What would any Pixar movie be without a hero who immediately endears themselves to audiences and, uh, can also sell a whole lotta merchandise?
Even though their flawless rep has wavered somewhat in recent years, Pixar is still the premiere Hollywood animation studio, producing more high-quality fare for mass audiences than any other outfit.
But no matter how well directed or beautifully scripted a film might be, they only really come to life when channelled through characters who connect with viewers both young and old.
Pixar has basically mastered the art over the last three decades, of creating protagonists who are not only massively appealing on an aesthetic level but also speak to audiences in more personal ways.
From their 26 movies to date - including the recently released Lightyear - everyone's got their own personal favourite Pixar heroes, but it's also fair to say that the studio hasn't knocked it out of the park every single time.
And so, by re-assessing Pixar's entire filmography, here's how the focal hero(es) of each film shake out. Does Woody still hold the king's crown, or has a more recent protagonist surpassed him? It's time to find out...
21. Mater (Cars 2)
Let's face it - everybody groaned at least a little when they learned that southern fried tow truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) was taking over protagonist duties from Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) on Cars 2.
Because while Mater was an acceptable enough comic relief presence in the first Cars, he's in no way a character to hang a feature film on.
What's amusing in small doses becomes actively grating when he's pushed to the forefront - a four-wheel hick stereotype of a character whose lack of intelligence is more exasperating than entertaining.
Mater's annoying personality undercuts the emotion of a film that already struggles to convince audiences it's a worthwhile sequel at all. Sorry, Mater, but you should stick to the supporting character shtick.