The Odd Couple Friendships Of Disney & Pixar

The family films of Disney, Pixar, and a number of other American animation houses rely more consistently on one trope than just about any other: the mismatched friendship. The central duo of many a big screen cartoon will feature two unlikely partners who slowly advance to true camaraderie over the course of their shared adventures. We see it in the trailer for The Good Dinosaur , just as we’ve seen it in countless films before.

One’s uptight, the other’s free-spirited. One’s a curmudgeonly loner, the other’s an effervescent social butterfly. One’s a stuffy aristocrat, the other’s the gabby street urchin. One’s a ring-tailed lemur, the other’s whatever animal is the natural mortal enemy to the ring-tailed lemur. Maybe a white rhinoceros. (Would you see a movie about a ring-tailed lemur and a white rhinoceros? How about if Kevin Hart and Michael Shannon did the voices? Eh, we’ll table it.)

Through and through, these mismatched characters always wind up finding some common ground and forging meaningful relationships. As we sit in anticipation of how this heartwarming might take form in The Good Dinosaur, which features a timid Apatosaurus teaming up with a feral human, let’s look back on the history of Disney and Pixar’s mismatched friendships.

The Fox And The Hound

One is: A didactic hunting dog

The other is: A renegade wild fox

They differ in: Their adherence to societal demand

But bond over: Touching childhood memories

Lady And The Tramp

One is: An aristocratic cocker spaniel

The other is: A streetwise mutt

They differ in: Economic stability

But bond over: Italian food, as we all do


One is: A pretentious foodie

The other is: A clueless schmendrick

They differ in: That whole “people hate rats” thing

But bond over: French food — less universally uniting than Italian, but still works


One is: A deceitful puppet

The other is: A moralistic cricket

They differ in: Their appreciation of objective honesty

But bond over: A shared affection for a loopy tinkerer who is ostensibly tasty to whales.

The Great Mouse Detective

One is: A flappable physician

The other is: An ingenious lunatic

They differ in: Their general sense of propriety

But bond over: The zest of a good mystery

The Rescuers

One is: A bumbling janitor

The other is: Eva Gabor, but as a mouse

They differ in: Poise

But bond over: A thirst for adventure


One is: A depressive pachyderm

The other is: A good-natured, surprisingly well dressed mouse

They differ: In size (plus, one’s species is innately frightened of the other’s)

But bond over: Natural showmanship

Toy Story

One is: A wry, anxiety-ridden cowboy doll

The other is: A cocky and delusional spaceman action figure

They differ in: Their basic understandings of reality

But bond over: A Darwinian will to escape the clutches of a preteen menace

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

One is: A mentally unstable comic actor (and hopeless romantic)

The other is: A perpetually grimacing private eye compelled to drown out his own empathies

They differ in: The latter’s anti-toon bigotries

But bond over: A shared distaste for the freeway

Monsters, Inc.

One is: A smart-mouthed slacker

The other is: An earnest hard worker

They differ in: Their affections for a lost little girl

But bond over: Their distaste for a color-changing lizard

Monsters University

One is: An earnest hard worker

The other is: A smart-mouthed slacker

They differ in: Their academic proclivities

But bond over: The looming need for a job post-graduation


One is: A grumpy old widow

The other is: A sprightly, fatherless young boy

They differ in: How much life has weathered away from them

But bond over: That wonderful tether of shared loneliness

Brother Bear

One is: A bear

The other is: A guy that turned into a bear

They differ in: The fact that one was always a bear and the other turned into a bear

But bond over: The fact that they’re both bears now

If there's one thing that can be learned from all this, it's that no cartoon movie is complete without odd friendships that remind us all that you don't necessarily have to have everything in common with someone to find a loyal and true companion in them. All you need is an open mind and probably a song or two.

Images: Walt Disney Studios (14); Pixar Animation Studios (6)