- Ear Worm: "La donna è mobile". Not only does it have a really catchy tune, but Verdi has the Duke sing it three times in the final act alone, nailing it in as an ear worm that Italian school boys would still be humming after one and a half centuries.
- Tear Jerker: It's a tragic opera, so there's a lot of this.
- Poor Count Monterone, mocked by Rigoletto and the rest of the Duke's court for trying to avenge his daughter's honour after the Duke seduced her, and ultimately sentenced to death.
- Poor Maddalena, who lets herself be seduced by the Duke as part of the scheme Sparafucile has concocted to kill him on Rigoletto's behalf, but ends up falling In Love with the Mark even though she knows she is just the latest in a long line of sexual conquests, leading her to plead with Sparafucile not to kill him.
- Poor Gilda, who falls in love with the Duke despite knowing he is The Casanova, and sacrifices her life for his by tricking Sparafucile into killing her after overhearing him promise Maddalena that he will spare the Duke if he can find a victim whose body he can present to Rigoletto as the Duke's (Gilda is dressed as a man so that she and her father can flee to Verona undetected after the Duke's murder).
- Poor Rigoletto... although, unlike most title characters in tragic operas, he's still alive at the end, he certainly wishes he wasn't, as he has lost everything that matters to him. He is cursed by Count Monterone after persuading his boss, the Duke of Mantua, to sentence him to death, inadvertently assists in the abduction of his own daughter, Gilda, to be seduced by the Duke (in whose sexual conquests he has often been an accomplice), is mocked by the court when he discovers what has happened and swears vengeance against the Duke, and then finds that the body Sparafucile has given him that he thinks is the Duke is actually Gilda. And the Duke? He gets off scot-free. (At least until he moves on from Sparafucile's sister; it's hard to imagine either of them taking that lying down.)