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The cartoon:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Some people say that Gadget isn't stupid, he's willingly being a distraction so Penny can accomplish the mission, since when Penny's safety is threatened, he suddenly becomes a lot more competent.
  • Awesome Music:
    • "Doo-doo-doo-doo-doot, Inspector Gadget..."
    • The theme song often plays in the background. No matter what locale Gadget goes to, the local music is simply the theme song reworked to that particular country's musical style. This further ingrains the theme song in your ear and also saves the sound people from having to worry about copyrights. It's so catchy that even the characters frequently hum or whistle it.
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    • The French version has a theme song with lyrics, making it one in its own right.
    • Penny's theme (both the normal and heroic versions).
  • Broken Base: While the show certain has nostalgia with many audiences, a common point of contention was making Gadget a Useless Protagonist after the first handful of episodes. Some liked the unique Supporting Protagonist dynamic, while others claimed it reduced the main character (particularly one with such a surreal gimmick) into superficial comic reliefnote  and would have either preferred the earlier dynamic with the more semi-effective Gadget, or a show with just Penny as the main protagonist.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: In the episode "Gone Went the Wind", Inspector Gadget finds Chief Quimby in the frozen chicken isle at the supermarket, but before Quimby appears, one of the frozen chickens inexplicably gets out and walks away.
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  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: To this day, the series has a strong cult following in France.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • A MAD agent couldn't dare sneak blunt objects on a plane today, nor could Penny and Brain sneak into the cargo hold of passenger jets to get to destinations under Gadget's nose, without plenty of TSA office visits and permanent inclusion on the no-fly list. Not to mention the chances of Gadget ever getting past airport security what with all the metal and potentially deadly equipment he's got inside him (Go-go gadget scissors, anyone?)
    • A fanfic called Euro Gadget (following up from the first live-action movie) points this out and explains it. He has to call the airport ahead of time to let them know- and even then, his extendable limbs accidentally activate while being screened.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
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    • Gadget biting and destroying his pillow during a nightmare in "Bad Dreams Are Made of This" becomes even funnier and more disturbing if you're familiar with the honeymoon scene from a certain infamous vampire love story.
    • The idea of an assassination attempt via grenades disguised as milk bottles, and the assassin disguised as a milkman, would later be reused in The Living Daylights.
    • In the episode "Dry Spell", the M.A.D. agent Dirk Boulder is assisted by a pair of identical trolls, one wearing orange and the other wearing blue. Orange and blue would later be the respective colors of Fidget and Digit, the titular Gadgetinis from the spinoff series Gadget and the Gadgetinis.
    • The episode title "NSF Gadget" in the day and age of the internet, with the prefix NSF typically being used in acronyms like NSFW, or "Not Safe For Work", indicating material of pornographic, gory, or generally disturbing nature that is, well, material generally not considered safe to be seen in a public space, such as a work environment.
  • Inferred Holocaust: Sometimes occurs either when M.A.D.'s superweapons are tested or when Gadget destroys their large, elaborate secret bases. For example, in "The Bermuda Triangle" Claw's hide-out is a huge, small city-sized ocean-floor complex that must require dozens if not hundreds of crew just for basic operations and daily maintenance. (About a dozen are seen onscreen in any one frame.) Gadget floods the base, and (barely) survives, as does Claw in his personal submarine — But no mention is made of other survivors ...
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Gadget shows up on a lot of early DiC DVD menus to give instructions, even in series that have nothing to do with him). Some of the things he says have caught on due to a review by James Rolfe and Mike Matei where they make fun of this. Move the glow around the button you want to select!
    • Next time, Gadget! NEEEEEXT TIIIIIIIME!
  • Seasonal Rot: The second season, which has a different film look to it, most of the action takes place around Gadget's neighborhood, many of the voices are different and the plots... Nelvana wasn't involved with this season.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: While the games based on this franchise aren't necessarily terrible, they're very forgettable with a few exceptions.
  • The Scrappy: Corporal Capeman. Not only was he even stupider than Gadget, he would often be a total ass to Brain for no reason at all.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Gadget is a pretty darn awesome superhero in concept, but he spends the entire series gleefully clutching the Idiot Ball and generally being useless. A lot of people say that Penny's a lot better as The Protagonist, and wish that she was the series' primary focus.
  • Ugly Cute: The Linguinis in Gadget in Minimadness.
  • "Weird Al" Effect: Anyone who has grown up watching the cartoon will recognize its theme song better than Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King", which the theme is based on.

The 1999 film:

