- Fair for Its Day: Sam Harvey is generally a decent man. He clearly views his slaves as property and would prefer to keep them that way. However, he treats them as people and is not mean to them. He basically treats them as employees, rather than pack animals as some of the other masters do. When the slaves are freed after the war, he wants the former slaves to stay on and work for him, except he can't afford to pay them. He offers a sharecropping system to them, which they accept. (He is a rather poor businessman, as he neglects to have anything drawn up legally. This is horrible for the sharecroppers, as he loses his farm and the former slaves are stuck owing a ton that they can't afford to pay. This is taken advantage of by some racists with a grudge against Tom, and by extension, the rest of the black sharecroppers.) As he is leaving the farm, he is referred to as "better than most of them".
- Hilarious in Hindsight: The sequel series being titled "The Next Generations" after the original introduced us to Levar Burton.
- Moral Event Horizon: Tom Moore crosses this the moment he appears onscreen when he rapes Kizzy. Strangely, he has a few Pet the Dog moments afterwards
- Narm: The telegraph employee enthusiastically yelling "IT'S WAR!" in an excruciatingly high-pitched voice.
- Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: This was the first time the slave trade was dramaticized onscreen in all its horrors.
- Values Dissonance: The horrors of slavery go without saying. But that aside, Chicken George gets his name and makes his way as a gamecock trainer- as in cockfighting. He winds up being so highly valued by his master, Tom Moore, that he is cheated out of his occasional chances at freedom because of it. Cockfighting is viewed as a sleazy, cruel pastime in this era and only takes place at underground illegal dives. The same thing that ruined Michael Vick's reputation is what Chicken George used to build his.