Pixar has a bunch of clever ways of referencing other projects within their films, and that especially rings true with Toy Story. Let’s take a look at the other films in the same universe. We’ll call this the main universe, since this includes the majority of the works made by Pixar. Keep in mind that while most of this is backed up by what’s seen in the movies, there is some conjecture, so nothing’s definite. While Pixar usually references many movies in a certain film, only some can be taken as an actual confirmation, while smaller things are just fun little cameos and nothing more. Also, shorts based on movies are not included, as the main films are represented.
Tin Toy (1988)
In just about every way, Tin Toy was the prototype for Toy Story. In fact, Toy Story was originally intended to be a sequel. Tin Toy was the first to features toys that came alive and had their own personalities (although they didn’t fear coming alive in front of babies). A toy discovers his purpose to a child in a similar fashion, and we even see some toys that later appeared in Toy Story. The biggest connection, however, is that Billy’s toys actually re-appear in Toy Story 3, though instead of hiding under a couch, they’re hiding under a cupboard after they’ve seemingly been donated to Sunnyside Daycare Center. More than twenty years later, and these guys still have no luck with kids.
Geri’s Game (1997)
This is actually the easiest to tie-in, as there’s a direct crossover with Toy Story 2 – Geri is the Cleaner!
A Bug’s Life (1998)
You’d think that a movie about animated bugs would be in a different world than that of animated toys, but this is not the case. During the film, we get a good glimpse of the Pizza Planet truck, returning for the first time in what would be a long series of cameos. Though we also get some gags behind the scenes as well, with Woody directing a scene in A Bug’s Life, and Flik and Heimlich’s banter caught on camera during Toy Story 2. Though if you look closely during the film itself, you actually can still see Heimlich (before being karate-chopped by Buzz). It would appear A Bug’s Life even took place in the Tri-County area as well.
Monster’s Inc (2001)
In this same universe, we also have monsters that prey on our fear… er, laughter. Lots of Toy Story tie-ins. Randall demonstrates his camouflage against a familiar cloudy wallpaper, and Claws has a close run-in with a boy who sports the same “Kill’n Paul Bunyan” poster as Sid. The direct tie-in comes later when we see Randall is sent to the same residence as the Pizza Planet truck owner in A Bug’s Life. Boo later tries to give Sully a Jessie doll. Rex also couldn’t help but make a cameo during the credits.
Wall-E introduces the Buy n Large company, which later cameos in just about every film since, including Toy Story 3 and Toy Story of Terror. The usual Toy Story references are made in the presence of the Pizza Planet truck and even a Dinoco lighter. Both Rex and Hamm can be observed in Wall-E’s house… could they be Andy’s? There’s reports of a Buzz Lightyear lunchbox and Barbie’s Corvette, but I haven’t seen these myself. Wall-E takes place in either 2805 or 2815, so either way, this seems to be the last in the Pixar timeline by far.
This one’s been confirmed by Pixar, in that the tree visited by a young Carl and Ellie is the same as the one visited by Emily in Jessie’s flashback in Toy Story 2. Of course, some other clues are present in the Pizza Planet truck, and the presence of a Lots-o’-Huggin Bear. Even more subtle is the brand of grape soda in Up is the same seen in Toy Story (at Sid’s house); Taste-Like! Grape Soda.
Monsters University (2013)
As a prequel to Monsters Inc., this one’s obviously included in the timeline.
These are the films that are not connected with the main timeline, either obviously or subtly.
For the Birds (2000)
This short is actually concurrent with the Cars series (see below).
The Incredibles (2004)
Alright, this one might be making a jump, but The Incredibles doesn’t seem to share the same universe as the main universe. Unlike other films, this one (and others by Brad Bird) rarely reference other Pixar works. This also marks the only time the Pizza Planet truck isn’t seen. Though the reason that I say it’s not included is because of how it’s referenced within films afterwards; references to The Incredibles are always seen as if it’s a comic book property. All of this leads me to believe that The Incredibles is a fictional work within the main Pixar universe.
This one obviously takes place in its own universe, as the cars are the prime inhabitants of this world. We even see the previous Pixar films portrayed as fiction in a fun little sequence. The events prior to For the Birds are depicted in the background at one point.
Another Brad Bird film, this film also seems to stand alone. Actually, the argument can be made that Bird’s films have their own universe; the Incredibles villain Bomb Voyage even appears as a mime. At least we have a Pizza Planet truck this time around.
Cars 2 (2011)
Same as applies to Cars.
These are works where there’s simply no confirmation as to whether they apply to the main timeline or not.
- The Adventures of André and Wally B. (1984)
- Luxo Jr. (1986)
- Red’s Dream (1987)
- Knick Knack (1989)
- Finding Nemo (2003)
- Boundin’ (2003)
- One Man Band (2005)
- Lifted (2006)
- Presto (2008)
- Partly Cloudy (2009)
- Day & Night (2010)
- La Luna (2011)
- Brave (2012)
- The Blue Umbrella (2013)
- Lava (2014)
- Inside Out (2015)