In the year 2110, rising toxicity levels make life unsustainable on Earth. After all the humans leave Earth aboard giant spaceships, millions of WALL•E robots and a lesser amount of mobile incinerators are left behind to clean up the dirty planet. But after 700 years, the incinerators and all but one WALL•E robot have failed. This last operational WALL•E numbered "62,675" is still hard at work, blissfully unaware of the futility of his situation. During this time he befriends a cockroach (whom he names Hal). Though he continues obeying his directive to compact trash, as he develops curiosity, he begins saving odds and ends that fascinate him. He hides out from sandstorms and rain in his truck, spending his time sorting his collection, the pride of which is an old VHS copy of the musical Hello, Dolly!. To keep himself going, he has taken to salvaging parts from his inoperative counterparts.
One day after work, he finds a mysterious red thing that zips away from him. He follows, not noticing that there are several others behind him. Once the red thing stops, he tries to grab it, but it turns out to be a light from a massive ship coming down on him. He narrowly escapes by digging a hole into the ground to hide in. Once the ship lands, it deposits EVE, a robot sent back to Earth to evaluate the soil to check for signs of ongoing photosynthesis, proof that life is sustainable again. WALL•E is fascinated with this new robot and soon falls in love with her, wishing to hold her hand like he'd seen done in his movie. He shows her a plant he had found earlier, which she immediately takes and stores in her cavity before going into standby mode. Alarmed, WALL•E tries to wake her inert body but fails, so for the next several days, he protects EVE, taking her out on "dates". Eventually, he gives up on her awakening and attempts to return to work, but finds he cannot focus on his directive; EVE is all he cares about.
When he sees her ship return to pick her up, WALL•E races to get back to EVE. Making sure Hal stays put, he clings to its hull as it travels through space to the Axiom. WALL•E is amazed to see the wonders of space for the first time, also taking the chance to recharge while in range of the sun. Once at the Axiom, he encounters the cleaner bot M-O, who tries to clean him up. WALL•E engages in a cat-and-mouse chase, pursuing the cart robot carrying EVE to the bridge, not realizing that M-O is following his trail to clean up the dirt his treads left behind. On reaching the bridge, WALL•E hides from sight but eventually gets discovered by EVE, then Captain McCrea. EVE, who discovers the plant to be missing, presumes WALL•E to be the thief. They are then both sent to maintenance. WALL•E thinks the diagnostics to be hurting her and breaks out to try and help her, accidentally blasting the power console with her blaster and freeing other malfunctioning robots. After a chase through the Axiom 's halls evading assigned Stewards, EVE tries to send WALL•E home in an escape pod, but he refuses to leave her. They hide when GO-4 arrives and places the missing plant in the pod. WALL•E tries to retrieve it only for the pod to be jettisoned into space, set to self-destruct. Storing the plant in his chest and grabbing a fire extinguisher, he escapes the pod just before it explodes. EVE is so grateful he saved the plant that she kisses him, then they share a space dance before re-entering the Axiom.
She tells him to stay put near the pool while she goes up the garbage chute to deliver the plant to Captain McCrea. But WALL•E gets fed up with waiting and climbs up the chute, in the process saving the plant from falling. But he is electrocuted by Auto and sent down to the garbage depot, along with EVE. They are compacted with other garbage by WALL•E's bigger counterparts, the WALL•As. However, they are prevented from being sucked into the vacuum, thanks to M-O and the WALL•As shutting the airlock. EVE, who had witnessed her security files of WALL•E protecting her, changes her directive to caring for him. WALL•E then shows his motherboard that is damaged beyond repair to EVE and tells her that his replacements are halfway across the galaxy. This finally makes EVE agree to fulfill her original directive if only to get him home so he can get repaired. With the Captain's guidance, they make their way to the holo-detector, which, when inserted with a plant, will send the Axiom back to Earth. But Auto, still obeying a 700-year-old directive issued by Buy n Large CEO Shelby Forthright, is determined to stop them by tilting the ship. WALL•E drops the plant when he sideswipes the holo-detector, and Auto proceeds to close the holo-detector for good. WALL•E wedges himself underneath the holo-detector to keep it from shutting and gets crushed while EVE is occupied with saving the humans from being crushed by a train. The Captain finally relieves Auto of duty by switching Auto to Manual mode, which shuts Auto down. After Auto is defeated and the Captain rights the Axiom, EVE rushes over to the holo-detector and attempts to pry it open to free WALL•E, but to no avail. She quickly calls to the other robots and humans to retrieve the plant. M-O finds the plant, and with help from the humans and robots lined up, EVE catches the plant and places it into the holo-detector, activating the device. EVE pulls a severely damaged WALL•E out as the Axiom initiates a hyperjump straight to Earth.
