The Correct Order In Which To Watch The Ice Age Films And Shorts
There was a time when CGI animation was looked down upon as the lesser cousin of hand-drawn 2D animation. But then a spate of incredible animated movies from the late ’90s and early 2000s started to change this narrative, from 1995’s “Toy Story” to 2001’s “Shrek.” Another important entry on the list was 2002’s “Ice Age,” and the host of sequels, specials, and other related media that it spawned over the next two decades.
The “Ice Age” franchise focuses on an unusual pack of prehistoric animals brought together by random chance. There is Manny the mammoth, Sid the sloth, and Diego the saber-toothed tiger. Over time, the group expanded to include a host of other prehistoric animals from different generations, becoming something of a family affair. Also in the mix (but usually off to the side doing his own thing) is Scrat, the saber-toothed squirrel on an eternal quest to gather acorns.
With each new entry in the franchise, the world of “Ice Age” has grown bigger and more complex. The series continues to enjoy great popularity around the world, and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. Here is the correct chronological order in which you can watch the “Ice Age” movies and shorts to get up to speed on the franchise before the “Buck Wild” spinoff gets released in 2022. Warning: spoilers ahead.
The movie that started it all. Far into our past, an ice age has befallen the planet, and only the biggest, toughest creatures have a chance of survival. But these tough creatures also have their softer side, as we find out by the end of the movie. We first meet Manny, a moody woolly mammoth that prefers to keep a distance from other animals.
But Manny’s loner ways are no match for the extra-friendly nature of Sid the sloth. Sid is a cheerful, happy-go-lucky fella who insists on sticking with Manny after the latter saves the former (rather unwillingly) from a couple of rhinos. Sid and Manny come across a human toddler that needs to be reunited with its tribe. Against his better judgement, Manny agrees to help Sid deliver the child safely across the frozen tundra.
Their plans are unknowingly being observed by a group of saber-toothed tigers who want to eat the human child. The tigers send one of their own, Diego, to lure Manny and Sid into an ambush by first pretending to help them. But unexpectedly, while acting as their guide, Diego comes to care more for Manny, Sid, and the baby than his own pack. In the film’s moving finale, old wounds are healed, new friendships are forged, and Manny, Sid, and Diego successfully unite the toddler with its tribe, becoming their own pack in the process.
Scrat, the saber-toothed squirrel, was the breakout character right from the first “Ice Age,” despite being only tangentially related to the main plot. There is something pathetically relatable about Scrat’s eternal quest to gather acorns while being constantly thwarted by the environment, other squirrels, and sometimes, it seems, fate itself.
In “Gone Nutty,” Scrat has finally got his hands on the acorn he had been chasing throughout “Ice Age.” The joyful squirrel takes his acorn to the top of a tall tree stump, where Scrat has been storing up a buffet’s worth of acorns in neat, concentric circles. With the final acorn placed in the middle of the spread, Scrat feels his life is finally complete.
But that feeling does not last long. Trying to force the acorn into its place in the circles creates a devastating chain reaction. All of Scrat’s loot and Scrat himself shoot out of the tree stump and off a high cliff. Along the way, Scrat desperately tries to keep his acorns together, but one final acorn rocketing towards Earth with the speed and power of a meteorite looks ready to spell everybody’s doom.
Ice Age: The Meltdown
Some time has passed since the events of the original “Ice Age.” Manny, Sid, and Diego have become a close-knit group, while the world around them is in the middle of great change. Global warming is at play, and news arrives of a natural dam that is about to burst, resulting in a giant flood that could destroy the valley in which the group lives, along with a host of other prehistoric animals.
The residents of the valley are instructed to embark on a great exodus to get to the other side of the land, where a giant tree awaits that can be used as a boat to survive the coming flood. While making the journey, Manny and the others come into contact with Ellie, another woolly mammoth that lives with a pair of possums, Crash and Eddie. Ellie considers the possums her brothers and also thinks of herself as a possum.
