Dory is the deuteragonist in Disney/Pixar's 2003 computer-animated feature film Finding Nemo, and the titular protagonist in its 2016 sequel. She suffers from short-term memory-loss and is a bit ditzy.
Throughout the vast ocean, you will not find a fish more hospitable, more friendly, and more sociable than Dory. She would love to chat with you all day and tell you her life story... but she can't. Dory suffers from short-term memory loss. Dory is the aquatic Good Samaritan who offers to help Marlin on his journey to find his son. She is certainly an odd partner for such a quest, but her optimism proves an invaluable quality to help overcome the impossible. To Dory, the glass is always half-full.
Dory is a very optimistic and kind, but ditzy and forgetful fish. This is because she suffers from short term memory loss. However, she has a heart of gold, and was willing to go full lengths to help Marlin find his son (even though she can never remember his name).
After hearing about Marlin and how his son was captured by divers, she was willing to accompany and help him. She was always supportive and helpful to him throughout the journey, though her short-term memory loss and playful personality could sometimes cause Marlin to lose his patience with her. She can be very talkative and loved to play games throughout her and Marlin's journey, taking detours and getting easily distracted. She can also be sometimes naive and oblivious, as shown when she did not realize the danger of going to a Sharks only club and when a Marlin was fighting with an Anglerfish and seemed oblivious to Marlin's struggle (insisting he helps move the light closer to her so she could read the address on the diver's goggles).
She is also very friendly, fun, and warm-hearted, earning her fast friends. Her kindness was shown as she continued to accompany Marlin on his journey despite his lack of patience with her and his sometimes harsh comments. She developed such a close relationship with Marlin that her short term memory loss seemed to have improved, as she herself states "Please don't leave me. No one has ever stayed with me this long and when I look at you, I remember stuff better." The two remained close by the end of the film.
Despite her ditzy personality, Dory has shown to be somewhat intelligent, as she was capable of reading "human" (English and possibly other languages) and even communicate with whales. She also helped Marlin realize that he needed to give Nemo more freedom to grow up and become his own person and experience life. Dory also possesses something of a ruthless side, while trying to get information from a crab she threatens to feed him to seagulls if he didn't tell her and Nemo what they wanted to know.
Dory has shown to have separation anxiety, as she begs Marlin not to leave her after they return to the sea by Nigel's mouth. She cries, telling him that no one has ever stuck with her so long before. She shows it again in Finding Dory when she gets lost from the school group for a brief minute, and again when she remembers her family, swimming away from Marlin and Nemo and then slightly panicking as she can't find them before hearing Marlin's voice and swimming back. She shows it again after being separated from them later, and then again after she is told her parents are dead and washed down the drain. She shows it one last time on the reef, getting nervous as she finds herself alone before remembering the game.
Dory is a round-shaped Regal Blue Tang with yellow on her fins and tail. She has magenta eyes, black spots, and a small but brightly colored dorsal fin. She has several dark blue freckles on and above her nose, slightly darker eyelids, and like both, her parents has flat teeth.
Dory helps Marlin on his journey to rescue his son Nemo while heading to Sydney. She suffers from short-term memory loss. The friendly female can read and is very happy to have a companion. Marlin takes advantage of her short attention span, but he later regrets it when it physically hurts her. Dory never remembers Nemo's name. However, she does care about the little fish.
Additionally, Dory comforts everybody she sees. The words "There, there. It's all right. It'll be okay" are used by Dory twice in the movie. Once when she first met Marlin, because she thought his head was hurting and again in the whale when Marlin was worried about Nemo. That being said, nearly at the end of the movie, after Nigel puts Marlin and Dory back in the ocean, a depressed Marlin barely kept his distance from Dory when she swam to him. After Dory had tried so hard to comfort him, Marlin states that if Dory never took care of him along the way, he never would have even made it to Sydney.
Despite her sunny outlook and demeanor, there is some tragedy to Dory. Because of her short term memory loss, there's no telling how many life experiences have eluded her, or how many loved ones she lost that she couldn't remember. When she starts traveling with Marlin, her memory starts improving, as indicated when she can repeat the address 'P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney'. When Marlin thinks that Nemo is dead, and starts to go home, Dory doesn't want him to leave, because she is afraid that if she can no longer see him, then she'll forget everything and with Marlin, she is home. This fear is founded, as when the hopeless Marlin leaves her, not a few minutes afterward her entire adventure has been temporarily wiped clean from her mind.
After Marlin leaves, Dory meets Nemo, who had escaped alive and at first, she doesn't remember him, but when she sees the word Sydney again all her memory comes back, and she takes Nemo to his father. After finding help from some crabs although only by blackmail of feeding them to seagulls, Dory and Nemo find Marlin, resulting in a happy reunion between Nemo and Marlin that is cut short when Dory gets trapped with a school of fish in a fisherman's net. Nemo rushes to help a distressed Dory; they tell the other fish to swim down together, and they all manage to escape the net.
- “My family! I remember my family! They're out there somewhere! I have to find them!”
- ―Dory, suddenly remembering her parents
Dory is the main character in Finding Dory. In this movie, she does remember Nemo's name showing that her memory has improved.
The movie begins with a flashback of when she was a fry (baby fish) living with her parents Jenny and Charlie. They are shown to be kind and loving parents to their daughter, reminding her of what to say and playing hide and seek with her. After nearly getting swept up by the undertow, her parents try to remind her to stay away from it with a silly rhyme, but she doesn't say it correctly. She sadly admits she forgot again and expresses her concern of forgetting her parents and them forgetting her. Her parents lovingly promise to never forget her.
In the next scene, baby Dory is suddenly stranded in the ocean by herself with no explanation of what happened. Two fish try to help her, but before they can, little Dory forgets again and swims off. She spends years searching for her family, trying desperately to remember. As she is asking a group of fish if they can help her a boat zips above her head (Phillip's boat from Finding Nemo) making the fish swim away. She then smacks into Marlin, and the adventure of Finding Nemo begins.
One year after Nemo's rescue, Dory is the next door neighbor to Marlin and Nemo, living in a purple coral bowl, similar to her original home. As she awakes in the middle of the night she continues to wake up the duo and sting herself on the anemone until Marlin gives up and gets up for the day.
As Marlin and Dory swim Nemo to school, she goes on the field trip with Nemo's class (to Mr. Ray's annoyance) to the stingray migration. As she is admiring the stingrays, the word "undertow" makes her stop and think, causing her to swim into the undertow and go unconscious, but not before having a flashback of being in a dark place as her parents call her. She awakens, mumbling "the Jewel of Morro Bay, California". It takes her a moment to remember but she suddenly remembers her family and becomes hysterical, shrieking they have to find her parents as she swims to the drop-off. Marlin refuses to go at first until Dory asks him if he's ever missed his family, which brings up memories of Nemo's capture. He begrudgingly takes Dory and his son with him as they go to see Crush and ride the current to California. When she starts searching around, Dory remembers being a baby searching for her family in a heavily polluted area, and accidentally awakens a giant squid, getting herself stuck in a six-ring plastic and nearly getting Nemo eaten. She expresses heavy concern for the little fish but is shooed away by Marlin. She goes to find help, and hears the voice of an intercom (she thinks it's a fish) but when she swims to the surface she is seen by a group of rescue workers and taken from the water because of the plastic on her fins, scaring her, Marlin, and Nemo.
She ends up in the Marine Life Institute quarantine area, and meets a seven-legged octopus named Hank, who tries to fool her into giving him her tag so he can go to a permanent aquarium instead of being released into the ocean again, but she manages to get him to help her by promising her tag after she finds her parents. He puts her in a coffee pot filled with water and brings her to the big map on the bulletin. As she looks at the map, she notices a purple shell on the map, bringing back a flashback of her baby self collecting shells for her parents as they teach her to follow the shell path home if she gets lost and her mother asking her to find her a purple shell, as they are her favorite. But she takes too long and nearly gets Hank caught, causing him to hide in the power room. As she looks at a bucket marked "Destiny" she believes it is fate, and despite Hank's warnings, jumps into it, not realizing it is a feeding bucket for the whale shark Destiny. She is tossed into the pool and instantly makes friends with Destiny, complementing her on her swimming. When Dory speaks whale to her, Destiny tells Dory how they were friends as kids, and talked through the pipes of their exhibits, Dory's being Open Ocean. Dory also meets Destiny's neighbor, Bailey, a beluga whale who believes he can't echolocate. As the three talk, Hank jumps into the pool and demands Dory's tag after she tells him she's not comfortable traveling through the pipes as she will get lost but Dory convinces him to get her to Open Ocean after recalling a flashback of wanting to give up after being too small to retrieve a shell, but her father telling her there is always another way of getting the shell for her. They ride in a baby stroller, but as she gets distracted, she gets Hank lost and the two end up getting stuck in the Touch Pool. As the two hide under a rock she recalls yet another flashback, this time of her parents teaching her the song "Just Keep Swimming" and manages to get Hank and herself out of the Touch Pool.
Hank finally gets her to Open Ocean in a cup, and she happily gives him her tag before swimming down and finding her childhood home, recalling memories of playing with her family, talking with Destiny through the pipes, and collecting shells. However, she notices the home is empty, and as she looks around she notices a large pipe filtering out bad things from the giant tank. As she gets close to it she suddenly recalls the memory of how she got lost. She was in bed when she heard her mother crying about how scared she is for Dory to face the real world. Not wanting to see her mother upset, she spots a purple shell and goes to fetch it. But as she goes to get it, her parents cry out for her and nearly reach her when she is pulled by the undertow and is sucked away into a pipe connected to the ocean. As the flashback ends she becomes distraught, realizing it was her fault she got lost. As she laments, two crabs tell her that all the Blue Tang's are in quarantine ready to be shipped out to Cleveland. Realizing the only way to get there without Hank is through the same pipe she was sucked away in, she desperately tries to remember the directions, but gets lost. She calls out for Destiny, and with Bailey's help, she reunites with Marlin and Nemo and swims towards quarantine.
Upon getting to quarantine, she gets Hank's help of getting to the Blue Tang tank where she excitedly calls out for her parents. The tangs are all shocked she's alive, and gently tell her that her parents went looking for her years ago and never returned, presumed dead. She becomes unresponsive, her vision gets blurry, and she tells herself she doesn't have a family. Hank rescues her before she can get loaded on the truck, but doesn't get to Nemo and Marlin. As he tries to get her to safety a worker grabs him, making him drop her glass beaker on the floor, where she slides into an ocean drain.
Once again lost in the ocean, she desperately tries to remember why she is there, but her memory is blank. Her parents, her friends, her journey are all gone. After failing to get help, she begins to cry before trying to pull herself together and trying to figure herself out. She spots a white shell in the sand and remembering her parent's words to follow the shells she follows the path of shells to a tire, where several upon several paths of shells go to. As she admires them, she sees two fish in the distance carrying shells. Trying to introduce herself, the fish are her ecstatic parents, who tackle her and hug her, reuniting with their daughter after so long. Dory, remembering her parents once again, cries to them, begging them to forgive her, to which they tell her not to, as she found them just like they showed her how to. As they ask if she was alone all these years, she suddenly remembers Marlin and Nemo and knows she needs to rescue them.
With Destiny and Bailey's help, (after they jump the walls of their exhibits) they find the truck, and Dory uses otters to stop traffic so she can get into the truck. Marlin and Nemo are saved by Becky, but Dory takes too long to convince Hank to come with her and is trapped in the truck to her parents' horror. With Hank's help, they hijack the truck and manage to drive it into the ocean, freeing all the fish.
The epilogue shows Dory playing hide and seek with Marlin, Nemo, Bailey, Destiny, her parents, and the school kids. She remembers and manages to finish the game. After admiring Hank's teachings to the kids, she swims to the drop-off, followed by an anxious Marlin. She looks over the drop off, admiring the view, and Marlin finally relaxes against the drop off, telling her she did it, she found her parents, sparking one last flashback of when she was a baby and her parents proudly praising her for following the shells all the way back home to the coral, allowing her to play with the other children as she swims off happily. Back to her own mindset, she smiles, feeling accomplished and satisfied as she deems the view and her memories "unforgettable".
Dory appears in the submarine ride in Disneyland. In the ride, riders enter the world of Finding Nemo and experience Dory and friends in their own home.
Dory occasionally cameos in the interactive show, mainly to give Guests a special treat.
- One of Dory's lines in the film, "What'cha doin'?", is made famous later by the character Isabella Garcia-Shapiro in the 2007 Disney Channel Original Series, Phineas and Ferb.
- According to director Andrew Stanton on the audio commentary for the Finding Nemo DVD, in the original story Dory was going to be a male character, but when Stanton went home to write the script his wife was watching The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and when he heard DeGeneres' voice he decided to change Dory to a female and cast her in the role, to which she accepted.
- Dory has made cameos in several of Boom! Studios' Disney comics including The Incredibles, where she appears in an underwater scene, and Darkwing Duck (on the last page of issue 7), where she and other Disney sea creatures react in fear to the return of the villainous Paddywhack.
- On the Disney website, they mistakenly refer to Dory as a Yellowtail Tang. Although she does have a yellow tail, this is a different species of fish.
- Her species is known by several common names, including, regal tang, palette surgeonfish, blue tang, royal blue tang, hippo tang, flagtail surgeonfish, Pacific regal blue tang, and blue surgeonfish.
- The nicknames Dory gave to Nemo (in order of appearance) are Chico, Fabio, Bingo, Harpo, and Elmo. The first four are a reference to the Marx Brothers (excluding Groucho), while the fifth is a reference to the red Muppet monster from the children's puppet show Sesame Street.
- Many people think that goldfish have poor short term memories. Even though she's not a goldfish, this point might be linked to her amnesia-like condition.
- In Finding Nemo: The Musical, Dory wears mismatched socks.
- Dory is the third female protagonist in a Pixar movie, the first being Merida from Brave and the second being Joy from Inside Out. She will be followed by Helen Parr in Incredibles 2.