The Truth About Andy’s Dad In “Toy Story” Will Make You Depressed

Fine, here’s what happened to Andy’s dad.

A few months ago, I argued the theory that Andy’s mother is actually Emily, the girl who originally owned Jesse in Toy Story 2. The post quickly went viral, as many people began debating whether or not this is true, intentional, etc.

Since then, literally hundreds (if not thousands) of people have been asking me about Andy’s dad, and I’ve never wanted to address the issue for a few key reasons:

  1. It’s depressing.
  2. It’s depressing.
  3. It’s depressing.

You see, I love talking about theories like Andy’s mom and how all of the Pixar movies are connected because that’s tons of fun to think about. Andy’s dad? That’s just…well, you get it.

andy's dad toy story

But I can see that a lot of you want to know anyway, and it’s really not that complicated. In fact, this is one of the few theories about Toy Story that I can confidently say is totally intentional.

The original theory was first posited by Jess Nevins, an incredibly talented writer who published his take on “Mr. Davis” back in 2010. I’ll elaborate on his theory and build upon it with my own insights.

Nevins claimed that Andy’s parents are going through a divorce during the events of the first Toy Story. Now, many of you probably saw that coming (it’s pretty obvious, after all), but it’s important to point out that this is not an amicable divorce. Andy’s dad left the family, and there’s plenty of evidence to confirm this.

Keep in mind that Andy’s dad is never mentioned or seen throughout the Toy Story movies. If it wasn’t for the rudiments of biology and procreation, then we could just assume that the guy doesn’t even exist. But he does, and all signs point to him walking out on his wife and kids.

The Obvious Clues

He may have left right before the first Toy Story started or months before, but one thing is certain: Andy’s dad did not die. If he had died, then why are there no pictures of him on the wall in the Davis house?

toy story andy's dad

As you can see from this shot of Toy Story, Andy’s dad is not depicted in these family photos. If he had died, you’d think they would at least keep a picture of him up for the sake of honoring his memory.

Of course, you can argue that he died a long time ago, and the family has forgotten about him already. But if that’s the case, then how do you explain the fact that Molly (Andy’s younger sister) is a baby? He would’ve had to have died recently in order for her existence to be possible.

It makes more sense to assume that his pictures were taken down, and it would take something despicable on his part for that to happen.

To strengthen that point, Andy’s mom is spotted without a wedding ring at Andy’s birthday party in the first film. If Mr. Davis had died recently, then she would probably still be wearing it.

toy story andy's dad

Now, I’ll admit that if you really want to, you can come up with a lot of diverting theories to explain all of this by saying Molly was conceived by some other man and that could be why the parents divorced. You could argue that the kids are adopted, or Andy’s mom just “gets around.”

But don’t you think the creators of Toy Story intended for this to be clear? In this case, the simple explanation is the more likely.

After all, the family is moving from a bigger house to a noticeably smaller one in Toy Story, which signals that Andy’s mom is having financial trouble. If she and Mr. Davis were getting a divorce, then he would at least be paying child support, but the family still has to make some sacrifices.

Oh, and the family gets a puppy. That’s pretty much the king of single mother clichés.

Childish Competition

The “deadbeat dad” theory also explains why Andy is so deeply connected with his toys, especially the masculine figureheads depicted by Woody and Buzz (who are both authoritative models as a “sheriff” and a “space ranger”).

What seems like a petty rivalry between two toys vying for Andy’s affection is really an allegory that Andy is playing out in his mind. In the end, their reconciliation and eventual friendship is symbolic of Andy coming to terms with only having his mother around.


toy story andy's dad

Woody is the “old” father figure that represents where Andy really comes from, while Buzz is the “new” future he has to get used to. It’s no wonder Andy is going through emotional whiplash as he has to face the absence of his father and having to move to a totally new house within such a limited amount of time.

Now, if you’re a fan of my theory of Pixar movies and the Pixar Detective novel, then a fun way to interpret this is by noting how Woody and Buzz are essentially “programmed” to make Andy happy.

They may notice that he is torn by his old life and the new one that is being forced upon him, prompting Woody to obsess over making sure Andy still has a connection to his old life, while Buzz is the “oblivious” future that just happens upon Andy without him knowing it.

A Common Theme

Ultimately, this explains why Andy is so deeply immersed with his toys, and it’s a theme that Disney is no stranger to. In many Disney and Pixar films, the main characters are brought up without one or both parents.


toy story andy's dad

Movies like this include Up (Russell’s father left him), Tangled (Rapunzel is raised by an evil fake-mother and Flynn is an orphan), Frozen (both parents pass away), A Bug’s Life (Dot and Atta only have their mother), The Princess and the Frog (her father dies early on), Aladdin (Jasmine’s mother is never mentioned and Aladdin’s father is estranged until the third film) and I could go on and on.

