* AdaptationDisplacement: The plot originally comes from a ScienceFiction short story involving a man who can see the messages after being hypnotized. The aliens in there also [[ToServeMan eat humans]].
* AlternateCharacterInterpretation: Because the aliens are just stand-ins for the wealthy class in Reagan's America, it can be easy to wonder just how truly evil they are. They might be exploiting humanity, but they're hardly genocidal conquerors.
** Until they murder innocent people forced to live in shanty towns.
* {{Anvilicious}}: In spades.
* MemeticMutation:
** The saying "[[ChewBubblegum I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum!]]" existed before this film, but virtually every subsequent use finds its ancestry to this film.
** The subliminal OBEY/CONSUME/etc signs have been remixed all over the place, notably into Shepard Fairey's OBEY GIANT campaign.
** [[http://iruntheinternet.com/lulzdump/images/they-live-glasses-mlp-my-little-pony-never-marry-and-reproduce-1375809560C.jpg This edit]] is pretty popular among [[FanHater anti]]-[[MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic bronies]].
* MisaimedFandom: Naturally, given that it's a film about shadowy elites ruling the world from behind the scenes, {{Conspiracy Theorist}}s have taken a significant liking to it. Carpenter insists that it's a satire of '80s yuppie capitalism run amok, and has told [[ThoseWackyNazis neo-Nazi]] fans of the film (who read a specifically anti-Semitic meaning into it) to go [[http://www.avclub.com/article/john-carpenter-thinks-internet-nazis-need-put-sung-247940 piss right the hell off]].
** [[VillainHasAPoint Unfortunately]], even when viewed through a liberal lens, the movie seems to be [[CluelessAesop sending mixed messages]], since while most of the aliens are either corporate elites, politicians, or military and law enforcement, they are, by definition, outsiders, which plays into the kind of conspiracy theories that cause the MisaimedFandom in the first place.
* OlderThanTheyThink: Basically, the plot revolves around creatures that have infiltrated the human race by [[TheyLookLikeUsNow making themselves look indistinguishable from us]] and posing as benevolent members of our society. With the help of at least one other human ally, our hero finds out about these grotesque foes, thereby learning how to identify them and how to protect himself and other humans. Eventually, he stumbles upon a secret meeting of the monsters (along with a human who was previously unaware of their existence). After one of the monsters at the meeting gives a speech detailing their plans, the hero discovers an enemy weapon that he hijacks to deal a debilitating blow to the inhuman enemies. Although he and the other human who witness the meeting have their lifespans severely shortened from the encounter, the hero considers it a worthy sacrifice since he enabled humanity to defeat the infiltrators...Yeah, sorry Creator/JohnCarpenter, but it looks like a certain ''[[Creator/RoaldDahl other]]'' master of scares [[Literature/TheWitches beat you to it]].
* ParanoiaFuel: The whole point, in a way. That commercial you just saw on television ... just a commercial or a subliminal message telling you to "OBEY" and "CONFORM"?
* SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped: By many people's assertion, there were a lot of things wrong with 1980s American consumerism.
* TooCoolToLive: [[spoiler:Nada and Frank]].
* ValuesResonance: The only things outdated in this film are the hairstyles.
* WhatAnIdiot: So you find a pair of glasses that show you the truth: that aliens have basically taken over the world and are controlling our minds as we speak. There is absolutely no way you can fight them gun to gun, since they control ''everything''. You need to go about this the smart way, because it's the only way. So what do you do? You start yelling at everyone you see about aliens.
** COULD be justified by the notion that the glasses are said to mess with your psyche a bit and that Nada was having a serious case of GoMadFromTheRevelation.
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