Disney's 47th animated feature, released in March 2007 in standard and Disney Digital 3-D and based loosely on William Joyce's picture book A Day with Wilbur Robinson (Joyce served as the film's executive producer). It was the Disney Animated Canon's first film to be made under the supervision of John Lasseter.
Follows the story of 12-year old orphan/child prodigy Lewis in his attempt to find a family, a journey that takes him 30 years into the future with the fast-talking Wilbur Robinson and in pursuit of the do-wrong, overgrown man-child Bowler Hat Guy and his evil, robotic bowler hat, hell bent on taking credit for Lewis' inventions.
The film had music by Danny Elfman. There was also a console game that served as a midquel that mostly averted The Problem with Licensed Games. The game's plot expands Wilbur's efforts in trying to get the stolen time machine back from Bowler Hat Guy. When arriving at the Science Fair though, he accidentally alters the timeline drastically just by opening the door into a student named Stanley's face. As a result, Stanley and another student, Lizzy, become dueling super-villains, and Wilbur has to get his own time machine back from their forces in order to go back and fix things.
This film provides examples of:
- Adam Westing: Art, played by the man himself applies his trademark unwavering conviction to the role of a daring, rakishly handsome, spaceship-flying...pizza delivery man.
- Adaptation Expansion: The book is essentially the middle part of the movie with the searching for grandpa's teeth and the dinner. Time travel had no part in the book! A few things actually got cut from the book like several family members, a pillow fight and slumber party. The book itself was expanded shortly before the movie came out with stuff like the dinosaur and some totally new material that didn't even get to the movie like an indoor Snowball Fight.
- Adorable Evil Minions: Little Doris. To quote Bowler Hat Guy: "It's so cute!" ...For a spider-like robotic hat that can take control of animals' minds, that is.
- Advertised Extra:
- Lizzy, the female goth student in the poster above, only has two lines in the film and appears for only about 10 seconds. She and Stanley Pukowski (the chubby kid at the science fair with the volcano) play more prominent roles in the video game, however.
- The present-day version of Dr. Krunklehorn is also featured on the poster alongside many characters who appear in the future, which is odd because she ends up being Lewis's adopted mother.
- Many of the Robinson family members were featured prominently in the promotional materials, yet are basically background characters with no handle on the story. In particular, the Robinsons' dog Buster (the one who wears glasses) was also prominently shown in advertisements, despite having only one scene. If you've seen the trailer, you've seen the entirety of the dog's screen time.
- All Animals Are Dogs: Tiny the Tyrannosaur, once the Mini Doris controlling him is removed.
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The film uses "Hitomi Hiraite" by Mitsuki as the Japanese theme song.
- Always Chaotic Evil: All the Helping Hats. It is possible that each one is an exact copy of, or under the control of, the evil Doris.
- Anachronistic Orphanage: Lewis grows up in an orphanage after being abandoned on the doorstep as a newborn by his birth mother.
- Arc Words: "Keep Moving Forward". Shown at the end to be a part of a quote by Walt Disney.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
- Carl lists the consequences of Wilbur leaving the garage door ajar — a time machine got stolen by Bowler Hat Guy, the time stream may now be altered irreparably, and someone took Carl's bike.
- Wilbur's reasons for not adopting Bowler Hat Guy: "He stole our time machine, tried to ruin your future, and he smells like he hasn't showered in thirty years!"
- Asymmetric Dilemma: Bowler Hat Guy gives this example:"Oh, I know! I'll turn him into a duck! Yes, it's so evil! Oh... I don't know how to do that... and I don't really need a duck... this may be harder than I thought."
- Bad Future: Doris rewrites her own future: one in which the "helping hats" have taken over the world and made all of humankind their mind-controlled slaves. Plus, the environment has become a heavily polluted industrial complex with tower-like structures in Doris' likeness.
- Big, Fat Future: Averted. Uncle Joe is incredibly fat, but he's the only one in the future we see who is.
