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Western Animation / Inside Out

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"Every day is full of emotions." note 

"Do you ever look at someone and wonder, 'What is going on inside their head?'"
Joy (the very first line of the film)

Inside Out is an animated film from Pixar Animation Studios. It is directed by Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Up) and co-directed by Ronnie del Carmen.

The film focuses on an 11-year-old girl named Riley Andersen, and her emotions, who are personified as colorful creatures who live within her head and control her outlook on life. They are:

  • Joy (Amy Poehler): An optimistic, light-hearted emotion whose goal in life has always been to make Riley happy. Because of that, she can't understand Sadness' purpose and tries to limit her role in the HD by making her do other things, such as reading boring manuals.

  • Sadness (Phyllis Smith): A gloomy, dismal emotion who prefers to lie on the floor and cry. She would like to be more positive, but it's just so hard for her. The other emotions, herself included, don't know what her role is. Despite that, she always tries to be helpful.

  • Fear (Bill Hader): An anxious and paranoid emotion, whose main job is to keep Riley safe. He spends the majority of his time thinking of potential dangers.

  • Disgust (Mindy Kaling): A snotty and sarcastic emotion with a weak stomach. She prevents Riley from being poisoned, socially and physically.

  • Anger (Lewis Black): A hot-headed, short emotion with a fiery spirit and a tendency to explode (literally). He is very passionate about making things fair for Riley. Really passionate...

The problems begin when Riley's family moves from their Minnesota home to San Francisco, and her emotions have to help her deal with her new environment and friends. Joy, who has primarily been in charge of the emotions throughout Riley's life, is determined to keep Riley happy throughout the experience, but Sadness, who has frequently been marginalized by Joy, is trying to find a sense of purpose like the other emotions have. When Sadness accidentally turns several of Riley's previously happy memories of Minnesota into sad ones, the conflict between Joy and Sadness leads to the two accidentally becoming lost within Riley's long term memories, and, with the help of Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Riley's old imaginary friend, they must make their way back to Headquarters while Fear, Disgust, and Anger try to keep Riley functioning efficiently in their absence.

The film was released by Disney on June 19, 2015, accompanied by the theatrical short Lava.

A short named Riley's First Date? is included with the home media releases.

A sequel, Inside Out 2, is set to release on June 14, 2024.

See Herman's Head, Poison Berry in My Brain and Yumi's Cells for stories with a similar theme in live-action TV, manga and webtoon form respectively.

Inside Out provides examples of:

