Welcome to Monstropolis, a world where the monsters are just regular folks like you and me. When they hide in your bed/closet/hamper and scare you, it isn't because it gives them any sort of thrill, but simply because it is their job. Their world, linked to ours through closet doors, derives all its electrical power from our screams.
However, scaring children isn't safe or easy work. The monsters believe that human children are highly toxic and only the bravest and most talented venture into a kid's bedroom. The populace live in terror of the possibility that a kid might find their way back through the door into the city, especially since this generation of kids are harder to frighten due to violence becoming more commonplace in media, and kids becoming desensitized, as a result. The difficulty in scaring children and the constant scrutiny of the CDA (Child Detection Agency) has led to a power shortage as Monsters, Inc. struggles to keep the city lit.
Now meet our heroes, James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal). Sulley, the big blue one, is the top "scarer" at Monsters Inc. Mike, the small green one, is his partner (who handles the paperwork), best friend, personal trainer, and roommate, who spends his after hours courting the receptionist Celia. They also happen to be days away from breaking the All Time Scare Record.
Life is great — until one of the extremely poisonous fuel sources enters their world and threatens everything. Yes, a human child! Doom-doom-doom! (Actually, she is rather adorable.) Sulley and Mike's friendship becomes increasingly strained as they try to get the little "terror" back to her world without getting contaminated or arrested. Along the way, they stumble upon a conspiracy that threatens to undermine their life's work — and possibly their lives.
A prequel was released twelve years later in 2013. Titled Monsters University and directed by Dan Scanlon, the new film stars Sulley and Mike in their college days. Having never met before, Sulley and Mike end up becoming rivals in the scaring program at the University. However, their bickering leads them to be kicked out of the program. In order to get back in, they must join a fraternity and enter the Scare Games. Ending up in OK (Oozma Kappa), the lamest fraternity on campus, Sulley and Mike must rally a group of underdogs to succeed in the games.
A follow-up DVD short, Mike's New Car, was released with the Monsters, Inc. DVD.
There is a comic book sequel titled Monsters, Inc: Laugh Factory.
In November 2017, it was announced that a Spin-Off television series titled Monsters at Work was in the making, and the show premiered on Disney+ on July 7, 2021, but also a Immediate Sequel set the day after the events of Monsters Inc. and will feature Goodman, Crystal and Bonnie Huntnote returning to their roles. The world of the film was also featured in Kingdom Hearts III with an original story taking place after the events of the film.
Monsters, Inc. provides examples of:
- Accidental Kidnapping: Randall, after bringing Boo's door to the Scare Floor for Sulley and Mike, traps Mike into a box and takes him away after Mike steps into the room and makes him think that he is actually Boo, whom Randall was baiting out. Randall doesn't realize this (even commenting the kid's put on a couple of pounds) until he tips the box over and Mike is the one who falls into the chair.
- Acting Unnatural: Sulley and Mike try to help a disguised Boo back to her door on the scare floor without looking suspicious.Mike: We're just two regular joes on our way to work. We will blend right in.
(Sulley and Mike enter the scare floor)
Sulley: Top of the mornin', fellas!
Mike: Hey, what's shakin', bacon?
Sulley: Did you lose weight? Or a limb?
- Actor Allusion:
- Randall threatens his assistant with, "If I don't see a door in my station in 5 seconds, I will personally put you through the shredder!"
- In a teaser trailer, Sulley and Mike play Charades, and one of Mike's guesses is "When Harry Met Sulley".
- Mike imitates an umpire when he and Sulley dispose of Randall, alluding to Billy Crystal's well-known love of baseball.
- The monster Fungus is performed by Frank Oz, who performed several well known monsters on Sesame Street, particularly Grover and Cookie Monster.
- Adult Fear:
- Mostly in retrospect, but notice that the Big Bad's plan is essentially to kidnap children and use them for slave labor...
- Also when Sulley thinks Boo is being crushed by the trash compactor.
- Aerosol Spray Backfire: While hiding Boo in Sulley and Mike's apartment from the authorities, Mike tries keeping her away from him with a can of aerosol spray, only to wind up accidentally spraying himself in the eye with it.
- Alas, Poor Villain: One can't help but feel sorry for Waternoose, who only wanted to save his family's company and ensure Monstropolis still had power, except that his methods for going about it weren't the best. Still, his fate of going to jail was at least better than being banished like Randall.
- All Animals Are Dogs: Sulley tries to get Boo's attention by getting her to fetch a toy "bear", and makes a bed for her out of newspaper in the corner. He learns to treat her better.
- Mike also joins in by telling her to go fetch a stick. He, too, learns his lesson.
- All-CGI Cartoon: One of the first feature-length examples of the twenty-first century.
- All for Nothing:
- The point of the CDA's decontaminations, when it is discovered that humans and their possessions are not toxic after all. They blew up a building just because a human kid was in it as an 835 call, for crying out loud!
- Randall and Waternoose's Evil Plan ultimately proved pointless after the monsters discovered an alternative, more ethical method of gaining energy. Both monsters' lives were disgraced and ruined due to clutching the Villain Ball.
- All Myths Are True: Cryptids such as the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot are actually ex-citizens of Monstropolis who have been banished to the human world.
- All There in the Manual: Boo's full name. It is Mary Gibbs. Her first name is revealed in the film, since she signs all her sketches, but it is hard to spot.
- Always Second Best: Randall Boggs is always the second best performer on the Scare Floor behind James Sullivan. This explains why Randall is eager for the evil plan to topple Sullivan even before James and Mike are aware of the operations.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: Many monsters have a clear animalistic appearance that have an unnatural color scheme. Here are some examples:
- Sulley, who is blue and resembles a bear.
- Randall, who is purple and looks like a lizard and a snake.
- Celia's hair, which consists of five purple rattlesnakes.
- Waternoose, who is gray and looks like an arachnid and a crustacean.
- Many other monsters are in bright colors—Mike is a light green, Celia mentioned above is purple, and George is orange with yellow stripes, among other examples.
- Amusing Injuries: Mike is frequently subjected to these throughout the movie. The amusement they bring to Boo is actually a plot point as they eventually realize that Boos laughter at these amusing injuries is a more powerful energy supply than traditional screams.
- Anything but That!: When the CDA enter the Scare Floor on a 2319 call, Waternoose groans, "Oh, not the CDA."
- Artistic License History: After George Sanderson gets subjected thrice to "code 2319" indignities, his assistant tells him that he'll next be sent on an easy scare job in, "Nice... quiet.. Nepal." In reality, during the film's production, Nepal had been embroiled in civil war since 1996. And four months before the film's November 2001 release, the King and Queen and eight other members of the royal family were killed in a bizarre massacre in the royal palace.
- Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: "I said Sulley?!"
- Baby See, Baby Do:
- When Sulley shushes Boo, she copies the gesture and says, "Shh!" back.
- When Mike does a rambling speech that involves his name, Boo repeats it and she ends up liking to say his name, even giving it when asked, "What's your name?".
- Bad Boss: Randall is very rude and abrasive toward his assistant Fungus, their relationship being totally opposite to Sulley and Mike's. It is telling that when Fungus is seen at the end without Randall, he is much happier.
- Bad to the Last Drop: Whatever it is they drink instead of coffee, it is a thick sludge that slowly oozes out of the dispensers.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: Mike has a Running Gag where he sees some bit of publicity with his face obscured and says things like, "I don't believe it... I'm on TV!"
- Benevolent Monsters: The monsters scaring children at night is just business. Indeed, monsters would be perfectly content to leave humans alone if they weren't dependent on screams for energy.
- Big Bad: Randall seems to be this at first, as he plots to kidnap children which to use a Scream Extractor machine on to solve the energy crisis for the sake of becoming rich and famous, but then turns out he's been employed by Mr. Waternoose, who takes over the role when Randall is beaten.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Randall and Waternoose are responsible for the danger in this plot as a team and Sulley and Mike must stop their plans to kidnap children.
- Big Damn Heroes:
- Sulley, to save Boo from the Randall's machine.
- Boo herself returns the favor when she beats the snot out of Randall to stop him from making Sulley fall to his death.
- Big Good: Roz
- Big "NO!":
- Mike yells one in the teaser trailer after he requests Sulley to open the door.
- Sulley lets one out when he sees the trash that he thinks has Boo inside it about to go through the trash compactor. It is muffled behind a sheet of glass.
- Sulley, seven times after he and Mike are banished, six of which are one after the other as Sulley repeatedly opens and slams the door.
- Randall when Sulley hurls him through a door in the door vault to banish him.
- Sulley when Waternoose knocks him down and attempts to kidnap Boo in the scare simulator.
- Big Red Button: The scare floor has a red panic button in case a contamination alert arises. When Charlie calls for a 2319, Jerry activates the alarm and the CDA is summoned.
- Big "SHUT UP!": Needleman to Smitty at the beginning.Smitty: Go get 'em, Mr. Sullivan!
Needleman: Quiet! You're making him lose his focus.
Smitty: Oh, no. Sorry!
Needleman: Shut up!
- Big "WHAT?!": Mike to Sulley in the door vault after doing a flip and landing on his crotch on a girder, and Sulley noticing too late that Boo's costume covered her face so she didn't see the flip, so he hurt himself for nothing.
- Black Comedy:
- Sulley watching what he thinks is Boo go through through increasingly more outlandish trash compacting methods. Of course, the audience knows she is not in there.
- Late in the movie, Mike tries to apologize to Sulley for refusing to help him in the Himalayas. The only problem is that Randall is currently beating up Sulley while invisible, with Mike being completely oblivious even as Randall is about to choke him to death.
- Blasé Boast: Mike when talking to Celia at the beginning:Celia: So, uh, are we going anywhere special tonight?
Mike: Ah, I just got us into a little place called, um, Harryhausen's.
Celia: (gasps) Harryhausen's!? But it's impossible to get a reservation there!
Mike: Not for googly-bear.
- Blowing a Raspberry: Boo blows one when Randall is banished.
- Bookends: A musical example. The closing credits' theme, "If I Didn't Have You", is actually a remix of the opening credits' theme.
- Bowel-Breaking Bricks:
- After nearly being discovered by Randall in the bathroom, we see a huge splash in the stall Sulley, Mike, and Boo are hiding in. Boo sums it up best.Boo: Ew.
- And then in the next scene, we see an up-close shot of Mike's legs completely soaked. It is implied he slipped and fell in, with Boo still understanding how gross that was.
- After nearly being discovered by Randall in the bathroom, we see a huge splash in the stall Sulley, Mike, and Boo are hiding in. Boo sums it up best.
- Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario:
- Sulley has one both with Boo (after accidentally scaring her) and Mike (who blames him for their banishment).
- Mike has one with Celia (over his absence ever since their last date) soon as she sees Randall in pursuit.
- Brick Joke:
- Sulley and Mike are arguing about Boo on Scare Floor F, when Mike realizes mid-sentence that everyone is watching. He tries to spin his line "Put that thing back where it came from or so help me...!" as practice for the company play. During the credits, the cast performs "Put That Thing Back Where It Came From Or So Help Me: The Musical."
- Mike then tells confused scare floor workers and CDA agents, "we'll need ushers." At the end, a CDA agent is working as an usher.
- Sulley puts the stuff from Boo's room in a locker. Guess who opens that same locker a few scenes later?
- The first scene in the first issue of Laugh Factory is a new company commercial, this time ending with the logo on Sulley's face instead of Mike, much to his chagrin.
- Broken Pedestal: Waternoose becomes this to Sulley when the latter finds out the former's plans to kidnap children to solve the energy crisis.
- Bruiser with a Soft Center: Top scarer James P. Sullivan has Super Strength and a mighty roar, but is really a sweet guy under it all.
- Butt-Monkey: Mike, which cracks up Boo to no end.
- Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit":
- Boo affectionately calls Sulley "Kitty."
- "Little Mikey", the stuffed animal that Mike doesn't want Boo touching, is described as a bear (despite having one eye, several legs/tentacles, fangs and horns).
- Calling Your Nausea: Mike says, "I'm gonna be sick!" while riding on the door vault, but he never vomits.
- Casual Danger Dialog: After Randall has kidnapped Mike (mistaking him for Boo) and has him cornered in a chair:Randall: Where is it, you little one-eyed creh-tin!?
Mike: Okay, first of all, it's cretin. If you're gonna threaten me, do it properly.
- Cassandra Truth: A subverted example occurs when Celia demands that Mike tell her what's going on, which he does. Barely an instant after asking Mike if he expects her to believe it, Celia sees Boo, then the pursuing Randall, and realizes that Mike is telling the truth.
- The Cat Came Back: Boo, when she first meets Sulley.
- Changed My Mind, Kid: After both get exiled to the Himalayas, Mike angrily abandons Sulley over the latter essentially ruining his life and constantly ignoring him in favor of Boo. He rejoins Sulley a few minutes later, just in time to save him from Randall.
- Cheated Angle: The closet doors. When closed, they are almost always seen directly from the front. But when open, they are almost always seen from an angle. And they are only rarely seen from behind, mostly after Sulley and Mike are sent away to the Himalayas, but there are a couple of other exceptionally brief glances.
- Cheerful Child: Boo.
- Cheer Them Up with Laughter: Sulley, trying to get Mike to make Boo laugh near the end of the film.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The scare simulation room seen in the opening comes back twice, both times causing major plot relevations. The first time it comes back, Sulley accidentally scares Boo and Waternoose's treachery is revealed, while the second time the room's cameras are used to capture Waternoose's Accidental Public Confession.
- Boo's laughter is shown to be powerful enough to blow the power for an entire city block. Guess what becomes the new power source for MI.
- Socks (supposedly) being toxic to monsters. First used as part of a gag to illustrate how serious the CDA are about avoiding contamination, then during the climax, Mike throws a sock at one of the agents to distract them.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Roz.
- Chekhov's Skill:
- Boo's ability to say "Mike Wazowski."
- It is noted throughout the film (and through its prequel) that most of the monsters aren't naturally scary, Mike being the stand-out example, and when caught off guard can even evoke joy or laughter from the children they victimize. This ends up becoming very pivotal during the end.
- The Chew Toy: George Sanderson, as a Running Gag, keeps getting articles of clothing caught on his fur, resulting in numerous humiliating 2319 calls. Sometimes Mike, although it is usually his own fault.
- Comically Missing the Point:
Mike: That is the weirdest thing you have ever said.
- At one point, Sulley protests about Boo being in the restroom, not because she is human, but because she is a girl in the men's bathroom.
Randall: What happens when the whistle blows in five minutes?Mike: Uhh, I get a time-out?Randall: Everyone goes to lunch! Which means the Scare Floor will be...Mike: ...Painted?Randall: EMPTY! It'll be empty, you idiot!
- Mike later, when Randall is trying to make a deal with him.
Sulley: I'm being attacked!Mike: No, I'm not attacking you. I'm trying to be honest.Boo: *runs up and tries to babble at Mike frantically*Mike: I know kid, he's too sensitive!
- Also, when Mike tries to apologize to Sulley while remaining completely oblivious to the fact that Sulley is being beaten up by an invisible Randall.
- When Celia angrily confronts Mike the day after the raid at Harryhausen's in which she got injured, Mike thinks it is because Celia did not sushi.
- Comic-Book Adaptation:
- Dark Horse Comics published a one-shot comic that adapted the events of the film.
- Boom! Studios did a sequel of sorts in a four-issue miniseries titled Monsters, Inc: Laugh Factory, which featured Randall's return, Mr. Waternoose's escape from prison, Sid using the closet doors to his advantage, and the subsequent team-up of the three.
- Cone of Shame: Monsters who undergo decontamination by the CDA due to a 2319 or 835 call end up wearing one.
- Confused Bystander Interview: After Boo's presence is discovered, "witnesses" claim to have seen her use laser vision and mind powers.
- Convenient Photograph: When Randall asks Mike about the human, Boo, that was spotted in the sushi restaurant, Mike lies that he was nowhere near the restaurant and throws suspicion at a coworker, so that he and Sulley can get Boo back home before the authorities bust them for illegally harboring a human. As they walk towards the scare floor to get Boo's door, Celia, Mike's girlfriend angrily berates him for running away and leaving her to get processed when the authorities burst into the restaurant. Hearing the scolding, Randall then notices that the newspaper has picture taken inside the restaurant that shows Mike making a break for it.
- Cool Gate: Closet doors in childrens' bedrooms are these when activated from the monster's side.
- Copycat Mockery: When Randall asks Mike if he hears the "winds of change" (referring to him beating Sulley), Mike repeats it in a mocking voice.
- Corporate Conspiracy: The conspiracy at Monsters, Inc. was set into motion by a few bad apples rather than the whole corporation, but it still counts Randall Boggs along with Henry J. Waternoose III formulates a plan to solve the coming energy crisis by kidnapping children and subjecting them to the Scream Extractor, all while maintaining the superstition that humans are poisonous.
- Corpsing: In the read-along adaptation read by Dom De Luise, the reader can hear DeLuise laughing while reading about Mike landing in the wastebasket.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mr. Waternoose is all but determined to keep his company from going into the red ink, even if it means breaking the law.
- Creator Cameo: Director Pete Docter voices the CDA agents who announces that Harryhausen's is ready for decontamination as part of an 835 call.
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- Cute Monster Girl: Celia. Boo, from Sulley's perspective.
- Cyclops: Mike, his "teddy bear" Little Mikey, and Celia are the most prominent examples. There are several other one-eyed monsters that appear as background characters.
- Danger Deadpan: Upon mistaking Randall for a gator, a teenage boy reports "Mama! Another gator got in the house," with no more excitement in his voice than as if he was announcing a pizza delivery.
