Ever since Pixar’s first feature film Toy Story in 1995, the film company has delighted audiences of all ages by bringing iconic animated stories to the big screen. Over the last 24 years, Pixar has given us countless well-loved titles that have made us love and trust the brand and get all excited whenever we see the little lamp hop along and squash the “I” in their name. So now, with the latest instalment of Pixar’s longest running franchise soon hitting our cinemas – Toy Story 4 – we have started to reflect on the best and most loved characters Pixar have created over the years. It was hard to choose just seven, but here we go…
7. Remi – Ratatouille (2007)
A common trait of many Pixar movie heroes is the desire to achieve their dreams – no matter the odds. And the odds don’t get any higher than for Remi, the sewer rat who wants to pursue his passion for high-end gastronomy and work in a Parisian restaurant serving food to the customers of France’s culinary utopia.
With a discerning palette and a father and brother who can’t seem to understand Remi’s passion for delicious food– Remi is relatable to anyone who has felt like they don’t fit in. But rather than changing himself, Remi sets his sights high and eventually ends up working in a prestigious restaurant – controlling a human man like a puppet by pulling his hair. Putting the plausibility of this aside, Remi just can’t give up on his dream even though time and time again he is made to feel the kitchen is no place for a rat. Eventually running a successful restaurant for rats and humans alike, Remi teaches us to chase our ambitions no matter how ridiculous they may seem – and also makes us a little hungry.
6. Elastigirl – The Incredibles (2004), Incredibles II (2018)
The Incredibles gives us one of the most well-loved superhero families in cinema – perhaps because aside from their superpowers they are just like any normal family: fighting with each other, trying to raise their children well and taking on evil villains threatening to take over the world. And whilst Mr Incredible, Violet, Dash and Jack Jack are all brilliant characters in their own way – Mrs Incredible otherwise known as Elastigirl is the glue that keeps the family together.
Raising three kids must be hard enough, but with one of them being able to run away at breakneck speed, another turning invisible and a third having a plethora of explosive “qualities” – Elastigirl is a hero in her own right for using her stretchy arms to hold everyone in place. Perhaps her true super power is finding the spare time to be a superhero in the first place! She is resourceful and whenever her children or her husband are having a crisis of confidence Elastigirl is there to pull them back up. Not to mention she gets thrown around like a pinball and jumped on like a trampoline but never complains.
5. Joy – Inside Out (2015)
A coming-of-age tale which visualises growing pains like no other, Inside Out is a complex idea spun beautifully into a story for all ages. Young girl Riley has five main emotions – Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust and Sadness – living inside her head and Joy is the one who orchestrates keeping Riley happy.
Whilst Joy’s only purpose seems to preserve Riley’s peace of mind – and a noble purpose it is too – Joy also goes on her own journey and discovers much about the happiness which she is named after. Even when she finds herself in the darkest moments, she is looking for the positives that eventually leads her to the conclusion that Sadness and Joy must work together in order to achieve true happiness. With her sunny disposition and never-give-up attitude, we all wish we had a glowing blue-haired control freak looking out for us too.
4. Wall-E – Wall-E (2008)
Someone must have challenged Pixar to make the most adorable robot they could think of and the result was Wall-E. Only able to say a couple of phrases, make high pitched squealing sounds, play his radio and juggle his eyes around – Wall E somehow succeeds in winning the hearts of anyone who watches him.
Initially cutting a tragic figure, Wall-E is a robot obsessed with the human idea of love despite being alone on a planet of junk with only a cockroach for company. Wall-E obediently carries out the job he was built to do – compress the mountains of human-produced rubbish into tiny squares, despite the enormity of the task seeming fruitless. When glossy, glamorous robot Eve (affectionately mispronounced Eva by Wall-E) comes to earth, he finally finds the love he is looking for and will go to the ends of the universe to protect it. Wall-E is a classic tale of a tiny hero who suddenly finds himself in a big world and bravely takes it all on. And whilst we hope earth doesn’t become the landfill site it in in the film – if a cute robot like Wall-E was invented it would make it a little easier to handle.
3. Mike – Monsters Inc. (2001), Monsters University (2013)
Pixar’s second longest-running franchise, Monsters Inc took on the tricky task of turning the fear of the ‘monster under the bed’ which haunted so many childhoods and making them lovable characters. Nowhere was this done better than with Mike Wazowski – the unusually named, squat one-eyed green bowling ball who’s bumbling antics remove all the scariness from the idea of monsters.
Despite his many flaws like his comedic appearance, inability to keep up with his girlfriend or his paperwork and lack of scaring power – Mike demonstrates that we should live in the moment and not focus on our failures. Mike often finds himself in the shadow of his best friend Sully but he seems to take unprecedented joy in being the Robin to Sully’s Batman. Whilst he pursues some big dreams, Mike also shows how sometimes the little things can be just as rewarding. Most importantly, however, he spontaneously composed the catchy tune ‘put that thing back where it came from or so help me’ – and you can’t buy that sort of talent.
2. Dory – Finding Nemo (2003), Finding Dory (2016)
A secondary character so popular she deserved her own spin-off, Dory originally appeared on our screens as the cheerful friend of Marlin who works tirelessly to help reunite him with his son. This is despite the fact that Dory has a severe case of short-term memory loss which means every step of the journey is a difficult one.
True to the song she sings, Dory is a great character because she ‘just keeps swimming’ regardless of what obstacles she encounters. Battling against her amnesia in a movie full of characters who are self-conscious about their flaws, Dory is forever a symbol of hope and optimism. In fact, Dory’s ability to forget negatives (as well as everything else) undoubtedly helps her to keep up her endlessly bright disposition. And whilst sometimes other characters take advantage of her nature or take out their anger on her, Dory possesses the kind of loyalty and forgiveness we all need in a friend.
1. Woody – Toy Story 1 (1995), Toy Story 2 (1999), Toy Story 3 (2010), Toy Story 4 (2019)
Speaking of friends, sometimes you can’t beat the original and it seems fitting that Pixar’s longest serving hero is our number one. Woody is the protagonist featuring in all four of the Toy Story films and has led his friends on adventures for nearly 25 years of cinematic history.
Spawned from the lovely idea that our childhood toys are alive and, when we aren’t watching, work overtime to keep us happy – Woody the Cowboy is Andy’s first toy. Whilst Woody has suffered from personal feelings of jealousy, selfishness and despair through the films of the Toy Story franchise, ultimately he finds he only ever wants to keep the children he is with happy. Much like many of the characters on this list, Woody comes from small beginnings but seems to always finds himself on big adventures which is very much the spirit of Pixar. A true icon of unerring loyalty, Woody has been teaching some of us the value of friendship for most of our lives.
So there we have it – seven of the best characters Pixar have given us in the last 24 years. We’re sure there are some characters we have missed off the list, so tell us your favourites in the comments below.