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Western Animation / Pixar Shorts

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Pixar shorts are...well, short films created by Pixar Animation Studios. They are often as enjoyable as the studio's feature films, and are what got the company noticed by Disney in the first place. Like Disney's Silly Symphonies of old, Pixar continues to create shorts as a way to develop new techniques and foster employee development.

The original, pre-Toy Story short films, all mainly directed by John Lasseter, are as follows:

  • The Adventures of Andre & Wally B. — Created back in 1984 when Pixar was just Lucasfilm's computer graphics division (making it arguable whether it really counts as a Pixar short), this short is about a guy named Andre who tries to trick an annoying bee, and gets stung for it. The second use of CGI in the history of animation; Golgo 13: The Professional beat it by a year. Also the first CGI film to use Squash and Stretch and Motion Blurring.
  • Luxo Jr. — A Luxo lamp watches its child (the eponymous Luxo, Jr.) play with a little inflatable ball. The ball deflates, leaving the little lamp dejected, but he later returns with a giant beach ball. It was later played before Toy Story 2. And now you know where Pixar's famous Vanity Plate comes from!
    • This was followed by a series of even shorter shorts created for Sesame Street featuring the same two lamps.
  • Red's Dream — A unicycle in a bike shop dreams about being the star of a circus act, only to wake up and feel just a little bit more depressed.
  • Tin Toy — A toy tries to escape a terrifying baby. It's no coincidence that it has the same "toys are alive" concept as Toy Story, as it led to the creation of that film. It was also the first computer animated film to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
  • Knick Knack — A plastic snowman in a souvenir snowglobe tries to escape. This short is also Pixar's first 3-D Movie. It was later played before Finding Nemo, as well as a 3D rerelease of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

After Pixar made it big in feature films, they returned to making theatrical shorts, which played in front of most of their animated films (except for Toy Story 2 and Finding Nemo, which used old Pixar shorts instead):

  • Geri's Game (played before A Bug's Life) — An old man plays a chess game against himself. He turns out to be very competitive.
  • For the Birds (played before Monsters, Inc.) — A bunch of little birds try to drive away a fairly harmless big bird from their perch on a telephone wire, only for their efforts to backfire in their faces.
  • Boundin' (played before The Incredibles) — A rhyming, musical short (as opposed to the many dialogue-less shorts before it) about a former show-off of a sheep who learns how to cheer up after having his beautiful wool shorn off and being embarrassed in front of his friends.
  • One-Man Band (played before Cars) — Two street musicians compete for a little girl's tip, only for the girl to teach them a harsh lesson about being too competitive.
  • Lifted (played before Ratatouille) - Your average driving test, only with alien abduction instead of driving.
  • Presto (played before WALL•E) — A magician's hungry rabbit hilariously torments its owner over a carrot.
  • Partly Cloudy (played before Up) — A cloud produces baby rams, baby crocodiles, and other dangerous babies, much to his Delivery Stork's... misfortune.
  • Day & Night (played before Toy Story 3) — A traditional animated short, but with 3D elements, about two characters named Day and Night, who are the Anthropomorphic Personifications of daytime and nighttime (respectively).
  • La Luna (Originally hitting the festival circuit but eventually played before Brave) — a young boy is taken out to sea one night for the first time by his papa and grandpa, to learn about their unusual line of work.
  • The Blue Umbrella - (played before Monsters University) — it tells the story of a blue umbrella falling in love with a red umbrella.
  • Lava (played before Inside Out) — A musical love story that takes place over millions of years, focusing on the beauty and allure of tropical islands and ocean volcanoes.
  • Sanjay's Super Team (played before The Good Dinosaur) — A young Indian boy daydreams about the gods he worships as a superhero team.
  • Piper (played before Finding Dory) — A baby sandpiper learns how to hunt for food along the shores.
  • Lou (played before Cars 3) — A monster that lives within a lost-and-found box has to stop a bully from stealing the toys of other children.
  • Bao (played before Incredibles 2) — A culinary fable about a Chinese-Canadian woman suffering from the depression of an empty nest, who gets a second shot at motherhood when one of her handmade dumplings comes alive.

