Inside Out

Inciting Event: As the little girl Riley is moving from Minnesota to a new house in San Francisco, Sadness (one of the emotions in her head) touches a joyous memory and somehow turns it sad. Joy—the chief emotion—panics and convinces Sadness to move back where she can’t have any effect on Riley. This does a great job of introducing the conflict on a number of levels: Riley’s discomfort with the changes in her life is the main conflict in the “outer” story; Joy’s conflict with Sadness is the main interpersonal conflict; and Sadness’s ability to affect established memory’s becomes a catalyst throughout the plot.

First Plot Point: After Sadness touches a core memory, all of the core memories fall out of their slots. Joy scrambles to reclaim them—but she, Sadness, and all the core memories are sucked out of the command center and marooned in the wilds of Riley’s brain. This is an obvious and literal departure from the Normal World of the First Act and an entrance into the adventure world of the Second Act’s journey.

First Pinch Point: After meeting Riley’s old imaginary friend Bing Bong, Joy and Sadness follow his lead to the Train of Thought—which they believe will be able to return them to the command center. However, thanks to Bing Bong’s unreliability they miss the train.

Midpoint: Sadness comforts Bing Bong—which shocks Joy, who then comes to her Moment of Truth, in which she realizes Sadness is actually important and can be helpful in making people feel better. This is also a physical turning point as the three of them board the train and start making progress toward the command center.

Second Pinch Point: While trying to wake Riley up (so the Train of Thought can keep moving), Joy loses Bing Bong and the core memories into the prison of the Subconscious. She and Sadness follow Bing Bong there, rescue him from the scary clown, and escape.

Third Plot Point: Without her core memories to anchor her personality, Riley decides to run away to Minnesota. Meanwhile, Joy fails in her desperate attempt to return, alone, to the command center. Instead, she and Bing Bong end up in the memory dump, where Bing Bong begins to fade into forgetfulness.

Climax: Joy escapes the dump, thanks to Bing Bong’s decision to sacrifice himself and stay behind to be forgotten. She and Sadness rush back to the command center to restore the core memories and convince Riley to return home.

Climactic Moment: After Riley returns to her parents, Joy and Sadness work together to create a new core memory.

Resolution: Joy has the tech team install a new dashboard that will allow all the emotions to work together. Riley joins the hockey team.

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