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Which Pixar Plot Twist is the Best? (And Worst)

pixar plot twist

Pixar movies aren’t really known for having great plot twists. But there are still a few good ones here and there that we can appreciate.

So which Pixar “plot twist” is the best? This isn’t an easy question to answer, and obviously Pixar fans will spar and disagree over the top 5, let alone the very best. That said, I’ve devised my own rating system for each of Pixar’s most relevant plot twists, and to answer this question for myself, I’m breaking down the Pixar filmography movie by movie to assign these ratings and form my own conclusion accordingly.

But first, let’s define what a plot twist really is as best we can. To keep things simple, I consider a plot twist to be a radical shift in the expected outcome of the plot. Normally, we would only consider these to be plot twists if they happen closer to the end of the story, but I think a great plot twist can be revealed as early as the second act.

(Warning, this post contains spoilers for every single Pixar movie!)

Let’s begin with Pixar’s first feature-length film: Toy Story.

Go on…Which Pixar Plot Twist is the Best? (And Worst)

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Did Andy From ‘Toy Story’ Have His Own Monster?

Every once in a while, someone manages to create a pretty convincing fan theory about the Pixar movies. Most of the time, these theories are pretty lackluster, but Jonathan Carlin of “SuperCarlinBrothers” has recently come up with a great theory you might believe in.

Now, if you enjoy my theories and speculations on this site, then I have little doubt you’ll enjoy Carlin’s work on YouTube. We’ve shared multiple theories from each other on our own platforms over the years, and he’s certainly one of the most entertaining vloggers out there when it comes to fan theories.

And so is the case with his latest argument for why Andy from Toy Story has a monster we know from Monsters Inc. I’ll outline and evaluate his theory below, but you can also watch his video on the subject if you prefer (it’s only about 6 minutes long).

 

OK, so let’s go over SCB’s theory in detail, starting with the overall premise that Toy Story and Monsters Inc. share the same universe.

Of course, longtime readers already know I’m sold on this. The litany of easter eggs shared between the movies (from Jessie’s appearance in Boo’s room to Randall’s imitation of Andy’s wallpaper) share a lot of credence to the idea that these films are connected. And if you believe in my unifying Pixar Theory, then that’s that.

SCB himself points out that in Toy Story 3, we see a young girl who looks like she could be “Boo” (real name is Mary) because they look alike, though it’s not 100% certain. He also makes a connection between a poster we see in Monsters Inc. inside a child’s room and the same poster being on Sid’s wall in Toy Story.

toy-story-pixar-theory-who-is-andy-s-monster-404836

As you can see, though, the posters aren’t situated the same way, and the monster we’re seeing has just been scared by a young girl, not a sadistic kid like Sid. For that reason, I think this is just an easter egg and NOT an indication that this was Sid’s monster.

Next, SCB points out that the movies sort of collide in a comic book series called Monsters Inc: Laugh Factory. Published in 2009, this 4-part series is about what happened after the events of Monsters Inc. Interestingly, a kid who looks like Sid Phillips (minus the skull t-shirt) shows up.

andy monster toy story

You can actually see several easter eggs in Boo’s room, here. And that’s kind of the point. Laugh Factory is filled with tons of references to other Pixar movies, as this was written by Paul Benjamin, a comic book writer for Marvel (not Pixar).

Keep in mind that Disney bought Marvel in 2009, likely explaining why this comic book series came about. For that reason and several others (including blatant continuity errors), I don’t actually consider these stories canon. They’re very over-the-top and portray situations and overt nods to other Pixar movies that don’t fit the framework of what Pixar has made themselves. Still, it’s a very interesting comic book series you can check out here.

Now on to the crux of SCB’s proposed theory. Could Andy have a monster of his own? Monsters Inc. takes place in 2001, which is 6 years after the events of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 (which takes place the summer following the first movie’s ending Christmas scene).

toy story andy monsters

Monsters have been scaring kids for centuries, as we know from Monsters University revealing that the school was founded in 1313. So if the movies are connected, then it’s reasonable to assume that Andy could be one of the children assigned a monster.

In Monsters Inc., I always found it weird that there are commercials and advertisements for what is essentially a power plant. Why would Waternoose be so concerned about awareness?

Monsters Inc. doesn’t sell anything. 