Pixar is also making a series of shorts called SparkShorts available on Disney+, though the first three shorts will also premiere on YouTube.

  • Purl — A ball of yarn named Purl gets hired at B.R.O. the male-dominated start-up. She decides that she has to do more to fit in, but then the company hires another ball of yarn.
  • Kitbull — A stray kitten and a pitbull form an unlikely friendship.
  • Smash and Grab — Two robots working in a locomotive's engine room attempt to make a break for freedom.
  • Float — A father discovers that his son can float. The father tries to hide his son's floating ability to keep him safe, but the ability soon becomes public.
  • Loop — On a canoeing trip, an autistic girl and a chatty boy get partnered, and to pull through they have to understand how the other experiences the world.
  • Wind — A grandmother and her grandson living on a large boulder trapped in a massive sink-hole try to find a way to escape.

See also:

  • Borrowed Time - A sheriff visits the site of his father's death on the wagon trail, and reflects on his accidental culpability. Streamed on Vimeo. Not an official Pixar animated short, as it released through Quorum Films, but produced by Pixar animators. Also notable for being considerably darker than Pixar shorts.

Some of Pixar's features have a bonus short on their DVDs depicting the further adventures of the characters in the movie:

  • Mike's New Car (follow-up to Monsters, Inc.) — Mike buys a new car, but he and Sulley can't quite figure out how to work it...
  • Exploring the Reef (related to Finding Nemo) — Jean-Michel Cousteau tries to make a documentary film about coral reefs, but Marlin, Dory, and Nemo keep interrupting him. Eventually, things are learned about corals, but Cousteau still feels "upstaged".
  • Jack-Jack Attack (follow-up to The Incredibles) — During the events of the movie (while Bob, Helen, Violet, and Dash are on Syndrome's island, to be precise), Kari the babysitter has her hands full with Jack-Jack, who's just discovering his numerous (and deadly) superpowers.
  • Mr. Incredible and Pals (follow-up to The Incredibles) — Cartoon parodying the low-budget Saturday morning cartoons of the 50s and 60s that used Synchro-Vox techniques such as Clutch Cargo. The background story is that Mr. Incredible and Frozone licensed their names and images to a TV animation company, before the banning of Supers. They provide commentary as they watch the unaired pilot for the first time. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Mater and the Ghostlight (follow-up to Cars) — After the sheriff of Radiator Springs tells a spooky story about "the ghostlight", Mater becomes scared of running into it.
  • Your Friend the Rat (follow-up to Ratatouille) — Remy and Emile educate viewers on the history of rats and their relationships with humans, hoping to create a better understanding between the two species.
  • BURN-E (follow-up to WALL•E) — A short depicting just what happened to the robot that accidentally got locked out of the Axiom after WALL•E and EVE's flight around the ship who is continually trying (and failing) to repair a light.
  • Dug's Special Mission (follow-up to Up) — A short film that tells what Dug the dog was doing before he meets Carl and Russell in the film. As hinted at in the feature, Alpha (with Beta and Gamma) send Dug out on a "very special mission" to retrieve the bird. They only intended for it to distract him and keep him from causing trouble or bothering them while they hunt, but as we see in the film, he actually does find the bird (Kevin).
  • George and AJ (another follow-up to Up) — A week after Carl's stunt, many other old people attempt to recreate it with various ways... To George's and AJ's (the two Shady Oaks orderlies) despair (and our enjoyment).
  • Party Central (follow-up to Monsters University) — When nobody shows up to Oozma Kappa's first house party, Mike and Sulley return with a plan to turn the house into "Party Central". Released theatrically with Muppets Most Wanted and is the first Pixar short to be rated PG.
  • Riley's First Date? (follow-up to Inside Out) — The reaction of Riley's parents (and their emotions) when a boy shows up on their doorstep.
  • Miss Fritter's Racing Skoool (follow-up to Cars 3) — After the Florida 500, Lightning and Cruz watch a commercial of Miss Fritter and her Mooks revealing their backstories of how they became the demolition derby racers they are today.
  • Auntie Edna (follow-up to Incredibles 2) — Exactly the same as Jack-Jack Attack, only with Edna taking over the spotlight.

