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- Adaptation Displacement: The comic was not very well known before the film came out.
- Americans Hate Tingle: The movie was condemned as "Western Propaganda" in Iran due to the way Persians were portrayed. However, lots of people in the US and Canada had the same opinion, but they usually felt that it was so over-the-top it crossed the line twice.
- Complete Monster: Xerxes. His massacre of a defenseless Greek village which leaves countless men, women, and children brutally slaughtered obliterates the Moral Event Horizon.
- Designated Heroes: Ordinarily, you wouldn't be rooting for the side that glorifies warfare, practices eugenics, is profoundly tribal/racist, kills diplomats and systematically kills wounded and those attempting to surrender. Luckily, they didn't even try to tackle the slavery issue.
- Designated Villains: the Persian soldiers are even mentioned to be nothing more than slaves forced by fear to fight.
- Enemy Mine: When the film came out, several Greek journalists protested to the way Persians were depicted.
- Fountain of Memes
- Genius Bonus: Leonidas calling the Athenians "boy lovers" isn't an insult on their homosexuality. Athens prohibits over-aged prostitutes. Leonidas was saying Athenians are a bunch of wimps for not having sex with "real" men.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The movie was a massive hit in Greece and cultural neighbor Cyprus, probably because it depicted Greeks as total badasses.
- Gratuitous Special Effects: This movie makes heavy use of prosthetics, Green Screen and lots of CGI. The same battle was depicted in the movie The Three Hundred Spartans decades earlier with little more than fancy costumes and prop swords. The comic is comparitively more realistic with its visuals.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- An in-story example: "We will fight in the shade."
- Also, the movie did that to The Man Who Saves the World due to Leonidas having a very similar appearance to the main villain in that film.
- It's hard to take many previous works with phrase "This Is Madness" seriously anymore due to the 300 film.
- Leonidas isn't the only Spartan with an affinity for making gods bleed.
- Ho Yay: This movie might have been called Ho Yay: The Motion Picture.
- HSQ: Shoots through the roof during battle scenes.
- Memetic Badass: While the Spartans were already commonly regarded as the most badass civilization in all of history, this movie only helped spread the idea.
- Memetic Mutation:
- Memetic Number: The title itself.
- Older Than They Think: A number of lines from the movie are actually from Herodotus, including "fight in the shade." The Spartan epitaph planted by the side of the road is actually still visible as a marker from the Classical period:
Go tell the Spartans, passer by,
That here, by Spartan law, we lie.
- Ron the Death Eater: To the extreme, towards the Spartans. The Hatedom for this movie cites actions the Spartans take that were normal (and logical) for the time period as making them Complete Monsters, while shrugging off similar actions by the Persians because "They had tolerance and multiculturalism!" The Spartans are even vilified for all being the same race, and as being wrong for defending their country from an invading force... because apparently, when you have diversity, it's not wrong to slaughter innocent villagers and subjugate other countries.
- Another aspect of this was the Hatedom pretending to be deeply offended by Leonidas killing the Persian messenger, howling that "Don't kill the messenger is a sacred pact!" Nevermind the fact that Leonidas warns the messenger ahead of time that he will be held accountable for his words and behavior, the messenger proceeds to make a number of derisive comments that have nothing to do with simply delivering his message, such as insulting Spartan culture and deriding Leonidas' wife to his face.
- Tear Jerker: The ending. Each man knows that he faces death at the hands of Xerxes, but they absolutely refuse to give in or abandon their king.
"My king, it is an honor to die by your side."
"It was an honor to have lived by yours."
- Unfortunate Implications:
- Beyond the idealization of hardcore eugenics and other fascist ideals, practically all of the Persians with major speaking roles, most infamously the messenger, are played by actors of Sub-Saharan African descent, and Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro's skin color was darkened when he played Xerxes. This introduces a racial element to the otherwise cultural and political struggle. In real life, Persians tend to be much lighter skinned.
- The real Ephialtes wasn't Spartan or deformed, and only wanted a reward, but Frank Miller strongly changed this aspect of the story. The physically deformed, "defective" Ephialtes now "lives down to his physical unfitness" by betraying the athletic - and correspondingly morally upstanding - heroes to the Persians. This element was added to give Ephialtes a more interesting motive than simple greed, but also seems to suggest that their systematic eugenic cleansing practice (directly inspiring similar practices by the Nazis) was fully justified, and the problem was simply that one of them got away; along with Beauty Equals Goodness. The Unreliable Narrator justification doesn't work for this one.
- Assuming he didn't just flat out make up the guy was deformed.
- Values Dissonance: Both sides, although especially the Spartans.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Political?: Complicated again, as the film was made during The War On Terror, which Frank Miller supports, but the original comic was written a decade earlier. Notably, though, people who take this tack disagree on whether the Spartans are meant to represent the US and the Persians Islamic terrorism, or the other way around; it could be seen as brave freedom-lovers fighting Middle Eastern tyrants, or as a vast empire underestimating a local population and getting its butt kicked. At a March 2007 press conference, director Zack Snyder found himself nonplussed when asked by a reporter whether King Leonidas was meant to be George W Bush or Osama bin Laden. Original author Frank Miller claims that his comic to a large degree was inspired by the 1962 film The 300 Spartans, which is often considered to be a metaphor for the Cold War. Whether such a message was intended or not is far from clear.
- The Woobie: Ephialtes, to some extent.