YMMV / Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Prideaux snapping a bird's neck after it flies through his classroom window and frightens his students. Justified in the original novel, as it foreshadows how Prideaux would kill Haydon, but it ends up being rather baffling in the movie, where Prideaux nails Haydon with a rifle instead.
    • It also demonstrates how on edge Prideaux could be, how brutally violent he could be, and how unhinged he was that he didn't give a thought to how it would impact the schoolboys.
    • Also, Lacon buttering a toast really, really loudly during his meeting with Bland and Alleline.
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: A lot of viewers guessed that the traitor is Colin Firth's character purely on the strength of him being Colin Firth.
    • The fact that the actor received second billing on the movie poster may have also been something of a giveaway.
  • Nightmare Fuel: A quick shot of Irina's husband sitting in a bath full of blood with his guts ripped out.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Patrick Stewart as Karla in the miniseries. He doesn't even speak a single word during his one scene, but is still captivating.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Alan Rickman played a hotel concierge in the Smiley's People miniseries, appearing for barely 30 seconds.
  • Squick: The baby continuing to suckle on the woman's breast after she's been shot dead.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Peter Hitchens' review of the film was essentially a point-by-point list of every alteration from the novel, and why each was a change for the worse.