A tightly-knit group, the Riveras are humble people who collectively run the Rivera Family Shoemakers line. Unfortunately, they are known in their home as being the only family who despises music in an otherwise musical town, due to a family tiff that happened between the family's former matriarch Imelda and her husband Héctor back in the past. Since then, the family has only grown and still carries the taboo on music. Nowadays, Elena (currently known as Abuelita) acts as Imelda's successor and upholds her maternal grandmother's rules, notably no music, with passion.
In the present day, Miguel learns and reveals to his family, living and deceased, that Héctor had every intention of returning to Imelda and Coco, but was tragically murdered on his way back by his friend Ernesto de la Cruz. With Miguel's findings and Mama Coco's evidence, the family finally forgives Héctor, and the ban on music is lifted. As a result, Héctor's reputation is restored, and his family welcomes him back into the clan. Following these events, some of the Riveras start pursuing music themselves.
Their family motto was "A Rivera is A shoemaker... through and through"
In earlier drafts, the deceased Riveras were cursed in the Land of the Dead to sing strangely whenever they open their mouths as a result of hating music in their lifetime. They originally saw Héctor's guitar as a source of their curse. They were originally more relentless as they would go to great lengths to pursue Miguel in order to break Héctor's guitar in order to break that curse. When the film was originally to be a musical like Disney's style, the Riveras would originally perform a pointless musical number to educate Miguel on Día de Los Muertos which contradicts their nature as a music-hating family.
- Main article: Imelda
- Main article: Héctor
Óscar and Felipe (Herbert Siguenza), also known as Tío Óscar and Tío Felipe, were the younger twin brothers of Imelda, the brothers-in-law of Héctor and are Miguel's great-great-great-uncles. They were very close to each other, to the point they finished each other's sentences, and even died at the same time. During the battle against Ernesto's security, Felipe uses his brother's arms as nunchucks whilst Oscar headbutts his opponents.
- Main article: Mamá Coco
Julio (Alfonso Arau), also known as Papá Julio, was the husband of Mamá Coco, and the father of Elena and Victoria. He gets very frantic easily, but he has his family's best interests at heart. Due to her advancing age, Coco tends to mistake her great-grandson Miguel for Julio. Despite being the shortest and easily unnerved member of the family, he is brave when it counts as he was the first to charge into battle against Ernesto's security guards. Though he enjoyed music when he was younger, he loved Coco enough to give it up and join her family.
Rosita (Selene Luna), also known as Tía Rosita, was the sister of Julio and Coco's sister-in-law. She is the heftiest of the deceased Rivera clan and also the kindest and sweetest, as her first reaction to seeing Miguel as a spirit is to run up to him (accidentally shattering and scattering her brother in the process) and give him a big hug rather than react with panic, shock or confusion. She wears pink flowers in her hair, which she hides her face in when Miguel asks for her blessing in defiance of Imelda. Her picture on the ofrenda is surmounted by a plate of cakes, suggesting she was a big eater and loved sweet things when she was alive. Rosita and her niece Victoria are both astounded when they see Imelda singing onstage and later help expose Ernesto de la Cruz's villainy to the Land of the Dead; Rosita angles a nearby camera on him and signals Victoria to switch it on.
- Main article: Abuelita (Coco)
Victoria (Dyana Ortellí), also known as Tía Victoria, was the first-born daughter of Coco and Julio, and the older sister of Elena, whom she predeceased apparently by a significant margin. She is one of the taller members of the family and is very composed and severe, in contrast to her more outgoing aunt Rosita. She is shown to be intelligent, analytical and logical as she is the first to realize that Miguel is not quite dead and also deduces that he must have something to do with Imelda being unable to cross over. When Miguel asks her for her blessing, in contrast to her other family's terrified reactions (as they do not want to cross Imelda) she just shakes her head. She and Rosita are both surprised when they see Imelda singing onstage and later help expose Ernesto de la Cruz's villainy to the Land of the Dead; Victoria switches on a camera that Rosita has angled on him to broadcast his rants against the family.
Franco Rivera (Roberto Donati) is the husband of Abuelita, the grandfather of Miguel, and the father of Berto, Gloria, and Enrique. Unlike his wife, Franco is relaxing and calm; he is the one who can keep Abuelita's temper in check. Like Julio before him, he willingly gave up music to marry his wife and become part of her family.
Gloria Rivera (Carla Medina) also known as Tía Gloria, is the daughter of Elena and Franco, and the sister of Berto and Enrique. Unlike her brothers, Gloria never married or had children. However, she is still very close to her family and treats her nieces and nephews like they were her own. Gloria is seen manning the front of the shop and selling shoes to customers, though she likely knows how to make them as well.
- Main article: Enrique Rivera
- Main article: Luisa Rivera
- Main article: Miguel Rivera
Socorro Rivera is the second child of Enrique and Luisa, and the younger sister of Miguel. She was born sometime after Mamá Coco passed away, so she was named in honor of her paternal great-grandmother.
Berto Rivera (Luis Valdez), also known as Tío Berto, is the first son of Franco and Abuelita, and the brother of Gloria and Enrique. He is married to Carmen, and the father of Abel, Rosa, Benny and Manny. He and Abel spend the entire night of Dia de Los Muertos searching for Miguel, falling asleep together on a bench and springing awake in shock when Miguel runs past them, accidentally knocking his son over in the process.
Carmen Rivera, also known as Tía Carmen, is the wife of Berto and the mother of Abel, Rosa, Benny, and Manny. Though not a Rivera by birth or blood, she is just as devoted to the clan as the others and gasps in utter shock when Miguel says he does not care about ending up on "some stupid ofrenda." At the end of the film, she happily dances and claps to Miguel's music and also warmly pets Pepita in her cat form.
Abel Rivera (Polo Rojas), also known as Primo Abel, is the oldest son of Berto and Carmen. He is 19 years old. Although he is the tallest among the current Riveras and the oldest among their latest generation, Abel has a goofy, humorous demeanour and enjoys fútbol (soccer). He is a good shoemaker, but his tendency to get easily distracted whilst buffing shoes means they often end up flying up and embedding in the ceiling. Like his sister Rosa, he teases Miguel for his love for music. At the end of the film, he learns to play the accordion.
Rosa Rivera (Montse Hernandez), also known as Prima Rosa is the only daughter and middle child of Berto and Carmen, the younger sister of Abel, and the older sister of Benny and Manny. She is around 13 or 14 years old. Rosa is an adventurous girl, and acts stern towards her little brothers and cousins (including Miguel). Like her brother Abel, she teases Miguel for his love for music. At the end of the film, she learns to play the violin.
Benny and Manny, also known as Primos Benny and Manny are the twin sons of Berto and Carmen, and the younger brothers of Abel and Rosa. Before Socorro's birth, they were the youngest members of the Rivera family.
Six Unknown Riveras are people who never appear nor are they mentioned in the movie, but their photographs appear in the ofrenda (meaning they may have died before the movie's inception), it is not known why their quark appear and the six never appear physically.
Role in the film
The Rivera family is introduced as a prosperous family business with a strong prohibition of music. The only members who still like music are Coco, the eldest member of the family, and her great-grandson, Miguel. At Mariachi Plaza, Miguel shines a mariachi's shoes who tells him about a talent show tonight as Abuelita, Berto, and Rosa confront them and Miguel is later taken home after Abuelita scares off the mariachi. Scolded by his parents (and teased by his elder cousins), he taken to the family ofrenda as preparations for Dia de Los Muertos. After sneaking away from his grandmother's lectures, Miguel hides in a secret attic where he finishes a makeshift guitar and listens to de la Cruz on a recording, which inspires him to perform in the talent show. He tries to sneak out of the family residence, but after close calls, his parents and Abuelita have decided to promote him from shining shoes to making them. He is deeply dismayed as this means his hidden musical activities will be nearly obsolete. When Dante knocks Imelda's photo off the ofrenda, Miguel sees that his great-great-grandfather had the same guitar as Ernesto and comes to the conclusion the late musician is the infamous ancestor. He reveals this to the family, and they are disappointed with his secret involvement with music. Miguel tries to explain what he found out, but they refuse to support and listen to him. This causes him to angrily lash out saying that he does not care about ending up on "some stupid "ofrenda", making them all gasp in horror at such words. Abuelita, determined to prevent him from following the same path as his great-great grandfather, then smashes Miguel's painstakingly crafted guitar despite the boy's pleas, shocking Miguel and even the other Riveras who think she's gone too far. With his dream crushed and fed up with his family's refusal to support his passion for music, Miguel runs away into the night, leaving his frantic relatives desperately searching for him all night. Unbeknownst to the living Riveras, Miguel is turned into a spirit and finds out he is unable to commune with them. Following Dante, Miguel runs into a trio of skeletons. They turn out to be his late relatives; his great-grandfather Julio and great-aunts, Rosita and Victoria. They are stunned he is on the same plane of existence as they are before Imelda's twin brothers, Felipe and Oscar, catch up and inform Imelda could not cross. To solve these problems, the deceased Riveras take Miguel to the Land of the Dead, a realm where the dead reside.
At the Department of Family Grievances, the family finds Imelda angrily accosting a clerk for her inability to cross, blaming misinformation on the part of the latter's desktop computer. She is shocked to see one of her living descendants in her presence before another clerk comes in. He then explains that Miguel has a curse because he stole from the departed on the night it was to do the opposite to the latter. Imelda is outraged with the trouble Miguel is in, which then turns to horror when she learns he has her photo that he took off the ofrenda. Fortunately, the clerk reveals that "since it's family a matter" the way to lift Miguel's curse is for him to get a relative's blessing. But he also warns that it must be done before the sunrise or else Miguel's life will be taken; which Julio points out is beginning on his great-grandson's finger. Miguel takes a petal with Imelda's blessing and is returned to life in the exact place he was before cursed. Despite this, he quickly goes back when trying to take the guitar which broke the condition on Imelda's blessing to never do anything out of music, much to her chagrin. He tries to ask one from Julio, but the old man cowers under his shirt. Rosita fearfully refuses by hiding under her hair bun while Felipe and Oscar hide behind each other and Victoria follows by stoically shaking her head.
Imelda tries to tenderly reason with Miguel to go home on her requests, not wanting him to end up like her husband. Miguel then gets an idea and sneaks off to find his great-great-grandfather, who he still assumes is Ernesto de la Cruz. After Miguel overhears Héctor, state to a corrections officer that he knows Ernesto, Miguel takes Héctor's aid (and arm) and bolts through the exit as Imelda catches sight of him. By the time the late family members are able to push through the revolving door, Miguel is out of sight in the Land of the Dead. Imelda then summons her spirit guide, Pepita, to track him down.
The past Riveras then locate Miguel, Héctor, and Dante at Plaza de la Cruz where the talent show is hosted. While Miguel performs the musical number "Un Poco Loco" with Héctor, the past Rivera family members arrive and ask several audience members to know if they saw him. Miguel notices his aunts and uncles in the crowd after finishing the performance. He drags Héctor offstage as the hostess announces the search party for him after Julio alerted her thus blowing his cover.
Héctor then realizes Miguel has other relatives besides Ernesto and scolds him for lying and leaving his family. Not wanting to miss his one opportunity to cross the Marigold Bridge, Héctor tries to bring Miguel to his folks, but Miguel distracts him by discarding his photo and runs off to find de la Cruz on his own.
Imelda, with the help of Dante and Pepita, manages to trace Miguel to a cenote with a sheepish Héctor, both having discovered the truth behind their heritage. Riding Pepita (Héctor clinging on her tail for dear life), Dante assumes his alebrije form as Miguel proclaims he's a spirit guide. Landing, Miguel embraces his ancestors, who are joyful he's safe. Imelda, after hugging Miguel, angrily chews out Héctor, believing he preyed on Miguel's desires and endangered him in the first place. Miguel defends him, taking the blame that Héctor tried to get him to return, but he did not listen. Finally understanding the importance in family, Miguel is ready to take Imelda's conditions to return home if he's allowed to retrieve Héctor's confiscated photo from Ernesto, explaining that Héctor did not return because he was murdered by Ernesto just for his songs. Imelda is shocked at this but is still bitter until her husband comes closer to being forgotten due to Coco's decreasing memory. Not able to hate him enough for this to happen, she finally relents, and the entire deceased family comes up with a plan.
Arriving at the coliseum, Miguel and his late family get backstage thanks to the real Frida Kahlo. They run into Ernesto, who Imelda slaps with her boots for his murderous actions on her family. The cowardly musician flees at the sight of the family ganging up on him, calling his security guards to keep them from getting the photo. After Imelda sings her favorite, "La Llorona," when ending up on stage and secures the photo, she tries to give Miguel a new blessing (now revitalized with her former love of music) to never forget his family's love for him. Suddenly, Ernesto kidnaps Miguel and attempts to kill him, desperate to keep up his reputation in both in the living and dead. While the family pleads for him to show mercy, Rosita angles a nearby camera on Ernesto and signals Victoria to switch it on to broadcast his rants against the Riveras. As this goes on, Miguel voices his newfound hatred towards his former idol for murdering his great-great-grandfather and stealing his music, nearly tearing his family apart. Ernesto does not care, willing to do whatever it takes to be and remain famous. He tosses the child to his death and returns to the stage, expecting the audience to be welcoming him. However, the crowd is disgusted and outraged with his murderous crimes on the Riveras.
In this time, Pepita saves Miguel from death. The family embraces while Pepita goes to execute punishment on Ernesto de la Cruz for everything his actions had put them through when he murdered Héctor. Unfortunately, Miguel had lost the photo in his fall, and Héctor slowly fades as sunrise nears. His great-great-grandparents give him their blessing with no conditions included.
Awaking, Miguel takes his great-great-grandfather's guitar and races back home to help him and Coco before it's too late. The rest of the family is alerted by the Miguel rushing home, and find Miguel attempting to help Coco remember. Miguel sings "Remember Me" to Coco, and she comes to her senses. While confused, the living Riveras are touched by the loving song from their disgraced ancestor. Lucid, Coco shows letters Héctor wrote her when she was little and the torn piece of the family photo that has his face before telling more about him.
One year later, by the next Dia de Los Muertos, Ernesto's legacy is destroyed for his crimes on the Riveras, who now appreciate Héctor and inherit his guitar while spreading Héctor's legacy. Finally able to cross the Marigold Bridge, Héctor is accepted back into the clan and reunited with his daughter Coco (now deceased and the namesake of Miguel's new baby sister, Sorocco). Miguel, Abel, and Rosa play "Proud Corazon" for their family (living and deceased), celebrating having music back in the household and displaying their familial love for one another as the film ends.
- Underneath the paintings of Júlio, Oscar and Felipe are five paintings of six unknown people (two people in one of the paintings), it is likely that they are other deceased Riveras and if this is true, it is unknown why they never appear in the movie (it is likely that they do not choose to visit the living).
- Abel is the only Rivera of the last generation who is already an adult.
- Gloria's voice actress, Carla Medina, also voiced the Departures Agent in both English and Spanish, a minor character who only allows skeletons to cross the bridge if their photos are placed on their ofrendas in the living world.
- Unkrich, Lee (December 1, 2017). "They passed away at the same time. (reply to @ShortgameLLC Thanks for answering! Not to dig too deep, but should we assume Oscar/Felipe died of the same accident/illness?They both look the same age)" (Tweet). Twitter.
- Unkrich, Lee (December 15,2017). "Rosa is 13 or 14. Abel is 19. #AskAboutPixarCoco". Twitter.