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YMMV / The Outsiders

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Mrs. Cade. On the one hand, she's described as abusive by Ponyboy and Johnny refusing to let her see him on his deathbed confirms that her son also sees her that way. However, she only has one scene, admittedly one where she appears as a Hate Sink who antagonizes Ponyboy and Two-Bit for being greasers, even though her own son is one. Did she actually love her son or is she really as abusive as described? Her being willing to see her son when he's dying does cast some doubt. One can only help but wonder how her visit would've went. Abusers can love their victims, so it leaves her open to interpretation as to whether she loves Johnny or not. Or perhaps him getting into an accident made her have a Heel Realization that was unfortunately too late to take. Or more cynically, now that her son was all over the papers as a local hero, did she go to visit him in the hospital out of obligation?
    • Cherry's line about how she hopes she doesn't see Dally again in case she falls in love with him can open up different interpretations of her reaction to him hitting on her at the drive-in. She could just want to be left alone and not like him harassing her. But since Bob is a bit of a bad boy himself, could Cherry see similarities in Dally's behaviour to Bob's, and was getting aware of her habit for drifting towards bad boys? And she still goes to see Dally to get him to pass on a message to Johnny and Ponyboy. Was she just swallowing any fears or reservations she had so the boys could know she would testify on their behalf? Or did she in some way want to see Dally again?
  • Common Knowledge: It was often assumed that Sodapop's canon fate was to get drafted into Vietnam and die there, with Word of God claiming it so. SE Hinton eventually clarified that it's not canon, and it was something she said to help Rob Lowe get into character.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Most fanfiction ships Ponyboy/Johnny, rather than the teased Ponyboy/Cherry. Don't mention it around S.E. Hinton, though.
    • Similarly, Sodapop/Steve is the preferred Sodapop ship, over Sodapop/Sandy.
  • Fans Prefer the New Her: While on the run, Ponyboy and Johnny have to cut their hair - and Ponyboy has to bleach his. Even though he's not happy about it, and the other characters make fun of it, in the movie version... well, it looks like Johnny actually did a good job. Johnny's haircut doesn't even look that bad.
  • First Installment Wins:
    • The Outsiders was the first book Hinton has ever written, she ended up writing multiple other books, too, some set in the same universe. Regardless, it was this one that remained the most popular and well-known.
    • The film itself is more remembered than the other adaptations, and its sequel TV series only lasted one season.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Our protagonist's name is Ponyboy; around fifty years later in 2010, we see My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and its well-known fanbase with adult men and teenage boys.
    • In the movie version when Cherry makes her joke about not wanting to see Dally again in case she falls in love with him. Diane Lane and Matt Dillon played love interests in two subsequent movies.
    • Ralph Macchio plays a character named Johnny in this film. In his next film he would be bullied by a character named Johnny.
    • Emilio Estevez as an unemployed Greaser who sticks up for anyone being mistreated is a bit amusing when one thinks of his role in The Breakfast Club two years later - there he's a privileged Ace who's in detention for bullying a runty classmate. He also plays Two-Bit as slightly more eccentric in the film, making him seem slightly reminiscent of his Breakfast Club love interest - the "Basket Case" Alison Reynolds.
    • In this film, Ralph Macchio is wanted for murder for a killing he committed. 9 years later- in My Cousin Vinny, he would be wrongfully prosecuted for murder.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Johnny and Ponyboy have a very close friendship, with several tearful heart-to-hearts during the story; it wouldn't be hard to interpret it as a love story between the two.
    • Johnny comes across as slashy with Dallas too, notably when Johnny dies, that causes Dally's Despair Event Horizon.
    • Plus Johnny and Sodapop; Johnny and everybody— the whole gang looks out for him and looks after him.
    • Soda and Steve.
    • The whole gang, really.
    • The Curtis family has its moments: Ponyboy thinks Soda looks like a movie star and at one point Soda goes to sleep with his head in Darry's lap. Likewise, Ponyboy and Sodapop share the same bed, and Soda gives Darry back massages after a long day at work.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Darry can be quite cold and harsh to his brothers sometimes, and he does occasionally overstep his boundaries; but, it's hard not to feel sorry for a twenty-year-old guy who was college bound when he lost his parents - and is trying to make sure his younger brothers have a better future than him.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Since the novel and movie are basically a gang of Troubled, but Cute teenage pretty boys, who all have strong emotional relationships with each other, readers have gone crazy with the Ho Yay and believe that most of the characters were gay or at least bisexual. Particularly the relationships between Ponyboy and Johnny, Dallas and Johnny, and Sodapop and Steve. Author S.E. Hinton has pushed back on this and says she wrote none of the characters like that. This has gotten her into a few Twitter wars with fans.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Bob crosses the line when he and his friends attack Ponyboy. In the movie they're waterboarding him, which could have resulted in him drowning.
