Were There Self-Aware Toys in ‘Monsters Inc,’ All Along?

toy story monsters inc theory

Since the release of my new book, The Pixar Theory, I honestly haven’t given much thought to expanding these Pixar-related connections because…vacation.

So, I’m back and here’s something potentially interesting for you to seek your teeth into. A few weeks ago, a regular visitor to the site (cheers, @ThomastheBrainEngine), brought me some interesting evidence of toys being “self-aware” in Monsters Inc, a la Toy Story.

In Toy Story, we learn that toys are sentient. They move around on their own when we’re not watching, and their entire lives revolve around the children who love them.

One of the main tenets of my theory, which tries to unite the Pixar movies, is that toys are alive because in the Pixar universe, human imagination is like a battery, and it gives life to ordinary things (maybe even cars).

toy story monsters inc theory

I argue that this is the same concept as monsters powering their society with the energy of children in Monsters Inc. But despite a few cameos (like Jessie and the Luxo ball), there’s nothing tangible linking Toy Story and Monsters Inc, especially if you consider Jessie’s appearance in Monsters Inc., to only be an easter egg, not a hint to something more.

But ThomastheBrainEngine presented a fascinating thought that I had not yet considered: what if we do see evidence that the world of Monsters Inc. has sentient toys? 

So I looked into this, and the evidence is solid, believe it or not. And it all hinges on the movie’s first scene.

Mr. Bile, can you tell me what you did wrong?

toy story monsters inc theory

This opening sequence introduces us to the basic mechanics of how monsters scare children. The monster, Mr. Bile (Phlegm), sneaks into a child’s room and attempts to scare him, but the kid wakes up and sees him. We see that Mr. Bile is actually more scared of the child than vice versa, and he trips and falls for comedic effect.

This, of course, is a simulation. A demonstration of how not to scare a child, so that the movie can cut to Sulley, our main character, who is the best scarer at Monsters Incorporated. The simulation we just watched was at the factory, and it’s our set up for everything that happens next in the movie (notably, that the worst thing you can do is let in a child by leaving the door open).

toy story monsters inc theory

Something that has bugged a lot of people, including myself, is a major goof (or series of goofs) that transpires during the simulation. When Mr. Bile walks in, we get a clear shot of the room’s layout and where everything is located. The soccer ball is under the bed, the toy train and its tracks are at the foot of the bed, and one of the books near the window hangs over the edge.

But as the scene changes, everything moves around. The soccer ball inexplicably moves to the side of the bed. It’s in a totally different location, and it eventually shows up again at the foot of the bed, where the train tracks have disappeared. Instead, there’s a bunch of jax in its place. Mr. Bile steps back on the soccer ball and falls on the jax (see above) like we’re watching a better version of Home Alone 3. We even see that the books on the toy box have moved a little bit, but they return to their original spot toward the end of the scene.

toy story monsters inc theory
The soccer ball is now under the bed again.

It’s nitpicking, but I’ve always been annoyed by how overtly obvious these goofs are. I’ve sat through a dailies session at Pixar, where the director and a group of animators will scrutinize every single aspect of what’s on the screen. Even for a movie that was made in Pixar’s early days, it’s strange to think that they could make so many continuity errors in just a couple of minutes, and the movie’s first few minutes at that.

Granted, these goofs happen all the time, and some are caught too late in the game to be considered worth the effort of fixing them. But they’re usually separated and scarce, not gathered in a cluster.

So, what if this entire scene wasn’t a goof at all? What if we were meant to see them? They’re certainly hard to miss, after all.

monsters inc toy story theory

The idea is that the toys moved on their own because the rules of Toy Story bleed into Monsters Inc. Part of any good simulation would be to make sure monsters are prepared for anything that could happen. If toys are able to come alive and possibly protect their sleeping owner from an invader, then it makes perfect sense for these simulations to include these variables.

Without those toys interfering, Mr. Bile probably would have been able to successfully leave the room and escape before the child could get up and go through that door. So part of the simulation could be to move the toys around, like they would in a real situation, in a way that conspires against the monster pulling off a scare. In this case, that meant moving the ball to where he would fall on a bunch of conveniently placed jacks that weren’t there in the first place.

It’s definitely possible, at least. The monsters controlling the simulation are creating atmospheric effects (the curtain moving like wind is blowing it, the child moving around in reaction to realtime events). If toys could move, too, then the monsters could simulate that experience.

monsters inc toy story theory

Would toys really do this, though?

I don’t think it’s a stretch based on what we’ve seen in Toy Story. Woody breaks the rules and unites Sid’s toys against him just to get back to Andy. He goes to incredible lengths to make Andy happy, so I’m pretty sure he’d also go pretty far to protect Andy from a terrifying monster.

It might not happen every time with every kid who has toys, but it could happen enough to warrant a response from Monsters Inc. When you watch Monsters University, you see that the higher ups are teaching the monsters tons of useful tips and facts about this profession, ranging from how the doors work to how monsters can adapt to any given situation.

monsters inc toy story theory

They have to prepare the monsters to be so stealthy, not even the toys know they’re there (which is possible, since we see that the toys do sleep when Woody has that nightmare in the first movie).

This also solves another major inconsistency that was brought on by Monsters University. If monsters have to go to college to get jobs as professional scarers, then why is Mr. Bile having such a hard time? And why is he doing this, anyway, if he has experience and a college education?

Well, if you watch Monsters University again, you probably won’t notice any of these instances of toys getting in the way. And that’s probably because introducing them as a variable is when you get into the expert mode of scaring. This would make scaring so hard for monsters that it wouldn’t be a critical point of the simulator until you actually got the job, explaining why Mr. Bile is sort of talented, but he ends up falling on his face, despite the rigorous standards of professional scaring established by Dean Hardscrabble in MU.

monsters inc toy story theory
Weirdly, Phlegm was good enough to hide this with a sweater.

To sum up, I think this evidence is pretty strong, mostly because those goofs I pointed out just seem overwhelmingly obvious. It is possible that the monsters controlling the simulation could be moving the toys around from the control room just to make things harder for Mr. Bile, not because toys are expected to come alive. But that just seems sort of harsh.

Mr. Bile walked into that room and surveyed everything as he was trained. Mixing things up for no good reason in a scenario that wouldn’t possible happen just to make things harder undermines how the monsters are trained in Monsters University. It’s like testing high school students on a different subject with information you never taught them—OK, wait, that happens all the time.

Let me know if you’re convinced or unconvinced and we can hash it out in the comments. If you’re interested in the Pixar Theory (that is, how all the movies may be connected and why) enough to read an entire book about it with all of the clues and arguments I’ve collected over the past few years, don’t forget to check out my book, which is available now in print and as an e-book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Did Andy From ‘Toy Story’ Have His Own Monster?

Every once in a while, someone manages to create a pretty convincing fan theory about the Pixar movies. Most of the time, these theories are pretty lackluster, but Jonathan Carlin of “SuperCarlinBrothers” has recently come up with a great theory you might believe in.

Now, if you enjoy my theories and speculations on this site, then I have little doubt you’ll enjoy Carlin’s work on YouTube. We’ve shared multiple theories from each other on our own platforms over the years, and he’s certainly one of the most entertaining vloggers out there when it comes to fan theories.

And so is the case with his latest argument for why Andy from Toy Story has a monster we know from Monsters Inc. I’ll outline and evaluate his theory below, but you can also watch his video on the subject if you prefer (it’s only about 6 minutes long).

 

OK, so let’s go over SCB’s theory in detail, starting with the overall premise that Toy Story and Monsters Inc. share the same universe.

Of course, longtime readers already know I’m sold on this. The litany of easter eggs shared between the movies (from Jessie’s appearance in Boo’s room to Randall’s imitation of Andy’s wallpaper) share a lot of credence to the idea that these films are connected. And if you believe in my unifying Pixar Theory, then that’s that.

SCB himself points out that in Toy Story 3, we see a young girl who looks like she could be “Boo” (real name is Mary) because they look alike, though it’s not 100% certain. He also makes a connection between a poster we see in Monsters Inc. inside a child’s room and the same poster being on Sid’s wall in Toy Story.

toy-story-pixar-theory-who-is-andy-s-monster-404836

As you can see, though, the posters aren’t situated the same way, and the monster we’re seeing has just been scared by a young girl, not a sadistic kid like Sid. For that reason, I think this is just an easter egg and NOT an indication that this was Sid’s monster.

Next, SCB points out that the movies sort of collide in a comic book series called Monsters Inc: Laugh Factory. Published in 2009, this 4-part series is about what happened after the events of Monsters Inc. Interestingly, a kid who looks like Sid Phillips (minus the skull t-shirt) shows up.

andy monster toy story

You can actually see several easter eggs in Boo’s room, here. And that’s kind of the point. Laugh Factory is filled with tons of references to other Pixar movies, as this was written by Paul Benjamin, a comic book writer for Marvel (not Pixar).

Keep in mind that Disney bought Marvel in 2009, likely explaining why this comic book series came about. For that reason and several others (including blatant continuity errors), I don’t actually consider these stories canon. They’re very over-the-top and portray situations and overt nods to other Pixar movies that don’t fit the framework of what Pixar has made themselves. Still, it’s a very interesting comic book series you can check out here.

Now on to the crux of SCB’s proposed theory. Could Andy have a monster of his own? Monsters Inc. takes place in 2001, which is 6 years after the events of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 (which takes place the summer following the first movie’s ending Christmas scene).

toy story andy monsters

Monsters have been scaring kids for centuries, as we know from Monsters University revealing that the school was founded in 1313. So if the movies are connected, then it’s reasonable to assume that Andy could be one of the children assigned a monster.

In Monsters Inc., I always found it weird that there are commercials and advertisements for what is essentially a power plant. Why would Waternoose be so concerned about awareness?

Monsters Inc. doesn’t sell anything. 

Well, it would seem that Waternoose is concerned with recruiting new scarers. The university trains these monsters to make them the best, but as we saw in Monsters University, Sulley was able to climb the ranks without an education, possibly explaining why Waternoose is interested in hiring recruits anywhere he can find them.

toy story andy monsters

This all leads me to believe that there are lots of children, but not enough scarers. The problem they have is getting enough energy from the kids they scare (because kids are harder to scare these days), but another solution is to hire more scarers to scare even more kids. Scary.

That also explains why kidnapping children was such an appealing solution to Waternoose. If he can’t keep up with demand, then stealing the kids outright can give him enough energy to last years.

Though Roz tells Mike and Sulley that they’ve been onto the kidnappings for quite some time, it’s doubtful that Andy as a kid in 1996 was ever stolen. There’s just no evidence or reason to believe that.

Back to SCB’s theory. He argues that Andy’s closet door looks remarkably similar to a door seen in Monsters University (though he couldn’t find the same door in Monsters Inc.) Specifically, this door from a promo reel on the Monsters University website matches Andy’s door.

andy toy story monsters andy toy story monsters

The doorknobs even match up because on this side of the closet, the doorknob should be on the right because the one on Andy’s closet door is on the left.

SCB argues that this evidence — in tandem with Randall practicing his camouflage with wallpaper from Andy’s room — proves that Randall is Andy’s monster.

Unfortunately, I don’t agree.

The issue is that Monsters University takes place years before Randall becomes a full-time scarer (he’s just a freshman at the start of the movie). If this is Andy’s door, then that just means Andy had some other monster while Randall was still in school.

toy story andy monsters

That also gives a more logical explanation for the wallpaper thing. Sure, Randall has it as practice, but that doesn’t mean he’s scared a kid with that same wallpaper. It probably just belongs to Monsters Inc. in the same way they have the practice rooms for scaring. Why and how would Randall have this for his own personal use unless he got it from the company?

I think it makes way more sense for the wallpaper to be passed down because it belonged to a kid who moved, giving them an opportunity to collect it and use it for practice. That may even be why the university has this door in the first place. It’s not being used anymore.

Of course, who else would need wallpaper to camouflage themselves against? It’s not like everyone can be stealthy like Randall. Well, I’d say the simple explanation is that Monsters Inc. builds its practice rooms from real rooms, and Randall and his assistant are using wallpaper from these rooms for their specialized training.

Here’s a question that’s bothered me for a while: How much time passes between Monsters University and Monsters Inc.?

This is a question of age, to be sure. In the original movie, Mike and Sulley appear to be grown, well-established adults. From their voice actors, you’d assume they’re in their late 30s or early 40s.

toy story andy monsters

After watching Monsters University, however, you can tell that their voices are basically the same. Mike is in a relationship with Celia not long after he and Sulley get their dream jobs, and neither of them seem settled down romantically. I’d honestly argue they’re really in their mid-20s, which supports the idea that Monsters University occurs during or after Andy’s move in 1995.

SCB also brings up the “Newt Crossing” sticker on Andy’s door in Toy Story 3 as evidence that Andy remembers Randall coming through his closet. But I don’t find that very convincing because why would Andy plaster something that scared him on his closet? I’m more inclined to believe that it really is just a reference to the Newt movie that never came about.

I really enjoy this theory, but I don’t think it’s complete. SCB is certainly on to something, and I definitely want to believe a monster we’ve seen has an old scare card for Andy somewhere. But for now, we can only guess.

toy story andy monsters

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