is the main protagonist of Up
. He also appeared in Dug's Special Mission
as a supporting character, in George and A.J.
as a minor character and in the Disney+ series Dug Days
as the deuteragonist. The character is voiced by Ed Asner.
In 1939, 9-year-old Carl Fredricksen
was a shy, quiet boy who idolized renowned explorer Charles F. Muntz
. One day, Carl befriended an adventurous girl named Ellie
, who was also a Muntz fan. She confided to Carl her desire to move her "clubhouse"—an abandoned house in the neighborhood—to a cliff overlooking Paradise Falls
, and made him promise to help her. Carl and Ellie eventually got married and grew old together in the restored house, working in a zoo as a balloon vendor, and as a zookeeper, respectively. They plan to have children, but Ellie was diagnosed infertile and they repeatedly pooled their savings for a trip to Paradise Falls, but ended up spending it on more pressing needs.
Just as Carl and Ellie finally seemed to be able to make their trip, Ellie contracted a terminal illness and passed away. Carl became bitter living in the house on his own as he missed his wife terribly. As the years passed, urban growth surrounded Carl's old house
, which he refused to sell to developers.
One of the stylization choices made for Up
was that a square represented the past and a circle represented the future, the reason for Carl being box-shaped. After the death of his wife Ellie, Carl has shut off the world around him and has sunk very low to the ground, like a brick. But the characters around him, which have curves, circles and other shapes making up their figures, continue to change while Carl stays within the confinements of his "square".
- If Carl is 78 years old in 2009, and if he was 9 in 1939, he was either born in 1930 or 1929, which would make him roughly the same age as Ed Asner, his voice.
- Carl wore the same style of glasses at every age.
- Carl's personality may be a reference to Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree.
- To lift a house such as Carl's (and rip it loose from the utility pipes/cables anchoring it) would in reality require vastly more balloons than are shown.
- An unpowered airship (such as Carl's house) would not be steerable; it would go wherever the wind goes.
- Both these last two points were Pixar deciding to go for believable rather than realistic.
- Although Carl doesn't have his own musical theme, Ellie's theme plays whenever he thinks about her, and also plays against Muntz's theme during the climax.
- Carl is the second oldest protagonist of a Pixar film, the oldest being WALL•E, as he has been "alive" for more than 700 years (the movie WALL•E takes place in 2805, and Up takes place in 2009 the year it was released).
- Carl is also the second Pixar protagonist to lose his love interest after Marlin from Finding Nemo.
- It is believed that Carl is inspired by American actor Spencer Tracy.