- The Darkness Gazes Back: In the opening.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mike. Also Roz, whose incredibly deadpan voice often gives Mike the creeps.Roz: I hope you filed your paperwork correctly... for once. Your stunned silence is very reassuring.
- Death Glare:
- When Sulley scares Boo by accident and doesn't notice until it is too late.
- Randall to Waternoose after the line: "Sullivan was twice the Scarer you will ever be!"
- Finally, when Boo is about to attack Randall in the door vault.
- Deep South: Randall's final fate is getting trapped in a trailer and getting wailed on by a swamp lady who thinks he is an alligator.
- Defends Against Their Own Kind: Sulley and Mike go to great lengths to keep Boo safe from authorities.
- Design Student's Orgasm: The opening credits.
- Destroy the Villain's Weapon: Downplayed. Sulley doesn't destroy the Scream Extractor so much as break it off from a part holding it upwards and throw it at the villains.
- Did You Actually Believe...?: Mike and Randall.Randall: (evil chuckle) You still think this is about that stupid scare record?
Mike: Well, I did... right up until you chuckled like that...
- Dish Dash: Of the spinning dishes on sticks variety.
- Disney Villain Death: During their confrontation in the door factory, Randall attempts to kill Sulley this way by knocking him out of a door and almost sending him falling to his death. Only Boo's intervention stops it.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Randal interrogates Mike in the hallway a lot like a mafia hit man, getting in his face, making him answer his own questions, mild-but-threatening violence and even giving him a "capisce" hand gesture when he asks if he'd made himself clear.
- Dog Pile of Doom:
- CDA agents pounce on George in the locker room after he opens the door to his locker and the toys Sulley shoved in there fall on him.
- Immediately after Sulley and Mike get a disguised Boo through the swarm of CDA agents in the lobby, a detector machine squeals and a bunch of agents chase a random factory worker offscreen. Going by the dialogue, leaping CDA agents and thumping sound effects, the factory worker is presumably dogpiled. Then something that sounds an awful lot like a dentists drill starts up.Agent 1: Halt! Stop him!Agent 2: Hold him down.(Worker screams as the drill starts up)
- Don't Call Me "Sir": The easygoing Sulley has a brief moment asking Those Two Guys not to call him Mr. Sullivan.
- Don't Look Down: Stated by Sulley early on in the door vault scene (shortly before the rollercoaster drop).
- Door Handle Scare: After managing to capture Boo, Sulley goes back to her door to send her back, and as he reaches for the knob it suddenly starts to turn. The next shot is of Sulley's rival, Randall, coming out of the door. He deactivates the door, and as it is lifted up to be stored away, it leaves Sulley, who had been hiding behind the door, exposed. Thankfully, Randall never looks back.
- The Door Slams You: Happens twice to Randall in the door vault. The first door that Sulley, Mike, and Boo go through is slammed just as he reaches it. A little later, Mike slams another door in his face, trapping two of his antennae ("I hope that hurt, lizard boy!").
- Double Jump: In the Video Game Monsters, Inc.: Scream Team.
- Easily Forgiven: Fungus's presence on the laugh floor indicates as much. Justified seeing that he was under Randall's thumb and stops being that way after Randall's defeat.
- Eiffel Tower Effect: During the "Chase Through Doors" section Sulley, Mike and Boo run through rooms that have views on Mt. Fuji and the Eiffel Tower.
- Embarrassing Ad Gig: Subverted. When Mike's one shot on the new company ad has his face covered up by the logo, he at first appears shocked and disappointed. But then he shouts enthusiastically "I was on TV!"
- Emotion Eater: The entire world is powered by children's screams of fear. As they discover later, though, they get more power from laughter.
- Engineered Public Confession: Mr. Waternoose's near the end of the film.
- Esoteric Happy Ending: Discussed In-Universe. Mike mentions that even though he and Sulley saved Boo, they destroyed the company, put their fellow employees out of a job, and doomed Monstropolis to a powerless fate. Or at least, they WOULD have, if he didn't give Sulley the idea to switch to laugh power.
- Et Tu, Brute?: How Sulley felt towards his mentor and close friend Waternoose.
- "Eureka!" Moment:
Mike: At least we had some laughs, right?
- When Mike said that he and Sulley would have to start a whole new life far away to keep from getting killed by Randall, he says "Goodbye, Mr. Waternoose!", which gives Sulley the idea to go to Waternoose for help. Subverted when it is revealed that Mr. Waternoose was in on the scheme. Still, It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.
- Then again, towards the end of the film:
- Even Evil Has Standards: The whole monster world might scare children as an energy source, but they would never hurt a kid. And the idea of kidnapping them is not only a crime, but seen as just plain wrong.
- Extra Eyes: Several monsters, mostly background characters, have more eyes than the average mammal, bird, or reptile. The most prominent ones are Waternoose and Fungus, who have five and three eyes, respectively. The monster with the highest amount of eyes is the green "witness" of Boo's attack on Harryhausen's, who has twenty eyes in total!
- Extremely Short Timespan: The bulk of the film takes place over the course of two days.
- Eye Scream:
- The Faceless: Every CDA member, with the exception of #001: Roz.
- Faint in Shock: When Sulley watches (what he thinks is) Boo getting crushed in the trash compactor, he faints four times: First after seeing the trash being pounded by two big hammers, again after seeing it being rolled flat, a third time after seeing it being chopped into cubes, and a fourth time when the cubes come out and he makes to try and pick up the one that he thinks has Boo inside it.note
- Fast-Roping: How the CDA, or Child Detection Agency, enter a scare floor when the 2319 alarm is pulled. With varying degrees of success.
- Fingore: Happens to Mike twice, first when Roz closes the window to the help desk on his fingers, then when a kid bites his index finger.
- Fighting Across Time and Space: Toward the end, Mike and Sully are chased by Randall, who wants to take possession of Boo. This takes place in the Portal Network door factory where every door leads to a different room on Earth, so they go through a number of different locations while trying to outrun Randall. It's also a Don't Look Down situation because the door factory production is very high up and the fall would be fatal. Randall eventually takes Boo from Mike and Sully but is bested when, while trying to Hand Stomp Sully off the door's edge, Boo sneak-attacks Randall from behind. Mike and Sully throw Randall into a door leading to a swamp house, where he is mistaken for an alligator and beaten with a shovel, and Mike and Sully shatter the door from the "outside."
- First-Name Basis: Mr. Waternoose is the only character to refer to Sulley by his first name, James. Randall does it once while talking to Mike and he himself is referred to only by his first name and we only find out his surname of Boggs from Celia.
- Five-Second Foreshadowing: At one point, this exchange occurs:Waternoose: (lecturing a group of trainee Scarers) How many times do I have to tell you? It's all about presence. About how you enter the room!
- Foreshadowing: Used several times throughout the film.
- In the company commericial, Waternoose mentions research into new energy techniques. This apparently includes a means to extract screams from children.
- "James, this company has been in my family for three generations. I would do anything to keep it from going under." Up to and including kidnapping children to harvest their screams, even.
- Waternoose's involvement in the Evil Plan is made apparent by the very existence of the secret door and the scream extractor underneath the factory. Even if Randall could have built the machine himself from parts scavenged around the factory and making use of the abundance of Scream canisters, there is no way he would have been able to set up such an elaborate concealment method for the entrance without being caught unless he also had aid from the owner of the factory himself.
- "I'm always watching you, Wazowski. Always watching. Always."
- "Just think about a few names, will ya? Loch Ness, Bigfoot, The Abominable Snowman. They all got one thing in common: banishment! We could be next!" Guess who Sulley and Mike meet after they get banished?
- Boo's crying causes the lights to flicker in Sulley and Mike's apartment because, of course, screams of children are what are used as power in the monster world. However, her laughter causes a much stronger overload to the point of causing a total power failure. This is how Sulley discovers that laughter is more powerful than screams.
- Mike's line to Sulley in the locker room: "There's more to life than scaring."
- When Sulley assures Boo that no monster will come out of his closet to scare her while she is sleeping in his bed, he says that he won't either because "[he's] off-duty." He accidentally scares her while he is on duty later.
- While hiding from Randall and Fungus in the bathroom, Randall tells Fungus to get "the machine" up and running, and that he (Randall) will take care of Boo. Said machine turns out to be the scream extractor which appears later that day.
- An extremely subtle one, but when Mike is running away from Randall (who is shown lying in wait for Mike), Randall is camouflaged right near one of Mr. Waternoose's portraits. Randall and Waternoose were later revealed to be working together.
- "One of these days... I'm going to let you teach that guy a lesson."
- Boo reveals through her drawings that Randall is the monster assigned to her, and is thus the best designated to scare her out of the entire company. This becomes relevant much later when Randall becomes her, Sulley, and Mike's biggest threat and Boo is initially too scared to help.
- During the first 2319 and the first time the CDA show up, Roz slams the front panel of her desk shut. She later slams it shut on Mike's fingers after he reveals that Randall was working the scare floor the previous night while trying to get the card to Boo's door. The very next scene in the restroom opens with Randall being questioned by some CDA agents. At the end of the film it is revealed she is the head of the CDA.
- Randall's comment to Sulley and Mike about "the winds of change" seems like a random taunt, but then it is revealed he is the mastermind of the Scream Extractor, which he claims will "revolutionize" the scaring industry.
- Waternoose having Super Strength on par with, or even eclipsing, Sulley's gets subtly teased when we first meet him. During his demonstration of screams being the monster's source of power, Waternoose casually holds a canister in one hand and is able to gesture with it like it was a pencil, while many other characters are seen straining to lift them.
- Throughout the film, every time a door goes online, we are purposefully shown the light above it going on, even within the Door Vault. When Sulley tricks Waternoose in the simulator room, we aren't shown the light on Boo's door, which only the most attentive viewers will actually catch, since Sulley deliberately works a keypad.
- However, super attentive viewers might also notice that he actually presses a different button on the keypad than the one we've seen other characters use to activate a door.
- The few times Boo touches Sulley and vice versa, and when Boo's things dangle from Mike, they do not seem to suffer anything deadly; they are noticeably fine, even after hours. This is the first clue that children are not toxic as monsters thought.
- For Want of a Nail: If Mike hadn't forgotten to file his paperwork, Sulley wouldn't have found Boo, and Randall and Waternoose would never have been discovered.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- During the scene where Mike and Celia are looking at him on the magazine cover, there is a poster in the background labeled "The 10 Rules of Comedy". It is a little hard to make out, but the rules are:1. Punchline doesnt mean hit the kid.
2. Don't howl at your own jokes.
3. Tentacles funny. Really sharp claws not funny.
4. Multiple heads should speak one at a time.
5. No claws for tickling.
6. Scared kids dont laugh.
7. Try not to hurt the audience.
8. Always keep sharp spikes in.
9. You dont get a laugh if you dont take a bath.
10. Never let them see you slobber.
- In the scene where a monster runs out of a child's room when she isn't scared of him, we can briefly see a poster inside the child's room. This poster was also seen in Hannah's Room. And since the monster made it clear that it had been a girl's room...
- During the scene where Mike and Celia are looking at him on the magazine cover, there is a poster in the background labeled "The 10 Rules of Comedy". It is a little hard to make out, but the rules are:
- Full-Name Ultimatum: An angry Celia makes her presence known to Mike by shouting, "Michael Wazowski!" It stops him dead in his tracks and gives him an Oh, Crap! moment.
- Funny Background Event: When the local news is interviewing one of the witnesses from Harryhausen's talking about the child using its "mind powers" on him, a monster holding a baby can be seen behind him nonchalantly waving to the camera, and then moving their baby's hand to make it wave.
- Fun with Flushing: Sulley gets some of Boo's toys tangled up on him when he re-enters the monster world. He tries to get rid of them by flushing them down the toilet, but it gets clogged up and overflows. He then has to dump them in someone's locker, where they reappear later as a Brick Joke.
- Funny Octopus: There is an octopus-like sushi chef working in the restaurant named Harryhausen's. Like all the patrons, this octopus character is terrified of the human toddler Boo.
- Furniture Blockade: When Sulley is trying to save Boo from Mr. Waternoose, he runs onto the factory's training room and bends a metal pipe to lock the doors, keeping him at bay long enough to fetch Boo's door and return her to the human world.
- Gambit Roulette: Sulley and Mike's plan to get Waternoose to confess depended greatly on random chance, for instance the fact that the agents wouldn't follow Sulley after he pushed over the cans. But this is justified since they had less than a minute to come up with it.
- Genre-Busting: It is a monster movie / kid flick / invasion movie / sci-fi / family drama / comedy.
- Gentle Giant: Sulley scares young kids for money. He is a very jovial guy off-duty.
- Gilligan CutMike: What do you wanna do, walk out in public with that thing? And then I suppose we'll just waltz right up to the factory!
(Sulley looks thoughtful; cut to outside the factory)
Mike: I can't believe we are waltzing right up to the factory!
- Glass Smack and Slide: The "bloopers" shows one of the CDA members missing his entrance by Fast-Roping, the window pane not pivoting, and smacking flat against it before sliding down.
- Gorgeous Gorgon: Mike certainly thinks this way about Celia.
- Groin Attack: Sulley and Mike are trying to get Boo to laugh again to reactivate all the closet doors. Mike tries a trick where he lands on a metal bar right between his legs and is in notable pain. Even though you can't see anything, ouch.
- Handshake Refusal: Before the scarers start working on the first day, Sulley turns to Randall at the next station, holds out his hand and says, "Hey, may the best monster win," expecting a handshake. Randall refuses to give one and simply says, "I plan to."
- Have You Told Anyone Else?: Unlike most examples, it seems genuinely innocuous (since the one asking it is concerned about the company's welfare and, by extension, its public relations) until The Reveal.
- Heel Realization: After inadvertently scaring Boo, Sulley realizes how wrong scaring children is.
- The Hero: How Mike views himself. Actually, it is Sulley, even though Mike is responsible for manning Sulley's day-to-day matters. See also The Lancer and Sidekick, both below.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: They even have a song about it!
- Hilarious Outtakes: Continuing the tradition with their last two films, fake bloopers were added a few weeks after the film's opening during the closing credits and later included on the home video releases. This was the last Pixar film to do this, as the creators felt that it was getting old (not to mention, it wouldn't be as convincing underwater).
- Hollywood Chameleon: Randall.
- Honest Corporate Executive: Sulley becomes one at the end of the film.
- I Did What I Had to Do: This is Waternoose's justification for kidnapping Boo and potentially hundreds of other children.
- I Have Just One Thing to Say: *Mike pulls a sock out of his mouth and throws it* Catch!
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog: The Yeti's excuse:Yeti: Oh, would you look at that? We're out of snow cones.
- Subverted in that he really was going to make more snow cones, possibly to cheer the monsters up.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Despite the fact that the cast is full of adorably inhuman monsters they still manage to resemble their voice actors, especially Mike who could not be more Billy Crystal. And Randall is Steve Buscemi. According to the DVD Commentary, Buscemi accused the casting director of typecasting him when he first saw a picture of Randall.
- Invisibility: Randall, being based on a chameleon and all.
- Ironic Echo:
Sulley: Mike, that's not her door.Mike: Uh, sir? That's not her door...
- When Mike parodies the training instructor from the start of the movie:Mike: Well, I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I spotted several big mistakes.
- Both Sulley and Mike say "that's not her door" at different points in the movie. Sulley when Mike brings up a door that isn't Boo's, and Mike when Waternoose brings up an ominous metal door.
- When Mike parodies the training instructor from the start of the movie:
- The monsters are as afraid of the children as they are of them, due to the fact they believe their touch is lethal.
- After helping Waternoose exile Sulley and Mike to the Himalayas, Randall gets exiled at the end of the film.
- Is That Cute Kid Yours?: Waternoose asks Sulley this when he first sees Boo, though Sulley and Mike cover this by saying that she is Sulley's "cousin's sister's daughter" and that it is "Bring an Obscure Relative to Work" Day. Waternoose seems to go along with the idea. Later, the company's day care worker mistakes Sulley to be Boo's father as well.
- "It" Is Dehumanizing: Mike refers to Boo as "it" a lot in the first half of the film. He stops by the end.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Waternoose did this quite a while ago when he decides that nothing would stop him from saving his company.
- Kaiju: Ted, a monster so large Sulley only comes up to about half his leg. He also clucks like a chicken, oddly enough.
- Kick the Dog:
- Intentionally performed by Randall on way too many occasions to count.
- Waternoose wasn't kidding about what he said with the promise to keep his company afloat, due to his kidnapping of Boo. Yes, he would do anything to keep it afloat — even if it meant breaking the law.
- Kick the Morality Pet: Unintentionally performed by Sulley toward Boo, leading to a Heel Realization.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch:
- Waternoose's line towards Randall of, "Sullivan was twice the scarer you will ever be!" is this. Randall gives him a Death Glare and a growl for it.
- A minor example happens when George prevents Charlie from calling yet another 2319 and instead stuffs the sock into Charlie's mouth and shoves him into the human world.
- Knight Templar: Waternoose wants to save his family business and Monstropolis from collapse due to a power shortage. His "solution" drives him into would-be child slaughterer.
- The Lancer: How Mike views Sulley. Actually, Mike is The Lancer for Sulley. See also The Hero, above, and Sidekick, below.
- Large Ham: The Yeti / Abominable Snowman, who is played by John Ratzenberger.
- Last-Name Basis: Sulley is usually referred to as Sulley or Sullivan. Mostly Randall calls him the latter. The only person to really refer to Sulley by his first name, James, is Waternoose. Mike is also referred to by his surname of Wazowski by Roz and Randall.
- Laugh of Love: We get the following exchange between Mike and Celia:Mike: I just got us into a little place called, um, Harryhausen's.
Celia: [gasps] Harryhausen's? But it's impossible to get a reservation there!
Mike: Not for Googly-bear.
- Leave No Witnesses: This is how Randall and Waternoose attempt to deal with James, Mike, and Boo. Waternoose says "There can't be any witnesses" when James and Mike return to Monstropolis after their banishment.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: After Sulley and Mike help CDA Agent #1 uncover Waternoose's conspiracy and return Boo home, she tells them "None of this ever happened, gentlemen. And I don't want to see any paperwork on this."
- The Lonely Door: The closet doors allow the monsters to access the human world via children's bedrooms.
- Lovecraft Lite: The proliferation of scales and tentacles and the inter-dimensional aspects. In addition, the trope is played with, in that the monsters regard the human world as a dangerous place and treat Boo like a pint-sized Eldritch Abomination. This also counts as Fridge Brilliance; the monsters, many of which count as Eldritch Abominations, in turn consider us the real monsters.
- Mama Bear: Armed with nothing but a shovel, a mother in a trailer park defends her son by assaulting a monster who she thinks is an intruding gator.
- Match Cut: When Mike says they'll just waltz right in the factory, the camera zooms into an armchair. It cuts to a close up of Boo's monster disguise, with the same texture of the armchair.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Roz and Randall enjoy good-natured jokes as the bloopers indicate.
- Meaningful Echo: Albeit with an inversion.Roz: And I don't want to see any paperwork on this.
- The Men in Black: The CDA. Extra points for being a complete inversion of the Trope Namer — they're protecting unsuspecting monsters from hideous humans.
- Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Sulley happens to stumble upon Randall apparently cheating the system by having a door at his station after hours, only to discover a much larger child-kidnapping conspiracy out of it that went all the way up to not only Randall, but also to Mr. Waternoose himself.
- Missed Him by That Much:
Randall: You just keep the machine up and running, I'll take care of the kid. And when I find whoever let that kid out... THEY'RE DEAD! (punches open the stall the trio is hiding in, but he isn't looking in their direction; the door closes again before he can notice them) WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE?! COME ON! GO! MOVE! NOW!
- Sulley, Mike, and Boo are hiding in a bathroom stall from Randall. Randall punches them open one by one, and Sulley flinches as every door opens. Before Randall can burst the stall the trio are hiding in however, his assistant Fungus points that Boo is on the front page. After a short discussion, Randall punches the door Sulley, Mike, and Boo are hiding in, but isn't looking at the time, and the door closes before he can spot them. Then he yells at Fungus and chases him out of the bathroom, demanding him to get to work on his plan.
Fungus: (as Randall chases him out of the bathroom) No, I'm not here! I'm going right now!...
Sulley: They're gone.
(A huge splash is seen in the stall Sulley, Mike, and Boo are hiding in)
- Later, Sulley hides underneath a table on the Scare Floor, and Randall materializes right beside him, but is looking the other way so Randall can't see him, and the bell rings before Randall can notice him.
- Mistaken for Gay: Sulley and Mike several times, but it is kept rather subtle.
- The Mole:
- Mondegreen: Boo's dialogue throughout the film consists mostly of babbbling, with occasional words being recognizable such as "Kitty" and "Tigger". Director Pete Doctor noted in the DVD Commentary that this created an almost Rorschach-like effect, where people could hear her saying different distinct things, especially in the scene where she is singing while using the restroom.
- Monster Closet: Technically, the closets aren't hidden, but it is impossible to tell from the outside when one of them's gonna open and reveal a monster.
- Monster Façade: Doing this is the job of all the Scarers: they need to pretend to be vicious and scary because the screams of terrified children are their main source of energy.
- Mood Whiplash: When Sulley is fighting Randall, it is funny since Randall is invisible. But when Randall starts to strangle Sulley, the mood gets a bit serious.
- Motive Misidentification: Mike thinks Randall's behavior and motivation is all about breaking the scare record up until he flat out tells him it is not.
- Motive Rant: Waternoose provides this during his Accidental Public Confession in front of the CDA in the simulation room.
- Multi-Armed Multitasking: The sushi chef.
- Multiple Head Case:
- My God, What Have I Done?: Sulley is deeply shaken when he sees the effect that his scaring demonstration has on Boo, and by extension the effect his scaring has on human children in general.Sulley: Did you see the way she looked at me?
- Mysterious Middle Initial: It is not revealed what Sulley's middle initial of P stands for.
- Necessary Evil: Despite being the Big Bad of the movie, Waternoose makes it clear that he wished he didn't have to resort to such measures, but felt that he had no choice and that his child-kidnapping conspiracy is this. Everyone else disagrees.
- Nested Mouths: In Harryhausen's, one of the monsters has a second monster for a tongue, which eats the food.
- Never Filled Out Official Paperwork: A variation. Mike Wazowski frequently forgets to file his paperwork, and after news that a child got loose from the Monster's Inc. scream processing facility, Mike goes to Roz, who's in charge of the doors going into children's rooms, to find the door Randall was working in, to put Boo, the child in question, back. Roz informs Mike he didn't file his scare reports again, ignores his request, and closes the window to her office on him. Specifically, Mike didn't file the paperwork because he was late for a date with Celia and Sulley offered to file it for him, but then Sulley got scared by Boo and forgot about the paperwork.
- The New Rock & Roll: Downplayed. It is implied that the increasing explicitness of human media is making kids harder to scare and contributing to the energy shortage in the monster world; however this remains as merely an undertone and the film never gets preachy or Anvilicious about it.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
- Sulley throws a teddy bear that looks like Mike at Boo so that she would quiet down and stop laughing and running around, but then Mike angrily snatches it away from her asserting it is his. Guess how Boo reacts.
- Sulley attempts to tell Waternoose of what Randall tried to do, but it turns out they've been conspiring together and sends him and Mike to the Himalayas. Mike calls him out on that.
- Just barely subverted in the ending: Though Sulley and Mike ultimately manage to get Boo back into her bedroom, and expose Waternoose of his crimes, their actions also caused the company to nearly be shut down and almost caused a permanent city-wide blackout as a consequence. The only reason it did not turn out that way was because it was discovered that the children's laughter had 10x the power output of scream. In addition, the Scarers seem well-adjusted to the Laughter switch.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Randall delivers one to Sulley while invisible so Sulley can't fight back. Mike doesn't realize Sulley's being beaten up because he can't see Randall.
- Non-Mammalian Hair:
- Roz (a.k.a. CDA Agent #1)is a large slug-like monster with a tuft of white hair on her head.
- Also, some of the monsters, whether resembling toads, slugs or octopodes, will inevitably have some form of hair on their heads.
- "No Peeking!" Request: At the end of the film, Mike does this with Sulley when he's about to surprise him with Boo's reconstructed door.
- Not Afraid of You Anymore: Boo to Randall, right after beating the crud out of him to save Sulley.
- Odd Couple: Sulley and Mike. See also Opposites Attract, below.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Boo does it several times.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Mike during the line from Roz. "And I'm sure you filed your paperwork correctly. For once. [beat, Mike's eye widens] Your stunned silence is very reassuring."
- Sulley and Mike as they escape Harryhausen's only for them to realize that the CDA has used the 835 to decontaminate the restaurant.
- Sulley and Mike entering the factory with Boo, only to find the lobby swarming with CDA agents. Another one follows moments later when they see Boo heading towards Waternoose.
- Mike upon hearing Celia's furious voice shouting his name and seeing her stride towards him with cones around her neck, as well as those on her snakes.
- Sulley when he sees Needleman and Smitty dump the trash (that Sulley thinks has Boo in it) down a chute that leads to the trash compactor.
- Sulley and Mike get one after Waternoose's Wham Line, as they realize they're about to be banished.
- Also Randall, after Sulley and Boo turn the tables on him and Sulley makes it very clear he is about to get his comeuppance.
- Also Waternoose, when he tries to snatch Boo from her bed, only to discover he has snatched the simulated child in the simulation room, and the CDA has recorded every word he has said.
- Oh, No... Not Again!: When Randall gets trapped in the human world he is mistaken for an alligator. The humans' dialogue implies that he is not the first "gator" to appear in the home.Boy: Mama! Another gator got in the house.Mama: Another gator?! Gimme dat shovel!
- Opposites Attract: Sulley and Mike.
- Our Monsters Are Weird: The monster world is home to a wide variety of monster species, each with their own bizarre physical quirks, from having lots of eyes to simply being large-jawed heads on legs.
- There is even a monster who has removable eyes!
- Overreacting Airport Security: The CDA's response to a 2319 alarm leaves George humiliated.
- Packed Hero: Parodied. Boo loses one of the "eyestalks" of her monster costume in a trash can. Sulley sees it and thinks she is in a pile of garbage, then watches the garbage get swept into a cart, dropped down a chute, and put through an exceedingly brutal compactor. The audience sees her walk away from the garbage can; Sulley faints at every step of the compactor.
- Papa Wolf: Sulley to Boo.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Boo's monster outfit, to an extent, considering her head is looking out through the mouth.
- Peek-a-Bogeyman: Sulley, upon noticing Boo make a drawing of Randall, assures her that Randall isn't coming through the closet by opening the closet door to reveal nothing in there. In the outtakes, Roz is shown to be there, and she says "Guess who?"
- Pig Latin: "Ook-lay in the ag-bay." Lampshaded in the Hilarious Outtakes:Sulley: Look-lay in the bag-bay.
Mike: I think you mean, "Ook-lay in the ag-bay."
Sulley: What? Didn't I, uh...?
Mike: Well, you know, maybe you should just take a minute and ead-ray your ipt-scray!
- Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: After being banished to the Himalayas, Mike finally lets Sulley have it for dragging him into the entire Boo debacle and essentially ruining his life, causing a fight that would have turned violent had the Abominable Snowman not found them. When Sulley leaves to rescue Boo, Mike refuses to join him, though he comes around a few minutes later.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Mike, and Boo to a lesser extent.
- Portal Door: Probably one of the more iconic examples in fiction. The titular factory has a massive warehouse full of doors which become these when powered, allowing monsters to go into kids' rooms to scare them to collect scream.
- Potty Dance: Boo does it at one point in the movie. At first, Sulley and Mike think she was dancing with joy, but Sulley quickly realized its true meaning.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Waternoose and Randall's plan to solve the power shortage. Since it's getting harder and harder to scare kids in the usual way, Randall constructs a "scream extractor" that will suck the very screams from a child's lungs—meaning that they'll be kidnapping children to get fuel.
- Power Walk:
- The scarers entering the power company floor. A Shout-Out to The Right Stuff.
- Played with in the "out-takes" where Sulley (in front) trips, and the monsters behind him trip, and the monsters behind them... If you look closely, you can actually see a tentacle from the monster behind him getting caught up around his feet which is why he trips.
- Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: A furious Mike to Sulley after they are banished: "YOU'RE STILL NOT LISTENING?!" Immediately after, he screams with rage and dives at Sulley.
- Production Foreshadowing: Nemo appears as a clown fish on the wall in Harryhausen's, is seen on the wall in the trailer Randall gets banished to, and a Nemo toy is seen among the toys in Boo's room.
- Properly Paranoid: When Sulley and Mike run to find Boo's door waiting for them on the Scare Floor, and Sulley finds out Randall put it there, he becomes immediately cautious, and Boo is suddenly terrified and hides under a desk. He says that something feels wrong about all this and refuses to let Boo through the door. Mike goes inside to assure him it is perfectly safe... and then gets stuffed into a box by Randall, who was waiting inside to trap Boo.
- Proscenium Reveal: The film opens with a monster walking into a child's bedroom. He is freaked out when the child starts screaming and starts knocking things over — and then suddenly the lights turn on, an alarm goes off, and the voice "Simulation Terminated!" is heard repeatedly. One wall of the room lifts up, revealing that the child is actually a robot, and we are actually in Monsters, Inc.'s state-of-the-art children's room training simulator, being observed by an instructor and several other students, who start critiquing him about his mistakes.
- Punch-Clock Villain:
- It turns out that monsters scare children because screams are their source of electricity. Off-duty, they're pretty nice people.Sulley: (to Boo) I'm not going to scare you. I'm off duty!
- Also, Fungus is this as Randall's partnerFungus: I'm sorry, Wazowski, but Randall said I'm not allowed to fraternize with victims of his evil plot.
- It turns out that monsters scare children because screams are their source of electricity. Off-duty, they're pretty nice people.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Randall is especially guilty, and also, to a lesser degree, Mike.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Sulley and Mike manage to foil Waternoose's extreme plan to save Monsters, Inc., by enslaving children, and get him arrested for it, but as he is taken away, Waternoose warns that their actions means that Monsters, Inc., will be shut down and doom all of Monstropolis to a state of perpetual blackout. Fortunately, Sulley manages to subvert it by taking control of the company and switching over to collecting laughter instead of scream, solving Monstropolis's energy crisis.
- Rage Breaking Point: After Sulley and Mike are banished, Mike tells Sulley that all he had to do was listen to him about what he thought was going on. Then he realizes... YOU'RE STILL NOT LISTENING?!, crosses this, screams with rage and dives at Sulley, knocking the two of them down a snowdrift, and leaving both poised to punch at the other before Mike sees the Abominable Snowman behind Sulley.
- Rapid-Fire "No!": Sulley lets one off after Waternoose kidnaps Boo and banishes him and Mike to the Himalayas.
- Real Fake Door: Any time a door opens to nothing, especially when Sulley and Mike are exiled to the Himalayas.
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- Waternoose. Which makes the revelation that he has jumped off the slippery slope beforehand even more surprising.
- Also, CDA Number One. When the matter of what to do about Boo arises, Sulley says "I just want to send her home." CDA Number One replies, "Very good."
- Refuge in Audacity: Mike pulls this twice with Blatant Lies both of which surprisingly work.
- He first tells Waternoose that a disguised Boo is present at work due to it being "Bring An Obscure Relative To Work" Day. Justified due to having to think on the fly. It works, as Waternoose is so busy with the energy crisis that he assumes he missed the memo.
- He does it again on the Scare Floor when everyone turns to look at him and Sulley, telling them they're rehearsing a scene for the upcoming company play. That also works. Bonus points when, in the outtakes, the play actually gets made.
- Reminder Failure: A subverted example occurs when Sulley tries repeating to himself where he should deliver Mike's paperwork. He corrects his own verbalized mistake on which colored copies go where, but he never actually gets around to delivering them, forgetting because the human child Boo gets out.
- Repeat Cut: When the door on which Sulley, Mike, and Boo are riding hurtles down a steep slope. In the first shot, you see them travelling down most of slope from behind, then you see a shot of them from the front, followed by a POV shot. But judging by the first shot, it takes them a rather long time to go down the last part of the slope, meaning that the camera must have jumped back a second in time.
- Repeated Rehearsal Failure: Sulley tries repeating to himself where he should deliver Mike's paperwork. He messes up, then subverts the trope by correcting his mistake.Mike: The pink copies go to accounting, the fuchsia ones go to purchasing, the goldenrod ones go to Roz. Leave the puce.
[One Smash Cut later]
Sulley: Pink copies go to accounting, fuchsia ones go to Roz. [*Beat*] No, the fuchsia ones go to purchasing, the goldenrod ones go to Roz. Man, I have no idea what puce is. [He looks at the colors] Oh, that's puce.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: While there are many other reptilian / dinosaurian monsters that aren't villainous in the slightest, Randall is the most obviously reptilian-looking and "serpentine" of them all.
- The Reveal:
- Rewatch Bonus: The scene where Sulley accidentally scares Boo has Mike in the background trying to convince Mr. Waternoose that Boo isn't toxic. Waternoose's reactions during that scene include a cartoonish gasp and pantomime raising of hands when he first sees her, a calculating shiftiness of his eyes once Mike starts talking, being so willing to discard a lifetime of teaching during the course of a minute-long speech from Mike that he willingly picks Boo up (which Mike is still hesitant to do after a full day in her company), a different sort of anger during his "how could this happen?" question than would be expected from someone who's just been told a murderous psychopath is using his factory to kidnap children, and asking who else knows about Boo. Assuming the viewer wasn't distracted by the heartbreaking way Boo cowers away from Sulley, it would be implausible for even the most Reasonable Authority Figure to react as calmly as Waternoose does. Rewatching the scene after discovering that he is behind the whole scheme makes all the subtleties of his reaction make perfect sense.
- When the CDC first comes bursting into the factory, there's a seemingly-random shot of Roz slamming down the window of her cubicle as they rush by her. This makes a lot more sense when you discover that she's The Mole for the group on an undercover investigation—presumably, she wanted to ensure that no one would look at or talk to her during their raid so her cover would remain intact.
- Running Gag:
- Mike repeatedly failing to do his paperwork.
- Mike is always being cut somehow from images and videos he appears in (in the Monsters, Inc. commercial at the beginning, the M in the "Monsters Inc." corporate logo is hiding him) — and doesn't care because he did at least get a bit of the spotlight.
- It is more implied that he got slipped the idiot pill and didn't notice.Mike: I can't believe it! I'm... on the cover of a magazine!
- The original DVD has a picture of Sulley and Mike — with Mike largely obscured by the hole.
- "23-19! We have a 23-19!" Poor George. He finally wises up enough to pass off the sock to his assistant before he can make a 2319 call.
- Roz is quite the practical joker.Roz: Guess who?
- Say My Name: Sulley yells "BOO!" after he and Mike are banished to the Himalayas when he opens the banishment door and sees only snow behind it.
- Scenery Porn:
- The closet door storage chamber is this in a "Holy sh**, this is great!" way.
- All of the doors Sulley and Mike run through during the Randall chase scene. Because the filmmakers just happened to need backgrounds of Hawaii, Japan and Paris, right?
- Scooby-Dooby Doors: The final Randall chase is a stunning example. Contrary to most uses of the trope though, this is entirely justified in-universe because of the nature of the doors.
- Scooby Stack: This Japanese poster and the 2009/3D Blu-ray cover show Sulley, Randall, Roz, Celia, and Mike poking their heads through Boo's door. The 2002 VHS and DVD covers have a downplayed version with just Sulley and Mike.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: A lighthearted example. When Mike tells Celia that he is taking her to Harryhausen's, a super-trendy sushi restaurant, for her birthday, she says that "it's impossible to get a reservation there." It is later revealed that Sulley used his pull as the city's top scarer to book Mike a table.
- Searching the Stalls: Sulley and Boo hide from Randall in a toilet stall. He punches the stalls open one by one, and Sulley flinches as every door opens. Randall actually slams open the stall Sulley is hiding in, but isn't looking at the time. Momentum closes the door before Randall sees them.
- Second Place Is for Losers: Randall certainly seems to think so and is second-place scarer to Sulley for a while.
- Shovel Strike: Randall's fate. He is banished to a trailer in the bayou where a Ragin' Cajun repeatedly whacks him with a shovel, mistaking him for a gator.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: A brief moment of this happens after Sulley and Mike are banished. During a tense moment for Sulley and Mike during their argument, the Abominable Snowman awkwardly excuses himself to leave the cave and make more snow cones, as Mike had just thrown them all at Sulley in his anger.
- Shout-Out: See here.
- Shut Up and Save Me!: Sulley is being wailed on by Randall, who is invisible at the time. Mike shows up, can't see him, and doesn't even notice that Sulley is in danger while he tries to apologize for refusing to help him save Boo. Sulley is saved when Mike unintentionally unveils Randall's position while getting upset at Sulley for "ignoring" him.Mike: Hey look, it's Randall. It's... ohhhhh.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: Mike and Celia.Mike: Schmoopsy-poo!
- Sidekick: Mike views Sulley as his sidekick, but everyone else can see that Mike is obviously Sulley's.
- Sinister Suffocation: Randall intends to kidnap countless human children across the globe and subject them to a machine that forces them to scream uncontrollably, leading to death by suffocation. Mike is clearly terrified when Randall tries to use him as a test subject, while Sulley goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge when the villain attempts to use the device on a human girl he had befriended.
- Slipping into Stink: While hiding in a bathroom stall and standing on a toilet, Mike Wazowski's foot accidentally dips into the water, causing him to pull it out. However, he cannot hold his balance for long, and eventually slips and falls completely into the toilet with a huge splash.
- Smug Snake: Randall.
- The Smurfette Principle: The only major female characters in the movie are a little girl with limited dialogue, the forgettable love interest Celia, and Roz the undercover CDA agent, who has little screen time, and is also voiced by a man. The male-to-female ratio is 4:2.
- Sneeze of Doom: Played for Laughs during Sulley and Mike's commute to work — a monster reading a newspaper sneezes fire on it, destroying it before he could finish reading. He grumbles "Aw, nuts!"
- Spanner in the Works:
- Mike manages to get the ball rolling on uncovering Waternoose's conspiracy by forgetting his paperwork. Because he forgot and had a date that night, he sent Sulley in his place, meaning that Sulley was in the right place to discover Boo's door, which leads to her entering Monstropolis.
- Roz/CDA Agent 1 comments that her two and a half years of working undercover almost went belly up when Sulley got to Boo before Randall. She then admits that without Sulley and Mike's help, she never would've learned Waternoose was the head of the conspiracy.
- Special Person, Normal Name: Everyone who works for Monsters, Inc. has a plain name like "James P. Sullivan" or "Mike Wazowski", which helps to reinforce their characterization as average, working-class Joes.
- The Starscream: After Waternoose tells Randall to leave no witnesses, Randall replies in a manner that lets the audience know that he is planning to backstab his own boss when this is all over.
- Stealth Pun:
- When Celia's Medusa-like hair keeps kissing Mike, she says, "Michael, you're such a charmer." A snake charmer.
- Near the beginning, we see a gigantic scaly monster crossing the road. He makes the sounds of a chicken.
- The company's name is Monsters, Inc., but is sometimes referred to by its initials, "M.I." Their logo is an M with an eye on it.
- Stumbled Into the Plot: Sullivan happened to run into Randall doing some "after-hours screaming" during break and kicked off most of the rest of the movie.
- Stylistic Suck: Yes, Mike actually did make "Put that Thing Back Where it Came From or So Help Me" into a musical, complete with mediocre acting/choreography, clumsily-set up backgrounds, and the CDA as ushers. The audience loved it; the critics (of the Monster World) did not. It was probably made in a hurry by the CDA to back Sulley and Mike's alibis as part of their cover-up.
- Suddenly SHOUTING!: Mike. At least three times.Mike: ...lie in bed, sleep in, or simply, WORK OUT THAT FLAB THAT'S HANGING OVER THE BED! GET UP, SULLEY!
Mike: Well, then why don't you find someplace for it to sleep...WHILE I THINK OF A PLAN!
Mike: I always wanted a pet THAT COULD KILL ME!
Mike: Once you name it, you start getting attached to it! NOW PUT THAT THING BACK WHERE IT CAME FROM, OR SO HELP ME...!
Randall (to Fungus): If I don't see a new door in my station in 5 seconds, I will personally put you THROUGH THE SHREDDER!!!
- Randall also frequently does this.
- Super Strength: Sulley.
- Sure, Let's Go with That: A subtle example but when Randall corners Mike and is accused of cheating he initially acts outraged before suddenly calming down and no longer protesting the point before offering to help get Boo back to the human world. As we later see, it is meant to be foreshadowing that the real reason he was after Boo was in order to use her to test the Scream Extractor.
- Surprise Creepy: The scene where Randall angrily searches the toilet cubicles for the source of a noise he heard is quite intense, considering he nearly caught the tritagonists.
- Surprisingly Happy Ending: The movie seems like it is about to have a Bittersweet Ending in the form of Sulley having to part ways with Boo, but it turns out that Mike Wazowski recreated the door that leads to her room, so Sulley can at least still visit her.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Waternoose may be a Benevolent Boss, and Monsters, Inc. may be his family's company, but he's still beholden to his shareholders. CEOs aren't inherently all-powerful, and the factory doing badly means his head is on the chopping block. It's most notable when Sulley tries to lift Waternoose's spirits with a pep talk, only for the boss to mutter "Tell that to the board of directors"—they're the ones who have power in a corporation, not just the chief.
- Tae Kwon Door: Mike slams a door on Randall during their fight to the tune of "I hope that hurt, lizard boy!".
- Take a Third Option: Sulley, upon gaining control of the company, had only two options of what do to with it. He could have made the workers continue scaring kids for energy, or left the company to fall, causing Monstropolis to lose all power. He takes a third option that he discovered upon first finding Boo (reminded by the last word of Mike's pep-talk): He opts to make children laugh instead, which produces more power than screams of terror did.
- Take My Hand: Sulley to Mike.
- "Take Your Child to Work Day" Plot: Exploited when Sulley and Mike try to return Boo to the human world by disguising her as a monster and sneaking her into the company headquarters. When Waternoose wonders who the cute kid is, Sulley says she is actually his "cousin's sister's daughter", and then claims today is Bring An Obscure Relative To Work Day.
- Tempting Fate:
- After Boo sends everyone at Harryhausen's into a panic, Mike tells Sulley while they flee, "Well, I don't think that date could have gone any worse." Cue the CDA initiating an 835 on the restaurant and an Oh, Crap! reaction from Sulley and Mike.
- After Boo knocks over Mike's stack of CDs, he notes that "As long as it doesn't come near us, we're gonna be okay." Boo then sneezes on him, causing Mike to spray his eye with disinfectant.
- Sulley to Mike when sneaking Boo into the factory: "Everything's going to be OK." Cue an Oh, Crap! immediately afterwards when they find the lobby swarming with CDA agents.
- Terminally Dependent Society: Implied throughout the film. A major background problem is that kids are harder to scare these days, which is leading to a scream shortage in monster-world where the energy given from screams powers pretty much everything. This is fixed at the end of the movie where making kids laugh becomes the new source of energy.
- That Came Out Wrong: At Harryhausen's, Mike's telling Celia what he told someone else when asked who he thought he would spend the rest of his life with. He is about to say "you", when Sullivan stumbles by outside and Mike accidentally finishes the statement with a surprised "Sulley!?".
