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Fanfic / Intercom

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Don't worry. Despite what the Tag might imply, this is NOT a horror story. It's a drama.

Disgust: I wonder what's got her spooked...

Riley Andersen was having a great new life in San Francisco. She was doing well in school, had fun with hockey, made new friends, and loved her room now that it was finally decorated. And a happy life for Riley was good for her emotions. Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear were given good days for a while now too. But one night, everything changed when Anger accidentally broke the intercom, a device that allows the emotions to speak as Riley's conscience, preventing it from being turned off. Now, instead of a "voice at the back of your head" you sometimes get, Riley gets five of them that she can hear loud and clear! Whether or not this is a good thing is tested as Riley gets to know her emotions — at the cost of potentially losing herself.

Intercom is a Continuation Fic, though taking the premise of Inside Out in a quite different direction. Instead of continuing Riley's emotional journey at another part of her life, it takes the tagline of the film —"Meet the little voices inside your head" — literally and develops into a budding friendship piece showing Riley’s growing love for her emotions, while also dealing with the dangers of actually hearing and seeing your emotional thought process.

Intercom has been dormant since August 19th, 2016 in part for the author starting a major project in Undertale: The Narrator's Musical (along with a complete lack of motivation); despite claims that the next chapter is in progress, nothing has come of it as of this writing.

This fanfic goes into these tropes:

  • Adaptation Expansion: Whether this fic will turn out to be longer than the original work is impossible to determine since print and film are entirely different mediums, but the author has gone on record that she'll be using several of the Art of Inside Out skipped concepts for the movie in her story to give it more flavor as well as her own interpretations of things. These include Riley's relative size compared with her emotions (see Huge Schoolgirl below), how Riley got a new Hockey Island from a core memory made by Joy and Anger, or all the metaphysics connecting the mind world to the real world and what happens when a host comes in.
  • Adaptational Protagonist: Inside Out is the tale of Joy and Sadness, a dysfunctional duo of emotions that live in a girl's brain (Riley), with the girl serving more as a setting and a way to showcase the consequence of Joy and Sadness' actions. Intercom, on the other hand, puts all of the emotions as the supporting cast and brings Riley to the forefront. Once she learns she has five little voices in her head, it's no longer her emotions piloting her but she exploring her own mindscape, befriending her emotions, and struggling to get more agency in her life.
  • All Just a Dream: This is what Riley thinks of her first conversation with her emotions due to it occurring right as she was trying to sleep. Of course, she was wrong.
  • All Your Powers Combined: White-colored memories. As they're created when Riley herself is visiting, they can hold all emotions, and after all, white light contains every color.
  • An Odd Place to Sleep: Apparently Joy (borrowed from early concept art) sleeps in a bathtub at night. It's not so bad, as it means she can easily have a bath in the morning without needing to get out of bed, but it's still an odd place to sleep.
  • Artifact Title: In the author's note for Chapter 18, Potter Phantom Kitten admits that they started the story with no idea where it could go, just wanting to be the first person to put out a story about Riley talking to her emotions. If the whole thing as it now exists had been plotted out, the story would likely have a different title, though they have no idea what that would actually be. Then again, as stated by Eric W, technically it may not count as an artifact title, seeing as while the intercom isn't the true focus, it still plays a vital role in allowing the story to happen.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • The cool girl who was afraid of being exposed who only had a single line in the credits not only gets a name, but also a backstory on how she became friends with Riley, and is seemingly her best friend.
    • The girl wearing the skull shirt in Riley's class whose single line is calling Riley out in the "Not Wearing Pants" Dream as well. She's also given a name and backstory, and starts antagonizing Riley over her little emotion voices and has an Oh, Crap! moment upon realizing that Riley may seriously have mental health problems.
    • One could argue that Riley herself qualifies as this. In the original, the emotions (particularly Joy and Sadness) were the main focus of the film while Riley didn't quite exactly have much screentime to herself. Here, the story focuses a little more equally on Riley and her emotions.
  • The Atoner: Joy is shown to be this in later chapters, as she's deeply regretful about everything she did that caused those horrible days for Riley (especially the way she treated Sadness).
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Riley has shades of this in Chapter 8, "Scatterbrained". Justified seeing as it's a side-effect of having Long Term Memory go through a massive overhaul as a result of Riley creating white memories during her Mind World Visit the night before, causing her to become incredibly scatterbrained.
  • Back from the Dead: Riley speculates that she may be able to do this for Bing Bong due to her ability to revitalize faded memories and her other reality warping powers in the Mind World. Ultimately subverted. Riley reasons that, even if she was able to bring Bing Bong back, he wouldn't be the original and would want to differentiate himself from his predecessor.
    Riley: "I don't want anyone else suffering through an identity crisis."
  • Bad Liar: Apparently, this is the reason Riley has Honesty Island. This causes some trouble when her parents become suspicious of her behavior regarding her emotion "metaphor".
  • Berserk Button: In chapter 9, Riley notices the habit her emotions have to refer to her actions in the first person plural, and makes it clear that she doesn't appreciate them identifying to her this way. That habit is so ingrained in them however that they often relapse using the "we" (especially Fear), which annoys Riley to no end.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Riley's Fear lets this out when Riley accidentally lets loose another slip about how "Idea Bulbs sure come in handy."
    • Done again when Riley suggests that she and her emotions see the inside of Abstract Thought. She gets this from ALL her emotions in response.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Riley's initial reaction when Fear tells her where the idea for her to run away came from.
  • Bile Fascination: Said to be the reason behind Tragic Vampire Romance Island in-universe.
    Disgust: "It was like watching a train of fireworks crashing into a train of moldy broccoli..."
    Riley: (says it simultaneously with Disgust) "Too horrible to watch, but too interesting to look away."
