Is Pixar Done with This Fan-Favorite Movie Tradition?

Pixar John Ratzenberger Tradition
Credit: Disney

From the release of¬†Toy Story¬†through Onward,¬†every one of Pixar Animation Studios’ feature films had one thing in common: the voice of actor John Ratzenberger.

It was known as “The Ratzenberger Tradition.” The former Cheers star was cast in a speaking role or cameo of varying size, starting as the Piggie Bank Hamm alongside Tom Hanks‘ Woody and Tim Allen’s Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story saga and apparently ending as a construction worker in Onward, and Pixar fans eagerly take to each film as if they were playing an audio version of “Where’s Waldo?”

Hamm, Toy Story

Credit: Disney

The continuous cameos, roles, and reprises were seen by many in and out of the studio as “Pixar’s good luck charm.” The actor has gone on record to claim the miniature ringmaster P.T. Flea as his favorite character.

But that construction worker in Onward, Fennwick, appears to be the last new Pixar role Ratzenberger has played. We are now three feature films away from the family feature starring Chris Pratt and Tom Holland. Soul, Luca, and now Turning Red have been released and left fans longing for that iconic voice.

To be fair, “The Ratzenberger Tradition” was never an “official” tradition, but it was clearly a gimmick favored by fans and animators alike. Pixar even poked fun at it during one of the mid-credit scenes for Cars¬†where Ratzenberger’s semi-truck character Mack watches the Cars¬†world versions of¬†Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, and¬†Monsters, Inc.¬†

While most famous for his Emmy-nominated portrayal of Cheers’ know-it-all mailman, Cliff Clavin, here is, the complete list of Pixar characters Ratzenberger has played over the years ordered by the character’s first appearance (according to Disney):

  • Hamm –¬†Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, Toy Story 4, Toy Stor Mania! (Every other instance Hamm has appeared in a Disney short, video game, or Disney Parks experience).
  • P.T. Flea –¬†A Bug’s Life
  • The Abominable Snowman –¬†Monsters, Inc, Monsters University, Monsters at Work
  • Moonfish –¬†Finding Nemo
  • The Underminer –¬†The Incredibles, Incredibles 2
  • Mack –¬†Cars, Cars 2, Cars 3, Cars: The Video Game, Cars: Race-O-Rama
  • Mustafa –¬†Ratatouille
  • John –¬†WALL-E
  • Construction Foreman Tom –¬†Up
  • Gordon –¬†Brave
  • Fritz –¬†Inside Out
  • Earl –¬†The Good Dinosaur
  • Bill –¬†Finding Dory
  • Juan Ortodoncia –¬†Coco
  • Construction Worker Fennwick –¬†Onward
P.T. Flea and Circus, A Bug's Life

Credit: Disney

Related: Did You Spot the Pizza Planet Truck and Other Pixar Easter Eggs in ‘Turning Red’?

When Soul, starring Jamie Foxx, was released, a background character in Ratzenberger’s likeness was still included, but that was the last fans saw of him in a Pixar movie. It is one thing to miss one film–kind of, anyway. But now, both Luca¬†and¬†Turning Red¬†have now completely left the Pixar veteran out, subtly signifying the end of an era in animation. Again, this tradition was never “official,” so it is doubtful an official statement on the matter from Pixar filmmakers will be released, leaving the reasons for the end of Ratzenberger’s streak to speculation. For example, scheduling conflicts involving two films whose production was underway at the height of the pandemic could have left Ratzenberger unable to record his lines.

Luca director Enrico Casarosa has joked about putting Peter Sohn’s voice, but there is still little proof of that.

Abominable Snowman, Monsters, Inc.

Credit: Disney

But as Disney/Pixar’s next film Lightyear¬†takes fans back to the realm of¬†Toy Story¬†in some light, one has to wonder if we will hear that iconic voice one more time.

We at Disney Fanatic will continue to update our readers on Pixar news as more stories come to light.

Buzz Lightyear, Lightyear

Credit: Disney/Pixar

About T.K. Bosacki

Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, TK Bosacki is a professional writer, amateur adventurer, and lifelong Disney Fanatic. His Disney Park days include Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Nomad Lounge. He believes in starting at the Canada pavilion (IYKYK), and the Monorail is superior to all Ferry Boats.

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