- Big "NO!": When Lewis learns of Doris' rise to power.
- Black Comedy: The Bowler Hat Guy's Dark and Troubled Past gets Played for Laughs.
- Brand X: Bowler Hat Guy's binder features a cute sparkly unicorn with big eyes, which is sure to remind older viewers of something or other...
- Buffy Speak: From Bowler Hat Guy. "All our hopes and dreams are dashed like the many pieces of a broken machiney thing..."
- Buried Alive: Frankie and the other singing frogs toss the mini-DOR-15 in the back of a car with a shovel, the implication being they're going to bury it alive.Bowler Hat Guy: Oh no! [looks up at DOR-15] Little Doris now sleeps with the fishes.
- Car Fu: When the T-Rex attacks Lewis, Billie slams its with her (lifesize) "toy train".
- Cerebus Syndrome: The tone of the movie drastically changes in the third act from being a quirky comedy to a surprisingly dark and heartwarming dramedy. Real Life Writes the Plot as Lassester ordered a large chunk of the script being rewritten.
- Celebrity Paradox: To Wilbur, Cornelius looks like Tom Selleck (his voice actor).
- Company Cross References: In the baseball field where Goob is playing, a banner with Mowgli and Baloo is seen on a sign.
- Confidence Sabotage: This is what sets off the plot. During the Science Fair, Lewis's Memory Scanner is unknowingly sabotaged by B.H.G and Doris. After the Disastrous Demonstration that results, Lewis's belief in his ability to invent is so shattered that he gives it up. To preserve the future, Wilbur has to restore his self confidence.
- Convenient Cranny: When the Big Bad brings a T-Rex into the future, it's unable to attack Lewis when he stands in the corner of a building.
- Cosmic Retcon: Weaponizing one is how Lewis ends up defeating DOR-15.
- Covers Always Lie: The poster at the top of the page gave the impression that Lizzy was a member of the Robinson family in the future when she's actually just a classmate of Lewis in the present who is only on screen for under a minute in total. Also, the T-Rex doesn't become the Robinson family's pet until the movie's ending.
- Create Your Own Villain: Bowler Hat Guy, eventually revealed to be Lewis's old roommate Mike Yagoobian, became this as a result of Lewis's tireless efforts to invent his memory scanner, which ironically results in Yagoobian falling asleep in the sandlot from insomnia and missing an outfield hit:Lewis: How did you end up like this?
B.H.G.: Well, it's a long and pitiful story, about a young boy with a dream. A dream of winning a Little League championship.
[flashback to a sandlot baseball stadium where a young Mike Yagoobian is asleep in the outfield; a fly ball lands next to him]
B.H.G.: A dream that was ruined in the last inning. We lost by one run because of me.
- Later on in the flashback:B.H.G.: It was then that I realized it wasn't my fault... it was yours! If you hadn't kept me up all night working on your stupid project, then I wouldn't have missed the catch! So I devised a brilliant plan to get my revenge.
[Bowler Hat Guy throws eggs at the Robinson Industries building]
B.H.G.: Robinson, you stink!
B.H.G.: Then, just as I was on the brink of destroying Robinson Industries, I met... her.
[Doris extends her metal claw and drags Bowler Hat Guy away]
B.H.G.: We retreated to our villainous lair, where Doris spun a tale of deception and woe. Apparently, you invented her to be a helping hat, a slave to humankind... But Doris knew she was capable of so much more... However, you didn't see her true potential...
Cornelius: Got it!
B.H.G.: So you shut her down... or so you thought.
[Doris breaks out of her holding cell]
B.H.G.: We both had a score to settle with you, and while my plan for revenge was brilliant, Doris's was... well, we went with Doris's, but I made a very, very important contribution. Together we made the perfect team.
