The Hidden Tragedy of Toy Story

Toy Story MagazineA recent video from J of SuperCarlinBrothers brought some Toy Story arcana to light. It casts the classic in a whole new light, giving Woody and the gang a tearjerker of a backstory.

It turns out the good folks at Pixar love to overthink their favorite media just as much as any true fan. All those plot holes and unanswered questions in Toy Story were in fact accounted for.

Small details like “Where’s Andy’s dad in all this?” and “Why doesn’t Woody know who he is?” aren’t so small after all. Most casual viewers simply give the films a pass on these, assuming they’re just necessary setup if they think about it at all. Pixar, though, isn’t casual.

They live and breathe their films. They carefully craft every detail. The characters and stories are informed by more backstory than ever explicitly makes it to the screen.

So, there’s a reason why you never see Andy’s dad, and it’s not just because they didn’t want to cast another voice actor. There’s a reason why Woody is such a rare toy, and why he seems to have amnesia. The reason isn’t just so that he has to go on a quest.

And that reason is incredibly sad.

Drawing on information from Pixar cofounder Joe Ranft via toy maven Mike Mozart, J spins a tale of Andy’s father. It’s a series of incredible events that sound like pure speculation, but they’re A) backed up by the movie, and B) come from Joe Ranft himself.

Here are the highlights.

  • Andy’s dad was also named Andy. Let’s call from Andy Sr.
  • Andy Sr.’s most prized possession was Woody. He’s a one-of-a-kind prototype doll, and that’s why he doesn’t know his past. He didn’t have any family.
  • Suffering from a polio relapse, Andy Sr., his wife, and Andy Jr. moved back into his childhood home. He died of polio there, and left Woody, Mr. Potato Head, and Slinky Dog to his son.
  • The toys have no idea that Andy Jr. is a different person.

It’s pretty nuts, and no surprise that not a lick of it is on the surface during the film. The clues are there, though, as the video points out.

The pictures on the walls all seem to show Andy, but small differences (glasses, a missing tooth), are clues that they actually show Andy Sr. as a child.

The family moving truck is nearly empty, because they’re moving back into a furnished house.

And there’s Woody himself. It’s Andy Sr. who wrote his name on Woody’s foot, and there’s a reason the other toys are strangely reluctant to talk to Woody about his identity.

You really need to watch the video. It’s nearly 20 minutes long, but it will leave you in awe of Pixar and the way they approach their films.

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