Chris. He's condescending, hopelessly naive, inconsiderate, foolhardy, irrational, and irritatingly judgemental. His life back home, while surrounded by people who loved him, was shaky, he found out that his father was married to another woman and had a family with her and that his mother kept it a secret, he has immense trouble connecting with people, and he only realizes just how much he needs the people in his life after he has left them behind.
Chris's parents also, they're authoritarian, arrogant, snobbish and abusive to one another. But by the time Chris goes missing, they are seen truly desperate trying to find or get any news from their son. By the end of the movie they are shells of their former selves trying get a semblance of going on with their lives.
Memetic Mutation: Alexander Superspeeder. It's a Black Comedy description of Chris' idiocy-fuelled misadventures if he tried reaching Daytona 500 and becoming NASCAR driver instead of living in the wild.
Several fans of the book and film have tried to emulate Chris' choices, probably because of the quasi-messianic archetype Chris is portrayed into; said fans tend to ignore his desperate (and unheard) cries for help as he realizes just how out of his depth he is, as well as his revelation on the importance of friends and family.
Several people have actually died trying to find the bus he stayed in. Others visited the bus to find it filled with garbage. Others shot at it or took pieces as souvenirs, which hastened its deterioration. In June 2020, the bus was removed from the forest by Alaskan authorities to prevent further tragedies and pollution.
One-Scene Wonder: Pretty much a collection of these, as the film chronicles Chris' encounters with a variety of figures that he grows attached to, then leaves behind to continue his journey. Special mention should go to Hal Holbrook's Oscar-nominated turn.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Some have no love for Chris, seeing him as nothing but a naive, arrogant idiot who walked into the Alaskan Wilderness with little knowledge on how to handle it.
What an Idiot!: Frequent reaction from people who knew more about bushcraft than Chris and saw how unprepared he was for life in the Alaskan forest.
The Woobie: The character of Ron Franz, who is a lonely old retired man who lost his family in a car accident while he was off serving in the US Army. He comes to bond and care for Chris in the time that they grow to know each other, only for Chris to leave two months later. As an effort to keep Chris from leaving, Franz offers to adopt him as a grandson, noting that he doesn't have anyone else and that he's essentially the last living member of his family line. When Chris gently brushes this off by saying that they can talk about it after he returns from Alaska, the heartbreak Franz feels is readily apparent.