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Film / Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey

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Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey is a 1993 film produced by Disney. It is live-action with voiceover narration and loosely based on an earlier film called The Incredible Journey, itself based on a 1961 book of the same name by Sheila Burnford. The film was the first one directed by Duwayne Dunham, who would go on to direct such films as Little Giants (1994) and Halloweentown (1998).

It follows a golden retriever (Shadow), an American bulldog (Chance), and a Himalayan cat (Sassy) as they trek through the wilderness of the American northwest to be reunited with their owners. Shadow was voiced by Don Ameche, Chance by Michael J. Fox, and Sassy by Sally Field.

There was a sequel released in 1996, Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco. Ameche had died back in 1993, and Ralph Waite replaced him in the role of Shadow, while Fox and Field returned to their previous roles.

This movie contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Location Change: The original book and movie took place in Northwest Ontario; this movie is in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.
  • Adaptation Species Change: Happened in the transition from the book The Incredible Journey to the film. They're all the same breed types as the original, although the dogs have age and personality swapped: Shadow is Luath's breed type (retriever, though Shadow is a Golden and Luath a Labrador) and stone-cold determined personality with Bodger's age, Chance is Bodger's breed type (bully breeds; Chance is an American Bulldog and Bodger an English Bull Terrier) and devil-may-care personality with Luath's young age, and Tao the male Siamese is changed into Sassy the female Himalayan (a Persian/Siamese cross). In both versions, it's the young dog who has a bad run-in with a porcupine and the old dog who almost doesn't make it home at the end.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Two dogs and a cat are able to communicate, even having a rather eloquent conversation about the nature of their relationship with humans towards the middle of the film.
  • Animal Talk: Between dogs and cats, at least.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care:
    • Chance has porcupine spines removed from his face while he's still conscious, even having several doctors hold him down. A vet in real life would have anesthetized Chance before going anywhere near the spines.
    • Averted when the birdwatcher feeds Sassy goat milk, which is perfectly safe for cats.
  • Artistic License – Physics: In dealing with the mountain lion, the see-saw plan would not have worked in real life. Chance jumps on the end of a rock to launch the mountain lion from the other side into a river. Trouble is, Chance likely doesn't weigh anywhere near enough as the mountain lion for this to work. And even if he did, the mountain lion goes flying, launched several feet into the air.
  • Ass Kicks You: Chance's encounter with a porcupine ends with Chance getting a face full of porcupine quills when it whacks him with its tail.
    Chance: (whining in pain) He bit me with his butt!
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Chance. He even ends up with a face full of quills for it because of his interest in a porcupine.
  • Bait-and-Switch: At the end of the movie, Chance pauses outside the house to contemplatively narrate how he really, truly feels like he has a home and a family now. And then:
    Chance: TURKEY!!
  • Bait-and-Switch Compassion: Invoked by Sassy. After an encounter with a bear, Sassy tells Chance the bear could have eaten him and asks him if he realizes how painful that would have been... for the bear.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Chance learns this the hard way by scaring a couple of bear cubs who were trying to steal his fish. Their mother is none too pleased with him. Fortunately, the pets get away.
  • Big Damn Reunion: The animals all make it back home just after the family thinks they're lost.
  • Big Eater: Chance. A notable example is at the beginning of the film, where Chance manages to eat the entire wedding cake before the newlywed Seavers got a chance to cut it, much to the attendees' shock (and one old man's amusement). Chance later ends up regretting eating the cake when he is forced to vomit it out, apparently due to it disagreeing with his system.
    Chance: I learned an important lesson that day. Cake and polyester don't mix.
  • Big "YES!":
    • After the pets are found, a whole string of these happen. Bob yells one after receiving a phone call about the pets being found. Then Peter delivers a string of quieter ones as he runs to join the rest of the family after school. Bob, Laura, Peter, and Hope walk into and disrupt Jamie's play rehearsal. Upon hearing the good news, Jamie cheers and drops a pumpkin he's holding, after which Bob hastily assures Jamie's teacher that the family will replace it.
      Laura: Jamie?
      Jamie: Mom?
      Laura, Bob, Peter, and Hope: We found 'em!
      Jamie: YEAH! *Drops a pumpkin, jumps off a block he standing on, and runs to his mother*
    • Chance lets one out when he and Shadow manage to fend off the mountain lion, throwing it into a river.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Sassy. The smallest of the three pets, but the one with the most lip.
  • Call-Back: Early in the film, Sassy shows Chance the perfect way to get food: act like you don't want it. He tries it himself while they're lost in the woods.
    Chance: How did Sassy do this? I don't want it, I don't want it, I don't want it- [a crayfish grabs his lip] AYE! AYE! AYE! I don't want it! I don't want it!
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Chance initially stays behind at the ranch while Shadow and Sassy run off towards the mountains. The turkey scares him off the ranch anyway.
  • Calling Me a Logarithm: When Chance unintentionally gives Shadow a "Eureka!" Moment.
    Shadow: Chance, you're a genius!
    Chance: I am not! What's a genius?
    Shadow: Never mind!
  • Canine Companion: Shadow tells Chance about the origins of the bond between man and dog, from the dog's point of view.
    Chance: But we didn't ask for this job.
    Shadow: We didn't have to. It's built in. Has been ever since the dawn of time, when a few wild dogs took it upon themselves to watch over man. To bark when he's in danger, to run and play with him when he's happy, to nuzzle him when he's lonely. That's why they call us "man's best friend."
  • Can't Refuse the Call Anymore: The pets reach this point once they summit the hill beyond the ranch, looking down on the intimidating Sierras. At this point, the three are debating whether or not to continue, in which they agree to go with Shadow and make the trek home.
  • Cassandra Truth: Shadow and Sassy don't believe Chance when he warns them about the pound, not realizing he's speaking from experience. The two find out the hard way he's right... from the animals' perspective, that is.
    Chance: The pound is where humans lock you up when they don't want you anymore!
    Sassy: Not want me? Impossible!
  • A Cat in a Gang of Dogs: Sassy in both movies is the only cat among dogs.
  • Cats Are Mean: The mountain lion is treated as a vicious predator to the domesticated animals.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Sassy lives up to her name. She's far more snarky than Chance or Shadow. While the dogs do get a few barbs in, and Sassy can show genuine concern from time to time, she defaults to being snarky as her default behavior.
  • Cats Are Superior: Sassy is quite arrogant and condescending to Chance, often talking about how cats are superior to dogs.
    Sassy: Cats rule and dogs drool!
  • Cats Hate Water: Sassy goes out of her way to find a way to cross a river without getting wet. Unfortunately for her, one part of it wasn't quite stable and it collapsed, dumping her into the river and sending her over the Inevitable Waterfall.
    Shadow: It's fun to swim, you'll love it.
    Sassy: Except for the water part!
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: After being rescued by the old man, Sassy wonders to herself which one of her lives she lost going over the waterfall. She figures it was her sixth, but decides to lie and say it was her fourth.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • As a prank in the beginning of the film, Chance pounces on a seesaw with Sassy on the lower end and catapults her onto the sandbox. Chance later does something very similar with a rock version, this time against a monstrous Mountain Lion that is very hungry, and in order to get rid of it for good.
    • When Kate is leaving, she writes a note, but after closing the barn door, it then focuses on the note landing on a nearby haystack, indicating that it would become important later on. That's because the male rancher who is housesitting finds an outdated penned note in its place and thus mistakenly believed that she was taking Shadow, Chance, and Sassy to the vet. A scene only available on televised airings of the movie also has her discovering the note on the haystack while she was going to the barn with the male rancher to find out what was going on.
  • Comical Overreacting: Sassy after Chance pushes her off of the seesaw and into the sandbox, landing on her feet.