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    Tropes # to E 
  • 13 Is Unlucky: When they finally get the Train of Thought moving, Joy, Sadness, and Bing Bong board car 13. Suffices to say they don't get home that way.
  • Act of True Love: Bing Bong, Riley's Imaginary Friend, pulls a Heroic Sacrifice when his rocket cannot carry both him and Joy out of the memory dump. He does this so Joy can pull Riley out of her Heroic BSoD, despite it meaning his end, because Joy remembered him and his beloved Riley can't function without her getting back.
  • Actor Allusion: Lewis Black, king of the Cluster F-Bomb, voices Anger, who expresses a desire to say curse words multiple times throughout the film. He's ecstatic to get an entire section of the console devoted solely to curses at the end of the film. On Real Time with Bill Maher, Black claimed that Anger reading the newspaper with headlines about Riley's life references how he comes up with his material: he'll read a newspaper and get pissed off at human stupidity.
  • Aerith and Bob: Humans have normal names like Riley and Jill, while the mind creatures have names related to their job, like Fear and Sadness. The imaginary friend is named Bing Bong.
  • Age-Appropriate Angst:
    • Moving can be a stressful event for both adults and children but for different reasons. Riley is an 11-year-old girl and, at such an age, a child can understand why she has to move but still struggle a lot to cope with a new life in an unfamiliar environment. For example, she's anxious about not being accepted in her new school and worries that her best friend is replacing her. She, represented by her emotions' behavior, also lacks the emotional maturity to understand it's okay to be distressed about it. On the other hand, her parents' problems involve issues with the moving company, and noticing (but not knowing how to deal with) their daughter being unhappy about the changes. They try their best to be supportive and cheer her up and are scared to death when Riley runs away.
    • Growing up brings new problems that younger children simply don't have to deal with, the biggest one being the wreck that is adolescence. This is signaled by the apparition of a "puberty" alarm on the emotions' console when Riley turns 12. In this case, it's left implied in an "And the Adventure Continues" way.
  • All First-Person Narrators Write Like Novelists:
    • Downplayed in the Novelization Driven by Emotions, in which each of Riley's five emotions recounts the plot of the film as they experienced it in turn. Because the emotions have vastly different personalities and focus on certain issues above others by nature, they write rather casually, speeding through certain events and lingering on others (occasionally explaining why they do what they do), and are light on elaborate descriptions. (This keeps the book from becoming tediously repetitious.)
    • Averted in the film, as Joy's language is pretty conversational and not that different from her speech patterns when talking with other characters.
  • all lowercase letters: The credits, disc menus, and titles save for the film proper's are all typeset like this.
  • All of the Other Reindeer:
    • Downplayed with Sadness, as she's not hated by the other emotions, they just don't know what role she plays in Riley's emotions. Since she tends to make her happy moments turn sad, the only emotion that actively keeps her away is Joy, who is unfortunately also The Leader.
    • After Riley cries out of homesickness in front of her new class, both Fear and Disgust fear that this is what is going to happen to Riley. Subverted, as Riley's classmates are concerned for her and don't mock her. In fact, they accept her pretty quickly once she allows herself the chance to get to know them.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Downplayed, in a way. Freudian psychology in the trope's sense (trauma leading to base desires) isn't applied, but Freud's theories on the structure of the mind are used in the way Riley's mind is constructed. For example, all of Riley's threatening and fright-inducing memories are contained in her sub-conscious.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: J-pop band DREAMS COME TRUE composed and performed the song "Itoshi no Riley" (lit. "Riley My Love") for the movie's Japanese dub.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents:
    • Defied early on when Riley's mom suggests walking her to school on her first day but Disgust is against the idea for obvious reasons.
    • Riley's parents show up to her hockey game in full face paint, which naturally embarrasses her to no end. Disgust even notes that while Riley may appreciate it, she can't let Riley show it. Her parents' emotions, meanwhile, think it's a great idea (and all wear the same face paint).
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Everyone in the Mind World has colorful skintones. Some, like most of the mind workers and the emotions, are uniformly colored — the former looking like translucid gums. Others, like the imaginary friend, have other colors on their fur/skin. In the case of the main characters, this doubles as Color-Coded for Your Convenience.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Are the events of the movie purely unique to Riley's Emotions, or does something similar happen to other people — or even every person — undergoing emotional change/growth? Whilst not directly implied, what Riley suffers from lacking Joy and Sadness could be synonymous with depression or the like, and it's not like preteens don't make bad decisions like she does during the movie because of her remaining Emotions. Given that her parents' own Emotions aren't necessarily led by their Joys, a state of direction reached by Joy coming to an understanding with the other Emotions, a complication with Emotions might be a more common occurrence than just what the movie focuses on.
  • And Here He Comes Now:
  • And the Adventure Continues: The scene before the credits. After Sadness is able to help Riley cope with her memories and Joy assists in creating complex feelings, the emotions prepare for a hockey game, while Joy notes that she's now turned twelve, with a new alarm light marked "PUBERTY".
  • Animal Disguise: Joy and Sadness, who are fairly humanoid, disguise as a dog to excite Riley awake. It fails when the costume rips apart, depicted on the dream monitor as showing the "meat" inside of the dog.
  • Animesque: Joy is designed to look like characters from Japanese cartoons or anime. This is due to the size of her big eyes, hair color and cut, nose style, tall and thin figure, and mainly her face seen in profile, something common in female anime characters.
  • Answer Cut: When the emotions want to escape the dungeon of Jangles the Clown, Joy reminds Sadness that they still have to wake up Riley and Sadness asks "But how?" Then they both turn around to face Jangles.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The movie's premise is that everyone, including animals, has embodiments of five core emotions in their heads: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear. They control a console that determines their host's emotional response and influences said host's behavior. While their main personality trait is the emotion they represent (Joy is very optimistic and hyperactive), they still can feel other things (Joy is capable of feeling discouraged and sad).
  • Anxiety Dreams: Riley is nervous about her new house and school, so her mind-dimension creates a dream about her new house being haunted and her teeth falling out and her pants disappearing at school. Joy, Sadness, and Bing Bong, however, interrupt the dream.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In the classroom, Fear, with a large stack of papers, has calculated "The worst case scenario is quicksand, spontaneous combustion, and getting called on by the teacher." The last is indeed what happens.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The montage of the Andersen family driving to San Francisco shows them crossing the Golden Gate Bridge (US-101). Coming from Minnesota, they likely would have crossed the Bay Bridge (I-80) instead. However, the Golden Gate Bridge is much more famous to non-local viewers.
  • Art Shift: While Joy, Sadness, and Bing-Bong are going through the stages of thought, each stage simplifies them more and more until they are simple shapes.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: When Anger plants the idea for Riley to run away back to Minnesota, Fear questions how they'll travel. When answering, Anger is sarcastic at first:
    Anger: Well, why don't we go down to the elephant lot and rent an elephant?
    Fear: Hey, that sounds nice.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: As a toddler, Riley refuses to eat broccoli until her father does the airplane trick. The emotions are likewise distracted.
  • Auteur License: As per Pixar's custom, the creators enjoyed complete liberty on how to direct and produce the film. For example, they made sure to have half the team be women (since the film is about the emotional landscape of a young girl) — the animation industry is largely dominated by men. All in all, creative decisions were not influenced by any executive or commercial constraint, instead being taken in favor of what worked best for the story.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": The Dream Productions actress who portrays the teacher in Riley's dream, and reads all her lines off of cue cards. Even Fear, who is watching the dream as if it were a film, notices she's a bad actress.
  • Bad Bedroom, Bad Life: Played With. Riley's bad feelings about moving are heightened because their furniture was accidentally sent to the wrong state, forcing her to sleep on the floor for her first few nights in their new house.
  • Bag of Holding: Bing Bong's bag is first used to store a large pile of memory spheres. Later, Joy uses them to hold core memories and a huge number of imaginary boyfriends.
  • Banister Slide: Double Subverted. In one scene, Riley is about to slide down a banister when Sadness accidentally knocks out Goofball Island's core memory, shutting down the island. Riley immediately stops in her tracks and starts walking down the stairs normally, until Joy replaces the core memory, reactivating Goofball Island and prompting Riley to slide down the rest of the way.
  • Bathos: Zig-Zagging Trope. Riley's depression is a legitimate concern, so it's played seriously and as a result of the characters (especially people's emotions) being totally out of their element. However, much of the humor comes from them being so over-the-top that it's funny. To whit, news of no dessert is treated as front page headline news inside Riley's mind. And Riley's father's decision to put his foot down with regards to her attitude is treated as if they (his emotions) were launching nuclear missiles, complete with simultaneously turning two keys to initiate the response. Justified in the children's case as their emotions are still immature.
  • Big Blackout: In the Inside Out edition of Game of Life, there's a card that says "A thunderstorm knocks out the power!". To restore it, the player has to collect a Fear memory.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The film crew even remarked that they had done both ocean and outer space before, but the human brain proved to be the biggest of all.
  • Big Honking Traffic Jam: When the Andersens arrive in San Francisco, they get quickly inducted by the city's massive traffic jam. They move very slowly and all of the cars surrounding them are very horn-happy. Anger comments that the drivers are just his type of people.
  • Big "NO!":
    • When Riley is called on to introduce herself at her new school.
      Fear: NOOOOOOOOOOOO! (begging Joy) Pretend we can't speak English!
    • And again by Anger when the gum commercial comes on once he gives Riley the idea to run away.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": During the dinner after her first day in the new school, Riley and her father argue in an increasingly heated manner. She's overwhelmed by her own negative emotions and her inability to cope with the moving, and he's misread the situation, thinking that his daughter needs scolding for throwing such a temper tantrum. It culminates with an extremely frustrated Riley slamming her hands on the table and shouting at him to "just SHUT UP!". He sends her up to her room for it.
  • Black Bug Room: The film portrays the Subconscious as this, being a prison set on the cliff around the Memory Dump, home to all the things that Riley is afraid of. Of course, since she's 11, it's mostly stuff like broccoli, basement stairs, and a clown who was at one of her birthday parties. Joy and Sadness have to go down there to retrieve Bing-Bong after he's caught being troublesome by mind workers.
  • Black Comedy:
    • Bing Bong sneezes at a cloud person, dispersing him. Later in the film, his wife is reporting this to the police, only for Sadness and Joy to charge through, the latter crashing right through the wife and dispersing her as well. And then said police play this off with a Chinatown reference.
    • Sadness thinks a movie where a dog dies is funny.
    • There's also the Dream Sequence where Joy and Sadness, in a two-person dog costume, accidentally tear it in half. Since there's a reality filter on the dream, this results in Riley seeing a dog trying to chase its severed lower half.
  • Black Comedy Pet Death: Sadness (a being responsible for creating sadness in the girl Riley) likes "the funny movie where the dog dies". Joy is so flabbergasted by this, it's funny.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • TripleDent Gum, of the recurring jingle.
    • The Borscht oven in the new house.
  • Blatant Lies: Joy apparently told Fear that earthquakes are a myth to keep him from freaking out too much about the move.
  • Bloodless Carnage: When Joy and Sadness hijack Riley's dream by dressing up as a dog, Sadness in the back half of the costume gets disconnected from Joy in the front half. Seen through the "reality filter", this causes the dog to look like it ripped itself in half. Fortunately there's no blood and the dog's innards look like generic ham, but Riley (and Fear, who happened to be on monitor duty) are pretty terrified.
  • Body Bridge: Joy needs to get back to headquarters, so she creates several clones of Riley's imaginary boyfriend (from Canada), who swear they would die for Riley, and uses them as a bridge to catch up to Sadness and make it to headquarters.
  • Body Horror: Played with as nicely as possible because this is a kid's film. When Joy and Sadness's dog costume splits, it looks like the dog has been neatly cut in two like a cooked ham.
  • Bookends: At the start of the film, when Riley's 11, Joy tempts fate by wondering "what could happen?". She asks the same question at the end of the film, shortly after Riley has turned 12 and a new control console has been installed in Headquarters... with a big red "PUBERTY" alarm light added.
  • Born as an Adult: The emotions. They still go through some extra maturation during their human's adolescence, but they learn and grow as Riley does.
  • Brain Freeze: Riley gets one at one point during the Time-Passes Montage, which causes a panic in Headquarters when everything literally freezes over, inhabitants included. Anger tries to avoid becoming a Human Popsicle with his flames, but that goes south quickly. He, just like the other four, recovers.
  • Brain with a Manual Control: The five emotions operate Riley via a console inside a control room. Curiously, they don't seem to have full control over Riley's actions, and instead can only suggest what her reaction should be, with Riley interpreting the input in her own way.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Joy declares that her final plan to get to Headquarters is crazy, but tries to will herself to be positive.
    Joy: I'm positive that this is crazy!
  • Break the Cutie:
    • First, the perpetually cheerful Joy is cast into the Memory Dump, and weeps at the thought of Riley never being happy again.
    • Then there's Bing Bong; he starts as a goofy childlike elephant/cat/cotton candy/dolphin, then he sees his home destroyed, is imprisoned in Riley's subconscious by a gargantuan clown, is plunged into Riley's memory dump, then sacrifices himself to save Riley's mental well-being. Talk about a rough day!
    • And finally, of course, Riley who — without either Joy nor Sadness — can't deal with the move, losing her friends and interests, and resorting to skipping school, stealing money from her mother and running away because Anger seized her emotions which froze the console until Joy gets Sadness online.
  • Brick Joke: A few appear in the closing credits:
    • Riley's teacher fantasizes about the same Brazilian helicopter pilot about whom Riley's mom still thinks on occasion.
    • When Riley first encounters the cool girls, Disgust insists that they have to make friends with them because one of them is wearing eye shadow. In the closing credits, that girl's head is seen, which (along with the memory rack) is dominated by her Fear insisting that everyone will realize she's a fraud. The cool girl's Anger insists that this is impossible because "we're wearing eye shadow." Also, her Joy seems to stand in the back, implying her status is much like Riley's Sadness used to be.
    • At the beginning of the movie, the car is stuck in the San Francisco traffic, and Anger remarks that all the honking drivers are "[his] kind of people". The closing credits show the mind of a bus driver, whose emotions are all Anger clones in different colors with a ton of red memories.
    • In Riley's dream — the one Joy turns off — the pizza slices say "I'm organic". The ending shows that pizza place, and the board says "New: Pizza of the week. Broccoli pizza. HMO free goat cheese, organic garlic, thyme, sea salt. Yummy!"
    • In the beginning of the movie, Riley jumps from armchair to armchair, pretending it's lava between them. Later, the emotions have to cross that very lava with armchairs floating in it.
    • After Riley's first day in San Francisco, Anger suggests they get her to say a curse word; he later asks if he can use it after Joy and Sadness get sucked out of headquarters. At the end, he gets a whole panel of buttons for curse words, and almost says one before Fear accidentally bleeps him out by hitting one of his own buttons.
