There’s no denying the fact that Star Wars is one of the most iconic franchises in all of film. It’s been emulated, parodied, and referenced thousands of times over the course of its forty-four year history. The Marvel films (and series) continue to pay tribute to the galaxy far, far away to this day. Even Ted Lasso recently got in on the act. It’s a tribute from Lucasfilm’s parent company, however, that’s got people smiling now, as Monsters at Work just gave a brilliant homage to The Empire Strikes Back.

Star Wars; The Empire Strikes Back; Luke Skywalker
Image: Lucasfim Ltd.

If you’re not familiar, Monsters at Work is the new Disney+ sequel series to Monsters, Inc. It follows would-be jokester Tyler as he tries to work his way up the MI ladder. The most recent episode saw him knocked unconscious and whipped through a mysterious door… Where he woke up to find himself in an eerily similar position to on Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back. The animated show near-perfectly recreates one of Empire’s most memorable scenes almost shot for shot.

Monsters at Work homage to The Empire Strikes Back

Monstres at Work; The Empire Strikes Back
Tyler finds himself in a familiar-looking predicament. (Image: Disney/Pixar Studios)

We’re talking about when Luke winds up hanging upside down in the Wampa cave on Hoth. Tyler’s movements impeccably mimic Luke’s as he tried to escape his frozen confinement. His “weapon,” in this case a rubber chicken, lays stuck in the snow just out of reach, as did Luke’s saber in The Empire Strikes Back.  The outcome in Monsters at Work, thankfully, is obviously less bloody. (The show is rated G, after all.)

The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars
Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.
Monsters at Work
Image: Disney/Pixar Studios

The scene is a great nod to parents like me who grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy. For now, the scene has no real significance to my daughter, with whom I watched the episode. When I eventually introduce her to The Empire Strikes Back, it will be fun to go back and revisit this episode of Monsters at Work. What makes the scene all the more nostalgic is the presence of John Ratzenberger. The Cheers actor, is, of course, a Pixar vocal talent mainstay. He plays the Abominable Snowman in the scene/show. He also portrayed Bren Derlin, a Rebel Alliance Major, in Empire¸ on Hoth.

John Ratzenberger; Star Wars
John Ratzenberger as Major Derlin in The Empire Strikes Back. (Image: Lucasfilm Ltd. )

Well played, Disney and Pixar. Well played, indeed.

Monsters at Work, The Empire Strikes Back, and the entire Star Wars saga are available on Disney+.