Cars

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A series of computer-animated films from Pixar and directed by John Lasseter, who also directed the first two Toy Story movies and A Bugs Life. True to the title, the stories take place in a world entirely populated by anthropomorphic cars and other vehicles -- aside from plants, there are no organic life-forms of any sort. Just about everything else is reinterpreted into automotive counterparts, such as insects becoming Volkswagen Beetles and rock formations in the shape of car bodies.

Not to be confused with the song by Gary Numan, or Ric Ocasek's band.

Cars (2006)[edit | hide | hide all]

Cars Poster 2 2575.png

"I... am speed."

The first film centers around Lightning McQueen, an arrogant up-and-coming hotshot stock car racer whose only driving concern is winning. The film opens with McQueen vying for the Piston Cup, a coveted prize which assures the winner of a lucrative sponsorship. Despite a valiant effort, McQueen ends up in a three-way tie with retiring racing veteran Strip "The King" Weathers and perennial runner-up Chick Hicks. A tie-breaking race is scheduled a week later in California, and McQueen urges his driver Mack to get them there immediately.

Along the way, McQueen gets lost, ending up in Radiator Springs, a quiet rural town in a forgotten segment of Route 66. After accidentally tearing up the town's main road, McQueen is sentenced to repairing it as community service. As he toils to finish his service and get to California, McQueen makes friends with the locals, including Tow Mater and former big-city hotshot Sally Carrera, and learns that there's a lot more to life than just racing to the finish line.

Cars 2 (2011)[edit | hide]

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When You're In Over Your Headlights,
Who Do You Trust?

Cars 2 is the Actionized Sequel to Cars, released in June 2011. Oil Baron-turned-electric-vehicle Sir Miles Axlerod has discovered Allinol, a new clean alternative fuel source. To promote it, he creates and sponsors the first ever World Grand Prix, where the best racers compete to see who's the fastest car in the world. One of the finalists is Piston Cup winner Lightning McQueen, who brings along his friends from Radiator Springs as his pit crew, along with first-time team member Tow Mater.

Unfortunately, when an intelligence exchange goes awry, Mater gets mistaken for a master American spy. When he accidentally screws up Lightning McQueen's competition against Formula One racecar Francesco Bernoulli, Mater ends up getting recruited by British espionage agents Finn McMissile and Holly Shiftwell to help them stop the machinations of international weapons developer Professor Zundapp. Now, while McQueen struggles against his guilt, Mater must balance his duty to save the world and his efforts to save McQueen, who is quickly being targeted...

It currently holds around a 39% on the tomato-meter, thus being by far the least well received Pixar movie.

Cars Shorts[edit | hide]

Pixar has also produced a number of Cars-related shorts, such as "Mater and the Ghostlight" (included with the Cars DVD release) and the "Mater's Tall Tale" series. More information about these can be found on the Pixar Shorts page.

DisneyToon Studios is also working on a Direct-To-Video Spin-Off of the franchise, called "Planes". The film is set to be under the creative leadership of John Lasseter. Visit the page for more information.

The Character Sheet can be found here.



Series Wide[edit | hide]

The Cars films and shorts contain examples of the following tropes[edit | hide]

  • Animate Inanimate Object: Every. Single. Character.
  • Author Appeal: John Lasseter admits he made this movie cause he likes cool cars.
    • Several of the senior animators and designers at Pixar are also car enthusiasts, and the company regularly holds in-company car shows where staffers bring in their vintage and exotic automobiles.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Lightning McQueen for starters. The other racecars are no slouches in the naming department either.
  • The Big Race
  • Bilingual Bonus: Guido (voiced by Guido Quaroni) only speaks in (correct) Italian.
    • The second movie takes this Up to Eleven as the action goes to Japan, France and Italy.
  • Breakout Character: If it hasn't been obvious in the past several years since the first movie, Mr. Tow Mater.
    • Word of God is that the genesis for Cars 2 came while John Lasseter was doing international promotional tours for Cars, then musing, "How would Mater respond to this?"
  • Butt Monkey: Lightning in some of the Mater's Tall Tales shorts.
  • Conjoined Eyes
  • Cool Car: The entire cast.
  • The Ditz: Mater.
    • Genius Ditz: He has a VERY extensive knowledge on car engines and their parts; particularly cars who were pretty bad. Also don't get us started on his Batman Gambit and analytical skills.
  • Enormous Engine: Snot Rod.
  • Fake Nationality: Lebanese-American Tony Shalhoub as Luigi. This may be an Actor Allusion to his role as an Italian cabdriver on Wings.
  • Feather Fingers: They're cars, and yet they manage to write, paint, and hold microphones.
  • Licensed Game: Four in total; Cars: The Video Game, Cars Mater-National, Cars Race-O-Rama and Cars 2: The Video Game.
    • Pretty much averting The Problem with Licensed Games since they have all gotten at least decent reviews and from all reports are actually pretty fun and represent a lot of the racing "feel" of the movies. Then again, how hard can it be to make a game based on movies about race cars?
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Matryoshka Object: The closing credits of Cars 2 showed Fillmore, Sarge, Luigi, and Guido as nesting dolls.
  • Meaningful Name: A lot of the names are from Isaac Asimov's short story "Sally", which is about sentient (robotic) cars.
    • McQueen's name gets some confusion though as people believe he's based on a famous race car legend. He's actually named after Glenn McQueen, a Pixar worker who died during Finding Nemo's production.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Four years and five new Pixar movies later, you still can see an ad for a new Cars toy once in a while, and they still take up a good portion of shelf space in stores. A study conducted in 2010 found that 50% of American boys aged 5-13 had at least one Cars shirt in their wardrobe. This is probably the reason that justifies Disney's Executive Meddling in getting Pixar to make a sequel.
  • Milestone Celebration: Both films have specialized logos for Pixar, due to being released on their 20th and 25th anniversaries, respectively.
  • Minnesota Nice: Once scene features an overly cheerful lost car named Minnie asks for directions in an exaggerated Scandanavian-esque accent and mentions that her husband also got them lost in Shakopee.
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal
  • New Age Retro Hippie: Filmore.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Many characters are in-universe automobile versions of real celebrities, voiced by the same people they were based from. See the individual movie entries below for details.
  • Odd Couple: Lighting and Mater (worldly/naive), Sarge and Fillmore (army/hippie), Ramone and Flo ("gangster"/showgirl)
  • Or Was It a Dream?: How almost all of Mater's Tall Tales end. Even though McQueen is in all of them despite a)him not remembering any of it, and b)the events taking places years before the two met.
  • Pimped-Out Car: It was bound to happen, when you have a "Body Paint" store at Radiator Springs.
  • Punny Name: Done with many of the characters names, like Jay Limo, Darryl Cartrip, Jeff Gorvette, David Hobbscap, and Brent Mustangburger.
    • Befitting its globetrotter plot, the sequel expands the puns to places and things, such as Petrodilly Circus and Big Bentley in London, the Republic of Rearendia, and the Running of the Bulldozers in Pamplona.
  • Running Gag: This film seems awfully fond of butt jokes. To wit:
    • Lizzie slaps a sticker on the bumper of a couple passing through that reads "Nice Butte!"
    • Mater places his towing hook in a rather uncomfortable spot when he tows Lightning away.
    • Lightning catches the Sheriff in a compromising position at the doctor's office/garage.
    • "Rust-Eze medicated bumper ointment, new rear-end formula!"
    • Ramone flashes his undercarriage Von Dutch-style pinstriping at the lost tourists.
    • Not to mention where Sally keeps her Embarrassing Tattoo.
    • Rip Clutchgoneski, one of the racecars from the sequel, hails from the Republic of New Rearendia.
  • Scenery Porn: It is a Pixar work.
    • The "Life Is a Highway" segment from the first film is especially noteworthy.
      • The sequel shows us BEAUTIFUL scenes of Italy, France, Japan and England!
  • Shown Their Work: Watch the DVD extras to see the amount of work that went into even minor details that virtually nobody will notice.
    • This is especially noticed in the second film. Especially when many of the Mooks turn out to be Lemons and Mater's spiel about car parts.
  • Technology Porn: With all the cars in this movie, is this a surprise?
    • With both cars and spies, this is taken Up to Eleven in the sequel, especially whenever Finn McMissile appears.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Mater is one, as evident in his "Tall Tales" shorts. This becomes a plot point for Cars 2.
  • World of Funny Animals: A rare non-animal example.


Cars[edit | hide]

Cars features the following tropes[edit | hide]

Mater: Here she comes!
McQueen: Okay, places, everybody! Hurry! Act natural.
[McQueen hides and everybody else gets in a perfectly straight line as Sally approaches]
Mater, Ramone, Flo, Luigi, Sarge, Fillmore: Hi, Sally!
Sally: All right, what's going on?

  • Actor Allusion: During the Credits Montage, Mack (voiced by John Ratzenberger) is watching Cars-universe versions of Pixar movies, and initially praises the voice actor for |Hamm Truck and the Abominable Snowplow (John Ratzenberger) ... but by the time A Bugs Life rolls around, he realizes they're just reusing the same voice actor and criticizes them for it.
    • The King is voiced by Richard Petty, and is also modelled and painted after Petty's 1970 Plymouth Superbird. He is described as having won seven Piston Cups - which is also the number of Winston Cup Championships that Petty won in his racing career (he is also the only seven time winner of the Daytona 500). And his wreck at the end of the film appears to be nod back to Petty's wreck in the 1988 Daytona 500.
    • In the US version, Jeremy Piven is the voice of McQueen's agent Harv. Piven is known for his role as Hollywood superagent Ari Gold on the HBO series Entourage. Meanwhile, the UK version uses Jeremy Clarkson, known for his part in the BBC series Top Gear.
    • Don't forget Mater's "I don't care who you are, that's funny right there", and "Git-r-done!", both of which are Larry the Cable Guy's Catchphrases. It's so much that Mater's Voice is actually credited as "Larry the Cable Guy", not "Daniel Whitney".
  • Affectionate Nickname: Sally calls Lightning "Stickers"
  • Analogy Backfire: "Oh, like you? You've been here for how long, and your friends don't even know who you are? Who's caring about only himself?!"

Sally: You called them?
Doc: It's best for everyone, Sally.
Sally: Best for everyone... or best for you?

