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Tear Jerker / Coco

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Hoo boy, where do you even start? Even by the standards of a Pixar film, Coco is one very heart-rending, tearjerking experience, breaking hearts-a-plenty. Here are some examples that show just why.


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  • In the narration, we see Imelda come towards her husband with open arms, only for him to walk past her and towards his dream of sharing his music with the world. Poor little Coco also watches her father leave forever, just as it starts raining.
  • Coco has grown so old that she's in a wheelchair and suffers senile dementia. When Miguel goes to the family ofrenda and Elena understandably warns him never to mention his great-great-grandfather, they are in Coco's presence, which triggers her to almost break out of her unresponsive state and reaches her arm out and speaking in a frail voice. She thinks her father came home. Elena then assures her that he's still away, and all Coco can do in response is look at her and asks... who she is. For a moment she forgot the name of her daughter. Just seeing Coco can cause some people to feel sad.
    • Coco thinking her father is returning home becomes even more of a tearjerker as we discover that's exactly what Héctor has been desperately trying to do for the last 96 years in the afterlife.
    • Something Glorious Blackout points out in her fanfiction, What Might Have Been, is that Coco lives longer than both of her parents combined.
    • Elena, of all people, being saddened at her mother's condition. All she can do is encourage her mother to rest and give her a defeated, bittersweet kiss. Later on, this leads to a happy Tear Jerker when Coco recognizes her daughter at the end, causing Elena herself to tear up.
  • In hindsight, it's actually tragic that Miguel mistakenly believes Ernesto de la Cruz to be his great-great-grandfather. Because at this point, not only has Ernesto stolen from Miguel's real great-great-grandfather his life, the recognition and remembrance he deserved: he's even stolen his identity.
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    • What's more, it's not just the fans' admiration that Ernesto has stolen, but also Miguel's adoration towards his rightful great-great-grandfather.
  • When Miguel happily shares the news that he wants to be a musician, we have a sobering Gilligan Cut where Elena has destroyed Miguel's shrine to Ernesto, and the Rivera family react with disappointment that he "kept secrets from [them]". Miguel was hoping that the revelation of his great-great-grandfather's identity (supposedly Ernesto de la Cruz) would instantly change their minds about banning music, but it doesn't work out for him.
    • Leading up to that, Elena and Miguel's parents decide Miguel should start working in the family business. They look so happy and so proud at the idea of having him be a shoemaker, you just know they're only setting themselves up for the disappointment when Miguel later shares he actually wants to be a musician.
    • The Gilligan Cut of Elena throwing Miguel's shrine of Ernesto outside bears some passing resemblance to a scenario where a family member is being kicked out of their home for something the family objects to.
    • Yet another reason this scene is itself such a tearjerker is that it feels like the family is trying to sweep it under the rug, as though pretending this giant argument didn't happen. Miguel is trying his hardest to defend why music isn't so bad, but his father adamantly tells him "End of discussion!"
  • Miguel's understandable devastation when Elena, over the objections of him and his family, destroys his guitar to make an example of how the Riveras do not want to accept his love of music, given how his great-great-grandfather left him. He decides to bail on his family as a result; the rest of his family's "My God, What Have I Done?" reactions are understandable, considering that they're all taken aback by what happened and destroying Miguel's property has the potential to scar them for life.
    Elena: (sympathetically) You'll feel better after you eat with your family.
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    • If you're a musician or a music lover yourself, seeing anyone destroy a perfectly good instrument will break your heart.
    • Adding to the emotional gut punch is the fact that 12 year old Miguel quite likely made that guitar himself out of discarded pieces. The frets on the fretboard are penny nails. The teeth were drawn in with Sharpie... And all that hard work is destroyed in seconds. By Elena, no less.
    • A bit of Fridge Tearjerker: Miguel came this close to being trapped in the Land of the Dead forever. Had that happened, than this would have been the last thing he ever said to his family.
  • When Miguel can't find a guitar to enter the talent show with, he resorts to 'borrowing' Ernesto's guitar. The way he asks his great-great-grandfather not to be mad, it's hard to forget that Miguel is just a kid desperately looking for somebody who supports his dream.
    • Before that, Miguel trying to ask other musicians if they can lend their guitar to him since Elena destroyed his. Naturally, they're either too skeptical or simply too busy to allow Miguel his request. It's a moment where he learns second-hand how hard it is for a child to make it in this world by himself.
  • During his first moments as an unseen spirit in the Land of the Living, Miguel desperately runs up to his mother and father, who are calling for him to come home, but just like everyone else he's tried to touch, they just walk right through him, without realizing that he's right there.
  • A small moment, but while in the Land of the Dead, Miguel is noticed by a little skeleton girl and her mother, implying that they died together. Another skeleton family with two small children is also seen. One can only wonder what happened to them.
    • It's pretty sad when you see how the Land of the Dead has more youthful-looking people than older-looking, including several children, implying many of them died young.
      • One could argue that there's a glimmer of Heartwarming here as well- the fact that they still exist in the Land of the Dead imply that they have relatives who love and remember them among the Living, and are making a point to keep their memories alive.
  • In Héctor's Establishing Character Moment, he's trying to cross the bridge to the Land of the Living, only to get stuck in the bridge and dragged back. It's Played for Laughs but he may have tried to cross that bridge every single year since he died, hoping that for once he might manage it.
    • And if not for Miguel, that crossing would've been his very last chance.
    • The fact that he wanted to get over the bridge especially because of one simple reason: if he doesn't, he will never see his child again. She's literally the only reason he still exists -even if it's in the afterlife- because she's the only person in the living world who still remembers him, and she's close to death herself. The second she dies, with no one else to remember him as he truly was, he's gone. The very moment she appeared in the place where she would be able to see him, to meet with her father after almost a century apart, he would be doomed to disappear forever, remembered in the living world only as "the deadbeat musician who ditched his family for fame". Using the bridge is the only way for him to see her again, even if she wouldn't see him in return.
    • At first it's played that Héctor is a Lovable Rogue trying to sneak across... then we learn why later. He just wants to see his beloved daughter again, and hasn't been able to since she was a little girl. He's never, ever stopped thinking of her.
  • The undertone of Miguel feeling self-conscious because, in the Land of the Dead, skeletons are scared of living people. It's not easy for the boy to feel comfortable in his skin, not when everyone he passes stares at him as though he had a deformity.
  • Los Olvidados, it's essentially a ghetto where the nearly forgotten go to live. According to Hector, its main inhabitants don't have their photos up on the ofrenda, meaning they have no families to visit. It's sobering to know Hector is not alone in his plight, that there are others who sit on the edge of Final Death.
  • Chicharron's final death after saying "Everyone Knows Juanita" brings back memories.
    • Before that, when Chicharron tells Héctor to play something for him, Héctor sadly responds in a haunted tone "You know I don't do that anymore". Playing music used to be his passion, and now he regards it as an addiction he quit a long time ago.
    • Even the usually cheery Dante is sad and somber in this scene.
    • The song itself is very sad. The singer spends the majority of it describing how ugly this woman is, and for a moment it's kind of humorous. Yet it ends when, even after listing all those qualities about her, he is convinced he doesn't have a chance to be with her because he thinks he's even uglier.
    • When Miguel asks Héctor what happened, he explains as though he were explaining the concept of death to a young child who doesn't understand. And when Miguel suggests he remember Chicharron when he returns to the Land of the Living, Héctor adds with a heavy heart "It doesn't work like that". No less with the same sadness he would at telling a child death doesn't work like that. Given what we learn is happening to Héctor, it's clear that he's aware that he's going to be forgotten soon by the one person left in his life who loved him.
    • Even sadder? When Chicharron finally fades away, he appears relieved...as if glad his pain is over.
    • Wait, it gets sadder. Later, when Miguel falls in the pool in Ernesto's mansion, the guitar gets left in the pool, completely forgotten!
