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Dory: Hey, look. "Esc-a-pay". I wonder what that means? That's funny, it's spelled just like the word "escape."
- Adult Fear: The Pixar Film. "Adults have nightmares about what would happen when they lose their only surviving son? Let's make a cartoon about it!"
- Advertised Extra: For some reason, Bruce and Crush are always shown on just about every piece of promotional material as two of the film's central characters even though their screen time is limited to only a handful of scenes.
- Affably Evil: Subverted. Bruce appears to be this towards the beginning of the movie, but it's revealed that he's actually a Nice Guy. Unless he smells blood.
- All There in the Script: Gurgle's never referred to by name. He's the purple and yellow one.
- Alluring Anglerfish
- And I Shall Call Him Squishy: Darla, possibly. Dory came pretty close until she learned that jellyfish sting.
- Animals Lack Attributes: Poor Bruce was originally animated with prominent claspers, as would be appropriate for a shark his size. Obviously they didn't make it to the final version.
- Animal Talk
- Anti-Villain: Nearly every villain in this movie is either Obliviously Evil (like Darla and the jellyfish) or just lacking in self-control (like Bruce and the seagulls) and the closest thing to bad guys would be the fishermen towards the end, but even they probably see what they're doing as okay like most fishermen in real life do. This movie overall has arguably the mildest villains in Pixar movie history.
- Artistic License: Biology: Barracuda don't have much of taste for eggs. They prefer live prey.
- The interior of the whale's throat is too large. While blue whales have a gigantic mouth, their throat is tiny and unable to swallow anything larger a beach ball.
- They also have respiratory and digestive traits completely separated, you know, so that they don't unintentionally sneeze fish out of their blowhole. And where is the light inside its mouth coming from?
- Chuckles, the gift fish who was killed by Darla, was a goldfish. Which live in freshwater. The other Tank Gang fish are saltwater fish. You can see where this is going.
- None of the sea turtles seem to worry about having to breathe. They also don't travel in flocks, but this was intentional, see Rule of Cool below.
- Ascended to Carnivorism: The movie ends with a Stinger of the little green fish Blenny from the sharks' meeting gobbling up the Anglerfish.
- Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny: "Hello, I'm Dory. What, you want to look for your child? Ummm... Hello, my name is Dory ..."
- Deliberately invoked by Marlin when he gets Dory to follow him above the trench rather than through it.
- Badass on Paper: Marlin gets through most of his adventures by gumption, desperation, and sheer dumb luck, but as his exploits are recounted over and over he starts to sound more and more badass. By the time the stories get to Nemo, his father is a Papa Wolf who has battled sharks and fought off jellyfish.
- Badass Unintentional: Dory. She just wants to hang out with Marlin.
- Thanks to his hijinks, Marlin gets this reputation throughout the entire ocean area surrounding Sydney.
- Beware the Nice Ones:
Gurgle: Whatever you do, don't mention D-A-R...
Nemo: It's okay, I know who you're talking about.
Gurgle: Doesn't anyone realize? We're *swimming* in our own sh-
Peach: Shhh! Here he comes!
- Darker and Edgier: Somewhat, Pixar's first four films had some more emotional moments but on the whole they were very lighthearted and comedic. Finding Nemo was arguably Pixar's first foray into more dramatic territory, as in films that have comedic elements but on the whole aren't comedies.
- Demoted to Extra: Remember that pelican Gerald that swallows Marlin and Dory? He and Nigel were originally going to be Those Two Guys, Nigel being the neat freak of the two, Gerald being scruffy and sloppy. In the finished film, Gerald's final screen time is less than a minute.
- Derailed for Details / Cannot Tell a Joke:
Marlin: All right, I know one joke. Um, there's a mollusk, see? And he walks up to a sea, well he doesn't walk up, he swims up. Well, actually the mollusk isn't moving. He's in one place and then the sea cucumber, well they—I mixed up. There was a mollusk and a sea cucumber. None of them were walking, so forget that I --
- Determinator: Many characters in the movie, but especially Marlin, Dory, and Gill.