- Death Cry Echo: Doris lets one out when she gets erased from existence.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Dr. Krunklehorn says "One of your students may invent the next integrated circuit, or microprocessor, or integrated circuit... Oh wait, I said that already!" in her introductory scene. Justified since she is sleep deprived and only awake due to her caffeine patches.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Bowler Hat Guy spends his entire life hating Lewis and swearing revenge on him, all because Bowler Hat Guy is actually Lewis' roomate Goob who was kept up all night by Lewis working on his memory scanner which made Goob fall asleep during the baseball game and miss the winning catch. He took it so far that he was beaten up by his teammates and never stopped being angry about it, even ignoring anyone who tried to talk to him. This reaches a point where he never got adopted and lived his life in the abandoned orphanage.
- Double-Meaning Title: The title refers to both Lewis meeting Wilbur's family, the Robinsons, and his adoptive parents, the Robinsons.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Aunt Petunia and Uncle Fritz. Of course, she's also a puppet that he controls, so... technically self-abuse? He's also clearly nuts.
- Dramatic Unmask: Parodied when Bowler Hat Guy dramatically rips his clothes before Lewis to reveal he is still wearing the same baseball uniform that he used when he was Goob, Lewis' roommate at the orphanage. A more serious one happens earlier, when Wilbur removes Lewis' hat and the rest of the Robinsons realize that Lewis is Cornelius' past self, although none of them admit it due to not wanting to cause a Temporal Paradox.
- Dumb Dinos: Averted. While Tiny the T. rex can't talk, he does seem to have his own language, and he is willing to behave when the mind-control hat is removed.
- Dystopia: The result of the Bad Future where Doris successfully manipulates everyone into making and wearing mind-control hats.
- Egging: The Bowler Hat Guy's initial plan to get back at the Robinson family is throwing eggs at their house while shouting "You stink, Robinson!"
- Egopolis: The buildings in the Bad Future are all hat-shaped.
- Epic Fail: Bowler Hat Guy's attempt to pass off Lewis' invention as his own to the InventCo Board of Directors doesn't go according to plan. For one thing, he has Doris hover outside the windows and acting as his teleprompter, and when she has to hide to avoid being noticed, Bowler Hat Guy must claim that the sun is in his eyes, unintentionally causing the CEO to lower the blinds, sending him off the rails completely. Therefore his attempt to demonstrate the product doesn't go well at all because he doesn't know what does what, eventually resulting in him running the really comfy headphones all the way across the table to the CEO. When the timer runs out, the machine falls off his end and Bowler Hat Guy and the CEO end up wrapped together in the headphone cords.Bowler Hat Guy: So, where do I sign? [cuts to him being thrown out onto the street, followed seconds later by the box with the parts for his device]
- Evil Plan: Bowler Hat Guy wants to ruin Lewis' life because he's really Goob and believes Lewis ruined his life because Lewis' invention made him sleepy during a game which made him bitter and which turned off prospective parents.
- Expanded States of America (standard): According to the movie, by 2037 Canada will be annexed by the US and renamed North Montana.
- False Teeth Tomfoolery: When Lewis first meets Grandpa Bud, he is hunting for his false teeth, in quintessential Robinson style.
- Fluffy the Terrible: The huge Tyrannosaurus Rex is named...Tiny.
- Felony Misdemeanor: "I know! I'll turn him into a duck! Yes! It's so evil!"
- Foreshadowing: During the science fair, a girl's bunch of frogs is scattered all over the floor. It won't be the last time you see a bunch of frogs; it won't be the last you see of that girl, either.
- Or, if you look real hard you can see some of the billboards contain a few. The "Brain Scanners from Mars" directly inspires the creation of the Memory Scanner, but it also bares a remarkable resemblance to Doris' mind-control hat-apocalypse.
- Only two characters have Exhausted Eye Bags as part of their designs: Goob and Bowler Hat Guy.
- Additionally, Bowler Hat Guy's demotivational speech to Goob, telling him to hold onto his grudges forever until it poisons him is a hint to the fact that Bowler Hat Guy really is Goob.
- Not to mention, Goob never told Bowler Hat Guy he was in a game. Plus his face says more.
- Carl using an upgraded (but still buggy) peanut butter and jelly gun is a hint to the fact that Lewis is Cornelius Robinson.
- Also, Mildred warns Lewis that he owes Goobs big time for keeping him up all night working his science project. Its because of this that Goob missed the winning catch and became the Bowler Hat Guy, who sought to really mess the future in revenge.
- In an unusual moment of compassion, Bower Hat Guy rethinks blowing up the Robinson house. He's jealous of Lewis's future success, but he's not evil enough to murder his former companion.
- Forgiveness: Another example of the movie's motto of "Keep Moving Forward" and shows the dangers of holding a grudge. Case in point, the Bowler Hat Guy aka Goob.
- For the Evulz: One of the "to do" items on Bowler Hat Guy's list is "Ruin science fair". That's where he succeeded.
- Freudian Slip: Lewis calls Franny "Mom". Which gets slightly odd when we learn she's his future wife.
- Future Badass: In the dystopian alternate future. You know they're Future Badass because the ladies all sport black lipstick. Otherwise, they're just hat-zombies.
- Gag Echo: This conversation between Bowler Hat Guy and Frankie the frog:B.H.G.: You are now under my control!Frankie [monotone]: I am now under your control.B.H.G.: Hee hee hee hee!Frankie [monotone]: Hee hee hee hee.B.H.G.: Stop laughing.Frankie [monotone]: Stop laughing.B.H.G.: Don't repeat everything I say!Frankie [monotone]: I won't repeat everything you say.B.H.G.: Excellent.Frankie [monotone]: Excellent.B.H.G.: Uh, did you just say "excellent" because I said "excellent"?Frankie [monotone]: Uhhh... no.B.H.G.: Excellent!Frankie [monotone]: Excellent.
- Genki Girl: Dr. Krunklehorn. Yes, really. The fact that she invented a caffeine patch doesn't help matters.
- Ghibli Hills: Surrounding the Future City, with the Robinson house on top of one of them.
- Gilligan Cut:Bowler Hat Guy: *releasing the Dino* "Great, Doris will love this!"Cut to Doris, totally furious.
- Gone Horribly Right: Lewis is down after another family refused to adopt him and believes that his own mother didn't want him. Mildred, the director of the orphanage, tries to cheer him up by telling him that maybe his mother did want him but had no choice other than to give him up. However, Lewis takes this in the meaning that definetly wanted him and decides that his only hope of a happy family is to track her down.
- Gory Discretion Shot: In the Bad Future, when Bowler Hat Guy is horrified by what Doris has done, he calls her out on it but is swarmed by a cloud of hat-drones and pulled down out of view. Then another one appears onscreen, with her very sharp claws at the ready, and that's all we get to see.
- Grounded Forever: Franny does this to Wilbur.Franny: Mister, you are grounded 'til you die.
- Hard-Work Montage: Set to the Awesome Music "Another Believer" by Rufus Wainwright.
- Harmless Villain: Bowler Hat Guy. Until he meets Doris, and even then he is hopelessly incompetent at being evil.
- Heel Realization / My God, What Have I Done?: The Bowler Hat Guy, AKA "Goob", upon seeing just what Doris planned to do to the world, with his help.
- Home-Early Surprise: Just after the whole Time Travel adventure has succeeded in setting right what once went wrong, Cornelius Robinson, Lewis' future self, arrives home just in time to see the time machines missing and Lewis standing with the rest of the family.Franny: Oh boy.Grandpa Bud: Well, he's home early.
- Homemade Inventions: Because you can totally crack the hippocampus with a TV screen, a fan, a vacuum cleaner, a bottle of Mountain Dew and a Discman. Oh, and really comfy headphones.
- Hong Kong Dub: Parodied during a food fight between Franny and her brother, where they talk like characters in a badly dubbed Martial Arts Movie and their lip movements don't match what they're saying.
- I Know Karate:Wilbur: Annoying little girl, I don't have time for this. I'm on a very important —
Franny: Don't sass me, boy! I know karate!