  • When Miguel states that he's going to play "Remember Me" at the battle of the bands, Héctor seems strangely uncomfortable with the idea and clumsily states that the song is "too popular" to make an impact- which is true enough to throw you off from the fact that Héctor is legitimately uncomfortable with Miguel singing it; not because it's too popular, but because it's become a bastardized version of the very personal love song he wrote for his daughter Coco.
  • When Héctor learns that Miguel has family other than Ernesto (and therefore could've had his picture sent to the world of the living sooner), the two have a falling out, and after they just bonded from singing "Poco Loco" together.
    • After Miguel runs off after that fight, Héctor legitimately freaks out and tries to call out sorry to Miguel. Probably, for scaring him, and also Héctor just doesn't want a lone kid wandering the busy streets by himself.
  • A small moment when on his way to see Ernesto, Dante tries to pull Miguel towards the other members of the Rivera family. Frustrated, Miguel tells Dante that he's not a spirit animal, but "just a dumb dog". Poor guy is visibly hurt.
  • Imelda revealing to Miguel that long ago, she too was a musician and singer, before her husband left her. Worse, it hurts for her to remember music after her husband's fateful departure. There's even signs that perhaps, she regrets banning music.
    • Following that, when she still implores Miguel to abandon music, Miguel tearfully tells her she'll never understand what it means to support your loved ones or their dreams. She looks like she's been slapped with her own shoe.
      • If you look closely when Miguel says she'll never support him, you can see he's close to tears. This isn't a deliberate act of Kick the Dog: It's clear he wants his great-great-grandmother's support and approval... but he's thoroughly convinced she never will give it.
      • The context that Imelda was once an aspiring singer like Héctor, only her path went the other extreme. Instead of pursuing a musical career, she swore off singing until her dying day. It also helps that her actress Alanna Ubach is a singer herself.
      • A smaller one, but this is tragic that the ban on music has lasted so long, at least one member of the Rivera family (Tía Victoria) went their entire life without listening to or enjoying music.
    • And it later turns out that the Rivera family wasn't the only one who came to hate music. To an extent, poor Héctor became dissatisfied with performing music. One would think that during those long years disconnected from his family, music would provide some solace from the loneliness, but it only serves to remind Héctor of how he lost his family in the first place.
  • When Hector approaches Miguel and Ernesto, it takes a moment for the latter to recognize this "stranger" as his old friend. There's a poignant expression of recognition mixed with (fleeting) guilt. Despite that he's really a heartless murderer who killed his own friend for his songs, he's still caught off-guard by seeing how far Hector's fallen because of him. ("My friend.. you are being forgotten.") It never occurred to him until now that his friend would be having a lousy after-life in the Land of the Dead.
    • Also in the same scene, Ernesto looking at Hector's smiling photo, and then at Hector himself. It's a cruel irony that makes it painfully clear Hector is no longer the same happy, living man he was in the photo decades ago.
    • Later, during the flashback, the reveal that the seemingly self-assured Ernesto de la Cruz, "Greatest musician of all time", is far less confident than we were led to believe, so much that he begged Hector to stay. Again, that doesn't excuse the murder he would commit nor make him any more sympathetic, but it's somewhat pitiful to see Ernesto so insecure in himself.
  • Héctor's death. Ernesto secretly added some poison to the tequila in his shotglass, causing him to be killed not even a few minutes down the road. To add up to it, we actually see the death onscreen, without any Gory Discretion Shots. Even worse, the camera is panned away, so he looks so small and ultimately alone as he collapses in a street.
    • After the flashback, we cut to Héctor, who stares off into space with a wide-eyed expression at this disturbing revelation. This marks the moment his friendship with Ernesto completely dies. The one friend he turned to for help turns out to be his murderer.
    • One of Ernesto's movie scenes is based on this. Not only is he unashamed of what he's done, he used it as another opportunity to gain even more fame for himself.