  • Assumed Win: Subverted - After the race in the beginning, McQueen assumes he won the Piston Cup, and proceeds to make a big entrance... only to find out it was a tie.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Chick wins the Piston Cup, though is booed off the stage by the crowd due to him wrecking the King intentionally in the process.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The Cozy Cone motel, which is based on a real motel modeled after Indian Teepees.
  • Blue Eyes: Doc Hudson's eyes were deliberately designed to resemble his voice actor Paul Newman's.
  • Broken Pedestal: the Hudson Hornet, a.k.a. Doc for McQueen.
  • The Cameo: No prizes for guessing who Michael Schumacher Ferrari and Jay Limo are voiced by...
    • Tom and Ray have a cameo as well.
    • And some obscure politician guy from California.
    • As does frequent NBC Sports host Bob Costas. And fellow announcer Darrell Waltrip.
    • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. makes a brief appearance voicing the #8 Chevrolet he drove from 1999 to 2007 in the Sprint Cup Series, sans Budweiser stickers (to avoid advertising alcohol), which are replaced by DEI stickers (reflecting Earnhardt, Jr.'s team before his move to Hendrick Motorsports).
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Sally does a very short one after she finds out that Doc called the press about where Lightning was to get him out of Radiator Springs. Turns out to be an Ironic Echo when she asks if it was the benefit of everyone else in the town, or just for him, as Lightning did.
  • Cassandra Truth: No one believes McQueen at first about Doc being a former race car star.
  • Chekhov's Gag: While chasing Lightning near the beginning, Sheriff muses that he might bust a gasket at the speed he's going. When Lightning busts into Doc's office later in the film, Sheriff is in there, probably for said busted gasket.
  • Chekhov's Skill: McQueen learns drifting and backwards driving from Doc and Mater, respectively. They naturally surprise and shock Chick Hicks.
    • Both of which resurface again in Cars 2. Heck, the way the Rediator Springs crew all use their skills to curbstomp a band of Mooks practically screams Plot Tailored to the Party.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: Subverted. When the three main racecars are introduced at the start, it starts with The King (blue), then Chick (green), and finally Lightning (red).
  • Classic Villain: Chick Hicks is the Envy and Pride version of this combined with Arrogant Kung Fu Guy. In the beginning of Cars, he's simply a slightly darker copy of McQueen's own flaws. By the end of the movie, however, McQueen's Character Development makes them complete opposites, highlighting how much McQueen has matured. Hicks demonstrates what McQueen could have been if he hadn't ended up in Radiator Springs.
  • Cool Old Guy: Doc Hudson.
  • Credits Montage
  • Different World, Different Movies: The car-ified versions of earlier Pixar movies appear in the end credits.
  • Directionless Driver: Minny and Van, the lost tourists who wander through Radiator Springs. Van, the husband, sternly refuses to ask for directions; The Stinger: after the credits shows them still lost in the desert, exhausted and delirious.
    • The sequel shows that they found their way out.
  • Dirty Old Woman: Lizzie, who slaps bumper stickers on strangers and ogles McQueen.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: After the race in the film's beginning, Mia and Tia, two fans of Lightning come up and "flash" their "headlights" at him, much the way groupies will flash people in real life.
    • Also the scene where Mack struggles to stay awake on the highway may seem familiar to many truckers, or motorists who have driven long distances in the dark.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Lightning's description of the Cozy Cone.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Sarge does this during the end credits montage when he runs a boot camp for pampered SUVs.

"A-TEN-HUT! Kiss the pavement goodbye, gentlemen! When I'm finished with you, you'll have mud in places you didn't know you had."

Lightning McQueen: He's got three Piston Cups!
Mater: [[[Spit Take]]] He did what in his cup?!

    • Let's not forget Sally's Tramp Stamp.
    • Or Mia and Tia's "flashing headlghts".
    • This little exchange:

Lightning: Well, you see, race cars don't need headlights, because the race track is always lit.
Rust-Eze Spokesman: So's my brother, but he still needs headlights!

    • Mater would give his two left lugnuts to work with Bessie.
    • Mater joking that "she just wants me for my body" is even in the trailer.
    • One of the race fans is holding a sign that says "Honk If Your Horn Works".
    • Guido's version of flipping the birdie to the forklifts of Hicks' pit crew is to lift up one of his fork lifts.
    • "Is it true he's going to pose for Cargirl?"
    • "The Sixties weren't very good to you, eh son?"
    • This could also count as stealth puns, but in one deleted scene, Top Down Truck Stop, the waitresses are said to be all convertibles. They're all topless.
    • "Oh, for the love of Chrysler..."
    • When McQueen bursts into Doc's office, he finds the sheriff in a compromising position with as Doc examines his underbelly.

Sheriff: Gettin' a good peek, city boy?

  • Hero Antagonist: The King. Though he was one of Lightning's opponents, The King treats him fairly and respectfully.
  • I Am the Trope: Lightning's Catch Phrase - "I am speed."
  • I Never Told You My Name: Oh, Fred.
  • In Memoriam: This film was dedicated to Joe Ranft, a prominent Pixar animator and voice actor (e.g. Heimlich in A Bugs Life) who died in a car accident in 2005. Corpse Bride was also dedicated to Ranft.
  • Jerkass: Lightning McQueen starts out as one, but becomes likable by the end of the movie.
    • Chick Hicks embodies this trope.
    • Both can also be considered Jerk Jocks, since they're talented athletes and are popular for it. NASCAR drivers are much the same way.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lightning.
  • Karmic Death: Done figuratively in the first movie. In the end, Chick Hicks wins the Piston Cup, but in doing so his Pride, Wrath, and Ambition have revealed him to be a poor sport to the rest of the world. His career dies a metaphoric -- yet very karmic -- death as a result.
  • Leno Device: Jay Leno, as the voice of a car version of himself named Jay Limo, does a Tonight Show monologue about McQueen.

Jay Limo: I don't know what's harder to find: Lightning McQueen, or a pit crew who'll work with him!

Lightning: Adios, Chuck!
Not Chuck: And my name is not Chuck!
Lightning: Oh, whatever.

