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Welcome to Monstropolis, a world where the monsters are just regular folks like you and me. When they hide in your bed/closet/hamper and scare you, it isn't because it gives them any sort of thrill but simply because it's their job. Their world, linked to ours through closet doors, derives all its electrical power from our fear.
Now meet our heroes, James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal). Sulley, the big blue one, is one of the best "scarers" in the city. Mike is his partner, best friend, and roommate, who spends his after hours courting the receptionist Celia.
Life is great — until one of the extremely poisonous fuel sources enters their world and threatens everything. Yes, a human child! Doom-doom-doom! (Actually, she's rather adorable.) Sulley and Mike's friendship becomes increasingly strained as they try to get the little terror back to her world without getting contaminated or arrested. Along the way, they stumble upon a conspiracy that threatens to undermine their life's work — and possibly their lives.
A prequel has been announced for 2013. Titled Monsters University, the new film will star Mike and Sulley in their college days. Dan Scanlon is set to direct.
For information on the follow-up DVD short, Mike's New Car, see the Pixar Shorts page.
- Adaptational Heroism: In-universe example with Mike Wazowski in the company play "Put that thing where it came from or so help me", specifically the scene where Randall and Fungus attempt to interrogate Mike over the location of Boo, where Mike defiantly refuses to divulge Boo's location. In the actual events, while Mike does refuse to tell Boo's location, it was a lot closer to him panicking over being tortured.
- Affably Evil: Waternoose
- All Animals Are Dogs: Sulley tries to get Boo's attention by getting her to fetch a toy "bear".
- Later he makes a bed for her out of newspaper in the corner. He learns to treat her better.
- All CGI Cartoon
- All in The Manual: Boo's full name. It's Mary Gibbs. Her first name is revealed in the film, since she signs all her sketches, but it's hard to spot.
- All Myths Are True: Legendary creatures such as the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot are actually ex-citizens of Monstropolis who have been banished to the human world.
- All-Star Cast: Par for the course with Pixar.
- Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption
- Bait and Switch Comment: Mike has a Running Gag where he sees some bit of publicity with his face obscured and says things like, "I don't believe it... I'm on TV!"
- Big Bad: Waternoose.
- Big Damn Heroes: Sulley, to save Boo from Randall's machine.
- Boo gets one herself when she beats the snot out of Randall to stop him from making Sulley fall to his death.
- Blowing a Raspberry: Boo.
- Bowel-Breaking Bricks: After nearly being discovered by Randall in the bathroom, we see a huge splash in the stall Mike, Sully, and Boo are hiding in. Boo sums it up best.
- Brick Joke:
- Mike and Sulley are arguing about Boo on Scare Floor F, when Mike realizes mid-sentence that everyone is watching. He tries to spin his line "Put that thing back where it came from or so help me...!" as practice for the company play. During the credits, the cast performs "Put That Thing Back Where It Came From Or So Help Me: The Musical."
- Sulley puts the stuff from Boo's room in a locker. Guess who opens that same locker a few scenes later?
- Bruiser with a Soft Center: Top scarer James P. Sullivan has Super Strength and a mighty roar, but is really a sweet guy under it all.
- Butt Monkey: Mike, which cracks up Boo to no end. There's also George, whose essentially Mike...if he were furry and were a scarer instead of an assistant.
- Call a Smeerp a Rabbit: "Little Mikey", the stuffed animal that Mike doesn't want Boo touching, is described as a bear (despite having one eye, several legs/tentacles, fangs and horns)
- Cannot Tell a Joke: Towards the end, when the company has been converted to a laugh factory, the "Joke of the Day" on the scoreboard reads: The doctor says to the patient, 'What seems to be the problem?' Raising his arm, the patient says, 'It hurts when I do this.' Cheep, cheep, cheep...
- A few seconds later, the board reads "The doctor says, 'Stop doing that.'" Cheep, cheep, indeed.
- The Cat Came Back: Boo, when she first meets Sulley.
