YMMV / The Dead Zone

The film

  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Martin Sheen as the foaming-mad Midwestern President Greg Stillson during the "the missiles are flying! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" scene is especially funny due to his later role as the idealized East Coast liberal President Josiah Bartlett in The West Wing.
    • Christopher Walken as an English teacher who tells his class to read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" later plays the Headless Horseman in Sleepy Hollow.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "The missiles are flying. Hallelujah."
  • Nightmare Fuel: Frank Dodd's final act is to lower himself onto his own open scissors - stabbing himself to death through the roof of his mouth. Johnny's vision of Stillson forcing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to activate the nuclear football with threats of bodily harm and his eager and ecstatic reaction to giving the final launch order also qualifies.
  • Tear Jerker: Johnny's interaction with Sarah and her baby are tinged with this, with both of them knowing what they have lost. Both Johnny and Sarah clearly wish that they had been married, and that Denny were their baby. Johnny's father also clearly sees Denny as the grandson he never had.

The series

  • Ear Worm: The credits song followed by "No! Yes! No! Yes! NOOO! Yes! You're grounded.". You'd be surprised how much that can get stuck in a person's head.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In a Season 2 episode, Johnny is hit by a car while saving a child. He wakes up in the hospital and asks Bruce if it's 2009 (i.e., if he's been in a coma for ANOTHER six years.) Bruce deadpans "no... it's 2011." Johnny then asks if the Red Sox have won the World Series yet. We now know that in fact they have won it twice in the period Johnny's second coma would have covered, adding an added punch to this joke.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Malcolm Janus, the Man Behind the Man for Stilson in the latter half of the show. He's the head of a group successfully conning people into fearing them as a branch of The Illuminati, which alone grants him Magnificence. But beyond that—he constantly pulls one Xanatos Gambit + Batman Gambit after another, anticipating for Johnny Smith's significance and abilities, respecting him as a Worthy Opponent. He cleanly and effortlessly pulls Stilson out of a Despair Event Horizon, setting him back on track, and arranges that no one in a position to stop them (such as Rev. Purdy) can escape from under his thumb. And by the time the series Dropped a Bridge on Him, it ultimately didn't derail his plans, after all. (At least for now....)
  • Seasonal Rot: Due to the scaled back involvement of original showrunner Michael Piller, the show is noticeably different from Season 3 onward. Rather than Johnny Smith using his psychic powers to prevent terrible events, the show switched to Johnny solving crimes after the fact. Ongoing arcs like the Dana Bright romance, Armageddon, Johnny's celebrity, his security problems were scaled back and then forgotten. Worse, Johnny's powers changed: where he often experienced past and future events from another person's point of view and felt their emotions, Seasons 3 - 6 generally have him observing from a third-person perspective. These changes happened because Piller's approach was to personally rewrite all scripts to add these elements in Seasons 1 - 2. He was too sick to do this for Seasons 3 - 5 and had died by Season 6.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • When Rev. Purdy tearfully lays out for Johnny why Johnny's mother killed herself.
    • Sarah's breakdown at the end of "Descent"—powered both by Walt being near death and the fact that her chances of coming clean with him and making amends have just plummeted.
    • "Speak Now" has two: Sarah's reaction to Johnny demanding to know if, had she known he'd wake up, she'd have waited for him (her broken-voiced "How can you ask me that?!" is just heart-wrenching)...and Johnny's vision of her shedding tears over his unconscious form, telling him Walt's asked her to marry him.
    • "Coming Home" has similar moments involving Sarah's recounting of the context of her rift with her father, and Johnny comforting her with what his vision revealed concerning her mother.
    • The very last scene of the final episode involves Johnny and J.J. skipping stones together, and J.J. almost casually calling Johnny "Dad" for the first time. This also bookended Johnny's original trauma of seeing him call Walt "Dad" back in the very first episodes.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Season 6 shows a lot of changes from the very beginning — ranging from how the Stilson arc is handled to locations and even the absence of the opening narration. Even if you like the last season, the differences are still pretty... weird.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The fact that the Season 5 finale gets our blood pumping for an epic showdown between Johnny and Malcolm Janus... which is pathetically quashed when Janus dies in such an anti-climactic way. Even if they wanted to orient the Season 6 premier around Walt dying... they could've still worked that in to the "Epic Final Duel" by having our two heroes fighting Janus heroically and Walt pulling an Heroic Sacrifice to save Johnny. Instead, we got an episode-long Mood Whiplash from what the show had been building up to.
  • The Woobie: Both Johnny and Sarah easily qualify.
    • Johnny suffers a LOT of angst from his visions (especially in the intensely tragic "Playing God")... and from the fact that a random accident kept him from all his dreams of a life Happily Married to Sarah.
    • Sarah constantly suffers from the conflicting emotions of her love for Johnny and her devotion to Walt. And she's put through the emotional ringer in Season 6.