Follow TV Tropes

This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.


Tear Jerker / Inside Out

Go To

What can we tell you? Inside Out being about emotions, can give you some very sad moments.

Pixar film

  • The movie's main theme. It sounds joyful, but it also makes you feel sad.
  • Just 33 seconds after Riley's birth and Joy first appears, Sadness appears slumped gloomily on the control pylon as she introduces herself to Joy. Joy, who had been enjoying the joy that she had been creating in newborn Riley and is perturbed and annoyed by the by the fact that Sadness is making Riley cry, politely tries to push Sadness aside, after which Riley begins giggling again. Neither Joy or Sadness understand yet that Sadness is just doing her job in signaling to Riley's parents their baby needs something.
  • Poor, poor Sadness. Aside from literally being the personification of sorrow, she's ostracized because Joy doesn't have any idea what her purpose is, especially after she learns Sadness can taint any memory she touches, turning it into a sad one. Even Sadness doesn't know what she's supposed to do, instead being driven by a compulsion she doesn't understand (Every time Sadness says "I'm sorry", she sounds so helpless), and is criticized by Joy whenever she tries to - the other emotions don't exactly have anything against her, but they don't actually try to help her out either, if only because of Joy's leadership. When the five emotions are preparing for the first day at the new school, Joy sticks Sadness in the middle of a chalk circle to keep her from ruining Riley's first day, while all the other emotions actually have responsibilities. Sound familiar? It perfectly shows a typical excluded peer at school, who doesn't get to do anything with their peers because they (or sometimes, just the one) don't want them around. Joy even explains during introductions that they don't know what Sadness does and there isn't anywhere else for her to go because she's checked. Joy probably WOULD have kicked her out of Riley's head if she had a chance.
    • And to further drive this point home, Riley's mom's emotions are led by Sadness, while dad's are led by Anger. Considering that adults tend to have more refined control over their emotions, why is Mom!Sadness in charge? She isn't sad all the time, or crying, but she is working her way through a house move and raising a pre-teen daughter. The emotions are not single emotions but multiples: Anger/Rage, Joy/Mania, Fear/Paranoia, Disgust/Hatred, and Sadness/Worry. The secondary emotion appears when you are constantly overwhelmed with the primary emotion. Riley's mom is worrying about everything that is going on.
      • It's like Riley's dad is constantly stressed or frustrated, which is why Anger is his leader. It's not that he's always in a rage, or prone to one, just that being an adult with a clearly kinda-rough job has left him emotionally strained. Also, Anger's purview is righteous outrage over unfairness, and he's dealing with some very unfair situations: the moving company letting his family down, his bosses calling him away from his loved ones sooner than expected, and his daughter resenting him for both of the above, which he feels aren't his fault.
    • Advertisement:
    • Sadness's chapter of the Driven by Emotions Novelization hints at an explanation for the urge she gets to touch the core memories and turn them sad. She is instinctively drawn to those in need of sadness. This includes the memories, which want to be turned sad. "At least, that's how I felt. Didn't that mean it was true?" Thinking this over, it's possible that the pull she's feeling is Riley's mind crying for help.
    • Then think about people who actively repress one of their emotions, or all of them, because of their jobs, their circumstances at birth, or some kind of trauma. It must be hell inside their minds, constantly.
    • When Riley arrived in the new house for the first time, Anger, Fear, Disgust, and Sadness all messily attempt to use the control panel and eventually the red, purple, and green memory orbs are created yet no single blue orb is seen. This means even without Joy's mistreatment, Sadness is overshadowed by the other three emotions.
    • Advertisement:
    • At the film's climax, Sadness, believing herself to be a "bad" emotion, runs from Joy by taking a cloud, and she begins sobbing. She has done this previously in the film but it was mostly Played for Laughs. In this scene she sounds genuinely distraught. Phyllis Smith really plays the character well.
