Although Toy Story 4 has only been out for a few weeks, please keep in mind that this list will have spoilers for the latest installment. It's an absolute hit, critically revered, with parents being pulled to the theaters by countless waves of kids. It's a new generation of fans, and they have no idea what the first Toy Story meant to us back in 1995. There had never even been a computer-animated feature before. Toy Story has been an insanely successful franchise, even with nearly a decade between each of the last three installments.
And although it’s a series of family-friendly stories, it also has endearing relationships and heart-wrenching moments. Here are ten of the latter, from the original trilogy.
10 Andy’s Missing Father
This is something that easily goes over any kid’s head. Perhaps it was meant to imply why Andy became so involved with his toys and formed such a significant relationship with Woody. But truthfully, something like that is usually just a child’s incredible imagination at work. Either way, it’s quite a sad reality that Andy’s dad is never around.
We’re never given an official canon reason for that, and it’s really quite depressing that his single mom ends up raising two kids. Either Andy's dad left, or died. Also, we’ve no idea what causes the crucial move that ends up being the climax of the film, but at least Andy’s birthday party suggests he isn’t lonely.
9 Woody Is Replaced
This movie probably made more than a few kids anxious about the attention they give their toys. Especially given that the film establishes they’re all living things with unique personalities, whenever you turn away. Woody’s entire purpose in life is to “be there for Andy”, a theme reinforced throughout every installment. So, when we’re hit with a montage about Andy redirecting all of his attention towards Buzz Lightyear, we can’t help but understand his jealousy. Buzz doesn’t even realize what he is yet, and can’t appreciate what Woody’s lost.
As per Randy Newman, Woody doesn’t just believe he’s Andy’s toy, but his friend too. It’s really tragic to see Andy toss Woody aside after all of the fun they share together.
8 Sid’s Destroyed Toys
If every toy is sentient, then Sid Phillips is one heck of a murderer. Sure, he gets his comeuppance, but given that he shows up as a functioning garbage man later on, it’s too bad that he wasn’t scarred for life.
The three-eyed alien, every limb he ever dismembered—who knows how many toys he’s already destroyed by the time we meet him as the main antagonist of Toy Story. Worse, those toys that belonged to Sid’s sister were separated from her for every experiment. There has to be a reason Sid is so destructive, and that can’t be very good either.
7 Buzz Realizes He’s A Toy
Set to another Randy Newman tune, this is probably one of the saddest scenes in the entire franchise. It’s surprising how much these films have to do with one’s purpose in life.
For a greater part of the film, Buzz truly believes that he’s part of a grand, galactic endeavor. Buzz tries his best to fly but ends up literally broken. It’s truly fascinating that Woody has to teach him the value of being a toy. But before he does, Buzz sinks into a depression and even loses his mind for a minute, in a fantastic gag about one Mrs. Nesbit. But, our lowest moments offer us a chance to learn and rise again. Buzz adapts but doesn’t lose that signature personality.
It’s actually pretty tragic that Andy ends up throwing Wheezy on a shelf the moment he’s broken. Unfortunately, that’s simply the way things are. But the idea that Wheezy spent countless years in isolation is definitely a downer. It’s also Wheezy’s situation that gives Woody the anxiety about getting injured since the implication is that a broken toy doesn’t have a home with Andy.
Truthfully, one wouldn’t want to think that was the case. However, it’s clear that as soon as Andy becomes excited about his new toy Buzz, he forgot all about Woody. He’s just a kid. And if you thought they had short attention spans before, you can only imagine what it’s like these days.
5 Jessie Was Donated
There’s a recurring theme of being forgotten in the original trilogy of Toy Story films. In Toy Story 2, we get our first brush with the simple reality of aging. Jessie is such an upbeat, spunky character, that it’s tough to see her suddenly tossed aside for makeup. And the whole ordeal is set to one of the most crushing songs imaginable. This could easily make an entire generation neurotic about giving up their childhood toys.
Facing abandonment, however, is unfortunately a very real obstacle for a lot of kids to identify with.
4 Andy Grew Up
By the time Toy Story 3 rolls around, it’s actually a shock for some reason, that Andy has sold the majority of his toys. Woody and Bo Peep were completely separated because of it. All that’s left are a handful of toys that Andy cherishes most.
It is made clear that he plans on storing them in the attic. However, it is absolutely heartbreaking to see the familiar gang try so hard to get Andy to give them any kind of attention. They’re excited when he even touches them again. There’s hardly anything sadder than that.
3 The Toys Are Nearly Incinerated
As far as we knew, Toy Story 3 was truly going to be the end of the franchise altogether. An entire decade had gone by since the previous installment, and the filmmakers reacted accordingly. They treated Andy as an avatar for the audience.
He’s heading off to college, he drives (like he wanted to in the first movie), and he doesn’t play with toys anymore. Every kid who had grown up on Toy Story was on board with the final sequel for nostalgia. So, after all the toys fight so vehemently for freedom, it’s very difficult to watch them hold hands and accept death. It’s telling us that we will have to let them go, for good, too. And what makes it so deeply moving, is that they represent our childhood.
2 Andy Gives Up His Toys
In the end, this is ultimately more of a bittersweet moment than something just plain sad. Andy discovers that he can keep his favorite childhood toys within the family, so to speak. But it’s tough to watch anyhow. Particularly when he settles on Woody and Buzz, who aren’t just filled with history for Andy, but for the audience. He decides to give them up too, but not before he plays with his toys one last time.
Childhood memories root deeply in our minds, and you can tell by the nostalgia trend going around these days. But Andy lets go, and for nine years, we had to do the same.
1 Woody Moves On
In the original trilogy, there’s a lot of talk about sticking together. In the newest entry, it’s quite the opposite. As it turns out, Bo Peep wasn’t just sold off. It was her choice to leave, and Woody spends the duration of the film coming to understand that decision. Although Andy learned to move on from his toys, they needed to move on too. Woody hasn’t, and it’s truly difficult seeing him ignored by Bonnie, with little clout among friends. But Bonnie isn’t Andy, and Woody needs to find a new purpose. He absolutely needs Bonnie more than she needs him.
Woody chooses to live for himself, with Bo but abandons all of his friends. It’s a bittersweet and surprising end for Woody, but a perfect resolution. It’s the audience that will be heartbroken the most.