Western Animation: Finding Nemo
"There are 3.7 trillion fish in the ocean. They're looking for one."
A 2003 computer-animated film from Pixar
, and the first one from the company to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
The movie takes place in and around the Great Barrier Reef near Australia
, and centers on a neurotic clownfish named Marlin. After losing his mate and all but one of their 400+ eggs in a barracuda attack, Marlin becomes overprotective of his remaining son, Nemo. On his first day of school, Nemo gets fed up with Marlin's fear of the ocean, and ends up disobeying his father's orders by going near a boat. Soon after, Nemo gets "rescued" by a scuba diver, and Marlin, going against all his fears, goes off to find him. Marlin joins up with a forgetful blue tang named Dory, and they brave all sorts of obstacles to, well, find Nemo
Meanwhile, the scuba diver turns out to be a Sydney
dentist who puts Nemo in his office's aquarium, and plans to give the fish to his niece, Darla, for her upcoming birthday. The other fish in the tank, most of whom are somewhat insane, decide to help Nemo escape (especially because Darla is described as a "fish killer", who, whenever she gets a fish, shakes their plastic bag too hard).
This movie is notable for being Pixar's most commercially successful featurenote
until Toy Story 3
, but it's still one of the highest-grossing animated movies ever made as well as the highest-selling DVD ever
. It also started Disney's Oscar-winning streak
and was honored with a Disney Digital 3D re-release
. It didn't exactly hurt the tourism trade in Australia, either. A sequel, titled Finding Dory
, is set for June 2016. Ellen Degeneres
will be returning as Dory.
This film contains examples of:
- 3-D Movie: In September 2012. March 2013 in Europe.
- AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle:
Dory: Hey, look. "Ess-cop-ay". I wonder what that means? That's funny, it's spelled just like the word "escape."
- Acceptable Targets: Invoked by the sharks.
Anchor: Except stinkin' dolphins!
Chum: Dolphins! Yeah, they think they're so cute! "Look at me, I'm a flippy little dolphin, let me flip for you, ain't I something?!"
- Accidental Misnaming: The absent-minded Dory keeps misremembering Nemo's name. Sheldon's dad (Bob) calls Marlin Marty.
- Acquired Poison Immunity: Sort of. The baby jellyfish's sting doesn't bother Marlin because he lives in an anemone and is already used to stings.
- Adult Fear: To a parent: your family is decimated before it even has a chance to begin. You lose the love of your life, and your innocent child is hurt. Years pass, and you try to protect your child as well as you know how — and then a horrible, monstrous force steals your child away, and you lose all trace of them...
- And after journeying for days in search of said child, arriving to find them dead.
- Advertised Extra: For some reason, Bruce and Crush are always shown on just about every piece of promotional material as two of the film's central characters even though their screen time is limited to only a handful of scenes.
- Affably Evil: Subverted. Bruce appears to be this towards the beginning of the movie, but it's revealed that he's actually a Nice Guy. Unless he smells blood.
- All There in the Script: Gurgle's never referred to by name. He's the purple and yellow one.
- Alluring Anglerfish: Provides the unsettling page image for said trope.
- Always a Bigger Fish: Averted in the stinger sequence with the anglerfish.
- And I Shall Call Him Squishy: Said outright by Dory. And Darla, possibly.
- Animals Lack Attributes: Poor Bruce was originally animated with prominent claspers, as would be appropriate for a shark his size. Obviously they didn't make it to the final version.
- Animal Talk: Most of the animals in the film talk to each other, even those that belong to different classes. The exceptions are those without complex nervous systems (sea anemones, jellyfish), predatory fish, and the whale (although it does seem to understand Dory speaking whale).
- Anti-Villain: Well, nearly every villain in this movie is either Obliviously Evil (like Darla and the jellyfish), predatory (anglerfish and barracuda), or just lacking in self-control (like Bruce and the seagulls) and the closest thing to a bad guy would be the dentist, if only due to the first few seconds of his introduction.
- Type 4: Jellyfish and the fishermen, under the "mere predator" definition.
- Argument of Contradictions: There is a brief one over what type of tool the dentist was using.
- Artistic License – Biology:
- Barracuda don't have much of taste for eggs. They prefer live prey.
