main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Fridge: Monsters University
Fridge Brilliance
  • When one thinks about it, Dean Hardscrabble is a foil to Waternoose from the first film. First off, how is she introduced? She's shown as a legendary scarer who's rooted in old ways, just like Waternoose. There's also a lovely closeup of her centipede legs, instantly making one think of the other arthropod-esque authority. Almost everything about her screams "This is the villain!" from her demonic design, to her cruel, antagonistic attitude. Waternoose, on the other hand, was set up as a warm, grandfatherly old man, and a trustworthy friend. His design also didn't stand out as overtly villainous in comparison to the other odd creatures in the monster world. Then when more of them is shown, Waternoose is still rooted in his beliefs, even as he betrays them to try and support his company. Hardscrabble, on the other hand, learns the error of her prejudices and prepares to change her ways for the betterment of her school. In the end, the warm, likable old man becomes hard and villainous, while the cold, cruel headmistress becomes friendlier and kinder without losing her dignity. This is even foreshadowed in the way the Dean makes her flying exits. When she enters a scene, it's in the cover of darkness, playing up her eeriness. But when she flies off, she's shrouded in light, implying she's not really quite as bad as she lets on.
  • A lot of Mike's behaviour in Monsters, Inc. can be this thanks to this prequel. Let's review, shall we?
    • His desperation in preserving his and Sulley's job. While it might have come off as rather selfish at first, think about what happened to him: he was expelled from his dream university, and suddenly all of his hard work meant nothing. Years later, he has clawed his way from the bottom up with his best friend, has his dream job working on the Scare Floor- and now all that is suddenly at risk because of a little kid. And Sulley, just like back in university when he was still a Jerk Jock, is being fairly laissez-faire about the situation.
    • His egotistical personality. After years of having his dreams and, therefore, his ego stomped on by everyone, finally becoming a resounding success gave him the chance to re-inflate it and then some.
    • His general attitude towards Randall, and their open antagonism towards each other. They used to be roommates in University- not just that, but friends and study buddies- until Randall dumped Mike to get in with the "cool kids" in ROR. It makes sense that he would only want to rub Randall's face in his and Sulley's overwhelming success. It also puts an interesting twist on how Sully always had a much more accepting (if slightly exasperated) reaction to Randall early on in the first film. It's not just that he's more welcoming than Mike (though that's almost certainly a large factor), it's that Randall was never anything more to him than some easily ignored jerk he met in college. To Mike, Randall was an old friend who betrayed him, which is much harder to forgive and forget, even as adults. Sulley, in turn, seems to be almost protective of Mike towards Randall (especially in Randall's introduction scene in Monsters, Inc.), which makes sense, as at the very least, he witnessed the moment Randall abandoned Mike.
    • Special mention goes to his interactions with Randall in the ScreamExtractor scene. He starts out being cheeky with the latter, then pleads with him, and only freaks out when he realises it's actually happening. While they're certainly not on good terms, he still does not expect Randall to actually harm him because they used to be good friends.
      • A lot of Randall's behaviour too, really, makes sense after the prequel. Part of the reason Randall is so angry about Sully beating him in Monsters, Inc. is, not just because he inadvertantly humiliated and showed him up during the Scare Games, but because he's being bested by someone who is essentially a college dropout. Plus, note that Randall only ever directly attacks Mike, but never Sulley. Before he tries to openly kill both, of course.
    • Also, in MI, a repeated joke is made out of Mike believing he is the main character. And why wouldn't he? He's been one before...
  • Sulley's behaviour in the first film makes more sense after watching MU. After failing to put Boo back, the very first thing he does is to grab her and run straight to Mike, regardless of his friend's current situation. Why? Because Mike is the one with the plans (as wacky as they may be) and Sulley is the reality check (look at the scene when Mike is going through various plans and Sulley shoots them all down). It's also interesting to see how they become an almost classic Straight Man and Wise Guy duo, as Sulley is the Straight Man to the rest of Oozma Kappa.
  • Why was Roz , a.k.a., Number 1, working in the paperwork office in MI? Because after Mike and Sully enigmatically explode the door lab escaping from the human world, the CDA needs to be watching them. Aaaaaaaalways watching...
  • Why in MI were Mike and Sully not excessively freaking out over Boo's laughter powering all the doors in the door storage? Because they've powered offline doors through excessive amounts of power before...
  • Randall's role in the film is very symbolic. The Randall that was Mike Wazowski's friend was welcoming, kind, and nervous. Even before his Start of Darkness, he talks about "meeting up with cool kids" instead of studying (Something that Sullivan did) and tends to come up with lame ways (Offering monsters cupcakes). Once he joined Roar Omega Roar, he becomes meaner and told Mike that "he shouldn't blow his cover in front of the cool kids". Then, Randall shows that he doesn't like Wazowski anymore as he's in on a prank to humiliate Oozma Kappa. Then Randall gets bitter when Sullivan ACCIDENTALLY messes him up and humiliates him in front of Roar Omega Roar. That moment was when Randall became bitter. The movie shows that you shouldn't be in a social setting because you want to be with the "cool kids", and this is also something that Sullivan would've become.
    • But what was missing for me was a definite scene for Randall, how he even made it into ROR. Some kind of devious test that makes them say "Yeah, you're one of us now!", that establishes Randall definitely losing his nerdy ways and becoming a true jerk from now on. Maybe it's a potential deleted scene for the home release, but it seems like kind of an important detail to leave out of the film.
    • Or perhaps the humiliation scene could have been the test itself, being set up as "So you wanna join us? Here's a little test", which in the end earns him the jacket. But he's already wearing it before the party.
    • To the above, ROR's choice for Randall is pretty rational. First, his power is very, very useful, near Game Breaker levels. Second, he is likely as smart as Mikey and ROR doesn't take well to people with low performance scores, just like Sulley. Third, unlike Mikey, he looks very scary. Last, he would do anything to be with "The cool kids", probably they made him do their frathouse chores and homework if they asked him. Additionally, it is a bit implied that they ridicule Randall (at least during the beginning), as they ask him to turn invisible and they laugh, but it could either be interpreted as ridicule or them finding Randall funny.
      • It's also a typical reaction to "Dude, do (something cool)!" *does something cool* *laughter, high-fives, etc*
    • If you look closely at the posters in the rooms, Randall has a poster that says "Winds of Change". Guess how Randall changes throughout the film from a nice guy to a
  • How did Sully figure out that laughter is more powerful than scream in the MI? Here, Mike shows us that if you pump enough energy into Monsters tech, you can power it from the human world. They however, pumped so much energy into that door to make it explode, something that took a top level scare. However, Boo managed to blow out half a city block (at least) with a laugh, on her own! Sully put one and one together that laughter has that explosive potential (uh no pun intended), by putting one and one together. Looks like he was paying attention to Mike in the end.
  • University shows it's possible, with enough scream power, to activate a door from the human side. So why didn't Mike and Sully try that in Inc when they were banished to the Himalayas? Because there were no humans around in range of that door. They'd have to drag an entire village there to try that again.
  • Those who've seen the original film know that laughter turns out to be much more powerful than screams and revolutionizes the energy industry. Keeping this in mind, suddenly all those monsters who mocked guys like Oozma Kappa for not being "Scary Enough" have had the tables turned on them. Monsters like Art, Terri and Terry, and Squishy probably now have a much easier time generating laughter thanks to their non-threatening appearance.
  • In the end Mike said that he and Sully were going to "change the world". At the end of Monsters Inc, they do change the monster world by discovering that children aren't actually toxic and laughter is a more powerful energy source than screams.
  • The way that Mike and Sully treat all the employees during Monsters Inc would have hinted that the two guys where kicked out of university and had to start from the very bottom of the ladder and work their way up to the Scare Floor: They greeted all the employees, even lowly interns, warmly and by name, and everybody in turn knew who they were. If they had graduated from the university and went straight into scaring, chances are they wouldn't interact with those on the lower hierachy as much.
  • These doors were a thesis project by the University students. On the surface, it seems to be a simple door leading into a camp cabin bed with a lot of kids. However, in a lot of ways, it is very similar to Real World university thesis projects related to energy: Many study rare sources with the aim of produce a lot of power, but are mostly not yet very safe or mass producible. The camp door would have resulted in a huge energy payoff (multiple kids!), but at the same time is a lot less safe than a door leading to only 1 kid - kids in groups are more likely to band together and fight off the monster, or worse, investigate what is on the other side of the door. Also, there are only so many camps in their world with cabin doors. It's rich energy source, but low chance it can be reproduced to factory level.