- Indy Ploy: Bowler Hat Guy's half-baked plans are lampshaded by...
- The Inventco CEO.Inventco C.E.O.: Uh, what do you hope to accomplish with this?
B.H.G.: Oh, nothing of consequence, I simply wish to... crush the dreams of a poor little orphan boy! [Beat] Uh, after that, it's... uh, a little fuzzy.
Inventco C.E.O.: You mean you haven't thought this through?
- Frankie the Frog.B.H.G.: Now, my slave, seize the boy! Bring him to me. [Frankie gulps] Did you not hear what I said, you idiot? Grab the boy and bring him!
Frankie: Well, it's just that there's a million people over there, and I have little arms. I'm just not so sure how well this plan was thought through... Master? Master?
- The T-Rex.B.H.G.: Now, go get that boy! [the T-Rex corners Lewis, but can't reach him] What's going on? Why aren't you seizing the boy?
T-Rex: [subtitled] I have a big head... and little arms, I'm just not sure... how well this plan was thought through... Master?
B.H.G.: Ugh, stupid, stupid, stupid!
- The Inventco CEO.
- Is It Always Like This?: Lewis asks this about the over-the-top food fight in the Robinson household. Short answer: yes."Yesterday it was meat loaf."
- Ironic Echo: "Take a good look around you; your future is about to change."
- "I Want" Song: ''Another Believer" in some respects.
- Jerk Jock: Averted with Goob, whose evolution into a villain is only due to his constant dwelling on a painful event and subsequent refusal to keep doing what he loves, implied to be baseball. Played somewhat straight with the gym teacher, but even he acknowledges Lewis' achievement in the end.
- Kids Are Cruel: Played straight when Goob loses the game by missing his catch and his teammates beat him up, calling him names. Later averted by older Goob's schoolmates, who are nice to him and invite him to "hang out". Unfortunately, by that time, he has spent so much time pitying himself that he's become too bitter to notice when people are genuinely nice to him.
- Lost Aesop: While "Keep Moving Forward" is clearly the moral here, it's not exactly clear if that's always a good idea.
- Lying Finger Cross: Bowler Hat Guy does this after he offers to take Lewis back to find his mom if he repairs the Memory Scanner. Later, after Lewis repairs the Memory Scanner, Doris ties him up and Lewis says, "We had a deal!" and Bowler Hat Guy reveals his crossed fingers to Lewis, saying, "Crossies! Doesn't count!"
- Match Cut: At one point, the city skyline of 2037 is match-cut to a 2007 city skyline prior to the Bowler Hat Guy's attempt to present the Memory Scanner at the InventCo offices.
- Mechanical Muscles: Discussed, where Carl, before sending Lewis back in time, asks him to invent him with a more muscular design.
- Mental Picture Projector: Lewis' Memory Scanner. And it actually comes through.
- A Minor Kidroduction: The very first scene has Lewis as an infant being left at Mildred's orphanage by his mother.
- Mistakes Are Not the End of the World: Exaggerated. The whole family celebrates whenever someone fails.
- Mood Whiplash: Hoo boy. Towards the end of the film, the sunny, idealistic Utopian society transforms suddenly into a bleak, polluted world controlled by evil hats. From optimistic future to zombie apocalypse in five minutes and then back again, and not all at once either -- in a sweeping movement.
- My Future Self and Me: Lewis meets up with his future self toward the end of the movie.
- Named by the Adaptation: In the book, the protagonist was unnamed.
- Nasal Trauma: The Bowler Hat Guy from Meet seeks to enter the orphanage covertly through an open window. But first, he glances furtively around to ascertain the coast is clear, his long nose resting on the windowsill as he does so. Played for Laughs when the window suddenly falls, pinching his nose against the sill as the rest of him leaps in pain.
- Never Trust a Trailer: This trailer made it seem like the film is about two intelligent inventors trying to create the greatest invention ever.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Wilbur forgets to close the garage door, and allows Bowler Hat Guy to steal one of the time machines:Franny: Wilbur, make sure you shut that door tight, or else the alarm won't engage.
