Critical Research Failure: The sister of Tami Lynn Leppert (who went missing in the 80s) once criticized the UM segment featuring her as they got many facts about her disappearance wrong, from the clothes she was wearing, to the car she was last seen getting into. Her sister also pointed out that Tami was pregnant at the time of her disappearance, but the re-enactment doesn't mention that. Predictably, when the case was shown again years later during the Dennis Farina era, none of the above mistakes were corrected (the era was fond of reusing the same segments from the original series untouched aside from flashy new effects and transitions).
Less-than-savory aspects of the lives of some of the murder/missing person stories are also left out, despite the possibility that they could provide information as to who is responsible for their death/disappearance.
The "Billy the Kid" segment omits the facts that Brushy Bill's own family denied that he was Billy the Kid, and that then-recent computer analyses of photographs of both men called Brushy Bill's claim into question. Additionally, the show regarded Brushy Bill's claimed age (in 1950) of 91 years as an undisputed fact, when his own family maintained that he had been born in 1879, making him 71 at the time of his death (and only two years old when the 21-year-old Billy the Kid was killed).
Also has built-in Mood Whiplash when combined with the original intro video.
Esoteric Happy Ending: The Alex Cooper segment. It features the story of an elderly traveling salesman who went missing on a business trip. While he was found alive and well, it was revealed that he deliberately abandoned his family for fear that his shady criminal past would come back to haunt him. To add insult to injury, his family also discovered that his identity by which they knew him was a complete fabrication. While the segment update was produced in the typical “happy reunion” fashion, it’s fair to assume his family likely had VERY mixed reactions to the turn of events.
Idiot Plot: Jim Boumgarten. This segment revolves around a man who has a doppelganger living in the same city. He keeps getting mistaken by his townspeople for this "twin." Jim wants to know who this person is, so he decides to go on national TV to get to the bottom of this curious mystery...instead of just asking one of his neighbors who they were mistaking him for. It is still debated as to whether this was a gag segment.
Just Here for Godzilla: Many viewers, especially the younger ones, watched the show almost solely for its segments on the Unexplained, which were strange and fascinating enough to lead directly into...
The current distributors of the show are even fully aware of this trope and have published several "best of" DVDs with nothing but the fantastical mysteries like paranormal events and lost treasures.
Plenty of others prefer the "Missing" and "Unexplained Death" segments, despite freely admitting that they're terrified by them—there are several DVDs consistently solely of these types of stories.
Crowning Music of Awesome: The theme song, which uses the phrygian musical mode to create what is unquestionably one of the creepiest songs in all television history. Go ahead: find it, put it on an MP3 player or iPod, and walk outside at night.
The originally-aired, non-symphonic version of the song had some subtle differences...that might have made it even creepier.
The ending credits music was also extremely haunting. Every single thing about the show's music was awesome, really. Gary Malkin has a long and distinguished career in film scores, atmospheric space music and jazz, but he'll be remembered for this.
The show itself used to acknowledge how awesome its theme music was by including a link to the Lifetime-era remix in their website (keep in mind this was during the 2008-2010 era, when said theme music was replaced by generic rock tracks). The site has since been redesigned.
Most Wonderful Sound: Anytime Robert Stack said "Update!" It usually meant that a mystery had been solved, or at the very least there was a good strong clue.
Unless of course, the resolution was a sad one—that a missing person had been found dead, or worse yet, was still missing.
Some fans (perhaps old enough to remember The Untouchables or familiar with Stack through his comedy career) report actually experiencing Stack's voice comfortable and reassuring rather than scary. He also clearly felt for the victims and lost loves, spoke warmly about reunions, and showed great interest in the unexplained stories. That tiny smile and barely discernible twinkle in his eyes showed just how much he was enjoying all this, and hoped you did, too.
Most Annoying Sound: Dear God, that stupid "telephone ring" sound heard in the Farina episodes, whenever a caption or subtitle appears on the screen! Whose idea was that?!
Replacement Scrappy: Dennis Farina, and really anybody who isn't Robert Stack, who unfortunately died in 2003.
Strongly averted by Stack (There were narrators before him such as Raymond Burr and Karl Malden) thanks to his haunting narration (adding a certain amount of pathos to what may have been otherwise mundane stories), which was completely different to the other hosts.
The move to the Lifetime Network meant that nearly all of the scary/awesome paranormal segments were booted off to make room for more "missing loved ones" segments instead. Yup: say goodbye to Bigfoot, UFOs and ghosts and say hello to more families crying and hugging!
The 2008-2010 Spike TV run, which was basically comprised of Re-Cut versions of the original episodes, mostly the true-crime segments, with a plethora of unnecessary video/audio effects added, Robert Stack swapped out for Dennis Farina, and the iconic theme song and background music replaced with generic rock tracks. The announcement that they were going to focus on "male-oriented" stories had even male fans snarking on discussion boards.
From Lifetime: television for women, to Spike TV: television for men. I guess now all the "Lost Loves" segments will be replaced with segments like "Lost Remotes" ...Like what's next, "The Case of the Poisoned Pork Rinds" and "The Vanishing Football"?
The Farina version is despised among most fans of the series as they simply re-aired stories with Farina's tough guy Chicago accent recorded over the preferred spooky Stack narration.
A straight version would be a story of two girls who grew up in the same 1950s neighborhood and were close like sisters, believing themselves to be cousins, until one of the girls moved away with her family. Years later, it is discovered that the girls were sisters, but the one sister still continues to search for her long-lost sister.
The woman who suffered a brain aneurysm and lost 16 years of her memories! After leaving the hospital, she thought it was still 1960, but really it was 1976, her children had grown up, her husband looked different, certain family members or friends had passed away, her house was different, and to top it all off, she was fearful of admitting to her family she had lost her memory, until four years later. The segment ends with the host saying that doctors do not believe she will ever recover, or gain her memories back.
The Missing Person case that involved the New Kids on the Block turned out to be this. It featured a missing girl who was supposedly caught on tape in the video for My Favorite Girl, so the Knight brothers (Jonathan and Jordan) showed up on the show asking for info about her whereabouts. According to an update, however, the girl on tape was an Identical Stranger... and the actual one had been murdered the same day she disappeared. The only good thing is that the poor girl's killer was found and brought to justice.
The case of Joseph Schambier searching for his long-lost daughter Alberta Elaine; she was taken from him as an infant and put up for adoption when Joseph had been thought to have been mistakenly killed in World War II. Schambier learned Alberta died at the age of 18 in 1957, murdered by Alberta's estranged husband.
Values Dissonance: It may be a little jarring to viewers when cases that involve people growing marijuana are treated with the same level of horror by the show as criminals that commit murder, rape, robbery, etc.
A large number of the stories about adopted children looking for their parents always mention how the kid was often abandoned by their young mother. While being a single teen mother isn't ideal nowadays, it's not exactly "abandon your child" horrible. In several cases, the children were split up and put in foster care because the parents were working, leaving the oldest to care for siblings. This used to be quite normal.
One segment, titled "Black and Blue", involved an interracial couple (black man, white woman), forcibly separated by her parents in The '50s, who, decades later, were looking for the daughter the woman was forced to put up for adoption. Nowadays, many people, especially parents, would object to the forbidden relationship for a reason entirely unrelated to race — at the time, he was twenty-nine while she was only seventeen.