- 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.
- The EM-50 urban assault vehicle climax seemingly comes out of nowhere. A cut scene suggests that Ziskey's been wanting a Winnebago for a while.
- 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.
- Values Dissonance: The rape jokes are pretty cringeworthy nowadays.
Russell: There are two things I promised myself I'd never do: Kill and die.John: What if the Russians were raping your sister?Russell: Come on, you know my sister. You practically raped her one night. The Russians would just have to buy her dinner.