- They Know Too Much: Mr. Waternoose states this trope after Sulley asks Mr. Waternoose to let Boo go, due to their knowledge of his conspiracy.
- Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: A Perspective Flip, showing that said things are actually more scared of us.
- This Is Gonna Suck:
Charlie: 2319! We have a 2319!
- George in the locker room when he opens the door to his locker and the toys Sulley shoved in there fall on him, seconds before CDA agents pounce on him.
George: (groaning resignedly) Oh, dear.
CDA Agents: Get him! (they bowl George over)
- At one point, Mike needs Boo to laugh. He whimpers before pulling his eyelid and snapping it like an elastic band against his eyeball.
- Those Two Guys: Needleman and Smitty, two employees who spend their screen time bumbling around with one another.
- Toilet Humor: The snowcone scene:
- Yeti: (holding up balls of Yellow Snow) Snow cone?
Yeti: No no no, don't worry. It's lemon.
- Toilet Paper Trail: Mike Wazowski ends up with a piece of toilet paper stuck to his foot after he and Sulley have come out from hiding in the bathroom from Randall. That was one of the hardest things for the animation team to render.
- Torches and Pitchforks: Discussed by Mike when he lists the consequences of everything that happened in the end.Mike: Not to mention the angry mob that'll come after us when there's no more power...
- Trapped in Another World: Sulley and Mike get banished to the human world by Waternoose and Randall late in the movie. They later inflict this fate on Randall by throwing him through a door and shutting it off.
- Trapped the Wrong Target: Mike is threatened by Randall to return Boo to her room during lunch break. When Sulley hears of this, he refuses to let Boo go back to her room, knowing full well that Randall is planning something, so Mike goes inside the room and starts jumping on Boo's bed to prove that it isn't a trap. As it turns out, it actually was a trap, and Randall ends up capturing Mike instead.
- Traveling at the Speed of Plot: The Abominable Snowman tells Sulley the village is a three-day hike from where they are on the mountain. Three days of hiking does not become thirty seconds just because you are on a sled, but Sulley and Mike can't arrive too late to save Boo.
- Unstoppable Rage: Sulley, Mike, and Boo. Sulley when he releases Boo from the scream extractor, Mike when he and Sulley are banished, and finally Boo in the door vault when she attacks Randall and in doing so saves Sulley.Mike: YOU'RE STILL NOT LISTENING?! (screams with rage and dives at Sulley)
- Verbal Backspace: When Mike accuses Randall of cheating the system to boost his numbers, Randall's reaction almost gives away his deeper intentions, before he corrects himself.Randall: CHEATING?! I— ... Cheating. Right.
- Vertebrate with Extra Limbs: Several monsters, but most notably:
- Randall, who has four arms and four legs despite looking like a snake-chameleon hybrid.
- Mr. Waternoose, who has six legs, although his case is more justified considering his design is based on the multi-legged spiders and crabs.
- Celia, who is humanoid and has five legs.
- Smitty, who looks like a slug and has four arms.
- Several CDA agents, who are mostly four-armed if they have extra limbs, but one type of agent has six arms.
- Bile, who has four arms and looks like a humanoid, repitilian, blob...thing.
- Charlie, George's assistant, has five legs, but like Waternoose, it is more justified because he looks like a cephalopod.
- Villainous Breakdown:
- Randall flies into a borderline psychosis and tries to murder Sulley because Mr. Waternoose all but tells him he'll never live up to Sulley, no matter what he does or how hard he tries.
- At the film's (second) climax, Waternoose himself throws a fit of temper tantrum, straight out yelling to Sulley that he'll kidnap a thousand children before letting his company die. He was about to throw another one immediately, but he can't do much while the CDA escort him out for his crimes. But the second tantrum does take its toll on Sulley's emotions when Waternoose calls him out for the company's demise and ruining any chances Monstropolis has of recovering from the energy crisis.
- We Need a Distraction: When Randall chases Sulley and Mike through the scare floor to prevent them from revealing Waternoose's plan, Celia announces on the intercom that Randall just broke Sulley's scare record, prompting the other monsters on the floor to mob him with congratulations, allowing Sulley and Mike to make their escape.Celia: Go get 'em, Googly-Bear.
- We Were Rehearsing a Play: While arguing about what to do with Boo, Mike ends up yelling at Sulley in the middle of the Scare Floor gathering the attention of all the workers. Mike covered up the outburst by claiming that they were rehearsing for a play, and then attempt to break into song. In an after credits sequence, it is revealed that they really did turn the excuse into a musical.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Mr. Waternoose: "I'll kidnap a thousand children before I let this company die! And I'll silence anyone who gets in my way!"
- Wham Line:
- When Mike accuses Randall of cheating a second time, Randall gives him this...Randall: (chuckles evilly) You still think this is about that stupid scare record!?
Mike: Well... I did. Right up until... you chuckled like that, and now I'm thinkin' I should just get outta here.
- How Waternoose's duplicity is revealed.Mike: Sir, that's not her door...
Waternoose: I know, I know. (Cue Randall appearing and opening the door.) It's yours. (Cue an Oh, Crap! from Sulley and Mike.)
- At the end of the film, Waternoose tells Sulley that he'll kidnap a thousand children before the company goes under, knocks him out of the way, and finds the simulation child telling his mother goodnight. Then as he is arrested, he turns angrily to Sulley and says that the energy crisis will only get worse because of him.
- When Mike accuses Randall of cheating a second time, Randall gives him this...
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- After their exile to the Himalayas, Mike tells Sulley that he should have listened to him instead of reporting the situation regarding Boo to Waternoose.
- A downplayed example occurs at the end of the film. Mr. Waternoose points out that Sulley's efforts to reveal his corruption will not only cause Monsters, Inc. to shut down, but also aggravate the energy crisis. Luckily, Sulley figures out a solution not long after.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Boo is remarkably sanguine about finding herself in a world full of monsters, but she is absolutely terrified of Randall, her scarer. Her file indicates she actually is afraid of snakes.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Mike, throughout the movie, as he always thinks he is the star and Sulley is his sidekick. Taken to its logical extreme in the "Company Play" bonus scene.
- Wrong Insult Offence:Randall: Wazowski! Where's the kid, you little one-eyed cretin?
Mike: First of all, it's pronounced cree-tin. If you're going to threaten me, do it properly.
- Wrote a Good Fake Story: While arguing over returning Boo to her world, Mike yells at Sulley, "Put that thing back where it came from or so help me" before realizing other monsters are listening, and gamely tries to pass it off as them rehearsing a musical. During the end credits, we see the premiere of the new musical Put That Thing Back Where It Came From Or So Help Me.
- Wood Chipper of Doom: A non-lethal version in Monsters, Inc.: child-contaminated doors are fed into a chipper; Sulley is heartbroken when this happens to Boo's door at the end, though it is eventually restored afterwards. Randall, at one point, threatens to feed his assistant Fungus into it out of frustration.
- X Days Since: The scare factory has a sign counting the days since the last accident.
- Yellow Snow: The Abominable Snowman propose some lemon snow cone to Sulley and Mike which are implied to be this trope, Mike even seems disgusted by them and the Abominable Snowman have to insist that it is really lemon.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In a satirical fashion Sulley tells Randall because Boo isn't afraid of him anymore, his career as a scarer is over.
- You Say Tomato: When Randall first captured Mike and placed him in the Scream Extractor's chair, Randall proceeds to call him a "one-eyed cretin" with a short e. Mike proceeds to correct him by saying cretin with a long e and remarking if you are going to threaten me, do it properly.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: A non-fatal example occurs at the end of the film when Sulley unintentionally does away with Waternoose, the old establishment, and heading the company, remakes Monsters Inc. to seek children's laughter instead of fright for power. The energy crisis is averted.
- Beware of Vicious Dog: Mike encountered one before Sulley helped him return to Monstropolis.
- Canon Discontinuity: Sulley asked Mike if they remember going to the fifth grade. They haven't been to the fifth grade together.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The teaser, by dint of being produced before the movie itself, has several moments that don't gel with ideas established in the finished movie:
- Sulley and Mike go inside the kid's bedroom together, when in the movie itself only Sulley does - Mike stays outside to organize paperwork.
- Mike picks up a hula hoop with nothing suggesting fear of it at one point. In the movie, monsters (Mike included) are terrified of touching objects children have touched under the belief they're toxic to them.
- Sulley and Mike mention attending the fifth grade together, when Monsters University retconned it so they first met in university instead. Sulley also states that he was the studious one and Mike was the one who slacked off in class, when it is the exact opposite in the movie.
- How Is That Even Possible?: In the charades trailer, Sulley correctly guessed Mike's charade quickly and Mike asked Sulley "How did you do that?"
- Narrator: James Coburn (the voice of Mr. Waternoose) narrates the teaser.
- Oh, Crap!: Mike looks absolutely terrified after hearing the growl of an angry dog
- "I wouldn't have nothing if I didn't have you..."