Most Unusual Shorts on Disney+ (January 2023)

Disney and Pixar are known for the emotional stories told within their animated worlds. Most shorts on Disney+ use the character’s actions to drive the story rather than dialogue and occasionally will release a peculiar animation that takes a more experimental approach to storytelling.

There have been many animated shorts released throughout Disney and Pixar’s existence. The strangest ones are usually the most exploratory into new and innovative styles of art and animation, which is probably why the plot of most of these comes second to the animation process.

For more recommendations, check out our list of the best movies and shows on Disney+.

Editor’s note: This article was updated January 2023 to include The Brave Little Tailor.

RELATED: The Best Animated Movies on Disney+ Right Now


The Old Mill (1937)

Run Time: 9 min | Director: Wilfred Jackson

Cast: Louise Myers, Elvia Allman, Jean MacMurray, Purv Pullen, Clarence Nash, Jerry Phillips, Elvia Allman, Marie Arbuckle, Mary Moder, Bea Hager, Marta Nielsen, Barbara Whitson

Short animations began as a way for the Disney creators to experiment with the technical process of filmmaking. Before the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Disney produced the short The Old Mill to experiment with the multiplane camera, a technique that provides depth to the intricate setting of Disney’s animations.

This short is about an old windmill sitting lonely in a marsh and all the animals and critters that live within and around it. It’s reminiscent of all the classic Disney animations and worth a watch.

Watch on Disney+

The Brave Little Tailor (1938)

Brave Little Tailor short 1938 Mickey Mouse
Image via Disney

Run Time: 9 min | Director: Bill Roberts

Cast: Walt Disney, Marcellite Garner, Eddie Holden

The Brave Little Tailor stars Mickey Mouse in the title role of the Oscar-nominated film. Adapted by the Disney studio from the classic Grimm fairy tale The Valiant Little Tailor, this short animated film is one of hundreds produced starring Mickey Mouse. The Brave Little Tailor tells the story of a lowly tailor appointed by the king to slay a giant. Reluctantly, the tailor defeats the kingdom’s enemy by sewing up the giant, earning him the hand of the princess, Minnie Mouse. Featuring Mickey’s original voice from Walt Disney himself, The Brave Little Tailor also stars the voice of Marcellite Garner as Minnie and Eddie Holden as the giant. – Yael Tygiel

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Float (2019)

Father and Son From Disney's Float

Run Time: 7 min | Director: Bobby Rubio

Cast: Eli Fucile, Bobby Rubio, Luna Watson

Float is a moving metaphor written and directed by Bobby Rubio and inspired by his son on the autism spectrum. In Float, a father learns that his son floats and cannot stay on the ground. Attempting to keep the son safe, the father decides to hide his son and keep him grounded. Eventually, the boy’s secret difference is revealed, and the father must ultimately determine if he can accept his son. While the short film does not specify it, this elegantly presented metaphor can be assigned to any familial relationship where a child is unconventional, or even just different than the parent expected. At under 10 minutes, Float is a must-see for any parent. – Yael Tygiel

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Loop (2020)

Girl and Boy from Disney's Loop

Run Time: 9 min | Director: Erica Milsom

Cast: Madison Bandy, Christiano Delgado, Louis Gonzales

Loop shares an underrated message about experiencing life in someone else’s shoes and becoming open-minded enough to see the world through different eyes. In Loop, which was directed by Erica Milsom, who also wrote the story with Adam Burke and Matthias De Clercq, two children are stuck in a canoe while at camp. Showcasing Pixar’s first non-verbal autistic character, one of the children in the canoe does not speak. At first, they find they are unable to move, as they are stranded due to their differences. But eventually, the children connect in a new way and build a bridge, allowing them to understand each other and move forward. In a world so divisive, Loop is a beautiful reminder to start with kindness. – Yael Tygiel

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Partly Cloudy (2009)

partly cloudy
Image via Disney

Run Time: 6 min | Director: Peter Sohn

Cast: Tony Fucile, Lori Richardson

Building on the story of the stork, Partly Cloudy transforms the baby-making process into a weather-related phenomenon. A story about accepting your friends however they are, Partly Cloudy is a quick six-minute film by writer and director Peter Sohn. Partly Cloudy tells the story of Gus, a lonely cloud who creates some lesser appreciated, potentially dangerous human and animal babies, including aggressive beasts and precarious creatures like alligators, sharks, and butting baby rams. Gus is devastated when he believes his loyal stork abandoned him for safer puppies and kittens, only to see that a true friend will love and value your eccentricities. – Yael Tygiel

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Purl (2019)


Run Time: 9 min | Director: Kristen Lester

Cast: Bret ‘Brook’ Parker, Emily Davis, Michael Daley

Purl is about an earnest ball of yarn who gets a job at a fast-paced, male-dominated company. As the eager Purl attempts to fit in, she unfortunately begins to lose herself in the process. Her futile alterations to make herself one of the guys undoubtedly backfires. Writer/director Kristen Lester is not subtle with her metaphor about workplace discrimination against women with Purl. With a flashy nine-minute film, she touches upon a variety of interrelated topics many people face in their careers, crafting a relatable story for many marginalized groups. – Yael Tygiel

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Smash and Grab (2019)

smash and grab
Image via Disney

Run Time: 8 min | Director: Brian Larsen

Brian Larsen’s big robot short, Smash and Grab, follows a couple of antiquated engine room worker bots as they decide to abandon their posts and escape to freedom. In a story of love, friendship, and fighting for your friends, Smash and Grabprovides exciting blockbuster budget action in an eight-minute sequence. Set on a futuristic backdrop, Smash and Grab manages to seamlessly provide what all quality science fiction stories do: an important statement about society that resonates with its audience, even when layered under robots, lasers, and space. – Yael Tygiel

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Tin Toy (1988)

Image from Pixar Short Tin Toy

Run Time: 5 min | Director: John Lasseter

This is a simple film about a mechanical one-man-band toy who is frightened of the baby that plays a little too rough with the other toys. Produced in 1988, this was Pixar’s third short film.

