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    Miguel Rivera
"I'm gonna be a musician!"
Voiced by: Anthony González (English), Luis Ángel Gómez Jaramillo (Latin American Spanish)note 

A young boy and an aspiring musician. Despite the fact that his fascination with music puts him at odds with his family, he loves all of them dearly. He accidentally stumbles upon the Land of the Dead after trying to "borrow" Ernesto de la Cruz's guitar, and now needs to get back to the world of the living before sunrise.

  • Accidental Pervert: Walks in on a lady skeleton without any clothes on while she posed for an artist. Miguel freezes for a moment as he processes what he just saw before scurrying off with a "sorry".
  • Air Guitar: Near the beginning of the film, which serves as an introduction to his passion for music.
  • All for Nothing: His quest to go to Ernesto for his blessing turns out to be this when he realized that he's just a murderous phony and that he has no intention of helping him go back home.
  • Ascended Fanboy: He is extremely excited to meet Ernesto de la Cruz, especially after he tells Miguel that he was born to be a musician. Subverted when Miguel learned Ernesto's true colors, but played straight again when he learned that his actual great-great grandfather was an amazing musician.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Miguel was able to make himself a decent guitar and learn to play it simply by watching old videos of Ernesto's guitar playing.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Downplayed. He's not the youngest Rivera at the time the film takes place, but is the youngest of the older children. As a result, he tends to get treated as such, with his family members referring to him as mijo or "my son" as a sign of affection. His abuelita takes this further, referring to him as Mijito Chiquito Miguelito, or roughly, "My dearest, sweetest, tiny son Miguel". Héctor also begins referring to Miguel as mijo ("my son") rather than chamaco or muchacho ("boy" or "kid") after learning that they're related.
  • Big "NO!": He gives a few out before he gets sent in to the cenote with Héctor.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Miguel yells "WHAT?!" when the clerk tells him that he stole from the dead.
  • Body Horror: The longer Miguel stays in the Land of the Dead, the more his skeleton transformation takes effect. It's funny at first, but becomes rather disturbing when it spreads to his torso, as told by Ernesto's reaction. It's rather terrifying when it's nearly complete, just before Imelda and Héctor send him home with their blessing.
  • Book Dumb: While Miguel is street smart and witty, he's somewhat lacking in the academic department, believing that vitamins were just a thing made up by adults. Justified by his age, family situation (the Riveras seem more interested in continuing the family trade than heading off to college), and the Riveras' relatively low financial standing.
    Miguel: This isn't a dream then. You were all really out there!
    Tía Victoria: You thought we weren't?
    Miguel: Well, I don't know. I thought that it might've been one of those made up things that adults tell kids... like... vitamins.
    Tía Victoria: Miguel, vitamins are a real thing.
    Miguel: Well, now I'm thinking maybe they could be...
  • Break the Cutie: Poor kid has been put through the wringer several times, but the scene where he discovers that his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz, is a fraud really stands out.
  • Break the Haughty: In a sense. Miguel spends much of the film thinking he doesn't need his family's help (not to put up his ofrenda, nor to send him home), nor Héctor when he thinks Héctor won't be able to help him get what he wants, and feels confident he can get to Ernesto by himself to get the latter's blessing to go home, where he'll become a famous musician and be remembered that way. When Ernesto reveals his true colors and has Miguel thrown into a cenote to be forgotten, all trace of bravado is gone and Miguel sobbingly laments that he should have listened to his family, and Héctor.
  • Calling the Old Woman Out: He calls out Imelda for not respecting his wish to pursue music in one of his darkest moments.
  • Character Development: Miguel's motivations are incredibly sympathetic, but he ultimately wishes to single-mindedly follow in the footsteps of his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz, regardless of what his family thinks of him after years of having his dreams stifled. He's talented and passionate, but inexperienced and insecure all the same. He was also somewhat unappreciative of Día de Muertos and traditions in general, believing them to be made up for the sake of it. His trip to the Land of the Dead turned his perspective on its head, breaking his blind idolization of Ernesto, becoming far more appreciative of what Día de Muertos stands for, giving him a huge confidence boost thanks to his new experience, and reconnecting with his family rather than leaving them behind in pursuit of his musical career. This is best emphasized by the beginning and end of the film, which starts with Miguel informing the audience about how different he was from his family in internal monologue, before ending with Miguel calling out to his entire family in song.
  • Character Narrator: He narrates the story's events, filling in the viewers on his family's backstory as well as de la Cruz's. It is eventually revealed that he's talking to the mariachi guitarist in the city's plaza.
  • Childish Tooth Gap: Has a gap on the left side of his upper row of teeth.
  • Child Prodigy: Miguel is an excellent performer, guitar player, and singer despite having few opportunities to practice due to his family's traditions, making a crowd go wild in his first live (well, not live as in living) performance after getting over his initial stage fright. Frida Kahlo is soon asking him for musical advice, which Miguel provides, much to her delight. Lee Unkrich also says that the finale song, "Proud Corazón", was written In-Universe by Miguel.
  • Cool Big Bro: The epilogue shows Miguel is now an older brother to his newborn sister. During his scene with her, he teaches her about their family in a soothing manner and tone.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Of the Kid Hero trope. He has all the traits (plucky, Street Smart) found in the character type, but still needed a lot of help from the adult characters to get him by, especially when he's in real danger.
  • Dem Bones: Is gradually being turned into a spirit during his time in the Land of the Dead, with all of the corresponding traits. The change begins in his fingers before spreading up his arm and throughout his body, which gives him an odd mix of skeletal and living features.
  • Desperate Plea for Home: After being thrown into the cenote pit, Miguel yells that he wants to go home.
  • Epic Fail: Miguel's grito, which the Spanish word for "scream" and is used by Mariachi singers, is unimpressive at first, being a high-pitched, crackly squeak that makes even the otherwise happy-go-lucky Dante cringe. Luckily for Miguel, he manages to fix this before he gets on stage for the first time.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first time we see Miguel, he goes out into the plaza listening to music and shoeshining a mariachi guitarist's shoes.
  • Fading Away: He starts turning into a skeleton the longer he stays in the spirit world, his skin and flesh turning transparent and fading away. The scene where he looks at his fading hand is a clear Shout-Out to Marty in Back to the Future.
  • Fatal Flaw: His selfishness, or more accurately, narrow-minded ambition. Miguel is so determined to fulfill his long-repressed aspirations that he denounces his loving (if flawed) family, performs a literal Kick the Dog moment, and nearly becomes a spirit. It also leads Miguel to forsake the foresight and advice of others if they don't apply to his "here and now", generally rushing to what seems to be the simplest and most direct answer to his problems without considering the potential consequences.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With Héctor, who came across as unreliable and sketchy to the point that Miguel tried to bail on him soon after they met. Even then, they only worked together to achieve their own goals, but after getting each other out of more than a few sticky situations, they've become fast friends.
  • Forced Transformation: Staying too long in the Land of the Dead causes him to steadily transform into a skeleton over time. How much he’s transformed shows how much time he has left to get home before he’s stuck there forever.
  • Gadgeteer Genius:
    • Miguel has a shrine to Ernesto de la Cruz, with an old black and white TV and ancient VCR which looks as though it was scavenged from the garbage.
    • Miguel made his guitar from scratch. Those weren't frets: they were nails. He probably spent years scavenging parts to build it, which makes it all the more heartbreaking when Elena destroys it.
  • Girls Have Cooties: Grimaces while watching Ernesto kiss a woman in one of his films. That said, he's perfectly happy playing wrestler with his great-grandmother Coco, so he seems to be more allergic to romance than girls.
  • Goal in Life: To become a musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz, despite his family's wishes that he become a shoemaker.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Miguel is very close to stray dog, Dante.
  • Heroic BSoD: Goes through a brief one when he realizes that Ernesto's not the idol he seems to be after all.
  • Honor Before Reason: Wants to win the Land of the Dead talent show (that will allow him to meet the unreachable Ernesto) on his own to prove that he's a real musician, and thus worthy of a musician's blessing... even though it's his first time performing in front of anyone, the more experienced Héctor would have a far better chance of winning, and both Miguel's and Héctor's lives depend on him reaching Ernesto (or else his more approachable relatives) before sunrise. Héctor calls him out on this.
    Héctor: That is such a sweet sentiment... but at such a bad time!
  • Hypocrite: Accuses Héctor of only caring about himself... while reneging on their deal to save Héctor from becoming Deader than Dead to pursue his own musical dream. (Thankfully, he grows out of this.)
  • Identical Grandson: With Héctor. A subtle clue that they are actually related is that they share the same straight, parted bangs while Ernesto's bangs are curled. They also share another similar physical trait in having dimples, though Miguel has just the one and Héctor had two.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: He bears a rather uncanny resemblance to Anthony González.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Though Héctor died at an age where he'd be old enough to be Miguel's older brother, they grew up more than a hundred years apart from each other. They still become fast friends within the first few hours of knowing each other.
  • In the Hood: Wears his hood up as part of his skeleton disguise.
  • I See Dead People: After becoming a cursed spirit, he gains the ability to see the otherwise invisible skeleton spirits of the dead on Dia de Muertos, who are just as freaked out as he is. He ultimately loses it at the end, after being properly sent back to the Land of the Living by Mamá Imelda. Nevertheless, his experiences have given him an immense appreciation for Día de Muertos and he seems to instinctively know when Héctor and his other deceased relatives are present.
  • It Runs in the Family: Subverted and played straight. Miguel's family have been well-known shoemakers for nearly a century, but Miguel himself is far more interested in becoming a musician. On the other hand, his great-great grandfather was a talented musician, with Miguel taking more after him than the other members of his family. The climax and ending of the film reveal that the musical gift was more widely spread than was initially thought, as not only is Mama Imelda, Miguel's great-great grandmother and the one who instituted the "No Music" policy, an amazing singer, but Miguel's cousins who previously belittled him for his musical interests are also playing instruments at the following year's Diá de Muertos.
  • It's All About Me: He often puts his own interests ahead of more important matters. Unfortunately, it's also his Fatal Flaw.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Downplayed. Miguel is a sweet, gentle, and kind person with a sympathetic plight. However, while his plight is sympathetic it also causes him to be selfish which leads him to do anything to fulfill his dream as a musician and meet Ernesto de la Cruz. This, in turn, causes him to lose his temper after the talent show when he believes that Héctor, Dante, and Imelda are keeping him from said aspirations, and thus Miguel said hurtful things to all of them. After a huge amount of Character Development and the reveal of his true great-great grandpa, he becomes more emotionally mature and makes up for his earlier hurtful remarks once everyone's had a better chance to understand each other.
  • Kid Hero: He's just twelve years old, making him the second-youngest Pixar protagonist after Arlo from The Good Dinosaur.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Or more like Like Great-Great Grandfather, Like Great-Great Grandson. Both he and Héctor share the same bangs, same musical talent, and the same penchant for lying and/or tricking others to get what they want, running away from their families to pursue a musical career. They also have the dimple-no dimple. You can only see Héctor's in the ofrenda photo. It's the only time he is both alive and smiling with happiness.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: His family comes from a line of shoe-makers. On the other hand, Miguel hopes to be a musician. On the other hand, his Great-Great Grandfather was a musician and Miguel hopes to follow in his footsteps.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Zigzagged. He has other shirts, as seen during the montage of Elena shutting out any kind of music, but he's almost always seen in his hoodie, white tank top, and jeans during the events of the movie. Justified, as the movie takes place over the course of 24 hours and he doesn't exactly have a lot of time to get a change of clothes when he's rushing to get out of the Land of the Dead before sunrise.
  • Magnetic Hero: He ultimately gets many people to help him with his journey, between Dante, Héctor, Frida Kahlo, and numerous others. He's also a real crowd-pleaser who is simply likable to everyone he meets.
  • Must Make Amends: By the end of the film, he decides to make amends with his family after running away from them.
  • Naughty Is Good: Due to living under Elena's stern discipline for his entire life, Miguel is prone to lying and scheming to get around her rules. Nevertheless, he is still a Nice Guy with a solid moral compass.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: While his gradual transformation into a skeletal spirit helps, he manages to completely evade his family and avoid sticking out in the Land of the Dead simply by painting skeletal designs on himself with black and white shoe polish on his face and covering his ears with his hood, making no other effort to change his clothes, his voice, or otherwise anything else that would give him away. Albeit, this is somewhat justified by the fact that everyone was looking for a living boy, and thus they were likely looking for his living skin tone.
  • Parting-Words Regret: In the first half of the film, Miguel flat-out says that he doesn't want to be part of his family, given their generation-long stance against music. He ends up regretting what he said at one point after learning the truth about Ernesto.
  • Performance Anxiety: Suffers from this right before heading on stage due to it being his first actual performance, but a few choice words from Héctor help him get over it just in time to win over the crowd with "Un Poco Loco"note , a song he's never played or sung before.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Says this to Héctor as he and Imelda are giving him their blessing to send him home, just as the sun is coming up.
  • Precision F-Strike: In the cultural context of the film, at least. He declares angrily that he doesn't care if he's left off some stupid ofrenda after his grandmother warns him of that fate should he pursue music, shocking them all as "stupid" is considered quite a strong word in Hispanic language.
  • Pretend We're Dead: In order to blend in with the Land of the Dead, he has Héctor paint his face to look like a skeleton. Unfortunately for him, it wears off after falling into the swimming pool and he has to be rescued by Ernesto.
  • Primary-Color Champion: He wears a white tank top underneath his red hoodie along with blue jeans. And his mariachi attire is mainly red with gold linings.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted. As shown in the quote under Book Dumb, Miguel uses "mightas", "dunnos", Buffy Speak, and plenty of other realistic syntax from a boy his age. He also adheres to the Gratuitous Spanish trope used throughout the movie as well as the distinct Latino accent shared by most of the cast (i.e. pronouncing Mexico as Me-hi-co as it would sound in Spanish rather than the Mex-i-co used in English).
  • Redemption in the Rain: A variation; when Miguel fully embraces his complicated family and prioritises their wellbeing over his musical ambitions, he gets found at the bottom of a sinkhole by Pepita. Her triumphant Mighty Roar causes water to fall from the stalactites and onto him, his reaction to it (emphasised by the "camera" looking down on him from above) carries all the cleansing and rebirth motifs this trope invokes.
  • Red Is Heroic: Wears a red hoodie, and his mariachi attire is mostly red.
  • Robbing the Dead: He steals Ernesto de la Cruz's guitar from his mausoleum to participate in the talent show, kickstarting the events of the plot due to the curse placed upon those who rob the dead. The robbing part becomes more of a "taking back what's rightfully his" scenario when it's revealed that the guitar is actually Héctor's, meaning that Miguel is the guitar's rightful owner as Héctor's great-great grandson. It's not like anybody cared or noticed he "liberated" someone's guitar from their grave.
  • The Runaway: Of the Circus variety. He runs away from his family in the Living and Dead world because he feels that neither one support his decision to be a musician.
  • Sadistic Choice: Imelda's condition to send Miguel back to the Land of the Living is to abandon music forever, with the blessing being revoked if he so much as grabs a guitar and the rest of his deceased family being far too afraid of Imelda to give him their unconditional blessing. Miguel's other option is to stay in the Land of the Dead longer to find his great-great grandfather and hope that he'll be able to send him home, in turn risking the possibility of being trapped in the Land of the Dead forever. To add insult to injury, he angrily shouted to his family that he didn't want his picture on the ofrenda. This means it would only be a matter of time before he suffers his true death if he couldn't make it back before sunrise. Miguel chooses the latter option, seeking out Ernesto de la Cruz to try and receive his blessing.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: After Miguel returns to the living, he decides to ignore the "no music" rule and performs "Remember Me" for Mamá Coco to make her remember Héctor.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • After his grandmother destroys his guitar, he decides to leave his family so that he can participate in the talent contest.
    • When Mamá Imelda attempts to give his blessing on the condition that he abandon his ambitions as a musician, he is forced to escape from them which leads to the Stern Chase.
  • Shared Family Quirks: He shares traits with both his great-great-grandparents. He and his great-great-grandfather both have a tendency to rub their right arm when they're feeling insecure, while he and his great-great grandmother are both resolutely stubborn (and have the same reaction to performing in front of a crowd - nervousness followed by great confidence) occasionally to their great detriment.
  • Shipper on Deck: While he agrees that Imelda is not required to forgive his great-great-grandfather for leaving her, he's incredibly smug whenever he notices that yeah, she still loves him.
  • Signature Move: Miguel devises a unique grito which sounds like a puppy's howl. He uses it to attract the attention of Ernesto de la Cruz at the party.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Two instances during the epilogue.
    • When Miguel and Elena are showing Coco Jr. the ofrenda and telling her the stories of the Rivera ancestors, Miguel's hoodie and tank top have been replaced with a white button-up shirt, showing that the events of the movie have made him more responsible and more emotionally mature.
    • During the Dance Party Ending, Miguel is seen with a full set of mariachi clothes, indicating that his entire family has fully embraced music again and finally allowed him to follow his passion.
  • Thicker Than Water: Initially deconstructed, as Miguel is genuinely miserable over his inability to do what he loves due to his family ties. Reconstructed by the end of the film, as his family fully supports his musical endeavors as he sings about how proud he feels to be a Rivera.
    Miguel: [At his family gathering] ¡Ay mi familia!note  ¡Oiga mi gente! note  Canten a coronote , let it be known! Our love for each other will live on forever in every beat of my proud corazón!
  • Token Minority: Of the Pixar franchise as a whole, being the first human non-Caucasian protagonist in a full-length Pixar film.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Miguel's attempt to use Ernesto's guitar to participate in a talent contest ends up causing him to cross over into the Land of the Dead and steadily transform into a skeleton over time.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The epilogue shows he now plays Héctor's guitar.
  • White Sheep: In some way, Miguel is the first in his family in generations to share his great-great grandfather's instinctive passion for music, rejecting his family's attempts to stifle it. This drives a wedge between him and them, since they can't accept him for who he is despite loving him dearly.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Is shown making believe that he's a lucha libre wrestler while hanging out with Mamá Coco. It pays off somewhat in the climax when he tackles Ernesto when he's grappling with Imelda
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Miguel gives a very heartfelt one to Héctor after it is revealed that the latter is his actual great-great grandfather. After Héctor tells him that he's a very sorry excuse for a great-great grandfather, Miguel tells that he's far better than Ernesto, whom he originally thought was his great-great grandfather but turned out to be a murderer. Miguel adds on that throughout his life, he's been looking where his difference from the rest of his family came from and it came from Héctor himself, before finishing it with saying that he is proud to be related to him. Needless to say, this pulls Héctor out of his Heroic BSoD, and causes him to say that he is also proud to be related to him.
    Héctor: I'm a pretty sorry excuse for a great-great grandpa.
    Miguel: Are you kidding?! A minute ago, I thought I was related to a murderer! You're a total upgrade! My whole life, there's been something that made me different, and I never knew where it came from. But now I know! It comes from you! I'm proud we're family! I'M PROUD TO BE HIS FAMILY! (performs a grito towards the sky.)
    Héctor: (laughing) I'm proud to be HIS family! (both perform a grito to the sky)
  • You Killed My Father: Towards Ernesto, learning the man murdered his great-great-grandfather and became famous from his work.
  • Your Tradition Is Not Mine: The Riveras are a clan of shoemakers, a tradition passed down from Imelda to Coco onwards. Miguel doesn't want to be another shoemaker though after his time with Héctor and Ernesto, he's okay about it as he learns to put family above his ambitions. Luckily Imelda and the other matriarchs relent about their disdain for music and let him pursue his dream.