Well, it would seem that Waternoose is concerned with recruiting new scarers. The university trains these monsters to make them the best, but as we saw in Monsters University, Sulley was able to climb the ranks without an education, possibly explaining why Waternoose is interested in hiring recruits anywhere he can find them.

toy story andy monsters

This all leads me to believe that there are lots of children, but not enough scarers. The problem they have is getting enough energy from the kids they scare (because kids are harder to scare these days), but another solution is to hire more scarers to scare even more kids. Scary.

That also explains why kidnapping children was such an appealing solution to Waternoose. If he can’t keep up with demand, then stealing the kids outright can give him enough energy to last years.

Though Roz tells Mike and Sulley that they’ve been onto the kidnappings for quite some time, it’s doubtful that Andy as a kid in 1996 was ever stolen. There’s just no evidence or reason to believe that.

Back to SCB’s theory. He argues that Andy’s closet door looks remarkably similar to a door seen in Monsters University (though he couldn’t find the same door in Monsters Inc.) Specifically, this door from a promo reel on the Monsters University website matches Andy’s door.

andy toy story monsters andy toy story monsters

The doorknobs even match up because on this side of the closet, the doorknob should be on the right because the one on Andy’s closet door is on the left.

SCB argues that this evidence — in tandem with Randall practicing his camouflage with wallpaper from Andy’s room — proves that Randall is Andy’s monster.

Unfortunately, I don’t agree.

The issue is that Monsters University takes place years before Randall becomes a full-time scarer (he’s just a freshman at the start of the movie). If this is Andy’s door, then that just means Andy had some other monster while Randall was still in school.

toy story andy monsters

That also gives a more logical explanation for the wallpaper thing. Sure, Randall has it as practice, but that doesn’t mean he’s scared a kid with that same wallpaper. It probably just belongs to Monsters Inc. in the same way they have the practice rooms for scaring. Why and how would Randall have this for his own personal use unless he got it from the company?

I think it makes way more sense for the wallpaper to be passed down because it belonged to a kid who moved, giving them an opportunity to collect it and use it for practice. That may even be why the university has this door in the first place. It’s not being used anymore.

Of course, who else would need wallpaper to camouflage themselves against? It’s not like everyone can be stealthy like Randall. Well, I’d say the simple explanation is that Monsters Inc. builds its practice rooms from real rooms, and Randall and his assistant are using wallpaper from these rooms for their specialized training.

Here’s a question that’s bothered me for a while: How much time passes between Monsters University and Monsters Inc.?

This is a question of age, to be sure. In the original movie, Mike and Sulley appear to be grown, well-established adults. From their voice actors, you’d assume they’re in their late 30s or early 40s.

toy story andy monsters

After watching Monsters University, however, you can tell that their voices are basically the same. Mike is in a relationship with Celia not long after he and Sulley get their dream jobs, and neither of them seem settled down romantically. I’d honestly argue they’re really in their mid-20s, which supports the idea that Monsters University occurs during or after Andy’s move in 1995.

SCB also brings up the “Newt Crossing” sticker on Andy’s door in Toy Story 3 as evidence that Andy remembers Randall coming through his closet. But I don’t find that very convincing because why would Andy plaster something that scared him on his closet? I’m more inclined to believe that it really is just a reference to the Newt movie that never came about.

I really enjoy this theory, but I don’t think it’s complete. SCB is certainly on to something, and I definitely want to believe a monster we’ve seen has an old scare card for Andy somewhere. But for now, we can only guess.

toy story andy monsters

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5 Theories For What Really Happened to Bo Peep in ‘Toy Story 3’

If you recall, Toy Story 3 sort of glossed over the destiny of Woody’s love interest. Woody. He’s the star of the show, but arguably the second most important person-er-soul to him clearly vanished. And he barely even talks about it.

That’s like if Rachael from Friends suddenly just vanished, but Ross carried on because at least he still has Monica (who I’m guessing is Buzz Lightyear in this analogy? I didn’t think this through).bo peep toy story

Anyway, since Pixar doesn’t want to just tell us what happened to Bo Peep, it’s time us fans do it for them. Who knows? Maybe the next Toy Story will showcase the return of Bo Peep if we do a good enough job.

My suggestions are below. Please add yours in the comments (and don’t you dare bring up “Once Upon a Time” on ABC).

#1 Bo Peep was sold at a yard sale.