- Cheated Angle: The closet doors. When they're closed, they're always seen directly from the front. But when they're open, they're always seen from a 45 degree angle. And for some reason, they're never seen from behind!
- They actually are seen from behind, mostly after Mike is sent away to the Himalayas, but there are a couple of other exceptionally brief glances.
- Cheerful Child: Boo.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Pretty much everything in the opening sequence with the monster-in-training and his practice run.
- Boo's laughter.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Roz.
- The Chew Toy: George Sanderson, as a Running Gag. Sometimes Mike, although it's usually his own fault.
- Comic Book Adaptation: Boom! Studios did a Sequel of sorts, featuring Randall's return, Waternoose's escape from prison, Sid using the closet doors to his advantage, and the subsequent team-up of the three.
- Companion Cube: Sully thinks, for a minute, that Boo's been made into a real one.
- Confused Bystander Interview: After Boo's presence is discovered, "witnesses" claim to have seen her use laser vision and mind powers.
- Cone of Shame: Monsters who undergo decontamination by the CDA end up wearing one.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Waternoose.
- Cute Monster Girl: Celia. Boo, from Sulley's perspective.
- The Danza: As signed on one of Boo's pictures, her real name is Mary after her voice actress (Mary Gibbs).
- Deadpan Snarker: Mike. Also Roz, whose incredibly deadpan voice often gives Mike the creeps.
Roz: "I hope you filed your paperwork correctly for once... your stunned silence is very reassuring."
Randall: (evil chuckle) "You still think this is about that stupid scare record?"
- Dish Dash: Of the spinning dishes on sticks variety.
- Double Jump: In the Video Game Monsters, Inc.: Scream Team.
- The Dragon: Waternoose
- Early-Bird Cameo: Nemo.
- Emotion Eater: The entire world is powered by children's screams of fear. As they discover later, though, they get more power from laughter.
- Engineered Public Confession: Waternoose's near the end of the film.
- Eureka Moment:
Mike: "At least we had some laughs, right?"
- Exact Words: When Sully is investigating his own closet at Boo's request due to her fearing that Randall (who is revealed to be her frequent Monster in the Closet) was lurking inside, checks and says "No monster here." When she looks at him, he then corrects himself and says "Well, now there is" in reference to himself, before explaining that he has no intention of scaring her due to being off-duty.
- The Extremist Was Right: Averted, it turns out there was another way to save Monsters Inc.
- Explain, Explain, Oh Crap: A brief bit of this when Mike accidentally saves Sully from being strangled to death by throwing a snowball at Sully.
Mike: (as Randall slinks to the floor unconscious by Sully) Hey look, it's Randall, it's... [realizes what was actually happening earlier regarding Sully] …Ohhh…
- Fast Roping: How the CDA, or Child Detection Agency, first shows up.
- Foreshadowing: Oh, so much. Even in the intro, though it's used mainly to explain why monsters scare children (and why they are so scared of them, ironically), it also explains quite well how much the monster world would panic in the event that a child were to find a way into their world...which wouldn't be hard to do in the event someone left the door open.
- "James, this company has been in my family for three generations. I would do anything to keep it from going under."
- "Just think about a few names, will ya? Loch Ness, Bigfoot, The Abominable Snowman. They all got one thing on common: banishment! We could be next!" And yes, they do eventually meet the Abominable Snowman...who isn't exactly abominable.
- The scene where Boo's screaming causes the light to flicker while her laughter causes a power overload failure in Mike & Sully's apartment.
- An extremely subtle one, but when Mike is running away from Randall only for Randall to to be shown lying in wait for Mike, Randall is camouflaged right near a portrait of Waternoose. Randall and Waternoose were later revealed to be working together.
- "One of these days...I'm going to let you teach that guy a lesson."
- Fun with Flushing: Sulley gets some of Boo's toys tangled up on him when he reenters the monster world. He tries to get rid of them by flushing them down the toilet, but it gets clogged up and overflows. He then has to dump them in someone's locker, where they reappear later as a Brick Joke.