Additionally, a series of shorts following up Cars called Mater's Tall Tales was produced for the Disney Channel:

  • Rescue Squad Mater — Mater tells a story about how he was a firetruck. Oh, and he was a doctor too.
  • Mater The Greater — Mater claims to have been an Evel-Knievel-style daredevil in a previous life.
  • El Materdor — Mater is now a bullfighter. The bulls in question are bulldozers.
  • Tokyo Mater (played before Bolt) — The first Pixar short to play before a non-Pixar film, and their first theatrical short to be based on a previous movie, Tokyo Mater centers around a story Mater tells about him getting involved in a drift race in Tokyo. Assets such as characters and environments in this short are used later in Cars 2.
  • Unidentified Flying Mater — Mater makes friends with a small flying saucer spaceship that speaks in a strange robotic voice. The UFM (called "Mator") teaches Mater how to fly, but gets taken away to Parking Area 51.
  • Monster Truck Mater — Mater becomes a monster truck wrestler and fights various other monster trucks (such as Ice Screamer, Captain Collision, Rastacarian, Dr. Feelbad, and Paddy O'Concrete) until he qualifies to the championship round against Dr. Frankenwagon and his monster.
  • Heavy Metal Mater — During a night of karaoke at Flo's, Mater recounts how he used to be a big rock star in a heavy metal band.
  • Moon Mater — Mater is inducted into the NASCA space program. His mission: Rescue Impala XIII, who has broken down on the moon.
  • Mater Private Eye — Private investigator Mater must solve a case about counterfeit tyres and track down the whereabouts of Tia's sister, Mia, who's been car-napped.
  • Air Mater — Mater goes to a town inhabited by planes and learns to fly. It was released on the Cars 2 DVD and acts as a set up for the then-upcoming Spin-Off film Planes.
  • Time Travel Mater — Mater accidentally travels back in time to when Stanley first discovered the original Radiator Springs and with Lightning, ensures that history remains on course. Premiered at Disney California Adventure and features locations introduced in the Cars Land expansion of the park where Stanley set up the beginnings of the town as a rest stop for traveling cars.

And there is another Cars-related series in the works titled Tales from Radiator Springs

  • The Radiator Springs 500 1/2 — On the anniversary of Radiator Springs' founding, Lightning challenges a group of off-road racers to a race and they all end up getting lost, while Mater guides a tour on the trail of founder Stanley. Exclusively released on the Disney Movies Anywhere app.

The Toy Story trilogy has follow-ups in the form of Toy Story Toons:

  • Hawaiian Vacation (played before Cars 2) — Barbie and Ken end up in Bonnie's bedroom after a failed attempt to stow away on her trip to Hawaii, so the toys all try to create their own island paradise.
  • Small Fry (played before The Muppets) — The first Pixar short to play before a live-action movie, Buzz gets left behind at a fast food restaurant and encounters lost kids' meal toys.
  • Partysaurus Rex (played before Finding Nemo 3D) — When Rex finds himself left behind in the bathroom, he puts his limbs to use by getting a bath going for a bunch of new toy friends.

And there have been two Toy Story holiday specials made for television:

A series of "Toy Story Treats" (and similar bumpers with Sarge and his soldiers) were also made and shown at commercial breaks during the Saturday morning cartoon block on ABC (for the last season, in 1996, before One Saturday Morning debuted in 1997). The shorts have since been included as Easter eggs in the various DVD/Blu-Ray releases of the Toy Story movies (though the bumpers weren't).

Pixar short films with their own pages include:

Other Pixar shorts contain examples of:

  • Accent On The Wrong Syllable: All over the place in Lava, to the point where towards the end of the song the emphasis is improperly executed multiple times per verse.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Visually implied in Partly Cloudy. Gus, the only cloud that makes dangerous baby animals instead of cute ones, is shown floating far beneath the other clouds, all by himself, and his Only Friend is his delivery stork.
  • Affectionate Parody: Your Friend the Rat, with its use of different animation styles, can be seen as one of these to Disney cartoons directed by Ward Kimball.
  • All Part of the Show: Presto.
  • Alone Among the Couples: Uku the volcano in Lava sees animals and even clouds with their mates and wishes to have "someone to lava."
  • Amusing Injuries: In Partly Cloudy the stork suffers various injuries from the dangerous baby animals it must deliver, getting headbutted by a goat, bitten by an alligator, and spiked by a porcupine. In George and AJ, it's the ambulance who keeps being "hurt" over and over (gets knocked over three times, gets an oxygen bottle on it, and is crushed by Muntz's-now-Carl's zeppelin!)
  • Animate Inanimate Object:
    • Red the unicycle in Red's Dream.
    • The characters in Knick Knack.
    • The umbrellas in The Blue Umbrella, as well as various buildings, mailboxes, streetlights and other fixtures.
    • The volcanoes in Lava.
    • Not to mention the various characters from the Toy Story and Cars follow-ups.
  • And You Were There: Mater adds Lightning McQueen's involvement in his stories with this phrase.
  • Apologetic Attacker: How Alec the rabbit is portrayed in Presto, since the animators felt he would come off as sadistic otherwise.
  • Art Shift: Your Friend the Rat has 3D animation, 2D animation, clay animation, and even a scene done in the style of an old arcade game.
    • It also has live action (the flea) and a section which is a pastiche of the earliest (silent) movies.
    • George and AJ is a 2D colored animatic.
    • The Blue Umbrella has a very photorealistic look to it.
  • Bad Humor Truck: Ice Screamer from Monster Truck Mater.
  • Baths Are Fun: The Partysaurus Rex skit, when Toy Story's Rex helps some toys to get a party going in the bath. The part before this in which Bonnie is having imaginative fun with the toys counts too.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In Tokyo Mater, Mater runs through a restaurant with the name Harryhausen (written in katakana) early on. Even triples as a tribute to stop-motion legend Ray Harryhausen.
    • In The Blue Umbrella, the two umbrellas' owners meet up at a café named "Le Parapluie Café", with parapluie meaning umbrella in French.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: The volcanoes in Lava. The male one is a volcano with a rough, craggy face, while the female one is tall and skinny, with a finely carved, pretty face and long hair. Justified in that they're based on famous Hawaiian singer Iz Kamakawiwoʻole and his wife Marlene, who actually looked like that.
  • Blatant Lies: When Syndrome shows up at the Parr Residence, he tells Kari The "S" on his chest stands for "Sitter" He's probably about the furthest you can get from one...
  • Blue Boy Pink Girl: In The Blue Umbrella the title character is a boy, while the girl is a light red umbrella.
  • Bowdlerize: Let's just say the girls from Knick Knack have ... slimmed down since the short's original screening.
  • Bull Seeing Red: The bulldozers chase after El Materdor's red cape, and then Lightning McQueen.
  • Butt-Monkey: BURN-E. George and AJ too.
    • Lightning is this in some of Mater's Tall Tales.
    • The poor stork tasked with delivering the babies Gus create in Partly Cloudy.
  • Call-Back: The news ticker during the report in George and AJ tells that scientists have discovered that "South America is like North America, but South".
  • The Cameo:
    • Two cars designed like Mike and Sulley appear in Tokyo Mater (themselves originally appearing in a joke cameo in the credits of the original Cars film).
    • The Beatles have a brief cameo near the end of Your Friend The Rat (complete with a rat assisting Ringo on drums).
    • Also in Your Friend The Rat, P.T. Flea appears.
  • Chekhov's Gun: This was the impetus for the "Mater's Tall Tales" shorts, as a key aspect of Cars 2 is Mater's fanciful storytelling. Since this was a trait not shown in the first film, the Pixar staff feared that its sudden appearance would look like an Ass Pull. The "Tall Tales" shorts averts the problem by establishing this trait ahead of the movie.