    Sassy: He threw me in the big litter box! Call the vet now! I've never in my life! I think my fur is falling out! I'm losing my fur!
  • Composite Character: Used oddly with the dogs as compared to the book — the two characters essentially switch ages and breed types, with personality following breed type. Shadow is Luath's breed type (retriever) and stone-cold determined personality with Bodger's age, and Chance is Bodger's breed type (bully breed, though Bodger's an English bull terrier and Chance is an American bulldog) and goofy personality with Luath's age. In both versions, the younger dog gets the porcupine quills to the face and it's the older dog who almost seems like he hasn't made it home at the end.
  • Covers Always Lie: One cover shows both Shadow and Chance attempting to save Sassy from a river by pulling her onto a piece of timber. In the movie, only Shadow jumps in to try and save her, and no timber is involved.
  • Cub Cues Protective Parent: Bear cubs, in this case, whose whines (courtesy of Chance trying to keep them from taking his fish) cause their mother to come to their aid.
  • Dark Reprise: The main theme begins to play as Shadow jumps into the rapids to rescue Sassy, the implications being that he'll save her life. The tune sinks into a minor key as it becomes clear that this isn’t the case.
  • Decomposite Character: The Seaver family have three children instead of two, and Jamie is the same age as Peter in the original film.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sassy, naturally.
  • Determinator: Shadow, as evidenced by this dialogue:
    [Kate leaves for the stock drive, locking the animals inside the fenced-off front yard before doing so]
    Shadow: Something is keeping Peter from coming to me, so I'm gonna go to him.
    Chance: You guys kill me! She locked the gate, remember?
    Shadow: I don't care about gates. I'm going home!
    [runs off the porch and uses a nearby tree stump to jump the fence]
  • Disney Death:
    • At the end of the first act, Sassy goes over a waterfall. She survives thanks to a nature photographer finding her.
    • In the climax of the movie, Shadow becomes trapped after falling through the floor of an old shack. Initially we're led to believe he doesn't make it home with Sassy and Chance, but he comes over the hill just as Peter turns away.
  • Dogs Are Dumb:
    • Chance. Sassy is a big believer of this largely because of him.
    • Shadow downplays this. He's far from stupid, but he can't seem to understand that Peter and the other humans aren't leaving them for good when the family leaves.
  • The Door Slams You: Shadow "rescues" Chance from the pound this way by pouncing the fence right in front of the pound personnel.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: A majority of the plot occurs because the humans' motivations are misunderstood by the pets.
    • The plot kicks off because the animals get left on a farm. Though it's only for a few days, the animals think they've been abandoned.
    • When the animals get taken to a pound later on, it's only until their family comes to pick them up. The pets, especially Chance, think they're never coming back out, and escape.
  • Establishing Shot: When Shadow, Chance, and Sassy make it to the top of the first mountain, they (and the audience) get a good look at just what lies ahead for them.
    Chance: Whoa, you can see everything from here! Except the house, I don't see the house. Where's the house?
  • Fat Bastard: Foote, the only staff member of the pound who genuinely antagonizes the animals.
    Sassy: Oh yeah, chow down, chubby.
  • Female Feline, Male Mutt: Sassy being the feline with Chance and Shadow being the dogs.
  • The Film of the Book: There's a few key differences between the book of the same name and this movie. For one, Sassy is male in the book, but female here.
  • Flapping Cheeks: Chance seems to enjoy this during a car ride.
  • Friend to All Living Things: The birdwatcher who eventually rescues Sassy after she goes over the waterfall. In a scene shown only on television, he plays the saxophone, which the animals listen to.
  • Funny Background Event: An accidental one at that: if you pay attention when Chance is jumping out of the car when they arrive at the ranch, he bumps the actor playing Jamie pretty hard against the door, causing the camera to quickly turn away when this happens as to avert the focus.
