- Alternate Character Interpretation: The two sequels set Rusty up as a full-blown Serial Killer, raising the question as to whether he was always that bad and the characters in the first movie just happened to be lucky in going against him, or if it was the events of the first movie that first pushed Rusty over the edge.
- First Installment Wins: A minor example. The first installment is universally seen as superior, but the sequels still have their fans and are considered moderately above-average popcorn slasher flicks.
- Jerk Ass Woobie: Lewis and Fuller's prank would have been cruel regardless whom they had played on, especially so to a lonely trucker like Rusty Nail, for whom "Candy Cane" may have been the very first woman to show him any interest.
- Magnificent Bastard: The trucker known only as "Rusty Nail" is the victim of a cruel prank from Lewis and Fuller, setting him up to meet a nonexistent lover named "Candy Cane". Being denied an apology, a furious Rusty stalks them, killing an innocent trucker and eventually kidnaps Lewis's girlfriend Venna's friend Charlotte to draw them out, put them through a humiliating situation and lure them into a deathly trap. Even when they escape, Rusty uses the dead trucker's body as a substitute for his own to escape completely.
- Moral Event Horizon: Rusty Nail becomes a lot harder to root for after he kidnaps Charlotte, tortures her and uses her as a hostage just for being casual acquaintances with the people he was chasing despite knowing she wasn't even in the same state when they pranked him. He might have crossed this even earlier if he did in fact kill the ice truck driver (and it's implied that he did, given how he had a body from somewhere for his Faking the Dead gambit who drove an ice truck), a perfectly nice fellow trucker who just happened to be in his way.
- One-Scene Wonder:
- Retroactive Recognition: Jim Beaver shows up briefly as a cantankerous cop who is frustrated by the extra work created for him by two young punks driving around in an old car.
- Rooting for the Empire: The protagonists in the films are such jerks that some viewers can't help but root for Rusty after what they have done to him.
- The Scrappy: Fuller, to a fair amount of viewers for being an immature ingrate who starts the whole mess.
- Shocking Swerve: The twist ending practically mandates that you pretend Charlotte isn't in the truck, because she doesn't have on a blindfold and had to have seen the entire ruse being set up.
YMMV / Joy Ride