- Accidental Innuendo: "When you really like someone, there's nothing worse than a naked signature." Said by Nate when Jenny didn't sign his yearbook with anything but her name, but even in context it sounds strange.
- Alternate Character Interpretation:
- Nate: Is he an It's All About Me Jerk with a Heart of Jerk with only the occasional Pet the Dog moments, or just a Brilliant, but Lazy Small Name, Big Ego Jerk with a Heart of Gold Butt-Monkey? The comic strip seems to support the former, while the books support the latter.
- Mrs. Godfrey: A Sadist Teacher who unfairly singles Nate out for punishment, or a reasonable Stern Teacher who responds fairly to Nate's goofing off in class? The strip itself seems to go back and forth on this.
- Archive Panic: Big Nate has been churning out daily comic strips since February 1991 (when the Sunday comics started; the dailies started a few weeks earlier in January).
- Awesome Ego: Nate's a total Narcissist, but still has lots of fans.
- Bizarro Episode: One Sunday strip has Nate visit a beach, where his bike got stolen by a seagull. Most of the response/comments for this particular strip can be summed up as "...What?"
- Another one, which is part of the Nate/Trudy strip series, has him walk away, smiling, until he literally starts FLYING. Also may count as a Tear Jerker.
- Cargo Ship: Francis and his Book of Facts, or Nate and Cheez Doodles, seeing how they are both unhealthily attached to the items.
- Crosses the Line Twice:
- One Action Cat comic had Dr. Cesspool run the cat over, fix him up, and then say that he hoped the cat's learned his lesson about getting hit by cars. Cue Action Cat walking away and another "Thump" off-panel.
- A George Washington comic series that Nate once made included his men at Valley Forge. One man told Washington that some people thought they would have to resort to cannibalism. Washington thought this was a ridiculous idea, but then the other man notices his second-in-command is missing...
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop:
- Nate was once in detention with a kid who had never been in detention before. The kid said that if Nate wanted to get detention all the time, that's okay with him, but he was going to turn his life around and become a kid the school could be proud of. Nate's reaction, and the last line of the story arc? "What a loser."
- At one point, a girl expressed interest in joining the cartooning club but backed out when she realized that the club mainly drew insulting cartoons. After she said that they were cruel and left, Nate said to the class, "Okay, who wants to draw cartoons about miss goody-good?"
- Many recent comics with Gina. It's only this because Gina's Flanderization turned her into not only a smart kid but also an Insufferable Genius and the Designated Villain, making it seem that the strip is trying to convince readers that being a good student is a bad thing. It's balanced out by the fact that Nate's best friend Francis is also a good student, but even then he's occasionally mocked for it.
- Fridge Horror: How does Chester treat his family members?
- Genius Bonus: Nate's character Dan Cupid has "love darts" that make people fall in love with each other, but in one strip he mentions that he has "anti-love darts" as well that make people hate and be hated by everyone. In Greek mythology, Cupid not only had golden arrows that made people fall in love, but also had iron arrows that had the opposite effect.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- After the 2016 US presidential election, the storyline where Nate runs for class president can be this, if you imagine Nate in the role of Donald Trump. Much like Trump, Nate didn't seem like a likely candidate, but ended up winning.
- Chad Applewhite is an adorable but short and physically unfit kid. He couldn't be more different from the strong and charming but mean Chad who all the girls allegedly prefer to the "nice guys".
- Ho Yay: Derek Nack idolizes Nate...a little too heavily. He's only appeared in two arcs, but he's managed to get plenty of odd lines in.Derek: Want to exchange locks of hair?Nate: Well, gotta go...
- Jerkass Woobie: Nate's not a nice person to say the very least, but his friends often treat him like crap, his teacher gives him a terrible grade for making a replica of the coliseum out of blocks, and it just seems that the universe hates him. There are multiple times Nate's just minding his own business and something bad has to happen to him or his friends purposely screw him over for amusement.
- Squick: Coach John collects kidney stones and loves showing the kids his knee surgeries. "And the bone was poking through the skin!!"
- Uncanny Valley: Gordie looks...odd, to say the least.
- Unintentionally Sympathetic: While Mrs. Godfrey is often harsh with Nate, Nate often does things that would seem just as bad to her when looked at from her perspective, such as drawing mean cartoons and blatantly disrespecting her in front of the class.
- Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Francis and Teddy were seen as rather ungrateful and insensitive after Nate's breakup with Trudy, especially after he mentioned it was so he could hang out with them.
YMMV / Big Nate