- Anvilicious: Never trust your children.
- Harsher in Hindsight: The film was made around the time that Joan Crawford's career was in the toilet and her relationship with her adopted children was turning particularly abusive. The film Mommie Dearest however plays the irony as "Hilarious in Hindsight", complete with the scene where the kids are made to watch Joan and her personal assistant practice the scene where Joan slaps Ann Blyth over and over again.....
- The Scrappy: Veda in the original film version.
- The Woobie: Kay. Mildred in the 2011 mini-series.
- Unfortunate Implications: A popular interpretation of the Mildred Pierce story has been that Mildred should never have gotten into the world of business and that her fall from grace was karma catching up with her.