Joe smiling in Soul

In Soul, jazz pianist Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) finds out there’s a lot more to existence than he ever imagined. After landing the gig of a lifetime, Joe falls down a manhole and wakes up as a soul on a conveyor belt leading to the Great Beyond. As Joe struggles to find his way back into his own body in time to make his concert with famous jazz saxophonist Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett), he learns a lot of strange things along the way.

For example, Joe discovers what happens to souls before they come to Earth, that there’s more depth to some people than he ever realized, and that maybe the perfect life he’s been desperate to find has been his to bask in all along. Likewise, stubborn unborn soul 22 (Tina Fey) gets the chance to learn that the life they’ve been avoiding for centuries might actually be worth living.

Joe and 22 aren’t the only ones bound to discover new things while watching Soul. The storytellers of Pixar enjoy seeding their films with Easter eggs, and Soul is no exception. From the strange settings of the Great Before to the more familiar subway tunnels of New York City, Soul includes loads of references to Pixar’s impressive stable of films, influential creators, and in at least one case, a rodent made famous by YouTube. To find out about the best of them, keep reading for the Easter eggs you probably missed in Soul.

22 has had some interesting mentors

Joe looking at the wall

When Joe meets 22, we’re treated to flashbacks of some of the mentors who tried and failed to get them ready to take their place on Earth. We learn that a diverse group of departed souls — including those of Mother Theresa, Muhammad Ali, Abraham Lincoln, and Copernicus — tried and failed to mentor 22. Later, when 22 brings Joe to their home, Joe stops to check out a wall covered with name tags displayed like trophies of all the mentors who failed to bring 22 to heel.

It will take the pause button and some patience to read a good percentage of the names displayed, but they include writers, revolutionaries, painters, and baseball legends among others. Joe clearly isn’t the first person in the music world that 22 has met since tags for Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, and Johnny Cash are on the wall. Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking are up there, too, as are Amelia Earhart, Babe Ruth, Pablo Picasso, Martin Luther King Jr., and Harriet Tubman.

There are also some names that wouldn’t be as recognizable. For one, the game-changing Marvel Comics artist Jack Kirby was apparently one of 22’s mentors. Two late Disney greats also make the grade. Joe Ranft co-wrote 1995’s Toy Story and was an actor with voice-acting credits in 1998’s A Bug‘s Life, 2006’s Cars, 2004’s The Incredibles, and more. His name is on 22’s wall along with that of Joe Grant, a writer and artist who worked on numerous animated films, including 1940’s Fantasia, 1955’s Lady and the Tramp, and 1998’s Mulan.

Easter eggs crack open on Soul’s subways

Easter eggs in Soul

Internet startups don’t always have the best track records, but there’s at least one fictional startup that’s doing pretty well. In 2015’s Inside Out – a Pixar film that was co-directed by Soul‘s Pete Docter — Riley’s father works for the company Brang, and he proudly wears their T-shirts. In one of Soul‘s subway scenes, an advertisement for Brang is one of many lining the inside of the subway. You never get a complete shot of the entire ad, but you see bits and pieces of it, including its achingly corny slogan, "What did you Brang?"

The Brang ad isn’t the only Pixar-ific Easter egg in the subway tunnels. While 22 is mesmerized by the music of a street performer, the number "2319" is visible behind and above the singer’s shoulder on the side of the subway car. Fans of 2001’s Monsters, Inc. Docter’s feature film directorial debut — may remember 2319 as the code that’s used to signal when a human contaminant is found in the world of monsters. It’s a fitting addition considering the situation. Since 22 is supposed to be back in the Great Before looking for her spark and Joe is meant to be heading for the Great Beyond, both are intruders in a world where they don’t belong.

The Hall of Everything lives up to its name

The Hall of Everything in Soul

One of the many wonders that Joe sees in the Great Before is the Hall of Everything, a place meant to help new souls find their spark. Whether it’s basketball, cooking, or photography, there’s meant to quite literally be something for everybody in the Hall of Everything, although this hasn’t proven true for the spark-less 22. Pixar fans, however, are far luckier than 22 as the Hall of Everything is chock-full of Easter eggs, showing up as early as the first shot of the incredible place.

It’s practically a law that you can’t release a Pixar film without adding the Pizza Planet truck that makes its first appearance in 1995’s Toy Story. For example, it’s just barely visible outside the dentist’s office in Finding Nemo, it’s in the speedway parking lot in Cars, and it even shows up in the distant future of WALL-E. And yeah, it also makes an appearance in Soul. The truck is in the first scene featuring the Hall of Everything, and it isn’t the only WALL-E veteran in the place, either. You can spot the Starliner spacecraft Axiom in the distance, and the Spirit of Adventure blimp from 2009’s Up has taken to the air, as well.

You can also spot Willy’s Butte from the Cars movies, the Ferris wheel from Toy Story 4, an Aztec building from Coco, and there’s doubtless even more goodies than we were able to catch. And a couple of shots later, you can even see the iconic desk lamp from the short film Luxo Jr. standing next to a grand piano.

A street sign in Soul’s Hall of Everything references a famous classroom

The Hall of Everything in Soul

It isn’t easy to spot, but the Hall of Everything includes another classic Pixar Easter egg. On a street sign below the Ferris wheel from Toy Story 4, eagle-eyed viewers will spot "A113," something you can find in almost every Pixar film. A113 is a code that comes up a lot in WALL-E, it’s Andy’s mom’s license plate number in the Toy Story flicks, and it shows up on a diver’s camera in Finding Nemo.

Actually, A113 is such a common Easter egg in films — even ones that aren’t Pixar — that it’s led to some crazy conspiracy theories. While it appears most prevalently in animation projects, it’s also popped up in live-action flicks like The Avengers, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

But sadly for any theorists who think the Illuminati is involved, the origin of the A113 Easter egg is fairly innocuous. At California Institute for the Arts, A1-13 was the number of the animation classroom. Filmmakers like John Lasseter, Tim Burton, and Brad Bird were in the school’s animation program. Bird, in fact, is credited as the first to introduce the A113 Easter egg, using it as a license plate in the NBC anthology series Amazing Stories. It’s since appeared in a long list of television shows, films, and video games, including American Dad!, The Simpsons, Star Trek: Discovery, Firefly, The Truman Show, and many, many more.

A four-legged viral video star is honored in Soul

Joe crossing paths with Pizza Rat

In September 2015, the internet went nuts over the viral video of a rat dragging an entire slice of pizza down the stairs of a Manhattan subway. Filmed by comedian Matt Little, the video shows the legendary rat ultimately running away and leaving the pizza behind. Proving they can honor more than their own animated films, the folks at Pixar decided to include a tribute to the mighty Pizza Rat in Soul.

Shortly after Joe and 22 get to Earth — with 22 in Joe’s body and Joe’s own soul inhabiting the form of a therapy cat — they escape the hospital and make their way to the streets of New York City. The metropolis is too much for 22 at first. The crowds, the cars, and all the other stimuli of city life overwhelm the inexperienced soul. As a result, 22 tries to lose Joe, but he finds them hiding in a corner, totally shaken. Hoping to calm them down, Joe creeps over to a nearby pizzeria and swipes a hot slice for 22.

But Joe isn’t the first one with the idea. As he brings the slice back to 22, a rodent who can only be the mighty Pizza Rat shows up coming from the other direction, dragging his own slice across the concrete. Apparently, Pizza Rat has learned some courage since the 2015 video. He’s understandably spooked when he spots Joe, but this time, he keeps his jaws on the prized pizza as he inches away from the cat.

Keep an eye out for the Luxo Jr. ball

22 and Joe in 22's place

In their hideout in the Great Before, 22 has amassed a small collection of stuff, presumably swiped from the Hall of Everything. When they show Joe their place, we see an alarm clock, a jukebox, and a sofa. But among all the items stashed away in 22’s place, there’s a toy ball that should be very familiar to Pixar fans and animation historians.

As 22 talks to Joe in their hideout, that aforementioned ball is visible behind them. This is the ball from John Lasseter’s 1986 short film Luxo Jr. – the source of the iconic desk lamp that takes the place of the "i" in Pixar’s animated logo. The short animation features two desk lamps — an elder lamp and a smaller, baby lamp. The baby lamp plays with a bright ball that’s decorated with a red star, eventually jumping on the ball and deflating it. The film ends as the baby lamp finds a much bigger ball to play with. It’s the smaller ball 22 keeps in her hideout.

While it’s likely not meant to have any extensive backstory behind its presence in Soul, it is kind of funny the ball not only shows up, but it’s been re-inflated. Maybe, like Joe, it was on its way to the Great Beyond but somehow found itself to the Great Before.