    • In an early scene, three-year-old Riley cries because the head of her teddy has come off. When Joy, Sadness and Bing-Bong are passing through Imagination Land, they witness the demolition of the Soft Toy Museum — whose capstone is the same teddy, the head of which comes off in exactly the same way.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: In the climax, Joy adopts an exaggeration of Sadness' Minnesota Nice accent while trying to figure out where she has run off to.
  • Bumbling Dad: During the argument at dinner, Riley's father ends up exacerbating the situation because he wasn't paying attention to what was going on and misread her mother's signals that something was bothering her.
    Mom's Anger: For this, we gave up that Brazilian helicopter pilot?
  • Burning with Anger: When Anger gets too riled up, his head catches fire. Which is then weaponized by Disgust by the end of the movie.
  • Butt-Monkey: Fear is routinely abused by Anger or pelted by memory spheres. Because he's fear who has everything to be afraid of.
  • The Cameo:
  • Captain Morgan Pose: After Riley's dad sends her to her room, his anger does one of these.
  • Captured on Purpose: How Sadness finds a way to get inside the Subconscious: she sneaks behind the guards at the entrance with Joy in tow, rattles the door to draw their attention and immediately surrenders. The guards, mistaking them for escapees, promptly throw them inside.
  • Cast of Personifications: The main characters are the personifications of the emotions of a little girl named Riley. Other human characters (and even animals such as a cat and a dog) are shown to have equivalent emotion characters operating inside their heads. Other, minor characters in the movie are personifications of other things in your mind, such as specific fears, dreams, memory, and more.
  • Catapult Nightmare: The emotions' effort to create a dream that awakens Riley results in this.
  • Cathartic Crying: When Riley and her parents move to San Francisco, Joy tries to keep her and everyone else positive during this difficult time. However, when Riley cries at school, Joy accidentally gets Sadness and herself transported to Long-Term Memory. Riley then spends the majority of the movie Unable to Cry and thus resolves to go back to Minnesota, even if it means running away. When Riley backs out of the plan and comes home to her parents, Joy allows Sadness to use the console to make Riley cry and confess her heartache about moving.
  • Cathartic Exhalation: The climax of the film, when Sadness can finally enable Riley to come clean about her grief, is resolved when Joy takes the helm again, and Riley's relief is signaled by a deep, shuddering sigh.
  • Censored for Comedy: When the new console is installed, Anger notes that it has a full library of curse words. When he tries to compliment it, Fear presses a button that bleeps, making it look like Fear was trying to censor Anger's last word.
  • Character Development:
    • Riley evolves as a character through the movie, both directly seen and experienced by her emotions. By the end of the film Riley has developed into a more emotionally complex person as a result of her emotional crisis, which is symbolized by the new control panel the emotions use as well as the memory orbs now seen possessing multiple colors.
    • Deconstructed with the emotions, which can't fundamentally change or develop; they can only change the way they behave towards each other. Joy starts off as a bossy, self-obsessed emotion that believes she knows what's best for Riley, unable to see why Sadness ought ever to be allowed to work the console or touch a single memory. It's only through her misadventures with Sadness, and witnessing that her own insistence that Riley always be cheerful is actually making Riley desperately unhappy, that she comes to understand that other emotions have important jobs that she can't do, and that she needs to step aside from time to time.
  • Charlie Brown Baldness: Fear appears to have a single long strand of hair on his head. As his design is patterned after a neuron, it's his axon.
  • Cheated Angle: In a rare CGI example, Fear's head is almost always seen from the side.
  • Cheerful Child: Up until her family's move, Riley was a rather happy-go-lucky girl, especially with Joy being her center-most emotion.
  • Cheer Them Up with Laughter: After Bing Bong witnesses the demolition of the childish aspects in Imagination Land and his beloved Rocket Wagon being thrown into the Memory Dump, he gets majorly depressed. Joy tries to help him by making silly faces and doing childish stuff similar to the plays he and Riley did when she was a toddler.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Sadness dragging her hand along the bottom shelf of memories is what lets Joy find her later when they get separated.
    • Bing Bong's wagon, which fell into the memory dump earlier in the movie, later comes in handy when Joy and Bing Bong end up falling in there.
    • Anger's Burning with Anger tendencies are used by Disgust to melt a window to get Joy and Sadness back into Headquarters.
    • Sadness consoling Bing Bong after his wagon is dumped hints what role Sadness really plays in Riley's mind.
    • Sadness messing with the emotions associated with Riley's memories in the beginning of the film. Turns out she was unconsciously doing her job and seemed to know it, but just didn't have the confidence to stand up to Joy and the others.
    • At the beginning of the movie, Joy takes a look at a happy memory of Riley, swiping it to rewind it and replay it. Later, she ends up accidentally rewinding another one when she tries to wipe the tears that dripped on it, leading her to discover the role that Sadness played in its making.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • A brief moment during the growing-up montage shows Riley playing with her imaginary friend Bing-Bong. Later, Bing-Bong pops up in Riley's head and proves crucial to the plot.
    • Riley's dream boyfriend in Imagination Land is later cloned to build a Human Ladder for Joy, thus turning him into a Chekhov's Army.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Joy compels Sadness to read the manuals, which makes her an expert and later helps them to get through The Maze that is long-term memory.
  • Classically-Trained Extra: The party clown in the Creative Closing Credits mourns the fact that he spent six years in drama school to end up with this job.
  • Cliché Storm: In-Universe. When Fear is supervising dreams, he is bored by the typical nightmare tropes being played, even guessing ahead of time the "going to school without pants" plot.
  • The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: The teacher does end up calling Riley, just like Fear predicted.
    Fear: Right out of the gate?!
  • Colorful Contrails: Bing Bong's wagon leaves rainbow contrails behind.
  • Colour-Coded Emotions: Literally. Anger is red, Disgust is green, Fear is purple, Joy is yellow, and Sadness is blue. This is consistent even for the emotion teams within Riley's mom and dad, and seemingly every other person and animal too, as seen in the credits.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The memory orbs tend to show you which emotion created which memories. At the end, when Riley has become more emotionally complex, we see that many of the memory orbs are multi-coloured, indicating that Riley can look back on things and feel both Joy and Sadness, Anger and Disgust, etc.
  • Coming of Age Story: It’s not so much about Riley's emotions, as much as it is about how Riley's emotions as a child are completely different from the emotions that come as she reaches her teenage years.
  • Company Cross References:
    • When Joy and Sadness pass through Imagination Land, among the things that can be seen is a board game called "Find Me" which has a cartoon Nemo on it.
    • The Brazilian Portuguese dub changes Sadness's line about finding a movie where a dog dies funny so that she says "Remember the funny movie where the lion cub's father dies?" instead.
  • The Compliance Game: When Riley is seen as a baby, she doesn't want to eat broccoli, so her parents get her to eat it by pretending the spoon is an airplane.
  • Contagious Laughter: In one flashback scene, Riley laughs so hard that milk shoots out of her nose, causing her friend, Meg, to also burst out laughing.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: When Joy and Sadness have to cross a lava stream, the heat doesn't seem to affect them. Justified, since it's part of Imagination Land, being from Riley's "floor is lava" games.
  • The Corruption: Sadness has the ability to taint memory orbs, turning them sad. Only near the end of the film does Joy realize this is actually important, rather than harmful. Joy also demonstrates the ability to rewind a happy memory into a sad one then back again, though this is closer to viewing a sequence of related memories than actually changing one.
  • Cosmic Keystone: In a sense, the core memories are keystones. Each one powers an aspect of Riley's personality, which take the form of an island. When the core memories are lost, the islands shut down and then collapse if Riley tries to use them, causing her to abandon their concepts (such as giving up on hockey when she goes to tryouts and can't perform well).
  • Creative Closing Credits: During the first half of the end credits, we see inside the minds of other characters in the film, including Riley's teacher, an angry bus driver, and both a cat and a dog.
  • Creator Cameo: Director/writer Pete Docter voices Mr. Andersen (Father)'s Anger. Writer Josh Cooley voices Jangles the Clown.
  • Creepy Basement: Discussed. The "stairs to the basement" are one of Riley's fears hidden in her sub-conscience.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The emotions have limited ability to express themselves in any emotions other than themselves, and when in control of Riley cannot make her express any emotion other than their dominant one. When Joy and Sadness are gone this is an issue. Disgust tries to mimic joy, but ends up being sarcastic. Fear attempts it too, but expresses doubt and denial. Anger comes off as petulant... then just has a tantrum, which gets Riley sent to her room.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Bing-Bong's rocket survives falling three times all the way to the bottom of the Memory Dump, two of the times with Joy and Bing-Bong inside it, with no visible damage. Then, right after barely clearing the edge of the Dump, it crash-lands there and immediately falls apart.
  • Cultural Translation:
    • The Japanese version changed Riley's most hated food from broccoli to green peppers and visually altered the scenes containing broccoli. This is because green peppers are more well-known in Japan and are considered the equivalent to broccoli in terms of most despised food by Japanese children.
    • Similarly, for the dinner scene, most international versions (with the exceptions of the Russian, Spanish and French Canadian ones) have the emotions of Riley's father watching soccer instead of hockey.
    • In some versions of the movie (UK and Israel, to give two), when Riley is running away from home and her mother calls her, Riley's phone shows a photo of her mother instead of the plain text "Mom Calling" shown in the original American version.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Joy, Sadness and Disgust. Fear can be considered a mild example, as his single hair strand is also purple, like his eyes. Except for Joy, the emotions' eye and hair color matches their skin color.
  • Cute Kitten: One of Riley's dream-movie posters shown as promotional material is for a movie called "Basket of Kittens". If the Twitter comments are any indication, some fans already want it to be real. In Disney Infinity, during the opening of the Inside Out playset, it's shown that one of Riley's favorite channels is nothing BUT kittens being cute, and Joy suggests they have Riley ask about a kitten as a pet.
  • Darkest Hour: After the other emotions convince Riley to run away from home; at that point, four of her personality islands have been destroyed, the last one is on the brink of collapse, and Joy and the core memories are trapped in the dump. It gets even worse when the emotions' control panel becomes inactive, leaving them unable to influence Riley's decision.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The emotions often thought of as "negative" are just as important, and care just as much about Riley as Joy does. In fact, Joy herself is actually doing more harm than good. Keeping Sadness away from the memories and the controls is cutting her off from regret, and grief, and showing others that she is in distress.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: Bing Bong, Riley's imaginary friend, sacrifices his life for Riley's happiness.
  • Defcon 5: Averted; when Riley's dad gets angry, his emotions declare Defcon Two. Further, they don't declare Defcon One when they Put The Foot Down, suggesting his "nuclear option" is more serious.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: When upon the Train of Thought: Bing Bong points out various areas of the mind. He points out Déjà Vu three times.
  • Description Cut: After Riley's emotions are discussing the first day in San Francisco:
    Joy: Oh, come on, it could be worse.
    Disgust: Yeah, Joy, we could be lying on the dirty floor, in a bag.
    [cut to Riley in a sleeping bag on the floor]
  • Disorganized Outline Speech:
    Disgust: On a scale of one to ten, I give this day an F.
  • Don't Wake the Sleeper: Joy and Sadness try not to wake Jangles the Clown while freeing Bing Bong. Inversed a few moments later when they realize that a rampaging Monster Clown would benefit them in their pursuit to wake up Riley.
  • Double-Sided Book: In Joy's Greatest Joy/Simply Sadness, Joy and Sadness share their favorite memories of Riley. The two stories meet in the middle when the two emotions settle on the day of Riley's big playoff game as their favorite memory. For Sadness, it was because Riley missed the winning shot, felt awful, and wanted to quit, but her parents cheered her up by listening to her and telling her about the times they lost as well. For Joy, it was because Riley's hockey team congratulated Riley for doing her best and Riley's parents ordered pizza for lunch.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By: When Riley has a nightmare before her first day at her new school, Joy replaces the dream with a memory of Riley and her family playing hockey back in Minnesota.
  • Dream Tells You to Wake Up: Joy and Sadness wreak havoc on Riley's Dream Land in order to wake her up and make her Train of Thought run again.
  • Dub Name Change:
    • Every emotion gets translated to each language equivalent in all foreign dubs.
    • In Swedish, Riley's name was changed to Jenny. In Mainland China and Taiwan, her name is Jasmine.
    • In the Taiwanese dub, Bing Bong's name is changed to "Little BinBin", and in the Mainland Chinese dub, his name is "Popsicle".
  • Early-Bird Cameo: During the Time-Passes Montage, there's a shot of Riley drawing and singing about her imaginary friend, Bing Bong. Joy and Sadness encounter him after they are forced to wander into long-term memory.
  • Early Personality Signs: Whenever Riley does something as a younger child that ties into her established personality, it creates an "island" in her mind-dimension. Hockey Island was created when she played hockey as a preschooler, Goofball Island when she danced with underwear on her head and nothing else on as a toddler, and Honesty Island when she told the truth about breaking something as a preschooler. In addition, Joy was the first of her emotions to come into existence, hinting at her optimistic personality.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Riley and her emotions go through a period of self-discovery and experiencing the hardships of growing up, but they all come out better for it.
  • Ear Worm: The gum commercial that Riley remembers gets stuck in her head quite a bit, much to the annoyance of the emotions (mostly Anger). Turns out it's a prank by the mind workers down in Long-Term Memory. And just in case the viewers weren't affected, Disney and Pixar rectified that.
  • Easily Embarrassed Youngster: Implied for the girl in the punk makeup when we see inside her mind: her emotions are saying that they're all frauds and it's hard to be cool.
  • Eating Lunch Alone: On her first day of school, Riley is seen eating her lunch alone on a bench rather than at a table. It adds to the loneliness she feels in the new city.
  • The Eeyore: Sadness. She gets better.
  • Emo: When Riley is running away from home, she is bitter and depressed, and wearing a black jacket instead of her usual brightly colored clothes. The Cool Girl in Riley's class seems to willingly follow this fashion style and mindset. However, at the end, her emotions reveal it's an act so everyone will think she's cool.
  • Empathic Environment: Riley's mind world is daytime when she's awake; when she goes to sleep, it becomes nighttime. When she's apathetic and running away, the mind world becomes dull and darkly colored with a foggy sky.
  • Epic Fail: At one point, Fear tries to dispose of himself through the memory chute, calling it "quitting". Instead of getting sucked up like Joy and Sadness, however, he causes the tube to clog with memory orbs before it eventually gives up and spits him back out.
  • Equippable Ally: Disgust uses Anger to burn a hole into the wall of their headquarters to save Joy and Sadness.
  • "Eureka!" Moment:
    • When Sadness talks about long-term memory and that she read about it in the manuals. That piece of information gives Joy the idea to use Sadness' knowledge to their advantage.
    • When she's trapped in the memory dump, Joy picks up the memory of Riley celebrating with her friends after a hockey game. While wiping off a tear on the orb, she accidentally rewinds it to a sad part, when Riley was devastated over having lost the game. This helps Joy realize it was Sadness that allowed Riley to get over the pain of losing, leading to a happy memory, and thus figures out how to deal with Riley's issues about moving to a new home.
    • When Bing Bing tells Joy that they are stuck down in Memory Dump, he equates their situation to being on another planet. That line reminds Joy of Bing Bong's wagon to the stars.
    • Sadness has one of her own in abstract thought, which ends up saving her, Joy, and Bing Bong; she realizes that falling on your face in a nonfigurative state (and possibly the initial 2D stage) forms a simple line. She wastes no time in telling her companions to do the same.
  • Exposition Beam: The emotions replaying memories functions as this, instantly reminding Riley of past events and triggering responses.

