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The Dark Rookie Fan Theory That Changes Everything About Lightyear

The powerhouse storytellers at Pixar Animation Studios came back exclusively to the big screen after two years with "Lightyear." Presented as the film within the world of "Toy Story" that made Andy (John Morris) want to get a Buzz Lightyear action figure (Tim Allen), the action-packed sci-fi adventure sees Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) team up with a ragtag junior patrol team to face a mysterious robot army that threatens their existence on the planet they've called home for several decades.

All in all, critics have been finding the film rather decent, with a 75% Certified Fresh Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes. As their consensus reads, "'Lightyear' settles for being a rather conventional origin story instead of reaching for the stars, but this gorgeously animated adventure ably accomplishes its mission of straightforward fun."

While it's hard to call "Lightyear" a dark film by any means, it does carry a bit more weight than your typical animated family fare. With some strong themes about regret, learning to move on from past mistakes, and facing your fears, alongside some tense action sequences, "Lightyear" fulfills its ambitions of being a thrilling science-fiction venture. But is there more under the surface that could point to an even heftier picture? One fan believes there is.

The theory is that the rookie dies when Buzz crashes the Turnip

Much of Buzz's arc throughout "Lightyear" is his learning to trust and work with others. This is addressed during the film's opening scene, which sees Buzz and his best friend, Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), exploring a new planet. As they discuss Buzz's dislike for rookies, Alisha reveals that she's brought one, Featheringhamstan (Bill Hader), along without Buzz's knowledge. Buzz isn't happy about it but reluctantly allows him to tag along, even saving him from the clutches of a plant monster later on.

Once it becomes clear that the planet is hostile, Buzz tries to fly their ship, the Turnip, off of the planet, only for him to crash, leaving everyone stranded. While that seems to be a pretty crummy situation to be in already, Redditor u/DiamondFireYT noticed something even more concerning. "Something I and my buddy only realized halfway through was... the reason he wants to court marshal himself is because the [r]ookie from the beginning died in the crash (I think)," they commented.

While that theory may sound a bit far-fetched, once you let it simmer, it makes sense — we never see or hear from Featheringhamstan again. If this is the case, it makes even more sense why he is so reluctant to work with Izzy (Keke Palmer) and her team. He may blame himself for Featheringhamstan's death and want to prevent anyone else from suffering a similar fate. When discussing what he hoped to bring to Buzz in an interview with Collider, Chris Evans expressed his excitement at being able to explore a human version of the character who faces real consequences for his actions. Hopefully, we can chalk this up to a simple plot hole, but everything adds up.