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

Woody's Most Iconic Toy Story Moments

What happens to your toys when they're alone? That's a question that Pixar decided to tackle in their feature film debut in 1995, with the John Lasseter directed "Toy Story." The film was enormously successful, receiving immense critical acclaim and enormous box office returns. It spawned three sequels and a number of shorts, with both "Toy Story 3" and "Toy Story 4" each earning over $1 billion at the worldwide box office.

Just like toys our lives, some characters in the "Toy Story" universe disappear without a trace, while others are cornerstones of the entire franchise. Who is more important to the franchise than Woody (voiced by the wonderful Tom Hanks), the favorite toy of his beloved human Andy (John Morris). Sure, there are other vital characters, like Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), but Woody has always been the star of the show, and has experienced some pretty remarkable character development over the four "Toy Story" films.

Please note that there are major spoilers for all four "Toy Story" movies

"You, are, a, Toy!"

When viewers first meet Woody, he is the undisputed leader of the toys and Andy's absolute favorite. His entire room is cowboy-themed, after all -– everything from the bedsheets to the ABC Round-Up poster, to Andy's own drawings of Woody and his trusty steed remind us that Andy and Woody have an unbreakable bond. Or, rather, seemingly unbreakable, as once Buzz Lightyear enters the picture, everything changes.

Lightyear is irresistibly cool — no surprise as his design was inspired by Apollo astronauts and television actor and former fighter pilot Ed Kemmer. Andy certainly falls under his spell, as well, and redecorates his entire room to a Buzz Lightyear theme that hammers Woody's greatest fear home: he is the favorite no more.

This leads to immense frustration on Woody's part as his world comes crumbling down around him. Not only is Buzz more popular, but he is insistent on the fact that he is not a toy, but a genuine space ranger — something that drives Woody to a breaking point. Emotions come boiling over in the Pizza Planet parking lot after Buzz and Woody get left behind, and Woody simply cannot take it anymore. As Buzz continues to ramble about saving the galaxy, Woody screams in a furious burst the immortal lines, "YOU, ARE, A TOY." Buzz remains completely immovable on the subject. His response is pitch-perfect, as he retorts "You are a sad, strange little man, and you have my pity." No wonder Woody keeps losing his cool.

Discovering Sid's Toys

One of Woody's most iconic moments in the original "Toy Story" is also one of the scariest in the entire franchise. After Buzz and Woody end up being won by Andy's nasty neighbor Sid at the Pizza Planet claw game, Sid brings them back to his room. It's pretty clear that something terrible is about to unfold — in fact, the writing's on the wall, or, rather, the floor. The carpet in Sid's house is actually a direct copy of the Overlook Hotel carpet from Stanley Kubrick's classic horror "The Shining."

As Woody and Buzz watch Sid tear the off face of his sister's doll and attempt to replace it with a dinosaur head, Buzz delivers the hilarious line "I don't believe that man's ever been to medical school." Woody is busy shaking and hiding his face behind his hands. After the botched operation, the camera follows Woody's POV, witnessing beheaded toys on the floor, a toy melted in a waffle-press, and parts of an action figure floating in a lava lamp. But that's not all, as when Woody decides to leave the backpack and make a run for it, he encounters what appears to be an innocent baby toy, but "Toy Story" brilliantly subverts Woody's expectations to reveal the baby's head is attached to a metal crab body. It's a genuinely terrifying moment, and as Sid's cacophony of mutated toys appear from the shadows, it becomes immediately clear that Woody and Buzz's life depends on escaping.

Woody's shows his vulnerability

It's the most difficult times where people really show their true colors, and, according to "Toy Story," the same is absolutely true of toys. With Woody trapped under a crate and Buzz strapped to a rocket, it appears that all hope is lost, and, because of Woody's selfishness, the two will meet their inevitable demise. While Buzz is typically optimistic, he finally has the realization that he is, indeed, a toy, thanks to the TV playing a Buzz Lightyear commercial in Sid's house. So, with both at breaking point, Woody becomes the leader he was always meant to be and firmly made the transition from an overstressed, panicky cowboy to a firm fan-favorite.

Woody delivers an emotional speech to Buzz, explaining to him how great it is to be a toy, and that there's no shame whatsoever in not being a real space ranger. Woody proclaims "you are a cool toy!," providing a stark contrast in his character from the last time he shouted at Buzz for being a toy. He points out everything that makes Buzz so impressive, and in a vulnerable moment, reveals his own insecurities that have been plaguing him, as he tells Buzz, "I'm the one who should be strapped to that rocket." Woody revealing his deepest fears to Buzz is exactly what makes him so special: Woody is a natural-born leader and, when push comes to shove, does what he needs to do to help those around him, as difficult as it may sometimes seem.

Getting revenge on Sid

Just before a truly iconic sequence where Buzz and Woody aren't flying — in fact, they're falling with style — Woody uses his impressive leadership skills to help Sid's mutated toys enact revenge. After rounding up Sid's toys he orchestrates an epic plan that involves breaking the rules, as they're going to reveal to Sid that they have thoughts and feelings of their own. The scene works so well because it showcases all of Woody's potential, and we really get to see what he is capable of — even if the plan is so sinister that it may be a little unsettling if you think about it too hard.

