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.
Kyousuke Kamijou: Is he a stuck-up, painfully Oblivious to Love douchebag who values his musical ability more than his friends, or similar to Sayaka, a Broken Bird who's been denied his life's dream and sees himself as useless (especially since Japan has somewhat less societal tolerance for the disabled), or a little of both?
Similar to Hitomi, his actions in the PSP game have exacerbated this debate, after he finds outwhat the MG process did to Sayaka, and calls her a "disgusting monster" to her face... On the other hand, the Bonus Route goes the opposite end, with him approving of Sayaka being a Magical Girl.
Not to mention that A Different Story shows that had Sayaka waited just a few more days, Kyousuke would have at least thanked her for all the time she had spent taking care of him at the hospital, admitting that he should've done it sooner.
There is a hefty fandom subset that believes Kyubey planned out the entire ending despite the fact that it goes completely against his character of being canonically emotionless and thus having no sympathy at all for the magical girls that are turned into witches. He even mentions that witches would be a more convenient way to collect energy for him
Kyubey isn’t the devil. Kyubey is the society we live in, which takes up and preys on young girls at vulnerable times in their lives, and asks them to be perfect. Society asks girls to fight against evil, the icky, awful, and impure, and it keeps asking until we say yes. Yes to being beautiful, and perfect, and good, and pure, and sweet, yes to being a nice young lady, yes to fighting everything that is bad and evil and dangerous - to fighting the things that threaten us and our friends.
Except there’s a catch. We’re fighting ourselves. What they don’t tell you, society, or Kyubey in this metaphor, is that there is no way to prevent yourself from becoming what you started out fighting. You lose, in this scenario, every time. At some point, a young, “emotionally volatile” girl grows up and becomes a woman. One day, you hit puberty, or maybe you haven’t yet, and someone leers at you, or looks at you wrong, or calls after you and you are suddenly made aware of the fact that being a woman is dangerous. Growing up means something incredibly different for girls than it does boys.
The ending made some people thrilled for being the most perfect ending that absolutely fits the themes and tones of the series and left others wanting to kill Shaft for making a non Grim Dark cop-out ending and Madoka being a Jesus figure and making them wait weeks for it.
Mami/Charlotte is just a little too popular. With the number of fanarts with them having tea party together easily overwhelming that of those "following the story", this is kind of to be expected. But even Ume Aoki seems to ship them!
Mami/Kyoko is a popular pairing that used to be considered crack, because they never met during the story proper. In fact it is not: the 3rd Drama CD shows that Kyoko and Mami used to be very close friends before Kyoko's family tragedy occurred. Kyoko's turn to cynicism caused their friendship to break. And then came The Different Story...
There's also Mami/Homura, despite the fact that both girls have little in common. Like Mami and Kyouko's case, Homura and Mami were on friendly terms... until Mami snapped and tried to kill Homura, followed soon by a Break the Cutie moment that turned her into a cynic like Kyoko.
There is far too much official artwork pairing Mami with her precious friend. It does free up the other couples, but...
Designated Protagonist Syndrome: Madoka is subjected to this, mainly because she's a more or less ordinary girl (until the finale, where she ascends to godhood) in a cast of Badass magical girls with dark backstories and/or character arcs.
Die for Our Ship: A portion of the fanbase now despises Hitomi for confessing to Kamijo and, unbeknownst to her, completely breaking Sayaka mentally and emotionally. Not to mention turning her into a witch, killing her and the person who Mercy Killed her. Especially full of misogynistic Unfortunate Implications because the major part of her haters insist on how Hitomi's whole worth and goodness as a person relies solely on renouncing to her own happiness.
The way the fandom treats Kyoko is not nearly as bad as how they act with some of the actual witches. It's somewhat understandable now given The Reveal about witches being fallen magical girls, but the fans were Moe-ifying Charlotte (i.e., the witch who ate Mami alive) long before any of that.
Mami. She's only alive for three episodes, (and makes several cameos in alternate timelines), but she's well-liked by fans due to her sexiness, badassery and really awesome theme. She even went on to win Saimoe 2011 (a tournament of the most Moe characters of anime in the recent times), directly beating Kyouko and Madoka from this series, and other popular characters like Ika Musume, Shirayuki Hotogi and Mikan Yuuki.
