These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Archive Panic: Ninety-seven shorts with the classic line-up, 190 total.
Base Breaker: The short Cuckoo in a Choo-Choo, hands down. This is the short in which Larry is playing a Marlon Brando-esque character who stole a passenger car off a moving train, just so his girlfriend's sister can get her rich drunken boyfriend Shemp to propose, because then they can get married. Unfortunately Shemp is in love with Carey the giant canary who exists only in his booze-sodden dreams, and who is played by some poor soul in an utterly hideous suit. And Moe is a railroad detective in love with Larry's girlfriend's sister (the one they want to get hitched to Shemp) who finds them and tries to get rid of Shemp so he can marry the sister. There is no middle ground on this one, every Stooges fan either thinks it's terrific or sees it as the worst thing they ever did.
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: In Ants in the Pantry, the short involved the Stooges trying to rid a house of pests (that they pre-infested to get business). Long story short, a mouse ends up crawling down the back of an unfortunate party guest, who promptly starts jumping and stomping in an attempt to get it out. The Stooges approach and, seeing a rhythm in the poor man's stomping, start clapping along and quickly start dancing, seemingly abandoning their search until the mouse reappears.
Tended to be a Running Gag, as anyone doing this could distract the boys. It could also be from singing.
Dude, Not Funny!: The short "Scheming Schemers". Shemp had died, so much of the film is recycled footage from "Vagabond Loafers" several years earlier. Moe and Larry have to carry the few minutes of new footage with Kenneth MacDonald while Shemp is ostensibly upstairs monkeying with the pipes. First, they recycled the pie fight from "Half-Wits Holiday", which saw the stroke that would weaken and eventually kill Curly. Secondly, after wrapping up the crook, the boys say, "Hey, where's Shemp?" and solemnly look heavenward. End with recycled footage of poor Shemp, stuck in a pipe cage.
Ear Worm: Watch "Punch Drunk", and you will get "Pop Goes The Weasel" embedded into your head!
There's also the song Larry and Curly play for Moe in Idiot's Deluxe in a two-man band including a trombone, a clarinet and a drum set, which is most unwelcome to Moe who is suffering from the after-effects of a nervous breakdown.
The song that Curly sings in "I Can Hardly Wait"
"She was bread in old Kentucky, but she's only a crumb up heeeerree. She's knock-kneed, double-jointed, with a cauliflower ear."
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Bedlam in Paradise, where Shemp has a nightmare that he dies and comes back as a ghost, was released just a few months before Shemp died in real life. Even more upsetting is that this was a re-release of their earlier film, Heavenly Daze with some new scenes added in; Daze starts out with Shemp already in Heaven, but Bedlam includes a scene that actually shows his character's death.
Remember the Stooges' blatant disregard of gun safety in the shorts? In reality, Curly Howard accidentally shot himself in the ankle at age 13 while toying with a rifle. The injury was never properly treated, and caused him pain for the rest of his life. In some shorts where his bare legs are shown, one calf is noticeably thinner than the other.
When it comes to the US, the Three Stooges are immensely huge in New England due to the fact that several New Englanders grew up with the Three Stooges playing every Sunday morning. Billy West and the Farrelly Brothers are amongst those New Englanders who have grown up with the Stooges and were influenced heavily by their comedic stylings.
Harsher in Hindsight: In "Oil's Well That Ends Well", Moe breaks the fourth wall and says to the audience, "I hate him!" referring to then-Stooge Joe Besser for laughs. Years later, during an interview, Moe revealed that he hated working with Joe, and wasn't the least bit charitable with his comments.
The short Heavenly Daze where Shemp dies and goes to heaven, particularly the parts where we see Moe and Larry mourn for him, is harsher in hindsight since Shemp would die for real in only a few short years.
Hilarious in Hindsight: When Curly was forced to retire, producer-director Jules White attempted to recruit Joe De Rita to take his place. Joe refused, however, because he believed that being associated with a low-class act like the Stooges would kill his career. Yes, this is the same man who would later happily accept a chance to become "Curly Joe".
In the short "Men in Black", a deranged hospital patient (played by Billy Gilbert) claims to see "great big giant green CANARIES!" . About two decades later, "Cuckoo on a Choo-Choo" is released (see Base Breaker above) and guess what a hallucinating Shemp is in love with?
The short "What's the Matador?" has the trio put on a comedy bullfight down in Mexico. The crowd goes wild for them, which is ironic given the Stooges' popularity among Spanish-speaking audiences (see Germans Love David Hasselhoff above).
Ho Yay: In The Brideless Groom, where Moe and Larry are trying to find Shemp a wife so he can get an inheritance, Moe gets so happy after it seems like they've succeeded that he kisses Larry. A random person walking down the hall as it happens gives them a very disturbed look, and Moe promptly slaps Larry. This was Getting Crap Past the Radar in those days.