    Tropes F to M 
  • Facepalm:
    • At dinner, Riley's Mom's Fear puts both hands on her face when Riley's Dad asks Riley how her first day of school was.
    • Joy does a double facepalm as Bing Bong cries on Sadness's shoulder over the loss of his rocket and the possibility of being forgotten, as she thinks Sadness is just exacerbating the issue.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Riley's mom turns to face Riley when Riley is stealing from her purse, but is so into her phone conversation that Riley is able to sneak away before she notices.
  • Failure Montage: Showing Joy and Bing Bong trying to escape the Memory Dump. They succeed on the third try.
  • Faint in Shock: Fear faints when Jangles shows up while he's on late-night duties.
  • The Fashionista: Disgust, who is in charge of Riley's wardrobe.
    Disgust: When I'm through, Riley will look so good the other kids will look at their own outfits and barf.
  • Fat Bastard: The Monster Clown captures Bing Bong for his candy-generating ability.
  • Faux Horrific:
    • Riley's fears in the subconscious are relatively mundane. Aside from appearing much larger than normal, they don't appear frightening at all, even though the characters react as if they are.
    • A promo clip has Riley watching a horror movie titled "Shoes of Doom".
  • First Day of School Episode: One scene focuses on Riley's first day at her new school, and that's where the sad core memory was made.
  • Fisher King: In Riley's mind, it's daytime when she's awake, but when she goes to sleep, it becomes nighttime. Then when Riley becomes apathetic and is running away, it becomes dark and foggy.
  • Fisher Kingdom: When Joy, Sadness, and Bing Bong are trapped in the abstract thought chamber, their shapes shift in stages to various abstract forms. First they turn into Picasso-like amalgamations (which fall apart during the second stage), then turn two-dimensional, and finally lose all definition, becoming walking shapes. (The directors' commentary notes that the soundtrack devolves accordingly, from Atmos to 5.1 to 2.0 to mono.) They shift back when they escape.
  • 555: On the "For Sale" sign at the beginning.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: When Riley gets sent to her room and slams the door, Family Island has a small rumble, foreshadowing what is about to happen to the rest of the Personality Islands.
  • Five-Second Rule: One of the trailers has Joy and Disgust arguing over whether this applies to a grape that Riley dropped on the ground.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Riley's parents try to feed her broccoli, they have both broccoli and slices of pizza on their plates, foreshadowing the broccoli-topped pizza seen later.
    • Upon arriving in San Francisco, Anger, seeing the city's road rage, gleefully states that those are his kind of people. The public bus driver's emotions shown at the end are all differently colored versions of Anger.
    • When the emotions are listing all the bad things about their new home, what does Sadness say? "Our friends are back home." Empathy and longing for people are what she's responsible for.
    • When Riley has her nightmare about the new house, Joy says "I know I'm not supposed to do this but..." and switches out the nightmare for a happy memory of the past, so that they can have a happy end to a bad day. Unfortunately, while Joy has Riley's best interests at heart, there's a good reason the emotions don't normally get to control Riley's dreams. Rather than distracting Riley from the unpleasantness of the new house, Joy's interference forced her to dwell on how much happier she was before the move — and by extension how unhappy she is about her new life in San Francisco.
    • After Goofball Island collapses, Sadness says that Riley can lose the other islands as well. Not only does this happen, but they collapse in the exact order Sadness gives.
    • The presence of Riley's parents' emotions hint what will eventually happen to her own emotions. Specifically, they're more balanced, less one-note, and have a larger console that allows them all to contribute. More specifically, Sadness is in charge in Riley's mother's head, where she is the first to pick up on Riley's emotional issues at dinner. As the movie makes clear later, one of Sadness' most important roles is empathy.
    • In the classroom where Riley has a tearful breakdown, the emotions feel humiliated about having botched a first impression. Although Riley gets unwanted stares, the teacher is empathetic to her and the students look at her with concern rather than judgment. This would later indicate that the effects of Sadness really aren't all that negative. The teacher's line explains all:
    Teacher: Thank you, Riley. I know it can be tough moving to a new place, but we're happy to have you here.
    • Riley's procession of imaginary boyfriends are all shown saying, "I would die for Riley." Which is exactly what Bing Bong does so Joy can escape the memory dump.
    • When Bing Bong's rocket is tossed into the memory dump, Joy can't console him, but Sadness talking with him about the good times he had with Riley allows him to compose himself and move forward. Ultimately, Sadness getting Riley to admit she misses Minnesota lets her accept their new home.
    • Bing Bong sees a recent memory of Riley, lamenting that she's grown too big to fit in the wagon. Eventually, it leads to a quiet understanding that his time is short, and that he may be weighing her down.
    • Joy has more or less the same eye and hair color as Sadness, and they were Riley's first emotions. Because they're both needed for Riley to feel the other in a healthy way. And the way they conflict over the button shows that they're meant to work together.
    • If you look at the character posters, Joy is upside down. And what does a smile look like when it's upside down? A frown. Much like someone might make when they're Sad.
    • Sadness' importance to Riley's mental and emotional health is telegraphed right from the first scene. She's shown making Riley sad, and thus cry — which alerts her parents that she needs food. If babies didn't cry, you wouldn't know when to feed them, or that something else like a dirty diaper needs attention.
    • Sadness' importance is also alerted during the montage of Riley crying over various mishaps — most notably the parts where she dropped her ice cream and ripped her teddy bear apart. If she hadn't cried at those times, this wouldn't have alerted her parents that she needed more ice cream and her teddy bear had to be mended or replaced.
    • The secondary function of sadness, empathy, is also shown in various ways: Sadness' ability to console Bing Bong over the loss of his rocket is what allows him to compose himself and move on from it where Joy's attempt to distract him through short-term optimism failed. This secondary role is also shown through how Mrs. Andersen's mind operates: she is the parent who is the most in tune and aware of her daughter's emotional state, being the first to pick up that something is not quite right with Riley. Guess who leads the emotions in Mrs. Andersen's head?
    • All of the emotions have a unique color associated with them, which is the color of their hair, skin, and eyes. But Joy and Sadness both have deep blue eyes and hair, and Joy's yellow skin doesn't match. Also, the aura Joy radiates is blue. You can't feel joy if you never feel sadness.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The emotions, as it is to be expected: Joy is sanguine for her unrelenting optimism, Anger is choleric for almost always having a bitter and irritable attitude, Sadness is melancholic for always been downhearted at the best of times, Fear is phlegmatic for being submissive and passive, and Disgust is leukine for having the most neutral demeanor.
  • The Freelance Shame Squad: Fear, Anger, and Disgust all expect this at school when Sadness accidentally causes Riley to cry while introducing herself to the class. It's subverted; Riley's new classmates all seem concerned, but Riley is reflecting on all her newly saddened memories and doesn't notice.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Anger's newspapers not only have funny headlines ("No Dessert!") but the subheadings are worth catching as well ("Experts Agree Dessert is Good.")
    • During Riley and Bing Bong's tag game, you can see an abacus with beads in the same colors as memory orbs. It's also present in the Imagination Land.
    • The card house in the Imagination Land has a King card, which looks like Riley's dad, a Queen card that looks like her mom... and a Riley card (R) that looks like Riley herself.
    • The boxcar they climb into after waking Riley up has abbreviations for the various personality islands stamped on it (HKI = Hockey Island, etc.)
    • As Joy, Sadness, and Bing Bong walk into Dream Productions, if you look to your right you can see a grumpy-looking Mind Worker dressed like Mickey Mouse.
    • At the website for Transway Bus Lines as Riley is planning to run away, a blink-and-you-miss at the arrival city shows her old hometown in Minnesota as Minneapolis.
    • During the credits, when the dog is chasing the man, the locksmith's shop they pass has a sign in the window saying "Sure Locks for Homes".
  • Friendly Tickle Torture: Happens twice. First it's averted when Joy tries to cheer up Bing Bong but fails, who becomes depressed when Imagination Land and his Singing-powered Wagon are both (supposedly) destroyed. Then when Joy and Bing Bong are both in the Memory Dump, Joy looks back on some of Riley's happier memories. One of them features a younger Riley being tickled by her dad.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • Fear running around on fire.
    • During the credits, when we see inside the head of a cat, Disgust Cat can be seen throwing up in the back.
    • Also during the credits, the memory orbs walls of other characters can be seen briefly. While some are fairly mixed, others are more uniform. The real Jangles the Clown has primarily Sadness orbs (followed by Fear), the bus driver has mostly Anger orbs, a dog has almost entirely Joy orbs, and a cat has mostly Disgust orbs.
  • Fun Personified: Joy, the persona of Riley's happiness.
  • Futile Hand Reach: When Riley runs away, Sadness does one of these as Joy and Bing Bong fall into the memory dump.
  • Genki Girl: Joy, unsurprisingly.
  • Geodesic Cast: Riley and her parents, as well as every other human (and animal), as shown in the credits, all have analogous sets of five emotions governing their minds.
  • The Ghost: The movers. Only spoken of by Mr. and Mrs. Andersen (apart from when he is speaking with them on the phone, but it's a Newhart Phone Call), but the fact that they somehow wound up going to Texas instead of San Francisco means Riley doesn't have her furniture and decorations to help her settle into an unfamiliar house.
  • Ghost in the Machine: The five emotions of Riley's mind (and by extension, the emotions of everybody's mind) control all of Riley's emotionally-driven actions, from recalling a memory to responding to the outside world.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Joy assumes making her way through the long-term memory hallways with Sadness literally in tow would be easy (this example is mentioned by name in the directors' commentary).
    Joy: We'll be back to Headquarters before morning. We can do it. This will be easy! This is working.
    [cut to a frazzled and exhausted Joy slowly dragging Sadness behind her]
    Joy: This is not working.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Riley's "Perfect Imaginary Boyfriend" claims that he lives in Canada.
  • Glad I Thought of It: When Riley has fallen asleep and they need to get the Train of Thought moving, Sadness suggests waking her up. Joy criticizes the idea, not seeing how they'd do it, then sees Dream Productions and repeats the idea.
  • Glass Smack and Slide: When Joy and Sadness are catapulted back to Headquarters, they are tossed against the window, remaining there for two seconds before slowly sliding down.
  • Godzilla Threshold: After three of the five personality islands have collapsed, Anger figures it's time for drastic measures. If Minnesota is where the core memories were made, then going back there should allow them to make more. He comes to regret this.
  • Good Parents: Riley's parents might be distracted from the move, but they obviously love her very much.
  • Go to Your Room!: Riley's dad's emotions' definition of "putting down the foot" is him telling Riley this.
  • The Ground Is Lava: In addition to playing the "floor is lava" game when Riley was a child (by using film projectors in her brain to make her see the floor as lava), at one point, Joy, Bing Bong, and Sadness have to cross literal lava to reach the Train of Thought. Luckily, they have a bunch of armchairs floating in it as stepping stones.
  • Group Hug: A very poignant one between Riley's family after she's come back from running away and admits her sadness.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Played with. The movie is a message about how people's feelings become more complicated with age. Riley's core memories stemming from childhood until the start of the movie consist only of Joy, and the movie's primary conflict kicks off when a sad core memory is created, breaking Joy's perfect streak. By the end of the movie, Riley's core memories, once dominated by Joy, now consist of a spectrum of various mixed emotions, such as Joy/Sadness, Fear/Disgust, Anger/Joy, etc.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Not surprisingly, Anger is very easily set off.
  • Hammerspace: Where Anger presumably keeps getting his newspapers, and Joy her chalk. It only seems to work as long as it's accessed offscreen, oddly enough, such as Disgust's welding mask when she weaponizes Anger.
  • Happily Married: Played straight most of the time. Despite occasional friction (resulting in Riley's mother fantasizing about a handsome Brazilian helicopter pilot), Riley's parents ultimately have a solid relationship.
  • Happy Rain: Both Joy and Sadness like rain but they associate different emotional states with it. While Joy likes playing in the puddles and lightning storms, Sadness emphasizes the sogginess, coldness and droopiness of the experience.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: There's two messages in the film that, while not cynical, are rather brutal for a kid's film;
    • It's impossible (and frankly unhealthy) to be happy all of the time, sadness is a part of life, and Growing Up Sucks. Nothing can change that, so all you can do is admit to yourself when you're miserable and don't drive yourself into deeper depression from constantly faking happiness.
    • Always trying to live up to your family's expectations of you will eventually drive you crazy from stress, and you should admit when you can't do it.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Riley, when her core memories get sucked up the recall chute.
    • Bing Bong, when his wagon is tossed in the memory dump.
    • Joy when she's trapped in the memory dump.
    • Riley again, when the idea to run away becomes so strong that the remaining emotions can't even influence her behavior.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Bing Bong, Riley's imaginary friend, allows himself to be erased in the memory dump when his wagon is incapable of carrying both himself and Joy back to the surface.
    • To a lesser degree, the many imaginary boyfriends helping launch Joy across the Memory Dump, falling in themselves. Since they're mass-produced and lack even the experience and substance of an established imaginary friend, they're expendable. Joy even bothers to first ask them about their opinion of Riley and them saying "I would die for Riley!" motivates her to go ahead with her plan.
  • Hive Mind: An interesting variant: though the emotions have their own thoughts and personalities, they all share Riley's likes and fears and act on those accordingly. They also seem to share her memories (as they're able to recall them at will), which may explain why Bing Bong is never mentioned after his passing in the Memory Dump: since Riley can now no longer remember him, they can't either, though Joy did seem to remember him right after he faded away.
