- Accidental Innuendo: More than a few gutter-minded people have changed the "What" in the title to "Who."
- Adaptation Displacement: There is a book of the same name that came out 2 years previous, this is a little known fact.
- Harsher in Hindsight
- While she had lost a significant amount of weight by the time it happened, it's eerily prophetic that Darlene Cates, like her character, eventually died in her sleep.
- Gilbert tries to keep his angst to himself to provide for his family and lead a normal life, but eventually the burden becomes too much and he hurts Arnie in frustration. His actor, Johnny Depp, had a history of his own temper problems that he tried to keep under control until he eventually took them out on his wife Amber Heard.
- He Really Can Act:
- Darlene Cates, who had no previous acting experience and was only cast because no professional actress was big enough, displays her natural talent for performing when Bonnie confronts the Sheriff at the police station.
- Leonardo DiCaprio as Arnie. At the time of the film's release, Leo was a relative unknown, so there were a significant number of people who didn't realize he wasn't actually developmentally disabled, as his performance shows it in all its discomforting glory.
- "Weird Al" Effect: Many people discovered this movie through the American Dad! episode "Irrigarding Steve," which features a b-plot of key scenes from the film being reenacted by squirrels.
- The Woobie: Practically the whole Grape family. It's implied that they were all pretty messed up to begin with, but it was the senior Mr. Grape's suicide that sent them all over the edge.
- Bonnie. She's eaten herself into morbid obesity at the expense of her good looks and is now the laughing stock of the town, to the point that her family decide to burn their house with her body inside it just so she won't suffer any further humiliation in death by trying to get her immovably heavy corpse out by crane.
- Gilbert himself is more of an Iron Woobie: He goes through a lot out of his love for his family, even though it's shown that he has his limits.
- Arnie, to a certain extent. His condition makes him a burden on his family, and nobody can do anything about it. It all clearly takes its toll on them, to the point that Gilbert becomes frustrated enough to slap him.
YMMV / What's Eating Gilbert Grape