Nemo: How many times have you tried to escape?
Gill: Eh, I've lost count. Fish aren't meant to be in a box, kid.
Turtle: (to Marlin) Mr. Fish, did you die?
Dory: Sorry. I was a little vague on the details.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- The group of sharks who have sworn off eating fish is played as if it were an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting or similar drug rehab group, complete with pledge ("Fish are friends, not food"), 'steps' and interventions if one of the members has / looks like they're going to fall Off the Wagon.
- Dory and Marlin's relationship has a romantic feel at times, especially at more emotional moments, and it almost feels as if she's supposed to be Nemo's "new" mom; the relationship is rather vague too. However it is supposed to be a platonic relationship. It didn't take long for shippers to notice this though...
Dory: When I look at you...I can feel it! And I – and I look at you, and I... [choking up] ...and I'm home! Please... I don't want that to go away. I don't want to forget! 
Marlin: Look, Mr. Turtle...
Crush: Dude, Mr. Turtle is my father. Name's Crush.
- Downer Beginning
- DVD Commentary: While the audiovisual commentary track was an interesting concept, by the time you get to the second or third behind the scenes segment interrupting the movie you can see why future films do not use the technique.
- They do it better in the Blu-Ray edition of Toy Story 3, where the video actually stays in the frame in a picture-in-picture.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Luigi from Cars makes a brief appearance when the aquarium fish are escaping. The boy in the waiting room on Escape Day is reading a Mr. Incredible comic.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Easy Amnesia/Laser-Guided Amnesia: Averted for the most part. With a few plot-important exceptions, Dory suffers from fairly plausible amnesia, of some combination of anterograde (i.e. new memories are not processed) and retrograde (i.e. old memories are lost). Well, at least plausible by the standards of a children's film.
- Either World Domination or Something About Bananas
- The Elevator From Ipanema
- Empty Promise
- Erudite Stoner: Crush.
- Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: Luckily, the sharks seen here have sworn off fish.
- Explain, Explain, Oh Crap: "Good morning, everyone! Today's the day! The sun is shining, the tank is clean and we are getting out of-- (gasp) the tank is clean. The tank is CLEAN!"
- Face of a Thug: The sharks, especially Bruce. Subverted that Bruce becomes dangerous if he smells blood.
- Feather Fingers: Nigel. And, of course, virtually every character has fin fingers.
- Five-Man Band: The Tank Gang.
- Foreign Exchange Student: Squirt the baby sea turtle becomes one at the end of the movie.
- Funny Background Event: There are actually quite a few. A good one is when Marlin is trying to tell his joke at the start. Nemo at first has an 'Oh, boy' expression, then an embarrassed and apologetic smile.
- A meta example occurs on the 2-disc DVD introduction: whilst Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich are talking about the included bonus features, in the background you can see John Lasseter waving and then miming diving over a rail.
- Fun with Flushing: Nemo's escape plan is to play dead and get flushed, because "all drains lead to the ocean". Many have pointed out that in reality, a fish would not survive the trip, as it would be ground up during the sewage treatment process, leading some to joke that the title should have been "Grinding Nemo".
- Genius Ditz: Dory, who knows how to read humans writing and understands whale language and knows about whales in general. "Don't worry, whales don't eat clown fish, they eat krill."
- Genki Girl: Dory whose perkiness and high energy buoy all her friends in rough times, or just annoy them.
- Genre Busting: It's a road movie/coming of age/thriller/animal comedy/prison escape/surf movie.
- Gentle Giant: Bruce and the whale.
- Get a Hold of Yourself Man: Anchor and Chum do this when Bruce accidentally smells Dory's blood and goes on a feeding frenzy. He's not bad but his addiction to fish is that severe.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- Deb introduces herself as "your aunt Deb", then introduces her "sister", Flo. So...Aunt Flo?