  • The Homeward Journey: The majority of the film tackles Joy and Sadness' attempts to return to headquarters.
  • Honesty Aesop: One of the major themes of the film is honesty and openness about your emotions; not only with others, but with yourself as well. In fact, one of Riley's personality islands is based on honesty.
  • Hope Spot: When Riley is about to tryout for hockey while Hockey Island is still inactive, Fear attempts to use a regular hockey-related memory in the core memory's stead to keep the island from collapsing. It initially seems to work, with the island beginning to power up again. Then the receptacle comes back up and spits the memory out.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Not present in the movie — Riley is a pre-teen — but implicitly invoked a couple of times near the end.
    • When Riley bumps into Jordan, his own emotion control room explodes into chaos as an alarm screams "GIRL!" Evidently, his hormones are just starting to kick in.
    • After the happy ending, with Riley's emotions working well together, a new expanded control console is installed in their room. One of them asks what the new big red warning light is for. It's marked "PUBERTY". Joy says she's sure there'll be no problem. Every adult in the audience winces.
  • Human Ladder: Joy uses numerous clones of the imaginary boyfriend to launch herself to one of the islands.
  • Human Popsicle: While they are not REALLY human, the five Emotions get frozen when Riley suffers a Brain Freeze. Even with his igneous powers, Anger himself gets frozen, too, but he and the others recover.
  • Hyperventilation Bag: Fear uses one both times Riley's mom calls as Riley's running away. It pops when he and the others see Family Island crumbling after the second call is rejected.
  • Iconic Item: The Creative Closing Credits show us that emotions of non-humans (dogs and cats, at least) keep an item from their human counterpart; Fears keep their bow ties, Disgusts keep their scarves, Sadnesses keep their glasses, and Angers keep their ties. Only Joys avert this.
  • Idea Bulb: The emotions insert lightbulbs into the Console to give Riley ideas.
  • Idiot Hair: Fear's single hair curl/axon.
  • I Fell for Hours: In Dream Productions, one of Riley's nightmares is titled "I'm Falling for a Long Time".
  • Imaginary Friend: Riley has/had one named Bing Bong. Doubles as Not-So-Imaginary Friend in a sense, as he does exist as an individual within her mind, just as all her daydreams do.
  • Inexplicable Cornered Escape: When Riley sneaks downstairs to steal her mom's credit card while she is on the phone, Mom turns around just as Riley takes the card out. When Mom looks up, Riley's vanished.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Sadness is pretty much a dead ringer for Phyllis Smith, right down to the glasses that Smith always wore when she was a regular on The Office.
  • Inner Monologue: Played with. Near the beginning and at the end of the film, we get to hear the emotions talking back and forth about what Riley's doing in real time. Being her emotions, they're clearly mirroring her own thoughts.
  • Insistent Terminology: Anger is not giving Riley an idea to run away from home. He is initiating the "Happy Core Memory Development Program".
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: When Riley arrives at the new place in San Francisco, Joy wants to calm everybody down but her soothing tactics are immediately torpedoed by reality.
    Joy: Guys, you are overreacting. Nobody is dying.
    Disgust: A dead mouse!
  • Ironic Echo:
    • When Joy and Sadness make their way through Long-Term Memory, Sadness says they will get lost in there.
      Joy: Come on, think positive!
      Sadness: Okay. I'm positive you'll get lost in there.
    • Later, when climbing on top of a stack of Riley's dream boyfriends to rescue Sadness:
      Joy: This is crazy. No, think positive. I'M POSITIVE THIS IS CRAZY!
  • Ironic Echo Cut:
    • The family dinner argument has this exchange:
      [inside Mom's mind]
      Mom's Sadness: We'd better find out what's happening, but do it subtly. We don't want to seem like we're probing.
      Mom: So, Riley, how was school?
      [inside Riley's mind]
      Anger: She's probing us!
    • Then, after Riley's dad puts the foot down.
      Dad's Anger: Good job, gentlemen, that could have been a disaster.
      Mom's Sadness: Well, that was a disaster.
  • It Will Never Catch On: All the emotions are puzzled by the new "PUBERTY" addition to the control console. Joy dismisses it as "probably nothing important".
  • I Will Show You X!: At dinner, Anger says "I'll show you attitude!" in response to Riley's dad telling her "Riley, I do not like this new attitude."
  • Jerkass Realization: Joy has one in the memory dump when she realizes that Sadness is a very important emotion and that her own actions have left Riley feeling emotionally lopsided and unable to cope with such a big change. This realization gives her the resolve to escape the dump and make it right for both Sadness and Riley.
  • Just in Time: Right when Fear, Disgust and Anger are at their wits' end due to the locked console, and the bus that Riley is in was about to reach the highway where there would be no turning back, Joy and Sadness bump right into the control room window to save the day.
  • "Just So" Story: Ever wonder why the more you try not to be sad, the worse you feel? Why things that made you happy now make you sad when you remember them? Why you can't get that song out of your head?
  • Kids Hate Vegetables: Riley hates broccoli, as established in the scene that introduces Disgust, who thinks she's saving Riley from being poisoned by them. Later, a trip to a pizzeria is ruined when the pizza has broccoli as a topping.
    Anger: Congratulations, San Francisco! YOU'VE RUINED PIZZA! First the Hawaiians, and now you!
  • The Kill Joy:
    • Disgust's role is to alert Riley of disgusting and potentially dangerous things, so by definition, killing the joy is her role. And, of course, her Deadpan Snarker, pedantic attitude doesn't help.
    • When Anger enters the scene, it means the fun has been ruined for Riley, so he's kind of the emotional response to this trope — unlike Disgust, he's often all for fun ideas. However, Anger's personality is quite grumpy and insufferable at times as well.
    • When Disgust and Anger act together, they turn Riley into a very spiny girl — she's either throwing a temper tantrum, being unreasonable, or acting entitled.
  • Kirby Dots: The emotions have an animated version of them, which has actually been described as one of the hardest pieces of animation Pixar has ever done. Joy is actually trailing sparks when walking.
  • Kitchen Sink Included: While Bing Bong is emptying his Bag of Holding, one of the items clogging the bottom is a kitchen sink.
  • Knight of Cerebus: When Jangles the Clown shows up in Subconscious and is woken up, he becomes a truly scary part of the movie. In an unusual way of playing the trope straight, the plot starts taking a much darker turn after his scene, even though he himself has nothing to do with the dark events that follow.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Joy is hit by this when she comes across Rainbow Unicorn in Dream Productions. It's visibly all she can do not to erupt in fangirl mode. And even then...
    Joy: I loved you in Fairy Dream Adventure Part 7. Okay, bye. I love you.
  • Kudzu Plot: Lampshaded in-universe by Fear, who is watching a dream in which far too many different things are happening to follow.
    Fear: Boooooo! Pick a plot line!
  • Language Fluency Denial: Discussed when Riley is called on by her teacher to introduce herself. In a panic, Fear tries to suggest that she pretends to not understand English.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: When presented with a memory retrieval chute that can instantly return her to Headquarters, Joy abandons Sadness rather than risk her corrupting the core memories by proximity, and because "Riley needs to be happy". This act of betrayal directly leads to Joy being plunged into the memory pit when the memory chute is smashed.
  • Latin Lover: During the dinner scene, Jill's emotions attempt to signal Riley's dad to help figure out what's wrong with their daughter, with disastrous results. In frustration, her emotions play a memory orb of a Brazilian that Jill had dated.
    Jill's Anger: For this, we gave up that Brazilian helicopter pilot?
  • Lava Adds Awesome: At the beginning of the movie, young Riley plays the "floor is lava" game, with Joy using the console to make her imagine actual lava on the floor. Later, the heroes go through Imagination Land and have to cross that very same lava. With couches floating in it.
  • Left Hanging: Riley occasionally overhears her parents discussing her father's problems at work, and that he might have to lay off some of his employees. Since Riley is too young to understand any of this, she doesn't pursue it further and we don't get any closure on it.
  • Let's Get Out of Here: Bing Bong when getting away from Jangles.
    Bing Bong: We're outta here. Let's get to that train.
  • Literal Cliffhanger: Near the end, Joy and Sadness are hanging from a window at the exterior of Headquarters while the others are trying to find a way to break through the glass and pull them inside.
  • Literal-Minded: In the opening, the emotions are disappointed to learn that the Golden Gate Bridge is not actually made of gold.
  • The Load: This is how Joy views Sadness. Joy understands the purpose of the other emotions, but just thinks Sadness is nothing but a burden. Their journey through long-term memory enforces these feelings... until she eventually realizes the importance of Sadness.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Inverted. Joy has been with Riley since birth, and supplies Riley's optimism. When Joy gets lost in the brain dimension, Riley becomes detached and somber.
  • Mars and Venus Gender Contrast:
    • Played with when we see the emotions of Riley's mom and dad as Riley starts acting up at dinner. See Gilligan Cut above.
    • At the end of the movie, when Riley bumps into a boy her age, he blanks out. Inside his Headquarters, his emotions are running around in a blind panic with a Red Alert siren blaring "Girl! Girl! Girl!"
  • Meaningful Background Event:
    • In the beginning of the film, the memory orbs are mostly the gold color of Joy, as she points out. But there are no blue orbs. As we find out later, the other emotions have not been letting Sadness do her job, meaning Riley has little experience with being sad or learning how to deal with it.
    • A lack of an event is important in the scenes of Riley's parents' minds, as we don't see their memory walls. This is likely because their emotions have already learned how to work their consoles together and thus create memories of multiple colors; seeing them would spoil that twist.
  • Medal of Dishonor: Sadness gets a participation award in Imagination Land which she is predictably not happy about.
  • Medium Awareness: When Joy, Sadness and Bing Bong are being abstracted in the abstract thought chamber, they are unable to reach the door when the third stage of abstraction makes them two-dimensional. Joy realizes that now that they're 2D, the line marking the distant wall is now a ledge directly above her. During phase four's abstract shape state, Sadness figures out that they can get out of the tiny door by turning themselves horizontal and scooching out as a line, like an inchworm.
  • Meet Cute: At the end of the film, Riley bumps into a boy at her hockey game. The boy can't even manage to talk, while his emotions are freaking out and a "Girl!" alarm blares inside his head.
  • Memory Palace: The seat of Riley's personality is a large building in her mind called "Headquarters," and each of her "core memories" takes the form of a floating island in her mind. As Riley's mental state worsens, the islands begin to crumble.
  • Mental World: The mind is its own world, each part governing some part of the brain. Everyone has a similar setup.
    • Headquarters is where the emotions live. From there, they can sense everything Riley does and guide her reactions through the center console. The control centers inside various people's heads depend on the person. Riley's mom's center has light, rounded furniture, while her dad's is a high-tech man cave.
    • Memories take the form of color-coded marbles, created whenever the emotions influence Riley's behavior. Short-term memories are stored in the walls in Headquarters. At night, they are cleared out and sent to the seemingly endless field of shelves for long-term storage. Most important are the core memories, which are stored in Headquarters and power Personality Islands which are the foundation for what the mind in question values most. For example, a Joyous memory of playing hockey from her childhood gave Riley a passion for the sport well into her pre-teen years. At the end of the film, after her old core memories from their previous home are turned sad, the emotions create new ones that share traits of different emotions, starting with a combined Joy/Sadness memory born from Riley's parents comforting her which forms a new Family Island.
    • There are various locations on the perimeter of Riley's mind, including the Imagination Land theme park comprising her daydreams, a movie studio called Dream Productions where dreams are created, as well as mentioned but unseen areas of language, different kinds of thought, and so on.
    • Old or unwanted memories are emptied into the "Memory Dump", a wide chasm between Headquarters and the rest of Riley's mind, where they grow dim and eventually disintegrate.
    • It seems that beings created from Riley's memories, like Bing-Bong, will also disintegrate if they go down there, though an emotion like Joy will be unaffected. It seems the emotions themselves were unaware of this, judging by Sadness and Joy's fear of going down there. Or perhaps it just takes longer for such integral parts of the mind.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The film begins with a look at Riley's early years and how her emotions developed.
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment: At first, while there's some semblance of agreement between Riley's emotions, each one largely works under their own interests with a limited console, resulting in memories exhibiting one pure emotion. Once Joy brings Sadness to take control upon returning home from running away, Sadness takes Joy's hand so they can guide her through the moment together, resulting in Riley's first blended-emotion core memory. The console is upgraded soon afterwards, fully allowing all five emotions to feed their input into Riley's life.
  • Misspelling Out Loud: D-A-N-G-E-R: Shortcut!
  • Monster Clown: Jangles the Clown, one of Riley's darkest fears that lives in her subconscious. "WHO'S THE BIRTHDAY GIRL?!" He's actually based on a real, almost-as-creepy clown who hates his job.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Triple Dent Gum commercial has a tendency to interject itself during some fairly weighty moments in the movie.
  • Moving Angst: The story centers around Riley's family moving from Minnesota to San Francisco, and the conflict stems from her being uncomfortable with the changes. She even considers taking a bus back to Minnesota, which Fear, Disgust, and Anger realize is a mistake. Fortunately, Joy and Sadness fix everything and make Riley tell her parents how much she misses Minnesota, and her parents comfort her.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The film takes everyday emotional interaction and makes it into a complex system run by a group of emotion characters living inside your head.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Aside from making a good flame-thrower, Anger's top-of-the-head fire is also good for cooking marshmallows.
    • An imaginary example: Bing Bong recalls that he and Riley once played that they could travel back in time... and used it to go back to earlier that morning, so they could have breakfast twice in one day.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Anger has this reaction when he realizes that running away was a terrible idea, and the console shuts down as a result.
    Fear: Guys, we can't make Riley feel anything.
    Anger: (beat) What have we done?

