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The Greatest Friendships In Pixar Films

Whether they're set in a jungle, under the sea, or out of this world, Pixar animated films transport audiences to infinity and beyond. But the core of the studio's heartfelt and award-winning stories is always friendship. In fact, singer Randy Newman told us as much when he sang "You've Got a Friend in Me" for the original Toy Story way back in 1995, and that's been a guiding principle ever since for Pixar protagonists and their pals. 

After all, whatever troubles and dilemmas they encounter, our lovable heroes always let friendship be their guide. But of course, not all friendships are created equal. Sure, Woody and Buzz might be pretty good buds with Rex, Mr. Potato Head, Slinky, and Hamm, but they're not ride-or-die pals. So today, we're taking a look at those Pixar friendships that make us truly wish that we had a CGI BFF. From lovable monsters to thoughtful robots, harmonious skeletons, and a girl with a real mama bear, these are the greatest friendships in Pixar films.

Sully and Boo form a fun, furry Pixar friendship

Sure, Mike (Billy Crystal), the little green monster with one big eye, and Sully (John Goodman), his close buddy who's a blue furry behemoth, are dynamic "scarers" in 2001's Monsters, Inc., collecting "scream" energy to power the city of Monstropolis by popping out of bedroom closets to frighten children each night. They're even roommates, with Mike coaching Sully how to use his best "scary feet." But their friendship doesn't actually drive the plot. Rather, it's Sully's connection with Boo, the toddler who accidentally tumbles into the monster world, that changes Sully and life on the "Scare Floor" for the better. 

The little girl (Mary Gibbs) wanders through her closet door and into the monsters' factory one night while Sully is working late, but she's anything but terrified. Instead, she's curious about this blue beast and instantly calling him "Kitty." Sully and Mike scramble to hide her, worried they'll lose their jobs ... or worse, become infected with kid germs. But when the girl is afraid to sleep because of the lizard-like monster who usually scares her at home each night, Sully promises to watch over her so she can rest. He soon nicknames her Boo because she's great at hiding and surprising him, kicking off an incredibly close friendship between cutie and the beast. And while he figures out how to guide her home, she shows him and the rest of the monster world how powerful laughter can be.

Joy and Bing-Bong give us all the feels

One of the best films of the last decadeInside Out is arguably the story of how the feelings of Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) become friends while coexisting inside a tween girl named Riley, and along the way, Joy realizes why Sadness is important, alongside other feelings like Anger, Disgust, and Fear. But nothing tugs at emotions quite like a goodbye between friends who know when it's time to move on, and that's what happens to Joy and Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Riley's imaginary friend from childhood. 

Created when Riley was three, Bing Bong is a sweet concoction with a cotton candy body, a cat's tail and whiskers, and an elephant's trunk. ("I play a mean nose," he says, noting that he also speaks dolphin.) When Joy and Sadness become lost during Riley's depression over her family's move to San Francisco, they find Bing Bong wandering among her memories, and Joy thinks that he's just what Riley needs to cheer up. But even though he's missed Riley, Bing Bong is wise beyond his parts. Once he, Joy, and his rocket wagon fall into the Memory Dump, Joy despairs, knowing that's where all memories are forgotten. But Bing Bong realizes that Riley will need Joy throughout her life, so he chooses to sacrifice himself and launch Joy to safety. He has just one request before fading away: "Take her to the moon for me."

Not even death can stop Miguel and Hector's friendship

When Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) unexpectedly travels to the Land of the Dead in 2017's Coco, he finds a friend in Hector (Gael García Bernal), who agrees to help him meet the famous musician whom the boy thinks is his great-great-grandfather in exchange for taking Hector's photo back to the Land of the Living. You see, none of the souls can cross the Marigold Bridge and visit their loved ones on Day of the Dead unless someone places their photo on an ofrenda. 

And sure, Hector is a pretty mischievous character, disguising himself as none other than Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in one of many attempts to cross the bridge. And he looks pretty raggedy, even for a skeleton. He's tied one leg bone together, and his clothes are threadbare. But he's a sincere soul who's just desperate. He wants to see his daughter again because he died when she was a child, and now her memory is failing. It takes some help from Miguel's late extended family, the alebrije Pepita, and the Xolo dog Dante to sort out that Hector's daughter is in fact Miguel's great-grandma, Coco, making Hector the boy's great-great-grandfather. But even before then, the two have an easygoing, playful chemistry, perfectly on display in their rousing performance of "Un Poco Loco" that brings a festival audience to cheers.

Marlin and Dory will always keep on swimming

Is there any doubt that Marlin, an overprotective clownfish (Albert Brooks), needed the support of Dory, a friendly blue tang (Ellen DeGeneres), to find his only child, Nemo, after a diver scooped up the little guy near the Great Barrier Reef? Marlin wouldn't have made it five feet, let alone all the way to Nemo's aquarium in a dentist's office in Sydney, Australia, without Dory by his side. And it's not just because she asks for directions and can speak whale. 

A widower who lost his wife and other eggs to a barracuda, Marlin is understandably nervous, but his doom-and-gloom outlook and panic threaten to get the better of him when Nemo is missing. Only Dory stops when he begs for help from assorted fish passing by, and even though her cheerful disposition and short-term memory loss test Marlin's patience at first, she turns out to be just the right balance for such an arduous journey, nudging Marlin along at every hurdle, whether it's bouncing atop jellyfish, chatting with sharks, swimming with sea turtles, or flying with pelicans. As she reminds Marlin when circumstances look rough, sometimes you've gotta just keep swimming.

WALL-E and EVE start off as robo-buddies

Pixar's first science fiction film is a charming romance between two robots who possess about nine words between them, but it begins with a tender friendship. (The New York Times imagined that if the 2008 film were a romantic comedy, "It would be about a humble garbageman who falls for a supermodel who also happens to be a top scientist with a knack for marksmanship.") WALL-E — an acronym short for "Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth" class — is the last functioning robot on Earth, a stout compactor left to clean up the trash and who treasures artifacts such as empty ring boxes and sporks. He hangs out with a cockroach that (thankfully) chirps like a cricket, but he's achingly lonely, gazing at a well-worn video of the musical Hello, Dolly! and the stars. 

So it's no wonder that he falls head over treads at the first sight of EVE, a sleek egg-shaped bot who can fly. EVE scans for any signs of vegetation so that the humans cruising in space can return to the planet, but she's cagey about her directive and takes her time warming up to WALL-E. Nevertheless, she recognizes his thoughtfulness in sheltering her from a sandstorm, his calmness when she's hot-headed, and his whimsy in showing her the wonder of bubble wrap and a lightbulb. It's only after he safeguards her mission by protecting a seedling that their initial spark blooms.

The Incredibles can always rely on Edna

Fashion designer Edna "E" Mode — diminutive in size but with attitude to spare — seems to have little in common with suburbanites Bob and Helen Parr and their three children. But Edna designs fashion for superheroes and crafts clothing that suits their abilities, and it just so happens that the Parrs are five of the strongest superheroes on the planet: Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, invisible Violet, speedy Dash, and infant Jack-Jack, whose budding powers are already off the charts. However, her friendship with the family goes deeper than keeping them chic. Edna is the type of friend who knows the Parrs better than they know themselves at times, the one who offers straight talk (and a swat with a newspaper) in 2004's The Incredibles that snaps Helen out of a crying jag when Bob has been doing superhero stuff on the sly. "Pull yourself together! What will you do? Is this a question? You will show him you remember that he is Mr. Incredible, and you will remind him who you are," she says. "Go, confront the problem. Fight! Win!" Edna also adores Jack-Jack's "pure, unlimited potential" and rises to the challenge of designing devices in line with his powers so his beleaguered family can keep a better eye on him in 2018's Incredibles 2. Sensors to track his teleportation? Edible blackberry foam to extinguish when he bursts into flames? No problem. "Done properly, parenting is a heroic act," Edna reminds them. Well said.

Remy and Linguine cook up quite a friendship

As food critic Anton Ego notes in 2007's Ratatouille, "Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere." The same can be said for a great friend, as Remy, a rat with refined culinary tastes, and Linguini, a clumsy kitchen assistant, learn while dicing and spicing. Voiced by Patton Oswalt, Remy doesn't fit in with his rat colony, which loves eating whatever scraps humans throw away. And eventually, Remy winds up in Paris, in the kitchen of a famous restaurant. For him, this is paradise, but nobody wants a rat around food, even one as tidy as Remy. 

However, while Remy tries to sneak out to save his hide, he stops to salvage a soup that the ever-clumsy Linguini (Lou Romano) ruined, thus creating a tasty dish, as well as inadvertently earning Linguini a promotion. The insecure young man soon realizes that this "Little Chef" can understand him and has the creativity in the kitchen of which he can only dream. The two friends eventually discover how to cook together through Remy hiding under Linguini's chef's hat and tugging on his hair. But once these two trust in each other, this method proves unnecessary, and they excel so that each of their talents can shine. While they definitely have a few sour moments, it's nothing that a good talk and a nice dinner cooked with love can't solve.