As soon as they land, EVE rushes WALL•E back to his truck, where she repairs him and recharges him. WALL•E wakes back up, but his memory is wiped clean and he reverts to his original programming and directive, oblivious to EVE, Hal, and his collection. EVE attempts to help him remember, but when all her efforts fail, she becomes heartbroken and sadly holds his hand like he had wanted and gives him a farewell "kiss". As EVE prepares to leave in sorrow, WALL•E's grip on her hand tightens. His eyes then adjust, and he calls her name, making her overjoyed; the kiss has rebooted his memory. WALL•E is surprised upon waking up to see that they are holding hands. WALL•E and EVE help the Captain and the Axiom passengers start a new life on Earth, and they spend the rest of their lives together.
Several years later, WALL•E is still together with EVE, holding hands as the two observe a large tree, which has grown from the same plant that WALL•E had discovered at the beginning of the film.
Because WALL•E has been alone for 700 years, he has developed a "glitch": sentience and a personality. He has become very curious and he keeps anything interesting he can find. Even though he still obediently follows his directive, WALL•E can get distracted, collecting the trash rather than compacting it. His most prized possession, "Hello, Dolly!", teaches him how to hold hands, which he considers the way to say, "I love you."
He has become very lonely, having nobody but Hal as companion, and is beginning to wonder whether there is more to life than his directive. So when he meets EVE, he quickly falls in love with her. WALL•E is very protective of EVE. When she shuts down after getting the plant, WALL•E places her on top of his transport (thinking she is charged by solar energy just as he is) and protects her from the weather waiting for her to "recharge". At the repair center, he mistakes the equipment there as trying to hurt her and rushes to her aid.
WALL•E's friendly demeanor has an effect on the other robots and humans he meets. For instance, he causes M-O to act on his own, leaving his pre-set travel path to follow WALL•E trying to clean him, and he teaches TYP-E how to wave good-bye. He also breaks John and Mary out of the technology-induced reverie that consumed the lives of all the other passengers aboard the Axiom, wherein they learn how to enjoy the world and each other's company for the first time in their lives. Even the dirt on his chassis provided Captain B. McCrea the impetus necessary to become interested in the history of and subsequent return to Earth. Most importantly, he is instrumental in EVE's growth and development, from rigidly following her programming to learning how to love him in return.
WALL•E was designed to be an environmentally-friendly garbage-processing robot. As such, he possesses many interesting devices to help him fulfill his directive.
Construction: He has twin, extending, hydraulic arm shovels with articulated fingers mounted on U-shaped tracks to his sides. His locomotion is achieved with treads sporting four independently-actuated sprockets for stability. The tracks on his treads can be removed by unclipping the hinge pins on a single joint. His front opens up his body cavity in which he gathers and compresses trash. His head contains his audio-visual sensors mounted on a long, articulated neck, enabling him to see in any direction. All his extremities — arms, treads, and head — retract back into his cube-shaped body for easier storage, referred to as "boxing" in the movie script. He reverts to this shape whenever sleeping (or hiding). A hook on his back served some unknown purpose (perhaps for self-storage aboard the transport). He now uses it to carry his BnL Igloo-style cooler to work, which holds a pair of hand tools and a can of spray lubricant, likely for self-maintenance on the job site, but also fills it full of interesting bits of trash he picks up at work so he can take them home. His chassis is reinforced, mostly to give him the strength necessary to compact trash in his body cavity. As such, he is able to survive most environmental dangers, including long falls, extreme heat, the vacuum of space, and being trapped in a hydraulic actuator much larger than himself.
While it is clear that WALL•E could have been made with more sophisticated technology (such as the LED eyes of EVE and several other kinds of robots aboard the Axiom), the design choices made for WALL•E favor durability and most importantly, the easy replacement of parts. This allowed WALL•E to keep himself fully functional over his seven centuries of service.
His main coloring is the same shade of yellow that is used for construction vehicles.
Regeneration Unit: He has a solar-powered regeneration unit as his power source. Super-high-efficiency solar panels unfold from the top of his chest and recharge the batteries contained adjacent to his control system. These batteries are capable of powering him for upwards of a day's hard work. A read-out on his chest gives his current charge level, and beeps an alarm when his power level has drained dangerously low. The panels can be removed to expose auxiliary battery leads that can be used to jump-start WALL•E, or for him to jump-start some other electric mechanism.
Control System: All of WALL•E's control electronics are contained within the cavity in the front of his chest. All of his systems are controlled through a central motherboard. WALL•E's eyes are camera lenses, indicating that visual recognition is his primary means of navigation. They can magnify and resolve images at a distance, even independently if necessary. In addition to visual, he appears to have audio and some rudimentary tactile sense, given that he can detect things that his hands or treads touch. He also contains an alert system, warning him when dust storms are approaching on Earth's surface. Speakers mounted to his chest allow him to communicate audibly. He possesses a recorder with external controls — stop, record, play — which he uses to record songs from Hello, Dolly!. What function it originally served is unknown (perhaps to play and record Buy n' Large jingles and slogans to humans before they left Earth).
Trash Disposal: Two powerful hydraulic presses on his back operate his compactor function, compressing trash in his body cavity into neat cubes that can be easily stacked and carted away. His strong, dexterous arms enable him to create stacks of trash blocks hundreds of feet high with incredible precision. Between his eyes is a high-power laser, which he typically uses to cut large pieces of trash into manageable pieces. He has a fine degree of control over the device, as he is able to use it to carefully engrave his and Eve's names on a metal trash can.
In other media
- WALL•E appears in the Cartoon Network MAD skit, WALL•E•NATOR. Traveling from his time to the present, he dons a Terminator-like jacket and a pair of sunglasses. He then goes around town compressing other characters into cubes for dumping garbage wherever, finally escalating into targeting the MAD magazine company, deeming it a mass producer of garbage.
- In the WALL•E script available online, his name is spelled "Wally" (slang for a foolish or naïve person). It is also pronounced this way when referenced in the directors' commentaries.
- The sound that is heard when WALL•E's power is regenerated is from the startup of an iMac computer, which he was built from.
- The sounds of WALL•E's treads were created by a hand-cranked electric generator when he moves around and an automobile self-starter for when he goes fast.
- WALL•E was painted yellow to resemble a Caterpillar Inc. tractor. As a result, the garbage-strewn Earth had to have most of its color drained away so as to make him stand out.
- WALL•E was seen in the short film Your Friend the Rat (during the "Plan B" sequence) that came with the Ratatouille DVD release.
- WALL•E is the oldest Pixar protagonist, as he has been active for over 700 years. However, the position as the oldest living protagonist goes to Carl Fredricksen from Up.
Names in other versions
- In Japan he is renamed ウォーリー.
- In China he is known as 瓦力 ( Wa-Li )
- In Russia he is called ВАЛЛ-И.
- In Czech his name is spelled VALL-I.