- Audience-Alienating Premise: Practically invoked. It was designed specifically to appeal to fans of sci-fi and comic books back before such things had the broad appeal they have now, with heavy promotion at Star Trek conventions (ironically, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock beat it at the box office). This is a movie that was specifically designed to be a Box Office Bomb whose hyper-niche appeal would eventually earn it a cult following through TV and home video.
- Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Why is there a watermelon there? Reno promises to tell him why, and never does.note
- Complete Monster: John Whorfin is the ruthless leader of the Red Lectroids from Planet 10. In opposition to the peaceful Black Lectroids, Whorfin seeks to conquer his homeworld and proclaim himself its lord and master, but he and his forces were banished to the 8th Dimension for their crimes. Escaping with his forces due to Dr. Hikita and Dr. Lizardo's experiment, Whorfin possesses the latter and is sent to a mental institute until he breaks out by killing a guard, and has his men find Buckaroo Banzai and steal his perfected overthruster, to use with his ship to return to Planet 10 and continue his conquest. Whorfin has Penny Priddy captured and tortured for information on the overthruster, ordering her killed when Banzai doesn't cooperate; this eventually leads to Whorfin viciously electrocuting Banzai. Whorfin then attempts to use an unfinished overthruster to pilot his ship, despite the danger of destroying his ship and his forces along with it, coldly killing Bigboote for trying to convince him otherwise. Described as being a "bloodthirsty butcher", Whorfin stands out for being a dark presence within a lighthearted film.
- Cult Classic: The film has a devoted following among those who found it on broadcast, cable, and VHS tapes.
- Ear Worm: The theme that plays over the end credits.
- Genius Bonus: When he first meets Reno and Perfect Tommy, Jersey mistakes each of them for Pecos. Later comics reveal that Pecos is a woman.
- Ham and Cheese: Everyone in this film seems to be having the time of their lives, but especially John Lithgow. The fact that everyone went so far over the top is probably why it has retained the cult status it has instead of being entirely forgettable. In fact, in an attempt to actually produce the announced sequel, Buckaroo Banzai vs. the World Crime League; all of the former cast were reported as being enthusiastic about returning to their roles. Unfortunately, the film remained stuck in Development Hell.
- Hilarious in Hindsight
- Carl Lumbly playing a lone alien who's arrived on Earth to help a team of heroes defend it against an invading force of rival aliens that have infiltrated Earth under the guise of humans for years? There's no way he'd ever have a role like that again, right?
- During the opening credits (When William Traylor and Carl Lumby's credits are on the screen), there is a square yellow box equipment-thing in the background, with what look like two white eyes and brown for the lower third. It really looks like Spongebob Squarepants, though could never have been intended to. This wouldn't even be worth mentioning save for the fact that Clancy Brown (Mr. Krabs) plays Rawhide. Funnily enough, Buckaroo Banzai actually got a Parental Bonus Shout-Out in one 2000 episode of SpongeBob SquarePants ("Big Pink Loser"), where Patrick claims that his life's dream is to "defeat the giant Monkey-Man and save the 9th dimension". ("Monkey Man" was John Bigbooté's disparaging term for humans)
- Buckaroo's suit during the end credits looks a lot like Peewee Herman's outfit. Although Paul Reubens was already something of a cult figure as Peewee Herman, it wouldn't be till the next year with Pee-wee's Big Adventure that the character would catapult to national consciousness.
- Even discounting that, the outfit would look perfect on the 11th Doctor.
- Long before anyone was able to make the idea of a shared movie universe a viable project, this film created an uncanny replica of how it feels to watch an entry from one out of order, with the frequent references to Buckaroo's other adventures and unexplained stuff like the watermelon.
- The film's composer is named Michael Boddicker. The film stars Peter Weller. Do the math.
- Memetic Mutation:
- "I'm sure in the miserable annals of the earth that you will be duly enshrined!"
- "This ain't my goddamned planet, understand monkey boy?" must have appeared on thousands of science fiction convention buttons in the years after the film
- And, of course, "Wherever you go, there you are," shared with Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.
- Retroactive Recognition: Jonathan Banks played a hospital guard at the institution where Lizardo is staying at the beginning of the film.
- "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: As pointed out by Moviebob and Kyle Kallgren in their videos on the film. Buckaroo spends a lot of time quietly poking fun at the absurd melodrama of serialised pulp fiction adventure books, from the wacky characters to the massive fake continuity looming in the distance that is referenced through fake Mythology Gags and Continuity Nods, to replicate the experience of starting to read an established continuity partway through without reading the books that preceded it (note that this movie predates Wikipedia by seventeen years) and joke about how silly it sounds when grown people act it out in live-action. But nowadays, anyone confused by Continuity Lockout can look up the relevant details online, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe has not only enjoyed considerable success using such a model of storytelling, but it's also made it normal to see gags referencing other parts of an established continuity or other versions thereof and either not be confused or be able to find out what it means fairly quickly.
- This Is Your Premise on Drugs: Doc Savage on LSD.
- Values Dissonance: The fact that Buckaroo is half-Japanese is treated as far more exotic than it would be in modern times. And of course, his being played by an actor who's clearly just white.
YMMV / The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension