When it comes to Pixar’s animated films, much of their childish charm and magical ingenuity comes from their ability to humanize animal characters. Some of the most compelling and interesting figures in their films are animals, and many of them are much smarter than they first appear.
From The world of Nemo At Up, almost every film from the studio uses inventive and engaging animals to add another layer of fun and surface play to their stories, even when the plot may be something much more serious and mature.
Despite not technically being an animal, Rex’s design and appearance as a T-Rex is more than enough to justify his appearance on this list. He may not be the smartest or most inventive character Pixar has ever created, but his undying loyalty to his friends means he’s always willing to make tough decisions to help others.
His intelligence may not come from common sense or academia, but rather from an unwavering dedication to doing the right thing and protecting those he loves. He’s one of Pixar’s most likable characters, and he represents all that it means to be generous and loyal.
Although At the top is one of Pixar’s films that focuses more on human characters, there are still plenty of animals and creatures that leave a lasting impression on the story. One of them is Kevin, a giant South American bird that Carl and Russell encounter on their trip to Paradise Falls.
Kevin may not have shown great intelligence on her journey with her human friends, but she understands the jungle environment in a way Carl and Russell struggle to. She helps them navigate the terrain and ultimately helps them escape from Charles Muntz.
Bruce is another Pixar character whose personality strongly clashes with his physical appearance. Despite being a massive great white shark, Bruce couldn’t be more of a welcoming and friendly ally to Marlin and Dory on their adventure. He can sometimes fight against his carnivorous urges, but he knows not to let them control him.
In The world of Nemo, Bruce is the leader of the support group Fish-Friendly Sharks, which promotes the cause of healthy relationships between fish and sharks. This proves that his intelligence is more grounded in his social awareness, as he strives to achieve interspecies harmony in his part of the sea – a message the film strongly promotes to its audience.
The relationship between Arlo and his friend Spot is one of the central dynamics of The Good Dinosaur, and clearly shows how nice and friendly they are as characters. However, what sets Arlo apart is how effectively he is able to work with Spot to find his family and survive on his own.
After being separated from his parents and his two siblings following a violent thunderstorm, Arlo finds himself completely alone and without any help. He manages to use his wits to keep himself alive long enough to seek help from Spot, who helps him find his way home. As far as dinosaurs go, that’s about as clever as they come.
When it comes to the main animals in Pixar movies, they usually come in two forms. The main character, or the handy and faithful sidekick. In At the top, Dug fits neatly into the latter description. Although At the top is a film that often deals with serious issues, Dug is a constant source of entertainment and companionship for his friends Carl and Russell.
His voice modifier also allows him to talk to his friends, which works wonders in showing exactly how smart and helpful he can be. He is a big help during the escape of Muntz’s airship gang, and he manages to use his wits and skills to evade the other dogs he has been running from.
Although he got lost and separated from his family, Nemo is clearly an intelligent character who knows how to survive on his own and protect himself from outside threats. His biggest downfall is his own independence and boldness, which led to his demise in the first place.
Throughout the film, however, Nemo learns that independence and freedom mean nothing if you just use them to disappear from your loved ones. It’s a smart lesson Nemo must learn in order to return home, and one that proves his intelligence when it comes to his relationship with his father Marlin.
In An insect Life, Flik’s journey begins when he begins to question his purpose in life. With everyone around him forcing him to conform to be a good worker ant, all he wants to do is earn his freedom and excel in other aspects of life.
He is incredibly intelligent and inventive, and often uses his initiative to take control of the situation and devise creative solutions to life’s many problems and setbacks. He doesn’t want to give up his job as a worker ant, but he knows there’s more to life and nothing stops him from finding it.
Although Elinor is not actually an animal, her journey throughout Brave sees her transformed into a humanoid bear several times. Following her daughter Merida’s interactions with a supernatural witch, Elinor is turned into an animal and must help her daughter turn her back before it’s too late.
In her human and animal forms, Elinor is an extremely intelligent character who always puts her daughter’s life first. She quickly understands the stakes involved and immediately formulates a plan to help protect her family and defeat the supernatural threat.
Marlin may not have been able to save Nemo from getting lost in the ocean, but that sure doesn’t mean he’s not an extremely intelligent character who thinks well under pressure and will do anything to get what he wants – especially for his son.
The way Marlin is able to communicate clearly and effectively with others throughout his journey, especially with Dory, proves that he is a quick thinker and capable of spontaneously brainstorming the best course of action, even when her son’s life is on the line. It’s this dedication to the cause that makes Marlin and Nemo one of the best families in any Pixar movie.
Whether you are a fan of Ratatouille or not, it’s hard to deny that Remy is the only animal on this list that might even come Close to run a restaurant under the high pressure and high stakes seen in the film. He works both independently and cooperatively with others to prepare food that even the most skilled humans could not cook, proving how advanced his abilities are and how clever he can be.
While Remy’s intelligence may not come in the same forms of social awareness or protective instincts as some of the other animals on this list, the fact that he is able to compete with trained human professionals proves how amazing he is in the skill he has mastered. He became one of Pixar’s fan-favorite characters thanks to his interesting story and hilarious antics.
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