Carl and Russell have the ultimate yin-yang relationship

Russell, an enthusiastic young Wilderness Explorer, and Carl, a septuagenarian tied to his house in more ways than one, are probably the unlikeliest pair of Pixar friends. In fact, the animators even designed this duo from 2009's Up with opposite shapes in mind. Russell (Jordan Nagai) is rounded like a top because he's an energetic dervish while the widowed Carl (Ed Asner) is so set in his ways that his face, body, and eyeglasses resemble squares. The two embark on a wacky jungle journey after the isolated man decides to avoid eviction and sets off for Paradise Falls, a South American waterfall that his late wife always wanted to see, traveling via his house, which is attached to thousands of helium balloons. (Russell, eager to earn a badge for assisting the elderly, happens to be on the porch when the building takes flight.) 

Sure, it takes the two a little while to get along — Carl is pretty cranky, after all — but this yin-and-yang combo spurs each other to think outside of the box and learns even sharing ice cream can be an adventure if someone you care about is with you. And honestly, that touching scene in the film where Carl shows up for Russell's Wilderness Explorer ceremony to award the boy an honor in his late wife's name? Just priceless.

Merida and Elinor go from feuding relatives to dear friends

Like fathers and sons, mothers and daughters can have complicated relationships that, if lucky, deepen into friendships as children grow older. The Scottish princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) and her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), learn that lesson in 2012's Brave with a dose of magic. The old-fashioned Elinor wants her daughter to be proper, polite, and married, all things that don't interest Merida in the slightest. She'd rather ride her horse, explore the forest, and become a crackerjack shot with her bow and arrow. In fact, once Merida learns that she's supposed to marry whoever wins the Highland games, she announces that as her clan's firstborn descendant, she has a right to compete, too. "I'll be shooting for my own hand," she says, before besting the potential suitors in archery.

However, after mother and daughter have a huge fight over their opposing views, Merida turns to magic to change her fate, intending to change her mom's mind but literally turning Elinor into a bear. As Merida protects Elinor until she can find a way to mend the situation, the princess comes to appreciate her mom's fierce spirit while the queen sees her headstrong daughter in a new light. "You've changed," Merida says as her mom transforms back to normal. "Oh, darling," Elinor answers, "we both have."

Arlo and Spot's friendship will never go extinct

Released in 2015, The Good Dinosaur takes place in an alternate past where the asteroid thought to have destroyed the dinosaurs passes Earth instead, leaving dinosaurs and humans alive at the same time. Here, a friendship forms through unusual circumstances after Arlo, a young Apatosaurus who comes from a family of farmers, runs across a feral child who becomes lost far from home. Arlo initially fights with the boy for eating his family's corn, then names the "critter" Spot after realizing the youngster needs someone to watch out for him — or at least make sure that nothing eats him. Spot, who crawls on all fours, is fearless, grabbing lizards, beetles, and even a snake in his teeth, but he's also glad someone bigger has his back. The boy teaches Arlo how to howl, snuggles against him to sleep, and scampers up his tail and long neck to ride on the dinosaur's head. Meanwhile, Arlo twirls his tail in the grass to enchant the boy with fireflies... and matures enough to realize when to leave Spot in caring human hands. Their friendship may not last through the ages, but memories of these moments together definitely will.

Woody and Buzz have the ultimate Pixar friendship

The greatest Pixar friendship launched the animation studio's empire with a humorous but relatable story about a folksy cloth cowboy who isn't the top toy in a boy's room anymore once a confident space ranger arrives, complete with flashing lights and batteries. The voice talents of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, respectively, infuse Woody and Buzz with loads of personality, but the characters' evolving friendship has kept audiences enthralled through four films for over more than 20 years. The two had a rocky start when a jealous Woody accidentally knocked Buzz out a bedroom window, but their bond survived nearly being blown to bits in a bully's backyard, a madcap chase through an airport, a dicey day-care center, a brush with an incinerator, and a vacation that made them ponder whether a toy is truly lost when it finds love. Whatever their ups and downs, they always figure out how to soar (or what Buzz calls "falling with style"). They might have their own insecurities, wondering what lies ahead, but they know how to encourage each other selflessly, whether they're discussing how noble being a child's toy (and friend) can be or letting a pal know it's okay to follow his heart for a change. Like the best of human friends, Buzz and Woody may take different paths in life, but their friendship will never die.