Accidental Aesop: In "Lost By A Nose", the intended message is "don't be focused on outward beauty because inner beauty is what counts", but Liz's constant referral to the appearances of the people around her could also lead the moral to be taken as "your views on beauty are probably a lot more ingrained than you think, and you yourself probably judge others based on looks".
In "Called On in Class", Trent's suggestion to his class during his presentation is that a person should face their fears and take a step with confidence, but he's still neurotic and stressed about public speaking in "Blood, Sweat, and Fears", in which Whit explains that if God is calling you to do something, you have to trust Him to give you strength. In his last two episodes, Trent is able to audition for and participate in plays, indicating that he's finally conquering his fear. Whether the writers intended to or not, the message here seems to be "rely on God and His strength more than you rely on 'good advice'".
All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": It isn't revealed until the last few episodes of the thirty-plus-episode Novacom Saga that Novacom's ultimate plan is to take over the entire world through mind control. Guess what the first thing on everyone's lips is when they describe it?
Anvilicious: All episodes end with a short snippet where a presenter summarizes the lesson of the week and dishes out the appropriate Bible verses.
Archive Panic: The series contains nearly 800+ episodes and counting over a near 30 year run. Even if you don't also include the video series, that's still at least several days of listening to Odyssey if you chose to listen to every episode non-stop. Better pull up a comfy chair!
The "scaring off the audience" aspect of the trope is mitigated by the fact that the show is entirely auditory, and if one has the Odyssey Adventure Club, then one has access to every single episode (and then some); it's not like a TV show where a person has to just sit down and focus all their attention on it, and it can be listened to while doing something else the way music can.
Author's Saving Throw: The writers goofed and gave Lucy's last name as Cunningham in one episode and Schultz in another. The explanation became that her father died and Shultz was her stepfather's last name, and from then on she was Lucy Cunningham-Schultz.
Base-Breaking Character: Wooton. Either you love him, think he's hilarious, and consider him a great role model, or you consider him overused, overhyped, and over-the-top.
Bizarro Episode: The infamous episode "I Slap Floor", where everyone in Odyssey goes completely bonkers. When asked by Mandy and David Straussberg where an absent Whit is, Bernard explains that he is at home recovering from the events of last week. What happened? Apparently, everyone in town suddenly just seemed to have lost their minds. Whit started giving bizarre (if not outright dangerous) advice and ideas, Connie and Eugene fell madly in love with each other, Tom Riley sold his farm to Bart Rathbone (who planned to make it into a free space camp) so Tom could become a rodeo star, Harlow Doyle began solving crimes flawlessly, and other weird and silly things. In the end, it turns out that Dr. Regis Blackgaard came back to town disguised as his former lackey Richard Maxwell, wearing a strange cologne that for all intents and purposes made everyone get high. Thus, he could take advantage of the confusion and take over the town. In the end, it turns out that the whole incident didn't actually happen; Bernard was just playing a joke on the kids. It was April Fools Daynote of which "I Slap Floor" is an anagram after all.
There are a number of fans who grew up with the fast-paced and intense Novacom saga, and were therefore disappointed when the show went back to its standard slice-of-life faire, while others were fine with it and enjoyed those episodes for what they were.
In the same vein, the base is roughly cleaved in two between people who wanted Connie and Mitch to get married and were incredibly disappointed when they didn't, and people who thought that their relationship was a blight on the show that was fortunately excised when they broke up.
Controversy erupted when Mitch returned in "Something Old, Something New, Parts 1 and 2" with a new fiancée, with some being fine with this new development and sympathizing with all characters involved and others furious that the Connie/Mitch ship was sunk for good and accusing Mitch of being insensitive to her.
The existence of the Odyssey Adventure Club, essentially Netflix for Adventures in Odyssey, resulted in public outcry from many fans, who disliked how expensive it was (fifteen dollars a month); in turn, it was defended by others, who liked the fact that they could share it with family members so that they could hear the show as well, and who feel that fifteen dollars a month for every single episode plus new exclusives plus early listening to the new albums plus all of the videos is a steal.
