- “Do you ever look at someone and wonder, what is going on inside their head?”
- ― Joy's first lines in the movie.
Joy is the protagonist of the Disney/Pixar film Inside Out. She is one of the five emotions inside the mind of Riley Andersen. She always strives to remain joyful, hence her name, and is the leader of the emotions.
- Joy's goal has always been to make sure Riley stays happy. She is lighthearted, optimistic and determined to find the fun in every situation. Joy sees challenges in Riley's life as opportunities, and the less happy moments as hiccups on the way back to something great. As long as Riley is happy, so is Joy.
Joy is, as her name states, the very essence of happiness and perkiness and as such, she loves to look on the bright side of things. She is the oldest of all of the emotions. She values Riley's happiness to the point where she does not want any of the other emotions to influence Riley. She does not want Riley to be sad at all, even when she needs to be. Because of this, Joy is the least flexible and most controlling of the five emotions.
She treats Sadness as a problem that needs taking care of, because she does not understand why Sadness is a necessary emotion due to wanting Riley to be happy all the time. When Bing Bong lost his wagon and was grieving, she wanted him to not be sad when he had to be and tried doing childish and silly things to get him to stop without understanding that cheerfulness is not always what a sad person needs. She is not above lying, as she told Fear that earthquakes don't exist, when they really do.
When the islands were falling apart, there was an escape tube back to HQ, and when Sadness was about to go in, Joy pushed her out of the tube and left Sadness behind, because Sadness was influencing the core memories that Joy held, and Joy wanted Riley to be happy. She ends up falling into the Memory Dump when the escape tube falls apart.
During her time in the Memory Dump, Joy realized that Sadness is very important to Riley's life and that she went way overboard with keeping her happy. After reuniting with the other emotions, she decides to let them do their job and stop being so bossy all the time, since Riley needs all of them to function.
Joy appears in the film as one of the five emotions in Riley Andersen's mind, which she is the leader of the group.
When Riley was first born, Joy was the first ever emotion to be born. She then walked towards the control panel, which at the time consisted of only one button. The instant she pressed it, infant Riley began smiling. However, 33 seconds later, Riley began crying. Joy soon realizes that Sadness (the second emotion to come to Riley's mind) has arrived and has pressed the button. When Joy looks at her, Sadness introduces herself, and Joy awkwardly moves her aside to fix the situation.
She, Sadness and the other emotions, Anger, Disgust and Fear, control Riley through her thoughts and mind. Joy seems to want to keep Riley happy and joyful, and always has an important task for every emotion ― except Sadness, who Joy has no idea what she does.
Riley enjoys a happy, joyous life in Minnesota until Riley's father gets a brand new job in San Francisco, which causes Riley to become depressed and sentimental. To make things worse, everything has gone horribly wrong; the house is terrible, the food is weird, and the moving van will not arrive for another couple of days.
Joy sees that Riley is becoming sad, depressed and sentimental, and wants her to still be happy and jolly. So, she does all she can to keep her as cheerful and joyous as she was back in Minnesota.
On Riley's first day of school, her first impression is horrible, because during Riley's introduction, Sadness caused Riley to cry and made a sad core memory. Since Joy does not want Riley to be sad, she tries getting rid of it. Sadness tries to pull the memory back, but Joy fights her for it, and this causes the two to end up in Riley's Long Term Memory.
Joy decides to have Sadness navigate her back to Headquarters. They then run into Riley's old imaginary friend, Bing Bong, and Joy is more than happy to meet him, and the feeling is mutual. Rather than having Sadness guide her back, she decides to have Bing Bong be the navigator instead.
Bing Bong tells them that the Train of Thought is the quickest way to Headquarters, and that there is a station in Imagination Land. He takes them to a "shortcut", which turns out to be Abstract Thought, which is actually a dangerous place to go into. Sadness tries to warn them, but the others do not listen and go in anyway. Inside, they start losing their depth and complexity, but Sadness gets them out. Outside, they find Imagination Land, which is full of imaginative things Riley has dreamed of. They find out that Mind Workers are tearing it down, because Riley has lost her imagination.
The Forgetters then toss down Bing Bong's old wagon, which is the last thing he has of his fun with Riley, down the Memory Dump. Bing Bong falls into deep despair, so Joy tries to cheer him up by doing many childish things, but they do not help at all. Sadness decides to empathize with him, and lets him show his true feelings, which makes him better. Joy is shocked that Sadness made him feel better without cheering him up.
The trio then get on the train, but Riley falls asleep, causing the train to stop moving, so they go to Dream Productions to wake Riley up so they can get home faster. Joy and Bing Bong decide to meddle with Riley's dream, by making her dream happy, in hopes that it will wake her up (which clearly would not). Joy makes herself and Sadness dress up like a dog and play in Riley's dream, just as Bing Bong starts playing in it as well. Of course, this does not work at all. Bing Bong gets arrested and taken to the Subconscious.
Both Joy and Sadness go into the Subconscious to rescue Bing Bong, and meet Riley's worst fear, Jangles the Clown, who follows them back to Dream Productions, and he successfully wakes up Riley. The three then jump back onto the train.
On the way, the train gets destroyed, and Joy, Sadness and Bing Bong find out that Riley is running away. Joy and Sadness find an escape tube back to Headquarters and go inside, but Joy finds out that Sadness, being near the core memories, starts turning them sad, and pushes her out because "Riley needs to be happy", which really hurts Sadness' feelings. However, the tube breaks, and Joy falls into the Memory Dump.
Bing Bong attempts to save Joy, but also falls down into the chasm. Joy reminisces and cries about the happy moments that she remembers, stating "I just wanted Riley to be happy." She also sees one of the happy memories, and realizes it was made happy because Sadness helped Riley call for help, support and comfort.
After realizing the presence of Bing Bong's rocket, Joy becomes happy once again, and the duo start attempting to escape the pit. They try two times, and then Bing Bong realizes that the wagon is too heavy with the two of them in it. Deciding to sacrifice himself for Joy and Riley, he cheers Joy on, while stating his last words while he fades into oblivion - "Take her to the moon for me, okay?"
Joy finally arrives back up in Long Term Memory, and attempts to find Sadness. She then sees her flying on a cloud, and chases after her. She finds that Sadness is close to HQ, and flings herself to Sadness, and they finally arrive back home.
The others tell Joy to fix Riley's problem, but Joy gives that job to Sadness instead, because they need her to help Riley. Sadness successfully removes the idea of running away from Riley's mind, and Riley starts heading back home. Joy gives Sadness the core memories, and they turn into sad ones. Sadness makes Riley remember all of these memories one by one, and takes control of the panel, and Riley finally reveals her true feelings to her parents - she hates San Francisco, misses the good old days in Minnesota, and that she was pretending to be happy, and was afraid of making them mad because she has always been their "happy girl." Riley's parents admit they feel the same way, and a brand new core memory is made; it is a mix of happiness and sadness.
Riley's First Date?
Joy briefly returns in the short along with the other emotions.
- "These are Riley's memories, and they're mostly happy if you notice. Not to brag."
- "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."
- (Introducing Disgust) "This is Disgust, she basically keeps Riley from being poisoned. Physically and socially."
- (Introducing Anger) "That's Anger, he cares very deeply about things being fair."
- (Dancing) "I'm doing the happy dance! I'm not wearing any pants!"
- "Five second rule!"
- "Disgust, it's fine. It passed the five second rule."
- "It's a grape. It's not like we're eating broccoli...or boogers...or dog food."
- "Fear, I don't think you can handle it. It's a scary movie."
- (Gasp) "The song from the gum commercial!"
- "First day of school! Very, very exciting! I was up late last night, figuring out a new plan. Here it is!"
- (Talking to herself) "Joy!...Yes Joy?...You'll be in charge of the console, keeping Riley happy all day long. And may I add I love your dress. It's adorable...Oh, this old thing? Thank you so much. I love the way it twirls."
- "I love Imagination Land!"
- (To Rainbow Unicorn), "I loved you in Fairy Dream Adventure Seven".
- "Atta girl!"
- "This is the Circle of Sadness. Your job is to make sure all the sadness stays inside of it!"
- "Lead on, Mind Map!"
- According to Pete Docter, her appearance is based on that of a star.[source?]
- This can be seen in Abstract Thought, as during the fourth stage, Joy and Sadness were reduced to a single shape and color - Joy was a yellow star and Sadness was a blue teardrop.
- Joy is the second female protagonist in a Pixar movie, with the first being Merida from Brave.
- Joy is the first Pixar protagonist that lives within a human being.
- Joy is the seventh protagonist of Pixar who has blue eyes, the previous ones are Flik from A Bug's Life, Sulley from Monsters. Inc, Bob Parr from The Incredibles, Lighting McQueen from Cars, Carl Fredricksen from Up and Mérida from Brave.
- Originally her wardrobe consisted of blue overalls (and that can be seen in the early versions of the film in deleted scenes and conceptual art). But with the change of version and story, her wardrobe became a lime-colored summer dress.
- This is because the team sought to move away from stereotypical "feminine" interests, such as the color pink or the dresses, although in the final version those interests are used.
- Joy has a habit of talking to herself.
- Her favorite island is Goofball Island.
- Joy is the sixth Disney/Pixar protagonist to start off at odds with the deuteragonist (Sadness) of her feature film. She is preceded by Woody with Buzz in Toy Story, Marlin with Dory in Finding Nemo, Lightning McQueen with Mater in Cars, Carl Fredricksen with Russell in Up, and Mike with Sulley in Monsters University(which is a prequel to Monsters, Inc. and probably doesn't count since it's set before the first film). Joy would actually be number seven in line for that matter if Merida with her mother in Brave counts. Of course, while Merida is first seen as a child in her feature film, she is simply not off at odds with her mother then; only when she is a teenager. If Merida does not officially count, then Joy is the first Disney/Pixar female protagonist to start off at odds with the deuteragonist.
- There are several things that make Joy stand out from the other emotions:
- She is the only emotion not wearing shoes or pants.
- She is the only emotion that glows.
- She is the only emotion whose hair and eye color is not the same as her theme color.
- She is the most humanoid in appearance out of all the Emotions.
- She is also the only Emotion to have a name used by humans.
- This is because, during the development of the film, the Emotions were going to have human names. She is the only one of the Emotions that retain their human name.
- Joy is born out of pure light — no parents, no upbringing, she just appears, as all the other Emotions do, although they were unseen when doing so.
- Joy emits four light beams of different colors: blue, purple, white and gold, unlike other emotions, which emit only one. Interestingly, these colors are used as "good colors" worn by some characters in the Disney Classics.
- Joy's appearance takes inspiration from the famous actress Audrey Hepburn.
- In the trailer, Joy says, "Come on, group hug!", a reference to Anchor's quote from Finding Nemo