Western Animation / Coco

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There's a bone to pick with people, in more ways than one.

"Never forget how much your family loves you."
Mamá Imelda

Coco is a computer-animated film by Pixar, released first in Mexico on October 27, 2017, and in the United States and most other territories on November 22 of the same year.

Directed by Lee Unkrich, this is the story of a 12-year-old Mexican boy named Miguel Rivera who, living in a family of music-hating shoemakers, ends up creating one of the most extraordinary family reunions ever upon discovering a generation-old mystery surrounding this so-called "music curse".

A first look into the film's concept can be viewed here. The teaser trailer for the film can be viewed here, as well. Dante's Lunch "Short Film" trailer. So far, it's come in first at the box office in the US, as well as becoming the number one movie of all time in Mexico, with critics and audiences alike praising it for its sensitive and artful representation of the Mexican holiday and culture.

For the first few weeks of its run, the Frozen short Olaf's Frozen Adventure was attached to the film's theatrical release.

Please move any character tropes to the Coco character page.


Coco provides examples of:

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  • A Cappella: The scene where Héctor is singing "Remember Me" starts out with him singing it a capella with no music, then when it changes to the flashback of him singing it to little Coco the acoustic guitar slips in, then slips back out upon returning to the present. The album version keeps the guitar intact for the entire song.
  • Adult Fear: The backstory of the Rivera family is seeped in this.
    • Imelda was left to raise her very young daughter by herself when her husband Héctor left home in hopes of making a living while doing something he loved. Not only was he never interested in fame but he also never wanted to tour around different towns and cities every day for fame like Ernesto. She never found out that her husband had been murdered so she believed that he walked out on the family and was so devastated by this that she banned music from the family. The rest of her family was so hurt by her husband's supposed abandonment that they upheld the ban well after her death and avoided even speaking his name for generations.
    • On Héctor's side, his 25-year-old childhood friend murdered him when he was only 21-years-old all on the account that Héctor wanted to return home to his wife and daughter, and because his family never learnt that he was murdered and believed that he abandoned them, Héctor ended up disgraced and ostracized from his family in the afterlife. He doesn't even realize he was murdered for 96 years and when he does, Ernesto essentially tries to murder him again.
    • There's also the reaction of the Rivera family members, both living and dead, when Miguel runs away. The whole thing feels similar to a terrified parent trying to find their child missing in a mall. The whole thing ends with the dead Rivera family members watching as Miguel is nearly murdered and then Héctor almost undergoes Final Death.
    • Two of the Rivera ghosts, Julio and Victoria, were actually Coco's late husband and daughter respectively, meaning she's not only a Widow Woman who outlived one of her children, but a daughter who waited her entire life for a father whom she isn't aware was murdered.
    • When Ernesto de la Cruz is threatening to throw Miguel off a building, Hector is too weak from being forgotten to do more than plead helplessly: "He's a living child, Ernesto!"
    • Lighter than the other examples listed here, but the idea that a beloved member of the family could one day become so senile, they don't understand anything that's going on around them, know what year they're in, or even recognize their own children, is pretty scary to a lot of people. Especially since it happens in real life tragically often, and there's not much anyone can do to prevent it or fix it. It's doubly scary if you consider the possibility it could one day happen to you. Though the ending of this story shows that, even with her Alzheimer's, Mama Coco still loves her family with all her heart, even if she isn't always lucid enough to express it.
  • Advertising by Association: As usual with Pixar films, the trailer says "From the creators of Toy Story and Finding Dory".
  • The Ageless: The appearances of the spirits of the Land of the Dead are based on what they looked like at the moment of their death, more or less; never really changing aside from cleaning up any potential wounds they may have had (like the many fractures Ernesto would have probably received by being crushed to death by a bell). As a result, Ernesto de la Cruz appears to be in his 40s at most, Héctor himself doesn't appear a day over 21 years old, while Mama Imelda and Papa Julio look much older. When the almost unresponsive and senile Coco dies, she arrives in the Land of the Dead still with white hair and hunched over, but much livelier. She can even walk again.
  • All Part of the Show: Mamá Imelda successfully plays off dodging and evading Ernesto's bodyguards as dancing when she accidentally ends up in the Sunrise Spectacular stage and turns to singing to avoid alarming the crowd. Likewise, Ernesto disguises his attempts to stop Imelda and recover Héctor's photo as dancing and performing, complete with turning his scream of pain into a hearty Mariachi grito when Imelda stomps on his foot to set herself free and steal back the picture. The audience is, of course, none the wiser.
  • Ambition Is Evil:
    • The villain's Backstory: Ernesto de la Cruz only became the star he was after he murdered Héctor and stole his songs.
    • It is also the reason why Mamá Imelda prohibited music for the Riveras. She doesn't hate music, quite the contrary, she was a musician herself along with her husband, but when her husband never returned home from his first music tour, Imelda believed that music could cause a person to become so ambitious that they would abandon their loved ones to chase their dreams. Afraid this might happen to her children, she prohibited music for her family. Ironically the prohibition almost forced Miguel to do exactly that and Imelda soon realizes that it didn't work too well. "Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!", indeed.
  • Amusing Injuries: Let's just say that a lack of flesh and blood on your bones is bound to make these a regular occurrence. In an interview with NPR, the creators point out that because everyone is already dead, no one can be seriously injured, and so the Land of the Dead is completely devoid of things like safety rails.
  • An Aesop:
    • 'Follow your dreams' and 'let your children do what they love,' which are present in Miguel's passion for music going against his family's traditions.
    • 'Fame and fortune are pretty meaningless if people have nothing positive to say about you once you're dead.'
    • 'Family comes first'. Because fans may come and go, but your family will love you forever.
    • Mama Imelda learns an interesting one. 'You don't have to forgive someone who has wronged you right away in order to help them.' Although after the 'La Llorona' performance, she is shown to have begun to reconcile with her husband and by the time the following Día de Muertos has arrived she (and the rest of the Rivera family, both living and deceased) is shown to have completely forgiven him.
  • Animated Musical: Averted. Music is a major theme of the movie and several characters sing, but all of the singing occurs In-Universe.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: The crowd responds with thunderous applause when Ernesto gets a bell dropped on him following him being outed as a fraud and a murderer.
  • And This Is For...: Imelda when she smacks Ernesto with her shoe twice after finding out that he killed Héctor.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Seize your moment," which is Ernesto de la Cruz's Catch Phrase and is repeated by the characters throughout the movie in various contexts.
    • "Remember Me", Ernesto de la Cruz's In-Universe Signature Song which is originally written and performed by Héctor for his daughter Coco. Remembering deceased loved ones is one of the film's Central Themes, which ultimately becomes an important plot point towards the end of the film.
  • Art Shift: The prologue is depicted in 2D animation on papel picado banners.
  • Award-Bait Song: Remember Me / Recuérdame. Just to make sure they cover all bases there are six recorded versions of the song in the Spanish dub:
  • Barred from the Afterlife: Inverted. Dead family members with no photo on their ofrenda cannot cross the marigold bridge to the living world, as shown by Héctor when he tries to cross but ends up sinking into the petals.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Miguel is a pretty nice guy, except when he loses his temper.
    • Imelda may be a noble woman with a soft heart, but you'd do well not to make her angry.
