What We Can Learn from Scrat

Pranav Guru
6 min readMay 22, 2022

Understanding Scrat, the running gag of the Ice Age media franchise who went on to become the mascot of the now-defunct Blue Sky Studios, can either be incredibly easy or incredibly difficult.

It always seemed like there’s nothing to Scrat at first. He was a prehistoric squirrel with saber-teeth. His name is an amalgamation of “squirrel” and “rat”.

Since the first Ice Age movie in 2002, Scrat never had any complex relationship with any of the series’ main characters. At the surface, he was nothing other than a bumbling stock character whose obsession with acorns — which often, if not always, featured his willingness to risk life and limb for them as well as the physically comical ways he always wound up losing them — turned into the series long-running side joke.

Whenever Scrat would attempt to put the acorn in the ground (or snow), it would inevitably cause a natural disaster that would not only set the course for the rest of the movie. Whether it be avalanches, floods, landslides, earthquakes, or even meteors, you would see him try to bury the acorn and think to yourself “oh, no.” After the ensuing fiasco would result in him inevitably losing his acorn, you’re left wondering what’s going to happen next. That’s the way it was.

If Scrat was on screen and near an acorn, you could bet on the fact he would frantically try to claim it for himself only to scream hysterically after losing it the most comically unrealistic way.

That was the way it was for five feature films, four short films, and even a six-episode miniseries entitled Ice Age: Scrat Tales.

But Scrat’s latest appearance wouldn’t have been possible without the business transactions that had taken place at the highest of levels.

But first, we’re going to have to go back in time.

The entire Ice Age franchise had been the product that was not only launched by Blue Sky Studios (, Inc.), but it had been the brainchild and cash cow that launched the company into a total of thirteen feature films from that point on. Between its foundation in 1987 and the aforementioned 2002 release of the first Ice Age feature, the studio was seemingly restricted to producing animated television commercials and providing visual effects to other companies and their films.

But the rest was history for Blue Sky Studios…quite literally.

2019 was the year the studio released their final feature film, Spies in Disguise, which was distributed by longtime business affiliate 20th Century Fox. It was also the same year that Disney publicly announced their acquisition of 20th Century Fox.

This turned the corporate structure of the studio into a metaphorical Russian nesting doll; inside Disney, there was 20th Century Fox. Underneath 20th Century Fox, there was 20th Century Animation. And finally, there was Blue Sky Studios.

But this wouldn’t last long.

On April 10, 2021, Disney effectively closed Blue Sky Studios, citing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their global business.

But Disney continued to produce new content for the Ice Age franchise. The spin-off The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild was first released on January 28, 2022 on Disney+. Despite universally negative reviews, there have been talks for a sequel.

Additionally, there’s also been the aforementioned Ice Age: Scrat Tales. The six-episode miniseries re-introduced us the beloved Scrat as he comes across a new adversary standing between him and his beloved acorn: His own son.

The miniseries was released by Disney+ and 20th Century Studios on April 13, 2022; The same release date as another surprising entry to the franchise.

On the exact same day Ice Age: Scrat Tales went public, a YouTube channel under the name “Finale” posted an unlisted video entitled “The End”.

In the 34-second video, Scrat — after coming across the acorn yet again — thinks about burying it yet again. However, after seeing the acorn and taking a moment to cautiously look around, he instead eats it whole before running away.

This moment of Scrat finally eating the acorn without interruption not only effectively ended the series’ running gag, but the fact that it was allegedly produced by animators at Blue Sky Studios before the company closed means that the studio was able to finally give Scrat’s story arc a short but well-deserved ending.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: What’s there to learn from the story arc of Scrat?

I believe that Scrat has taught us more than just how NOT to protect an acorn. His life decisions of fruitlessly scaling mountains, crossing seas, and — even on one occasion, namely the fifth Ice Age movie — traveling into space…only to come up short and keep going for it.

While we always paraphrase Einstein’s saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the results to not be the same each time, we — much like Scrat — find ourselves falling into this rhythm more than we’d like to…in fact, more than we realize.

Because just like Scrat, we’re all on a journey to secure the acorns of our own lives. That journey is our sunk cost. So even if it all turns out to be futile or a fool’s errand, we immediately convince ourselves we’d do it all again.

While it’s normal to not regret a decision you made when you were younger or forgive your past because you didn’t know any better, it’s another thing to pursue the same goal and follow the exact same path that already didn’t work once.

This behavior is known by many names. Economists refer to it as the “sunk cost fallacy”. Behavioral scientists call it “escalation of commitment.” Among sociologists, it’s known as “commitment bias.”

One example of irrational escalation is The first law of holes: “if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

For Scrat, his commitment bias is very black-and-white. He’ll choose the acorn over anything and everything.

One good example would be his relationship with his significant other, Scratte. The two spent a significant portion of the third film, 2009’s Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs trying to best the other for the acorn, all or nothing.

However, he is able to place his ambitions for the acorn on hold after the two legitimately fall in love with one another.

Ultimately, just as the two are having relationship problems (primarily due to Scratte’s bossiness), Scrat decides to throw it all away to go after the acorn once again.

While it’s easy to debate what reason tipped off his decision, it’s obvious that he’s had a much better handle of the difficulty of obtaining the acorn (which he developed over multiple years and multiple movies) than staying close with Scratte.

But for us, it’s not as black-and-white. We stay in a myriad of different kinds of unhealthy lifestyle decisions simply because we’ve gotten used to dealing with the pain.

Whether it’s holding onto an unhappy relationship or still working for a dead-end job, we don’t leave these lifestyles even when we feel there are better things out there. Because — at least subconsciously — we hold out hope that one day, it all magically works out.

This is evident in Ice Age: Scrat Tales, as it seems that Scrat essentially abandons a blossoming relationship with his own son Baby Scrat (who’s just adorable, by the way) once he discovers that Baby Scrat also covets his precious acorn.

Conor McGregor once said, “You stare at your past, and you’ll end up staying there. It’s okay to look back and admire it, but you carry on.” While Scrat is an overexaggerated example merely kept that way for our entertainment, there are real examples today of people abandoning their children. Whether it’s due to addiction and legal troubles or choosing their work over their family.

Scrat was explicitly written to keep losing his acorn so that we could all have a laugh at his expense. But his flaws are real and it’s in our best interests to avoid them in our own lives as much as we can.

We’ve all experienced loss and rejection at one point or another. We may have not gotten into the college of our dreams. We may have lost a job we loved. We may have been through bad breakups or divorces. We may have had a dream that never became a reality.

But that’s where we learn from Scrat. If you lose whatever represents the acorn of your own life, the only times we can chase after them is when we know we can retrieve them. After all, there is a difference between a sunk cost fallacy and just giving up. However, it’s important to recognize when the acorn is truly gone…as well as the fact that there are many more out there.

Lionel Richie once said, “If you try to go back and scream at the past, you’ll trip over the future.” I guess that explains why Scrat finally ate the acorn before scampering off;

It was in his best interests to stop screaming (quite literally) and finally find a future.