    • Thanks to the gratuitous amount of merchandising generated by the film, we even get a toy of the forklift...who is named "My Name is not Chuck" on the packaging!
    • The character was also listed in the cast credits as "Not Chuck".
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Mater never gets a chance to say goodbye to Lightning - until later at the race, anyway.

Doc Hudson: Well, I didn't have a choice. Mater didn't get to say goodbye.
Mater: GOODBYE!!! Okay, I'm good.

  • No Celebrities Were Harmed
    • "The King" Strip Weathers is voiced by none other than Richard Petty himself.
    • Weathers' wife is voiced by Petty's wife Linda, and her character is modeled off of the Station Wagon the Petty family used to drive from race to race.
    • Michael Schumacher Ferrari. Three guesses on who is the voice actor, but the last two won't count.
    • NASCAR color commentator Darrell Waltrip and Bob Costas lend their voices to Piston Cup announcers Darrell Cartrip and Bob Cutlass. Waltrip even uses his signature catchphrase at the start of the tiebreaker race:

Darrell Cartrip: Boogity, Boogity, Boogity! Let's go racin', boys!

    • Ever seen Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Mario Andretti?
    • Jeremy Clarkson as Harv, although only in the UK version.
  • Not So Different: McQueen and Doc.
  • Our Founder: Stanley Steamer, founder of Radiator Springs.
  • Overdrive: A rare subversion of the "more speed always works" aspect of this trope appears in the beginning of Cars. McQueen gains a whole lap on Chick Hicks and The King by skipping several pit stops -- only to have both of his rear tires blow out in the final lap.
  • Porn Stache: Chick Hicks' grill.
  • Precision Swear Strike: "I'm in hillbilly hell" arguably counts; granted, the point a comparison to the place, but it's still unusually heavy language for a G-rated animated movie.
  • Pyrrhic Villainy: Chick Hicks' wins the last race through a combination of cheating and Lightning's heartwarming last minute Honor Before Reason decision to help crippled The King finish the race. He is rewarded by being abandoned by his sponsor and jeered off the winner's podium complete with tomato-flinging.
  • Reality Subtext: The King's crash is based, frame by frame, on an actual crash Richard Petty lived through in the Daytona 500.
    • The character of Doc Hudson is largely based on 2-time NASCAR champion Herb Thomas, who, in fact, won his two titles in a Hudson Hornet. There are minor differences between the two, namely their ultimate fates, Doc Hudson is Thomas in car form.
    • The Motor Speedway of the South is loosely modeled off of Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.
  • Recycled in Space: Cars is Doc Hollywood WITH CARS!
  • Second Place Is for Winners: Even though Lightning didn't win the race, he is lauded for his heroic rescue of "The King" and Chick Hicks is booed off the stage for being a jerkass.
  • Self-Deprecation: In the credits sketches we see Mack (played by John Ratzenberger) criticizing the fact that John Ratzenberger is always in Pixar movies.

"What kind of cut-rate production is this?!"

  • Shout-Out: Like every Pixar movie, it contains references to other Pixar films (both short and feature-length).
    • The name McQueen itself is a reference to Glenn McQueen, a senior animator on early Pixar films who died of cancer in 2002; Lightning is named as a tribute. The Pixar staff takes pains to point out that it wasn't, as is commonly thought, a reference to Steve McQueen, he of the famous car chases.
    • Lightning himself uses |Lightyear Buzzard brand tires, and the Lightyear blimp can be seen at races. This one is a twofer: a hark back to Buzz Lightyear and an Incredibly Lame Pun on Goodyear Eagle tires. Additionally, the Dinoco brand is the name of the gas station Woody and Buzz get stuck at. And Lightning's number, #95, is a reference to the year Toy Story was released.
    • Can't forget the Drive-In scene. I sure wonder how Toy Car Story, Monster Trucks, Inc. and A Bug's Life were received by car critics.
    • One of the Piston Cup racers, Mac iCar, is sponsored by Apple Macintosh. The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs was also one of the founders of Pixar. May also count as Product Placement.
    • Near the end of the film, Luigi can be seen making fun of a clearly Italian-based car that is shorter and fatter than him. Whose grill apparently resembles a mustache.
  • Stock Scream : During Lightning's first dream sequence, the car that gets dissolved gets a Wilhelm out.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion/Curse Cut Short: The Rust-Eze rhyme.

Winter is a grand old time
Of this, there are no ifs or buts,
But remember, all that salt and grime
Can rust your bolts and freeze your--

Sally: Flo! What do you have at your store?
Flo: I have gas! Lots of gas!
[Mater and Ramone snicker]

    • And the tractor-tipping sequences.
  • Tripod Terror: Lightning's action dream sequence.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: Done repeatedly in Cars by Chick Hicks, who won't hesitate to slam other racers and cause a Big One to happen just to stop McQueen. We wonder why he never gets black-flagged for his tactics, even after causing a near-fatal crash for the retiring champion and winning the coveted Piston Cup championship. Well, except for screwing himself out of the Dinoco sponsorship and seriously pissing off the fans.
    • This given that today, Chick could easily be compared to Kyle Busch.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Chick again.


Cars 2[edit | hide]

Cars 2 features the following tropes:[edit | hide]

  • Action Prologue: The opening shows Finn doing stuff that wouldn't be out of place in a James Bond film.
  • Actor Existence Failure: Played straight with Doc Hudson, as Paul Newman died in 2008. Doc is mentioned in the beginning of the film, and it is suggested that he passed away between the two films.
    • Averted with Fillmore (George Carlin also died in 2008), who is voiced by Lloyd Sherr instead.
    • And Averted with Red (Joe Ranft), who does not speak at all (save for the odd sound effect).
  • Aesop Amnesia: Averted in a Continuity Nod; Mater mentions that the reason Lightning hasn't entered the race is that he has learned to slow down and enjoy life.
  • Animeland: Japan is depicted in this manner, more or less an extended version of the way it was shown in the Tokyo Mater short.
  • Ascended Fridge Horror: By calling attention to the darker implications of Mater's prior Butt Monkey status, the movie makes him into The Woobie.
  • Awesomeness By Analysis: Mater can recognize any engine and give you all the details about it just by taking one look at it, regardless of how old or obscure it is.
  • Batman Gambit: Mater's plan to get Miles Axlerod to disarm the bomb.
    • Axlerod's plan to kill Lightning by planting a bomb in Mater himself also counts.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The regulars of Radiator Springs save Mater and McQueen from the Lemons in London.
  • Bilingual Bonus: After the Japanese bartender dishes out a big glob of wasabi which Mater mistakes for pistachio ice cream, he backs up and delivers the line "okuyami moshiagarimasu", which translates to something along the lines of "You have my condolences".
  • Bland-Name Product: Even though most of the cars are referred to by their real model names (even the lemons), Hugo is an exception. Whoever owns the Yugo trademark doesn't have a sense of humor.
  • Break the Cutie: Happens to Mater after he discovers that everyone else sees him as a clueless ditz, good only for distracting others.

"No one realizes they're being fooled when they're too busy laughing at the fool."

Mater: Well, since this is your tenth tow this month, it's on the house!

  • The Cameo: Kabuto, the main villain of Tokyo Mater, actually makes several brief appearances during all of the Japan scenes.
    • Three time Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon features as one of the main World Grand Prix racers, Jeff Gorvette (a pun on his real name and the fact that he is portrayed as a Corvette). In international localizations of the film, he is replaced by other racing celebrities that are better known to the locality than Jeff Gordon:
      • The Australian release features V8 Supercar racer Mark Winterbottom as "Frosty" (his Real Life nickname).
      • The Spanish release features Formula One racer Fernando Alonso as himself and used an Spanish sports broadcaster as one of the announcers.
      • The Russian release features Formula One racer Vitaly Petrov As Himself.
      • The Mexican release features Rolex Sports car racer Memo Rojas Jr.
      • The German release features Formula One racer Sebastian Vettel as "Max Schnell". Schnell is already in all versions of the film, but he gets an extra line in the German version.
      • The Swedish release features Touring Car racer Jan Nilsson as "Flash".
      • The Brazilian release features retired racer Emerson Fittipaldi, and the announcers were dubbed by local sports broadcasters.
    • Deadliest Catch's Sig Hansen is his own crab fishing boat, Crabby (complete with crab pots).
  • Car Fu: Done literally when Finn McMissile uses martial arts to attack a group of thugs -- while standing in front of a sign advertising Carate and Car Fu lessons.
  • Cassandra Truth: When Mater tries to tell his friends about his encounters with Holly Shiftwell and her world of international espionage, no one believes him because they think he's just telling another of his tall tales.
  • The Cavalry: Done literally when Sarge contacts his old military buddies to bring the entire British Army to rescue Mater and Lightning.
  • The Character Died with Him: Doc Hudson, due to Paul Newman's death.
  • Chase Scene: At the Tokyo airport.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Done by Pixar themselves -- a key aspect of Cars 2 is Mater's habit of fanciful storytelling, which causes his friends to dismiss his claims of espionage adventure as mere stories. Since this was a characteristic not shown in the first film, it was feared that its sudden appearance would look like an Ass Pull, so the "Mater's Tall Tales" shorts were created to establish this trait two years in advance.
    • Also done literally with Mater's gatling guns which he uses to escape from being tied up in Big Bentley.
      • Another one is the oil leak Mater supposedly had in the beginning of the movie. Makes more sense when you remember his chanting "I never leak" to himself.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Mater's ability to recognize old and obscure engine parts at a glance. Sadly averted with the Jackass-worthy stunts Mater puts McQueen through at the beginning.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Professor Zündapp inflicts this on Rod "Torque" Redline with the EMP camera.
  • Continuity Nod: When Mater talks to Francesco on the talk show, he explains that McQueen wants to rest after having completing the latest racing season because he's learned to slow down and enjoy life -- which was the Aesop of the first film.
    • "Whoever that tow truck is, he's got to be the world's best backwards driver!"
    • The ending with Finn and Holly's last scene is scripted word-for-word from the similar scene in the first film, about the supporting cast being in debt to the main character and the reply, "I appreciate that, thank you. ...Actually, there is one thing...", followed by a Gilligan Cut.
    • The Japan scenes could actually be this to Tokyo Mater, complete with a brief cameo of Kabuto. Is also economical--Pixar created the shorts so they could reuse models and environments for the sequel!
  • Cool Plane: Finn's partner Siddeley is a tricked-out spy jet (not surprising, given his name -- the Hawker-Siddeley Corporation was responsible for much of the Royal Air Force's hardware).
  • Costume Copycat: Ivan is a tow truck that looks a lot like Mater. Holly helps Mater with a holographic disguise to look like him, after Mater tries out several very conspicuous and outrageous modes.
    • This one gets turned around almost immediately afterwards, when the villainous tow truck replaces Mater's hook with his own (identical in profile) hook in a crowd scene while the other Lemons have grabbed him.
  • Covers Always Lie: On the poster for this film, Lightning McQueen is in the centre, making him the hero. In this film, the real hero is Mater.
  • Creator Cameo: To celebrate Pixar's 25th anniversary, the animators inserted John Lasseter in the movie as Jeff Gorvette's pit crew chief.
  • Darker and Edgier: While it's still a colorful family-friendly film, the sequel justifiably features more peril than the original.

John Lasseter: There is peril. There is threat. You want the bad guys to be bad.

    • We get on screen car deaths through direct violence. That's quite a genre shift. It's not often you see the Mafia featured in a G-rated film.
  • Death Trap: An elaborate one set for Finn, Holly, and Mater, courtesy of Zundapp since he wanted to have them watch him kill McQueen first.
  • Demoted to Extra: Most of the original cast.
    • Necessary since the movie takes place all over the world. They do make an appearance near the end saving Lighting and Mater's tailpipes.
  • Development Gag: In Paris, Mater encounters a car whose eyes are placed where her headlights should be. This scares Mater away. This is a reference to the development of the first Cars; the characters were originally gonna have their eyes place on their headlights, only to have them relocated on their windshields after John Lasseter found it more appealing that way.
  • The Don: The four heads of the lemon families: J. Curby Gremlin, Vladimir Trunkov, Victor Hugo and Tubbs Pacer.
  • Double Entendre: Ivan the tow truck's offer of 'Road-Side Assistance' to Holly.
    • The Big Bad's joke to the lemons; implying they have some incestuous families. " Maybe it was your mother! Or your sister! It's getting kinda hard to tell them apart these days."
      • Isn't that a reference to how fast the lemons break down? 'Hey, your sister's looking like hell! Just like your equally-poorly-made mother!' An age joke for cars.
    • In the bathroom Mater comments on how the female animated car "gets to giggling right before she starts squirting".
    • Mater asks in a female car in a dark alleyway "What're you sellin'?" to which she begins "flashing" her headlights, making it seem like Mater is unintentionally soliciting a prostitute.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Mater does this with a holographic program to infiltrate the Lemons in Italy.
  • Eagle Land: Mater is viewed as a hybrid of Type 1 and Type 2 by non-American cars meeting him for the first time.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: During the Pub Rumble near the end of the film, a tapestry on the wall shows automobile versions of Queen Eleanor, Princess Merida, King Fergus, and the Royal Triplets from Brave.
  • Espionage Tropes: Lots.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: McQueen invokes this after Mater inadvertently causes him to lose the first race in the World Grand Prix.
  • Eureka Moment: Mater gets one of these while Luigi tries to remove the bomb bolted on him. This gives him the identity of the mastermind behind the sabotage.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Francesco admits that when he's abroad, he misses his mom. And yet he still finds a way to act like a Jerkass by pointing out that he isn't abroad at the moment and his mom is in the stands.
  • Evil Brit: Sir Miles Axlerod.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Rod "Torque" Redline's engine is made to overheat and explode, though it's only shown as a vague reflection.
    • An earlier scene has secret agent Leland Turbo shown as a crushed car cube.
  • Faking the Dead: Finn McMissile uses a set of decoy tires to pretend that he's been torpedoed by the enemy.
  • Flying Car: Holly Shiftwell.
    • Mater becomes one when he deploys his parachute and rocket thrusters.
  • Gatling Good: Mater is outfitted with two while acting as a spy.

Mater: Dag-gum!
Computer: Request acknowledged. [guns deploy]
Mater: Shoot, I didn't mean--
Computer: Firing.
*Gatling guns open fire!*