Manny finds himself attracted to Ellie and struggles to convince her that she is, in fact, a mammoth. Meanwhile, the exodus is in trouble because of a couple of giant predatory sea creatures that are looking to pick off the travelers one by one. In the end, the flood is averted, Manny and Ellie get together, and the initial group of Manny, Sid, and Diego also expands to include Ellie, Crash, and Eddie.
It has been two weeks since the events of “Ice Age: The Meltdown.” Sid has become a camp counselor for a group of rambunctious children. As part of his duties, Sid takes the children on a camping trip through the woods. They do all the typical “camping” things, and in typical Sid-style, he manages to screw each of the things up.
From knocking down a nest of testy bees trying to find honey to going into a pond to fish and getting captured by a giant fish himself, it becomes painfully clear that Sid is not cut out even to be a source of guidance for himself, let alone a group of young children. Scrat also makes a cameo where he almost chokes on his acorn and promptly gets it stolen again.
In the end, the children decide that the path of least resistance is tying Sid up for the rest of the trip so he can’t do any more damage. But even that doesn’t work, and Sid manages to cause a chain reaction which ends with a giant crater being formed in the valley. Sid names the crater “The Grand Canyon.” In modern times, a father and son beaver are shown gazing over the canyon, with the father declaring that something so majestic could only have been created by “nature or a being or creature with infinite wisdom.”
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Some time has passed since the events of “Ice Age: The Meltdown.” Not only are Manny and Ellie married, but Ellie is also pregnant with their first child. The impending arrival of the child affects the original trio of Manny, Sid, and Diego in different ways. Manny is haunted by the memories of his previous family that died and is obsessed with making sure a similar fate does not befall Ellie and their child.
Meanwhile, Diego is concerned that he is not cut out for family life and starts thinking about leaving the pack and becoming a solitary predator. Sid wants a family of his own, and in the absence of any romantic prospects, adopts three eggs that turn out to be baby dinosaurs after hatching. Unfortunately, the mother dinosaur that the eggs belong to soon arrives to take her children back, and in the confusion, Sid, Manny, and their pack descend into a subterranean world where dinosaurs still exist.
Matters are further complicated when Ellie goes into labor while being separated from Manny. As things get increasingly desperate, the family gets a helping hand from Buck Wild, a slightly insane, one-eyed weasel who shows them how to survive in the heart of the dinosaur-infested jungle. Thanks to Buck, Sid, Diego, and the others manage to return to the outside world in time for the birth of Manny and Ellie’s daughter Peaches. Buck, on the other hand, chooses to remain in the land of dinosaurs.
Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas
Many years have passed since the events of “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.” Peaches is no longer a baby but seems to be a preteen. It is the Christmas season, and Manny wants to celebrate the holiday properly with his loved ones and introduce them to the “Christmas Rock,” a family heirloom that allows Santa to locate people to deliver presents to.
After a bust-up with Sid, Manny secretly confides to Ellie that he does not actually believe in Santa Claus. Peaches is shocked to hear this, and she sets out with Sid, Eddie, and Crash to the North Pole to find Santa and prove his existence. Things get dicey along the way, but the foursome is aided by a flying reindeer called Prancer.
Meanwhile, Manny, Ellie, and Diego are on the trail of Peaches and the others to bring them back. The entire group finally manages to reach the North Pole, where they meet the real Santa Claus and discover the true magic of Christmas by helping Santa deliver his presents around the world with the help of Prancer’s reindeer family.
Scrat's Continental Crack-up (Part 1)
The team behind “Ice Age: Continental Drift” tried a new marketing strategy for the film by releasing the shorts “Scrat’s Continental Crack-up” parts one and two as a parody for “Continental Drift” before the movie was ever released. In the two shorts, an alternate explanation for the continental drift is provided, which places Scrat squarely in the middle of the proceedings.
