Tear Jerker / Finding Nemo

Many agree that this is Pixar's first film that runs on underlining, tear-jerking themes, with WALL-E and Up following suit.
  • Coral's death in the beginning, as well as the death of ALL of Marlin and Coral's other children. There were so many unhatched eggs...and only Nemo was left.
    • The reason Nemo has an underdeveloped and shriveled fin is because his egg was damaged in the barracuda attack (see the page image). So translating that to human terms, imagine that you're a father whose wife was killed brutally while you were powerless to do anything about it, and the killer also took all of your children, except for one boy, who is now permanently disabled. It is no wonder Marlin is such a nervous wreck for the first 20 minutes of the film.
  • The fact that the entire plot is hinged on Marlin not wanting the last thing his son says to him to be "I hate you."
    • You know the really sad thing about this? Marlin showed up just when Nemo was about to honor his wishes and not follow his friends out into the open water. But Marlin's paranoia and anger overtakes his rationale and he not only embarrasses Nemo in front of his new friends, he all but outright insults him. "You think you can do these things, but you just CAN'T, Nemo!" That's what sends Nemo to deliberately disobey and touch the boat. He was about to honor his father's wishes and he got chewed out for it. He's convinced that his father doesn't respect his position and Nemo just doesn't care about his approval anymore.
  • This is one of those films with undertones that the parents will understand just a little bit better than the kids.
    Nemo: It's okay, Dad, you can let go.
  • "It's okay, Daddy's here, Daddy's got you."
  • The moment when Nemo tells Marlin "I love you, daddy" and Marlin says "I love you too, son".
  • The completely heartwrenching moment when Marlin sees Nemo pretending to be dead in the plastic bag and, believing his son to really be dead, gives up and leaves in defeat. Dory's reaction as well:
    Dory: Oh my goodness...
    • The reactions of the Tank Gang are roughly around the same, even if it's brief. Gill's voice and expression when he cries out to the apparently dead Nemo clearly show only one emotion: absolute horror.
    Gill: SHARKBAIT!!
  • "I have to tell him how old sea turtles are...!", although that one can come across as narm.
    • That part? Very narmy. The agonised, despaired sobs right after? Not narmy at all.
    • "I promised I'd never let anything happen to him."
  • The scene where Dory actively laments her forgetfulness and expresses fears of forgetting her new-found friends:
    Dory: Stop! ... Please don't go away. Please? No one's ever stuck with me for so long before. And if you leave... if you leave... I just, I remember things better with you, I do! Look! "P. Sherman, forty-two...forty...two..." Ugh! I remember it, I do! It's there, I know it is, because when I look at you...I can feel it. And - and I look at you, and I...and I'm home! Please... I don't want that to go away. I don't want to forget.
    Marlin: I'm sorry, Dory. But I... do.
    • Made even worse by a scene later when Nemo finds her scared and alone in exactly the same place Marlin left her, desperately trying to remember what she needs to do.
      "I don't know where I am! I think I lost somebody, but I I can't remember!"
    • Think about the above speech a little harder and it becomes positively gut-wrenching. Dory is completely aware of how unusually well her memory cooperates when she's around Marlin not just having friends or nice experiences, but having basic understanding of where she is and what's going on. She also knows that if he leaves, that'll all fall apart, and she's trying to tell him so: "If you leave... I just, I remember things better with you!" But because Marlin is so completely empty at this point and Dory is half panicking, she can't make herself understood, and Marlin simply leaves without realizing or even caring what it will do to her. She wasn't just saying she cared about Marlin, she was begging not to be stranded on the other side of the world. And it didn't work.
    • It's even worse if you actually know somebody suffering from some form of memory loss. If it's bad enough, they really do forget who they are and where they are, and for them it's terrifying.
    • On a prior scene before they meet the school of moonfish, while less dramatic than the scene described above, Dory is absolutely heartbroken and cries when Marlin tells her that he wants to continue the journey without her, under the assumption that Marlin dislikes her.
    • According to the director, Dory herself suffers of abandonment and self-acceptance issues, as Dory has this fear of being ditched by anybody she meets and tries to be as friendly as she can be in hopes that someone will stick around with her. With that in mind one most wonder how many fishes and aquatic creatures she has came across and befriended (or tried to befriend) only to be abandoned to her luck, which makes the two examples with Marlin above a bit more tear jerking, because basically she was being ditched once more by someone else she wanted to befriend.
    • Her entire memory loss becomes into Fridge Tear Jerking, after you had seen the sequel and seen what happened to her before meeting Marlin, also her line where she asks where her family is and asking Nemo if they are searching for father also become this, as the sequel reveals that she was had forgotten about them and she has been searching for them for years before she came across Marlin.
  • The best testament to this film's ability to make you cry is that the first tearjerking moment comes before the opening credits, thanks to some amazing voice acting by Albert Brooks:
    Marlin: I swear, I will never let anything happen to you... Nemo.
    • It gets worse when Marlin and Dory are in the whale's mouth, with Marlin finally realizing how overprotective and limiting he sounds. Some paraphrasing here.
    Marlin: You can't speak whale!
    Dory: Yes, I can!
    Marlin: No, you can't! You think you can do these things, but you can't, Nemo!
  • Any time the this theme starts playing, (the beginning right before the opening credits, when Marlin or Nemo contemplates how to solve the main conflict, the scene where Nemo first hears about his dad's daring adventure to rescue him, and the very end).
    • Thomas Newman, who also composed the soundtrack the Andrew Stanton-directed WALL-E, has a knack for establishing ethereal atmosphere that can also tug at the heartstrings. The music that plays during the scene inside the whale is considered by Stanton to be the best track in the movie.
  • "Keep swimming! Keep swimming!" United forces and sheer will conquer life's dangers and suddenly Dory's goofy little song means everything in the world.
  • "Humans. Think they own everything". It's particularly jarring as it's the only line in a scene that is 100% Played for Laughs that's delivered seriously. Hearing that, it becomes surprisingly easy to empathize with a shark. Fridge Brilliance given the line was said by a mako shark, which are popular targets for trophy fishing.
  • Although Marlin is the undisputed master of the Adult Fear trope, Gill has his moments. Watching the clear desperation on his face as he watched Nemo be scooped out of the tank was enough to rival any parent. (He calls him by his real name which he only does a few times throughout the whole movie when he promises him that he's not gonna go belly up.)
  • "Dad? ...I don't hate you."
  • Upon rewatching, the scene where Marlin and Coral name their eggs is quite tragic.
  • In the E.A.C., when Marlin first sees Dory, facedown (he thinks she's in a coma, but she's just playing hide and seek), and it's obvious that he's completely guilt-ridden over her injuries.
    • Seeing Dory hurt in general is pretty hard to watch.
  • The scene where Marlin tells his story to a group of turtles in the E.A.C...
  • ...which then turns into both a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming and a Crowning Moment of Awesome as it spreads throughout the ocean.
  • The scene after Gill's first escape attempt with Nemo, which almost gets the latter killed. Remember that Nemo is basically the fish equivalent of a 1st grader at most. It's hard not to tear up at least a little bit for the poor little guy when he curls under Peach's arm.
    Peach: Gill...don't make him go back in there.
    • They elaborate on this during the commentary, saying that Gill represents the kind of coach that treats kids like they're older than they are, making the kids idolize them and pointing out that while that attitude is good for a kid's confidence, it's very easy to push the kid too far when you don't mean to.
    • In a more subdued way, the little conversation he has with Nemo post-attempt, in the middle of a My God, What Have I Done?
      Nemo: I'm sorry I couldn't stop the...
      Gill: No, I'm the one who should be sorry. I was so ready to get out, so ready to taste that ocean, I was willing to put you in harm's way to get there. Nothing should be worth that.
  • A fairly subdued one. When Marlin and Dory are entranced by the anglerfish's light, Marlin says, "I...I'm feeling...happy. Which is a big deal. For me." Of course, it snaps right back to funny when they see the rest of the anglerfish.
  • Animator Glenn McQueen's In Memoriam at the very end, accompanied by the final orchestral sting from the score.
  • Some Fridge Horror here: When the duo meets Bruce, Dory just swims up to him and says hi. To a giant white shark! She's even willing to join him for a "party." She's lucky he was friendly, and given her personality, one may wonder how she survived that long, espicially considering how many creatures she's clearly talked to throughout her life while trying to find her parents.