The simple explanation for this is that many people suffer from broken homes during their formative years, and it’s been reflected in both literature and moviemaking for as long as they’ve been around. It should be no surprise that a fun film like Toy Story has an undercurrent of sadness and (dare I say it) reality lingering in the background.

Also, it’s been a tradition for movies and even TV to stray from having both parents onscreen in order to prevent alienating single parents who take their kids to go see movies. Ouch, right in the heart.

What the Creators Have to Say About It

Now, if you ask the director of Toy Story, Lee Unkrich, directly, then he’ll give you a mysteriously vague answer. In her article, Toy Story 3 and the Triumph of a Single Mother,” writer Mary Pols spoke with Unkrich himself and gained his thoughts on the matter:

“It’s an oft asked question, but there is no concrete answer, We don’t mean to be mysterious about it; it’s just never been relevant to the story.”

It’s just always been that way. The decision was made really early on in ‘Toy Story’ to have Andy’s dad not be around. We’ve never addressed it directly, nor have we given any explanation for where he is or why he’s absent.”

As for Unkrich himself (pictured below), his parents divorced when he was 10 years old, and he reportedly grew up with just his mother for some time.

toy story andy's dad

On Quora, Craig Good (one of Toy Story‘s animators) claims that the decision to exclude Andy’s dad was made because rendering humans was very difficult and expensive at the time, and he wouldn’t be relevant to the story anyway.

But that definitely doesn’t mean they didn’t pepper in a few clues that hint at Andy’s father being a deadbeat. That most easily explains why he truly isn’t necessary for the Toy Story movies, especially to the characters who moved on without him.

Except for Buzz Lightyear, of course. Even he got a dad in Toy Story 2…

toy story andy's dad


So here it is in a nutshell. Andy’s father most likely walked out on the family, which led to Andy’s mother deciding to relocate to a smaller house to save money and (hopefully) move on from the painful memory. She has removed any pictures she has of him, along with her wedding ring, and the father is never mentioned or seen, even in Andy’s graduation photos.

It’s sad and kind of depressing, but inevitably pointless to the story, which is really about a boy and his toys that somehow come to life and compete for his love and imagination.

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208 thoughts

  1. It seems to me more likely that Andy’s father is dead. If he were alive and this deadbeat scumbag who abandoned his family, skipped out on his son’s birthday and highschool graduation among plenty of other things. Why on earth would Andy be so attached to the toy presumably owned by his deadbeat father? Why would he choose out of all other toys he owns to bring woody with him to college if at this point he would definitely know and understand that his father is a deadbeat and never coming back? If his father did abandon Andy and his family he would resent his father and want nothing to do with Woody. On the other hand if Woody had belonged to Andy’s now deceased father he would have a very strong attachment to the toy enough so that he would want to bring the toy with him everywhere, even college. As far as Andy’s mom moving from a “larger house” to a “smaller house” if the house they had lived in before was smaller then why did Andy and Molly share a room? That’s something that typically you do in a smaller house. Maybe there are no pictures of Andy’s father because it’s still too painful for young Andy to see his dead father every day and Andy’s mom knows this. Or maybe Andy’s mom is trying to see other people. The point is it makes little sense that Andy’s father is just a deadbeat dad.


    1. Not exactly. I agree that it seems odd that Andy would be so attached to a toy representing his deadbeat father, but it’s also unlikely that he’d be playing with Woody at all if his dad died. I personally didn’t want to see anything of my father’s when he died. As for moving to a bigger-not-smaller house, perhaps Andy’s mom wanted to move on from her deadbeat husband, and decided to move to another place. At least, that’s my explanation.


    2. I thank any kid would want to hang on to anything from their parent if they somehow lost their parent. It’s understandable that Andy would want to keep the doll especially if it was once his father’s because he’d want to hang on to his lost parent. Most kids at that age wouldn’t hold so much resentment for their parent if they walked on them. If they were older, it’d make more sense to be a bit hateful but I personally think that Andy was just trying to hang on to that little piece of his dad.


  2. Does anyone else realize the house they moved to is bigger in atleast 1 way? The one they move to has 3 rooms because in the first one Andy and Molly are sharing a room


  3. There is one other possibility that no one seems to have caught yet. And I get it, not many people think of the non traditional family. Maybe mom, getting older and getting tired of Mr. Right taking too long to make himself known, decided to take matters into her own hands and have the kids she so desperately wanted through artificial insemination. In which case, dad is an anonymous donor, not a deadbeat dad. This theory would also be supported by the fact that there’s no pictures of dad and he’s never mentioned.


    1. That actually makes alot of sense, I maybe a little bit stupid, but why does Molly have such yellow hair while Andy sort of has his Mom’s hair, maybe the father was a yellow-haired Sailor-Moon-Child, either ways, you do make some sense of what otherwise would be a bottomless mystery


  4. My dad also walked out on my family, so this is very relatable for me. I never saw the clues and thank you for pointing this out for me.


        1. As someone who has a artificial father figure i agree that you are too rude. Sure my father died before i turned ten, sure he was my best friend at the time. But I’ve got a kickass (awesome way) stepdad to compensate.


  5. Elsa and repunzel are sisters. Go on YouTube and search up Elsa and Anna aren’t sisters and make sure the channel is the film theorists.


  6. I don’t know, I feel like his dad just passed away. It takes 9 months for a baby to be born. He probably died sometime before. And I know lots of people who remove wedding rings after their spouse is gone. I actually think it would be weird to still wear it as if they are alive..? And about the pictures, they are getting ready to move correct? Maybe they’re packed away. Besides Andy was just a kid and probably didn’t want to be reminded too much of his dad. Also, Andy is super attached to Woody who was previously owned by his father. He even wanted to take Woody to college! Im pretty sure he wouldnt be feeling that way if his dad was a dead beat.


  7. Great theory. In addition, might I add that Woody actually originally belonged to Andy’s father.

    This is evidenced by the following:
    1) He is a really old toy. In toy story 2 you see Woody on the front of a magazine cover from 1957. It is unlikely they continued to make a Woody toy in 1995 when the movie picks up – at which point he does appear to be super famous (like Bugs Bunny, and Mickey who are arguably as famous today as ever). He has also been out of “manufacturing” for a long time as he is now a collector’s item.

    2) During the yard sale, Andy’s mum takes Woody back from Big Al with the remark that he is not for old toy as he is an old family toy. Perhaps because it has been handed down

    3) Andy is super fond of Woody….perhaps because he is a reminder of his father

    Why doesn’t Woody remember Andy’s father? Well, perhaps just like Buzz can be reset, Woody could be too. This would explain why he was unaware that he was part of a collection. Think about it – if he was on a supermarket shelf with countless other Woody’s Round Up toys – surely he’d remember them. Stinky Pete seems to remember being on the shelf for instance. Woody also makes the comment at some stage that he has been Andy’s toy for as long as he can remember.

    Credit: my wife wife actually first conjured the idea of him belonging to Andy’s dad…the rest just came into place for me based on that initial bit of inspiration!


  8. What if Andy is just a sperm bank baby , and a 4th movie will show the mother with a partner 😏


  9. Woody belonged to Andy’s uncle, his mom’s brother.
    Andy’s mom is Emily so it makes sense that both her and her brother had Woody and Jesse toys as children.
    The uncle is childless and gave Woody to Andy when he was born.

    Andy’s dad left when the mom was pregnant with Molly. Actually mom kicked him out after finding out he was cheating.

    She moves house as the sale was part of the divorce proceedings.
    The new place is better anyway. Closer to her new job, her parents and it has three bedrooms!


  10. That happend when you are the lover, with that theory sound like Andy´s mom was the second one, and the father prefer the keep with the first family. My neighboor have a story like that, with three kids, same father, but he never there, because he is married. Maybe Andy’s mom is that kind of woman like to be like that.


  11. Has anyone ever thought that she got an artificial sperm for both of them?
    Because it would make sense
    No wedding ring because they were never married, no pictures since she would have never met him, AND THE FACT HES NOT IN ANDYS GRADUATION PHOTO, the mom doesn’t seem depressed, or angry, or shocked in any way (like most women would be after a recent divorce) and that no one ever mentions him.


    1. Supporting this theory:
      No wedding ring because, lawfully, she’s not married anymore (I’m just assuming they got a divorce, because it’s easier).
      No pictures because it wasn’t an easy separation.
      Andy’s dad isn’t in his graduation photo because after ten years, they can’t be too close.
      Andy’s mom could very well be depressed or angry, and we just don’t see it. Keep in mind that the movies are mostly shown from the toys’ perspective. It’s possible they had little to no idea about the divorce, and didn’t see the anguish behind the scenes. This could explain why Andy seems so normal and laid back— the toys only see him as they assume he is: happy.


      1. ………….Dang girl/boy/fruit. That is the BEST take on it I’ve heard. This is the reason why I love having you as a Co-Conspirío. Because you are a deep thinker and look beyond what you see.


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