Toy Story (franchise)

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A trilogy of computer-animated films from Pixar about toys that come to life when their owners aren't around.

Toy Story introduces us to the Toys belonging to a boy named Andy. Their unofficial leader is Andy's favorite toy, Woody, an old cowboy doll with a string. Woody gets some competition when Andy gets a new toy for his birthday, "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command". Buzz is new, cool, and just as dynamic a personality as Woody, though he thinks he's really a soldier of Star Command rather than a toy. His undoubted leadership qualities (and up-to-date modernity) arouse jealousy in Woody; when Buzz is accidentally lost, the other toys think Woody masterminded the disappearance. Hijinks ensue, and Woody and Buzz have a final confrontation that forces both of them to join forces to keep the toy "family" together...

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...until Toy Story 2, which takes place a year or two later. Woody is accidentally damaged during one of Andy's play times, which causes him no end of concern about becoming an unwanted "broken toy." Later, Woody gets stolen at a yard sale by greedy toy collector Al, so Buzz leads a group of Andy's toys to go rescue him. Meanwhile, Woody finds out he's a piece of merchandise from an old kids' show called Woody's Roundup after meeting three other tie-in dolls based on his sidekicks on the show. Woody discovers that they're all going to be sold to a toy museum in Japan, and he has to decide whether to go back to Andy -- who will eventually outgrow him -- or go to the museum and last forever, but never be loved.

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Toy Story 3 takes place about 11 years after the second Film; Andy (now a teenager) heads to college, and the plot follows the adventures of Andy's childhood toys as they are accidentally donated to a daycare center for a new generation of kids to enjoy, much to the toys' dismay.

The first film is notable for being the first fully computer-generated feature film. The second film is notable for being Pixar's first Sequel, and one of the rare sequels that's had as much critical acclaim as the original film, as well as spawning a Spin-Off television series, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. The third film is notable for garnering Pixar's highest-grossing opening weekend in the company's history (becoming the highest-grossing animated film ever while managing to become the first animated film to ever make a billion dollars in combined domestic and foreign box office revenue) and becoming the third animated feature to receive a nomination for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

All three Toy Story films are Pixar's highest-rated films on movie review site Rotten Tomatoes (the first two have perfect 100% ratings, while the third movie's is a nearly-perfect 99%). All three films regularly sit atop (or near the top of) the Internet Movie Database's list of Top 50 animated films -- and they're all usually on the site's Top 250 Movies list.

In 2009, Toy Story and Toy Story 2 were re-released as a double feature in stereoscopic Disney Digital 3-D, with the two films completely re-rendered to match the level of detail of Toy Story 3 (the UK had to wait until January 2010 for Toy Story 2 to come out in 3D).

The characters will make further appearances in a series of shorts titled Toy Story Toons. The first installment, "Hawaiian Vacation", played at the beginning of Cars 2. The second, "Small Fry", was shown before The Muppets.


