- Bile Fascination: It made a huge amount in rental fees ($7 million, compared to $14 million when it was in theaters) when it first hit VHS, from people curious to see if it lived up (or down) to its reputation.
- Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: A meta-example, despite them film's miserable Troubled Production and its infamous reputation as a Box Office Bomb, both stars Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman never viewed the film as an Old Shame of their careers nor divulged in expressing Creator Backlash of any sort, Beatty even had described the director Elaine May, whom he had Hostility on the Set with, as a "brilliant woman."
- Cult Classic: See Bile Fascination above.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: "If you admit that you can play the accordion/No one'll hire you in a rock 'n' roll band". Filmed the same year that They Might Be Giants released their debut album.
- Memetic Mutation:
- Ishtar became the go-to example of a terrible movie. Like Roger Ebert said about Battlefield Earth, it was (deservedly or not) "the punchline of jokes about bad movies" for years afterwards. One Far Side cartoon depicted "Hell's video store" stocked only with copies of Ishtar, because of its reputation. (Once Gary Larson actually watched it, he apologised. Then again, a video store that sells only one movie would be pretty unpleasant.)
- After RedLetterMedia played it multiple times throughout an episode of Best of the Worst, the trailer for the film became a meme for the site's fans. Specifically, the line "These men are pawns!" near the start of the trailer.
- Vindicated by History: Once referred to solely in association with box office flops. Now a Cult Classic that even became the subject of a documentary.
YMMV / Ishtar