    Tropes N to Z 
  • Naked People Are Funny:
    • Riley's "goofball" core memory is her running out of the bath as a toddler while her father playfully chases her with a towel.
    • The "Not Wearing Pants" Dream, on the other hand, is only funny for Fear's reaction to it.
  • The Napoleon: Anger, who is the shortest and angriest of the five.
  • Necessarily Evil: How Joy views Anger, Fear and Disgust. While she considers herself the most important emotion and feels that things are going well when she makes up the majority of Riley's day, she understands and respects that Anger, Fear and Disgust, while "negative" emotions, exist to protect Riley from the various dangers in her life. The driving source of conflict in the movie is that nobody has any idea what Sadness is for other than making Riley miserable, causing Joy to do everything she can to marginalize her and limit her involvement in Riley's life, with disastrous results.
  • Nervous Wreck: Fear. He's described as constantly paranoid about losing his job... except he is his job.
  • Never Learned to Read: Bing Bong leads Joy and Sadness through the Abstract Thought room because he can't read the sign saying "Danger: Do Not Enter."
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • Riley's parents are more level-headed and supportive in the movie proper than they were in the "argument over dinner" trailer. For example, while Riley's mother does fantasize about a Brazilian helicopter pilot during that scene, throughout the movie it's clear she does love her husband and daughter (and she asks her daughter to smile in part because she thinks that would make life easier on her husband since he is stressed out by his job). Also, while the dinner scene ends with Riley's father sending Riley to her room, after that scene he immediately goes up to check on Riley and try to patch things up, and then gives Riley the alone time she needs when Riley refuses to talk.
    • The "dinner argument" trailer can give the impression that the mother and father's emotions share the spotlight along with Riley's emotions; in truth, the dinner scene is the only scene where they appear (apart from one minor gag at the end). Conversely, Joy and Sadness — the most prominent emotions, by a long shot — aren't in the trailer at all, since the dinner scene occurs when they're both stranded in the long-term memory hallways. Watching the trailer, you wouldn't get the impression that most of the movie is about Joy and Sadness' efforts to find common ground.
  • Newscaster Cameo: The announcer of the hockey game Riley's dad's emotions are watching is none other than Randy Hahn, the TV play-by-play voice of the San Jose Sharks.
  • News Travels Fast: Played for Laughs: most of the newspapers that Anger reads depict events that happened just seconds ago, since newspapers in Riley's head all chronicle recent memories.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • A shared one between Joy and Sadness. Sadness keeps tainting memories that she touches, and does this during Riley's first day at her new school when she's telling the class about Minnesota. While the others try to disconnect that particular memory, Sadness goes to the console, creating a new core memory that's sad instead of happy like the others. In her rush to prevent this, Joy accidentally scatters the other core memories and they, along with Joy and Sadness, are sucked out through the long-term memory tube. As it turns out, in the end, Sadness was actually trying to fix things by allowing Riley to feel sad rather than bottling it up, making this one almost entirely Joy's fault.
    • Riley's mother isn't helping when she tells Riley to put up a happy front for her father.
    • Late in the film, Anger decides they need to make new core memories, so he gives Riley the idea to run away to Minnesota. This ends up derailing the train of thought that Joy and Sadness were using to get back to the control center, and the idea becomes so all-encompassing that it can only be removed by Sadness.
    • Prior to this scene, Joy and Sadness elect to wake Jangles The Clown to scare Riley into waking up. While this is successful in stopping the Dream Productions' show and does wake Riley, it also wakes Disgust and Anger, and this was the tipping point that convinced Anger to give the runaway idea a try in the first place, since he had been convinced to sleep on it and now they can't get a good night's sleep.
    • Right from the very start: Joy's continuous marginalization of Sadness and dominating personality has largely crippled Riley's ability to deal with sad experiences and learn from them.
  • No Antagonist: A first for Pixar. There's no main villain or even unintentional bad guy (apart from a Monster Clown who appears in only one scene and whom the heroes use to their advantage when they need to give Riley a nightmare). The conflict arises from Sadness creating a sad core memory, which ends up causing Joy and Sadness to be stranded away from Headquarters when Joy tries to prevent it, leaving the other three emotions at a loss as to how to stabilize Riley's mind. Though some characters briefly act antagonistic, there is no outright antagonistic character in this film. The antagonistic force is the concept of depression, but it's not given an Anthropomorphic Personification like the other emotions. Some of the early concept art included a character named Gloom, a shadow who just grew and grew. It is likely that this character was intended to play that role before being cut.
  • No Endor Holocaust: There is no mention of the lasting effects of parts of Long Term Memory crumbling and of Sadness "corrupting" some of the memories stored there that were once a different emotion. Especially notable because the movie does show that the Islands of Personality were eventually repaired/replaced/expanded after initially collapsing earlier in the film.
  • No Hero to His Valet: It seems that no one outside Headquarters recognizes or cares about the emotions and their critical role in Riley's well-being. Not even Bing Bong recognizes Joy until she identifies herself.
  • No Name Given: Riley's parents are never named in the film itself (although her mother's name is briefly visible on her debit card). According to the Essential Guide, however, their names are Jill and Bill Andersen.
  • Non-Answer: In a bonus scene, Joy tries to get Riley out of being called on by the teacher by having her mumble an incomprehensible answer. When that fails, she tries the "answer a question with a question" trick, which stalls the teacher long enough for the bell to ring. Then, Joy uses the same trick on the other emotions.
  • Non-Standard Character Design:
    • Joy is the only emotion whose hair and eyes are a different color from her skin.
    • All the emotions have hair except Anger, who doesn't have a nose either.
    • Each emotion's lighting is different. Joy glows brightly, while Sadness is much fainter. Disgust is fainter still, while Fear has no obvious glow. Anger, of course, has a spectacularly hot head when he gets riled up.
    • In a broader sense, Riley's emotions are the only set that don't share any particular theme, whereas all the others tend to mimic their person in some form (usually sharing hairstyle).
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Riley's mother was attracted to a Brazilian helicopter pilot, but ended up marrying the man who would become Riley's father instead.
    • What exactly is going on with the missing moving van?
      Mom: [on the phone] Why did our moving van even go to Texas?
  • No Power, No Color:
    • The faded memories in the memory dump are all dull grey as well while living memories are colored.
    • When Anger, Fear and Disgust's ideas drive Riley to depression resulting in her running away, the control console in her brain becomes unresponsive, preventing the emotions from removing the running away idea. Then a dark sheen creeps across the console, blotting out the brightly-colored buttons and leaving the emotions totally helpless as Riley's Greyhound bus heads for the freeway. Only the return of Joy and Sadness, and Sadness's finally being allowed near the console, restores life and colour to the buttons and gets Riley off the bus.
  • The Noseless: The various Angers, most notably (although also the Mind Workers). There is that one case when we see inside the mind of the pizza girl, and all of the emotions have a piercing in the nose, like the girl herself — except for Anger, who's forced to wear hers in an eyebrow.
  • "Not Wearing Pants" Dream: One is shown from Riley's POV. Extra funny since the director initially claims the story to be original.
    Fear: [deadpan] Let me guess, we have no pants on.
  • Novelization: Actually has two of these. One is a traditional, simple prose "junior" novelization. The other is the much longer and more ambitious Driven by Emotions. It retells the events of the film via five short stories told from the first-person POV of each emotion, focusing only on his/her part of, and perspective on, the events from beginning to end. Joy's story comes first, followed by the three emotions left behind at Headquarters, and Sadness's story finishes the book. None of the accounts significantly contradict any other, but their differing priorities add a variety of unique details to each telling. The exploits of Disgust, Fear, and Anger are significantly expanded upon, with details of how Riley handles school while Joy and Sadness are missing, and a sequence in which Fear directs her to a library to prepare her for what she might be facing as she runs away to Minnesota. Sadness's story hints at why she is compelled to touch happy memories (the core memories in particular) and sadden them, and explains Jangles the Clown's presence in Riley's subconscious (he performed at her cousin's birthday party).
  • Obliviously Evil: Jangles the Clown doesn't seem to realize he's wreaking havoc on the Dream Studio — he just believes there's a birthday party going on and wants in on it!
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The support staff of Riley's mind, which handle all the maintenance, are thoroughly unhelpful. They stick to their jobs even as the islands crumble, and serve as impediments to Joy and Sadness on several occasions.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The other emotions have this reaction after Joy and Sadness get sucked up the memory tube. Anger expresses it best:
      Anger: ... Can I say that curse word now?
    • Anger, Fear and Disgust have this reaction when the console shuts down while the idea to run away is still controlling Riley, preventing them from stopping her.
    • Knowing what abstract thought is, Sadness has this reaction when she realizes that mind workers have activated it with her, Joy, and Bing Bong inside, and then several more times as the three go through each stage of abstraction.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!:
    • Basically Sadness's reaction when she accidentally turns a happy memory sad.
    • The reaction of Mrs. Andersen's emotions to her husband's obliviousness.
    Mom's Disgust: He's making that stupid face again.
  • On a Scale from One to Ten: Quoth Disgust: "On a scale of one to ten, I give this day an F."
  • One Degree of Separation: The end credits reveal that Riley's teacher knows the same Brazilian helicopter pilot that Mrs. Andersen sometimes fantasizes about.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • When Joy, the character that always tries to see the bright side of everything and never gives up and is basically the personification of happiness, starts crying, you know all hope is lost.
    • Riley's parents become very concerned when Riley becomes surlier and distant, a stark contrast from her usual chipper self.
  • Opening Monologue: Joy delivers one, as well as a closing monologue.
  • Percussive Shutdown: The emotions Anger, Disgust and Fear have realized that giving Riley the idea to run away was a mistake, and are trying desperately to correct the mistake by removing the idea bulb. But it proves to be unmovable. So they try smashing it. But is also proves unbreakable.
  • The Perfectionist:
    • Disgust is described as having high expectations and low patience.
    • Anger, too, as the constant imperfections of San Francisco infuriate him.
    • Joy also has shades of this, since she does her very best to ensure that Riley has to spend as little time unhappy as possible.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Sadness plays it straight, Anger subverts it.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Joy. She lives up to her name. Even during her breakdown, she smiles half the time while sobbing.