Once again, Scrat has got his hands on an acorn, and is anxiously looking for a place to bury it. He’s more careful this time around, but despite his best efforts, the place where he tries to bury the acorn turns out to be a pressure point that splits the mountain Scrat was standing on in half, sending the terrified squirrel plummeting into the depths of the Earth.
A brief cameo by Buck Wild later, Scrat is launched into the center of the planet, where a giant ball of metal that is the core of the Earth breaks his fall. Once again, Scrat spots his acorn a few feet away, and his attempts to secure it get the core moving, dramatically altering the face of the planet. In the end, Scrat manages to make it out of the core alive but is set adrift alone on the ocean, once again without his acorn.
Scrat's Continental Crack-up (Part 2)
In the middle of the ocean, Scrat is still floating on an ice slab when he spots an island in the distance. After managing to land on the island, Scrat follows a trail of clues that lead him to an underwater acorn. Using a rock to sink himself to the location of the acorn, Scrat is heartbroken to find it is only the empty half of a shell of an acorn.
But all is not lost, since Scrat finds the inside of the shell carrying a set of instructions for getting to a location where a treasure trove of acorns are stored. Before Scrat can follow the instructions, he is caught in a fishhook and reeled along the bottom of the ocean.
All Scrat can do is helplessly get dragged along at the end of the hook, slamming into a host of sea creatures in the process. In the end, Scrat is reeled in by the owner of the hook, who turns out to be a member of the crew on Captain Gutt’s ship, the main villain from “Ice Age: Continental Drift.” Scrat is made a prisoner on the ship alongside Manny, Sid, and Diego and is forced to dance for the entertainment of the pirates.
Ice Age: Continental Drift
16 years have passed since Manny and Ellie’s daughter Peaches was born. She is now a spirited teenager, who sees herself as part-mammoth and part-possum. Manny is a bit of a helicopter parent, and Peaches does not appreciate him telling her who to be friends with. Meanwhile, Sid’s family stops by briefly to drop off his cantankerous and ancient Granny.
The attempts of Scrat the manic squirrel to bury his acorn in the ground leads to the breaking up of continental plates. Sid, Granny, Diego, Manny, and Scrat are separated from Ellie and Peaches, and set adrift in the violent seas atop a tiny iceberg. While struggling to reunite with the others, Manny and his group run into a gang of sea pirates led by the sinister prehistoric ape, Captain Gutt.
Gutt’s first mate is a female saber-toothed tiger named Shira, who finds herself questioning her loyalty to Gutt due to meeting Diego. After escaping the clutches of Gutt, Manny is horrified to find the pirates have kidnapped Ellie and Peaches. A desperate chase ensues as Manny, Sid, and Diego race to confront Gutt and his crew and rescue the remaining members of their pack. In the end, Shira switches sides and joins up with Diego and his family as they arrive on a lush island and prepare to start a new life together.
Ice Age: The Great Egg-Scapade
Roughly three months have passed since the events of “Ice Age: Continental Drift.” Manny and the others are getting ready to celebrate Easter, each in their own way. Ellie is putting up the decorations alone, Manny and Diego want to watch wrestling, Crash and Eddie are trying to celebrate April Fool’s Day by pranking Peaches, and Sid has a new gig looking after eggs belonging to neighborhood animals.
Squint, the pirate rabbit belonging to Captain Gutt’s crew, unexpectedly drops by, demanding that Manny and the others provide him with a new ship as payment for taking down Gutt’s ship. The group refuses, and in retaliation, Squint steals Sid’s eggs and threatens to harm them if he does not get his own ship by the next day.
This starts a fresh quest by Sid’s friends to retrieve the eggs, helped along by a map made of their locations by Squint’s brother Clint. Unknown to Sid and the others, Squint had painted the last egg to look like an acorn, and Scrat has gotten his hands on it. A mad scramble ensues between Scrat, Sid, and Squint to get to the egg first. In the end, the eggs are safely returned to their parents.