  • Birth/Death Juxtaposition: The Time Skip at the end has Miguel showing his new baby sister all of the deceased family members up on the ofrenda just before putting up a photo of Mama Coco. Fittingly, the novelization confirms that the baby is named Socorro. Or, Coco for short.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Ernesto de la Cruz. Despite being adored by all of Mexico (Miguel especially) even before his unseen death, he actually stole the music from Héctor and poisoned him to death.
  • Black Comedy: Inevitable in an animated comedy where half of the cast are living dead.
  • Book-Ends:
    • The movie starts and ends with a shot of an orange flag on the banner, with the movie’s title at the beginning and "THE END" at the end, with the former appearing in the latter's place in the international versions.
    • The movie also opens with Miguel explaining his dream of becoming a musician even though his family is vehemently against it, lamenting how his family seems to be the only one in Mexico to hate music. By the end of the movie, Miguel is seen in full mariachi garb as his family gathers at the dinner table on Dia de Muertos while reaffirming how much he loves his family in song.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Rivera family's business of shoemaking. Miguel wishes Imelda had started a fun business, like making candy or fireworks. However, making shoes was a good idea, financially — shoes are something everyone needs, and they have to be replaced semi-frequently. And it paid off; the business is still up and running nearly a century later, and it's enough to support the entire family.
  • Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: One of the skeletons going to cross the marigold bridge to the Land of the Living is wearing rather enormous braces that fit his huge jaw.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The things Héctor borrowed from Chicharron include his van, mini-fridge, and femur.
  • Broken Pedestal: Ernesto de la Cruz is the inspiration behind Miguel's love of music, but it turns out that not only was he a fraud, he actually murdered the original musical genius Héctor, who is revealed to be Miguel's actual great-great-grandfather.
  • Broken Record: When Héctor is shocked at learning Ernesto is Miguel’s great-great grandfathers, his response is simply this:
    Héctor: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Wait, wait...Wait, no, wait, wait, wait, wait. Wait, wai-wait, wait, wait. Wait, wait...
  • The Cameo:
    • The Pizza Planet truck drives past Miguel's house during his montage of Elena refusing music.
    • A figure of Nemo can be seen on the table that Miguel drums on.
    • Woody, Buzz, and Mike Wazowski appear as piñatas.
    • Among the guests at De la Cruz's party were real life Lucha Libre legend El Santo, comic actor Cantinflas, singer and actress Maria Felix and Mexican revolutionary figure Zapata.
    • John Ratzenberger makes his traditional Pixar cameo as a deceased orthodontal patient.
    • Skrillex is one of the participants in the afterlife battle of the bands.
  • Canine Companion: Miguel's dog, Dante, accompanies him on his journey.
  • Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: Ernesto accuses Miguel of this for bringing up how a line he said in real life while he was alive was the same as something he says in a movie, and extrapolating that he murdered the person he said it to just like in the film. Though in this case Miguel was right.
  • Catch a Falling Star: Dante attempts this, but he's not strong enough to rescue Miguel as he's falling. Pepita actually ends up rescuing him.
  • Cat/Dog Dichotomy: Miguel's animal companion, the dopey, amiable dog Dante, and Mama Imelda's, the large and initially frightening jaguar-like alebrije Pepita.
  • Caught on Tape: How Ernesto is exposed to the crowd as a fraud during the Sunrise Spectacular.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: The Department of Family Reunions.
  • Celestial Deadline: Miguel has until sunrise to get back to the Land of the Living or he'll be stuck there for good.
  • Central Theme: The importance of family. Dreams are important and you should follow them and support others' dreams but through it all, nothing is more important than the people who love you.
  • Character Narrator: Played with at the beginning, where Miguel's off-screen Opening Narration is revealed that in-universe he's pouring the whole thing out to a customer of his shoe-shining business, because he can't talk to his family about it and he needs to tell someone.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Héctor disguising himself as Frida Kahlo to cross the marigold bridge is a great gag, but then it turns out that he knows where de la Cruz is supposed to be rehearsing for his Sunrise Spectacular because he borrowed the costume from the show's costume designer. While he's apologizing for losing it, Miguel meets the real Frida Kahlo, who's choreographing a performance piece with a lot of dancers costumed as herself. She encourages his artistry and imparts the plot-critical information that no, Ernesto is not here rehearsing, he's holding a very exclusive party that they'll have to find a way into. Later, Héctor's way in is to disguise himself as Frida again. And later still, the entire family disguise themselves as Frida Kahlo thanks to that dance piece she designed, with Miguel personally thanking Frida for her help after she wishes him luck.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Imelda's picture is knocked off the ofrenda, and we later find her berating a customs official because the lack of a photo means she can't go to the Land of the Living.
    • At first Héctor's letters to Coco are simply revealed as a Tragic Keepsake, showing that Coco never stopped loving or missing her father, and bringing the family around to embracing music again. Then, a year later, it turns out the letters were instrumental in exposing Ernesto's misdeeds (leaving him condemned in the world of the living as well as the Land of the Dead and his punishment thus complete) and Héctor's reputation restored.
    • There is a lot of emphasis on the torn part of the picture showing the head of Miguel's Un Personned great-great grandfather. Of course the missing part is integral.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Héctor's first appearance seems to be a one-off bit demonstrating the rule that people can't cross back into the land of the living unless there is an ofrenda for them to visit. Then Miguel crosses paths again with him later, and he eventually turns out to be very important to the plot, as does the reason why his photo is not in any ofrenda.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Héctor's ability to dress up as Frida Kahlo ends up being helpful a couple of times later.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: When Hector confronts De la Cruz just as Miguel is about to receive a blessing to become a musician, Hector recites the words that were told to him just before he died of food poisoning. Miguel points out that those same lines were recited in a scene in film starring de De la Cruz, where he was given a poisoned drink by his best friend, which was playing at that very time in a nearby TV. This leads to Hector to realize that on the night he decided to quit show business and go back to the family he left behind, and take his song book with him, he and De la Cruz shared a farewell drink. Moments later, Hector collapsed and died on the street, with De la Cruz blaming it on food poisoning, and getting famous by singing the songs Hector composed.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: When Miguel first meets Ernesto at his tower, the inside of the ballroom is full of vibrant colors. After the party is over and when Héctor reveals the truth, the tower is darkly colored to show Ernesto's true colors are exposed to the viewers.
  • Comical Overreacting: At the beginning of the movie, any time music is so much as mentioned in front of the Riveras, expect their reactions to be hilariously over-the-top for the audience. Until they find out about Miguel's hidden shrine and guitar...
  • Concert Climax: The climax takes place at Ernesto's "Sunrise Spectacular." It's something of a combination of the Action Movie and Romantic Comedy versions of this trope, as it involves a Race Against the Clock, the villain being exposed to the world and the reunion of Héctor with his family.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Miguel arrives at the intermediary station between the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead just as Héctor his true great-great-grandfather tries and fails to cross the bridge, meaning they can bump into each other later on in the Grand Central Station. After Miguel learns that Dante is his spirit guide he speculates that it wasn't just a coincidence.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The Land of the Dead has only been seen on Día de Muertos, but from what's depicted it seems to be a 24/7 party filled with amazing sights, sounds, and performances where the vast majority of the dead get to enjoy themselves and reunite with their loved ones after death on top of getting a chance to see how their living relatives are doing once a year. On the other hand, the forgotten, those without pictures on their family's ofrendas, are often left to scrape by in slums filled with trash and garbage with little hope of ever seeing their families again before finally suffering their Final Death and fading away into a place no one knows (or likely cares) about.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The credits show various events and artifacts of the movie depicted on the many papel picado banners, as marigold petals fly through the scenery.