It shows its age, as the animation style is not what we think of Pixar today. The animation is strangely unpleasant at times and hard to watch. It’s clunky and does not have that fully funded, best animating technology in the world feel. While the toys are quite funny to look at, it’s the awkward, computerized baby that makes this one of the weirdest shorts on Disney+. Tin Toy was probably groundbreaking in 1988, which is why it was the first of its kind to win an Oscar, but by today’s standards, we are leagues ahead.

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Flowers and Trees (1932)

Image from Disney Short Flowers and Trees

Run Time: 8 min | Director: Burt Gillett

The wildlife is waking up to the spring sun and beginning to freshen up for the day. Then one tree uses another to create a harp, and everything starts dancing. It takes a dark turn when a dead, mangled tree lights the forest on fire, and everything burns, even the tree that started the fire. While silly and playful at times, it begs the question: Why is this happening?

Another one of Disney’s Technicolor camera experiments, Flowers and Treesset the stage for future animated projects. While enjoyable to watch, the strangeness comes from the humanlike qualities that the trees and flowers display throughout the short.

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Red’s Dream (1987)

A still from Red's Dream
Image via Pixar

Run Time: 4 min | Director: John Lasseter

The 80s were a simpler time for Pixar. While they weren’t out to break records, they were creating new animation techniques and technology that would be groundbreaking in the years ahead. Red’s Dream is an experiment using the new technical innovations they had created.

Pixar has a knack for bringing inanimate objects to life. The story is about a unicycle leaning in the back corner of a bike shop having a dream about one day supporting a clown in his circus act. Not the most bizarre story to understand, but the clown that rides the unicycle is animated in such an odd way he would give anyone with a fear of clowns nightmares.

Watch on Disney+​​​​​​​

Wind (2019)

Image from Pixar Short Wind

Run Time: 8 min | Director: Edwin Chang

Cast: Sonoko Konishi, Emilio Fuentes

A boy and his grandma, who live in a strange underground purgatory on a floating rock, prepare a rocket to launch themselves through a small hole that leads to a larger world above. Wind is a unique story about the struggles of immigration and the desire for a better life.

While the story is perfectly crafted, the setting in which the short takes place is abnormal. It’s a gloomy, subdued island floating in an abyss. All they eat are potatoes, and they spend their time struggling to get to a better place. Wind is a rollercoaster of emotion from start to finish.

​​​​​​​Watch on Disney+​​​​​​​

One Man Band (2005)

Image from Pixar Short One Man Band

Run Time: 5 min | Director: Andrew Jimenez, Mark Andrews

Two musicians compete to win a single gold piece from a passing lady, and they are both equipped with multiple instruments that seem to be a burden to carry and maneuver. The strangeness comes from the art style of the two performers. They act as if they have no bones and, like their many instruments, become an extension of their limbs as they manipulate and use them in inhuman ways. While not on the list of best Pixar animated shorts, this film is light and heartfelt, but the offbeat animation is what gives it a more experimental atmosphere.

​​​​​​​Watch on Disney+​​​​​​​

Paperman (2012)

Image from Disney Short Paper man

Run Time: 7 min | Director: John Kahrs

Cast: John Kahrs, Kari Wahlgren

In the era of a revival of Disney short animations, Paperman is a sweet story about a man who meets a woman at a city train station. After parting ways, he sees her in the building across from his office and becomes determined to get her attention by throwing paper airplanes between the skyscrapers.

Paperman becomes unusual when the paper airplanes come to life, and a force of love drives the man and woman together. Also, the experimental art style of blending 2D and 3D animation to create a more complex world is what makes this a truly fascinating animation.

​​​​​​​Watch on Disney+

Inner Workings (2016)

Image from Pixar Short Inner Workings

Run Time: 6 min | Director: Leo Matsuda

Cast: Raymond S. Persi

Released a year after Inside Out, Inner Workings takes on a similar story. A man’s organs are personified with distinct desires that are expressed throughout the short. His brain is anxious and practical, telling the stomach it can’t have junk food or it might get sick and die and the heart that it can’t go surfing when it should play it safe and go to work. Eventually, the brain gives in and tries new things and finds that it does enjoy taking risks if it means being happy.

A great story about living life to the fullest told in such an unusual way. The idea of giving organs humanlike qualities, while in theory seems cute, is actually quite unsettling.

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Lou (2017)

Image from Pixar Short Lou

Run Time: 7 min | Director: Dave Mullins

This is another story that personifies inanimate objects, but this time, it’s multiple objects that come to life. In this film, Lou, the lost and found box on the school playground, teaches a bully the joys of sharing. It does seem that sometimes Pixar will use any random object to get their point across.

It’s a heartwarming story with a straightforward message. However, it’s jarring the first time we’re introduced to Lou, which is what makes this short so strange. It’s an odd thing to think about a collection of junk and toys coming to life to dole out life lessons to children.

Watch on Disney+

Destino (2003)

Image from Disney Short Destino

Run Time: 7 min | Director: Dominique Monféry​​​​​​​

The most eccentric and dreamlike of Disney’s shorts is Destino. There’s no other explanation for this film other than it being another surreal piece of art from the mind of Salvador Dali. It encapsulates themes of struggle, loss of time, love, and escapism.

It’s hard to place this short in any category. Dali and Walt Disney created an intense and beautiful world, but the plot is nonexistent. It’s more about visual attractiveness rather than telling a cohesive story. This holds up as the strangest short Disney has ever produced.

Watch on Disney+

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