Wreck-It Ralph smashed onto the cinema scene in 2012 with some state-of-the-art animation, great voice performances, and a uniquely sharp script. We’re going to break down the Wreck-It Ralph screenplay by looking at its quotes, characters, and meta-references. By the end, you might be inspired to write a meta-textual script just like Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee did!
Wreck-It Ralph Script PDF Download
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WHO WROTE Wreck It Ralph SCRIPT?
Written by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee
Based on a story by Rich Moore, Phil Johnston, and Jim Reardon.
Phil Johnston is an American screenwriter, director, producer and voice actor. He’s most famous for co-writing Wreck-It Ralph, Zootopia, and Ralph Breaks the Internet.
Jennifer Lee is an American screenwriter, director, and CCO of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Lee has screenwriting credits on Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Zootopia, and Frozen II — she also served as the director of both Frozen films.
STRUCTURE OF Wreck-It Ralph SCREENPLAY
Here is the story structure for Wreck It Ralph screenplay:
Ralph, a brute with a heart of gold, serves the role of the “bad guy” inside an old arcade game called Fix-It Felix. Inside the game, Felix is revered as a hero while Ralph is relegated to the dumps. Felix fears Ralph is going to end up like Turbo – who went AWOL after losing his star-status in the arcade.
On the night of the game’s 30th anniversary, Ralph confronts Felix (and the denizens of the game-world) by saying that they treat him unfairly. The denizens say that if he can find a medal to prove he’s a good-guy, they’ll let him live in the game-world’s penthouse.
Plot Point One
Ralph leaves the world of Fix-It Felix to find a medal in another game. After a night of drinking, Ralph steals the armor of a character from Hero’s Duty and secures a shiny medal from the game. Meanwhile Fix-It Felix falls into disarray without Ralph’s presence.
Ralph is rocketed out of Hero’s Duty into Candy World. A young girl named Vanellope steals the medal from the ship’s wreckage and uses it to enter a grand prix race.
Ralph learns that Vanellope is a glitch and is treated like an outcast by everybody in Candy World. Out of sympathy, Ralph protects Vanellope despite the fact she stole his medal.
Plot Point Two
Felix and commander Calhoun from Hero’s Duty are hot on Ralph’s trail. Ralph helps Vanellope design a kart to compete in the grand prix.
While Ralph teaches Vanellope how to drive, King Candy goes into the game’s code and steals the medal. Felix is captured at the castle by King Candy’s underlings.
King Candy tells Ralph that if Vanellope wins the race, she’ll be added to the game’s roster and players will think the game is broken because she’s a glitch – which would ultimately put the game out of service. King Candy gives Ralph the medal and tasks him with wrecking her cart for her own good.
Ralph learns Fix-It Felix is going to be retired and realizes that winning the medal meant nothing. When all hope seems lost, Ralph sees Vanellope on the promotional art for the kart-racing game and correctly deduces she’s not a glitch. He then learns King Candy turned her into a glitch out of spite.
Ralph and Felix fix Vanellope’s kart and send her to the race. Calhoun returns to tell everybody the bugs are attacking the game. Vanellope races neck-and-neck with King Candy, who reveals he’s actually Turbo. Turbo plays dirty and knocks Vanellope off course.
Ralph confronts King Candy and embraces his “bad guy” qualities before smashing into the diet-cola mountain. Felix fixes the finish-line and ushers Vanellope over it, restoring her right as princess of the land.
Vanellope embraces her true personality and pledges to change the land for the better. Ralph returns to his game with a newfound appreciation for life.
Wreck-It Ralph Script Takeaway #1
Wreck-It Ralph makes meta-references
The Wreck-It Ralph screenplay is chock-full of references to other works. We imported the Wreck-It Ralph script into StudioBinder’s screenwriting software to highlight some of the best meta-references.
In this scene, King Candy makes a not-so-subtle allusion to one Jack Nicholson’s famous line from Batman; one of Tim Burton’s best movies. Read through the scene and try to catch where the reference is hidden.