- A non sexual example, the name of the aquarium mountain is called Mount Wannahockaloogie. Say it out loud.
- Girlish Pigtails: Darla.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Gill has extensive scarring on the right side of his body, mostly over his face (but leaving his right eye intact) and his right fin (now as useless as Nemo's one) from a failed escape attempt, adding to his grizzled, fierce personality.
- Gratuitous French: Jacques, the shrimp who speaks nothing but French. First time you see him, a stereotypical little accordion ditty plays.
- Grilling the Newbie: The other fish in the tank ask Nemo endlessly about the Ocean.
Bubbles: "The old big blue, eh? What's it like?
Nemo: "It's...big and blue."
Bubbles: "I knew it!"
- Guile Hero: Gill is somewhere between this and a protagonist Magnificent Bastard, even though his plans (almost) always fail. He's atypical in that he appears somewhat uncomfortable in this role: he has a Heroic BSOD after Nemo almost gets filleted by the tank filter while partaking in one of his plans.
- Handicapped Badass: Gill. Extensive scarring on his right fin makes it as useless as Nemo's atrophied one. That doesn't prevent him to be a Magnificent Bastard and mentor Nemo.
- Hollywood Darkness: Averted in the trench scenes, which are absolutely pitch black until the anglerfish arrives. Played straight in the whale's mouth.
- Hollywood Density: In the final scene where the aquarium fish finally escape, the water in their bags somehow floats above other water in the ocean.
- Humans Are Cthulhu
- Humans Are Morons: More like "A Human Dentist is Misguided And His Niece Needs To Look Up What Happens When You Shake A Fish Bag."
- Innocent Innuendo: "I'm gonna go touch the butt!"
- Interspecies Friendship: Not only do different kinds of fish get along, but they also befriend sea turtles, and even species that otherwise prey on fish, such as sharks and pelicans.
- It's All My Fault
- Keet: Nemo on a good day. The baby sea turtles also count.
- Land Down Under
- Light Is Not Good: Literally. The anglerfish's light may look inviting but it leads to frightening teeth.
- Little-Known Facts: The unseen Sandy Plankton.
- Living Emotional Crutch: Marlin to Dory. Being with him somehow cures her amnesia, but only when he's nearby.
- Loads and Loads of Characters
- Local Reference: Director Andrew Stanton is from Rockport, Massachusetts, so he included several references to it, including lamp replicas of two lighthouses in nearby Thacher Island and a photograph of "Motif Number One", a local landmark, as well as lobsters with thick "Bahston" accents.
- Lopsided Dichotomy: Dory translating whale speech:
"Okay, he either said, 'move to the back of the throat,' or he 'wants a root beer float'."
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Dory to Marlin.
- Meaningful Background Event
- Meaningful Echo: Lots. It is a Pixar film, after all.
- "You think you can do these things, but you can't, Nemo. The second time it's a Freudian Slip - Marlin's not actually speaking to Nemo.
- "All drains lead to the ocean."
- "Keep swimming," and "Swim down."
- Meaningful Name:
- A dory is a small fishing boat.
- The Mako shark is named Chum.
- Memetic Badass: Marlin ends up as one in-universe as tales of his journey filter through the ocean and become larger than life.
- Mind Control Eyes / Monochromatic Eyes / Black Eyes of Evil: When Bruce the shark accidentally gets a whiff of blood.
- Monsters Anonymous: The shark's support group.
- Mood Whiplash: Before and after the opening titles.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: The absent-minded Dory keeps misremembering
Harpo Chico Elmo Fabio Bingo Nemo's name.
- Never Heard That One Before: Jokes about Marlin being a clown fish.
- No Cartoon Fish: Aversion.
- Non Sequitur Thud
- Noodle Incident: "Hey, that snail was about to charge."
- Obliviously Evil: Darla and the dentist.
- Oh Crap: The anglerfish. "IIIIIII'm gonna getcha!"