"I can help you, you can help me, we can help each other! But most importantly, you can help me!"
Click here to see Héctor when he was alive
Voiced by: Gael García Bernal (English and Latin American Spanish)note 

A disheveled inhabitant of the Land of the Dead who no one has left an offering for, leaving him unable to cross over to the world of the living. He claims to know Ernesto de la Cruz and strikes a deal with Miguel to take him to meet him in exchange of Miguel placing his picture on his family offering so he can visit the Land of the Living.

  • The Ageless: Héctor died at 21 years old and permanently has the likeness of how he looked at that age. His bones can break and wear from neglect, but his stature remains youthful and there isn't a strand of gray hair on his head.
  • Barefoot Poverty: Lives in the slums of The Land of the Dead with the rest of the forgotten, and wears tattered rags and no shoes. Once he is reunited with his family, he is given a handsome pair of Rivera-made dress shoes.
  • Beneath the Mask: Héctor is introduced as a flaky, selfish conman with a winning smile and cheerful demeanor. In actuality, he's a miserable, desperate father whose only goal has been to see his daughter one last time before he dies for good.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Jerkish moments aside, he's an all around nice guy who avoids conflict when possible, but when he learns that he was actually murdered by his own friend Ernesto, he completely loses his cool and tackles him.
  • Big Brother Mentor: In a sense. He's actually Miguel's great-great-grandfather and is more than 100 years older than him, but died when he was in his early 20's, and still looks and acts that way, making him the right age in the afterlife to be Miguel's older brother. He takes the kid under his wing well before learning they're related, teaching Miguel about the afterlife, giving him great advice about music and performing, and looking out for his safety and offering him comfort and encouragement when things get tough.
  • Big "NO!": Gives several, once when being dragged away by Ernesto's bodyguards after learning that his former best friend stole not only his songs, but his life from him and another when said former best friend tosses his great-great grandson off a tower, presumably to his death.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: When alive, Héctor had some pretty thick eyebrows. He no longer has them as a skeleton.
  • Black Sheep: To the Rivera family for seemingly abandoning his family to pursue his musical aspirations.
  • Break the Cutie: While he'd already been somewhat broken long before the events of the film, Héctor still remains fairly cheerful and upbeat throughout, until he finally breaks down upon learning the truth about his death, and the real reason why he never got to see his family again.
  • Butt-Monkey: An unfortunate and tragic example. Héctor has had it bad in almost every way possible. Not only has he been living in squalor for decades knowing that his family has never put his photo up on their ofrendas, it turns out that he was a brilliant songwriter who was murdered by his best friend for his music, which made said friend rich and famous. To add salt to the wound, Héctor has been deprived not only of the fame and success he left his family for, but his family itself. By the time the movie begins, he's dressed in rags, walks with a very noticeable limp, and is forced to use trickery and charm to get just about everything.
    • Snaps repeatedly to get someone's attention focused on him, and routinely detaches parts of his body when performing or trying to con someone.
    • He immediately begins apologizing whenever he, even accidentally, upsets someone.
  • Character’s Most Hated Song: Played with. Hector makes it clear he is not fond of Ernesto De La Cruz's most popular song "Remember Me" that he tells Miguel not to sing it when the boy takes part in a music competition (though he states it would be too obvious of a song, his tone makes it clear it is more than that). Then it is revealed that Hector was the one who wrote the song and that Ernesto stole it from him, altering the tone and using it in a way Hector never intended.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: The creators confirmed that he and Imelda grew up together in Santa Cecilia before marrying and having Coco.
  • Childhood Friends: The Tie-In Novel Coco: A Story of Music, Shoes, and Family reveals that he and Ernesto were childhood friends to the point where Héctor feels that Ernesto is like his brother.
  • Con Man: Often lies about himself and his connections in order to get what he wants. Unfortunately for him, he's been doing it for so long that most of the denizens in his world are well aware of his tricks and have very limited tolerance for him. This trait also causes Miguel to doubt him more than once, even when Héctor is being completely genuine with him.
  • Connected All Along: Who would have thought that Héctor was Miguel's true great-great grandfather?
  • Damned by Faint Praise: When Héctor and Miguel learn he's the latter's long-lost great-great-grandfather, Héctor laments that he's a pretty poor excuse for one. When Miguel tries to reassure him that two seconds ago he thought he was related to a murderer and Héctor is a total upgrade by comparison, Héctor is not convinced.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: He is a disheveled skeleton, but is an all around Nice Guy.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He shows shades of this when he's frustrated, in stark contrast to his upbeat conman persona.
  • Despair Speech: While going through his Despair Event Horizon, Héctor mourns to Miguel that he never should have left his family, and that now he has no chance to see his beloved daughter again, much less make things right with her.
  • Determinator: He's going to get across that bridge if it (re-)kills him, and he'll do just about anything — including dress like Frida Kahlo and help a little boy meet a celebrity — if it makes that happen. Justified, as time is running out for him to see his daughter one last time before he dies for good.
  • Deuteragonist: He's the second focal character of the film after Miguel.
  • Disappeared Dad: He is Miguel's real great-great grandfather, who left the family to pursue a career in music. He did try to come back, but was killed before he could do so.
  • Disguised in Drag: Several times, including his introduction, as Frida Kahlo.
  • Disney Death: He comes within two seconds of his true death, but Miguel's song to Coco (his great-grandmother and Héctor's daughter) manages to save him.
  • Doing It for the Art: In-universe. Both he and his former partner Ernesto had a passion for music, but unlike Ernesto, who wanted to do music for the fame and riches and left his family behind, Héctor was a musician only to make people happy and he cherishes his family, especially his daughter Coco, more than anything else, as he wanted to go back to his family and ultimately didn't care about becoming rich and famous.
  • Doting Parent: He absolutely adores Coco, and is motivated by his desire to see her one more time.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: And then some! After spending the entire movie being mocked, ridiculed, and in danger of being permanently forgotten, he finally gets his wish when Miguel helps Coco remember him. Not only that, but he makes amends with Imelda, his picture is put up on the family ofrenda, he finally gets to see Coco again, and his musical legacy is finally recognized. Considering the trauma that he had to endure even after he was murdered, it's safe to say that he really really needed it.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: While trying to sneak into Ernesto's house, a few musicians address him by his embarrassing nickname, "Chorizo", because he died choking on one in 1921. Héctor clarifies it was food poisoning from the chorizo. This moment gets harder to look at since it was revealed that Ernesto poisoned Héctor's tequila and when Héctor was about to die from said poisoning, Ernesto mockingly claims it might've been the chorizos he had.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: He does this in his Frida Kahlo guise when he confronts Miguel and Ernesto and reveals the truth.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Even after 96 years, Héctor never once suspected that his best friend would have killed him for his songs, though he knew that Ernesto never gave him the credit he deserved. He's completely shocked by the revelation that he was not only betrayed by his best friend, but murdered by him.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Ernesto secretly poisoned Héctor so that he could steal his music and become the star he is today. The moment Héctor dies is also explicitly shown onscreen, with him clutching his stomach in pain before collapsing onto the street.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With Miguel, who was originally skeptical of Héctor's reliability. Initially, they only worked together to achieve their own goals, but after getting each other out of more than a few sticky situations, they become fast friends.
  • Forgiveness: He holds no resentment to Imelda for wrongly assuming he abandoned his family and risked him disappearing forever and when she realizes her mistake he insists it was his fault. He was even willing to forgive, or at bare minimum accept and get over, Ernesto for stealing credit for his work before learning his old friend's dark secret.
  • Friendly Skeleton: Though not always noble, always on the side of good and is, like every resident of the land of the dead, a skeleton.
  • Gag Nose: When he was alive, he had a rather big nose that’s pointed and slopes downward like a shark fin.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: While he was pissed at Ernesto for stealing his songs, he never imagined his old friend would have stooped so low as to murder him in order to claim his songs for himself, and is devastated when he learns the truth.
  • Heroic BSoD: He's been in a long one ever since he left his family and it goes From Bad to Worse when he realizes that Ernesto poisoned his tequila.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Zigzagged. While it's believed that he really did abandon his family for his career, the novelization Coco: A Story of Music, Shoes, and Family reveals Héctor actually left home in hopes to gain more inspiration for his music. The only thing he wanted was the experience to help him make a living while doing something he loved. He never wanted to tour around different towns and cities every day for fame like Ernesto. The realization that he probably could have gained the same kind of musical inspiration at home hit him too late... Not only that, but he really did want to come home and make amends before he was poisoned by his selfish Big Bad Friend on his way back. While he does have a passion for music, the novelisation makes it perfectly clear that Héctor never wanted a professional music career. In fact the novel outright states that Héctor had left his family temporarily as being a musician was how he provided for Imelda and Coco, and going on tour meant that it would be easier to earn money. Héctor attempted to go home because he felt extremely disorientated by constantly traveling and missed his family terribly.
  • Hidden Depths: When Héctor is first introduced, he's a silly conman cross dressing as Frida Kahlo so he can get across the marigold bridge like everyone else. He seems to hate music and musicians almost as much as Miguel's own family, saying that Ernesto and other musicians are like monkeys performing for strangers. Then come to find out that he's actually bereaved and desperate over the impending loss of contact with his daughter. Not only that, he's a brilliant musician whose works were so good that they made another man insanely rich.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: In-universe: He's remembered in the present as a man who abandoned his wife and child to pursue his selfish dream of becoming a musician while in reality he was a poor musician trying to support his family and going on tour meant that it would be easier to earn money, which would have let him return home quicker if Ernesto hadn't poisoned him. Miguel is later able to set the record straight.
  • Humble Hero: Unlike De La Cruz, his former friend. He composed his own song "Remember Me" not to pursue fame personally but in dedication and love to his daughter, Coco.
  • Hypocrite Has a Point: While Héctor is being hypocritical for Miguel lying to him about not having any other family aside from Ernesto despite also lying (something Miguel notes), Héctor wasn't wrong in calling out Miguel for risking both of their lives.
  • I Hate Past Me: Héctor loudly and repeatedly proclaims disdain for musicians, but it quickly becomes apparent that he was once a musician himself. Then it comes to light that he was the musician from Miguel's family who left home and never returned, sparking the generations-long music ban. Héctor regrets what happened so much he's actively turned the hatred onto himself and his former passion. It's later shown in the epilogue that not only has he reconnected with his family, but he has also reconnected with his passion for music when he is (unbeknownst to the living) seen playing guitar while Miguel is performing "Proud Corazon".
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Though Héctor died at an age where he'd be young enough to be Miguel's older brother, they grew up more than a hundred years apart from each other. They still become fast friends within the first few hours of knowing each other.
  • It's All My Fault: How Héctor truly feels about why his family doesn't put his photo up. Said almost verbatim to Imelda when she begins to show regret over trying to forget him in life.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: While in the Land of the Dead, Héctor (at least for a skeleton) is still attractive, but in life he had a cute, gentle, dreamy but charming look.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Downplayed. Héctor is initially introduced as a selfish con-artist who is only helping Miguel in order to get what he wants. However, over the course of the movie his true, much more noble intentions become clear and he drops the conman persona altogether. He also has a big enough heart to forgive De La Cruz, his former friend, for stealing his song "Remember Me" which was meant to be composed only for his daughter out of love but for the latter, to be used as his most famous song but it goes out the window after Miguel and Héctor put the pieces together that De La Cruz was the one who murdered him by alcohol poisoning.
  • Large Ham: When he’s not feeling down about not being able to go into the living world, Héctor is jocular and lively, singing and joking with just about everyone, especially Miguel. Removing parts of himself seems to be his favorite trick.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Or more Like Great-Great Grandfather, Like Great-Great Grandson. Both he and Miguel share the same bangs, same musical talent, a similar (living) appearance and the same penchant for lying and/or tricking others to get what they want. Their resemblance could possibly hint out their relationship.
  • Likes Older Women: Imélda was actually one year older than him when both were alive. They rekindle their romance in the Land of the Dead, playing the trope straight again, since he died at 21 and she died in her 70's.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Héctor turns out to be Miguel's actual great-great grandfather.
  • Lovable Rogue: He's a crafty Con Man who is nonetheless caring and responsible around Miguel. He was like this in life too, sacrificing his chance at fame when he realized he needed to be there for his family... after running off to seek fame to begin with.
  • Lyric Swap: Does this with "Everyone Knows Juanita" when he remembers a particular lyric is a bit dirty for Miguel. The fact he's able to do this in a second and play it off so that only somebody who knows the song catches it is foreshadowing of his musical talents, and the fact that he was a father.
  • Manchild: He acts a bit young to be Miguel's great-great grandfather. Justified, though, since he was confirmed by Unkrich to have been only 21 when he was murdered.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • His name means "hold fast," and his entire character revolves around holding onto the hope that he will be remembered by and reunited with his family. He is very much the Determinator.
    • Hector of Greek/Roman mythology was a Trojan Prince whose body was desecrated and withheld from his family, preventing them from giving him the proper funeral he’d need to peacefully pass onto the afterlife. It was eventually returned, but by then had been dragged around the city seven times by a chariot.
  • Mom Looks Like a Sister: An extreme case. He's Miguel's great-great-grandfather, but as he died in his early twenties, he could pass for his older brother as he appears in the Land of the Dead.
  • Must Make Amends: For (seemingly) leaving his family to pursue music, only to die on his way back and never return. It's implied that he has tried to make amends with Imelda since she died, only to be turned away each time. Now, he's left helplessly wishing that he could at least see his daughter Coco one more time and apologize to her.
  • My Greatest Failure: Again, leaving his family to pursue his music dream, and especially dying before seeing his daughter Coco again.
    • The novel outright states that Héctor never wanted a professional career in music, in reality he left his family temporarily because being a musician was how he provided for Imelda and Coco, and going on tour meant that it would be easier to earn money.
  • Mysterious Parent: Was the faceless and nameless father who abandoned Coco before the events of the film. He also serves as a deconstruction of this, because his absence devastated the Rivera family and caused a generations-long ban of music. The film explores his death, the consequences of his absence and the way his family coped with it.
  • Non-Standard Character Design:
    • Unlike the other skeletons whose bones are pure white, Héctor's bones are a deep, faded rustic gold which is what alerts him he's in danger of being forgotten. His bones turn back to white at the end of the movie after Coco remembers him.
    • He is the only skeleton who walks in a strange, jerky fashion, which Miguel points out — much to Héctor's irritation. This is also a symptom of being forgotten, as the magic holding the bones together deteriorates the more you deteriorate from others' memories. It doesn't help that he's also the only skeleton holding some of his bones together with tape.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: Invokes this during the song "Everyone Knows Juanita", much to the irritation of his older audience.
  • Older Sidekick: Becomes this to Miguel in the Land of the Dead, being generations older than the kid.
  • Older Than They Look: While Héctor died at the age of 21, he's technically 116-and-a-half years old note  can during the events of the movie.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Dying by choking on chorizo, which the other shantytown skeletons won't let him forget. Héctor nevertheless insists it was food poisoning. Turns out that Ernesto poisoned his tequila.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • When he learns Ernesto was directly at fault for denying him a chance to see his daughter Coco (both in life and death), Héctor is absolutely livid and doesn't hesitate to beat up Ernesto.
    • Becomes this to Miguel, especially after learning the boy is his great-great grandson. He does everything in his power to protect the boy from the murderous Ernesto.
  • Parental Hypocrisy: Or rather, "Great-Great Grandparental Hypocrisy". He is later revealed to be Miguel's long-lost great-great grandfather, and before they (or the audience) knows, Héctor is angry at Miguel for lying to him about having other family members aside from Ernesto, with Miguel responding, "You're one to talk", clearly referencing to Héctor's earlier lies.
  • Parental Love Song: Wrote one for his daughter, Coco. "Remember Me", which Ernesto twisted into a cheesy romantic ballad.
  • Parents as People: Héctor deeply loved his daughter, Coco, and regretted being away from her as a musician.
  • Polite Villains, Rude Heroes: The Rude Hero to Ernesto's Polite Villain. Before and after the The Reveal that he is the Big Bad, Ernesto is smooth, charming, and well-dressed in contrast to Héctor, who is the mischievous, snarky, and roguish Deuteragonist of the film.
  • Posthumous Character: He's been dead for decades (specifically since 1921) before the start of the story.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: He detaches and reattaches his own bones several different times, splitting himself in half to get past a security guard and removing his own head to empty out marigold petals from his ears.
  • Replacement Pedestal: Once Miguel realizes Héctor is his grandfather and not Ernesto De La Cruz, he is happy and relieved to know this after having found out the truth of his former idol.
  • Retirony: Ultimately planned on giving up being a traveling musician in order to spend time with his family. Unfortunately, Ernesto had other plans...
  • Rewatch Bonus: The fact that Héctor is a father becomes much clearer on the rewatch, just from the way he tries to put Miguel at his ease, censor naughty songs, and take him back to his family with a "You'll thank me later." While Miguel accuses him of being selfish, a rewatch shows that while he definitely cares about getting his photo put up, a lot of the reason he wants to take Miguel back to his relatives is because he's trying to prevent Miguel from making the same mistakes he did, the goal of every parent, everywhere.
    • Another thing he does that indicates that he is a parent is during "Un Poco Loco", where Héctor is seen scaffolding Miguel. Scaffolding refers to the type of assistance provided when a child is working to accomplish a task, such as giving specific instructions on what to do, showing them what to do through demonstration, or offering general encouragement.
    • During the scene where Imelda states “You leave me alone with a child to raise, and I’m just supposed to forgive you?”, Héctor is seen briefly shaking his head in disagreement, meaning that he didn't leave her to raise Coco alone.
  • Sad Clown: Acts fun, upbeat, and charming, but there are noticeable cracks in this facade which betray a sadder, more serious side. Héctor is actually much sadder than he lets on, having lost his family and knowing that there's a very slim chance that he'll ever even see his daughter again.
  • Secretly Dying: Zigzagged — he is very upfront with Miguel that he needs to cross the marigold bridge tonight, but Miguel dismisses it because Héctor is a liar and they both know it. Later on, after he's explained the concept of being forgotten and the Final Death, he tells Miguel directly that he doesn't believe he's going to last the night. Again, Miguel dismisses him, because he knows Héctor is a bit shady and says that Héctor is just trying to get his own goals met without caring about Miguel's. It's not until after The Reveal that Miguel and the audience are confronted with proof that Héctor isn't lying or exaggerating, he really is on the verge of his death. So it's not really a secret that he's dying, because he's been pretty clear about that being the case, but it has the same narrative effect simply because Miguel doesn't believe him.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Héctor and Ernesto, in life. Héctor was the sensitive song writer who intended to give up on his dream of being famous to go back to his family, while Ernesto was the macho singer who was alright with murdering his best friend to achieve fame and fortune. This also comes through in the way both he and Ernesto sing and play music; Ernesto plays and sings in a loud, bombastic way, while Héctor's playing and singing is much more soft and tender. It also visible in their physiques, as (both alive and skeletal,) Ernesto is noticeably burlier.
  • Serenade Your Lover: An implied example. The creators confirmed he created "Un Poco Loco" for Imelda, hinting he may have sang the song to her.
  • Shadow Archetype: To Miguel. Héctor is by no means a bad person, but he represents the negative outcomes that could've happened to Miguel had the latter left to pursue a music career and not been remembered by his family.
  • Shared Family Quirks:
    • Both he and Miguel, his great-great grandson are musicians who want (or seemingly wanted) to share their music with the world. They also both tend to hold or rub their right arms when feeling nervous.
    • The way he cups his daughter's cheeks and smothers her with kisses is identical to the way his granddaughter, Elena, shows affection to her own grandson— right down to there being a half-second pause before punctuating it with a louder kiss.
    • He and his great-grandson, Enrique, have the same excited enthusiasm for Miguel following in their footsteps.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: In the epilogue, three important changes happen in his appearance — First, his bones have become pure white like the skeletons which show he's been revitalized. Second, he now sports a pair of shoes as a sign he's back in the Rivera family. Thirdly, he now has a vest and pants that aren't tattered, showing he's no longer going to be forgotten.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: He speaks in an odd, goofy tone of voice which becomes deeper and more serious when he's singing.
  • Skeletal Musician: He still sings and plays guitar despite being dead.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: His relationship with Imelda — His song, "Un Poco Loco" was written about her (as confirmed by Lee Unkrich), which details how she makes him crazy but he still loves her. On Imelda's side, she was rightfully upset with him for leaving their family but slapped Ernesto with her shoe for killing "the love of [her] life".
  • Stepford Smiler: He can play the role of a cheerful, slimy-yet-charming conman to the hilt, but it quickly becomes apparent he is not a happy guy. The mask finally falls away when he realizes his own best friend murdered him in cold blood, and shatters entirely when he begins to feel Coco forgetting him.
  • Supernaturally Young Parent: He died at the age of 21 while Coco was still a toddler. Coco doesn't pass away until she's 100 years old and thus appears much older than both her parents when they reunited in the afterlife.
  • Technician Versus Performer: Has shades of this with Ernesto. Héctor is the sincere, 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 Héctor originally wrote it as a lullaby for his beloved daughter. And then, there's that Ernesto stole Héctor's songs because he knew he wasn't gifted enough to make it on his own artistic merit.
  • Tempting Fate: In his flashback, Héctor tells Ernesto "hate me if you want, but my mind is made up". Ernesto makes good on that, and Héctor's life ended from there.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: At the end of the film, the fame and fortune that formerly belonged to Ernesto is now given to him, he gets forgiven by Imelda and finally sees his precious Coco again.
  • Together in Death: The epilogue shows that Héctor was finally able to reunite with Coco after she died.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Let's see, he lived in squalor, was teased for dying in a way he didn't, was forgotten and hated by his family, watched his friend living the high life without giving him any credit for the music he wrote, couldn't cross the bridge to see his daughter one last time, is on the verge of dying the true death, and then he learns that he was murdered by his best friend on the night that he was trying to return home to his family. It's amazing the guy has any sanity left.
  • The Trickster: He often lies and tricks other citizens, mostly because he is desperately poor and needs things they are unwilling to give him unless he hoodwinks them into doing so.
  • Undignified Death: Some of the residents of the Land of the Dead mock him for supposedly choking to death on a chorizo, though he claims it was actually the result of food poisoning. Subverted later, as it's discovered it wasn't food poisoning that did him in.
  • Un-person: There is a reason why there are no offerings set out for him in the world of the living... After all, he is Miguel's great-great grandfather, the man who disappeared from his family's life and triggered a whole tradition of hating and shunning music. He had every intention to come back, really, but his partner had other plans...
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: After he was killed by Ernesto while trying to return home, he's indirectly responsible for causing his wife to forbid the Riveras from playing music.
  • Villainous Gold Tooth: His gold tooth adds to his initial image as a shifty Con Man. However, it's eventually made clear that he isn't as shifty as he looks.
  • Vindicated by History: An In-Universe example, since, as shown in the epilogue, he's revealed to be the actual talent behind de la Cruz's music. As such, the Ernesto de la Cruz crypt was permanently desecrated by a sign saying to forget him, and Héctor is remembered as the actual musical genius.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Despite his limited screen time, it's implied this is his relationship with Chicharrón since the former steals from the latter all the time, but Chicharrón still asks him to play his favorite song on the guitar.
  • Walking Spoiler: He's Miguel's real great-great grandfather and the genius behind the songs that Ernesto stole credit from.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After the Land of the Dead talent show, Héctor calls Miguel out on needlessly risking both their lives by trying to get Ernesto's blessing rather than that of his more attainable relatives.
  • Written for My Kids: In-Universe; "Remember Me" was originally written by him as a present to his daughter, who is the film's eponymous character.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: What Héctor knows is happening to him, which is why he's especially desperate to see his daughter one final time.