Wreck-It Ralph Script • Read Batman Reference Scene
Jack Nicholson’s line “You wouldn’t hit a guy with glasses would you?” is one of the most famous lines in superhero cinema – and his delivery of the line is one reason why he’s considered one of the best Joker actors of all-time. Disney movies are often littered with references to classic cinema. Inside Out for example has a subtle-nod to Roman Polanski’s Chinatown when the police officer says “forget about it, it’s cloud town.” But perhaps no Disney movie has more meta-textual references than Wreck-It Ralph.
Here are a few of the best meta-textual references in the film.
- When Ralph says, “what’s going on in this candy-coated Heart of Darkness?” Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a classic novel that served as the basis for Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now.
- Hero’s Duty is a direct riff on Call of Duty and the pervading popularity of first-person shooters compared to traditional arcade games.
- Sonic the Hedgehog appears in the game-station.
- Several famous video-game characters appear in the “bad guys club,” including Bowser, Zangief, and Dr. Eggman (Robotnik).
- Dance Dance Revolution is featured in the arcade.
Here are some other easter eggs that appear in the final cut of the film:
Wreck It Ralph Movie Script to Screen • Wreck It Ralph Easter Eggs by MsMojo
I hate to say it but there is an inherent value in things that make us say “oh I know that.” When we see Pac-Man show up in Wreck-It Ralph, we treat him like a celebrity showing up to an after-party. His presence makes us say “he’s here? Who else is gonna be here?”
And as it turns out, a lot of other people are at the party that is Wreck-It Ralph – and watching them show up is an exercise in constant engagement.
Wreck It Ralph Script Takeaway #2
Wreck-It Ralph characters are flawed
One of the reasons why Wreck-It Ralph characters are multi-dimensional is because they’re deeply flawed. Take Vanellope for example: she’s a glitch in the game’s system. Her flaw is inherent. Turbo’s flaw is a need for adoration — which proves to be a tragic flaw, his hamartia, because it leads to his undoing. But Calhoun is perhaps the most flawed character of them all.
Let’s go back to the script to see why Calhoun is the cold, abrasive soldier she is. As you’re reading, think about how this scene accomplishes two things: the establishment of her backstory while satirizing video game cliches.
Wreck It Ralph Characters Backstory • Read Flawed Characters Scene
Here, we see that Calhoun was traumatized by a cy-bug attack on her wedding day. This makes her vendetta against the cy-bugs personal and further endears us to her mission. Let’s check out the scene from the film:
What is Wreck It Ralph About? • Sergeant Calhoun’s Backstory
Let’s take a moment to appreciate the way this scene was framed. By framing it as a flashback, the writers skip all the unnecessary fluff and get straight to the point. We learn what happened to Calhoun and why she’s so cold within 30 seconds. A concise way to cover a supporting character backstory.
Wreck-It Ralph Script Takeaway #3
Wreck-It Ralph quotes are mematic
There are a lot of great Wreck-It Ralph quotes but only one has become a fan-favorite. Can you guess which one? Read through the scene below and you might recognize some wise words from Zangief.
Wreck It Ralph Screenplay PDF • Read the Wreck It Ralph Bad Guys Anonymous Scene
Leave it to Disney to sprinkle in some profound commentary on identity issues in a movie about arcade games. Zangief’s quote, “Zangief, you are bad guy. But this does not mean you are bad guy” serves as a thematic basis for the whole script. It’s also become a meme but that’s neither here nor there.
Let’s jump ahead to see how this quote is resolved in the final act of the film. Here, Ralph embraces the mantra of the bad guys club even though we know his actions prove he’s a good guy.
Wreck It Ralph Script to Screen • Wreck It Ralph – I’m Bad, And That’s Good
So is Ralph a good guy or a bad guy? Well, he’s a good guy but everybody thinks he’s a bad guy. Perhaps screenwriters Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee aim to say that you can’t control what others think – and you can’t let what they think weigh you down. In the end, all you can do is all you can do. And even if everybody thinks you’re a bad guy, that doesn’t mean you are a bad guy.
Read and download more scripts
Wreck It Ralph is proof that animated movie scripts don’t have to be one-dimensional. If you want to continue reading screenplays, we have similar titles like Frozen, Up, and Toy Story 4 in our screenplay database. Browse and download PDFs for all of our scripts as you read, write and practice your craft to become the next great screenwriter.