    • There's nothing to indicate that Riley or her emotional cohort are particularly unusual, as children or their Headquarters' staff go, which rather implies that the ostracism this Sadness goes through is typical of most young peoples' emotions.
  • Riley's dejected look as her dad leaves for his office in frustration over some complication. Many people could relate to the feeling of a beloved parent leaving you for something urgent. And that Riley's parents are so absorbed in the problems related to the move and the new job that they hardly seem to be paying attention to her, let alone enough to notice that she's miserable from the move and mourning her old life.
  • The fact that Joy — driven by the essence of what she is — can't see that Riley needed to be something other than happy when she started to slowly teeter into early signs of depression. When they all witness Riley's mom telling her that she needs to stay happy for them (her parents), she takes it literally, and even makes a point to mention that specifically when talking to Sadness about the importance of getting back to Central; her most sincere efforts nearly turned a child into a Stepford Smiler.
    • To add, it's not just that Joy doesn't recognize Sadness' purpose. She is also obsessed with having all core memories (and most other ones) Joyful, because core memories power personality islands, which make Riley Riley- so much so that she cannot suffer Sadness getting her own core memory.
  • Riley crying in the middle of class while introducing herself and remembering her past home, since Sadness tainted that memory mid-speech then took over the console while the others were trying to remove it.
    • The emotions panic over how the other students were laughing at her… except they weren't. They all look genuinely concerned for her and some can be seen whispering to one another about whether or not she's okay. This is Truth in Television, as distress can often make one feel as though everyone is out to get them even when they're not.
    • It becomes heartwarming when the teacher is kind and empathic to Riley as Riley's initially chipper mood collapses and becomes tearful.
  • The memory dump. Every memory tossed down there eventually disintegrates, and when it does, it's gone forever. Riley will never remember it ever again.
  • An angry variant comes when Riley is video chatting with her friend Meg back in Minnesota, who tells her, rather nonchalantly, that not only has she already been replaced on her hockey team, but the new kid and her friend play better together than she and Riley ever did. You really can't blame Riley for hanging up on her.
  • Bing Bong seeing Preschool Land destroyed, along with his wagon being tossed into the memory dump with the other forgotten memories. It's just the way when realization hits that Riley has moved on without him and he just sits there in slumped defeat, which makes it even sadder considering what happens to him later on in the film.
    • The kicker? "Riley can't be done with me." It's a tearjerker for anyone who's lost a friend in any way.
    • Joy's tactic of trying to cheer him up with goofy antics and telling him that "it will all be all right" and trying to make a "game" out of finding the train clearly do not help him at all. It's only when Sadness sits with him, shows empathy, validates his pain, and lets him mourn that he feels better, much to Joy's confused surprise; many people who struggle with depression would recognize this scene, if only because the "snap out of it" attempt to spark joy is painful since it implies that your pain does not matter when you already feel like you're drowning.
    • Bing Bong's eyes well up with tears and he starts crying. Thing is, Bing Bong cries candy. While this was initially funny, in this context it's heartbreaking. It makes it all the more heartwarming when Sadness gives him a cuddle and candy goes cascading over her shoulder.
  • After the core memories are lost, the personality islands break down whenever Riley's actions contradict the associated island. Dad does the ape noises. When Riley doesn't reciprocate, Goofball Island breaks down. Riley video chats with her old friend and learns she made a new friend, so Anger ends the conversation and causes Friendship Island to break down. Riley tries out for hockey and flubs it, so Anger has her give up and Hockey Island breaks down. Honesty Island breaks down when she steals her mother's credit card to buy a bus ticket. And last but definitely not least, the Family Island begins to break down as Riley commits to run away, and the emotions can't stop her because the idea is too strong. Thankfully, that last one is narrowly saved by Sadness, who gets Riley to admit to what's troubling her. The resulting group hug leads to the creation of a new core memory that mixes both Joy and Sadness to form a new family island in the image of their new home.
