- Alternative Character Interpretation: Donna. For some fans, she's the quirky girl-next-door who's also a feminist and independent. Others see her as vindictive and manipulative, especially in her relationship with Eric. During their relationship, she'd get mad at Eric for things that weren't his fault, Donna also made Eric give her money every time he referenced one of his interests and would use feminism and sex to win arguments. When she ditched Eric for HOURS to hang out with Ted Nugent, Donna saw no problem with what she had done. Eric brought the situation to his parents, and Kitty said she would have apologized to Red if she were to do that to him. When Eric says this to Donna, she says that that's only because Red and Kitty are married. When Donna and Eric do break up (for the first time) it's because Donna's worried about being "chained down" to Eric and Point Place. Eric had only given her a promise ring and had never made any indication of undermining her future or interests, only asking if they were together in the hypothetical futures she brought up. But when they are broken up, Donna constantly insults him, messes up his chances of moving on, and leads him on with possibilities of them getting back together.
- Acceptable Targets:
- In this 'verse, Canada is an entire nation of Butt Monkeys. At least in one episode.
- Laurie was considered fair game because of what a complete bitch she was, and that made it okay to make fun of how she sleeps around.
- Likewise, Kelso's status as the Butt-Monkey of the cast was due in part to sleeping around behind Jackie's back. Not only did none of the characters feel any sympathy for the misery that resulted from this, they would occasionally make it worse.
- Awesome Music / Ear Worm: That 70's Song, naturally.
- Base-Breaking Character:
- Donna. Some people like her and thinks she adds a lot of funny moments to the show, others think she's a Jerkass and a hypocrite who uses feminism to get her way in an argument or some other aspect of her life when she has shown she's not above acting like a stereotypical woman if it benefits her somehow. The fact that she often overacts to some of the smaller things Eric has done and treats him like crap even when he really hasn't done anything wrong and never gets called out on it doesn't help.
- Some Donna defenders would point out that Eric can at times come across as casually chauvinistic and untrusting of Donna, often playing up the jealous, possessive boyfriend type that he was supposed to subvert, and is often equally at fault for the problems that arise in their relationship. Indeed, even among those that shipped the couple conversations would often lead to who was the bigger Jerkass in the relationship.
- Counterpart Comparison: Let's see- we've got The Everyman who is essentially the leader, a dumb jokester, a scruffy kid with a crappy home life, a newbie who learns about our culture, a beautiful girl in love with the scruffy guy who will kick ass if needed, and a Tomboy in a complicated relationship with the leader. Are we talking about the gang from this show, or the Animorphs? They're very similar, except Jackie's counterpart Rachel went Blood Knight later on, Tobias didn't have any weed to help him (he instead got stuck as a hawk), Cassie is a animal lover (as opposed to Donna's general tomboyishness) and Ax is almost the polar opposite of Fez (he's a Comically Serious alien warrior). (Kind of ironic, considering the Animorphs TV series also started in 1998.)
- Creator's Pet:
- Randy. Apparently the writers assumed if all of the characters thought that he was perfect, so would the audience.
"Randy is perfect. That lady at the fair who did the caricatures? She refused to draw him cause she couldn't find a flaw."
- For many people, Donna and her overall treatment of Eric in their relationship wasn't fair and she was in fact rude to Eric even when they were dating.
- Randy. Apparently the writers assumed if all of the characters thought that he was perfect, so would the audience.
- Crosses the Line Twice: "Grandma's Dead", where Eric's grandmother dies as he is driving her home. Seeing Grandma Foreman's lifeless body flop around in Eric's passenger seat, or having Kelso crawl over her to reach his 8-Track, would not be nearly as funny if the viewers had not wanted to kill the character themselves.
- Designated Villain:
- Kelso occasionally. He was a jerk, but sometimes he was portrayed as the bad guy when he was really being reasonable. When he lent Jackie his van and she smashed it, he reasonably wants her to pay to have it fixed, but Jackie refuses because she bought him gifts while they were together.
- Eric himself, especially in regards to his relationship with Donna. The show tries to display him as an idiotic pervert at times who believes too much in old fashioned waysnote , but more often than not he makes far more convincing arguments than the writers intended, especially when some of the points Donna tries to make border-line on flatout domestic/emotional abuse.
