The Best Pixar Character Bracket

Over the course of three decades and 25 films, Pixar has taken us inside toy chests, ant hills, the human body, and the afterlife. The studio has told stories about over-the-hill superheroes, puberty, and the destruction of planet Earth—all while striking a rare balance between the fun-loving simplicity of childhood and the complexity of adulthood. From Toy Story to Turning Red, Pixar has dominated the animation space with movies that never talk down to kids and always remind adults about the wonders of life.

Of course, Pixar wouldn’t be where it is today without its stellar cast of characters. Because what is Toy Story without Woody and Buzz? The Incredibles without the Parr family? Inside Out without Joy, Sadness, and Fear? (And Bing Bong, obviously!) As the years have passed and the filmography has lengthened, Pixar has filled out its universe (which is all connected, by the way) with countless characters we’ve grown close to, characters we’ve unexpectedly empathized with, and characters who not only entertain us but help us understand our world.

As the release of Lightyear approaches—we’ll let Chris Evans explain the plot—it’s time to celebrate the figures who have defined Pixar since its inception. Welcome to the Best Pixar Character Bracket.

You can’t hear me right now, but I’m making that noise Wall-E makes when he gets super excited.

Before we dive in, let’s explain how this incredible field was assembled. There were a few rules:

  • Only characters from Pixar’s 25 feature films were considered. The shorts were not eligible. This was the only way to ensure Bao didn’t run the table.
  • At least one character from each franchise had to be included. Think of it like how the NCAA tournament includes one automatic bid from each conference. (I know what you’re thinking right now, and yes, The Good Dinosaur is basically the Ohio Valley Conference.)
  • In this bracket, each character has been classified by their first appearance—i.e., Woody is listed as a Toy Story character—but their entire résumé was considered in the selection process, and should be considered in voting.

With those rules in mind, the Ringer staff was asked to compile their own personal rankings. From those results, seeding was calculated from 1 to 64; characters were then placed in the bracket accordingly. In most cases, first-round matchups were tweaked to avoid a face-off between two characters from the same movie. Some matchups were also tweaked because certain bits were too fun to ignore. There was a very strong consensus for the top three seeds—everything after that was much closer, so chaos may reign in this Pixar bracket.

But that’s for you to decide. For each round, you can vote here on the website, on Twitter, and on Instagram every day until 6 p.m. ET, through Friday. Voting will go as follows:

Monday: Round of 64
Tuesday: Round of 32
Wednesday: Sweet 16
Thursday: Elite Eight
Friday a.m.: Final Four
Friday p.m.: Championship
Saturday: Winner revealed

All right, now that we’ve carefully assembled all of the toys in the room, let’s get to the best of each region.

Andy’s Room

Most Intriguing Matchup: (7) Syndrome, The Incredibles vs. (10) Sid Phillips, Toy Story

This is the matchup I was thinking of when I talked about bits that were too good to ignore. This 7-10 face-off pits Pixar’s wildest kid-villains against each other, a bonkers duel that’ll leave one smashed to bits. In one corner, you’ve got a guy with a flaming haircut and inferiority complex—perhaps the most nuanced, convincing villain in the Pixar universe. In the other, you’ve got maybe the most fucked-up depiction of a child in a kid’s movie. Sid Phillips was dismantling toys (which Toy Story establishes early on as sentient beings), lighting them on fire, and performing bizarre surgical procedures on them. He is truly terrifying (but also, all of us knew a kid like him growing up). Now it’s time to see whether his sociopathy eclipses that of Syndrome.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 53%

    (7) Syndrome, ‘The Incredibles’

    (10400 votes)

  • 46%

    (10) Sid Phillips, ‘Toy Story’

    (9134 votes)



19534 votes total

Vote Now

Character Who Got Screwed: (15) Gill, Finding Nemo

Gill is an amazing character. He’s scary at first, until you realize that’s just a shell protecting a much softer inside. He treats the fish tank like a POW camp and says dope shit like, “Fish aren’t meant to be in a box, kid—it does things to you.” And he’s voiced by Willem Dafoe.

But Pixar is a crowded landscape, and here he is as a 15-seed, going up against an extremely well-liked character from one of the best Pixar movies ever. The odds are against him. But they were against Nemo in the fish tank, too.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 58%

    (2) Joy, ‘Inside Out’

    (11465 votes)

  • 41%

    (15) Gill, ‘Finding Nemo’

    (7981 votes)



19446 votes total

Vote Now

The Longshot: (4) Mei Lee, Turning Red

Look, I won’t lie: Being in a region with Woody—arguably the face of Pixar—makes this pretty tough for Mei Lee. But she has recency bias and history-making on her side as the first Asian lead in a Pixar film. A run to the Final Four would be shocking (and for me, a person who roots for mild chaos when it comes to these brackets, very exciting)—but who’s to say this teenager/occasional red panda can’t rattle off a few wins?