We once again catch up with Scrat, who has found yet another acorn to obsess over. The indefatigable squirrel comes across a cave where he finds a convenient place to store the acorn. But the location turns out to be the inside of a spaceship that Scrat accidentally activates. The UFO rockets into space with the squirrel and acorn trapped inside.
Soon after Scrat reaches a point beyond Earth’s atmosphere, the ship bumps into the moon, which in turn bumps into a group of random planets. Thanks to Scrat bumping around against the controls of the ship, the UFO knocks the planets willy-nilly until, eventually, the solar system as we know it gets formed.
Meanwhile, Scrat sees the acorn stuck on an asteroid and dons a spacesuit to go get it. But in the resulting confusion, the asteroid with the acorn gets directed towards Earth, where its arrival is being observed by Manny, Sid, and Diego. And so begin the events of the next movie in the franchise, “Ice Age: Collision Course.”
Ice Age: Collision Course
As seen in the previous short, Scrat’s adventures in space kicked off a chain reaction that ended with a group of asteroids about to strike Earth and destroy all life on the planet. In his journeys to strange and new places, Buck Wild comes across an ancient tablet that warns of the coming crisis, and so he makes his way to the above-ground world to warn everyone.
Manny and his extended family are getting ready to welcome a new member into the group, Peaches’ soon-to-be husband Julian. Manny and Ellie are shocked to discover Peaches plans to move away with her husband after her wedding. Meanwhile, Diego and his new mate Shira are thinking about starting their own family. Finally, Sid is having no luck finding a special someone. But all those personal problems fade into insignificance once Buck arrives with news of the impending doomsday.
It falls to Manny and his group to try to avert the coming disaster by repelling the asteroid from its trajectory using a bunch of magnetic crystals. Along the way, the group encounters a secret city called “Geotopia,” whose residents manage to stay eternally young thanks to the energy from the crystals. Sid finally meets a fellow sloth named Brooke who is interested in him, but time is running out for everyone as the asteroids are getting closer than ever.
Scrat: Spaced Out
After the events of the last movie, Scrat is still stuck in space. With increasing desperation, Scrat tries to get the hang of the controls of the spaceship he is stuck inside. The squirrel’s actions make the ship go haywire, tossing the moon towards the Earth to create giant tidal waves and causing an electrical storm that Manny and his family get stuck in.
Meanwhile, Scrat continues to try to get to the acorn that is also inside the spaceship. Victory finally appears close at hand until Scrat and the acorn are taken into custody by a group of squirrel-like aliens called Scratazon. But Scrat refuses to give up the acorn, waging a single-handed war against the Scratazon that eventually leads to the destruction of their entire mothership.
In the end, Scrat is sucked into a black hole along with his acorn. Somehow, the squirrel manages to make its way out of the black hole, but the acorn gets sucked right back inside. Scrat is left screaming in frustration in the depths of space.
No Time For Nuts
This particular short is considered something of an outlier since it is not part of the official “Ice Age” canon. Scrat is once again looking for a place to bury an acorn. The squirrel comes across a strange, beeping device that turns out to be a time machine. Naturally, Scrat manages to activate the machine accidentally, and it sends the squirrel and the acorn into the Middle Ages.
Despite being lost in time, Scrat’s only concern is getting the acorn. But a number of obstacles stand in the way, requiring the squirrel to keep jumping between different points in time. From the Roman Colosseum where a hungry tiger awaits, to the iceberg into which the Titanic is about to collide, to the land of dinosaurs, to a museum where only the bones of creatures from the ice age remain, Scrat keeps working the time machine, hoping to get back to his proper time period.
When the squirrel does manage to return to the ice age, a temporal paradox creates two versions of Scrat in the same location, who immediately begin fighting over the acorn. After some more time-travelling shenanigans, Scrat is left stranded in the future with no more acorns and no way of getting back home.