An animated superhero family in "Incredibles 2" stand in the middle of the city with surprised looks on their faces.

Your Comprehensive Guide to Pixar’s Filmography

What if everything had feelings and also made you bawl your eyes out?

Pixar movies do not need an introduction. Since the very first one was released back in 1995, a good number of them have been incredible commercial—and critical—successes. They continue to leave their mark on pop culture and our collective imagination with their distinct visual style and storytelling. 

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Pixar Animation Studios grew with their products, going from being a part of the computer division at Lucasfilm—where Pixar first started out in the late ’70s—to becoming one of the world’s leading computer animation studios, falling within the wider scope of Walt Disney Studios which acquired it in 2006. That of course could open up a whole discourse about monopolies and massive studios swallowing smaller ones, especially when it comes to awards and public recognition, but this is a topic for another time.

For now, let’s take some time to reminisce on the filmography that Pixar has put out—excluding shorts—in the order in which they were released.

Toy Story (1995)

The first entirely computer-animated feature film, Toy Story was the one that started it all for Pixar—including its tradition of making movies based on the premise “What if X had feelings?” The story follows a group of toys all belonging to a boy named Andy and led by Sheriff Woody, Andy’s favorite toy, as they prepare to move houses with their owner. The toys are also dealing with a new toy that was gifted to Andy for his birthday—an action figure depicting the Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear.

A Bug’s Life (1998)

The second feature film A Bug’s Life put out by Pixar goes from Andy’s room to an ant colony, plagued by a gang of grasshoppers who request part of their food. Flik, an inventor and somewhat misfit in the colony, is sent to find bigger and meaner insects to help fight back the grasshoppers—except the “warriors” he stumbles upon end up being a troupe of circus performers.

Toy Story 2 (1999)

It’s no surprise that Toy Story’s massive success generated Pixar’s first-ever franchise. What a franchise that is since Toy Story 2 is widely considered to be superior to its predecessor. The second installment of the series returns with Woody being stolen by a toy enthusiast who plans to sell him since he’s part of a rare collection. Of course, Buzz and the rest of Andy’s toys immediately embark on a mission to rescue him.

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

The first era of Pixar truly gave birth to some of the studio’s most iconic characters—or maybe it’s just my childhood nostalgia speaking. Be that as it may, Monsters, Inc. is another one of those movies that you can probably recognize by the silhouette of its characters alone. The story is set in the city of Monstropolis, which as the name suggests is inhabited by monsters. The way the city gets its energy is by harnessing the screams of human children, who are scared by professional monsters who work at Monsters, Inc. Sulley and his best friend Mike are one of the factory’s highest-ranking duos, but their world gets turned upside down when Sulley accidentally lets a human girl into Monsters, Inc. and the city beyond it.

Finding Nemo (2003)

There’s one reason and one reason only that every ’90s kid knows the address P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney, and that reason is Finding Nemo. The story follows clownfish father and son duo Marlin and Nemo, who live in the Great Barrier Reef. Nemo is an adventurous child, while Marlin is an apprehensive father because of an accident that led to the loss of Nemo’s mother and the rest of their eggs. When Nemo is captured by a pair of scuba divers during his first day of school, Marlin overcomes his fear of the open sea to embark on a journey to save him. Along the way, he meets an unlikely companion Dory, a blue tang who suffers from acute short-term memory loss.

The Incredibles (2004)

The first Pixar movie to feature an entirely human cast is also one of the studio’s most iconic ones. In my opinion, everything about The Incredibles is made to be remembered, from its visual style to its score. The Incredibles of the title is at first glance your typical American family—Bob and Helen Parr and their three children, Violet, Flash, and Jack-Jack. We learn that The Parrs are all in possession of supernatural abilities, and Bob and Helen actually led a double life as superheroes before the government banned all kinds of super activity. When one of Bob’s old fans turns into a dangerous enemy, the entire family has to band together to defeat him.

Cars (2006)

This time, the usually inanimate objects that have feelings are cars! Cars follows Lightning McQueen, a rookie race car with all the swagger one expects from someone from his background. McQueen gets lost on the way to the biggest race of his career and ends up in the rundown town of Radiator Springs, where a cast of unique characters helps him understand the true meaning of friendship and family.

Ratatouille (2007)

Even if you’re not familiar with Ratatouille, you can be certain you’ve heard part of its soundtrack in the background of hundreds of TikTok videos. Set in France, the story follows a young rat named Remy who dreams of becoming a chef in one of the most famous restaurants in the city—and he does so by forming an alliance with one of the restaurant’s garbage boys. Eventually, Remy ends up winning over even the country’s most fearsome culinary critic by serving him a dish of ratatouille, the traditional French dish that gives its name to the whole movie.

WALL-E (2008)

The very first Pixar movie to feature some live-action sequences, WALL-E’s story centers around the robot WALL-E, who lives on an abandoned and garbage-covered earth centuries in the future. He is continuing the task that was assigned to him, cleaning up trash, while also cultivating the personality he has developed in the meantime. One day, his routine is disrupted by the arrival of another robot, EVE, with whom WALL-E is immediately fascinated—so much so that he follows her to space towards one of the many strainers that have carried humanity away from Earth.

Up (2009)

Up might be best known for featuring one of the most heartbreaking bittersweet opening scenes to ever be put to film. The story follows the elderly widower Carl Fredricksen, who decides to travel to South America by making his house fly thanks to thousands of balloons in order to fulfill a promise made to his late wife Ellie. Along the way, he encounters some unexpected companions, like the eight-year-old wannabe explorer Russell, the talking dog Doug, and a giant bird named Kevin. He also encounters enemies, like the famed explorer Charles Muntz who was once Carl’s childhood hero.

Toy Story 3 (2010)

The second to last installment of the Toy Story saga returns to Andy’s toys when Andy is a teenager preparing to head off to college. In Toy Story 3, his toys—with the exception of Woody whom Andy plans to bring to college with him—accidentally end up in a box of donations and find themselves at the Sunnyside Daycare. While the daycare initially seems like the perfect place, it’s soon revealed that it’s a toy prison run with an iron fist by the bear Lotso. Eventually, the toys escape Sunnyside and end up with a new owner, as Andy rides off to college.

Cars 2 (2011)

Cars 2—the middle point of a trilogy—returns to Lightning McQueen and his friend, the tow truck Mater, as they head to Japan and then Europe to compete in the World Grand Prix. Of course, they get sidetracked and Mater ends up somehow getting embroiled in an international espionage scheme at the end of which he manages to foil a mysterious conspiracy that threatens all the competitors of the Grand Prix.

Brave (2012)

Brave features the very first Disney Princess ever produced by Pixar—and that princess is Merida, the movie’s main character. The daughter of a powerful Scottish clan, Merida is everything a princess shouldn’t be according to her mother, Queen Elinor. When she decides to defy the age-old tradition that would have her marry a stranger, Merida finds herself getting tangled with ancient powers and a curse that turns her mother into a bear.

Monsters University (2013)

Monsters University serves as a prequel to Monsters, Inc. It’s a first in the history of Pixar, which had only done sequels so far. The story follows Sulley and Mike as they attend the same scaring program at college, where they start off as rivals before joining the same fraternity of misfits and becoming the best friends we saw in the original movie. 

Inside Out (2015)

The “What if X had emotions?” eventually had to reach its apex, and Inside Out is exactly that apex—a movie that wonders “What if emotions had emotions?” The story follows five principal emotions inside the mind of an eleven-year-old girl Riley, who is going through a difficult time in her life as her family uproots from their native Minnesota to San Francisco. The leader of these personified emotions, Joy, does her best to keep Riley stable throughout this series of changes before realizing that embracing Sadness is the only way to work through the situation and come out the other side.

The Good Dinosaur (2015)

A homage to the Western genre, The Good Dinosaur is set in an alternative version of history where dinosaurs do not go extinct. It follows a young Apatosaurus named Arlo, who gets carried away from his home during a rainstorm and does his best to return to it—with the help of his human friend Spot.

Finding Dory (2016)

One of Pixar’s most awaited sequels, Finding Dory returns to the world of the Great Barrier Reef and focuses on Dory—telling the story of how she got separated from her parents as a child. She decides to search for them after getting a flashback and finally remembering them after years. Her friends Marlin and Nemo of course accompany her on her journey.

