- Accidental Aesop: Don't talk to strangers. They might want to lock you in a cage for their carnival sideshow.
- Alternate Character Interpretation: The Dodos reaction to Big Bird's best friend being a Snuffleupagus. Are they just thinking his best friend should be a bird, or do they think Big Bird is making it up and laughing at his supposed imagination? Or maybe both (as if to say that Big Bird's imaginary best friend should be a bird).
- Audience-Alienating Premise: Popular as the show was/is, parents didn't find taking their kids to see Big Bird on the big screen (weak pun intended) worth the money when they could just show it to them on television for no charge. The movie ended up Vindicated by Video, with modern audiences, especially millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996), viewing the film fondly.
- Awesome Music: "There Ain't No Road Too Long"
- Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The whole "Grouch Anthem" bit, which starts the film, no less. It's funny (especially for older viewers, who might be familiar with Patton, which the bit is a takeoff on), but it's rather random; the WB logo doesn't appear until after it's over, no doubt confusing some people.
- Designated Villain: Miss Finch is your standard "social worker just doing her job" brand of Designated Villain. She's hoping to find a runaway child and return him to safety, just like the residents of Sesame Street are. Though she does share her organization's racist belief that only birds can raise birds, it's apparently because she simply never considered the alternative.
- First Installment Wins: Between the two theatrical films. Follow That Bird has a 92% score on Rotten Tomatoes, a 6.8 on IMDb, and grossed $13 million in the box office. The 1999 Spiritual Successor The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland scores at 77% and 5.8. and earned $11.6 million. A Fandom Rivalry over whether the 1985 film or the 1999 film is better persists to this day, of course. Whether or not the upcoming third film will get a better or worse reception than either of the other two is still up in the air.
- Harsher in Hindsight: The first draft of the script ends with a news report from Kermit on the Space Shuttle, saying that he received a tip that Big Bird is in space. A few years later, NASA wanted to have Big Bird go into space for The Challenger mission, only for his size to keep him and Caroll Spinney from it, and the spacecraft exploded on launch.
- Heartwarming Moments:
- Count von Count counts the end credits, and refers to those credited by title ("one 'written by'", etc.) When that of executive producer (and creator of Sesame Street) comes up, not only does he count her by name ("one Joan Ganz Cooney!"), he then turns to the camera, gives a little wave, and says "Hi, mom." It's adorable.
- At the end when the citizens of Sesame Street stand up for Big Bird and tells Miss Finch that he has a family, even if it's not one that Miss Finch thinks Big Bird should have.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- Maria complains at the Grouch diner, "There's nothing here I can eat!" Years later on the TV show, when pregnant with Gabriela, Maria develops a taste for Grouch cuisine.
- And speaking of the Grouch diner, one of the meals they serve there is spaghetti with maple syrup. Does that bring a certain film to mind?
- This wouldn't be the last Warner Bros. film featuring a villain named Sam who steals an apple from a kid.
- Sam pretends to have a guard dog to scare away the two kids. His actor later stars in a movie featuring a dog.
- Moral Event Horizon: The Dodos are a strange child-friendly case, being obnoxious ditzes than actual villains. But it's made clear they cross this by rejecting Big Bird's friendship with Mr. Snuffleupagus, due to the latter not being a bird, which causes him to run away from them. And when Kermit goes to interview them, they're more excited about being on TV than concerned about Big Bird's disappearance.
- One-Scene Wonder: Don't Drop Inn, probably the most famous scene in the movie because of the Food Fight among the diners.
- Retroactive Recognition: Alyson Court as Ruthie the farm girl.
- Squick: The Don't Drop Inn's menu. Reflecting typical Grouch tastes, the menu includes cod liver oatmeal, candied clams with French dressing, cream of garlic soup with maraschino cherries, and roast beef with butterscotch and anchovies. The one item that doesn't sound sickening is their tossed salad...if you can overlook their serving via catapult.
- Visual Effects of Awesome:
YMMV / Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird