γδ T cells are increasingly recognized as having important functional roles in a range of disease scenarios such as infection, allergy, autoimmunity and cancer. With this has come realization that γδ cells are not a homogeneous population of cells with a single physiological role. Instead, ever increasing complexity in both phenotype and function is being ascribed to γδ cell subsets from various tissues and locations, and in both mouse and human. Here, we review this complexity by describing how diverse γδ cell subsets are generated in the murine thymus, and how these events relate to subsequent γδ subset function in the periphery. We then review the two major γδ cell populations in human, highlighting the several similarities of Vδ1+ cells to certain murine γδ subsets, and describing the remarkable functional plasticity of human Vδ2+ cells. A better understanding of this spectrum of γδ cell phenotypes should facilitate more targeted approaches to utilise their tremendous functional potential in the clinic.