Cars 3 (2017)

The final installment of the Cars trilogy, Cars 3 returns to Lightning McQueen five years after competing in the World Grand Prix. He is determined to show a whole new generation of race cars that he still has what it takes to win the famous Florida 500 race. Of course, Mater and the rest of the characters we’ve come to know from the first two movies will appear and lend him a hand—or a wheel.

Coco (2017)

Coco returns to the great Pixar tradition of making you absolutely bawl your eyes out by the time the end credits roll up on the screen. Starring yet another cast of mostly human characters—even though a good chunk of them are technically dead—the story follows a young Mexican boy named Miguel who loves music above everything else, including his family’s general aversion to it. During the celebration of The Day of the Dead, Miguel gets accidentally transported to The Land of the Dead—where the deceased part of his family helps him get back to the world of the living while uncovering some major secrets in the process.

Incredibles 2 (2018)

Another one of Pixar’s long-awaited sequels, Incredibles 2 was released a cool fourteen years after its predecessor. This time, it’s Elastigirl who gets contacted for a superhero job. Of course, it’s revealed to be a trap by a supervillain du jour who has a bone to pick with supers. Bob remains home to deal with his children’s “everyday” issues, from Violet’s crush getting his memory of her completely erased to Jack-Jack revealing his plethora of powers.

Toy Story 4 (2019)

Toy Story 4—the final in the series—sees Andy’s toys adapting to the fact that they’re now Bonnie’s toys. As Woody does his best to save a toy that Bonnie herself created—and who therefore doesn’t see himself as a “real” toy—he is reunited with Bo Peep, his love interest from all the way back in the first movie. Bo has become a “lost toy,” and Woody will have to decide whether he wants to remain with Bonnie or go down the path of being a “lost toy” himself together with Bo.

Onward (2020)

Onward in Pixar’s first venture into urban fantasy. Set in a world filled with stereotypical fantasy creatures where magic has become a thing of the past and is replaced by technology. The story follows a duo of elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, as they set out on a quest to find an ancient artifact that will bring back their deceased dad for twenty-four hours. Like all quests, unexpected companions and fantastical obstacles, along with a wide array of magical objects, are to be expected.

Soul (2020)

Extremely well-received by critics even with the COVID-19 pandemic altering its release schedule, Soul follows a jazz pianist, Joe Gardner, who falls into a coma right before his chance at a big break in the music world. Now a disembodied soul who would very much like to return to his body, Joe is roped into becoming a mentor for an extremely unruly soul who ends up returning to Earth alongside him. 

Luca (2021)

Do I particularly love this movie because it’s set in Italy and I also live in Italy? Maybe. Luca follows the story of the titular character, a young sea monster who lives off the shore of Portorosso. He dreams of exploring the land, which he does together with his new friend Alberto, himself a sea monster who believes he is a great expert in all things human. There, the two become quick friends with the human girl Giulia, and their friendship is going to change their lives forever.

Turning Red (2022)

An ode to weird tween girls and fangirls everywhere, Turning Red is set in Toronto in the early 2000s and it follows the story of Meilin Lee, a brilliant middle schooler who happens to transform into a red panda whenever she experiences strong emotions. She and her group of friends have one mission and one mission only—convincing their parents to let them go to the concert of their favorite boy band.

Lightyear (2022)

While the Toy Story “main” film series might have closed with Toy Story 4, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for some spinoffs—and that’s exactly what Lightyear is. Presented as a film that the children in the Toy Story universe might have seen, Lightyear tells the story of the human character that inspired the toy of the same name, a space ranger who ends up marooned on a hostile planet and has to find a way to return safely home with his crew.

Elemental (2023)

Elemental is the most recent Pixar movie—so far at least. Set in a world divided into four separate areas inhabited by the four different species of anthropomorphic elements, it follows the story of Ember Lumen, a fire element, and Wade Ripple, a water element, who meet and fall in love while trying to save the convenience store owned by Ember’s family from closing.

(featured image: Pixar Animation Studios)


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Author
Benedetta Geddo
Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.