Adaptation Displacement: The number of people who have even heard of the original 1943 book by Beth Brown, much less read it, could be counted on one hand. The book itself is exceedingly rare, and it can fetch up to hundreds of dollars on Amazon.
Alternative Character Interpretation: Did Charlie really mean it when he told Itchy that they'd use Anne-Marie for all she was worth than then dump her in an orphanage, or was he just telling Itchy what he wanted to hear? Consider the guilty look on his face when he notices Anne-Marie listening in on the conversation.
Awesome Music: Say what you will about the songs—or Burt Reynolds's skill at singing—but "Let Me Be Surprised" is pretty darn good.
While most of the songs in the Christmas special range from passable to awful, "I Always Get Emotional At Christmastime" is an excellent, almost Broadway-quality showstopper, not to mention one that works in the favor of both actors: not too rangey for Charles Nelson Riely, but it allows former Chicago star Bebe Neuwirth to stretch her pipes.
Double towards the song Clean Up Your Act from the special. It's really catchy and the singer is having fun!
Melba Moore is a famed Gospel singer, and she gets to show off her chops at the end.
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Belladonna's part of I Always Get Emotional At Christmas Time. It really has nothing to do with the plot and kind of comes out of nowhere, as the musical number is Killer's until she shows up and her part is mainly just to make it longer.
Common Knowledge: Ironically, while King Gator's out of place music number sticks in people's mind, they generally forget that King Gator does, in fact, return to defeat Carface andattempt to save Charlie (who dies from losing his life watch, nevertheless). The musical number is so distracting that it's also easy to forget that the whole thing started out as an homage to King Kong.
Contested Sequel: Both the 90s sequel and the TV series fall under this category. There are both fans who believe that the sequels were worthy followups and fans who believe anything after the original All Dogs Go To Heaven are real examples of Sequelitis.
Critical Backlash: While the film has retroactively gained a loyal fanbase and good reception, the films initial release was widely panned by critics, so much so that Bluth's American tour to promote the film was ended very early, according to his online biography.
Cry for the Devil: Ghost Of Christmas Past in The Christmas Carol reveals that Carface had a rather tragic past that certainly makes one feel sorry for him.
Killer is a textbook example of this. It's especially notable in the animated series episode "Sidekicked" where he constantly badmouths and insults Itchy yet feels depressed over the fact that his boss, Carface will most likely leave him to rot at the pound.
Charlie Barkin. He's a con artist and a compulsive liar but he literally goes to hell and back in the first movie. The Woobie part of him is downplayed in the animated series but it still shows up every now and then, like when he talks about never celebrating a birthday in "An Itch In Time".
Most Annoying Sound: Any time a non-singing actor is given a song, in both the original and the sequels. It's unfortunately the only thing all of them have in common.
The Problem with Licensed Games: The game on Amiga and DOS is just a collection of poorly programmed mini-games tied together with cutscenes. And the horrific ear-bleeding sound combined with the three colors it runs in practically defines Sensory Abuse.
Sequel Displacement: Because of the utter lack of continuity between the first film and everything that followed it, many are surprised to realize that Sasha, one of the most popular characters of the series, was not in the original, or that the Heavenly Whippet didn't have a name.
So Okay, It's Average: Maybe not Bluth's best movie, but it's certainly not his worst. The sequel and TV show also have a sizable fan base of people who feel this way about it.
Tastes Like Diabetes: "What's Mine Is Yours." Justified in-universe in that Charlie is not only being watched by wholesome, sweeter than sweet Anne-Marie, but the pups' caretaker — who also happens to be an old flame of his. The pups, for their part, disregard the lesson almost immediately.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Granted, none of the further installments of this story were intended to build to anything, but several elements that appear across the movies and the TV show (the leaps in time and space, Carface's Villain Decay, the politics between heaven, hell and Earth) would make for a damn good franchise had it been conceived as such.
Uncanny Valley: Anne-Marie sometimes falls into this (keep in mind that, video games notwithstanding, this was Don Bluth's first time animating a major human character). Of particular note is that close-up shot of her close to the end, where she looks more like a porcelain doll that a human being.
Values Dissonance: Itchy's stereotypical "Chinaman" gag in "You Can't Keep A Good Dog Down." The film was released in 1989, the last time a joke like this was socially acceptable.
What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: This undoubtedly has to be Don Bluth's darkest film. It has relatively small "kid-friendly" scenes in between the controversial themes of gambling, first degree murder, theft, drinking, terrifying images of Hell and Satan, and the real clincher, killing the main protagonist at the end, which is unheard of in Western animation for children.
Itchy, after his run-in with Carface near the end of the movie. The animated series ups his Woobie status even further, showing him as being the victim of an abusive owner and in the episode "Fearless Fido", he has a PTSD reaction to ferris wheels due to a traumatic event he had as a pup.
Charlie, though he can border on Jerkass Woobie at times also counts. After being put through hell and having to say goodbye to Anne-Marie with tears rolling down his face, he most definitely needs a hug.