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There's a bone to pick with people, in more ways than one.

"Remember me / Though I have to say goodbye, remember me!"
Ernesto de la Cruz

Coco is Pixar's 19th feature film, directed by Lee Unkrich and released in 2017.

The film tells the story of a 12-year-old Mexican boy named Miguel Rivera who, living in a family of music-hating shoemakers, ends up creating one of the most extraordinary family reunions ever upon discovering a generation-old mystery surrounding this so-called "music curse".

A first look into the film's concept can be viewed here. The teaser trailer for the film can be viewed here, as well. Dante's Lunch "Short Film" trailer. It's become the number one movie of all time in Mexico, with critics and audiences alike praising it for its sensitive and artful representation of the Mexican holiday and culture.

For the first few weeks of its run, the Franchise/Frozen short Olaf's Frozen Adventure was attached to the film's theatrical release.


Please move any character tropes to the Coco character page.

Coco provides examples of:

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    Tropes A to C 
  • Adult Fear: The backstory of the Rivera family is steeped in this.
    • Imelda was left to raise her very young daughter by herself when her husband Héctor left home in hopes of making a living while doing something he loved. Not only was he never interested in fame but he also never wanted to tour around different towns and cities every day for fame like Ernesto. She never found out that her husband had been murdered so she believed that he walked out on the family and was so devastated by this that she banned music from the family. The rest of her family was so hurt by her husband's supposed abandonment that they upheld the ban well after her death and avoided even speaking his name for generations.
    • On Héctor's side, his 25-year-old childhood friend murdered him when he was only 21 years old all on the account that Héctor wanted to return home to his wife and daughter, and because his family never learnt that he was murdered and believed that he abandoned them, Héctor ended up disgraced and ostracized from his family in the afterlife. He doesn't even realize he was murdered for 96 years and when he does, Ernesto essentially tries to murder him again.
    • There's also the reaction of the Rivera family members, both living and dead, when Miguel runs away. The whole thing feels similar to a terrified parent trying to find their child missing in a mall. The whole thing ends with the dead Rivera family members watching as Miguel is nearly murdered and then Héctor almost undergoes Final Death.
    • Two of the Rivera ghosts, Julio and Victoria, were actually Coco's late husband and daughter respectively, meaning she's not only a Widow Woman who outlived one of her children, but a daughter who waited her entire life for a father whom she isn't aware was murdered.
    • When Ernesto de la Cruz is threatening to throw Miguel off a building, Héctor is too weak from being forgotten to do more than plead helplessly: "He's a living child, Ernesto!"
    • Lighter than the other examples listed here, but the idea that a beloved member of the family could one day become so senile, they don't understand anything that's going on around them, know what year they're in, or even recognize their own children, is pretty scary to a lot of people. Especially since it happens in real life tragically often, and there's not much anyone can do to prevent it or fix it. It's doubly scary if you consider the possibility it could one day happen to you. Though the ending of this story shows that, even with her Alzheimer's, Mama Coco still loves her family with all her heart, even if she isn't always lucid enough to express it.
    • During his life, Héctor spent so much time working away from home that he was genuinely worried that his relationship with his daughter would suffer for it. "Remember Me" is a sweet song, but it's also a product of guilt, a desperate plea for his daughter to understand that he still loves her even though he's not around to show it.
    • Miguel's initial reaction when he realizes Ernesto de la Cruz is a murderer and plagiarist. It's a double-whammy of a Broken Pedestal. First, de la Cruz was Miguel's role model, such that Miguel wanted to pattern his whole life after his. Next, he still thought de la Cruz was his ancestor at that point in time, and it can be pretty horrifying to learn that there is a straight line of kinship between yourself and a monster.
  • Advertising by Association: As usual with Pixar films, the trailer says "From the creators of Toy Story and Finding Dory".
  • The Afterafterlife: Apparently the case with "the Final Death," according to the director Lee Unkrich in an interview [1].
    "And so the way we tackled [the concept of the afterlife] in our story - luckily, you know, by embracing this idea of the final death and that there's kind of a beyond the beyond, we were able to just kind of have fun creating almost like a way station - like a temporary place while souls are remembered, where they can just live joyously and especially around Dia de los Muertos, which is when they're coming back every year to visit their families."
  • Age Cut: During the papel picado prologue, there’s a brief scene where young Coco dances across and becomes a young woman.
  • The Ageless: The appearances of the spirits of the Land of the Dead are based on what they looked like at the moment of their death, more or less; never really changing aside from cleaning up any potential wounds they may have had (like the many fractures Ernesto would have probably received by being crushed to death by a bell). As a result, Ernesto de la Cruz appears to be in his 40s at most, Héctor himself doesn't appear a day over 21 years old, while Mama Imelda and Papa Julio look much older. When the almost unresponsive and senile Coco dies, she arrives in the Land of the Dead still with white hair and hunched over, but much livelier. She can even walk again.
  • All Part of the Show: Mamá Imelda successfully plays off dodging and evading Ernesto's bodyguards as dancing when she accidentally ends up in the Sunrise Spectacular stage and turns to singing to avoid alarming the crowd. Likewise, Ernesto disguises his attempts to stop Imelda and recover Héctor's photo as dancing and performing, complete with turning his scream of pain into a hearty Mariachi grito when Imelda stomps on his foot to set herself free and steal back the picture. The audience is none the wiser.
  • Ambition Is Evil:
    • The villain's Backstory: Ernesto de la Cruz only became the star he was after he murdered Héctor and stole his songs. He's also the only character to point out, quite correctly, that achieving your dreams sometimes means leaving your hometown and family, and this is framed in a rather negative light.
    • It is also the reason why Mamá Imelda prohibited music for the Riveras. She doesn't hate music, quite the contrary, she was a musician herself along with her husband, but when her husband never returned home from his first music tour, Imelda believed that music could cause a person to become so ambitious that they would abandon their loved ones to chase their dreams. Afraid this might happen to her children, she prohibited music for her family. Ironically the prohibition almost forced Miguel to do exactly that and Imelda soon realizes that it didn't work too well. "Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!", indeed.
    • Zig-zagged by the ending, when the family let Miguel become a musician and he realises the value of family at the same time. The evil of Ernesto's ambition could specifically said to be because he was willing to sacrifice everything for it when he already had a family who needed him, and thus the ambition alone is not solely evil.
  • Amusing Injuries: Let's just say that a lack of flesh and blood on your bones is bound to make these a regular occurrence. In an interview with NPR, the creators point out that because everyone is already dead, no one can be seriously injured, and so the Land of the Dead is completely devoid of things like safety rails.
  • An Aesop:
    • 'Follow your dreams' and 'let your children do what they love,' which are present in Miguel's passion for music going against his family's traditions.
    • 'Fame and fortune are pretty meaningless if people have nothing positive to say about you once you're dead.'
    • 'Family comes first'. Because fans may come and go, but your family will love you forever.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: The crowd responds with thunderous applause when Ernesto gets a bell dropped on him following him being outed as a fraud and a murderer. ...Well, except for that one guy returning from the concession stand.
    Guy: What'd I miss?
  • And This Is for...: Imelda when she smacks Ernesto with her shoe twice after finding out that he killed Héctor and tried to kill Miguel.
  • Animated Musical: Averted. Music is a major theme of the movie and several characters sing, but all of the singing occurs In-Universe.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Seize your moment," which is Ernesto de la Cruz's Catchphrase and is repeated by the characters throughout the movie in various contexts.
    • "Remember Me", Ernesto de la Cruz's In-Universe Signature Song which is originally written and performed by Héctor for his daughter Coco. Remembering deceased loved ones is one of the film's Central Themes, which ultimately becomes an important plot point towards the end of the film.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "Why can't you be on my side? "
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: After his failed attempt to cross the bridge, Héctor is charged with disturbing the peace, fleeing an officer, and falsifying a unibrow. Lampshaded by Héctor when he responds to the last charge with "That's illegal?"note 
  • Art Shift: The prologue is depicted in 2D animation on papel picado banners.
  • As You Know: At the time Abuelita Elena is explaining Miguel the traditions of Día de Muertos, it's clear that he already knows all this, and all this information is directed to the audience who isn't acquainted with Día de Muertos (especially those audiences who aren't Mexicans).
  • Audible Gleam: Played for Laughs during Miguel's opening narration when he mentions "sparkly underwear for wrestlers" as something Imelda could have started a business on instead of shoes.
  • Award-Bait Song: Remember Me / Recuérdame. Just to make sure they cover all bases there are six recorded versions of the song in the Spanish dub:
  • Bait the Dog: When Ernesto first appears, it seems he's just as amazing as he was in life: he willingly bonds with his supposed great-great-grandson Miguel, and encourages him to follow his dream. Then it's revealed that he's a fraud who murdered his best friend and stole his songs to become famous. After this, he tries to murder Miguel, even though at the time he still thought he was his great-great-grandson.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: Inverted. Dead family members with no photo on their ofrenda cannot cross the marigold bridge to the living world, as shown by Héctor when he tries to cross but ends up sinking into the petals.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • Miguel wanted to become a musician like Ernesto de la Cruz. He got more than what he bargained for.
    • Imelda spent her whole life trying to forget the man who walked out on her, and make Coco forget him too. When she sees that Héctor is dying the Final Death thanks to Coco forgetting him, she's visibly horrified and remorseful to see that it's worked all too well.
      Imelda: [ruefully] I wanted to forget you. I wanted Coco to forget you too, but...
    • Ernesto murdered Héctor and stole his songs because he wanted to be famous and remembered. When the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead discover the truth, Ernesto became infamous and remembered for being a reviled murderous fraud who managed to fool people for 96 years.
  • Be Yourself: Ernesto decided to embrace his true nature as a musician instead of his family and encourages Miguel to disregard his family's wishes to do the same.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Héctor suddenly appears when he attempts to stop Ernesto from giving Miguel's blessing.
    • When all hope is lost, Pepita and Imelda show up to help Miguel and Héctor out of the cenote.
    • After Ernesto tosses Miguel off the tower, Pepita comes to rescue him.
  • Big Shadow, Little Creature: The last scene has Dante tread in from the right followed by a huge shadow that looks like Pepita, but turns out to be a small cat; this is Pepita's true earthly form, as Imelda's beloved pet cat.
  • Birth/Death Juxtaposition: The Time Skip at the end has Miguel showing his new baby sister all of the deceased family members upon the ofrenda just before their grandmother puts up a photo of Mama Coco. Fittingly, the novelization confirms that the baby is named Socorro. Or, Coco for short.
  • Black Comedy: Inevitable in an animated comedy where half of the cast are the living dead. It ranges from Ernesto de la Cruz dying a ridiculous death (a giant bell falling on him) to skeletons falling apart and putting themselves together again.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • In an interview asking how he achieved his fame, Ernesto begins by saying he 'had to have faith in his dream'. If the flashback is anything to go by, Ernesto didn't have faith in that dream or himself to even try and achieve fame without Héctor's songs. Or in the least, without murdering his friend and then stealing those songs.
    • When Hector confronts Ernesto for never giving him credit for the songs he wrote, Ernesto claims that he only sang them to keep Hector's memory alive. Hector doesn't buy it for a second.
  • Bookends:
    • The movie starts and ends with a shot of an orange flag on the banner, with the movie’s title at the beginning and "THE END" at the end, with the former appearing in the latter's place in the international versions.
    • The movie also opens with Miguel explaining his dream of becoming a musician even though his family is vehemently against it, lamenting how his family seems to be the only one in Mexico to hate music. By the end of the movie, Miguel is seen in full mariachi garb as his family gathers at the dinner table on Dia de Muertos while reaffirming how much he loves his family in song.
    • Another example for Ernesto: his first scene has him surrounded by a stand packed full of his adoring fans, before being accidentally crushed by a giant bell. In his last appearance, his former fans aren't so kind upon learning what a fraud he is, and Imelda's alebrije intentionally brings the bell down on him.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Rivera family's business of shoemaking. Miguel wishes Imelda had started a fun business, like making candy or fireworks. However, making shoes was a good idea, financially — shoes are something everyone needs, and they have to be replaced semi-frequently. And it paid off; the business is still up and running nearly a century later, and it's enough to support the entire family.
  • Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: One of the skeletons going to cross the marigold bridge to the Land of the Living is wearing rather enormous braces that fit his huge jaw. It's mentioned that his photo is on the ofrenda of his dentist.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The things Héctor borrowed from Chicharron include his van, lasso, good napkins, mini-fridge, and femur.
