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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Why do the answers Spoony's subconscious gives to questions radically different than views he's given earlier on his reviews? Is it because it's actually Ma-Ti's subconscious giving the answers; or are they really Spoony's actual opinions on Highlander II: The Quickening and the last four Final Fantasy games, as the lights flicker before Ma-Ti makes his presence known?
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Doug was apparently terrified that nobody would like "Distraction", so put in loads of sound effects over his and Lindsay's voices to sate the people who were "obviously" were going to say they were terrible singers. Not only did everyone love it, but Rock Band wanted the song in their next edition.
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    • In the documentary, Rob pleaded his hope for that the audience would care for the characters “just a tiny bit”. He shouldn't have worried.
  • Angst Aversion: A lot of newer fans (as in came in during the reboot) are anxious about watching this movie as they know it was meant to be the Grand Finale for Critic and fear feeling guilty.
  • Applicability: No, people with horrible self-esteem won't become the universe, and "The Review Must Go On" onwards smashes the Aesop, but the whole point was Critic could get out of his funk and become something better. As Brian praised on the commentary, so many fans took that as hope for their own lives.
  • Author's Saving Throw: The Plot Hole spawning in space is used as a catch-all fix for every fan-enraging inconsistency on the site, most prominently Spoony and Dr. Insano being the same character in Kickassia when they're separate characters otherwise. Well, that and the Aesop that there will always be inconsistencies in any art, just go with it. According to a few producers, they got irritated enough with Doug and Rob explaining anything that didn't make sense with "Plot Hole!" that they made fun of it in their videos for a while.
  • Awesome Music:
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    • The film makes heavy use of The Planets by Gustav Holst, particularly the best known pieces, Mars and Jupiter. They are as awesome as ever. The melodic line from Jupiter even manages to make Reality, otherwise known as our normal, everyday world, epic.
    • Musicloops gets more free advertising from the second teaser alone with the song "Fatal Fight".
    • Part 2's Avengers, Assemble! scene has some truly goosebumps-inspiring music.
    • The Ghostbusters (1984) parody where the pink ball things flew around the world had a gorgeously trippy feeling courtesy of Doug's voice echoing "I believe in science" over a very cool beat, in homage to "I Believe It's Magic" from the Ghostbusters soundtrack.
    • The music played during Kyle's training of Luke.
    • Distraction. Lindsey and Doug have some pipes. (Kyle, too, even thought he only gets to sing a few notes).
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    • Part 8 makes excellent use of, appropriately enough, The Planets Suite, particularly Mars and Jupiter.
    • "Crushin' Boots" by Sad Panda, which plays during the reviewers' "low budget independent film Coke party" and the end credits.
    • The bombastic song that plays as the Plot Hole swallows the universe.
    • The music that plays when we zoom out into space and into the Plot Hole as we hear Critic saying "I am The Nostalgia Critic".
      • That would be the ending of the aforementioned Jupiter, the most well-known movement of Gustav Holst's The Planets.
    • The unholy Tear Jerker of the Critic/Ma-Ti Playing the Heart Strings leitmotif.
    • The use of The Graduate “quarter life crisis” music in the first trailer to highlight Critic's depression. So fitting that it's used in the reboot for whenever he's miserable.
  • Broken Base:
    • Even among the producers, there are some who really enjoyed the darker tone and character issues actually getting taken seriously, while there are others who would have preferred a lighter story.
    • JO as Radical Edward is either incredibly adorable, or incredibly annoying. Notably, JO himself stated in his Cowboy Bebop review that it's hard to make Ed's weirdness as lovable as Melissa Fahn did in the anime's dub.
    • The subplots and characters involving SUCKA and the MPAAA are either biting commentary on SOPA proponents or ham-handed, preachy, annoying, or even tired.
    • Following "The Review Must Go On," the whole movie is now in this category, as fans see it as an essential part of Critic's story arc, while detractors feel he negated his Grand Finale. It 'helps' the latter side that Doug seems to agree with them, as the comeback special was based on his anger that he had to revert Critic's happy ending.
  • Complete Monster: Mechakara, just like in his source series. He passes himself off as Linkara and infiltrates the USS Exit Strategy, intending to kill the crew with the help of the forcibly assimilated Todd and Nostalgia Chick. Only working with others when his goals coincide with theirs and perfectly willing to kill them when they don't, Mechakara is fueled only by his hatred for Linkara and all organic life forms.
  • Continuity Lock-Out: As well as being a direct sequel to Suburban Knights, it also involves character dynamics and call backs from shows that you'd have needed to watch regularly to get the full dramatic and comedic effect.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Phelous getting stabbed by one of Turrell and Zod's goons. Over. And over. And over. And then he turns up in the ship right as rain, only to be killed and replaced two times over... somehow.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: In-movie, Turrell may have been pathetic but he was still a threat and wanted Critic to suffer horribly before dying at his hand. In askblogs a few years on, he's mostly a cuddly woobie with a collection of animal eared headbands.
  • Ear Worm: ♪ "I'm a distraction! Of pure satisfaction!"
    • That song is even more of an ear worm in the Zod Music Video on the DVD.
  • Even Better Sequel: The previous two feature-length specials, Kickassia and Suburban Knights were both very divisive and littered with niggling problems (which varied wildly from viewer to viewer) and at the very least were very cheap-looking. In To Boldly Flee there's an unprecedented confidence in the storytelling, damn good SFX sequences, and the characters given clear personalities and story functions, rather than just taking turns delivering the jokes.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • Despite him being a blatant Take That!, Prick's smooth voice, prettiness and sharp fashion sense still earned him quite a bit of love.
    • And there are still plenty of people who'd be more than happy to Kneel Before Zod.
    • As with every other appearance by him in Atop the Fourth Wall, Mechakara has fawning fangirls. It's the voice.
    • Turrell too, no matter how hammy.
    • Rob as sleazy, handsy, manipulative, abusive, forever-smirking Christopher Clodd in Part 5.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: "Fame is fleeting, but infamy lasts forever." This was said by a villain trying to deliberately manipulate one of the critics. A more true (and family-friendly) Aesop comes two parts later, as a counterpoint: "Bad art is a distraction. Great art changes people."
  • Foe Yay Shipping:
    • Terl/Critic and Executor/Snob. I Have You Now, My Pretty is a common theme.
    • Chick/Zod is also popular, as they got very close in their duet, and it would have a different dynamic than what she had with her Spear Counterpart. (As Zod thinks she's Ursa, someone now dead that he had sexual history with, and he obviously looks like Critic, someone now dead that she had Word of God sexual history with.)
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Zod finds Turrell's first name hilarious. The Chick also found it unusual, and got caught by Mechakara for it.
    • The first trailer's anticipation of Schedule Slip becomes this with the "catastrophic technical difficulties" that plagued the producers computers after Part 1 was posted.
    • Snob finds himself fed chocolate by a sexy woman played by his real life wife Jillian; they had separated (but remain friends) by the time the special was uploaded.
    • Spoony's perception of Critic as nothing but a compilation of screeches and in-jokes becomes more depressing than funny when Part 7 tells us that Critic more or less thinks the same thing and hates himself for it.
    • Snob threatening Luke that they'll capture Critic and turn him into the next Tommy Wiseau. A promise that's scarier than it sounds, but at the time Critic was suicidally depressed but also a hero, and it spurred Luke on to fight. Fast forward to reboot, and there's a big portion of the Broken Base who find the "new" Critic just as fascinatingly bad as any Wiseau character, and Doug's commentary of The Room has him relate to the guy a lot.
      • Revelations from his collaborators as part of the #ChangeTheChannel campaign have shown that during the film's production Doug Walker displayed a lack of both basic filmmaking knowledge and general awareness about how miserable his team was that comes across as distinctly Wiseau-ian.
    • And now as of Part 8, everyone joyfully gathering around and hugging Spoony, happy to see that he has returned to them alive and well is borderline Tear Jerker territory since he left the site shortly before the first To Boldly Flee trailer was released.
    • Practically all the commentaries, from Spoony's to Linkara's team to Rob's, make fun of Doug (while still giving him credit for some really good acting) for making some seriously air-headed mistakes with timing and green-screen and just basic social skills. They're ribbing him like friends do and it's really amusing. But then you get to Doug's where he says he was self harming (in the intentionally not eating or sleeping way) to keep from snapping at anyone and hating himself because he thought he gave his team too much stress, so the other commentaries become very awkward.