  • Breather Episode: Chapter 14, "Pure Imagination". Right after the craziness of the day and nearly falling into the memory dump, but before the drop on beginning the story of Canon, this chapter is mostly just Riley having fun around her imagination. It does have a bit of a sour note near the end, but for the most part, it's just fun, magical times with Riley and her Emotions.
  • Call-Back
    • Disgust again grades a 1 to 10 day with a letter grade. Thankfully, this time it was a C-.
    • When giving suggestions of places in the Mind World to visit, Joy lists Deja Vu twice, like Bing Bong in the movie.
    • After the...problems Riley has with her friends on Tuesday due to console lockout, Fear mentions how he can think of 37 things that could go wrong from here. Much in the same way he talked about Riley having 37 things to be afraid of going to sleep in San Francisco the first night.
    • Once again, someone tells someone "you wouldn't" to an idea that would result in greater harm, followed by the person replying, "I would." Only this time, it's Fear saying it to Riley for lying to her friends to get money for antipsycotic drugs.
  • Capital Letters Are Magic: Riley begins to refer to her Mind World and the regular world outside her head as "Inside" and "Outside", respectively.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The story started off very heartwarming and comedic, with it being a somewhat simple tale of Riley being able to interact with her own emotions. However, as time went on, things got a lot more serious once Riley starts getting accused of being schizophrenic (and eventually starts to believe it herself), develops something akin to an identity crisis, starts clashing with those in the outside world (though the clashings are more one-sided), and generally tries hard not to reveal the existence of her emotions.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Given that Toy Story and Fix it Felix Jr. exist in universe as video games, you have to wonder if there's any paradoxes with Disgust sounding like Taffyta from Sugar Rush (if that exists) or if the fic's version of Pixar created Inside Out as a movie yet...or if one of Riley's mind workers thinks that he sounds like Hamm at all.
  • Chekhov's Armory: In "connecting the dots" fashion, Riley gets small hints about something big happening in her mind in the past through little lines of dialog here and there, but it all leads up to The Story of the move as a pivot point in Riley's relationship with her emotions.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The drawings Riley makes of her Emotions and the Mind World in chapter 4 come back in chapter 19 to tip off Riley's mom's Emotions to the reality of Riley's situation.
  • The Conscience: Due to the fic interpreting the emotions as largely separate entities from Riley herself, their relationship with her comes off more as this than representing her thought process - up to and including Riley being able to feel emotions and bring up memories on her own during the time she locked them out (albeit in a very disjointed way), and being completely independent of them when inside her own mind. Because of this, Riley dislikes them doing things like identifying as her, and eventually starts wanting to act without their influence more often - this partially turns this into Morality Chain when she starts doing more self-destructive things.
  • Continuation Fic: Set after the formation of Riley's new islands of personality and the console upgrade.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Ann's Fear and Jordan's Fear both suspect that Riley knows about the Mind World and each time she's Saying Too Much sends them into a tizzy, going to the point of influencing their hosts who feel an unexplainable unease at Riley's "idea". Their fellow emotions try to calm them down by dismissing Riley's unsettling closeness to the truth as a mere coincidence.
  • Curse Cut Short:
    • Anger calls Tracy a "Gossiping little—" before Joy cuts him off. Considering Riley now has a curse word library, you have to wonder which one Anger was planning on using.
    • In chapter 21, Anger exclaims "Oh, son of a—" in response to the gray core memory creating a new Island of Personality, only to be cut off by Riley slamming a door shut.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: The mind repair workers say that Riley's lucky to have an intercom as broken as it is right now, cause any more than that, she'd be hearing and seeing things that definitely weren't there.
  • Darker and Edgier: While the story is most certainly not without its heartwarming scenes and comedy, there is increasingly more focus on the fears that Riley might actually be suffering from schizophrenia, her problems with the mind world affecting how she feels in the outside world, and the possibility she may be enduring Sanity Slippage due to console lockout. All of which are heavy stirs away from the more lighthearted premise of the original film.
    • The story itself also gets darker as it goes along. Especially when Riley's incredibly despondent mood started to affect headquarters, resulting in a new core memory that leads to the creation of "Isolation Island". By that point, the film's story ends up repeating itself to an extent when Joy tries to get rid of the core memory, but chooses to get sucked into the tube that leads to Long Term Memory with the intent to get the other core memories that were accidentally sucked in back (save for Isolation, planning to toss it into the Memory Dump), except this time it's just her that's sucked out, and isn't able to hang on to any of the other core memories.
    • In chapter 22, upon hearing that the intercom can never be fixed in its current state, and having lost the core memories for a number of islands including Honesty, Family, and Friendship, Riley, bouncing off an accidental idea from one of Fear's nervous ramblings, ponders taking non-prescribed medication in hopes that it would help with her supposed schizophrenia. Think about that, a 12-year-old girl is essentially planning on taking drugs, medication or not, behind her parents' back!
    • In chapter 25, while the point directly above is alleviated bringing a brief Hope Spot, Riley's plan B is revealed at the end—to stay in the mind world forever by never being able to wake up. Whether or not the implication was intentional but it's still pretty dark (especially since this is a 12-year-old girl we're talking about here).
  • Dark Is Evil: Joy has this view regarding the gloomy core memory for Isolation Island, regarding its existence as being only bad for Riley and intends to send it away once the energy of Gloom starts draining the color out of the other core memories and making them less important to Riley. Unfortunately some of Riley's important cores get knocked away as well, so Joy heads to Long Term through the recall tubes to retrieve the needed memories and get rid of Isolation Island's before it can corrupt any others.
  • Dark Secret: The emotions, when they first introduce themselves to Riley, don’t mention any of the events that happened during the film (though Fear almost let it slip when he said that Riley might become "apathetic" again in chapter 5). So this secret of how Joy and Sadness got lost hangs over the emotions while still trying to have Riley like them. It finally comes to light in Chapter 15, thanks to Forgetters Bobby and Paula saying too much.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Riley's parents (and their emotions) get some focus in chapter 19 and 20, when they attempt to confront Riley about supposedly hearing voices in her head.
