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CHARACTER CORNER: James P. "Sulley" Sullivan

Updated: Nov 19, 2023


James P. Sullivan, also known as "Sulley," is one of the main characters in the animated film "Monsters, Inc." produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Disney in 2001. Sulley is voiced by John Goodman, who provides the character with a deep, authoritative, yet gentle voice. Sulley is a large, furry, blue monster with purple spots. He has two sharp horns on top of his head and strikingly large, expressive teal eyes. Sulley is generally depicted as a kind, gentle, and friendly monster. He's known for his warmth, compassion, and his dedication to his work. He may appear intimidating due to his size and appearance, but he's a big softy on the inside.


Sulley works at Monsters, Inc., a company that harnesses the screams of human children to power the monster world. He is a "scarer," responsible for entering the human world and collecting screams by frightening children. Sulley's best friend and roommate is Mike Wazowski, a small, one-eyed green monster. Their dynamic forms one of the central relationships in the movie. Sulley comes from a family of esteemed scarers. His father, Bill Sullivan, was also a scarer, and he has a mother who is mentioned but not seen in the film.



In the film "Monsters, Inc.," Sulley's life takes an unexpected turn when he meets Boo, a young human girl who accidentally enters the monster world. Sulley and Mike take on the responsibility of returning her to her world while facing various challenges and obstacles.

Throughout the movie, Sulley undergoes significant character development. He starts as a dedicated scarer but gradually realizes the importance of making children laugh rather than scaring them. This shift in perspective leads to a fundamental change in the monster world.

Sulley plays a pivotal role in changing the energy source for the monster world, shifting from scaring to laughter. He becomes a leader in the movement to improve the lives of both monsters and children.


Sulley reappears in the prequel, "Monsters University" (2013), which explores his and Mike's college years, how they met, and their journey to becoming scarers. He also appears in the short film "Party Central" (2013) and in the TV series "Monsters at Work" (2021), which follows events at Monsters, Inc. after the switch to laughter power.


Sulley is one of the iconic characters in the Pixar and Disney universe, known for his big heart and memorable appearance. His character represents the idea that appearances can be deceiving and the importance of kindness and empathy. Sulley is a beloved character in the world of animation, and his journey from a top scarer to a caring and compassionate individual is a central theme in "Monsters, Inc." and its related works.


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