  • Broken Pedestal: Ernesto de la Cruz is the inspiration behind Miguel's love of music, but it turns out that not only was he a fraud, he actually murdered the original musical genius Héctor, who is revealed to be Miguel's actual great-great-grandfather. Ernesto also becomes one to the Lands of the Living and Dead once they discover the truth.
  • Broken Record: When Héctor is shocked at learning Ernesto is Miguel’s great-great grandfather, his response is simply this:
    Héctor: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Wait, wait...Wait, no, wait, wait, wait, wait. Wait, wai-wait, wait, wait. Wait, wait...
  • Buffy Speak:
    • When Héctor is rejected by the scanner, he calls it a "blinky thingy" when he sheds his disguise.
    • Imelda calls the computer a "devil box" when she is first seen.
  • Calacas: The Calacas are all skeletal, but their design include fully-functioning human eyes and small ornate markings. They are only allowed to venture to the land of the living when their living relatives have their photographs displayed on an altar during Dia De Los Muertos and can take the astral forms of inanimate objects (from food to guitars and clothes) back with them. Living humans that are brought to the afterlife can only be sent back from a blessing of a relative that is already there before sunrise lest they turn into a Calacas permanently. Should the memory of them on Earth fade away completely, they themselves fade away into "the final death."
  • The Cameo:
    • The Pizza Planet truck drives past Miguel's house during his montage of Elena refusing music.
    • A figure of Nemo can be seen on the table that Miguel drums on.
    • Woody, Buzz, and Mike Wazowski appear as piñatas.
    • Among the guests at De la Cruz's party were real life Lucha Libre legend El Santo, comic actor Cantinflas, singer and actress Maria Felix and Mexican revolutionary figure Zapata, as well as two of the inspirations for De La Cruz's character, Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete.
    • John Ratzenberger makes his traditional Pixar cameo as a deceased orthodontal patient.
    • Skrillex is one of the participants in the afterlife battle of the bands.
    • Pixar Composer, Michael Giacchino, makes a brief appearance as the Sunrise Spectacular's conductor.
    • When Miguel is looking for Ernesto de la Cruz in the theater, he comes across a skeleton woman without any clothes on, posing for a painter. This painter is Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo's husband and a prominent Mexican painter in his own right, who is known to have painted naked women.
  • Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: When Miguel brings up how a line Ernesto said in real life while he was alive was the same as something he says in a movie and extrapolating that Ernesto murdered the person he said it to just like in the film, Ernesto accuses Miguel of being unable to distinguish movies from real life. Though in this case Miguel was right.
  • A Cappella: The scene where Héctor is singing "Remember Me" starts out with him singing it acapella with no music, then when it changes to the flashback of him singing it to little Coco the acoustic guitar slips in, then slips back out upon returning to the present. The album version keeps the guitar intact for the entire song.
  • Casting Gag:
    • Both the original English version and the Latin American Spanish dub feature fifteen cast members from The Book of Life, albeit in different roles:
      • Ana de la Reguera, who voiced Carmen Sánchez in both English and Spanish, voices Tía Victoria in the Latin American Spanish dub.
      • Salvador Reyes, who voiced Chakal in the Latin American Spanish dub, voices the security guard in both English and Spanish.
      • Cheech Marin, who voiced Pancho Rodríguez in English, voices the Land of the Dead's corrections officer.
      • Angélica María, the voice actress for Hermana Ana, provides the voice for Abuelita Elena in the Latin American Spanish dub.
      • Gabriel Iglesias, who voiced Pepe Rodríguez in English, voices the desk clerk in the Land of the Dead.
      • Raymundo Armijo and Mauricio Pérez provide additional voices in the Latin American Spanish dubs of both Coco and The Book of Life.
      • José Gilberto Vilchis, who played Joaquin Mondragón in the Latin American Spanish dub, voices the guy who said "Somebody stole de la Cruz's guitar!"
      • Ángela Villanueva, who voices Anita Sánchez in Spanish, voices Tía Chelo and the lady with her husband visiting her grave in the Land of the Dead.
      • Pedro D'Aguillón Jr., who voiced the tour guide Thomas in The Book of Life, plays a traveling mariachi in Coco.
      • Jesse Conde, who played General Posada in Spanish, plays the guy who says "What are you asking me?" in the Land of the Dead.
      • Humberto Vélez, who voiced Luis Sánchez in the Latin American Spanish dub, also provides additional voices.
      • Rosalba Sotelo and Óscar Bonfiglio provide additional voices in both English and Spanish.
      • Dan Navarro, who voiced Chakal, is one of the choir singers in the soundtrack.
    • Yuichi Nagashima, who provided the Japanese voice of the clerk in the Land of the Dead, previously played a skeleton, except that he was a member of the Straw Hat Pirates.
    • Alanna Ubach once again voices a character with the surname “Rivera.”
    • For those who used to watch Nickelodeon's Rocket Power, Gustavo (the short violinist who mocks Héctor as "Chorizo") is not Lombardo Boyar's first role as a Hispanic jerk who would've gladly kicked the metaphorical dog (Lars Rodriguez).
    • Benjamin Bratt voices Ernesto, a character who Miguel hero-worships, especially after finding signs that he's Miguel's ancestor, only to turn out to have been Evil All Along. Bratt was on the receiving end of such a depressing revelation in Justice League: Gods and Monsters, where his character, an alternate universe version of Superman thought his father, General Zod, was a hero before learning the Awful Truth about his true nature, albeit secondhand. Like Miguel, this also spurred a Heel Realization in his character.
  • Catch a Falling Star: Dante attempts this, but he's not strong enough to rescue Miguel as he's falling. Pepita actually ends up rescuing him, though Dante's efforts likely slowed him down enough to give Pepita time to get there.
  • Cat/Dog Dichotomy: Miguel's animal companion, the dopey, amiable dog Dante, and Mama Imelda's, the large and initially frightening jaguar-like alebrije Pepita.
  • Caught on Tape: How Ernesto is exposed to the crowd as a fraud during the Sunrise Spectacular.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: The Department of Family Reunions oversees who in the Land of the Dead can cross over to the Land of the Living. At first, they're presented as Obstructive Bureaucrats, but that's because they're just doing their jobs.
  • Celestial Deadline: Miguel has until sunrise to get back to the Land of the Living or he'll be stuck there for good.
  • Central Theme: The importance of family. Dreams are important and you should follow them and support others' dreams but through it all, nothing is more important than the people who love you.
  • Character Narrator: Played with at the beginning, where Miguel's off-screen Opening Narration is revealed that in-universe he's pouring the whole thing out to a customer of his shoe-shining business, because he can't talk to his family about it and he needs to tell someone.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Héctor disguising himself as Frida Kahlo to cross the marigold bridge is a great gag, but then it turns out that he knows where de la Cruz is supposed to be rehearsing for his Sunrise Spectacular because he borrowed the costume from the show's costume designer. While he's apologizing for losing it, Miguel meets the real Frida Kahlo, who's choreographing a performance piece with a lot of dancers costumed as herself. She encourages his artistry and imparts the plot-critical information that no, Ernesto is not here rehearsing, he's holding a very exclusive party that they'll have to find a way into. Later, Héctor's way in is to disguise himself as Frida again. And later still, the entire family disguise themselves as Frida Kahlo thanks to that dance piece she designed, with Miguel personally thanking Frida for her help after she wishes him luck.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Imelda's picture is knocked off the ofrenda, and we later find her berating a customs official because the lack of a photo means she can't go to the Land of the Living.
    • At first Héctor's letters to Coco are simply revealed as a Tragic Keepsake, showing that Coco never stopped loving or missing her father, and bringing the family around to embracing music again. Then, a year later, it turns out the letters were instrumental in exposing Ernesto's misdeeds (leaving him condemned in the world of the living as well as the Land of the Dead and his punishment thus complete) and Héctor's reputation restored.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Héctor's first appearance seems to be a one-off bit demonstrating the rule that people can't cross back into the land of the living unless there is an ofrenda for them to visit. Then Miguel crosses paths again with him later, and he eventually turns out to be very important to the plot, as does the reason why his photo is not in any ofrenda.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Héctor's ability to dress up as Frida Kahlo ends up being helpful a couple of times later.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: There are crosses all around the Rivera house and Elena crosses herself at one point while exasperated with Miguel. Justified in that Mexico is a country where roughly 80% of residents are Catholic.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: When Héctor confronts De la Cruz just as Miguel is about to receive a blessing to become a musician, Héctor recites the words that were told to him just before he died of food poisoning. Miguel points out that those same lines were recited in a scene in film starring de De la Cruz, where he was given a poisoned drink by his best friend, which was playing at that very time in a nearby TV. This leads Héctor to realize that on the night he decided to quit show business and go back to the family he left behind, and take his songbook with him, he and De la Cruz shared a farewell drink. Moments later, Héctor collapsed and died on the street, with De la Cruz blaming it on food poisoning, and getting famous by singing (and taking credit for) the songs Héctor composed.
  • Comical Overreacting: At the beginning of the movie, any time music is so much as mentioned in front of the Riveras, expect their reactions to be hilariously over-the-top for the audience. Until they find out about Miguel's hidden shrine and guitar...
  • Completely Missing the Point: Ernesto de la Cruz missed the point of Héctor's songs. He sings "Remember Me" as a frivolous romance song rather than a tender lullaby, and understands "The World is Mi Familia" as an endorsement of career success over settling down and forming a family, rather than the other way around.
  • Concert Climax: The climax takes place at Ernesto's "Sunrise Spectacular." It's something of a combination of the Action Movie and Romantic Comedy versions of this trope, as it involves a Race Against the Clock, the villain being exposed to the world and the reunion of Héctor with his family.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Miguel arrives at the intermediary station between the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead just as Héctor his true great-great-grandfather tries and fails to cross the bridge, meaning they can bump into each other later on in the Grand Central Station. After Miguel learns that Dante is his spirit guide he speculates that it wasn't just a coincidence, even though Dante had nothing to do with the timing of his arrival.Or did he? 
    • Héctor just happens to take Miguel to visit his friend Chicharrón minutes before Chicharron experiences "final death", thus enabling Héctor to explain final death to Miguel with Chicharrón serving as his visual aid.
    • When Héctor goes to Ernesto to ask for his aid, one of Ernesto's movies just happens to be playing in the background, and it just happens to be at a scene that reveals a huge plot twist to the audience. Miguel even brings it up right as the scene plays, even though he wasn't paying attention to the Ernesto's movie up to that point.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: Ernesto de la Cruz's version of "Remember Me" is big and flashy, and sounds like a fond farewell to all the women he's left behind, while Héctor's version is a slower, more wistful plea for his daughter not to forget about him while he's away working.
  • Covers Always Lie: Any movie or soundtrack cover showing Miguel and Héctor on the marigold bridge together falls guilty of this, since Héctor can't cross the bridge for most of the movie.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The Land of the Dead has only been seen on Día de Muertos, but from what's depicted it seems to be a 24/7 party filled with amazing sights, sounds, and performances where the vast majority of the dead get to enjoy themselves and reunite with their loved ones after death on top of getting a chance to see how their living relatives are doing once a year. On the other hand, the forgotten, those without pictures on their family's ofrendas, are often left to scrape by in slums filled with trash and garbage with little hope of ever seeing their families again before finally suffering their Final Death and fading away into a place no one knows (or likely cares) about.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The credits show various events and artifacts of the movie depicted on the many papel picado banners, as marigold petals fly through the scenery.
  • Creator Cameo: The orchestra conductor of Ernesto's concert in the climax is modeled after composer Michael Giacchino.note 
    • Director Lee Unkrich voices the "What did I miss?" guy from the Sunrise Spectacular, and co-director Adrian Molina voices the guy who said "Somebody stole de la Cruz's guitar!"
  • Crowded Cast Shot: The movie ends as every Rivera family member, living and dead, all gather round Miguel as he is raised on his dad and uncle’s shoulders while singing "Proud Corazón" and the view pans up as mentioned below.
  • Cry into Chest: Miguel cries into Héctor's chest when both find themselves tossed into the cenote. At the end, he does this with his father when he believes Coco has fully forgotten her father.
  • Cue the Falling Object: At the Department of Family Reunions, enraged Imelda smashes a computer with her shoe but Papá Julio comes to interrupt her. After a minute the computer gives off a final surge in an unsuspected moment.
  • Curse Cut Short: When Chicharrón accuses Héctor of borrowing his femur:
    Chicharrón: Where’s my femur?! You — [He singes and faints before he can get the words out.]
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Ernesto. He may have lacked the ability to write songs, but he had so many other talents that he didn’t even need to steal someone else's songs. He was an excellent actor, impressive stuntman, possessed devilishly handsome good looks, and even had a knack of charming many people. Also, he didn’t even need to lie to the world that he wrote his own songs and could have hired another songwriter, as many musicians who didn’t write their own songs still ended up just as famous or even more.

    Tropes D to I 
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: The reason why Miguel's family is so adamant that he never play a musical instrument, and abandon his hopes of being a musician is because mamá Coco and her mother were abandoned by her father, a musician, who went on tour, found fame and never came back. It turns out that Héctor is Miguel's great-great grandfather, not de La Cruz, and the reason why Héctor never came back from tour was because after deciding to quit show business and go back to raise his family, de La Cruz, Héctor's stage partner, poisoned his drink, stole Héctor's songbook, and blamed his death on food poisoning.
  • Dance Party Ending: The film closes with the Riveras, both living and dead, dancing around over Miguel's musical number.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Land of the Dead is actually a thriving community of skeletons who are friendly and help Miguel during his journey. However, Ernesto isn't what he seems.
  • Dark Reprise: While the first performance of "Remember Me" is a bombastic grandiose ballad, it reappears on a more melancholy note later in the film. In an inversion, the former is actually Ernesto's bastardized version stolen from Héctor, while the latter is how the song was meant to be played, as a farewell lullaby from Héctor to Coco.
  • The Dead Can Dance:
    • The Frida Kahlo dancers rehearse and then perform on stage at the Sunrise Spectacular.
    • Héctor kicks up his heels after Dante pushes him on stage during "Un Poco Loco".
    • The huge crowd at Ernesto's grande Fiesta in his tower are dancing.
    • Imelda dances while singing "La Llorona" to evade Ernesto and Ernesto joins her.
    • The reunited Imelda and Héctor dance a waltz together as Miguel sings "Proud Corazón".
  • Deader Than Dead: Skeletons vanish from the Land of the Dead when the living no longer remember them, though no one knows what happens to them after that. They even call this "Final Death".
  • Dead Hat Shot: There's a close up on Chicharrón's hat after he's vanished from the Land of the Dead.
  • Death as Comedy: Ernesto was killed in 1942 when a church bell fell on him during a performance.
  • Death Glare: In Héctor's flashback, Ernesto gives one to Héctor as he drinks his shot of tequila, not knowing that there's poison in it.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: The "following your dreams" aesop. For the deconstruction part, while Miguel's musical aspirations are sympathetic, it also leads him to forgoing his family when he assumes that they won't support him. This also leads to becoming more and more selfish to the point of saying hurtful things to his family. The reconstruction comes after discovering Ernesto's true, villainous colors. Miguel learns how important his family is and that while it's perfectly okay to have dreams, he shouldn't make that more important than his family. Because he learned this lesson, his family learns that music isn't as corrupting as they had once believed.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: The Almighty Mom gets a work-over in the Rivera matriarchs, who undergo two generations being so militant about hating poor Héctor that he has become an Unperson both amongst the living and the dead and the former do not even bother to give him an ofrenda of any kind, even almost a century after his passing, and nobody else in the family wants to make a stand against it. Suffice to say that this causes a whole lot more drama than they probably were expecting.
  • Dem Bones: The dead are all depicted as friendly-looking skeletons.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Héctor thinking he'll never see his daughter again.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Said by Miguel when the end of his Opening Monologue is actually spoken off-camera and the mariachi guy heard.
  • Died Happily Ever After: Mama Coco is happy to be in the Land of the Dead thanks to being reunited with her family.
  • Diegetic Switch:
    • During the scene where Miguel and Héctor are in the pit upon learning the truth, Héctor looks at the ripped-up photo from the ofrenda and begins singing "Remember Me" a capella, before switching to the flashback of him playing the song to Coco when she was younger.
    • "Proud Corazón" starts out as a background piece played as Héctor reunites with Imelda and Coco in the Land of the Dead before crossing the marigold bridge with the rest of the Riveras, before switching to Miguel singing it onscreen for his family following such.
  • Disguised in Drag:
    • Héctor disguising himself as Frida Kahlo. It's a Running Gag.
    • Miguel and his family get into Ernesto's concert at the climax by disguising themselves as the back-up dancers for Frida Kahlo's performance-art piece... which means all of them, including the men, are dressed as Frida Kahlo.
  • Dishonored Dead:
    • Given how he left his family (or so it originally seemed), Miguel's great-great-grandfather doesn't have a presence on the Rivera family's ofrenda. The one family picture of his great-great-grandparents has his face torn out. Miguel's great-great-grandfather is eventually revealed to be Héctor.
    • After the truth comes out about Héctor and Ernesto de la Cruz, the memorial dedicated to Ernesto appears to be condemned one year later. A bust of him is shown to be covered by a sign that says "FORGET YOU."
  • Disqualification-Induced Victory: The runners-up at the Battle of the Bands end up taking first place after Miguel leaves after being betrayed last minute. Fortunately, they offer to sneak Miguel into Ernesto's tower so he can perform there after all.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Played for Laughs near the start of the film, when some of the Riveras catch Miguel talking to a Mariachi at Mariachi Square. They interrogate him to know "what did he offer" Miguel, and aggressively let him know that they "know your tricks," as though he were a child abductor offering candy, or a street peddler offering drugs.
    • Exaggerated in the Spanish dub: The family goes ballistic after Miguel says that the mariachi wanted to "show [him] his guitar" and Miguel's uncle yells out an "¡Atrevido!"note  (instead of "Shame on you!"). It doesn't help that "Mariachi" shares the two first syllables with a nasty slur for homosexuals, so... imagine what Miguel's family scolding him for going to "the square of the mariachis" sounds like.
  • Double Entendre:
    • The musicians at the art studio tease Héctor about how he seemed to have choked to death on chorizo, while Héctor insists it was food poisoning.note 
    • At the end, Ernesto's tomb, inscribed "Remember Me" after his song, is now replied to with an angry sign saying "Forget You" after the Land of the Living learns the truth about him during the one year Time Skip. While this is a perfectly valid retort to his (really Héctor's) famous song, "forget you" is often used as a G-rated replacement for a much stronger phrase.
  • Dreamworks Face:
    • Miguel pulls one when trying to imitate Ernesto's facial expression captured on a record cover.
    • Miguel wears a smirk in the poster that is the current page image.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After having spent most of his life being shut out from music of any kind, having his faith in his lifelong idol shattered, and coming within a hair's-breadth of being murdered by said idol several times, Miguel manages to return to the Land of the Living and the Riveras (both living and dead) learn the truth about Héctor. As a result, Héctor is forgiven, his photo is placed on the family altar and he finally reunites with his daughter. The Riveras, who hated music before, now embrace it and Miguel is able to chase his dreams of becoming a musician.
  • Easily Forgiven: Played With. Imelda's unwilling to forgive Héctor right away since even after learning that he was killed by Ernesto before he could return, he still abandoned her and Coco; by the finale, they're back together for real. Also, in the living world after the one year Time Skip, the Riveras forgave Héctor and accepted music once again. It can be assumed that just like their ancestors, they didn't automatically forgive Héctor overnight, but it took some time and effort from Miguel and Coco, as well as finding Héctor's letters that revealed the truth, to convince them to do so.
  • The End: The fifth Pixar film to finish with this after A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille and Finding Dory.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Tía Rosita mans the camera and Tía Victoria turns on the sound as Ernesto confronts the Rivera family backstage at his concert, broadcasting the entire thing to the stadium screens and outing Ernesto as a murderous fraud.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: Miguel says that he always thought the Land of the Dead was something adults made up, like vitamins.
    Tía Victoria: Miguel, vitamins are a real thing.
    Miguel: Well, now I'm thinking maybe they could be.
  • Everyone Owns A Mac: The "devil box" in the Land of the Dead customs office that Imelda smashes is a Macintosh Classic.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Frida Kahlo has a monkey alebrije, based on the pet spider monkey she had in Real Life.
  • Exact Words: "I hope you die very soon." This at first seems like an amusing line to mean that Ernesto looks forward to the next time he sees his reunited great-great-grandson when he returns to the afterlife for good. However, once the twist is revealed, this hints that Ernesto may be jealous of Miguel's natural talent, and rather hopes he dies before he becomes more famous than him.
  • Expanded Universe: There's the storybook Miguel and the Amazing Alebrijes, which ties in with the movie. It deals with Miguel thinking over which animal should be his spirit guide for a class project. It's likely this book took place before the events of the film.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Not counting the prologue and Time Skip at the end, the film's plot is set over a period of 24 hours.
  • Facial Markings: All the skeletons in the Land of the Dead have colorful markings on their skulls, giving them a resemblance to traditional sugar skulls that are decorated or eaten on Dia de los Muertos.
  • Facial Recognition Software: Before leaving the Land of the Dead, every dead person has their skull scanned. The scan is matched to a photo on an ofrenda, and the dead are told where their family is. It seems to be mostly to help the dead find their offerings, rather than for any sort of security, as even if you run past the scanning, you can't cross the petal bridge to the Land of the Living if your picture's not on an ofrenda.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Héctor doesn't react to Imelda calling out from across the station, nor does he notice Miguel gasping in response to the name being shouted.
    • You can tell just how far Imelda will go to forget her husband:
      • When Miguel insists that the guitar that cursed him belonged to his great-great-grandfather, it doesn't occur to her that he shouldn't know who he is, and if he did, that he couldn't possibly have found the guitar that belonged to him, given what she thinks she knows about him.
      • It’s evident when Miguel is weaseling his way out of the office that he’s going to go look for his great-great-grandfather. His family spots him minutes later leaving with Héctor. When Imelda corners Miguel in the alley without Héctor, it’s easy to deduce that Miguel has the wrong idea of who his great-great-grandfather is. But Imelda doesn’t seem to realize that.
    • None of the Riveras searching the music competition for Miguel notice him on the stage with Héctor. Glaringly so for Imelda, considering that they were singing a song that was written for her - of course, she probably hears it a lot, especially around this time.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Héctor's death. He is poisoned by his colleague Ernesto, collapses in the street, and dies in what is shown to be a quite painful way...on screen.
  • Fanservice Extra: Played with. Miguel walks past a woman posing for a nude painting, but since she's a skeleton, there's nothing there but bones. Amusingly, he acts as if her flesh and skin is there.
  • Feedback Rule:
    • Miguel's hesitant start into his first performance before a large crowd at the "battle of the bands" is accompanied by the microphone giving off a harsh feedback.
    • Similarly, the microphone produced a feedback at the start of Imelda's improvised "La Llorona" performance at the Concert Climax.
    • Also when the audience learns first hand about Ernesto de la Cruz's crimes.
  • Felony Misdemeanor:
    • The Rivera family react to seeing a Mariachi player offer to let Miguel play his guitar with the same horror and protective outrage as if he was street dealer offering the kid drugs, and they chase him away just as ferociously.
    • Héctor's arrest charges include "falsifying a unibrow".
    Héctor: That's illegal?
    Officer: Very illegal.
  • Female Feline, Male Mutt: Pepita with Dante.
  • Fighting with Chucks: Tío Oscar takes Tío Felipe's bones to build a nunchaku that he uses against Ernesto's guards. Felipe, armless, tries using his empty sleeves as nunchaku to keep the mooks from following the other Riveras onto the stage.
  • Final Death: When there's no one left in the living world to remember someone in particular who's no longer living, they disappear forever. We learn about it as it happens to an old friend of Héctor's, and Héctor himself comes within a hair's breadth of suffering the same fate.
  • Fisher Kingdom: Spending a long enough time in the Land of the Dead causes Miguel to slowly transform into a skeleton over time. He has to leave before he fully transforms.
  • Flashback Cut: When Miguel recognizes Mama Imelda at the Land of the Dead, there's a swift flashback to her photo on the ofrenda.
  • Flower Motifs: There are Aztec marigold petals covering the floor in Ernesto's tomb. They also form the bridge between the world of the living and the dead, and a petal is used to embody the blessing that can return a living person from the Land of the Dead. Truth in Television, since marigolds (known in Mexico as Cempazúchitl) are a symbol of Dia de Muertos in Mexican culture. Traditionally, a trail of marigold petals leading from the entrance of the house to the altar is used to guide the spirits of the deceased.
  • Fluorescent Footprints: Pepita can illuminate footprints with her breath which helps to track down Miguel and Héctor.
  • Foreshadowing: Has its own page.
  • For Want of a Nail: The movie's plot wouldn't have occurred in the first place had Dante not broken a frame holding the family photo of Imelda and Coco with their mystery father.
  • Framed Clue: When Imelda's framed picture is knocked off the ofrenda and Miguel picks up the photo inside, he notices a part of the picture that was folded away, showing Ernesto de la Cruz's guitar in his great-great-grandfather's hand. He concludes that Ernesto must be his great-great-grandfather, which boosts his desire to become a musician.
  • Freudian Slip: "That's for murdering the love of my life!" Coming from an infuriated Mama Imelda, it clues Héctor and the others in that she is still in love with him after all these years despite being angry. However, when questioned, she angrily responds, "I don't know, I'm still angry at you!"
  • Friendly Skeleton: The land of the dead is full of them, obviously. Of course, not all of them are necessarily good guys
  • From Bad to Worse: It's bad enough to learn that your best friend got famous off your music without ever giving you any credit but worse to discover that he murdered you for your music and wants to erase you from everyone's memories for good.
  • Futile Hand Reach:
  • Gaslighting: After Héctor realizes that De la Cruz poisoned him, De la Cruz tries to convince him it didn't happen. "You are confusing movies with reality." Seconds later, De la Cruz tells the security guards that Héctor "is not well."
  • Generation Xerox:
    • Miguel is rebellious, stubborn, and loves Coco and music, just like his great-great-grandfather.
    • Elena is dominant, hates music, and uses her shoe as a weapon, just like her grandmother Imelda.
    • Rosa is quiet, sarcastic, somewhat socially detached, thin, and wears glasses, like her great-aunt Victoria.
    • Benny and Manny are younger Single-Minded Twins brothers to a stern sister, like their great-great-granduncles Óscar and Felipe.
  • Get Out!:
    • During Miguel's montage of Elena denying music, she spots a trio of traveling musicians and tells them to leave the house.
    • Chicharrón says this to Héctor upon their meeting prior to being forgotten.
  • Ghost Reunion Ending: Very fittingly, the film ends exactly one year after the main plot, on a Día de los Muertos where Héctor, Imelda, Coco and the other dead family members visit their living relatives.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Miguel tries to gain entrance to Ernesto's party, he boldly claims to be Ernesto's great-great grandson. Cut to him Getting the Boot by the unimpressed security guard.
  • Girls Have Cooties: Miguel makes a disgusted face while watching a romance scene in one of Ernesto's old movies.
  • Gonk: "Everyone Knows Juanita" seems to be describing such a person, with the punchline revealing that Juanita is actually an object of desire for the even uglier singer.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: While not "gods" per se, the residents of the Land of the Dead require that the living either remember them or honor them by placing their pictures on their ofrendas. If this stops, then they suffer Final Death, and disappear from even the Land of the Dead.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: In the Land of the Dead, most of the skeletons wear multicolored clothes; Ernesto wears silver, making him appear almost black-and-white, hinting he's the Big Bad.
  • Good-Times Montage: One occurs with Miguel as he is hanging out with Ernesto at the party.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: The movie is full of Spanish-language words and some dialogue, since the setting is Mexico. Averted in the Latin American Spanish dub, where the characters all speak Spanish.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Miguel got to meet Frida Kahlo, his dead relatives, and uncovered the truth about a renowned musician along with the real musical genius. As far as Miguel's family knows, he ran out. Once Miguel returns, he never specifically mentions where he went or what happened. After all, it would sound too bizarre for any of them to believe, and the family only learns about Héctor from what Coco tells them plus the letters and works she has kept all those years.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: For the first 20 minutes, it's a cute story about a kid who just wants to be like his musical idol, despite his family's wishes. Then he strums on a stolen guitar, and it becomes a Race Against the Clock.
  • Hats Off to the Dead: As the climax nears its conclusion, the hat-wearers in the family doff their headwear as Héctor starts to succumb to the Final Death. He gets better, though.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: It turns out that Héctor would frequently travel with Ernesto in order to support his family by doing something he loved, but he soon realised that he missed his family too much and as he was preparing to return to them, his friend Ernesto, who wanted to achieve his dreams so badly, murdered him, stole his songs and never told Héctor's family that he was dead, causing them to completely ostracise him.
  • Hereditary Curse: Sort of — the reason that the Riveras hate music is because, due to Miguel’s great-great-grandfather leaving his family to become a performer and that Riveras have suffered since then, they believe that they've been "cursed" by it. In truth, while Héctor and Ernesto were on their first music tour together, Héctor grew disillusioned and homesick, that he quickly decided that he was ready to return home to them but was murdered by Ernesto before he could.
  • Historical Domain Character: Frida Kahlo plays a significant supporting role.
  • Holiday Pardon: Mama Coco's father is forgiven on the Day of the Dead after decades of being an Un-person to their family when Miguel was inexplicably given the chance to meet him in the afterlife and know why he left his wife and daughter. Hector didn't want to; Ernesto de la Cruz murdered him.
  • Honor Before Reason: Before the music competition, Miguel admits to Héctor he's never performed before. Héctor offers to play on Miguel's behalf, given he has more experience. But Miguel wants to play instead because it's not about winning, but earning de la Cruz's approval. Héctor lampshades how inconvenient it is to choose now to have such a sentiment.
  • How Is That Even Possible?: The clerk in the Land of the Dead is allergic to Dante, despite 1) Dante not having any hair and 2) the clerk not having a nose. Neither the clerk nor Miguel have any answers to how that works.
    "Well, I don't have a nose, and yet here we are."
  • Huddle Shot: Miguel and the dead Riveras have one after sneaking backstage to Ernesto’s Sunrise Spectacular and plot to get Héctor's picture back.
  • Hurt Foot Hop: When Imelda stomps on Ernesto's foot on stage, escaping his grasp while he whines and jumps around in pain.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: About halfway through the film the hypocrisy behind the Thicker Than Water mentality that is such a big part of Miguel's family. Miguel is running away from Imelda, who is saying that he has to pick a side between his family and music. He responds asking why nobody from his family is on his side. All he wants is to play music, is it really so unreasonable that a family who is supposedly so into loyalty support what makes him happiest? The question is never really resolved, or even brought up again, but the point still stands that Miguel makes a valid argument.
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: Well, not so impossible for Dem Bones, seeing as they don't really have waists; it's practically standard for the Land of the Dead to have hilariously waspish dresses, cinched around their spinal columns.
  • Incredibly Long Note:
    • Ernesto's version of "Remember Me" ends on a rather long high note, leading to the big bell to fall and crush him to his death. Same with Héctor’s original version, but on a quieter, more gentle chord.
    • The end finale song "Proud Corazón" has Miguel pull one of these in the final crescendo.
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: After Ernesto is exposed as a fraud, a thief, and a murderer, the conductor responds to his attempt to get the show going again by giving him a Death Glare and snapping his baton in two.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Miguel, a boy in his early teens, and Héctor, who was 21 when he died 96 years before the events of the movie, making him nearly 120 years old when he meets Miguel, his great-great-grandson, for the first time.
  • Invisible to Normals: As usual, ghosts are invisible to living people.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifter: The alebrijes are revealed to be normal animals that, after becoming spiritual guides, change into supernatural forms whenever visiting the Land of the Dead.
  • Ironic Echo: Ernesto's motto "Seize Your Moment" takes on a dark undercurrent during the third act when he uses it to mean not just following your dreams, but murdering anyone who gets in their way.
  • Irony: Héctor needed Miguel to take his photo and find any existing relatives in the Land of the Dead who could send him home with their blessing. What Héctor didn't know at the time was that he had it in himself to send Miguel to the Land of the Living all along, because he's Miguel's real great-great-grandfather.
  • I See Dead People: Dante can see ghosts and interact with them. It's implied this works for any animal that becomes a spiritual guide. He's a Xoloizcuintle, a breed of dog that the Aztecs believed the Gods gave to them to protect them in both death and life. Those dogs were sacrificed when their owners died in order to guide their souls across the river that led into the Afterlife. So Dante's ability to see the dead is like a superpower for his breed. That's why people in the Land of the Dead, such as Frida Kahlo, are fond of him.
  • It Was with You All Along: Miguel spends a good chunk of the movie searching for Ernesto de la Cruz, who he believes is his great-great grandfather. It turns out that his actual great-great grandfather is Héctor, the man who was helping him find Ernesto.
  • I've Come Too Far: Ernesto's motive for trying to kill Miguel. "I've worked too hard, Héctor! Too hard for him to take away everything!"

    Tropes J to P 
  • Jaw Drop: Several times.
    • When the customs officer sees the live Miguel, his jawbone actually falls off and hits the desk.
    • Héctor combines it with an Eye Take, as his eyeballs fall down into his mouth.
    • Rosita and Victoria when they see Imelda singing on stage.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Even though Miguel is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, he wasn't wrong that Imelda was keeping him from something she knew he loved.
    • Elena asks Miguel if he wants to be forgotten by his own family. Later, it turns out that she has a reason for it: Héctor is forgotten by all except one of the Riveras.
    • When confronting Miguel privately, Imelda still wants him to give up music, but makes a valid point that there are more important things than music, a lesson that Miguel will learn later on.
    • Imelda's anger at Héctor is fair given that he did abandon his family, but she softens up after learning he wanted to come back but was poisoned by Ernesto.
    • Earlier on, while spending time with Miguel, even Ernesto recognizes that the boy should be allowed to follow his heart and play music. He's also not wrong that achieving your dreams sometimes means sacrifices and making difficult choices. Sacrifices as in "leave your hometown," not "poison your loved ones."
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Ernesto got away with murder, theft, and plagiarism while he was alive, but was killed in 1942 by a falling church bell. But even in death, people still flocked to his concerts and he continued to throw many a party. It wasn't until 96 years after Héctor's death that both Lands of the Living and Dead learned the truth and Ernesto faced the consequences.
  • Karmic Death: While initially portrayed as a tragedy, Ernesto de la Cruz is killed by a bell while singing the song and playing the guitar of the man he murdered. Said song is also the lullaby he sung to his young daughter, and Ernesto killed Héctor due to choosing his family over his musical career. That wasn't enough, because he would maintain his reputation even among the dead.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Elena destroying Miguel's guitar, which is implied to have taken him years to make, causes him to pull a Screw This, I'm Outta Here! moment.
    • An almost literal case with Miguel after the Land of the Dead talent show. First, he calls off his deal to help save Héctor from becoming Deader Than Dead just to pursue his own musical dream. Then, when Dante tries to get Miguel to go back, Miguel harshly yells at him to go away, and says Dante is not an alebrije but a dumb dog, which visibly hurts Dante. Later, he insults Imelda for not respecting his wishes to pursue his dreams. He quickly regrets what he did later on.
    • Ernesto throws Héctor and Miguel into a cenote and takes Héctor's picture from him. In context, this would ensure Héctor's forgotten and rendered Deader Than Dead, and Miguel, whom Ernesto believes to be his own great-great-grandson, would die of his curse.
    • Ernesto murdering Héctor was already unforgivable, but the flashback showed that while Héctor was dying, Ernesto makes a smug comment that it was probably the chorizos Héctor ate earlier.
    • Not only did Ernesto murder his best friend for his songs, he even based a scene in one of his movies on the murder, only arranging it so he's the hero in Héctor's role and giving himself a happy ending by figuring out he was (nearly) poisoned.
    • A far more personal violation? Ernesto stealing the song 'Remember Me' after murdering Héctor. A song he wrote as a gentle, loving ballad to his beloved daughter as a way of keeping them in one another's hearts...and Ernesto turns it into a bombastic, meaningless ladykiller ballad, stripping it of the love and emotion Héctor created it with.
    • Ernesto also stole Héctor's guitar. This isn't much on its own, but when it's compounded with everything else listed in this section, it's just needlessly cruel. Presumably, Ernesto had a perfectly good guitar of his own, if he really planned to be a professional musician, but he had to have Héctor's as well, and he flaunts it, making it just as iconic of his imagery as KISS's makeup. This is what leads Miguel to deduce their relationshipnote . Considering he stole it from the man he murdered to pursue his dreams, it's like he was bragging about the murder and kept the guitar as a trophy, something real life killers have been known to do.
    • When Ernesto's Motive Rant was shown on-screen, as well as throwing Miguel off the building, the audience interprets this as Ernesto sending his own great-great grandson to his death, especially those that were present at his party.
  • Kick the Morality Pet: Miguel gets called out for deciding to risk both his own and Héctor's lives to get a better deal on his blessing, culminating in him to pull a Kick the Dog moment at Dante when he tries to get him to come back, after which he realizes what he's been doing wrong.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence:
    • The bell that crushed de la Cruz to death came down as he was singing "Remember Me".
    • In Miguel's case, it's "Discovering Yourself Cursed Mid-Sentence":
      Miguel: It's not what it looks like! De la Cruz is my—[guard walks through him]
      Guard: There's nobody here.
  • Kubrick Stare:
    • Elena gives one to Miguel as she is marching up to him just as he is about to play guitar for the mariachi guy.
    • A Maestro gives one to Ernesto after the latter has been exposed as a fraud and a murderer.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Ernesto de la Cruz, who was killed when a bell fell on him in 1942, has a similar bell fall on him after it is revealed in the Engineered Public Confession that he poisoned Héctor and stole his songs.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Héctor edits a profane word out of his song: "and her.... knuckles... dragged down to the floor."
    Chicharron: Those aren't the words!
    Héctor: [sotto voce] There are children present.
  • Latino Is Brown:
    • Played straight. All the (living) characters have dark skin.note  Justified, as many Mexicans have at least some Native ancestry, especially in the state of Oaxaca where the film is set. This is implied with the Rivera family, where many female members wear traditional clothing.
    • On the other hand, the Riveras have some pretty strong Native American features (more so the more you go up in their family tree), while Ernesto de la Cruz appears to be of full or nearly full Spanish descent. They are all tanned and dark-haired still, though.
  • Light Is Good: When Miguel makes it home and plays "Remember Me" for Coco to rejuvenate her thoughts, the sunlight is shining through the window on them.
  • Logo Joke: The usual rendition of "When You Wish Upon A Star" that plays during the Disney logo is performed by a mariachi band.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Héctor reveals himself to be Miguel's great-great-grandfather when he mentions that his daughter's name is Coco.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Miguel, in turn, reveals himself to be Héctor's great-great-grandson by showing him the picture of Mamás Coco and Imelda with the father's face torn out.
  • MacGuffin: The photo of Héctor that Miguel tries to obtain from Ernesto.
  • Magic Music: Subverted. Miguel strumming Ernesto's guitar in his tomb seems to be what causes him to cross over between worlds. However, it's later revealed that he crossed over due to being cursed, for stealing from the dead when Dia de los Muertos is a day for gifting to the dead.
  • Marshmallow Hell: Elena hugs Miguel just a little too closely.
  • Match Cut: Whenever Miguel recognizes a dead family member of his, the view briefly snaps from a shot of them to their photo on the ofrenda in the same position as they are.
  • Meaningful Echo: When Miguel goes up to do his first performance ever, he's incredibly nervous. But a little encouragement from Héctor gets him going and quickly he's confidently working the crowd. Practically the same thing happens several hours later when his great-great-grandmother Imelda accidentally gets booted onto a stage; a little encouragement from Miguel and soon she's belting out the performance of a lifetime, despite having not sung in nearly a century. It's meaningful in showing exactly how Miguel's music inclination isn't inherited just from his great-great-grandfather, but also the great-great-grandmother who banned music from the family in the first place.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Miguel's pet dog Dante is named after the famous author of The Divine Comedy. Like the narrator of The Divine Comedy, this Dante also a living being visiting the afterlife. In-Universe, in a Blink-and-You-Miss-It scene, it's revealed that Miguel named Dante after Ernesto's horse in one of his films.
    • Santa Cecilia, Miguel and Ernesto's hometown, is named after the patroness of musicians, Saint Cecilia.
  • Memento MacGuffin: Ernesto De La Cruz's guitar. Believing Ernesto to be his great-great grandfather, Miguel tries to steal it for the talent contest, leading to him being stuck in the Land of the Dead. It is not until the big Plot Twist does he find out that the guitar really did belong to his great-great grandfather, but it was actually stolen by Ernesto De La Cruz when he killed Héctor, becoming his iconic guitar throughout his career.
  • Memorial Photo: Used as a way to show dead family members are remembered, rather than in a funeral manner, The photo on the ofrenda is the proof that a dead person is remembered and can travel across the marigold Bridge to visit the land of the living.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The alebrijes; most of them are mammal/reptile-hybrids with bird-like attributes. To elaborate, alebrijes are a part of Mexican folklore and were created by a man who was haunted by nightmares of grotesque mix and match monsters. Since the creatures were so strange and colorful that he couldn't explain to anyone what they looked like he decided to make papier maché figurines of them. Eventually his nightmares ceded and people started asking to buy the figures and became a staple of Mexican folklore and art.
  • Monochrome Past: Miguel’s flashback of Ernesto becoming a star, and Héctor's flashbacks of Ernesto poisoning him to death and stealing his music and singing "Remember Me" to young Coco are rendered in old-fashioned sepia tone.
  • Mood Lighting: When Miguel first meets Ernesto at his tower, the inside of the ballroom is full of vibrant colors. After the party is over and when Héctor reveals the truth, the room is darkly colored, with the pool's lightning giving an Sickly Green Glow, to show Ernesto's true colors are exposed to the viewers.
  • Morality Chain Beyond the Grave: The hate for music that runs in the family originated with Mamá Imelda, the head of the family from four generations ago. Apparently, she could not only hold a grudge her entire life, it keeps scaring her children and grandchildren into doing the same long after she's gone.
  • Motion Capture: The characters’ guitar playing was animated using this technique.
  • Multigenerational Household: Miguel lives with his parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, and great-grandmother.
  • Multilingual Song: "Un Poco Loco," "The World Es Mi Familia," and "Proud Corazón" mix Spanish and English.
  • Musicalis Interruptus:
    • While Miguel is talking with a mariachi man in the village square, the mariachi hands Miguel his guitar and offers to be his first audience, much to Miguel's delight, but Elena enters right before he gets a chance to strum the guitar.
    • When Miguel is singing "The World Es Mi Familia" to get Ernesto's attention, he isn't watching where he's going and accidentally falls into the pool.
  • Musical World Hypotheses: The Diegetic type; all of the songs are performed as part of an act or for an audience.
  • Mysterious Parent: It's common in animated movies for one or both parents to be absent from the protagonist's life without explanation, and the consequences are usually vague. In this story, however, a missing parent is a crucial plot point, has huge consequences on the family left behind, and his death is explored and the family comes to terms with it.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Mamá Imelda banning music from her family comes back to haunt her years later when Miguel calls her out on it while in the Land of the Dead.
    • Played with regarding what jump-starts the plot. By swiping Ernesto's guitar from his mausoleum and strumming it, this curses Miguel to be unseen by the living and slowly transforms into a skeleton over time in return. The guitar actually belongs to Héctor, and once the curse is broken and Miguel returns home, the truth is revealed, Coco regains her memory and the ban on music is lifted whilst Héctor’s legacy becomes famous in Ernesto’s place.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Ernesto got away with murdering Héctor and building a career on his work for nearly a century, but he made two crucial mistakes that allowed Miguel and Héctor to eventually figure everything out.
    • The first mistake was keeping Héctor's visually distinct guitar and turning it into his own personal trademark. This is what caused Miguel to conclude that de la Cruz was his ancestor when he found the guitar folded back in the old family photo, and kicked into gear the sequence of events that led to Miguel being cursed and seeking out Ernesto for his blessing.
    • The second mistake was letting Héctor's murder 'inspire' a scene in one of his movies, allowing Miguel to immediately recognize the series of events when Héctor begins to describe his last night alive and point it out. Miguel never would have been present to do so if Ernesto had just left the guitar, and never would have been able to put the pieces together as a de la Cruz megafan if Ernesto had just left his great plot twist out of it.
  • Nice Kitty...: Ernesto tries in vain to sooth angry Pepita as the latter approaches him on stage for a final asskicking.
  • Nice Mean And Inbetween: Miguel is nice and innocent, and apparently the polar opposite of Ernesto de la Cruz, who is harsh and secretly a fraud. Héctor stays in-between due to being humorous, but frequently argues with someone when things don't go his way.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Ernesto de la Cruz bears more than a passing resemblance to Pedro Infante. However, Pedro is shown as another skeleton (and named by Ernesto himself) in a brief cameo along with his partner Jorge Negrete.
  • Nobody Poops: There are no restrooms in the Land of the Dead.
  • Non-Standard Character Design:
    • All the residents of the Land of the Dead have crude skeleton appearances that look almost the same, but Ernesto de la Cruz looks very much like he did when he was alive. This is a clue to that he's not what he seems.
    • Héctor is the only skeleton who has rusty yellow bones, is barefoot, and wears rags. This shows he's being forgotten, and once he is remembered once again by the Riveras, his bones revert to white, he gains a pair of shoes, and his clothes are good as new.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever Héctor did with Chicharron's van, mini-fridge, and femur is so mysterious that Word of God won't even disclose the answers.
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • A bell that's heavy enough to crush someone to death should not be suspended by a single rope that can go slack with one accidental pull of a lever.
    • The Land of the Dead notably lacks a large number of safety systems on the heavy machinery within it. Justified, as everyone is already dead and are only prone to Amusing Injuries in this respect.
  • No Stunt Double: In-Universe, Ernesto says he did all his own stunts for his movies.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: Héctor noticeably alters some dirty lyrics in "Everyone Knows Juanita" at the last second, after remembering that Miguel is listening.
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: Miguel tries to imitate how skeletons walk to make his disguise more convincing. Héctor thinks the kid looks silly, not realizing at first that Miguel is imitating him.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The employees of the Celestial Bureaucracy are quite unhelpful to Héctor, though not by choice. During the epilogue, after the Time Skip, they are genuinely happy to allow Héctor to visit his family.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The mariachi at the plaza when Elena chases him away from Miguel.
    • The musicians near the Riveras' house when they see Elena.
    • Miguel and Enrique when Elena destroys his shrine and his guitar.
    • Elena when she realizes that her actions made Miguel run off.
    • Miguel after becoming a spirit of the Land of the Dead for the first time.
    • Héctor when he's unable to cross the marigold bridge.
    • Miguel has another moment of terror when he realizes that the Riveras are looking for him after his performance in the Land of the Dead.
    • The dancers at Frida Kahlo's practice when she suggests that the cactus be on fire.
    • Ernesto when he sees that Miguel is transforming into a skeleton.
    • Héctor when he realizes that Ernesto is the one who killed him and stole his songs.
    • Miguel's understandably horrified when he realizes that Ernesto isn't what he seemed to be and later when he gets thrown into the cenote.
    • Héctor has a moment of terror when he is about to approach his Final Death.
    • Imelda when she sees Ernesto backstage during the Sunrise Spectacular.
    • Tío Óscar and Felipe when they get cornered by the security guards.
    • Imelda is petrified when she gets sent up to the stage in front of the crowd at the Sunrise Spectacular.
    • The crowd at the Sunrise Spectacular when they realize that Ernesto is the one who murdered Héctor.
    • After throwing Miguel off the building, Ernesto returns to the crowd, confused why they're suddenly booing him and the orchestra turning on him. When he tries to win them back with singing "Remember Me", he gets food thrown at him. When he notices the large monitor showing Miguel being saved, he realizes the whole world has seen him admit to murdering his friend for the songs that made him famous. Then, he realizes his fate the moment Pepita sends him flying into the church bell that killed him in his previous life.
  • "Oh, Crap!" Smile:
    • Ernesto when the whole family shows up to kick his ass.
    • It's a standard procedure for Miguel. It's most prominent whenever he's around Elena.
    • Héctor when he sees Imelda while he's in the cenote, before sheepishly telling that she looks great.
  • The Older Immortal: A couple of Aztecs is seen mingling at de la Cruz’s party.
  • One-Word Title: A Secondary Character Title, named for protagonist Miguel's great-grandmother, whose history is relevant to the plot of the movie.
  • Only One Finds It Fun: At one point, a trio of nuns play accordions during a battle of the bands for the privilege to meet and play for Ernesto de la Cruz, but only manage to get one patron to enjoy their music.
  • Opening Monologue: Miguel gives one in the beginning, explaining the exile of music in the Rivera family.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different:
    • All the dead in Land of the Dead are skeletons with... Well... expressive skulls that show their emotions as well as their flesh and blood faces would have.
    • Any offering placed on an ofrenda for a dead person creates a ghost of itself that the dead can pick up without removing the tangible item and carry it with them to the Land of the Dead. Several ghosts pick up items from their ofrendas and Héctor picks the ghost of his own guitar from the real one Miguel is playing during the Dance Party Ending.
    • The skeletons in the Land of the dead just look like animated skeletons. They only look ghostly once they cross the marigold bridge to the land of the living.
  • Pals with Jesus: Miguel strikes up a friendship with Frida Kahlo, which helps him in the climax.
  • "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: The very last shot of the movie pans up from Miguel to a shot of the banner from the beginning framed against fireworks lighting up the sky.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • Héctor tries to dress as Frida Kahlo, of all people, to try and trick his way into the world of the living. It doesn't work out. The same disguise does work the second time he tries it, when he uses it to sneak into Ernesto's tower looking for Miguel.
    • Miguel disguises himself as a skeleton with face paint and shoe polish in order to fit in with the dead, but is revealed once he falls into Ernesto's pool and he saves him.
  • Parental Love Song: Héctor wrote "Remember Me" as a lullaby to his young daughter so she wouldn't forget him while he was away working. In it he tells her that he will always love her no matter how far apart they are and that he can't wait to see her again.
  • Parents as People: Rather than portray the parents/grandparents as generic authority figures, the story explores the human side of the adults and shows that parents like every human being make mistakes, all while their ultimate interest is to support and protect their family. Mistakes can be rigidity in beliefs, holding grudges, and trusting the wrong people.
  • Parting Words Regret:
    • Miguel has this when he tells his family he doesn't care if they put his picture on the ofrenda. And soon after Elena destroys his guitar, he tells his family "I don't want to be in this family." Later, in the cenote, he laments how he may never see his family again, because he told his family he doesn't want his picture on the ofrenda. Thankfully, he returns to his family and apologizes to them.
    • Averted with Héctor, who sang "Remember Me" to his daughter before he left, unaware they would be his last words to her.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Ernesto didn't hesitate to rescue Miguel when he fell into his pool, even though Ernesto should think that, as a skeleton, Miguel shouldn't have been able to drown. While there's a possibility he only did this because he's surrounded by guests and needed to maintain his reputation, his private interactions with Miguel are very paternal and he even almost legitimately gives him his blessing to return to life. Then Héctor shows up and the truth is revealed.
    • When Miguel is thrown into the cenote, Héctor immediately comforts the boy, who is crying over being betrayed by Ernesto. What makes Héctor's act truly kind is that this is before they both realize they're related. As such, Héctor still believes that Miguel is the great-great grandson of his murderer. This is coupled with the fact that, earlier on, Miguel called off their deal because Héctor was about to take him back to his other family members. Despite all of this, Héctor gives genuine comfort and soothing words to the distressed Miguel.
    • Miguel to the very same people he performed a Kick the Dog moment to earlier — First, Héctor, who is in despair, states that he feels bad for Miguel for having a great-great grandfather like him, Miguel immediately states that he's proud that they are related. Second, after being rescued by Imelda, Pepita, and Dante, Miguel enthusiastically calls Dante his Alebrije. Thirdly, he gives a genuine apology to Imelda for his earlier actions with the promise to respect her wishes, even willingly giving up his musical ambitions to make amends.
    • While Imelda is understandably angry at Héctor for abandoning their family to pursue music, she decides to rescue him from the Final Death.
    • As the sun is about to rise, Imelda (alongside Héctor) gives Miguel her blessing to go back to the world of the living, no strings attached, even though Miguel himself was willing to quit playing music if it meant going home and saving Héctor.
    • When Miguel sings to Coco, Enrique has Elena listen to him for once.
  • Phone Booth: When they first meet, Miguel pulls Héctor into a phone booth to ask him about Ernesto.
  • Playing the Heart Strings: A couple of emotional moments are underscored with a violin track.
  • Plot-Based Photograph Obfuscation: There is a lot of emphasis on the torn-off part of the picture showing the head of Miguel's Un Personned great-great grandfather. The missing part is integral.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Despite a successful performance at the contest, Miguel and Héctor have a falling-out after the rest of Miguel's family comes searching for him, so Miguel goes to find Ernesto alone.
  • Polite Villains, Rude Heroes: Before and after the The Reveal that he is the Big Bad, Ernesto is smooth, charming, and well-dressed in contrast to Héctor, who is the mischievous, snarky, and roguish Deuteragonist of the film.
  • Poor Communication Kills: If Héctor had mentioned his family member's names, especially that of Coco or Imelda or even his last name in passing earlier in the film, or if any of Miguel's family members (living or dead) had told him who his great-great-grandfather actually was (or at the very least, who he wasn't), much of the plot would have been avoided.
  • Posthumous Narration: Parodied, given the nature of the setting:
    • Imelda explains to Miguel that she doesn't really hate music; she just forced it out of her life after her husband left her to make the task of raising Coco easier for her.
    • Héctor recounts his last day alive when he realizes how similar it was to a scene from one of Ernesto's movies.
  • P.O.V. Cam:
    • While Miguel is singing to get Ernesto’s attention, we get a few shots of his point of view squeezing through the crowd.
    • In Héctor’s flashback of him singing “Remember Me” to young Coco, they press each other’s faces against one another and we get a shot of Héctor’s warm smile from Coco’s perspective.
  • Power Glows:
    • While the skeletons are visiting the living world, they are glowing and semitransparent.
    • When Imelda is preparing her blessing to send Miguel home, the marigold petal in her hand glows brightly, with the glow becoming brighter when conditions are added. Ernesto’s does not however, either because he isn’t related to Miguel in the first place or because he didn't finish saying the word "blessing" before being interrupted.
    • Skeletons flash red and yellow and feel pain when they’re in danger of being forgotten.
  • Produce Pelting: When the audience discovers Ernesto is a murdering, thieving fraud they begin throwing vegetables. Justified because many of them had returned from the Land of the Living with food from the ofrenda... And there was a snack bar in the stadium selling food.
  • Production Foreshadowing: While Miguel and Dante are on the streets, at one point a poster of The Incredibles can be seen in the background hinting at Pixar's next film Incredibles 2.
  • Public Exposure: While Héctor converses with a tailor he knows in the art studio, Miguel takes a look around the studio. One such artist is depicting a nude model to canvas. When Miguel is caught staring, he is quick to avert his gaze and look somewhere else. This is especially funny since the model (and everyone other than Miguel) is a skeleton.
  • Pushed in Front of the Audience:
    • Héctor is dragged by Dante on stage and, at first reluctantly, joins Miguel in his performance at the battle of the bands.
    • Imelda accidentally winds up on stage at Ernesto's concert and decides to sing "La Llorona".

