YMMV / Miss Saigon

  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: The entire musical can be seen as a metaphor for the relations between the West and developing countries. The West (Chris) promises a better life to the developing countries (Kim and the Engineer) only to end up abandoning them (either willfully or after being forced to do so).
  • Award Snub: The original production failing to win Best Musical (though it did garner acting awards for Lea Salonga and Jonathan Pryce) and the revival not winning for Best Revival or anything else.
  • Critical Research Failure: An interesting example, the Vietnamese phrase "bụi đời" means vagrants or street children. In the song Bui-Doi in Act 2, the lyricists have mistaken its meaning and are using it as a specific term for the Amerasian children of Vietnamese mothers and American GI fathers. Due to Popcultural Osmosis of Miss Saigon in the west, the term Bui-Doi is now in common use to refer to these children, but it is not used in that way in Vietnam.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: The Engineer is shameless and skeevy, but his charm is undeniable.
    • John, to a degree, for going through the most amount of character development. He's quite the jerk in the opening bar scene and a cold pragmatist during the rest of Act One (and "The Fall of Saigon"), whereas by Act Two he's working hard to help the bui-doi children, shows a great deal of kindness and sympathy towards Kim and (still pragmatic as ever) objects a great deal to Chris and Ellen's carefree attitude towards solving the Tam/Kim situation by simply providing monetary support. He's basically the moral compass of the second act.
  • Fridge Horror: If you think Chris was going through hell before—having nightmares/grappling with his troubled marriage/struggling with guilt over inadvertently abandoning Kim—what's he going to be like now? Especially bad considering that he was making strides towards putting his life together.
    • It's not just him: consider what Tam's life is going to be like. His mother had to kill herself to force his father to take him and raise him in America, his stepmother flat-out doesn't want him, and he probably won't have any memory of his real mother at all. And even though things were bad for bui doi in Vietnam (case in point: Thuy trying to stab Tam for existing), America wasn't exactly free of Half-Breed Discrimination at the time either. This kid's most likely got a rough life ahead of him.
      • At least in the 25th anniversary version of the show Ellen says she has no problem with the idea of raising Tam, it's the fact that he comes with a mother who loves Ellen's husband that makes her object. As the show ends she holds her stepson in her arms and seems to want to protect him.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Jonathan Pryce originated the role of the Engineer, whose most memorable moment is probably the song "The American Dream". Twenty years later in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Pryce played the American President, which is probably the ultimate American dream, fulfilled.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: The makers of the musical realised early on that the helicopter sequence was a huge selling point, so much so that the helicopter is the musical's logo on posters and promotional material.
  • Misaimed Marketing: This can probably be said about the decision to allow amateur theatre groups and high schools to stage their own versions of the musical.
  • Narm: The character of Chris. A good actor will usually be able to avert this but with a bad actor this will almost certainly happen.
    • Kim's "I have a heart like the sea/ A million dreams are in me," bit falls squarely into this territory, although most soldiers but Chris seem to realize it.
    • In the 25th anniversary performance, AKA the one available on DVD, the scene where Chris leads Ellen off stage to tell her about Kim has him uttering a dramatic "fuck" under his breath, which manages to come off hilarious and out of place.
    • Chris also gets a narmy line in, which most productions have John lampshade.
      Chris: She is no whore. You saw her, too. She's really more - like the April moon.
      John: April fucking moon?
  • Narm Charm: The musical can fall prey to this trope yet it's still utterly fantastic, watchable and will probably have you sobbing at the end. Chris is sometimes the most/only narmy one, especially during the song "Why God, Why?"; even its title sounds narmy.
    • It also depends on how well he can pull off that Big "NO!" at the end. Some actors are terrific, others have you stifling your laughter or even cringing.
  • Nightmare Fuel: When Thuy finds Kim, he sings a touching song to the one family member he has left in his life and has spent the last three years searching for. But when he finds out about Tam? That goes right out the window and he prepares to stab Tam, an innocent little boy whose only crime was to have an American father.
  • The Scrappy: It's hard to find a fan of the show who doesn't hate Ellen, seeing her as the reason Chris and Kim can't reunite and why Chris isn't willing to take Tam (his and Kim's son) back to America with him. There's also the timing problem with her marriage to Chris - he's been back Stateside 3 years, one of which was taken up by his Heroic B.S.O.D. ("spoke to no one for a year",) and they've been married 2 years. When exactly did they date?
  • Signature Scene: The helicopter.