Enough Already With The Wall-E / Short Circuit Comparisons

Published 7 years ago by , Updated February 24th, 2009 at 1:19 pm,
wall e short circuit1 Enough Already With The Wall E / Short Circuit Comparisons

Ok, I’m done. I’m hereby declaring that there should be a moratorium on any more Short Circuit/Johnny 5 comparisons to Wall-E.


At the WonderCon panel, someone brought the question up to Andrew Stanton, who wrote the script for the new Pixar movie, won and Academy Award for his work on Finding Nemo, and has been involved with writing pretty much ever Pixar movie that’s come out.

His demeanor indicated that he’d already heard the question ad nauseum, and here’s what he had to say:

The inspiration for the character came from two places:

1. The original Pixar Luxo Lamp used in their logo.

No, Wall-E doesn’t look anything like the lamp, what Stanton went on to say is that he wanted the character to be a machine first and a character second, much like the famous lamp. The lamp doesn’t look even remotely human or animal yet its personality comes across brilliantly:

“I wanted to believe that a robot is really there. I wanted to believe he is really a robot and not just a human in a robot shell.”

The initial design concept was that of a robot that was low to the ground so it would have a low center of gravity, a method of locomotion that could get it over any terrain or obstacle, and a way to compact trash efficiently, hence the cube shape.

2. A pair of binoculars at a baseball game.

Yes, folks: binoculars. He said he was at a stadium watching a game when he asked someone to pass their binoculars to him. He started playing with them and seeing how they could be used to express emotion.

wall e short circuit2 Enough Already With The Wall E / Short Circuit Comparisons

He did go on to say that he’d only seen the movie Short Circuit once, and he supposes it could have influenced him on some subconscious level. Really, I thought that statement was just throwing a bone to those who claim he ripped off the design, which is a ludicrous idea IMHO.

terminator hk tank Enough Already With The Wall E / Short Circuit ComparisonsThe Johnny 5 robot is tall and slender with a thin body elevated high above the treads, with long arms coming off the “shoulders.” While Wall-E is short and stubby, with a cube-shaped body which squats directly on the treads and short little arms that come off the body itself. Maybe while folks are at it they can accuse James Cameron of ripping off Short Circuit for the design of the HK Tank from Terminator 2 (shown here).

Anyway… that’s enough of a rant. To end on a happy note, here’s the latest poster for Wall-E. icon smile Enough Already With The Wall E / Short Circuit Comparisons

wall e poster3 Enough Already With The Wall E / Short Circuit Comparisons

Wall-E opens on June 27, 2008.

TAGS: Wall-e
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  1. Wouldnt it had been better to see Johnny 5 animated this days, instead of Wall-E?

    Im a graphic designer and 3d animator aswell, and Im sorry for this pixar dude… it may NOT be a 100% rip-off but the idea behind it is Johnny 5, and no, the HK Tank, cant be compared, cause it hasnt feelings!, and I cant believe a guy working at pixar has just seen once the “short circuit” movie!, cause its one of the first thing I thought of creating in 3D!, and all my friends has seen it at least 5 times in their life (and they are under 30 years old).

    So dont try to fool people!, The ideas were a bit off this last months, and you did some research, and found Johnny 5, a possible design to try something new!… this is the real fact!


    In spanish:

    No habría estado mejor una version de Cortocircuito en 3D que Wall-E?

    Dudo mucho que el creador de Wall-e, no se haya basado en Johnny 5, y que diga lo que dice, me parece una payasada!.

    A ver.. el tanque HK de Terminator 2, no es comparable!, ya que no es un robot con sentimientos que parece una persona (por los sentimientos) y buenas itenciones. y que dan algo de penilla.

    Quien con una edad de entre 20 y 30 años como seguramente tiene su creador como minimo, no ha visto Cortocircuito mas de 2 veces!… y 4-5 si ademas te gusta el tema del 3D, y has estudiado animación, como el menda. (yo lo he hecho).

    En fín, me parece una verguenza que un señorito Pixar tenga que mentir sobre su diseño, para no tener problemas!.

    Y que conste que respeto a todos los que trabajan en Pixar, en especial a los españoles!!, y aunque es un sueño que no se va a realizar, me hubiera encantado trabajar ahí, para que engañarnos.

    Quizas?, en vez de un modelador/diseñador, deberían meter a un brainstormer, con grandes ideas, de personajes e historias! (yo valdría) ;)

    Ahí queda eso.

  2. eu amei o jogo até chorei quando tive que sair buabua ele é muito legal!!!

