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  • Alas, Poor Villain: Many fans felt sorry for the lemons; made outcasts by the rest of the cars, doing wrong but for the right reasons.
  • And the Fandom Rejoiced: Bruce Campbell.
  • Author's Saving Throw: Mater's role in Cars 3 was significantly cut down.
  • Base Breaker: Mater. And how!!! While children seem to love this character, most other people despise him. There's pretty much a consensus that he ruined (or at least severely hurt) Cars 2.
    • There is also a subset that will Take a Third Option, finding him tolerable in the first movie, but obnoxious in the second.
    • Were the movies good or the weakest films that Pixar has produced thus far?
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The second film. It's an Affectionate Parody of the Bond films that stands as markedly out of place compared to every other piece of media in the franchise. Even the third film doesn't make any mention to it.
  • Broken Aesop: The first film's message of "slow down and appreciate the simple things" is a bit difficult when you're watching a multi-million dollar movie made with thousands of computers.
  • Cliché Storm: At least for Pixar movies. You can imagine a counter in the corner whenever they use a cliche that came from a movie before Cars. It's still good on its own merits.
    • Troperiffic
    • One of the major complaints about the sequel is the fact that the Cliché Storm element is taken to nigh painful extremes.
  • Creator's Pet: Mater. Many fans aren't fond of him, largely because he's voiced by Larry the Cable Guy. This hasn't stopped Pixar from featuring him in all the shorts and having him practically be the main character of the sequel.
  • Critical Dissonance: Barring The Good Dinosaur, the three films are considered Pixar's weakest works by critics but are beloved by their target audiences.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome: Guido's Pit Stop.
  • Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: McQueen's Honor Before Reason decision to stop himself and help The King finish the race.
  • Ear Worm: Weezer's "You Might Think" from Cars 2 is upbeat, and very catchy to being slightly annoying.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Mater was one of the principle characters in Cars, yet was still one of the many characters in a more Ensemble Cast. However, he is the star of Mater's Tall Tales, and is the co-protagonist in Cars 2, with all the trailers and the whole story focusing more on him than Lightning.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: To more conservative viewers, the sequel's "once big oil, always big oil" message might come across as one.
    • Something to dislike on both sides of the spectrum as the Aesop can also be viewed as alternative fuel is an evil scam.
    • In addition, as far as the friendship between Lightning and Mater goes, Cars 2 can come off as, "Be yourself, even if your true self is a jerk who constantly embarrasses everyone around you and creates big setbacks for your friends."
  • Fanfic Fuel: The Cars franchise loves World Building.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Cars 2. So much so that many consider Cars: The Video Game to be the true sequel.
  • Follow the Leader: A lot of people consider Cars to be "Doc Hollywood with vehicles." Not that's necessarily a bad thing in itself.
  • Fridge Brilliance: That little blue flying insect shaped like a car is a beetle.
    • Why did parts of Axlerod's already cliched backstory of "businessman gains more respect for the natural world after getting stranded in a rainforest or some other untouched place" sound fabricated? Because they actually were.
  • Funny Aneurysm Moment: Those potshots taken at the first film for being unoriginal now officially fall into Dude, Not Funny territory.
  • Genius Bonus: Francesco Bernoulli is named after the air-flow physics that is used by Formula One cars' characteristic wings to obtain downforce.
  • Growing the Beard: While it wasn't universally beloved, Cars 3 is where everyone agrees that the franchise really comes into its own.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Connect Doc's "they quit on me" speech with the fact that this was one of Paul Newman's last major roles.
    • Narrowly averted in Cars 2: The weakness/trigger of the new fuel was supposed to be radiation but after the nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan they changed it to radio waves (as of John Lasseter's "Day in the Life" documentary).
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: One of the supporting characters is a diminutive and lovable forklift named Guido... damn you Jersey Shore...
  • Ho Yay: In the sequel, Mater puts together quite a day out for his best friend when he comes home, and even tries to infiltrate Lightning's date with Sally. They have a secret handshake that a bystander notices gets longer every time they do it. If that's not bad enough, at one point Lightning chases after Mater repeatedly yelling "You're the bomb." Yeah...