  • Gender Flip: The character Sassy is based on is a male cat in the original novel.
  • Good Samaritan: A bird watcher. He nurses Sassy back to health after she goes over a waterfall, finding her in the river.
  • Hero Antagonist: The workers at the pound. They have nothing but the best interests of the animals at heart, and are only holding them there until their owners come get them. Also, doctors pull the porcupine spines out of Chance's face because he needs them removed, even if it hurts. Unfortunately, the animals grossly misinterpret what's happening, and cause even more trouble for themselves as a result.
  • Heroic BSoD: Shadow and Chance, at the same time, after they fail to stop Sassy from plummeting over the waterfall, thinking she's dead.
  • Heroic Dog:
    • Both Shadow and Chance have their moments, but a big subversion comes about halfway through the movie when Shadow fails to save Sassy when she falls in the river, not that he didn't do everything he could.
    • Sassy also gets a heroic cat moment when she engineers a plan to get everyone out of the animal shelter.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Sassy refuses to cross the river where it was shallow, out of a stubborn desire to not get wet at all. The "bridge" she uses to cross the river breaks, sending her into the rapids... and over a waterfall.
  • The Homeward Journey: An incredible one, at that. It's also the trope namer. The animals travel from a ranch all the way back to their home, to the east of the Sierra Nevadas.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Sassy refused to sleep in the dirt.
    Chance: Well, look who's down in the dirt with the dogs. Morning, honey.
    [licks Sassy]
    Sassy: Ugh! Dog breath! Blah!
    • Earlier, Sassy tells Chance cats are smarter than dogs, but a moment later we see she doesn't understand the meaning of "stay" like dogs do. (Or, she does understand, but she doesn't care to actually obey — she is a cat, after all.)
  • I Can See My House from Here: Played with during the film's Establishing Shot, when Chance remarks that he can see everything except their house.
  • I Meant to Do That: Chance runs into a small tree after calling Sassy fat.
  • I Warned You:
    • Peter was worried Shadow will think he'll abandon him. After hearing about the pets running away:
    Peter: (to his step-dad) I told you he'd think I abandoned him! But you made us come anyway!
    • Chance warned Shadow and Sassy on several occasions about the pound, or the "bad place" (as he calls it in the sequel). When they end up there, Shadow admits that Chance knew it all along, although they don't realize they're only being kept there until their family arrives to pick them up.
  • I Will Find You: Shadow to Peter. Trouble is, Shadow grossly misinterprets what's going on when Peter and the rest of the family leave.
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: When the animals finally reach their hometown, they cross through a train yard, where Shadow falls into a muddy pit and injures his leg. Despondent, he tells Chance and Sassy to go on without him, and when Chance argues passionately, tells the younger dog he's learned all he needs; "Now all you have to learn is how to say goodbye."
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Sassy goes over one, despite Shadow's efforts to save her. She survives thanks to being found by a nature watcher, but Chance and Shadow legitimately think that she's dead.
  • It's All My Fault: Shadow blames himself for Sassy's Disney Death, saying that he shouldn't have made her come along. Chance tells him it wasn't his fault and that Sassy made that choice on her own, but Shadow tells him that he had a responsibility to protect Sassy — the same responsibility that he has to protect Chance and Peter.
  • Jaw Drop: The Seavers do this when the animals come home. They'd basically been told at that point that their animals were all but gone, so seeing them make it back unhurt is astounding. Hope and Peter get the biggest ones when Sassy and Shadow come back.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: The birdwatcher in the first movie. He finds the washed-up Sassy by a river, cleans her up, and is able to nurse her back to health. Based off her brief time with him, Sassy seems to have been grateful for him taking care of her.
  • Language Barrier: It's shown that animals can't understand human speech, and a lot of human behavior confuses them. As such, the animals could have avoided a lot of trouble if they knew what was really going on.
