Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Entire Toy Story Timeline Explained

It's impossible to overstate how revolutionary Toy Story was when it premiered in 1995. Audiences had never seen computer-animated characters like Buzz and Woody before, inhabitating a world that, in the words of one reviewer, "takes one's breath away." More than two decades later, the movie doesn't just hold up — it continues to dazzle.

There's no doubt that rendering characters like Bo Peep and Mr. Potato Head is easier today than it was when Toy Story was made. But crafting a quality story still demands talent, patience, and precision. Luckily for fans, Pixar hasn't merely retained that essential level of care and craft: The legendary studio has actually managed to grow even more skilled and soulful. After four films, Andy's toys boast rich backstories and complex character arcs, and together, tell a story about love, loss, and the march of time. Growing up happens to us all, and as Toy Story's narrative demonstrates, it's a winding path indeed. This is the entire Toy Story saga, from Andy's toy chest to the final installment in the franchise.

The making of Toy Story

The germ of the idea that would become Toy Story came from director John Lasseter. After being shown the Tron light-cycle sequence, Lasseter became interested in the possibilities of computer animation. He pitched The Brave Little Toaster to Disney as a completely computer-generated film, but the company wasn't interested and Lasseter was fired. Undaunted, Lasseter went on to work for Lucasfilm, and in 1986, became one of the founding members of Pixar. The fledgling studio began to attract attention with short pieces like 1984's The Adventures of Andre and Wally B. and 1988's Tin Toywhich won the 1988 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

Disney couldn't help but take notice. Lasseter, among many at Pixar, was skeptical of working with the Mouse House: Upon learning that Disney was eager to have him back, Lasseter told Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull, "I can go to Disney and be a director, or I can stay here and make history." After much negotiation, Disney signed a deal with Pixar in May 1991, bringing together a massive team to turn Tin Toy into a feature-length film. Toy Story had been born — but it still had a long way to go.

The world of Toy Story

Woody, leader of Andy's secretly sentient toys, is a cowboy rag doll. His position of power doesn't come from the fact that he's a sheriff, but from the fact that he's Andy's favorite toy — a position that is threatened by the arrival of Buzz Lightyear, an astronaut action figure made of modern plastic. Buzz and Woody were originally conceived of as Tinny, the one-man-band toy from Tin Toy, and a conniving ventriloquist's dummy, respectively. As development progressed, however, they were altered and adjusted until they became the characters audiences recognize today.

Toy Story begins on the day of Andy's birthday party. The party catches the toys off guard, as it had to be moved up a week to accommodate the family's imminent move to another house. The toys send out spies (AKA Andy's plastic army men) to monitor the party and report on any new toys that will join the room.

The new kid in town

At first, it appears that no major new toys will be joining the gang in Andy's room. While Woody outwardly celebrates the group's non-threatening new additions, he's secretly relieved that none of them will be able to challenge his position as Andy's favorite toy. Then, Andy's parents pull out a surprise final gift: A Buzz Lightyear action figure. 

Buzz is a "space ranger," and clearly considered to be a must-have toy. He is undoubtedly cool looking — Pixar took design inspiration from the Apollo program and G.I. Joe. — and boasts a variety of cutting-edge features, including lights, sounds, and retractable wings. Most importantly, Buzz signifies Andy's shifting tastes. After Buzz's arrival, Andy's Western-themed room is transformed into one devoted to all things space, his games of pretend become a whole lot more sci-fi oriented, and more and more, he takes Buzz out of the toy box instead of Woody.

There's just one thing wrong with Buzz Lightyear: He has no idea that he's actually a toy. While Woody is immediately wary of his would-be successor, Buzz is just as suspicious of the toys in the room ... because he thinks they're aliens, and that he's crash-landed on their planet.

Beyond Andy's room

While Woody tries desperately to convince Buzz that he is a toy (and thus subject to the pecking order of Andy's room), Buzz shows off his flashy buttons and collapsible wings. The first real test of Woody's popularity arrives when the family decides to go out to eat at Pizza Planet and allow Andy to bring one toy along. Woody, paranoid and jealous, shoves Buzz out of a window before Andy can make his choice. It is technically an accident — he was trying to trap Buzz behind a desk — but the damage is done.

