- Doing It for the Art: Bruce Willis wasn't paid for the movie. His salary would have nearly doubled the film's budget, and he wanted to work with Gilliam badly enough that he opted for a cut of the box office receipts instead.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: The seemingly-unimportant lab worker whose circuitous plane trip will unleash the apocalyptic virus: doesn't he look like the Jerkass cop who persistently oppresses Gregory House, MD? But... it couldn't be him; neither of those characters are like the infinitely kind and patient hospital resident on that oddball medical series (yeah, a long time ago), which wound up being remembered for the increasingly-complex nutjob artifices inspired by its All Just a Dream finale.
- Done in universe by Dr. Railly, when she sees Cole in a photograph from World War I, which was the first step to convincing her that Cole may be from the future.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Arthur Dent is a future scientist! I mean present. Which is still the future in real life.
- Playing Against Type: Along with Se7en, one of the movies that helped Brad Pitt break out of pure pretty-boy type-casting. Also, Bruce Willis's character is notably more frail than what he usually plays. This was the first movie where one of Bruce Willis' characters dies.