  • Personal Raincloud: In a variation, Sadness at one point rides on one, as opposed to it hovering over her.
  • Pineapple Ruins Pizza: This is referenced when Riley and her mother try to get pizza and they end up at a pizza shop that uses broccoli as a pizza topping. Since Riley hates broccoli, Anger proclaims that San Francisco "ruined pizza".
    Anger: First the Hawaiians, and now you!
  • Planet of Hats: Whenever emotions besides Riley's are shown, they fit this trope. All of them physically resemble their humans to a certain extent (Riley's dad's emotions have his mustache, her mom's emotions have her glasses and hair, etc.), and all share their human's gender.
  • Platonic Declaration of Love:
    • Joy says twice that she and the other emotions love Riley. They're not in love with her, but they care about her and want the best for her.
    • Riley's mom and dad also tell her that they love her as she's leaving for school.
  • Plot Device: The core memories getting lost and being returned to Headquarters is what drives the plot for the emotions.
  • Plot Hole: Fans were quick to ask why Joy didn't simply send up the core memories using the same tubes the memory cleaners use to send the gum commercial to HQ. Word of God was that they missed the hole due to the endless rewrites, but handwaved it by saying Joy would've been too protective of the memories to send them up without her.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure:
    • Anger causes Riley to end her friendship with Meg, subsequently causing Friendship Island to collapse and once again cutting off Joy and Sadness' return path to Headquarters.
    • In the final stretch back to Headquarters, Joy abandons Sadness to keep her from tainting Riley's core memories, believing that keeping them happy is the only way to save Riley from depression. After realizing that Sadness is the only one who can help Riley, Joy goes to great lengths to ensure she and Sadness return together.
  • Plot-Sensitive Button: The emotion console appears to do whatever it needs to do in the context of the emotion operating it. This is most blatant when Riley is born: the console is literally a single button that changes color and thus action when Joy and Sadness use it (giggling and crying, respectively). This is to show that Riley's emotions haven't matured. It's only after Joy realizes that Sadness is important that they're able to create a memory embodying more than one emotional aspect, after which a new console is installed that has room for all of them at once.
  • Power Glows: Core Memories, which power Riley's Islands of Personality, glow much brighter than normal memory orbs.
  • The Power of Family: The Family Island is the last to suffer damage, and it never collapses completely, even after all the others do, and is instrumental to the resolution of the crisis.
  • Production Foreshadowing: Two dinosaurs from The Good Dinosaur appear as statues.
  • Properly Paranoid: Fear's job, such as stopping toddler Riley from tripping over a power cord while playing.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The music in Riley's nightmare is a resample of "Grim Grinning Ghosts" (within the Disney library), "Mars, the Bringer of War", and "Night on Bald Mountain".
  • Pun-Based Creature: The Train of Thought is a literal train.
  • Rage Quit:
    • During a tryout for the local hockey team, Riley is off her game (due to the lost hockey core memory) and proceeds to fumble her puck handling, then fan on a slap shot, falling on her face in the process. Furious, she storms off the ice and demands to go home.
    • The man building a house of cards in Riley's mind decides to fold after it gets knocked down twice.
  • Rainbows and Unicorns: Rainbow Unicorn is a unicorn actress with a rainbow-colored mane and tail who apparently features in Riley's dreams, alluding to the mystical characteristics of rainbows and unicorns.
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": Joy does this when she sees Bing Bong with her bag of core memories being locked away in Subconscience.
  • Read the Freaking Manual: Joy has Sadness read the mind manuals to keep her busy, preventing her from making Riley sad. This comes in handy later, as Sadness is the only one who knows the layout of Riley's mindscape.
  • Reused Character Design:
    • The emotions in other peoples' heads have the same designs, but features like hair, clothing and even their genders differ.
    • A few minor characters appear to be modified models from other Pixar films. The dead mouse in Riley's dream is Remy with brown fur, the bear in the same dream is Bear Elinore, and one of the cool girls appears to be an aged-down Colette. Some of the cars are based on cars from Cars, such as Mater.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Riley playing with Bing Bong in the opening montage is far more meaningful after the first watch.
  • Right Hand Versus Left Hand: The vast majority of conflict in the film is due to this trope. After being displaced from Headquarters, Joy and Sadness resolve to return via the Personality Islands, but the other emotions' actions wind up causing them to break down and collapse, forcing them to take longer and longer routes to get back. At Bing Bong's suggestion, they eventually catch and board the Train of Thought, only for it to stop when Anger, Fear, and Disgust decide to sleep on Anger's idea to run away. Joy and Sadness go to Dream Productions to scare Riley back awake, which succeeds and gets their ride home running again. However, Anger's frustration at not even being able to get a good night's sleep anymore spurs him to plant his idea in Riley's head. This in turn causes another Personality Island to collapse, taking the Train of Thought with it and leaving Joy, Sadness, and Bing Bong back at square one.
  • Road Trip Plot: At its core, the emotional journey among Joy, Sadness and Bing Bong is centered around this and getting back to Headquarters.
  • Rule of Three:
    • The emotions (save Joy) scream three times when Riley's family moves, once for each change of scene.
    • When Bing Bong's rocket is pushed into the Memory Dump, Joy tries three things to cheer him up: acting like a tickle monster, making a silly face, and getting him to play the "point to the train station" game. (Then Sadness empathizes with him and comforts him.)
  • Running Gag:
    • The gum commercial. After the mind workers send it up as a joke, it pops up every time Anger tries to recall a memory. This includes the bus driver's Anger.
    • Riley's disgust for broccoli is an ongoing topic.
  • Sadistic Choice: When Joy chooses between leaving Sadness behind and risking the contamination of the core memories. Her expression isn't of one making the choice lightly.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: After Riley's terrible first day in San Francisco, Dream Productions sends up a nightmare. Not wanting to end the day on a low note, Joy goes against protocol and disconnects the dream, replacing it with a happy memory of Riley skating. Deconstructed in that what Joy perceives to be the "right" thing is "whatever keeps Riley happy," but what Riley needs least of all right then and there is a reminder of how much happier she was back in Minnesota.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • As the situation deteriorates, Fear tries to take the coward's way out and quit. The memory tube prevents him from leaving, and Disgust reminds him that emotions don't have that option.
    • Disgust also pulls this when she sees the broccoli-covered pizza.
  • Sequel Hook: Towards the end the emotions gain access to a new, expanded console with additional features, along with a large red alarm marked "PUBERTY".
  • Serious Business: The emotions treat everything this way. For example, when Riley's a toddler, Anger hears "no dessert" and loses it, prompting Riley to do the same.
  • Short Cuts Make Long Delays: Needing to reach the train of thought, Bing Bong takes Joy and Sadness to a shortcut passing through the abstract thought chamber, ignoring the "DANGER" sign and warnings by Sadness of what lies within. As the chamber seems to extend infinitely, Joy goes with Bing Bong's plan, only for the mind workers to trigger the chamber. Though they make it through, the delay is sufficient for the train to leave before they can reach it. Downplayed in that the chamber is shown to be so long they probably wouldn't have made it around in any reasonable length of time regardless.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Instead of creating a generic SF landscape with the recognizable landmarks, the movie depicts multiple shots of actual San Francisco streets, such as Embarcadero, facing the direction of the Ferry Building. Not that they had to go far for visual research, as Pixar's headquarters are just across the bay in Emeryville.
    • At least two accredited psychologists are listed as consultants in the credits. One of them is Paul Ekman, who's renowned for his identification of the six universal basic emotions (the five appearing in the movie, plus surprise, whose character was scrapped due to being too close to Fear's).
    • The movie makes a clear distinction between Sadness, who's a character and natural emotion, and depression, which, rather than the colloquial (and incorrect) idea of "constantly being sad," is a state of lack of emotion and inability to feel anything, which is represented by Riley's control panel slowly going gray as she gradually loses her capacity for feeling. To further the point, it's Sadness who ends this state.
  • Shy Blue-Haired Girl: Sadness, who has blue hair and is generally the most reserved of Riley's emotions.
  • Sigh of Love: Riley's mum Jill's emotions sigh happily when recalling a memory of a Brazilian helicopter pilot, due to Riley's dad Bill inadvertently making Riley upset. This is done again at the end of the film, when Jill's emotions sigh happily when looking at Bill, who had them both wear face paint for Riley's hockey match.
  • Silence Is Golden:
    • During the climax of the film, as Riley returns home and reunites with her family, not a word is exchanged inside Headquarters: everything Joy and Sadness have to tell each other is conveyed through their expressions and gestures, with Riley and her parents doing all the talking.
    • When Riley is given the idea to run away, she doesn't say a word until the idea is removed by Sadness, making her come to her senses.
  • Silly Simian: While no actual monkeys show up in the film, Riley and her parents sometimes jokingly imitate monkeys as a source of humor among the family. Goofball Island collapses when Dad's monkey act doesn't cheer up Riley.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Despite being a significant character (billed third in the credits after Joy and Sadness), Bing Bong is absent from the English trailers. This was a deliberate decision by the director to avoid Trailers Always Spoil, and because his inclusion would be confusing in the context of explaining the film's premise; e.g., "What emotion is he?"
  • Small, Secluded World: Riley's mind, though containing several locations, only covers a small portion of her overall brain. After the emotions' "control room" and the Islands of Personality, it's miles and miles of memories.
  • So Long, Suckers!: Bing Bong announces this to Joy before he bumps into a wagon loaded with memory spheres.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Towards the end, Anger's reaction is bleeped out when seeing his extended console with new curse words.
    Anger: This new console is the sh... [bleep].
  • Spirit Advisor: The role of the emotions. They don't control Riley's actions so much as influence them as appropriate.
  • Spit Take: When Fear sees the dog break apart in Riley's dream, which was actually Joy and Sadness in a costume.
  • Spraying Drink from Nose: This is used to demonstrate how differently Joy and Sadness see things. Joy remembers Riley laughing and squirting milk out of her nose positively; Sadness remembers how much the sensation hurt.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: As Joy is enjoying her first moments of life inside Riley's head, Sadness appears and triggers the console without Joy even noticing someone else is in the room.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Anger's head erupts when he loses his cool. In other words, he blows his top. Which also means that he's a hothead.