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 41%

    (4) Mei Lee, ‘Turning Red’

    (7616 votes)

  • 58%

    (13) Linguini, ‘Ratatouille’

    (10729 votes)



18345 votes total

Vote Now

Where the Cars Heads At?

A quick skim of the bracket might reveal a few things about where The Ringer’s staff stands on Pixar, but the most obvious one is this: Apparently, we do not respect Cars. The franchise received only two bids, and its highest seed is an eight (more on that later). But you know what? Selection committees make mistakes all the time—that’s why upsets happen. UNC was on the eight-line this past year too, and it proved that was a mis-seeding by going all the way to the final. I guess what I’m saying is this bracket will serve as a referendum: Either our odd disdain for Cars will be rebuked, or it will be confirmed as righteous.

(One more thing: Nemo may be the titular role, but I think he’s extremely vulnerable to being upset. He’s like the sixth-best character in his own movie, right?)

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 61%

    (6) Nemo, ‘Finding Nemo’

    (12178 votes)

  • 38%

    (11) Mater, ‘Cars’

    (7721 votes)



19899 votes total

Vote Now

The Rest of the Matchups

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 97%

    (1) Woody, ‘Toy Story’

    (19383 votes)

  • 2%

    (16) Pants Dad, ‘Onward’

    (559 votes)



19942 votes total

Vote Now

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 27%

    (8) Joe Gardner, ‘Soul’

    (5304 votes)

  • 72%

    (9) Boo, ‘Monsters, Inc.’

    (14227 votes)



19531 votes total

Vote Now

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 57%

    (5) Bing Bong, ‘Inside Out’

    (11150 votes)

  • 42%

    (12) Roz, ‘Monsters, Inc.’

    (8215 votes)



19365 votes total

Vote Now

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 92%

    (3) Mike Wazowski, ‘Monsters, Inc.’

    (18267 votes)

  • 7%

    (14) Heimlich, ‘A Bug’s Life’

    (1389 votes)



19656 votes total

Vote Now

42 Wallaby Way

Most Intriguing Matchup: (7) Jessie, Toy Story 2 vs. (10) Hamm, Toy Story

There are 12 Toy Story characters in this competition, and rightfully so—that’s the most for a franchise by a lot. Some toy-on-toy violence is bound to occur over the next week, but this is the only first-round matchup in which Toy Story characters are pitted against each other. Think of it as a preview for the carnage to come, and perhaps a bellwether in terms of what voters cherish more: originals who were there from day one, or newcomers who elevated and expanded the story.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 50%

    (7) Jessie, ‘Toy Story 2’

    (9647 votes)

  • 49%

    (10) Hamm, ‘Toy Story’

    (9627 votes)



19274 votes total

Vote Now

Character Who Got Screwed: (13) The Squeeze Toy Aliens, Toy Story

The Squeeze Toy Aliens are icons! They are integral to the plot of Toy Story! They were the minions before Minions! This seeding and matchup will not be forgiven!

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 43%

    (4) Sadness, ‘Inside Out’

    (8387 votes)

  • 56%

    (13) The Squeeze Toy Aliens, ‘Toy Story’

    (10865 votes)



19252 votes total

Vote Now

The Longshot: (5) Ernesto de la Cruz, Coco

The central question at the heart of this bracket is: What makes a Pixar character great? Do we care most about their integrity, their humanity, their strength of, well, character? Do we care most about the journey they go on? Or do we simply gravitate toward those that excite us, tickle our curiosity, and charm us with their immense charisma? If the answer to this core question is one of the first two, the presumed hero turned thrilling villain Ernesto de la Cruz has no chance. But if it’s the last one? He and a host of Pixar villains may have a legitimate shot at the title.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 53%

    (5) Ernesto de la Cruz, ‘Coco’

    (9980 votes)

  • 46%

    (12) Violet Parr, ‘The Incredibles’

    (8744 votes)



18724 votes total

Vote Now

The Other 1-Seed

As I said in the introduction, there were three basically unanimous 1-seeds in the selection process for this bracket. Who would receive the fourth was a much more difficult discussion. Every single 2-seed—and most 3-seeds—were slotted in this spot at one point or another, until it was ultimately decided that Dory should get the nod. There were several reasons for this: her undeniable status as Pixar icon; the way she steals every Finding Nemo scene she’s in; the fact she is beloved enough to warrant her very own sequel. Valid arguments can certainly be made for Joy, Mr. Incredible, or Remy as 1-seeds, but Dory’s résumé is just a little bit better.

That said, Dory does find herself in an interesting position heading into this week. Her bona fides aren’t up for debate, but there’s also no denying that Finding Dory isn’t the most beloved Pixar movie. And while this may not matter in the long run, it should also be said that Ellen DeGeneres’s approval rating has definitely declined over the past two years. We didn’t set lines on which 1-seed will be the first to fall—if you’re trying to gamble on a cartoon bracket, seek help, but also deal us in—but if we did, Dory would be minus-odds right now. When push comes to shove, anything can happen in the 42 Wallaby Way region.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 86%

    (1) Dory, ‘Finding Nemo’

    (16682 votes)

  • 13%

    (16) Hal, ‘WALL•E’

    (2535 votes)



19217 votes total

Vote Now

The Rest of the Matchups

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 46%

    (8) Lotso, ‘Toy Story 3’

    (8590 votes)

  • 53%

    (9) Flik, ‘A Bug’s Life’

    (9796 votes)



18386 votes total

Vote Now

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 38%

    (6) Luca Paguro, ‘Luca’

    (6975 votes)

  • 61%

    (11) Bruce, ‘Finding Nemo’

    (11236 votes)



18211 votes total

Vote Now

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 89%

    (3) Sulley, ‘Monsters, Inc.’

    (16918 votes)

  • 10%

    (14) Dash Parr, ‘The Incredibles’

    (2060 votes)



18978 votes total

Vote Now

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 93%

    (2) Remy, ‘Ratatouille’

    (17321 votes)

  • 6%

    (15) Giulia, ‘Luca’

    (1126 votes)



18447 votes total

Vote Now

The Axiom

Most Intriguing Matchup: (4) Marlin, Finding Nemo vs. (13) Fear, Inside Out

Think about it: Marlin is basically Fear before Fear existed; Fear is Marlin distilled to his very essence. Marlin obviously plays a much larger role in his respective movie(s), and his seeding reflects that, but in a vacuum this matchup is quite difficult to decipher. How you vote might come down to whether you prefer Fear itself or having it injected into an overly doting father fish.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 78%

    (4) Marlin, ‘Finding Nemo’

    (14299 votes)

  • 21%

    (13) Fear, ‘Inside Out’

    (3912 votes)



18211 votes total

Vote Now

Character Who Got Screwed: (16) Arlo, The Good Dinosaur

The worst Pixar movie is still a very good regular movie, but there’s no doubt The Good Dinosaur carries much less weight than a Toy Story, or even a movie like Luca. Our single representative of the dino adventure, Arlo, is a reflection of that. I hate to say it, but extinction is probably on the horizon.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 94%

    (1) WALL•E, ‘WALL•E’

    (17411 votes)

  • 5%

    (16) Arlo, ‘The Good Dinosaur’

    (1102 votes)



18513 votes total

Vote Now

The Longshot: (5) Edna Mode, The Incredibles

There’s a video on YouTube. It was uploaded less than a year ago. It now has nearly 6 million views. Its title is “Edna Mode being an icon for over 6 minutes.”

Six minutes honestly feels short. But the point is, there aren’t many Pixar side characters so deserving of such a tribute. With her singular attitude, unbeatable barbs, and completely reasonable disdain for capes, Edna has emerged as one of the studio’s most memorable characters. Sure, words are useless (gobble, gobble, gobble), but allow me to say that if you told me Edna Mode was the best Incredibles character, I … would not fight you?

Character brackets are a star-driven exercise—the top eight seeds in this one are either the main characters or the most famous characters. But the beauty of Pixar isn’t just its ability to craft compelling protagonists, but also to fill in their worlds with characters you’d also want to spend time with. Would it be more in the spirit of these movies to vote for Edna Mode until she’s holding up the trophy? That’s a decision for you to make, darling.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 82%

    (5) Edna Mode, ‘The Incredibles’

    (15328 votes)

  • 17%

    (12) Forky, ‘Toy Story 4’

    (3242 votes)



18570 votes total

Vote Now

The Volume Question, Continued

Actually, let’s stay on this subject, because the Axiom region features another fascinating matchup between two characters who exemplify Pixar’s ability to turn tiny parts into profound essentials. On the one side, there’s Anton Ego, the feared food critic of Ratatouille; on the other, there’s Ellie Fredricksen, Carl’s beloved wife in Up. Neither is a main character—in fact, neither is in their respective movie for more than 10 minutes. But both are incredibly important to their films, and through each, Pixar displays a stunning amount of humanity and a shrewd knack for building compelling character arcs. In the best scene in Ratatouille, Remy’s titular dish snaps the seemingly cold-hearted Ego back to his childhood, when his mother first made the dish for him. In a heartbeat, you realize not only that this much-feared critic is a layered human full of emotions and history, but also the transportive nature of food and the virtues of simplicity.

In the short opening of Up—the movie’s best sequence, and one the best sequences in all of 21st century film—Ellie is presented as a full-fledged character full of hopes and dreams, joy and pain. Her meaning to Carl is expressed in less than five minutes. She isn’t with us in the movie for long, yet she stays with us forever.

