These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Ensemble Darkhorse: To the surprise of production, testing audiences rated Doris as their favorite character. Franklin is also a fan-favorite for his hilarious Cloud Cuckoo Lander personality.
Fan-Preferred Couple: Jay and Alice, which is one of the reasons why the web series wasn't well received. Considering how much trouble Jay went through in season 2 to be with Alice (especially the next to last ep), you can't blame their reaction at seeing Jay trying to woo another girl.
Foe Yay: Jay is seduced by a beautiful woman at Margo's debutante ball. He eventually learns that she's actually Humphrey The Hippo, and became attracted to him after he criticized her while she made a public appearance in costume.
Fridge Brilliance: In "A Song For Margo" Jay reviews an ET The Extra Terrestrial parody called "D.T. The Drunken Terrestrial." D.T. is also an abbreviation for withdrawals alcoholics go through after they stop drinking.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The episode "Sherman, Woman and Child," which aired in March 1995, had a scene in which Doris (an active chain smoker) attempted to make a smoke ring bunny but it ended up turning into a shape with a demon-like appearance, which told her "Doris ... Tick! Tock!" Seven months after it aired, her voice actress Doris Grau died from emphysema. Also can count as Harsher in Hindsight.
Al Jean: Ironically, this is the episode where we got cancelled by ABC, and it's about Jay getting cancelled.
A fairly minor example would be the after-credits Couch Gag at the end of the second season finale, "I Can't Believe it's a Clip Show;" after being told the show was over by the usher, Jay morosely says: "But I have nowhere to go." The Critic didn't get another season and was not picked up by another channel.
In one episode, Duke slumps down out of his chair and to the ground, crying out for his pills after receiving a naked picture of Doris in the mail. This is considered difficult to watch nowadays since several years later, Charles Napier, Duke's voice actor, collapsed and later died. See Harsher in Hindsight below.
In the Philadelphia parody Schenectady, the judge is voiced by Charles Napier, Duke's voice actor. This is fitting, as Napier played the judge in the original film.
When Jay took in a homeless puppy, he gave it the full name "Un Chien Andalou," after Luis Buñuel's famous short film; the title translates to English as "An Andalusian Dog."
Harsher in Hindsight: The entire episode "Siskel and Ebert and Jay and Alice" was bad enough when Gene Siskel died and Roger Ebert was left all alone and looking for a replacement, but now it's worse thanks to Roger Ebert dying. On the plus side, if there is, in fact, an afterlife, it's heartwarming to think that Siskel and Ebert have reunited, just like they did at the end of the episode.
In "Dr. Jay," Duke collapses to the floor and is sent to the hospital. The doctor tells Duke he has four years to live. On October 4 2011, Duke's voice actor Charles Napier collapsed in his home and passed away in hospital the following day.
He Really Can Act: Siskel and Ebert did marvelous voice-acting for Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice, even taking potshots at each other physical deficiencies; Siskel calls Ebert "porky" while Ebert calls Siskel "cueball."
This was Lampshaded years later in the DVD commentaries by Mike Reiss, who recollected they all thought it was a dumb idea at the time, "but not too dumb for Disney."
In the pilot, Vlada gets orgasmic at Conan O'Brien entering his restaurant. At the time, O'Brien was considered a flop. (It was likely a friendly Shout-Out, as O'Brien is a friend of creators Jean and Reiss.)
Jurassic Park II: Revenge of the Raptors and the Barney movie.
Several jokes involved explicit product advertisements within the movies Jay watched, much to his disgust. During the early 90's, product placement in films was indeed fairly uncommon, making the writers seems almost clairvoyant for predicting how much the practice would come to dominate cinema.
ABC objected to "Miserable" on the grounds of sexual content. As pointed out in the commentaries, this from the same network that later aired The Bachelor.
Phillipsvision, which adds new endings to movies, as well as rewriting scenes for product placement, came true (in a way) when DirecTV started airing ads made from scenes of famous movies re-edited to talk about DirecTV.
Early in the show's run, Siskel and Ebert reviewed the first three episodes, and gave it quite a bit of criticism such as more parodies, make it more about the movie industry, give us some TV parodies, and make it less about sitcom staples. As the show went on the parodies improved and were more numerous, some episodes focused on the film industry, more fun was poked at Hollywood, and Siskel and Ebert eventually guest starred as themselves.
There's an episode about a movie that is just a worthless piece of crap, the result of Hollywood exploiting the last drop of a franchise that wasn't a great thing to begin with: Ghostchasers III. In a completely unrelated information, Ghostbusters III is currently in production.
Coincidentally, it was Jay who wrote Ghostchasers III, and even he himself admits it's the worst film ever made.
Many of the trailer parodies were oddly prophetic. "Honey I Ate the Kids" shows Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter as husband and wife- some years later, Hannibal came out, and the novel version ends with Hannibal and Clarice getting together; likewise, Jurassic Park II is about the velocoraptors getting smarter- which became the plot of Jurassic Park III.
At one point Jay reviews a "politically correct" James Bond film, the joke being that such a film where Bond doesn't smoke, and is expected to act respectfully towards women would be uninteresting...then we get Daniel Craig, who doesn't smoke, has never once forced himself on a woman, and is generally regarded as one of the best Bonds to date. This could, arguably, be an example of Values Dissonance, as the definition of positive masculinity has changed quite a bit over the last two decades.
Ho Yay: See Mistaken for Gay example on the main page; Jay also had a "date" with a fellow prisoner in one episode (which he refers to as the best one he's ever had up to that point).
Siskel and Ebert have some Ho Yay (possibly No Yay) in the episode where they remake Sleepless in Seattle, which they of course Lampshade.
Ebert: This is just a rip-off of Sleepless in Seattle.
Siskel: Which was in itself a rip-off of An Affair to Remember.
Both: Which wasn't that good of a movie to start with.
One of Jay's pairs of underwear has the title For The Boys. Another says Rear Window, and another Backdraft.
To clarify, Jay was referring to the time Franklin and Eleanor sent him to Attica as a child, thinking it was a summer camp. Including a scene where a young Jay nervously sings "Animal Crackers in My Soup" among a group of vicious-looking inmates.
The ending of "Franklin and Eleanor Get Lost" where the monkeys try to eat Jay and Franklin
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: An In-Universe example occurs in that Jay is generally loathed in America and Mexico (in Mexico, Jay's show is prefaced with a warning stating that Jay is an escaped mental patient, as his behavior scares Mexicans), but is very popular in France. This is because of his resemblance to Babar, King Of The Elephants.
To the point that the Stablemaster still refers to him by that 28 years later. To be fair though, this might be in retaliation for Jay lying about his weight as a child, resulting in the untimely death of Patches the Pony.
Periphery Hatedom: While the real Barney exists in-universe (see Money, Dear Boy on the Trivia tab), Humphrey the Hippo serves as this universe's usual analogue to him. Jay's hatred of Humphrey figures into the B-plot of "A Little Deb Will Do Ya".
Humphrey: Please, kids, my philosophy is "love and dance", not "hate and not dance."
Reviews Are The Gospel: Invoked in episode 4, "Miserable". A woman kidnaps Jay, so he can review movies for her. And she can tell which ones are good and which ones are bad because she likes every movie she sees and can't tell otherwise.
They Just Didn't Care: The only possible reason why they make bad movies. Lampshaded in "L.A. Jay," where the studio head Jay meets makes a point of shelving quality scripts and lets them film the bad ones. Though he considers Revenge of the Nerds IV too good not to be made.