"The Ties That Bind", a recent fourteen-parter that was supposed to address Biblical definitions of marriage and family, has caught a lot of flak from fans for never actually identifying homosexuality—none of the characters ever even use the word "gay", even though there is one scene where Whit pretty explicitly discusses transgenderism—and instead clouding it with words like "tolerance" and "inclusivity". It's also taken criticism for focusing more on the identity of the Perilous Pen (apparently the Edward Snowden of the comic book world) than on almost any other storyline, even though that story has next to nothing to do with family, and for portraying Ms. Adelaide, the "tolerance and inclusivity" champion, as a strawman. However, other fans think that the album was entertaining, addressed the issues appropriately, and had to include the Perilous Pen to keep kids entertained.
Crowning Music of Awesome: The music that plays at the end of "The Final Conflict", as the radio newscaster makes a weather forecast of a beautiful day in Odyssey. The sense of triumph, hope, and justice of the track is palpable.
The music really took a step up in the Novacom Saga. Composer John Campbell explained in an interview that he was trying to give the episodes a more intense, cinematic feel, and his love for action scores shows.
The musical transitions from the melody of "It Is Well" to the choir singing it in the episode "It Is Well". If there's such a thing as a Crowning Music of Tear Jerking, this would be it.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Richard Maxwell, by virtue of being quick-witted, complex, good-looking, and an atoning Woobie by the end of his run on the show. To this day, fans are clamoring for his return.
Monica Stone, for her backstory, snarky attitude, cunning, and role as a possible love interest for Jason.
Evil is Cool: True to the spirit of the show, Dr. Blackgaard's acts of evil aren't romanticized one bit, but all the same...
Fridge Brilliance: Campbell County Community College accepted Eugene when he was very young, and considering he was an orphan (as far as the state knew, anyhow), they also took care of him. He stayed with them out of gratitude.
Genius Bonus: In the episode "Stage Fright"; a School Play where the Jones and Parker Detective Agency are investigating a mysterious noise is held at the Taft-Hartley Theater. In universe, the theater is named after two local actors, but it also serves as a reference to the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act: a bill passed in response to a series of 1946 strikes that outlawed the "closed shop", sought to prevent Communists from gaining leadership in unions, and allowed states to institute "right-to-work" laws that would prevent unions from excluding non-union workers.
While commenting on the filthy lyrics of songs written by his son Rodney in "You Gotta Be Wise", Bart shrugs the complaints off with "Okay, so the kid has a lot to learn about anatomy!"—exacerbated by the fact that Dale Jacobs calls it "pornographic".
In "Green Eyes and Yellow Tulips", Bart Rathbone shouts that Novacom cannot bring their "smut" to Odyssey's TV programming.
Harsher in Hindsight: Connie's snippy comments to the airport security officer who inspects Whit's computer in "Waylaid in the Windy City, Part 1" are considerably less funny in a post-9/11 world.
Jess Harnell's Bill Crosby character (from "The Present Long Ago" and "BTV: Live") is a lot more painful to hear in light of Bill Cosby's sex scandals.
In-universe, Connie jealously grousing about Justine in front of Mitch in "Secrets" comes off as really cringey if the listener has heard "The Unraveling", where it's revealed that Justine was murdered for discovering some of Andromeda's plans, thus spurring Mitch to move to Odyssey and Novacom to investigate in the first place.
He Really Can Act: Most of the actors are put through their paces and show off their chops throughout the show:
Both Hal Smith and Paul Herlinger as Whit: "Connie", "The Nemesis", "The Battle", "The Mortal Coil" (Smith), "The Search For Whit", "Clara", "Exit", "Silent Night" (Herlinger)
Katie Leigh as Connie: "Connie", "The Mortal Coil", "Plan B", "Something Blue", "Out of Our Hands", "Life, in the Third Person", "Life Expectancy"
Will Ryan as Eugene: "The Mortal Coil", "The Fifth House on the Left", "The Turning Point", "The Return", "The Time Has Come", "The Right Choice", "Cover of Darkness", "A New Era"
Walker Edmiston as Tom: "The Nemesis", "The Homecoming", "Tom for Mayor", "Hard Losses", "The Last Resort", "Exceptional Circumstances", "Exit"
Dave Madden as Bernard: "The Fifth House on the Left", "The Time Has Come"
Alan Young as Jack: "Moving Targets", "The Final Conflict", "The Decision", "For Whom the Wedding Bells Toll"
Townsend Coleman as Jason: "The Search for Whit", "A Question About Tasha", "Shining Armor", "Exit"
Genni Long as Lucy: "The Battle", "The Homecoming"
Aria Curzon as Mandy: "Out of Our Hands", "Only By His Grace", "Life, in the Third Person"
Hilarious in Hindsight: In "W-O-R-R-Y", Erica Clark worries that she'll get a huge zit on her nose before she can take a good school picture. In "Lost by a Nose", 28 albums later, Liz Horton quits a beauty contest because of a zit on her nose.
