The Scientifically Accurate Version of “Finding Nemo” Would Have Been a VERY Different Movie

Let's just say that if Disney had chosen to stick to the marine science, the film would have been pretty freaky.

The-Scientifically-Accurate-Version-of-“Finding-Nemo”-Would-Have-Been-a-VERY-Different-Movie-via-movies.disney.comvia movies.disney.comFinding Nemo is one of Disney•Pixar’s most beloved films, winning the 2004 Academy Award for Best Animated Film and inspiring a wildly successful sequel. In case you need a refresher, Nemo is the story of Marlin, a nervous clownfish and single dad who overcomes his fear of the ocean when his only son, Nemo, is kidnapped (fish-napped?) by scuba divers. Marlin pretty much becomes a super-dad, tangling with sharks and jellyfish and eventually, well, finding Nemo. It’s the story of a father’s love for his son—so sweet, in fact, that it made our list of best movies to watch with Dad. But marine biologists have revealed that, if the film’s scenario had really happened under the sea, things would have gone a little differently. OK, a lot differently.

In classic Disney fashion, Finding Nemo kills off a parent pretty much immediately. Nemo‘s opening scene reveals that Nemo’s mom, Coral, was killed by a barracuda. In the film, this just makes Marlin that much more protective of his son. But if it had really happened in the ocean…well…

Business Insider and a fish biologist from The Fisheries Blog have revealed some surprising information about clownfish biology. Basically, female clownfish are bigger than males, so clownfish families have an alpha female. Male clownfish tend to look after the eggs, while the females will fight off predators.

But what really makes it wacky is the fact that clownfish can, and do, change gender pretty easily. If the dominant female in a clownfish pair died, say, after being eaten by a barracuda, the dominant male would actually change genders, becoming the new dominant female. So, after Coral’s death, Marlin should have become Nemo’s mom instead of his dad. But wait—it gets even weirder.

If this male-to-female transition happens to a clownfish, the next-largest clownfish will then become the dominant male and the new female’s mate. In Finding Nemo, there’s only one other clownfish… Nemo. Ummmm… awkward! Here’s how another Disney mega-hit, Frozen, was almost a massive failure, despite its massive success leading to another sequel.

In this case, we’re definitely OK with a little scientific inaccuracy. We’re also glad The Lion King didn’t use this terrifying alternate ending inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a word nerd who has been writing for since 2017. You can find her byline on pieces about grammar, fun facts, the meanings of various head-scratching words and phrases, and more. Meghan graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2017; her creative nonfiction piece “Anticipation” was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Angles literary magazine.