The book and the film
- Applicability: Could the story in general carry a metaphor for a woman's virginity/women growing up? After all it all but mentions it with Molly's story ("Where were you when I was new!? When I was one of those young and innocent maidens you always come to!?") and unicorns being described as being incredibly pure creatures. You could even say the Unicorn/Amalthea carries this allegory in her journey, starting by being this innocent, pure creature who doesn't know much of the world of men, and once turned into an adult woman (by the interference of a red colored being and a man, no less- possibly alluding to a woman's first period or her "first" time?) she begins fearing and feeling anxious, and finally she falls in love, common feelings for humans but before these thoughts and ideas were alien to her ("I can never regret. I can feel sorrow, but it's not the same thing."). It is not very different from how young people transition from childhood to adulthood, by experiencing new feelings and being anxious about it. It's exemplified by the song "Now That I'm A Woman" in the film.
- Base-Breaking Character: The butterfly. Some find him hilarious, and see him as an Ensemble Darkhorse or One-Scene Wonder. Others claim he's an annoying Scrappy who slows the story down.
- Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The bit with the tree falling in love with Schmendrick is a peculiar bit of broad comedy plopped down in the middle of a wistful and melancholy work. It's handled much more subtly in the book. However, it fits right in with the Central Theme of the book, as the tree croons, "There is no immortality but a tree's love." Sound familiar?
- Broken Base: Many people are on the fence on the possibility of this story getting a live-action adaptation/remake. While some would mostly like it for the awareness the original book and film would get by the media, others fear at the idea of Hollywood changing the themes and characters to make them more "accesible" to the modern mainstream audience, and others are aware that Hollywood could possibly add a happy ending to the story therefore leaving most of original message in the dust. And finally, there's a camp that feels that without Christopher Lee around to play as Haggard, there can't be a movie.
- Cry for the Devil: King Haggard is evil, yes, and must be stopped; but one can't help but feel sympathetic when he tells Amalthea his true motivation.
- Fridge Brilliance: In addition to Lír being named after a sea god in Irish mythology, other forms of his name hearken back to other aspects of his character:
- The Welsh equivalent of the god Lir is called "Llŷr Llediaith", whose name means "half-speech", which may be a reference to Prince Lír's difficulty in telling Amalthea his feelings.
- There's also Shakespeare's King Lear, which, though not referring to Lír directly, is possibly an oblique reference to King Haggard's descent into madness born of misery.
- Genius Bonus: Molly's initial reaction to seeing the Unicorn is sad enough in its own right - but when you understand the mythology behind unicorns (namely that they're the embodiment of Nature Adores a Virgin), her line of "Where were you when I was new?" takes on a whole new level.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Red Bull became the name of an energy drink years later.
- The Woobie: Practically almost all the characters except the butterfly and the cat. The villains too, though they could be considered more to be Jerkass Woobie.
- Animation Age Ghetto: The movie looks like an Animesque kids' cartoon; and the story can be mistaken for a standard fantasy story about quests and magic and unicorns. In truth, it's nothing of the sort. The book has won many awards and is considered by fans and other authors to be one of the best works of fantasy ever written and the film is a beautifully animated note faithful adaptation of the story.
- Awesome Music: The movie has a soundtrack that is way more awesome than a movie about unicorns has any right to be, especially the haunting theme song by America.
- Broken Base: Some of the songs - "Now That I'm A Woman" and "That's All I've Got To Say" in particular. They either add a lot to the story or else detract from it.
- Some of the ambivalence towards the songs might only be due to the probably unwise choice to allow Mia Farrow and Jeff Bridges to do the singing instead of hiring professional vocalists. Others feel that their somewhat unpolished singing numbers reflect a certain sincerity.
- Cult Classic: One of the most beautiful and deep forgotten gems of animation.
- Ear Worm: Quite a few of the songs.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Mia Farrow voices the Unicorn/Lady Amalthea, a mysterious woman who's sought of by Lir, wealthy prince who falls deeply in love with her but they end up in a bittersweet romance. Mia Farrow played beforehand Daisy Buchanan in the The Great Gatsby (1974). You can find some similarities between Amalthea and Lir and Daisy and Jay Gatsby.
- One-Scene Wonder: Numerous characters/voice actors quickly come and go, but Rene Auberjonois stands out as The Skull.
- Painful Rhyme: "When the first breath of winter through the flowers is icing / And you look to the north, and a pale moon is rising"
- What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: This "kid's movie" has graphically adult content (such as a triple breasted harpy) and emotional themes that go way beyond a children's film.
- Viewer Gender Confusion: Celaeno is constantly referred to as a female throughout, and has the breasts to prove it, but when "she" is talking to the unicorn telepathically ("Set me free... we are sisters, you and I..."), the voice is clearly male.
- Tough Act to Follow: In a 1978 preface, Peter S. Beagle remarked that The Last Unicorn would "haunt the rest of (his) career," and that he grew "increasingly shy of talking about (it)." In this case, it seems that it wasn't the writing that Beagle grew tired of; it was the book. At San Diego Comic Con 2006, his remarks on Unicorn indicated he's not tired of the book so much as writing it was in some ways extremely difficult and painful... in contrast with other stories, which seemed to flow from him freely. He stated he had to fight to get the story written. Not something he enjoys thinking about.