YardSale

Let’s just get this one out of the way, because it’s the most obvious. Eventually, Andy had to start believing it was weird to play with a porcelain doll (don’t hate, the 90s were a different time). So he’d pass her off to Molly, presumably, who would then get sick of Bo Peep until Mrs. Davis cleared the dusty shelf.

Right?

I’m not convinced. Andy recognizes that Woody and Bo Peep are in love. And it seems like that’s why he kept Jessie and Mrs. Potato (who are also girls’ toys he pairs with Buzz and Mr. Potato Head), even though he would outgrow them faster. So why would he part with his favorite toy’s paramour? Plus, he probably watched “Friends” (because again, it’s the 90s) and got the same Ross/Rachael analogy I pointed out earlier.

As for Molly, she kept her Barbie all those years.

bo peep toy story

Why not Bo Peep as well? Something doesn’t add the heck up.

#2 Andy lost her.

bo peep toy story

Pretty reasonable, right? Kids lose toys all the time. He lost a bunch of his army men, from the look of things, and  half of the first movie was only about how he lost his toys.

Right?

Maybe not. Again, Bo Peep is an important toy because she’s closest to Woody. And even if Andy couldn’t find her, the toys would have. We’re talking about the same group of toys who traveled halfway across Tri-County on foot and crossed rush hour traffic just to find Woody.

#3 Bo Peep ran away.

toy story bo peep

I mean, it is possible. How do we know she didn’t just decide to split? Maybe she got sick of never being played with and bailed, similar to how the army men peaced out in the beginning of Toy Story 3.

Right?

No way. If you know anything about the grand universe of Pixar, then you know that toys operate under strict, programmed directives to always please humans no matter what. Unless your human is Sid.

Besides, she wouldn’t just leave her sheep behind. It’s Bo.

#4 Bo Peep was donated.

bo peep toy story

We know Andy’s mom is familiar with Sunnyside Daycare in Toy Story 3. During her classic mom talk with Bonnie’s mom, she talks about how they haven’t seen the kids in years. And Sunnyside is the first place she thought of to donate toys, so she might have donated Bo Peep (and other favorites like Etch and Mr. Spell) years before.

Right?

Ridiculous. If she was donated to Sunnyside, she’d still be around by the time Woody and the gang showed up in Toy Story 3. I mean, sure, it would have been awesome if she had turned evil and had Lotso’s dictator role by the time Woody showed up, but Pixar doesn’t read my fan fiction scripts.

If she was donated, then that means Lotso and the gang put her in the Caterpillar room. And if we don’t see her, that means she was literally destroyed by children, and I don’t think Pixar hates us that much.

#5 Annie Potts was too busy to voice her again.

bo peep toy story

The ensemble at this point was too big to include her, anyway. So Pixar must’ve thought it would be a waste of cash to rehire Annie Potts, who voices Bo Peep in the first two films. And maybe they have no idea what happened to Bo Peep, leaving it to our (dangerous) imaginations.

Right?

You must be joking. How many times do I have to say it? Bo Peep is important. This is modern cinema for crying out loud. She’s the white love interest of a white leading man. They’re not just going to sweep her character under the rug without leaving clues about her whereabouts for us to find.

And they kept Slinky, even though his voice actor tragically passed away. This wasn’t about money. This was about something…something we may never understand.

But if anyone’s going to find out what really happened to Bo Peep, it’s someone way smarter than me. So get to work!

HINT: it happened when Andy was young, as evidenced by her noticeable absence from this once precious moment that is now a full-blown crime scene:

bo peep toy story

THE VERDICT:

Well, that was fast. Blogger Steve Feek came up with an explanation that I find pretty suitable.

So we know that Bo Peep and her sheep are made of porcelain. Well, what if she was accidentally broken by Andy? All it would take is a brush off the night stand and onto the floor.

Mrs. Davis would have no choice but to throw her out, despite Andy’s protests (broken porcelain is no toy for a child). In fact, this would probably traumatize Woody because he would forever be haunted by the one time he couldn’t save Bo Peep.

That got pretty dark…


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Ranking the Pixar Movies By Box Office Success

Trying to compare the Pixar films according to quality and personal affection is a pointless task, in my opinion. Of course, I could easily tell you what my favorite films are and rank them, but how does that really help anyone?

