fully grown man who keeps in contact with his parents (despite the fabrications regarding his lifestyle), Iris is a 13 year old (i.e. a little girl) prostitute.
Iconic Item: Travis' army jacket and of course the 44 Magnum.
I Just Want to Be Special: Travis desperately wishes he was someone of importance and could be a part of the world Betsy inhabits. It's his wish to escape his existence that leads him to go on his rampage. Best summed up by the movie's tagline on the top of the page.
Joisey: Travis gives a fake name and address in New Jersey to a Secret Service agent after being promised "forms" to join the Secret Service.
Karma Houdini: Travis at the end. It actually depends on your point of view if he really had to die or survive (though Word Of God says he survived). Even if he did survive, there is absolutely no talk in the epilogue of prosecution for shooting up the whorehouse, even for so much as carrying several unlicensed firearms, and he keeps his job.
Kick the Son of a Bitch: A store clerk fed up of being robbed viciously beats a thief with a crowbar after Travis has killed him.
Moral Dissonance: Thanks for shooting up that den of prostitutes, you heroic rogue. Of course that's assuming that the Hero worship actually happened. Word Of God says it did. Screenwriter Schrader said on DVD commentary that the fact that Bickle was worshipped as a hero was meant to be ironic, and that he would not be a hero when he snapped again (the cymbal crash and the look in his eyes in the rearview mirror at the end implied that he was as unstable as ever.).
Murder Suicide: Travis was planning that, but he didn't have any bullets left.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Travis, while mostly an Avatar for Paul Schrader, has more than a few similarities with Arthur Bremer who shot and paralyzed Governor George Wallace three years earlier.
No One Could Survive That: Subverted at the film's climax. Travis shoots Iris's pimp once in the stomach, and assumes that he's dead (as do, in all likelihood, the audience). Minutes later, the pimp reappears behind Travis and shoots him, failing to kill Travis but wounding him quite badly.
No Party Given: Senator Palantine, although his comments suggest that he is a Democrat.
No Social Skills: Everyone Travis interacts with seems to sense that there's something off about him.
Nothing Up My Sleeve: One of Travis's guns is hidden up his sleeve, and drawn using a speed-rig he made himself.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Robert De Niro worked hard on Travis' midwestern accent, but his real accent can be heard on occasion.
Pet the Dog: Travis's love for his parents and concern for Iris.
Travis Bickle is named after Mick Travis, Malcolm McDowell's character in Lindsay Anderson's films if.... and O Lucky Man (and later Britannia Hospital). Also, in one scene in O Lucky Man, McDowell wears suspenders with no shirt, as DeNiro does in one scene here.
During her coffee-shop date with Travis, Betsy quotes from Kris Kristofferson's song "The Pilgrim, Chapter 33", and Travis later buys her the album on which it appears (The Silver Toungued Devil and I).
Looking closely at one of the newspaper clippings at end of the film mentions Harry Kilmer as President of the Manhattan Cab Company. Harry Kilmer was the name of Robert Mitchum's private detective character in The Yakuza, which was writer Paul Schrader's first screenplay.
While it would be dumb to suggest that the .44 Magnum's inclusion is in itself a reference to Dirty Harry, the reason the gun is so popular and thus is included in the film is due to that movie.
Suicide by Cop: Travis seemingly attempts this at the film's climax. When the cops burst in, he puts his hands in his pocket and appears to be about to withdraw a gun. The cops aren't trigger happy enough for this to work however, and Travis instead pulls out an imaginary gun and pretends to shoot himself in the head.
Throw It In: Scorsese's cameo was completely unplanned as the actor that had been hired got sick. He states he hates being on camera and only did it out of desperation although audiences think he did very well.
Travis' famous You Talkin' To Me? line was ad libbed by Robert De Niro. The script called for Travis to look at himself int he mirror, and maybe talk to himself.
Tranquil Fury: A lot of repressed passion beneath that quiet, cold surface.
Unbuilt Trope: The final shootout looks like a brutal deconstruction of every action film shootout ever made: There are no flashy edits or jump cuts, no musical cues, no improbably cool weapons or marksmanship and it barely lasts two minutes. There is nothing but barbaric violence shown in all its brutality. Yet it was made long before many films that used all those techniques.
Unreliable Narrator: You cannot literally believe a word that Travis says. Or at least, you cannot take it at face value.