Every Pixar Sequel, Ranked By Greatness

Pixar has made some great movies over the years. The studio is made up of some of the most gifted storytellers around, and it has created so many original characters and stories that there should be something out there for everybody to love. However, that doesn't mean Pixar is above building a franchise if the studio sees characters people love and stories worth telling, so over the years, Pixar's catalog has seen a growing number of sequels, as well as original stories.

Some of Pixar's best movies have been sequels, but there's a difference between a great movie and a great sequel. Great sequels aren't necessarily the best films, and a great movie doesn't necessarily make a great sequel. We've spent time mulling and we've come up with a list of all the studios sequels, present them to you in order from least exciting to most exciting. Here are Pixar's sequels ranked by greatness.

Cars 2

7. Cars 2

Cars 2 is generally regarded as one of Pixar's biggest failures and part of the reason that it is not as great is because it's a difficult sequel. The original Cars is a surprisingly good film following Lightning McQueen as the young racer tries to find his place in the world. It has a surprising amount of heart for a movie about sentient automobiles. Many were probably excited by the idea of a follow-up film that would follow McQueen on his further adventures navigating the world of racing. Unfortunately, what we got was a mistaken identity spy movie starring an entirely different character. The tone of the first Cars is entirely gone here, and while Cars 2 isn't without laughs if you're a Mater fan, it does nothing to make you invest deeper in the story.

Monsters University

6. Monsters University

Technically, Monsters University is a prequel and not a sequel, but we're not going to split hairs. It came out after the original and tells a new story in the world, so it's close enough. It's a fun enough movie on its own and it does show us how some of our favorite characters got to where they were in the original Monsters, Inc. However, one does have to ask the question, "Was this a movie we needed?" (I'm not sure it was.) It doesn't really add anything to the grander story of the monster world, and it even retcons aspects of the first film simply by existing, making it clear this idea was conceived entirely separately from the first movie. Who cares? It was nice to see old friends again.

Finding Dory

5. Finding Dory

Finding Dory could have very easily fallen victim to some of the problems that other Pixar sequels have. It follows a side character from the first movie on an adventure entirely removed from anything even hinted at in the first film. Still, Finding Dory works better than some other sequels because it fills out Dory as a character. You might not have ever asked what Dory's backstory was when you first watched Finding Nemo, but the fact that this character suffering from a disability was largely overlooked is sort of the point of the sequel. The movie does a good job of making you care about Dory and by the end, it's a story you're glad you got to see. A lot of people have agreed because it also made a lot of money, but it's still not the best of the best.

Toy Story 2

4. Toy Story 2

Before you start sending hate mail, let's get one thing straight. Toy Story 2 is an excellent movie. It's one of Pixar's greatest films. However, it needs to be said that strictly as a sequel, it doesn't do much. It's another adventure in the lives of Buzz and Woody and the rest of the gang. It's a great adventure with wonderful characters, but all it really does is give us backstory in the life of Woody, or more appropriately, the TV character Woody is based on, that isn't really necessary. The film was originally going to be a direct-to-video sequel and while Toy Story 2's overall quality saved it from that fate, the purpose of those sorts of films is to give fans more of what they love, not try to do anything new or special.

Cars 3

3. Cars 3

While Cars 2 failed as a sequel because it didn't follow up on what the first film created, Cars 3 learned from this mistake. It's a great end to a trilogy, even if the middle entry was a bit rough. It sees Lightning McQueen evolve from a hotshot rookie, to a top competitor, and finally, to a mentor of a new generation. It's more than a little cliche, but it's a sports movie and they all are. The plot allows the main character to face new challenges, to grow in new ways, and it ends the story in a satisfying way without necessarily ending the franchise as a whole. It's the Cars sequel that the first movie deserves.

Incredibles 2

2. Incredibles 2

Pixar's newest sequel is to one of its greatest existing films, and while Incredibles 2 might not be quite as good as the nearly perfect original, it's awfully close. Either way, it's a great sequel. The next chapter of the Parr family's story gives us a deeper understanding of all the characters, putting them in new situations that allow each of them to evolve. It builds on the events of the first movie with a story that is a direct result of the events of the first movie. It's also pure fun and exciting to boot. The 14-year gap has allowed Pixar to up their game in animation to the point that the action is even stronger. However, none of it is at the expense of the heart at the core of the family that gets you invested in the story.

Toy Story 3

1. Toy Story 3

As a Pixar sequel, it simply doesn't get better than Toy Story 3. It's a movie that simply doesn't mean the same thing if it doesn't have the films that came before it. It isn't just a good movie, it's an emotional roller coaster that deals with topics you simply don't expect in animated features. It's a movie meant for a generation that grew up with these characters, and the story evolved with the audience. It's a conclusion designed to let those that needed to say goodbye. It's hard to imagine how the eventual Toy Story 4 will top Toy Story 3. Perhaps we'll revisit this list in a year and find out.

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Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.