Tropes for the series:
- Alas, Poor Villain: General Harmon in "The Seven Wonders Of The World Affair, Part II." Admittedly unlike most examples of his trope he doesn't get killed, but when he's exposed to the docility gas that he and the other bad guys plan to use in their scheme to take over the world and is permanently transformed from a dynamic man of action into someone who's one step up from a puppet - "Why don't you come out (of the elevator)?" "I have not been told to." - it's saddening. It helps that Leslie Nielsen, as Harmon, is the only cast member who actually made an effort in acting terms.
- How about Captain Shark from The Shark Affair? He's a remarkably complex character whose aims are arguably quite noble, and when he refuses to let Napoleon help him get off his sinking ship at the end, it's actually pretty sad.
- Awesome Music: Most of the show's composers. Jerry Goldsmith did the show's theme (and three episode scores). See also Morton Stevens.
- Badass Decay: Heroes Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin are sometimes subject to plot dependent Badass Decay, when necessary. E.g., in the third act of the third season episode, "The Five Daughters Affair, Part II", Solo and Kuryakin fight THRUSH's "karate killers" (who despite that name (as given in the credits) do very little actual killing in the episode) for about the sixth time in this two-part adventure. Despite holding their own in several earlier fights with the karate killers, in this scene Solo and Kuryakin completely lose whatever fighting skills they've demonstrated earlier, and are straightaway handed their asses by the THRUSH "killers" in mere seconds. This is necessary, of course, to set up the fourth act's climax and resolution (therefore "plot dependent").
- Complete Monster: Season 3's "Five Daughters Affair" two-parter (later released in theaters as The Karate Killers) has THRUSH agent Randolph, whose plot involves releasing seawater-derived gold onto the market in order to create massive profits for THRUSH. His actions include seducing the wife of the doctor who created the method then killing her once he has no more use for her, gleefully taunting her before murdering her; poisoning the doctor; attempting to behead Illya in an ice-chopping machine; smacking around Sandy; and shooting an unarmed elderly man just for raising his voice to him. These acts, coupled with his general Smug Snake demeanor, cement Randolph as probably the seriess nastiest villain.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: Illya Kuryakin.
- Estrogen Brigade: Coalesced around Illya Kuryakin/David McCallum.
- Fair for Its Day: Illya Kuryakin is not only a Russian, but a Soviet patriot and a commissioned officer in the Red Navy (at one point, he even appears in Soviet naval uniform). Still, he is never portrayed as anything other than a trustworthy ally and decent man. Not bad for a series first broadcast in 1964.
- Not to mention the first episode shows the agency employing black and Asian employees; also they attempt to protect the leader of a new nation in Africa.
- Also, although the portrayals of the Girls Of The Week are often cringeworthy, Napoleon (or for that matter Illya) is never forceful or coercive with them, unlike some spies we could name.
- Though treatment of different cultures varied from sympathetic to sometimes condescending, "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." was notable at the time for often (though not consistently) casting actors of the correct ethnicities. Seeing as this is an issue we still sometimes have today, well...
- Fan-Preferred Couple: Napoleon Solo/Illya Kuryakin, naturally.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- "The Project Strigas Affair", which featured William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy in their first appearance together, two years before Star Trek: The Original Series. And to make it extra funny, Nimoy's character is repeatedly derided as a "fool."
- The innocent in "The Never-Never Affair" is an U.N.C.L.E. translator played by Barbara Feldon; this episode premiered a few months before she got a transfer and a promotion (to Agent 99).
- In early May 2019, David McCallum was seen leaving Martin's Tavern in Georgetown with none other than Robert Mueller. People were quick to joke that Illya Kuryakin was in on the Mueller Investigation, or that it was compromised.
- Nightmare Fuel: Solo's interrogation in "The Summit-Five Affair".
- Retroactive Recognition: A henchman in "The Indian Affairs Affair" is played by Nicholas Colasanto, better known as Coach from Cheers.
- Strawman Has a Point: One villainess from "The Bridge of Lions" makes some very good points about how women's lives were restricted in many ways. True, she was consumed by a lust for power and was completely ruthless and unethical, but she wasn't wrong about how unfair society was to women.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: "The Hula Doll Affair" features two brothers who happen to be rival THRUSH executives in a plot involving the title doll, which has a heat-sensitive explosive inside, and Napoleon impersonating a delegate from THRUSH Central. A recipe for power plays and suspense? It likely would be had it not been in season three and scripted by Stanford Sherman, who also did the one with Illya riding a bomb filled with essence of skunk ("The Super-Colossal Affair") and the one with popsicle bombs aimed at Victor Borge ("The Suburbia Affair"). Throw in the executives being played by Jan Murray and Pat Harrington, and their mother and real THRUSH Central member being played by perennial Large Ham Patsy Kelly, and... oh dear.
- Woolseyism: The Latin American name of the series was translated as ''El agente de CIPOL" (The Agent of CIPOL), being CIPOL the Spanish acronym of " Comisión Internacional Para la Observancia de la Ley" (International Council for Law Enforcement). It also overlaps with Lucky Translation, as CIPOL sounds like the pormanteau for both Real Life agencies CIA and the Interpol.
Tropes for the 2015 film: