- Awesome Music: A few examples, but Hoist That Rag from Real Gone stands out.
- Covered Up: Happens to him all the time. "Downtown Train" from Rain Dogs seems to be the most popular cover choice. Since Waits' own recordings have never made the charts, Rod Stewart's cover of "Downtown Train" went to #3. Bruce Springsteen's cover of "Jersey Girl" was only released as a B-side, but got lots of radio airplay and is more associated with him than with Waits.
- Crazy Awesome: Sums up just about anything he's ever produced since the eighties.
- Creepy Awesome: Ditto.
- Genius Bonus: One of his songs, Come on Up To The House from Mule Variations, references Thomas Hobbes' 17th century book Leviathan, a treatise on political philosophy. Not exactly a summer beach read.
- Memetic Psychopath: Generally considered by his fans to be some unidentified variety of inhuman monster - the most popular theory being a werewolf, thanks to the growly voice and doglike features. Others joke that his role in Parnassus was just starring As Himself.
- Misaimed Fandom: The interpretations of "Poor Edward" from Alice. The song is actually about exactly what it sounds like.
- Older Than They Think: The gravelly voice used by Rowlf the Dog has been described as a Tom Waits impression — although Waits was only 13 when Rowlf debuted.
- Paranoia Fuel: "What's He Building In There?" from Mule Variations, "Buzz Fledderjohn" from Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards, "Don't Go Into that Barn" from Real Gone, and at least two thirds of both Bone Machine and Blood Money.
- The Shelf of Movie Languishment: According to the Allmusic review, Waits had recorded Swordfishtrombones in 1982, but it appears to have taken him thirteen months to get a record label interested in releasing it.
- Suspiciously Similar Song: The similarities between "Step Right Up" from Small Change and a Frito-Lay ad jingle caused a bit of a legal stir between Tom and the company.
- Wheelchair Woobie: The subject of "Kentucky Ave" from Blue Valentine is revealed to be one in the last verse.
YMMV / Tom Waits