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Creator / Pixar

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Assassinating "I"s and making us cry since 1986.

"Story is king."
Pixar's company motto

Pixar is an animation studio based in Emeryville, California. It began in 1979 when George Lucas used some of his money to form a new division at Lucasfilm known as "Graphics Group". The company originally did this and that for a while, most notably the Genesis planet simulation from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and the stained-glass knight from Young Sherlock Holmes. Working there was one John Lasseter, a former Disney animator who got fired for trying to push the company to experiment with computer animation. He created a CGI short entitled The Adventures of André & Wally B. in his downtime, with the assistance of computer genius Ed Catmull.

Seeking money for his divorce costs (and also because of the failure known as Howard the Duck), Lucas eventually sold it to Steve Jobs for $10 million. The company was named Pixar after their first product, a video rendering computer intended for medical use. Though it didn't sell very well, Steve Jobs continued to pour money into it, and Pixar repurposed itself as a firm creating computer-animated commercials for companies such as Listerine Mouthwash and Lifesavers candies.


At the same time, Lasseter continued to use CGI to make short films and showed them around at conventions, specifically the computer-graphics convention SIGGRAPH. While other people were showing landscapes and technical demos, Lasseter's short Luxo Jr. put storytelling first, demonstrating the narrative ability of the art. Pixar's subsequent shorts secured their status as the leader in computer animation.

In short order, Pixar moved away from medical imaging, instead continuing to refine their proprietary digital rendering software, RenderMan, while making commercials even as they set out to accomplish a very lofty goal — to make the first ever feature-length all-CGI film. The rest is history: Pixar signs a distribution deal with Disney, Pixar makes a lot of hits, Pixar and Disney boss Michael Eisner have issues, Disney gets a new boss (whose wife was also Steve Jobs' wife's roommate in college), Pixar and Disney kiss and make up, Disney wholly acquires Pixar for more than $7 billion (for scale, when they bought the entire Marvel empire it cost $4 billion), making Jobs' ten-million-dollar purchase a real steal considering the purchase made him a major shareholder in Disney, and all is well.


And finally, things come full circle with Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm, bringing it under the same umbrella as its own former division.

Pixar's films are well-known for their formula copied by every western animation company for the past 20 years. Nearly all of their films take their subjects and turn them on their heads (friendly monsters who only scare for their day jobs, race cars who learn to take it slow and that there's more to life than winning, robots who teach humans how to feel emotions again, etc.) and in doing so pack them full of humor (including jokes that go way over the heads of kids) and drama.

When Pixar makes a movie, more often than not, it will be well done at worst. 18 out of the 23 films released so far note  have been nominated for at least one Oscar; in 2010, Up became the second animated film (and first CGI film) to be nominated for Best Picture, and the next year, Toy Story 3 became the third animated film to get that nomination. Only one of the studio's films (Cars 2) has really failed critically; on Rotten Tomatoes, the first two Toy Story films have perfect scores note . Many of their films sit on the Internet Movie Database's "top 250 films" list, and Pixar is usually topping that site's "50 best animated films" list.

Of course, if you think they're not business-minded, keep in mind that except for The Good Dinosaur, Onwardnote  and Lightyear, their theatrically-released films have hardly failed financially. Out of their films, only seven note  never broke the $200 million dollar mark in the US; the studio's four highest-grossing films note  made over a billion dollars worldwide. note  The average domestic box office take of a Pixar film is around $250 million, and their films have made almost ten billion dollars total in combined domestic and foreign box office take. Also worth noting: every single Pixar film had opened at the #1 spot in the weekend box office until Inside Out's release in 2015. note 

Lest you think that they're just a bunch of artists, though, you should know that their first Academy Award wasn't for a movie — it was for PhotoRealistic RenderMan, the software that they make and license to other filmmakers that fuels an innumerable amount of CG in films. It was the first Academy Award given out for a piece of software.

They also seem to be a very personal and humble company:

  • 10-year old Colby Curtin was a young girl who was dying of vascular cancer; her dying wish was to see the movie Up, so a family friend cold-called Pixar, which eventually led to them flying out an employee with a specially-pressed DVD for a private screening of the film just hours before the young girl passed away. Again, Pixar did this without any promotion or comments to the press in any way. This simple event is simultaneously selfless and heartwarming.
  • They did a video for the It Gets Better project that really shows the diversity of their staff and their commitment to helping the community.
  • Some Pixar employees visited Jason Segel and Nick Stoller for a few days and gave input on the screenplay for The Muppets (2011), which became a hit.
  • They tracked down John Morris, who voiced Andy in the first two Toy Story films and is all grown up, so he could reprise the role for the third one, 11 years after his last acting role. Similarly, Alexander Gould, the original voice of Nemo, was too old to reprise the role in Finding Dory, but they gave him a cameo role so he could return anyway.

Pixar itself is located in Emeryville, California on a huge campus of the type more commonly associated with tech companies in nearby Silicon Valley— complete with a high-quality cafeteria (with dedicated chef), an exercise facility, a soccer field, and hallways lined with concept art, employee projects, and life-size statues of Pixar characters (including a 2-story-tall Luxo lamp). The best part: it is possible (though difficult) to get tours.

You can now vote for your favorite Pixar flick here.

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    Film series 
  • Toy Story:
    • Toy Story (1995) — The world's first feature-length All-CGI Cartoon stars two toys who have nothing in common—a cowboy doll who is a kid's favorite toy, and the new toy on the block: a space ranger action figure who thinks that he's an actual space ranger. When they find themselves in the house of a nasty kid who loves torturing toys, they'll have to do everything they can to escape. (First Disney/Pixar project. Re-released in 3D in theaters in October 2009)
    • Toy Story 2 (1999) — Left behind by Andy because of an arm rip, Woody gets toy-napped by a toy collector at a garage sale and meets some new, yet strikingly familiar, friends. (Same re-release as Toy Story)
    • Toy Story 3 (2010) — A teenage Andy is ready to go to college, and his toys are sent to a daycare that's a sweet, sugary wonderland by day, but is actually the exact opposite by night.
    • Toy Story 4 (2019) — Woody helps Forky, a hand-made toy willed into existence, with an existential crisis, and is reunited with Bo Peep after her absence from Toy Story 3.
    • Lightyear (2022) — An origin story for Buzz Lightyear. No, not the toy Buzz we all know, but the “real” Buzz Lightyear that the Buzz toy is based on, the protagonist of the blockbuster movie this film serves as a Defictionalization of.
  • Monsters, Inc.:
    • Monsters, Inc. (2001) — Two monsters working at a factory scaring children must send home an actual human child running amok in their world. (Re-released in 3D in December 2012)
    • Monsters University (2013) — Takes place before Monsters, Inc. where Mike and Sulley meet each other at college. (Pixar's first Prequel film)
  • Finding Nemo:
    • Finding Nemo (2003) — A clownfish, with help from a blue tang with short-term memory loss, goes on a ocean-sized quest to find his son. (Re-released in 3D in September 2012)
    • Finding Dory (2016) — The blue tang just keeps swimming in search of her parents.
  • The Incredibles:
    • The Incredibles (2004) — Years after the ban of superheroes, a normal family must relive their heroic days fighting an old foe.
    • Incredibles 2 (2018) — The Parr family must deal with a changing world while battling a new masked foe.
  • Cars:
    • Cars (2006) — A famous race car gets lost in Radiator Springs and meets new friends down at Route 66.
    • Cars 2 (2011) — Lightning McQueen and Mater travel across the globe while one of them becomes a spy.
    • Cars 3 (2017) — A new generation of racers surpass McQueen in talent, so he trains with the help from a peppy technician.
  • Inside Out:
    • Inside Out (2015) — The lives of five emotions whose job is to control the personalities of a girl. When two opposing emotions, Joy and Sadness, get lost together, they must find a way back before the girl sinks further into depression.
    • Inside Out 2 (2024)

    Other feature films 
  • A Bug's Life (1998) — To save his colony from a bunch of evil grasshoppers, an ant enlists the help of a Ragtag Bunch of Circus Bugs who he thinks are "warriors".
  • Ratatouille (2007) — When a rat ends up in Paris, France, he hopes to make his dream of becoming a chef come true.
  • WALL•E (2008) — After spending centuries cleaning up the Earth, a robot janitor falls for a shiny, newer robot and ends up launching into space.
  • Up (2009) — A balloon salesman takes his own house up to Paradise Falls and is partnered with a scout trooper. (The first Pixar film released in 3D)
  • Brave (2012) — Taking place in Scotland during The Middle Ages, a princess wants her mother to be changed. Bad things happen.
  • The Good Dinosaur (2015) — A young Apatosaurus finds himself lost and gains the help of a Wild Child to get back home.
  • Coco (2017) — A musical set in Mexico about a music-lover whose family bans music. On the Day of the Dead, he ends up transported to the Land of the Dead, where he learns the importance of family.
  • Onward (2020) — Two suburban elf brothers search for magic that can allow them to spend one day with their father who died when they were too young to remember him.
  • Soul (2020) — Right after a middle school music teacher finally gets a chance at his dream of performing jazz onstage, he falls down a manhole into an ethereal plane of existence where souls develop their personalities and passions before inhabiting newborns. note 
  • Luca (2021) — A boy has an amazing summer in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera with his best friend Alberto. However, the duo is hiding a major secret; they're strange sea monsters who only look human when on dry land.note 
  • Turning Red (2022) — A teenage girl finds herself struggling with changes happening to her mind, life, and body. What makes it worse is that, whenever she gets excited or stressed (which, given her interests and age, is often) she transforms into a giant red panda. note 
  • Elemental (2023) — In a city populated by elemental beings based on fire, water, land, and air, a (literally) fiery young woman named Ember and a (literally) go-with-the-flow guy named Wade learn that they may have more in common than they think.
  • Elio (2024) — An 11-year-old boy who can't fit in finds himself going to outer space and making contact with aliens who mistaken him for the intergalactic Ambassador for Earth.

    TV series 
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (2000-2001) — Not directly produced by Pixar, but they did provide animation for the opening Toy Story framing device in the Pilot Movie The Adventure Begins.
  • Dug Days (2021) — Dug settles into his new suburban home, experiencing many things a regular dog would experience. A spinoff of Up (the first Pixar TV series produced in-house by the studio).
  • Cars on the Road (2022) — Lightning McQueen and Mater take a road trip across the country, meeting friends old and new along the way. A sequel series to Cars 3.
  • Win or Lose (2023) — A middle school softball team prepare for their championship game, with each episode focusing on a different member of the team. (Pixar's first original long-form TV series)

    Short films 

Related topics:

Tropes commonly used by Pixar include:

  • Abandoned Mascot: Their first major mascot was Tinny from Tin Toy. He was later replaced with the lamp from Luxo Jr.
  • Advertising by Association: Ads for their movies tend to reference previous Pixar films in this manner.
  • All-CGI Cartoon: Trope Codifier, with Toy Story.
  • Animation Bump:
    • Pixar often make noticeable technology developments in between films, such as animation of fur in Monsters, Inc. and water in Finding Nemo.
    • Just take a look at the difference between Toy Story and Toy Story 2, with only four years and one movie between them; the improvement is astronomical. For comparison, Toy Story 3 doesn't look that much better than 2 - no need to fix what wasn't broken. 3 does look significantly less artificial due to eleven years and seven films between them, but also out of necessity: their software had become so sophisticated with those films that they couldn't recognize the old software, meaning the characters had to be remade from scratch.
    • Pixar also was partly responsible for the Bump that Disney's traditionally animated films went through in The '90s, since before they started making their own films they helped develop the Computer Animation Production System (CAPS) that Disney used to make all of their 2D films after The Little Mermaid.
  • Arc Number: A113 shows up in every Pixar film.
    • In Toy Story, it's the license plate number on Andy's mom's car.
    • In A Bug's Life, it's written on the side of a cardboard box in Bug City.
    • In Toy Story 2, it's once again Andy's mom's license plate, as well as the number of Al's flight to Japan, spoken over the airport's speakers.
    • While it's said to still be in Monsters, Inc., nobody has ever conclusively found it in the movie.
    • In Finding Nemo, it's the model number on the diver's camera.
    • In The Incredibles, it's spoken rather than seen; Mirage tells Bob to meet her in conference room A113, where he is attacked by Syndrome. Later, Bob is held in Level A1, Cell Block 13.
    • In Cars, it's Mater's license plate number, and also on the train that nearly runs into Lightning when he jumps the tracks after losing Mack.
    • In Ratatouille, it's a tag on the ear of Git, the lab rat.
    • In WALL•E, it's Auto's prime directive to never return humanity to Earth.
    • In Up, it's the number of the courtroom for Carl's assault trial.
    • In Toy Story 3, it's once again Andy's mom's plate number.
    • In Cars 2, it's once again Mater's plate number, as well as being written on Siddeley the spy plane.
    • In Brave, it's written in Roman numerals above the door in the witch's cottage.
    • Monsters University calls back to the number's origin; it's the number of Professor Knight's classroom.
    • In Inside Out, it can be seen as graffiti on a wall as Riley tries to run away.
    • In The Good Dinosaur, it's arranged as a pile of sticks on Arlo's farm.
    • In Finding Dory, the tags on Rudder and Fluke respectively read "A1" and "13".
    • In Cars 3, it's again Mater's plate number, and Sterling's office number.
    • In Coco, it's on the office door of the Department of Family Grievances.
    • In Incredibles 2, it appears no less than five times: graffiti'd onto a dumpster Frozone hides behind after the Underminer fight; on the runaway hover train Elastigirl stops; on the door of the editing room where Elastigirl discovers the Screenslaver's true identity; in the corner of the International Superhero Accord contract,and on the movie theater marquee at the end.
    • In Toy Story 4, it's stylized on a sign in the antiques shop.
    • In Onward, it's hidden as a Stealth Pun in a police dispatch code: "We've got a one-one-three".
    • In Soul, it's on a street sign in the Hall of Everything.
    • In Luca, it's on Luca's train ticket to Genova.
    • In Turning Red, it's on the cart Jin uses to draw the circle at the climax.
  • Arch-Enemy: With DreamWorks Animation, though greatly exaggerated by some.
    • Friendly Enemy: Both of them (and third competitor Blue Sky, (which was later bought by Disney) among others) were involved in a pact to fix the wages of their employees in 2014.
  • Art Evolution: Invoked. "Art challenges technology, technology inspires art" is one of their mottos for a reason. Compare their first attempt at animating a baby in 1988's Tin Toy to the scene of Riley as a newborn in 2015's Inside Out. "World of difference" doesn't even begin to describe it.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The studio's name (or at least the video rendering computer it was named after) was originally a portmanteau of "picture" and "laser," but Aly Ray, Loren Carpenter and Rodney Stock, who chose the name, thought "Pixer" wasn't catchy enough, so they replaced the "e" with an "a" to make it "Spanish-sounding." They claimed that it was a word they invented which meant "to make pictures" (which is what the computer did), but it doesn't actually mean anything.
  • Author Appeal:
    • Much in the same way that the Looney Tunes directors each had their own take on the same handful of chatacters, each Pixar film reflects on it's director's personal taste. For example, Pete Doctor tends to favor simplistic, almost child-like designs with geometric shapes and bright, primary colors, while Andrew Stanton's films tend to be more ambient.
