YMMV: The Running Man

The film:

  • Anti-Climax Boss: Sven.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Dynamo uses electricity as his gimmick, so naturally he sings the aria from Act III of The Marriage of Figaro in his introduction.
    • Buzz-Saw's high pitched girly screams when he gets killed from having his own chainsaw shoved up his crotch in one Hell of a nasty Groin Attack may smack as this.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: CLAP IF YOU LOVE DYNAMO!!!
  • Fridge Horror: The bodies of Whitman, Price, and Haddad ("Last season's winners? No, last season's losers.") could be an inversion of Fridge Horror, as it's unlikely that those three were innocent like Richards, who was an exception to the show's "no political prisoners" arrangement with the justice system. At least if they're Released to Elsewhere, they've not been set loose to resume whatever crimes got them the death penalty in the first place.
    • One of the possible prizes is a "trial by jury" so we can infer that prisoners rarely if ever get a fair trial. It's also likely that even if the contestants actually got the prize, any jury would be biased against them and send them back to prison (or worse, executed). Quite frankly, no one would ever get out even if the contest were fair. Considering also that this is a police state that probably considers jaywalking a capital offence, it doesn't take long for potential Fridge Horror to return.
    • People getting their kicks off human suffering reality TV style (see Harsher in Hindsight).
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The film (and the book it was based on) basically foresaw the coming of reality TV. May also count as Fridge Horror.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight
    • Killian has a video broadcast of Captain Freedom fighting and killing what appears to the in-universe audience to be Richards and Amber - it's actually stunt doubles with the two characters' faces digitally superimposed over the doubles. A radical notion in a late 1980s film, but common practice by film effects artists today. Even a few years after The Running Man was released, the effects team for Jurassic Park would use the same technique to cover up a stunt double's face.
    • The fistfight between leotard-wearing Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger is much funnier, knowing that they have each since become U.S. Governors.
    • There's one minor character named Sub-Zero. Good luck listening to Arnold say "Here is Sub-Zero...now plain Zero!" without thinking of the ice-manipulating Lin Kuei warrior. While on Sub-Zero, consider this: Arnold and a foe skating on ice.
    • At one point Arnold, a long time supporter of the Republican Party, jokes "I'm not into politics, I'm into survival." A little less than 20 years later he was Governor of California.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Damon Killian.
  • So Bad, It's Good
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped
    • The movie may have been an escapist action flick starring The Governator, but it (in its own way) taught about the negative aspects of completely turning off your brain in favor of pure, violent escapism, how soul-destroying humanity's bloodlust can be, and the need to question the version of reality that TV presnts. It also teaches about the value of tenacity and standing up for yourself. As well as to not believe everything you see on TV.
    • 4 Things 'The Running Man' Teaches You About Life, courtesy of Cracked.
  • Spiritual Licensee: The film has one in the form of the 2009 film Gamer.
  • Woolseyism: The Mexican Spanish subbed version has the He is Sub-Zero, Now, just plain Zero! line changed. In that translation, that line was changed to Aqui esta Sub-Zero, Ahora es un cero a la izquierda, Being cero a la izquierda a Spanish phrase meaning "worthless".note  The Mexican Spanish dub left the original phrase translated literally from English.
    • Another odd change in the Mexican Spanish sub, and also overlap with Unusual Euphemism despise that subbed version used more profanity than the original English version replace Amber's insult to Dynamo Dickless moron to Eunuco (Spanish for Eunuch) While Eunuch has the same meaning as in English in Spanish, in the Mexican dialect it's also a antiquated synonym for baby, as she's basically calling him an inmature asshole in his face.
    • Again with the Mexican Spanish sub: When Richards sends Killian to his death the You Bastard! Drop Dead! line became ĦHijo de puta! ĦMuerete! (You son of a bitch! Die!). On the other hand, the Mexican Spanish dub translate the phrase more or less literally.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: The leader of the underground resistance movement is played by... Mick Fleetwood. Unexpected choice. Presumably they really wanted to add the scene where he complains that his music was banned for being too political...

The book:

  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Shows what will happen if Reality TV shows go that one extra step and actually start hurting people.... but probably directly inspired the British Game Show Wanted and the Japanese Game Run For Money Tousouchuu.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The ending where Richards flies the plane straight into the Games Building brings up some unfortunate connotations for those reading the book post September 11th, 2001.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Richards' video camera and blank tapes together weigh about six pounds. And fit into a coat pocket without a bulge.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The book makes it clear throughout that the cops in Running Man's world are not exactly very nice people, but what sends them clean over this is when they try to take down both Richards and the innocent civilian woman in the car with him. One who was just begging them not to shoot
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: The book mocks reality television show like Hard Copy that demonize people to make the audience hate them. (And keep in mind, this was written nearly 20 years before Survivor and Big Brother spared a boom in just that type of reality game show.)