  • Furry Confusion: The first film had Volkswagon Beetles only appear as literal bugs. However, this one has "human" VW Beetles.
    • Also there are both "human" and "bird" planes.
    • And "human" and "snake" trains; and "human" and "hamster/gerbil/small rodent" cars. (See the Cars 2/State Farm commercial to see examples of all of this.)
    • Remember it's a 'Cars' eye view' of the world. We anthropomorphize animals so they 'carify' their animals, buildings and nature. Plus humans are mammals and a lot of pets we keep are too, but we're not creeped by it, so its just a little 'animal car' to them. And I want a little gerbil-car...
  • Genius Ditz: Mater reveals a surprising understanding of engines and car parts. Justified by his job towing broken cars.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: When he's infiltrating the Lemons, Mater is equipped with a heads-up display that gives him detailed information about all the criminals and schemers around him.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Mater's simple nature belies the fact that he's a genius at recognizing obscure car parts at a glance. Later, he also figures out Axlerod's plan to discredit alternative fuels from earlier clues.
  • Green Aesop: Zig-zagged.
    • Axlerod sponsors the World Grand Prix to promote his alternative fuel, Allinol. Subverted when It's actually regular gasoline, and he's sabotaging his own race to discredit all alternative fuels.
    • Played straight when it's revealed that McQueen has been racing with Filmore's organic gasoline the entire time, because Sarge doesn't trust Big Oil companies.
  • Heel Realization: Mater has a dream where he sees his activities over the past few days with Lightning abroad and finally realizes what an embarrassing jackass he has been.
  • Herr Doktor: Professor Zündapp caters to this, as if the giant monocle, condescending tone of voice and his experience in dangerous weaponry didn't give it away before.
  • The House of Windsor: In London, car versions of both Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William appear.
    • And the Queen's ancestors appear to be Princess Mercedes, Queen Wheeleanor, and King Fergas.
  • Ironic Echo: "Everything is voice-activated these days."
  • Jerkass: Bernoulli, the Italian contestant and Lightning's main rival in the Grand Prix. Unlike Chick Hicks, he doesn't seem to be a cheat, just very talented and very arrogant.
    • He seems to get better at the end of the film, to the point where he becomes Vitriolic Best Buds with McQueen.
  • James Bondage: Finn, Holly, and Mater get tied to the inner workings of Big Bentley after they are captured by the Lemons.
  • Knighting: Happens to Mater in the end.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: In the big brawl with the Mooks at the end, the residents of Radiator Springs prove themselves to be capable fighters, particularly Mater. (Making him a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass?)
  • Man Behind the Man: Turns out that Professor Zundapp has been working for Miles Axlerod the whole while, who actually wants to press the continued use of regular gasoline, which he has a massive off-shore oil reserve of. Sabotaging the World Grand Prix is just a plot to besmirch all alternative fuels.
  • Master of Disguise: Both Finn McMissile and Mater, thanks to their voice-activated holographic disguise systems.
  • Matryoshka Object: Sarge, Luigi, and Guido during the ending credits.
  • Mind Screw: At one point when discussing fossil fuels, Mater asks "What happened to the dinosaurs?". Dinosaurs. Just sit and let that sink in for a minute.
    • There's a female car in Paris whose eyes are in her headlights instead of her windshield. Naturally, Mater reacts to her appearance with shock.
      • It's one of the elements of the Darker and Edgier tone the second movie goes for. If Lemons are people born with disabilities, this female car is apparently meant to be one with heavy deformations. However, it's probably supposed to be a production in-joke.
    • There's a literal Popemobile, who rides in another Popemobile. Does it imply there's a car Jesus too?... or for that matter, a car Buddha?
      • Heck, with the Kabuki dancers, Samurai helmets, and knighting ceremonies implying a LONG history, does that mean there was a Cars Middle Ages, or Cars Renaissance? And from that point, can we extrapolate a Cars Cowboys and Indians ? Cars Cave Men even!
      • Confirmed, Woody was a Wagon in the credits of the original
      • Perhaps Victor Hugo once wrote a work entitled "The Hatchback of Notre Dame"?
      • The end credits show there's a car SPHINX at the expected place!
      • See Early-Bird Cameo above.
    • Just what does Crabby the crab boat catch, anyway? Teeny undersea ROVs? Minisubs?
  • "Mission Impossible" Cable Drop: Done by Finn McMissile when he spies on the Lemons.
  • Mistaken for Spies: Finn McMissile and Holly Shiftwell mistake Mater for an American spy.
  • Mooks: Professor Z's underlings are The Lemons, a motley assortment of unloved car designs such as Gremlins and Pacers.
  • Mr. Fanservice: In-Universe, Francesco Bernoulli. Sally and Flo are heavily attracted to his open tires.

Flo: I gotta get me some coolant!

  • My God, What Have I Done?: Lightning experiences this shortly after he gets the note from Mater about going back home due to making Lightning lose the race in Japan.
  • Mythology Gag: During the credits sequence, Gusteau's appears briefly, with a change in spelling.
    • It showed up earlier, when they went to Paris.
    • Also there's a drive-in movie theater showing The Incredimobiles. Curiously enough, the Incredimobile is also the name of Mr. Incredible's car at the very beginning of his film.
  • Name's the Same: Victor Hugo.
  • National Stereotypes: Several, most notably Gay Paree, British Royal Guards, and the big village banquet from Guido's Aunt and Uncle.
  • Never Say "Die": At the beginning of the film, it's suggested that Doc Hudson is dead. He is.
    • Totally averted in several scenes in the film, unlike any other Pixar film. They don't even really try to say things like "gone" or "taken care of". A good example:

Professor Z: It's Finn McMissile! Kill him!