Everyone has their favorites, but everyone also loves lists and comparisons. So for the sake of this post, I’m pointing out how successful each one was compared to the other. Prepare to be surprised.

To crunch the numbers, I added the domestic and foreign totals to provide the worldwide figures. I also adjusted everything according to inflation in 2014, so you’re really seeing which films made the most value in their day.

I did not rank these in order of profitability, as in I don’t point out how much it cost to make the film versus how much it made. Instead, I kept it simple and only pointed out how much money the film made overall.

Let’s begin!

 

#1. Finding Nemo

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Many assume that Toy Story 3 was the first Pixar film to make over $1 billion worldwide, and they’re technically right. In 2003, Finding Nemo just barely came short of the billion mark with $936 million made worldwide. But when you adjust for inflation, the underwater animated film actually made $1.2 billion worldwide, easily surpassing the threequel.

Why? This is pretty impressive considering the fact that Finding Nemo had fewer advantages than more recent Pixar films. This was before foreign markets were becoming the brunt of Disney Pixar’s audience. In fact, I’d argue that it opened the floodgates to how well U.S. films can perform overseas.

Put simply, Finding Nemo benefitted from having extremely wide appeal. While movies about toys, superheroes, and balloon houses are fun concepts, many people of different ages found a reason to check out this film about a father finding his lost son in an endless ocean.

 

#2. Toy Story 3

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: The possibly final entry in the Toy Story franchise is also its most successful. It was the first Pixar film to make $1 billion worldwide ($1.1 billion adjusted for inflation), and unlike Finding Nemo, its gap between money made domestically and foreign is much narrower.

Why? Waiting a decade to finish the franchise was a smart decision on Pixar’s part. Strong word-of-mouth, the return of the original cast, and an emotionally wrenching premise made this a can’t-miss film for the countless people who fell in love with Toy Story over the course of 15 years.

 

#3. Up

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: It didn’t just collect Oscars. Up pulled in an impressive $731 million worldwide. Adjusted from 2009, that’s over $812 million.

Why? The film had broad international appeal thanks to its setting, and it came at a time when Pixar was hitting its stride with back-to-back hits. It also benefitted from a strong opening that had critics raving over the score and memorable characters. That, and this was also the first Pixar film to reap the benefits of 3D ticket prices.

 

#4. The Incredibles

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Following the success of Finding Nemo was an impossible task, so leave it to the superhero film to accomplish just that. The Incredibles made a whopping $631.million worldwide in 2004, which is actually $795.8 million by today’s standards.

Why? One of the main advantages of mashing up several genres like superheroes, family drama, comedy, animation, and spies is that you can generate a ton of interest in your movie. Families and young adults came out to this film in droves, and it didn’t hurt that audiences were still enamored with the success of Finding Nemo.

 

#5. Monsters University

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: This 2013 prequel to Monsters Inc. narrowly surpassed its predecessor by raking in $743.5 million worldwide ($760 million adjusted for inflation). It’s important to note that it made the bulk of its money overseas, like many of the recent Pixar films.

Why? As a rule, sequels and even prequels tend to build upon existing audiences, no matter the downgrade in quality. Plus, the film was quite enjoyable and a step up from Pixar’s previous outings (Cars 2 and Brave).

 

#6. Monsters Inc.

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: This is the Pixar film that showed critics just what the studio was capable of, as it was the first of the films to spike in profit. The 2001 film made an impressive $562.8 million worldwide ($756.4 adjusted), with an almost even split between domestic and foreign markets.

Why? This film came out after a 1-year hiatus for Pixar, and it had been three years since the studio had released a non-sequel. Thanks to Monsters Inc., the momentum for Pixar as it entered the 21st century was set early, and high.

 

#7. Ratatouille

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Only Pixar can make a film about a rat learning to cook in Paris a huge success with over $623 million made globally ($716.7 million adjusted).

Why? Foreign markets definitely carried this film, representing about 2/3 of the profits. Also, audiences who were displeased with Cars were happy to see a Pixar film with more traditional storytelling (even though it was anything but).

 

#8. Toy Story 2

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: That’s right, one of Disney’s first forays into a sequel (they’re notorious for not doing big screen sequels at all) was a Pixar film. And it totally paid off. Toy Story 2 ran away with $485 million worldwide. These days, that’s nearly $700 million. Keep in mind that this was in 1999; a time when the box office competition was fierce.

Why? As we now know, the film was just as good if not better than the original, and that prompted millions of people who loved the first film to go see this one. And it helped that VHS sales build a lot of hype for this film four years after the original. The lesson, of course, is that there should be a lot of time in between sequels for the sake of direction and precision. Not many people have learned this lesson, sadly.

#9. Cars 2

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Pixar’s follow-up to the record-breaking Toy Story 3 was yet another sequel. And they suffered for it. Cars 2  brought in about $559 million worldwide, or $593 million adjusted for inflation. A little more than half of what Pixar made the previous year.

Why? Some are wondering why it made so much when it shouldn’t. Others may be wondering why it didn’t make as much. Both questions are answered by the fact that the film was both helped and hurt by its predecessor, Cars. Yes, it had plenty of interest from fans of the original, but the problem was that there weren’t that many fans anyway. But it still made good money, especially overseas. This was partly due to the various locales seen in the film and Disney’s expertise at managing foreign markets by 2011.

 

#10. WALL-E

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: This may surprise a lot of you, but WALL-E only brought in $521 million worldwide. Adjusted for this year, that’s only about $576.8 million.

Why? Oddly, this is celebrated as one of Pixar’s best films, both by audiences and critics. And yet it is one of the least successful. Sadly, this is mostly because the film came out during the onset of Great Recession, which badly hurt money made domestically. On top of that, many moviegoers were put off by the film’s lack of dialogue, especially in the early parts of the film.

 

#11. Toy Story

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: The first of the Pixar films performed pretty well for a forerunner. It made $362 million worldwide, with most of that money being domestic. Nowadays, that translates to about $566 million, which is nothing to scoff at.

Why? Unlike its successors, Toy Story didn’t have the luxury of Pixar being a household name. It earned its success solely from being a good film and shattering expectations as the first computer-animated film ever. In fact, I’m more surprised that this isn’t lower on the list considering the risk that was put into making it. Toy Story truly is a miracle of film.

 

#12. Brave

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Still hurting from the disappointment that was Cars 2, this 2012 film also disappointed with a meager $539 million worldwide total ($559 million adjusted). That’s still pretty good, though it is certainly low compared to the rest of the Pixar family.

Why? Entire research papers could be written about the mystery surrounding Brave‘s underwhelming premise. I’m not sure I fully understand why it fell short for me, personally. Whatever the reason, Brave just didn’t click or resonate with people as deeply as previous Pixar films, which made this an animated outing for only a certain group of moviegoers (kids and their parents looking for a getaway).

 

#13. Cars

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Released in 2006, Cars didn’t really deliver for Pixar as much as they hoped with a decent $462 million worldwide ($546 million adjusted). Of course, it was still incredibly profitable for Pixar, seeing as it only cost $120 million to make.

Why? You know a film has problems when it falls so short after two massive hits like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. It even had the benefit of coming along after a 1-year hiatus. Still, audiences weren’t impressed with the premise, and Cars ultimately suffered. Strangely, the sequel was still green-lit and made a bit more money years later.

 

#14. A Bug’s Life

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Pixar’s second film was great in its own right, even though that didn’t necessarily translate to box office sales. It made just $363 million worldwide, which is about $530.5 million adjusted for inflation. Interestingly, it made more money overseas than Toy Story did, and it was the first of the Pixar films to make most of its money in foreign markets.

Why? Put simply, the novelty of computer animation had worn off a bit. So A Bug’s Life had to rely on just being a good movie. That’s why it made as much as it did, but the basic fact is that a film about toys coming to life was more appealing than a film about bugs fighting grasshoppers.

 

Conclusions:

One of the most interesting things about this list is that even the lowest entry of Pixar’s films is a box office success that stands up to most of the films that are coming out today. That means in 14 films over the course of 19 years, Pixar hasn’t had a single flop. No other studio in history can compare to that kind of consistent success.

In the years to come, we’ll see if Pixar can maintain the status quo or make another huge leap forward. Inside Out premieres next summer, and it could prove to be the next Monsters Inc. in terms of reviving the studio’s creative fortunes. And with new sequels like Finding Dory and The Incredibles 2 on the horizon, along with some other originals like The Good Dinosaur, Pixar may be poised for its first renaissance.

ranking  the pixar movies

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

Andy dad toy story

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

Summary:

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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