The book and the movie
- Awesome Music: "It all runs together" playing at the very end when Marley is put down. Marley's death aside, any pet owner who experienced putting their dog down likely shed a tear listening to this track thinking of their own dog (or another beloved animal for that matter.)
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Reading the part with Marley struggling to behave for his brief film role in the 1996 film The Last Home Run and John enjoying their time in the spotlight becomes this when both Marley's book and film gained considerably more fame than The Last Home Run did.
- A mixture of this and heartwarming: when the film was in production, John decided to keep Woodson, one of the Labrador retriever puppies that was used to play puppy Marley.
- It Was His Sled: Marley gets put down in the end.
- Narm: A lot of Owen Wilson's acting can come off as this. As one critic put it:
Brace yourselves, everyone, for the emotional final scene, when Marley faces the final curtain in the vet's treatment room, with blond, bland Owen at his side. And in the cinema, all of us tough, cynical critics had tears welling in our eyes, swallowing hard; our lips, so often curled in a cheap sneer, were now trembling, because of the same desperately sad thought: "Owen Wilson used to be really good ..."
- Spiritual Successor: To Old Yeller.
- Tear Jerker: Especially if you've had dogs. Doubly so if you had to put it down or it died in some way.
- The Other Darrin : Multiple dogs play the part of Marley, which is common in Hollywood because often each dog performs a different trick (running, chewing, barking, etc.), and because Marley is shown as a puppy, an adult, and a senior dog. However, they don't even TRY to disguise the very different looking Retrievers who play Marley, resulting in a jarringly different appearance between the adult and senior dogs.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: According to Grogan, he got a lot of dirty looks from parents who bought the book for their kids expecting a happy dog story. He eventually allowed child-friendly versions focusing more on the doggy antics.
- The Woobie: Marley becomes one in his later years.
- WTH, Casting Agency?: For some, casting Owen Wilson as John Grogan.
The Puppy Years sequel
- Special Effects Failure: Very shoddy CG used.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Was obviously trying to cash in on the Air Buddies movies considering how much more childish and slapstick it is. Lacking any of the charm and heart of the previous entry.