    • Each island's crumble gets accompanies by a sad, slow piano tune along with flashes back at the times when Riley formed, used or strengthened those personality islands. In those moments you realise that Riley's personality is being quite brutally deconstructed and she is losing the little girl she used to be.
  • Fear panicking over the Monster Clown nightmare is at least a little sympathy-inducing.
  • The scene with Riley looking back into her house before leaving with a backpack, after deciding to run away from home. Just seeing it is enough to provoke a tear-jerker reaction.
  • When Joy climbs into the Recall tube, she notes that Sadness climbing in with her would contaminate the core memories. Sadness is horrified at the prospect of screwing things up again. Joy shuts the tube, giving Sadness a quick "apology" — "Riley needs to be happy" — that is, she doesn't need Sadness. Not surprisingly, this causes Sadness to later tell Joy "Riley's better off without me!"
    • In the Driven by Emotions novelization, this is even sadder. After Joy falls into the dump, Sadness is so guilt-ridden that she briefly considers throwing herself into it. So she contemplates suicide before deciding to let herself get lost in Long-Term Memory instead.
    • Look at Joy's face as she is forced to leave Sadness behind. Definitely not an easy decision for her; she wants to bring Sadness back with her, but doesn't want to risk tainting the Core Memories. Her abandoning Sadness is a Shoot the Dog for her, and she knows it.
  • Pictured above: Joy breaking down in the memory dump. After Bing Bong and Joy fall into the memory dump, she desperately tries to climb back up, only to slide down every time. Bing Bong tells her there's no escape. She then finds the core memory Sadness created. She picks up a few old memories of Riley's life, such as how she used to stick out her tongue while she was drawing. Then she holds up the sad memory again. Unable to hold back her tears anymore, she tearfully states "I just wanted Riley to be happy!" and breaks down crying. Remember... this is the very concept, the Anthropomorphic Personification of joy... now fallen to despair.
  • The Crowning Moment of Tearjerker that is Joy's moment of epiphany, re-winding the hockey memory in the Memory Dump:
    Joy: Sadness... Mom and Dad... the team... they came to help, because of Sadness.
    • In some fridge brilliance, the reason that Sadness says that it's her favorite memory because Riley's sadness became joy when her parents and her team came to comfort her; Sadness wanted to help Riley become happy again.
  • Bing Bong's Heroic Sacrifice. After he and Joy attempt to get out of the memory dump using Bing Bong's "rocket" twice and fail both times, he tells Joy to try just one more time, because he thinks it'll work this time. Before the rocket can take off, he jumps from it, lightening the load enough for Joy to make it out. By the time Joy realizes what he's done, she's out and he's still stuck in the dump. The two share some final words before he fades away, with Bing Bong encouraging her to fix things. Pete Docter has even commented that his voice actor (Richard Kind) was beginning to cry while recording one of the lines.
    Bing Bong: Take her to the moon for me… okay?
    Joy: I'll try, Bing Bong. I promise.
    • It makes Bing Bong's line about how big Riley's gotten that much more sad.
    • Making it hit even harder, when they try to escape for the third time, Bing Bong tells Joy to sing as loud as she can to power the rocket. He jumps out after she starts to do so. It's not too big a leap to think that he asked her to sing loudly so she wouldn't hear him jump out, knowing that she probably wouldn't leave the chasm on her own if she knew his plan.
    • Also an example of Face Death with Dignity, as he could tell from his faded arm that he would fade away in short order. Rather than continue trying until there was nothing left of him, he used his last moments to give Joy hope that they could succeed, knowing she would never abandon him willingly. Listen to his voice when he suggests another go; it's a tone of resignation to his fate.
    • The fact that you actually saw Bing Bong just... fade away into nothing. And that's it. He doesn't appear again — not after the credits as a cameo or anything. He isn't even mentioned after it. Bing Bong really did disappear for good and, unfortunately, there's no way to bring him back.
