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* BigLippedAlligatorMoment: Prideaux snapping a bird's neck after it flies through his classroom window and frightens his students. {{Justified|Trope}} in the original novel, as it foreshadows how [[spoiler:Prideaux would kill Haydon]], but it ends up being rather baffling in the movie, where [[spoiler:Prideaux [[BoomHeadshot 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.
* NarrowedItDownToTheGuyIRecognize: A lot of viewers guessed that the traitor is [[spoiler: Colin Firth's]] character purely on the strength of him being [[spoiler: Colin Firth]].
** The fact that the actor [[spoiler: received second billing]] on the movie poster may have also been something of a giveaway.
* NightmareFuel: A quick shot of Irina's husband sitting in a bath full of blood with his guts ripped out.
* OneSceneWonder: Creator/PatrickStewart as Karla in the miniseries. He doesn't even speak a single word during his one scene, but is still captivating.
* RetroactiveRecognition: Creator/AlanRickman played a hotel concierge in the ''Smiley's People'' miniseries, appearing for barely 30 seconds.
* TheyChangedItNowItSucks: Peter Hitchens' [[http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2011/09/tinker-tailor-soldier-travesty.html 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.
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