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YMMV / The Wonder Years

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Miss Shaw: An idealistic teacher with bold new ideas that was unfairly driven away by a conservative school board that never gave her ideas a chance? Or an irresponsible teacher with terrible ideas that walked out on the students that needed her when she was forced to compromise with the school board? Lampshaded at the end when Adult Kevin notes that he didn't know if he should be angry at her or the school board.
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    • Becky Slater: Run of the mill Woman Scorned with a grudge? Or a Yandere still carrying a torch for Kevin whose reaction to her feelings not being reciprocated was anger and violence? The sheer nastiness of Kevin's original transgression against her is evidence for the former. The alacrity with which she takes him back when she thinks he still has feeling for her is evidence for the latter.
  • Confirmation Bias: A rather nasty case with Kevin's civics teacher. He does a number of prickish things, but Kevin only decides that he's irredeemably evil when it becomes apparent that he's a Republican.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The first clip show ends with a montage playing over a recording of the song "In My Life". One of the lyrics is "some are gone and some remain", with the "some remain" line playing over a clip of Jack Arnold, implying he's still alive. However, in the last episode it's revealed that he died two years after the events of the last episode. On the other hand, the "some are gone..." part plays over a clip of Grandpa Arnold, whose death was never confimed on the show.
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    • In "Steady as She Goes", narrator Kevin says that Carla Healy was the only woman in Paul's life who wasn't a blood relative. In later seasons, she is no longer seen or mentioned, and Paul is rarely shown to be involved with other women (though he did lose his virginity in one episode).
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In the episode "Heart of Darkness", Paul says that he's allergic to contact lenses, but in the last two seasons he switches to contacts. In the episode before he starts wearing contacts, when Winnie informs Kevin that there's something he doesn't yet know about Paul, one of Kevin's guesses is that he's wearing contacts.
    • John Corbett playing a character that doesn't eat meat.
    • The series' Real Song Theme Tune is Joe Cocker's version of "With a Little Help from My Friends". In the Mexican Spanish dub, the Narrator/Adult Kevin's voice actor went on to voice the protagonist of a franchise that's all about The Power of Friendship and Defeat Equals Friendship.
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    • Although Jack Arnold died two years after the events of the last episode, his actor (Dan Lauria) has consistently gotten bit parts in high profile projects ever since (roughly one per year), leaving him in the public consciousness much longer than any of the actors whose characters survived.
    • In the episode "Square Dance", Adult Kevin looks at a yearbook and speculates that Becky Slater either became a gossip columnist or an attorney specializing in divorce. Crystal McKellar, who played Becky, would quit acting and study Law at Harvard, becoming a corporate lawyer.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Becky Slater. Disproportionate Retribution aside, Kevin was the one that hurt her first. He's the one that asked her to go steady when he really still liked Winnie, stringing her along and using her to make Winnie jealous until she got wise to it and broke up with him. Then he got her to take him back by lying to her about not liking Winnie anymore and only finally came clean with her and ended it when it became clear that Winnie's current relationship was over and that Winnie might still like him. It's understandable that she would hold a grudge against him after all that; even if she did go too far with it at times.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • In addition to their work on The Wonder Years, creators and executive producers Carol Black and Neal Marlens are also best known as co-creators and co-executive producers of Ellen and Marlens is also best known as creator and executive producer of Growing Pains.
    • David Greenwalt directed four episodes and wrote three episodes. Greenwalt is best known as co-creator and co-executive producer of Angel and Grimm.
    • Neal Israel directed two episodes. Israel is best known for co-writing the screenplay for Police Academy.
    • Peter Horton directed an episode. Horton is best known for playing Gary Shepherd on thirtysomething
    • Bob Brush wrote 14 episodes and served as co-executive producer and executive producer. Brush is best known as developer and executive producer of Early Edition.
    • Matthew Carlson wrote ten episodes. Carlson is best known as creator and executive producer of God, the Devil and Bob.
    • Mark Levin also wrote ten episodes. Levin is best known as co-creator and co-executive producer of Big Mouth.
    • Sy Rosen wrote seven episodes. Rosen is best known for co-creating Gimme a Break!.
    • Jon Harmon Feldman wrote five episodes. Feldman is best known as creator and executive producer of Tru Calling and co-creator and co-executive producer of No Ordinary Family.
    • Robin Riordan wrote four episodes. Riordan is best known as creator and story editor of Mary Kate and Ashley in Action!.
    • Tammy Ader wrote two episodes. Ader is best known as co-creator and co-executive producer of Strong Medicine.
    • Michael J. Weithorn wrote an episode. Weithorn is best known as creator and executive producer of Ned & Stacey and co-creator and executive producer of The King of Queens.
    • Kerry Ehrin also wrote an episode. Ehrin is best known as co-developer and executive producer of Bates Motel.
    • Winnie Holzman also wrote an episode. Holzman is best known as creator and co-executive producer of My So-Called Life.
    • David Kohan and Max Mutchnick also wrote an episode. Both are best known as creators and executive producers of Boston Common and Will & Grace and co-creators and executive producers of $#*! My Dad Says.
    • Mark-Paul Gosselar, of Saved by the Bell appears in a season 1 episode.
  • The Scrappy: Winnie Cooper, who is seen as bland and uninteresting compared to other characters and whose on and off interest in Kevin at certain points could grate on people's nerves.
  • Values Dissonance: Season 4, episode 15 episode "Buster" focuses on the family being reluctant to neuter their dog. Given this is now widely accepted as responsible pet ownership to curb overpopulation, the notion that the choice is somehow a moral conflict is extremely jarring.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: In contrast to Kevin's many recurring teachers in junior high, each of his senior high teachers only appear in one episode, rather than becoming recurring.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: While it would have been hard to really focus on it, since the show's entire focus was on Kevin and the last episode ended during the summer, it's a shame that they couldn't have shown Chuck and Jeff's summer road trip in the last episode, or even have the narrator reveal anything that happened to them on that trip.
  • The Woobie: Winnie, to a degree. In the first episode she loses her big brother, and her family never really recovers. She leaves her childhood home and goes through a rough period in the 3rd season, and it's implied she has some insecurity issues in a few episodes, particularly the ones where she hangs with the "cool kids" and tries to change who she is.

For the band The Wonder Years:

  • Anvilicious: Much of The Greatest Generation can be summed up as "Conservatives suck." Mind you, it doesn't suffer at all from this and works within the context of the album.
  • Genre Shift: Since "The Greatest Generation" they've moved away from Pop Punk and more towards Post-Hardcore and Alternative Rock. Thankfully they've managed to avoid the usual outcry of They Changed It, Now It Sucks!.
  • Growing the Beard: They've impressively managed to continuously do this album after album since "The Upsides."
  • Old Shame: Soupy really doesn't like "Get Stoked On It" and feels that it created a very bad first impression of the band to many. No one else in the band really likes it either but they don't quite share the same level of disdain Soupy has for it.
  • Face of the Band: Dan "Soupy" Campbell to some. Most of the songs are about his experiences (combined with some of the other band members' in a couple songs).