  • Creator Cameo: The orchestra conductor of Ernesto's concert in the climax is modeled after composer Michael Giacchino.note 
  • Crowded Cast Shot: The movie ends as every Rivera family member, living and dead, all gather round Miguel as he is raised on his dad and uncle’s shoulders while singing "Proud Corazón" and the view pans up as mentioned below.
  • Curse Cut Short: When Chicharrón accuses Héctor of borrowing his femur:
    Chicharrón: Where’s my femur?! You — [He singes and faints before he can get the words out.]
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: The reason why Miguel's family is so adamant that he never play a musical instrument, and abandon his hopes of being a musician is because mamá Coco and her mother were abandoned by their father, a musician, who went on tour, found fame and never came back. It turns that Hector is Miguel's great-great grandfather, not de La Cruz, and the reason why Hector never came back from tour was because after deciding to quit show business and go back to raise his family, de La Cruz, Hector's stage partner, poisoned his drink, stole Hector's song book, and blamed his death on food poisoning.
  • Dance Party Ending: The film closes with the Riveras, both living and dead, dancing around over Miguel's musical number.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Land of the Dead is actually a thriving community of skeletons who are actually friendly and even help Miguel during his journey.
  • The Dead Can Dance:
    • The Frida Kahlo dancers rehearse and then perform on stage at the Sunrise Spectacular.
    • Hector kicks up his heels after Dante pushes him on stage during Poco Loco.
    • The huge crowd at Ernesto's grande Fiesta in his tower are dancing.
    • Imelda dances while singing La Llorona to evade Ernesto and Ernesto joins her.
    • The reunited Imelda and Hector dance a waltz together as Miguel sings Proud Corazon.
  • Deader Than Dead: Skeletons vanish from the Land of the Dead when the living no longer remember them. They even call this "Final Death".
  • Death as Comedy: Ernesto was killed in 1942 when a church bell fell on him during a performance.
  • Death Glare: In Héctor's flashback, Ernesto gives one to Héctor as he drinks his shot of tequila, not knowing that there's poison in it.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: The "following your dreams" aesop. For the deconstruction part, while Miguel's musical aspirations is sympathetic, it also leads him to forgoing his family when he assumes that they won't support him. This also leads to becoming more and more selfish to the point of saying hurtful things to his family. The reconstruction comes after discovering Ernesto's true, villainous colors. Miguel learns how important his family is and that while it's perfectly okay to have dreams, he shouldn't make that more important than his family.
  • Dem Bones: The dead are all depicted as friendly-looking skeletons.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Said by Miguel when the end of his Opening Monologue is actually spoken off-camera and the mariachi guy heard.
  • Died Happily Ever After: Mama Coco is happy to be in the Land of the Dead thanks to being reunited with her family.
  • Diegetic Switch:
    • During the scene where Miguel and Héctor are in the pit upon learning the truth, Héctor looks at the ripped-up photo from the ofrenda and begins singing “Remember Me” with the music coming out of nowhere, before switching to the flashback of him playing the song to Coco when she was younger.
    • "Proud Corazón" starts out as a background piece played as Héctor reunites with Imelda and Coco in the Land of the Dead before crossing the marigold bridge with the rest of the Riveras, before switching to Miguel singing it onscreen for his family following such.
  • Dishonored Dead:
    • Given how he left his family (or so it originally seemed), Miguel's great-great-grandfather doesn't have a presence on the Rivera family's ofrenda. The one family picture of his great-great-grandparents has his face torn out. Miguel's great-great-grandfather is eventually revealed to be Héctor.
    • After the truth comes out about Héctor and Ernesto de la Cruz, the memorial dedicated to Ernesto appears to be condemned one year later. A bust of him is shown to be covered by a sign that says "FORGET YOU."
  • Disguised in Drag:
    • Héctor disguising himself as Frida Kahlo. It's a Running Gag.
    • Miguel and his family get into Ernesto's concert at the climax by disguising themselves as the back-up dancers for Frida Kahlo's performace-art piece... which means all of them, including the men, are dressed as Frida Kahlo.
  • Disqualification-Induced Victory: The runners-up at the Battle of the Bands end up taking first place after Miguel leaves after being betrayed last minute. Fortunately, they offer to sneak Miguel into Ernesto's tower so he can perform there after all.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Played for Laughs near the start of the film, when the Riveras catch Miguel talking to a Mariachi at Mariachi Square. They interrogate him to know "what did he offer" Miguel, and aggressively let him know that they "know your tricks," as though he were a child abductor offering candy, or a street peddler offering drugs.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After having spent most of his life being shut out from music of any kind, having his faith in his lifelong idol shattered, and coming within a hair's-breadth of being murdered by said idol several times, Miguel manages to return to the Land of the Living and the Riveras learn the truth about Héctor. As a result, Héctor is forgiven, his photo is placed on the family altar and he finally reunites with his daughter. The Riveras, who hated music before, now embrace it and Miguel is able to chase his dreams of becoming a musician.
  • Easily Forgiven: Played With. Imelda doesn't forgive Héctor right away for leaving her, even after learning that he tried to return but was murdered by Ernesto before he could, but towards the end of the film, they slowly begin to reconcile. They're finally back together for real by the finale. Also, in the living world after the one year Time Skip, the Riveras forgave Héctor and accepted music once again. It can be assumed that they didn't forgive Héctor overnight, but it took some time and effort from Miguel and Coco, as well as finding Héctor's letters that reveal the truth, to convince them to do so.
  • The End: The fifth Pixar film to finish with this after A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille and Finding Dory.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Tía Rosita mans the camera as Ernesto confronts the Rivera family backstage at his concert, broadcasting the entire thing to the stadium screens.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: Miguel says that he always thought the Land of the Dead was something adults made up, like vitamins.
    Tía Victoria: Miguel, vitamins are a real thing.
    Miguel: Well, now I'm thinking maybe they could be.
  • Expanded Universe: There's the storybook "Miguel and the Amazing Alebrijes", which ties in with the movie. It deals with Miguel thinking over which animal should be his spirit guide for a class project. It's likely this book took place before the events of the film.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Not counting the prologue and Time Skip at the end, the film's plot is set over a period of 24 hours.
  • Facial Markings: All the skeletons in the Land of the Dead have colorful markings on their skulls, giving them a resemblance to traditional sugar skulls that are decorated or eaten on Dia de los Muertos.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Héctor's death. He is poisoned by his colleague Ernesto, collapses in the street, and dies in what is shown to be a quite painful way...on screen.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: A particularly horrifying example. Not only did Ernesto not write any of the music for which he became so famous, he actually murdered the man responsible just to steal the credit and get the fame!
  • Felony Misdemeanor: The Rivera family react to seeing a Mariachi player offer to let Miguel play his guitar with the same horror and protective outrage as if he was street dealer offering the kid drugs, and they chase him away just as ferociously.
  • Fisher Kingdom: Spending a long enough time in the Land of the Dead causes Miguel to slowly transform into a skeleton over time.
  • Final Death: When there's no one left in the living world to remember someone in particular who's no longer living, they disappear forever. We learn about it as it happens to an old friend of Héctor's, and Héctor himself comes within a hair's breadth of suffering the same fate.