- The interior of the whale's throat is too large. While blue whales have a gigantic mouth, their throat is tiny and unable to swallow anything larger than a beach ball. They also have respiratory and digestive traits completely separated, so, you know, they don't unintentionally sneeze fish out of their blowhole. And where is the light inside its mouth coming from?
- Chuckles, the gift fish who was killed by Darla, was a goldfish. Which live in freshwater. The other Tank Gang fish are saltwater fish. You can see where this is going.
- None of the sea turtles seem to worry about having to breathe. They also don't travel in flocks, but this was intentional; see Rule of Cool below.
- Sea turtles don't live anywhere near 150 years; that honor belongs to tortoises. Their expected lifespan is still quite impressive at 80 years.
- Clownfish do live in anemones but they also live in harems dominated by one male and one female, with a lot of non-productive males in the rest. When the dominant female dies, the dominant male undergoes a Gender Bender and becomes the new dominant female. Clownfish will also reproduce with their relatives in times of emergency. This particular tidbit has raised eyebrows at the choice of clownfish for the film.note
- Interestingly, a featurette on DVD addresses the whole Artistic License issue. An animator relates a story of one of their consultants talking about the biological inaccuracies in their final fish designs. The animator replied, sheepishly, "Well...in real life they don't talk either, so..."
- Artistic License – Engineering: All drains do lead to the ocean (or at least a river or lake). It's just that raw sewage isn't dumped directly into the water; there are a number of mechanical and chemical processes in the way that, if depicted in the movie, would probably not be pleasant. A deleted scene would have had Nemo going through and struggling to dodge the filtration machines, but it was cut out of the film with only a hint given that his small size allowed him to survive.
- Ascended To Carnivorism: The movie ends with a Stinger of the little green fish Blenny from the sharks' meeting gobbling up the Anglerfish.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: A comedic example with Mt. Wannahockaloogie.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: "Hello, I'm Dory. What, you want to look for your child? Ummm... Hello, my name is Dory ..."
- Deliberately invoked by Marlin when he gets Dory to follow him above the trench rather than through it.
- Ax-Crazy: Bruce, but only when he smells blood. And given what he is and what happens when they smell large amounts of blood, it's probably justified.
- Badass on Paper: Marlin gets through most of his adventures by gumption, desperation, and sheer dumb luck, but as his exploits are recounted over and over he starts to sound more and more badass. By the time the stories get to Nemo, his father is a Papa Wolf who has battled sharks and fought off jellyfish.
- Badass Unintentional:
- Dory. She just wants to hang out with Marlin.
- Thanks to his hijinks, Marlin gets this reputation throughout the entire ocean area surrounding Sydney.
- Behind the Black: The diver just sort of appears behind Nemo with no one noticing him before then.
- Beware the Nice Ones:
Crab: Ahh! Alright! I'll talk! I'll talk! He went to the fishing grounds!
- Bilingual Bonus: "Nemo" is Latin for "nobody".
- Black Eyes of Evil: Bruce, when he smells blood.
- Blipvert: A high-speed montage of the beginning of their quest to when they finally reach Sydney plays when Dory remembers the address on the scuba gear.
- Body Motifs: Three fish characters have an injured or otherwise unusual right fin — Nemo (in the opening scene), Gil (before he's been introduced), and Dory (during her near-fatal encounter with the jellies).
- Bowel Breaking Bricks: Octopus ink.
- Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: Darla dons a set of truly scary-looking headgear.
- Break Up Make Up Scenario: when Marlin thinks Nemo is dead and leaves Dory. Also with his son before he is kidnapped.
- The Cameo / Casting Gag: John Ratzenberger has his mandatory Pixar appearance, this time as the school of fish that gives Marlin and Dory directions.
- Cannot Tell a Joke: Marlin at the start of the movie.
- Carnivore Confusion: "Fish are friends, not food!"
- Played with in the case of the pelicans: they eat fish — but not if they know the specific fish personally.
- Censorship by Spelling:
: Whatever you do, don't mention D-A-R... Nemo
: It's okay, I know who you're talking about. *Bloat dope slaps Gurgle*
- Cheerful Child: Nemo.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- "P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney!" Also, the diver's mask itself.
- Chekhov's Skill:
- Gill saves Nemo from the first net by having them swim down. Nemo then goes on to use this technique to save a whole school of fish.
- The clownfish's ability to swim through jellyfish unharmed works out for Marlin... but not for Dory.