  • Dead Fic: The fic hasn't been updated since 2016, reportedly due to lack of interest on the author's part.
  • Defcon 5: Used correctly in chapter 19 when Riley's dad's Anger raises the alert level from Defcon 4 to Defcon 3.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Riley figures that she should be able to steer her own Train of Thought. Due to her enthusiasm and her not being used to handle it however, she makes it behave in a way that's more akin to a roller coaster, much to Fear and Disgust's chagrin.
  • Energy Being: Joy and Disgust say this in so many words when Riley asks whether they have actual bodies, while Joy admits they don't have flesh bodies, but rather "particle thingies". And when Riley visits, she takes on that form too.
  • Ensemble Cast: Like the movie, there are several lead characters from the main 6, with Fear, Joy and Riley getting extra attention.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Joy has one when Sadness mentions some keywords which remind her of what she and Sadness had seen and experienced on their previous adventure that could possibly help Riley see her mind.
  • Everybody Has Standards: Anger may be hot headed and prone to rather violent tendencies, but even he was uncomfortable at the thought of Riley taking her frustration out on the opposing hockey team in chapter 23.
  • Fan Sequel: Unless Pixar decides to create a sequel to Inside Out in the future, this is essentially what Intercom is.
  • Faux Symbolism: Invoked by Riley to cover for accidentally mentioning aspects of the Mind World, passing it all off as metaphorical.
  • Filling the Silence: An in-universe example with the emotions themselves; Riley ends up learning the hard way that they're very chatty.
  • Finish Dialogue in Unison: Happens twice to Riley and Disgust, to their mutual amusement.
  • First-Episode Twist: Riley's internal "intercom" is accidentally broken by Anger, meaning that now Riley can hear her emotions. Without this, the entire premise of the fic is destroyed.
  • Fisher King: Riley's mind is very sensitive to her whims. As she begins losing faith in her life, parts of her mind starts crumbling or changing. This is most apparent in comparing Imagination Land. As when Riley first visits, it's just as bright as before. However, when Joy passes through, it's much gloomier and falling apart, reflecting the effects of Riley's lockout day.
  • Flat "What": Anger's reaction when Riley asks if you can show emotions on the outside.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Discussed by Fear in why he tried not to get Riley so involved in reading mind manuals. That even saying no would only make her want to look more. It's finally explained in chapter 16 what the big deal is: there's some especially "terrifying" information in there, according to Fear, that he thinks Riley is better off not knowing.
  • Foreshadowing: So much of Riley's day to day activities foreshadowed The Reveal about the move, in mistakes, in attitude, and even in its existence.
    • In Chapter 5, when the mind manuals give various warnings about the dangers that can occur when a host visits their Mind World. Many of these warnings become real in later chapters. This also gives a hint at just how dark the story is going to get.
    • Chapter 16 has Fear mention that if an emotion got lost in the mind now, it wouldn't be as bad due to other emotions in the cores now. Though there's another complication, this proves prophetic when Joy goes chasing after core memories.
    • In Chapter 13, Riley admits that she considers the mind world a haven compared to the real world. In Chapter 14, she is heard saying, 'I wish I could stay here forever.' It is eventually revealed that Riley has a secret plan to stay in the mind world permanantly.
  • Forgetful Jones: As a side effect of the mind workers needing to adjust long term memory for Riley's white memories, they warn the emotions that they'll need time to prepare for these new memories with subject, type, etc. As a side effect then, the mind workers send up way more memories than usual, leading Riley to be "scatterbrained", with her mind jumping from one thought to another, making it hard to concentrate and focus on what's important around her.
  • Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: After Riley finds out what happened during the movie, she doesn't speak "I forgive you" out loud, but she does ends up giving them a forgiveness hug to show that she still loves them and doesn't hate the. However, during the next train ride, she admits that she IS still a little mad about the whole business.
  • From Bad to Worse: Riley being able to hear her emotions causes a number of problems, which only seem to keep building upon each other as the story goes on.
  • Game Changer:
    • Both with the titular intercom itself when it gets broken in Chapter 1, and the white core memory introduced in Chapter 7, "Riley: Recognized".
    • Finding out about the movie's events creates a change in Riley's relationship with the emotions, and marks the beginning of Riley going behind the emotions back for a secret plan. The author even called that chapter "the end of act I" of their story.
  • Ghost in the Machine: Pretty much a given considering what this is based on. Both the emotions and the mind workers function as this, as in the movie. Though Riley herself taking this role to an extent is new.
  • The Glomp: How Joy greets Riley when she steps into Headquarters.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: Mind Manuals function as The Manual for emotions and any questions they have regarding their host's mind. Not only do they cover normal things like the danger of abstract thought like in canon, but they also include sections on unusual circumstances such as lucid dreaming without a reality filter.
  • Group Hug:
    • Riley gives no less than three group hugs to her emotions during her first Journey to the Center of the Mind: one with Disgust, Fear and Sadness who came to greet her in Dream Productions and two with the whole gang in Headquarters, first when she impersonates Joy, then a bigger one to celebrate the christening of Possibility Island, the latter of which is so comforting that it eventually causes the lucid dream to break.
    • Riley's second visit begins with her hugging Sadness for comfort, Joy and the others joining in to make her feel better after the awful day she had. Then she gets another one as a Cooldown Hug after hearing the story of how she got a new Family Island.
  • Happy Place: Riley has been using her Mind World as this, allowing her to escape from her Outside problems.
    • Chapter 17 reveals that Joy has one too, though in a more literal sense.
