YMMV / Diff'rent Strokes

  • Accidental Innuendo: In "Father and Son Day", Kimberly's cheer about Mr. Drummond includes the line "Give me a big fat 'D'", followed by a joke by Arnold about her getting her "big fat 'D'" off the ground. In Arnold's case, "D" probably stood for "derriere", but hearing the line from Kimberly, you get the idea that "D" stands for "dick".
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: ...
    • Gary Coleman died from a brain hemorrhage, which could be termed as a FAM. A brain hemorrhage is also a type of stroke, making the show's title a FAM as well.
    • The episode "Little Mother", where Kimberly's childhood friend learns she's pregnant involves a misunderstanding where the boys mistake Kimberly herself for pregnant. Several seasons later, Dana Plato was fired when the writers refused to incorporate her own pregnancy into the show.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: "The Bicycle Man" is even tougher to watch once you've learned that Todd Bridges was preyed upon by a pedophile publicist in Real Life when he was 11.
    • The live studio audience laughing at the titular Bicycle Man's advances before it was outright revealed he was a pedophile. Not helped since some of the dialogue seems tailor-made to seem uncomfortable in hindsight.
    Mr. Horton: What's the old saying? You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours?
    Arnold: You keep coming up with these presents and you can scratch me all over!
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In a lot of episodes to get Arnold's attention they yell Hey Arnold!.
    • This isn't the last time Pearl the housekeeper's actress is on a show with a character named Pearl. She doesn't play the character in the latter show though.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?"
  • Never Live It Down: "The Bicycle Man".
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Andrew "Dice" Clay appeared in two episodes as a classmate of Willis'.
    • Peter DeLuise appeared in the show's final episode "The Front Page" as a steroid-abusing athlete at Arnold's school.
    • Stephen Dorff appeared in the episode "Sam Adopts a Grandparent" as a member of Sam's scout troop.
    • Robin Givens played an old girlfriend of Willis' in the episode "The Big Bribe".
    • Jason Hervey appeared in the show's final season as Arnold's friend Charlie.
    • Anne-Marie Johnson appeared in the episode "Undercover Lover" as an undercover cop at Willis' school.
    • Future Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker appears in "Bully for Arnold" as the aforementioned bully.
  • Squick: In "Sam's Father", Pearl is infatuated with Sam's father, Wes. When Maggie jokes that Wes' horse can autograph her copy of Wes' album, Pearl comments "I bet his horse is sexy, too."
  • Values Dissonance: The whole premise of a couple inner-city black kids being "saved" by a kindly, paternalistic, rich old white guy may well provide this for some viewers.
    • Certain episode plots or events within the plot may be this for some viewers. "The Spanking" from Season 1 is a biggie, considering today's attitudes regarding corporal punishment. A lighter example occurs late in the show, when Maggie scolds Sam for wetting his bed. The family doctor later explains this was the wrong way to handle the situation, but it's still disconcerting, especially since Phillip reassures Maggie that she technically did nothing wrong. A plethora of similar examples exist.
  • Values Resonance: On the opposite token, the scene where everyone discusses the Aesop of The Bicycle Man has Willis express surprise that Mr. Horton is "gay." The detective who busted Mr. Horton bluntly but politely tells him that there's a major world of difference between gays and pedophiles. In a decade that wasn't particularly gay-friendly, that was a very important lesson for the masses to learn, even if it wasn't the focus of the episode. It also averted the common Stranger Danger tropes by having the titular child molester be someone Arnold and Dudley had been on friendly terms with for some time before making his move, and gradually manipulating them towards having his way rather than come out of nowhere.