Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / Finding Nemo

Go To

Finding Nemo is a 2003 computer-animated film from Pixar and the first one from the company to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

The movie takes place in and around the Great Barrier Reef near Australia, and centers on a neurotic clownfish named Marlin (Albert Brooks). After losing his mate and all but one of their 400+ eggs in a barracuda attack, Marlin becomes overprotective of his remaining son, Nemo. On his first day of school, Nemo gets fed up with Marlin's fear of the ocean, and ends up disobeying his father's orders by going near a boat. Soon after, Nemo gets "rescued" by a scuba diver, and Marlin, going against all his fears, goes off to find him. Marlin joins up with a forgetful blue tang named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), and they brave all sorts of obstacles to, well, find Nemo.


Meanwhile, the scuba diver turns out to be a Sydney dentist who puts Nemo in his office's aquarium, and plans to give the fish to his niece, Darla, for her upcoming birthday. The other fish in the tank, most of whom are somewhat insane, decide to help Nemo escape (especially because Darla is described as a "fish killer", who, whenever she gets a fish, shakes their plastic bag too hard).

This movie is notable for being Pixar's most commercially successful featurenote  until Toy Story 3, but it's still one of the highest-grossing animated movies ever made as well as the highest-selling DVD ever. Its critical reception was great enough that it was included on Time Magazine's 2005 list of their 100 timeless and essential movies two years after its release. It also started Disney's Oscar-winning streak and was honored with a Disney Digital 3D re-release. It didn't exactly hurt the tourism trade in Australia, either. A sequel, titled Finding Dory, was released on June 17, 2016.


Not to be confused with the comic strip Little Nemo.

This film contains examples of:

    open/close all folders 

    Tropes A-H 
  • Abnormal Allergy: Sheldon the seahorse is allergic to water. Given that he lives underwater, he's quite the sneezer.
  • Ac CENT Upon The Wrong Syl LA Ble:
    Dory: Hey, look. "Ess-ca-pay". I wonder what that means? That's funny, it's spelled just like the word "escape."
  • Accidental Misnaming
    • The absent-minded Dory keeps misremembering Nemo's name. Over the course of the film, she manages to call him Chico, Fabio, Bingo, Harpo, and Elmo.
    • Sheldon's dad (Bob) calls Marlin Marty.
  • Acquired Poison Immunity: Sort of. The baby jellyfish's sting doesn't bother Marlin because he lives in an anemone and is already used to stings. Adult jellyfish are still dangerous.
  • Actor Allusion
    • Peach, played by Allison Janney (more famous for playing C.J. Cregg on The West Wing) announces that the dentist is about to do a root canal, bringing to mind the hilarious West Wing episode "Celestial Navigation".
    • There are a couple of allusions (the song "Beyond the Sea" and the line "That's my boy.") to Albert Brooks in My First Mister
    • Bubbles (played by Stephen Root) is rather possessive of his... well, his bubbles in much the same way that Milton is possessive of his stapler.
  • Adult Fear: The whole movie is made of it.
    • Losing your entire family, including the love of your life, before it has a chance to begin.
    • You try so hard to protect your handicapped child that it ends up pushing them away... right into the arms of a kidnapper.
    • Your child is take from right under your nose and you have no idea how to find them.
    • Having your last conversation with a loved one be an argument.
    • Despite your efforts, when you finally find your child, they're dead.
  • Advertised Extra: For some reason, Bruce and Crush are always shown on just about every piece of promotional material as two of the film's central characters even though their screen time is limited to only a handful of scenes.
  • Affably Evil: Subverted. Bruce appears to be this towards the beginning of the movie, but it's revealed that he's actually a Nice Guy. Unless he smells blood.
  • All There in the Script:
    • Gurgle's never referred to by name. He's the purple and yellow one.
    • Out of Nemo's classmates, only Sheldon's (the seahorse) name was said.
    • The dentist's first name is Philip.
    • The fish that yells, "Oh my gosh! Nemo's swimming out to sea!" is named Kathy.
  • Alluring Anglerfish: Provides the unsettling page image for said trope.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Averted in the stinger sequence with the anglerfish.
  • And I Shall Call Him Squishy: Said outright by Dory. And Darla, possibly.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Poor Bruce was originally animated with prominent claspers, as would be appropriate for a shark his size. Obviously they didn't make it to the final version.
  • Animal Talk: Most of the animals in the film talk to each other, even those that belong to different classes. The exceptions are those without complex nervous systems (sea anemones, jellyfish), predatory fish (except for the sharks), and the whale (although it does seem to understand Dory speaking whale).
  • Anti-Smother Love Talk: The movie contains two instances of this:
    • A turtle, Crush, talks to Marlin about letting children do things on their own. When Marlin asks when will he know if the children are ready, Crush responds, "Well, you never really know, but when they know, you'll know, you know?"
    • At a low point in the journey, Marlin murmurs, "I promised I'd never let anything happen to him." Dory's response serves as a low-key rebuttal to Marlin's overprotectiveness and helps him understand why Nemo tried to rebel against his precautionary measures:
      Dory: Huh, that's a funny thing to promise.
      Marlin: What?
      Dory: Well, you can't never let anything happen to him, then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.
  • Anti-Villain: Well, nearly every villain in this movie is either Obliviously Evil (like Darla and the jellyfish), predatory (anglerfish and barracuda), or just lacking in self-control (like Bruce and the seagulls). The closest thing to a bad guy would be the dentist, if only due to the first few seconds of his introduction, and even he's revealed to be perfectly pleasant and well-meaning but misguided.
    • Type 4: Jellyfish and the fishermen, under the "mere predator" definition.
  • Argument of Contradictions: There is a brief one as the Tank Gang debate what type of tool the dentist is using on a patient.
    Bloat: Now he's using a Hedstrom file.
    Gurgle: That's not a Hedstrom. That's a K-Flex!
    Bloat: It's got a teardrop cross section—clearly a Hedstrom.
    Gurgle: No, K-Flex.
    Bloat: Hedstrom!
    Gurgle: K-FLEX!!!
    Bloat: HEDSTROM!!! (puffs up) D'oh! Th-There I go! Little help...over here...
    Deb: (resigned) I'll go deflate him. (hissing)
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Barracuda don't have much of a taste for eggs. They prefer live prey. However, it's possible that the barracuda in the film was simply after Coral and just happened to consume the eggs in its pursuit of her.
    • The interior of the whale's throat is too large. While blue whales have a gigantic mouth, their throat is tiny and unable to swallow anything larger than a beach ball. They also have respiratory and digestive traits completely separated, so, you know, they don't unintentionally sneeze fish out of their blowhole. And where is the light inside its mouth coming from?
    • As stated in You Won't Like How I Taste below, Marlin tries to dissuade the whale from eating him and Dory by holding one of its taste buds, to prove he doesn't taste good. As it turns out, whales (and dolphins) can only taste salt, so Marlin's "I don't taste good" excuse likely wouldn't work. (This may be justified, however, since Marlin likely had zero experience with whales beforehand, and probably didn't know this fact. Or maybe he was just panicking in a stressful situation.)
    • Also, when Marlin and Dory are holding onto the whale's tongue and looking down its throat, the whale should not have a uvula (the grape-like ball that hangs in the back of your throat) dangling there.
    • Chuckles, the gift fish who was killed by Darla, was a goldfish. Which live in freshwater. The other Tank Gang fish are saltwater fish. You can see where this is going.
    • None of the sea turtles seem to worry about having to breathe. They also don't travel in flocks, but this was intentional; see Rule of Cool below.
    • Green turtles rarely ever reunite with their young. After the mothers lay their eggs on the beach, they cover them in sand and then depart. The chances of the children ever seeing their parents after hatching are slim, and even then, what are the odds of them recognizing one another?
    • Sea turtles don't live anywhere near 150 years; that honor belongs to tortoises. Their expected lifespan is still quite impressive at 80 years.
    • Clownfish do live in anemones but they also live in harems dominated by one male and one female, with a lot of non-productive males in the rest. When the dominant female dies, the dominant male undergoes a Gender Bender and becomes the new dominant female. Clownfish will also reproduce with their relatives in times of emergency. This particular tidbit has raised eyebrows at the choice of clownfish for the film.note  It has been stated though, the reason for the choice of clownfish was because they don't typically travel very far from their homes.
    • Interestingly, a featurette on DVD addresses the whole Artistic License issue. An animator relates a story of one of their consultants talking about the biological inaccuracies in their final fish designs. The animator replied, sheepishly, "Well... in real life they don't talk either, so..."
  • Artistic License – Engineering: All drains do lead to the ocean (or at least a river or lake). It's just that raw sewage isn't dumped directly into the water; there are a number of mechanical and chemical processes in the way that, if depicted in the movie, would probably not be pleasant. A deleted scene would have had Nemo going through and struggling to dodge the filtration machines, but it was cut out of the film with only a hint given that his small size allowed him to survive.
  • Ascended to Carnivorism: The movie ends with a Stinger of the little green fish Blenny from the sharks' meeting is the one gobbling up the Anglerfish.
  • Asinine Alternate Activity: Nemo wants to play in a flounder's backyard with three other sea creatures, but Marlin wants him to play on some sea sponges instead. Nemo, however, thinks the sponges seem boring, and the fact that the fish playing on them appear to be the fish equivalent of toddlers and babies doesn't help.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: A comedic example with Mt. Wannahockaloogie.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: "Hello, I'm Dory. What, you want to look for your child? Ummm... Hello, my name is Dory ..."
    • Deliberately invoked by Marlin when he gets Dory to follow him above the trench rather than through it.
  • Ax-Crazy: Bruce, but only when he smells blood. And given what he is and what happens when they smell large amounts of blood, it's probably justified.
  • Badass on Paper: Marlin gets through most of his adventures by gumption, desperation, and sheer dumb luck, but as his exploits are recounted over and over he starts to sound more and more badass. By the time the stories get to Nemo, his father is a Papa Wolf who has battled sharks and fought off jellyfish.
  • Badass Unintentional:
    • Dory. She just wants to hang out with Marlin.
    • Thanks to his hijinks, Marlin gets this reputation throughout the entire ocean area surrounding Sydney.
  • Behind the Black: The diver just sort of appears behind Nemo with no one noticing him before then.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Dory has this when a crab rudely refuses to tell her and Nemo where Marlin went.
    Seagull: Mine?
  • Big Damn Heroes: Marlin saving Dory in the jellyfish forest, at great risk to his own life.
    • The Tank Gang saving Nemo from being killed inside the filter.
  • Big Damn Reunion: Given how the plot of the film is Marlin trying to find his son, this outcome was inevitable.
  • Big "NO!": Marlin at the beginning when the barracuda attacks.
    • Marlin, several times, when Nemo is taken by the divers.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Bruce, when he smells blood.
  • Blipvert: A high-speed montage of the beginning of their quest to when they finally reach Sydney plays when Dory remembers the address on the scuba gear.
  • Body Motifs: Three fish characters have an injured or otherwise unusual right fin — Nemo (in the opening scene), Gill (before he's been introduced), and Dory (during her near-fatal encounter with the jellies).
  • Bowel-Breaking Bricks: Octopus ink.
  • Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: Darla dons a set of truly scary-looking headgear.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: When Marlin thinks Nemo is dead and leaves Dory. Also with his son before he is kidnapped.
  • Brick Joke: Involving an actual joke—Marlin fails twice at telling a joke before getting it right at the end.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: When his father's paranoia for his well being humiliates him in front of his new friends and makes him feel even more worthless than usual, Nemo angrily looks away from Marlin and mutters "I hate you." The entire movie is hinged on Marlin not wanting that to be the last thing his son says to him.
  • The Cameo / Casting Gag: John Ratzenberger has his mandatory Pixar appearance, this time as the school of fish that gives Marlin and Dory directions.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Marlin at the start of the movie.
  • Carnivore Confusion: "Fish are friends, not food!"
    • Played with in the case of the pelicans: they eat fish — but not if they know the specific fish personally.
  • Censorship by Spelling:
    Gurgle: Whatever you do, don't mention D-A-R...
    Nemo: It's okay, I know who you're talking about.
    *Bloat dope slaps Gurgle*
  • Cheerful Child: Nemo.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • "P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney!" Also, the diver's mask itself.
    • Mount Wannahockaloogie, and the Ring of Fire. Both feature during Nemo's tank initiation, and come back when the Tank Gang need to save Nemo from Darla.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Gill saves Nemo from the first net by having them swim down. Nemo then goes on to use this technique to save Dory and a whole school of grouper fish caught in a fisherman's net.
    • The clownfish's ability to swim through jellyfish unharmed works out for Marlin... but not for Dory.
    • If he gets stung enough, it even knocks Marlin out.
  • Chronic Pet Killer: Darla.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Dory. She is the QUEEN of Cloudcuckooland. Part of it's due to her short term memory loss but anyone who thinks they can speak whale and ask a shark for directions is working on strange logic indeed.
    • Worth noting is that both things WORK.
    • Deb/Flo and Bubbles also count.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Poor Marlin.
  • The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: Dory really can speak whale.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: "Hop inside my mouth if you want to live."
  • Company Cross References: Buzz Lightyear appears as one of the toys in the dentist's waiting room, a boy can be seen reading a Mr. Incredible comic book, and Mike Wazowski makes a cameo in the end credits.
  • Continuity Cameo: In P. Sherman's waiting room, there is a Buzz Lightyear figure on the floor next to the chest of toys.
    • Mike appears in the closing credits. As a bit of Continuity Nod, he's wearing some of the items he used to protect himself from Boo in his apartment.
  • Copycat Mockery:
    • After the sharks say the pledge about fish not being food, Chum mockingly pretends to be a dolphin because he thinks dolphins are too self-centred, thinking they're cute and wanting to flip for humans.
    • When Marlin asks the school of charade-doing fish for directions, they form his shape and mockingly say, "What the hey-hey? Gimme directions!" Marlin says, "I'm serious!", but they stay in his shape and chant, "Blah blah blah, me-me blah, blah blah blah blah me-me-me!". Marlin swims off to complain and in the background, they're still in Marlin's shape, mocking him.
    • When Dory says she "really, really" thinks they should swim through, not over, the trench, Marlin says, "And I'm really really done talking about this".
  • Cover Version: A cover of Jack Lawrence and Charles Trenet's "Beyond the Sea" as performed by Robbie Williams appears in the ending credits.
  • Creator Cameo: Director Andrew Stanton is the voice of the gnarly Crush and the lobster with the Boston accent.
  • Crying Critters: Dory bursts into tears when she thinks Marlin doesn't like her anymore.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Due to Dory's bad case of anterograde amnesia, she doesn't remember much about her past life, but the things she remembers subconsciously, such as the fact that she knows how to read and the fact that she sleep talks about events that happened before she met Marlin, implies that her life must've been interesting.
  • Cub Cues Protective Parent: When Marlin slaps away a baby jellyfish with his tail after it stings Dory, the swarm of adult jellyfish immediately start swimming toward them.
  • Curse Cut Short: "We are swimming in our own shi-" "Shh! Here he comes!"
  • Damsel in Distress: Dory, three times. The first time is when she gets trapped in the jellyfish forest while racing Marlin out of it. He gets out, then realises she isn't there and rushes back in to save her. The second time is when Marlin abandons her after crossing the Despair Event Horizon and Nemo comes across her by chance. The third time is when she's caught in the net at the fishing grounds.
  • Darker and Edgier: Somewhat, Pixar's first four films had some more emotional moments but on the whole they were very lighthearted and comedic. Finding Nemo was arguably Pixar's first foray into more dramatic territory, as in films that have comedic elements but on the whole aren't comedies. More importantly, it remains to this day their scariest movie, with more than a handful of scenes (such as the barracuda's arrival, the anglerfish scene, the jellyfish, the whale slowly approaching from the background or Bruce going berserk) leaving a mark on fans for their horror value. The movie also does little to downplay how savage nature can be in the ocean and completely averts Carnivore Confusion, with even sapient, named characters acknowledging they would/do eat other sapient beings like them regardless of whether they can communicate.
  • Declaration of Personal Independence: Nemo tries to prove to his Overprotective Dad Marlin that he doesn't need to baby him, even though Nemo was born with a gimpy fin. He eventually does.
  • Dedication: The film is dedicated to Glenn McQueen, an animator who passed away from melanoma before the film's release.
  • The Dentist's Office From Ipanema: When Nemo first arrives in the tank.
  • Department of Redundancy Department
  • Depth Deception: Dory and Marlin try to speak to a small fish while looking for directions to Sydney. Turns out, it's not small, so much as very far away.
  • Derailed for Details / Cannot Tell a Joke:
    Marlin: All right, I know one joke. Um, there's a mollusk, see? And he walks up to a sea, well he doesn't walk up, he swims up. Well, actually the mollusk isn't moving. He's in one place and then the sea cucumber, well they . . . I mixed up. There was a mollusk and a sea cucumber. None of them were walking, so forget that I —
  • Despair Event Horizon: Marlin, when he and Dory return to the sea after he believes Nemo to be dead, and Dory, after Marlin leaves her.
  • Determinator: Many characters in the movie, but especially Marlin, Dory, and Gill.
    Nemo: How many times have you tried to escape?
    Gill: Eh, I've lost count. Fish aren't meant to be in a box, kid. It does things to you.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Gill's plan to escape to the sea actually succeeds in the end. Too bad he forgot that they'd all be stuck in plastic bags once they got there. It's a hilarious reveal in that most of the audience probably didn't think it through, either.
    Bloat: Now what?
  • Did You Die?:
    Turtle: (to Marlin) Mr. Fish, did you die?
    Dory: Sorry. I was a little vague on the details.
  • Disney Death: Downplayed at first with Nemo as he tries to avoid Darla by playing dead, but is seen doing so by Marlin and Dory. Upon his return to the ocean, he finds Dory who then takes him to Marlin. Then played straight with the same character after he convinces Dory and a school of fish, who have just been caught in a big fishing net, to swim down together.
  • Distressed Dude: Nemo, who is captured at the beginning and trapped in an aquarium for most of the film.
  • The Ditz: Dory, in spades. Also, to a lesser extent, Deb.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The group of sharks who have sworn off eating fish is played as if it were an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting or similar drug rehab group, complete with pledge ("Fish are friends, not food"), 'steps' and interventions if one of the members has / looks like they're going to fall Off the Wagon.
  • Downer Beginning: The film opens with Marlin and his wife Coral happily discussing their future. Then comes a barracuda, and Coral dives down to try and save her eggs. Marlin gets knocked away, and wakes up to find his wife and all but one of his eggs are gone. Here, have a tissue.
  • Dramatic Irony: Marlin sees Nemo in the bag, thinking he’s dead, unaware he’s only faking it.
  • The Dreaded: Everyone in the fish tank fears Darla because she overexcitedly shakes the bag until whoever's inside dies.
  • Duck!: It's not a duck, it's a PELICAN!! Cue an Oh, Crap!.
  • Dumb Blonde: Inverted with Dory, as in-universe, being blue is possibly the equivalent of being blonde (as she mutters "I'm a natural blue" in her sleep). This could possibly also apply to Deb as well, as she thinks her reflection in the tank is her "twin sister" Flo.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Luigi from Cars makes a brief appearance when the aquarium fish are escaping. The boy in the waiting room on Escape Day is reading a Mr. Incredible comic.
  • Ear Worm: Dory's Survival Mantra "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!" Marlin gripes that it's going to be stuck in his head.
  • Easy Amnesia: Averted for the most part. With a few plot-important exceptions, Dory suffers from fairly plausible anterograde amnesia. Well, at least plausible by the standards of a children's film.
  • Eat My Dust: When Marlin and Dory race through the jellyfish, Marlin tells Dory "You're about to eat my bubbles!"
  • Either "World Domination", or Something About Bananas: "He either said to move to the back of the throat, or he wants a root beer float."
  • Eldritch Ocean Abyss: Marlin and Dory accidentally swim into deep waters and encounter an anglerfish, which almost eats them.
  • Electric Jellyfish: While no electrical energy is actually seen, the jellies make electrical crackling and zapping sounds when they sting.
  • Empathic Environment
    • When Marlin has crossed the Despair Event Horizon it's suddenly cloudy, contrasting with many other scenes in the film, particularly happy ones such as when he and Dory are riding the EAC and it's clearly sunny.
  • Erudite Stoner: Crush.
  • Everything Is Even Worse With Sharks: Luckily, the sharks seen here have sworn off fish.
  • Eureka Moment: Two.
    • Marlin gets one when he remembers the tops of jellyfish don't sting.
    • Dory gets a big one near the end when her memory returns.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Upon learning Nemo is from the ocean, the rest of the Tank Gang are in marvel, and Bubbles wants to know more:
    Bubbles: Wow, "the Big Blue"... what's it like?
    Nemo: Um... big. And... blue?
    Bubbles: I knew it!
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: "It's morning, everyone! Today's the day! The sun is shining, the tank is clean, and we are getting out of — (gasp) the tank is clean. The tank is CLEAN!"
    • "That's not a duck, it's a... pelican!"
  • Face of a Thug: The sharks, especially Bruce. Subverted that Bruce becomes dangerous if he smells blood.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Not entirely failed, since it ends up being quite dramatic, but Nemo's initiation into the "Bond of Fraternal Tankhood" at Mount Wannahockaloogie initially hits a snag when Jacques, who has been tasked with starting "The Ring of Fire" (or rather, the bubbles from a fake underwater volcano), doesn't pay attention to Bloat's dramatic opening speech and misses his cue.
  • Faking the Dead: Nemo does this so he can avoid being given to Darla. While the dentist falls for it, Marlin sees this and believes he’s actually dead.
  • Famed in Story: The story of Marlin's quest to find his missing son becomes legend, and Marlin himself is elevated to the status of folk hero.
  • Father's Quest: When Nemo gets taken away by a human, Marlin goes off to travel from the Great Barrier Reef to Sydney and back in a mission to find and rescue him.
  • Feather Fingers: Nigel. And, of course, virtually every character has fin fingers.
  • Fiendish Fish: The barracuda that ate Nemo's mother and all the other eggs.
  • Flanderization: Bubbles goes from being another fish with an eccentric personality trait like the rest of the Tank Gang for most of the film, to pretty much being reduced to a fish who can do nothing other than babble about bubbles in the final scene - even when Peach is the last to cross the street into the harbor, all he does is mumble about bubbles.
  • First Day of School Episode: Nemo has his first day of school and gets lost at school.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: "You're going to get stuck out there, and I'm going to have to get you before another fish does!" Turns out other fish are the least of Marlin's worries.
    • An overhead shot of the trench Marlin and Dory encounter shows a fish skeleton that obviously fell from above the trench, not from within it.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls:
    • This film does a variation on the trope. When Nemo is first captured and the boat sped away, the score plays a deep, haunting, and monotonous harp strike to simulate a ringing church bell.
    • In addition, the fishing boat that caught Dory and a school of groupers has a small bell at the end of its crane that rings as the crane is lifting up. However, the crane is successfully destroyed by all of the fish that forcibly swam down.
  • Foreboding Fleeing Flock: Dory and Marlin are arguing that it's just as good the whale they were trying to talk to swam away, since he might have been hungry. Dory counters that whales only eat krill. Cue a cloud of krill swimming past them with a whale's open maw right behind them.
  • Foreign Exchange Student: Squirt the baby sea turtle becomes one at the end of the movie.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Marlin mentions seeing a whale (or pretending to) in the opening scene. He and Dory are taken to Sydney in the mouth of one.
    • The journey to school foreshadows the meeting with Bruce, Anchor and Chum in the submarine and the ride with the sea turtles on the EAC. See also Tempting Fate below.
    • When Bruce is first seen, he turns around for a second and then snaps his teeth right in Marlin and Dory's faces. He later goes into a feeding frenzy after smelling Dory's blood and tries to eat her and Marlin.
    • Marlin has to rescue Dory from the jellyfish forest when she gets trapped and fails to make it out. Marlin and Nemo then have to rescue Dory and a whole school of fish when Dory gets caught in the net.
    • A subtle one. The first time Nemo tries to jam the filter, it takes him two attempts. The first attempt to jam the filter fails when the pebble comes out. The second attempt is successful.
    • "All drains lead to the ocean." During Darla's visit, Nemo manages to get back to the ocean when Gill sends him down the dentist's spit sink.
    • While this was not the original intention, Dory wondering where her family is and when she asks Nemo if they are searching for his dad or her dad at the end, foreshadows the sequel.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: During Gil's Imagine Spot on their escape plan, one of the cars driving by is the Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story. Continuing their tradition of putting it in every Pixar movie.
    • One of the other cars that pass is an early version of Luigi from Cars.
  • French Accordion: An accordion riff plays when Jacques the shrimp is introduced, to go with his French accent.
  • Fun with Flushing: Nemo's escape plan is to play dead and get flushed, because "all drains lead to the ocean". Many have pointed out that in reality, a fish would not survive the trip, as it would be ground up during the sewage treatment process, leading some to joke that the title should have been "Grinding Nemo".
    • Being Pixar, the creators had in fact painstakingly researched the Australian sewer system in order to show Nemo avoiding the perils therein, but the sequence was cut for time.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • There are actually quite a few. A good one is when Marlin is trying to tell his joke at the start. Nemo at first has an 'Oh, boy' expression, then an embarrassed and apologetic smile.
    • A meta example occurs on the 2-disc DVD introduction: whilst Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich are talking about the included bonus features, in the background you can see John Lasseter waving and then miming diving over a rail.
  • Funny Octopus: One of Nemo's classmates is a young, somewhat nervous octopus ("Aw, you made me ink!").
  • Furry Reminder: "You guys made me ink."
  • Genius Ditz: Dory, who knows how to read humans writing and understands whale language and knows about whales in general. "Don't worry, whales don't eat clown fish, they eat krill."
  • Genki Girl: Dory whose perkiness and high energy buoy all her friends in rough times, or just annoy them.
  • Genre-Busting: It's a road movie/coming of age/thriller/animal comedy/prison escape/surf movie.
  • Gentle Giant: Bruce and the whale.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Darla.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Gill has extensive scarring on the right side of his body, mostly over his face (but leaving his right eye intact) and his right fin (now as useless as Nemo's one) from a failed escape attempt, adding to his grizzled, fierce personality.
  • Gossip Evolution: How the news of Marlin's adventure gets around - by the time the news reaches Nemo, he sounds considerably more badass than he really was. For example, he scared away the three sharks when Dory accidentally launched a torpedo. Nigel reports that he "blew them up".
  • Gratuitous French: Jacques, the shrimp who speaks almost nothing but French. First time you see him, a stereotypical little accordion ditty plays. The one exception counts as Gratuitous English: when Jacques is leading Nemo to his induction into the Tank Gang, he at first says "Suivez-moi", which Nemo doesn't understand, so he has to repeat it in English: "Follow me".
  • Grilling the Newbie: The other fish in the tank ask Nemo endlessly about the Ocean.
    Bubbles: "The old big blue, eh? What's it like?
    Nemo: "It's big... and... blue?"
    Bubbles: "I knew it!"
  • Guile Hero: Gill, even though his plans (almost) always fail. He's atypical in that he appears somewhat uncomfortable in this role: he's ashamed of himself after Nemo almost gets filleted by the tank filter while partaking in one of his plans.
  • Handicapped Badass: Gill. Extensive scarring on his right fin makes it as useless as Nemo's atrophied one. That doesn't prevent him from being a sort of mentor to Nemo.
    • In spite of Dory's short-term memory loss, as Marlin tells her later in the movie, he would never have got to Sydney without her. She is also the one who faced down the grumpy crabs to find out Marlin was at the fishing grounds.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs:
    Gill: It'll be a piece of kelp.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Averted when Marlin and Dory are in the trench, which is absolutely pitch black until the anglerfish arrives. Played straight in the whale's mouth.
  • Hollywood Density: In the final scene where the aquarium fish finally escape, the water in their bags somehow floats above other water in the ocean.
  • Hope Springs Eternal: After they have escaped from a hungry shark and massive minefield explosions, Marlin and Dory are temporarily knocked out. Marlin is anxious to find his missing son, Nemo, but now he has lost his best clue for finding him - a scuba mask inscribed with the address of the diver who captured Nemo. Dory helps Marlin find hope. Discouraged, Marlin says, "That was my only chance at finding my son; now it's gone!" But Dory is not so easily deterred. "Hey, Mr. Grumpy Gills," she says. "When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim."
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: Played with: to the fish on the reef and in the ocean, humans are regarded as a source of fearful awe, bizarre and mysterious creatures (not helped by their "butts" and diving costumes) who occasionally snatch them up at will. To the fish in a dentist's fish tank, however, humans are familiar enough to be regarded as more a source of free entertainment than anything else (except the little one who upsets them by knocking on the side of the fish-tank with her finger and kills them by shaking them too hard when they're in the bag).

    Tropes I-Q 
  • Ignorant of the Call: Marlin thinks of himself as just a father who is desperately trying to recover his missing son. To Dory, and Nemo, the sea turtles, Nigel the Pelican, the fish in Dr. Sherman's tank, and many, many others, Marlin is a determinator who is repeatedly triumphing over unbelievable odds.
  • Innocent Innuendo: "I'm gonna go touch the butt!"
  • Interspecies Friendship: Not only do different kinds of fish get along, but they also befriend sea turtles, and even species that otherwise prey on fish, such as sharks and pelicans.
  • It's All My Fault: The plot of the film revolves on this trope.
  • Jerkass: The crab who makes a point of telling Dory — for no reason whatsoever — that although he saw Marlin swimming past, he's not gonna tell her which way he went. "And there's no way you're gonna make me!"
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gill. He initially comes across as cold towards Nemo when he tells him he has to get himself out of the filter tube when he initially gets stuck in it, and his plan to escape almost kills Nemo, but he's also a Papa Wolf to Nemo and comes across as more like the father figure Nemo needed.
  • Joke of the Butt: Nemo's classmates think a boat is called a "butt".
  • Karma Houdini: The barracuda and the jellyfish.
  • Keep Away: Around the beginning of the film, a couple of the kids in Nemo's class pull this on another kid.
  • Keet: Nemo on a good day. The baby sea turtles also count.
  • The Killjoy: Nemo's father Marlin complains a lot and often disallows things because he feels they're too dangerous. This is due, in part at least, to his wife dying when Nemo was still an egg.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Implied with Sandy Plankton. He claims sea turtles live to be a hundred years old, and once saw a boat and called it a butt. Of course, both of these facts are wrong. Marlin lampshades this at the end: "Who is this Sandy Plankton who knows everything wrong?"
  • Land Down Under
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The Jerkass crab refuses to tell Dory, for no reason at all, which way Marlin went after she meets up with Nemo. In retaliation, she lifts him out of the sea near some seagulls to force the answer out of him.
    • Not much, but the dentist hits his head and Darla gets squirted in the face with water.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: "The Prime Minister" makes a brief appearance as one of Dr. Sherman's patients. note 
  • Lethally Stupid: Darla is actually a relatively normal girl (except for the braces), what makes her an antagonist is her bad habit to shake her fishes like crazy. This is justified, however, by how young and hyperactive she is.
  • Light Is Not Good: The anglerfish's light may look inviting but it leads to frightening teeth.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Marlin to Dory. Being with him somehow cures her amnesia.
    • And the other way around, as Dory's optimism, easy-going nature and encouragement helps rein in Marlin's neurotic side and keep him focussed.
  • Local Reference: Director Andrew Stanton is from Rockport, Massachussetts, so he included several references to it, including lamp replicas of two lighthouses in nearby Thacher Island and a photograph of "Motif Number One", a local landmark, as well as lobsters with thick "Bahston" accents and local slang ("Wicked").
  • Lopsided Dichotomy: Dory translating whale speech:
    "Okay, he either said, 'move to the back of the throat,' or he 'wants a root beer float'."
  • Lost in Translation: The joke with the fish calling a boat a "butt" naturally loses its point in many other languages, and the joke is left to rely on a funny pronounciation.
  • The Lost Lenore: Coral and most of their children.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Dory to Marlin.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Nemo, and then the rest of the Tank Gang, have one during the first attempt to jam the filter when the pebble slips out of place and it starts working again, with Nemo still inside it.
    • The Tank Gang have this reaction again the second time Nemo tries to jam the filter, knowing what almost happened the first time.
  • Meaningful Background Event: The whale and jellyfish.
  • Meaningful Echo: Lots. It is a Pixar film, after all.
    • "All drains lead to the ocean."
    • "Just keep swimming," and "Swim down."
    • "You think you can do these things, but you can't, Nemo!"
    • "Trust me on this."
  • Meaningful Name:
    • A dory is a small fishing boat.
    • The Mako shark is named Chum.
    • Bruce is both the stereotypical term for any Australian male, and the nickname given by the Jaws team to the mechanical shark they used.
    • Nemo is the name of the famous undersea captain in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It's also the name of a little boy who goes on fantastic dream adventures.
    • A marlin is a type of billfish. While Marlin the clownfish doesn't resemble his namesake in looks, billfish are notorious for their highly-stressed temperament- so much so that even being removed from the water can cause them to die of panic.
  • Memetic Badass: Marlin ends up as one in-universe as tales of his journey filter through the ocean and become larger than life.
  • Missing Child: Nemo the baby clownfish gets captured by divers, leading his nervous dad Marlin to look for him.
  • Missing Mom: Coral is this to Nemo thanks to the barracuda. We also only see the fathers of Sheldon, Tad, Pearl and Squirt, but no sight or word of their mothers.
  • Mistaken for Dying: When Marlin and Dory get a look at Nemo playing dead, they are convinced he actually is dead before the dentist shoos Nigel away and that's when Nemo wakes up.
  • Mobile Fishbowl: In The Stinger Gill, Deb and the other captives in the dentist's fish tank use the fact that they've been put in clear baggies of water while the tank is being cleaned to make their escape to the sea. This involves bopping the baggies forward through a building and across a busy roadway. Good news: they succeed. Bad news: they have no idea how to get out of the baggies.
  • Monsters Anonymous: The shark's support group is Fish Eaters Anonymous.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Before and after the opening titles.
    • "Good feeling's gone."
    • A triple case of it in the jellyfish forest scene. It starts off with an Oh, Crap! from Marlin and Dory, then it turns to excitement and joy when Marlin has his Eureka Moment and they start racing each other to see who can get out of the jellyfish first, then it turns to fear and desperation when Dory gets trapped and Marlin has to rescue her and save them both.
  • My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting:
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Gill, when Nemo is almost killed trying to carry out his escape plan.
      Nemo: Gill, I'm sorry I couldn't stop the—
      Gill: No, kid, I'm the one who should be sorry. I was so ready to get out, so ready to taste that ocean, I was willing to put you through harm's way to get there. Nothing should be worth that. I'm sorry I couldn't get you back to your father, kid.
    • Marlin, after manipulating Dory into going over the trench rather than through it after she expresses unease at doing so, is clearly left feeling rather guilty after she gets injured by the jellyfish who were lurking above the trench.
  • My Nayme Is: Three of the main characters have normal human names (Marlon, Dori, Gil) spelled differently to have a nautical theme (Marlin, Dory, Gill).
  • Never Heard That One Before: Jokes about Marlin being a clown fish.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Nemo had absolutely no intention of actually swimming out to the boat, until Marlin intervenes and scolds him for it, finally pushing him over the edge enough to swim out and touch it.
  • No Antagonist: Dr. Sherman, the dentist, genuinely loves his niece Darla and wants to give Nemo to her as a pet; even his accidental fishnapping was done because he believed Nemo would die in the ocean. Likewise, the fish belonging to Darla, Dr Sherman's niece, didn't die because of any malicious intent, but more due to her hyperactive overexcitedness at having fish as pets.
  • No Cartoon Fish: Aversion; all fish in the movie are anthropomorphised to a certain extent (except the barracuda and the anglerfish).
  • Noisy Nature: The carnivorous fish, like the barracuda and the anglerfish, let out monstrous growls and roars while chasing the protagonists to show how scary they are from the smaller fish's point of view.
  • Noodle Incident: "Hey, that snail was about to charge."
  • Nothing Is Scarier: This movie has this trope down to an art. The best example is the scene with the anglerfish.
  • Obliviously Evil: Darla can be seen as this.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Marlin and Coral upon seeing the barracuda watching them.
    • Bruce's first appearance.
    • Bruce smells blood. The other sharks yell "INTERVENTION!"
    • Later at the end of scene, when the sharks see just where the torpedo is going...
    • Marlin and Dory seeing the submarine falling towards them.
    • When Marlin realizes that the pretty light is attached to a monsterous fish, he says "Good feeling's gone."
    • Marlin and Dory when they suddenly see they're surrounded by jellyfish.
    • Marlin when he realises that while he made it out of the jellyfish forest, Dory didn't.
    • Nemo, then the rest of the Tank Gang, when the filter starts working again with Nemo still inside it.
    • Getting gulped by the whale. Fortunately, he was just giving them a ride to Sydney Harbor.
    • "That's not a duck, it's a... pelican!"
    • Everyone yelling, "DARLA!"
    • Dory's angry face as she hoists the uncooperative crab to the surface next to the seagulls, after he refuses to tell her Marlin was at the fishing grounds.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Played for Drama when Nemo goes back to jam the filter and everyone else in the tank panics, remembering his close call last time.
    Bloat: Not again!!!
  • Only Sane Man: Marlin and Gill, compared to their respective companions.
  • Orphaned Punchline: Marlin proves that, despite what all the other fish think, not all clown fish are funny.
    • One of the bonus features of the DVD are 10-15 different punch lines that were considered for the closing scene. Good times, good times.
  • Papa Wolf: Marlin. Shark, anglerfish, jellyfish, pelican, human... He will topple the food chain to get his son back. Also Gill towards Nemo.
  • Parental Bonus:
    • The sequence with the vegetarian sharks is an obvious reference to AA meetings.
    • After Nemo jams the filter: "Everybody else, be as gross as possible. Think dirty thoughts. We're gonna make this tank so filthy the dentist will HAVE to clean it."
    • When the Dentist shows up to see how gross the tank is, we get this little gem:
    Peach: Okay, nine o'clock, and... cue dentist!
    Doorbell rings, dentist enters
    Dentist: Hello, Barbara. Sorry I'm late.
  • Parental Substitute: Gill acts as something of a surrogate father to Nemo while in the tank.
  • Parents Are Wrong: Nemo wants to be more adventurous but his dad Marlin is overprotective. Nemo does find himself in risky situations, but nevertheless the aesop of the climax is that Marlin needs to let go and allow Nemo to have more freedom.
  • Pets as a Present: Nemo is threatened with being given as a present to Dr. Sherman's niece Darla. This is rather unfortunate as Darla keeps killing her fish upon receiving them after shaking their plastic bag too hard.
  • Playing Possum: Nemo does it when Darla arrives so he can get back to the ocean. When Marlin and Dory witness, they think he really is dead.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Dory to Marlin, when they see Nemo playing dead and think he is dead.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: In a rather roundabout example, Coral's. Her death happens some years before the actual story, but hadn't it been for that, the plot wouldn't have happened, at least not the way it did.
  • Post–Wake-Up Realization: Peach wakes up and does notice that the tank is clean even though they'd deliberately gotten it dirty so that they'd be taken out, but she doesn't realise the implications until a few seconds later.
  • "Psycho" Strings: Played whenever Darla looks at the camera.
  • Punctuated Pounding: A rare example of the dialog and pounding coming from different characters:
    • BANG Sorry about BANG Bruce, mate! BANG He's really BANG a nice guy!
    • I have to get out of here! BANG I have to find my son! BANG I have to tell him how! BANG old! BANG sea! BANG turtles! BANG are! BANG
  • Punny Name: Nemo's name means "no one" in Latin, which means the movie is called "Finding No One".
  • The Quest: And while it's not a perfect Booker's Quest, it does meet plenty of the specifications: Monsters (angler fish), Temptations (Bruce delays then, when they get back on track, turns deadly), Dangerous Terrain (mines, jellyfish), Deadly Opposites (Marlin even ignores the guides!), the Journey to the Underworld (the whale), then the halfway arrival where the heroes realize the task is even harder than imagined. Not to mention Dory's role as Anima and how she is the one who first connects with the prize.

    Tropes R-Z 
  • Really 700 Years Old: Crush is 150, and still young, dude.
  • Reminder Failure: This is a running theme with Dory in Finding Nemo, who suffers from short-term memory loss and repeats words or sentences to herself in an attempt to retain information.
    • When told by some friendly mackerel to go "through a trench, not over it", she repeats the phrase to herself a few times but immediately forgets it (mostly) when they encounter the trench. Although she has a nagging feeling that they should go through the trench, she is easily convinced to go over it.
    • Whilst travelling with Marlin she continuously repeats the phrase "P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney" and manages to remember it the entire journey — even using it as a Survival Mantra while stung to near-unconsciousness by jellyfish. But after Marlin tells her to leave after believing Nemo was killed, Dory becomes so upset she tries to say the address one more time and fails to remember past the number 42.
    • Dory keeps misremembering Nemo's name. Over the course of the film, she manages to call him Chico, Fabio, Bingo, Harpo, and Elmo. Marlin keeps correcting her but it never sticks - to the point that when Marlin has stormed off on his own and Dory runs into Nemo, her initial reaction to his introduction is "Nemo?... That's a nice name!"
  • Repeated Cue, Tardy Response: When Nemo is about to be inducted into the fish tank's fraternal bond, the ceremony taking place atop Mount Wanna-hock-a-loogie.
    Bloat: If you are able to swim through...the Ring...of Fire!
    (Nemo looks confused as nothing happens)
    Bloat: (aside) Turn Pon the The Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire!
    Jacques: Oh! Yes... (starts spinning the wheel to make bubbles burst out of the mountain)
    Bloat:You said you could do it- The Ring of Fire!
  • Riddle for the Ages: As seen in The Stinger, the Tank Gang were able to escape after the AquaScum 3000 stopped working. It's never revealed how Gill and the others were able to break it; it's even possible they had no plan and the AquaScum happened to break on its own despite its lifetime guarantee.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Nemo and espicially the baby sea turtles.
  • Road Trip Plot: It's underwater so there aren't any roads, but otherwise the trope is played straight.
  • Roundabout Shot: Seen briefly on Nemo when Dory recognizes him and finds him.
  • Rousseau Was Right: There are certainly characters in the film who are harmful — the barracuda at the beginning, the angler fish and the seagulls; the sharks at first; the jellyfish; and of course Darla and to a lesser extent Dr. Sherman the dentist. But there are none who are malicious, nobody who has explicitly chosen to hurt others. In contrast, there are large numbers of characters who are happy to help both Nemo and Marlin — including the sharks and Nigel the pelican, both of whom are predators and would have at least fleeting thoughts of filling their stomachs (and they nearly do get eaten by another pelican).
  • Rule of Cool:
    • Turtles don't actually travel in groups, but in the words of Stanton himself, "But it was just too cool and it helped the story along. We don't address it in the script, but they're all off to Hawaii to go surf."
    • Also, American lobsters with Bostonian accents near the Australian Coast.
  • Sapient Eat Sapient: Nearly every form of animal life, aquatic or otherwise, is capable of speech with one another. There are more than a few lampshades about the Carnivore Confusion that arises from being able to converse with one's favored prey.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Marlin and Dory. One is grumpy and grounded while the other is perky and optimistic pushes him forward.
  • Say My Name: Marlin screaming Nemo's name several times while and after Nemo is kidnapped.
    • Marlin screams Dory's name three times when he races back into the jellyfish forest to find her, and a fourth time when he sees her trapped.
    • And then later in the dentist's office when he sees Nemo playing dead in the bag and thinks he really is dead.
  • Scars Are Forever: The ones on Gill's face that he apparently got from trying to escape the tank.
  • Sea Mine: A whole minefield of them too.
  • Ship Tease: Dory and Marlin.
  • Short Cuts Make Long Delays: Marlin swimming over the scary-looking trench rather than through it leads to an encounter with jellyfish.
  • Shout-Out: See here.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The entire Pixar staff had to take a graduate class in fish biology before making the movie.
    • Many psychologists and neurologists say Dory's amnesia is the most accurate portrayal of real-life anterograde amnesia in film.
  • Simultaneous Arcs: Most of the movie splits between Marlin in the ocean and Nemo in the tank.
  • Small Taxonomy Pools:
    • Largely played straight. Among fish we see colorful reef-fishes, and then the stock seahorses, puffers, rays, great white and hammerhead sharks, and barracudas (will we ever see an ocean sunfish, dolphinfish, pipefish, and remoras in fiction?). The sea birds are gulls and pelicans (and what about frigatebirds, tropicbirds, skuas and so on?); the sea-mammal is a whale, the sea-reptiles are the classic Chelonid turtles: and we have crabs, jellyfishes and starfishes as the invertebrate members of the fauna.
    • But it's averted as well: this is perhaps the first time a deep-sea fish shows up in a relevant role in Fictionland (the anglerfish). Not only that, many sea creatures from Real Life are well recognizable by who knows. The whale isn't the stock generic large cetacean, it's quite specifically a blue whale. Tropical fish pertain to precise species (clownfish, blue tang, moorish idol, Gramma loreto and so on); one of the three sharks is a Mako; and the hero is called Marlin (the latter is lampshaded by Nigel trying to remember Marlin's name and saying "It's some kind of sport fish or something..." at one point). The chosen cephalopod is the unconventional "Dumbo-octopus". Finally the (totally unexpected) krill: talking krill!
  • The Smurfette Principle: The film has 9:3 male-to-female ratio. The writer explains on the DVD commentary that in fact Dory's role was originally going to be that of a male character until he saw Ellen DeGeneres on television and realised that was the sweet-but-scattered tone he was looking for.
  • Something That Begins with "Boring": Dory and Marlin play this while swimming through open ocean. Marlin quickly gets fed up as he's literally the only thing around for Dory to see and her memory problem means she keeps forgetting that she's already used him as her clue.
  • Somewhere, a Mammalogist Is Crying: A friendly blue whale gives Marlin and Dory a ride for protection, before sending them on their way by forcing them to the back of its throat to eject them out of its blowhole. Marlin fears they'll be devoured, whereas Dory tells him to trust their giant friend. Marlin, however, was absolutely correct. A Blue whales' esophagus and wind pipe are not connected. By all accounts if forced down its throat they should have been swallowed alive.
  • So What Do We Do Now?: Gill and the rest of the aquarium fish at the end.
  • Speech Impediment: Darla has trouble speaking with those terrible braces.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Is Gill's name spelled with one or two L's?
  • Staging an Intervention: The sharks do this when Bruce gets a whiff of blood.
  • Staring Kid: The kid in the dentist's waiting room who reacts with horror at the commotion.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Nemo attends a school of fish.
    • Crush mentions that "Mr. Turtle" is his father. That would make his name Crush Turtle...or C. Turtle.
    • Deb introduces herself as "your auntie Deb", then introduces her "sister", making them Deb and Flo, or "ebb and flow," the two phases of the tides. Also, "Aunt Flo" is a colloquial term referring to the menstrual cycle.
  • The Stinger:
    • In the last scene before the credits, see all the fish from the dentist office after their successful escape still stuck in their plastic bags since their plan never got that far.
    Alright, so for all of you who made it this far, yes, all two of you, I'll tell you the secret to life. The secret to life is- (cut short)
  • Suddenly Bilingual: Dory, who apparently can read Spanish as well as English (and speak Whale).
  • Super OCD: Gurgle is perhaps the definition of this trope. When he learns that Nemo is from the ocean he immediately gets Jacques to clean him. Also is visibly shaking and really nervous when the tank is really dirty for their escape plan, finally snapping and exclaiming
    Peach: Shhhh!!!!
    • While watching a patient spitting out some mouthrinse into a cup.
      "Ugh, the human mouth is a disgusting place....
  • Surfer Dude: Crush, and the turtles. Apparently, all of them.
    • Crush is 150 years old, it's not like he needs to do anything in a rush.
  • Survival Mantra: Many. The most famous one is 'Just keep swimming', but Marlin deliberately invokes it in one scene while playing it straight for himself. When Dory gets hurt in the Jellyfish fields, he makes Dory repeat where P. Sherman lives, while repeating 'Stay awake!' to himself.
    • "Swim down!" When Nemo is netted in the aquarium and again when the school of fish is caught. Also counts as Chekhov's Skill.
  • Suddenly Fluent in Whale: Marlin is less then impressed by Dory's claims to be able to to speak whale, especially since it consists entirely of talking really slowly. Somehow, it works. And then Marlin imitates her.
    Dory: Wow. I wish I could speak whale.