Rivera Family


    Abuelita Elena
"No music!"
Voiced by: Renée Victor (English), Angélica Maria (Latin American Spanish)note 

The current matron of the family, the grandmother of Miguel, and the ultimate enforcer of the Rivera family's ban on music. She loves her family very much and will do anything to protect them. But when she gets angry, she wields a mean slipper.

  • Almighty Mom: Or "Almighty Grandmother" in Elena's case. She's the dominant voice in the living Rivera household, with her word being law. A lot of the conflict in the beginning of the film stems from her adamant refusal to allow Miguel to experience music in any kind, with no one else being able to raise a word to stop her.
  • Anger Born of Worry: She gets angry at Miguel because she just doesn't want Miguel to lose sight of his family.
  • Apron Matron: The firm, no-nonsense matriarch of the Riveras who nonetheless loves all her family members deeply and has their best intentions in mind. She looks the trope, too, as she's a rather stocky woman wearing an apron.
  • Berserk Button: It's not a good idea to do anything relating to music around her, especially Ernesto de la Cruz, given how much Imelda and the Riveras disliked music. At least until the end of the film, where she finally gets over it and reaccepts music.
  • Big Good: For the living family members of the Riveras as she is the matriarch there.
  • Character Catchphrase: She says "No music!" four times at the beginning of the movie.
    • First, when she sees Miguel blowing into a glass bottle and confiscates it.
    • Second, when she hears music playing from a passing Pizza Planet truck and shuts the window.
    • Third, when she scares away some drunken musicians singing "La Llorona".
    • And fourth, when she destroys Miguel's homemade guitar for insulting the ofrenda.
  • Doting Grandparent: She has a soft spot towards her grandson Miguel, even if she's overprotective of him.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": We only hear her given name from Mamá Coco near the end of the film.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Mother: A grandmother example. Elena resorts to drastic measures to stop Miguel's musical ambitions. Forms of measures include chasing off any musicians that come close to Miguel using her chancla, destroying his guitar in front of the Riveras to make a point, and so on. She eventually reconsiders when Miguel revitalizes Coco with "Remember Me" and when the family learns the truth about what happened to Héctor and what he's really like.
  • Generation Xerox: Miguel narrates that Elena runs the family exactly like Imelda used to, including banning music, having her fierce temper and her overprotective love for her family.
  • Good Is Not Nice: On first viewing and indeed most of the film, she could be a difficult character to like even if her heart's in the right place.
  • Good Parents: Despite making a catastrophic mistake by forbidding Miguel from playing music, she's ultimately a good grandmother and Miguel loves her dearly despite their differing positions on music.
  • Granny Classic: She is a fierce but doting grandmother in an apron who loves to feed her family.
  • Irony: By forbidding Miguel from exploring his passion for music and completely destroying his guitar, Elena inadvertently drives Miguel to pull a Screw This, I'm Outta Here and steal Ernesto's guitar in order to participate in the talent show, which is exactly the outcome she wanted to avoid.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sure, she can go overboard especially in the case of Miguel's interest in music, but she's a loving grandmother underneath it all. That said, she completely understood when Miguel went against the taboo to save Mama Coco.
  • Large Ham: She has a boisterous personality, especially when it comes to enforcing her family's ban on music.
    Elena: No music!!!
  • Mama Bear: She's protective of all her descendants and grandson. When she catches Miguel about to perform for a mariachi musician, she practically accuses the man of trying to corrupt her grandson and whacks him with her shoe.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: She's slightly shorter than Miguel. "Abuelita" even means "Little Grandmother".
  • My Beloved Smother: Although she's Miguel's grandmother, Elena can be quite overprotective, watching him at every hour of the day to keep his mind off of music and making him eat more when he doesn't really want to.
    Elena: [putting tamales on Miguel's plate] Here, have some more.
    Miguel: [gently] No, gracias.note 
    Elena: [threatening] I asked if you would like more ta-ma-les....
    Miguel: [nervous with a pause] S-sí?note 
    Elena: [happily as she loads tamales on Miguel's plate] That's what I thought you said.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After she destroys Miguel's guitar, she has a visible look of guilt on her face when Miguel runs off.
  • Never Mess with Granny: She threatens a maraiachi singer with her shoe when she sees him talking to Miguel. And the look on her face as she first comes up to him makes it abundantly clear that it is not a good idea to get on her wrong side.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Wears a pink apron.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Even if she continues the family's ban on music started by Imelda, Elena is willing to listen to Miguel and values her family above all else.
  • Say My Name: Screams Miguel's name angrily just as he is about to play guitar for the mariachi guy. Doubles as Incoming Ham.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: She fears that allowing Miguel to pursue music will cause him to abandon his family, so much so that she destroys his painstakingly handcrafted guitar so he has no instrument to play for a local music talent show. Unfortunately this has the exact opposite intended effect, as a heartbroken and angry Miguel denounces the family before running off.
  • Shared Family Quirks: It seems Elena inherited quirks from both her grandparents. A fierce attitude and affinity for using shoes for weapons from Imelda, and smothering affection for her family (down to how they hug and kiss their loved ones) from Héctor.
  • Shoe Slap: Wields the traditional and feared weapon of choice of Mexican mothers: La Chancla. She doesn't use it on her family in the film, though she smacks a mariachi around to keep him away from Miguel and then throws it at Dante to keep him away from her.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Her sister Victoria is quiet, stoic, and proper, while Elena is loud, fierce and bombastic.
  • So Proud of You: Elena's expression and gesture to Miguel as he tells his baby sister about their deceased family on the ofrenda practically screams this.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Elena has absolutely nothing good to say about music or musicians, being exceptionally irritable in their presence. But she values her family above all and is exceptionally sweet to them, especially Miguel, whom she gives extra tamales to at dinner (even if he doesn't want them) and showers him in hugs and kisses.
  • Tears of Joy: When she sees Coco sing along with Miguel to "Remember Me" as the song finally triggers her memory.
  • Tough Love: Alternates between this and My Beloved Smother in regards to her grand-parenting Miguel. When she's not doting on him with lots of food, hugs, and kisses, she's harshly admonishing him for showing any interest in music, and pushing him to join the family shoemaking business. As she herself notes, she's hard on him because she cares about him.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Elena destroying Miguel's personal guitar to make an example of why the Riveras don't want music in the first place gave him the motive and opportunity to steal Ernesto's guitar to participate in the talent contest.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The novelization reveals that the story Miguel tells in beginning of the film was told to him by Elena, who was basing it off Imelda's bitterness towards her late husband than what actually happened.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Destroying Miguel's guitar convinces him to steal Ernesto's own guitar and cross over into the Land of the Dead.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Elena goes overboard in her efforts to stop Miguel from exploring music, hounding him every time he remotely shows signs of being interested in music or if a musician so much as passes by the Rivera house. But she does so not out of malice but love and the fear that Miguel would lose sight of his family, run away to be a musician, and never come home again, just as she believed his great-great-grandfather did. Outside of the whole music issue, she's a fairly doting, if strict, grandmother. Unfortunately, her actions end up causing Miguel to steal Ernesto's guitar and end up in the Land of the Dead.