  • Continuity Snarl: Dug's Special Mission features Alpha talking in his high-pitched voice, in scenes set before the other dogs are surprised by it in the film.
  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: Marlin does this to Nemo in "Exploring the Reef," when the coral are laying all their eggs. When Nemo protests about it, Marlin says that he'll explain it to Nemo when he's older.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: One of the many senior citizens in "George and A.J." impressed by Carl's escape in his house of balloons. When the titular male nurses show up to take the cat lady in question to the nursing home, she makes an escape of her own similar to Carl's, using her cats instead of balloons.
  • Cute Kitten: A few of them show up in Partly Cloudy, being delivered by the storks to new parents.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Gus, the dark storm cloud of Partly Cloudy, despite only making dangerous baby creatures such as baby alligators, wild sheep, porcupines, knifefish, etc. is merely trying to do his best and is eager for companionship.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "Dug's Special Mission" and "Partysaurus Rex".
  • Defeat by Modesty: Happens to Kabuto at the end of "Tokyo Mater."
  • Deliberately Monochrome: "Mater P.I."
  • Delivery Stork: In "Partly Cloudy", babies are made by cloud people and delivered by storks to new parents. Most of the storks have it easy, receiving adorable puppies, kittens, and human babies to deliver...and then there's the stork assigned to Gus, a storm cloud in charge of creating baby alligators, electric eels, sharks, porcupines, and more. Lord help him.
  • Did You Die?: In the short "Mater the Greater", when Mater claims that it was Lightning McQueen who tried performing a death-defying leap across a canyon...and that he "didn't make it". It's Lightning himself he's telling the story to.
  • Downer Ending: Red's Dream. Red wakes up from his nice dream and has to face the bleak reality of languishing in the clearance corner.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In Boundin', some moles find the lamb's newfound nakedness hilarious. Seeing this, the Jackalope gives them stink eye until they shut up.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: WALL•E shows up for a moment in Your Friend the Rat.
  • Educational Short: Arguably, Your Friend the Rat both spoofs this and plays it straight.
  • Fearsome Critters of American Folklore: The Jackalope from Boundin'.
  • Foot Popping: Gender flipped while Barbie and Ken kiss in "Hawaiian Vacation."
  • Genius Loci: Uku and Lele, a pair of sentient volcanoes in Lava.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • In "Jack-Jack Attack", Syndrome mentions how he was going to have the initials for 'baby sitter', but decided not to because it wouldn't do to have 'BS' on his chest.
    • From Partysaurus Rex: "What up, fishes?"
    • In Party Central, Art tells one of the party-goers he saw their girlfriend "making out with some slug in the closet".
    • The Mafia-style Big Bad of the Cars Toon short Mater Private Eye is called Big D.
  • Groin Attack: Poor Presto gets hit between the legs with a ladder.
  • Here We Go Again!: At the end of Partysaurus Rex, the pool toys ask for Rex's help.
  • Herr Doktor: In "UFM: Unidentified Flying Mater", the Parking Lot 51 scientist pitties, as well as "Dr. Aschleppwagen", Mater's disguise, when he uses to try and save Mator. A real scientist pitty sees Mater.
    German car: So, herr doktor, what does "dad gum" mean?
    Mater: (fake German accent) Ze "dad gum" means... (drops accent, saves Mator) ...let's get outta here!
  • Hiccup Hijinks: The Tales from Radiator Springs short, "Hiccups", is about Lightning Mc Queen getting hiccups and trying to cure them. After several failed attempts to cure the hiccups, such as holding breath and drinking water, Sally kisses Lightning and his hiccups are cured. Suddenly, Sheriff gets hiccups too.
  • Hubcap Hovercraft: Mater in "UFM: Unidentified Flying Mater".
  • Idiot Ball: Mr. Dicker is dumbfounded that Kari actually believed that Syndrome was a replacement babysitter. Kari immediately snaps at him that maybe he should babysit an exploding baby for more than twelve hours and see how his power of judgment holds up.
  • Impossible Shadow Puppets: Buzz Lightyear does this in "Shadow Play".