- If he gets stung enough, it even knocks Marlin out.
- Chronic Pet Killer: Darla.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Dory. She is the QUEEN of Cloudcuckooland. Part of it's due to her short term memory loss but anyone who thinks they can speak whale and ask a shark for directions is working on strange logic indeed.
- Worth noting is that both things WORK.
- Deb/Flo and Bubbles also count.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Poor Marlin.
- The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: Dory really can speak whale.
- Come with Me If You Want to Live: "Hop inside my mouth if you want to live."
- Cool Teacher: Mr. Ray.
- Continuity Cameo: In P. Sherman's waiting room, there is a Buzz Lightyear on the floor next to the chest of toys.
- Mike appears in the closing credits.
- Crazy-Prepared: Gill
- Creative Closing Credits
- Creator Cameo: Director Andrew Stanton is the voice of the gnarly Crush and the lobster with the Boston accent.
- Cub Cues Protective Parent: When Marlin slaps away a baby jellyfish with his tail after it stings Dory, the swarm of adult jellyfish immediately start swimming toward them.
- Curse Cut Short: "We are swimming in our own SHI-"
- Darker and Edgier: Somewhat, Pixar's first four films had some more emotional moments but on the whole they were very lighthearted and comedic. Finding Nemo was arguably Pixar's first foray into more dramatic territory, as in films that have comedic elements but on the whole aren't comedies.
- Deadpan Snarker: Marlin.
- Dedication: The film is dedicated to Glenn McQueen, an animator who passed away from melanoma before the film's release.
- Demoted to Extra: Remember that pelican Gerald that swallows Marlin and Dory? Initially in production he and Nigel were originally going to be Those Two Guys, Nigel being the neat freak of the two, Gerald being scruffy and sloppy. In the finished film, Gerald's final screen time is less than a minute.
- The Dentist's Office From Ipanema: When Nemo first arrives in the tank.
- Department of Redundancy Department
- Derailed for Details / Cannot Tell a Joke:
Marlin: All right, I know one joke. Um, there's a mollusk, see? And he walks up to a sea, well he doesn't walk up, he swims up. Well, actually the mollusk isn't moving. He's in one place and then the sea cucumber, well they . . . I mixed up. There was a mollusk and a sea cucumber. None of them were walking, so forget that I —
- Despair Event Horizon: Marlin, when he and Dory return to the sea after he believes Nemo to be dead, and Dory, after Marlin leaves her.
- Depth Deception: Dory and Marlin try to speak to a small fish while looking for directions to Sydney. Turns out, it's not small, so much as very far away.
- Determinator: Many characters in the movie, but especially Marlin, Dory, and Gill.
Nemo: How many times have you tried to escape?
Gill: Eh, I've lost count. Fish aren't meant to be in a box, kid.
- Did You Die?:
Turtle: (to Marlin) Mr. Fish, did you die?
Dory: Sorry. I was a little vague on the details.
- Distressed Dude: Nemo, who is captured at the beginning and trapped in an aquarium for most of the film.
- The Ditz: Dory, in spades. Also, to a lesser extent, Deb.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- The group of sharks who have sworn off eating fish is played as if it were an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting or similar drug rehab group, complete with pledge ("Fish are friends, not food"), 'steps' and interventions if one of the members has / looks like they're going to fall Off The Wagon
- Downer Beginning: The film opens with Marlin and his wife Coral happily discussing their future. Then comes a barracuda, and Coral dives down to try and save her eggs. Marlin gets knocked away, and wakes up to find his wife and all but one of his eggs are gone. Here, have a tissue.
- Dumb Blonde: Inverted with Dory, as in-universe, being blue is the equivalent of being blonde. She even mutters "I'm a natural blue" in her sleep.
- DVD Commentary: While the audiovisual commentary track was an interesting concept, by the time you get to the second or third behind the scenes segment interrupting the movie you can see why future films do not use the technique.
- They do it better in the Blu-Ray edition of Toy Story 3, where the video actually stays in the frame in a picture-in-picture.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Luigi from Cars makes a brief appearance when the aquarium fish are escaping. The boy in the waiting room on Escape Day is reading a Mr. Incredible comic. Mike swims by during the closing credits.
- Ear Worm: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!" Marlin gripes that it's going to be stuck in his head.
