Patrick Grieve
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If You Thought the Disney-Pixar “Cars” Universe Couldn’t Get Any Darker, You Haven’t Considered the Possibility of Car Hitler

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Photo: Walt Disney/Pixar Studios

Back in April, we reported that Jay Ward, the creative director of Disney-Pixar’s Cars brand, had a rather unsettling pet theory about the nature of the animated film franchise’s universe.

“If you think about this, we have autonomous car technology coming in right now,” Ward said in an interview. “It’s getting to the point where you can sit back in the car and it drives itself.

“Imagine in the near future when the cars keep getting smarter and smarter and after one day they just go, ‘Why do we need human beings anymore? They’re just slowing us down. It’s just extra weight, let’s get rid of them.’ But the car takes on the personality of the last person who drove it. Whoa. There you go.”

So basically, Ward hypothesized that your son’s favorite cartoon is actually about a post-apocalyptic world in which every person has been killed and replaced by their artificially intelligent vehicle. Seems pretty bleak, but some other armchair theorists on the internet believe they’ve discovered some even darker implications of the Cars universe.


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As New York notes, the first Cars film features a WWII-era Jeep named Sarge who reminisces about such pivotal events as the Battle of the Bulge, while the direct-to-DVD spinoff Planes includes an old Navy Corsair named Skipper Riley who actually has a flashback to his days in the Pacific Theater. These facts have led to the following popular “copypasta,” which likely originated on 4chan:

The thing I really like about Planes is that we learn that WWII happened in the Cars universe. Which means there was a Cars Hitler, a Cars holocaust, a Cars Pacific War, a Cars D-Day, a Cars nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a Cars Battle of Iwo Jima …

This leads to so many important questions, like: were the Cars Little Boy and Fat Man nukes sentient? Was it a suicide mission? Are ALL Cars nuclear weapons sentient? Did Tsar Bomba have a personality?

What kind of car was Car Hitler? A VW? A forklift?

Was there a Cars 9/11? Were the planes hijacked, or were the planes themselves radicalized?

I could go on

Please do!


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For example, if there was a Cars World War II, then there must have been a Cars World War I, correct? Was that bloody global event set into motion by the assassination of Carchduke Ferdinand? And was Carchduke Ferdinand a 1914 Model T?

Come to think of it, how far back does history stretch in the Cars universe, considering that the first true automobile wasn’t built until 1885? We know there’s a Popemobile and that he’s Catholic—what do depictions of cars from biblical times look like? Was “Car Jesus” a chariot? Did two Roman Centurion chariots nail a messianic chariot to a cross two thousand years ago?

As you can see, asking questions only leads to more questions. Perhaps that’s why Jay Ward’s theory makes the most sense—if the cars are artificially intelligent vehicles that have adopted and internalized their former owners’ psyches, then the vehicles just have a collective (yet false) memory of historical movements and events involving cars, because they’re copying and adapting society’s collective memory of (real) human history.

Then again, that just raises the question of why anyone would bother equipping an old military Jeep from the 1940s with artificial intelligence. Or slapping AI technology into a rusty, beat-up tow truck. Or a racecar! NONE OF THESE FILMS MAKE ANY SENSE!

Excuse me, I have a nosebleed to attend to…

  • Patrick GrieveEditor

    Patrick Grieve was born in Southwestern Ohio and has lived there all of his life, with the exception of a few years spent getting a Creative Writing degree in Southeastern Ohio. He loves to take road trips, sometimes to places as distant as Northeastern or even Northwestern Ohio. Patrick also enjoys old movies, shopping at thrift stores, going to ballgames, writing about those things, and watching Law & Order reruns. He just watches the original series, though, none of the spin-offs. And also only the ones they made before Jerry Orbach died. Season five was really the peak, in his opinion. See more articles by Patrick.