- Ensemble Dark Horse:
- Leo was very popular with the fans, to the point where he became a main character in the Season 4. Then Tommy Chong was sent to prison midway through the season. His Promotion to Opening Titles in Season 8 coincided with his return to the show.
- Sad sack Roy Keene (played by Jim Gaffigan) only appeared occasionally but ended up very popular.
- Fanfic Fuel: The finale cut off at the very last second of 1979, and never featured a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue or Distant Finale. Many fanfic writers came up with their own, and given how things turned out in Season 8, most of these are Fix Fics.
- Fanon Discontinuity: Many fans refuse to acknowledge the existence of the eighth season and prefer the cut-off to be somewhere mid-seventh season.
- Fan-Preferred Couple Hyde/Jackie, which is also a subversion; the two were together for a large chunk of the series (about 3 seasons), but officially ended in season seven after some other temporary break ups. They were very popular with the fandom because they were seen as a surprisingly stable relationship in comparison to Eric and Donna's constant arguments, a stability that only compared to Red and Kitty's relationship. There was a reason why Kelso wanted them to be his daughter's godparents.
- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
- The next to last episode of season 2, "Cat Fight Club", features Red fantasizing about the year 1997 and bemoaning Laurie dating Kelso with the declaration that he'll "have a heart attack before [he] gets his jetpack." At the time, a crack about how we still don't have jetpacks in 2000 was funny, but it became this as of the season 5 finale, "Celebration Day", when Red really does have a (non-fatal) heart attack as a result of hearing Laurie and Fez got married so the latter will stay in the country. Additionally, in another episode, Red faked a heart attack to get Kitty off his ass about his health.
- The episode "Grandma's Dead" does have a heartbreaking real world example though during the otherwise hilarious funeral scene when each character observes Grandma Forman's open casket and we hear the thoughs that run through their head. Laurie reflects on how life is complicated because you "get all old and die... thank God I'm young and hot!" In light of the death of actress Lisa Robin Kelly at the age of 43, it's cringe-inducing.
- When Hyde took the fall for Jackie buying pot, some of the gang makes cracks about Hyde becoming someone's "girlfriend" in jail. Danny Masterson was fired from The Ranch after allegations arose that he committed rape.
- There was a scene from the episode where the gang goes to a wrestling match. After it was announced on TV, Donna starts wrestling Eric and she laughingly exclaims that Eric isn't fighting back, cut to Hyde's deadpan "Why would he?". Back then, it was funny because Eric wouldn't dare fight back someone who is attractive as Donna if it meant getting to her; now looks more acute with how Masterson was alleged to have raped women.
- Harsher in Hindsight:
- A big deal is made of Bob and Midge renewing their vows, which is particularly sweet after they'd fought and argued for so long. And then Midge abruptly leaves him and Donna just two seasons later.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- Prior to being neighbors on this show, Red and Bob's actors (Kurtwood Smith and Don Stark) were already neighbors in a sense - Kurtwood played General Galapagos on The Terrible Thunderlizards, and Don played The Rhino in Spider-Man: The Animated Series- both of which aired on Saturday mornings on Fox Kids.
- Eric wearing an all-black outfit wishing he could shoot webs and later saying he learned how to fight from Spider-Man. Topher Grace went on to play Venom in Spider-Man 3, who had all of Spidey's powers, wore a symbiote that was black as a costume, and could shoot webs.
- In "Going To California," Hyde tells Eric that he "has no problem fooling whitey." Eric reminds Hyde that he's white, and Hyde responds by saying, "Barely." Cut to Season 7, where it is revealed that Hyde is half-black.
- Also in Season 5, after Jackie and Hyde break up because he cheats on her, a distraught Hyde turns on the radio to a country music station and says he finally gets country music. Cue 2016.
- The fact that Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis started dating in 2012 after playing a couple when the show started. It became Heartwarming in Hindsight in February 2014, when they announced their engagement, and as of 2017, are the proud parents of two children.
- In one episode, Kelso starts donating sperm. Jackie makes him go and get them back because she "wants to have his babies someday."
- In the episode "Tornado Prom", Jackie has an Off to See the Wizard dream sequence in which she is Dorothy. Her actress, Mila Kunis, would later play Theodora, the Wicked Witch of the West, in Oz: The Great and Powerful.
- In "Hyde's Father," Bud tells the kids "That's what his mom says" when asked if he's really Hyde's father. Fast forward a few seasons and turns out he wasn't so far from the truth.
- A Kelso invoking Has Two Thumbs and....
- All of Jackie's lines are funnier when you picture her as Meg Griffin (who, like Jackie, is a Butt-Monkey, though Meg's abuse does cross the line to Dude, Not Funny! territory, while Jackie's humiliations are more light-hearted).
- Donna once said "I could get arrested. I could go to a girl prison". Cut to 2013...
- After he and Red modify a Pong game, Kelso proclaims that home computers are the wave of the future. Ashton Kutcher would later play Steve Jobs in the biopic Jobs, as well as computer tech guru Walden Schmidt on Two and a Half Men.
- Eric's love of Star Wars when one considers that Topher Grace edited the Prequel Trilogy into a single 85 minute film and removed several of the most hated elements of those films.
- In Season 7's "Let's Spend the Night Together," Eric gets attacked (by a group of women) at a feminist rally. Donna tells him to run... like Bruce (now known as Caitlyn) Jenner. She then curses herself because Eric is too "feminine" to know about sports.
- Both Ashton Kutcher and Wilmer Valderrama would eventually be romantically linked to celebrities named Demi.
- In Season 4's "An Eric Foreman Christmas", Eric winds up coming up with the term "space unicorn" over a decade before Parry Gripp did.
- During The Rock's cameo portraying as his dad, Rock makes a reference to himself, where he hopes "his son" will one day become "the most electrifying man in sports entertainment". Well... The Rock will grow up into becoming someone who is far bigger than that.
- Ho Yay: There was an episode where a Eric became friends with a guy called Buddy (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt). There was a montage of them hanging out to a Best Friends song, only for it to turn out that Eric's friend was gay. At the end of the episode, Red and Bob had a Best Friends montage.
Hyde: You're like half in love with him aren't you?
- Kelso and Fez's relationship constantly toes the line between Heterosexual Life-Partners and Ambiguously Gay. Hyde even lampshades it in one episode in a conversation with Fez:
(Being friends with Donna) isn't the same as with Hyde. I haven't, you know, touched his fun parts. At least not intentionally.
- There's also this little gem:
Kelso: ...Did you just kiss my ear a little?Fez: ...Yes.Kelso: (beat) I kinda liked it.
- Then there was the episode where Fez had an erotic dream about Kelso.
- They've also kissed:
Fez: Ah, this is tomorrow's school paper. Oh my god, on the front page, there's a picture of me kissing Kelso by the lake!Eric: Fez, why are you kissing Kelso by the lake?Fez: We caught a fish, I was excited. I kissed the fish too, but, of course, they don't show you that.
- Discussed in-universe with Gilligan and The Skipper.
- There's also this little gem from Eric about his relationship with Hyde.
- Magnificent Bastard:
- Hyde, although Red similarly has qualities of it.
- Played straight in the following dialogue:
Fez: Jackie, are any of your college-bound friends "vir-gins"?Jackie: Fez, it's pronounced "virgins".Fez: What? No, but, Hyde said—[Fez realizes his folly and looks at Hyde]Fez: Oh, you Magnificent Bastard.Hyde: I'm sorry, buddy. Oh, and it's pronounced "bas-tard".
- Paranoia Fuel : Fez could be hiding in your closet right now!
- Replacement Scrappy: Poor Randy. After Eric left for Africa Randy was added in as a replacement to round out the cast. Was he given his own personality and be his own character? Nope! Randy was added in as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute to Eric despite being pretty much the opposite in looks (tall and handsome with long blonde hair) and even dated Donna after she and Eric broke up off-screen. When Kelso left, did the writers get a new character to replace him? Nope! Someone decided that Randy had to play both the nerd and the dumbass, resulting in an inconsistent and unfunny character who was a dumb nerd but also a socially awkward player but also an unfunny clown who constantly bounces between roles and never really works with any of them. The writers caught on and barely shown him in the series finale.
