* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation: Did Nolan fire Keating [[spoiler: after Neil's suicide]] because he honestly believed he was responsible for it? Or was it an act of damage control to save the school's reputation? Or did he just use the incident as an excuse to get rid of him and his unorthodox teaching methods?
* DesignatedVillain: Principal Nolan has some of this, the movie setting him up as the uber-conformist, stuffy-conservative [[StopHavingFunGuys "Stop Having Fun" Guy]] opposite Mr. Keating's free-spirited CoolTeacher. While he ''is'' a jerk from time to time, most of the time he's just doing his job as principal of the school; the rest of the time, he's espousing beliefs or values that clash with the message of "Carpe Diem", which is hardly ''his'' fault. About the worst thing he does is fire Mr. Keating following the scandal caused by [[spoiler:Neil killing himself]] -- and even then, it's an act of damage control, not motivated by spite or cruelty.
* HarsherInHindsight: Mr. Keating breaking down in tears after he discovers that [[spoiler: Neil killed himself]] is a thousand times worse to watch since Creator/RobinWilliams committed suicide.
** It also makes Mr. Keating's speeches about "carpe diem" and seizing the day before it's gone ''heartbreaking''.
** The film's final scene has Keating's students giving him a touching send-off, showing their appreciation for everything he's taught them. This is now almost impossible to watch without feeling like a send-off for Williams rather than his character. However, it could be considered HeartwarmingInHindsight, since they're showing how much he meant to them.
* HoYay: Neil and Todd. It's virtual canon, to the point that most of the fanfiction circles on them.
* HilariousInHindsight:
** Neil does, in fact, [[Series/{{House}} end up as a doctor]].
** A [[RetroactiveRecognition young]] [[Series/TheGoodWife Will Gardner]] vying for the affection of a girl in a serious relationship with a popular guy. (Got somewhat HarsherInHindsight after [[spoiler:[[McLeaned Willís death]], by ''gunshot'', to boot]], in season 5.)
* ItWasHisSled: [[spoiler:Neil]]'s death.
* JerkassHasAPoint: Keating's antics don't go over well with the school administration and teachers. He has at least two conversations about this during the course of the film. While the audience is set up to believe their adherence to tradition and conformity are a bad thing, both conversations drive the point home. "Free thinkers at seventeen? Teach them to learn and the rest will follow." A prep school education is designed to send the young men on to college, and trying to be an artist will only end in disappointment.
* LauncherOfAThousandShips: Charlie is paired with nearly everyone in fanfiction, mostly under the logic that he probably wouldn't object.
* MemeticMutation: The "carpe diem" speech got a ''lot'' of play on Tumblr in the wake of Robin Williams' death.
** Not to mention "O, Captain! My Captain!"
* MoralEventHorizon:
** Neil's father [[spoiler:driving his son to suicide, albeit inadvertently]].
** Cameron was always TheFriendNobodyLikes but [[spoiler: selling out the whole club just to save his own skin?]]
* {{Narm}}: The BigNo is ruined by the slow motion and [[spoiler:Neil's father being played by Kurtwood Smith from ''That70sShow'']]. You can ''almost'' hear him screaming "[[spoiler:NEIL, YOU DUMBASS!!!]]"
** Well, [[HilariousInHindsight that last part wasn't exactly their fault]].
* SignatureScene: The ending where the students stand on their desks to salute Keating.
* TheWoobie: Both Neil and Todd.
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