    • The animals had no idea what was going on — more than once, it's shown they don't understand human speech or some human actions, such as the phone to the ear — and so of course wouldn't understand why they'd been left in this strange place while their people drove off without them.
      • Later, Peter tells Shadow they won't come visit them for another two weeks. Shadow partially understood him, but rather annoyed. However, in a scene from the televised airing, they couldn't make it on that day either (due to another commitment), which is the reason why the pets (except Chance) don't understand why they haven't come yet.
      Shadow: They've been gone way too long. Much longer than they should have been.
      Sassy: You could be right, Shadow. It's been too much time. Way too much time.
      Shadow: Something must be keeping Peter from coming to me. So I'm gonna go to him.
    • And Kate picks a quite unfortunate place to break off her note about the animals, so that when one of the papers goes astray, the first half implies she's taken them with her on a cattle drive. This results in a heavy delay in the search for them.
  • Last-Second Word Swap:
    Chance: Look, there's no way I'm... (Beat) gonna let an old-timer like you go it alone. I'll be your guard dog.
    • Earlier, when seeing the scale of the mountains, Sassy goes, "Oh, Shhh-Shadow."
  • Mama Bear: A rather literal example: Chance scares away two bear cubs who were stealing his fish. He later regrets this decision and barely escapes with his life when their mom arrives.
  • Match Cut: Right after the porcupine incident, the scene dissolves, and we see a punk rocker-type with wild hair being brought into a San Fransisco police station for booking.
  • Meadow Run: Two adorable examples, one when Shadow and Chance reunite with Sassy and once when the pets reunite with their humans.
  • Meaningful Echo: Near the beginning, Shadow tells Peter "You're my favorite boy in the world. I love you." Chance thinks that it's just mushy stuff. In the end, however, he comes to embrace both his family and Jaime's role as his owner. "Jaime, you smell like a million bones! You're my favorite boy in the world! I love you, Jamie!"
  • Men Like Dogs, Women Like Cats: Officially, Shadow and Chance belong to Peter and Jamie, respectively, while Sassy belongs to Hope. At the beginning of the movie, the kids generally accept each other's pets, but Chance is relatively new to the family, and he doesn't exactly score points with Hope for launching Sassy into the sandbox. The kids get along well with each other too, but when the pets go missing, each is concerned about them as a group, but chiefly worried about his or her own pet.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Subverted. It looks as though Shadow won't make it during the climax after falling through a hole and getting his leg injured — he even gives Chance a "you have to go on without me" speech — but he gets home.
  • Missed Him by That Much: The animal trio escapes from the pound just as the family is pulling up to get them. In one shot, the family passes the pets on the road. Shadow gets the feeling that they ought to turn back, but shrugs it off and keeps going.
  • Mood Whiplash: As Shadow, Chance, and Sassy run together after having gotten separated, Chance trips and yelps "Whoops, gopher hole!"
  • Mystery Meat: There's a short scene where Shadow and Chance discuss what they think hot dogs are made of. Chance doubts that they're made of dog, while Shadow doubts that they're even made of meat. Then agree that they taste the best when they fall in the dirt.
  • Mythology Gag: Before they take their stepdad Bob Seaver's last name, Peter, Jamie, and Hope's last name is Burnford, the same as the writer of the original book.
  • Never Going Back to Prison: Chance, who spent some time in the pound, struggles to escape from a pound worker, yelling, "I'm not going back! No way!"
  • Nice Mean And In Between: Shadow, the wise Cool Old Guy, is the Nice, the grouchy Jerk with a Heart of Gold Sassy is the Mean, and Chance is the naive but loyal In-between.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The trio rescue a lost girl in the woods, and are rewarded with a trip to the pound. It's only to wait for their owners, but they don't realize that.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Chance trying to warn Shadow about the Mountain Lion.
    Shadow: (irritated) Young dog, just— (sees the mountain lion, snarling viciously) RUN!