  • Hearing Voices: The intercom breaking results in this for Riley. Thankfully for her, those voices turn out to be friendly (their job is to take care of her, after all), although hearing them all day long can be trying at times. Despite this, she quickly warms up to them and gets to know them better.
  • Heel Realization: Riley realizes that having the answers of her test handed to her by her emotions may not be as innocuous as she thought when some cracks in Honesty Island start to appear.
  • Hope Spot: After the chaos regarding five core memories getting lost to Long Term despite Joy's efforts in chapter 22, Joy successfully recovering the core memory for Possibility Island in chapter 23 serves to shine some hope on a desperate situation... until the end of the chapter hits, where things get even worse.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: She's of fairly average height for a kid her age; but since she has a few inches on Joy and Fear (the two tallest of the bunch, standing about four foot each) in the Mind World, Riley appears as this for her emotions.
  • Idea Bulb: Played with. In chapter 9, the already lit idea bulb shines even brighter when Riley gets a further idea of how to study and pass her test.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Stated verbatim by Sadness after she turns the memory of Pizza Planet from happy to sad. She may not like making Riley feel worse, but knows that it is sometimes necessary.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: It's subtle, but Riley, for all her wonder and amazement at seeing the mind world, still just wants to live an ordinary life with ordinary problems. She sometimes tries to have it both ways in enjoying the mind world and enjoying "normal" life, but as things start changing within her mind, this view begins to become more extreme, with Riley trying to go to more dangerous lengths to try and get back to where she once was.
  • It Won't Turn Off: After trying her hand at full console control for a conversation, Riley tries to give it back to the emotions, only for it to light up again, and again. Turns out it can't be turned off while she's awake, so she has to deal with that for a whole day before it can be fixed.
  • It's All My Fault: Even though the emotions admit to their bad influences during Riley's first days in San Francisco, Riley actually holds this opinion of the action, since she's "not her emotions".
  • It's for a Book: Riley covers her slip-ups about her emotions by claiming she made up their Anthropomorphic Personifications as a project for her Introduction to Psychology class.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Anger might still be a grouch with some Never My Fault tendencies and a lot of violence, but he still cares about Riley, and even finds amusement in her imitation of him.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: Through a mix of lucid dreaming and turning off the reality filter in Dream Productions, Riley can actually go inside her own mind to see all the wonders of her mind world.
  • The Joy of First Flight: Riley experiences this in Chapter 14 when she realizes that she can make herself fly in Imagination Land. She later realizes she can fly in any part of her Mind World (or at least Long Term Memory), not just Imagination Land.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Tracy. A school bully, her accusations towards Riley about her emotion being theory begins creating drama for Riley and the emotions that lasts way longer than something like an upcoming test.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": A recursive example with Rainbow Unicorn, who was already Joy's idol in the original movie. Upon seeing Riley, she stands slack-jawed then runs off to fetch a pencil and paper for an autograph (prompting the rest of the Dream Productions staff to do the same).
  • Kudzu Plot: After Riley starts having multiple problems, multiple plans and multiple things happening in her life, sometimes it's easy to lose track of a thread or two. Or if the resolution we get is going to be enough. There are clear markers for certain plot elements, but with all the foreshadowing, mysteries and other plot threads, it can get a bit overwhelming sometimes. Riley herself finds all of the chaos overwhelming.
  • Little Miss Almighty: Since Riley is essentially the reason behind her mind’s activity, she functions as this whenever she visits the mind world.
  • Lovable Coward: Fear yet again fills this role, being freaked out about so much in this fic, but only because he wants Riley to stay safe.
  • Loophole Abuse: After struggling with studying for her upcoming test, Riley gets the idea to have the emotions guide her through the test. Fear expresses concern that is cheating, but Riley claims that since the emotions are inside her head, she wouldn't be getting help from an outside source. She then considers asking the Forgetters to leave her memories from studying alone, though the emotions point out it won't work as they'd already be faded if they were ready to be sent to the Memory Dump.
  • Loss of Identity:
    • This is a bit of a consistent worry for Riley when she finds out that her emotions have minds of their own, as the question of whether she has free will is brought up more than once. In fact, she gets outright upset when Fear and Anger define a test that she is taking as "them taking the test".
    • In chapter 17, Riley decides against bringing Bing Bong back in order to prevent him from experiencing the same thing.
  • Magnetic Plot Device: Without the titular intercom, the entire plot would be nearly impossible. It inspires everything, allows everything, and generally is the cornerstone of the plot, even if it's not always focused on.
  • The Masquerade: If you started telling people you could hear your emotions talking in your head, how would you think others would react? Needless to say, both Riley and the Emotions don't want to mention anything about their new reality to anyone else, since they're both certain that they aren't crazy and don't want to be called so. It's revealed in Chapter 11 that the emotions try to uphold The Masquerade to prevent their humans from potentially losing it (such as by committing crimes and claiming it's their emotions' fault).
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!":
    • When Riley proposes the theory of the Mind World to her psychology class, even on a basic level, every other set of emotions start freaking out all at once, trying to figure out how to handle her somehow knowing this.
    • Riley's emotions go through this in Chapter 21 when a core memory is created by Riley and they try to stop it from getting to the holder and creating a new Island.
    • The mind workers appeared to have gone through one in Chapter 25 when they overheard Riley's plan to stay in the mind world through the Stream of Consciousness.
  • Mental World: Well, this is Inside Out after all. So we get to revisit different parts of the Mind world, and visit new parts.
  • Mind Screw: As we see more and more of Riley's mind and as Riley goes there, how everything works becomes more and more confusing.
  • Morality Chain: Sort of, seeing as Riley doesnt actually run a risk of turning evil. The emotions start to function as something like this for Riley when she considers taking anti-psychotic drugs to cure her apparent schizophrenia in Chapter 22. The emotions, Fear in particular, luckily talk her out of it.