    • During their commentary for the film, Lupa sarcastically asks Phelous (who did the effects for the film) if he "half-assed" the part where Spoony's eyes glow white and he releases the red orbs into the world. At the time everyone thought she was just making a joke, but three years later when Phelous left Channel Awesome he revealed that several of the higher-ups in management thought that he was purposefully not trying with that particular scene, and (rather than asking him to fix it) sent Welshy to spy on him to make sure he was doing a good job; Welshy naturally told Phelous what they had asked him to do, which Phelous admitted was the beginning of his disillusionment with the site.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The special was a send-off to the Nostalgia Critic (both the character and the show), and had an overarcing theme of being "the end of an era". With Doug going back to the Critic less than a year later and the eventual collapse of Channel Awesome's talent roster due to controveries over mismanagement, To Boldly Flee can be extremely painful to watch.
    • The teaser trailer for the special dropped the very next week after Spoony's departure from Channel Awesome, which makes the title take on a new meaning. As if that weren't enough, the second trailer included a scene of Spoony being carried away by shadowy men in black suits.
      • Every joke about Spoony possibly being dead and/or insane is now this, after Noah's mental and physical health problems became widely known as the cause of his Creator Breakdown.
      • Obscurus Lupa is the one to question why the reviewers should trust the Critic when he says they have to save Spoony, which is very uncomfortable Reality Subtext considering Allison Pregler's very public falling out with Noah Antwiler in real life (although worth noting that the two did settle their feud eventually).
      • A shot in the finale shows Spoony sitting next to JO as he talks to his boyfriend Nash on the phone. Ouch.
    • Every moment of comradery and friendship between the various critics can be difficult to watch, as in the years since they've all abandoned CA and gone public with their poor treatment by the site's higher ups including the Walker brothers, and among themselves there have been many falling outs and burned bridges.
      • Many of the critics admitted they were uncomfortable with the material written for them, such as the Lupa and Cyborg Chick catfight and the jokes about 8-Bit Mickey's height, but Doug convinced them to do it.
      • The special sees Rob Walker portraying a Corrupt Corporate Executive who treats his employees like dirt and wants to destroy the critics, and Cinema Snob betrays them and joins with him after becoming disillusioned with their cause. In real life, it's now known that Rob Walker and Mike Michaud treated the Channel Awesome personalities like dirt, and when everyone else abandoned the site, Brad Jones sided with the Walkers and Michaud.
      • The scene of Doug talking to the Critic has him claim that if the Critic departs to the "real world", the fictional world he left behind will collapse, as he is the cornerstone of its existence and the story will fall apart without him because it has no reason to exist otherwise. Favortism toward Doug's shows and characters would be among the many complaints lodged against Channel Awesome's management in the years to come, and over time almost all of the other personalities on the site would leave. Now only the Critic remains, alone but for Brad Jones and Guru Larry.
    • Doug's commentary, where he spends a lot of it analyzing why the movie is such a perfect end for the Critic, is pretty awkward to listen to after “The Review Must Go On” resurrected the character via Cosmic Retcon and rebooted the show.
      • The Doug/Critic scene, the one scene that even the cast kept on raving over as the best in the movie, is pretty hard to watch after "The Review Must Go On". You Are Better Than You Think You Are speeches don't really have the same heartwarming effect when knowing the recipient will use it as an excuse to be cruel.
      • "The Review Must Go On" proved Ma-Ti right about Critic all along. He destroys Demo Reel, both in-universe and "out", doesn't care, and is never called out for it. And why this derailment? Because Word of God admitted Donnie = Critic was an attack on the fans demanding the character back.
      • During the Linkara-helmed cast commentary, Brian discussed how many people found hope and related to Critic's depression arc in the film. The Review Must Go On retcons said arc into “you only did it for the sake of the plot and didn't actually feel any of it”, a Shocking Swerve that even Donnie lampshades as bullshit.
    • JesuOtaku referring to Nash as "hun" is sweet until you remember that they broke up a year after To Boldly Flee was released. He also says that he'll be home 'very soon'; he has since moved to California with his new boyfriend.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: After the finale, all the TGWTG crew's #thanksdoug hashtag tweets were sweet enough, but after hearing Doug's commentary where he even opens it saying he's positive he put everyone through overworking misery, it comes off as more of a reassurance that he shouldn't worry so much.
    • Much like his Suburban Knights commentary, Rob's commentary and the pride he shows in Doug (after a while of taking the piss out of him) becomes far nicer when you listen to Doug's audio and quickly figure out that his self-esteem is six feet under, so needs that affection desperately.
  • He Really Can Act: A consistent praise is that everyone brought their A game and gave some really good performances. Even Lindsay Ellis got love for her acting in Part 3, and she's usually the first person to admit that she falls into Dull Surprise normally.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The final trailer shows a brief clip of an alien ship fighting a car in space. Given that the NC Heavy Metal review was released over a month after filming ended, this probably isn't deliberate, but who knows?
    • Toward the end of the series being uploaded, a flash was spotted on Jupiter, possibly from a meteor.
    • The reveal that James Rolfe was in the Gort costume is mocked for being very likely for the fans to have figured out during the eight days the special was supposed to run. They ended up getting twenty-two days to figure it out.
    • The fact that the Executor, an Expy of Darth Sidious, is strongly based on Senator Chris Dodd gets a lot funnier if you know that Lott Dodd, the Neimoidian senator from The Phantom Menace, might have been named after him. Quite possibly as a Take That!.
    • Prick worries about the discontinuation of the live action Alvin and the Chipmunks squeakquels. Post-revival, Nostalgia Critic reviewed the first three movies. Oh, and That SciFi Guy, who was a minor character of the cast, actually appeared for a few seconds, as a background crowd actor, in the latest movie of the franchise, Alvin And The Chipmunks Road Chip.
  • Ho Yay:
    • The Last Angry Geek decides the best way to make his presence known to Critic is to get into bed with him while he's still sleeping. Deconstructed in a cast commentary-talked about deleted scene where it just made Critic scared that he'd been raped again and Geek had to waste time by coaxing him out from behind his side of the bed.
    • In Part 1, the fact that Spoony's hand was on Critic's face a lot longer than Ma-Ti's previous action was lampshaded by Diamanda Hagan's absentee commentary.
    • Snob greets Spoony with a happy "Hey, sexy".
    • Luke telling Brad & Prick to "Ask Sage about his weiner."
    • Luke and Brad in general, really.note 
    • Paw gets Kirk/Spock flirty with Critic when he puts on his ears, and whines when Critic tells him he's undateable.
    • Luke and Film Brain's Belligerent Sexual Tension has evolved to Vitriolic Best Buds.
    • Didn't Turrell look kind of...smitten when he first laid eyes on General Zod? Also, they get into a bickering fight like a married couple, and leads to Zod pinning Turrell down in a compromising position.
      • Even more fitting in that the last Merry Zodmas episode had a long joke about Zod being suspiciously gay.
    • Critic tells Film Brain not to go "Brokeback" on him after a heartfelt scene.
    • Critic's knowing smirk when he sees Spoony's naked body doesn't totally mesh with the traumatized rape victim we saw when they were naked together.
    • The Executor/Christopher Clod touches Snob more than is necessary during their scenes together.
    • When they're all unconscious from lack of oxygen in Part 6, it's cruelly amusing that Critic is the one with his head in Spoony's lap.
    • After Sage saves Film Brain from Ma-Ti in Part 8, the two just hang onto each other for ages.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: The Nostalgia Critic really does "die" and merge with the worm hole, discontinuing his own series.
    • As of The Review Must Go On, this trope is played straight.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Ask Sage about his weiner.
    • Superego Spoony is shaping up to be this
    • Mickey calling Lupa a “cold heartless vacuum”. While the movie treated her as the only sane woman, both in the Dysfunction Junction and the Psychotic Love Triangle, Allison was always confused as to why Rob and Doug's writing randomly insulted her for turning down a stalker.
  • Moe:
    • JesuOtaku, Playing Against Type as Ed.
    • Luke, with her curly mop of hair, big anime eyes and amazingly sweet speeches on how the site is a dysfunctional family.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The Executor having a disgusting amount of fun electro-torturing Luke. He deserved his gory death at that point.
  • Nightmare Retardant: Christopher Clod is actually pretty unsettling, and he has a rather creepy scene with The Cinema Snob in a theater. When he becomes the full-on Executor, despite creepy make-up, his character gets ALOT sillier as it starts parodying Emperor Palpatine's hamminess.
  • One True Pairing: While the movie had the most Ship Tease out of all three, Luke/Snob and Zod/Turrell came out as the clear winners. Nicely enough, Doug's commentary confirmed both as intentional Homoerotic Subtext, with the added bonus of amping up the former's gay so much that Rob (who had written the “critics are a family” conversation as not them sleeping next to each other) got irritated.
  • Over Shadowed By Controversy: The film has since been overshadowed by its Troubled Production, which was even worse than Suburban Knights. Several of the people who worked on it (most notably Allison Pregler) described it as a "point of no return" for their problems with Channel Awesome's management. Though the special itself still has its fans, even among the site's former contributors, hardly anyone will defend the special's production.
    • Doug and Rob Walker would argue constantly throughout the writing and shooting, dragging things out considerably. Several of the producers starring in the film found the script to be overlong, and no one was told about Doug's decision to retire The Critic until shooting began.
    • The "Mechakara assimilates The Nostalgia Chick" scene cuts away to Film Brain walking past the door, who then hears The Chick making sexual-sounding moans, along with crashing sounds. This, along with him thinking they were having sex, makes it sound like she's being raped. It later got worse when a script was leaked that had The Chick and Mechakara saying sexual innuendos. Lindsay Ellis herself came forward saying that she had no say in her character becoming a Seven of Nine parody at all and her name in this state, 7 of 11, was originally 60 of 9, and both Rob and Doug's commentary went into detail on how Doug didn't get how it might look like a rape scene. It also revealed that Doug added in the crashing sounds to "make it sound more consensual," and when that didn't work, he handed it off to Rob in a panic.
  • Signature Scene: Critic getting consumed by the Plot Hole and his eyes glowing white. Oddly enough, the reboot's first opening theme had it as its longest clip.
  • Snark Bait: In-Universe: While the other cast commentaries (like those done by Spoony, Rob and Linkara) lightheartedly poke fun at the film while mostly talking about behind the scenes info, the commentary done by Brad Jones, Phelous and Obscurus Lupa treats the film as this, and they spend a good deal of their commentary MST-ing it. Both Phelous and MikeJ (who had a cameo in Part 8) have poked fun at the film in later videos.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Doug's been trying to get people to understand that "movies can be appreciated by anyone no matter what flaws they have" and "the critics are a dysfunctional family" for about a year now.
    • The TGWTG crew have also responded to the complaints about the heavy-handed SOPA messages by asking if they'll seem unfunny and heavy-handed in a few years when such bills have been passed and their sites are taken down, because no one cared to act against them.
      • One could say that they've been proven right, considering that even over half a year after To Boldly Flee was released, people are still trying to get SOPA-esque bills passed into law (CISPA, anyone?). If Take Thats to SOPA, PIPA, similar bills, and the people who propose/support them are going to get dated, it's not happening anytime soon.
    • It also makes it anvilly clear that everything will end eventually, and in the case of several Critic scenes, should end on a natural high note.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Doug himself said in following cons that anything that came after this movie wouldn't be as good, because the workload induced just too much exhaustion and he put everything he had into it.
  • The Un-Twist:
    • The death of Last Angry Geek, given the character he's taking the place of, can come off as this.
    • In-universe, the Critic thinks the audience has already figured out James Rolfe's cameo. Hilariously, he actually was one of the people listed under the WMG entry on the matter.
      • Its possible to watch this movie and not know who Creator/James Rolfe is (or know, but simply not recognize him). They both seem to realize this, since at no point is this person named, so it could still be intentionally funny as The Un-Reveal.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: Much of the movie portrays corporate oligarchies as evil. Guess what's become a major issue in politics today? The movie was written during the height of the SOPA/PIPA controversy, when Channel Awesome actually sent several of their producers to Washington to talk to Congressional aides about their concerns.
  • Win Back the Crowd: A lot of people who had left due to either fandom drama or thinking quality had gone down, came back because of the impressively angsty trailers. They stayed with the movie and participated in the feelsy respect for Doug ending Critic in such a good way.

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