    • And, once again, this is where faded memories go to be permanently deleted. Riley will never be able to think of him again. Also, it's been noted by fans that it's kind of cold to never mention him again after his sacrifice, but there's a real chance that it's because he's been that completely removed from memory - even Joy and Sadness forget him because nothing of him remains to be joyous or sad about.
    • Richard Kind, Bing Bong's voice actor, revealed that he took his family to Pixar headquarters a year before the film's release where they saw the few things that had been animated, including a rough version of this scene which had his oldest daughter sobbing uncontrollably by the end. He also notes that almost a whole minute was removed in the final version because it became too depressing even for this studio.
    • "Come on, Joy, one more time. I've got a feeling about this one."
    • It's an example of Bing Bong accepting what he always feared would happen: being forgotten. The first time Joy sees him, he's stealing memories of himself, trying to preserve his own existence so Riley won't forget him.
  • Anger, Disgust and Fear's reactions to the console turning grey and locking them out. Anger and Disgust are stunned with horrified regret while Fear slowly goes quiet, falling into despair.
    Fear: [softly] Guys... we can't make Riley feel anything.
    Anger: What have we done?
    • Outside Riley's mind it also looks bleak. Riley has just rejected her Mom's second phone call as she waits in line to board the bus and, as she boards and takes a seat on the bus, she just looks dead. Even Riley's coloring is muted to demonstrate her numb apathy and the bleak, despondent atmosphere. On top of that, Riley is just a child of eleven years; it's pretty heartbreaking that many children feel this hopeless but are not as lucky as Riley was in the end.
  • No words are spoken, but after having spent the film trying to keep the core memories away from Sadness, the earnest look Joy gives her while entrusting them to her clearly shows how sorry she is for how poorly she treated her. Sadness for her part looks a bit surprised, but then goes to do her work, Joy looking quite morose but giving Sadness a nod of approval and keeping a sad smile on her face, knowing that it's what is best for Riley.
  • After three days of tumultuous emotions and living her life without Joy and Sadness, Riley's been keeping herself quite reserved, angry and anxious, slowly losing all the aspects of herself that made her her. Thanks to an ill-conceived plan by Anger, she's consumed by an idea to run away back to Minnesota. However, at just the right moment, Joy and Sadness return, with Sadness successfully removing the idea from her head so she can return to her house. However, the real tearjerker is when Joy gives Sadness the core memories, turning them blue so Riley can finally understand why all those old things she loved hurt so much. Finally overcome with sadness, Riley breaks down in front of her parents, telling them they always want her to be happy, but she can't help but miss her friends, her old home, and her hockey team, even if they were liking the move. The parents in turn admit to Riley that they miss home, too, and all the great things and memories she made for them there. And then they get in a big family hug. For any person who's had to transition into a new part of life, suffers from depression, or felt like they had to repress any sort of emotion at a point in their life, this hits home very hard.
    Riley: I know you don't want me to, but… I miss home. I miss Minnesota. You need me to be happy, but I want my old friends, and my hockey team. I wanna go home. Please don't be mad.
    Riley's Mom: Oh, sweetie...
    Riley's Dad: We're not mad. You know what? I miss Minnesota, too. I miss the woods where we took hikes.
    Riley's Mom: And the backyard where you used to play.
    Riley's Dad: The spring lake, where you learned to skate. (Riley begins to break down, sobbing) Come here. [Group Hug]
    • This goes double for any audience members who moved as a child, as that process of depression and fear of letting that sadness take over is all too familiar. Finally breaking down and crying about the fact that you can't go home again can take hours to happen, or for some months, or even years.
    • The way Riley's parents look at her when she starts crying is also heartbreaking. Their expressions are a mix of sadness, but also surprise. Makes sense when you realize that, because of Joy's efforts to always keep Riley happy, they probably haven't seen Riley this sad in quite a while. Even that time when she lost the big hockey match was tame by comparison.
    • Given their surprise and sadness at Riley's anguish and her admission that "they need her to be happy", her parents could well regret ever giving her the impression that she should stay happy for them, and Riley's mom certainly looks like she regrets her request of Riley that they "stay happy" for Riley's dad.