  • In the Style of...: The main song from Lava is a Hawaiian ukulele song, reminiscent of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.
  • Innocent Aliens: Mator, who strikes a friendship with Mater.
  • Irony: Pretty much most of the shorts end on an ironic note.
  • Jaw Drop: George and AJ hold it for quite some time.
  • Karmic Trickster: Alec the rabbit in Presto.
  • Land, Sea, Sky: From Lava, we get this in the form of a song/prayer from the Volcanoes.
    "I wish that the Earth, Sea, the Sky up above-a
    Will send me someone to lava..."
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At the end of Air Mater, Mater reckons that someone should make a movie about planes, then proceeds to wink at the camera.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Partly Cloudy features the clouds creating life (and inanimate objects as well) through shaping fluffy bits of cloud and zapping them with lightning.
  • Limited Animation:
    • Mr. Incredible and Pals, parodying the style of Clutch Cargo.
    • George & AJ is done as an animatic, just the storyboard drawings with some movement added.
  • Living Toys: Tin Toy, and, arguably, Knick Knack and Red's Dream. And the Toy Story characters.
  • Lower-Deck Episode:
    • The BURN-E short.
    • "Jack-Jack Attack", for Kari.
    • "George and AJ", though rendered in Flash animation, also counts for the titular Shady Acres male nurses from Up.
  • Man-Made House Flood: Partysaurus Rex ends with one.
  • Magicians Are Wizards: The magician in Presto can perform Functional Magic, although he does appear to use normal magician tricks as well.
  • Meaningful Name: In Presto, the magician is named Presto DiGiotatione (prestidigitation), and his rabbit is named Alec Azam (alakazam).
  • Medium Blending: Your Friend The Rat combines CG for the scenes with Remy and Emile, stylized traditional animation for most of the other scenes, live-action Stock Footage, and a brief Stop Motion shot.
  • Mickey Mousing: Used in some shorts, but most notably in Presto.
  • Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: Nearly all the shorts have little or no dialogue. However, the follow-up shorts have dialogue (except BURN-E, which is logical).
  • Missed Him by That Much: In Lava, Lele rises just in front of Uku, but facing the wrong way. Uku can't alert her because he's going extinct and is slowly sinking.
  • Mood Whiplash: While watching Partly Cloudy, you go from laughing at the stork's amusing injuries to sniffling when the cloud thought his friend had abandoned him.
  • Monster-Shaped Mountain: The premise of the volcanoes-in-love story Lava.
  • The Munchausen: Mater, in the "Mater's Tall Tales" series.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: see "Small Annoying Creature" below
  • No Antagonist: In contrast to Pixar's feature length films, quite a few of the shorts use this trope.
  • No Name Given: Regular shorts gave characters no names, though a few such as Presto and Lava are exceptions.
  • Oh, Crap!: The first bird to realize what was about to happen in For The Birds. Also, Stu (the alien student in Lifted) when he accidentally releases the tractor beam on Ernie (the farmer). George and AJ keep having it over and over again. Also, Mater's match against the champion:
    Announcer: Dr Frankenwagen!!
    Mater: Heh. Piece of cake!
    Announcer: Aaaand his Monster!
    Monster: RHHAAAAA!
    Announcer: It's alive!
    Mater: I'm dead!
  • Opening the Flood Gates: "Partysaurus Rex". Rex ends up flooding the bathroom, so when the other toys go in after him...
  • Our Vampires Are Different: In Small Fry, one of the discarded fun meal toys is a vampire engineer named Vlad. He was discarded because no one would board the Vampire Express.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In Partly Cloudy, Gus is saddened when his stork friend seemingly leaves him and is seen taking a delivery for another cloud, after being asked to deliver a baby shark. It turns out that the stork was just getting a football helmet and vest so he could protect himself while delivering Gus's babies.
  • Pop-Star Composer: BT provides the music for Tokyo Mater and Partysaurus Rex.
  • Portal Network: In Party Central, Mike and Sulley smuggle two doors from Monsters Inc. to bring the party at Roar Omega Roar to Oozma Kappa. The party goers go through a human couple's bedroom, who are occasinally woken by the noise.
  • Pro Wrestling Episode: Monster Truck Mater.
  • Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat: What Presto revolves around. Eventually inverted when the rabbit pulls the magician out of a hat.
  • Pun: That volcano just wants someone to lava!
  • Pungeon Master: Mater as the tour guide in The Radiator Springs 500 1/2.
  • Punny Name:
    • The magician's name in Presto is "Presto Digiotagione" (prestidigitation), and the rabbit's name is "Alec Azam" (alakazam).
    • More subtly, the grey cloud's name in Partly Cloudy is "Gus" (as in a gust of wind).
    • BURN-E, like WALL•E before him, is named specifically to have a human-sounding name (Bernie).
    • Pretty much all the Fun Meal toys in "Small Fry".
    • The volcanoes in "Lava" are named Uku and Lele.
  • Race Lift: Frozone is not happy that his cartoon is white/tan.
  • Rascally Rabbit: Alec in "Presto".
  • Real After All: How all of Mater's Tall Tales end, when Lightning McQueen has trouble believing what Mater had done in the tale he told, only for something to happen that associated with that tale.
  • Reality Warper: The magician in "Presto", to a mild extent; his hats are linked to each other like portals, which can lead to some crazy magic tricks.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Presto the magician has two magic hats linked Portal-style, but he only uses them for magic shows. The creators express the same opinion in the commentary.
  • Retraux:
    • Mr. Incredible and Pals.
    • Your Friend The Rat is made to look like a 1950s educational short.
    • The time-travel segments in Time Travel Mater are made to look like they were shot with the type of film used at that time period.
    • The intro to Presto is done in the style of Silly Symphonies.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The baby animals in Partly Cloudy. Even the dangerous ones.
  • Role Reprisal: In The Radiator Springs 500 1/2, instead of being voiced by The Other Darrin like in the other Cars Toons, Lightning’s normal voice actor Owen Wilson returns to voice him for the short.
  • Running Gag: The van's car alarm in George & A.J.
    • In Exploring the Reef, whenever Jean-Michel Cousteau says his name, a fanfare Leitmotif plays, making the fishes look around for the source of it.
    • In The Radiator Springs 500 1/2, a random pitty plays a rimshot every time Mater makes a joke.
  • Shades of Conflict: White vs. white, white vs. gray and gray vs. gray depending on the short, with Geri's Game even going so far as to have the both opposing characters apparently be the same person. Not counting the ones based on Pixar's feature-length films that have a villain from the film appear (Jack-Jack Attack, Dug's Special Mission), there are no clear-cut villains.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Near the end of BURN-E, there's a reference to a very famous scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    • One of the discarded kid's meal toys in Toy Story Toons: Small Fry was based on Condorman. note .
    • WALL•E is driving a lunar exploration vehicle in the ending scene of Your Friend the Rat.
    • Time Travel Mater is an homage to Back to the Future, including a scene where Mater fears Lizzie might fall for Lightning and alter the time stream.
    • In Partysaurus Rex, when the bath toys are lamenting how they can't play after bath time due to a lack of arms, one toy cries out in anguish, "No more tears!".
    • In the same short, the fuzzy toilet seat cover is Sully's fur.
    • The Adventures of Andre and Wally B.: The "my" in My Dinner with Andre is named Wally.
    • An inside one: in Hawaiian Vacation, as mentioned in the DVD commentary, Chuckles the Clown's luau chant translates to "Bound and rebound", a reference to the Pixar short Boundin' . This trope gets double points because Boundin' was narrated by Bud Luckey, the voice of Chuckles.
    • Presto is not a shout-out to Tex Avery. It is a CGI Tex Avery short done by someone who isn't Tex Avery.
  • Shown Their Work: The sequence of events in "Lava" is a fairly accurate depiction of the life of a volcano formed by a geologic hotspot. As the tectonic plate shifts over the "hotspot" in the mantle, the volcano slowly goes dormant. It can form a ring atoll as the peak sinks into its emptied magma chamber and the island erodes, while coral grows up around the edges—and a new volcano forms nearby from the same hotspot. (This creates chains of islands, Hawai'i being one.) The main difference is that in the real world, the old sunken volcano wouldn't revitalize from The Power of Love and would simply continue sinking, and the young volcano would eventually face the same fate. (But also, in the real world, neither volcano would be sentient, sing, or yearn for love in the first place).
  • Silence Is Golden: The studio loves this (the shorts featuring the movies' characters notwithstanding). Boundin' and Lava are the only theatrical shorts to avert it, unless you count the radio talking in the background in Day and Night.
  • Snipe Hunt: Alpha sends Dug on one, which parallels Carl sending Russell on one in the main film.
  • Something Else Also Rises: This happens to an entire volcano.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Silly Symphonies, a testing ground for an animation studio's technical innovation, storytelling techniques and new recruits.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Lele the female volcano in Lava is taller than Uku, especially when Uku is sinking into the ocean floor.
  • Strictly Formula: The Mater's Tall Tales shorts follow the same template: Mater tells a story to McQueen about a past occupation, which McQueen finds hard to believe; the story builds to a climax, at which point McQueen asks what happens next; Mater then includes McQueen into the story, usually in a highly humiliating way; finally, McQueen tells Mater that it didn't happen, and something happens that somehow proves the story is true.
  • Take Me to Your Leader: In UFM, Mater says to "Mator":
    Mater: [at the train crossing] Well, should I take you to my leader?
    Mator: Your lea-der.
    Mater: [cut to Mater's yard, in front of a stack of oil cans] Well, here's all my liters!
    Mator: Yum.
  • Tall Tale: The "Mater's Tall Tales" shorts.
  • Tempting Fate: In "Tokyo Mater", when Mater is giving a Japanese car a tow, he warns Mater that his destination is pretty far. Mater doesn't mind as "No Tow Is Too Far For Tow Mater". It then Gilligan Cuts to Tokyo, with Mater surfacing on a shore with the car.
    Mater: Man, I gotta change my slogan.
  • Three-Month-Old Newborn: The baby animals (and humans) in Partly Cloudy, including an alligator with a full set of teeth and a ram with horns already the size of its own head. Then again, considering they were made by sentient cloud people...
    • Alligators actually are born with teeth, as with most reptiles. So that part's at least right.
  • Umbrella of Togetherness: Exaggerated in The Blue Umbrella
  • Unreliable Narrator: Tow Mater, in all of the "Mater's Tall Tales" shorts.
    • However, it's revealed at the end of each short that Mater's story actually did happen. Guess which story was completely made up!
    Guido: Modify! (he puts several wooden boxes on Mater's body, with the last one forming his missing "hood")
    Mater: Hey, look! I'm "motterfied!" (he starts making fake motor sounds while scraping the boxes on the body across the pavement, sending sparks flying into the air. McQueen palms his windshield with one of his front wheels)
    • Also, in Cars 2, Kabuto can be seen with his modifications again.
  • Visual Pun: The "Sunny Palm Springs" trinket in Knick Knack is a plastic palm tree mounted on a metal spring.
  • Wacky Fratboy Hijinks: Party Central.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Averted in Partly Cloudy.
    • The whole point of Your Friend the Rat was a refutation of this trope.
  • Wrong Turn at Albuquerque: In The Radiator Springs 500 1/2, Lightning and the racers make a wrong turn while taking Stanley's original route and end up going through dangerous terrain, while the others follow the correct route and have a pleasant drive.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Already averted with Remy and Emile, Your Friend the Rat is one big aversion of this trope, in which the two rats explain that rats are not all bad, and, among other things, that it was the flea that got on the rat, not the rat itself, that caused The Black Death. The rat was as much a victim as humans were. In fact, the Norway rat, the kind of rat that Remy and Emile are, had supposedly helped to end the Black Death.
    • And then this trope is both played with and double subverted at the very end, when a cautionary message allegedly from the clip's producers scrolls by to remind the audience that rats are vicious, unsanitary, pestilent vermin, and anyone who interacts with them do so at their own risk, as Remy and Emile can be heard vigorously protesting in the background.
  • Your Other Left: How McQueen and the races get lost in The Radiator Springs 500 1/2, after misinterpreting Mater's instructions about the first left turn being right.