  • Swallowed Whole: Marlin and Dory are nearly swallowed whole by a pelican. Fortunately, the pelican chokes.
    Marlin: I didn't come this far to be breakfast!
  • Swordfish Sabre: At one point, a pair of swordfishes are seen fencing each other while gossiping about Marlin's exploits.
  • Synchronized Swarming: A swarm of fish does a series of impressions for Dory and becomes an arrow to give her and Marlin directions to Sydney.
  • Take My Fin: Possibly inverted.
  • Take That, Audience!: Possibly the weirdest line from the whole movie is Gurgle's statement: "The human mouth is a disgusting place", the line seems totally insane coming from him. For starters, he'd already know that, considering how long he's resided in the dentist's office fish tank. Not to mention, he is a complete germaphobe, why would he be staring at something he finds wholly unpleasant? Bile Fascination?
  • Tempting Fate:
    Nemo: Have you ever met a shark?
    Marlin: No, and I don't plan to.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: Type 2 - "Dude, Mr. Turtle is my father, the name's Crush."
  • This Is Your Brain on Evil: The sharks lose all self-control and become violent killers whenever they smell blood.
  • This Way to Certain Death: On the journey to Sidney, Dory and Marlin come across a trench that they can either go through or swim over. Dory is eager to take the direct route because she was told to, but just out of their sight there's a fish carcass lying at the entrance. This is possibly subverted as said fish may have been killed by the jellyfish lurking above (the route they were explicitly told not to take) and it's carcass simply fell into the trench.
  • Those Two Guys:
    • Anchor and Chum.
    • Downplayed with Gerald (the pelican that tried to swallow Dory and Marlin) and Nigel, who obviously knows him far too well. They were originally supposed to play the trope straight, but most of Gerald's scenes were cut.
  • Toilet Teleportation: The titular fish plays dead in the hope that he gets flushed back into freedom.
    • One of Gill's many escape plans involves being flushed down the toilet by playing dead. When Nemo tries this it doesn't work (the dentist was going to throw him in the trash), but he does get flushed down the drain of a different appliance in the dentist's office. In this case, it was a carefully developed plan and not Played for Laughs.
  • Token Girl: Averted in Nemo's class. There are two females with speaking roles.
  • The Tooth Hurts: When Nigel the pelican flies into the dentist's window, the noise startles the dentist so much that he accidentally forcefully pulls out his patient's bad tooth, putting the man in a lot of pain.
    Dentist: Well, uh... that's one way to pull a tooth. (chuckles) Well, good thing I pulled the right one, eh, Prime Minister?
  • Trailers Always Lie: A popular scene shown in the commercials was Bruce swimming through some seaweed while saying "We're looking for Nemo!" This was never used in the movie. In fact, the super hyped up sharks in the trailers were just One Scene Wonders.
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: The sharks.
  • Truth in Television: Yes, jellyfish really DO travel in big swarms like that.
    • Anglerfish do in fact live deep underneath the ocean and are effective at attracting prey.
    • Humorously enough, not all sharks do in fact eat fish... as the movie would suggest.
    • Averted with the turtles; they do not, though they can in fact live up to be 150 as Crush claims. Andrew Stanton admitted it worked for the story.
  • Tuckerization: Darla is named for producer Darla K. Anderson, as director Andrew Stanton's revenge for her playing pranks on him.
  • Turtle Power: Crush, Squirt, and the other sea turtles of the EAC are all awesome.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The two main plots are Nemo and Dory journeying to rescue Nemo and Nemo trying to escape the fish tank with help from his new tank friends.
  • Underwater Fart Gag: When the mines explode, it creates a bubble on the surface, prompting a pelican to think another pelican has farted and fly away unamused.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Zig-Zagged with Gill's plan to escape the fish tank, which involves sabotaging the filter so that the dentist will have to clean the tank, during which he'll put all the fish into water-filled bags that they'll use to roll out of the office and to the ocean. The first attempt fails completely, and almost gets Nemo killed. The second time Nemo tries, he succeeds, and the plan seems to be in motion — until the dentist installs a new filter, wrecking the plan. Nemo still manages to escape down the drain into the sewer system, thanks to a series of events that have nothing to do with the plan. At the end, the new filter breaks, forcing the dentist to clean the tank — and the rest of the fish finally escape as planned.
  • Unsuccessful Pet Adoption: P. Sherman tries to give Nemo to Darla, but he escapes before she can even take him home. Later, P. Sherman's own aquarium creatures also escape.
  • Unusual Animal Alliance: Sharks attempts such an alliance with fish, and have support meetings complete with the mantra:
    Fish are friends, not food!
  • Verbing Nouny: The title itself, Finding Nemo.
  • Verbal Tic: Crush has one, dude.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: The animals Marlin and Dory encounter on their journey.
  • Waking Non Sequitur: After the incident with the sharks, Dory wakes up screaming "Look out! Sharks eat fish!" She also has "Zzz... the sea monkeys have my money... Mmm... yes, I'm a natural blue..."
  • Wham Line: The whole movie is hinged on one: Marlin doesn't want the last thing his son says to him to be "I hate you."
  • Was Too Hard on Him: What Marlin feels about Nemo.
  • Water Is Air: Averted.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Remember the Barracuda at the beginning of the film that pretty much kills Coral and all of her children, save for Nemo? Never shows up or is mentioned again after that horrific event.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: The good guys are colorful tropical fish. They're threatened by ugly, drably-colored predators with sharp teeth who don't talk. And then there's the sharks, who try to go vegan, but old habits die hard. Interestingly, they do reference the hypocrisy of humans who think dolphins are cuter than sharks.
  • What's an X Like You Doing in a Y Like This?: "What's a couple of bites like you doing in a zone like this?"
  • Where It All Began: It ends in the reef, with the characters doing the same things they did in the first scene, only differently, reflecting how the moral has changed them.
  • White-and-Grey Morality: The combination of No Antagonist and Rousseau Was Right results in an optimistic film. Marlin may be an Overprotective Dad, but he means well for his son, the titular Nemo. Dory herself is a Ditz, but she comes off as a Nice Girl. Dr. Sherman took Nemo because he mistakenly believed he would not be able to survive on his own with a deformed fin, and Darla is a "fish-killer" because she is a child who doesn't know any better. The sharks are trying to reform, and even then they're genuinely friendly. The jellyfish and seagulls are too stupid to be evil. The barracuda and the anglerfish, although both vicious killers, are hungry predators by nature, and cannot be faulted for needing food to survive.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?
    Marlin: So, Mr. Turtle...
    Crush: Woah, dude, "Mr. Turtle" is my father. Name's Crush.
    Marlin: Crush? Really?
  • The Window or the Stairs: Dory and Marlin come across a chasm. Dory was told that they had to go through it, and she tries to tell Marlin, who ignores her and then tricks her into swimming over it, since it seems much safer. They end up in a huge swarm of jellyfish, and they both almost die because of the stings.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Bruce (the shark) and Crush (the sea turtle) were both heavily promoted and feature on the movie posters and home video covers. They respectively only appear in no more than two scenes a piece.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Nemo uses one by faking death to try to get flushed down the toilet. It fails, for the dentist actually goes to the trashcan, but it works to his advantage as Nigel interrupts and has the bag land on dental tools. Gill then launches Nemo into the spit sink.
  • Wrong Name Outburst: When Dory and Marlin are trapped in the whale's mouth, Marlin accidentally blurts out Nemo's name and hidden frustrations surface when Dory tries to speak whale:
    Marlin: No, no more whale! You can't speak whale!
    Dory: Yes, I can!
    Marlin: No, you can't! You think you can do these things, but you can't, Nemo!
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Gill usually calls Nemo "kid" or "Sharkbait." When he uses Nemo's name, it means the kid's in serious danger.
  • You Had Us Worried There: When Nemo jams the filter, the second time.
  • You Say Tomato: According to Sandy Plankton, a boat is called a "butt", although Nemo's friends could just be misquoting him.
  • You Won't Like How I Taste: When Marlin and Dory are about to be swallowed by the whale, Marlin grabs one of its taste buds and asks, "How do I taste, huh? Do I taste good?" However, this might have not been so effective, as noted in Artistic License – Biology above.


Video Example(s):


Dr. Sherman yanks out tooth

When Nigel the pelican slams into the window, the noise startles the dentist so much that he accidentally forcefully pulls out his patient's bad tooth, putting the poor guy in extreme pain.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheToothHurts

Media sources:

Main / TheToothHurts