- Easy Amnesia/Laser-Guided Amnesia: Averted for the most part. With a few plot-important exceptions, Dory suffers from fairly plausible amnesia, of some combination of anterograde (i.e. new memories are not processed) and retrograde (i.e. old memories are lost). Well, at least plausible by the standards of a children's film.
- Either World Domination or Something about Bananas: "He either said to move to the back of the throat, or he wants a root beer float."
- Electric Jellyfish: While no electrical energy is actually seen, the jellies make electrical crackling and zapping sounds when they sting.
- Empathic Environment
- During happy scenes (e.g. Coral and Marlin discussing their eggs), the water is a beautiful clean blue.
- When Marlin has crossed the Despair Event Horizon, the sky is cloudy and the water is murky and dark.
- Empty Promise
- Erudite Stoner: Crush.
- Everything Is Even Worse With Sharks: Luckily, the sharks seen here have sworn off fish.
- Eureka Moment: Two.
- Marlin gets one when he remembers the tops of jellyfish don't sting.
- Dory gets a big one near the end when her memory returns.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Upon learning Nemo is from the ocean, the rest of the Tank Gang are in marvel, and Bubbles wants to know more:
Bubbles: Wow, "the Big Blue"... what's it like?
Nemo: Um... big. And... blue?
Bubbles: I knew it!
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: "Good morning, everyone! Today's the day! The sun is shining, the tank is clean and we are getting out of— (gasp) the tank is clean. The tank is CLEAN!"
- Face of a Thug: The sharks, especially Bruce. Subverted that Bruce becomes dangerous if he smells blood.
- Failed Attempt at Drama: Not entirely failed, since it ends up being quite dramatic, but Nemo's initiation into the "bond of fraternal tankhood" at Mt. Wannahockaloogie initially hits a snag when Jacques, who has been tasked with starting "The Ring of Fire" (or rather, the bubbles from a fake underwater volcano), doesn't pay attention to Bloat's dramatic opening speech and misses his cue.
- Famed In-Story: The story of Marlin's quest to find his missing son becomes legend, and Marlin himself is elevated to the status of folk hero.
- Feather Fingers: Nigel. And, of course, virtually every character has fin fingers.
- Five-Man Band: The Tank Gang.
- Flanderization: During the course of the movie, Bubbles goes from being another fish with an eccentric personality trait like the rest of the Tank Gang, to pretty much being reduced to a fish who can do nothing other than babble about bubbles - even when Peach is the last to cross the street into the harbor, all he does is mumble about bubbles.
- Foreboding Fleeing Flock: Dory and Marlin are arguing that it's just as good the whale they were trying to talk to swam away, since he might have been hungry. Dory counters that whales only eat krill. Cue a cloud of krill swimming past them with a whale's open maw right behind them.
- Foreign Exchange Student: Squirt the baby sea turtle becomes one at the end of the movie.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: During Gil's Imagine Spot on their escape plan, one of the cars driving by is the Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story. Continuing their tradition of putting it in every Pixar movie.
- One of the other cars that pass is an early version of Luigi from Cars.
- Fun with Flushing: Nemo's escape plan is to play dead and get flushed, because "all drains lead to the ocean". Many have pointed out that in reality, a fish would not survive the trip, as it would be ground up during the sewage treatment process, leading some to joke that the title should have been "Grinding Nemo".
- Being Pixar, the creators had in fact painstakingly researched the Australian sewer system in order to show Nemo avoiding the perils therein, but the sequence was cut for time.
- Furry Reminder: "You guys made me ink."
- Genius Ditz: Dory, who knows how to read humans writing and understands whale language and knows about whales in general. "Don't worry, whales don't eat clown fish, they eat krill."
- Genki Girl: Dory whose perkiness and high energy buoy all her friends in rough times, or just annoy them.
- Genre-Busting: It's a road movie/coming of age/thriller/animal comedy/prison escape/surf movie.
- Gentle Giant: Bruce and the whale.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: See here.
- Girlish Pigtails: Darla
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Gill has extensive scarring on the right side of his body, mostly over his face (but leaving his right eye intact) and his right fin (now as useless as Nemo's one) from a failed escape attempt, adding to his grizzled, fierce personality.