Steve Burns plays Connie's friend's boyfriend in "First Love"; over 350 episodes later, Burns plays Robert Mitchell, Connie's love interest.
Jack tells Charles Thompson that the best way to get better at writing poems is to "just do it".
Idiot Plot: The episode "Buried Sin". It's understandable that a kid would think he'd committed murder when a gun he was holding went off and killed someone, and that the descendant of said victim (who is currently a child) would think that, but Whit? Pretty much everyone else? No...that's not murder. No court in the US would charge him with murder for accidentally killing someone. I mean, considering his age, he probably wouldn't even have gotten a manslaughter charge. His father would have been charged with negligence for leaving the gun where his son could get to it and for not teaching his son proper gun safety, but the child would not have been held responsible.
It Was His Sled: Mitch doesn't actually die; he is alive and well in the Witness Protection Program until the end of the Novacom saga. This is no longer that big of a reveal; most of the fandom consists of teenagers and young adults, who grew up with AIO and particularly that storyline.
Irony: An early episode about facing your fears ended terrifying several children who had never had such a problem before.
Jerkass Woobie: Leonard Meltsner. He can be very brusque at best when interacting with people, consistently derides Eugene's faith and accuses him of essentially being Whit's lackey, and even sabotages Eugene's missions efforts at one point because he thinks they're a waste of time. However—he and his wife were imprisoned by his old friend-turned-rival, Dalton Kearn, and forced to do archaeological work for him essentially as slave labor for twenty years; his wife died in captivity; and he believed both of his sons to be dead (one of whom he thought had died from injuries sustained at a dig, since he was born to Leonard and Thelma while they were imprisoned). He eventually escaped his captors, only to be hunted at every turn by them, growing steadily (but still quite understandably) paranoid, and held a grudge against God for years about it all. He softens up considerably after not only finding both of his sons to be alive and well, but also helping to get Kearn arrested, and he does eventually become a Christian, but he still wasn't the nicest guy for a while there.
Like You Would Really Do It: "A Bite of Applesauce", which ends with Connie and Eugene getting fired from Whit's End. They're two out of the show's three leads, so none of the audience was really expecting them to be fired for very long. It was even lampshaded by Chris in the closing bumper for "The Nemesis", after Connie and Eugene have both been hired back.
Misblamed: Some fans take to blaming actors for what they feel are missteps in the direction of their characters' development, even though it isn't the actor's fault that their character says or does things that the audience doesn't like. For example, Paul Herlinger has gotten blamed for times when Whit's lines have been accused of being out-of-character, and Audrey Wasilewsky came under heavy fire from people who didn't like her replacing Pam Hayden as Katrina and complained that Katrina was suddenly out-of-character because of her voice actress.
Narm: John Campbell is a really gifted composer and has made some fantastic scores for the series...which is why it's really jarring to hear the music playing while Regis confronts Edwin in "The Return"; it sounds more melodramatic than legitimately intense and chilling.
It's very difficult to take the fact that Whit has now been confirmed to feel faint and ill when evil is present seriously; it comes off really awkwardly in a show that's usually very down-to-earth, even about spiritual matters (even the Novacom saga had some grounding in reality).
The entirety of "Castles and Cauldrons"; even fans of the show think its portrayal of role-playing games is ridiculous and sounds like something out of a Chick Tract.