- Romantic Plot Tumor: Even though most people prefer it to Randy, Eric and Donna's relationship over the series gets to this level at several points, to the point it seems like the writers were trying to think of any reason to break them up so they could get them back together again. The crowning example is when they broke up because Donna wouldn't accept Eric's promise ring, not wanting to be "trapped" in Point Place, listing several reasons because of it. Maybe this would have been understandable... had Donna not almost immediately hooked up with Kelso's brother, who's the living embodiment of everything she supposedly left Eric because. Let's just say it's some of those things that caused Donna to be one of the more divisive characters in the cast...
Hyde: I couldn't put up with one more week of that "Will they won't they" crap.
- This at least gets acknowledged semi-frequently in universe though, with several characters (Hyde being the most frequent) stating they keep getting rather sick of hearing Eric and Donna constantly talking about and discussing every little thing about their relationship.
- Seasonal Rot: Opinions vary on exactly how early it started, but many agree that the season where Kelso and Eric left and brought in Randy to replace them was the single worst season of the show.
- Shipping Goggles: Fans seem to disregard Hyde's actions in the final season and claim he and Jackie broke up because he didn't want to get married when really the reason was the opposite.
- Strangled by the Red String:
- Donna and Randy. Donna is noticeably attracted to Randy while she's still in a relationship with Eric. The fact that the writers also broke up the Official Couple (and having it be an off-screen Eric's fault, no less) just to get them together doesn't help.
- Jackie and Fez's Relationship Upgrade comes pretty close as well, especially since a lot of people weren't happy that she didn't get back together with Hyde. She basically went from regarding Fez as a good friend to being head over heels in love with him in the span of a few episodes. Though it needs to be noted that in an episode from one of the earlier seasons that Jackie has admitted that she found Fez to be attractive.
- Strawman Has a Point: After getting Brooke pregnant, Kelso is initially reluctant to get involved or take responsibility, which leads to the others criticizing him. While they're certainly not wrong, Kelso has a pretty understandable response: "Y'know, it's real easy to talk about the right thing when it's not your life."
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: A lot of the characters' Hidden Depths were ignored in favor of Flanderization no matter how annoying the directionless Status Quo Is God got. Jackie and Kelso got the worst of it - in one episode Jackie was shown to be a great mechanic, and in another episode, Kelso could reprogram a Pong table, and nothing was done with either of them.
- What An Idiot:
- Kelso, being The Ditz, is naturally a fountain of this. One of the group's favorite stories is of the time Kelso tried to do the "burning bag of dog poop" prank on someone, but lit the bag prematurely and then stomped it out himself. A frustrated Kelso counters "THE BAG WAS ON FIRE!"
- Eric more or less invokes the Idiot Ball in "The Good Son," when he tries to lash out by doing something stupid and allows Kelso of all people to persuade him to bounce a bowling ball off the couch. However, the idea turns out to be even dumber than he thought, as the ball ends up bouncing into the TV. Not many viewers are sympathizing with Eric's Oh, Crap! face at this point.
- A particularly stupid came from Eric kissing another girl (Laurie's college roommate) while he and Donna were starting to form a relationship. Red came down on him for this gloriously.
Eric: It's like bad things are always happening to me. Like I have bad luck or something.
Red: (understanding voice) Son, you don't have bad luck. The reason bad things happen to you is because you're a dumbass. (harshly) Now fix it.
- Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Eric and Donna pressuring Jackie and Hyde to admit their relationship to Kelso — and shaming them for doing it in the first place and keeping it a secret — comes off as rather meddlesome and hypocritical to many fans, considering the two of them didn't seem to have any trouble keeping Kelso's actual affair with Laurie a secret from Jackie for months. For Kelso himself, the idea that Jackie really owes him anything (after years of dealing with his cheating, passive aggressively insulting her, pestering her for sex, and ditching her with no explanation) has become a point of contention among fans, especially in recent years.
- Values Dissonance: Ironically falls into this, in spite often deliberately invoking it for comedy. Sleeping around is depicted as one of the worst things people, particularly women, can possibly do.