The new Pixar movie Lightyear is an oddity for the studio. It’s a tie-in to the Toy Story film series, even though it doesn’t take place in the same universe or continuity, and doesn’t feature characters who are toys. (No, Sox the robot cat does not count as a toy, though obviously you can already buy toy versions of Sox.) The film is intended as adult science fiction more than as a kids’ movie, though it’s kid-safe and full of humor alongside the serious issues of loss, grief, and moving on. Maybe the oddest thing about it is that it’s full of opportunities for the kinds of big emotions that are Pixar’s stock in trade, but it doesn’t lean into them the way longtime Pixar fans might expect.
But another oddity about it is that it seems perfectly primed to set up any number of sequels or spinoffs, in a way that isn’t typically true for Pixar movies. That comes more from the movie’s ending than from the post-credits teasers, but one moment after the credits does seem like the kind of “sequel to come” announcement that’s far more typical for other film studios, whether they’re working in animation or live-action.
[Ed. note: Major spoilers ahead for Lightyear, including end spoilers.]
Does Lightyear have a post-credits scene?
Lightyear has three post-credits scenes — two quick gags, and then the shortest possible teaser for the future. That last teaser comes all the way at the end, even after Pixar’s familiar animated logo with the bouncing baby lamp, so don’t be fooled into heading for the door before it’s all over.
The first two credits scenes are just brief, light callback jokes: In a mid-credits scene, Buzz Lightyear’s new superior officer, Commander Burnside (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) sits at his desk as behind him, one of the giant alien beetle-creatures that attack Buzz and his friends throughout the movie gets zapped by their colony’s giant new defense system, a dome made out of lasers. Burnside, who talked up the laser-shield a couple of times in previous scenes, just chuckles and repeats “Laser shield!” to himself, clearly feeling vindicated.
And after the credits, the film returns to the boxy robot Deric (or as his chassis says, “E.R.I.C.,” with a scrawled “D” in front of the acronym), who was last seen trying to give Buzz and his new junior-ranger friends Izzy, Mo, and Darby directions to an offsite outpost. It isn’t clear what Deric’s function is on the team, but they clearly don’t think much of him, since they walk off and leave him still looking at a map and advising them on distances and turns. At the end of the movie, he’s still there, now waxing rhapsodic about scenic vistas they might see along their route.
Then he finally turns around and notices they’re all long gone, and he’s disappointed. Kind of a bummer, especially after the movie’s triumphant ending, with its emphasis on bonding and friendship. It’s pretty sad to be Deric, thinking he’s part of a team when that team couldn’t even be bothered to tell him they were leaving. Treat your artificial intelligences better, people!
But after the credits, after the animated Pixar Animation Studios logo, after it really seems like everything is over and done with, there’s a split-second shot of the movie’s villain, Zurg, floating lifeless in space… until his red LED eyes suddenly light back up, indicating that he’s still alive, kicking, and ready to come back for the sequel.
Will there be a Lightyear sequel?
Good question! It’s early to ask that — it may depend on how the film does at the box office — but it sure seems like Lightyear is setting up for one. Not because Zurg is still out there, but because the ending is so clearly framed as “Now that all the main characters have learned their lessons about confidence, teamwork, and living in the moment, the real adventures can begin!” When Buzz, Izzy, Mo, and Darby blast off for their first mission as newly empowered Space Rangers, there’s a sense that their real story is just beginning.
Asked whether Pixar is planning a follow-up, producer Galyn Susman told Polygon, “We haven’t closed the door on it. And yeah, after a few weeks of sleep, we’ll discuss it further.” Director Angus MacLane implied there’s a lot more of Buzz Lightyear’s story to be told: “We don’t go into his academy years so much, and we don’t go into the adventures after it. But it’s certainly open-ended enough [for spinoffs].”
Is Lightyear a sequel or prequel to Buzz Lightyear of Star Command?
MacLane tells Polygon that the 2000 animated series Buzz Lightyear of Star Command and the movie that kicked it off are unrelated to Lightyear. He compares those shows to the 1980s Star Wars animated series Ewoks and Droids, non-canon series that draw on the same mythos as the Star Wars films, but don’t take place in the same continuity. So he and others at Disney don’t need to tie any potential Lightyear spinoffs to that story, which deals much more with the battle against Zurg. He’s free to chart his own course for future Lightyear sequels, which could potentially head to infinity… and beyond.
A Lightyear prequel or sequel could take any number of forms. Since Disney Plus launched, Disney has been doing more with TV spinoffs of Pixar projects, from the Up-related shorts series Dug Days to the micro-shorts collection Pixar Popcorn to the full-on Monsters, Inc. sequel series Monsters at Work. There’s a Cars TV series and an original Pixar TV series in the works as well. Lightyear’s ending seems particularly well suited for a space-series approach, with Buzz and his Rangers traveling from planet to planet, encountering new life and new civilizations, boldly going where etc., etc., you know the drill.
But given Pixar’s tendency to franchise its more successful outings — four Toy Story movies and three Cars movies so far, with The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and Monsters, Inc. all getting spinoff movies as well — Lightyear could just as well be setting up a theatrical sequel. Its ending is entirely open to one big rematch with Zurg, or a series of clashes over time.
What specifically Zurg would want with Buzz at this point is unclear, since Buzz no longer has the power source Zurg was looking for. Maybe the story just becomes “Zurg tries to get his perfect power source from a bunch of different colonies and alien civilizations, and the Space Rangers try to stop him.” Or maybe, like Buzz, Zurg decides to start living in the present, and just focus on becoming the kind of tyrannical warlord — and emperor! — he was in the animated series.
By the way, does Top Gun: Maverick have a post-credits scene?