Out of all the witches, Charlotte, who has a respectable amount of fanart despite appearing for all of two minutes. Even though she's an Eldritch Abomination, many fans find her adorable; having a face that wouldn't look out of place next to Hello Kitty helps with that. The biggest reason for her popularity though is likely her status as the Knight of Cerebus — most of the artwork of her is with Mami, albeit usually under a more benign setting. Also, with the revelation that witches are corrupted magical girls, there's now fanart popping up depicting what Charlotte might have looked like as a human.
Kyubey's face shows up in the strangest of places in Japan — namely arcades and price tags for stuff in specialty stores -, not quite rivaling Tony Tony Chopper's popularity in that respect but getting there. A curious case considering he is the closest thing to the series' main villain
A nameless, faceless classmate was the subject of an image macro, captioned "Poorfag is poor", because she was the only student who had no laptop. When the Blu-rays were released and the fans got a better look of "Poorfag", her popularity soared.
Esoteric Happy Ending: the series ends with Madoka being the Abstract Apotheosis for Hope, changing the Magical Girl system for the better and creating a new universe with no Witches, so that the Incubators have no incentive to hide anything from magical girl candidates, and so magical girls make their sacrifices with full and knowing consent. Everything seems to be okay, right? Well... not exactly. First, the only thing Madoka changed in the system was that they won't become Witches, which means that they are still subject to have their souls being transformed into a fragile Soul Gem. Second, She didn't change much to everyone's lives. Mami's parents are still dead, Kyouko's family are still killed, and Sayaka still got screwed over in the Love Triangle with Kyousuke. Third, instead of becoming Witches, the Magical Girls simply fade away, being whisked by Madoka and thus leaving behind no body. Lastly, Madoka retconned herself, which was the opposite of what Homura wanted, and thus she failed her goal in saving Madoka. There could be hope for Homura as it's implied in the anime (and downright confirmed in the manga) that she would be reunited with Madoka.
Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Madoka sacrifices herself for the humanity in the final episode that first aired on Good Friday. And the logical conclusion is..?
Actually, the final two episodes were delayed in release in respect of the tsunami that left some of Japan looking rather like some of the endings of timelines in episode 10; that episode airing the same day. So, this actually is coincidence. A double coincidence you might say.
Family Unfriendly Aesop: When Madoka gets worried about Sayaka's well-being due to the latter's strong sense of justice, Madoka's mother tells her to do something wrong to balance it out. While the qualifier she adds makes it valid advice (that it's easier to recover from mistakes while you're still young, and learning to pick yourself up will be a valuable skill as an adult), this advice might be what possessed Madoka to snatch Sayaka's Soul Jar and throw it off a bridge above a freeway.
Fan Yay: While PMMM is popular with yuri fans of all genders and sexualities, it seems to have picked up an unusually large fandom of lesbian and bi/pansexual women. This may be because the relationships between the heroines are treated seriously, with Les Yay used for drama and plot advancement much more than it's used as fanservice.
In Episode 10, the Sayaka in a previous timeline asks if Homura can use any weapons other than bombs because she thinks she might get caught up in one of the explosions. Later in that timeline, guess how Witch!Sayaka is defeated?
In a more Meta example, Episode 10 featured the image of a destroyed and flooded Japanese city. Shortly after it aired, Japan got hit with a massive earthquake and tsunami.
Over late October and early November 2012, history repeats itself, as the International release of the Madoka compilation movies sees the US hit by Hurricane Sandy. Ouch.
Kazuko's wackyramblings about her failed relationships. In the first episode she warns the girls about men who judge women by the eggs they can prepare. Incubator turns out to be exactly that kind of guy. In episode 4 she goes off on a tangent about biological eligibility having nothing to do with finding or pursuing love. Unfortunately Sayaka is in no state to listen and only gets worse.
It's also possible that, in light of what happens to Sayaka, her frustration, instead of something to be taken lightly, might actually be a symptom of deep depression.
Not to mention outright quotes, and symbols referencing Faust.
Genius Bonus: This show is crammed full of it, from the Shout Outs to obscure 19th century literature and musicians, mythological references, Faust quotes, and coded runic fonts. Sometimes you even have to pause and zoom in on a tiny portion of a frame to find some of them.
Physicists will laugh when they realize that Kyubey is Maxwell's Demon.
魔法少女. Mahou Shoujo. Magical Girl, right? Lets examine this. 少女: Shoujo, which means girl. 魔法. Mahou, which means magic, right? Not exactly — it means "Evil Spirit" + Method", typically meaning Magic in General. But if you take it one step further, you get 魔女. Evil Spirit + Woman. Majo. Witch.
Kyubey: "Since this country calls women who are still growing up a shoujo (少女 girl), for girls who on the way of becoming majo (魔女 witch), it's logical to call them a mahou shoujo (魔法少女 magical girl)."
It gets even more obvious when you realize the choice of Latin — Magical Girl — was originally believed to be a misuse of the words, due to the translation coming across as more akin to "Sorcerer's Girl". And indeed - they're being used.
The outside of Homura's house is rather reminiscent of a locale in the video game Shadow Of Destiny. Some ome of the possible titles used before they settled on the final one were The Day and Night of Walpurgisnacht, Days of Walpurgis, and Time Adventure. Sounds like a regular Shout Out, no? Well, the game is about a man who travels back in time to prevent his death multiple times, which it turns out is very similar to what Homura is trying to do with Madoka.
The witch Oktavia von Seckendorff who was once Sayaka. Her name comes from Karl Siegmund von Seckendorff, who composed for "Der König in Thule", the poem that appears in Goethe's Faust, as well as wrote a book called "Das Rad des Schicksals" (The Wheel of Fate). Oktavia fights by throwing wheels, and the word "Schicksal" appears in her labyrinth. Also, the Wheel of Fate (or Fortune) is a tarot card which symbolizes "possibilities, opportunities, new developments, sudden changes"; a rather apt description of Sayaka's life after meeting Kyubey.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: One of the only magical girl series that has managed to get a decent sized fandom in America. On a character level, Homura is really well received in the US (and for Higurashi fans).
Hilarious in Hindsight: Before the last two episodes were aired in Japan, one fan decided to make a trailer for a Madoka Magica movie in the style of an actual film trailer (Watch it here). Months later, well...
There is a doujin involving Mami being saved from her gruesome death by Guts (it's in the Fan Fic Recommendations page). Cue the English dub cast, it's announced that Mami will be voiced by Carrie Keranen, Casca's voice actress.
April 21, 2011: Episode 11 airs. Homura, having previously stolen a few truckloads of Type 88 antiship missiles from the JGSDF, fires them off at Walpurgisnacht.
April 21, 2011: In Real Life, the JGSDF's 6th Surface-to-Ship Missile Regiment, which uses Type 88 missiles, is disbanded.
Holy Shit Quotient: Almost every episode will leave you off with an unstable mind trying to comprehend what just happened.
Hype Backlash / Angst Aversion: Knowing that the show is going to be a tragedy series can easily put people off, and if you aren't a fan of those kinds of stories, you aren't going to like this series as much as it fans will.
Hearing all the hype about this series as a Deconstruction of magical girls can be annoying to people that have already watched series that have done that, on top of people who find deconstruction very irritating in the first place.
Idiot Plot: So much grief could have been avoided if the girls were more willing to talk things out with each other, and above all, ask questions.
Jerkass Woobie: Kyoko. Her father founded a new church, but the general public dismissed his teachings as heretical, so Kyoko used her wish to brainwash the crowd into believing in her father's religion. After he found out about this, he became crazyand killed the whole family. Probably the only reason Kyoko survived was because she was Lich by that time. Yep, she had to live through a LOT of shit in her life... but it still doesn't justify how much of an ass she was at the beginning. And neither does it excuse how she's used to bash Madoka.
Sayaka's witch form is a mermaid, Kyoko's magical weapon is a harpoon spear, make of that what you might. Also, in the episode Kyoko took Sayaka down with her, the episode-end guest-image is a Cat Girl Kyoko.