  • Anti-Climax Boss: After defeating Robo-Gadget and using the iconic Gadget Copter to fly to Scolex's headquarters, Gadget's battle with Scolex... isn't. Scolex destroys the Copter with a missile and then hooks John on the rung of his helicopter, and Gadget uses an Improvised Weapon made from a pen to trigger Scolex's claw to shatter the control stick, and everyone bails out of the helicopter.
  • Ass Pull: Gadget's pen projectile trick that he uses to save Brenda and to disable Claw's helicopter. It comes out of absolutely nowhere and no explanation is given for whatever he did to make it work as he intended.
  • Awesome Music:
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
  • Broken Base: The fans are divided between those who despised the first film for not being close enough to the cartoons, those who hated the second film for not being enough like the first, people who hated both and prefer to stick to the cartoons, and the people who liked both films. All of the above is without taking onto consideration the people who liked either of the movies, but disliked the cartoons.
  • Ending Fatigue: Even after it's over, the end credits are littered with cutaway clips of what the characters have moved on to after catching Claw, complete with the Gadgetmobile's life story which carries on even when the credits finally conclude.
  • Ham and Cheese: Matthew Broderick played both Gadget and Robo-Gadget. He is quite clearly enjoying one of these roles way too much. Guess which one.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • As a few memes have pointed out, the "Sore Guru" bears more than a passing resemblance to Osama bin Laden.
    • Sikes was sleeping while The Simpsons is on. 20 years later, Disney owns Fox.
  • Ho Yay: That Kramer really seems to get off on Claw's abuse... while Claw praises Kramer in comparison to constantly dumping on Sikes. Not to mention:
    Claw: "Ok. Turn me on, Kramer..."
  • Informed Wrongness: Chief Quimby. Gadget wants to be assigned to Artemis Bradford's murder investigation, and Quimby coldly tells him that the Bradford case demands real police work, and Gadget is not a real inspector or even a real police officer, he's just a publicity stunt that Quimby has to put up with. While definitely mean, Quimby is absolutely right — Gadget was only a security guard (and only for two years according to the opening scene) and has received no formal training as a police officer, and he has no business being put on a high-profile murder case.
  • In Name Only: Its harshest critics have accused it of being this due to its lack of connection to the cartoon on which it was based.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Scolex crosses it in his very first scene. Interestingly, John Brown (the future Gadget) thinks Scolex's MEH wasn't the murder of Dr. Artemus Bradford, but having his henchman track oil behind his limo, thus causing Brown's '87 Chevette to flip onto its roof and slide into a Yahoo! billboard. What makes that worse is that Scolex enjoys watching Brown suffer for going after him.
    John Brown: Now you've crossed the line! Pull over, you!
    Sanford Scolex: Stop the car, Sikes, I want to enjoy this.
  • Narm:
    • Almost everyone's performance arguably falls under this, not helped by the peculiar casting choices. Outside of that, there's also that incredibly awkward fourth wall joke when Scolex and Kramer, along with the imprisoned Inspected Gadget, stare directly into the camera at the audience for no real good reason except for the sake of showing there's No Fourth Wall. See Big-Lipped Alligator Moment above.
    • The entirety of the end credits becomes this when you sit through all of the random clips and dialogue from the Gadgetmobile even after the bloody movie has ended. Even the casting credits could not turn down the opportunity at one last gag before finally concluding.
  • Never Live It Down: Despite its success at the box office, its unfaithfulness to the cartoon, its questionable casting, disjointed plot, overload of cartoon sound effects and the decision to reveal Dr. Claw's entire face have all remained huge sore points to fans of the bumbling Inspector Gadget. That's to say nothing of the equally baffling decision of reducing Penny to a side character, which many saw as completely missing the point of the cartoon.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Artemis Bradford's murder. We don't see it, but we see some sort of gun fire at him, and we get a Gory Discretion Shot of what it actually did to him.
    • Gadget with all of his robotic parts exposed.
    • The tarantula coming out of Robo Gadget.
    • The guru's eyes popping out of his head when Gadget grabs the wrong set of balls.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The film saves the iconic Gadget-Copter until the climax.
  • Signature Song: "I'll Be Your Everything" by Youngstown.
  • Special Effect Failure: The Gadgetmobile monitor in the film doesn't have a proper lip-sync. This was corrected in the sequel.
  • Squick:
    • The giggly, acquiescent, relatively dim, programmed-to-be-a-cheerleader Robo-Brenda was basically a sex doll.
    • The entire plot hinging on the theft of a very life-like robotic foot may have some wondering if somebody behind the scenes had an unhealthy foot fetish going on.
  • Tainted by the Preview: All of the marketing and trailers reveal Claw's face.
  • Uncanny Valley: Robo-Gadget. The shifty eyes and fake teeth are scary without trying. One could argue that Broderick made a better villain than a hero.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Say what you like about the film, but the creators really used their budget, and the whole thing is worth watching just for Stan Winston's realizations of Inspector Gadget's gadgets. Also, Claw's... claw, is pretty damn impressive looking.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Many diehard fans are clearly unhappy that Claw reveals his face throughout the film.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: You'd never know that Penny was the actual hero of the television series if you're going solely by this film, and she is noticeably absent throughout a lot of the action despite being a much more able detective than her uncle. This did not go unnoticed by fans and critics, which is perhaps why her role in the sequel is much more prominent.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Claw gets his hands on the technology used to make Inspector Gadget and uses it to build an evil, completely robotic Gadget, built to cause destruction and chaos? It's a premise that could make for a legitimately interesting and entertaining movie. The film we got... was neither.
  • Trailer Joke Decay: Several of the jokes from the film including deleted scenes are used in the trailers.
  • What an Idiot!: Not from Gadget, but instead from Scolex, who went out of his way to build a robotic version of Brenda who was programmed with a Motor Mouth for reasons we dare not explore. She ends up blabbing everything to the real Brenda without a second thought.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • Of the directing variant, as David Kellogg was a commercial director who's only previous film effort was the critically panned Cool as Ice.
    • Practically the entire cast has been hit with this, with Rupert Everett and Matthew Broderick arguably being hit the hardest for their roles as Claw and Gadget, respectively. A less egregious case comes with Michelle Trachtenberg as Penny, who despite not being blonde at least attempts to make the most of the limited screentime she is afforded.

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