  • Flower Motifs: There are aztec marigold petals covering the floor in Ernesto's tomb. They also form the bridge between the world of the living and the dead, and a petal is used to embody the blessing that can return a living person from the Land of the Dead. Truth in Television, since marigolds (known in Mexico as Cempazúchitl) are a symbol of El Dia de los Muertos in Mexican culture. Traditionally, a trail of marigold petals leading from the entrance of the house to the altar is used to guide the spirits of the deceased.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: When Miguel's dead relatives set out to search for him, Mama Imelda decides they need the help of her spirit guide, Pepita. Cue enormous winged silhouette.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the beginning of the movie, we're first introduced to Dante after Miguel passes a table full of Alebrije figurines.
    • The fact that Dante can still see and hear Miguel after Miguel is transported to the other side despite no one else being able to do so likewise hints at the dog's true nature.
    • When Miguel tells Dante that they need to find his great-great grandfather, Dante immediately leads Miguel into the room where Héctor is being processed.
    • A subtle one in occurs when Hector is being processed after trying, yet again, to sneak into the world of the living. The customs officer has a lamp on his desk whose colored, semi-translucent, lampshade casts a eerie green light onto a picture of Ernesto de la Cruz that's hanging on a wall.
    • Frida Kahlo immediately saw Dante of what he actually is, although she also quite humorously took it back later.
    • Upon meeting Héctor, when Miguel asks him how he knows Ernesto, Héctor says he used to play with Ernesto, and "taught him everything he knows". Since Héctor is introduced as a con artist, the audience takes this as a total lie. This turns out to be true. So true that Ernesto killed Héctor for his songs when Héctor was about to leave the life and go back to his family.
    • His family angrily berates him every time he mentions his grandfather, but not when he mentions De La Cruz. This is a clue that they're not actually the same.
    • Speaking of Frida and Hector, Frida is disdainful of de la Cruz hosting his party instead of rehearsing for the show the next morning, and so is Hector. "That bum! Who doesn't show up to his own rehearsal?" Because Hector, like Frida, is a true artist, and Ernesto de la Cruz is not!
    • When he's raving about Ernesto's talent at the beginning, Miguel says "He can sing, he's got a cool guitar, he can fly!" Ernesto does go flying at the end of the movie, thanks to Pepita.
    • Also in the above quote: Hector can sing and he does have a cool guitar. But Miguel never considers whether or not Ernesto wrote his own songs. He never wrote a thing, every song he sung he stole from Hector.
    • In the ripped up photo, the belt buckle of the mystery relative shows two crossed guitars, while Ernesto’s belt buckle is just normal with no guitars on it. The crossed guitars on the photo hints at a double act in the film, foreshadowing Ernesto and Héctor’s hardship and the fact Ernesto isn’t who he seems to be.
    • Miguel tries to stagger to act like a skeleton, and Héctor tells him that isn't how they walk. Miguel points out that's how Héctor walks, which may be a clue towards Héctor approaching "Final Death" and gradually losing his energy.
    • When Miguel makes a big deal about how Ernesto de la Cruz is the best musician in the world, Héctor responds by acknowledging the songs Ernesto sings as pretty good while Ernesto's actual talent is only mediocre. Of course Héctor would know this: he wrote all of the songs that Ernesto claims are his, and no doubt recognized Ernesto for what he was — a medium talent who couldn't cut it.
    • Héctor takes Miguel to visit a forgotten friend of his to get a guitar and serves a couple of drinks, but the friend becomes Deader Than Dead and as such, Héctor drinks a single glass and leaves it upside down on the table, next to the full one. we learn later that Ernesto de la Cruz murdered him by slipping poison in a similar drink.
    • When Miguel excitedly exclaims that he's going to play "Remember Me" in the battle of the bands, Héctor immediately and uncomfortably negates the idea, saying that it's too popular, so everyone will be singing it — which, since that's actually true, seems like a legit concern. But later it's revealed that Héctor has a likely ulterior motive for not wanting Miguel to perform it: "Remember Me" is an extremely personal song to Héctor; he wrote it as a love song for his daughter Coco.
    • Dante's efforts to keep Miguel and Héctor together serves as foreshadowing for both Dante being a spirit guide and, again, Héctor being the real great-great grandfather.
    • During Miguel's Kick the Dog moment on Imelda, she sings part of the lyrics to "La Llorona", foreshadowing her performance of the song at Ernesto's Sunrise Spectacular.
    • When rescuing Miguel from the pool, Ernesto pushes his guitar out of the way before dragging him to the surface, showing he's trying to protect his reputation.
    • Ernesto is very surprised that he has a great-great-grandson. Since Miguel's great-great-grandfather had a family and knew his daughter, Ernesto shouldn't be this surprised he has descendants: the first clue that he and Miguel aren't related. He still goes with it, as it's possible that Miguel may be related to an unrecognized offspring... which given Ernesto's fame, might be a real possibility.
    • Similarly, when Miguel learns that Ernesto was his grandfather all along, his family incredulously responds "That's impossible." They know full well who his grandfather was, and it wasn't Ernesto.
    • Ernesto tells Miguel, "I did all my own stunts." when watching one of his movies. In more ways then one, he did really do the stunt from that movie: poisoning Héctor exactly like the antagonist did.
    • When Ernesto learns that Miguel has to return home very soon or he'll die, he calmly states "Hm, I really should get you home" with the same casual indifference as if he just learned the kid was up later past his bedtime than he thought. He also tells Miguel that it's been fun and "I hope you die very soon." These are two subtle but tell-tale hints that Ernesto is a sociopath with no regard for human life, and willing to murder someone (like Héctor for his songs) when he thinks they might threaten his fame.
    • Doubling as Five-Second Foreshadowing; the marigold petal Ernesto uses for his blessing to Miguel does not light up unlike Imelda's when he starts the blessing, giving way the fact they're not related.
    • The headstock of Ernesto's guitar has a detail of a skull with a single yellow tooth. When Héctor first grins, it's hard not to notice that he, too, has a single yellow tooth, indicating that the guitar actually belongs to him.
    • In the flashback to the last time Hector and Ernesto saw each other in life, Hector is carrying a guitar case, which Ernesto picks up after Hector dies, foreshadowing that the iconic guitar that led Miguel to believe Ernesto is his ancestor originally belonged to Hector.
    • Mama Imelda wears a lot of purple, even having purple markings on her skull. Who else is the only other character noticeably wearing purple? Her husband and Miguel's true great-great grandfather, Héctor who wears a tattered purple shirt.
  • For Want of a Nail: The movie's plot wouldn't have occurred in the first place had not Dante destroyed the family photo of Imelda and Coco with their mystery father.
  • Freudian Slip:
    • "May you die very soon." This at first seems like an amusing line to mean that Ernesto looks forward to the next time he sees his reunited great-great-grandson when he returns to the afterlife for good. However, once the twist is revealed, this hints that Ernesto may be jealous of Miguel's natural talent, and rather hopes he dies before he becomes more famous than him.
    • "That's for murdering the love of my life!" Coming from an infuriated Mama Imelda, it clues Héctor and the others in that she is still in love with him after all these years despite being angry. However, when questioned, she angrily responds, "I don't know what I said!"
  • From Bad to Worse: It's bad enough to learn that your best friend got famous off your music without ever giving you any credit but worse to discover that he murdered you for your music and wants to erase you from everyone's memories for good.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted per the Pixar norm, as characters are shown drinking alcohol several times.

