Lightyear: Every Pixar Easter Egg & Link Explanation


Pixar’s Lightyear is packed with Easter eggs and references not only to the Toy Story saga and other Pixar movies but also to many sci-fi and fantasy classics – and here’s every one of them. Pixar continues dominating the world of animation with compelling stories with relatable characters and always with high quality when it comes to the animation itself. 2022 saw two very different Pixar movies: the first was Turning Red, released directly on Disney+, followed by Lightyear, the first Pixar movie to be released in theaters since Onward in 2020.

Since Lightyear was announced to be in development, there was a lot of speculation about how it connects to the Toy Story series, and the opening title card quickly cleared this up by revealing that Lightyear is the movie a young Andy watched in 1995 that made him a fan of Buzz Lightyear. The movie, then, tells the story of Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans), who tries to find a way back home after being marooned on a hostile planet with his commander and crew. His attempts to return home lead him to jump many years into the future, where he meets a new crew and comes across an even bigger problem than hyperspace traveling: the evil Emperor Zurg (James Brolin).

Related: Tim Allen’s Lightyear Response Confirms Spinoff’s Unfixable Problem

Unfortunately, Lightyear wasn’t the success Pixar was expecting, getting mixed reviews from critics and failing to break even at the box office, becoming the studio’s third box-office bomb after The Good Dinosaur and Onward. Still, Lightyear was a nostalgia trip for the audience with its many Toy Story references as well as references to some sci-fi classics and, of course, the traditional Pixar Easter eggs (of which some could help place the movie within the Pixar shared universe theory). Here’s every Pixar Easter egg and reference in Lightyear.

Toy Story References In Lightyear

Of course, given its place in the Toy Story timeline and its connection to the movies, Lightyear has different references to the Toy Story saga. First off, Buzz has a thing for narrating his adventures and is even teased for it, just like toy Buzz in Toy Story, and in the first minutes of the movie, Buzz tries to reach Star Command with the famous line “Buzz Lightyear to Star Command, respond. Why don’t they answer?”, which were the first words spoken by Buzz in the first Toy Story movie, and he also says that “there seems to be no sign of intelligent life anywhere”. Another reference to toy Buzz, though a very subtle one, can be found on the side of his ship, where the letters “S.C.0.1.T.S” can be seen, which stand for “Star Command number 1 Toy Story”, and when Buzz gets off the ship and observes the planet he landed on through his helmet, his reflection is seen, just like how toy Buzz took a look around Andy’s room when he arrived.

One of the biggest Toy Story Easter eggs in Lightyear is crystallic fusion, the component Buzz needs to make the trip back home. Crystallic fusion is key in Lightyear, and it was casually mentioned in the first Toy Story movie: when Buzz arrives at Andy’s room, he asks Woody various questions as he believes he’s on an alien planet, and he asks the sheriff if they “still use fossil fuels, or have you discovered crystallic fusion?”. Another, more obvious reference to Toy Story in Lightyear is the orange capture cones that trap Buzz and his new crew, which are reminiscent of the orange traffic cones toy Buzz and the rest of the toys used to hide in to cross the road in Toy Story 2. Speaking of Toy Story 2, when Buzz confronts Zurg near the end of Lightyear and the evil Emperor reveals his true identity, the Space Ranger calls him “dad”, a reference to the scene in Toy Story 2 where Zurg is revealed to be Buzz’s father – which, in turn, is a Star Wars reference.

At the end of Lightyear, Buzz and his new team are sent to Gamma Quadrant Sector Four, which is mentioned in Toy Story 2 and the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command spin-off series, and it could hint at Zurg’s return if a sequel to Lightyear happens. Last but not least, the ending of Lightyear matches the beginning of toy Buzz’s journey in Toy Story, as the Space Ranger’s new suit looks exactly like the one he wears in Toy Story, with the famous laser and wing packs, and the ship has the same shape as the box toy Buzz arrived in.

Related: Pixar Forgot It Already Told Buzz Lightyear’s Origin Story

A113 Easter Egg

One of the traditional Pixar Easter eggs is A113, a reference to the classroom used by animation students at the California Institute of the Arts, where many of Pixar’s animators studied. Lightyear continues the A113 tradition by adding it to a building, and it can be seen through the window of Alisha Hawthorne’s (Uzo Aduba) office.

Pizza Planet Truck In Lightyear

Another Pixar tradition that fans now look for in all Pixar movies is the Pizza Planet truck. Lightyear also follows this tradition, and though it’s a tough one to find as every scene is packed with small details, the truck has already been found. When Buzz is speeding to his ship with Sox, he drives past some parked cars, and in the distance, the unmistakable shape of the Pizza Planet truck can be seen in the distance.

Is Luxo Jr In Lightyear?

Among the traditional Easter eggs in Pixar movies is the Luxo ball, the yellow ball with a blue stripe that has appeared one way or another in every Pixar movie to date. However, the Luxo ball hasn’t been found in Lightyear yet, but there might be another reference to a Pixar classic: Luxo Jr, Luxo ball’s lamp friend, best known for jumping on the “i” in the Pixar title card. Luxo Jr. can be spotted as a constellation as Buzz skyrockets through space.

Monsters Inc. Easter Egg

Lightyear not only has references to the Toy Story saga and the traditional Pixar Easter eggs but it also has some interesting references to past Pixar movies that could help place Lightyear within the Pixar Theory. The yellow scream canisters from Monsters Inc. can be seen on the new planet in Lightyear, and they are easier to spot in the scene where Buzz is suiting up as a Space Ranger again.

Related: Pixar Theory Explains Lightyear’s Failure Was Revealed In Toy Story

WALL-E’s Friends In Lightyear

Lightyear and WALL-E might be the most “similar” Pixar movies given that they are both set in space and feature advanced technology, so with that in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that Lightyear has a subtle WALL-E reference. During the end credits scene, in Burnside’s office, BURN-E, a robot from WALL-E who starred in his own Pixar short, can be seen.

Onward’s Castle Cake

Lightyear introduced some interesting snacks, such as the sandwich with meat on the top and bottom and bread and veggies on the inside, but the vending machine where this peculiar sandwich came from had other goodies. If you pay close attention, you will see that the vending machine also has castle cakes, like those from Onward.

Is Frozen’s Olaf Hiding In Lightyear?

A very easy-to-miss Easter egg in Lightyear seems to be connected to Disney’s Frozen. In the scene where Buzz’s ship, The Turnip, lands on the new planet, among the trees and rocks the silhouette of Frozen’s Olaf can be seen, with the twigs on his head and his carrot nose.

Lightyear’s Star Wars References

Lightyear is clearly inspired by different sci-fi classics, the most notable one being Star Wars. Buzz’s orange flight suit is very similar to the one Luke Skywalker wore in the Star Wars original trilogy, and among the equipment used by the Space Rangers are lightsaber-like objects. When parked with the landing gear down, Buzz’s ship looks a lot like Luke’s X-Wing, and the planets in Lightyear are also similar to two notable settings in the Star Wars universe: Endor and Dagobah, the latter being the planet Buzz lands at in a future where Zurg’s army has taken over. Of course, Zurg himself is a clear reference to Darth Vader – from their armor/costume to their close link to the hero (going back to the Toy Story 2 “I am your father” reference), to Zurg taking off his mask in a similar way to how Vader’s helmet was removed.

Related: Lightyear: What Emperor Zurg Looks Like Without His Helmet

E.T Reference With Buzz And Hawthorne

The sci-fi genre as it’s now known wouldn’t be what it is without Steven Spielberg’s E.T., and Lightyear made sure to include references to this classic. Buzz’s classic “to infinity… and beyond” line is included in Lightyear but with a small yet very significant change: a hand gesture with his friend Hawthorne, in which they reach out a single finger to the other, reminiscent of one of the most famous scenes from E.T. between the title alien and Elliott.

Similarities Between Buzz & Captain America

Although Pixar and the Marvel Cinematic Universe are two completely different and separate universes, Buzz Lightyear mirrors Captain America in different ways. First off, both characters are men out of time – one due to hyperspace traveling, and the other due to being frozen for decades. Buzz and Captain America’s identities are tied to their missions, as Buzz’s career as a Space Ranger is all he has and he struggles to adapt when things don’t go as planned, and Captain America also struggled with his own identity throughout his MCU arc due to all those decades lost. Last but not least, Hawthorne’s final message to a still young Buzz is reminiscent of the one an old Peggy Carter gave to Steve Rogers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Lightyear’s Sox, Star Trek’s Spot, & Battlestar Galactica’s Muffit II

Buzz Lightyear is the main character in Lightyear, but the one who stole the show was Sox (Peter Sohn), his robot cat companion. Sox himself is a reference to other pets in the sci-fi world and some of his characteristics are reminiscent of other Disney characters, as are Big Hero 6’s Baymax (both made to help their humans) and Star Wars’ R2-D2, as Sox can plug into the ship. Sox is also similar to other pet companions like those in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Spot, who is a real cat helping Data, an android, become more human; and Battlestar Galactica’s Muffit II, a robot dog created as a replacement for the first Mufit, a real dog.

Lightyear’s Interstellar Inspiration

Lightyear’s inspirations aren’t just from sci-fi classics from the 1980s, as it’s also heavily influenced by Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, though in a less complicated way. Both Buzz and Interstellar’s Cooper spend decades traveling through space on a mission, but time passes very differently for them, and as they remain young, their loved ones age decades, and both end up losing precious time with them. However, Cooper eventually returned to Earth and got to spend some time with his daughter (now an old lady), while Buzz decided to stay with his new crew and go on new adventures with them.

Related: Pixar “Fixed” Buzz Lightyear In The Worst Way

2001: A Space Odyssey References

Of course, Lightyear also has a couple of references to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The villainous robots and AI in Lightyear are similar to 2001’s HAL, but the clearest nod to Kubrick’s classic is in how Lightyear represented Buzz entering hyperspeed: with psychedelic imagery of panes of rainbow-colored light, very much like those in 2001 when Davi enters an alien portal.

SpaceX Reference?

While it wouldn’t be surprising if Lightyear has a couple of references to Elon Musk’s spacecraft manufacturer SpaceX, some viewers have pointed out that Buzz’s friend and commanding officer, Alisha Hawthorne, is a reference to SpaceX, as its HQ is located in Hawthorne, California.

Disneyland Attractions Inspiration

When Buzz and his crew are forced to stay on this new planet and build a new Star Command base, this one ends up having a familiar shape to those who enjoy the Disney Parks. The new Star Command base in Lightyear has a shape similar to that of Space Mountain at Disneyland, which is obviously very fitting.

Lightyear’s IVAN & Retro Video Games

Although Lightyear has all these classic and modern references and features some details that wouldn’t have been included in space movies decades ago, it’s still a movie set in the 1990s (from the perspective of it being the one Andy watched back then), so it has some fun references to the decade. The most popular one is all about IVAN, the AI that serves as an assistant to Buzz. IVAN is kept on a cartridge, and when it starts to fail, Buzz takes the cartridge and blows on it, very much like kids used to do with Nintendo cartridges in the 1990s.

Elemental Easter Egg In Lightyear

Last but not least, another traditional Pixar Easter egg is the one that connects its newest movie to the next one. The next Pixar movie after Lightyear is Elemental, which tells the story of Wade, a water-based character, and the Easter egg in Lightyear teasing Elemental can be found in the above-mentioned vending machine, where a drink called Wade Water can be spotted.