- Awesome Music: The jazz-funk soundtrack to the 1996 movie.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop:
- Lie to people! It makes them feel better!
- If someone invades your privacy without just cause, your reasonable assertion they had no right to do so will be ignored, and you will be emotionally badgered into apologizing to them for hurting their feelings.
- Of course, there's no small amount of irony in asserting that Harriet was the one whose privacy was violated with cause...
- Hilarious in Hindsight: There is a manipulative teenage girl antagonist who is skilled at ruining someone's life from the inside out. Her last name is Hawthorne.
- Paranoia Fuel: Anyone with any kind of secret diary or notebook will tell you this is true... thinking about your Notebook falling into the wrong hands is the stuff of this and Nightmare Fuel.
- Toy Ship: Although there's no romantic interaction between them, Harriet seems pretty set on marrying Sport some day.
- Uncanny Valley: This◊ movie poster feels... off.
- Values Dissonance: Surprisingly many, believe it or not;
- Remember all you little 11 year olds, never anger your teacher. Or she'll use your fellow students to torment and abuse you!
- When Ole Golly manages to convince Harriet to take dancing lessons by telling her that dancing is a crucial skill for spies like Mata Hari, Harriet claims that spies are also required to learn skills like languages and martial arts, but Ole Golly dismissively responds, "That's boy spies, Harriet. You're not thinking." Considering all the developments in feminism since 1964, the remark seems a bit less innocent today.
- Let alone the fact that she could have cited James Bond as a boy spy who was an accomplished dancer.
- In the 1996 film adaptation, after Harriet's classmates torment her, she carves a revenge list into her desk, and her teacher makes no comment about it. Nowadays, after all of the shootings that have happened in American schools, Harriet's list probably would have gotten her into much more serious trouble. Tangentially related to this, in 2010 a kid was led away in handcuffs by a police officer after doodling on her desk with washable marker. It's hard to believe nobody would say anything about her carving anything into the desk, regardless of what it was.
- When a group of students are discussing games to play, one of them says "that's retarded" to one of the suggestions. 1996? Socially acceptable enough to be in a kids' movie. Today? Would draw ire even in a movie for adults.
- While probably seen as just deserts for a mean girl at the the time the book was written, Harriet telling Rachel that her father left because he didn't love her comes off as extremely cruel nowadays, and not the sort of thing you'd expect a sympathetic character to do.
- What an Idiot!: When Harriet's notebook is discovered by her classmates, they are unsurprisingly hurt by her less than flattering notes, and form a spy catchers club bent on making Harriet's life miserable.
You'd Expect: Harriet would just apologize for her notes (which she later does as newspaper editor), and then maybe they would all forgive her (Sport and Janie would for sure.)
Instead: She decides to get back at them all by playing harmful pranks or embarrassing them. It makes them even angrier. It doesn't occur to Harriet because she is Brutally Honest, and Ole Golly in a letter has to spell it out for her.
- Woobie: Beth Ellen Hansen, even more so in The Long Secret. Her mother flits around Europe, and when her grandmother announces that she's coming back, Beth Ellen doesn't know what to feel. She hasn't seen since she was five. Her mother's abandonment and her grandmother's stodgy (though well-meaning) care seem to have taught her that she should not feel or want anything, which causes Harriet continual frustration that Beth Ellen never seems to think of anything.
YMMV / Harriet the Spy