YMMV / Roswell

  • Adaptation Displacement: The show was based on a series of Young Adult novels called Roswell High.
  • Complete Monster: Agent Daniel Pierce, the Big Bad of season 1, is the head of the FBI Special Unit, a ruthless organization answerable to nobody which is hunting the teenage aliens. He considers membership of the organization to be for life, and when one of his agents tries to leave, he kills him "piece by piece" as an example to the others. He subjects Kathleen Topolsky, the agent he sent undercover at the teens' school, to a brutal debrief that leaves her on the verge of insanity, then locks her away in a mental hospital. When she tries to warn the teens, he takes her back there, then sets fire to it, killing not only her but five innocent patients. When he finally captures the lead alien Max, he subjects what is essentially a normal teenage boy with a few odd abilities to hours of torture about the aliens' plans, origin and technology...none of which he knows anything about. While Pierce tries to portray himself as a Knight Templar protecting humanity from an alien invasion, in fact the alien enemies only exist in his mind and he is pursuing complete innocents who just want to be left alone. When Max escapes, Pierce abandons any pretense of not enjoying his work, making a plan to kill not only the four alien teens but also the three human teens who have befriended them and telling his apparent ally Sheriff Jim Valenti to go in shooting.
  • Cult Classic: This show retains a very outspoken and devoted fan base, despite only lasting three seasons.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: The teens are marked for death by the Special Unit and have to flee town, with there being a good chance that they'll never see their families again. What's more, Max decides to give up hope of returning home and freeing their people from slavery. But hey, Max and Liz got married! (This borders on Mood Whiplash when the closing moments cut from Liz's dad in tears as he reads her farewell message, realising he's lost her, to Liz beaming at the camera as a voiceover declares "I'm Liz Parker and I'm happy.")
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Max/Tess, Isobel/Michael.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Max and Alex have a conversation in "Blood Brothers" after Alex gives a blood sample to cover for Max, even though he doesn't know why. When they refuse to tell him the truth, Alex says they screwed up his life, and Max claims he's trying to protect Alex. If Alex hadn't discovered the truth, he wouldn't have died.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: David Conrad plays Agent Pierce, an MIB-type who believes aliens are a threat and wants to get rid of all aliens to protect the planet. Fast forward about fifteen years, where he plays Ian Quinn, who is utterly opposed to MIB types (and would probably want to exploit the aliens to make a buck off their gifts, danger to the planet be damned.)
  • Hollywood Homely: Would three kids looking like that really go unnoticed at a high school that long? Only if they're on a teen drama, where everybody everyone who gets Character Focus looks that good.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Tess's Mind Rape powers. The flashbacks to Alex's death are particularly frightening.
    • The White Room. Especially Pierce's "I can take you apart piece by piece and make sure you stay conscious enough to feel every bit of it."
  • The Scrappy: The characters each took turns.
    • Tess, Michael, and Maria are the most widely disliked, but for different reasons.
  • Shocking Swerve: In an utterly bizarre turn, the show introduced a character as their new math teacher, who raised Liz's suspicions by getting a simple mathematical concept wrong and being strangely inquisitive. Eventually it was revealed that she's not really a teacher, she's actually a .... guidance counselor? What. Why would their guidance counselor be impersonating a teacher?
    • It turned out it was because she wasn't a guidance counselor, either. She was an FBI agent. The "guidance counselor" thing was probably an improvisation when she screwed up her "teacher" cover.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: A bizarre case. Fans of [[Smallville]] consider it a prototype version, as it uses very similar themes and storylines, but with less focus on the endgame of the story. Fans of Roswell tend to think Smallville was blatantly derivative and poorly written. Roswell lasted only three seasons, while Smallville became one of the longest running Sci-Fi shows in history.