- Gossip Evolution: How the news of Marlin's adventure gets around - by the time the news reaches Nemo, he sounds considerably more Badass than he really was. For example, he scared away the three sharks when Dory accidentally launched a torpedo. Nigel reports that he "blew them up".
- Gratuitous French: Jacques, the shrimp who speaks almost nothing but French. First time you see him, a stereotypical little accordion ditty plays. The one exception counts as Gratuitous English: when Jacques is leading Nemo to his induction into the Tank Gang, he at first says "Suivez-moi", which Nemo doesn't understand, so he has to repeat it in English: "Follow me".
- Grilling the Newbie: The other fish in the tank ask Nemo endlessly about the Ocean.
Bubbles: "The old big blue, eh? What's it like?
Bubbles: "I knew it!"
- Guile Hero: Gill is somewhere between this and a protagonist Magnificent Bastard, even though his plans (almost) always fail. He's atypical in that he appears somewhat uncomfortable in this role: he has a Heroic BSOD after Nemo almost gets filleted by the tank filter while partaking in one of his plans.
- Funny Background Event: There are actually quite a few. A good one is when Marlin is trying to tell his joke at the start. Nemo at first has an 'Oh, boy' expression, then an embarrassed and apologetic smile.
- A meta example occurs on the 2-disc DVD introduction: whilst Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich are talking about the included bonus features, in the background you can see John Lasseter waving and then miming diving over a rail.
- Handicapped Badass: Gill. Extensive scarring on his right fin makes it as useless as Nemo's atrophied one. That doesn't prevent him from being a sort of mentor to Nemo.
- Hold Your Hippogriffs:
Gill: It'll be a piece of kelp.
- Hollywood Darkness: Averted in the trench scenes, which are absolutely pitch black until the anglerfish arrives. Played straight in the whale's mouth.
- Hollywood Density: In the final scene where the aquarium fish finally escape, the water in their bags somehow floats above other water in the ocean.
- Hope Springs Eternal: After they have escaped from a hungry shark and massive minefield explosions, Marlin and Dory are exhausted. Marlin is anxious to find his missing son, Nemo, but now he has lost his best clue for finding him - a scuba mask inscribed with the address of the diver who captured Nemo. Dory helps Marlin find hope. Discouraged, Marlin says, "That was my only chance at finding my son; now it's gone!" But Dory is not so easily deterred. "Hey, Mr. Grumpy Gills," she says. "When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim."
- Humans Are Cthulhu
- Ignorant of the Call: Marlin thinks of himself as just a father who is desperately trying to recover his missing son. To Dory, and Nemo, the sea turtles, Nigel the Pelican, the fish in Dr. Sherman's tank, and many, many others, Marlin is a Badass determinator who repeatedly triumphed over unbelievable odds.
- Innocent Innuendo: "I'm gonna go touch the butt!"
- Interspecies Friendship: Not only do different kinds of fish get along, but they also befriend sea turtles, and even species that otherwise prey on fish, such as sharks and pelicans.
- It's All My Fault
- Keep Away: Around the beginning of the film, a couple of the kids in Nemo's class pull this on another kid.
- Land Down Under
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: "The Prime Minister" makes a brief appearance as one of Dr. Sherman's patients. note
- Lethally Stupid: Darla is actually a relatively normal girl (except for the braces), what makes her an antagonist is her bad habit to shake her fishes like crazy. This is justified, however, by how young and hyperactive she is.
- Light Is Not Good: The anglerfish's light may look inviting but it leads to frightening teeth.
- Living Emotional Crutch: Marlin to Dory. Being with him somehow cures her amnesia.
- And the other way around, as Dory's optimism, easy-going nature and encouragement helps rein in Marlin's neurotic side and keep him focussed.
- Local Reference: Director Andrew Stanton is from Rockport, Massachussetts, so he included several references to it, including lamp replicas of two lighthouses in nearby Thacher Island and a photograph of "Motif Number One", a local landmark, as well as lobsters with thick "Bahston" accents and local slang ("Wicked").
- Lopsided Dichotomy: Dory translating whale speech:
"Okay, he either said, 'move to the back of the throat,' or he 'wants a root beer float'."
- The Lost Lenore: Coral and most of their children.
- Keet: Nemo on a good day. The baby sea turtles also count.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Dory to Marlin.
- Meaningful Background Event: The whale and jellyfish.
- Meaningful Echo: Lots. It is a Pixar film, after all.
