Why Woody Was So Important In Toy Story 4, And How That Could Affect A Sequel

Toy Story 4 Bo Peep Woody and Buzz stand on a hill, as the sun rises on the fair

Warning: spoilers for Toy Story 4 are in play. You’ve got a friend in us, as we’re suggesting you roundup some other stories on our home page if you haven’t seen this movie just yet. So ride like the wind, and come back once you’re current.

After Toy Story 3 had supposedly wrapped up the story of Tom Hanks’ Woody, Tim Allen’s Buzz, and the entire gang of Andy’s childhood toys, the world was surprised when Toy Story 4 announced the fun wasn’t over yet. Though it seemed like a debatable idea at first, the purpose of the fourth film was revealed in good time: it was intended to close off the character arc of the legendary cowboy toy himself.

CinemaBlend’s own Jeff McCobb got to speak with Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley during the recent home video press day, and of course one of the big questions that was asked was whether or not Toy Story 5 might surprise the world after all. Cooley played it cool, revealing why Toy Story 4 came together the way it did in the process and how the surprise element in Toy Story 4 could lead to another movie surprise in the future, just maybe.

Our goal on this film was just to finish Woody’s arc. We felt like we could actually continue his arc and finish it. So I think that Woody’s arc is completed for this film. That being said, I never in a million years, just like the audience, would have thought we would make another one. So, I have no idea of what’s going to happen in the future.

The continued arc of Woody’s character is a matter that was extremely important to Toy Story 4’s development. It’s that aim that informed quite a few of the decisions that went into Josh Cooley’s direction of a story that eventually saw Cooley, alongside writers Stephany Folsom and Andrew Stanton, making some big decisions in terms of this character’s supposed final roundup.

Perhaps the greatest change was the fact that Woody’s ending in Toy Story 4 went from him saying goodbye to Bo Peep yet again to the cowboy actually saddling up and leaving his toy gang behind to reunite with her once and for all. With that decision, the aim to close off Woody’s arc was completed in the most beautifully bittersweet way possible, achieving all that Josh Cooley and his crew felt they had to do with the film’s epic story.

Even with Woody’s fate presumably sealed, Toy Story 5 could always crop up through some of the other pathways that Disney and Pixar are taking to keep the series going through other mediums. With two Disney+ series, Forky Has A Question and Lamp Life, the Toy Story universe’s past and present are playing out in a way that’s never been seen before in the franchise. Even on a surface level, the continued adventures of Forky, Buzz, and the rest of Bonnie’s playtime gang could make for a Toy Story 5, seeing our friends old and new-ish forging new lives in the wake of Woody’s final roundup.

Toy Story 4 may have been a surprise, but it closed out Woody’s story with events that made for not only a satisfying return of his character, but also a fitting finale for his legendary journey from a neurotic, duty bound play thing to a freelancing force for good relations between toys and children. It also proved the franchise still has legs in terms of storytelling and certainly leaves the door open for more in the universe.

Still, as far as I'm concerned, that Woody mission is accomplished in a fitting conclusion that you can live or relive for yourself with Toy Story 4’s current Digital HD release, with the 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD releases heading for release on October 8th.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.