    • It's a bit of fridge tearjerker with the implication that Riley's parents will learn that their daughter tried to run away from home; given the tumult of the past few days, learning that their child is missing, Riley's sudden but safe return home, and then hearing her tearful confession of homesickness, learning that their child tried to run away will probably come as quite a jolt for them and probably make them question their own ability as parents.
    • Before that, Riley's depression is both this and more than a little terrifying - to see a child go through all that, especially as it's played very realistically when we see it from outside her mind. Riley isn't just unable to feel Joy, she's also unable to feel Sadness, and as a result all she is Angry, Disgusted and Afraid - without Joy she can't feel good about herself, and without Sadness she can't connect with how she feels or the people around her. As a result, she alienates herself from her family and friends, gives up on the things she loves in life, and starts betraying her integrity. By the time Anger, Fear and Disgust realize how bad things are getting, Riley has totally shut down.
    • A ton of the film's conflicts could have been avoided if Riley, her mom, and her dad all had been more open with each other about how they felt during the move and waiting for the moving truck to get there after a week delay. Riley's last four words show that the reason Riley never opened up to her parents about her feelings was because she was afraid they would get mad — she didn't want to show sadness! Of course they wouldn't, they're her parents and they always will be, but hearing those words strikes home to anyone who ever feared how their parents felt growing up.
  • After the aforementioned scene happened thanks to her actions, Sadness gives Joy an encouraging smile. For Joy however, this only drives home further how wrong she was for treating Sadness the way she did, by keeping her from helping Riley to deal with her grief and trying to get rid of the core memory she created. The meek, apologetic expression she sports when she gives Sadness said core memory back tells it all.
  • You have to feel a little sorry for the popular girl (the one with the blue streak and eyeshadow) at the end, when you see inside of her thoughts and see all of her emotions breaking down over how hard it is to be cool all the time, and how scared that she is that everyone else can see that she's faking her coolness.
    • It's a bit of fridge tearjerker, since many children and teenagers want to fit in and they fake interest in the latest trends. They might be "cool", but by faking it they're lying to themselves and needlessly making themselves miserable.
  • Jangles the Clown at the end credits; he is performing at a toddler's birthday party and is unsuccessful in his efforts to keep the attention of the children, when his emotions are secretly bitter that he's done "Six years of drama school for this?" That he has put in time and effort for something he enjoys only to find that what he likely wanted (a successful career in acting, perhaps?) will probably just remain a fantasy for him is pretty depressing; so many people have dreams for themselves when they're growing up and then find that many of these dreams just cannot be realized.
    • A bit of a fridge tearjerker here; it's unlikely that Jangles has any idea that he's traumatized Riley (among others) and, given how miserable that he secretly is about his job, one could infer that he would feel worse at knowing that at least a few children remember him as terrifying.
  • From the end credits: "This film is dedicated to our children. Please don't grow up. Ever."
  • The very last piece of music in the entire movie, happening at the last of the end credits.note .
  • In the art book, there's a picture of what Joy's room looks like, and there's pictures on the wall, presumably drawings done by Joy herself. Along with a picture of Disneyland, herself doing ballet, and others, there's a picture of Joy being hugged by an older woman with a similar bang in the middle of her forehead just as Joy has. The picture is labeled "Me & Mom". It gives the WMG that Joy secretly wants to be human a lot more weight.
  • The "Joy Alone" Deleted Scene, in which Joy is separated from the others and travels through a massive glowing cavern at the bottom of a dark sea. She emerges in a desolate landscape with a single house, but finds a warmly-lit room where a young Riley asks Joy to dance with her. Joy goes from being utterly hopeless to utterly delighted, but when "Riley" asks her to stay Joy's face slowly falls and she gently explains that she can't. This is the moment when Joy realizes that her journey has changed her, just as Riley's changed, and she can't stay with this "dream" Riley when the real one needs her.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: