The Film Series
- Crowning Music Of Awesome:
- Memetic Mutation: Zombie movies changed after Return. Number one: zombies want braaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiins.
- Newer Than They Think: This franchise started the Brain Food thing.
- Older Than They Think: This series had fast zombies before fast zombies were cool. In fact, while not technically the first (the first zombie in Night of the Living Dead (1968) actually moves fairly quickly, and a film made five years before the first Return, called Nightmare City also had running zombies), it's arguably the first to really expose horror fans to running zombies. Furthermore, while some zombies were shown using very simple tools in Night (one zombie uses a rock to smash in Barbara's car window, another uses a rock to smash the lights on Ben's car, Karen uses a trowel to stab someone to death), Return was the first big zombie film to depict zombies with logic skills, problem-solving skills and the ability to use sophisticated tools (see: Tarman using a chain and winch combination to rip the doors off of a cupboard to get Tina), predating Day of the Dead (1985).
- Seinfeld Is Unfunny: The fact that zombies eat brains was considered to be a marvelous change in the zombie horror genre back then. Nowadays, it's become more of a cliché in zombie pop culture.
- Sequelitis: The first is generally viewed as good, the second is viewed as a step down but an overall enjoyable movie, and the third is viewed as a good movie in the wrong series entirely. The fourth and fifth... they're Sci Fi Channel original movies.
John Russo's Unrelated Novel
- Complete Monster: Flack, a sadistic psychopath and former convict, uses the Zombie Apocalypse as an excuse to indulge himself. Taking refuge in the Miller house with his partners, Flack rapes the young woman Sue Ellen, and reveals he intends to use the Miller sisters as "zombie bait." Flack and his partner John Carter shoot a police officer, leaving his partner tied up so when Flack's victim reanimates, he'll devour his former friend. Upon fleeing, Flack throws a young man named Billy to the zombies and storms a mansion, killing the guards inside and taking the family hostage. Flack then throws them, mother, father and a ten-year-old to the zombies, gleefully watching as the zombies tear them apart while keeping the Miller sisters to rape at his and Carter's leisure.
- Contested Sequel: Due to Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985) coming out, Return of the Living Dead essentially isn't part of the Living Dead canon anymore.
- Crosses the Line Twice: The scene where the zombie eats Angel is written like a rape scene. He knocks her unconscious, rips off her clothes and flings her onto Bert Miller's bed. And when he begins eating her, he seems unusually focused on her sexual organs and breasts.
- Older Than They Think: This does the "zombie baby" thing long before the Dawn of the Dead (2004) remake.