These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Anvilicious: For better or for worse, the creator's thoughts on capital punishment and prison reform are made painfully obvious in quite a few episodes. The fact that Governor Devlin is a pretty blatant Straw Character based on mid-late 90's Republican governors doesn't exactly help.
Best Known for the Fanservice: The way people talk about the show you'd think the whole series was just a looping 30 minute clip of a man getting raped in the showers after dropping his soap.
Better on DVD: While the arcs and loads of characters are easier to follow on DVD, the repetitive setting can get old quickly when watching a lot of episodes in a row...or put you in the right mood to take it all in.
Foe Yay: Schillinger, Beecher, and Keller tend to have a triangle of this - lampshaded with Beecher and Schillinger in their song duet in "Variety",
A general intimidation tactic by Adebisi, with the implication of rape (see "Never live it down" below), seen with Beecher, Said, and Peter Schibetta — which comes to a brutal end when Adebisi rapes Schibetta.
Hilarious in Hindsight: CO Armstrong's helping a Christian inmate destroy the printing press that the Muslim inmates were using for a prison industry business, on orders of a rival business/gang leader, and his line "I guess this is one of those times you don't ask "What Would Jesus Do?"." The actor playing Armstrong, Tim Brown, is an ex-NYC firefighter and one of the main dissenting voices in the debate over whether to allow the building of a Mosque near WTC ground zero.
Jerkass Woobie: A Trademark of the series. Every character is loathsome but is invested with a story or acting performance to show that They are still human and have suffered Their own tragedies. Schillinger stands out the most. He's crossed the Moral Event Horizon God knows how many times but J.K. Simmons' acting is so good and the writing is strong enough that he can still be sympathetic while ordering the deaths of children.
Other examples are: Dino Ortolani, Donald Groves, Miguel Alvarez, Nino Schibetta, Peter Schibetta, Jefferson Keene, Andrew Schillinger, Chris Keller, Burr Redding, James Robson and Shirley Bellinger.
Mind Game Ship: Chris Keller/Tobias Beecher. Ryan with whomever he is manipulating, to an extent.
Moral Event Horizon: Hoo Boy.. Schillinger and Ryan O'Reily both could fit a whole page with this.
Beecher's manipulation of Andrew (who was a jerk) would normally count, but doesn't because Beecher's responsibility is a bit cloudy, and the realization of his contributions causes Beecher to feel genuinely guilty.
Kenny crossed it in the Season 2 finale when he killed Jara. Before then, Kenny was starting to go through Character Development and actually seemed like he could redeem himself. But when Season 3 started, he became an irritating and despicable punk with a stupid nickname who only cared about himself.
In general, played with. While many appear to have crossed theirs (Keane, Adebisi and William Cudney being some examples) by virtue of the crimes they committed, the show's themes of morality and redemption work it in such a way that they are not as evil as they may have been portrayed otherwise. While most cross theirs while in prison (Schillinger, Robson and Keller to name a few), they are never explicitly viewed as beyond any redemption.
Narm: Thy name is Cyril O'Reilly, especially in later seasons. The forced tender moments start seeming ridiculous when his death count reaches 4 or so.
Often Hill's narrations verge on this.
Narm Charm: The series has tendency towards the melodramatic and can feel over-stylized at times... but most of the drama is compelling enough to make it work.
Never Live It Down: Once someone is raped, he's forever a "prag," and while he can earn some respect, he can have no real power in the social order unless he, personally, kills his rapist. If the rapist has left Oz or died some other way, then that's just too bad for the victim.
The show itself is mostly remember in pop culture as being "that show with prison rape" and not for much else.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Robson. After the gum incident at the end of Season 5, he became a prag. From that point on, Robson Took a Level in Kindness (no, really) and was the center of a realistic subplot involving prison rape. Robson alone managed to redeem himself, and made Season 6 much more tolerable compared to Season 5.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: One can forgive the writers for not wanting to touch this with a 39 and a half foot pole, but a plot where Said and the other Muslims face increased discrimination in the wake of 9/11 would have been potentially brilliant, especially since Oz was one of the only shows running during the attacks to feature prominent Muslim characters.
Trapped by Mountain Lions: Most prominent in Seasons 2 (Ryan's breast cancer, Giles) and Season 5 (Alvarez and the dog training program, Omar's singing).
The Woobie: Beecher, Cyril, occasionally Alvarez, and Diane.
Also Father Mukada, sent to Oz because he questioned the conservative views of his powerful church patron, is clearly out of his depth in the madness and brutality of a maximum security prison.
Omar White could count as well, considering the fact that Mcmanus decides to stop giving him chances very soon after he actually begins earnestly heading in the right direction, and sends him back to solitary begging for forgiveness.
Eugene Dobbins. All he did while in Oz was play his cello and entertain everyone, and he became close friends with Augustus. But after his cello is destroyed simply because Vahue was angry, Eugene distances himself from everyone (including Hill) and just watches TV. And during the riot in Season 1, he's stabbed multiple times for no reason and ends up bleeding to death, despite Hill's desperate attempts to save him.
Guillaume Tarrant, while only appearing in a couple of episodes, could be considered one of the most tragic characters: Sent to a maximum security prison because of a minor crime (destroying a statue at a museum), he is instantly targeted by the stronger inmates (particularly Wangler). Then, he is manipulated by Adebisi into killing his tormentors, and commits suicide afterwards.