Moral Event Horizon: The fandom is divided on when he becomes an Acceptable Target of much fan hatred (the infamous 'Everybody hates Kyubey' pool in Danbooru (NSFW) standing as eternal proof of this), but the most commonly believed Moral Event Horizon crossings are either when he mislead Kyoko into believing that Sayaka could be saved after turning into a witch, leading to her Heroic Sacrifice and leaving Homura as the only Puella Magi to fight Walpurgisnacht - all in hopes that Madoka would contract with him, or his casually delivered line asking Madoka to give his kind a call when she'd be ready to die for the universe.
Kyouko's father killing his entire family after finding out that his older daughter's wish was the only reason for his popularity, and then killing himself too. Kyouko survived but ended up bitter and amoral.
Mami's cute little hops with bended knees and pigeon toes before her Transformation Sequence were... well, pretty out of place.
In Episode 11, Walpurgisnacht is supposed to be a very dramatic fight... except for Walpurgis the witch having a super ultra high-pitchedEvil Laugh that completely ruins the effect.
Although it may have been ruined before that. Homura's ready for the final showdown as a dramatic thunderstorm looms, and... giant green elephant. Wha? And the initial use of Conspicuous CG.
A brief shot in episode 8 of a crazed Sayaka showing her soul gem to Madoka whilst everything else is blood red seems really out of place. It's no surprise that it was cut from the movie.
Charlotte's One-Winged Angel is a large worm that appears to be made out of candy and looks as though it has the face of a clown. It's something of the equivalent of Lelouch's pink sword in dramatic effect, especially after it devoursMami.
The signature head-tilt can turn a serious and dramatic moment somewhat narmy given how unnatural it looks.
In episode 10, during the scene where Madoka asks Homura to Mercy Kill her, Homura does a quick transformation...making a cutsey "Poing!" noise in the process. Only the fact that this is by far the most heart-wrenching scene in the whole series keeps it from being regular old Narm.
Nausea Fuel: A regenerated Kyubey eating the corpse of his body which Homura had just killed. Oh my GOD... eeeeeew.
That is, unless you think that it's actually another member of the Kyubey race. Eating his own to replace him and absorb his knowledge. Insert more 'eeeeeeew'.
And the manga version of Mami's death is far worse and more graphic.
Never Live It Down: If all the fanart and even official merchandise showing them together is any indication, Charlotte will be remembered for one thing and one thing only — killing Mami, and, to a slightly lesser extent, Mami will be remembered only for being killed by Charlotte.
Paranoia Fuel: Witches are everywhere and they are responsible for suicides. Whats worse, they are completely invisible to normal humans until you wander into their lair, wherein you will be killed in a most horrific way. That friend of yours online that just killed herself? Could have been because of a witch. Wanna take that shortcut through the alleyway? Could walk in right into a witches lair. You are never safe.
The Scrappy: Danbooru has an entire pool (WARNING: MANY IMAGES ARE NSFW) dedicated to fanart of people maiming, killing, and otherwise beating on Kyubey. At last count the pool had 700+ images and climbing.
Though most of the hate doesn't actually come from the fact that he's annoying, but because of his morally questionable (if well-intentioned) decisions, which result in him having a large share of the responsibility for the characters' suffering.
Madoka, for being wangsty and not accomplishing much for most of the series despite being the main character. Though she did redeem herself to a portion of the fanbase for ending the magical girl-witch cycle, the ending itself is an entirely different matter.
Hitomi gets a lot of flak from the fanbase due to the fact that her telling Sayaka that she has 24 hours to tell Kyosuke her feelings, or else she will confess, causes trouble with Sayaka (who feels she can't confess because of what she has become as a Magical Girl), or simply they think Sayaka would be better with him.
Strawman Has a Point: As cruel as Kyoko's Social Darwinist outlook may seemed, her belief that helping others would only lead to trouble looked to be somewhat accurate in light of the series'universe. Both Kyouko and Sayaka's contracts came back to bite them horribly, Madoka's attempt to cheer Mami up by promising to fight alongside her wound up distracting the latter in a fight causing her death and finally the whole dark series began from Homura making a wish to prevent Madoka's death resulting in a progressively worse Ground Hog Day Loop.
Mami's Soul Gem now has the added feature of constantly having weirdly edited in little flowers fluttering around it. These flowers also appear during her transformation and general use of her powers. It's both Narmy and unusual considering no one else's Soul Gems do anything similar.
Mami's apartment has been changed from having the most basic pieces of furniture and a blank hardwood floor to being decked out with pastel upholstery and stuffed animals everywhere. Detractors argue that the minimalistic version did a good job of highlighting Mami's depression due to complete lack of friends and family.
Among various architectural edits to the town, the school rooftop's chainlink fence was replaced with a very ornate white one. There would be no problem if they had actually re-drawn Sayaka's hand as she clutches the fence; the orientation of her fingers makes no sense with the new fence.
The Sayaka/Kyoko fight gets better shading, but in every other aspect the new artwork arguably looks worse than the originals.
Some of the changes in the movies are not being well received, such the removal of certain scenes and changing of music.
Wangst/What Measure Is a Non-Badass?: Madoka is condemned for being emotionally crushed by all that happens to her and not react with violence or bitchiness, as well as hesitating in becoming a Magical Girl after her big sister mentor Mami dies horribly and realizing that being a Magical Girl involves a Deal with the Devil. The fanbase simply ignores the part on how Homura told Madoka that if she becomes a magical girl she will lose everything, and Madoka's doubt comes in part from being drawn into a lifetime of servitude just for a single wish. Oh, and her emotional breakdown reaches its peak in Episode 6 when she loses it and tries to stop Sayaka from fighting Kyoko by throwing away her Soul Gem, not knowing the effects of said action. Thus, Madoka had to endure some time being called "emo", "selfish", "bitch", "lazy", "whiny", "slut" until she redeemed herself to a part of the fanbase by openly dying for your sins.
Made worse when we see that if she does become a Magical Girl, Madoka is very similar to still living!Mami: a reliable, cheerful, and ultimately self-sacrificial Magical Girl Warrior with inner struggles, therefore this means that she MUST take up the contract or people will keep calling her a stupid weakling for not living up to their standards of what a strong female character must be... while obviously missing the huge downside of her being WAY more likely to become the most powerful Witch ever.
Don't forget how some people hold up Homura and Kyouko as some sort-of strong women rolemodels that the other girls should imitate, lest they're stupid and useless.
A part of Hitomi's hatedom also comes back to this trope, since she's a Girly Girl who "dares" not back off in her own word and does not pull an I Want My Beloved to Be Happy when the tomboyish Sayaka doesn't confess to Kamijou. Being a feminine girl who doesn't bow to a Tomboy is an horrible, terrible sin!
Young teenage girls in that show are shown as psychotic time bombs waiting to explode, and are blamed for exploding, even though the things they go evil about (love problems, family problems, money, grades, magical powers having side-effects they didn’t ask for,) are not female-exclusive issues or even teenager-exclusive issues IRL or in other shows, for obvious reasons.
Chew on that and remember the old magical girl genre conundrum... why are there no magical boys? Surely not only females are so ruled by their emotions that only they can possess such unstable powers? Just sayin'.
The Woobie: Everyone in the whole Goddamn series (aside from Kyubey) makes the viewers want to give them a big hug and tell them that all is going to end well (even if it really doesn't), but special mention goes to Homura for being an Iron Woobie. There's a reason her Fan Nickname is Homurika, you know.
Sayaka is also a huge woobie, not only due to her heartbreaking breakdown, but also because Word Of God has declared that she can't be saved in any timeline. Poor girl.
Kyouko's backstory implies she's a bit of an Iron Woobie herself. It's damn impressive she didn't immediately turn into a witch after her family died.
Woolseyism: At the end of the series, in the original Japanese the new monsters that replace witches are called "majuu", which literally means "magical beast". The fansubs simply translated the world as "demon", but the official subtitles use "wraith" instead. Not only does the latter better fit their appearance, it also preserves an additional meaning in the original Japanese: The word "majuu" is very similar to "majo", the Japanese word for witch, reflecting the idea that the former are a replacement for the latter. In English "wraith" and "witch" also possess some of this similarity; they both start with "w", end in "h", and have an "it" in the middle.