    Tropes Q to Z 
  • Race Against the Clock: Miguel has until the next sunrise to return to his own world or he’ll be trapped in the Land of the Dead forever as a skeleton and Héctor will become Deader Than Dead. The countdown timer isn’t a clock; it’s Miguel’s transformation and Héctor’s bones changing color from white to deep faded yellow.
  • Raster Vision: Raster lines can be seen on the TV screen when Miguel watches old video tapes of Ernesto in the attic.
  • Reality Ensues: See the Pixar page.
  • Real Time: Backstage at the Sunrise Spectacular, the stagehand tells Ernesto he’s on in 30 seconds. Exactly 30 seconds later, the announcer is announcing Ernesto’s entrance while Imelda is rising to the stage.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Héctor gives one to Ernesto upon confronting him in his tower and revealing the truth. Miguel later gives him one outside the tower just before Ernesto makes him fall to his death, not knowing he's being recorded.
    • Also one in the read-along book regarding Ernesto: "Music is supposed to bring people together. You tore my family apart!"
    • Miguel also gives one to Imelda for banning music from their family and therefore, not supporting his dream of being a musician.
  • Reduced to Dust: Victims of the Final Death disintegrate into dust, which then drifts off into the wind.
  • Remember the Dead: When a deceased person in the Land of the Dead is completely forgotten in the Land of the Living, they fade away from existence though Héctor admits no one really knows what happens after the Final Death.
  • Removed from the Picture: Miguel's great-great grandfather does not have a place in the ofrenda. His face has been torn out of the picture, though his body and trademark guitar are still visible. Coco has the missing piece of the photo, of Héctor.
  • The Rest Shall Pass: Played with. When the family enters the stadium for the big confrontation with the bad guy. They start out together and find them almost instantly. The villain recognizes the family and runs, calling for help from the security team as the family gives chase.
    • Papa Julio takes on the first of them,
    • Twin uncles Oscar and Felipe take on the next, so Imelda, Miguel, Héctor and the aunts can continue pursuit.
    • Imelda then gets separated from the rest of the family and faces off against Ernesto alone, leaving the rest of the family to watch supportively from the wings.
  • The Reveal: The second and third acts are bridged by two of these. First, Ernesto de la Cruz is a fraud; Héctor wrote the songs that made him famous... And Ernesto stole them (and his guitar) after murdering him. Second, Héctor is Miguel's great-great-grandfather, not Ernesto.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • Everything about both Ernesto and Héctor takes on a new significance when you know their backstory and true motivations.
    • Also, watch Miguel's cousins during the very last shot of the movie. They're accompanying him on violin and accordion - and and it makes sense, seeing as they're great-great grandchildren of a great musician.
  • Rule of Symbolism: In pre-Columbian Maya culture, cenotes were sites of Human Sacrifice. The cenote scene represents how Ernesto is willing to sacrifice everyone around him for success.
  • Rule of Three:
    • During Miguel’s narration of Elena denying any source of music, she first catches Miguel blowing into a bottle like a flute; the second time, she hears music coming from a passing truck's radio and shuts the window; the third time, she shooes away a trio of street performers passing the family shoe shop.
    • In the same narrated intro, Miguel gushes about his idol Ernesto de la Cruz, listing three things he loves best about him: 1) he starred in movies, 2) he had the coolest guitar, and 3) he could fly!
    • Once Miguel is in the Land of the Dead, Imelda tries to send him home with a blessed marigold petal three times. The first time, she does so on the condition that he never play music again. Not two seconds later, he disobeys and is returned. The second time, she does so on the condition that he never forget his family loves him, but Ernesto interferes right before she can touch Miguel with it. The third time, right as the sun is rising and Héctor is dying, she offers her blessing with no conditions, and Miguel is returned to the Land of the Living for good.
    • Frida Kahlo has been used as a disguise three times — First, when Héctor attempts to cross the bridge, in which both his said attempt and disguise were unsuccessful. Second, used again by Héctor to get into Ernesto's party, which is successful. And thirdly, the whole Rivera family are disguised as her back-up dancers to get into the festival and get back Héctor's photo.
    • "Remember Me" is sung three times — First, by Ernesto in the beginning which is also when he died. Second, by Héctor, the true writer of the song, which was his personal lullaby to his daughter, Coco. And thirdly, by Miguel in an attempt to have Coco remember her father.
    • "La Llorona" is also sung three times, though only completely at the climax: first by the carousing musicians Abuelita scares away, second by Imelda to convince Miguel to talk, and third, when Imelda sings it in full at the Sunrise Spectacular.
  • Scenery Porn: The city is displayed in vivid, colorful detail, as visible here.
  • Secondary Character Title: Coco is Miguel's great-grandmother, but warrants the title because she's also Héctor's daughter — the muse who inspired his songs and the last person in the Land of the Living who remembers him.
  • Serenade Your Lover: Ernesto does this in one of his movies Miguel is watching in the attic.
  • Shabby Heroes, Well-Dressed Villains: Héctor's clothes are tattered and torn, and he wears a flaking straw hat. Ernesto wears a sparkling mariachi suit complete with a silver ribbon bow tie.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The music competition that Miguel and Héctor entered in order to be invited to Ernesto's party ends up being this, as the two have a falling out after the performance when Héctor learns Miguel has a family who's trying to return him to the living world but he doesn't want to do so before he meets Ernesto, causing them both to go their separate ways without winning the invitations. Though it's not a complete disaster as the winner band who are invited to the party are so impressed by Miguel's singing that they help sneak Miguel through the security.
  • Shoe Shine, Mister?: Miguel is introduced shining shoes in the plaza.
  • Shoe Slap: Elena will often hit people with her slipper, which is a reference to the long-running joke about how the feared traditional weapon of Mexican mothers is their slipper (known as La Chancla). Imelda also hits Ernesto with her boot for murdering her husband and trying to murder her great-great-grandson.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Dante is a hairless Mexican dog, a Xoloitzcuintli, that supposedly has the ability to guide their masters' spirits to and through the underworld. He even acts in accordance with the stereotypical behavior for such dogs: crude, clownish, filthy, utterly without shame, and utterly loyal.
    • The whole movie is a great depiction of Mexican culture in general, and The Day of the Dead in particular.
    • The pit Ernesto has Miguel and Héctor thrown into resembles a cenote. Cenote is the name given to water-filled sinkholes found all over the Yucatán peninsula in southern Mexico. These sinkholes had great spiritual significance to the Mayans, who often dropped offerings of gold and human sacrifices (often children) into them to please the gods, and Chaac the god of rain in particular. Cenotes are also well known for having clear, blue water, just like the one in the movie.
    • Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter, shows up in the movie. Her guardian alebrije is a spider monkey, an animal her real life counterpart was fascinated with, and which she painted numerous times. As the cherry on top, the pre-show she's designing for Ernesto is pure Frida, complete with heavy symbolism, extra dramatic and melancholic subject matter, and, most importantly, heaping doses of her likeness all over the place. The concept artists clearly took their time studying Frida's work.
    • The architecture in the land of the dead seems to be based on Art Deco style, which is fitting since Art Deco was itself inspired by pre-Columbian architecture.
    • All of the guitar fingerings shown—picking with the fingers of the right hand and fretting with the left hand—are 100% correct, with the animators watching the tapes from video cameras that were strapped onto the guitars of actual Mexican musicians to be completely on point. Even with skeleton fingers.
    • Even something as innocuous as the rabbit-frog alebrije has significance; if you listen closely, it's making the sound "alebrije" (though it sounds closer to "aluh-bruh"), just like the original alebrijes did in the dreams of the man who created them.
  • Shrine to the Fallen:
    • Miguel has a shrine to Ernesto De La Cruz on the roof behind the logo of his family's shoemaking shop. Complete with candles. At least until Elena destroys it over Miguel breaking the family taboo against music.
    • Ernesto has ofrendas from fans all over the world as we see in his giant villa.
    • Santa Cecilia has an enormous shrine to Ernesto, who came from the town, in the center of the town cemetery. Once his treachery is revealed, it is ignored and falls into disrepair as former fans decide to forget him.
  • Skeletal Musician: Well, yeah— it's a film about music that takes place largely in the afterlife, whose inhabitants are all Calacas. There are dozens (if not more!) of musicians seen onscreen in the Land of the Dead, including the talent show contestants and the orchestra at the Sunrise Spectacular, but the most plot-important are Ernesto and Héctor.
  • Sleep Cute: In a blink-and-miss scene towards the end when Miguel runs to Coco, you can see his uncle and cousin sleeping on a bench with one cuddling the other.
  • Slide Attack: Papá Julio slides under Ernesto's mooks to kick them from behind.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: It's a Pixar film, so it's heavily idealistic, emotional, and touching, but not without a number of dark moments in between.
  • Spexico: Deliberately averted. The development team flew to Mexico and did extensive research on everything native to it. From the architecture, to the music, to the food, and especially the local mannerisms in order to make the movie feel as authentic as possible. The vast majority of the cast is of Latino descent (as are the vast majority of the musicians that played for the soundtrack) and the characters use the Mexican dialect of Spanish rather than the typical version taught in American schools, paying particular attention to uniquely Latin American details like Elena's Weapon of Choice.
  • The Stinger: At the end of the credits just before the "Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures" and "Created and produced at Pixar Animation Studios" information are displayed, a screen reading "To the people across time who supported and inspired us" pops up, along with a mosaic of photos of family members, friends, coworkers and pets of those who worked on the film - a digital ofrenda of sorts.
  • Stock Animal Diet: Except for the short "Dante's Lunch" (link below), surprisingly averted with Dante, who shows no interest in being surrounded by bones.
  • Stock Femur Bone: The short "Dante's Lunch" is about Dante the dog chasing after one of these, which ends up belonging to one of the visiting skeleton ancestors.
  • Strong Family Resemblance:
    • While Elena strongly resembles Mama Coco, her sister, Victoria, takes after Mama Imelda.