"The One About Trust" is a really solid character-developing exercise, but at the very end, after Connie quits working over a misunderstanding, she tells Whit that it would "please her very much" if she could continue working again. The word choice there is...odd, to say the least.
"The Mortal Coil", where Eugene experiences what hell would be like for him.
Dr Blackgaard has a few of these, but his resurrection is particularly horrific. Abraham Lincoln going on a killing spree?
And he was about to kill a little girl before Whit intervened.
In "A Name, Not A Number, Part 2", Blackgaard has the driver of a car commit murder-suicide to get rid of Mustafa, the leader of a terrorist group with whom Blackgaard was previously associated.
The Marquis of Matrimony from "The Marriage Feast" (an adaption of the story in the Book of Matthew). Unlike the Duke of Terra and the Countess of Bovine, he is against the emissaries right from the start, and then orders them to be tortured; which leads to the actual death of one of the said emissaries.
Near the end of "The Imagination Station, Revisited", when Kelly is trying to leave a malfunctioning Imagination Station and desperately trying not to see the crucifixion of Jesus.
One-Scene Wonder: The episode "Another Man's Shoes" introduced an invention of Whit's called "The Trans-muter", which (in a controlled environment) enabled a person to experience life from the perspective of another person. Aside from a passing mention to the invention in an episode that aired a short time later, the invention hasn't been used or mentioned since. note The likely reason is that the Room Of Consequences can do, and has done, what the Trans-muter was built to do, so the Trans-muter was seen as redundant and written out of the show.
The prison inmate who tries to get Bernard to "join the revolution" against the government over what he feels is an unjust traffic ticket in "Third Degree".
The guy at the bowling alley in "Secrets", in whose lane Connie keeps rolling strikes while stressed on her date with Mitch.
The lounge singer who keeps editorializing Eugene and Katrina's interactions in "The Right Choice, Part 1".
Strangled by the Red String: Connie and Mitch. They have very little in the way of common ground, they spend most of their time either arguing about major differences in their individual life choices or spewing out corny romantic dialogue, and Mitch's character eventually developed in such a way as to make a viable romantic relationship impossible. They ended up breaking up at the end of "Something Blue", and it's been a controversy among fans ever since.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Trent DeWhite's teacher Dr. Hawthorne in the episodes "Think on These Things" and "A Glass Darkly", who seems to have taken teaching advice from the Professor Snape School of Abusing One's Power:
In the former, Dr. Hawthorne's sharpness toward his students makes Trent so terrified of messing up that he ends up humiliating himself while trying to do a simple story problem in front of the class, having been rushed through it by an impatient Dr. Hawthorne. While Trent and Marvin use the Imagination Station to help improve their performance in math, Trent scans in a picture of Dr. Hawthorne to insert him into the program to help Trent get over his fear, but he ends up taking out all of his anger at Dr. Hawthorne on the program because he knows that, being virtual, he won't be facing any consequences for venting. Unfortunately, this carries over into the real world, where Trent snaps at Dr. Hawthorne and calls him out for being unfair, which is treated as a negative consequence of Trent's actions. The problem is, Trent accuses Dr. Hawthorne of unfairness...because Dr. Hawthorne overhears Marvin frantically asking Trent to let him cheat off his quiz, and refuses to hear them out when Trent protests that he had no intention of doing so. The episode ends with both Whit and eventually Trent taking Dr. Hawthorne's side, with no acknowledgement of what the teacher did. Of course it's not okay to yell at a teacher, especially in front of their class, but can you really blame Trent that much for reacting to what essentially amounts to bullying?
In the latter, Dr. Hawthorne puts Trent in detention for a food fight Trent didn't cause based on the fact that he's still holding Jell-O that was thrown at him, even though an actual known gang leader clearly started it for multiple witnesses to see and Marvin outright name-drops Rodney. When Rodney tries to get back at Dr. Hawthorne by putting bees in his car, Trent, who couldn't find Dr. Hawthorne because he wasn't in his office and time was running out, desperately gets rid of the bees himself, only to be caught at the exact wrong moment and accused by Dr. Hawthorne of tampering with his car, again giving him detention without hearing him out (and Rodney beats him up for interfering). The upshot of it all is that Trent misses his audition for a prestigious music society because he's in detention, and when he explains what happened, they refuse to believe that he received the detentions for anything but legitimate reasons. He explains almost all of this to Whit...who does nothing to acknowledge how incredibly unfair this situation is and barely even reacts to the black eye Trent received from Rodney. The ending where the whole mess ends up benefitting Dr. Hawthorne in the long run (turns out he's deathly allergic to bees) was intended to be something good that came out of Trent's problem that Trent might never know about, but instead makes Dr. Hawthorne come off as a Karma Houdini since the whole mess was his fault in the first place.
