- Big Lipped Alligator Moment: If you watch the Extended Cut of the film, John and Russell try to desert during Basic, and somehow end up parachuting into somewhere in South America, before running into a group of rebels, accidentally dumping a bunch of LSD into their stew, almost getting killed, and sneaking off before getting put back on the plane and sent back to Basic.
- Crowning Music of Awesome / Ear Worm: Legendary film composer Elmer Bernstein's peppy score.
- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Dewey "Ox" Oxberger explains that he joined the Army as a way of losing weight and avoiding having heart attacks. John Candy, who played Ox, would die of a heart attack, and at the time of his death, actually was making an effort to lose weight.
- Harsher in Hindsight / Hilarious in Hindsight: Stella posing for Penthouse. Decades later, a female Air Force Military Training Instructor was drummed out of the service for posing for Playboy.
- Memetic Mutation:
- "Lighten up, Francis." In 2013, after the new Pope dubbed himself Pope Francis, this prompted a new play on the quote as "'Lighten up.' - Francis".
- "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" became a longtime favorite marching song for American military personnel.