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The main arc in Monsters, Inc. is that there is a scream shortage/energy crisis. However, there doesn't appear to be any night shift. All the scenes that happen later on at night seem to be "after everyone has gone home", the hallways are dark and there's no one around, really.

At the start of the Scare Floor scene we see Jerry say "Okay, people, Eastern Seaboard coming online." and a map of the world indicating what part they are working in. This means they're aware of the world as a whole and the time zones to know when kids go to sleep across them.

Map of the world on the board over the Scare Floor with a red line across the "Eastern Seaboard"

On top of that there are multiple Scare Floors as indicated by Mr Waternoose after the 23-19!

Mr Waternoose: An entire scare floor out of commission. What else could go wrong?

Monsters, Inc.

With all of this together (multiple Scare Floors, energy crisis, knowing the world) why is there no night shift? Surely the extra hours worked collecting scream would help solve the energy crisis?


For what it's worth, I don't think there's a shortage of scarers or monsters that want to be scarers. The problem appears to be a shortage of good scarers so even there more monsters working the night shift would probably help with the energy crisis a lot.

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  • 64
    They have a powerful union. May 4, 2021 at 12:24
  • 4
    There'd be some sweet sounds. May 4, 2021 at 12:35
  • 15
    Maybe it's because Monsters get scared of the dark, too!
    – Valorum
    May 4, 2021 at 15:24
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    Maybe the monster world has its own time zones, and there are other power stations in other locations to handle that. If the monsters' planet doesn't rotate at the same speed as Earth, their day/night cycles wouldn't always line up, so they all have to be aware of what time it is on what parts of Earth when their shifts start. Pure speculation, of course. This is kind of like asking who originally made the cars in the Cars movies, and what happened to them? Not everything has to make sense with kid's movie-logic... May 4, 2021 at 18:10
  • 1
    @DarrelHoffman the Monster’s world is on Earth... or maybe not. There’s a question on here on it.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    May 4, 2021 at 19:00

3 Answers 3

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A potentially important factor to consider is that kids are best scared during a narrow window of time (when they are falling asleep). The world's population is not at all evenly distributed:

https://strategicppm.wordpress.com/tag/global-population-by-timezone/ global population distribution

The 7 hour period from +10 to -7 GMT is comparatively uninhabited, so organizational efficiency kicks in. Pacific islanders don't get any monsters, scarers can take a break, and even get a nap or lunch break during the Atlantic.

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    Clever! I like it.
    – DavidW
    May 4, 2021 at 21:46
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    So they just work 17 hour days May 5, 2021 at 10:57
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    @theonlygusti or multiple shifts including a late-evening shift. just no Nightshift
    – Hobbamok
    May 5, 2021 at 13:44
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    This doesn't explain why they work a nightshift in the prequel
    – Valorum
    May 5, 2021 at 18:00
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    @CaptainMan - Sure, but now we're indulging in fan-fic. Perhaps Waternoose bumped his head and received a vision telling him to only run during the day, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
    – Valorum
    May 5, 2021 at 18:39
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The 'scare' shortage is caused by two main elements; a lack of skilled Scarers (note also that most of the monsters going through Monsters University with Mike and Sully aren't particularly scary) and a door shortage caused by an increasingly large number of unscareable children.

Waternoose looked around the room in frustration. Human children were getting harder and harder to scare. Monstropolis was in the middle of an energy crisis. Right now, Monsters, Inc. supplied most of the scream energy for the city. But if he didn’t get some good Scarers soon, his company might go out of business!

Monsters, Inc. - Official Novelisation

Just fifteen years earlier, Monsters, Inc. were able to run scare floors night and day, as evidenced by the full car park during this night-time break in.


As to why they don't run floors with semi-skilled Scarers, that should be fairly obvious when you see what can happen to even an experienced Scarer who's a bit lax.


Note also that there are multiple scare floors set on a variety of levels of the building...

enter image description here image courtesy of Monsters Inc. Essential Guide

...so it's entirely possible that scaring is happening elsewhere in the building (complete with its own infrastructure) while Mike and Sully's floor is shut down for the night.

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    @TheLethalCarrot - A less skilled scarer would burn through doors much quicker, exacerbating the problem, not helping it.
    – Valorum
    May 4, 2021 at 11:54
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    We also see some less capable Scarers right at the start of the film. They're not scary, they're prone to breaking the rules and they risk the exposure of the monster world
    – Valorum
    May 4, 2021 at 11:55
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    That's addressed in the MI Handbook. Kids that are exposed to too many monsters (or the same monster too often, or a monster that isn't very scary) become less easy to scare, hence why Roz is so obsessed with her paperwork.
    – Valorum
    May 4, 2021 at 12:39
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    @Valorum: I assumed Roz was obsessed with paperwork because the CDA thought Waternoose was dirty (and therefore they were going through his books).
    – Kevin
    May 4, 2021 at 20:31
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    @Kevin - In the Monsters, Inc. Employees Handbook, Roz gives us a little insight into her thought process; i.stack.imgur.com/BT5Pu.png
    – Valorum
    May 4, 2021 at 20:36
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In addition to the other answers, we don't know that there isn't a night shift. There's probably a night shift. What we do know is that the scare floors shown are inactive at night. Here's some reasons for that:

  • As noted, there are times in the day when there are fewer children asleep to scare, so there would be no need to open all the scare floors during these periods.
  • Industrial equipment of any kind has a "duty cycle" which notes what percentage of the time it can be active. It needs periods of inactivity to reduce wear-and-tear and undergo maintenance when needed. Relatively little large equipment has a 100% duty cycle.
  • The door warehouse is completely operational at night. That huge rollercoaster of a delivery system must take a great deal of scream energy to keep going, they'd power it down if there was no demand for doors all night.
  • Again, as noted in another answer, we actually see a night shift in Monsters U. It wasn't that long ago, and we've no reason to think that's changed in the intervening time.
  • We also don't know that the monster's world has the same length day as our world (I do not subscribe to the Pixar Theory™️). So we don't know that the busy periods are always happen at the same time on the monsters' clocks. It seems likely that the busy shifts will shift around the clock over time, and the scarers work when there's more children to scare.

As further proof, take a look at the Monsters Inc. lobby. There are doorways off the main lobby linked to A: The locations on earth on the map above, and B: the current time in that location (see the clocks over the doorways). This indicates that there are multiple scarefloors which correspond to time zones on Earth.

Monsters Inc. Lobby

Short version: There is a night shift, and some days it'd be really busy, just not on the days we see in Monsters Inc.

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  • The script indicates that all doors need to be returned to the vault at the end of the day and that the vault is powered down.
    – Valorum
    May 6, 2021 at 8:16
  • @Valorum Do you have a source for that? Also, why is the vault clearly not powered down when the scare floor is inactive? Randall uses it to retrieve doors out of hours, and then there's the whole chase scene.
    – AJFaraday
    May 6, 2021 at 9:41
  • Presumably Randall/Waternoose powered the vault/floors back up so they can do their shenanigans.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    May 6, 2021 at 9:47
  • @TheLethalCarrot - Indeed. Hence why there's a powered door at the station
    – Valorum
    May 6, 2021 at 9:47

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