- "All drains lead to the ocean."
- "Keep swimming," and "Swim down."
- Meaningful Name:
- Memetic Badass: Marlin ends up as one in-universe as tales of his journey filter through the ocean and become larger than life.
- Mind-Control Eyes / Monochromatic Eyes / Black Eyes of Evil: When Bruce the shark accidentally gets a whiff of blood.
- Mobile Fishbowl: In The Stinger Gill, Deb and the other captives in the dentist's fish tank use the fact that they've been put in clear baggies of water while the tank is being cleaned to make their escape to the sea. This involves bopping the baggies forward through a building and across a busy roadway. Good news: they succeed. Bad news: they have no idea how to get out of the baggies.
- Monsters Anonymous: The shark's support group.
- Mood Whiplash:
- Before and after the opening titles.
- "Good feeling's gone."
- My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting:
- My God, What Have I Done?: Gill, upon realizing he selfishly risked Nemo's life for his own means.
- Never Heard That One Before: Jokes about Marlin being a clown fish.
- No Cartoon Fish: Aversion.
- Non Sequitur Thud
- Noodle Incident: "Hey, that snail was about to charge."
- Obliviously Evil: Darla can be seen as this.
- Super OCD: Gurgle is perhaps the definition of this trope. When he learns that Nemo is from the ocean he immediately gets Jacques to clean him. Also is visibly shaking and really nervous when the tank is really dirty for their escape plan, finally snapping and exclaiming
Gurgle: DO YOU REALISE WE ARE SWIMMING IN OUR OWN-
- Oh, Crap:
- Bruce's first appearance.
- Bruce smells blood. "INTERVENTION!"
- Later at the end of scene, just where the torpedo is going...
- Jellyfish area.
- Getting gulped by the whale. Fortunately, he was just giving them a ride to Sydney Harbor.
- "Good feeling's gone."
- "THE TANK IS CLEAN!"
- Everyone yelling, "DARLA!"
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Not in Latin, and (except possibly to the very youngest viewers) not all that ominous. Arguably a parody.
- Only Sane Man: Marlin and Gill, compared to their respective companions.
- Orphaned Punchline: Marlin proves that, despite what all the other fish think, not all clown fish are funny.
- One of the bonus features of the DVD are 10-15 different punch lines that were considered for the closing scene. Good times, good times.
- Papa Wolf: Marlin. Shark, anglerfish, jellyfish, pelican, human... He will topple the food chain to get his son back.
- Parental Bonus:
- The sequence with the vegetarian sharks is an obvious reference to AA meetings.
- After Nemo jams the filter: "Everybody else, be as gross as possible. Think dirty thoughts. We're gonna make this tank so filthy the dentist will HAVE to clean it."
- Parental Substitute: Gill acts as something of a surrogate father to Nemo while in the tank.
- Please Don't Leave Me: Dory to Marlin.
- Plot-Triggering Death: In a rather roundabout example, Coral's. Her death happens some years before the actual story, but hadn't it been for that, the plot wouldn't have happened, at least not the way it did.
- Portmanteau Couple Name: Dorlin for Dory/Marlin.
- Psycho Strings: Played whenever Darla looks at the camera.
- Punctuated Pounding: A rare example of the dialog and pounding coming from different characters:
- BANG Sorry about BANG Bruce, mate! BANG He's really BANG a nice guy!
- I have to get out of here! BANG I have to find my son! BANG I have to tell him how! BANG old! BANG sea! BANG turtles! BANG are! BANG
- The Quest. And while it's not a perfect Booker's Quest, it does meet plenty of the specifications: Monsters (angler fish), Temptations (Bruce delays then, when they get back on track, turns deadly), Dangerous Terrain (mines, jellyfish), Deadly Opposites (Marlin even ignores the guides!), the Journey to the Underworld (the whale), then the halfway arrival where the heroes realize the task is even harder than imagined. Not to mention Dory's role as Anima and how she is the one who first connects with the prize.
- Really 700 Years Old: Crush is 150, and still young, dude.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Nemo and the baby sea turtles.
- Road Trip Plot: It's underwater so there aren't any roads, but otherwise the trope is played straight.
