Warden Samuel Norton seems like a stern but affable prison bureaucrat before he reveals the true extent of his immorality and corruption. He sets up a scheme to underbid public construction projects with cheap prison labor and pockets the buy-off money from the desperate private contractors he blackmails, using Andy's financial knowledge to launder the illegal money. When a new inmate named Tommy has proof of Andy's innocence, Norton has him shot in the yard by Captain Byron T. Hadley and has the murder passed off as an escape attempt. He throws Andy in solitary confinement for a month, then threatens to destroy everything Andy has built to improve Shawshank over the past 20 years in prison and make sure that he'll be handed over to the rapists again, before giving Andy another month in isolation just to think about it.
Bogs Diamond is the leader of a prison gang called "The Sisters", who prey on weaker inmates to rape them again and again for as long as they like. Bogs sets his sights on Andy and together with his gang makes repeated attempts to rape and brutalize Andy over the course of several years, succeeding about half the time. When Andy tries to fight off the latest attempt, Bogs threatens to shiv Andy through the skull if he doesn't give him and his buddy oral sex. When Andy talks him out of it by playing on his ignorance, he beats Andy straight into the infirmary for a month instead.
Andy: I don't suppose it would make any difference if I explained to them I'm not a homosexual. Red: Neither are they. You have to be human to qualify.
Ear Worm: The music that plays when the police are coming to get Captain Hadley and Warden Norton.
Esoteric Happy Ending: Sure, Andy escapes the prison, but now he's a fugitive, meaning he can never go back to living a normal life. Even if he's exonerated of the murder, he'll still be convicted for the escape.
That just makes it all the more bittersweet. Andy came in an innocent man yet he came out a criminal.
Fandom Rivalry: With, of all things, The Godfather. The two have been competing for the #1 spot on the IMDb Top 250 for years, though Shawshank is more frequently on the top spot. One of The Godfather's reigns at #1 was ended when fans of The Dark Knight tried to game the system and make their film #1, but only succeeded in putting Shawshank back at #1. Fans of The Godfather were not happy, but took their frustration out on Shawshank fans on IMDb forums.
Captain Hadley had to get some sound financial advice from Andy Dufresne in order to keep a cash windfall intact, the kind of advice that Mr. Krabs would know in his sleep. Krabs certainly wouldn't trust a banker with his money. More hilariously, Hadley first doubts Andy's advice on account he was "that smart banker who killed his wife."
Hype Backlash: An interesting case, where some would argue that Shawshank went from being one of the more underrated films of its time to potentially being one of the more overrated. Holding the #1 position of "Greatest Film of All Time" on IMDB is the kind of thing that would put any movie under intense scrutiny.
It Was His Sled: Andy escapes from Shawshank prison using a plan he'd been preparing for nearly his entire sentence. He escapes by digging a hole behind a series of large posters he had with a rock hammer, smashing open a sewage pipe, climbing through "the length of five football fields" of shit, and spilling out into a muddy river in the middle of a storm, leading to his iconic Redemption in the Rain moment. The details of Andy's escape have been parodied and homaged several times, and the Redemption in the Rain moment is used in promotional materials, which even without context is not hard to guess the nature of.
Magnificent Bastard: Andy Dufresne. Upon discovering the deteriorating condition of the wall of his cell, he slowly (as in over the course of twenty years) carves an escape tunnel through it. Meanwhile, he works his way into the trust of the Warden, who is under the mistaken assumption that he is the Chess Master. Twenty years later, Andy escapes from the prison, taking a new identity — that he happened to create for the purposes of laundering the Warden's embezzled money, thus making himself a millionaire — and having the Warden and sadistic guard both arrested...all without mentioning a single word of his plan to anyone...not even his best friend. Andy is like the heroic version of Keyzer Soze, and gives us one of the most satisfying endings in film history.
Memetic Mutation: The scene where Andy plays opera music for the prison has been edited many times on YouTube. Said opera music has been replaced by various kinds of music, from pop music to heavy metal, and even by flea market ads. To be fair, the reactions of the prisoners and the warden made it pretty ripe for parody.
The Warden ordering the death of a recently transferred con (Tommy) who has evidence of Andy's innocence, so that Andy will be forced to continue assisting him in his money laundering scheme.
Also, Hadley crossed this when he threatened to throw Andy off the roof and pretend Andy fell off. Beating up the emotionally-overwhelmed inmate earlier on could be excused by claiming he did it to deter other prisoners from making noise, but his later threat has no excuse.
Bogs Diamond and The Sisters raping and brutalizing Andy over the period of several years.
To start, Andy undergoes a decades-long sentence for a crime he didn't commit. Long prison sentences and executions on false charges are unfortunately things that happen in real life.
The Sisters. Bonus points for Bogs actually saying "Get his pants off!" during the first beatdown. The audience is forced to think about what will happen.
There's something inherently chilling about the utterly bland way Red says "Sometimes [Andy] was able to fight [the Sisters] off, sometimes not." This is a man who has totally accepted that prison rape is merely another "routine" that convicts have to go through. It's even worse in the novel, where Red doesn't outright say that he himself has been a victim of rape, but still gives uncomfortably detailed advice about the measures one needs to take to... recover.
Stoic Woobie: Andy of course, given what he goes through, and the point that he did not commit the double-murder he is in jail for.
Tough Act to Follow: Frank Darabont has yet to make another film as beloved as this and may never do it.
Vindicated by History: Though the movie was warmly received by critics in 1994, it had a lot of competition that year. As a result, it failed to win any of the Oscars that it was nominated for (see Award Snub above), and barely managed to make back its budget at the box-office (even worse, word of mouth was spreading, and it was starting to do better business just as it was yanked from theaters). It has since come to be regarded as one of the finest films of the 1990's, and it has consistently been one of the highest user-rated movie on IMDb for nearly a decade. note As of this writing, it holds the #1 spot, though it was second to The Godfather for much of that time (see Fandom Rivalry above).
Tommy. Poor kid works his ass off to make something of himself and is more than eager to help Andy. Then he gets murdered by Hadley.
The other prisoners (the ones who aren't completely horrible people, which is most of them) tread the line between this and Jerkass Woobie. Including Red.
What an Idiot: A guy in prison for killing his wife walking up to a guard and saying apropos of nothing "Do you trust your wife?" rather than something actually useful? It's not surprising this almost gets Andy thrown off the roof.
The warden keeps his safe and all the damning evidence therein under a needlepoint that reads "His judgment cometh and that Right Soon..."
Andy keeps the rock hammer that facilitates his escape hidden in the Bible, in the book of Exodus.
The Warden's favorite verse from the Bible is Jesus' line in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." It seems the warden thinks of himself in this manner, but the line better fits Andy, an innocent man sentenced to be punished for a crime he did not commit and helps bring light and hope to the prison.