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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 Adventures of Andre and Wally B. -- Created back 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.
- 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!
- 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 (in more ways than one) 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. It was later played before Finding Nemo.
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 Bugs 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 Cloudly (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 - Currently not slated to appear before any theatrical or DVD releases and hitting the festival circuit instead. 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.
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...
- Especially notable for the DVD Commentary on the short, which is done by the young children of the creators.
- 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 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 Syncro-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.
- 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) -- Carl's stunt inspires, one week later, many other old people to do the same with various ways... To George's and AJ's (the two Shady Oaks orderlies) despair (And our enjoyment).
- 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.
- 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 upcoming Spin-Off film Planes.
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.
A series of "Toy Story Treats" were also made and shown at commercial breaks during the Saturday morning cartoon block on ABC.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.
- 3D Movie: Tokyo Mater, Partly Cloudy, Day & Night, and Knick Knack have all been rendered in stereographic 3D.
- It's worth mentioning that the original 3D version of Knick Knack (with weapons-grade boobs) got shown at SIGGRAPH.
- An Aesop: Day & Night has one about how "different" doesn't necessarily mean "bad."
- Amusing Injuries: Pretty much everything the magician goes through in Presto, as well as Mike's injuries after getting locked in the engine of his car in Mike's New Car. In Partly Cloudy the stork suffers various injuries from the animals it must deliver. 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!)
- And You Were There: Mater adds Lightning McQueen's involvement in his stories with this phrase.
- 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.
- Day and Night combine 3D and 2D animation. See Medium Blending.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Lifted
- Bad Humor Truck: Ice Screamer from "Monster Truck Mater."
- Badly-Battered Babysitter: Kari in Jack-Jack Attack
- 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.
- Billions of Buttons: The control panel of the space ship in Lifted has thousands of unlabeled switches. As well as Mike's car.
- Black Dude Dies First: Frozone immediately gets captured by the villain in Mr. Incredible and Pals. In the commentary, he complains about it.
- Bull Seeing Red: The bulldozers chase after El Materdor's red cape, and then Lightning McQueen.
- But Not Too Black: Watching Mr. Incredible and Pals, Frozone complains about the apparent lightening of his character's skin.
- Butt Monkey: BURN-E. George and AJ too.
- Lightning is this in some of Mater's Tall Tales.
- 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.
- Captain Patriotic: In Mr. Incredible and Pals, Mr. Incredible is portrayed as one of these.
- Captain Obvious: Everyone in Mr. Incredible and Pals.
- 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.
- 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.
- Night in Day and Night, but it's actually more of "Dark is not a freak".
- A Day in the Limelight: "Dug's Special Mission".
- Defeat by Modesty: Happens to Kabuto at the end of "Tokyo Mater."
- Deliberately Monochrome: "Mater P.I."
- Delivery Stork: Partly Cloudy
- 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.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Mike's New Car: the car's automatic seat recliners start malfunctioning. Outside, a pedestrian nervously
walksruns away from the visibly shaking car.
- Double Consciousness: Geri plays out this trope, acting snarky and aggressive on one side of the chessboard and anxiously-intimidated on the other.
- Downer Ending: Red's Dream
- Driving Test: Lifted
- 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.
- Executive Meddling: Subverted. It's assumed that the decrease of the women's bust size in Knick-Knack is Disney executive censorship as usual, but John Lasseter and the studio actually made the decision to do so themselves.
- Parodied in Your Friend the Rat, which ends with a prolonged legalistic crawl warning people that Pixar does not encourage people to have contact with rats. Remy and Emil bitch about the inclusion of this producer-imposed warning (which is Completely Missing the Point of their presentation) and even push the crawling words aside as best they can.
- Fearsome Critters of American Folklore: The Jackalope.
- 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.
- Frozone calls attention to Mr. Incredible and Pals's "crappy animation" in the commentary track.
- Gratuitous Animal Sidekick: Spoofed in Mr. Incredible and Pals with Mr. Skipperdoo.
- Hammerspace: Mike's New Car, considering Sully could lower the passenger seat to the point only his head is visible.
- Hubcap Hovercraft: Mater in "UFM: Unidentified Flying Mater".
- Humans Are Cthulhu: John Lasseter specifically refers to the baby in Tin Toy as a monster from the toys' viewpoint.
- Impossible Shadow Puppets: Buzz Lightyear does this in "Shadow Play".
- 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.
- Kids Prefer Boxes: This is the punchline for "Tin Toy."
- 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.
- Limited Animation: Mr. Incredible and Pals, parodying the style of Clutch Cargo.
- Living Toys: Tin Toy, and, arguably, Knick Knack and Red's Dream
- Lower Deck Episode: The BURN-E short.
- "Jack-Jack Attack" also counts, for Kari.
- Magicians Are Wizards: The magician in Presto can perform Functional Magic.
- Meaningful Name: The two musicians in One Man Band are named Bass and Treble (after the two music clefs in common use, ignoring the less common alto and tenor), and the little girl they both want a tip from is named (Drum Roll, Please)...Tippy.
- Medium Blending: The title characters of Day & Night are traditionally animated, yet the imagery inside them is done in CGI.
- 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.
- The original ones. The follow-up shorts have dialogue (except BURN-E, which is logical).
- Mind Screw: Day & Night is a feast for the eyes. But if you try to make sense of it...
- Mirror Match: Geri's Game.
- 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.
- Non-Human Sidekick: see "Small Annoying Creature" below
- Not So Different: The ending of "Night And Day".
- No Antagonist: In contrast to Pixar's feature length films, quite a few of the shorts use this trope.
- 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.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: The background music for Jack-Jack Attack.
- "Dies Irae" by Mozart. It's about the Apocalypse. It's awesome.
- One-Man Band: The title character of Tin Toy, and the two antagonists in One Man Band.
- Painting the Medium: Day & Night basically changes the medium into a pair of characters representing...well, you know.
- Pro Wrestling Episode: Monster Truck Mater.
- Pull a Rabbit Out of My Hat: What Presto revolves around.
- And eventually inverted when the rabbit pulls the magician out of a hat.
- 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 Cloudly 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).
- Retraux: Mr. Incredible and Pals.
- 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.
- 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), the only Pixar short with clear-cut villains is Lifted.
- Shout-Out: Near the end of BURN-E, there's a reference to a very famous scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- Small Annoying Creature: A rabbit called Mr. Skipperdoo is added to the cast of Mr. Incredible and Pals, to appeal to children.
Mr. Incredible: The rabbit is cuddly! Kids like little cuddly sidekicks! I mean, the rabbit... it's a time-tested... okay, the rabbit bites.
- Snipe Hunt: Alpha sends Dug on one, which parallels Carl sending Russell on one in the main film.
- Stylistic Suck: Mr. Incredible and Pals.
- Take Me to Your Leader: In UFM, Mater says to "Mator":
Mater: [at the train crossing] Well, should I take you to my leader?
- Tall Tale: The "Mater's Tall Tales" shorts.
- Unmoving Pattern: A variation in Day & Night.
- 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")