- “But the really important ones are here. I don't want to get too technical, but these are called Core Memories. Each one came from a super important moment in Riley's life, like when she first scored a goal. That was so amazing! And each core memory powers a different aspect of Riley's personality. Like Hockey Island.”
- ―Joy, opening narration
Core Memories are a special type of memory from the Disney/Pixar film Inside Out. These memories are created when a person experiences a certain event that defines one of their behavioral traits. When a core memory is created, it creates an Island of Personality, which is activated whenever the person does something related to that trait. Unlike regular memories, core memories are stored in a special container in the center of Headquarters from which they emit a beam of light to their respective island.
Riley's Original Core Memories
Riley's five original core memories represented the following events:
- The first time she scored a goal at hockey; powered Hockey Island.
- One time she broke a plate and had the honesty of confessing it; powered Honesty Island.
- One time she played with her best friend Meg; powered Friendship Island.
- One time she ran around naked in her house; powered Goofball Island.
- One time she made cookies with her parents; powered Family Island.
All five original core memories were joyful and were formed when Riley was very young. When Riley moved to San Fransisco the core memories started to become unstable. When Sadness got near the core memory holder, it caused the goofball core memory to fall out. And when Sadness would try to touch them, they would start to turn blue.
Riley's Personality Change
A new core memory was created the day after Riley moved to San Francisco. It represented the moment she cried in class over her old home she missed. Joy prevented this memory from being used, fighting with Sadness to keep it out of the core memory holder. All five core memories ended up being lost in this fight when they were ejected out of Headquarters along with Joy and Sadness.
With the core Memories out of their holder, the Islands of Personality began to fall into the Memory Dump one by one. Joy kept the core memories close at hand to prevent Sadness from turning them sad.
When the two returned to Headquarters, Joy had learned to let Sadness take control of Riley and gave her all of the happy core memories. Once Sadness had turned the core memories sad, Joy gave her the sad core memory.
Riley's New Core Memories
When Joy gave Sadness the sad core memory, she decided to take Joy's hand and place it on the console underneath her hand. This event created a new core memory which was both gold and blue; joyful and sad. This core memory created a new Family Island that was much larger than the original.
By the time Riley turned 12, Riley had created nine new core memories. Along with the new family core memory, other core memories include:
- One depicting Riley playing hockey. Both joyful and angry, it likely powers the new Hockey Island
- One powering a new Goofball Island
- One powering a new Honesty Island
- One powering a new Freindship Island
- One showing Riley reading a book. Both fearful and disgusted, it likely powers Tragic Vampire Romance Island
- One powering Fashion Island
- One powering Boyband Island
- One powering an unknown ninth island with a globe and beakers.