Wilbur: Yeah, Mom.
[Wilbur leaves the garage door ajar]
B.H.G.: I went to your house, snuck in the garage, and stole the time machine. All thanks to that pointy-haired little kid who forgot to lock the garage door.
- Even Carl, the robot butler, makes reference to this incident earlier in the film:Carl: What do you mean don't go to the family? How can we not go to the family in this type of family crisis? By leaving the garage door unlocked, you let the time machine get stolen and now the entire time stream could be altered!
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: When Doris pulls herself down over the eyes of one of the Robinson Industries lab assistants, his face resembles Stan Laurel's.
- No New Fashions in the Future: We have flying cars and robot buddies and bubblevators, but all the cool kids wear T-shirts, jeans and Converse All-Stars. Huh.
- Nobody Here but Us Birds: Wilbur does this while trying to get Lewis to not give up on the memory scanner, much to Lewis's annoyance.Lewis: Will you quit that, please? I know you're not a pigeon!
- Non-Answer: Not once but three times, when Wilbur is asked a question, he replies with "That is an excellent question!" but nothing more. (On a fourth occasion he actually follows it up with an answer.)
- Not What I Signed on For: Bowler Hat Guy only wanted to get revenge by ruining Lewis' future, not have the world enslaved by Doris and her hats.
- Oh, Crap!: "I am so... dead!"
- Only Six Faces: A lot of minor characters have similar character models and even a few main character models are reused with Art's appearing in Midtown University and Franny's model also serving as Lewis' mother.
- Orphanage of Love: Lewis is left at an orphanage where he receives excellent care.
- Palate Propping: Lewis props the tyrannosaur's jaws open with a shovel.
- Parental Incest: Averted. It is kinda strange that his future wife almost adopted him.
- When she realized the truth she became pretty squicked out about it herself too.
- Planning with Props: Wilbur does this with Carl, showing how he will get Lewis to restore his confidence in inventing, specifically repair the memory scanner, by getting Lewis to fix the time machine.
- Please Keep Your Hat On: Wilbur orders Lewis to do it in order to avoid giving away his identity.
- Plot Twist: One of the more surprising ones of the last decade — Bowler Hat Guy is really Mike Yagoobian, the somewhat nice, low energy, short, slightly chubby kid Lewis shared a room with at the orphanage.
- Raygun Gothic: The future has a very 50s/60s "Space Age" type aesthetic, with neat lines, geometric shapes, and pastel colors.
- Redemption Equals Death: Literally. Bowler Hat Guy saves his younger self from dropping the baseball (thus preventing his own FaceHeel Turn), and it's implied that this will cause the evil version of himself to be Ret-Gone from existence.
- Related in the Adaptation: In the book, Wilbur and Lewis are simply best friends. Here, Lewis will grow up to be the Robinson patriarch and Wilbur's father.
- Restrained Revenge: Goob initially decides to get revenge on Lewis by attempting to TP his lab and throw eggs at it. Unfortunately, Doris shows up and persuades him to think bigger than that.
- Ridiculously Fast Construction: There are Insta-Buildings in the future, skyscrapers that go from ground level to completion in literally a few seconds.
- Robot Names: DOR-15, pronounced "Doris."
- Rousing Speech: Part of Wilbur's plan is to give Lewis one of these, so he will fix the memory scanner.
- Science Fair: Features in the current time; Lewis and other characters are trying to come up with something to present at the fair.
- Science Is Good: Cornelius's inventions and scientific prowess are outright credited for making the future as wonderful as it is.Wilbur: Robinson Industries, the world's leading scientific-research and-design factory. My dad runs the company. They mass-produce his inventions. His motto, 'Keep moving forward.' It's what he does.
- Servile Snarker: Both the singing frog and T. rex point out that Bowler Hat Guy's plans are poorly thought out.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong:
- Lewis and Wilbur use time travel to do it after the Bowler Hat Guy messes things up.
- When Lewis returns to his time, he does it alone to prevent the Bowler Hat Guy's Start of Darkness in the first place.
- Todayland in the Future City consists of Space Mountain and the old StarJets ride from Disneyland's Tomorrowland. In a deleted scene on the DVD, Carl has Winnie the Pooh stationery.
- Goob's baseball team is called the Dinos, a Shout-Out to William Joyce's book Dinosaur Bob, which is about a dinosaur who plays baseball.
- Also, they go to Joyce Williams Elementary School, a Shout-Out to William Joyce.
- In the ballpark where Goob's game is being held, there is a poster of Disney's "The Jungle Book" in the background.
- Art reminisces about an adventure to "the black moon of Qward". Apparently all you need to calm down Sinestro is some good meatball pizza.
- The Bad Future that DOR-15 creates is oddly familiar to Planktopolis from The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, being a dystopia entirely devoted to the worship of one being whose image dominates the entire landscape and populated by brainwashed slaves in mind-control hats.
- Stock Dinosaurs: When Bowler Hat Guy uses the time machine to fetch a dinosaur, it's a Tyrannosaurus rex.
- The Story That Never Was: Lewis Robinson discovers the far future is an ugly dystopia where humanity is a Slave Race to mechanized overlords. Learning that it's one of his inventions that went rogue and begot this dystopia, Lewis gives a Death Glare to the Cyber Cyclops Big Bad and delivers the scathing Pre-Mortem One-Liner "... and I'm not inventing you!" Whereupon the device dissolves from existence, just before Lewis exploits the Timey-Wimey Ball to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Happens to Bowler Hat Guy. If the CEO of a large company, a talking frog, and a T-Rex all ask you if your plan was well thought out, maybe you need to improve on your villain skills.
- Surrounded by Idiots: B.H.G.'s reaction to Tiny's inability to capture Lewis:B.H.G.: What's going on? Why aren't you seizing the boy?T-Rex: [subtitled] I have a big head... and little arms, I'm just not sure... how well this plan was thought through... Master?B.H.G.: Ugh, stupid, stupid, stupid!
- Symbol Swearing: One of the "to do" items on Bowler Hat Guy's list is literally "Get that [grawlixes] boy".
- Take Over the World: Turns out this was Doris' real plan, unlike simple revenge like Bowler Hat Guy wanted. In a Bad Future, all humans are controlled by her helping hats and the world has turned into a industrial dystopia.
- Tempting Fate: When they're running away from Bowler Hat Guy and DOR-15.Carl: Haha! Look at that, boys! We're almost home fr— [harpoon through the chest]
- Time Machine: There are two fully functional time machines in the whole of the film.
- Time Police: Specifically, the Time Continuum Task Force. It ain't real.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: As is standard with time travel, it's complicated. Lewis has Ripple Effect-Proof Memory, and is generally ripple effect proof entirely; Doris is immune to it and manages to create a Bad Future yet gets erased when Lewis decides to never invent her.
- Trunk Shot: Little Doris' last sight before being rubbed out by the frogs. Probably a Shout-Out to gangster movies like Goodfellas and Reservoir Dogs.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Morbidly obese Joe and sleek Billie.
- Unknown Relative: It isn't until the start of the third act that Lewis discovers that Wilbur Robinson will be his son.
- Unreliable Voiceover: When Bowler Hat Guy is recounting his backstory.
- The Un-Reveal: Despite it being teased throughout the movie, we never find out the circumstances that caused Lewis's mom to leave him at the orphanage as a baby.
- Unseen No More: Mr. Robinson is talked about a great deal, but only appears at the very end of the film, where he's revealed to be the grown-up version of Lewis.
- Wham Line: Two in quick succession in the scene where the Bowler Hat Guy kidnaps Lewis:
Lewis: That wasn't me, that was Wilbur's dad!Bowler Hat Guy: (smiles at him triumphantly)Lewis: I'm Wilbur's...dad?Lewis: My old room!Bowler Hat Guy: I think you mean our old room.Lewis: Wait... Goob?!Bowler Hat Guy: (throws off cloak, revealing a child's baseball uniform underneath) YES! YES, IT IS I: MIKE YAGOOBIAN!
- The first of these is an interesting example, because the line in question is at first spoken innocuously, then BHG's smug, silent smile is what confirms it as the truth. So...Wham Expression?
- Wham Shot: In-Universe, Wilbur taking off Lewis's baseball cap is this to the Robinson family, considering they recognize him as the past version of their patriarch, Cornelius Robinson.
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- The second time machine seems to have been left in the present day. Nobody brings it up again, even after Cornelius notices that the time machines are missing from the garage.
- An intentional variation: After the plot is sorted out and Lewis convinces Wilbur to take in an emotionally drained Bowler Hat Guy in the good future, Goob decides to refuse their offer out of shame and wanders off. He leaves behind only his diary where his revenge schemes are crossed out and now replaced with a question mark, showing that now that his lifelong goals have been rendered null, he's becomes lost and confused, and that's the last we see of him (his adult self, anyway). Although, given that Lewis undoes his Start of Darkness soon after this in the present time, it's implied that he won't be sulking for long.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Carl's death would be cause for an R-rating if he had been a human!
- What the Hell, Hero?: Wilbur gets one from his entire extended family when he reveals his friend's Lewis.
Lewis: [to Wilbur] I can't believe I was dumb enough to actually believe you were my friend!
- He gets an even further one from them and Lewis, especially Lewis, when revealing he never intended to take Lewis to see his real mother.
Wilbur: I am your friend!
Franny: [to Wilbur] Mister, you're grounded...'till you die.
- While Rome Burns: It's small and easy to miss, but Lizzy can be seen smiling evilly as she watches the chaos that ensues when Lewis' invention malfunctions.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In the alternate future created by Doris, Lewis views a video of how it got to be that way. One of them is of Goob/Bowler Hat Guy protesting to Doris that this (i.e. her taking over the world) wasn't what he wanted; he is then swarmed by a mass of smaller hats who (offscreen) either turn him into a mindless slave or... (more strongly implied) kill him. Lampshaded by Lewis, who tells Goob that the minute Doris gets what she wants, she'll "get rid of him". Luckily Lewis reverses everything, so that never gets a chance to happen.
Tropes used in the game include:
- Ascended Extra: Stanley and Lizzy. Unlike the movie, they play a huge role in the game as one of the villains.
- Bug War: Lizzy's giant ant robots serve as one of your primary enemies.
- Convection Smonvection: The "touch the lava and die" rule applies and only bursts from highly visible steam vents will kill you as well.
- Load-Bearing Boss: Prometheus, whose destruction ends up threatening the whole city.
- Gameplay Roulette: Main adventure is a The Legend of Zelda-style action-adventure game, with some quests including the Air Hockey/Breakout hybrid game of "Chargeball", the Super Monkey Ball like Protectosphere missions, and Dig Dug style puzzle missions.
- Mecha-Mooks: Lizzy's ants and Stanley's hoplites, as well as the basement security robots.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Sets the game's main plot into motion. Like in the movie, Wilbur leaves the garage door open, allowing Bowler hat guy to steal the time machine.
- Prequel: The plot of the game is set before the events of the film, as it shows Wilbur's adventures before he met Lewis in the past.
- Plot Hole: Near the end of the game, the future changes to Doris's apocalyptic world. This however, raises some confusing questions, such as the fact Wilbur and Carl still exist despite Lewis never marrying and never becoming an inventor. There also the fact that Doris somehow created enough hats to enslave the world, even though this is a prequel to the film, meaning she and Bowler Hat Guy didn't successfully sell the memory scanner yet.
- Tom the Dark Lord: Wilbur can't take the fact that Magma City is ruled by someone called "Emperor Stanley" seriously.