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.
- Fountain of Memes: As the films basically codified the post-apocalyptic genre, it naturally inspired loads of pop-culture catchphrases.
- Hell Is That Noise: The cry of a crow is always a bad sign.
- 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.
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.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Even though Johnny the Boy clearly deserves some punishment, his is by far the most cruel of the ones Max doled out to Toecutter's cronies: Johnny's faced with a horrible Sadistic Choice, while his much, much guiltier gang mates get a rather swift death.
- 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.
- 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.