Warning: spoilers are in play. If you haven’t seen the latest chapter in Pixar’s landmark franchise, you’ve got a friend in us, but you might want to read a different story.
To land on an ending as heartwarming and effective as the one Toy Story 3 did, with Andy giving his legendary toys to Bonnie, is something every long-running franchise wishes it could land. Yet somehow, Toy Story 4 landed its own ending that not only respected the events of its predecessors, it outdid the third movie's ending on an emotional scale.
With Tom Hanks’ Woody and Annie Potts’ Bo Peep reunited, and Forky taking his place at the center of Bonnie’s play group, everything led to a bittersweet finale that saw the main characters start brand new lives. And that’s exactly why, from the bottom of my heart as a fan, I think Toy Story 4 needs to be the final one in the series.
If you still need some convincing, consider the following:
Woody And Buzz Are Split Up
Historically, the Toy Story franchise has always seen Tom Hanks and Tim Allen at the center of the universe, as Woody and Buzz, respectively. While new toys and new pitfalls have been introduced into the story throughout each entry, the constant has been that these two friends have paired up through it all. Of course, Toy Story 4 splits that lynchpin pair up for good, which means it’s time to let them have their own lives.
Now that we’ve seen that Woody and Buzz can live productive lives without each other, there’s no reason to keep pairing them up for the sake of doing just that. When you split a pair like this apart, it means the end of an era that you generally can’t come back from. To make a Toy Story 5 where the two characters all of a sudden re-team out of the blue would ruin the power of their final conversation in this current movie. In Toy Story 4’s big adventure, both toys became leaders in their own right. Now, there’s no need for them to lean on each other.
The Ending Ties Up Woody And Buzz’s Stories Perfectly
While we’re on the subject of Woody and Buzz, we’ve seen these characters grow to the point where Toy Story 4 puts them in the places they were always working toward. The cowboy toy who was always obsessed with being owned by a kid has now learned to loosen up and live the life of a lost toy, independently. So Woody’s story arc in the Toy Story universe has come full circle.
Meanwhile, Buzz Lightyear went from being an imposing presence to a trusted friend who knew how to co-lead the gang of toys through the complexities and adventures in life with Andy and Bonnie. But now, with Bonnie Hunt’s Dolly in charge and Buzz finding his "inner voice," there should already be an easy way for life without Woody to work. Plus, if anyone should be there to help Forky train Knifey in the ways of being a proper toy, the formerly delusional spaceman is the best candidate. Again, another story arc has been closed and finished perfectly, without a need for further meddling.
Shorts With New Characters Would Be More Exciting
As I'm sticking firmly to the belief that Toy Story 4 should be the final film in this iteration, that’s not to say that there aren’t tons of toy stories in this universe to be told. It’s just that as far as the franchise’s proper entries go, that mine has been stripped. Not to mention, when you look to the contracts of actors like Tim Allen, their obligations look to be covered after Toy Story 4. So while renegotiating the landmark talent for further films might cost Disney/Pixar a pretty penny, shorts with some of the newer toys or even new adventures with the older supporting toys from Toy Story history just might be the ticket.
We saw this work well in the years between Toy Story 3 and Toy Story 4, through shorts and specials like “Partysaurus Rex” and Toy Story of Terror! The tradition is about to continue too, with Forky Asks A Question set to be a series of Disney+ shorts. So there are always opportunities to give someone else the spotlight in new, compact adventures that are solely meant to entertain. (Like, say, a buddy cop dramedy entitled Ducky and Bunny: Plush Rush Miami).
Pixar Should Be Creating New Franchises To Experiment With
The last big reason that Toy Story 4 should be the final entry in the proper canon of Toy Story films is, quite frankly, one Pixar itself has already mentioned as an ongoing concern: the studio needs to start moving away from sequels. While the top brass have been lucky with the franchises they’ve tended to so far, it has to be said that when the people at Pixar are at their best, they’re creating new worlds.
If new paths aren’t worn, and new trails aren’t blazed, the next Incredibles or Wall-E will never be found. Considering how Toy Story 4 went from a movie that needed to convince the world it should exist into the success it currently is, it's easy to see why sequels may seem like a good idea. However, if the company wants to stay fresh, it will keep to the promise of moseying onto the next wagon trail and reaching for the sky with new ideas.
The Toy Story movies have given the world a lot to enjoy over the course of almost a quarter of a century. That’s a lot of time to be hanging around with a pull-string cowboy and a Space Ranger, and while it hasn’t been wasted, it’s definitely time to see what lies beyond their corner of the world.
Toy Story 4 understands this as a film, and it’s time that all who love this series tip their hats respectfully, and make their way into the future. That, and considering how bittersweet/downright tear-jerking the endings to Toy Story 3 and Toy Story 4 are, they’d probably have to go to some unhappy lengths to top them.
If you want to enjoy one last round-up with the gang, Toy Story 4 is currently in theaters. But if you’re ready to see what’s new in the world of either animation or live-action, the 2019 release schedule is here to save the day!