- Applicability: One major reason for this story's enduring legacy is how Wei Xiaobao's people skills and what they reveal about people in general can remain relevant for decades to come.
- Alternate Character Interpretation: Wei Xiaobao, because he's nothing like Jin Yong's previous protagonists (and nothing like conventional Wu Xia heroes, either), gets a lot of this. Is he a completely selfish, self-serving bastard, or does he also have his own (albeit twisted) sense of honor and morality? Does he serve the Emperor out of fear or friendship? Does he love any of his wives or is he just collecting them for bragging rights? And so on. Jing Yong enthusiasts have written entire books discussing Wei Xiaobao's character.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: Princess Jianning tends to be the highlight of each Live-Action Adaptation.
- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: It may be a little hard to believe Wu Sangui's betrayal of the throne and collusion with Mongolia and Tibet, considering the way China has been treating them in the present. Then you get to the part where he's also colluding with Russia.
- Ho Yay: In the 1992 Live-Action Adaptation, Xiaobao has some oddly intimate moments with the male characters, it's mostly Played for Laughs. To name a few:
- Xiaobao and The Emperor. Xiaobao learned and uses the breast grabbing dragon claw technique against The Emperor, explicitly stating that he usually uses it on women, but makes him the exception since he is a good man and also proceeds to tear off his pubic hair in a fight. The Emperor also has two moments where he casually grabs Xiaobao's groin.
- Xiaobao using the same dragon claw technique against Aobai and pinching his nipples to distract him.
- Hai Dafu after being injected by Long'er's needle becomes a Manchild really enthusiastic about penises and has an Undying Loyalty to Xiaobao because he's his "little dicky".
- Values Dissonance:
- What should have been the major turning point of the story, the gathering of the seven wives, is somewhat marred by the fact that it leads up to date rape. And due to the conditions of the incident, Wei still needs their help to sort out who he did what to!note
- Even before that, one of the different factions scheming for the 42 chapters is from Tibet, which sends Bare-Fisted Monk lamas into China and give our heroes a pretty hard time. This may be a bit harder to take in in present day, where it's China that's still in the process of annexing Tibet.
- The Woobie: A-Ke was abducted as an infant, literally from a historical tragedy as her real mother Chen Yuanyuan had suffered just as much back in her day. She was not only raised as a weapon to kill Wu Sangui, but kept in a constant state of resent as the only Parental Substitute she really had was the One-Armed Nun, also the last living princess of the dynasty that A-Ke's parents had apparently destroyed. And without any of the proper guidance expected of a real parent she becomes a Horrible Judge of Character, being strung along by Zheng Keshuang until he decided she was of no more use to him. Not surprising that she was Driven to Suicide at least once.
YMMV / The Deer and the Cauldron