Invoked when Shemp called himself "The Ugliest Man in Hollywood" as part of a publicity stunt.
Jerk Ass Woobie: Moe becomes this whenever he seems to get more abuse than the other stooges, but most of all in Dizzy Pilots where he gets knocked into a tub of rubber cement twice and becomes a human balloon.
Stoic Woobie: Quiet, dedicated Moe was this in real life; he lost both his brothers under the same boss within a few years of each other.
Several of the shorts entail the Stooges' contending with genuinely spooky dolls/statues/puppets/etc. In A Gem of a Jam, for example, Curly eye-pokes a truly creepy-looking clown bust, and Moe and Larry run away from a creepy Jack-in-the-box. Meanwhile, in If a Body Meets a Body, the Stooges are awoken in bed by a parrot which hides inside a human skull and flies around with its wings protruding through the ear holes, clutching a sheet with its claws and cackling maniacally. If this troper saw such a thing in a strange dark house in the middle of the night, he'd probably scream in horror too.
Recycled Script: Several shorts had this, usually with Stock Footage incorporated in. Once Shemp replaced Curly, several remakes of Curly's old shorts were done with the new stooge, and this was repeated with Joe Besser.
Replacement Scrappy- Opinions on Shemp vary, but Joe Besser is universally reviled. Even Joe called his shorts "The Two Stooges featuring Joe Besser." "Curly" Joe De Rita, who played the third stooge during their comeback, mostly avoided the trope.
The stipulation that Moe couldn't hit Besser was what did it; people would've tolerated him only so long as his stupidity was punished accordingly, which it never was. Fans, then and now, are bewildered at Moe's lack of violence towards Besser.
Special Effects Failure: Most of the time, such as when a stooge falling from a large height is obviously a stunt dummy, this only serves to add to the hilarity.
Particularly obvious in a scene in which the boys use Curly as a battering ram to break out of prison. The dummy appears about 80 pounds lighter and has a full head of hair.
Some of the editing when they were using Stock Footage got pretty bad, to the point where Curly makes unintentional cameos in some of the remade Shemp shorts because of it.
Uncanny Valley: After watching these shorts for years in black and white, actually viewing the colorized version looks eerily surreal.
Values Dissonance: In The Yoke's on Me, the plot centers around "Japs" (read: Japanese-Americans) hiding on the Stooges' farm after escaping from a nearby relocation center. The short ends with Curly killing them with a grenade. Quite possibly the most controversial Stooges short ever, this has only recently resurfaced on television after being out of circulation for decades.
First of all, those "Japs" were stated in the short to be POWs, not interned civilians. Secondly, Curly didn't kill them with an exploding ostrich egg. Moe tossed it, and they weren't killed, period (if someone died from an explosion without showing them flying in heaven playing harps, you're not watching the Stooges). That stated the depiction of Asians in classic Stooges shorts can be grating by modern standards.
Interestingly enough, despite the (somewhatjustified) anti-Japanese sentiment in their shorts, they seem to have not bothered using yellowface or faux-Asian gibberish. In one short (No-Dough Boys), they were mistaken for Japanese soldiers because they were simply wearing the uniforms. A publicity still◊ suggests they might be wearing eye makeup, but it's a lot less grotesque than most yellowface of the era (or, sadly, later).
Vindicated by Cable: The Stooges ended up becoming more popular than they ever had been before in the 1960s once their shorts were moved to television.
In 2011 the cable channel Antenna TV started airing nightly marathons of the shorts on the weekends.
Crosses the Line Twice: In the modern-day movie, one of the nuns having a ring tone that sounds like a flat-lining heart monitor.
Dude, Not Funny!: For the new movie, the gag around naming a nun Sister Mary Mengele. note If you don't get the context, the name is a nod to the late Nazi Josef Mengele, an SS Officer who decided prisoners' fates at Auschwitz. Remember that the original Stooges were all Ashkenazi Jews...
We're Still Relevant, Dammit: Seems to be behind the choice of having the cast of Jersey Shore involved. Most people wouldn't have minded modernizing the Stooges a little, but this is where the film seemed to be trying to go out of its way to safeguard itself from not being seen as relevant.
WTH, Casting Agency?: While the three new actors in the 2012 film seem to do a good job with their impressions (especially Will Sasso as Curly and the kid actors who play the Stooges as children aren't too bad), the cast of Jersey Shore seems pretty glaring. Mind you, the only reason the Jersey Shore cast is even IN the movie is for Moe to physically abuse all of them (besides the usual slapping, Moe grates Ronnie's feet with a cheese grater, pokes Snooki's eyes, microwaves Ronnie's head, and burns J Woww's tongue with a hair curler. Sadly, those parts are cut in the UK for being "too imitatable"). Sure, they're all terrible actors and they pretty much appeared as themselves, but seeing Moe slap, eye poke and head-bonk each and every member of the cast was hilarious.