The room turns on Woody, believing he killed Buzz in a fit of jealousy, but Andy returns before they can mete out justice. When he can't find Buzz, he takes Woody along. While riding to Pizza Planet, however, Woody spots Buzz clinging to the family van. They fight and accidentally fall out of the vehicle and onto the road, leaving them stranded. While they eventually make it to Pizza Planet, Buzz's insistence on acting like an actual space ranger gets them trapped in a crane game full of alien toys. Disastrously, they're snagged by Andy's neighbor Sid, a sadistic kid who likes to subject his toys to surgeries and explosives.  

To infinity, and beyond

Buzz and Woody forge an uneasy bond while they're trapped in Sid's yard, largely because they have to. But everything changes when Buzz catches a delusion-shattering Buzz Lightyear commercial on Sid's TV. Reeling, he jumps off a staircase in an attempt to fly, and breaks off his arm. Sid's mangled toys repair him, then help the newcomers escape, but Buzz and Woody's relief is short-lived: They arrive back at Andy's house, just in time to see the family's moving van pull away. Buzz and Woody rush to make it onto the truck, but are stopped by Sid's vicious dog.

Buzz sacrifices himself to allow Woody to escape, but upon reaching the truck, Woody sends Andy's RC car on a rescue mission. Because the other toys haven't been around for Woody's change of heart, they believe he's leaving the RC car to die. Thankfully, with the help of one of Sid's toy-exploding fireworks, Woody and Buzz fly back into the moving truck at the last minute.

Yard sale gone awry

Every Toy Story movie deals in misunderstanding and daring escape: The toys' need to go undetected leaves them trapped in situations they cannot simply walk away from or explain. The thrilling action sequences this inspires pair wonderfully with Toy Story's exploration of love, loyalty, and nostalgia. Happily for fans of all ages, Toy Story 2 delivers on both of these crucial storytelling fronts, establishing the franchise's dazzling ability to deepen its story over the course of multiple films.

In Toy Story 2, Woody is forced to confront the looming specter of obsolescence. After having his arm torn, he is placed on a shelf next to a gaggle of Andy's broken and forgotten toys. With Andy away at camp, no one is around to notice when Woody is mistakenly put out as part of the family's yard sale. He is quickly stolen by a toy collector named Al McWhiggin, who whisks him away to join the rest of his stashed toys. Aghast, the toys in Andy's room hatch a plan to rescue him.

Learning about the past

At Al's place, Woody meets the family he never knew he had. As it turns out, Woody is a rare and collectible toy based on the main character of Woody's Roundup, a 1950s TV show. The program featured Woody, his horse Bullseye, a cowgirl named Jessie, and a cranky prospector named Stinky Pete, all of whom Al already owns. They're thrilled to meet Woody, in part because the four of them form a complete set which a Japanese museum is interested in buying. As Woody learns while exploring Al's collection, Al isn't interested in playing with toys — he's a collector who sells to other collectors. Woody is willing to do whatever's necessary to return to Andy, but Jessie chastises Woody for being selfish.

As Jessie details, not everyone is as lucky as Woody. Many, like her, were loved and forgotten, forced to watch their children move on to more mature pastimes. To Jessie, Bullseye, and Pete, getting put in a museum will keep them from ever enduring that sort of heartache again. They'll be adored and appreciated forever by an endless parade of children who will never grow up to abandon them ... if Woody stays put, that is, and doesn't ruin their chance.

Leaving Andy behind

Jessie's story forms the basis of one of Pixar's most heart-rending scenes. Once upon a time, Jessie belonged to a little girl named Emily. Jessie was Emily's favorite toy, until she became a teenager and grew more interested in nail polish and records than playing cowgirl. After lying forgotten under Emily's bed for years, Jessie was given away to charity, ultimately ending up in Al's collection. Jessie waited for Emily to remember her, waited for Al to complete the set of Woody's Roundup toys, and now, all she has to wait for is the museum's affirmation of interest. At last, she will be loved again.

Woody sees that his attempts to leave would doom the other toys to a life in storage. He realizes that returning home would just be delaying the inevitable, as Andy will eventually outgrow him, just as Emily outgrew Jessie. Weighing both of those facts, Woody decides to stay with the Roundup gang and prepares for the museum. Though Woody is doing right by his newfound friends, his existing ties to Andy's toys complicate matters when Buzz manages to break into Al's house in an attempt to save Woody.

A daring rescue

Buzz is able to convince Woody to return to Andy and live in the moment, regardless of what the future will bring. Unfortunately, the gang let loose several other collectible toys while walking through Al's collection. A different version of Buzz falls in with the group and attempts to take the original Buzz's place, while Emperor Zurg, Buzz's in-universe nemesis, is set free.

In a shocking twist, Stinky Pete turns on the group and keeps them from escaping. The prospector has never been played with at all, and is willing to do whatever it takes to get into the museum. Al loads up the toys and heads for the airport. Meanwhile, Andy's toys hijack a Pizza Planet delivery truck and give chase. They catch up to Woody at the airport and are able to free him from Al's suitcase while it's being loaded. Stinky Pete attempts to stop them, but the toys subdue him and he is jailed in a little girl's backpack. 

Woody isn't about to give up on Jessie, despite the fact that she has already been loaded into the plane — he and Buzz manage to pull her out before take-off. As Toy Story 2 closes, Woody and Buzz come to terms with the fact that Andy will eventually leave them behind. It will hurt, but they'll have each other, and they're committed to being there for Andy for as long as he needs them.

Moving on

Andy does indeed stop playing with his toys between Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3As the film opens, he is preparing to leave for college, stumbling on his disused toys in the process. He decides to take Woody with him and puts the rest of his toys into a garbage bag which he intends to put in the attic. He doesn't tell his mother this, however, and she puts the bag out on the curb. The toys escape the garbage bag and climb into a donation box bound for the local daycare, believing Andy indeed meant to chuck them in the garbage. 

Woody sees his friends make this mistake and follows them to Sunnyside Daycare, hoping to explain that Andy didn't mean to toss them out. They quickly find themselves under the rule of a domineering teddy bear named Lotso. Buzz is brainwashed by the leader and helps to keep Andy's toys from escaping. Woody learns that the only way out of Sunnyside is through the trash, and so the toys make their way to a dumpster.

After a ride in a garbage truck, all of Andy's toys end up in the city dump's incinerator. As they slide towards the central fire, they clasp hands, wordlessly accepting their fate ... before being saved by Pizza Planet's claw machine aliens, operating the dump's heavy machinery. The toys return to Andy, who bids them a fond farewell before donating them to a little girl named Bonnie.


Toy Story 4 opens with Woody pining for Bo Peep, who was donated to another child between Toy Story and Toy Story 2. As Jessie is Bonnie's favorite toy, Woody finds himself with more time to ruminate on Bo — and his diminished position. Worried over Bonnie's first day of Kindergarten and looking to give himself a boost, he sneaks into Bonnie's backpack.

At school, Woody watches Bonnie create a new toy out of pipe cleaners and a spork. She names the toy Forky, which brings the toy to life ... and straight into an existential crisis. The spork can't conceive of his own existence, believing himself to be trash. When Forky throws himself out of the family's camper, Woody follows. Out in the wider world, he tries to get the spork to realize that he's important to Bonnie, and that this truth is worth living for. In the process, Woody is reunited with Bo Peep, who has been dramatically changed by her years beyond Andy's room. With the help of other "lost toys," she ranges between playgrounds, repairing toys and keeping the spaces safe for kids.

After restoring Forky to Bonnie and the others, Woody realizes he doesn't want to leave Bo. With the toys' blessing, Woody and Bo remain in the outside world. Together, they begin a new life, dedicated to finding new owners for lost toys and protecting playgrounds everywhere.