    • To twist the knife even further, the Tie-In Novel Coco: A Story of Music, Shoes, and Family reveals that Héctor and Ernesto were Childhood Friends. Héctor even considered Ernesto his brother and held him in high regard. Which makes the betrayal doubly painful.
      Héctor: (Attacking Ernesto) How could you?!
    • Coco: A Story of Music, Shoes, and Family shows what was going through Héctor's head as he told Ernesto that he was going to return to his wife and daughter. He was worried for Ernesto as well, not wanting his best friend to hate him for his decision. As he's about to tell him this, Ernesto gives him the poisoned tequila. As he drinks from the glass, Héctor is happy that he can return home and that he's parting in good terms with Ernesto. Then the poison takes effect...
    • Much of the treatment Héctor receives in the Land of the Dead becomes Harsher in Hindsight. Due to the vague memory of his death, Héctor initially assumes that he died from food poisoning after eating a chorizo sausage. By the time Miguel appears, the other dead musicians have made a joke out of calling Héctor "Chorizo", believing that he choked to death on one instead, and mock Héctor for not being invited to Ernesto's party. It fuels Héctor's distaste towards his original profession.
    • Add that Héctor has had to avoid his wife due to her anger against him, and you realize that Héctor has been rejected by his family (both living and dead), the person he thought was his closest friend, and his fellow peers among the remembered dead. And it's been going on for decades.
  • Héctor's heartbreaking cry of "I just wanted to go home!" after learning that his best friend killed him just because he wanted to return to his family.
    • Before that, he yells "You took away everything from me!". And he's right. Ernesto did take away everything from Héctor; his life, his music, his family, and almost any chance he had of ever seeing his daughter again.
    • What's more, according to Word of God, Héctor made his decision to quit touring and return home some time in December of 1921. He wanted to get home in time for Christmas!
      • If Ernesto left his body out in the street with no identification, Hector might have been buried in an unmarked grave without his family knowing he'd died. So if they were far from home, information wouldn't have travelled to Imelda like it does today.
  • When Miguel is thrown in the cenote, he calls out "I want to go home". He sounds like any child who's run away from home and has lost their way.
  • Realizing that Ernesto is a fraud and a murderer, Miguel breaks down crying in Héctor's arms over everything he said to the rest of the Rivera family, and how he left them behind.
    • In this same scene, Héctor begins to show signs of being forgotten, showing that he's on the verge of Final Death.
  • Héctor's horrible shuddering as he's edging closer and closer to his Final Death. Every time, he clutches his stomach in exactly the same way he was clutching his stomach during his first painful death.
  • When we learn that Héctor was really Miguel's great-great grandfather and Coco's father. We see a flashback of him playing his song "Remember Me" to a young Coco, as he had wrote it just for her.
    • All those years, he was cut off from his family, even in death. They turned him away for not coming home. In so many ways, Héctor was separated from Coco.
    • Also, from Coco's side, it's so sad that after that last time Héctor played "Remember Me" for her, she never saw him again. For the rest of her life, she never saw her father, no matter how many times she hoped he was coming home.
    • Making it even sadder is Héctor's explanation that he and Coco would sing this song each night at the same time even when apart. Little Coco probably sang it nightly, hoping Papa would come home, until her mother foreswore all music (and then mouthed the words silently in the dark after being put to bed).
      • Remember above when Mamá Coco reaches her arm out while saying "Papá...? Papá is coming home...?" Toddler Coco reaches out towards him while he sings too.
    • The clincher? The sad smile he gives Coco the last time he sees her. Without even knowing he won't see her for generations, Hector was still so sad to leave her. All the same, he understood he wouldn't see her for a while. He just didn't anticipate that "a while" would be "97 years"...
  • Just a really brief one, right after Miguel and Hector proclaimed their happiness to know they're related, you can clearly see it sink in Miguel's face that despite that, they're still stuck down there with no way of getting out on their own and most likely perish there.
  • Even after realizing that Héctor was murdered while trying to come home, Imelda understandably can't forgive Héctor that easily because he still left her and Coco in the first place; Héctor even admits that he has no one to blame but himself for his current predicament. Fortunately, she decides to help Héctor be remembered again to the point where they eventually reconcile.
    Imelda: So what if it's true? You leave me alone with a child to raise, and I'm just supposed to forgive you?
    • Earlier, when Imelda rebukes him for approaching her once more, Hector's sadly resigned body language shows he's always dreaded seeing her again, not because she makes him feel scared, but she makes him feel guilty for leaving his family.
    • And then, there's Imelda's expression at learning that Héctor is about to be wrongfully forgotten.
  • When Imelda accidentally runs into Ernesto, he pauses and asks as he inspects Imelda closer, "Don't I know you?" It's not hard to believe he may have met Imelda once in the past when he was still good friends with Héctor.
  • Héctor's devastation when Ernesto throws Miguel to his death. For him, seeing his great-great-grandson falling to his death is just as bad as if it were his daughter Coco in Miguel's place.
  • What appears to be Héctor's "final death" before Miguel gets sent back to home. While it's revealed in the epilogue that he's okay now, it's still a sad moment.
    • Leading up to that, the Hope Spot that Miguel will return to the Land of the Living in time to put up Héctor's photo and make everything right. But then Ernesto swoops down and throws Miguel to his death. Miguel is saved by Pepita in her Big Damn Heroes moment, but Héctor's picture falls into the water, leaving the audience to truly believe he'll never be remembered. note 
  • Miguel returning home and desperately trying to get Coco to remember Héctor might be the biggest tearjerker yet in the entire Disney/Pixar ouevre. At quite a few showings, the entire theatre was audibly weeping. The emotional weight of the entire movie building up to Miguel’s reconnection with his family, and bonding with Héctor, and the desperation of his last chance to preserve his memory, and thus keep "alive" the friend, mentor, and great-great-grandfather he’s only just met—and in doing so, finally allow Imelda and the whole family, present and passed, to heal— makes the stakes unbearably high. And of course, this echoes each audience member’s deepest feelings towards anyone they’ve personally lost, hoping beyond reason that we could somehow bring them back. So as he pleads with Coco, who we know wants nothing more than to see her father again, to merely do the one thing that will make this possible—to remember him—and she seems unable, we feel every moment of his desperation. When he finally plays "Remember Me" for her, almost convinced it won’t work, and more out of hopelessness than hope, we can’t help but grieve with him as by the end of the song he’s resigned to his ultimate loss. And then, it's followed by a bittersweet moment where, slowly but surely, Coco begins to sing along. Even Elena cries at seeing her mother become lucid once more.
    • What makes the song sadder? It doubles as a song about accepting someone's death.
    • Earlier, when Miguel believes there's no hope of helping Coco remember Héctor, the boy cries in his father's arms and apologizes for running off. His parents console him that what matters is they're together again, as a whole family. But Miguel sadly remarks that the family isn't entirely a whole (meaning Héctor, and the impact his loss has on all of them).
      • Coco's blank expression may not be just from the dementia, but may also be her sadness at realizing her father's memory is fading away.
    • After Coco starts singing along, a warm smile begins to brighten her face and after the song she starts to talk about her father. She is so happy for the occasion of being able to talk about this part of her life after all those years of the whole family basically making her beloved father an Un-person...
    • For anybody who has a loved one suffering from the last stages of Alzheimer's or has died from it, it's a heartbreaking reminder of how the last stages of the disease leaves you helpless as you watch your loved one fade away until they are a shell of their former selves. And this is an illness that can last for years before they finally die. There is a reason the disease is called the Long Goodbye.
  • The epilogue showing Coco has passed on a year later. But this means she's with her parents again, including Héctor finally being able to give her that hug, and because he's remembered at last, he can finally cross that bridge to see his living family. And the tears become joyful. For Elena, it's clear she had a little trouble putting her picture up, and it's almost as if Coco's passing happened fairly recently.
  • When Mama Coco wakes up, the first thing she does is show concern for her daughter
    • A small note, but when showing Coco's first Dia de los Muertos after her death, it shows her hugging her daughter Elena as a spirit.