As Sid is about to launch the rocket that Buzz is attached to, he offers himself as a pawn to Sid, who places him on the barbecue. As Sid initiates the countdown to launch Buzz, Woody activates his voice box to distract him. Then, as Woody uses Sid's name, the other toys all surround Sid. Then, Woody delivers a 360-degree head turn reminiscent of "The Exorcist," before uttering lines that have stayed in the minds of children forever: "From now on you must take good care of your toys, because if you don't, we'll find out...We toys can see everything! So play nice!" While Sid is clearly traumatized, thankfully the moment wasn't too damaging, as we see in a brief cameo in "Toy Story 3," that Sid is stable and has a good job as a sanitation worker.

Woody's Roundup

In "Toy Story 2," Woody is facing something of a personal crisis. He's about to head off to cowboy camp with Andy but during playtime his arm tears. As a result, Woody is put on a shelf with another broken toy, Wheezy (Joe Ranft). After attempting to save Wheezy, Woody finds himself in a yard sale, where he is stolen by the owner of Al's Toy Barn, Al (Wayne Knight). Once in Al's apartment, he meets Jessie (Joan Cusack), Stinky Pete (Kelsey Grammer), and horse Bullseye. To Woody's shock, they all know exactly who he is.

This leads to an incredible and important moment for Woody, who discovers he was the star of Woody's Roundup, in which the TV theme song proclaims Woody to be the "rootingest, tootingest cowboy in the wild, wild west." Seeing Woody light up watching the tv as he performs epic stunts is magical, and it really feels like Woody understands who he is. While Woody spent so much time in "Toy Story" worrying that he's washed up, seeing Woody's Roundup is an essential opportunity for Woody to realize that he's a superstar in his own right.

The fixer repairs Woody

As Woody's arm has been torn, obsessive collector Al needs Woody in mint condition, so he hires a fixer – who we've seen before in the 1997 Pixar short "Geri's Game" — to restore Woody to perfection. The sequence shows off a lot of impressive advancements in technology from an animation standpoint. For example, as Geri cleans Woody's eyes, we can see a vivid reflection in them, as the advances in computer animation have come so far from the first "Toy Story" just three years prior.

There's a difficult dichotomy running through the sequence: on one end, Woody is being restored to glory, and it's wonderful to see him looking so shiny and new. On the other, Geri wipes clean and stitches up all of the imperfections that come with a toy, being, well, a toy. Years of wear and tear from being loved and adored as Andy's favorite toy are being wiped away by Geri in an attempt to restore Woody. It's in the very restoration of Woody that one of the more subtly devastating moments in the Toy Story franchise occurs, as Geri paints over Andy's name written on the bottom of Woody's boot. The name stood as a sign that Woody is indeed Andy's toy, and wiping over the name effectively erases all of their beautiful memories together.

Woody rescues Jessie

There are plenty of epic moments towards the end of "Toy Story 2," especially the scenes at the Tri-County International Airport, where Al is attempting to ship Woody and the gang to Tokyo for profit. We've seen time and time again the lengths Woody will go to rescue his friends, but his heroics to rescue Jessie are really something else. Woody puts himself in a golf bag to get on the plane into the luggage hold to rescue Jessie. Just as it seems like an easy escape is possible, the plane door is closed, forcing Woody to risk his life to get Jessie and himself off the plane. It's truly iconic to see Woody take such risks for the toys he loves.

Thankfully, thanks to Woody's unyielding support of his friends, Buzz and Bullseye appear at the perfect moment to help Woody succeed in his rescue mission. Though the rescue results in Woody tearing his arm again, this time it doesn't devastate him, as he knows he's far more important to his friends and Andy, whether he's in mint condition or not. It's a fantastic, thrilling sequence that reminds us of what Woody is capable of, and the tremendous impact he has on those around him who are willing to put everything on the line to help him out.

Battle in the Wild West

If the move from "Toy Story" to "Toy Story 2" was a big step forward in animation, the transition from the second film to "Toy Story 3" is more of a quantum leap. Sure, there was an 11-year gap between the second and third film, but animation had evolved so much over the 2000s that it's no surprise that the opening scene of "Toy Story 3" almost feels like it was made purely to show off how far things had come.

The result is a tremendous, easter-egg-filled, action-packed spectacle in the Wild West. We get explosions, comedy, and high stakes — everything that makes "Toy Story 3" so thrilling summarized in one scene. Woody is in complete command of his squad and performs the remarkable stunts he watched in Woody's Roundup in "Toy Story 2," but he's doing them all himself this time.

The epic sequence concludes with the unstoppable Dr. Evil Porkchop, who chooses "Death By Monkeys," which unleashes barrels filled with thousands upon thousands of red monkeys that burst into a nuclear smoke cloud before pinning Woody, Jessie, and Buzz to face their inevitable demise. Seconds before the end, a cut reveals that the sequence existed in Andy's imagination and spared the toys' lives. Here Pixar not only gives us a beautiful spectacle (all those monkeys!) that was never achievable in previous films but also provides some brilliant foreshadowing for a certain fiery scene later on.