Unpopular Popular Character: Jared DeWhite usually annoys most of the other characters he meets, and even his friends don't really know what to make of him; he remains one of the most popular child characters on the show.
What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: The show's audience is undeniably children, but there are episodes that sort of blur the line and don't seem to be appropriate for young children, particularly for the conservative Christian audience the show was designed for. In "Forever, Amen", for instance, A boy blames himself for his mother's miscarriage because he wished he wouldn't have a younger brother. That's a downright tragic and terrifying idea for adults, let alone children.
Over the course of the show, concepts addressed and/or referenced have included: drug abuse, gambling addiction, divorce, alcoholism, abortion, international terrorism and biochemical warfare, abusive parents, the occult, death (including that of a little girl), cancer, mental illness, murder, a parent being in jail...
The episode "Where Is Thy Sting?" got away with portraying Connie's father as being falling-down drunk at his own mother's visitation.
Mandy Straussberg is one of the biggest ones on the show to also be a recurring character. It became worse when her parents separated more or less concurrently with story arcs concerning Eugene's complicated relationship with his father and Grady's struggles with his Disappeared Dad.
Curt Stevens, whose mother walked out on their family and his father became an alcoholic as a result.
Wooton Bassett, every time his past comes up.
Tom Riley. His first wife died of cancer and their son Timmy drowned as a child. Then his second wife, Agnes, miscarried a couple of times before she found out she was infertile and then sank into debilitating depression that also affected her memory. He endures being publicly dragged through the dirt during his time as mayor because of a faked scandal set up by Blackgaard's cronies, and in the aftermath of Agnes's treatment using the Novabox, in which she appeared to get better, the reversal of radio waves into brainwaves intrinsic in the box's programming deteriorated her mental state such that she could no longer even recognize him. You sort of want to pull the writers aside and tell them to just let Tom be already.
Kelly, the Washingtons' foster daughter, who was raised by an abusive mother until age ten when she was kicked out of the house and fled from her for an indeterminate distance and wound up in Odyssey with a massive tangle of trust issues and trauma.
Examples from the video series
Broken Base: The series as a whole to Odyssey fans. While some find it a respectable interpretation of the series and still have fond memories of watching it, it catches flack from other parts of the Odyssey fanbase who feel that the changes in tone and characterization were unnecessary and makes it just feel too much unlike the radio series as a result. On the other hand, though, the character designs given to the core three (Whit, Connie, and Eugene) were well liked enough to be adopted as their official designs for years afterward.
Nightmare Fuel: "A Twist In Time" features Dylan and Sal entering the (not yet unveiled) Room Of Consequences and being shown a very grim future where they have been missing for decades and Whit and their families exhausted themselves (physically and financially) trying to find the boys, and as a result, Whit is implied to have passed away penniless and in very poor health, Whit's End is in shambles, and an elderly and nearly senile Eugene is trying to keep the place standing. At least it was just a simulation and isn't the actual future of Whit's End and the people involved with it, but still, Dylan and Sal were lucky to get through that without being traumatized in some way.
Off Model: The animation could get sloppy at times. One example from early on in "Flight To The Finish" shows Eugene, wearing a lab coat, examining a top slathered in a performance-enhancing compound that Whit just made, only for the top to explode in his face. Not only is Eugene suddenly in his usual trademark outfit after the explosion, but if you look closely, he is in his newfound Ash Face state a split-second before the explosion actually occurs!
When it comes to cover-art, we also have the cover of "Baby Daze", which is drawn in a slightly different art-style from the series and sticks out like a sore thumb as a result. See here◊.