Ego and Ellie have just a fraction of Buzz Lightyear’s screen time. But since its first movie, Pixar has always done the little things as well as the big things. It wouldn’t be a crime if this bracket rewarded that.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 44%

    (6) Anton Ego, ‘Ratatouille’

    (7919 votes)

  • 55%

    (11) Ellie, ‘Up’

    (9980 votes)



17899 votes total

Vote Now

The Rest of the Matchups

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 68%

    (8) Rex, ‘Toy Story’

    (12568 votes)

  • 31%

    (9) Crush, ‘Finding Nemo’

    (5656 votes)



18224 votes total

Vote Now

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 70%

    (3) Héctor, ‘Coco’

    (12396 votes)

  • 29%

    (14) Hopper, ‘A Bug’s Life’

    (5098 votes)



17494 votes total

Vote Now

Poll

Which character should advance

This poll is closed

  • 88%

    (7) Mr. Potato Head, ‘Toy Story’

    (15879 votes)

  • 11%

    (10) Alberto, ‘Luca’

    (2110 votes)



17989 votes total

Vote Now

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 75%

    (2) Mr. Incredible, ‘The Incredibles’

    (13665 votes)

  • 24%

    (15) Russell, ‘Up’

    (4552 votes)



18217 votes total

Vote Now

Pizza Planet

Most Intriguing Matchup: (7) Dug, Up vs. (10) Slink, Toy Story

It’s a dog versus another dog! Not counting humans, it’s the only instance of a species face-off in the first round! Am I the only one who’s psyched about this?! Bark—or say “squirrel!”—if not.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 64%

    (7) Dug, ‘Up’

    (11602 votes)

  • 35%

    (10) Slink, ‘Toy Story’

    (6283 votes)



17885 votes total

Vote Now

Character Who Got Screwed: (8) Lightning McQueen, Cars

Lightning is the protagonist of the only Pixar franchise other than Toy Story to get multiple sequels. He is voiced by You, Me and Dupree legend Owen Wilson. And we have him as an 8-seed, going up against a pretty good opponent in The Incredibles’ Frozone … meaning that if he manages to prevail in the first round, he’ll likely be facing Buzz Lightyear in Round 2. To determine how much of an injustice this is, I spoke with my Ringer colleague Matt Dollinger, a father to sons and a proud fan of the Cars movies. This was the only thing he responded with: “Treating the fastest Pixar character of all time—and one of its most iconic—like a cute mid-major is reprehensible.” Matt is definitely still mad at us.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 50%

    (8) Lightning McQueen, ‘Cars’

    (9078 votes)

  • 49%

    (9) Frozone, ‘The Incredibles’

    (9061 votes)



18139 votes total

Vote Now

The Longshot: (4) Elastigirl, The Incredibles

A running theme in the Longshot section is that The Incredibles is full of potential sleepers—but calling Elastigirl a sleeper isn’t fair. She’s a legitimate contender. She’s a capable superhero, a dedicated mother, she still loves Mr. Incredible even when he packs on a few pounds, she lives on in memes about—how do I even put this?—her proportional sublimity, and she’s voiced by Holly Hunter. It wouldn’t stun me if she made it out of this region; that’d totally be something Elastigirl would do.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 85%

    (4) Elastigirl, ‘The Incredibles’

    (15053 votes)

  • 14%

    (13) 22, ‘Soul’

    (2650 votes)



17703 votes total

Vote Now

Family Drama Looming

I’m not saying I’m rooting against the 5-seed Merida (Brave), but I just wanna point out that if Jack-Jack Parr—responsible for the best scene in Incredibles 2—pulls off an upset, he’d probably face his mom in the next round. Let’s get spicy.

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 41%

    (5) Merida, ‘Brave’

    (7152 votes)

  • 58%

    (12) Jack-Jack, ‘The Incredibles’

    (10270 votes)



17422 votes total

Vote Now

The Rest of the Matchups

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 96%

    (1) Buzz Lightyear, ‘Toy Story’

    (17354 votes)

  • 3%

    (16) Barley, ‘Onward’

    (590 votes)



17944 votes total

Vote Now

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 64%

    (6) Eve, ‘WALL•E’

    (11199 votes)

  • 35%

    (11) Anger, ‘Inside Out’

    (6298 votes)



17497 votes total

Vote Now

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 75%

    (3) Miguel, ‘Coco’

    (12908 votes)

  • 24%

    (14) Stinky Pete, ‘Toy Story 2’

    (4224 votes)



17132 votes total

Vote Now

Poll

Which character should advance?

This poll is closed

  • 91%

    (2) Carl, ‘Up’

    (15799 votes)

  • 8%

    (15) Ming Lee, ‘Turning Red’

    (1485 votes)



17284 votes total

Vote Now


Remember, voting closes at 6 p.m. ET. Come back tomorrow for a breakdown of the Round of 32.

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