    • Not to mention that, even if finding ways around all the previously mentioned problems, a door to a summer camp's closet would only produce energy when there are kids at the cabin, at summertime. It would be an unproductive door the rest of the year.
  • During the first Scare Games event, one of the fraternities was disqualified due to using a protective gel against a poisonous spike ball meant to substitute actual human materials. On the team was none other than George Sanderson (a.k.a. the orange "23/19" monster from the first film). The reason why George never took any of the "contamination" seriously in the first one is he still used the same gel, even if it would've had zero effect on him otherwise. Using the gel also had to be against company rules and kept a secret by George, since George's assistant panicked during the instances.
  • Randall uses glasses at first, and gets rid of them because, as Mike points out, they make him detectable when using his powers. From that moment on, Randall has to squint his eyes to make up for the lack of glasses; in other words, his trademark expression, at least at first, wasn't out of projecting an evil or scary image, but because of poor eyesight.
  • If there are colleges to prepare monsters for scaring, why, in 'Monsters Inc', the first thing we see is novice, rookie scarers that obviously got little to none academic training for this job, to the point they're not familiar at all with the simulators? Because, by that time, there's a power crisis in Monstropolis, so the power companies are in desperate need of scarers and can't wait for new scarers to finish their education, something that probably takes from 3 to 4 years. We also see, by the end of 'Monsters University', that the company offers promotions and incentives to employees so those with enough skills can become scarers and scare coaches even if they didn't graduate, so they have simulators to test the applicants.
  • If the screams of adults provide so much energy then why do monsters only scare children even when there's a huge energy crisis looming? Because the illusion can only be maintained since children are expected to invent imaginary creatures while adults aren't (unless they're crazy) and the 'crazy' excuse would only fly for so long if enough adults started claiming monsters were coming through their closets...
    • There is also another reason: they produce too much energy. There must have been at least a hundred Scream Canisters in that room. From the screams of at least half a dozen adults, all of those Canisters were filled to the brim and exploded because they could not contain the ambient energy from their screams, and those same screams caused the door to overload and '''explode'''. Even that slumber party Mike and Sulley scared in the first movie only produced seven full canisters, and each canister is enough to contain the screams of one kid. In short, an adult's screams produces at least one thousand times more energy than a child's, but no scare canister in the world could contain that amount of energy.
    • Touched upon in the original statement, but an adult can be a problem if they are particularly tenacious about finding out where the monsters come from. They could, for example, stay up all night and wait until the monster pops in and and then walk into the monster world (adults are probably considered as toxic as the children). A kid however would be too scared to try a tactic like that, and by the time they're old enough to try checking in the closet at 9am the monsters will have stopped scaring them.
    • Also adults are phyically more dangerous. If most children are visited regularly by the monsters in their closets if you tried that on an adult how long do you think it would take for them to go get a gun.
  • When Dean Hardscrabble drums Sulley out of the scare program, she does so on the basis that Sulley's roar technique would make a kid with a fear of snakes cry instead of screamnote . Fast forward to Monsters, Inc., where Sulley inadvertently scares Boo. She doesn't scream - she cries. Dean Hardscrabble's test was a Call Forward to the scene where Sulley scares Boo.
    • Even more of a Call Forward once you realizes that Randall, who Boo was afraid of the most, greatly resembles a snake.
  • The main thing you notice during Art's scare in the final round of the Scare Games was how flexibly he avoided the toys on the ground. Guess he was working extra hard to make up for the fact that he couldn't resist jumping right at the toxic urchins in the first round!
  • It may be unintentional but most of the humans in this film had their faces either shadowed or drawn in less detail compared to the very colorful and extravagant monsters seen. It's to play up the unknown and fear that monsters have for humans, especially in the scene where the campers begin to crowd around a terrified Mike.
  • Oozma Kappa is quite distinctive from the other fraternities/sororities not because they have a gimmick like Eta Eta Hiss, which is goth and ROR, which is elite, but because they are diverse.
  • How in the world could Randall confuse Mike for Boo and kidnap the wrong person? Because he's short-sighted. In the darkness of Boo's room, all he could see was a silent blob that entered the room and started playing on the bed. You can't really blame him for coming to the wrong conclusion.
  • By the time this film came out, the kids that enjoyed the first film would be in or heading off to university. Therefore, the new film is set in university!
    • The fact that Sulley and Mike need each other to be a remarkable team (as evidenced by their ultimate scare against the adults at the children's camp, with Mike being the brains, and Sulley being the brawn.), harkens back (or would that be forward?) to Monsters, Inc. After all, Sulley and Mike say to each other in the credits of Monsters, Inc.: ♫ "I wouldn't have nothin' if I didn't have you!"♫
  • Monsters love scaring people, which means they love the sound of screaming. This explains why Squishy's mother was listening to screamo in the car!
  • When the Oozma Kappas are introducing themselves, Don mentions working in the textile industry until they downsized him out of a job. At first it seems like topical humour until I realized there's a hidden layer to that. Most of the monsters present in the first two movies don't really wear clothing, and if they do its mainly just a shirt or coat, etc.
  • Why would monsters have trouble distinguishing adolescent humans from human children? Because humans are a different species. How many signs do human zoologists and biologists need to memorize to properly identify the age of individual animals? The human kids in the "Don't Scare The Teen" event all probably look very similar to the monster contestants.
  • An additional good thing about the discovery at the end of Monsters, Inc. — Don, Terri and Terry, Squishy, and Art have to make extra effort to be scary, but they'll make excellent laugh technicians.
  • Why didn't we see a bunch of familiar faces (besides Mike, Sulley, Randall, and a cameo of Roz in Monsters University? Well they might have gone to different universities, such as Fear Tech and other school.
  • Mike's symbolic threshhold-stepping happens four times: as a child, crossing the warning line on the Scare Floor; entering the university; subtly, leaving the university; and finally re-entering the Scare Floor as an employee. While on first impressions the third step is an undoing of the second, which is certainly how Mike views it at the time, all four can be seen as important moments in his journey to working at Monsters, Inc. As we see, leaving college is just as important to his Character Development as entering it.
  • The scene in the cabin in the woods near the end of the movie can be interpreted as Mike and Sulley as a duo representing the two kinds of horror game monsters. Sulley is the monster you can see, the big scary thing that you run from because you're afraid for your life. Mike is the monster you can't see, the sounds in the shadows that make you wonder if something's there, what it might be, but you can't be sure of whether it's your mind playing tricks on you or not...

Fridge Horror
  • The Brick Joke concerning the incredibly slow-moving yellow slug monster being Late for School, only to finally make it to class at the end of the school year is Actually Pretty Funny, until you realize he failed each and every one of his classes, getting himself expelled and probably having to reapply to the university. This also implies that he hasn't eaten, drank, or slept for months.
    • It can get into Dude, Not Funny! terretory if you realize that it might be metaphor for schools not having enough accommodations for slower learners.
    • This is pure speculation here, but if he moves that slowly, he probably doesn't need to eat, drink or sleep very often — otherwise he would never have survived; he would have died of hunger and thirst by the time it took him to walk from his couch and to the kitchen.
  • Although Mike & Sully scaring the living souls out of the adults in the human world served as a wonderful climax and Crowning Moment Of Awesome, you can't help but wonder what would become of those horribly traumatized people. Remember, these aren't kids that we're talking about. These are fully grown adults who have experienced a scare taken Up to Eleven and have come face-to-face with a real live breathing monster. In fact, they would have assumed it was a DEMON from hell haunting a camp in the forest instead of just a monster. In real life, there actually exist reportings of similar scares and hauntings by unidentified/urban creatures that have occurred in remote areas such as this one. The people who experienced these have often end up being scarred for life and went through intense therapy to get rid of the paranoia, insomnia, and constant nightmares. They usually end up quitting their jobs because they just couldn't go on with their lives until they were cured from that permanent nightmare. It wouldn't be surprising if they were even Driven to Suicide. Who's to say the adults in the human world wouldn't have a similar fate as the victims in real life?
