Pixar loves nothing more than to emotionally destroy its fans, and this beautiful pain sometimes starts before the main event of the film — which is, specifically, with Pixar's pre-feature presentation animated shorts. As anyone who has seen Inside Out's accompanying short film Lava can likely attest, Pixar puts as much love into each of their shorts as they do into their features and that is why they stick with you for so long. I know I can't forget the intrepid stork who delivered dangerous animal babies in "Partly Cloudy," or that hilarious young alien who was working so hard to pass his human abduction exam in "Lifted." Sure, these characters are only onscreen for a few minutes, but they linger on in my imagination. I know I won't be forgetting Lava with his sweet, heartbreaking face anytime soon.
So, with Lava in mind, I decided to look back on the Pixar short characters and rank them from the most unforgettable to the somewhat forgettable (because Pixar has never made a dud). I'm sticking with shorts that were shown theatrically because Pixar has actually done a ton of short films — but, the characters on this list should be familiar to all Pixar fans.
From singing volcanoes to a bird on a wire, here are the Pixar shorts characters ranked.
1. Lava, "Lava"
Lava just wanted someone to love! He spent year after year singing his song until he sunk into the ocean just missing out on meeting his lady love. Even though it had a happy ending, Lava takes the top spot for his yearning and beyond sweet face.
2. The Blue Umbrella, "The Blue Umbrella"
"The Blue Umbrella" premiered before Monsters University, and it was way more touching than the movie. Poor Blue Umbrella is almost crushed by several cars, he gets turned inside out, and is basically left for dead on the highway... until his owner finds him and reunites him with Red Umbrella. It is the most intense five minutes ever.
3. Young Alien, "Lifted"
My love for the young alien taking his abduction test in "Lifted" knows no bounds. The short played before Ratatouille and it set the mood perfectly. The little alien's earnest nature and desperation to nail his exam were hilarious and relatable.
4. Stork And Storm Cloud, "Partly Cloudy"
At least Pixar let viewers know exactly what they were in for with Up. In the short film that played before it, "Partly Cloudy," a joyful storm cloud is responsible for creating all of the baby alligators, porcupines, and other not so cuddly offspring of non-cutesy animals. His partner in crime is a harried, but devoted stork. Together, they make for a loving and kind of heartbreaking duo.
5. Geri, "Geri's Games"
I think "Geri's Games" is supposed to be a lighthearted short film (it ran before A Bug's Life), but Geri is playing chess alone in the park against himself and it makes my heart break. If you weren't seeing the game through his eyes, Geri would be a good candidate for a hug. Honestly, even now, I still want to be his friend.
6. The Bunny, "Presto"
All the bunny wanted was his carrot! I sympathized with the bunny's hangry brain on every level, and stupid Presto deserved what he got.
7. The Kid, "One Man Band"
Two grown street musicians squabbling over a little kid's coin? I don't think so — but an adorable little kid beating them at their own game deserves all the love.
8. The Family, "La Luna"
"La Luna" is one of my favorite Pixar shorts, mostly because it is visually stunning to the point of taking your breath away. The family at the center of the short is lovely, but they can't quite compete with the visuals.
9. The Biggest Bird, "For The Birds"
Bullying is never cool, and the goofy, big bird in "For the Birds" taught his smaller friends that lesson the hard way. It cost them a few feathers, but hearing the big bird's raucous laughter made it all worth it.
10. The Dancing Sheep, "Boundin'"
Seeing this dancing sheep get his groove back makes "Boundin'" a classic — even if its characters aren't as memorable as some of Pixar's other creations.
11. Day And Night, "Day And Night"
Like La Luna, "Day and Night" is visually stunning. However, the characters feel a little flat. This short is definitely more about the animation than it is the characters.
12. Knick, "Knick Knack"
Poor Knick just hasn't aged well. "Knick Knack" played before Finding Nemo in 2004, but it just doesn't live up to the shorts that came after. Besides, Knick's quest to meet a nice snow globe woman just doesn't work for me. However, it does hold the distinction of being one of the oldest Pixar shorts, so for that reason, I feel a lot of gratitude toward Knick — so much awesome came after him.
Images: Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar (5); Giphy (7)