Who could forget the strange mixture of innocence and horror that is The Brave Little Toaster? The animated film’s just too traumatizing of an experience. Scenes like the dream where a clown sets everything on fire or the one where cars with human faces are eaten by a trash compactor have seared themselves onto countless viewers’ minds over the years. Harrowing visuals like these make it impossible not to remember the misadventures of the anthropomorphic appliances, but their will to triumph over adversity is what truly resonates with audiences. Because of the havoc it wrought on people’s psyches and the uplifting moral of the story, tons of tattoo enthusiasts have gotten tattoo tributes to The Brave Little Toaster.
The film is based on a novel by Tomas M. Disch — The Brave Little Toaster: A Bedtime Story for Small Appliances. The story follows of a group of household appliances that come to life in the absence of humans (yes, that’s right, Pixar’s Toy Story is basically a shameless ripoff of this conceit). Finding themselves abandoned, the characters — a gooseneck lamp, electric blanket, vacuum cleaner, and radio, led by the toaster — set out on an adventure to find their owner. This quest leads them into a series of predicaments — losing hope in a dark forest, being shelved in a secondhand electronics store, etc. — that all act as allegories for depression. In this way, the film is more than just an animated comedy, it’s actually one big metaphor for the mental illness.
Few cartoons aspire to as serious of an underlying message as The Brave Little Toaster, and this is what made it register with so many viewers. Any latchkey kid from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, myself included, couldn’t help but sympathize with the appliances. Being raised by a TV can have adverse effects that span entire lifetimes, and by not sugar-coating this fact, the movie made a statement that directly related to a very difficult aspect of our lives. But for as dark as it is, the film also has a happy ending, showing all of us that there is hope in the face of abandonment. Having a tattoo of the toaster or one of his wayward companions suggests that, with enough willpower, you’ll never end up in the junkyard.
To see more geeky body art, take an adventure through all of these artists’ Instagrams. Should you want to show your nostalgia for The Brave Little Toaster as well, have one of them design a banger of your favorite character from the film.