Meet Jerry … and Geri

Counselor Jerry and Geri from Geri's game

In the wondrous land of the Great Before, the new souls aren’t left completely to their own devices. Along with their mentors, the young souls are guided by their large, caring, shapeshifting counselors. The counselors are voiced by five different actors — Richard Ayoade, Alice Braga, Fortune Feimster, Zenobia Shroff, and Wes Studi — but they’re all named Jerry.

This is likely a nod to Pixar’s 1997 short film Geri‘s Game (not to be confused with Gerald’s Game, which is way, way different). Noteworthy for being Pixar’s first film in which a human is the lead character, Geri’s Game features an elderly man playing a game of chess against himself in a park. In spite of being his only competitor, Geri acts as if he’s locked in a heated contest with his opponent, wearing glasses as he plays one side of the board and removing them for when he plays the opposing side.

Geri‘s Game won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 1998 and was paired in theaters with A Bug’s Life. Geri himself makes a cameo appearance in 1999’s Toy Story 2.

A familiar statue shows up in Soul

Joe and 22 looking at the Partners Statue

The Great Before’s vetting process clearly needs a little work because Joe is able to pass himself off as eminent child psychologist Dr. Borgensson just by swiping the good doctor’s name tag. When 22 still believes Joe is lying about not being Borgensson, they call up the doctor’s history in the Hall of You — a place which displays meaningful slices of any person’s life. Among the pieces of Dr. Borgensson’s life is a statue depicting the doctor holding the hand of a young child and motioning toward the distance.

This is a pretty blatant reference to Partners, a statue appearing in a number of Disney’s theme parks. First erected in 1993, the copper statue looks very similar to Borgensson’s, except that in the doctor’s place is Walt Disney and in the child’s place is Disney’s most iconic creation — Mickey Mouse.

It does make you wonder, considering how important this Borgensson guy appears to be, what exactly happened to him. We never hear from him once Joe grabs his name tag. It seems likely he’s at an information kiosk somewhere in the Great Before, filing a complaint with one of the many Counselor Jerrys.

Why does a soul heading for the Great Beyond remember a walrus?

The Walrus and the Carpenter

Right after Joe finds himself heading to the Great Beyond, there’s a line of dialogue that absolutely screams "Easter egg!" However, its origin isn’t completely clear. What are we talking about here? Well, when Joe runs into a trio of souls likewise heading to their eternal reward, one of them says, "This beats my dream about the walrus." So yeah, what’s up with that?

It seems the most likely possibility is this is a reference to "The Walrus and the Carpenter," a song from Disney’s 1951 film Alice in Wonderland. The song tells the story of a walrus and a carpenter who lure a group of oysters to their doom at a dinner table. While both walrus and carpenter are both hoping to partake, the walrus devours all the oysters before his companion gets a bite. So, going back to Pixar, it could be that the newly departed soul had a dream in which she was one of the selfish walrus’ oysters.

It’s possible it could also reach back to the source material — Lewis Carroll’s poem, "The Walrus and the Carpenter," which appears in his 1871 novel, Through the Looking-Glass. Some — including Matt Damon’s Loki in 1999’s Dogma – interpret the walrus and carpenter as religious figures, which would be exactly the type of people you might expect to meet in the afterlife.

It’s also worth noting the poem is one of the inspirations for the Beatles’ 1967 song "I Am the Walrus." Asked about what the walrus represented in the song, John Lennon answered, "Walrus is just saying a dream."

A travel agency advertises an upcoming movie

Joe running in Soul

Along with its other memorable recurring Easter eggs, Pixar is known for adding references not only to its past movies but its upcoming ones, as well. Soul proves to be no exception. When Joe and 22 pass by a travel agency in New York City, one of the posters in the agency’s window encourages you to "visit Porto Rosso" and to "fly Luca Airlines."

Anyone who’s been keeping up with upcoming Pixar features knows this is a reference to the 2021 film Luca. The title’s namesake is a young boy living in Italy whose best friend is a sea monster in human form. Luca is set to release June 18th, 2021.

By the way, Soul had its own pre-release Easter egg. In March 2020, the same month Onward was released, the film’s co-writer/director Dan Scanlon told Empire about the hidden Soul reference. In a scene where Barley (Chris Pratt) is cleaning in the Lightfoot home, you briefly see the family’s impressive album collection. And one of the albums is by Dorothea Williams, the same famous jazz artist Joe is desperate to play with in Soul.