    • Another small note: The way Héctor, one year later, looks so nervous just before he gets the okay to go through—his eyes even dart to the screen like he's waiting to be denied—and the way he just visibly relaxes when he's let through. Throughout the year that passed, he didn't know how Miguel managed to prolong his existence, let alone how much time he had, and as far as he knew, the picture that got lost was the last picture of him in existence. Now, for the first time in almost a hundred years, he gets to go across.
  • A happy Tearjerker if you're a history buff: in life, Frida Kahlo was in a bus accident as a teenager, which destroyed her aspiring medical career, dislocated three vertebrae, and caused her pain for the rest of her life. She often used to paint in bed, in a wheelchair, or in a brace. But in the Land of the Dead, she's happily creating and moving normally.
  • Believe it or not, there is an element of tragedy to Ernesto de la Cruz. He killed his only friend Héctor because he thought he was walking away just as they got close to the fame they left home to achieve. He is clearly saddened when he learns that Héctor is being forgotten. Look closer at the scene where we see that he put his murder of Héctor in one of his movies. Totally sociopathic thing to do? Yes, but look at the roles. Who is in the role of Ernesto? The scummy villain, who is obviously terrible. Who is in the role of Héctor? The canny hero, who figures it out and defeats the villain. Maybe Ernesto is just a Card-Carrying Villain, but the context makes it seem like a decent amount of self loathing and guilt is going on.

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  • This deleted scene "Celebrity Tour" becomes somewhat sobering once you know Héctor's true nature. Even when there's no one on the train (save Miguel), he goes through the motions and talks to passengers who aren't there. It's an indication that after everything he's been through note , it really did take a toll on his sanity somehow.
    • An extended version of this deleted scene reveals that Hector isn't just going through the motions, he's struggling with his profession as a tour guide, especially after Ernesto asks him to stop driving by his house. It's implied that ever since, tourists have stopped coming because they want nothing less than to see Ernesto de la Cruz.
    • In "Family Fix", Miguel's devastation when Ernesto destroys Hector's guitar, thus destroying Miguel's last chance of returning to the Land of the Living.
    • The original prologue opened with the night that Ernesto died, showing him getting "his" guitar and telling it "Show time, old friend". The sad thing is, Hector's the one who should be holding that guitar and being acquainted enough to call it his old friend.
    • In "Bus Escape", Hector's definition of loneliness is surprisingly poignant.
  • There's a scene in the novelization that's not found in the film, when Miguel admits to Hector that he doesn't get along well with most of his living family members, as they try to hold him back from following his heart. The following exchange occurs.
    Hector: Let me tell you something, chamaco. When I follow my heart, guess where it leads? It leads to my family.
    • Another such sad moment in the book: we're treated to a flashback of Coco as a grown woman and a mother of two (Elena and Victoria). In secret, she dances to herself. But one day, she accidentally falls over and sprains her ankle. The family is in such a panic as to how she injured herself. While everyone gets her medical aid, her daughters cry for their mother. This is Elena and Victoria we're talking about here. From then on, Coco promises herself that if she doesn't want to upset her daughters like she did just now, she will never dance again.
      • What makes it especially sad is, if not to the same degree of bitterness, Coco followed her mother's footsteps: allowing one bad experience to keep her from doing what she loves best. At least Coco swore off dancing for the right reason.
    • Back when Miguel was a baby, Coco was sadly musing to herself how quickly time went by and she's already an old woman.
    • Hector recalling what it was like when he and Ernesto went on their music tour. It was fun at first, but then Hector started to miss home. Playing music for others starts to feel more and more like work. Even Ernesto shows shades of this same tiredness (at least whenever they only garner a small crowd).
    • After learning that Ernesto killed Hector, Miguel tries to remind himself that de la Cruz is his hero. But he looks back on all the times he left something at his de la Cruz offrenda, and wonders to himself if to him he was just another faceless fan to Ernesto.

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