  • Morton's Fork: Riley's situation with her parents and hiding her secret about her emotions can come off as this (from her initial perspective). If she lies about what's happening, the parents will pick up on it and be suspicious. If she stalls for time by storming off or saying "I'll tell you tomorrow", they will STILL be suspicious. If she tells the truth, she might be thought crazy and sent out for counseling or locked away in an asylum. Whether the last one will be yet to be seen, but you have to admit that Riley might feel a bit trapped by her situation.
  • Ms. Exposition: Joy typically takes on this role just like in the film’s intro when describing different parts of Riley’s Headquarters, and the rest of the Mind World.
    • Sadness also has this when talking about technical specifications of the mind thanks to her manual proficiency.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Both Joy and Riley are hit by this after cheating on her biology test damaged Honesty Island, Joy because she was the one to plug the idea bulb in, Riley because she chose to follow through with the idea.
    Riley: "How could I do that? How could I?"
  • Mythology Gag: The story uses some of the film's abandoned concepts and extra material.
    • Riley encountering her emotions through a dream.
    • The Idea Fields, where the idea bulbs come from, are mentioned and even briefly shown.
    • During her impersonation of Sadness, Riley refers to the incident where she spilled milk over her homework, shown in one of the promotional shorts.
    • Also from a promo, "We are the shoes! We are the shoes!"
    • The emotions describing their appearances make use of the basic shapes that served as the animators' starting points (and predictably has some fun with Disgust being based on broccoli).
    • Riley's psychology teacher talks about the six basic emotions, causing them to wonder why there's only five of them until he names the sixth as surprise, which Fear notes is similar to him. Surprise was going to be another emotion until the crew realized it would be too similar to Fear.
    • From a State Farm Commercial released around the theatrical release, Sadness and Joy at one point argue when Riley's playing Hockey on whether they were going to score a goal or not.
    • In Chapter 16, Sadness states that the reason the console wasn't working when Riley tried to run away was because it was being taken over by a force known as "Gloom", in which the host refuses to respond to any of the console's inputs. Gloom was originally going to appear in the film as some sort of antagonistic force, but the idea ended up being scrapped when Pete Docter realized that it resembled depression, and he didn't want to demean those who suffered from it if Riley and the emotions just beat it right away like a traditional villain, since depression is a serious condition it takes time to recover from.
    • In the same chapter, some events described in the Novelization Driven by Emotions are mentioned, such as Riley's second day of school getting ruined by her blow-up in computer class or the trip to the library she made before boarding the bus to Minnesota.
    • As the author mentioned in a comment on the WMG page, the term "Mind World" came from supplemental material as well. Seeing as that term is used frequently in Intercom, but not at all in the movie, it's easy to think it's original to the former. It's still a pretty obvious term though; in fact, the trope for that concept has a similar name.
    • Joy's room and the outside of the building she calls her Happy Place described in Chapter 17 comes from the concept art and abandoned ideas.
    • Riley questions if the emotions could leave her head to show people they're real, in reference to the very earliest concept for the film being that Joy often did this to talk to Riley, until she got lost outside and the others had to find her.
    • Fear talks about skipping Appendix 113 when he was first reading mind manuals. So, he skipped section A-113, the common pixar number to use in every movie.
  • Naked Freak-Out: Riley has a retroactive one as she realizes the full implications of her emotions looking through her eyes all the time.
  • Named by the Adaptation:
    • The names of Riley's parents were never revealed in the movie, but the story shows that their names are Bill and Jill, respectively. However, their names are mentioned in the Essential Guide and Disney's website.
    • This more directly applies to Ann, Tracy, and Paula (the Dream Production director), as they were initially minor characters in the movie with no actual names given (Ann was simply referred to as "Cool Girl").
  • Never Trust a Title: While the intercom breaking is what starts the whole story, it is not the main focus. The story is mainly about Riley being able to communicate with and visit her emotions.
  • Noodle Incident: Riley's blow-up in computer class is mentioned in such a way that it can come across as this to anyone who hasn't read the original movie's novelization. (though it wasn't exactly well explained there either)
  • Not Herself: This starts creeping up on Riley as the days hearing her emotions go by. It starts out subtle, with her being quieter than usual. And...due to console lockout, this then leads to her being less enthusiastic about life, and a lot more angry and accusatory. Something all her friends and family pick up on.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The emotions have two of these moments in Chapter 1, "Accident in Headquarters". The first time is when the intercom gets stuck in the "on" position, and the second occurs when they realize that Riley can hear them through the broken intercom.
    • A collective one for Riley and her emotions near the end of chapter 9, when she accidentally mentions Disgust to her friend Ann. Not only does this keep happening in the next chapter every time Riley lets something about the Mind World slip in front of Ann and Jordan, but their respective Fears have the same reaction as well when they suspect that Riley somehow acquired knowledge about the Mind World.
    • Tracy briefly, as she realizes during her mocking Riley talking about the voices in her head, that she might be antagonizing someone who really does have serious mental problems.
  • On a Scale from One to Ten: Disgust's at it again. "Scale of 1 to 10, this day so far has been a C-"
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted with Dream Director Paula, who precises she's not to be confused with Forgetter Paula (they were voiced in the movie by Paula Pell and Paula Poundstone respectively).
  • One-Word Title: Well, it's just called Intercom after all.
  • Out of Focus: As the focus is on Riley and her emotions (well, more than before), Riley’s parents only get one scene to really interact with Riley in chapter 2, then hardly get a mention until they make their reappearance in chapter 8. However, as Riley's problems become more apparent to the Outside world, their presence becomes more involved as they try to figure out what's wrong with Riley.