- Rousseau Was Right: Well, almost. The barracuda at the beginning, the angler fish and the seagulls are just hungry; the sharks are actually Nice Guys; and the jellyfish are just, well, jellyfish. But Darla's iffier, and Sherman might count as a minor bad guy depending on your view of dentists.
- Rule of Cool:
- Turtles don't actually travel in groups, but in the words of Stanton himself, "But it was just too cool and it helped the story along. We don't address it in the script, but they're all off to Hawaii to go surf."
- Also, lobsters with Bostonian accents near the Australian Coast.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Marlin and Dory. One is grumpy and grounded while the other is perky and optimistic pushes him forward.
- Scars Are Forever: The ones on Gill's face that he apparently got from trying to escape the tank.
- Sea Mine: A whole minefield of them too.
- Ship Tease: Dory and Marlin.
- Short Cuts Make Long Delays: Marlin swimming over the scary-looking trench rather than through it leads to an encounter with jellyfish.
- Shout-Out: See here.
- Shown Their Work: The entire Pixar staff had to take a graduate class in fish biology before making the movie.
- Simultaneous Arcs: Most of the movie splits between Marlin in the ocean and Nemo in the tank.
- Small Taxonomy Pools:
- Largely played straight. Among fish we see colorful reef-fishes, and then the stock seahorses, puffers, rays, great white and hammerhead sharks, and barracudas (will we ever see an ocean sunfish, dolphinfish, pipefish, and remoras in fiction?). The sea birds are gulls and pelicans (and what about frigatebirds, tropicbirds, skuas and so on?); the sea-mammal is a whale, the sea-reptiles are the classic Chelonid turtles: and we have crabs, jellyfishes and starfishes as the invertebrate members of the fauna.
- But it's averted as well: this is perhaps the first time a deep-sea fish shows up in a relevant role in Fictionland (the anglerfish). Not only that, many sea creatures from Real Life are well recognizable by who knows. The whale isn't the stock generic large cetacean, it's quite specifically a blue whale. Tropical fish pertain to precise species (clownfish, blue tang, moorish idol, Gramma loreto and so on); one of the three sharks is a Mako; and the hero is called Marlin (the latter is lampshaded by Nigel trying to remember Marlin's name and saying "It's some kind of sport fish or something..." at one point). The chosen cephalopod is the unconventional "Dumbo-octopus". Finally the (totally unexpected) krill: talking krill!
- The Smurfette Principle: The film has 9:3 male-to-female ratio. The writer explains on the DVD commentary that in fact Dory was originally male until he saw Ellen DeGeneres on television and realised that was the sweet-but-scattered tone he was looking for.
- Something That Begins with "Boring": Dory and Marlin.
- Somewhere, a Mammalogist Is Crying: A friendly blue whale gives Marlin and Dory a ride for protection, before sending them on their way by forcing them to the back of its throat to eject them out of its blowhole. Marlin fears they'll be devoured, whereas Dory tells him to trust their giant friend. Marlin, however, was absolutely correct. A Blue whales' esophagus and wind pipe are not connected. By all accounts if forced down its throat they should have been swallowed alive.
- So What Do We Do Now?: Gill and the rest of the aquarium fish at the end.
- Speech Impediment: Darla has trouble speaking with those terrible braces.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Is Gill's name spelled with one or two L's?
- Staging an Intervention: The sharks do this when Bruce gets a whiff of blood.
- Staring Kid: The kid in the dentist's waiting room who reacts with horror at the commotion.
- Stealth Pun:
- Nemo attends a school of fish.
- Crush mentions that "Mr. Turtle" is his father. That would make his name Crush Turtle...or C. Turtle.
- The Stinger: In the last scene before the credits, see all the fish from the dentist office after their successful escape still stuck in their plastic bags since their plan never got that far.
- Though they're all okay in the end credits.
- Suddenly Bilingual: Dory, who apparently can read Spanish as well as English (and speak Whale).
- Surfer Dude: Crush, and the turtles. Apparently, all of them.
- Crush is 150 years old, it's not like he needs to do anything in a rush.
- Survival Mantra: Many. The most famous one is 'Just keep swimming', but Marlin deliberately invokes it in one scene while playing it straight for himself. When Dory gets hurt in the Jellyfish fields, he makes Dory repeat where P. Sherman lives, while repeating 'Stay awake!' to himself.
- "Swim down!" When Nemo is netted in the aquarium and again when the school of fish is caught. Also counts as Chekhov's Skill.