  • No Celebrities Were Harmed
    • Darrell Waltrip, as Darrell Cartrip from Cars, is joined by Formula One commentator David Hobbs as David Hobbscap, and sportscaster Brent Musburger as Brent Mustangburger.
    • Jeff Gordon appears as Jeff Gorvette. See The Cameo above for more details.
    • Formula One racing driver Lewis Hamilton appears as himself, albeit as a McLaren MP4-12C Grand Touring car (Complete with tooth gap).
  • Non-Standard Character Design: The salescar with her eyes in her headlights in Paris.
    • And it's possibly not meant to be exotic but an anomaly.
    • Also a reference to how Pixar felt that eyes in the windshield was more appealing than on the headlights.
  • Not Just a Tournament: The World Grand Prix was actually organized by the Lemons just so they can zap all of the competing racecars with a deadly radiation cannon as an attempt to destroy all alternative energy sources and force everyone back to using gasoline.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Finn and Holley believe this is what Mater is doing when they think he's the American agent they're supposed to meet with. Subverted later on when Mater actually is able to figure out Axlerod's scheme before anyone else, who all assume he's still just as moronic as ever.
  • Oh Crap: Tony Trihull utters a small "Uh-oh" just before being blown up.
    • The boat with the magnet has that look on his face too when Finn releases a bunch of timed mines in an attempt to break away from the magnet pulling him in.
    • The look on the two thug cars who get diverted into a pub, and then breaks the table where the patrons were enjoying their beer. The patrons are not pleased about that...
  • Parodic Table of the Elements: The Automotive Table of the Elements.
  • The Pollyanna: Mater.
  • The Power of Trust
  • Product Placement: Mater sings the State Farm Insurance jingle when making a joke about Finn and Holly being "agents" (alluding to "insurance agents", not "secret agents") a few scenes after he meets them. The film has major tie-ins with State Farm, and Pixar even animated an entire commercial featuring an anthropomorphic State Farm vehicle voiced by their regular ad announcer.
  • Properly Paranoid: Sarge, who saves McQueen's life by secretly swapping out his sabotaged Allinol fuel with Fillmore's organic biofuel, because he's naturally distrustful of oil companies.
  • Puppy Dog Eyes: Seen on Guido and Luigi when they read Mater's tearful farewell note.
  • Wheel Life Writes the Plot: See Author Existence Failure above.
  • Recycled in Space: Some believe Cars 2 is North by Northwest WITH CARS!
  • Rule of Cool: Pixar made cars do martial arts and fight scenes.
  • Running Both Sides: Sir Miles Axlerod is hosting the World Grand Prix to promote his Allinol and is the shadowy leader of the Lemons.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: While the original film took place in Radiator Springs, in the sequel there are stops in Tokyo, Paris, Italy and London.
  • Series Continuity Error: Here is Kabuto seen in the ending of Tokyo Mater, and here is Kabuto in this movie. Wait a minute, how did he actually get all of his modifications back?!
    • We're led to believe that the events of Mater's Tall Tales never happened, so Kabuto can exist without anything happening to his modifications prior. It would also explain why Mater is still experiencing culture shock when he arrives in Towkyo for real. A trickier question is how the spelling changed between films.
  • Shapeshifter Swan Song: Invoked when Mater's holographic disguise gets damaged, causing him to cycle through all the other forms he cooked up for it before it gives out.
  • Shout-Out: Some believe Mater racing around an airport landing strip is one.
  • Soft Water: Brutally averted with one of the mooks in the opening sequence. McMissile survives a similar impact minutes later, but he's also a heavily modded 007 car who, among other things, is designed to be submersible.
  • So Last Season: In the first movie, McQueen training on dirt roads gave him a Game Breaker advantage in the Nascar-style races. This race, being a cross-country race, has dirt tracks incorporated into the official World Grand Prix routes, which most of the cars can handle perfectly well (though McQueen still edges them out in skill). Ironically, the dirt tracks are Francesco's Achilles' Heel.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Mater knows everything about engines and engine parts, but in an idiot savant kind of way. Does this make him the universe's equivalent of a master surgeon?
    • Considering his job, more like a paramedic who learned enough on his job to be a doctor.
  • Spanner in the Works: Mater.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: It's hard to remember that in the first film, Lightning was the protagonist while Mater was just a supporting character. Mater was incredibly popular with kids, and as a result a lot of the spin off material (the "Car Toons") focused on Mater. Come the second film, he's the unquestionable main character.
  • Spy Speak: Finn McMissile and Holly Shiftwell recognize each other by discussing the Volkswagen's air-cooled engines. This backfires (thankfully not fatally) because Mater, a tow truck with encyclopedic knowledge of engines, inadvertently says the right passphrase.
  • Stealth Pun: Mater IS the bomb!
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Subverted at the end when Fillmore claims not to have switched Allinol with biofuel. It's then revealed that it was actually Sarge who did so.
  • Talking Your Way Out: When he's surrounded by the Lemons' Mooks, Mater tries to invoke this by sympathizing with them as outcasts and laughingstocks. It doesn't work.
  • Teaser Only Character: Leland Turbo.
  • Third Person Person: "Francesco is familiar with reactions people get from Francesco."
  • This Cannot Be!: when Francesco finds himself overtaken by flying spycar Holly and rocket-enhanced Mater.
  • Time for Plan B: After the EMP cannon fails, the lemons resort to using a bomb strapped to Mater to kill Lightning.
  • Toilet Humour: Mater accidentally goes into the women's bathroom in Tokyo. And once he gets to the right bathroom, he gets caught inside... in a bidet!
    • Not so much a bidet as a play on how high-tech some Japanese toilets are compared to American ones, since they sometimes include features like self-heating seats, massage function, and other comforts.
  • Too Soon: This movie was released to Pay Per View and DVD just weeks after a massive crash at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway killed driver Dan Wheldon, making the pileup in the Italy race a little uncomfortable.
  • Uncanny Valley: In-universe, arguably the reason for Mater's reaction to the car with headlights for eyes.
  • Underside Ride: Finn McMissile actually clings to the underside of Tony Trihull with his magnetic tires in order to sneak into the Lemons' oil rig.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Mater ends up as this when he goes to warn McQueen's pit crew about the bomb planted in their midst. It's actually in his air filter.
  • Urine Trouble: Invoked when Mater gets on the stage in Japan and a puddle of oil appears under him which was actually caused by Miles Axlerod.
    • Mater's inability to understand the Japanese toilet's computer arguably led to this as well.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Axlerod when Mater confronts him as the leader of the Lemons. He starts off cool, trying to prove his innocence and accusing Mater of blowing smoke. But as the countdown reaches the single digits he starts panicking. And with no one coming to help him and Mater not backing off, he's eventually forced to deactivate the bomb. Even he's surprised that Mater, of all cars, was the one to figure out his plan.
  • Visual Pun: At the Lemons' meeting in Italy there are platters of lemons on the table.
  • Weaponized Car: The espionage characters feature missiles, rockets, machine guns, and targeting systems hidden all along their bodies, most notably Finn McMissile, Holly Shiftwell, Rod Redline, and Mater.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: All of the bad cars are motivated to sabotaging Allinol largely because of their stake in oil/gas, but also payback for all the taunting and mocking they've received due to being "lemons".
  • Wilhelm Scream: when the Mooks are in the pub fight.
  • Why Am I Ticking?: Mater gets a time bomb bolted to his engine as a backup plan to kill Lightning McQueen.