- Genre Busting: It's a monster movie/kid flick/invasion movie/sci-fi/family drama/comedy.
- Gentle Giant: Sulley.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- The snowcone:
Yeti: Snow cone?
- This is also invoked in the scene where Sulley and Mike are trying to get Boo to laugh again to reactivate all the closet doors. Mike tries a trick where he lands on a metal bar right between his legs and is in notable pain. Even though you can't see anything, ouch.
- While it isn't a dirty joke, Celia questions Mike's sexuality when he accidentally says Sulley's name in place of hers when he explains who he thinks the most beautiful monster he's laid his eye upon is.
- Gilligan Cut
Mike: What do you wanna do, walk out in public with that thing? And then I suppose we'll just waltz right up to the factory! Right?
- Gorgeous Gorgon: Celia.
- Have You Told Anyone Else?: Unlike most examples, it seems genuinely innocuous until The Reveal.
- Heel Realization: After inadvertedly scaring Boo, Sulley realizes how wrong scaring children is.
- He Knows Too Much: "She's seen too much!"
- The Hero: How Mike views himself. Actually, it's Sulley. See also The Lancer and Sidekick, both below.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: They even have a song about it!
- Hilarious Outtakes: Several weeks into the film's original release, fake (but genuinely hilarious) Hilarious Outtakes were added to the closing credits. They're included on the DVD.
- On the Blu-ray they're relegated to Disc 2.
- Hollywood Chameleon: Randall.
- Honest Corporate Executive: Sulley becomes one at the end of the movie.
- Inferred Holocaust: Just barely subverted: See Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
- I Have Just One Thing to Say:
Mike: (pulls a sock out of his mouth and throws it) "Catch!"
Yeti: Oh, would you look at that? We're out of snow cones.
- Invisibility: Randall.
- Ink Suit Actor: Despite the fact that the cast is full of adorably inhuman monsters they still manage to resemble their voice actors, especially Mike who could not be more Billy Crystal. And Randall is Steve Buscemi.
- Is That Cute Kid Yours: Waternoose asks Sulley this when he first sees Boo, though Sulley and Mike cover this by saying that she's Sulley's "cousin's sister's daughter" and that it's "Bring an Obscure Relative to Work" Day.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Waternoose did this quite a while ago when he decided that nothing would stop him from saving his company.
- Karma Houdini: Despite being directly involved in all the nefarious goings-on, including attempted child-torture, Fungus keeps on working at Monsters, Inc. as if nothing happened. Although, to be fair, Randall DID threaten to put Fungus through the shredder.
- Kick the Dog: Unintentionally performed by Sulley toward Boo, leading to a Heel Realization; very much intentionally performed by Randall on way too many occasions to count.
- Knight Templar: Waternoose wants to save his family business and Monstropolis from collapse due to a power shortage. His "solution" drives him well over the Moral Event Horizon into would-be child slaughterer.
- The Lancer: How Mike views Sulley. Actually, Mike is The Lancer for Sulley. See also The Hero, above, and Sidekick, below.
- Large Ham: The Yeti / Abominable Snowman, played by John Ratzenberger.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: CDA Agent #1 gives this order at the end of the movie, regarding the whole mess that resulted from Boo's kidnapping.
Number One: None of this ever happened, gentlemen, and I don't wanna see any paperwork on this.
- Lovecraft Lite: The proliferation of scales and tentacles and the interdimensional aspects. In addition, the Trope is played with, in that the monsters regard the human world as a dangerous place and treat Boo like a pint-sized Eldritch Abomination.
- The Man Behind the Man Waternoose.
- Meaningful Echo, albeit with an inversion:
Roz: And I don't want to see any paperwork on this.
- The Men in Black: The CDA. Extra points for being a complete inversion of the Trope Namer, protecting unsuspecting monsters from hideous humans.
- Mistaken for Gay: Mike and Sulley several times, but it's kept rather subtle.
