- First Blood starts with the tragedy early when Rambo tries to visit the other remaining survivor from his unit, Delmar Barry, only to learn that his old buddy had died of cancer from exposure to Agent Orange during the war. His widow remarks that before he passed, Delmar (once The Big Guy of Rambo's team) had become so thin and frail that she could lift him off the sheets herself.
- What makes it even worse is that, when we first see Rambo, he's smiling, happy and friendly. He's looking forward to seeing his friend. And when he learns that Delmar is dead, he's devastated. We never see him happy again.
- Sheriff Teasle's refusal to let Rambo pass through town mirrors Rambo's (and other vets) feelings of rejection and dislocation from their own country. Or, for that matter, the hostility and cruelty faced by the homeless in general.
- Despite not being as sympathetic as Rambo nor his novel counterpart, you can't help to feel some sympathy for Teasle as much of his own Pride and obsessive anger towards Rambo is that Teasle was a Korean War veteran (and something of a war hero himself, only second-degree to Rambo though as Rambo won the Congressional Medal of Honor, while Teasle, despite being awarded with other important medals, did not) and that they were very much forgotten despite having as much Sacrificial Lion casualties it suffered, yet it lives in the shadow of the Vietnam War controversy. Plus, how forgotten Korean War vets puts such misplaced blame on the Vietnam vets is considered very sad at seeing two different classes of Cold War vets, despite being mistreated by the public in some way and having served to protect our country, go against one another all because of these issues. Compared to the other villains in the franchise, Teasle is just a resentful and angry soul no different from Rambo himself.
- After thinking Rambo was killed by the National Guardsmen, Teasle returns to his office back in the station and his Korean War medals can be seen, which briefly gives off a Jerkass Woobie Tragic Villain aura for Teasle due to the aforementioned issues mentioned above, which is worse considering Teasle's despicable behavior by the time of the film, he has became a Fallen Hero towards his decorated Korean War past.
- In a deleted scene following the failure of Teasle's initial manhunt, Teasle has another Sympathy for the Devil moment from audiences through a form of Pet the Dog towards others when he looks on with remorse at Art Galt's widow crying over her husband's corpse and then tried to apologize to a deputy's wife for her husband's injuries and telling her that he'll call her at the hospital to make sure everything is okay.
- Teasle's Redemption Rejection at the climax before the final showdown with Rambo. Unlike future Rambo Big Bads, there were clues in the film (especially the deleted scenes featuring him in softer moments like the bullet above) that Teasle may have a Hidden Heart of Gold buried underneath his vengeful Rabid Cop and Dirty Cop behavior which makes him human and fallible for an antagonist in the franchise and Trautman, who emphasized with Teasle during the manhunt, gave several chances for Teasle to redeem himself by choosing not to keep fighting Rambo. However, Teasle, despite having shown considering to give up if his visit with Trautman at the town bar is any indication, then rebuffs Trautman's offer and fights Rambo until the town is vandalized, he himself is wounded and then taken to the hospital not without receiving looks of scorn by both Trautman and Rambo, solidifying Teasle as a Jerkass Woobie if he wasn't considered already by some to begin with by the end of the film.
- This particular line from Rambo when Col. Trautman first contacts him on the radio:Trautman: Well look, John, we can't have you runnin' around out there, wasting friendly civilians!
Rambo: There are no friendly civilians.
- Rambo's outpouring of repressed grief at the ending of the film adaptation is said by the author of the original novel to have saved the marriages of countless emotionally destroyed Vietnam War veterans, who afterwards learned how to cry again. It's not only the longest in the series, but also sets up the character for the rest of it. Here's the entire dialog if you want:Rambo: Nothing is over! Nothing! You just don't turn it off! It wasn't my war! You asked me, I didn't ask you! And I Did What I Had to Do to win, but somebody wouldn't let us win! And I come back to the world, and I see all those maggots at the airport, protesting me, spitting; calling me baby killer and all kinds of vile crap! Who are they to protest me, huh?! Who are they, unless they've been me, and been there, and know what the hell they're yelling about!
Trautman: It was a bad time for everyone, Rambo. It's all in the past now!
Rambo: FOR YOU! For me, civilian life is nothing! In the field we had a code of honor: you watch my back, I watch yours. Back here there's nothing!
Trautman: You're the last of an elite group. Don't end it like this.
Rambo: Back there I could fly a gunship, I could drive a tank. I was in charge of million-dollar equipment. Back here I can't even hold a job PARKING CARS! (throws weapon away)
- The monologue following that part is also tearjerking as well.Rambo: I had a friend... Was Danforth. I had all these guys, man... Back there I had all these fuckin' guys who were my friends, and back here there's nothing. ...Remember Danforth?
Rambo: He wore this black headband, and I took one of those magic markers, that I said he found. And mailed it to Las Vegas, 'cuz we were always talking about Vegas, and this fuckin' car, this red '58 Chevy convertible, he was talking about this car; he said we were gonna cruise 'til the tires fall off... *begins sobbing* We were in this bar in Saigon and this kid comes up, this kid carrying a shoe-shine box. And he says "Shine, please, shine!" I said no. He kept askin', yeah, and Joey said "Yeah." And I went to get a couple of beers, and the box was wired, and he opened up the box... Fucking blew his body all over the place. And he's laying there, he's fucking screaming. There's pieces of him all over me, just... (rips off his bandolier in a panic) like this, and I'm tryin' to pull him off, you know, my friend that's all over me! I've got blood and everything and I'm tryin' to hold him together! I'm puttin'... the guy's fuckin' insides keep coming out! And nobody would help! Nobody would help! He's saying, sayin' "I wanna go home! I wanna go home!" He keeps calling my name! "I wanna go home, Johnny! I wanna drive my Chevy!" I said "With what? I can't find your fuckin' legs! I can't find your legs!" (Sobs) I can't get it out of my head. I've dreamed it seven years. Everyday I have this. And sometimes I wake up and I don't know where I am. I don't talk to anybody. Sometimes a day - a week. I can't put it out of my mind.
[Rambo breaks down in tears and embraces Trautman.]
- Finally, we have the ending theme, It's A Long Road. Really fits the ending.
- If anything, First Blood is Tear Jerker: The Movie. Aside from above, Rambo was being hounded on Christmas of all holidays.
- A deleted alternative ending has Trautman having Rambo at gunpoint and Rambo begging him to do it. When Trautman goes to move the gun away, Rambo grabs the gun hand and causes the gun to fire, shooting himself in the gut and seemingly killing him.
Tear Jerker / First Blood