  • Pocket Dimension: While Disgust yells at Fear's fear about "being seen" in brain surgery for being in another dimension, technically this is the proper qualification the mind world is. Since it's Riley's mind, it doesn't exist outside of Riley, and can't be reached by anyone but Riley at the moment. But it does have a symbiotic relation with Riley since her emotions help direct how Riley might shape the dimension's use with memory, personality and powering her different thought processes.
    • Joy's Happy Place is specifically referred to as this in chapter 17, and fits the traditional definition of a pocket dimension.
  • Point of View: The story is written from a third-person omniscient point of view, which is very important because it means the reader isn't kept in suspense about how Emotions other than Riley's react to certain particularly interesting situations.
  • The Pollyanna: Joy, to the fear and irritation of both the emotions and Riley, though for different reasons. Needless to say, as the days start to get harder, even Joy finds this to be harder to keep up, though she does try nonetheless.
  • Poor Communication Kills: As Riley wants to keep her emotions secret, this means her communicating with others is stunted, giving only part of the picture and creating a perception that isn't fully accurate.
  • The Power of Trust: Riley believes that this will help keep her safe in her own mind. If they could protect her for 12 years, they can protect her in her own mind.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: When Riley angrily demands the idea bulb to be unplugged after the test:
    Riley: "Yes. I. Am. Sure."
    • Riley does this again when Sadness tries to convince her it wasn't her fault she decided to run away.
    Riley: "YES. IT. WAS!"
  • Read the Freaking Manual: Subverted, because they do. Due to Sadness's experience and Fear's caution, they actually do read the mind manuals as thoroughly as possible so they know exactly what dangers Riley will face if she goes inside her head.
    • And yet Fear is very uncomfortable with the idea of Riley herself reading the manuals, even though it will help her know what she's doing in case she wants to do something potentially dangerous. In chapter 16, it's revealed that this is because there are certain parts he found especially terrifying, and he thinks it would be dangerous for Riley to know about them.
  • Reality Warper: Since Riley’s spirit self is basically inside herself when lucid dreaming, this means she can do something called Consciousness Tampering to alter parts of her mind that normally would be more difficult to do. These include running the train of thought while she’s technically sleeping, creating a new kind of memory, and even the potential to change her personality.
    • In Chapter 14, she has a lot of fun with this in Imagination Land, where there's little danger of her actions harming her psychologically. She is able to fly, bring her emotions into the air with her, change her outfit, and alter the appearance of the sky, and presumably do anything else just by thinking about it. In chapter 17, she figures out she can do this in other parts of her Mind World as well, using flight and teleportation as convenient methods of travel.
    • In Chapter 16, Fear mentions that he's afraid of Riley reading the manuals because of certain particularly sensitive things in there. One of which deals with "changing things on the outside". To what extent is unknown, but it's still a very interesting hint when you realize this is a function of Riley's mind, and presumably everyone else's as well. There's still a possibility that it only refers to subjective effects, but even then it could still give this appearance.
  • Retcon: It's nothing too major, but the way the emotions greet each other upstairs during mornings brings to mind the visual of a long hallway with a door for each emotion. However, in the movie, it seems to show that the emotions all share a room given how Fear, Anger and Disgust peek their heads out the same window when Joy woke them. This could've been in order to incorporate Joy having her own room, and so giving each emotion one as well.
  • Revision: The Intercom itself doesn't directly contradict anything with the events of the movie, though with its inclusion you have to wonder why Anger, Fear or Disgust didn't try using it to get Riley to stop running away from home.
    • Answered in chapter 16, though it was actually revealed prior to that chapter's publication through Word of God on the WMG page. The intercom hadn't been installed until after the events of the movie.
  • Rewrite:
    • A small one, but when one reviewer pointed out that Puberty more closely resembled an alarm than a button, the dialog in chapter 7 regarding it was changed to accommodate this.
    • Whenever a new chapter is posted, it's common for the chapter title to change:
      • Chapter 9, "Technicalities", was originally called "The Loopholes of Test-Taking".
      • Chapter 11, "Fractured Honesty", was originally called "Broken Honesty".
      • Chapter 13, "Hidden Depths", was originally called "A Not-So-Safe Haven".
      • Chapter 16, "The Story of a Girl", was originally called "Emotional Confession".
      • Chapter 18, "Access Denied", was originally called "Mission Control", then "Order of Operations".
    • Chapter 19 and 20 also had some rewrites to add a few details or rework some dialog. 20 in particular had a big overhaul regarding Riley's test confession, completely changing how the chapter ends.
    • Chapter 22 was given a rewrite so Joy leaves on her own to gather the Core Memories instead of getting sucked out accidentally, which was seen by reviewers as a rehash of the movie. It was later given an overhaul to expand Joy's motives and reasoning, as well as taking out one darker part the Puberty alarm going off, but the chapter's moment of humor relating to that topic managed to be still present.
  • Running Gag: The TripleDent Gum Running Gag makes a return in this fic as a “generally happy memory” as a Call-Back, but the fic's Running Gag itself in Act 1 was Disgust's dismay that she looks like broccoli.
  • Sadistic Choice: When Joy accidentally loses 4 good core memories to recall, and her fellow emotions catch her before she gets sucked up, she realizes she has a tough choice to make: Stay in headquarters so Riley can have the potential of joy even though she hasn't been "used" all that much during the day but lose the core memories possibly for good, or go after them, send them back up, and just hope the other 4 can keep Riley safe until she gets back. She goes with the 2nd choice, despite how hard it was for her to choose.
  • Saying Too Much:
    • When Riley complements one of her friends on her new hair color, she accidentally says, "Disgust likes it too. It matches her scarf."
      • Also, thanks to Anger, Riley snaps back "I'm not crazy!" at a school bully. This clues the bully in that Riley really believes in little emotion voices.
    • Fear does this constantly throughout the story, from saying "We" at the worst times to mentioning anything and anyone can fall and fade in the Memory Dump, and contributes to a lot of Riley's problems.