- The Mole: Waternoose.
- Morality Pet: Boo, for Sulley.
- Motive Misidentification: Mike believes that Randall is trying to boost his numbers in order to get to 1st place. However, he has motives beyond simply being number one.
- Multi Armed Multitasking: The sushi chef.
- Nested Mouths: In the restaurant scene, one of the monsters has a second monster for a tongue, which eats the food.
- Never Say "Die": Averted before the first scene ever ends, and directly said many, many times as an example of how dangerous children are to the monster world. But one of these qualifies as a moment of funny:
Sulley: This might sound crazy, but I don't think the kid's dangerous.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Sulley attempts to tell Waternoose of what Randall tried to do, but it turns out they've been conspiring together and sends him and Mike to the Himalayas. Mike calls him out on that.
- Just barely subverted in the ending: Although Sully and Mike ultimately manage to get Boo back into her bedroom, and expose his boss, their actions also caused the company to nearly be shut down, and almost cause Monstropolis to be in a permanent blackout as a consequence. Literally the only reason it didn't turn out that way was because it was discovered that the children's laughter had 10x the power input of scream.
- Non-Mammalian Hair: Roz is a large garden snail-like monster with a tuft of white hair on her head.
- Also, some of the monsters, whether resembling either toads, slugs, or octopi, will inevitably have some form of hair on their heads.
- Not Afraid of You Anymore: Boo to Randall, right after beating the crud out of him to save Sulley.
- [[Obviously Evil[[: You at least know that Randall isn't friendly the moment you meet him. Waternoose, not so much.
- The Odd Couple: Sulley and Mike. See also Opposites Attract, below.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Boo does it several times.
- Oh Crap: "And I'm sure you filed your paperwork correctly. For once."
"Your stunned silence is very reassuring."
- Also Randall, after Sulley and Boo turn the tables on him and Sulley makes it very clear he's about to get his comeuppance.
- Odd Friendship: Mike and Sulley...though to be fair, they weren't ALWAYS friends, just like Sulley wasn't always friends with Boo.
- Organ Autonomy: Very briefly seen, after Mike and Sulley expose Waternoose's plan to the CDA. A two-headed monster can be seen, the two heads exchanging glances with each other.
- Packed Hero: Parodied. Boo loses one of the "eyestalks" of her monster costume in a trash can. Sulley sees it and thinks she's in a pile of garbage, then watches that pile of garbage get swept into a cart, dropped down a chute, and put through an exceedingly brutal compactor. The audience saw her walk away from the garbage can, Sulley faints at every step of the compactor.
- Peek a Bogey Man
- Pig Latin: Lampshaded in the Hilarious Outtakes:
Sulley: Look-lay in the bag-bay.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Mike, and Boo to a lesser extent.
- Portal Door: The closet doors.
- Portal Network: The closet doors.
- Potty Dance
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Waternoose's plan to solve the power shortage.
- Power Walk: The scarers entering the power company floor. A Shout-Out to The Right Stuff.
- Played with in the "outtakes" where Sulley (in front) trips, and the monsters behind him trip, and the monsters behind them...
- Proscenium Reveal: The instructor critiquing a monster's performance in the opening training simulation.
- Punch Clock Villain: It turns out that monsters scare children because screams are their source of electricity.
Sulley: (to Boo) I'm not going to scare you. I'm off duty!
- Psycho for Hire: Randall Boggs.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Waternoose. Which makes the revelation that he's jumped off the slippery slope beforehand even more surprising.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Randall is reptilian, or as close as a monster can come.
- Reverse Mole: Roz.
- Running Gag:
- Mike is always cut somehow from images and videos he appears in — and doesn't care.
- It's more implied that he got slipped the idiot pill and didn't notice.
"I can't believe it! I'm... on the cover of a magazine!"
Roz: "Guess who?"
- Scenery Porn: The closet door storage chamber is this in a "Holy SH**, this is awesome!!" way.