    • That summer camp would also have huge rumors of being haunted. Either they can whip that up into a huge publicity boost or they'll be closed.
    • Either that, or they'll all convince themselves that it was what they thought the big, blue guy was in the first place - hungry, confused wild bear that somehow broke in and they are all insanely lucky no one got hurt. The camp will have an entirely different set of security issues, but humans (especially adults) will usually fall back on a plausible, but mundane answer to something confusing.
    • From Bad to Worse: imagine what will happen if any of those adults have children in the future. Picture this... as your child progresses through the toddler stage, you start to wonder why your baby looks so scared when you wake him/her up each morning. Your kid is still too young to explain fully, but through crude crayon drawings and snippets of toddler speak, you're eventually able to figure out what it is your child is trying to warn you about: monsters. You try to tell your spouse, but he/she hasn't seen what you saw in the cabin that night, so he/she just laughs and assures you that your child just has an overactive imagination, nothing to worry about. You start to become uneasy, unable to sleep. You swear you've been hearing noises in the house at night, as though a large animal has broken in. But every single time you leap out of bed and try to reach the room in time to find the thing that has broken into your home, you're too late. There is nothing there, nothing but your child, screaming and crying, pointing in terror at their closet...
    • Which becomes Fridge Brilliance when you realize this might be Sulley's thought process when he looked at himself scaring Boo in Monsters, Inc.. No wonder he doesn't think scaring matters anymore; he's come to believe that it's awful.
    • According to The Essential Guide, they blamed it on Bigfoot.
  • Dean Hardscrabble might have been rendered completely irrelevant by the transition from screams to laughter. The scaring school would almost certainly change its focus to comedy in light of the energy change, and the stern, no-nonsense Hardscrabble would hardly be qualified to lead a program on making kids laugh. While she'd certainly be proud of Mike and Sully for their accomplishments, their success probably put her out of a job. Of course, this assumes she didn't retire by the original movie.
    • Assuming that scaring was made completely obsolete by Mike and Sully's discovery. Not every kid has a sense of humor, and scaring might still be done to squeeze a bit more energy out of a door before it's shredded. Besides, with power companies named things like Fear Inc, I find it highly unlikely that they all switched to laugh power overnight.
    • Not to mention the time it would take to train enough comedian monsters to replace all the scarers, specially considering that only a handful of monsters have looks that help them make kids laugh with ease; at the end of Monsters Inc, we see that most of the new 'comedians' need to modify their aspect to be funny enough. The complete transition from 'fear power' to 'laughter power' might take at least a few years.
    • Quite besides which, how old is Dean Hardscrabble anyway? She might well be nearing retirement age by the end of the first movie.
    • She could always oversee other things too.
    • A lot of the teachings at Monster U. involve being stealthy and avoid prolonged contact with kids. To help maintain the secret of the monster world, such teachings would still be important even if laughter became a new energy source. A monster would still need to be quick and avoid the child to keep the illusion of having been "just a dream". Likewise, the easiest way to make a child laugh is by creating a scary atmosphere which is quickly defused by a joke. Scaring could still be taught as part of a two hit combo to make kids laugh.
    • In addition, if there's one thing that Monsters University taught us, it's that some monsters are born into a particular role. For monsters like Sulley it's scaring, for others like Mike it's coaching. It could be perfectly reasonable that Scare Energy and Laugh Energy are gathered at the same time; it allows doors to last longer (if a kid is unable to laugh, scare him, and vice versa) and offers up more areas of employment for monsters like Mike that just weren't born for scaring, and it and keeps the Scaring Curriculum in place for schools like Monsters University. Being the new (implied) CEO of Monsters Inc, Sully would be adverse to retaining scaring as an energy gathering method and so would opt to help existing scarers adjust to being comedians. He wouldn't even need to change the name of the company, which would be a problem for companies such as Scare Co if they decide to switch to gathering Laugh Energy.
  • A subtle one, but Mike was devastated after he found out Sulley had rigged the scaring machine. Later, the other monsters see him trying to enter a door into the potentially dangerous human realm, and are begging him not to do it. Did they think Mike was upset enough to be Driven to Suicide?

Fridge Logic

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy