The Top 50 Pixar Characters

To celebrate the end of our Pixar take-over, it is with great pleasure, and a good deal of relief, that I can unveil The Top 50 Pixar Characters, based entirely on my own opinions. But hey, I'm probably the biggest Pixar nerd there is, and I'll willingly take tests to prove it. Sadly no place for Flick from A Bug's Life - I just don't think he's all that great in comparison to the rest of the cast, and Woody Allen's version of essentially the same character in ANTZ is by far the more superior, thanks to a more authentic neuroses. He would probably have come in at number 51 is that's any consolation, though I think it probably isn't... Anyway, enjoy.50. Jesse The Yodelling Cowgirl She almost didn't make it, on account of her badly grating voice (thanks to Joan Cusack), but Jesse's story is the real emotional epicentre of Toy Story 2, culminating in the beautiful marriage of one of Pixar's finest musical moments, When She Loved Me and a heartbreaking montage telling the cowgirls personal tragedy. Her interactions with Buzz are also excellent, but she can't register any higher because she's a quality character for me only because of what she represents. 49. Slinky Dog Woody's unwavering ally when he is cast out in Toy Story, Slinky is a dependable rather than spectacular character throughout the three movies, but it would be a crime to ignore him. 48. Bonnie No place for Andy on the list, because he was just a little bit too clean-cut (and necessarily so, because he is effectively the toys' God, after all), but Toy Story 3's Bonnie is adorable and represents a fitting resolution for the characters who Andy entrusts to her. 47. Jack Jack Parr Not one line of dialogue, and he's probably the least seen of the Incredible clan, but that final scene between Jack Jack and Syndrome is beautifully worked, and the youngest of the Parr kids is remarkably charming for a tot. 46. Chuckles The Clown A brilliant but brief addition to the family in Toy Story 3, Chuckles adds a touch of pathos to Lotso's back-story, adding not only a brilliant riff on his appearance as a clown, but also grounding Lotso's malevolence and making sure he's not completely irredeemable thanks to his own tragic history. Great voice work by Bud Luckey too. 45. Remy The little rat with the big ideas might not be Pixar's best protagonist, by a long-shot, but he has a certain easy charm to him. Ratatouille is a brilliantly creative film, with a beautiful, iconic aesthetic, and the Patton Oswalt-voiced hero in the middle is a great anchor, adding humanity to an almost impossible creature in the rat. 44. Hamm The first and only appearance of Pixar favourite (and supposed "lucky charm") John Ratzenberger on this list: Hamm isn't actually a toy - who plays with a money box exactly? - but his dry wit, and his relationship with Mr Potato Head is a thing of wonder. Great alter-ego (Evil Dr Porkchop) as well, which works precisely because it is the complete antithesis of good guy Hamm's usual demeanour. 43. Captain The human hero alongside the charismatic robot trash compactor, the Captain of the Axiom is often cruelly over-looked in lists like this, but his quest to discover something more than the near-stasis existence that has become the norm aboard the ship is just as compelling as Wall-E's quest for love. 42. Roz For this near-legendary ball-breaker, it's as simple as this... 41. Randall Boggs Slimy, malicious but oddly charming (thanks in part to Steve Buscemi's voice-work), Randall is the perfect counter-point to Sulley and Mike's engaging charm and warmth. 40. Nemo Everyone loves a plucky underdog, or in this case underfish, and Nemo fits the bill perfectly. Injured pre-birth in the tragic incident that wiped out all of his family (bar his slightly neurotic father), Nemo is cursed with a little fin, but has the spirit and courage to overcome even the most adverse situations. 39. Ellie Although absent for the majority of Up, Ellie carries the emotional weight of most of the exceptional, and profoundly affecting opening montage. Without her, and the memory of her, Carl would just be a grumpy old man, but because in her limited sceen time, we are utterly convinced of her character, and the tragedy that underpins the whole film cuts a very deep effect. 38. Lucius Best/Frozone Very cool, but all puns aside, Samuel L Jackson lends his voice to his Iceman variant, whose best moment comes in conversation with his always off-screen wife. His emasculation at the hands of this never-seen dragon is a hilarious touch. 37. Crush The gnarliest creature in all of Finding Nemo's gallery of characters, and also probably the most imitated, which says a lot in itself. 36. Emile The rat-sibling of Raratouille's main attraction Remy, who has more off-hand charm thanks to his limited brain power. Given the choice, I'll always go for the slightly dumb side-kick alternative. 35. Bruce The Shark The not-quite rehabilitated shark, named after Spielberg's temperamental, animatronic Jaws fish and voiced to perfection by Australian comic Barry Humphries (of Dame Edna Everage fame) added a humorous bite and has the kind of smile Hollywood careers are launched off. 34. Mr Prickle Pants Another Toy Story 3 Newbie, this thespian Hedgehog stole a lot of the focus on the Bonnie's house scenes, thanks to his commitment to his art, and the genius decision to cast Timothy Dalton to voice him. Kevin The giant, scene-stealing bi-ped bird from Up, whose relationships with both Russell and Carl are hilarious in their own ways, though it is the fractious dynamic between the bird and the old man that wins, especially in the scene where the bird apes his behaviour to brilliantly comic effect. 32. The Aliens Shamelessly cute, which was the entirety of their role until Toy Story 3 gave them the most generous of resolutions, bringing their story full-circle as well as coming unexpectedly thanks to their slight outsider status. Brilliantly marketable as well - I own about fifty of the little buggers in various manifestations. 31. Violet ParrNot only was The Incredibles way ahead of its time in terms of announcing a movie-based post-superhero movement, it was also prematurely on the money with the presentation of a hero's power-realisation as a bodily metaphor for puberty. Violet is a typical girl, who wants to be invisible thanks to her awkward social skills, and who eventually uses her powers to find her self. Much like that whole "Mutant and Proud" moment in X-Men: First Class then... 30. Helen Parr/Elastigirl Elastigirl is the character in The Incredibles most defined by the dichotomy of her existence: she is both entirely dedicated to the protection of her family, and her matriarchal duties, and yet her superpowers are the most pronounced. She is torn between a facade of normalcy and the rest of her family's desire to be extraordinary, and the conflict is what makes her one of the more interesting figures from the film. 29. Anton Ego Easily my favourite character of Ratatouille, Ego's physiognomy is a triumph of angular drawn-ness, and his very look suggests an ominous under-current to the character. There's also a wonderful, slightly-tongue-in-cheek nod towards the world of criticism wrapped up in the characterisation, and the cherry on this particular cake is the fact that its the legendary Peter O'Toole adding a little luxury to his voice. 28. Slim David Hyde Pierce has pretty much made a career out of playing frail, neurotic men - in fact his two most recognisable characters, Dennis in Sleepless in Seattle, and Niles in Frasier are essentially the same person - and he continued to play to his strengths, adding a theatricality and an anti-machoism to the lovey stick insect in A Bug's Life. Like those other two characters, Slim steals the laughs as a pompous fool, and we love him for it. 27. Francis Big pretty eyes, and a porcelain girly face may suggest one thing, but the ladybug with inflammatory comic Denis Leary's voice is far from a sissy. Okay, so he's a character basically defined by one joke, but the juxtaposition of the pretty face and Leary's aggression is a heavenly blend. 26. Hopper Nice and despicable, A Bug's Life's Hopper is a villain we can all hate, yet he has bags of charisma thanks to kevin Spacey's slimy, yet engaging voice-work. there's actually something very Christopher Walkenian about him... ultimately though, everyone cheers when he gets his come-uppance. 25. Mater Proving that everyone loves an idiot, Mater is probably the real face of Cars, thanks to good-work from Larry the Cable Guy (an American phenomenon this Brit sadly doesn't otherwise get), and the sheer lovable brainlessness he exudes at every turn. He also represents the perfect grounded balance to Lightning McQueen whenever the race star threatens to boil over into arrogant self-congratulation. 24. Ken Michael Keaton plus a very flowery, metrosexuality equals brilliance. His gait may scream fabulous, but he's definitely a one-woman man, thanks to being made for Barbie. It is their love-story that pushes Ken so high, and his fashion-based attempt to woo the iconic doll is definitely one of the best of the entire Toy Story series. 23. Mr Potato Head Sardonic, occasionally quick-to-temper, but invariably willing to go the extra mile to get things done - as indicated when he loses his body in favour of a tortilla and then a courgette in Toy Story 3. Probably deserved looking foolish thanks to his turn-coat performance in Toy Story, jumping on the Buzz band-wagon as soon as the space ranger appeared. Ends up getting his dream relationship with a Mrs Potato Head who incidentally is hilarious in small doses, but whose voice grates on me like nails on a blackboard, hence the snub. 22. Mo Arguably the most charismatic character, other than Number One down there, without any real dialogue. The little fella's exasperation at Wall-E's contaminants is hilarious, and Mo's decision to rebelliously abandon his station in pursuit of Wall-E shouldn't be under-estimated. Nor his role in saving Wall-E either, which gives his character a fitting resolution. 21. Edna Mode If she wasn't modelled on NCIS: LA and Kindergarten Cop actress Linda Hunt, there is something extremely fishy going on. More than anything, Edna is a humorous distraction, an opportunity for the animators and director Brad Bird, who voices her, to have some fun in an otherwise relatively "normal" group of characters (in terms of design anyway). 20. Lightning McQueen Star of the most unnecessarily criticised of all the Pixar films, and voiced with the appropriate mix of bravado and cheeky, but endearing charm by Owen Wilson, McQueen is like an amalgam of all late 80s and early 90s Tom Cruise films but with broad enough appeal that even the youngest Pixar fans love him fiercely. Hence the HUGE merchandising sales of the back of Cars. 19. Dug Squirrel! I initially thought he was brought into Up so that Disney would have a character to pin their merchandising hopes on (since that film is a difficult sell outside of the screen), but on repeated viewings, the enthusiastic dog who just wants to be loved has grown on me a lot. 18. Stinky Pete Almost my favourite Pixar villain, and that has a lot to do with the strength of the voice-over work from Kelsey Grammer, but even more to do with the Prospector's back-story, which like Lotso makes him just about sympathetic enough that we don't want his ultimate fate to be quite so terrible. And he gets his fitting end, trapped in a personal hell of a "creative" new owner. 17. Lotso Huggin' Bear Pixar are a clever lot when it comes to villains, and in particular Toy Story villains, drawing two different levels of malevolence across the three films, firstly of Sid and Al, who are both pretty irredeemable figures, and the toy villains - Stinky Pete and Lotso (and his wider gang of foot-soldiers) who have back-stories that add a level of sympathy to our reception of them. Lotso's tragic personal history is very engaging, and for a while it is possible to believe that he is as sinned against as Stinky Pete, which ultimately gives his final betrayal (just when we think he's going to turn good) an extra edge. Also, he smells like strawberries (and I own three to make sure the smell isn't all sniffed out). 16. Wheezy The ultimate proof of how much this little character affected me? I was heartbroken when I discovered he had been thrown out/given away between Toy Story 2 and 3. 15. Syndrome Arriving just at the right time, The Incredibles effortlessly married a Golden Age nostalgia with post-superhero anxieties in a way that X-Men First Class would later follow suit, and Syndrome's motivated malevolence, combined with great voice-work from Jason lee that goes from fan-boy warm to venom-filled in the same scenes. Also pioneered a hair-style that fecund Irish no-hopers Jedward would model their whole look on, which is perhaps a little less endearing. 14. Russell Funnily enough, for a studio whose primary demographic is presumably children (you can't really bank on cross-generational appeal as a primary when you're making animations), Pixar doesn't have an awful lot of characters kids can truly relate to. Boo is a little young, Nemo's a fish and Sid's a monster: only Andy (who isn't really a sympathetic character, as he is more a vehicle for the kids watching to imagine that their toys are coming alive as well) and Bonnie are real options. But then with Up, the studio introduced a very modern child character, from a broken home, slightly neglected by an absent father, whose new relationship is taking precedence in his life, and yearning for both validation and a paternal influence through his affiliation with the Wilderness Explorers. Russell is just like the modern kids watching him, albeit with a clever narrative conceit that he is adorably naive and determined despite his apparent failings and lack of social skills. Like unlikely friend Carl, he is a loner, alienated by his familial circumstances, and there's a lot of charm behind the lisp. 13. Heimlich The sizeable caterpillar A Bug's Life's from has the best comic resolution bar none, thanks to his dream of being a beautiful butterfly, and Nature's sense of humour. He's also uniformly hilarious, even if his German accent has no relevance at all. Voiced by the tragically departed Pixar and Disney writer Joe Ranft. 12. James P Sullivan Forget the fact that his fur represented a huge stride in animation terms for the studio, because Sulley's look is only part of his appeal. It is more the warmth of his character, particularly from John Goodman's instantly recognisable voice behind the blue fur, and his pseudo-paternal relationship with Boo that makes him an irresistibly appealing figure. There's also a steady dependability, and a weirdly authentic poise (it's a bloody glorified cartoon at the end of the day) about him, which makes him the perfect counter-balance to Mike Wazowski's more exuberant energy. 11. Marlin Voiced to perfection by Albert Brooks, Nemo's dad is the epitome of neurotic, over-protective parenting, and his frustrations carry most of the dramatic tension of the plot, as well as making for a wonderful on-screen chemistry with the delightful Dory. Crucially there is some pathos to the character as well, which makes the flashes of over-bearing behaviour completely understandable, at the same time as adding a further level of depth to his relationship with his son. 10. Bob Parr/ Mr Incredible Into the top ten with the star of the show in The Incredibles - Bob Parr AKA Mr Incredible is the epitome of emasculation, a figure made utterly redundant by the removal of his importance and usefulness to wider society. yes he loves his family, but he hates the mundaneness of existence, and yearns to employ his extraordinary skill set to do his bit. Basically, he's a walking, talking metaphor for the masculine mid-life crisis, and his child-like rejuvenation strikes an easy chord. 9. Rex A quivering, neurotic genius - Toy Story's first resident dinosaur is a contradiction in terms: he's the greatest predator the world has ever known, and yet he's also a shameless self-doubter, a fraidy cat video-game obsessive who invariably goes to pieces in a conflict. Brilliantly, brilliantly voiced by Wallace Shawn, whose high-pitched, high-energy vocals makes the character. 8. Mike Wazowski Billy Crystal has one of the greatest voices in the business for VO work - come to think of it, for any work - and along with Bill Murray and Steve Martin, belongs to the Golden Age of slightly-barbed comic timing. In short, I think he's a genius, and to have him voicing this one-eyed, hilarious monster character is just a joy. Even without Crystal's voice, Mike's a great character, oddly happy to exist in the shadow of Sulley due to a self-delusion of fame by proximity. 7. Dory Words simply couldn't match this... Carl Fredricksen The first really fully-rounded human character in Pixar's canon of works, Carl is ostensibly just a grumpy old man on the surface, but the fact that we are immediately told his story, and shown the void left in his life by his late wife makes it impossible to feel anything but admiration tempered with sadness for him. Along with Russell, he forms the best odd-couple in Disney's history, and the mutual effect each has on one another is very uplifting. Carl's also an old romantic, so he's a winner in my book. 5. Boo Adorable. Simple as that. 4. Woody Probably a lot of people's number one, since he is pretty much Mr Toy Story (and you get the feeling we are supposed to root for him above all other characters in the series), Woody has the same everyman appeal as the actor ingeniusly chosen to voice him. In Tom Hanks Pixar obviously recognised a warm, engaging charisma - which is as obvious in his voice-work as when he's playing his ever-disarming on-screen roles, and crucially he brings a self-importance to the character that offers an in-road to his internal conflict. He's both a leader, and a simple everyday cowboy doll, racked by a creeping doubt that Andy will always come through for his toys. 3. Buzz Lightyear Many would say Woody is the superior character, but for me Buzz has the added advantage of being three characters rolled into one. First he's the self-aware toy who casts off his self-deception in the first film, then he's the regimented "official" version of the toy, and finally, wonderfully he is Spanish Buzz. The comedy of the animation in that tango scene in particular is spectacularly effective, but such generous story-devices maybe distract from the fact that Buzz is the more-rounded of the two Toy Story leads. His initial tragedy, that he is forced to confront a far less inspiring reality than the one created for him as a space ranger, and his subsequent break-down (and rebirth as fourth identity Mrs Nesbitt) is much more explosive to watch than Woody's for me. 2. Luxo Jr How could he not be this high up? Come on, this little lamp is the character upon whose little stand the weight of Pixar's many successes was based. And it is no accident that it is he who appears pride of place outside Pixar HQ, rather than the more illustrious Toy Story guys. And without him, none of all of this would have been possible. There's also the small fact that Luxo Jr's various early appearances were also the fledgling work that confirmed that Pixar could convincingly add characterisation to any inanimate object they could imagine - the humour is effortless, and you genuinely buy into the characters' situation. And they're lamps! After Luxo, every other character must have been simple. 1. Wall-E Looking like Johnny 5's diminutive cousin, the sole inhabitant of a dystopian future Earth is the perfect example of Pixar's commitment to characterisation, and the lack of dialogue does a lot to show of the strength of the animation in the film. The little robot is abundantly charismatic, despite only having a handful of words, and his physical responses are more than enough to fill the vocal void, particularly when he is visibly showing the signs of his initially unrequited love for Eve (who I don't count as a particularly great character alone). His solitude has clearly driven him insane (in terms of a departure from the sturdy restrictions of his primary directive), but his quirk is an endearing romanticism and a quest for someone to love him. Pretty much unaware of his role in reuniting humanity with their home on Earth, Wall-E's one perfectly simple goal is to get Eve to notice him, and to help him realise the simplest of romantic desires, to hold her hand.
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