- Scooby-Dooby Doors: The final Randall chase is a stunning example. Contrary to most uses of the trope though, this is entirely justified in-universe because of the nature of the doors.
- Scooby Stack: In this Japanese poster.
- Searching the Stalls: Boo and Sulley hide from Randall in a toilet stall. He punches the stalls open one by one, and Sulley flinches as every door opens. Randall actually slams open the stall Sulley is hiding in, but isn't looking at the time. Momentum closes the door before Randall sees them.
- Shout-Out: A few examples (out of dozens):
- The restaurant Harryhausen's is named for Ray Harryhausen, a stop-motion animator and innovator who specialized in monsters.
- The sequence where Sulley thinks Boo has been crushed is a deliberate Homage to Chuck Jones' Feed the Kitty.
- With the same unintended reaction for some audience members.
- At the end, George is seen going into a door with a mallet and a watermelon, like Gallagher's comedy bits.
- When asked if there are any kids in the village, the Snowman replies "Oh, sure. Tough kids, sissy kids, kids who climb on rocks..." These are the words to the Armour Hot Dogs jingle.
- When Sulley is first running from Boo, she puts a hat over her head and says something that sounds suspicously like "I Tigger".
- Doesn't Randall remind you of another Randall from Disney? And it's not just because they have the same name; they both have a similar posture and personality.
- It's not just Randall, but Roz looks and acts like Miss Finster.
- Shut Up and Save Me: Sulley is being wailed on by Randall, who is invisible at the time. Mike shows up, can't see him, and doesn't even notice that Sulley is in danger while he tries to apologize for refusing to help him save Boo. Sulley is saved when Mike unintentionally unveils Randall's position while getting upset at Sulley for "ignoring" him.
Mike: Hey look, it's Randall, it's... ohhhhh.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: Mike and Celia.
- Sidekick: Mike views Sulley as his Sidekick, but everyone else can see that Mike is Sulley's sidekick.
- Stealth Pun: When Celia's Medusa-like hair keeps kissing Mike, she says, "Michael, you're such a charmer." A snake charmer.
- Near the beginning,we see a gigantic scaly monster crossing the road. He makes the sounds of a chicken.
- Smug Snake: Randall.
- Stylistic Suck: Yes, Mike actually did make "Put that Thing Back Where it Came From or So Help Me" into a musical, complete with mediocre acting/chorerography, clumsily-set up backgrounds, and the CDA as ushers. The audience loved it; the critics (of the Monster World) did not.
- Super Strength: Sulley.
- Take My Hand: Sulley to Mike.
- Take a Third Option: Sulley, upon gaining control of the company, had only two options of what do to with it. He could have made the workers continue scaring kids for energy, or left the company to fall, causing Monstropolis to lose all electricity. He takes a third option that he discovered upon first finding Boo: He opts to make children laugh instead, which produces more electricity than screams of terror did.
- Throw It In: All of Boo's lines, as the producers just followed a two-year-old around with a mic to capture her performance.
- That Came Out Wrong: At Harryhausen's, he's telling Cilia what he told someone else when asked who he thought he would spend with for the rest of his life. It's heavily implied that he was intending to say it was her, but Sully appeared at the window, causing Mike to say his name in shock, thus unintentionally making it seem as though he's in love with Sully.
- Treacherous Advisor: Waternoose is revealed to have been behind the conspiracy all along.
- The Extremist Was Right: Averted, it turns out that instead of monsters trying to scare children (which is becoming harder for them to do), they can make them laugh (as opposed to using the scream extractor). They actually get more power that way.
- Tsundere: Celia is Type B.
- Villainous Breakdown: It's probably safe to assume that Waternoose went through this, going from a fatherly, sympathetic-sounding person to a borderline, terrifying psychopath.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Waternoose: "I'll kidnap a thousand children before I let this company die!"
- Wham! Line:
Mike: That's not her door...
- X Days Since...: The scare factory has a sign counting the days since the last accident.