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The TV series has examples of:

  • Awesome Music: The first season opening theme by Billy Thorpe is the epitome of awesome.
  • Broken Base: The Frank Mancuso Jr.-produced second season split the fanbase into pieces as soon as the season premiere aired, via killing off Norton and Ironhorse, decimating the house where the Blackwood Project was stationed, moving the action 20 Minutes into the Future and forcing the main characters to go into hiding while an offshoot of the Mor-Tax aliens kill off the first season's antagonists and begin running the show. That said, there are people who like the cyberpunk atmosphere and darker stories versus the first season.
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  • Creator's Pet: Debbie, who goes on to dominate many of the second season episodes, and is eventually the one who kills the lead Morthren in the season finale.
  • Narm: The final episode of the series has a romantic scene — with two of the Mor-Tax (that is, the one-eyed "ugly" aliens from the first season) gently stroking each other's faces while cheesy synth music plays, in bright lighting, no less. It's much more likely to inspire derision than sympathy at Malzor's tragic backstory.
  • Second Season Downfall: Most diehard fans tend to hold the opinion that the changes from the first to second season (which included the deaths of several major and supporting characters - including the villains of the first season, the world flipping over 20 Minutes into the Future and most of the first-season plot threads dropped in favor of standalone episodes) caused the show's death.
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  • The Woobie: Debbie, who hardly has anything resembling a normal childhood, is slowly turned into a Child Soldier as a result of her experiences, sees two of her friends die grisly deaths, barely gets any interaction with kids her own age and watches the one alien friend she has get murdered in front of her before wielding a gun for the first time and killing the lead villain.

The 2005 movie:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is Robbie an idiotic Leeroy Jenkins for obsessing over fighting the aliens instead of escaping, or is he a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass who simply refuses to run and will rather be Defiant to the End?
  • Ass Pull: For many critics and viewers, Robbie's unexplained survival falls squarely under this.
  • Awesome Music: John Williams delivers as usual.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Rachel is either an adorable woobie you can't help but feel sorry for, or just an annoying brat who screams too much. Others feel that the character as written might have been annoying, but Dakota Fanning's performance was good enough to redeem her.
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    • Robbie is viewed as either impressively brave or just plain stupid.
  • Catharsis Factor: After an hour and a half of the aliens mercilessly slaughtering people without taking any damage, it is extremely satisfying to see Ray blow up a tripod with a belt of grenades, followed shortly thereafter by the military blasting one to pieces with Javelin missiles after its shields go down.
  • Designated Hero: Robbie especially is seen as this. Ray starts out as this, but he gets better.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: During the course of the film, the implication is that a very sizable proportion of the human race has been exterminated and much of the planet has been laid to waste by the invaders. Yet with possibly millions/billions of people dead in the most gruesome ways and the Earth in ruins, one gets the impression we're supposed to find the ending in which the family we've been following all somehow survive and reunite with the mother to be a happy one.
    • Then again, the aliens are all gone, and Humans Are Survivors. The world will be able to recover in time.
  • Faux Symbolism: When Ray and Rachel arrive in Boston, one of the first things they see there is a statue of a Minuteman covered in dying alien weeds.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Dragonball Z toys are visible in Robbie's room. Of course, this was before his actor, Justin Chatwin, was known for his infamous portrayal of Goku.
  • HSQ: Spielberg keeps this as high as possible. One scene, a clever nod to the original story, involves a crowd of people, including our protagonists, walking through town, when a railroad crossing signal sounds. Everybody clears the tracks as the gate comes down. Then the train passes. It is on fire. It leaves, the gates go up, and it is not commented on by anyone. Roger Ebert, who gave the film a mixed but mostly negative review, called this scene "unforgettable".
  • Inferred Holocaust: See Esoteric Happy Ending above.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Ogilvy's more than a little unhinged, but he's a man who's just lost his entire family. That, combined with watching the world get taken over by aliens, would make anyone have problems.
  • Narm:
    • The flaming train scene is so unexpected that it's either this or outright terrifying.
    • Rachel's screaming can be this, thanks to it going through Memetic Mutation.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Amy Ryan is Ray's neighbor.
  • Rooting for the Empire: As terrifying as the tripods were, let's face it: Several viewers rooted for them after finding the humans annoying.
  • Special Effects Failure: While the quality may be up for debate, the quality of the effects is not. The heat-ray was straight out of a '90s video game, the tripods clattered along independently of the surfaces that they were standing on and the nighttime was represented by superimposing starry night sky over some of the visible blue afternoon sky while being filmed in bright sunny daylight.
  • Ugly Cute: The aliens real appearances (i.e., not the Tripods) are weirdly adorable when we actually see them.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Robbie for blindly charging into battle when he sees the US military already being slaughtered, and he's not just a civilian, he's a kid. Nothing he was doing served any other purpose than (almost) getting himself killed.
    • Rachel to a lesser extent. She may be just a frightened child, but her ear-piercing screams and decision to run out of the house in a panic serve to very nearly cost her her life despite all of Ray's efforts.
    • Manny, the mechanic who was too busy chewing out Ray for commandeering a van parked at his garage while there's a massive panic unfolding all around him as the tripod approaches right behind him. Ray even says flat out he's gonna die if he doesn't shut up and get in. Sure enough, that's exactly what happens to him.
  • The Woobie:
    • Rachel, for those who weren't annoyed by her screaming. It helps that Dakota Fanning gives an excellent performance.
    • Ray has his moments, especially when he's realizing his shortcomings as a father.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Tom Cruise as Ray.


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