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Not in Latin, and (except possibly to the very youngest viewers) not all that ominous. Arguably a parody.
- Only Sane Man: Marlin and Gill, compared to their respective companions.
- Orphaned Punchline: Marlin proves that, despite what all the other fish think, not all clown fish are funny.
- One of the bonus features of the DVD are 10-15 different punch lines that were considered for the closing scene. Good times, good times.
- Papa Clownfish: Marlin. Shark, anglerfish, jellyfish, pelican, human... He will topple the food chain to get his son back.
- Parental Bonus: The sequence with the vegetarian sharks is an obvious reference to AA meetings.
- After Nemo jams the filter: "Everybody else, be as gross as possible. Think dirty thoughts. We're gonna make this tank so filthy the dentist will HAVE to clean it."
- Parental Substitute: Gill acts as something of a surrogate father to Nemo while in the tank.
- Please Don't Leave Me: Dory to Marlin.
- Plot-Triggering Death: In a rather roundabout example, Coral's. Her death happens some years before the actual story, but hadn't it been for that, the plot wouldn't have happened, at least not the way it did.
- Psycho Strings: Played whenever Darla looks at the camera.
- Punctuated Pounding: A rare example of the dialog and pounding coming from different characters:
BANG Sorry about BANG Bruce, mate! BANG He's really BANG a nice guy!
- The Quest. And while it's not a perfect Booker's Quest, it does meet plenty of the specifications: Monsters (angler fish), Temptations (Bruce delays then, when they get back on track, turns deadly), Dangerous Terrain (mines, jellyfish), Deadly Opposites (Marlin even ignores the guides!), the Journey to the Underworld (the whale), then the halfway arrival where the heroes realize the task is even harder than imagined. Not to mention Dory's role as Anima and how she is the one who first connects with the prize.
- Really Seven Hundred Years Old: Crush is 150, and still young, dude.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Nemo and the baby sea turtles.
- Rule of Cool: Turtles don't actually travel in groups, but in the words of Stanton himself, "But it was just too cool and it helped the story along. We don’t address it in the script, but they’re all off to Hawaii to go surf.”
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Marlin and Dory. One is grumpy and grounded while the other is perky and optimistic pushes him forward.
- Scars Are Forever: The ones on Gill's face that he apparently got from trying to escape the tank.
- Sea Mine: a whole minefield of them too.
- Short Cuts Make Long Delays
- Shout-Out: "Heeeeeeere's Brucie!"
- Simultaneous Arcs: Most of the movie splits between Marlin in the ocean and Nemo in the tank.
- Small Taxonomy Pools: Largely played straight. Among fish we see colorful reef-fishes, and then the stock seahorses, puffers, rays, great white and hammerhead sharks, and barracudas (will we ever see an ocean sunfish, dolphinfish, pipefish, and remoras in fiction?). The sea birds are gulls and pelicans (and what about frigatebirds, tropicbirds, skuas and so on?); the sea-mammal is a whale, the sea-reptiles are the classic Chelonid turtles: and we have crabs, jellyfishes and starfishes as the invertebrate members of the fauna.
- But it's averted as well: this is perhaps the first time a deep-sea fish shows up in a relevant role in Fictionland (the anglerfish). Not only that, many sea creatures from Real Life are well recognizable by who knows. The whale isn't the stock generic large cetacean, it's quite specifically a blue whale; and this is one of the extremely rare times in which dolphins are almost totally missing. Tropical fish pertain to precise species (clownfish, blue tang, moorish idol, Gramma loreto and so on); one of the three sharks is a Mako; and the hero is called Marlin (the latter is lampshaded by Nigel trying to remember Marlin's name and saying "It's some kind of sport fish or something..." at one point). The chosen cephalopod is the unconventional "Dumbo-octopus". Finally the (totally unexpected) krill: talking krill!
- Something That Begins With Boring: Dory and Marlin.
- Speech Impediment: Darla has trouble speaking with those terrible braces.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Is Gill's name spelled with one or two L's?
- Staring Kid: The kid in the dentist's waiting room who reacts with horror at the commotion.
- Stealth Pun: Nemo attends a school of fish.
- The Stinger: In the last scene before the credits, see all the fish from the dentist office after their successful escape still stuck in their plastic bags since their plan never got that far.
- Surfer Dude: Crush, and the turtles. Apparently, all of them.
- Crush is 150 years old, it's not like he needs to do anything in a rush.
- Survival Mantra: Many. The most famous one is 'Just keep swimming', but Marlin deliberately invokes it in one scene while playing it straight for himself. When Dory gets hurt in the Jellyfish fields, he makes Dory repeat where P. Sherman lives, while repeating 'Stay awake!' to himself.
- "Find a happy place! Find a happy place!" when Darla is pounding on the glass of the aquarium.
- "Swim down!" When Nemo is netted in the aquarium and again when the school of fish is caught. Also counts as Chekhov's Skill.
- Synchronized Swarming: A swarm of fish does a series of impressions for Dory and becomes an arrow to give her and Marlin directions to Sydney.
- Take My Fin: Possibly inverted.
- Talks To Whales: Marlin is less then impressed by Dory's claims to be able to to speak whale, especially since it consists entirely of talking really slowly. Somehow, it works. And then Marlin imitates her.
Dory: Wow. I wish I could speak whale.
Nemo: Have how ever met a shark?
Marlin: No, and I don't plan to.
- This Is Your Brain On Fish Meat: The sharks.
- Those Two Guys: Anchor and Chum.
- The Tooth Hurts: The scene where the dentist is trying to remove the prime minister's tooth. When Nigel the pelican runs into the window, the noise startles the dentist so much that he forcefully pulls out the bad tooth, putting the prime minister in a lot of pain.
- Trailers Always Lie: A popular scene shown in the commercials was Bruce swimming through some seaweed while saying "We're looking for Nemo!" This was never used in the movie. In fact, the super hyped up sharks in the trailers were just One Scene Wonders.
- Tropaholics Anonymous: The sharks.
- Truth in Television: Yes, Jellyfish really DO travel in big swarms like that.
- Averted with the turtles; they do not. Andrew Stanton admitted it worked for the story.
- Turtle Power: Crush, Squirt, and the other sea turtles of the EAC are all awesome.
- Unusual Animal Alliance: Sharks attempts such an alliance with fish, and have support meetings complete with the mantra:
Fish are friends, not food!
- Verbing Nouny
- Waking Non Sequitur: After the incident with the sharks, Dory wakes up screaming "Look out! Sharks eat fish!" She also has "Zzz... the sea monkeys have my money... Mmm... yes, I'm a natural blue..."
- Water Is Air: Averted. Those folks at Pixar really did their homework on this one.
- What Measure Is a Non-Cute?
- What's an X Like You Doing In a Y Like This?: "What's a couple of bites like you doing in a zone like this?"
- Where It All Began: It ends in the reef, with the characters doing the same things they did in the first scene, only differently, to reflect how the moral changed them.
- White and Gray Morality: All the villains (Bruce and the humans) are trying to reform or misguided. There's also the jellyfish and seagulls, which are apparently too stupid to be evil. The barracuda and the anglerfish, although both vicious killers, are really just hungry by nature. Overall, this movie's villains are much milder than those of other Pixar movies.
- The Window or the Stairs: Dory and Marlin come across a chasm; Dory was told that they had to go through it, and she tries to tell Marlin, who ignores her and then tricks her into swimming over it, since it seems much safer. They end up in a huge swarm of jellyfish, and they both almost die from the stings.
- You Had Us Worried There: When Nemo jams the filter, the second time.
- You Say Tomato: According to Sandy Plankton a boat is called a "butt."
- Nemo's friends could simply have been misquoting him.
- ↑ The romantic undertones are probably strongest in this scene.