- Suddenly Fluent in Whale: Marlin is less then impressed by Dory's claims to be able to to speak whale, especially since it consists entirely of talking really slowly. Somehow, it works. And then Marlin imitates her.
Dory: Wow. I wish I could speak whale.
- Swallowed Whole: Twice. The pelican's case is possible, but the whale's isn't.
- Synchronized Swarming: A swarm of fish does a series of impressions for Dory and becomes an arrow to give her and Marlin directions to Sydney.
- Take My Fin: Possibly inverted.
- Tempting Fate:
Nemo: Have you ever met a shark?
Marlin: No, and I don't plan to.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Type 2 - "Please, Mr. Turtle is my father, the name's Crush."
- This Is Your Brain on Evil: The sharks lose all self-control and become violent killers whenever they smell blood.
- This Way to Certain Death: On the journey to Sidney, Dory and Marlin come across a trench that they can either go through or swim over. Dory is eager to take the direct route, but just out of their sight there's a fish carcass lying at the entrance.
- Those Two Guys:
- Anchor and Chum.
- Partially subverted with Gerald (the pelican that tried to swallow Dory and Marlin) and Nigel, who obviously knows him far too well. They were originally supposed to be Those Two Guys, but most of Gerald's scenes were cut.
- The Tooth Hurts: The scene where the dentist is trying to remove the prime minister's tooth. When Nigel the pelican runs into the window, the noise startles the dentist so much that he forcefully pulls out the bad tooth, putting the prime minister in a lot of pain.
- Trailers Always Lie: A popular scene shown in the commercials was Bruce swimming through some seaweed while saying "We're looking for Nemo!" This was never used in the movie. In fact, the super hyped up sharks in the trailers were just One Scene Wonders.
- Tropaholics Anonymous: The sharks
- Truth in Television: Yes, Jellyfish really DO travel in big swarms like that.
- Averted with the turtles; they do not. Andrew Stanton admitted it worked for the story.
- Turtle Power: Crush, Squirt, and the other sea turtles of the EAC are all awesome.
- Unusual Animal Alliance: Sharks attempts such an alliance with fish, and have support meetings complete with the mantra:
Fish are friends, not food!
- Verbing Nouny
- Verbal Tic: Crush has one, dude.
- Waking Non Sequitur: After the incident with the sharks, Dory wakes up screaming "Look out! Sharks eat fish!" She also has "Zzz... the sea monkeys have my money... Mmm... yes, I'm a natural blue..."
- Was Too Hard on Him: What Marlin feels about Nemo.
- Water Is Air: Averted.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Remember the Barracuda at the beginning of the film that pretty much kills Coral and all of her children, save for Nemo? Never shows up or is mentioned again after that horrific event.
- What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: The good guys are colorful tropical fish. They're threatened by ugly, drably-colored predators with sharp teeth who don't talk. And then there's the sharks, who try to go vegan, but old habits die hard. Interestingly, they do reference the hypocrisy of humans who think dolphins are cuter than sharks.
- What's an X Like You Doing in a Y Like This?: "What's a couple of bites like you doing in a zone like this?"
- Where It All Began: It ends in the reef, with the characters doing the same things they did in the first scene, only differently, reflecting how the moral has changed them.
- White and Grey Morality: Well, for animals only. The sharks are trying to reform. The jellyfish and seagulls are too stupid to be evil. The barracuda and the anglerfish, although both vicious killers, are hungry predators by nature, and are really just trying to get enough food to survive. Overall, though, the villains here are somewhat milder than those of other Pixar movies.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?
Marlin: So, Mr. Turtle...
Marlin: Crush? Really?
- The Window or the Stairs: Dory and Marlin come across a chasm. Dory was told that they had to go through it, and she tries to tell Marlin, who ignores her and then tricks her into swimming over it, since it seems much safer. They end up in a huge swarm of jellyfish, and they both almost die because of the stings.
- Wolverine Publicity: Bruce (the shark) and Crush (the sea turtle) were both heavily promoted and feature on the movie posters and home video covers. They respectively only appear in no more than two scenes a piece.
- You Had Us Worried There: When Nemo jams the filter, the second time.
- You Say Tomato: According to Sandy Plankton, a boat is called a "butt.", although Nemo's friends could just be misquoting him.