YMMV: The Running Man

The film:

  • Anti-Climax Boss: Killian's bodyguard Sven. He just walks away.
  • Awesome Music: CLAP IF YOU LOVE DYNAMO!!!
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The film (and the book it was based on) basically foresaw the coming of reality TV, particularly in the way the genre is criticized for exploiting its subjects, using manipulative editing to coerce audience reaction, and generally provide no artistic merit beyond audience distraction.
  • 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.
    • The premise of Climbing for Dollars is now a lot less ridiculous thanks to the existence of the ITV2 programme Release the Hounds.
  • Inferred Holocaust: Yeah, Killian's ruse has been undone, Richards' name has been cleared on national TV, and he got the girl, but it takes more than that to solve the economic and social problems still taking place in America.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Damon Killian.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • The government massacred dozens of people and pinned it on a guy who refused to fire on innocent people.
    • Killian was already a bastard-lying about the contestant's past, verbally abusing his employees, sending people of to die in a brutal death battle, but what sent him over the horizon was lying about the supposed winners of the Running Man, claiming that had been given a pardon, when in reality they had been burned alive off camera. His audience turns against him after that.
  • 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.
  • Spiritual Licensee:
    • The film has one in the form of the 2009 film Gamer.
    • Earlier still was Smash TV.
  • 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 immature 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.)