  3. Ummm, yeah, everyone here who has ever actually made a robot, please raise your hand *raises hand and looks around the room* noone ? OK then, Just take my word on it, The whole Johnny 5/wall-e design is nothing new ok ? I mean, I have no sympathy for Pixar, theyre very unoriginal, and I didn’t really like either movie (I guess it comes with being a Robotics engineer)but it’s safe to say that neither oif them are very original. Nor are either Scientific breakthroughs of any kind. Theyre just movie characters and most modern movie characters are just rehashed crud

  4. does Johnny 5 fold into i yellow cube??


  5. A very sad thread to read though I must say. Can’t understand why people are getting so angry about this. Both characters are fun robots in the movies Whether they look different, identical or similar doesn’t seem to be cause for a flaming match and what was in the mind of the people designing the robot is not something I think you even need to know. If they say they were inspired by taking crack cocaine and watching spiderman, that’s there business, i mean come on.

    I loved the movie short circuit when it first came out. I saw some of it again more recently and it hasn’t aged well at all.

    Wall.e is a fresh new movie and its a cartoon. You can get away with a lot more in a cartoon than you can in live action and have the audience buy into it. For this reason alone I think wall.e works better today. What really impressed me about the robot itself though was the way it could fold itself up into a tight cube and then extend all its parts out to still form a very functional and interesting character.

    Call me a Pixar schill but I’ve loved everything pixar have done (except cars, they’re allowed one mistake heh)and to read how Pixar are somehow a hollywood cog that churns out the same old crap is really unfair to what is one of the most creative and original companies working in movies today. Just look at their track record, it’s incredible….s :p

  6. yup, very alike….

  7. Prediction: In 20 years when the next generation comes along they’ll be another ripoff of Short Circuit called something else and it’ll be even cuter.

    One of the saddest experiencing of growing older (mid 30′s) is seeing everything recycled and realizing that it was recycled even when I first saw it as a child. Same old crap, but I was too young to know it. Now there’s hardly anything to watch on TV or in film b/c the target demographic is < 20. Each new generation gets to see the same old crap with only the faces changing.

  8. I’m a fan of Short circuit films. I saw Wall-E for that simple reason. I love robots. The honest truth is that yes, PIXAR did rip off Short Circuit. it’s very obvious. He even talks like 5. It is also a rip off from the Star Tours ride at disneyland, They have robots there that looks alot like Wall-E. It’s a rip off I don’t care what that director says. Of course that’s only my opinion. Wall-E is not a very good movie either with the fat people running around. I noticed they don’t show that in the trailer just Wall-E walking around.

  9. I’m a fan of Short circuit films. I saw Wall-E for that simple reason. I love robots. The honest truth is that yes, PIXAR did rip off Short Circuit. it’s very obvious. He even talks like 5. It is also a rip off from the Star Tours ride at disneyland, They have robots there that looks alot like Wall-E. It’s a rip off I don’t care what that director says. Of course that’s only my opinion. Wall-E is not a very good movie either with the fat people running around. I noticed they don’t show that in the trailer just Wall-E walking around.

  10. no more follow upss pleease

  11. dude thats a ripoff of short circuits johnny 5. im freakin disappointed with pixar for doing that. someone needs to sue and FAST.

  12. Um, Group??

    Not to put too fine a point on this, but ripoffs are nowadays called “homages” (silent h), a French term used by people who wouldn’t know an original idea if it kicked them in the nether-regions.

    For me, one of my favorite movies is an early-80s film called “Electric Dreams”…a man buys a home computer and, after a series of mishaps, the computer becomes self-aware…it also ghostwrites love songs for the hot blonde cellist living upstairs and reasons that it is in love with her…as well as realizing the man is, as well.

    Now, I thought this seemed familiar…although uncredited, it bears enough resemblance to Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s short story “EPICAC” that the heirs of Mr. Vonnegut’s estate should sue Rusty Lemorande, the supposed creator of “Electric Dreams”.

  13. EPICAC: Lonely nerd guy wants lady co-worker to look his way

    “Electric Dreams”: Lonely nerd guy wants lady neighbor to look his way

    EPICAC: Computer wants to know what Love is, learns some, then writes love poems the guy submits as his writing.

    “Electric Dreams”: Computer wants to know what Love is, learns some, then writes love songs the guy submits as his music.

    EPICAC: Computer commits suicide to remove itself from the picture, having realized Love is give, not take; leaves poetry behind as gift.

    “Electric Dreams”: Computer commits suicide to remove itself from the picture, having realized Love is give, not take; leaves love song behind as gift.

  14. Oh, I forgot…

    EPICAC: 1952

    “Electric Dreams”: 1984

  15. Thanks for pointing this one out.
    It took me nearly a day to realise I’ve seen the design somewhere.

    I’ve seen short circuit several times ages ago. Must’ve realised ” on some subconscious level”.
    Although I have seen terminator too ;)

  16. @Ninjetteguru

    There’s no need to be a jerk, ok?

    Just because they’re similar doesn’t make Wall-E a ripoff of Johnny 5. For navigating variable terrain, tracks make sense – for focusing on distances near and far mechanically, a binocular design makes sense. As far as arms for manipulating objects, how many robots DON’T have them?

    One could argue that “Short Circuit” ripped off the original “Terminator” movie as well.


  17. Well majority of the people making the arguement actually like this movie. That doesn’t mean you can’t point out the facts that this is a rip off and unoriginal. Sure, it’s a good movie. But there’s not way in hell to even try to deny how influenced this is. And if You try you’re either blind, a moron, or in denial.

  18. Sorry Vic, but Short Circuit a la Terminator? No chance in H-E-double hockey sticks. I loved Wall-e…but…I could not help but notice the similarities to Number 5. For me it was the triangular treads and the eyes, and then the fact that they were both capable of retracting their frame. I also enjoyed the Short Circuit films. So how can anyone who’ve seen SC not be compelled to find the striking similarities? Either way, both movies were great and brought their messages across to their audience. Now raise your hand *raises hand* if you believe that a robotics engineer can still enjoy a good fictional story about a robot with human qualities, while realizing it’s still just a movie…anyone?

  19. Sure, there are similarities, but what bugs me are accusations that Pixar “stole” the design from Short Circuit.

    I think that Syd Mead and Brad Bird (I think?) started with an idea for a mobile robot and came to similar design conclusions. Treads for mobility and the binocular eyes for expressiveness for a non-human character that was required to show emotion.


  20. They’re similiar so much to a point it becomes a fault. The head/eye, tracks/feet, laser (one has a canon the other between the eyes, still an over the should weapon), personality (SC1 more so then the 2nd), They both can from lifeless robots (Wall-E “dies” at the end and was brought back to life by EVE and had no personality then she “kissed” him and gave him a electric shock bring his personality back, Lightning anyone?), both had used parts from others like them to rebuild themselves (J5 replaced his broken arm, EVE replaced the arm as well as numerous other parts), etc. etc. etc.

    All this being said I first saw the movie and loved it and at the same time also realised it was playing off Johny 5. Do I care, no. Both were great movies, but as the point is credit should be given and that’s that. I’m an artist myself and if someone got an idea from my work. I wouldn’t mind as long as they gave credit to it. That’s the point is the creator of Wall-E denies it. End of story. Get over it. He’s not going to change. This is all over the net and if you deny the similarities, I’m not even going to give you the attention to say what you are. It’s not worth it, because your mind won’t be changed. Now to go get Short Circuit again…..

  21. Oh yeah and in SC2 Johny 5′s battery and circuitry gets damaged just like Wall-E’s did and Johny broke into a store and used circuits boards etc to fix him just like EVE looking through the trash to find a replacement but she failed… I’m sure there’s tons more being missed but that’s all just off the top of my head…

  22. I can’t believe how much effort you all put into your little two cents on the topic. Ya Wall-E came from J-5, ya the writer is lying thru his teeth. Binoculars at baseball, pffft. We need hobbies.

  23. It’s funny how you mentioned Wall-E doesn’t look anything like the lamp, because the first thought I had when I saw Wall-E was that “This littl guy remind me of something.” and this “Something” is the lamp.

  24. I also believe the similarities are numerous, and realize not only does Wall-e resembles Johnny-5, but also does “Auto” resembles “Hal” from “2001:A Space Odyssey”, also an Auto-pilot gone bonkers in a long term mission across the universe… Series of Rip-offs, or series of tributes?

  25. Who cares if he’s similar or not. He’s cute and the movie was great.

  26. When I ran across WALL·E’s model at GUM (Moscow) last year, I was absolutely convinced by his (its) appearance that the movie is a continuation… next adventures of Short Circuit’s Johnny/Number 5. Apropos. I think it might be not bad idea, might not it? (NOTE: The author of this comment is not English native speaker.)

  27. Wall-e, Johnny five, does it matter? Both are sweet robots that do well at getting people’s sympathy. I did not get to see Short Circuit until just a few years before the Wall-e previews began. I do not care that one was before I was born. I don’t care that Wall-e is the J-5 clone. I love both robots and both movies. One question. Are they still making a Short Circuit remake? I would prefer a Short Circuit 3, but I will take what I can get. FYI, everyone who does not know well will be claiming that J-5 is a Wall-e rip off. Imagine the irony.