As the artists and storytellers at Pixar Animation began to crank out successful movies set in the fictional worlds of children’s toys, sentient cars, and culinary rodents, it didn’t take long for fans to realize the stories weren’t as separate as they had thought. Fans have spun wild theories on a single unified “Pixar Universe,” blurring the lines between Pixar’s superheroes, animals, toys, and everyday people. One overall story may be impossible to find, but hunting down each easter egg is more than worth the effort.
Here is our list of 10 Hidden Clues to Pixar’s Shared Universe.
The Illustrated Bug’s Life
One of Pixar’s earliest films following on Toy Story’s success, the story of one insect’s pursuit of a great adventure has proven just as worthy of easter eggs,and hidden nods throughout Pixar’s talented team. As proof that the film is still worthy of attention, a scene in Toy Story 2 shows even Mrs. Potato Head is a fan, reading an illustrated version of A Bug’s Life’s story. Is it merely a nod to an underrated film, or explicit confirmation that A Bug’s Life is a work of fiction to Andy and his toys…?
Bugs & Monsters
There’s no doubt that the fantastical adventure based on the monsters that keep children up at night caught more attention than A Bug’s Life, but the two are directly linked. A good chunk of the insect adventure is set in the shadow of a mobile home, parked alongside the infamous Pizza Planet delivery truck – one of Pixar’s signature easter eggs, appearing in nearly every one of their films. When the villain of Monsters, Inc., Randall is sent into the home as punishment, and forced to deal with its gator-hating inhabitants. Monsters, Inc. doesn’t miss out on its own nod to the movie that started it all, either.
When Sully returns the mischievous Boo to her very own bedroom at the end of the first Monsters adventure, she isn’t ready to leave, showing off her toy collection to what she thinks is her big blue “kitty.”. The Luxo Ball from Pixar’s earliest animated shorts can be seen, but Boo takes particular pride in her cowgirl Jessie doll, well-known to fans of Toy Story 2, and apparently a hit with more than just Andy.
Buzz Down Under
For a movie based in the oceans, Finding Nemo hints at more connections to Pixar’s other properties than you would expect. When the wayward Nemo finds himself living in a dentist office aquarium, viewers are given more than a few glimpses of the waiting room and its sometimes-terrifying patients. Among the toys scattered around for children to play with is the unmistakable profile of Buzz Lightyear, one star of the Toy Story series that was apparently even popular in Australia.
One Incredible Comic
The Toy Story movies always implied that there were thousands of each toy scattered around the world, but another nod in Finding Nemo isn’t so easily explained. A young boy can later be seen reading a comic book in the dentist’s office waiting room clearly showing a young Mr. Incredible on its cover. Whether it’s a real adventure from the golden age of Pixar superheroes, or a sign that The Incredibles are merely comic book characters in Pixar’s universe… that’s for fans to debate.
It may not be the most critically-acclaimed of Pixar’s movies, but the commercial power of Cars made it an overnight sensation – and the wealth of easter eggs spread across the studio’s other movies show the designers have a soft spot for the story of humanized vehicles. Although the world of Cars is lacking human beings, the characters in the Toy Story series are clearly fans: the third film in the series includes a simplified version of star Lightning McQueen, a child wearing a t-shirt boasting his logo and number, and even Andy is a fan, with a calendar in his room showing a more realistic version of the sneezy Snot Rod.
As an added bonus, the gas company seen to sponsor the film’s famous Piston Cup – Dinoco – is also a gas company in the world of Toy Story. And if viewers look close enough, the unmistakable dinosaur on the company’s logo can be spotted on a lighter in Wall-E’s collection of human artifacts.
The story of a runaway rat with a flair for high-end cooking may seem to have little in common with Pixar’s other releases, but it turns out comic book superheroes are just as popular in Ratatouille‘s version of Paris as they are in the real one. As evidenced by the Incredibles logo on Linguini’s underwear.
A Telltale Shadow
But the timeline of the Pixar universe is also played with in the movie, as Remy’s adventures through Paris end up bringing him dangerously close to an unseen dog. But a closer look at the dog’s shadow reveals it to be a dead ringer for Dug, the fan-favorite canine from Pixar’s Up, appearing here years before his own movie hit theaters – and apparently before a groundbreaking collar allowed him to speak English.
As light-hearted and hopeful as Pixar’s movies tend to be, Wall-E showed that if every story is set in the same fictional world, then all are headed for a seriously depressing end. Set decades in the future, Wall-E follows a single sanitation robot charged with cleaning up the Earth after it’s been turned into one massive landfill. One big box retailer – Buy n Large – is to blame for the mess, with their corporate logo spread throughout the movie. Leaving no doubt that all of Pixar’s humans are headed for this fate, the BnL logo is shown on Buzz Lightyear’s batteries in Toy Story 3. He’ll at least have company, since Rex can also be spotted in Wall-E’s collection.
So what do you think of our list? There are far too many easter eggs to fit in one place, so be sure to let us know your own favorites in our comment section, and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel for more videos like this one.