    • Fillmore and Sarge have lots of this. Despite their clashing personalities, the two are almost inseparable. The two are almost always next to each other, Sarge is even shown sleeping next to Fillmore in "Unidentified Flying Mater". Twice. Some of the toy packaging go as far as describing the duo as being "Unable to live without one another."
  • Internet Backdraft: Lots regarding the sequel, going from Fan Dumb diehards saying that the film only seems bad in comparison to the rest of Pixar's work (and calling any and all critics of the movie "haters" who are gleeful that Pixar has finally produced a genuinely bad film) to the Pixar Hate Dumb who actually are gleeful that Pixar has finally produced a genuinely bad film (and wasted no time in rubbing it in the noses of said diehards).
  • Mind Screw: At one point when discussing fossil fuels in the sequel, dinosaurs are brought up. DINOSAURS. Just sit and let that sink in for a minute.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Chick Hicks, the film's antagonist, was already a douche due to his dirty racing tactics, but at the end when he purposely runs The King off the road -- causing his crippling crash -- and has no remorse for it, it's apparent to every character, onscreen and off, that he's somewhat of an a-hole.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • A deleted scene in the first movie shows a discarded scene which involved, while getting lost trying to find Mack, Lightening McQueen wandering through a car graveyard full of rusty and destroyed cars. The scene seems reminiscent of Snow White getting lost running from the wicked Queen and it's not hard to figure out why the scene wasn't in the final product.
    • Some of the Family-Unfriendly Death in the second movie. Also, high octane nightmare fuel. Yay, puns.
  • Tear Jerker: The 'Our Town' scene, especially when Luigi pushes up the sign saying, "We're still open!"
  • The Scrappy: Mater. It does not help the he's promoted to the main character.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • While the idea of Sentient Vehicles isn't too far fetched by Pixar's standards, what makes the franchise so different to other Pixar films (like Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Ratatouille, and WALL-E) is that it doesn't show how the characters view and work around human society. For example, the plots of the Toy Story films (how would a toy feel if they aren't played with?) only work for toys and shows how they regard their owners' affections as something to compete for. By contrast, the Cars films are human-free when some critics, and even fans, have argued that this could have made for a more compelling story when it would be shown how cars regard humans (much like Disney's Susie the Little Blue Coupe short film).
    • When asked why a society built for cars still had signs of humanity, most notably the Dinoco dinosaur, Word of God replied that a Robot War happened in the past. As vehicles became smarter and smarter, they Turned Against Their Masters and took over the planet. To many fans, particularly the older ones, seeing the revolution sounded like a much better idea for a film.
  • Too Cool to Live: Why would anyone cast Bruce Campbell as a superspy just to kill him off? Not to mention that poor British spy, voiced by Jason Isaacs, crushed into a cube in the beginning...
  • Tough Act to Follow: Even if the second movie was more positively received, it still would have been considered very underwhelming compared to Up and especially Toy Story 3 before it.
    • The first film was also victim of this; coming right after The Incredibles.
  • Uncanny Valley: In Paris, Mater comes across a car that has its eyes in its headlights instead of on the windshield (a possible Take That toward previous depictions of anthropomorphized cars). Mater (and the audience) are suitably horrified.
    • It does, however, bring back memories of the cars in Brave Little Toaster, which the director of Cars 2 worked on.
    • Also, RC, a remote-control dune buggy from the Toy Story series films appears to have headlights for eyes.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: These two race cars. Yes, the pink car is actually a boy, and the blue car is actually a girl, despite the Pink Girl, Blue Boy stereotype.
  • The Woobie: If you notice very hard in the "Our Town" sequence, Mater had a coat of sky blue in the flashback. When customers stopped coming to Radiator Springs and business closed and all the cars are looking at the empty road, the first car to leave in disbelief is Mater. Plus, he is the one who has physically changed the most- not a hint of paint left on him. And in the present, he's probably the most crazy of the bunch. Evidentally, he took the by-pass the hardest.
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