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Toy Story is Pixar's flagship series, and it's beloved by millions of people of all ages. Like a lot of Pixar films, it also has its number of fans theories, as internet users try to crack the mysteries that the films only tease at. Maybe the No. 1 mystery of Toy Story is the absence of Andy's father, who is never seen or mentioned at all. Well, that mystery has finally been solved, but the answer lies not with Andy, but with Woody. The little cowboy doll's backstory has been revealed, and it's just as brilliant, weirdly complicated, and sad as anything Pixar has done. Grab your tissues folks.
Woody's backstory is long and complicated so let's start with this simple fact: Woody originally belonged to Andy's father, Andy Sr. The "Andy" written under his boot? That's Andy Sr.'s handwriting. In the late 50's, Andy Sr. was a huge fan of the TV show Woody's Roundup (first seen in Toy Story 2) and entered a cereal contest to win his very own Woody doll. He had to send in 30 box tops to get a Woody, which unlike other Woody merchandise, wasn't available to purchase anywhere else. However, Andy Sr.'s family was poor and thus he couldn't afford the cereal. So, Andy Sr. wrote the most heart-wrenching letter to the cereal company about how much he loved Woody. Long story short, Andy ends up with a Woody prototype, the absolute only Woody doll in existence (the official line was never manufactured due to a new interest in space toys).
Happy story, right? Wrong. Or did you forget the first 10 minutes of Up? Andy Sr. -- like a lot of kids in that period -- gets polio and needs to go to a special hospital for treatment. When a kid got polio, all of their possessions were burned to stop the spreading of disease. That includes Woody, but Andy Sr. couldn't bare to see Woody destroyed, so in the dead of night he takes Woody and two other toys (Slinky-Dog and Mr. Potato Head!!!) and locks them in a trunk in the attic. Andy Sr. eventually recovers from polio, grow up, gets married, and has a son, the Andy we all know. But sometimes, polio can come back fatally later in life, which is what happens to Andy Sr. In his death bed, he gives Andy a key and tells him that his best friend as a kid is waiting for him in the attic.
Andy Sr. passes away soon after and Andy opens the trunk after the funeral to find Woody, Slinky and Potato Head. Because the three of them were asleep for decades, they have no recollection of the passing of time and believe that Andy -- who looks exactly like Andy Sr. as a kid -- is their original owner. Fast forward what has to be at most a year, and then we're at the beginning of Toy Story.
This whole story was revealed by Mike Mozart, a toy collector who has done work for Disney. Mozart was good friends with Joe Ranft, a Pixar writer, who told him all of this one day over lunch. Apparently, almost no one else knows this story, and Mozart recently revealed it for the masses. Check out the lengthy video below, which goes into a lot more detail about what happened (Al of Al's Toy Barn was involved).
This whole thing sounds a bit like fan fiction, but it fits so perfectly into Toy Story. Why are there no pictures of Andy Sr.? There are, he just looks exactly like Andy. Why doesn't Woody know anything about Woody's Roundup? It was cancelled before he was even made. Why is Woody so valuable? He's literally the only Woody.
Maybe one day the higher brass at Pixar will shed some light on this or accept it has official canon, but this is almost too beautiful not to be. And I thought Toy Story 3 was sad. Also, I guess Woody is just riddled in polio?