    • He is also depicted as the shortest of the five emotions; Riley has a short temper.
    • Furthermore, he wears the stereotypical "manager" costume. Might be "anger management".
    • Each of the other emotions is shaped like a humanoid representation of something that evokes that emotion. Joy is a star, Sadness is a teardrop, Disgust a stalk of broccoli, and the purple, spindly Fear? He's a raw nerve.
    • Riley's Train of Thought is derailed at one point and falls into the memory dump, to be forgotten. She's lost her train of thought, meaning she's not thinking straight of her subsequent actions and, since there only seems to be one single Train of Thought in Riley's head, she has a one-track mind.
    • Joy breaking down in tears after falling into the Memory Dump amongst old forgotten memories of Riley. At this point, she's literally and figuratively down in the dumps. It could also be said that she's crying "tears of Joy"note .
    • The moment when Riley boards the bus to run away back to Minnesota and mission control is rendered grey and inactive. She's emotionally shut down.
    • Bing Bong leapt out of the wagon so that Joy could get out of the Memory Dump. He jumped for Joy.
    • Memories are represented by glass orbs, and when more than one emotion drives a memory at the same time, it produces a swirl texture, making them resemble marbles. Riley loses her Core Memories, and some are routinely cleaned out so she "forgets" some of them... ergo, Riley loses her marbles!
    • All of the emotions have fuzzy-looking skin... presumably because they are felt.
    • Joy has to drag Sadness for a considerable amount of time. Sadness is literally a drag.
  • Stepford Smiler: By preventing Sadness from ever getting control, Joy misguidedly attempts to turn Riley into this in the belief that she needs to be happy for her parents.
  • The Stinger: Not in the movie itself but on Michael Giacchino's soundtrack album in the form of a Hidden Track. "Triple-dent gum!"
  • Stock "Yuck!": Broccoli is this for Riley. Humorously enough, not only has Pete Docter said that he likes broccoli, but Disgust, who's the only one who pushes Riley away from broccoli, is designed to look like it. In the Japanese version, the broccoli was changed to green bell peppers since bell peppers are more of a Stock "Yuck!" in Japan than broccoli is.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: Riley's bright, colorful mindscape begins to gray and collapse when the core memories are lost.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The official novelization, Driven by Emotions, is this. It tells the events of the film from the perspective of all five of the emotions, starting with Joy, then Disgust, next Fear, then Anger and finally Sadness. This means that for certain events in the film, as many as five different takes are presented.
  • Take My Hand!: A variant: following their Glass Smack and Slide against the windows of Headquarters, Sadness catches herself on the window's ledge with one hand and Joy by the drawstrings of her bag with the other. Aside from a brief Scare Chord, it's not notably Played for Drama, as Sadness doesn't seem to have trouble hoisting Joy up to the ledge afterwards so she can also get a grip, but her brief look of panic when she reaches to break Joy's fall makes it abundantly clear that if it wasn't for her quick reflexes, Joy would've found herself at the bottom of the Memory Dump for the second time. And this time with no way left to escape.
  • Take That!: Aside from the obvious pizza-centric one at San Francisco, the city gets a couple other little jabs taken at it courtesy of Riley's mom. Especially funny considering Pixar is stationed in nearby Emeryville.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Fear has compiled a list of terrible things that could happen on the first day, specifically mentioning being called on by the teacher. Naturally, that happens.
      Fear: [freaking out] Right out of the gate?
    • Joy gets into it too.
      Joy: We love our girl. I mean, she's got great friends and a great house. Things couldn't be better. After all, Riley's eleven now. What could happen?
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Riley's emotions are a mix of male and female, while the emotions of her parents appear to have uniform gender. This is demonstrated by the mom's emotions all sharing her glasses and hairstyle, while the dad's emotions all have mustaches and wear suits. This is especially weird in the case of Dad's Joy and Disgust, as Joy has noticeable breasts along with the mustache and Disgust wears a long skirt.
  • Third Time's The Charm: Joy is able to escape the Memory Dump on Bing Bong's wagon on the third try after Bing Bong jumps from the wagon to lighten the load.
  • Time-Passes Montage: The first few minutes of the film are about Riley growing up and how her emotions came to be.
  • Title Drop:
    • Here's a song-based one. When Riley starts running away, Sadness says,"Joy, if we hurry, we can still stop her." The song that plays during the scene is titled "We Can Still Stop Her".
  • Toilet Humor:
    • In the scene where Riley's family is eating dinner, one of the excuses that Riley's dad's version of Anger gives for Riley's mom trying to get his attention is leaving the toilet seat up.
    • The Dream Productions portion has Bing Bong make a honking sound when a guard steps on the area where his privates would be, which could be his equivalent of farting.
    • In the storybook "Sadly Ever After?", Disgust points out yellow snow when Riley's ice skating.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Most of Riley's troubles in Joy's absence are caused by Anger, first by his tendency to Rage Quit and then his impulsive idea to run away. Downplayed as he's only trying to do what he thinks is best for Riley, and despite his best efforts, he simply can't act like Joy.
  • Token Good Teammate: Joy perceives herself as this. Though she recognizes that Fear, Disgust, and Anger have their uses, she is not happy when they create memories. Realizing that she's not the only good one is part of her arc. It's a justified perception, since happiness is, if only for lack of words in the English language, the only positive emotion.
  • Tomboy: Riley, in both appearance and hobbies (playing hockey). Contrary to popular belief, the genders of the emotions aren't related to this at all, as explained by Pete Docter.
  • Tormented Teacher: During the Creative Closing Credits, we find out that the schoolteacher's emotions are counting down the days to summer vacation.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • Some trailers use scenes of Riley's control console turning black as well as Joy and Sadness making their return — which spoil the climax.
    • One commercial has the scene of the teacher's emotions, which happen only during the end credits (downplayed because it's not crucial to the plot, but still counts).
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs: Joy and Sadness find Bing Bong in Subconscience by following a trail of candy he left behind.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Inverted; two of five of Riley's emotions (Fear and Anger) are male, whereas Joy, Sadness, and Disgust are female.
  • Two-Keyed Lock: Riley's dad has "putting down the foot", which is activated by his emotions in this fashion.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The story is about Riley's emotions as the girl adjusts to moving to San Francisco.
  • Undying Loyalty: The Emotions and Bing Bong have this towards Riley. Parodied with Riley's imaginary boyfriend, whose catchphrase is "I would die for Riley!"
  • Unintentionally Karmic: Sadness trying to touch the core memories and accidentally corrupting the happy memories of Riley's results in Joy and Sadness getting lost.
  • The Unreveal: We never learn what Island of Personality the sad core memory creates.
  • Vocal Dissonance: The mind worker/actor who does Riley's voice in the Dream Productions studio is stocky and bearded, yet speaks his lines in a perfect little girl's voice.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Played straight with the cat's emotions during credits. You can see its Disgust coughing up a hairball in the background.
  • Walking Spoiler: Bing Bong, so much that most reviews try hard to not bring him up or describe who he is.
  • Wearing It All Wrong: Riley's "Goofball Island" was established when she was running around after a bath as a toddler wearing only a pair of underwear, which was on her head.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • When Anger suggests that Riley run away, it's out of concern for Riley.
    • Joy. She only wants Riley to be happy, even if it means deserting Sadness and trying to stop the arrival of a sad core memory.
  • Wham Line:
    • Joy discovers Sadness's true purpose: "Sadness...Mom and Dad...the team...they came to help...because of Sadness."
    • An in-universe example for Riley's parents: "I know you don't want me to but... I miss home. I miss Minnesota. You need me to be happy, but...I want my old friends, and my hockey team...I want to go home. Please don't be mad." (This is one of the first times they've seen her cry this much in her life, as Riley is usually such a Cheerful Child.)
  • Wham Shot: The gold memory of Riley and her former team at the twisty tree changing blue as it rewinds to the beginning, revealing it was a sad memory made happy which makes Joy realize what Sadness's job at Headquarters is.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?:
    • As the prologue ends, Joy notes how perfect everything is for Riley and asks "What could happen?" This is followed by Riley's world being shaken up by her move to San Francisco.
    • Joy repeats this at the end of the film, right after their new console has been installed with a "PUBERTY" alarm light.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Twice.
    • Joy and Sadness take off as soon as Jangles has served his purpose, leaving him to wreak God knows what kind of havoc on the studio and its inhabitants. But they're just mind workers, after all.
    • Joy sacrifices dozens of imaginary boyfriends in her plan to catch Sadness. Almost all of them certainly fall, unseen, into the memory dump.
  • What Would X Do?:
    • When Joy has lost track of Sadness near the end of the film, she decides to think like her. She then mimics Sadness refusing to walk, forcing Joy to drag her by the foot. Joy then realizes she can follow the trail of tainted memories on the shelves, which Sadness had been doing when Joy was dragging her.
    • Anger, Fear, and Disgust try substitute Joy when she and Sadness are gone. Hilarity Ensues.
  • When She Smiles: Sadness, and she looks fairly cute when she smiles upon watching a happy memory of Riley's. As does Disgust.
  • White Void Room: Abstract Thought is this when switched on.
  • Who's on First?: The two guards at Riley's subconscious (voiced by Muppet legends Dave Goelz and Frank Oz) have a brief back-and-forth over who has "My Hat".
  • Wistful Smile: Joy when she realizes Bing Bong sacrificed himself so she could reach Headquarters and save Riley.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Anger regularly reads a newspaper called The Mind Reader which reports on Riley's thoughts, leading to such front page headlines as "NO DESSERT!"
  • Writing Around Trademarks: During the ending of the movie, Sadness refers to one of the newborn islands as a Tragic Vampire Romance Island.
  • You Are Not Alone: Joy, now realizing the vital importance of Sadness to Riley's emotional health, allows Sadness in control of the panel after they return to Headquarters. Sadness allows Riley to break down into tears and finally admit to her parents how much she misses Minnesota. They tell her they miss their old home, too, and pull her into a three-way group hug. After this, Riley makes peace with the move.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Ultimately Riley comes to terms with the fact that returning to Minnesota is not an option.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: On Riley's first day at school, Joy's task for Sadness is to stay put inside a "circle of sadness", so she won't make Riley sad.


Inside Out

The five Core Emotions have distinct colors: Joy is yellow, Sadness is blue, Anger is red, Disgust is green and Fear is purple.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (22 votes)

Example of:

Main / ColourCodedEmotions

Media sources: