These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Archer is clinically insane. The countless traumas heaped on him by his mother as he grew up, coupled with the stress of his work as a spy, and compounded by multiple brain injuries (including two cases of meatball surgery and a mind-control chip) and Katya's and Jakov's deaths, has gradually pushed him to further and further extremes of disassociation with reality, up to the point where he has a two-month-long retrograde amnesia episode at the start of the fourth season, where he thinks he's Bob.
He also might have an Ambiguous Disorder; Lana and several other characters have speculated that Archer might have some sort of developmental disorder, if not atypical autism.
Cheryl/Carol is actually a sensitive woobie who's afraid of alienating other people with her wealth, and she keeps working at ISIS because her coworkers are her only close friends. The woman's worth millions, so she obviously doesn't need the paycheck. And she's probably been at ISIS for at least a few years, but the others didn't find out about her wealthy family until late in Season 2. Considering how open she usually is about personal stuff (like her weird fetishes) it seems a little odd that she kept that little detail to herself for so long. Maybe she was afraid of losing her only real friendships.
Better on DVD: The Running Gag and Call Back quotient gets higher and higher the longer the show goes on, so you're going to miss a lot of jokes if you don't watch them in order.
Base Breaker: Barry. Either he's a witty and intelligent villain whose justified in his hate for Archer, a fun bad guy we Love to Hate, or just an annoying drag on an episode. Katya post Face-Heel Turn gets a bit of flak for the latter, too.
Broken Base: Most fans agree that Barry became a Knight of Cerebus in the season 2 finale. Whether this was the right idea is debatable-either he became a great Love to Hate character and recurring villain, or he just made the show uncomfortably dark and serious.
Whether it was a good idea to change the premise of the show from a spy agency to a drug cartel. Most fans are willing to give the new format a chance, though.
Dude, Not Funny!: Lampshaded. Pam compares Lana's plan of making people pay her in order to have bragging rights about having sex with her to Schindler's List. Lana is disgusted and calls her out on it.
Ear Worm: That pirate computer virus. "Hunch hunch...what whaaat?" never sounded so catchy.
Malory and the heads of various rival organizations, including ODIN and the KGB.
The Honey Pot seems to be a fairly common tactic used by ISIS.
Genius Bonus: Every episode is littered with really obscure literary and cultural references; for example, Pam has The Destruction of Sennacherib by Lord Byron tattooed on her back. This is a trademark of Adam Reed shows, since Frisky Dingo and Sealab2021 are similarly littered.
Most of the offhand references to spy lore are actually historically accurate.
Harsher in Hindsight: The episode "The Honeymooners," which concerned Archer and Lana trying to stop North Koreans from buying enriched uranium, aired just after the real North Korea threatened yet again to attack South Korea and the United States with nuclear weapons.
Now that we know that the man claiming to be his father molested him (see below) Archer’s fear of crocodiles makes a lot more sense.
Hilarious in Hindsight: In "Double Trouble", the season two finale, Ray reveals he is a defrocked priest but can still legally administer weddings, but can't get married himself. A few months after it aired, New York legalized same-sex marriage.
Ho Yay: "Honeypot," "Double Deuce" and "The Wind Cries Mary" are drenched in it.
Archer, and considering the childhood he had, it's clear he has a heckova Freudian Excuse.
One example in particular is Archer's flashback to boarding school where he, as a young boy, sits alone in athletic sweats by an empty field, holding a lacrosse stick. That not even the kids at boarding school would play lacrosse with him was kind of heartwrenching.
To go further than that: being molested as a young child by someone claiming to be his father on his sixth birthday because his mother couldn't be bothered to be there and Woodhouse getting high on heroin in the bathroom, getting lost in New York at the age of nine because Malory couldn't be bothered to tell him she moved, getting breast cancer, his friend Ruth dying, his fiancé –as far as he knew– dying, her leaving him after finding out she's alive, just to name a few things.
Brett becomes this in "Stage Two", when Archer beats him senseless for making fun of his breast cancer.
Love to Hate: Malory. She's a bitchy, overbearing, promiscuous harpy, but is still entertaining for those exact reasons.
Barry, at least by the third season.
Magnificent Bastard: Gillette actually refers to Lana with this moniker after she explains her plan involving all the employees of ISIS getting bragging rights about sleeping with her...which they never actually get to do.
Security cameras filmed Archer switching blood samples to get out of the paternity suit over the Wee Baby Seamus. The test turned out positive anyway, so Barry altered the security footage and let Archer get nailed in court. And since Archer waived his rights...
Cyril, of all people, became a Magnificent Bastard (at least, temporarily) in the episode "El Contador".
In "Lo Scandalo", Malory kills the Italian prime minister, uses the ISIS staff's squick reaction to get them to dispose of the body without asking questions, and anonymously calls the cops on herself so they'll discount her as a potential suspect. And it is implied that the whole murder was part of a decades-long plot of revenge against said Italian prime minister for murdering a young man in the 1940's who may have been Archer's father.
