“Thank you, Joy. But I'll have you know I'm not scared of everything.”
Fear is a major character in the 2015Disney/Pixar film, Inside Out. He is a self-declared coward and one of the five emotions inside the mind of Riley Andersen. He appears to be unsure of himself, an emotion that matches his name.
Fear was created right after Sadness was born in Riley's mind. When Riley first encountered a plug, Fear came into being so that Riley learned to avoid the risk of tripping.
Fear's main job is to protect Riley and keep her safe. He is constantly on the lookout for potential disasters and spends time evaluating the possible dangers, pitfalls, and risk involved in Riley's everyday activities. There are very few activities and events that Fear does not find to be dangerous and possibly fatal.
Fear is, as his name states, literally the definition of being scared. He cares very much about Riley being safe and her well being. He is very concerned about the choices Riley makes in her life, mainly when she decided to run away back to Minnesota. Unlike the rest of the Emotions, he is perpetually worrisome, anxious and tense, since his job requires him to observe that Riley is well-suited in her current environment. Having to consider every possible thing that could endanger her also places stress on Fear; as a result, Fear himself has fear.
When the other emotions try to take a more dominant role, Fear tends to be the voice of reason to convince them not to go through with potentially risky decisions. Out of desire to avoid danger, he has a pacifist role in the group, wanting to make sure Riley would respond properly to her parents without causing aggravation between them and Riley. However, Fear's uncertainty and cowardliness can also cause him to turn down decisions that would potentially help Riley.
Fear also has a tendency to be sarcastic, especially when he's on Dream Duty and he hates doing it. Surprisingly, despite being the very definition of being scared, he's not afraid of Riley's nightmares, going as far as to critique and view many of Riley's dreams and nightmares as "cheesy" and "lacking plot lines."
Fear appears in this film as one of the five emotions inside Riley Andersen's mind. He works at HQ with the other emotions. His position is to keep Riley safe. When Riley and her parents relocate to San Francisco, he, Anger and Disgust are upset about the shortcomings that came with the move, but Joy manages to have the bright side of the situation. When Joy and Sadness get lost in Riley's mind, along with the core memories (relevant memories that power up islands that represent Riley's personality), Fear proposes that he and the remaining emotions act like Joy until she returns. Unfortunately, this backfires as he, Anger and Disgust are unable to make Riley joyous due to their respective emotion representations and he and his friends unintentionally cause Riley to make decisions that lead to the Islands to fall into an abyss that erases memories.
Fear attempts to give up and exit headquarters, but the memories that he and the other emotions have produced prevent that from occurring. When Anger proposes influencing Riley to take a bus back to Minnesota since she was happier there, Fear talks him out of it. He handles dream duty (a job where an emotion watches a dream) where the actions of Joy, Sadness and Riley's imaginary friend, Bing Bong and Jangles the Clown, cause him to freak out, prompting Anger to put his plan into action. Fear nervously voices his disagreement with the idea, though he is too indecisive to stop Anger carrying it out and passively allows it to occur. However, Anger's plan causes the remaining Islands to crumble into the abyss.
Realizing their mistake, Fear and Anger then try to remove the idea from the control panel, but this proves to be impossible. When Joy and Sadness make it back to headquarters, Fear, Disgust, and Anger beg Joy to fix the crisis, but Joy lets Sadness fix it. With the disaster averted, Riley's life improves, with new Personality Islands made by the emotions and a bigger control console that the emotions use to control Riley.
According to Pete Docter, his appearance is based on a raw nerve.
In an early draft, it was Fear who was supposed to get lost with Joy in Riley's mind instead of Sadness, as the writers thought it would be funnier.
During development of the film, when the story of Joy and Fear getting lost was still going, Fear was originally called Freddie.
Fear's eyebrows are black instead of purple.
Fear is the only Emotion that can float.
The single strand of "hair" that sticks out from the back of his head will change depending on his current emotion. Normally, it will curl downwards behind his head. If he is concerned or afraid, it will form a zigzag shape. If he gets sad, it will keep its regular curl but droop downwards.
He treats being put on Dream Duty (monitoring Riley's dreams and waking her if they are too scary) as a chore and despises doing it. He is able to point out and predict many different dream tropes such as teeth falling out and going to school with no pants on, similar to someone watching a badly-written movie.
Besides Joy and Sadness, Fear seems to be the only other emotion to remember Bing Bong due to seeing him in the dream he was watching during his shift on Dream Duty.
However, in a collection of promotional shorts called Mind Candy, Anger is seen playing soccer with Bing Bong.
Fear is surprisingly the dominant Emotion of the Cool Girl, who fears about losing her popularity.
Many of Fear's scenes were improvised by his actor Bill Hader. For example, Bill was never scripted to act out slapstick when Fear tried "quitting" by intentionally getting sucked through a memory tube.