    • Forgetters Bobby and Paula say just a bit too much to Riley by letting slip Joy's accident with the recall tubes and the Islands of Personality falling, leading to the Cliffhanger at the end of Chapter 15.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Chapter 21 has Riley fleeing her psychology class in a fit of emotional turmoil triggered by a lecture on schizophrenia, the symptoms of which describe her current situation a little too well for her liking, and Chapter 25 reveals that Riley's "Plan B" is to pull this on REALITY ITSELF wanting to cut all ties with the real world and stay in her Mind World forever.
  • She Knows Too Much:
    • The emotions in every kid's head start hollering this when Riley questions if emotions are "like little people guiding us?" In fact, one set of emotions decide to throw Riley under the bus to preserve The Masquerade they have going with their kids.
    • Jill's emotions have this same reaction in chapter 19. Only this time, there's no question it isn't just a metaphor.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Pizza Planet makes a return to this Pixar universe. Riley calls it the best pizza place in the area, and unfortunately she and Anger got mighty ticked off that it was closed for renovations.
    • Joy's reaction when she finally meets Riley face to face (jumping around in glee while screaming "it's you!" over and over again) is reminiscent of Jessie greeting Woody in Toy Story 2.
    • The arcade games in Pizza Planet include one with Buzz Lightyear, The Claw game, and branches into the wider Disney canon with "Fix-It Felix Jr."
    • Forgetters Bobby and Paula mention a forgetter named Atta while talking to Riley for the first time.
    • Riley's attempt at flying outside of Imagination Land has some deja vu towards a scene in Aladdin where a seemingly fatal jump has her pop right back up on something flying (though in this case, it's herself).
    • Just as in the art book, Joy's Happy Place accessed through a window in her room is modeled after Belle's house on the outside.
    • The title of Chapter 14, "Pure Imagination", is a reference to Willy Wonka's song of the same name from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
    • The section of the Mind Manuals that deals with the Unconscious is Appendix 113.
    • In Chapter 23, Anger exclaims, "Hot Belgian waffles!"
  • Shown Their Work: The author uses real life science lessons to give analogies to things within the Inside Out universe. Not only does this help what the characters say make much more sense, but it also shows how much Riley pays attention in science class.
    • When Joy tries to explain about the Mind World within Riley's head to Riley, she compares it to Earth's mantle with Riley's brain being the inner core, like "brain freeze" affecting the Mind World but not the physical brain, just as weather effects the Earth's surface but not the core.
    • To explain why she can create white memories, Riley brings up how white actually contains all colors.
    • For Riley's intro to psych class, the teacher name drops Paul Ekman's theory of universal emotions. For Inside Out nerds, Ekman worked as a consultant for the movie, and his theories helped Pete Docter and his team narrow down which emotions they would use as characters. The emotions even comment that surprise, the "missing" emotion, is split between Fear and Joy.
    • As of Riley's morning talk with her parents, they're seriously talking about her having symptoms of schizophrenia. Quiet moods, hearing voices, and even something called Lapin mood which is an emotional mood swing that Riley experienced due to being in self command of the console.
  • Sliding Scale Of Free Will Versus Fate: Discussed when the emotions talk about pushing buttons to direct Riley’s actions. Riley for her part even asks how far on the scale they are. The answer given is that the emotions set the tone for her reactions, but Riley chooses how to put those emotions into action (whether yelling, smiling, etc.)
    • This further explored by Fear saying this is why Emotions don't talk that much to their "people". If a person decided to use their emotion people as an excuse for their actions without taking responsibility for their own will, think of how criminals would stack up with this.
  • Squick: In-universe, Riley's reaction upon realizing that her emotions are actual people who watch her every gesture, including changing clothes and showering. Unsurprisingly, Disgust, Fear and Anger are at the console at the time. She gets over it rather quickly, but still asks them to look away the next times she changes.
  • A Storm Is Coming: The especially powerful brainstorm Riley triggers at the end of chapter 16 has the effect of compounding the possible dangers of the plan Riley is forming to "be free".
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Riley on waking up after her first night in the mind world starts to experience "blurring" as the mind manuals mentioned. That even though she still finds the physical world around her ok, she can't help but think that the mind world is more colorful, more amazing, and more magical by comparison.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: Chapter 23 has Ann and Jordan play the song "My Demons" by Starset during their band practice, until Ann stops because it reminds her of Riley's predicament.
  • Take a Third Option: In chapter 13, Riley admits about Tracy accusing her of being Schizophrenic. When Bill probes on whether she's hearing voices, Riley mentally thinks that if she lies, she'll be found out. But if she tells the truth, they might send her off to a psychologist. So instead, she storms out on them, fuming that they'd never believe her if she told the truth.
  • Tempting Fate: Joy says those three words before she and the emotions begin direct contact with Riley: "What could happen?"
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Riley has some powerful knowledge that some people wouldn't be able to handle knowing.
  • Thought-Aversion Failure: Averted (no pun intended) which is strange considering Riley has on more than one occasion tried not to think of something too hard or in a certain way.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Non-romantic example. Anger was already the tiny guy to Joy - and was shorter than Disgust and Sadness as well - but the arrival of Riley, who's taller than all of them, makes him self-conscious about his height again.
  • Title Drop:
    • A variant. Joy gives one at the end of "You Mean I Look Like Broccoli?", not the story's title, but the title of the universe the story takes place in.
      Joy: "You just might get to see your mind from the inside out!"
    • The title of the fanfic does appear, but it can't really be considered a Title Drop considering how generic it is.
  • Tragic Dream: When we see more of Joy's inner room/happy place, we find out that secretly she has a dream to have a perfect family. And not just a family like the other emotions can be family like, but with a mom and dad to guide her, along with Riley and Bing Bong too. But, being the leader, the oldest and an emotion, she can never have that kind of family or guidance. And after Riley turns frosty on the emotions finding out about the move, Joy finally wakes up that all the pretending in the world will never give her that kind of family either.
