The show contains examples of:
- Artifact Title: First disco began to show up in the late 1970s, then hip hop largely displaced soul as the dominant African American pop music, reflected in the show's choice of artists. Yet the name never changed.
- Captain Ersatz: On The Cosby Show, Theo and Cockroach are jazzed to appear on "Dance Mania" and dance with "Tina" (an expy of Cheryl Song)
- Catch Phrase: The show opening, "The hippest trip in America", and the show closing "We wish you love, peace, and... SOOOUL!"
- Cool Old Guy: Don Cornelius, during the show's later years.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Early episodes owed more to Laugh In than American Bandstand in terms of the show's look and camera work. The pilot in particular had a completely different announcer, and the open showed the musical guests (Gladys Knight & The Pips, David Ruffin, and The Honey Cones) were dancing among the "Soul Train Gang"note instead of showing short clips of their performances.
- Also, many acts chose to perform live, rather than lip-synch to their record. This was a practice that pretty much died by the late 70s.
- The opening, from early seasons, also contained this line: "Sixty non-stop minutes, across the tracks of your mind, into the exciting world of soul!"
- Until 1975, Cornelius said the full closing catchphrase, after which he would leave the Soul Train Dancers to say the last word, in unison, "SOUL!"
- Also, the Soul Train Line didn't separate into the more familiar men and women's lines until 1982. Up to then, it was "men on the right, women on the left."
- Long Runner: Every weekend for 35 years.
- Long-Runner Cast Turnover/ Revolving Door Casting: Of course, this is endemic to a show that has probably had thousands of dancers over the years. Even Don Cornelius himself was AWOL for the show's final years. However, many of the show's dancers also count as long runners, many continuing to dance on the show for years even after making it big. The most famous example is fan favorite "the Asian Girl with the Long Hair", Cheryl Song, who was a show regular and dancer for the better part of 14 years or almost half the show's run (1976-1990).
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: During the mid-1970s, a rumor began floating around that Cornelius had died of a drug overdose, prompting him to make an announcement at the beginning of a subsequent episode that he had not died of a drug overdose and his attorneys were trying to find whoever had spread that slander. The interesting thing is that while Cornelius had carefully stated he did not die of a drug overdose, he never stated that he hadn't used drugs.
- Real Song Theme Tune: Many people think "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" was written specifically for Soul Train... and actually, it was. In an interview for a VH-1 documentary about the show, Cornelius stated that he hired the Philadelphia-based songwriting team of Gamble and Huff to write a song for the show. He liked it, but he was adamant about not calling the song "Soul Train", so they called it "TSOP" and he approved. Cornelius went on to say that he regretted that move.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Ice Cube was crestfallen when he finally got on the show, only to have Don Cornelius say to his face on live TV that the host neither liked nor understood hip hop. This started a long-time feud between the two.
"And as always, in parting, we wish you love... peace... and SOOOOOOOUL!"