Woody's Sunnyside Escape

After all of Andy's toys are accidentally donated to Sunnyside Day Care, the gang believes they're no longer wanted. Woody knows the truth — Andy meant to put the toys in the attic so he can have them forever, but the bag was mistaken for garbage. Unfortunately, nobody believes Woody, so he sets out to take matters into his own hands and escape Sunnyside to reunite with Andy.

Woody's escape is a great showcase for Woody. So often in Toy Story we see the toys work together, but his iconic escape in "Toy Story 3" shows what Woody is capable of on his own. He exhibits the remarkable bravery and courage we have seen throughout the series as he does whatever it takes to escape a bathroom, followed by an epic attempt at flying over the playground walls. The scene stands as a vital reminder that Woody will do absolutely anything for the people he cares about, even if it means risking his life. Though Woody does successfully escape Sunnyside, he only makes it as far as a tree outside the facility. It's there that he's discovered by Bonnie (Emily Hahn), and while Woody may not know it yet, he couldn't have been found by anyone better.

"So Long, Partner"

Probably the single most emotional scene in "Toy Story 3," if not the entire Pixar Universe, comes at the very end of the film. As Andy is moving to college, he makes the difficult decision to give all his beloved childhood toys to Bonnie. As he takes them out of the box to show Bonnie, his love and affection for them are abundantly clear. It's an incredibly bittersweet moment that shows just how much these toys have done for Andy, and how much Andy has meant to them. When it comes to Woody, Andy hesitates to give him away, but ultimately does, but not before giving Woody a special tribute, telling Bonnie that Woody "is brave, like a cowboy should be, and kind, and smart. But the thing that makes Woody special is that he'll never give up on you...he'll be there for you, no matter what."

What follows is a heartrending montage of Bonnie and Andy playing with the toys for one last time. Then, as Andy says his final goodbye, he gets in his car, and audibly choked up, says "thanks, guys." Who knew two words could have such a devastating effect? Then, as Andy drives off into the distance, Woody says the immortal words that had just about everyone on earth sobbing: "So long, partner." Then, the camera pans up to the cloudy sky, which looks exactly like the wallpaper in Andy's room in the first film, ending "Toy Story 3" on a perfect note.

Reuniting with Bo Peep

From the first "Toy Story" film, it was apparent that Woody and Bo Peep (Annie Potts) had a special relationship. After all, in "Toy Story," Bo-Peep suggests that she gets someone else to watch the sheep so they could have some alone time together. Bo was part of the first two films, though noticeably vanished from "Toy Story 3," though the film did at least mention that she's no longer at Andy's house anymore. It's something of a surprise then, in "Toy Story 4," that Woody and Bo would miraculously meet again.

Woody is stunned to discover that Bo-Peep has a new outfit and a whole new attitude. Turns out she's been a lost toy for seven glorious years — or, to Woody, seven years of horror — and is thrilled with her new life. While we're so used to seeing Woody taking command and being in control, the scene reminds us that there is so much that Woody doesn't know, and this time its Bo who is in complete control. She can show Woody about a world he never knew existed. It really leads Woody to rethink what being a lost toy really means, and that toys are more than just their owners.

Woody gives his voice box to Gabby Gabby

Each film in the "Toy Story" franchise has given us a great new cast of characters, and "Toy Story 4" is no exception. While most of the attention has been given to Forky — he even has his own Disney+ series – Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) may just be the most interesting new addition. Gabby is an antique toy that has sat in the antique store for over six decades waiting to discover the love of a child. Though she's a beautiful doll, her voice box has been broken for what feels like an eternity, and it has always prevented her from being the recipient of a child's love.

Woody, who has received so much love from Andy and Bonnie, knows exactly how beautiful that relationship can be. Woody makes an incredibly selfless decision to give Gabby his voice box so she can experience the love that he did. Even though the girl Gabby thought would be her ticket out of the antique shop doesn't pan out, Woody's incredible ability as a leader shines through and helps Gabby find a new owner outside the antique shop.

Woody starts a new life

At the end of "Toy Story 4," Woody faces a seemingly impossible choice: leave his darling Bo behind and go back to Bonnie with the gang, or leave the gang behind to officially become a lost toy. Ultimately, Woody makes the incredibly tough decision to leave the life he's known all his life behind for a new start. He stays with Bo and the gang of lost toys, who spend their days uniting toys with new owners so they can experience the incredible joy that is so dear to Woody's heart.

It's without a doubt the most iconic Woody moment of them all, as it brings together everything Woody has experienced over the four incredible films, and as you understand who Woody is, the decision makes perfect sense. He has spent his life looking out for those around him, and as Forky has become Bonnie's new favorite toy, he understands that he can help more toys away from those he has loved for so long. It's an incredibly emotional, heartfelt scene that Pixar specializes in, and as Buzz Lightyear proclaims, "he's not lost...not anymore."