The original novel The Road contains examples of:
- Big Lipped Alligator Moment: One scene switches to first person.
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: The fact that the line "carrying the fire" appears here and in No Country For Old Men hasn't gone unnoticed. One theory has it that The Road is a distant sequel to Old Men. Another theory is that everyone really is in Purgatory and that the boy is their savior.
- Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: This is a post-apocalyptic wasteland scenario done in one of the bleakest ways possible. This trope is virtually guaranteed.
- Inferred Holocaust: Pretty much one of the reasons why the ending is so bittersweet. Even though the boy is in good hands, the biosphere may be dead. If so, no one is going to live long once what is left of food is eaten and the remaining humans have all cannibalized each other.
- Jerkass Woobie: The Man. What he's been through is undoubtedly tragic, and his health and mental stability are obviously in a state of decline. But he's a hypocrite who — for all his repeated insistence that he and the Boy are the "good guys" — fails to practice what he preaches, and it takes convincing from the Boy for him to actually bother to help anyone. He ends up crossing the Moral Event Horizon by forcing a man to strip naked and most certainly die in the cold for stealing their supplies, even after he gave them back.
- Moral Event Horizon: In a rare example, the protagonist does this, stripping the thief down to nothing and sending him off to die a long, cold death in the process.
- Nightmare Fuel: Lightning-struck man with a melted face sitting on the road and waiting to die.
- The protagonist and his son enter a house, and the son keeps saying he doesn't want to go in. Then he opens a door and finds the people the bad guys have been eating... alive.
- The protagonist later sees three men and a very pregnant woman. Three days after, he and his son pass through a camp that has the remains of a beheaded, roasted infant on a spit.
- The Woobie: The Boy. Imagine being a child with no real childhood to speak of, where every day of your life is a desperate fight for survival and the only person you have to look up to is your ailing father who — out of pragmatism — will refuse to make decisions that could potentially save the lives of others (or at least buy them time), despite your urging.
The Film of the Book also provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion: The Lonely Planet New Zealand guidebook on Viggo Mortensen's bookshelf may be reference to The Film of the Book The Lord of the Rings.
- Awesome Music: Nick Cave & Warren Ellis provide another beautiful score.
- Dueling Movies: In contest with The Book of Eli (2010). Both are post-apocalyptic movies about a man safeguarding something he holds dear. Both movies emphasize the aspects of reaching a destination, lying South or West.
- Shrug of God: The author has offered a few possible explanations for the world-ending disaster, and said that he himself has no opinion on the subject. See also The Unreveal.
- Throw It In: During the scene where the man is washing the dead bandit's brains out of the boy's hair, Kodi Smit-McPhee was in such pain from how cold the river was that he began to cry hysterically, prompting Viggo Mortensen to hold and comfort him. Not only was this left in the final cut of the movie, but Cormac McCarthy was so impressed by how much more powerful the scene had become that he retroactively wrote it into subsequent editions of the book.