  • Off Screen Moment Of Awesome: It's not shown how Shadow manages to get out and go home after falling and getting injured and trapped in an old cavern.
  • Old Dog: Shadow. Though it was only after injuring himself from falling in a cavern that he fully comes to terms with this. He still makes it.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In the Danish dub, Sassy's voice actress Søs Egelind clearly tries to voice Sassy with an affected North Zealand accent (stereotypically associated with the upper class), but often lapses into her native Eastern Jutland accent (Jutlandic accents are stereotypically associated with rural people). Especially her way of pronouncing the words "mig" ("me") and "dig" ("you") comes off as a really weird mix between the two accents, making Sassy sound like a classy lady and a bumpkin at the same time.
  • Parental Bonus:
    • As Chance is chewing on a shoe, he offers a piece to Sassy:
    "I'm not into leather."
    • After Chance gets himself injured by a porcupine:
    Shadow: Oh, Chance, you really are a bulldog, aren't you?
    • "Whatever you do, don't lick yourself."
  • Platonic Declaration of Love: Chance to Shadow when the latter falls into a hole towards the end of their journey and declares himself too old to climb out of it.
    Shadow: I have nothing more to give, Chance. And it's time for you to be on your own.
    Chance: But I want you with me. I love you, Shadow.
    Shadow:... you've learned everything you need, Chance. Now all you have to learn... is how to say goodbye.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me:
    • When Sassy initially refuses to come along — saying that it was a lovely journey, but she'll just wait for the bus — Shadow notes that she'd be left in the middle of nowhere, alone.
      Sassy: You two are really gonna go off and leave me here?
      Shadow: You wait for that bus. You'll do fine.
    • A much more dramatic example occurs towards the film's conclusion. Shadow falls into a hole, and appears to be too injured to continue. However, Chance jumps down in an attempt to tell Shadow that he can do it. It appears as if Shadow is ready to give up, but Chance utterly refuses to let Shadow quit, even telling Shadow that he loves him. It must have worked, because Shadow does eventually manage to get out.
  • Police Are Useless: Downplayed. While the San Francisco PD doesn't consider missing pets vital enough to warrant a police search, they suggest to Peter that he puts up missing posters of the animals (with both Peter and the cop unaware at the time that his stepfather's already done so).
  • Pounds Are Animal Prisons: Subverted. The animals see the pound as this, especially when Chance starts freaking out at being taken to one. But Chance only freaks out because he went to one when he was a puppy, and he believes that this is what's going to happen to them. In truth, the animal handlers really do have their best interests at heart. The only reason the three main characters are taken there are so their owners can be contacted and given back to the pets. A 'torture' given to Chance is when the pound workers remove porcupine quills he has stuck in his face. All in all, it's not animal prison, but Chance, Shadow and Sassy think it is due to their misunderstanding of what the humans are doing.
  • Pun:
    • When Chance unsuccessfully tries to catch a rabbit, he says "I hate fast food."
    • Sassy gets hit on by a bunch of dogs as she passes by them in the pound, to which she says "I don't believe it. Catcalls."
  • Properly Paranoid: Shadow at one point tries to get the attention of a group of people who are looking for a little girl lost in the woods. Chance protests fearing that they will take them to the pound and lock them up. Later, that's exactly where they are taken. What Chance doesn't realize, however, is that the people who took them there had good intentions and were just trying to help the pets reunite with their owners.
  • The Quincy Punk: A mohawked example is briefly shown getting booked in a San Francisco police station shortly before Peter comes in to ask for help in finding the family pets.
  • Recognizable by Sound: When the ending starts, the family hears Chance barking. Hope says "I know that bark! It is him!" Sure enough, Chance comes bounding over a hill moments later.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Chance says they should just stay at the farm because they've been abandoned. Of course he's right that they should have stayed, but not because they were abandoned, but because their owners were coming back for them in a couple of weeks anyways (however a deleted scene reveals they were unable to make it, which only proved Chance right).
  • Rousing Speech: Chance gives Shadow this to get him to climb out of a pit, with a little bit of What the Hell, Hero? at the beginning.
    Chance: You pushed me this far, now I'm pushing you the rest of the way! You know, back in the woods, even when things looked really bad, I always thought we'd make it because I thought you were too stubborn to quit! Well, you're not gonna quit, not now! Not when we're this close!
  • Scenery Porn: You get to see just how beautiful the Sierra Nevada Mountains are as the pets make their way home.
  • Short Cuts Make Long Delays: At first, Shadow thinks that they can get home just by going over a mountain. When Sassy reminds Shadow it took them ages to get this far, Shadow tells her that they went the long way, and that going straight up and over the mountain is the shortcut. Nope. But that doesn't stop him.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Chance flings the cougar (or, as he called it, "Arnold Schwarzakitty") into the air, he yells, "Hasta la vista, kitty!"
    • The Mission: Impossible theme plays as Sassy infiltrates the pound.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The first film is firmly set in the idealistic end of the spectrum, as the main characters are able to trek past the dangerous Sierras and return home on instinct alone, while the humans (even the pound keepers) all have the best interests for animals at heart. The sequel, on the other hand, is more decidedly realistic, as the conflict is instigated by a moment of animalistic panic, as opposed to the careful consideration of the previous film's journey; the main characters are lost in the city, with no clear path home; and the reality of pet abandonment — which was only briefly touched upon in the first film — is much more thoroughly analyzed.
  • Smelly Skunk: Chance got inflicted with this trope during their journey home.
    Chance: (sniffing inside a hollow trunk) What's that smell? Smells interesting.
    * HISSSS*
    [Chance runs away. A skunk comes out.]
    Chance: Woo-hoo-hoo! I never thought anything can smell too much! Hey Shadow, wanna have some fun, stick your head in that hole!
  • Team Dad: Shadow is older and wiser than Chance or Sassy, and acts as such.
  • That Poor Cat: Invoked when Kate accidentally stepped on Sassy's tail during the chaotic attempt at feeding Chance.
  • Translation Convention: The pets are dubbed in English, along with a couple of animals at the animal shelter.
  • Tropey, Come Home: Invoked. The pets run away, and their humans spend the rest of the movie trying to find them.
  • Tsundere: Sassy, who is very snarky, but rest assured she does love both "her boys" and Hope.
  • Undying Loyalty: Even though Shadow doesn't understand why he was left behind, he never stops believing in Peter or trying to get back to him. Justified as dogs are already famed for their often incredible loyalty to their human companions, with Golden Retrievers like Shadow being reputed as being one of the most loving and loyal breeds.
    • And for dogs in general. Shadow calls Chance out for not caring about their owners and thinking so little of humans, although, in Chance's defense, he's been abandoned before, something Shadow hasn't experienced.
    Chance: Oh, man, what are you waiting for? They're not coming back.
    Shadow: That just shows you how little you know.
    Chance: Look, it's happened before... to me. People use you and lose you.
    Shadow: Shame on you for betraying your boy.
    Chance: Me betray him? Who ditched who? I mean, not that I care. I can get along just fine without him.
    Shadow: How dare you call yourself a dog.
    Sassy: A cat would know better.
    Shadow: Dogs are supposed to be faithful, loyal, and true.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The animals think of the humans who sent them to the pound as this after they had helped rescue a little girl lost in the woods. It's unfortunate because the humans were extremely grateful for their help, and only sent them to the pound so they could both treat Chance for his injuries and to have a safe spot for their owners to come collect them.
  • Ventriloquist Animal: The pets talk but don't move their mouths to do it.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Chance and Sassy. The two practically never stop bickering and complaining about each other, but when push comes to shove, they try as hard as anyone else to help the other out.
  • What's an X Like You Doing in a Y Like This?: The reaction Sassy gets from an older man who finds her washed up on a riverside.