In "Crossing Over", Barry becomes one when he finds and kills Jakov without breaking a sweat.
And Katya in "Viscous Coupling" when she uses Archer to take over as KGB head and build a ship for Barry to get back to earth.
Moral Event Horizon: As of the second episode of the second season Archer has put a faulty Russian Mind Control device in Len Trexler's brain and may have caused permanent brain damage. Even he feels bad about it.
The second season finale could be considered this for Barry when his attempted murder of Archer results in the death of Archer's fiancee Katya.
Malory crosses it in season 3 where she steals his car to "teach him a lesson". It's then revealed she also bought him a bike for his 8th birthday, then took it after seeing it laying on the sidewalk in front of their house - without ever actually telling him that it'd been her. There's a reason Archer is so messed up.
Krieger at the end of season 3, when he gives up the ISIS staff's location to Barry and hands over their medical records to the mutineers in exchange for repairs to his van.
Major Jakov crosses it in "Dial M for Mother", the season 1 finale, when he tries to brainwash Archer and turn him against Malory.
One True Pairing: Subverted on the show with Lana/Archer as far as Lana's hatred for Archer leading to her SHOOTING HIM TWICE and only getting him life-saving medical treatment after his mother OKed it.
Season Two has them start backpedaling a bit with Sterling/Lana. They sleep together again, and Sterling comes very, very close to telling her he loves her. Second season in general had a lot of Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments for Sterling and Lana... and only subverted about half of them.
There's a very subtle one, as well - Archer's ring-tone is "Mulatto Butts", and given the fact that Lana (in his opinion) is black-ish...
Season Four gets even heavier with the Sterling/Lana, up to and including their actually civil (if not outright caring) interactions in Sea Tunt: Part II after Lana reveals that she is pregnant. Oh, and Archer's last words as he drowns are "I love you"... probably.
Rodney, for being a one-note Obstructive Bureaucrat with nothing interesting about him. His scenes felt more like padding than anything else.
Pam has started to be heavily disliked in the fifth season due to her being heavily featured in nearly every episode, with the Running Gag of her cocaine addiction having been run into the ground and her causing the main problems in nearly every episode being seen as irritating rather than funny.
Strangled by the Red String: Barry and Katya get together because they're both cyborgs. Later episodes show that their relationship is dysfunctional and Katya still holds Archer in higher regards than Barry.
Squick: There is a lot of often-disturbing sexual activity/references in the show. This is bound to pop up at any time.
Sterling's attitude towards any sexual implications involving his mother.
Pray that you never learn or figure out what Lucas Troy revealed to Archer at the end of his episode. The final seconds of the episode are spent with the characters driving away with blank faces.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: One complaint about the season four premiere and finale is that they're too short and take forever to set up the plot, so they don't have enough time to develop the plot or the new characters.
In "Crossing Over" Archer bonds with Jakov, who's one of the potential candidates to be his father. In the episode Jakov is murdered by Barry while Archer is off goofing around. Archer is horrified to learn that Jakov was killed because he was screwing around instead of protecting him like he was supposed to. You think this might lead to an existential crisis like what he went through after Katya was killed, but he's back to his usual jackassery by the next episode.
What an Idiot: In "Crossing Over", Cyril kills an unarmed, subdued , cooperating KGB agent who was about to defect and give ISIS a full rundown of KGB operations, including Barry's master plan.
In the same episode, Cheryl takes Barry to the ISIS safehouse where Jakov is being housed in protective custody.
Noted by Lana to Cyril in "The Wind Cries Mary" in response to him dressing in orange clothing. He says so he won't accidentally be shot by hunters and she points out it makes him an easy target for the guy intentionally shooting at them.
Lucas Troy calls out Lana in the same episode for her spray and pray firing method while only ever carrying two magazines.
In "Sea Tunt Part II", when the ISIS agents are posing as a local news crew, Archer and Ray insist on giving themselves biographies that could be debunked with a 5 second Google or Wikipedia search.
Well, Archer did - Ray just wanted to tweak Archer's nose by putting his alter-ego higher than Archer's.
Pam proves she's Too Dumb to Live by buying amphetamines from the yazuka, with money she knew to be counterfeit, fully aware that she'd pay for her mistakes.
"Sometimes I think I should just run away! ...But who would take me in? No one, Woodhouse. No one."
Also Brett, Pigley, Pigley II and Goatley.
Archer is this in his childhood flashbacks.
In particular the one in Season 4 when it's shown that he used to love alligators... but grew to hate them after receiving a stuffed version from his biological father, whose face is never shown, and that memory got repressed.
Pam in the episodes where she is unappreciated and viewed as an Abhorrent Admirer by others.
Babou in most of his appearances.
Krieger's holographic girlfriend. Mostly played for laughs, though.