‘Cars’: What happened to Doc Hudson?

‘Cars’: What happened to Doc Hudson?

Cars is one of Pixar’s most enjoyable and endearing franchises. It features a world populated by anthropomorphic vehicles of all shapes and sizes. Among those vehicles are some brilliant characters, such as Owen Wilson’s Lightning McQueen (a custom-built racecar), John Ratzenberger’s Mack (a heavily modified truck sleeper cab), and Bonnie Hunt’s Sally Carrera (a 2002 Porsche 996 Carrera).

Doc Hudson, voiced by the late great Paul Newman, is undoubtedly one of the best characters in the franchise. A blue 1951 Hudson Hornet residing in Radiator Springs, he was the town’s medical doctor, judge, and McQueen’s mentor and crew chief. He was formerly one of the most successful race cars in Cars universe history.

Hudson was a prominent character in the first Cars movie in 2006 and reappeared in the short spin-off Mater and the Ghostlight the same year. However, he was absent from the second installment (though posters of him are still shown in his museum in that movie). He re-emerged in the third, but only in flashbacks, using unused recordings of Newman’s previous work as the character — though much of the film focuses on how McQueen fondly remembers him.

So what happened to Hudson for him to disappear from the Cars universe?

Where did Doc Hudson go in the Cars franchise?

Image via Pixar Animation Studios

In 2008, three years before the release of Cars 2, Newman tragically passed away from lung cancer. He was 83.

With that in mind, Pixar chose to kill off Doc Hudson. The circumstances of his death haven’t been revealed, but it happened sometime between the events of Cars and Cars 2. The most likely explanations are that he became sick (car sick?) like Newman or simply died of old age.

According to Jay Ward, the creative consultant and creative director of the Cars franchise, a draft version of Cars 3 exists that would’ve shown how Hudson died. Ward told Screen Crush the scene had Hudson riding alongside McQueen, his star student until he could no longer keep up and simply broke down permanently.

It would’ve been a poignant ending for the character and resulted in many tears from viewers. Hudson dying doing what he loved is the ideal death. Perhaps it’ll finally be depicted if and when Cars 4 finally hits theaters (although, given Ward said it was initially removed for being too depressing, perhaps not).

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