- Alternate Character Interpretation: Word of God may have said that Clyde is supposed to be impotent, but the movie never states so and his entire sexual behaviour comes across much more like Asexuality. (For example: Why doesn't he try to please the very frustrated Bonnie in other ways than penetrative sex, if he is sexually attracted to her but just suffers from ED? How come his supposed chronic physical problem just spontaneously resolves itself in the end without comment? Why does he act so very awkward when they first try to have sex, and doesn't give himself more than a few seconds time to react to Bonnie's touch before giving up?) Considering this was made in the 60s and the general expectation of A Man Is Always Eager, it's entirely possible that the writer based Clyde's behaviour on somebody who actually was asexual, but who he thought must be impotent. Or that Word of God actually meant "unwilling to have sex" but didn't have a better word for it, in the same way that asexual women were called "frigid".
Clyde: I might as well tell you right off: I ainít much of a lover boy. That donít mean nothing personal about you. I meanÖ IÖ I never saw no percentage in it.
- And You Thought It Would Fail: Warner Bros. wasn't expecting the film to work at all, but it was a megahit and helped change the way filmmakers would depict violence in future works.
- Audience-Coloring Adaptation: Virtually all mainstream knowledge of the historical Bonnie and Clyde is from this film, despite the various liberties it takes with the two. There's been some attempts to make a more historically true film about the pair, but they are at best stuck in Development Hell.
- Award Snub: Losing out on nearly all of the major Oscar categories, despite the recognition it received by (some) critics as an innovator for the cinematic landscape. Additionally, it failed to even earn a nomination for Best Film Editing.
- Critical Dissonance: Despite being such a huge success, most critics were repulsed by the film's violence and romanticization of the titular outlaws. One of the few critics that lauded the film, Pauline Kael, quit the New Republic newspaper when they refused to publish her review.
- Damsel Scrappy: The movie version of Blanche, at least in the estimation of her real-life counterpart—she was quoted as saying that "That movie made me look like a screaming horse's ass."
- Draco in Leather Pants: Audiences came out of the film rooting for the bad guys against the cops and their victims. The film-makers were fully trying to invoke this trope:
Bonnie and Clyde were out of their time in the 30s...If Bonnie and Clyde were here today, they would be hip. Their values have become assimilated in much of our culture — not robbing banks and killing people, of course, but their style, their sexuality, their bravado, their delicacy, their cultivated arrogance, their narcissistic insecurity, their curious ambition have relevance to the way we live now. Of course, what makes them beautiful is they didnít know it...They are not Crooks...They are people, and this film is, in many ways, about whatís going on now.— Screenwriters Robert Benton and David Newman, of Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde, excerpted from Mark Harris' Pictures of a Revolution.
- Ensemble Darkhorse:
- C.W. Moss became a popular enough character to earn Michael J. Pollard a bit of a cult following. There was even a tongue-in-cheek campaign to draft him as a presidential candidate in 1968.
- Gene Wilder in his film debut as the dorky undertaker who gets his car stolen by the Barrow gang made a strong impression with just a few minutes of screen time.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: With all due respect to Splendor in the Grass, the role of the bank robbing Clyde was Warren Beatty's big claim to fame. About three decades later he would take on the role of one of pop culture's most famous fictional lawmen in Dick Tracy.
- Older Than They Think: This was actually the second biographical film about the couple, after 1958's The Bonnie Parker Story, where she teams up with "Guy Darrow" and his gang. Likewise, films on the Outlaw Couple trope inspired by the duo include Fritz Lang's You Only Live Once and Joseph H. Lewis' B-Movie classic Gun Crazy. The latter film features much of the Freudian subtext between guns and sex in this film, and indeed FranÁois Truffaut made the film's screenwriters watch that film during his brief involvement during pre-production. There was also Edward Anderson's 1937 novel Thieves Like Us, which was adapted by Nicholas Ray in 1948 as They Live By Night (and remade under the novel's title by Robert Altman in 1974).
- Retroactive Recognition: Gene Wilder in his film debut as the male half of the couple that B&C capture.
- Special Effect Failure: Most of the driving scenes feature Obvious Blue Screen.
- Vindicated by History: The violent demise of the title two characters was considered a dealbreaker for a number of critics at the time the movie was released, who argued that the film glorified violence. Not too long after, the sheer brutality of the scene instead became praised for its audacity, and the other aspects of the film were viewed in a more positive light.