    • Butt-pinching comes up in The Incredibles (Mr. and Mrs. Parr), Cars and the "El Materador" short (the old lady car slapping "Nice Butte" stickers on cars' behinds, Mater and the two Miatas, via yanking their rear bumpers with his crane), and Brave (The King and Queen Elinor).
    • Parental/child relationships, or allegories thereof, are easily the most common narrative theme in their films, the most obvious ones being the Toy Story series, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Brave, Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur, Coco, and Finding Dory. Most likely a case of Write What You Know, as most of the studio's star employees are parents.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Initially averted; as of their first fourteen films, only three of them were rated PG. However, as The New '10s progressed, it seems like Pixar now plays this trope straight. The final nail to the G-rated coffin was when Finding Dory, a sequel to a G-rated film, was granted a PG, despite it being identical to Nemo content-wise. Cars 3 and Toy Story 4 averted this, however.
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: Why John Lasseter decided he wanted to be an animator: "I get paid to make cartoons!"
  • Bittersweet Ending: Their films actually put this trope to pretty good use. It's common in most Pixar movies for the main protagonist(s) to not get what they want but, through support from others and learning how to deal with it, manage to get over their troubles and continue on with their lives.
  • Book Ends: Their first and last films released during the Turn of the Millennium (Monsters, Inc. and Up) were both directed by Pete Doctor.
  • Broken Win/Loss Streak:
    • Cars 2 was the first—and so far, only—movie to be met with widely-negative reception from both critics and audiences. However, it still did well at the box office in spite of that, and the sequel actually outdid the original at the worldwide box office.
    • Both of Pixar's 2015 movies.
      • Inside Out became their first film to not open at #1 at the North American box office (due to heavy competition from Jurassic World), although it had the biggest opening ever for a non-sequel movie and went on to do very well, taking the top spot in its third week.
      • The Good Dinosaur, on the other hand, became the first film in Pixar's 20 years of movie-making to lose the studio money. The film becoming a Box Office Bomb was mitigated by the success of Inside Out, and the smash hit of their immediate follow-up (Finding Dory) allowed the company to take such a blow in stride.
  • Celebrity Voice Actor: While just as guilty of this as DreamWorks Animation, they tend to get less flack for it because they go for the best-suited voice rather than simply the biggest names on the market. For instance, while Finding Nemo's leads were voiced by Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres, there was little fanfare about it. On the other hand, DreamWorks's Shark Tale was headlined by Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, and Robert De Niro, whose names dominated the film's marketing and whose characters looked frighteningly like them; this didn't get them many fans for their movie.
  • Central Theme: Growing up, dealing with insecurities and flaws, morality, dreams and intentions, emotions.
  • Character in the Logo: In the logo of Pixar, the flex light jumps on the "I" and substitutes that letter. Also, some films have variations, like WALL•E replacing the "R".
  • Continuity Nod: They frequently reference past productions, from shorts (Luxo Jr.'s ball is a frequent sight) to movies (the Pizza Planet truck being the most blatant example)
  • Demoted to Extra: Prior to Luca, it was a Running Gag, if not an outright rule, that almost every film of theirs would feature an acting role from John Ratzenberger. These roles get increasingly cameo-ish as time goes on. This reached its presumable peak in Coco, in which his only line is "Gracias," but then actually went up to eleven in Soul, in which, in lieu of featuring him as a voice actor at all, a background character is a caricature of him.
  • Doing It for the Art:
    • The staff at Pixar have always held true to the belief that they should enjoy the movie as much as their audience, and it's served them well for nearly three decades.
    • Just to put this in perspective, they were fully aware of their decline in popularity at the start of The New '10s, after Cars 2, Brave and Monsters University were seen as disappointments by fans, and they postponed their next film just so they wouldn't continue their streak of mediocre ones. In other words, they were actually aware of their slump and did something about it immediately!
    • Steve Jobs spent a fortune on this small company working in the nascent and then-unproven field of computer animation that no one knew about for a decade before they exploded into fame.
  • Dub Name Change: The release of Pixar movies in Chinese-speaking countries often leads to them being renamed "X Team" in Mandarin, a practice that even spreads to some non-Pixar CGI animated movies. Hence, Toy Story = "Toys Team", A Bug's Life = "Insects Team" etc. This sometimes leads to a Title Drop in the Mandarin dubs, like at the end of Cars.
  • Dueling Movies:
  • DVD Commentary:
    • Toy Story, Director John Lasseter, producers Ralph Guggenheim and Bonnie Arnold, co-writer Andrew Stanton, supervising animator Pete Docter, art director Ralph Eggleston and supervising technical director Bill Reeves.
    • A Bug's Life, Director John Lasseter, co-director Andrew Stanton and editor Lee Unkrich.
    • Toy Story 2, Director John Lasseter, co-directors Lee Unkrich and Ash Brannon and co-writer Andrew Stanton.
    • Monsters, Inc., Director Pete Docter, co-director Lee Unkrich, executive producer John Lasseter and writer Andrew Stanton.
    • Finding Nemo, Director Andrew Stanton, co-director Lee Unkrich and co-writer Bob Peterson.
    • The Incredibles:
      • Director and writer Brad Bird and producer John Walker.
      • Supervising animators Tony Fucile, Steven Hunter and Alan Barillaro and animators Gini Santos, David De Van, Jureha Yokoo, Dave Mullins, John Kahrs, Robert Russ, Angus Mac Lane, Travis Hathaway, Doug Frankel and Peter Sohn.
    • Cars:
      • Director John Lasster.
      • Additional material co-writer/storyboard artist Dan Scanlon, additional material co-writer Steve Purcell, directing animator Bobby Podesta, directing animator Jim Murphy, supervising animator Scott Clark, supervising animator Doug Sweetland, production designers Bob Pauley and Bill Cone, shading art director Tia Kratter, director of photography (lighting) Jean-Claude Kalache, supervising technical director Eben Ostbey, character supervisor Tim Milliron and sets supervisor Sophie Vincelette.
    • Ratatouille, Director and writer Brad Bird and producer Brad Lewis.
    • WALL•E, Director and co-writer Andrew Stanton.
    • Up, Director Pete Docter and co-director Bob Peterson.
    • Toy Story 3:
      • Director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson.
      • Supervising animators Bobby Podesta and Mike Venturini, production designer Bob Pauley, head of story Jason Katz and supervising technical director Guido Quaroni.
    • Cars 2, Director John Lasseter and co-director Brad Lewis.
    • Brave, Directors and co-writers Mark Andrews and Steve Purcell, story supervisor Brian Larsen, and editor Nick Smith.
    • Monsters University, Director Dan Scanlon, producer Koria Rae, and story supervisor Kelsey Mann.
    • Inside Out, Director Pete Docter and co-director Ronnie del Carmen.
    • The Good Dinosaur, Director Peter Sohn, animation supervisor Mike Venturini, supervising technical director Sanjay Bakshi, director of photography: lighting Sharon Calahan and story supervisor Kelsey Mann.
    • Finding Dory, Director Andrew Stanton, co-director Angus Mac Lane and producer Lindsey Collins.
    • Cars 3, Director Brian Fee, creative director Jay Ward and producers Kevin Reher and Andrea Warren.
    • Coco, Director Lee Unkrich, co-director Adrian Molina and producer Darla K. Anderson.
    • Incredibles 2, Director and writer Brad Bird and animators Alan Barillaro, Tony Fucile, Dave Mullins and Bret Parker.
    • Toy Story 4, Director Josh Cooley and producer Mark Nielsen.
    • Onward, Director Dan Scanlon and producer Kori Rae.
    • Soul, Director Pete Docter, co-director Kemp Powers and producer Dana Murphy.
    • Luca, Director Enrico Casarosa and producer Andrea Warren.
    • Turning Red, Director Domie Shi, producer Lindsey Collins and director of photography Mahyar Abousaeedi.
    • Lightyear Director Angus Mac Lane, writer Jason Headley, and director of photography Jeremy Lasky.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Every movie contains a brief appearance by a character from their next movie. For example, Nemo appears as a toy in Boo's bedroom.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Pixar is well known for their premier trailers not featuring actual scenes from the film, instead basically being purpose-written short skits to establish the tone and characters of the film with music from the picture's score. However, Toy Story had a traditional trailer with narration and sequences from the film set to Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town".
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In several cases, notably the Toy Story films.
  • Extremely Short Time Span: Not counting prologues, epilogues, and flashbacks, the majority of their films (and which tend to be their most well-known and most beloved, although the correlation isn’t perfect)note  take place over 1-3 days.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Watch some of their movies and just look at how many references they make to Japan. Lasseter is a long time admirer of Hayao Miyazaki, they've become professional friends, and Miyazaki's stamp of approval was instrumental in helping Toy Story catch on in Japan. Disney, under the direction of a Pixar-related employee, is the only studio Miyazaki blesses with English dubs of his work. Lassetter even flew Japanese girl group Perfume to the premiere of Cars 2 and surprised them with full knowledge of their back catalogue during lunch together. They recorded a J-Pop single for the film in which the characters visit Tokyo.
  • Genre-Busting: Their films tend towards this.
  • Ink-Suit Actor:
    • Generally averted. Pixar prefer to cast the actor according to the character, not the other way around, but that's not to say they're occasionally guilty of this: several of the characters in the Cars films are based on a certain vehicle associated with their actor (i.e. Sig Hansen as a sentient version of the Northwestern).
    • And then of course, Frozone basically is Samuel L. Jackson (though in this case, that's a good thing).
  • Killed Off for Real: Hopper, Syndrome, GO-4, Charles Muntz, and Mor'Du are the only five villains to actually die at the end of their respective films.
  • Most Writers Are Male: John Lasseter on why Pixar hasn't had a female main character before Brave: "We're a bunch of guys."
  • No Antagonist: Inside Out. There's not a main villain or even an unintentional bad guy. The conflict arises from Sadness accidentally creating a sad core memory, which ends up causing Joy and Sadness to be stranded away from Headquarters when Joy tries to prevent it, leaving the other three emotions at a loss as to how to stabilize Riley's mind. Though some characters briefly act antagonistic, there is no outright antagonistic character in this film. The antagonistic force is the concept of depression, but it's not given an Anthropomorphic Personification like the other emotionsnote .
  • Once an Episode: Except for Soul and Luca, John Ratzenberger has voiced a character in every one of their movies. In Soul, his likeness is animated into the film instead.

  • Papa Wolf: About half of Pixar's male leads are fathers (Bob Parr, Marlin) or substitute fathers (Sulley, Carl, arguably Woody and Buzz) whose main conflict in their respective movies is involves and/or affects their children, as well as dealing with the physical and emotional baggage of that responsibility. Considering that many of Pixar's Regulars were starting to have families of their own during Pixar's earlier filmmaking years, it makes more than enough sense.
  • Production Foreshadowing: Has happened enough times for Pixar movies to be used in the trope's page image. Specifically:
    • In Monsters, Inc., one of Boo's toys is Nemo from Finding Nemo.
    • In Finding Nemo, a boy in the dentist's waiting room is reading a comic book of The Incredibles.
    • In The Incredibles, a scene features a Hudson Hornet resembling Doc Hudson from Cars in the background.
    • In Ratatouille, whilst working his way up to the rooftops of Paris, Remy is chased by a dog (seen only in silhouette) bearing a striking resemblance to Dug from Up.
    • Also from Up, Carl's cane is seen in WALL•E.
    • In a DVD bonus short for Ratatouille, WALL•E makes a brief cameo as a Mars rover operator. Parodied on WALL•E's website, which shows him hiding in every single past Pixar movie.
    • Up: When Carl's balloon-house goes past a little girl's bedroom, a teddy bear is in the far left corner of the screen. This is Lotso(-Huggin' Bear), who is an important character in Toy Story 3.
    • In Toy Story 3, one of the posters in Andy's room features Finn McMissile from Cars 2.
    • On the same movie, Andy also has a "Newt Crossing" sticker next to his computer; and in Brave, the Witch uses a Newt as an ingredient for her magic potion. Newt was a Pixar film that was cancelled in development.
    • Cars 2 has car-versions of the royal family of Brave pictured on a tapestry in the British pub.
    • In Brave, there is a bas-relief of Sully in the Witch's hut, for Monsters University.
    • An example of foreshadowing that took quite a while to get payoff (and may be a coincidence): Toy Story (from 1995) includes a gas station with the name "Dinoco", whose logo is a green Apatosaurus. Not only is Dinoco a company that plays a major role in Cars, but The Good Dinosaur, released in 2015, stars... a green Apatosaurus!
      • In that regard, Monsters University has dinosaur toys strewn about at points (one of them is Arlo), and a dinosaur using a walker appears outside of the OK Dorm.
      • Inside Out also alludes to The Good Dinosaur. If you look closely when Riley thinks about how she and her family stopped by to look at some dinosaur sculptures (and inadvertently damaged their car) on the way to San Francisco, you can see that the two statues that appear are of Forrest Woodbrush and (presumably; his head is not seen) Arlo.
    • Hank the octopus from Finding Dory makes a background cameo in The Good Dinosaur when Arlo learns to swim.
    • A driver in Finding Dory's climax has a Lightning McQueen bandage on his right hand, for Cars 3.
    • Cars 3 has a car who loses his focus on the treadmill because he's nostalgic for his home town, Santa Cecilia. This is the town featured in the next movie, Coco, and an image of Santa Cecilia looks like an image shown in the Coco trailer attached to Cars 3.
    • In Coco, when Miguel and Hector are making their way to the battle of the bands, one can spot a skeletized The Incredibles poster on the side, for Incredibles 2.
    • In Incredibles 2, Jack-Jack has a Duke Caboom from Toy Story 4 in his crib.
    • During Toy Story 4's credits, a bouncy castle can be spotted with the pegicorn design seen on Barley's van in Onward.
    • Onward has a brief shot of a Dorothea Williams record on a shelf in the Lightfoot house. Williams would be a central figure in the story of Soul.
    • In a background shot of Soul, a travel advertisement for an Italian town called Portorosso can be seen, the setting of the next Pixar movie, Luca.
    • In Luca, a record labeled 4★Vilaggi can be seen in Giulia's bedroom, a reference to the Boy Band 4★Town that Mei and her friends are fans of in Turning Red.
    • In Turning Red, Miriam's skateboard has stickers of the Star Command logo and Sox, both prominently featured in ''Lightyear.
    • In Lightyear, a vending machine has bottles labeled "Wade Water". Wade Ripple is one of the two main characters in Elemental (2023).
  • Production Posse: Skywalker Sound is a frequent sound design regular.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: John Lasseter was put on a six month leave after numerous sexual harassment complaints came to life. During that time, Disney did an extensive HR screening process with all employees to get their assessments. Once the six month leave was done, Lasseter fell on his sword by resigning from the company.
  • Rousseau Was Right: A common theme in some of their movies is that something drives a villain to evil.
  • Rule of Animation Conservation: Among the studio's self-imposed rules is that each project must be a story that could only be properly told through animation.
  • Running Gag:
    • The Pizza Planet truck. The only film of theirs it hasn't appeared in was The Incredibles, although it does appear in the video game adaptation.
    • Giving a role to John Ratzenberger in every film (though this seems to have ended with Soul, as his voice is nowhere to be found in the film. His likeness is featured as an extra in the background).
    • Putting a cameo of a character from the next film to be released.
    • The "Production Babies" section in the closing credits of every film, which lists the names of children born to Pixar staff members while it was being made was re-titled "Recent You Seminar Graduates" for Soul, to reflect one of its core ideas.
  • Scenery Porn: The Incredibles's commentary mentions having entire meetings devoted to the placement of the food at the dinner table during one scene.
  • Schedule Slip: Between 2013 and 2015, due to the troubled state of The Good Dinosaur and not wanting to continue their string of less-than stellar releases.
  • Sequel Gap: Several times. In fact, their only sequel to avert this so far is Toy Story 2, coming four years after the original. Eleven years passed between Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, nine between Toy Story 3 and Toy Story 4, twelve between Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University, thirteen between Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, and fourteen between The Incredibles and Incredibles 2. To a lesser extent, five years between Cars and Cars 2 and another six years until Cars 3.
  • Shown Their Work: While Pixar does mix some things around for the sake of Artistic License, it plays this very straight.
  • Shrug of God: No one who worked on The Incredibles, not even Brad Bird, knows why the Pizza Planet truck gag wasn't included in the film.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: All their films are heavily on the idealistic end of the scale.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: Most of their films are bordering between the Unusual and Fantastic parts of the scale. They have basic premises impossible in real life, but always have an internal consistency. Coco is an example of the Fantastic part, since there are rules about the relationship between the afterlife and the living world. Up goes beyond what is possible in real life, but there is nothing explicitly magical in it, so it falls into Unusual.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Despite their accolades, one major complaint about Pixar is the lack of films that have a notable number of prominent female characters. There have been attempts to remedy this as of late however.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Pixar's sidekicks tend to be more memorable than their leads. You can see from their sequels that they embrace it: Cars 2 centered on Mater, Monsters University on Mike, and Finding Dory on Dory. Averted, however, with the Toy Story films: despite Buzz Lightyear arguably being more famous and recognizable, Woody remains the focus of the sequels.
  • Squashed Flat: In the company's Vanity Plate, the letter I in "PIXAR" gets flattened by Luxo Jr. jumping on it.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Many a Pixar hero doesn't get along well with his co-protagonist or sidekick for most of the film.
  • Unisex Series, Gendered Merchandise: Pixar merchandise is mostly aimed to boys, even when their audiences include both boys and girls equally. Some notable examples are Cars and Toy Story series, whose toys are aimed at boys only. Brave is an exception, with Merida being lumped in with the Disney Princesses, despite not being part of the Disney canon.
  • The 'Verse: With each of the films making all kinds of countless Shout Outs to previous movies and shorts and even a few characters making overlaps and cameos here and there, this trope is almost impossible to ignore.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Despite the bright colors, the comedy, and the cheerful nature of Pixar, actually have some very dark and malicious villains when they are straight-up evil. Obviously, this type of villain contrasts absolutely with the cheerful nature of the movies.
    • Hopper in A Bug's Life is a ruthless tyrant who delights in the fear he instills in the ants, and was fully prepared to publically execute their queen to keep them compliant. He even admits to his minions that they don't even need the food the ants provide, implying his actions are motivated purely by sadism.
    • Finding Nemo: The film is filled with a colorful cast of characters—virtually all of the villains are either mindless predators, oblivious to their own wrongdoing, or turn out to be not so bad after all. However, there is a dead-set example in the first five minutes, in the shape of the barracuda that kills Coral and every one of Marlin's children except Nemo. It appears for only a minute, but that minute is often regarded as the darkest in the movie. The mood instantly darkens when it appears, it's one of the few creatures not anthropomorphized, and the rest of the scene is just heart-breaking. It's in effect for the rest of the movie, too; the barracuda triggers a lifetime of mental trauma for Marlin and leads to his violent overprotection, driving Nemo to abandon Marlin and get captured as a result. In a sense, this thing is responsible for the entire plot and all the dark and sad moments within. Not bad for one scene.
    • The Incredibles: Buddy Pine, better known as Syndrome, is a homicidal maniac, a superhero wannabe, and a true Nobody to Nightmare. Early in the film, Buddy interrupts Mr. Incredible, or Bob Parr while fighting the supervillain Bomb Voyage in an attempt to become his sidekick. His careless actions nearly get himself killed and allow Bomb Voyage to escape, leading to Mr. Incredible rightfully turning him down and crushing Buddy's dreams. However, Buddy instead subverts his potential Freudian Excuse by holding on to his petty grudge into adulthood, and initiates the mass murder of retired superheroes by luring them to his island. Once Bob finds out, Syndrome beats him down with his Omnidroid and has him tortured, spitefully launching a missile at a plane that he knows has his family on it. Showing callous indifference to Mirage once her life is under threat by Bob, Syndrome plans to release the Omnidroid on the populace once he's disposed of Bob, then painting himself as a hero by falsely defeating the Omnidroid. Once foiled, Syndrome kidnaps the infant Incredible Jack-Jack with the intent to corrupt him into becoming like him. Selfish, petty, and all-around murderous, Syndrome stood out as one of Pixar's darkest villains.
    • Charles Muntz in Up, though Carl's childhood hero at one point, is a delusional and sociopathic murderer who kills anyone who he even thinks threatens his discovery.
    • Toy Story is a lighthearted series where the main conflict is usually within the heroes as opposed to external. Villains tend to be either Obliviously Evil or relatively harmless. Until Toy Story 3, that is, where we meet Lotso, a sadistic teddy bear overlord of a day care center who subjects new toys to being broken by toddlers, tortures, brainwashes, imprisons, and attempts to murder the heroes, and when they save him, he repays them by leaving them to die in an incinerator.
    • Cars 2: While the villain of the first Cars film is an arrogant and obnoxious green racecar, the sequel's villains are an organization of evil, beaten-up cars led by a German microcar and a malfunctioning British SUV who commit multiple on-screen murders, torture, sabotage, and attempt terrorism.
    • Brave gives us a sweet mother-daughter bonding story...with a villain, Mor'du, that happens to be a red-eyed, twelve-foot-tall bear with a taste for human flesh. As well as plenty of scenes that could have come right out of a horror movie, such as Mor'du watching a young Merida in the forest, Merida going into a castle and having Mor'du sneak up behind her after she's learned his gruesome origin story, and the end fight, where absolutely nothing hurts him except a bear of similar size and a multiton rock.
    • Coco takes place in the vibrant, party-filled, music-laden Land of the Dead, which is populated with fondly remembered skeletons and colorful alebrijes. At first, the conflict seems to be that Miguel’s passion for music conflicts with his family's ban on music and he needs to resolve those two in order to get home. However, we discover that Miguel's hero and best chance to get home, Ernesto de la Cruz, murdered his homesick songwriter partner simply to get famous off the songs he wrote. He then goes on to try and murder Miguel because He Knows Too Much which also puts Miguel's friend Héctor at risk to die again.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Even though the morality is clear, the villains usually have a good motivation (or a Freudian Excuse) to make them less straight-up evil. Pete Docter said that a regular "doing evil for evil" villain is not a "real" one.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Of course, the ill-fated Newt. Its plotline was said to be similar to Rio (and Alpha and Omega). On the bright side, when the project was revisited, it led to the creation of a new project that would ultimately become Inside Out.
    • Brenda Chapman's version of Brave. We may never be sure why she was laid off, but it seems to have disappointed a lot of people in the industry, including some Pixar employees.note 
    • While it hasn't happened too many times as of this writing, directors being replaced mid-production have always led to fan speculation. Brad Bird was put on Ratatouille at the last minute and had to work with revising the script and making the rats less anthropomorphic than what the original director had. Of note, Chef Gusteau was to be alive through the whole movie instead of an imaginary being.
    • When Pixar and Disney first merged, part of the deal was John Lasseter becoming the new head honcho of the Animation Department. His first order of business was completely overhauling Meet the Robinsons and Bolt, the latter of which resulted in the departure of Lilo & Stitch directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, who moved to DreamWorks. Considering the massive changes made, it'd leads one to wonder what the original product of both films would have been like.
    • Toy Story (and thus possibly Pixar as a whole) was almost the victim of Executive Meddling thanks to Jeffrey Katzenberg. Katzenberg continually pushed for a more adult, cynical Toy Story, making Woody even more of a jerkass and relying heavily on insult humor. The result, heretofore referred as "the Black Friday Incident", backfired horribly; at a screening for the Disney execs, Roy Disney declared it the worst thing he'd ever seen, and Disney was ready to scrap the whole project until the writers were finally left alone to write the story they wanted to write. The rest is history (Katzenberg dropped the adult subject altogether, and he was gone the next year).
    • The sequel, mandated upon by Disney, was planned to be released Direct to Video. However, Pixar put so much effort into it that it convinced Disney to release it theatrically.
    • Later on, Pixar also had to deal with Michael Eisner after Eisner's prediction on Finding Nemo, leading to Roy E. Disney's "Save Disney" campaign. During the Disney v. Pixar negotiations, Eisner created Circle 7 Animation, which would have made Disney-brand sequels to Pixar films including Toy Story 3 which would have seen Buzz Lightyear recalled to Taiwan. However, Eisner stepped down from his position, Circle 7 got shut down, and Pixar was finally in the Mouse House. Eventually, Pixar would create the TS3 we all know and love.
    • Back in 1985, Long before Toy Story, and when they were still part of Lucasfilm. They started pre-production on what would have been their first computer-animated film called Monkey which was an adaptation of the tale of the Monkey King (also referred to as Sun Wukong). After they spun off as a new company in 1986, they were still working on it. In the end, they realized they had to abandon it because of technical limitations at the time.
    • George Lucas turned down the chance to get in on the ground floor with the company when several of his employees were involved in starting it, in one of the few times he failed to recognize a major new filmmaking potential.
  • White-and-Grey Morality: As mentioned in Well-Intentioned Extremist, the antagonists that show up in most Pixar movie are rarely straight up evil. In Toy Story, Sid is a destructive kid who has no idea that he's harming sentient beings, and would grow up to a normal adult by the third movie. In Finding Nemo, the closest thing we have to a "villain" is the dentist's niece who, like Sid, is simply a misbehaving kid who clearly has no idea how to take care of animals. Brave's primary antagonist is a "demon bear" who is mostly just acting out from instinct and is not malevolent for the sake of it. When he dies, the spirit of the man he once was thanked the main characters for freeing him from the curse. In Monsters University, the heroes faced off against a group of Jerk Jocks, but they're generally pretty harmless and is depicted more as an obstacle the heroes have to surpass to win the Scarer Games than an actual force of evil. Several other films feature antagonists whose actions are undeniably evil but who are given personal reasons for having turned out that way and/or understandable motivations (though some of these also shed these redeemable aspects over the course of the film), such as Toy Story 2note , The Incrediblesnote  and its sequelnote , WALL•Enote , Upnote , and Toy Story 3note . Only A Bug's Lifenote , Cars 2note  Coconote , and Lucanote  feature villains with no Freudian Excuse to speak of. Monsters, Inc. is so far the only film that has multiple antagonists with varying shades of blacknote .
  • The Wiki Rule: The Pixar Wiki.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: Believe it or not, this is apparently how most of their movies are done, once being described as "jumping out of a plane and hoping we can build a parachute on the way down." However, this has less to do with short production time (in most cases) and more with how much story revision is done on every single step of every single project, sometimes even long after animation has started, to ensure that everything will be perfect.