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The TV series

  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Lalo Schifrin's iconic theme tune, still used in parodies and commercials to this day.)
  • Ear Worm: It goes hand-in-hand with the Crowning Music of Awesome. Everybody knows the Mission Impossible theme song.
    • If you watch a few episodes, you'll also find the incidental music running through your head.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Landau quickly eclipsed star Steven Hill, even though he was only intended as an occasional guest star.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: One episode centered around a staged film purporting to show atrocities committed by American troops in Vietnam. In light of what was later revealed, it gets uncomfortable fast.
  • High Octane Nightmare Fuel: "Mindbend".
  • Magnificent Bastard: So very many.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Narm: "Some of that dialogue is terrible, isn't it?" - Mission Impossible writer-producer William Read Woodfield. (Example, from "A Game Of Chess": "Then we're all set except for the typhoid. Who's got it?")
  • Values Dissonance: Originally, the IMF were a group of people choosing to use their specific talents in spy work purely for the good of their nation. (Starting in 1966, still the era of "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.") This wouldn't have worked in the 1996 movie, so it made the IMF a deeply covert part of the US intelligence services. Even in the time of Richard Nixon, the idea of American agents covertly manipulating foreign countries as heroes was going out of fashion, and the IMF spent some time working their wiles on organised crime.

The films

  • Complete Monster: Sean Ambrose in the second movie. He plans to poison 17 million people in Australia with the deadly virus Chimera (as a start; he plans to sell it to terrorists and pharmaceutical companies around the globe)- injected in his former girlfriend Nyah - so he could make a fortune off the cure as he's the only man who has it.
    • Owen Davian in the third movie, as well. His actions - selling weapons to terrorists, killing agents by bombs implanted in their heads, brutally beating up the defenseless hero in front of his equally defenseless wife - are bad enough, but still things to be expected from a villain in a spy movie. It's his complete lack of any redeeming qualities and incapability of showing any other emotion than annoyance, anger, and a really creepy combination of Dull Surprise and sadistic glee that really makes him qualify for the title. Hearing him count to ten while holding Ethan's wife hostage execution-style is pants-shitting scary.

 "What I did to your friend was....fun. It was fun."

  • Crowning Music of Awesome: The Mission: Impossible theme. The version in the first film even made it onto top-ten charts around the world.
    • The movie version is so closely associated with Tom Cruise that it's the background music in the infamous "Happyology" award video that kicked off the Anonymous protests against "Happyology". If you listen closely you'll notice there's no looping, someone is actually strumming the Mission Impossible theme for about fifteen minutes.
  • Ear Worm: You're now hearing the theme song in your head, and it will be stuck there for quite some time.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Ving Rhames who is the only actor besides Tom Cruise to appear in all of the films.
  • Even Better Sequel: Ghost Protocol is easily the best-reviewed film of the series, with 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Funny Aneurysm Moment: The trailer for the fourth film shows the bombing of the Kremlin, a major symbol of the Russian government. The trailer was played on the same day as the terrorist attacks in Oslo, Norway.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: After Shaun of the Dead became a big hit, an interviewer asked Simon Pegg if he was going to do the whole Hollywood thing now, to which he replied "It's not like I'm going to be in Mission: Impossible III". Guess again, Simon! (It's not the only time he's made a prediction like that one.)
    • Word of God says William Brandt was put in the fourth movie so that he could become the series' new protagonist if Tom Cruise ever left. In the end, Cruise stayed on for the fourth movie...but around the same time, Jeremy Renner did end up becoming The Bourne Series' new protagonist after Matt Damon dropped out of The Bourne Legacy.
  • In Name Only: The view of many fans of the TV series, as well as the cast of said series.
  • Indy Ploy: Debatably, Ghost Protocol runs on this. The disavowed IMF team has to work without official support. Instead of meticulous planning, the group practically thinks on its feet throughout most of the film.
  • Recycled Script: Both the first and third movie involve Ethan being set up by a mole in IMF who isn't revealed until near the end, and who tries to frame the boss of the organization who spends time as an Anti-Villain trying to hunt down Hunt, with the audience left unclear if its because the boss really thinks Hunt is a traitor or because the boss is the traitor. In both their actions force Ethan to go rogue and steal the MacGuffin that the bad guys are after for them, and in both The Mole is in league with an arms dealer. Each movie sees Hunt's family being dragged into the plot to get at him, sees a fairly traditional IMF plot go off without a hitch only for the team to be ambushed after the fact, and features a reference ot Ethan evading airport security despite IMF putting "a guy at the airport".
  • Sequelitis: The second movie is considered inferior despite the flashy action.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Surprisingly Ethan Hunt provides the role of the original Jim Phelps. Before Phelps went bad.
  • Theiss Titillation Theory - Maggie Q's dress in the third film's Vatican sequence. To quote Phillip Seymour Hoffman's reaction, "You're wearing a tablecloth!"
    • Complete with Panty Shot when her character draws out a bomb detonator to fake Davian's death from her leg.
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