    Mamá Coco
Voiced by: Ana Ofelia Murguía (English), Elena Poniatowska (Latin American Spanish, speaking), Rocío Garcel (Latin American Spanish, singing), Hisako Ōkata (Japanese), Kim Hyeon-sim (Korean), Luise Lunow (German), Béatrice Picard (Canadian French), Évelyne Grandjean (European French)

Miguel's great-grandmother and Elena's mother. She is almost a hundred years old, wheelchair bound and can barely move. Due to her advanced age she sometimes mistakes her family members for one another, but she is still Miguel's favorite playmate and in her brief moments of lucidity still mentions how much she misses her dad.

  • Accidental Misnaming: When she's introduced, she mistakes Miguel for her late husband, Julio.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: She's Héctor's long lost daughter, not Ernesto's. Since she's losing her memories due to her old age, she's starting to forget about her dad, which will mean permanent death for Héctor. Miguel singing "Remember Me" to her triggers her memory and helps save Héctor.
  • Cool Old Lady: The oldest living member of the Riveras at the start of the film and is shown to be warm and loving during her moments of lucidity.
  • Daddy's Girl: Even with the assumption that her father abandoned her, Coco still holds him dearly to her heart.
  • Determinator: Despite her advanced dementia and the rest of her family going out of their way to Un-person him, Coco never gave up on Héctor and continued to wait for and remember him for decades.
  • Died Happily Ever After: She passes away during the Time Skip, but is shown to be happy in the afterlife, reunited with her parents and visiting her living family members during Dia de los Muertos. She also seems to be more lucid as a spirit than she was towards the end of her life.
  • Dub Name Change: She is called "Inés" in the Brazilian dub, to avoid unfortunate associations with the word "cocô"note . This also extended to the movie title.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Goes through one near the end of the film as Miguel sings "Remember Me" for her, restoring her memory and remembering her father Héctor.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Due to her age, she can barely open her eyes anymore. That is until the end when her memories of her father returns to her and she becomes active, her eyes become quite expressive.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Coco has kept her braids from her youth. Which makes it doubly heartbreaking when you see Héctor's flashbacks with Coco when she was just a young child.
  • Granny Classic: She sits in her wheelchair with a shawl very contentedly and is very attentive (in her own way) to Miguel.
  • Hairstyle Inertia: She wore pigtails from her childhood to old age, and is even shown wearing them in the afterlife.
  • Healthy in Heaven: In life, she has to use a wheelchair and can barely move, and her mental state is also affected thanks to what's all but stated to be dementia. But by the end of the film, after she passed away during the Time Skip, she can walk fine and is clearly more lively and lucid in the afterlife.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: In a sense, we never see her as a younger woman but flashbacks and the ofrenda photo reveal she was an adorable toddler.
  • I Will Wait for You: She never stopped loving her father Héctor and always waited for him, keeping all of his letters and the torn part of the family photo with his his face on it. This still persists in her old age, as due to what's all but stated to be dementia, she still thinks he'll come home to her even though he's long since passed away. In the end, her holding on to Héctor's photo and letters is what ensures that he'll still live on in the Land of the Dead.
  • Killed Offscreen: Possibly the most benevolent version of this trope, given her age. She died sometime before the Time Skip in the final scene. Her death also means she's reunited with her father and mother.
  • Miniature Senior Citizen: Her height is hard to make out since she's wheelchair-bound, but it seems she's barely taller than Miguel. In the end, once she passes on, we see her finally reunited with Héctor (who appears to be of an average adult's height) in the Land of the Dead. She stands just a little above his waist, playing this trope straight.
  • Morality Pet: Due to her extremely old age, she functions this way for much of her family.
    • To Miguel. Despite being an impulsive Black Sheep who tries to sneak away from his family to play music at every opportunity, he gladly spends lots of time with her, keeps her involved in his life, and helps take care of her.
    • To Elena. Despite being a tough matriarch who rules her family with an iron fist, she's shown to be very gentle when interacting with her mother.
    • To Mamá Imelda. She "mattered more than music," reminding Miguel that the shoe business and even the music ban aren't just boring, spiteful family traditions, but Imelda acting out of love.
    • To her father, Héctor. His love for his daughter is what inspired his world-famous songs, convinced him to quit show business to come home to her (which also led to his murder at Ernesto's hands), and ultimately redeems his Con Artist ways in Miguel's (and the audience's) eyes.
    • To the living Rivera family. When the family sees how happy Coco is to hear Miguel sing "Remember Me" at the end, they're so moved they lift their ban on music and support Miguel's dream of becoming a musician.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: She and her husband Julio are notably not intimate with each other when we see them in the afterlife, in stark contrast to her parents who are belligerent for most of their scenes until the ending. Granted, we have no idea how long she had been dead at this point, so it's entirely possible the emotional shock of their reunion had simply faded.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Her real name is "Socorro," but no one ever calls her that.
  • Only Sane Woman: She's the only living Rivera other than Miguel who is against the "no music" rule.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: She outlived her daughter Victoria.
  • The Pollyanna: Her (living) relatives sans Miguel are visibly more bitter over her Disappeared Dad's Parental Abandonment than she herself was. And that says a lot about her character considering she's also a widow and had one child whom she Outlived.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: A realistic example, and played very sympathetically. She clearly has some kind of dementia due to her advanced age, as she's often deeply submerged in her memories of her deceased father (who she still thinks will come home), and sometimes fails to recognize her family members, either misnaming them or downright asking them who they are. Her family, however, understands this is due to her extreme age and continue to talk to her. Her dementia actually plays into the plot: she's the only living person who knew Héctor in life and still remembers him, but since her memories of him are slipping, it's only a matter of time before she forgets completely and Héctor disappears for good from the Land of the Dead. Fortunately, she subverts this towards the end of the film when Miguel plays her the song Héctor wrote for her, which triggers her memories of her dad and snaps her back into reality, making her much more lucid as she talks to her family while reminiscing about Héctor.
  • 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.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Oh, huge impact, her memories of her late father is the only thing keeping Héctor alive in the Spirit World, since nobody else cares about him. Héctor would have suffered the final death had it not been for Miguel revealing the truth to his family. Her keeping Héctor‘s letters also allow karma to finally catch up to Ernesto in the world of the living. There’s a reason the movie is named after her: she is basically the bridge that connects the living and the dead Riveras, all of them being victims to Ernesto's treachery.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Late in the film, it's revealed that she kept the part of the photo in the ofrenda with Héctor's face that was ripped off, along with all the letters with song lyrics Héctor sent her when he was traveling as a musician. The former means that Héctor can have his picture in the ofrenda next year and finally come back, while the latter is definitive proof that Ernesto is a fraud and Héctor was the true author of his songs, giving Héctor the credit he deserved.
  • Undying Loyalty: Of all the grown Riveras, she appears to be the only one that does not hold a grudge against her musician dad. It was unclear as to whether she's always been like that, or if she was as resentful as Imelda and Elena until she mellowed out with age, but she genuinely seems to have forgiven her father at this point, and still wishes for him to come back in her old age. So much so that she's been keeping Héctor's face that was ripped from the family photo in la ofrenda, along with all the letters he sent her, for nearly an entire century. She did it despite the fact that Mamá Imelda would've probably lost it if she found them. The novelization confirms that she never held a grudge against Héctor for leaving and, in the past, rebelled in secret, until she hurt her ankle after a bout of dancing.

    Papá Enrique
"We've never known anything about this man! But whoever he was, he still abandoned his family. This is no future for my son."
Voiced by: Jaime Camil (English), César Costa (Latin American Spanish)note 

The father of Miguel Rivera and son of Elena Rivera.

  • Character Development: Subtle, but present. When Elena destroys Miguel's beloved guitar, Enrique looks visibly horrified but can't bring himself to defy her, with tragic consequences. Near the end, when Miguel returns home and starts to sing to Coco, Elena attempts to intervene again. This time around, Enrique has Elena listen to him in his Pet the Dog moment, which gives the film its Surprisingly Happy Ending.
  • Everyone Has Standards: He adheres to the family tradition of banning music, but he knows that Elena's efforts to uphold the ban to the point of destroying Miguel's guitar understandably is going too far, even for him. That said, he had to step in and hold her back the second time Miguel is about to play a guitar, especially since he's breaking their "no music" rule for unselfish reasons.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Like the rest of the Riveras, Enrique would rather see Miguel become a shoemaker than a musician.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Indeed looks very much like Jaime Camil full-on.
  • Pet the Dog: While he believes in the family's ban on music, he attempts to stop Elena from breaking Miguel's guitar and, at the end of the film, prevents her from stopping Miguel who is singing "Remember Me" to Coco.
  • Properly Paranoid: Though he is in favor of the music ban, Enrique knows that if Elena goes too far with it, it might cause a strain with their relationship with Miguel. He is proven right when she destroys Miguel's guitar and he runs away.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Enrique continues the Riveras' generation-long stance against music. But like Elena, he doesn't do so out of malice, but out of love as he doesn't want Miguel to lose sight of his family in pursuing his dreams.

    Mamá Luisa
"The petals guide our ancestors home. We don't want their spirits to get lost. We want them to come, and enjoy all the food and drinks on the ofrenda, sínote ?"
Voiced by: Sofía Espinosa (English and Latin American Spanish)note 

Miguel's mother, she's pregnant with her second child for most of the film.

  • Babies Ever After: At the end of the film, her second child ends up being a girl and she and her husband name their new daughter after Mama Coco.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Mother: Like the rest of the Riveras, Luisa wants Miguel to follow the family's shoemaking business instead of being a musician.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: She's an animated version of Sofía Espinosa, right down to the face and small ponytail.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Wears a pink apron.
  • Tomboyish Ponytail: Has her hair styled in a small, loose ponytail.

    Primo Abel
Voiced by: Polo Rojas (English), Luis Ángel Rodríguez Sedano (Latin American Spanish)

Miguel’s older cousin.

  • Fan: He's frequently seen wearing a Selección de fútbol de México shirt.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: At least by Rivera family standards, he and his younger sister seem to be seen as the siblings responsible for "foolish" Miguel.
  • Hidden Depths: In the ending, he's shown to be a proficient accordionist despite having learned to play for only a year after the music ban is lifted.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: Of the Rivera children, he is the in-between to Miguel's nice and Rosa's mean. He makes fun of his cousin a bit but he is more subtle than Rosa.

    Prima Rosa
Voiced by: Montse Hernandez (English), Denisse de la Fuente (Latin American Spanish)note 

Miguel's older cousin.

  • Aloof Big Sister: Yes, she's Miguel's cousin, but in the Rivera extended family, she fills this niche due to being aloof and older than him.
  • Dead Guy Junior: She was probably named after her Tia Rosita. The question is if Rosita passed away before or after she was born.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: At least by Rivera family standards, she and her older brother seem to be seen as the siblings responsible for "foolish" Miguel.
  • Hidden Depths: In the ending, she's shown to be a proficient violinist despite having learned to play for only a year after the music ban is lifted.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She enjoys making fun of Miguel but when he says that he doesn't mind being in his family's offering, she is clearly horrified.
  • Little Miss Snarker: She gets some good ones at Miguel and when she doesn't, her expression shows she's thought of a few.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: Of the Rivera children, she is the mean to Miguel's nice and Abel's in-between. She is the most sarcastic of the three and likes to make fun of her misunderstood cousin.


    Mamá Imelda
"Never forget how much your family loves you."
Voiced by: Alanna Ubach (English), Angélica Vale (Latin American Spanish)note 

Miguel's great-great grandmother, Imelda is the one that started the family shoemaking business and strictly forbade music after her husband left her and Coco to become a musician. She's strict and unwavering, and is the matriarch of the deceased Riveras. No one in her family (dead or alive) dares to stand up against her.

  • All Women Love Shoes: Obviously, since she made her family business about making shoes after Héctor left.
  • Almighty Mom: Like her granddaughter Elena in the Land of the Living, all of the Riveras defer to Imelda in the Land of the Dead. Even Ernesto plays along when she begins singing "La Llorona"note  while trying to to get Héctor's photo back. However, she also becomes a Deconstructed Character Archetype as well, as the pride and determination that come with this trope wind up being her Fatal Flaw. Her stubbornness, inflexibility and inability to let go of old grudges end up creating a lot of problems for her family and herself.
  • Badass Arm-Fold: She folds her arms appropriately enough for an Iron Lady and Apron Matron.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: She may be a noble woman with a soft heart, but you'd do well not to make her angry.
  • Big Good: For the Riveras, as she's the one responsible for her family's shoemaking business.
  • Boring, but Practical: As Miguel laments at start of the movie, she could have learned to make anything (candy, fireworks, or the sparkling material on wrestler's underwear), but she chose shoes. However, financially, it was a good idea; shoes are something everyone needs, and they have to be replaced semi-frequently. It also paid off in the long run, as the business is still supporting her living descendants nearly a century after she started it up.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": She has the letter "R" emblazoned on the front pocket of her shoemaking apron.
  • Character Development: Imelda starts off as a prideful, stubborn woman with a strong disliking of music because of her husband seemingly abandoning her family for it. Having to deal with her equally stubborn and prideful great-great grandson, Miguel, begins to slowly change her. She lets go of her grudge against Héctor (if very gradually) and doesn't restrict Miguel against his love of music in her blessing.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: The creators confirmed that she and Héctor grew up together in Santa Cecilia before marrying and having Coco.
  • Cleavage Window: Parodied. She wears a very lowcut dress that would have exposed her breasts, if she still had any.
  • Death Glare: Imelda has one hell of scowl that strikes fear in all who are on the receiving end.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Towards Héctor. She's understandably upset when they see each other again for the first time in several years. However, after learning the truth about what happened to Héctor, she hits Ernesto for killing him, rushes into his arms after her performance, and didn't seem to mind Héctor's presence when giving Miguel her blessing note . They eventually get together again by the time of the Distant Finale.
  • Determinator:
    • When her husband left her, she taught herself how to make and sell shoes in order to to support her daughter, then built an entire family business on the trade. Her hard work ensured that her business and family's trade would last generations after her death. Unfortunately, it works a little too well for her and her descendants.
    • Imelda’s intentions with Miguel are her trying to send him back to the Land of the Living. Even when he runs away from her, she scours the Land of the Dead trying to find him and safely return him home.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • She initiates the music ban and ostracizes her husband after he left on a music tour and never came home, putting the love of her life on the bleeding edge of the true death and leaving the rest of her family for the next 96 years to be made into shoemakers.
    • Though most likely not what she had intended, she essentially threatened Miguel with an untimely demise for wanting to be a musician.
  • The Dreaded: Certainly has some vibes of this, especially when other people annoy or disappoint her. No wonder her spirit guide is something as awesomely terrifying as Pepita...
  • Dub Name Change: She's called "Amelia" in the Brazilian dub.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • When we finally get to meet her, she's thoroughly terrorizing a poor immigration agent, yelling and slamming the employee's computer with her boot, because her family allegedly did not put her picture on the ofrenda and the dead Riveras all look petrified of approaching her in this mood. Indeed, as this implies, she's strong willed, imposing, believes in her family even if she unintentionally scares them to death (figuratively speaking), and she does not back down when she believes she's in the right (which is most of the time).
      Imelda: My family always, always puts my picture on the ofrenda! That devil box tells you nothing but lies.
    • Less obviously, this moment also shows that Imelda can jump to the wrong conclusions, no matter how convinced and self-righteous she is. The devil box was not lying about her photo not being on the ofrenda (even though she was right about her family putting it up), and her husband did not intentionally abandon her and Coco because of music.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Even when she has visible disdain for him, once she sees how close Héctor is to his Final Death, she's instantly taken aback by the sight. Imelda clearly never hated him enough to want him Deader than Dead.
  • The Faceless: When we first meet Imelda, the front of her face is not shown head-on until Julio says her name upon seeing her.
  • Failed a Spot Check: By turning away from music and banning it from their family, she unintentionally allowed no one to notice her husband's guitar and songs are being used by his former partner and best friend, which would have tipped them off that something was wrong.
    • Additionally, the fact her husband looks exactly the same age in the Land of the Dead as when he left was a pretty clear sign something wasn’t right.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Mother: A great-great grandmother example. She's so insistent on keeping music out of the family that she would only send Miguel back with her blessing if he promised to give up on music (even with the knowledge that he would die if he wasn't sent back before sunrise). Though she ultimately changes her mind in the final stretch of the film thanks to Miguel telling the truth about Héctor.
  • Fatal Flaw: Her pride proves to be her biggest flaw. Imelda is a determined woman, single-handedly teaching herself a trade and building a shoemaking business from scratch in order to provide for her family. But her inner strength that drives her determination also makes her unyielding and inflexible, unable to let go of old grudges. She tries to send Miguel back to the Land of the Living with the condition that he never play music again, even though he loves it, causing him to pull a Screw This, I'm Outta Here moment and try to seek Ernesto de la Cruz's blessing instead, which nearly gets him killed. Her making Héctor an Un-person from the Rivera family's ofrenda also ensured that he was gradually forgotten by everyone but their daughter, Coco, which puts him in very real danger of the Final Death when she becomes so old that her memories of him start to fade. Her complete and total ban on music in the family meant that no one who might have known better realized that Ernesto was performing Héctor's songs on Héctor's guitar (which Word of God says was a gift from Imelda), which would have likely alerted the family that something had happened to Héctor.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: She never remarried after her husband left her, presumably because she was too busy raising her daughter and running her shoe business at the same time. Furthermore, it is implied that this was one of the reasons of her premature death.
  • Foil: As it turns out, she used to love singing as well, and showcases her own musical talent by singing a powerful rendition of the famed song "La Llorona" while fending off Ernesto and his mooks on stage to avoid alarming the audience. Her response to suddenly being forced to perform in front of a crowd is almost exactly the same as Miguel's, too, with her starting out very nervous before quickly gaining confidence. In the novelization, it's noted that while she doesn't understand why Miguel is so stubborn, the rest of the family is well-aware that he gets it from her.
  • Freudian Excuse: Imelda gives up music to raise her daughter Coco, and her reason for the ban of music in her family is because her husband supposedly abandoned her and Coco to fend for herself. Of course, we know that's not what really happened eventually...
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: Downplayed. While Miguel didn't say it out loudly, he is disappointed that Imelda allows the ban of music to continue for generations because of her past and not supporting his dreams at all, something a family should do.
    Imelda: I am trying to save your life!
    Miguel: You're ruining my life!
    Imelda: What?!
    Miguel: Music's the only thing that makes me happy! And... and you wanna take that away! You'll never understand!
    Imelda: I used to love [music]. I remember that feeling, when my husband would play, and I would sing, but nothing else mattered. But when we had Coco, suddenly, there was something in my life that mattered more than music. (...) And now you must make a choice.
    Miguel: But I don't wanna... pick sides. Why can't you be on my side? That's what family's supposed to do — support you. But you never will.
  • Freudian Slip: When she calls Ernesto out on murdering Héctor, who she calls the love of her life, the latter asks her if she meant what she said. She denies this, but Miguel won't let her.
  • Gone Horribly Right: After Héctor left her and never came back, she went to great lengths to ensure that he was forgotten by the Rivera family. It works so well that he comes within an inch of death when their now-elderly daughter Coco, the only one who remembers him, is gradually losing her memories of him due to old age. Right as she finds out that he never planned to abandon her and was actually murdered before he could come home. She's horrified when she realizes this.
  • Good Parents: She loved music just as much as Héctor and Miguel, but she realized she had to set aside her passion to take care of Coco and the rest of her family.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Wears a purple gown, a purple pendant, and has purple markings on her skull. It may also be a very subtle hint of foreshadowing as to who her true husband is: Héctor is the only other character in the movie to wear purple.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Stands out amongst the rest of the characters in the English version, since she's the lead singer for the only song to be performed entirely in Spanish in the film itself. It helps that her actress Alanna Ubach is not only a singer in real-life, but she's also of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent.
  • Hairstyle Inertia: Judging from her picture, which was taken when she was in her very early 20's, Imelda has worn her hair in the same braided, bun-like hairstyle her entire life.
  • Hero Antagonist: For most of the movie, she's trying to lift the curse on Miguel trapping him in the Land of the Dead but under the condition he gives up music, which sets her into the role of the Stern Chase after Miguel pulls a Screw This, I'm Outta Here on her.
  • Iron Lady: The matriarch of the Rivera clan and the one who single-handedly started their family business, which has lasted for multiple generations. She is so fierce and no-nonsense that most of her family and outsiders have difficulty finding the courage to contradict her. However, this is balanced out by the fact that everything she does is out of love for her family.
  • I Was Quite the Looker: She is shown to have been quite pretty in her photo with her husband and daughter when she was 22.
  • Jerkass Realization: She gets two. First is when Miguel calls out her insistence in forbidding him from something he loves and how she isn't supportive of him despite her insistence on family. Second is when, after still not forgiving Héctor after learning he was murdered for trying to come home, she realizes that Coco is forgetting him and her making sure he's forgotten has enabled his murderer to remain unpunished.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Though she can be a jerk at times, she's a kind-hearted matriarch towards her descendants. Also, when she realizes her attempt to make Coco forget Héctor is working too well, she remains angry and harsh with him, but agrees to help save him anyway.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Wears a fairly formal dress and jewelry but has no problems manhandling Ernesto and his mooks to retrieve Héctor's photo while singing.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Her alebrije is a giant, winged, cat-based creature named Pepita. Later on (and in a canon story book) it is revealed that, in life, Pepita was her beloved pet cat.
  • Like Mother, Like Daughter: A grandmother/granddaughter version; we first recognize her in the afterlife due to her using her weapon in the same manner as her granddaughter, Elena.
  • Mama Bear: Like Elena, she's fiercely protective of her descendants—and that includes Miguel.
  • May–December Romance: Zigzagged with Héctor. He was a year younger than her when alive note , but he died when he was 21, while Imelda's skunk stripe implies she died sometime at an elderly age (Unkrich confirmed early 70's). Nonetheless, Imelda eventually forgives Héctor and they rekindle their romance.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • She was a renowned shoemaker in life. Coincidentally or not, there's former First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, who is infamous for collecting shoes.
    • Imelda is a derivative of the German name Irmhild, which means warrior woman, universal battle, or powerful fighter — all of which describe Imelda's character perfectly.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Granted no one in the Land of the Dead has muscles due to being skeletons, but Imelda destroys a computer in a matter of seconds simply by beating it with her boot.
  • Must Make Amends: To Héctor, for trying to erase him from the history of their family and continuing to reject him even in the afterlife, without learning that he genuinely was trying to return home but died on the way. While she can't bring herself to forgive him immediately since he still left in the first place, learning the truth causes her to agree to help reintegrate him into their family to save him from the Final Death.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Has a small one early in the film when Miguel chastises her for forcing him into an untenable position of choosing between his family and music.
    • Imelda's face clearly says this when she realizes that because of her efforts to completely remove all traces of Héctor from her family, he's going to disappear forever if their daughter Coco forgets him, and that things are dangerously coming close to that. The minuscule shake of her head during this moment really sells that Imelda didn't comprehend the weight of her actions.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Imelda died in her early 70s, but is one of the most badass characters in the movie. She saves the day multiple times with various skills, including her singing, dancing, and her command of her giant flying jaguar Alebrije, Pepita. She physically attacks the villain more than once — and that's without getting into what an amazing job she did during her lifetime as a business owner and single mother.
  • Offing the Offspring: Discussed. She will not let her great-great-grandson Miguel return home without her "no music ever again" blessing, even though he will die if he refuses. She doesn't want him to die, but wants him home on her terms. Miguel calls her out on her insistence on the condition.
    Imelda: Don't make this hard, mijo. You go home my way, or no way.
  • One True Love: Héctor was this for her, as much as she might try to deny it. Not only did she never remarry after he disappeared, she outright calls him this when lambasting Ernesto for murdering him.
  • Posthumous Character: She's been dead for decades.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Wears a purple dress and an amethyst choker, and is the most commanding voice in the Rivera family in the Land of the Dead.
  • Rejected Apology: Even after learning her husband didn't mean to abandon her and died as he was trying to return home, she understandably doesn't forgive him for all the pain she went through due to his absence. While learning that he was murdered start making Imelda finally start to think about forgiving him, she still can't bring herself to forgive him easily. Imelda and Héctor do eventually reconcile by the time of the Distant Finale.
  • Sadistic Choice: She was willing to give Miguel her blessings to return to the land of the living, under the condition that he give up music for good. Miguel calls her out on this.
  • Say My Name: Similar to Elena and doubling as Incoming Ham, she shouts out Miguel's name when she catches him talking to Héctor just before sneaking off.
  • Self-Made Woman: After her husband left her, she did not seek a new husband nor wallow in pity and grief but rallied herself and started the family shoe making business from scratch, which has been successful enough to comfortably support her family of descendants for four generations and counting. Especially impressive in that she did this as a newly single mother in the early 1900s.
  • Shoe Slap: Similar to her granddaughter, Elena, Imelda uses her shoe. However, instead of a chancla, she uses the heel of her boot.
  • Silver Vixen: She still remained very gorgeous at the time of her death.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Her relationship with Héctor — His song, "Un Poco Loco" was written about her (as confirmed by Unkrich), which details how she makes him crazy but he still loves her. On Imelda's side, she was rightfully upset with him for leaving their family but slapped Ernesto with her shoe for killing "the love of [her] life".
  • Supernaturally Young Parent: While she did get to live long enough to start getting gray hairs, she still died at an age several decades younger than her daughter Coco does, and thus appears a lot younger than Coco by the time they're reunited in the afterlife.
  • Technologically Blind Elders: She doesn't trust computers (which she calls "devil boxes") after the immigration officer tells Imelda that her picture isn't on the ofrenda. She then proceeds to destroy the computer by beating it with her boot. Justified as she was born long before the advent of computers, and was in the Land of the Dead decades before computers could be widely distributed.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Very likely — Lee Unkrich says that Héctor and Imelda were in mid/late-teens when they first met, and since Héctor was only 21 when he died, he and Imelda probably got married and had Coco when they were still teenagers. This has been confirmed, though just barely. Imelda is a year older than her husband and was 19 when Coco was born.
  • The Stoic:
  • Tsundere: A very classic Harsh type towards her husband. When she and Héctor reunite, she is still angry and bitter towards him for abandoning their family. Learning he was murdered by Ernesto before he could return home, softens her and while she still doesn't forgive him, she agrees to help him. When the family was sneaking into the Sunrise Concert, Imelda was having trouble removing her Frida Kahlo costume, Héctor offered to help, but she quickly and angrily rejects it. And when she is face-to-face with Ernesto, she goes Violently Protective Girlfriend on him for murdering Héctor, whom she refers to as "the love of [her] life". And when her statement is brought up twice, she denies ever saying it. After performing "La Llorona", she energetically leaps into Héctor's arms before shyly moving away. By the end of the film, Imelda has reconciled with Héctor.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Her music ban is this in hindsight. It ensured that Ernesto would get away with murdering Héctor for many years. It wasn't until Miguel went into the Land of the Dead that she finally realized what actually happened
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: A spouse variant, her reaction to learning that Héctor was killed by Ernesto is to hit the murderer with her shoe when she runs into him.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Banned all music in the Rivera family in an attempt to keep it together and prevent future generations from suffering the same heartbreak she did when her husband left and never returned home. Unfortunately, it worked a little too well for her, since her great-great grandson Miguel develops a love of music and feels his dreams are being stifled because of the family's music ban.
  • Woman Scorned: Her husband walked out on her to play music for the world. She responded by banishing all music from the house, tearing out his picture from the family portrait (and presumably throwing out all other photos), and doing everything in her power to make sure the whole family forgets him for generations to come. Even in death, she rejected his many attempts to apologize or explain, and refused to help him restore his place on the family ofrenda (even knowing it would mean hastening his death), relenting only when she learns he was murdered before he could return home to her. Be Careful What You Wish For, indeed.
  • You Killed My Father: Once Imelda discovers why Héctor never returned home, all that anger she had for her husband was more than enough for Ernesto.

    Papá Julio
"We need Mamá Imelda, she’ll know how to fix this."
Voiced by: Alfonso Arau (English and Latin American Spanish)note 

Miguel's great-grandfather and Coco's late husband. He's the first family member in the Santa Cecilia graveyard to recognize Miguel.

  • Beware the Nice Ones: Is very timid and gentle, yet can take down trained security guards with one swift kick and isn't afraid to charge headlong into danger to protect his family.
  • Blue Is Heroic: Wears a blue shirt.
  • Character Tic: He has a habit of tucking his head into his ribcage when frightened by something.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: His big, white, flowing moustache indicates his gentleness and warm spirit.
  • Happily Married: To Coco, presumably. He must have loved her a lot if he was willing to give up music forever to be in her family.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: He's almost as short as Miguel and the shortest of all the grown up Riveras.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: He and Coco are notably not intimate with each other when they are seen in the afterlife in contrast to his in-laws Héctor and Imelda, whom his wife is (justifiably) more fond of instead.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: His daughter Victoria is implied to have died before him, as she looks like a young adult while he himself lived into his old age.
  • Posthumous Character: Dead before the events of the movie take place.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: Demonstrates this ability when Miguel accidentally runs into him in the cemetery.

    Tío Oscar & Tío Felipe
Oscar: "He just looks like a plain old dog."
Felipe: "Or a sausage someone dropped in a barbershop."
Voiced by: Herbert Siguenza (English), Héctor Bonilla (Latin American Spanish)note 

Imelda's brothers and Miguel's great-great-granduncles—a pair of twins who always stand together and dress identically.

    Tía Rosita
"Aww. I don't know what I'd do if no one put up my photo."
Voiced by: Selene Luna (English), Cecilia Suárez (Latin American Spanish)note 

The great-grandaunt of Miguel, the sister of Julio and the sister-in-law of Coco. She cares for Miguel dearly and helps the rest of the family look for him when he runs away.

  • Big Fun: Rather chubby, and has a friendly, jolly personality.
  • Cuddle Bug: Rather than freak out like the other undead members of the Rivera-family, Rosita's first instinct upon meeting her great-grandnephew for the first time is to run up (by running through her brother, Julio) and give him a big hug.
  • Fat and Skinny: The Fat to Victoria's Skinny. Rosita wears her heart on her sleeve and is a very doting aunt.
  • Flowers of Femininity: Tia Rosita wears a crown of pink roses, which highlight her bubbly and feminine personality compared to the sterner Tia Imelda.
  • Indy Ploy: As Ernesto is ranting about how he needs to kill Miguel to cover up his crimes, Rosita quickly improvises a plan with Victoria to expose Ernesto to the stadium audience by switching on an offstage camera.
  • Nice Girl: A doting aunt to her nephew, Miguel.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Wears a hot pink dress, a wreath of pink roses, and pink markings around her eyes.
  • Posthumous Character: She's been dead for decades before the events of the movie take place.
  • Visual Pun: She's the chubbiest of the Riveras in the Land of the Dead and thus has the thickest bones. Thus she's literally "big-boned."

    Tía Victoria
”Miguel, vitamins are a real thing.”
Voiced by: Dyana Ortellí (English), Ana de la Reguera (Latin American Spanishnote 

The grandaunt of Miguel, the daughter of Julio and sister of Elena.

  • Blue Is Heroic: Wears a light blue shirt with gold accents.
  • Fat and Skinny:
    • The skinny to Rosita's Fat, being a stern but knowledgeable individual that doesn't coddle Miguel the way Rosita does.
    • She is the skinny to her sister Elena’s fat as well, and like with Rosita, is less affectionate than her sister and is much more quiet and reserved than the loud Elena.
  • Jaw Drop: She and Rosita do this simultaneously when they see Imelda begin singing on-stage.
  • Lean and Mean: Downplayed. Compared to Rosita, Victoria is skinnier and has a stricter temperament to match, but she is not mean to her nephew and is ultimately just looking out for her family.
  • Like Mother, Like Daughter: Much like her sister, Elena, Victoria clearly takes after their grandmother, Imelda. But while Elena has Imelda's fiery temper and tendency to weaponize her shoes, Victoria seems to have inherited more of Imelda's strict, stern disposition and formal, ladylike deportment.
  • Posthumous Character: She died before the events of the movie take place.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: She's much more proper and stoic than her other family members, and fittingly has her hair in a bun.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Her sister Elena is loud, fierce and bombastic, while Victoria is quiet, stoic, and calm.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Wears glasses and is the one to inform Miguel that the Land of the Dead and vitamins are real. She's also able to think quickly enough to catch on to Rosita swiveling an offstage camera towards Ernesto de la Cruz during his Motive Rant and then switch it on, setting up his Engineered Public Confession to the entire stadium.
  • The Stoic: Quiet, unsmiling, and practical. When Miguel challenges Mamá Imelda's blessing early in the film and tries to get one from his other family members in the room, all of them look terrified, flinching and cowering from the cempazúchitl petal in turn (Imelda is a pretty imposing woman). The one exception is Victoria, who just looks at Miguel disapprovingly and quietly shakes her head at him. That said, she can be seen leaning back with a very nervous expression as the family approaches Imelda when she's angrily accosting a departures clerk so she's not entirely this trope.
  • Thinker Pose: She is frequently seen with this to fit her stern personality. Doubles as a Character Tic.
  • True Blue Femininity: She wears a blue blouse, providing a visual contrast to her aunt Rosita, who wears pink, and her grandmother Imelda, who wears purple.

"Inhabitants" of the Land of the Dead

    Ernesto de la Cruz 

Ernesto de la Cruz
"I have to sing. I have to play. The music... it's... it's not just in me, it is me."
Click here to see Ernesto when he was alive
Voiced by: Benjamin Bratt (English), Antonio Sol (English, singing voice except for "Remember Me"), Marco Antonio Solís (Latin American Spanish)note 

Miguel's idol and a famous singer/guitarist/actor born in the same town as Miguel. His past has personal ties with Miguel's great-great-grandfather.

  • Agony of the Feet: At the end of "La Llorona", Imelda stomps on his foot and he screams in agony as she takes back Héctor's photo during the Sunrise Spectacular.
  • All for Nothing: He's willing to do anything to seize his moment, even murdering his best friend Héctor for his songs and covering up his crimes so that he'll be remembered as the greatest musician in life and death. He ends up dying prematurely when a bell accidentally crushed him at the height of his career, and then his crimes are exposed by Héctor's descendant Miguel, destroying his reputation overnight. In the end, Ernesto's legacy is a disgraced and abandoned tomb, with his memory becoming nothing more than an accessory to Héctor's story.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Ernesto only became the star he was after he murdered Héctor and stole his songs.
  • And I Must Scream: His status by the end of the film is crushed beneath a bell and still alive in the Land of the Dead, both worlds know him to be a murderer and it is doubtful anyone in the Land of the Dead is going to get that bell off him.
    • Even if Ernesto escapes the bell, according to Lee Unkrich, he’ll still be remembered for his movies. This means that he’s essentially trapped in the Land Of The Dead with the knowledge that he’s disgraced in both worlds forever, and he can’t even commit suicide. Perhaps one of the most family-friendly depictions of Hell for a villain in media.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Everyone in the Land of the Dead rejoiced after Ernesto is exposed as a fraud/murderer and gets crushed by a bell again. …Except for that one guy who missed everything.
  • Attention Whore: He joins Imelda in singing "La Llorona" to stop her from taking Héctor's photo but then quickly gets swept up in the attention and literally takes over singing the rest of the song. Unfortunately for him, this gives Imelda the opportunity to steal the photo back again.
  • Bad Liar: He's such a terrible liar that it's amazing that he managed to get away with the biggest lies for over 90 years. Héctor is reputated to be a lying Con Man and Miguel clearly believes that Ernesto wrote the songs himself. But rather than dismissing Héctor as a liar, he ends up confirming that Héctor was the real songwriter by telling another lie that he only "took" the songs as a means to keep a part of Héctor alive despite knowing beforehand that Héctor is being forgotten.
  • Bait the Dog: He listened to a boy playing "his" song during the party with honest interest, dives into the pool to save him when he accidentally falls in, he invites him to enjoy the rest of his party and encourages his dream when he finds out that he is (supposedly) his great-great grandson and has a legitimate Squee moment when fireworks start to go off. It is not until he believes that Miguel might jeopardize his fame and image does he let his true colors show.
  • Beyond Redemption: While Héctor is angry at his Ernesto for taking credit for his songs, he is still willing to let bygones be bygones if Ernesto helps him send Miguel back to the Land of the Living to save him from his Final Death. Upon learning that it was Ernesto who killed him in the first place with a poisoned shot glass, he furiously attacks him.
  • Be Yourself: An unusual case where the villain promotes this, showing the downsides of fully embracing your passions without any regard for how it affects others.
  • Big Bad: He's the main antagonist of the film. He was responsible for poisoning Héctor to death and stealing his songs and guitar and is willing to make sure he's forgotten by the Riveras in order to keep his fame.
  • Big Bad Friend: He was once friends with Héctor, but after poisoning him to death, he becomes the Big Bad of the film.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: 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.
  • Blatant Lies: He insists that he only used Héctor's songs as a means to keep a part of him alive after his death, which doesn't impress Héctor at all since he is in danger of being forgotten and Miguel had earlier stated that Ernesto "wrote all his own songs."
  • Break the Haughty: Exposing his treachery is really this for him. The audience boos at him and throws food at him, he is sent flying by Pepita towards the bell, and said bell crushes down on him.
  • Bright Is Not Good: Wears pastel colors as part of his wardrobe (light blue in the "Remember Me" video, white in the Land of the Dead), but he's hiding a lot of metaphorical skeletons in his closet.
  • Broken Pedestal: Miguel idolized him as a musician, Héctor considered Ernesto his best friend, and all of Mexico honored him as an idol after his death. However, they're all horrified and saddened to realize that Ernesto killed Héctor, Miguel's real great-great-grandfather, and stole his songs and guitar from him. One year after Ernesto's actions are exposed, his once-proud mausoleum in the Land of the Living that stood as a monument to him by the people is in shambles with no one, apparently not even the groundskeeper, bothering to even clean it. The only addition is a sign wrapped around a large bust of his head above the entrance, where it says "Remember Me". It contrasts this with two words that match everyone's new feelings about him: Forget You.
  • The Casanova: It could partially be the reason why he was shocked when Miguel introduces himself as his great-great-grandson. De La Cruz would've likely had groupies during his lifetime, and knowing he conceived an illegitimate child would be a taboo.
  • Caught on Tape: How the Riveras exposed his true colors to the audience at the Sunrise Spectacular.
  • Character Catchphrase: "Seize your moment." (Or, "Vive tu momento.") He attributes this mentality to his success and encourages others to do the same. It takes on an incredibly dark turn when you discover just how exactly he seized his moment.
  • Chick Magnet: Whether alive or dead, Ernesto is pretty popular with the ladies before the truth comes out and everyone rejects him.
  • Childhood Friends: The novel Coco: A Story of Music, Shoes, and Family reveals that he and Héctor were childhood friends to the point where Héctor feels that Ernesto is like his brother.
  • Color Motif: Many things associated with Ernesto are a gleaming porcelain white — his beloved guitar, his tomb, the walls and floor of his mausoleum, his mansion, and his sombrero and mariachi suit. Even his bones appear to be particularly clean and shining. A white that represents his shining image as a celebrity star... or the bones of the metaphorical skeleton in his closet. Bright Is Not Good, indeed...
  • Corrupted Character Copy: Of Joaquin. Like Joaquin, Ernesto is the self-absorbed town hero and befriends a sensitive Musician (Manolo and Héctor). The only difference is Joaquin changed his selfish ways for his friends' sake while Ernesto murdered his friend to steal his songs and guitar for fame instead of changing for the better.
  • Creative Sterility: None of his acclaimed songs are really his. After stealing them from Héctor, he either sang them as-is or twisted them beyond recognition. This even extends to some of his movies, as shown by him basing one scene on the night he killed his friend. Ernesto simply does not have the drive to make anything genuinely new.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: While Héctor understandably disparages Ernesto's musical abilities as so-so at best and he's not a super creative guy, it's worth noting that Elvis Presley was neither an amazing musical technician nor a real songwriter either. De la Cruz clearly had plenty of charisma to prop up his fundamentally sound singing and guitar-playing, the skills to do his own stunts, leading man good looks, and enough acting chops to perform a variety of roles in multiple films. Heck, given how he's able to completely change the feel and twist the meanings of songs like "Remember Me", he's very clearly a good musical arranger. He's even capable of off the cuff improvisation, as proven by his joining Imelda singing "La Llorona" to keep his fans from realizing that's not part of the act. He let one desperate moment turn him into someone with a Dark Secret, when he could have just found another songwriter and ended up just as rich and famous as he became with the many talents he honestly possessed.
  • Dark Is Evil: Unlike the other dead who are good hearted, Ernesto the skeleton is an unrepentant murderer.
  • Dark Secret: His murder of Héctor and stealing his song "Remember Me" and claiming it as his own. There's no one he wouldn't murder to keep his secret hidden, such as Miguel and Imélda.
  • The Dead Guy Did It: He died decades before any character or the audience even suspected he murdered Héctor Rivera or that the latter was even murdered in the first place.
  • Death as Comedy: He was killed when a bell fell down on him while performing for a big audience. It's especially funny since he deserved it after what he did to Héctor.
  • Death by Irony:
    • He died immediately after finishing singing a song about leaving somewhere for good when a bell dropped on him. For added irony, he gets crushed in a similar fashion after being exposed.
    • Not only that, he died while singing a bastardized version of the lullaby his friend wrote for his daughter, whom Ernesto made certain he would never see again while alive.
  • Death Glare: He gives one to Héctor as they share a drink, after Héctor drinks the liquor Ernesto poisoned. He also gives a particularly bone-chillingly cold, blank glare to Miguel after he very unconvincingly lies that he knows Ernesto is the good guy after Héctor reveals said poisoning.
  • Dirty Coward: He proves to be this when Héctor beats him up, despite being bigger of the two. In fact, despite being one of the most physically imposing characters in the film (and playing an Action Hero in his old movies), Ernesto is incredibly craven: he will always cower from a fight, hide behind smaller and weaker targets, or use charm or subterfuge rather than ever confront anyone head on. Lampshaded by his biggest fan before pointing out he's a Fake Ultimate Hero after all.
  • Disappeared Dad: It's heavily implied that he ran out on his own family to be a celebrity and knows nothing about the current status of his descendants. He didn't know that Miguel wasn't his great great grandson and he makes excuses for himself when Miguel brings up him abandoning his family despite the Riveras not actually being his family.
  • Dishonored Dead:
    • He not only poisoned his friend Héctor, but let Héctor's family believe he abandoned them to follow his dream. As a result, they hated him, forgot his memory and refused to put his picture on the ofrenda.
    • One year later, he gets a taste of his own medicine when the residents of the living world learn the truth about his crimes and close off his monument for good, putting a sign beneath his bust that says "Forget You".
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: When Miguel and Héctor found out his secret, Ernesto tries to convince them otherwise. When that doesn't work, he considers throwing them to the cenote.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: The song he was most famous for, "Remember Me", was written to be a loving ballad written by Héctor for Coco. Instead, Ernesto turned it into a bombastic song about romance for nobody in general. One important lyric is for the singer to ask to be remembered each time the listener hears a "sad guitar" when Ernesto's version is loud and lively, the exact opposite of what a sad guitar is mean to sound like, further showing Ernesto didn't understand what the value of the song was outside of it sounding good.
  • Engineered Public Confession: His downfall was caused by Tia Rosita manning the camera and Tia Victoria turning the sound on to capture his moments where he confesses to his crimes, as well as throwing Miguel to his apparent death.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: His reaction when Héctor decides to abandon the music industry and return home to his family is of tranquil outrage, to the point that he ended up murdering his friend.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Subverted.
    • When Miguel first appears and claims to be his great-great-grandson, Ernesto is excited to have a great-great-grandson and quickly bonds with him and encourages him to follow his dreams. But when Miguel learns that Ernesto was a fraud and murderer, Ernesto did not hesitate to try to kill him to cover his tracks, even though he really did think Miguel was his great-great-grandson at the time.
    • When Héctor confronts him about stealing his songs, Ernesto reasons that he did to honor his friend. Then, it was revealed that Ernesto killed Héctor to steal his songs for fame. He even coldly states that he did consider Héctor his best friend, but was and still is willing to kill him for fame.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: According to the creators, Ernesto was acting out of genuine selflessness when he rescued Miguel from the pool, not simply playing the hero to keep up appearances. It seems he's happy to do the right thing... as long as it doesn't cost him anything.
  • Evil All Along: He is revealed to be a murderous fraud who lacks real song writing talent.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Ernesto cannot understand why his friend would want to give up a shot at fame and fortune to go home to his family, since all Ernesto himself cared about was the stardom that came with music rather than the music itself. So he murdered Héctor and stole his guitar and songs.
  • Evil Counterpart: To both Miguel and Héctor. Just like them, Ernesto was an aspiring musician with a certain degree of selfishness. However, unlike the other two, Ernesto was willing to do anything to accomplish his goals, including murder.
  • Evil Former Friend: It doesn't get much more evil than poisoning your best friend for trying to go back home to his family, stealing the songs he wrote, and making yourself rich and famous off them, then letting his family believe he abandoned them for his own desire to become a musician.
  • Evil Is Easy: Thinks he can become famous by murdering his best friend and making everything his ranging from his guitar and songs.
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • This idol Miguel looks up to is none other than just a despicable arrogant coward who murdered his best friend, Héctor just because he didn't respect the latter's decision to quit composing and singing to return to his family. Even worse than that, he took the song "Remember Me" that the latter wrote for his daughter, Coco, to exploit it as his signature song for fame. His petty actions not only prevent Héctor to return to his family especially Coco, but the family decided to hold a hundred years Irrational Hatred towards him for not returning.
    • Not only did he kill the man who wrote all of his music, he also decides to gloat about it by adding the exact way he killed him to one of his movies. This comes to bite him when his own victim sees the movie and deduces that De La Cruz murdered him.
    • Ernesto trying to stop Miguel from placing Héctor's photo on the family ofrenda is BUCKETS of this. As far as anyone knew at that point, there was no proof of what Ernesto had done, as far as Ernesto knew it wouldn't have changed much in the world of the living to let Miguel go back with the picture, after all who would believe a 12-year-old who claims that one of the greatest musicians in the country was a murdering fraud? There is no reason for Ernesto to prevent Héctor seeing and being remembered by one person, the daughter that Ernesto took him away from in the first place.
    • Finally, he opts to try and keep Miguel trapped in the Land of the Dead simply because he learned his secret. This is despite the fact that Miguel at that point had no feasible way to expose the truth and tarnish Ernesto's legacy.
  • Evil Virtues: Out of context, Ernesto's "Seize your Moment" motto does ring true with the virtue of determination and always following your dream in the face of hardships. Regardless, the fact that he murdered his friend for his songs in order to "seize his moment" showcases that his ambition is anything but virtuous.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Ernesto is an incredibly handsome man who is charmed by everyone for his beauty and music, and almost always wears a white-dyed mariachi suit in his media. Even as a skeleton, he still maintains his charming persona. Despite all his good looks, he is a relentless murderer.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: A particularly horrifying example. Not only did Ernesto not write any of the music for which made him known as "the greatest musician of all time", he actually murdered the man responsible just to steal the credit and get the fame. Even Miguel himself lampshades this with this quote:
    Miguel: (confronting Ernesto) Héctor's the real musician! You're just the guy who murdered him and stole his songs!!
  • False Friend: Double Subverted. Ernesto did consider Héctor his best friend, but he ultimately cared more about gaining fame than their friendship. As such, when Héctor was planning to return to his family, Ernesto poisoned Héctor and stole his work.
  • Familial Foe: Ernesto fights Miguel, his great-great grandparents, his great-aunt, his great-great aunt, and his great-great granduncles while trying to keep Miguel from leaving the Land of the Dead and poisoned Miguel's great-great grandfather while they were still alive.
  • Fatal Flaw: He's obsessed with fame to the extreme and it causes him to make decisions that end up turning two worlds against him.
  • Fate Worse than Death: After Ernesto is exposed as a fraud, he'll spend the rest of his afterlife shunned and alone, unable to cross to the land of the living since it's unlikely people will still put up offerings for him after what happened. His only chance of getting out of that situation is when people will actually forget about him and he dies for good. But according to Lee Unkrich, he's still going to be remembered for his movies and for his stealing Héctor's songs, so he can't even go through a true death. So he has nothing left with two worlds where everyone now hates him and he can't even commit suicide. What's worse, they hate him so much that they probably won't even rescue him from under that bell and, unless he can disassemble and reassemble himself like other skeletons did, there's a good chance he's stuck in there forever. Quite a grim outcome for a formerly beloved icon.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He started out as a polite person who befriends his longtime fan Miguel, but he later drops the charade when he had Héctor and Miguel tossed into a cenote after they learned of his true colors. He even taunted Héctor of his imminent fate of being forgotten after throwing Miguel off a cliff to his death, though Miguel was saved at the last minute.
  • Foil: To Héctor, who despite his Con Man nature, Butt-Monkey status, and disheveled appearance, is ultimately a good person who regretted leaving his family for selfish reasons. On the other hand, Ernesto, despite his successful career, respect by millions, and bright clothing, turns out to be a pure sociopath willing to kill anyone to get and maintain his fame. Adding to the contrast between the duo, while Héctor was a devoted (if flawed) Family Man who wanted to share his music with the world, Ernesto only cared about fame and is hinted to have been someone who Really Gets Around, but nonetheless is implied to not have any family to visit even during El Dia De Los Muertos. Even their respective versions of "Remember Me" highlight the difference between the two men: with Héctor's version being a soft, genuinely loving and deeply personal song about asking his daughter to remember him no matter where he goes, and he wrote the song not to be famous, but solely for his daughter. While Ernesto's version is a grandiosely overblown spectacle ballad that twists the once loving and personal song into something which sounds like a romantic love song, but that's actually surface level, and his emphasis on the words "Remember Me" show that it's actually completely about himself and his desire to be remembered; very much like the man himself, who plays the kind and charming gentleman to people, but under the surface he's a cold, self-centered psychopath. Also, Ernesto's version, while bombastic, has no real heart and soul to it compared to Héctor's version because Ernesto has no personal connection with the song; to him, it was just another of the songs he stole from a dead man he killed out of greed.
  • Freudian Slip: Right when he's about to give Miguel his blessing, Ernesto says he hopes Miguel will "die really soon". While he clearly meant he hoped he'd meet Miguel again and it just came out wrong, it hints that he's jealous of Miguel's talent and skill that he himself faked and doesn't want the boy to outshine him.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: He, along with Héctor was an average Joe on the path to fame, but all that fame and glory changed him to the point where he became an insidious, heartless murderer to keep the fame.
  • Glory Hound: The pursuit of fame only made him more selfish, and he'll do anything to keep his fame. He killed his best friend and stole his songs, claiming all the credit for himself. When Miguel finds out the truth, he throws him in a cenote to stop him from leaving the Land of the Dead and later, Ernesto tries to kill him by throwing him off the building.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: He is the only character in the film to have curly hair instead of straight hair.
  • Hate Sink: He is a cowardly, glory-hungry sociopath who not only murders his best friend, Héctor, in order to steal his songs and pass them off as his own, but knowingly deprives Héctor of the opportunity to see his daughter to insure that he will disappear forever in the Land of the Dead. Then he remorselessly throws Miguel, a 12-year-old child, off a building to prevent him from revealing his crimes back in the Land of the Living. And to top it all off, he has spent almost 100 years in comfort and luxury because nobody ever found out what he did. This makes his ultimate comeuppance during the film's climax all the more satisfying.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: The tragic irony of Ernesto's immoral path to fame is that it could have been all avoided had he not been so insecure about it. He could have let Héctor return to his family and work out an exclusive deal for his songs. He could have made a film that didn't hit so close to his crime. He could have trusted Miguel to keep silent about his sins (since breaking a blessing's condition would send him back to the Land of the Dead). But time and time again, Ernesto's narcissism and pride ensures that he will pay for his sins, though the chickens won't come to roost until long after he's dead.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Sometime after poisoning Héctor, he wrote a similar scene into one of his movies, only with himself as the intended victim of the poisoning. During his confrontation with Héctor, that exact scene is playing on a TV in the background, which leads Miguel and Héctor to deduce the truth about Héctor's death.
    • His fame and the movies he starred in guarantee that, even if freed from the bell he is trapped under, he will be doomed to suffer in disgrace for an extremely long time, unable to end his own suffering.
  • I Shall Taunt You: After throwing Miguel off a building with Héctor's photo, Ernesto delivers this to a horrified Héctor:
    Ernesto: Apologies, old friend, but the show must go on!
  • Irony:
    • He died in 1942 during a performance courtesy of a large bell. By the end of the film, he is once again crushed by a bell, this time in the Land of the Dead. He also died 21 years after his murder of Héctor, who was only 21 at the time.
    • One of his quotes is "Never underestimate the power of music". It's music that not only restores Coco's memory of Héctor, but sets off a chain reaction where people learn the truth and condemn Ernesto's shrine.
    • His most famous song, one that which he had stolen, was "Remember Me", to the point that these words are engraved on his mausoleum. After being exposed as a fraud, his monument has been vandalized with a "Forget You!" sign.
    • His fan who would always follow Ernesto's tips was ultimately the one who revealed him as a murdering fraud.
    • Ernesto is the Spanish variation of the name Ernest, which sounds and is spelled very similarly to the word earnest, meaning truthful, genuine or heartfelt. And his last name is Spanish for "from the cross", meaning his name is literally "Heartfelt from the Cross". Considering that he is a liar and a fraud who wished his best friend well while handing him a poisoned drink — a major case of Ironic Name.
  • It's All About Me: He only cares about being rich and famous, and he doesn't care what he has to do to pursue it. Even murdering a friend note  or his supposed great-great-grandson. His catchphrase really shows how selfish he truly is. In essence, he shows the downsides of fully embracing your passions without any regard for how it affects others.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: If Miguel thinks that there's a family man behind the narcissistic, egotistical persona who allegedly abandoned his family for stardom, he's dead wrong. Ernesto does save Miguel from drowning in the pool, though he is not hesitant in killing him later on to prevent him from knowing his secret.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: His murder of Héctor and literally plagiarising his songs remained unnoticed even during his death, but once the Riveras engineer his confession in front of his adoring fans, and later viewing him outright attempting to murder a child, karma quickly catches up to him. Even in real life, his plagiarism makes its way to headlines, and his placard is literally besmirched into "Forget You!" after his misdeeds become public, and everything he stole from Héctor makes his due way back to him.
  • Karmic Shunning: After his true nature is revealed to both the Lands of the Living and the Dead, he becomes a pariah, losing all of his fans and becomes trapped under a giant bell with no one wanting to help him.
  • Lack of Empathy: Shows no remorse for killing Héctor and deliberately giving him a horrible afterlife for near a century to satisfy his own self-benefit. He also doesn't care when Héctor is on the verge of his true death because of him. Even his 'relationship' towards Miguel only lasts until Miguel proves to be a problem, at which point he attempts to murder him without a second thought.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Gets crushed by a bell again, this time in the Land of the Dead. It's further implied that he will ultimately be unable to experience a final death, as both the Lands of the Living and the Dead will only remember him as a fraud and a murderer but they will remember him as that for a good while and the final death only happens to one who is being forgotten by everyone.
  • Loved by All: He is a revered musician who is respected throughout Mexico and the Land of the Dead, and there's even a statue and building that contains his guitar. He ends up becoming Hated by All throughout both places after it's revealed to the public that he killed Héctor and stole all his songs.
  • Mad Artist: He will be famous in life and death, and he won't think twice if he needs to murder his songwriter and best friend for that. And then, he makes a movie about the murder.
  • Manly Facial Hair: He sports a remarkable mustache on his face and is a renowned singer and actor, whose film character is a daring action hero. He keeps it as a skeleton and, once his true intentions are revealed, it's not that charismatic anymore.
  • Miles Gloriosus: His movies display him as daring and bold and brave. He even brags to Miguel that he did all his own stunts in the movies. But later, when Héctor tackles him for murdering him, he cowers and resorts to calling security to take care of his fight for him.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: See Cut Lex Luthor a Check above. He didn't have to murder Héctor, and could have just as likely had fame and fortune with another songwriter. But he clearly didn't think well in panic mode...
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Sure he murdered Héctor and is unrepentant about it, but the look on his face he made when he first saw him in the Land of the Dead being forgotten showed genuine sadness from it.
  • Narcissist: He has his movies playing on the walls of his mansion in the Land of the Dead. Every. Single. Movie. At all times. For that matter, everything in his mansion is basically designed around him, from the swimming pool designed after his guitar to the mansion itself, which resembles his sombrero.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: He acts nice and cheerful in his movies and onstage, but the real him is cold and cruel, and actually stole the music from Héctor to become famous.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: According to Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, Ernesto's performances are based on well-known Mexican musicians such as Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete, and Vicente Fernández. In fact, Benjamin Bratt watched video clips of Infante and Negrete to prepare for his role.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: The shape of his head looks more resembling to when he was alive while the other skeletons have virtually nearly the same head shape. Also, while a lot of the skeletons wear multicolored clothes, he wears predominately silver, appearing almost black and white. This is a clue that he's not what he appears to be.
  • No Stunt Double: In-Universe. When Miguel watches his character's fight with Don Hidalgo in El Camino a Casa and reenacts it with Ernesto, he claims he did all of his own stunts.
  • Offing the Offspring: While still under the impression that Miguel was his great-great-grandson, Ernesto is still willing to kill him to protect his secret.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: He attains this status In-Universe at the end according to the creators — and it's going to keep him "alive" in a Land of the Dead that now despises him for a VERY long time.
  • Paper Tiger: He has a fairly impressive build and keeps up an appearance of being something of a daredevil, but doesn't even attempt to defend himself when Héctor attacks him.
  • Pet the Dog: According to the creators, his saving Miguel was "common decency". Furthermore, he seemed genuinely fond of Miguel during their private interactions and he was legitimately going to give Miguel his blessing to go home before Héctor arrived.
  • Photo Op with the Dog: If rescuing Miguel from the pool in the crowded foyer doesn't qualify as this, parading Miguel around the mansion as his great-great-grandson definitely does.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: His songs aren't actually from him, but from Héctor.
  • Polite Villains, Rude Heroes: The Polite Villain to Héctor's Rude Hero. Before and after the The Reveal that he is the Big Bad, Ernesto is smooth, charming, and well-dressed in contrast to Héctor, who is the mischievous, snarky, and roguish Deuteragonist of the film.
  • Posthumous Character: Assuming the movie takes place in 2017, Ernesto had been dead for at least 75 years by the time the movie's events take place.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: He does bond with Miguel and looks like he genuinely was going to give him his blessings until Héctor showed up, and he doesn't change his affable tone until Miguel realizes the truth about him.
  • Rags to Riches: He was a simple music businessman who was friends with Héctor until he poisoned the latter's tequila and stole his songs and guitar, thereby achieving fame in both the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead.
  • Really Gets Around: Implied. He was unmarried and was shown to be a Chick Magnet in his life, and when Miguel states that he is Ernesto's great-great-grandson, the musician is surprised but also believes the statement relatively quickly. A subtle Parental Bonus moment.
  • Redemption Rejection: An interesting example that occurs before revealing he committed murder. Héctor is willing to get over Ernesto stealing credit for his music if it means letting him get his photo back in the world of the living, telling him it's a chance to make things right. At this point, neither Miguel nor Héctor is aware of Ernesto's murder of the latter, so he has no reason to fear his secret being revealed. Instead, Ernesto tries to dissuade his former friend, showing he values his fame even when there's no possibility of it being compromised.
  • Rescue Introduction: When Miguel falls into Ernesto's guitar-shaped swimming pool in the palace, he ends up rescuing him.
  • Robbing the Dead: Big time. After murdering Héctor, Ernesto took his guitar, his music, his family's respect for him, his duly deserved fame and fortune, and his chance to see his daughter again, all to further his own career. However, Miguel returns the guitar (though is allowed to keep it for himself later) and fame to its rightful owner once and for all.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Lets out a high-pitched scream (which he hides as a grito) when Imelda stomps on his foot to steal Héctor's picture back.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Ernesto and Héctor, in life. Ernesto was the macho singer who was alright with murdering his best friend to achieve fame and fortune, while Héctor was the sensitive songwriter who intended to give up on his dream of being famous to go back to his family. This also comes through in the way both he and Héctor sing and play music. Ernesto plays and sings in a loud, bombastic way while Héctor's playing and singing is much more soft and tender.
  • Sexy Priest: Ernesto was a Chick Magnet in life and played a priest in his career as an actor, as shown in one of his movie scenes at his mansion.
  • Shadow Archetype:
    • To Héctor — Ernesto represents Héctor if the latter let fame change him to the point of being devoid of any true familial love for his relatives.
    • To Miguel — Ernesto represents Miguel if the latter had let his own self-interest become more important than his loved ones. What's more telling, both Ernesto and Miguel perform hurtful acts in the pursuit of their goals, but while Miguel realizes his mistakes and makes it up, Ernesto doesn't.
  • Sickly Green Glow: While Héctor is being processed by customs, a picture of de la Cruz is illuminated by the light emanating from the green lampshade of the lamp on the officer's desk. Later, when Héctor confronts de la Cruz, and subsequently calls on security to escort him out, de la Cruz is illuminated by a bright neon light as he has Miguel escorted out as a security threat.
  • Signature Song: An In-Universe example. "Remember Me" is his most popular song, or so it originally seems.
  • Smug Snake: It takes a special kind of smug to take the moment you poisoned your former best friend and business partner and add the entire scene to one of your movies, giving the villain the exact thing you said then while rewriting yourself as the hero who unlike reality realizes his tequila was poisoned. So smug in the fact that seeing the scene gives Héctor an epiphany of what really happened the night he died.
    • To top it off, the movie in question is titled El Camino a Casa, which translates to The Way Home. It can't get any more copycat-ish than that.
  • The Social Darwinist: Of the Struggler and Straw Meritocrat types. He's willing to do what it takes to be successful, even if he has to murder his own best friend to achieve fame. And he's not squeamish about this.
  • The Sociopath: A particularly creepy example, he comes off as a kind, fatherly, lovable sort of person whom anyone would want to know. In reality, he's a frighteningly arrogant murderer willing to off anyone — including his best friend and supposed great-great grandson, a child — who gets in his way without a moment's hesitation or regret. He also displays the poor impulse control, as murdering Hector largely only worked out due to something outside of his control and he couldn't resist practically bragging about his murder in his movies.
  • Spit Take: He does this in one of his movies (El Camino a Casa) with thanks to Don Hidalgo (the movie's villain) poisoning the drink. It’s what causes Héctor to remember his last night alive, where Ernesto poisoned him exactly the same way, along with the same dialogue from the movie.
  • Start of Darkness: Poisoning Héctor was solidified in his mind his "Seize your Moment" philosophy that he directly attributes to his success. On some level, he does feel bad about his friend's death, but he refuses to apologize for it, as it was the moment that truly allowed him to achieve his dream.
  • Stealth Pun: Ernesto was crushed to death by a bell just as he finished singing the last note of "Remember Me" while performing at a concert. He literally went out on a high note.
  • Straw Hypocrite: Ultimately he doesn't at all practice what he preaches. An interview of him when he was alive showed him saying he had faith in his dream because no one was going to give it to him when, in real life, he had no faith in his dream and was angry his former best friend wasn't willing to give him any more songs, so he murdered him and stole the credit. There's also him featured in movies where he talks about how to never underestimate the power of music when it turns out he has no artistic merit or care and only saw music as a greater means of getting rich and famous.
  • Stupid Evil:
    • Putting in a movie the way you murdered your friend along with the exact words you said to him isn't just unoriginal but doesn’t exactly scream brilliant (although granted, the only other person who could possibly know about that was said murdered friend, so Ernesto really had no reason to suspect it might come back to bite him).
    • Another example of his brilliant mind is when he tries to kill Miguel by tossing him off the skyscraper. Even if he had succeeded, his actions have already been exposed on live TV, so Ernesto still would have suffered a Fate Worse than Death involving a 0% Approval Rating in the afterlife.
    • His whole murder of Héctor and the complete theft of his songs and guitar. Hadn't Imelda imposed a music ban on her family due to anger at her husband abandoning her, it wouldn't have taken as long as Ernesto getting into the afterlife before being exposed due to Imelda easily recognizing Héctor's style.
  • Symbolic Blood: As he's being booed by the angry crowd at the Sunrise Spectacular after his crimes are exposed, someone shouts "Murderer!" and he gets hit by a tomato, leaving a red splatter on his jacket that looks like a blood stain.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: He poisoned Héctor's tequila, resulting in the latter's death.
  • Technician Versus Performer: Has shades of this with Héctor. Héctor is the sincere, 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 Héctor originally wrote it as a lullaby for his beloved daughter. And then, there's the fact that Ernesto stole Héctor's songs because he knew he wasn't gifted enough to make it on his own artistic merit.
  • Tranquil Fury: He hid his fury when he poisoned Héctor's tequila.
  • Undignified Death: His death was by a stagehand being entertained by his singing enough to accidentally push the lever that let go of a large bell above Ernesto, crushing him.
  • The Unfettered: Ernesto is willing to do anything to secure his success, including murdering his best friend to steal his songs, and condemning the boy he believes to be his great-great-grandson to his death to cover up his secret.
    Ernesto: Success doesn't come for free. You have to do whatever it takes to... seize your moment.
  • Unmourned Death: Hinted at when his gravestone was changed to say "Forget you" after everyone found out about the horrible crime he committed when he was alive.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When he holds Miguel hostage his demeanor changes from a calm and suave singer to a desperate and angry man willing to murder a child.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: A coming-of-age movie with cartoony skeletons and a goofy dog with a long tongue features the first Pixar villain (and first Disney villain since Dr. Facilier) to successfully murder a character on-screen (and unlike Facilier, Ernesto actually murdered another human whereas Facilier simply crushed a bug).
  • Villain in a White Suit: In the Land of the Dead, he is dressed in an immaculate white suit, fitting for his shining celebrity reputation and his sinister personality.
  • Villainous Rescue: He dove in to rescue Miguel from drowning in his mansion's swimming pool after meeting him for the first time. The creators make it clear he did it out of "common decency".
  • Villain Song: His version of "Remember Me". It was originally a soft and solemn ballad that Héctor wrote for Coco so that she could remember him; Ernesto eventually twisted it into a big showstopping number that the world could remember him for. The way they perform the songs best represents them; the songwriter wrote a heartfelt ballad for someone he knew for her, and the singer portrayed it as a bombastic number aimed at no one so that everyone will idolize him. Even though it doesn't fit the way a villain song is usually sung, namely the villain singing about his evil intentions, it's instead the context of stealing something personal and using it for personal gain that is later revealed when Miguel learns where the song came from.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Despite being the Big Bad of the film, Ernesto's quite beloved in his home country and in the Land of the Dead. At least until the Rivera family exposes his evil intentions at the Sunrise Spectacular.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Héctor claims they used to be friends and he taught Ernesto everything he knows, even though they don't associate currently. Since it's Héctor it's hard to know how truthful he's being at first. It turns out that they were best friends but that ended because Ernesto took credit for all of Héctor's songs after he died in 1921. Then moments after the audience finds that out, Héctor finds out Ernesto actually murdered him for those songs making him a Big Bad Friend.
  • Wicked Pretentious: He's a musician, singer, and actor who's proficient with folk songs like "La Llorona" as well as modern ones, and he takes the time to admire Miguel's performance. However, he has no genuine appreciation for whatever art form he performs. Everything he does, he does for fame and attention.
  • Would Hurt a Child: He's willing to throw Miguel into a cenote with Héctor after his true identity is revealed. Later, he attempts to send Miguel falling to his death. This is what ultimately turns the Land of the Dead against him, along with the Engineered Public Confession airing at that time.
  • You Monster!: After the Land of the Dead finds out he killed his best friend and throws Miguel off a building, one of the audience members calls him "Murderer!"

"Like the time you promised to bring back my van? Or my mini-fridge? Or my good napkins? My lasso? My femur?!"

Voiced by: Edward James Olmos (English), Víctor Trujillo (Latin American Spanish)note 

A "friend" of Héctor's, living with all the other skeletons who do not get offerings on Día de los Muertos. He is forgotten and disappears for good shortly after he is introduced.

  • Black Comedy: He lent Héctor a whole bunch of things he never gave back, including his right femur, for whatever reason. He craftily replaced it with a length of pipe tied to his other bones with string.
  • Deader than Dead: Is completely forgotten and disappears for good, vanishing from the Land of the Dead.
  • Face Death with Dignity: After hearing his favorite song from Héctor, Chicharrón peacefully thanks him for the moment before accepting his fate vanishing from existence.
  • Foil: To Ernesto, as both are Héctor's friends. Apparently Chicharrón met Héctor in the afterlife and initially came off as cantankerous and unwilling to help Héctor, but he does so, showing that despite their implied vitrol relationship, he truly considers Héctor a friend. Ernesto was Héctor's friend when they were alive, whom Héctor considered a brother, and while he initially comes off as a friendly, caring person, he's really a murderous, cowardly sociopath who poisoned Héctor when the latter wanted to go home, showing he was never Héctor's friend. To add even more contrast between the two, Chicharrón who is forgotten but remembered fondly by only Héctor and Miguel, especially the former; Ernesto was initially remembered in the living world and Land of the Dead for his talent and personality, but after the truth was revealed, his reputation was tarnished, but the creators confirm that even though Ernesto was smashed by a bell again, he's still in the land of the dead.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: He eventually became forgotten in the Land of the Living after passing over to the Land of the Dead, which causes him to undergo a true death. Despite being one of Héctor's closest friends before the events of the movie, he's never mentioned again after his death.
  • Go Out with a Smile: He is smiling peacefully when he vanishes from existence, just as Héctor is finishing his song to him.
  • Grumpy Old Man: His house is covered in "keep out" signs. When he sees Héctor, the first thing he does is yell at him about all the things he borrowed from him but never returned.
  • Hat Damage: His sombrero is chewed up with most of the top missing, reflecting his harsh conditions.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He is shown to be a cantankerous man and initially refuses to help Héctor, but he quickly decides to do so and genuinely thanks Héctor for doing his Last Request.
  • Last Request: He asks Héctor to play his favorite song, "Everyone Knows Juanita," before he dies.
  • Meaningful Name: Chicharrón is a Spanish dish of fried pork belly, appropriate for a rather heavyset man.
  • Mysterious Past: We learn nothing about his past, other than that he was forgotten in life.
  • Noodle Incident: Again, he lent Hector his femur.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: He is the only skeleton whose Facial Markings are colorless.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: We never learn his real name, unless it really is the same name as a dish of fried pork.
  • Posthumous Character: Like the rest of the skeleton characters, he died long ago, though we don't know anything about his life.
  • Riddle for the Ages: What is his story? What happened to his family? Why was he forgotten?
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Primarily exists to demonstrate what happens to those who get entirely forgotten in the Land of the Dead.
  • Trash of the Titans: His place has a whole bunch of junk lying around. Even the hammock he's laying in is chock full of random trash.
  • Un-person: He's forgotten about completely in the Land of the Living, ensuring that he falls victim to his true death.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Despite his limited screen time, it's implied this is his relationship with Héctor since the latter steals from him all the time, but Chicharrón still asks him to play his favorite song on the guitar.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Only seen for a brief portion of the film before he disappears forever due to being forgotten for too long, existing primarily just to show what happens if someone is completely forgotten in the Land of the Dead.

    Frida Kahlo
"And... what if everything was on fire? Yes! Fire everywhere! Inspired!"
Voiced by: Natalia Cordova-Buckley (English), Ofelia Medina (Latin American Spanish)note 

The Real Life, world-famous painter, who, after her death, still works as an artist lending her talents to prestigious celebrities.

  • Big Ol' Unibrow: She is in fact the only skeleton to still have eyebrows but without the unibrow it wouldn't be Frida. Her unibrow is so iconic, apparently falsifying it is illegal in the Land of the Dead so she may actually be the only one allowed to have it.
  • Doing It for the Art: Frida is a dedicated, genuine artist who loves her work and is subtly disdainful of Ernesto preferring to host a fancy party rather than rehearse for his upcoming performance.
  • Eccentric Artist: Par for the course, much like her real-life counterpart. Her opening act for Ernesto's concert is all you need to see how strange her perception is (a bunch of people dressed as her climb out of a papaya and up a cactus that also looks like her and drink the cactus' tears). That said, perhaps it was her eccentricity that made her immediately realize Dante is an Alebrije, not that anyone knew at the time.
  • Healthy in Heaven: In Real Life, Kahlo struggled with chronic pain starting with a bad case of polio when she was six years old. When she was 18, she was in a horrible bus accident and was impaled by a metal pole. She also became wheelchair-bound and lost one of her legs later in life. In the Land of the Dead, Kahlo is able to move around on two healthy legs.
  • Historical Domain Character: Since Frida Kahlo was a person who actually existed.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: The movie doesn't present her as anything other than agreeable and friendly, which she wasn't always in Real Life. (On the other hand, it's not unreasonable to assume that being free of the chronic pain and disabilities she suffered in life could have influenced such a change.)
  • Mad Artist: A benign example, as seen in her performance art.
    Frida: Darkness! And from the darkness, a giant papaya! Dancers emerge from the papaya, and the dancers...are all me! And they go to drink from the milk of their mother. Who is a cactus. But also me. And her milk is not milk, but tears.
  • Nice Girl: Despite being a Mad Artist, she's shown to be nothing but kind and supportive to Miguel. When she sees a random kid crash her rehearsal, she merely asks him for feedback instead of telling him to get out, praises him for having "an artist's soul" when he gives her good advice, dotes on his dog Dante, and doesn't hesitate to help him near the climax when he and his family need help sneaking into Ernesto's concert backstage, even lending them around eight Frida costumes even though it would mean some eight less performers on stage for her beloved art.
  • Posthumous Character: She's been dead since 1954. Though nobody will be forgetting her any time soon.
  • Unusual Pets for Unusual People: Her fire-breathing monkey alebrije, who stars in her performance art at the Sunrise Spectacular. It's based on the two pet spider monkeys she had in Real Life.

Animals and Alebrijes

Click here to see Dante’s true form (spoilers)

A somewhat goofy stray Xoloitzcuintli (A.K.A. Mexican Hairless) who follows Miguel around. When Miguel is sent to the Land of the Dead, he manages to cross over and help Miguel find his family.

  • Achievement In Ignorance: At times, it seems Dante can cross over to the Land of the Dead because he's too goofy to realize he's not supposed to be able to see the dead. Subverted when it's revealed that he really is an Alebrije.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: After becoming Miguel's Alebrije, he becomes tie-dye colored.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Dante acts goofy but clearly understands commands well enough to subvert them. He also looks quite stricken when Miguel says he's just a dumb dog. He is also smart enough to recognize the fall off the stage could kill Miguel and attempts to rescue him.
    • Miguel says he needs to find his great-great grandfather and Dante leads him straight to Héctor.
  • Canine Companion: Accompanies Miguel throughout his adventure in the Land of the Dead.
  • Creepy Hairless Animal: Subverted. Although he is a little rough around the edges from being a street dog, he is goofy rather than creepy.
  • Diving Save: Subverted. He attempts to save Miguel with one after Ernesto de la Cruz hurls him off the roof, but it turns out he's not strong enough due to their similar size. Pepita saves him instead.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Downplayed. Dante is not the sharpest tool in the shed, with his silliness and constant energy providing much of the film's comic relief. But Dante also displays enough sense to try and guide Miguel back to the Riveras rather than de la Cruz. This trope is played more soberly when Miguel dismisses Dante's efforts, telling Dante that he wasn't an alebrije and was just a dumb dog, much to Dante's discomfort.
  • Ear Notch: Dante is missing a part of his right ear, probably as a result of living rough on the streets.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Subtly. He spends the entire movie trying to pull Miguel away from Ernesto de la Cruz and toward Héctor. It turns out that Héctor really is Miguel's great-great-grandfather, while de la Cruz is nothing but a murderer.
  • Female Feline, Male Mutt: He is a Mexican hairless dog, while Pepita is a ferocious jaguar Alebrije.
  • Food as Bribe: Dante does try to prevent Miguel from stealing Ernesto's guitar and starting the curse that sets up the whole mess in the film. But unfortunately, Miguel can always distract him with bits of meat taken from the nearby food offerings on graves.
  • From Stray to Pet: Dante is Miguel's pet in all but name, being receptive, friendly, and loving. He is later accepted into the family by the film's epilogue.
  • Heroic Dog: He is Miguel's loyal pet and spirit guide. Dante saves Miguel multiple times and guides him through the underworld. Eventually, he is revealed to be an Alebrije.
  • I See Dead People: On Día de Muertos, he can actually see and hear the dead and interact with them. He is also able to see Miguel after he accidentally crosses over into the spirit realm due to stealing the guitar.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In-universe, most characters can't decide whether he's an Alebrije, or just a regular dog. It settles firmly on Magic when it turns out Dante really is an Alebrije.
  • Meaningful Name: There's another famous Dante that traveled to the underworld and back. In-universe, he's named after Ernesto's horse from one of his films.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: After becoming an Alebrije, he gains small wings.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: While usually goofy and happy, he sobers up during particularly serious moments.
    • During Chicharrón's final death, he whimpers sadly and lies down on the floor.
    • After Miguel and Héctor have an argument that ends with Miguel storming off to look for Ernesto de la Cruz by himself, Dante bites onto the sleeve of Miguel's jacket and urgently tries to pull him back towards Héctor.
    • When Héctor is on the verge of his Final Death, Dante has the same sad expression as the rest of the Rivera family.
  • Our Alebrijes Are Different: An Alebrije who takes the form of a Xoloitzcuintli in the world of the living, and has wings and tie-dyed skin in the Land of the Dead.
  • Overly-Long Tongue: Real Xoloitzcuintlis (Dante's breed) have tongues that hang out of their mouths because their teeth fall out with age. This is exaggerated in Dante's case, and his tongue is depicted as being stretchy and elastic. This may be justified, since he's not an ordinary dog.
  • Ridiculously Small Wings: At the end, when he transforms into a spirit guide, he grows tiny wings that don't seem like they could support his weight.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Dante disappears during the movie's dramatic climax, when Miguel returns to the Land of the Living and desperately runs home to try and revive Mama Coco's memories of her father Héctor before it's too late. He reappears in the "One year later" epilogue as he joins the Riveras for their next Dia de los Muertos celebration.
  • Touch the Intangible: He can interact with both the living and the spirits of the dead, which the living pass through without noticing.
  • Undying Loyalty: Even after Miguel angrily calls him a "dumb dog", Dante stills follows after Miguel to make sure he's safe.


Imelda's personal Alebrije, or spirit guardian. Pepita's a massive multi-colored winged jaguar with ram's horns and the ability to reveal and follow a person's tracks. She helps Imelda track down Miguel after he runs off.

  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: She's green, purple, and blue.
  • Big Damn Heroes: She rescues Miguel and sends Ernesto flying into the bell similar to the one that killed him.
  • Big Shadow, Little Creature: She gets to be an example of this despite being enormous: when she enters the land of the living, we first see her shadow appearing on a wall being the same size as her alebrije form, before revealing that she turned into a normal-sized house cat.
  • Catlike Dragons: While mostly jaguarian in appearance, Pepita has horns, talons, scales, and wings.
  • Cats Are Mean: And how! This turns out to be for the best, however.
  • Death Glare: Wears a perpetual one, though she's not that bad. Of particular note is the slow, terrifying glare she gives Ernesto as she's slowly advancing on him for trying to kill Miguel.
  • Female Feline, Male Mutt: She's a jaguar-like Alebrije that turns into a cat in the land of the living while Dante is a hairless Mexican dog.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: "Pepita" is Spanish for "seed", often referring to a pumpkin seed, which is often eaten as a snack or as an ingredient in Mexican cuisinenote . This name was a giant ferocious winged jaguar. Inverted in the epilogue; when Pepita crosses over to the land of the living, she's shown to be an adorable house cat smaller than Dante.
  • Good Is Not Soft: She's fairly intimidating but saves the lion's share of her wrath for murderers.
  • Just Whistle: Imelda summons her by whistling.
  • Mama Bear: As Mama Imelda's personal Alebrije, Pepita is very protective of the Rivera family as a whole. After she saves Miguel, Ernesto learns this the hard way.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Comes naturally, being an Alebrije. She has a jaguar's body, wings, eagle talons, and ram horns.
  • Morphic Resonance: As a Alebrije, she has talons as her hind paws. As a cat, her hind paws are a different color from her front paws.
  • Nice Kitty...: Unless you tick her off.
  • Our Alebrijes Are Different: A gigantic horned jaguar with wings and eagle talons.
  • Panthera Awesome: Has an intimidatingly large panther body, and is a highly competent tracker and reliable companion to Imelda.
  • Roar Before Beating: She lets out a bone-rattling Mighty Roar at Ernesto before flinging him off the stadium.
  • Stern Chase: Is the main force tracking Miguel for most of the movie.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Wherever Miguel flees, Pepita will be right behind him. Though she's doing this to bring him back to his family, not to eat him.
  • Undying Loyalty: To the Rivera family. She brutally attacks Ernesto after he tries to kill Miguel.
  • Vertebrate with Extra Limbs: She's a massive jaguar with wings that resemble a bird of prey's.

Alternative Title(s): Coco Ernesto De La Cruz