  • Two Girls and a Guy: Riley, Ann, and Jordan in the Outside (physical) world.
  • The Watson: Riley functions as this when asking about certain plot holes found in the movie, such as why Joy and Sadness took only a few moments to cross goofball, but HQ moved all the way to dinner time.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Tracy might be mean and pushy, but there's a small shred of her that wants Riley to get help cause she knows that there's never been such a thing as a healthy schizophrenic before this.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Riley: Recognized": Riley arrives at Headquarters, getting a tour of the place and messing around with her emotions, but after she touches the emotion console, it starts to glow white, illuminating Headquarters and creating not only memories of her stay in her mind world traced with silver light, but a white core memory showing how she was impersonating her emotions just earlier. Fear is certain this is their first true instance of consciousness tampering, but reluctantly lets Riley place it with the other core memories, where it creates a new island of personality that Riley calls Possibility Island. After Riley nods back to regular sleep afterwards, Joy and Sadness converse and agree to each other that they’ll need to talk with Riley about what happened when she ran away last year eventually, setting up an eventual plot point for the fic.
    • "Memory Lanes": An ordinary visit to Long Term Memory takes a dramatic turn when the Forgetters drop information about a "crisis" in Riley's mind, forcing the emotions to finally start talking about what happened on those 4 miserable days when Riley first moved to San Francisco.
    • "The Story of a Girl": The story of the move is told to Riley, and several dramatic moments happen in the process. But, at the end of it, Riley refuses to hate her emotions for doing this, and seems to partially bury the hatchet. However, it's then in this night where Riley begins plotting "to be free" using information from the mind manuals and finding a way to deal with her "outside" problems. Which she doesn't want the emotions to find out about.
    • "A Talk With Mom and Dad": Riley's parents decide to look in her room for clues as to what's going on at the end of the chapter. Remember the drawings Riley made in chapter 4?
    • "Color Turns to Gray": Things go From Bad to Worse when Riley fears that she might actually have schizophrenia after all, and the emotions' attempt to try and make Riley feel something when her depressed mood started to affect Headquarters leads to the creation of a gray core memory and (eventually) a new island.
    • "Fragile Mind" might be the biggest one so far. Joy is separated from Headquarters, multiple personality island memories are gone (Family, Friendship, Honesty, Isolation and Possibility for those keeping track), and to top it all off, the mind workers inform the emotions that the intercom can't be fixed. Riley will be stuck hearing voices for the rest of her life until further notice. Riley considers even taking unprescribed medication in an attempt to fix the situation, though luckily the emotions act as a Morality Chain and talk her out of it in Chapter 25.
    • "Layers of Truth" reveals Riley's Plan B: to never wake up and stay in the Mind World forever.
  • Wham Line:
    • From "Accident In Headquarters", the line that established the fic’s change.
      Riley: “...Who said that?"
    • From "You Mean I Look Like Broccoli?"
      Joy: "Hopes and dreams! That's it! Sadness, you're a genius!"
    • From "Riley: Recognized", regarding Riley touching the console.
      Riley: "Um, guys? What does white mean?"
    • From "Technicalities":
      Ann: "Who's Disgust?"
    • From "A Hole in Her Heart":
      Joy: "I wasn't there for her and now she might hate us, Mom!"
    • From "Access Denied", which is so far the only line that isn't a quote from any of the characters.
      "The console wasn't turning a bright, comforting yellow as normal. In fact, it wasn't doing a thing. That is, until it turned white."
    • From "A Talk with Mom and Dad": the one line you wouldn't expect Riley to say.
      Riley: (in response to being asked if she's hearing voices) "Y-yes."
    • From "Mixed Emotions": Riley lays down her cards for one of her secret plans.
      Riley: "Is there anything in the manuals that says Emotions can be seen outside their host?"
    • From "Color Turns to Grey":
      Anger: (after Disgust calls him and Fear out when an argument between them led to Family Island cracking) "Well don't blame us! Blame Riley for this mess!"
    • From "Fragile Mind":
      Mind Worker Fritz: (talking about The Intercom) "Sorry guys, but we can't help with that. It's stuck for good."
    • From "Layers of Truth":
      Riley: (regarding Plan B) "If worse comes to worse, I have to do it. I have to find a way to stay here."
  • Wham Shot: Though it's in writing, we have the moment from Rage and Betrayal where we see Family Island crumbling.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Since we never see Sadness's core memory of Riley crying in class create an island, its name and function are a mystery in Inside Out proper. Here though, it turns out that it was named Homesickness Island, and after Riley felt at home in San Francisco, it eventually just became a normal memory.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: A minor case. It turns out Riley's mind has a bit of this, so that what seems like only a little time on the fringes of the mind (anywhere except Headquarters and what it's linked to like the Islands) actually has several hours in the Outside world going by.
    • As pointed out on the Headscratchers page, however, it's unclear exactly how this works.
  • You Are What You Hate: Disgust was revolted to discover she looked like broccoli.
  • You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You: While taking her third option after her parents probe Riley about possibly hearing voices, Anger prompts her to say this as her way to try and stop her parents from probing her after her hard day. She actually says this (with a slightly-different wording) in chapter 19.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Whenever Riley is inside her Mental World, she is technically dreaming about it. Unlike other dreams, however, she actually has full access to her entire mind, rather than just the part where dreams normally take place. As a result, the things that happen in her dream can actually have profound effects on her psyche that continue when she wakes up. After Riley gets dangerously close to falling into the Memory Dump in chapter 13, she becomes scared of what might happen if she actually does. She might simply wake up, but she also realizes there's a very real possibility that she might fade away (mentally) and die (physically).