    • Miguel's father looks a lot like an older, stockier Héctor with a mustache instead of a goatee.
  • Stylistic Suck: Ernesto's old movies that Miguel watches are all noticeably dated and low-quality, complete with melodramatic dialogue, hammy acting, and invokedhighly visible strings holding Ernesto up during his "flying" scenes.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: At first, the movie seems like it's going to end bittersweet as Coco is dying and forgot Héctor almost completely, and Miguel has tried as hard as he could to get her to remember him. Fortunately, he remembers his guitar he brought back and uses it to play "Remember Me", which is what rejuvenates her and causes the ban on music to be lifted, Ernesto to be forgotten, and Héctor's legacy to become famous, ending the film on a wonderful note.
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: Miguel spends most of the movie desperate to pursue music against his family's wishes, even if it means sneaking behind their backs or running away from them. It isn't until Miguel is willing to give up music to stay with his family that they give him their blessings to become a musician.
  • Talent Double: The guitar solos played by Miguel, Ernesto, and Héctor were performed by Uruguayan guitarist Federico Ramos.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Ernesto de la Cruz secretly slipped some poison into Héctor's shotglass, which is what kills him moments later.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Ernesto and Héctor (two musical role models for Miguel and great-great grandfather figures), demonstrate the dichotomy. Héctor is the passionate, heart-felt Performer to Ernesto's polished and pristine but emotionally vacant Technician. It's especially apparent in how they both sing "Remember Me": Ernesto turned it into a cheesy love ballad aimed at no one in particular, while Héctor originally wrote it as a lullaby for his beloved daughter. And then, there's the fact that Ernesto stole Héctor's songs because he knew he wasn't gifted enough to make it on his own artistic merit.
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    Ernesto: (to Miguel) I hope you die very soon.
  • There Is Another: Much of the drama in the third act comes from trying to get Miguel back to the living world with Héctor's photo, the only one of him that is known to exist. When Ernesto throws Miguel off a building and the photo slips out of his hand, it seems that there is no way of saving Héctor from the Final Death. But after Miguel returns to the living world and revives Coco's memory of her papa with the song "Remember Me", she reveals that she kept another photo of Héctor—the piece of the torn ofrenda photo with his face on it, saving his (after)life.
  • Thicker Than Water: Much of the film is spent establishing the importance of family above all. But this is also deconstructed in that Miguel's passion conflicted heavily with his family's traditions, with Miguel being genuinely miserable over his inability to do what he loves due to his family ties and lamenting how his family is probably the only one in Mexico that hates music. This leads him to run away as his great-great grandfather did. However, this trope is once again reconstructed, as his adventure cleared up the misunderstanding about Héctor's inability to return home and helped remedy Mama Coco's memory loss, allowing Miguel to reconcile with his family, who wholeheartedly support his dream from then on.
  • This Is Unforgivable!:
    • Miguel's family, especially his grandmother Elena, sees his musical vocation as a deadly sin. At first.
    • The entire audience of the Sunrise Spectacular are aghast upon seeing Ernesto's engineered public confession and subsequent tossing of Miguel, immediately booing him the moment he comes on stage.
  • Three-Point Landing: Miguel performs one when he enters Ernesto's mausoleum.
  • Thrown Down a Well: Ernesto releases Miguel and Héctor into a cenote.
  • Time Skip: The epilogue skips forward to the next Dia de los Muertos, one year later.
  • Together in Death: Héctor died when his daughter Coco was still a young girl and longs to see her one last time before he is forgotten and fades away. Coco manages to pass on her memories of her father to Miguel before she dies, and they're finally reunited in the land of the dead by the end.
  • To Hell and Back: Sort of—Miguel does go to the afterlife, but he does so purely by accident, and it's more of a colorful fantasy world than a hellish nightmare land.
  • Token Minority: In a meta sense, John Ratzenberger is the only white voice actor in an all-Hispanic cast. His single line of dialogue is to thank in Spanish the dentist who vouched for him.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The film makes use of this, especially the scenes where Miguel is falling into a pit following Ernesto's big reveal, followed by Pepita coming to save him. Two other larger scenes that spoil the climax show Pepita saving Miguel from falling to his death, and Imelda slapping a shoe at Ernesto before he's exposed.
    • One of the film’s posters features Miguel front and center, surrounded by his living and dead family members. Héctor is among them, giving away the fact he’s related to the Riveras.
    • Some trailers use moments from the last scene of the film, and one of the home media trailers makes use of the end finale song “Proud Corazón”.
  • Translation Convention: Zigzagged. In the original screenplay, the characters in the English version of the film spoke only English, with the understanding that they were speaking in Spanish. After speaking to real-life Mexicans and Mexican Americans, they said it would be more realistic-sounding to have a mixture of the two languages, as both Mexican and Mexican-Americans blend the two together constantly. Thus, Lee Unkrich notes that in the English language version, when the characters briefly speak Spanish, it's meant to be understood that they're actually peppering their Spanish with a bit of English (and vice versa). Appropriately enough, the characters do speak Spanish entirely in the Latin American Spanish dub.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change:
    • The end of Ernesto's version of "Remember Me" modulates up one half-step.
    • The last verse of "Un Poco Loco" modulates up one whole step.
    • The last chorus of "La Llorona" modulates up one whole step.
    • "Proud Corazón" ends a whole note higher from when it started.
  • Unknown Relative: Miguel spends most of the movie unaware that Héctor is his great-great-grandfather.
  • Un-person:
    • Deconstructed with Miguel's great-great-grandfather. The fact that his family actively refuses to allow anyone to mention his name leads nobody to tell him that he has come to the wrong conclusion about who he is. What's more, because they also banned music from the household, they missed multiple glaring clues about the real reason why Imelda's husband never returned home, namely Ernesto de la Cruz playing the same guitar Imelda gave to Héctor as a gift and the fact that de la Cruz never once makes any mention of Héctor, or that all the songs he's singing sounds suspiciously similar to those in the letters Coco received from her father.
    • Chicharrón, the obscure, forgotten musician, ceases to be a ghost and fades out of existence since he is no longer remembered by the living.
    • After Ernesto de la Cruz is revealed to have poisoned Héctor and plagiarized his music, his shrine is no longer remembered as fondly by the villagers, while Héctor's reputation and legacy are resurrected and people begin to take more interest in Héctor's life and music.
  • Villain Ball: Held by Ernesto when he made the night he murdered Héctor into a scene in one of his movies, dialogue and all. If he hadn't done that, Héctor would have never realized he was murdered and the entire third act of the film wouldn't have happened.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Earlier on, he rants to Héctor about how Miguel is a threat to his goal and is not intent on letting him go back to the Land of the Living with his photo while ensuring that Héctor is forgotten.
      Héctor: He's a living child, Ernesto!
      Ernesto: He's a threat! You think I'd let him go back to the Land of the Living with your photo? To keep your memory alive? [beat] No.
    • Then again once Ernesto's treachery is exposed by the Riveras and he gets crushed by a bell yet again. Especially when Pepita slowly advances upon him
  • Vehicle Vanish: Miguel escapes a guard in the square when vanishing behind a line of people passing between them.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: The film is generally a children's movie with bright colors. However, Ernesto de la Cruz murdered his best friend on screen to steal his songs and achieve fame. And he will go to any lengths to keep the skeleton in his closet.
  • Villain Song: Ernesto's version of "Remember Me" could be seen as one after it's revealed that his version is a bastardized take on a incredibly personal father-to-daughter song.
  • Wham Line:
    • Héctor reveals the truth about Ernesto — namely, that Ernesto became successful by stealing Héctor's songs. Then when Héctor asks Ernesto to move heaven and earth for him, we are lead to the slow but horrifying realization on how Ernesto stole his songs; he murdered Héctor by poisoning his tequila.
      Héctor: And whose fault is that? Those were my songs you took. My songs that made you famous!
    • But the biggest one of all has to be when Héctor reveals he's Miguel's actual great-great grandfather by telling him that he's being forgotten by his daughter, Coco.
      Héctor: I never should have left Santa Cecilia. I wish I could apologize. I wish I could tell her that her papa was trying to come home. That he loved her so much. My Coco...
  • Wham Shot: Dante taking on the technicolor palette of Pepita, revealing he was an alebrije all along.
  • What You Are in the Dark: We certainly see what Ernesto and Héctor are like in the dark respectively.
    • When in public, Ernesto will indulge "his" great-great-grandson Miguel and embrace him as his descendant. But in private, when the boy learns about how his hero murdered his own friend for his songs, Ernesto has Miguel thrown in a cenote so his secret will die with him.
    • Later, in the cenote, Miguel and Héctor embrace each other as family, even though they can't benefit from one another (Miguel doesn't have Héctor's photo, and Héctor has no marigold petals to send great-great-grandson to the Land of the Living.) They just happily declare how proud they are to be related simply because they are.
  • Wild Take: Héctor's eyes drop out of his eye sockets and into his mouth when Miguel tells him that he is the great-great grandson of Ernesto de la Cruz.
  • Writing About Your Crime: Ernesto de la Cruz included a poisoning scene in one of his movies that is identical to the way he killed Héctor in real life, only in his version, Ernesto is the victimized one (though in his version, of course, he survives).
  • Written for My Kids: In-Universe; "Remember Me" was originally written by Héctor as a present to his daughter Coco.
  • "You!" Exclamation: Ernesto's surprise when seeing Miguel again after having him tossed into the cenote.

¡Ay mi familia! note  ¡Oiga mi gente! note 
Canten a coro note , let it be known
Our love for each other will live on forever
In every beat of my proud corazón!


Video Example(s):


Miguel sees the dead

After somehow crossing over into the spirit realm, Miguel can see the spirits of the dead in the cemetery.

How well does it match the trope?

4.5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / ISeeDeadPeople

Media sources:

Main / ISeeDeadPeople