    G-L 
  • Get Out:
    • During Miguel's montage of Elena denying music, she spots a trio of traveling musicians and tells them to leave the house.
    • Chicharrón says this to Héctor upon their meeting prior to being forgotten.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • When Miguel is looking for Ernesto de la Cruz in the theater, he comes across a skeleton woman without any clothes on, posing for a painter.
    • At Chicharrón's request, Héctor plays him a song about an ugly woman named Juanita, "whose... knuckles dragged down to the ground". Chicharrón points out that's not how the song goes, and Héctor gestures to Miguel and says "There are children present!", implying the song originally referred to a much bawdier feature of Juanita's.
    • In an example that also serves as foreshadowing, when Miguel tells Ernesto that he's Ernesto's great great grandson, Ernesto's first response is surprise, but he happily accepts it fast enough. Assuming he had many female fans, one can figure out where he figured Miguel came from.
    • Frida Kahlo's staging has performers emerge from a papaya — in Mexican slang, "papaya" is used as a term for female genitals bringing even more meaning Frida's decision that it should be on fire.
    • After the whole Rivera family sneaks into the concert dressed as Frida Kahlo, Hector seems awfully excited when asking Imelda if she needs help taking her dress off.
  • Girls Have Cooties: Miguel makes a disgusted face while watching a romance scene in one of Ernesto's old movies.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: In the Land of the Dead, most of the skeletons wear multicolored clothes; Ernesto wears silver, making him appear almost black-and-white, hinting he's the Big Bad.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Averted with Héctor's death. We actually see him collapse onscreen as a result of Ernesto's poisoning.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: The movie is full of Spanish-language words and some dialogue, since the setting is Mexico. Averted in the Mexican Spanish dub, where the characters all speak Spanish.
  • Heaven Above: The bridge that leads to the afterlife can be easily recognized as such because the bridge arcs up into the misty sky, indicating it goes beyond our mortal Earth.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: It turns out that Héctor would frequently travel with Ernesto in order to support his family by doing something he loved, but he soon realised that he missed his family too much and as he was preparing to return to them, his friend Ernesto, who wanted to achieve his dreams so badly, murdered him, stole his songs and never told Héctor's family that he was dead, causing them to completely ostracise him.
  • Hereditary Curse: Sort of—the reason that the Riveras hate music is because, due to Miguel’s great-great-grandfather leaving his family to become a performer and that Riveras have suffered since then, they believe that they've been "cursed" by it. In truth, while Héctor and Ernesto were on their first music tour together, Héctor grew disillusioned and homesick, that he quickly decided that he was ready to return home to them but was murdered by Ernesto before he could.
  • Honor Before Reason: Before the music competition, Miguel admits to Héctor he's never performed before. Héctor offers to play on Miguel's behalf, given he has more experience. But Miguel wants to play instead because it's not about winning, but earning de la Cruz's approval. Héctor lamp shades how inconvenient it is to choose now to have such a sentiment.
  • How Is That Even Possible?: The clerk in the land of the undead is allergic to Dante, despite 1) Dante not having any hair and 2) the clerk not having a nose. Neither the clerk nor Miguel have any answers to how that works.
  • Huddle Shot: Miguel and the dead Riveras have one after sneaking backstage to Ernesto’s Sunrise Spectacular and plot to get Héctor’s picture back.
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: Well, not so impossible for Dem Bones, seeing as they don't really have waists; it's practically standard for the Land of the Dead to have hilariously waspish dresses, cinched around their spinal columns.
  • Incredibly Long Note:
    • Ernesto's version of "Remember Me" ends on a rather long high note, leading to the big bell to fall and crush him to his death. Same with Héctor’s original version, but on a quieter, more gentle chord.
    • The end finale song "Proud Corazón" has Miguel pull one of these in the final crescendo.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Played with. While we thankfully do not see any children dying on screen, there are several small child skeletons in the Land of the Dead. They are immortal as long as they are remembered by their families and loved ones.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The attendant at the land of the dead is allergic to Dante. When Miguel points out that it's impossible, because Dante is hairless, he replies "Well, I don't have a nose".
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: After Ernesto is exposed as a fraud, a thief, and a murderer, the conductor responds to his attempt to get the show going again by giving him a Death Glare and snapping his baton in two.
  • Invisible to Normals: As usual, ghosts are invisible to living people.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifter: The alebrijes are revealed to be normal animals that, after becoming spiritual guides, change into supernatural forms whenever visiting the Land of the Dead.
  • Ironic Echo: Ernesto's motto "Seize Your Moment" takes on a dark undercurrent during the third act when he uses it to mean not just following your dreams, but murdering anyone who gets in their way.
  • I See Dead People: Dante can see ghosts and interact with them. It's implied this works for any animal that becomes a spiritual guide.
    • Dante is a Xoloizcuintle, a breed of dog that the Aztecs believed the Gods gave to them to protect them in both death and life. Those dogs were sacrificed when their owners died in order to guide their souls across the river that led into the Afterlife. So Dante's ability to see the dead is like a superpower for his breed. That's why people in the Land of the Dead, such as Frida Kahlo, are fond of him.
  • Jaw Drop: Several times.
    • When the customs officer sees the live Miguel, his jawbone actually falls off and hits the desk.
    • Héctor combines it with an Eye Take, as his eyeballs fall down into his mouth.
    • Rosita and Victoria when they see Imelda singing on stage.
  • Kick the Morality Pet: Miguel gets called out for deciding to risk both his own and Héctor's lives to get a better deal on his blessing, culminating in him to pull a Kick the Dog moment at Dante when he tries to get him to come back, after which he realizes what he's been doing wrong.
  • Kubrick Stare:
    • Elena gives one to Miguel as she is marching up to him just as he is about to play guitar for the mariachi guy.
    • A Maestro gives one to Ernesto after the latter has been exposed as a fraud and a murderer.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Ernesto de la Cruz, who was killed when a bell fell on him in 1942, has a similar bell fall on him after it is revealed in the Engineered Public Confession that he poisoned Héctor and stole his songs.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Héctor edits a profane word out of his song: "and her.... knuckles... dragged down to the floor."
  • Latino Is Brown: Played straight. All the (living) characters have dark skin.note  Justified, as many Mexicans have at least some Native ancestry, especially in the state of Oaxaca where the film is set. This is implied with the Rivera family, where many female members wear traditional clothing.
  • Light Is Good: When Miguel makes it home and plays "Remember Me" for Coco to rejuvenate her thoughts, the sunlight is shining through the window on them.
  • Light Is Not Good:
    • Miguel's skeleton transformation will become permanent if he is not home before sunrise.
    • Ernesto wears light blue during his "Remember Me" video, whilst he wears white in the Land of the Dead. However, he's not what he seems.
  • Logo Joke: The usual rendition of When You Wish Upon A Star that plays on the Disney logo is played by a mariachi band.

    M-R 
  • Magic Music: Subverted Miguel strumming Ernesto's guitar in his tomb seems to be what causes him to cross over between worlds. However, it's later revealed that he crossed over due to being cursed, for stealing from the dead when Dia de los Muertos is a day for gifting to the dead.
  • Marshmallow Hell: Elena hugs Miguel just a little too closely.
  • Match Cut: Whenever Miguel recognizes a dead family member of his, the view briefly snaps from a shot of them to their photo on the ofrenda in the same position as they are.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Miguel's pet dog Dante is named after the famous author of The Divine Comedy. Like the narrator of The Divine Comedy, this Dante also a living being visiting the afterlife. In-Universe, in a Blink-and-You-Miss-It scene, it's revealed that Miguel named Dante after Ernesto's horse in one of his films.
    • Santa Cecilia, Miguel and Ernesto's hometown, is named after the patroness of musicians, Saint Cecilia.
  • Mysterious Parent: It's common in animated movies for one or both parents to be absent from the protagonist's life without explanation, and the consequences are usually vague. In this story, however, a missing parent is a crucial plot point, has huge consequences on the family left behind, and his death is explored and the family comes to terms with it.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The alebrijes; most of them are mammal/reptile-hybrids with bird-like attributes.
    • This is also Truth in Television and Shown Their Work. Alebrijes are a part of Mexican folklore and were created by a man who was haunted by nightmares of grotesque mix and match monsters. Since the creatures were so strange and colorful that he couldn't explain to anyone what they looked like he decided to make papier maché figurines of them. Eventually his nightmares ceded and people started asking to buy the figures and became a staple of Mexican folklore and art.
  • Monochrome Past: Héctor's flashbacks of Ernesto poisoning him to death and stealing his music and singing "Remember Me" to young Coco are rendered in old-fashioned sepia tone.
  • Motion Capture: The characters’ guitar playing was animated using this technique.
  • Multigenerational Household: Miguel lives with his parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, and great-grandmother.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: While Miguel is talking with a mariachi man in the village square, he asks him to show him his singing much to his chagrin, but Elena enters right before he can sing. It occurs again when Miguel is singing "The World Es Mi Familia" to get Ernesto's attention, but he wasn't watching where he was going and accidentally falls into the pool.
  • Musical World Hypotheses: The Diegetic type; all of the songs are performed as part of an act or for an audience.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Mamá Imelda banning music from her family comes back to haunt her years later when Miguel calls her out on it while in the Land of the Dead.
    • Eventually averted. By swiping Ernesto's guitar from his mausoleum and strumming it, this curses Miguel to be unseen by the living and slowly transforms into a skeleton over time in return. The guitar actually belongs to Héctor, and once the curse is broken and Miguel returns home, the truth is revealed, Coco regains her memory and the ban on music is lifted whilst Héctor’s legacy becomes famous in Ernesto’s place.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: Miguel is nice and innocent, and apparently the polar opposite of Ernesto de la Cruz, who is harsh and secretly a fraud. Héctor stays in-between due to being humorous, but frequently argues with someone when things don't go his way.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Ernesto de la Cruz bears more than a passing resemblance to Pedro Infante. In fact Pedro himself appears as a skeleton in a blink and you miss cameo next to his partner Jorge Negrete.
  • Non-Standard Character Design:
    • All the residents of the Land of the Dead have crude skeleton appearances that look almost the same, but Ernesto de la Cruz looks very much like he did when he was alive. This is a clue to that he's not what he seems.
    • Héctor is the only skeleton who has rusty yellow bones, is barefoot, and wears rags. This shows he's being forgotten, and once he is remembered once again by the Riveras, his bones revert to white, he gains a pair of shoes, and his clothes are good as new.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever Héctor did with Chicharron's van, mini-fridge, and femur is so mysterious that Word of God won't even disclose the answers.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: Héctor noticeably alters some dirty lyrics in his bawdy song about Ugly Juanita at the last second, after remembering that Miguel is listening
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: Miguel tries to imitate how skeletons walk to make his disguise more convincing. Héctor thinks the kid looks silly, not realizing at first that Miguel is imitating him.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The employees of the Celestial Bureaucracy are quite unhelpful to Héctor, though not by choice. During the epilogue, after the Time Skip, they are genuinely happy to allow Héctor to visit his family.
  • Oh, Crap!: There are quite a few characters who realize that they're in serious trouble.
    • The mariachi at the plaza when Elena chases him away from Miguel.
    • The musicians near the Riveras' house when they see Elena.
    • Miguel when Elena destroys his shrine and his guitar.
    • Elena when she realizes that her actions made Miguel run off.
    • Miguel after becoming a spirit of the Land of the Dead for the first time.
    • Héctor when he's unable to cross the marigold bridge.
    • Miguel when he realizes that Ernesto's not what he seems to be.
  • Older Sidekick: So old they've been dead for decades! Héctor becomes this to Miguel in the Land of the Dead.
  • Opening Monologue: Miguel gives one in the beginning, explaining the exile of music in the Rivera family.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different:
    • All the dead in Land of the Dead are skeletons with... Well... expressive skulls that show their emotions as well as their flesh and blood faces would have.
    • Any offering placed on an ofrenda for a dead person creates a ghost of itself that the dead can pick up without removing the tangible item and carry it with them to the Land of the Dead. Several ghosts pick up items from their ofrendas and Hector picks the ghost of his own guitar from the real one Miguel is playing.
    • The skeletons in the Land of the dead just look like animated skeletons. They only look ghostly once they cross the marigold bridge to the land of the living.
  • "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: The very last shot of the movie pans up from Miguel to a shot of the banner from the beginning framed against fireworks lighting up the sky.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • Héctor tries to dress as Frida Kahlo, of all people, to try and trick his way into the world of the living. It doesn't work out. The same disguise does work the second time he tries it, when he uses it to sneak into Ernesto's tower looking for Miguel.
    • Miguel disguises himself as a skeleton with face paint and shoe polish in order to fit in with the dead, but is revealed once he falls into Ernesto's pool and he saves him.
  • Parents as People: Rather than portray the parents/grandparents as generic authority figures, the story explores the human side of the adults and shows that parents like every human being make mistakes, all while their ultimate interest is to support and protect their family. Mistakes can be rigidity in beliefs, holding grudges, and even trusting the wrong people.
  • Parting Words Regret:
    • Miguel has this when he tells his family he doesn't care if they put his picture on the ofrenda. And soon after Elena destroys his guitar, he tells his family "I don't want to be in this family." Later, in the cenote, he laments how he may never see his family again, because he told his family he doesn't want his picture on the ofrenda. Thankfully, he returns to his family and apologizes to them.
    • Averted with Héctor, who sang "Remember Me" to his daughter before he left, unaware they would be his last words.
  • Poor Communication Kills: If Héctor had mentioned his family member's names, especially that of Coco or Imelda in passing earlier in the film, or if any of Miguel's family members (living or dead) had told him who his great-great-grandfather actually was, much of the plot would have been avoided.
  • Power Glows:
    • While the skeletons are visiting the living world, they are glowing and semitransparent.
    • When Imelda is preparing her blessing to send Miguel home, the marigold petal in her hand glows brightly, with the glow becoming brighter when conditions are added. Ernesto’s does not however, either because he isn’t related to Miguel in the first place or because he didn't finish saying the word "blessing" before being interrupted.
    • Skeletons flash red and yellow and feel pain when they’re in danger of being forgotten.
  • P.O.V. Cam:
    • While Miguel is singing to get Ernesto’s attention, we get a few shots of his point of view squeezing through the crowd.
    • In Héctor’s flashback of him singing “Remember Me” to young Coco, they press each other’s faces against one another and we get a shot of Héctor’s warm smile from Coco’s perspective.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Despite a successful performance at the contest, Miguel and Héctor have a falling-out after the rest of Miguel's family comes searching for him, so Miguel goes to find Ernesto alone.
  • Production Foreshadowing: While Miguel and Dante are on the streets, at one point a poster of The Incredibles can be seen in the background. This not only gives this movie a cameo, it's also an element of its sequel.
  • Produce Pelting: When the audience discovers Ernesto is a murdering, thieving fraud they begin throwing vegetables. Justified because many of them had returned from the Land of the Living with food from the ofrenda... And there was a snack bar in the stadium selling food.
  • Race Against the Clock: Miguel has until the next sunrise to return to his own world or he’ll be trapped in the Land of the Dead forever as a skeleton and Héctor will become Deader Than Dead. The countdown timer isn’t a clock; it’s Miguel’s transformation and Héctor’s bones changing color from white to deep faded yellow.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Even though Miguel is a plucky, street-smart Kid Hero, he needs a lot of help from the adults in order to make it out of the Land of the Dead.
    • Imelda is understandably upset with Héctor for many years because he never returned home. While he was alive, Héctor went on a short two month tour with his childhood friend Ernesto; but since it was his first tour, he wasn't prepared to travel Mexico and within a few weeks he grew disillusioned and homesick for Santa Cecelia, so he made plans to return but was killed by Ernesto. Even after Miguel reveals the truth about Héctor's murder, Imelda doesn't forgive Héctor right away, but agrees to help him anyway. By the end of the film, Imelda and Héctor have reconciled.
      • It’s worth noting the fact that when Imelda confronts Ernesto, she refers to Héctor being "The love of my life" and during La Llorona she’s looking right at Héctor as she sings the lines 'Y aunque la vida me cueste (Even if it costs me my life)', then she grips harder on the photo, and sings (almost like she's making a promise) 'No dejaré de quererte (I won’t stop loving you)', shows her true feelings towards him .
    • Stealing Héctor's guitar and songs would later come back to haunt Ernesto when he is Caught on Tape during his Sunrise Spectacular performance.
  • Real Time: Backstage at the Sunrise Spectacular, the stagehand tells Ernesto he’s on in 30 seconds. Exactly 30 seconds later, the announcer is announcing Ernesto’s entrance while Imelda is rising to the stage.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Héctor gives one to Ernesto upon confronting him in his tower and revealing the truth. Miguel later gives him one outside the tower just before Ernesto makes him fall to his death, not knowing he's being recorded.
    • Also one in the read-along book regarding Ernesto: "Music is supposed to bring people together. You tore my family apart!"
    • Miguel also gives one to Imelda for banning music from their family and therefore, not supporting his dream of being a musician.
  • Remember the Dead: The dead characters become Deader Than Dead after being forgotten by all living people.
  • Removed from the Picture: Miguel's great-grandfather does not have a place in the ofrenda. His face has been torn out of the picture, though his body and trademark guitar are still visible.
  • The Rest Shall Pass: Played with. When the family enters the stadium for the big confrontation with the bad guy. They start out together and find them almost instantly. The villain recognizes the family and runs, calling for help from the security team as the family gives chase.
    • Papa Julio takes on the first of them,
    • Twin uncles Oscar and Felipe take on the next, so Imelda, Miguel, Hector and the aunts can continue pursuit.
    • Imelda then gets separated from the rest of the family and faces off against Ernesto alone, leaving the rest of the family to watch supportively from the wings.
  • The Reveal: The second and third acts are bridged by two of these. First, Ernesto de la Cruz is a fraud; Héctor wrote the songs that made him famous... And Ernesto stole them (and his guitar) after murdering him. Second, Héctor is Miguel's great-great-grandfather, not Ernesto.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Everything about both Ernesto and Hector takes on a new significance when you know their backstory and true motivations.
  • Rule of Three:
    • During Miguel’s narration of Elena denying any source of music, she first catches Miguel blowing into a bottle like a flute; the second time, she hears music coming from a passing truck's radio and shuts the window; the third time, she shooes away a trio of street performers passing the family shoe shop.
    • In the same narrated intro, Miguel gushes about his idol Ernesto de la Cruz, listing three things he loves best about him: 1) he wrote his own songs, 2) he had the coolest guitar 2), and 3) he could fly!
    • Once Miguel is in the Land of the Dead, Imelda tries to send him home with a blessed marigold petal three times. The first time, she does so on the condition that he never play music again. Not two seconds later, he disobeys and is returned. The second time, she does so on the condition that he never forget his family loves him, but Ernesto interferes right before she can touch Miguel with it. The third time, right as the sun is rising and Héctor is dying, she offers her blessing with no conditions, and Miguel is returned to the Land of the Living for good.
    • Frida Kahlo has been used as a disguise three times — First, when Héctor attempts to cross the bridge, in which both his said attempt and disguise were unsuccessful. Second, used again by Héctor to get into Ernesto's party, which is successful. And thirdly, the whole Rivera family are disguised as her back-up dancers to get into the festival and get back Héctor's photo.
    • "Remember Me" is sung three times — First, by Ernesto in the beginning which also when he died. Second, by Héctor, the true writer of the song, which was his personal lullaby to his daughter, Coco. And thirdly, by Miguel in attempt to have Coco remember her father.
    • "La Llorona" is also sung three times, though only completely at the climax: first by the carousing musicians Abuelita scares away, second by Imelda to convince Miguel to talk, and third, when Imelda sings it in full at the Sunrise Spectacular.

    S-Y 
  • Scenery Porn: The city is displayed in vivid, colorful detail, as visible here.
  • Secondary Character Title: Coco is Miguel's great-grandmother, but warrants the title because she's also Héctor's daughter — the muse who inspired his songs and the last person in the Land of the Living who remembers him.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Dante's a dopey but lovable Mexican Hairless Dog, or Xoloitzcuintli.
  • Shabby Heroes, Well-Dressed Villains: Héctor's clothes are tattered and torn, and he wears a flaking straw hat. Ernesto wears a pressed tuxedo complete with a silver ribbon bowtie.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The music competition that Miguel and Héctor entered in order to be invited to Ernesto's party ends up being this, as the two have a falling out after the performance when Héctor learns Miguel has a family who's trying to return him to the living world but he doesn't want to do so before he meets Ernesto, causing them both to go their separate ways without winning the invitations. Though it's not a complete disaster as the winner band who are invited to the party are so impressed by Miguel's singing that they help sneaks Miguel through the security.
  • Shoe Shine, Mister?: Miguel is introduced shining shoes in the plaza.
  • Shoe Slap: Elena will often hit people with her slipper. Imelda also hits Ernesto with her boot for murdering her husband.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Dante is a hairless Mexican dog, a Xoloitzcuintli, that supposedly has the ability to guide their masters' spirits to the underworld.
    • The whole movie is a great depiction of Mexican culture in general, and The Day of the Dead in particular.
    • The pit Ernesto has Miguel and Héctor thrown into resembles a ''cenote''. Cenote is the name given to water-filled sinkholes found all over the Yucatán peninsula in southern Mexico. These sinkholes had great spiritual significance to the Mayans, who often dropped offerings of gold and human sacrifices into them to please the gods, and Chaac the god of rain in particular. Cenotes are also well known for having clear, blue water, just like the one in the movie.
    • Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter, shows up in the movie. Her guardian alebrije is a spider monkey, an animal her real life counterpart was fascinated with, and which she painted numerous times. As the cherry on top, the pre-show she's designing for Ernesto is pure Frida, complete with heavy symbolism, extra dramatic and melancholic subject matter, and, most importantly, heaping doses of her likeness all over the place. The concept artists clearly took their time studying Frida's work.
    • All of the guitar fingerings shown—picking with the fingers of the right hand and fretting with the left hand—are 100% correct, with the animators watching the tapes from video cameras that were strapped onto the guitars of actual Mexican musicians to be completely on point. Even with skeleton fingers.
  • Shrine to the Fallen:
    • Miguel has a shrine to Ernesto De La Cruz on the roof behind the logo of his family's shoemaking shop. Complete with candles. At least until Elena destroys it over Miguel breaking the family taboo against music.
    • Ernesto has ofrendas from fans all over the world as we see in his giant villa.
    • Santa Cecilia has an enormous shrine to Ernesto, who came from the town, in the center of the town cemetery. Once his treachery is revealed, it is ignored and falls into disrepair as former fans decide to forget him.
  • Skeletal Musician: Well, yeah— it's a film about music that takes place largely in the afterlife, whose inhabitants are all Dem Bones. There are dozens (if not more!) of musicians seen onscreen in the Land of the Dead, including the talent show contestants and the orchestra at the Sunrise Spectacular, but the most plot-important are Ernesto and Héctor.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: It's a Pixar film, so of course its heavily idealistic, emotional, and touching, but not without a number of dark moments in between.
  • Spexico: Deliberately averted. The development team flew to Mexico and did extensive research on everything native to it. From the architecture, to the music, to the food, and especially the local mannerisms in order to make the movie feel as authentic as possible. The vast majority of the cast is of Latino descent (as are the vast majority of the musicians that played for the soundtrack) and the characters use the Mexican dialect of Spanish rather than the typical version taught in American schools, paying particular attention to uniquely Latin American details like Elena's Weapon of Choice.
  • The Stinger: At the end of the credits just before the "Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures" and "Created and produced at Pixar Animation Studios" information are displayed, a screen reading "To the people across time who supported and inspired us" pops up, along with a mosaic of photos of those who worked on the film.
  • Stock Animal Diet: Except for the short "Dante's Lunch" (link below), surprisingly averted with Dante, who shows no interest in being surrounded by bones.
  • Stock Femur Bone: The short "Dante's Lunch" is about Dante the dog chasing after one of these, which ends up belonging to one of the visiting skeleton ancestors.
  • Stylistic Suck: Ernesto's old movies that Miguel watches are all noticeably dated and low-quality, complete with melodramatic dialogue, hammy acting, and highly visible strings holding Ernesto up during his "flying" scenes. This is an early hint that Ernesto is not quite as talented as everyone thinks he is.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: At first, the movie seems like it's going to end bittersweet as Coco is dying and forgot Héctor almost completely, and Miguel has tried as hard as he could to get her to remember him. Fortunately, he remembers his guitar he brought back and uses it to play "Remember Me", which is what rejuvenates her and causes the ban on music to be lifted, Ernesto to be forgotten, and Héctor's legacy to become famous, ending the film on a wonderful note.
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: Miguel spends most of the movie desperate to pursue music against his family's wishes, even if it means sneaking behind their backs or running away from them. It isn't until Miguel is willing to give up music to stay with his family that they give him their blessings to become a musician.
  • Talent Double: The guitar solos played by Miguel, Ernesto, and Héctor were performed by Uruguayan guitarist Federico Ramos.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Ernesto de la Cruz secretly slipped some poison into Héctor's shotglass, which is what kills him moments later.
  • Technician Vs Performer: Ernesto and Hector (two musical role models for Miguel and great-great grandfather figures), have shades of being this. Hector is the passionate, heart-felt Performer to Ernesto's polished and pristine but emotionally vacant Technician. It's especially apparent in how they both sing "Remember Me": Ernesto turned it into a cheesy love ballad aimed at no one in particular, while Hector originally wrote it as a lullaby for his beloved daughter. And then, there's the fact that Ernesto stole Hector's songs because he knew he wasn't gifted enough to make it on his own artistic merit.
  • Three-Point Landing: Miguel performs one when he enters Ernesto's mausoleum.
  • Thicker Than Water: Much of the film is spent establishing the importance of family above all. But this is also deconstructed in that Miguel's passion conflicted heavily with his family's traditions, with Miguel being genuinely miserable over his inability to do what he loves due to his family ties and lamenting how his family is probably the only one in Mexico that hates music. This leads him to run away as his great-great grandfather did. However, this trope is once again reconstructed, as his adventure cleared up the misunderstanding about Héctor's inability to return home and helped remedy Mama Coco's memory loss, allowing Miguel to reconcile with his family, who wholeheartedly support his dream from then on.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Miguel's family, especially his grandmother Elena, sees his musical vocation as a deadly sin. At first.
  • Time Skip: The epilogue skips forward to the next Dia de los Muertos, one year later.
  • To Hell and Back: Sort of—Miguel does go to the afterlife, but he does so purely by accident, and it's more of a colorful fantasy world than a hellish nightmare land.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The film makes use of this, especially the scenes where Miguel is falling into a pit following Ernesto's big reveal, followed by Pepita coming to save him. Two other larger scenes that spoil the climax show Pepita saving Miguel from falling to his death, and Imelda slapping a shoe at Ernesto before he's exposed.
    • One of the film’s posters features Miguel front and center, surrounded by his living and dead family members. Héctor is among them, giving away the fact he’s related to the Riveras.
  • Translation Convention: Zigzagged. In the original screenplay, the characters in the English version of the film spoke only English, with the understanding that they were speaking in Spanish. After speaking to real-life Mexicans and Mexican Americans, they said it would be more realistic-sounding to have a mixture of the two languages, as both Mexican and Mexican-Americans blend the two together constantly. Thus, Lee Unkrich notes that in the English language version, when briefly speak Spanish, it's meant to be understood that they're actually peppering their Spanish with a bit of English (and vice versa). Appropriately enough, the characters do speak Spanish entirely in the Mexican Spanish dub.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change:
    • The end of Ernesto's version of "Remember Me" modulates up one half-step.
    • The last verse of "Un Poco Loco" modulates up one whole step.
    • The last chorus of "La Llorona" modulates up one whole step.
    • "Proud Corazón" ends a whole note higher from when it started.
  • Un-person: Chicharrón, the obscure, forgotten musician, ceases to be a ghost and fades out of existence since he is no longer remembered by the living.
    • After Ernesto de la Cruz poisoned Héctor and plagiarized his music, his shrine is no longer remembered as fondly by the villagers, while Héctor's reputation and legacy are resurrected and people begin to take more interest in Héctor's life and music.
  • Wham Line:
    • Héctor reveals the truth about Ernesto —namely, that Ernesto became successful by stealing Héctor's songs.
    • But the biggest one of all has to be when Héctor reveals he's Miguel's actual great-great grandfather by telling him that he's being forgotten by his daughter, Coco.
  • Write What You Know: An incredibly dark in-universe version: Ernesto de la Cruz included a poisoning scene in one of his movies that is identical to the way he killed Hector in real life, only in his version, Ernesto is the victimized one.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair:
    • The alebrijes of the Land of the Dead have multicolored fur in different patterns.
    • The emcee of the Battle of the Bands has oversized, light blue hair.

¡Ay mi familia ¡Oiga mi gente! note 
Canten a coro note , let it be known
Our love for each other will live on forever
In every beat of my proud corazón!
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WesternAnimation/Coco