  • Narm: The extended cut replaces most of the movie score with generic surfer music, most annoyingly during the rumble. It’s at its worst when the climax of the movie, Dally’s shooting, is accompanied by random guitar riffs.
    • The super-imposed Johnny at the end of the film, where Ponyboy reads his letter. It's fine until they zoom in dramatically at the end of his speech.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The Socs trying to kill Ponyboy and Johnny.
    • The fire that the doctors outright admit will cripple Johnny for the rest of his life if not outright kill him. Johnny was burned so horribly that he suffers for a day or two before finally dying.
    • The rumble, while In-Universe treated as a climactic battle of good and evil, is in reality dozens of young men slugging each other to a pulp; the score of the scene in the film really gets across the fact that, even on this scale, War Is Hell.
    • Dallas, in despair after Johnny's death, gets himself killed by the police.
  • Once Original, Now Common: In 1983, the film was notable for its unique look at teenagers - particularly those who came from troubled home lives; note that this is one year before John Hughes started making his teen-oriented comedies. Jane Jenkins and Janet Hirshenson have stated that The Outsiders "created a new type of filmmaking":
    "This movie was one of the few Hollywood offerings to deal realistically with kids from the wrong side of the tracks, and to portray honestly children whose parents had abused, neglected, or otherwise failed them."
  • One True Pairing: Dallas/Johnny is the most shipped pairing in the fandom, largely due to their close, brotherly bond and Dallas being humbled by Johnny's actions. The fact that they both die tragically doesn't really deter the shippers at all. If anything, they would feel free to explore it in Fix Fic or having them Togetherin Death.
  • Periphery Demographic: Despite being male focused and Cherry as the only prominent female in the story (and even she's in a supporting role), The Outsiders has a significant following of teenage girls and young women.
  • Retroactive Recognition: The film is noted for how many of the actors went onto become noted stars - Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Diane Lane, Emilio Estevez, hell it can be jarring to see Tom Cruise in a small role. A young Sofia Coppola also cameos as a girl asking Dally if he has a dollar.
  • Signature Scene: Johnny's death.
  • Special Effects Failure: In the Moral Event Horizon scene, you will see some of the worst blood effects you will ever see in your entire life.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The book is one for 1960s America and its depiction of teen gangs based on subcultures are very clearly a reflection of the times; note that the presence of greasers (and arguably the lack of hippies, who ARE present in some of Hinton's slightly later novels), very specifically sets it in the early to mid 1960s, rather than the later part of the decade. (The movie, on the other hand, is an intentional period piece, as it wasn't made until the 1980s but was still set in 1965.)
  • Values Resonance:
    • The story's honest look at young people from troubled or working class homes, and the discrimination they can face remains extremely relevant today. As noted above, the film was notable for its unique look at teenagers, and its formula has continued to be used over the years.
    • Though pop culture has made fun of all the Ho Yay, the book and film show such displays of affection and love between males as valid. Sensitivity is not demonized at all, and most of the toxic masculinity is displayed by the Socs (but of course there is some Deliberate Values Dissonance since it is set in the 60s).
    • The story also subverts All Abusers Are Male, portraying Johnny's mother as abusive, and not excusing that abuse because of her gender.
    • The book shows how the Socs are no better than the Greasers, they're just given free passes because they come from financially well-off families that can do damage control and save their hides.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: Johnny dying to save children in a burning building. Not symbolic? Look again at his initials. In a church no less.
  • The Woobie:
    • Johnny - a child of abuse who becomes a murderer just to save his best friend: in spite of Bob's general nastiness, Johnny is guilty about it the whole time; he ultimately dies of burns.
    • Ponyboy - an orphaned 14 year old, who lives with his two older brothers, and has a difficult relationship with his oldest brother- who constantly chastises him, is attacked multiple times (even to the point of a near death situation), and loses two of his close friends within days.
    • Sodapop is the eternal middle child, and often dragged into the arguments between Darry and Ponyboy. It's only towards the end that it's explored just how hard it is for him to have to be the mediator between those two fights. Not to mention the love of his life breaking it off with him via "Dear John" Letter.