The entire series:
- Broken Base: While many fans like the third film the least, critics like Roger Ebert have declared it the best of the original trilogy.
- Fanon Discontinuity: While the sequels are much better known outside of Australia than the original, most fans consider the third film the weakest of the original trilogy. Beyond Thunderdome does, on the other hand, skew toward being a Guilty Pleasure emblematic of mid-1980s science fiction, and it's the one that's generated the most well-known pop-cultural phrases.
- Follow the Leader: Responsible for a slew of low-grade post-apocalypse sci-fi movies during The '80s.
- Fountain of Memes: As the films basically codified the post-apocalyptic genre, it naturally inspired loads of pop-culture catchphrases.
- Genre Popularizer: For the Scavenger World genre.
- Harsher in Hindsight: Weeellllll... As Moviebob puts it;
...well, it’s the future, we’ve almost run out of oil but instead of being in any way responsible about that we’ve basically let the entire planet go to shit except for all the gas-guzzling jacked-up cars on which we now rely more than ever and… egh, look, back in the 80s this sounded like ca-raaazy Science Fiction instead of an eventuality potentially only ONE more Bush Administration away.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Mel Gibson playing a burnt out cop whose wife was murdered.
- "Holy Shit!" Quotient: The chase scenes in the sequel movies up the ante on automotive chaos. Fury Road in particular is almost nothing but a chase scene that keeps on building in intensity for the entire film.
- Star Trek Movie Curse: Downplayed, as all of the movies are generally well-liked. However, the even numbered entries, Road Warrior and Fury Road, are widely regarded as masterpieces and classics of the action genre. The odd numbered entries are a bit more contested. The general rule seems to be if the Interceptor appears, it's a good film. If it's destroyed, it's an awesome film.
The first film:
- Alternate Character Interpretation: While most viewers take it for granted that Max's wife is mortally wounded in the end of the first film, it's actually not certain. The doctor states that she's "salvageable" in spite of her catastrophic injuries. This puts Max's Roaring Rampage of Revenge in a different light, given that he might actually have a critically injured wife still alive and counting on him to survive. The sequels wipe this away by making Max's entire family unambiguously dead, giving him truly nothing to lose. And of course the fact that the bikers who killed his family were complete scum.
- Anti-Climax Boss: The Toecutter, as all it takes to finish him off is chase him down until he gets run over by a truck.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: The film was meant to show the dangers of reckless driving.
- Harsher in Hindsight:
- Max suffering a nervous breakdown from the tragedy in his life becomes harder to watch in light of Mel Gibson's own real life personal problems.
- Plus his speech about how worried he is about becoming just as bad as the criminals he fights.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- Ho Yay: Mudguts and Cundalini are introduced waltzing together in the street, are rarely seen apart, and Mudguts keeps Cundalini protectively close after the latter loses his hand.
- Paranoia Fuel: Max goes on vacation to take a break from the criminals who are slowly causing him to lose his sanity. And they follow him.
- It's Short, So It Sucks: Zig-zagged. While it has a typical 90 minute run time, a common criticism of the first movie is that the good stuff doesn't really start until the very end. Lindsey Ellis described it as "a feature-length act 1."
- Misaimed Fandom: While it was meant to show the dangers of reckless driving, the hoons and rev-heads who saw it felt that their lifestyles had been validated.
- Vindicated by History: With the success of its sequels, Mad Max has been hailed as a sci-fi classic and a major example of what can be done on a low budget if the film crew is talented enough.