- Alternative Character Interpretation: How much sympathy does Tonya really deserve regarding her scores? Were they really as unfair as she claimed? If you look at her competition history, which began in 1985/86, her results are perfectly respectable and quite fair and are pretty reflective of her level of experience and the quality of her skating—namely, that they improved as she did, peaking in 1991, the year she mastered the triple axel—in one competition, she received two 6's note for technical merit (remarkable both because it had never happened before and because 6's were more commonly awarded for artistic impression). Any bad results appear to be in line with poor skating due to her myriad of personal issues. Plus, it's she who sabotaged herself at both of her Olympic appearances with late arrivals and dreadful practice sessions.
- Tonya was a world-class athlete who was not a well-rounded skater. She was the equivalent of a baseball pitcher who can throw an incredible fastball, but not much else. Her incredible athleticism got her far, but figure skating also relies heavily on grace and artistry, which Tonya was deficient in. She was doomed to lose out to skaters such as Kerrigan, Oksana Baiul and others who possessed all three traits.
- Audience-Alienating Premise: To an extent, depending exactly how you feel about the real life issue. Given that Tonya's version of the events that happened is usually dismissed as being fairly dishonest and unreliable, more than a few audience members were very put off to see a movie that they believed was taking her side with the events in question.
- Award Snub: At the Oscars, the film won Best Supporting Actress (Janney), and was also nominated for Best Actress (Robbie) and Best Film Editing, but was left out of the Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Makeup & Hairstyling categories, despite being in the running for all three. Some think the film's divisive subject matter kept it from getting a Best Picture nom, along with competition from more Oscar-friendly films like Phantom Thread.
- Catharsis Factor: Tonya's Cluster F-Bomb "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Shawn is so very satisfying after putting up with his Know-Nothing Know-It-All bragging for most of the movie.
- Crosses the Line Twice: Much like Terence Fletcher, LaVona's creatively profane insults can often get a laugh despite what a horrible person she is.
- Heartwarming Moments:
I know you don't believe in second chances. But I do.
- It's small, but the little girl telling Tonya she wants to be a skater, just like her. It's a genuinely sweet moment, and it even gets Tonya to smile.
- Tonya reconnecting with her old coach, who tells her that she still believes in her, and that she has a shot at the winter Olympics.
- Jerkass Woobie: Though she can be a real bitch at times, and many of her problems stem from her own poor decisions, you sometimes can't help but feel sorry for Tonya, after seeing what she went through as a child, and especially when she gets banned from skating. Then there's the fact that the sensationalist media scapegoated her for a crime that she wasn't responsible for.
- Older Than They Think: This is actually the second time Tonya Harding's story has been told for the screen. The first was a cheap (and now rare) NBC TV movie from 1994 called Tonya & Nancy: The Inside Story starring Alexandra Powers as Tonya and Heather Langenkamp as Nancy Kerrigan. Interestingly, that film also utilized a fake interview/flashback format, and its depiction of Tonya's early life is very similar to I, Tonya. The biggest difference was an attempt to give Nancy Kerrigan equal focus, wheres I, Tonya demoted her to a minor role.
- Signature Scene: The Oner of Tonya Harding putting on her makeup.
YMMV / I, Tonya