A Bug’s Life, which hit theaters in 1998, was the first Pixar film to be paired with a short (Geri’s Game), and the decision not to put a short in front of Toy Story 4 feels like a notable change given the icy reception of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, which played in front of Coco, as well as Pixar’s new SparkShorts program, which gives new voices the tools they need to make mold-breaking films.
However, the lack of an appetizer, as it were, is made up for with a handful of mid-credits scenes and a post-credits stinger. If you need a little time to recover from the emotional roller coaster that is Toy Story 4 (and trust me, you will), stay in your seat once the credits start to roll.
The fourth film in the franchise tackles questions about the nature of existence and one’s greater purpose head-on, and though the story wraps up before the credits, the film has a handful of treats for viewers willing to stick around. A few of them are pure fun, but one has bigger connotations for the Toy Story-verse, and another is just a nice resolution to a point that’s been left hanging.
[Ed. note: Spoilers for Toy Story 4 below.]
The first three mid-credits scenes finds Woody embracing his new life with Bo Peep, and teaming up with Ducky and Bunny to help the toys at the carnival find homes. It’s comforting to see Woody getting along so well given just how heartbreaking his decision to ultimately leave Bonnie and the rest of the familiar toys behind, and getting to see Ducky and Bunny’s fantasy of wreaking havoc upon humans grow to kaiju-sized levels.
The key mid-credits scene, however, is the fourth one, which is a clever mirroring of the first scene in which Woody brings Forky home. This time it’s Jessie who has accompanied Bonnie to kindergarten, leaping out of her backpack with the news that Bonnie has literally made a new friend. Behold: a plastic knife emerges from Bonnie’s bag, sporting a shock of blonde yarn hair and the same dazed expression Forky had worn when he’d first been introduced to the crew.
Naturally, Forky is instantly smitten, his vision becoming blurry and sparkly as he looks as her. Like him, her first impulse is to return to the trash. Why and how are they alive? He doesn’t know either, but it’ll be alright. That acceptance of life’s great mysteries feels central to the franchise as a whole, and serves as a nice cap to the series’ four installments.
The post-credits stinger is much lighter in tone and in content. Complete with emphatic Keanu Reeves vocalizations, Duke Caboom drives his bike around the Pixar logo, recreating the iconic lamp’s jumps and squashing of the ‘I,’ then offering the little Combat Carl figure who wanders onto the screen a high-five. (One of the three Combat Carl figurines in the film is seen constantly left hanging while his two compatriots high-five each other repeatedly.)
That is to say, it’s cute — but not necessarily must-watch in terms of setting up the wider universe of the franchise, which is, as far as I’m concerned, exactly the tone all post-credits stingers ought to take.