The following tropes are common to many or all entries in the Toy Story (franchise) franchise.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.
  • Adult Fear: Underneath the wackiness the theme of abandonment by the ones you love in the later installments of the series can really hit home hard to children and grown-ups alike.
  • Air Vent Passageway: Justified, since the toys are actually small enough to fit. Happens Once A Movie: Legs and Ducky walk through the vents of Sid's house in the first one, Buzz #2 and the rescue team travel through the vents (and elevator shaft) of Al's apartment building in the second one, and in the third movie Woody and Slinky use the ventilation system to get into the Sunnyside security room and incapacitate the cymbal monkey.
  • All CGI Cartoon: The original Toy Story was the first feature-length example of this trope.
  • Badass Crew: The main group of toys eventually become this.
  • Big Bad: Sid Phillips in the first movie, Stinky Pete in the second, and Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear in the third.
  • Book Ends: The first shot of the first movie and both the first shot and the last shot of the third movie are of a blue sky with uniquely-shaped white clouds, that of Andy's old wallpaper.
    • Which is pretty odd the second time around, since like on the wallpaper, the entire sky is filled with clouds in only two shapes, repeated over and over.
  • Bottomless Pit: One is seen in the video game opening sequence inside Zurg's fortress, and of course, the elevator shaft in Al's apartment building.
  • Brand X: A few of the minor characters are based off popular retro toys -- without technically being said toys (probably due to Executive Meddling). Lotso is essentially a Care Bears with the tags cut off and Stretch resembles a Wacky Wallwalker.
    • Averted with Barbie, Etch-A-Sketch, trolls, and a whole bunch of other toys. The copyrights all get mentioned in the end titles.
    • In fact, Pixar wanted Barbie for the first film to be Woody's girlfriend, but Mattel would not allow for the copyright. They changed their mind when they saw how the film improved sales of Mr Potato Head.
  • Butt Monkey: Mr. Potato Head.
  • Buzz Can Breathe in Space: Parodied AND averted in the first movie. Parodied, because Buzz (as a toy) think he's on an alien planet (possibly with no atmosphere). Averted, because he's a toy, AND he's breathing Earth atmosphere. The second movie contains a Shout-Out to this with the Utility Belt Buzz.
  • Captain Space, Defender of Earth!: Buzz.
  • Cassandra Truth: Woody in all three movies. 1: "Buzz is alive!" 2. "Andy didn't break me intentionally!" 3. "Andy didn't throw you away!"
    • The third installment also has Woody's warning about Sunnyside not being as pleasant as they expect it to be, but even Woody didn't anticipate just how bad it would turn out to be.
  • Catch Phrase: "To infinity... AND BEYOND!"
    • Woody gets one in the second film: "Hey howdy hey!"
      • "There's a snake in my boot!"
      • "Reach for the sky!"
    • "Yee-haw!" for Jessie.
    • "Run like the wind, Bullseye!"
  • Ceiling Cling: Woody clings to the underside of a box to avoid being found by Sid.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: While each movie has a fair bit of comedy, each also tops the previous installment in intensity of dramatic moments.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the first movie; Al's Toy Barn is advertised at the end of the commercial for Buzz Lightyear figures that makes Buzz realize the truth about himself. Al's Toy Barn goes on to be a major part of the plot in Toy Story 2.
    • In the truck chase near the end of Toy Story, when Woody is clinging to the moving truck and Scud grabs his leg, we can audibly hear the stitching of his right arm pop. Cut to the beginning of Toy Story 2, where the plot is set in motion when Woody's right arm rips, as the stitching was already weakened tremendously from the tug-o-war with Scud in movie 1. It's either this or Fridge Brilliance.
    • The Potatoes' ability to see though a disconnected eye is something introduced in the second scene of the first movie and becomes a major plot point 10 years later in the third movie, when Mrs. Potato Head uses her missing eye to discover that Andy is looking for them after his mother donates them to the Daycare Center.
    • In Toy Story 2, Prospector asks Woody if he really thinks Andy will take him to college, which is the plot of Toy Story 3.
      • Thing is, had the plot of Toy Story 3 not have gone into motion, Andy would have.
    • Another dinosaur that might replace Rex as Andy's dinosaur toy, which worries Rex. Rex doesn't get replaced per se, but another dinosaur DOES appear in Toy Story 3... in someone else's house. Not only is she also a dinosaur, but she's also a geek like Rex, and the credits epilogue reveals that they get along well.
    • Rex also mentioned wanting to play with a herbivore. In the end credits, he ends up doing just that in a Does This Remind You of Anything? scene.
    • In Toy Story 3, The Cameo the garbage man wears a familiar skull shirt.
      • It's not who the garbage man was that makes him significant, but it's what he does later in the movie.
    • In Toy Story 3, The aliens' obsession with The Claw from the first movie becomes a hilarious Brick Joke/Chekhov's Gun/Big Damn Heroes/Deus Ex Machina all in one.

"The Claw chooses who will go and who will stay!"

  • Comically Missing the Point: Makes up most of the plot. No, not the movie itself. Every situation that's ever happened in Toy Story many of the toy characters always assumed the worst, before finding out the real truth. Three hilarious examples include:
    1. Potato Head accusing Woody of murdering Buzz when he sees the broken arm. Buzz was too depressed to get out of his Heroic BSOD to prove he was still alive.
    2. Rex thinking Woody was trying to sell himself at the yard sale. He was trying to rescue Wheezy.
    3. Potato Head thinking that Bullseye and Jessie were torturing Woody. They were really tickling him.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Woody is The Hero, but not the best fighter, so ends up comically getting his ass kicked most times he pisses off another character. Amusingly his beatings in Toy Story 2 even mirror the same manner he is attacked by Buzz in the first movie.
  • Damsel in Distress: Bo Peep in Andy's games.
  • Darker and Edgier: While there's some dispute as to whether the first or second installment is darker [1] the third is generally agreed to be by far the darkest. It's basically a Prison Episode for the series, with sadistic teddy bears, demonic children, Cymbal Banging Monkeys, and all ending with a trip to the fiery gates of hell. Most notably though is how the movie puts even more emphasis on the toys' fears of becoming disowned by their owners.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Hamm.
  • Deus Ex Machina / Ass Pull: Every time the Pizza Planet truck appears in the films. In the first, it appears out of nowhere to take Buzz and Woody to Pizza Planet and is done even more so in Toy Story 2.
    • Lampshaded in the commentary to Toy Story 2.
    • Averted in Toy Story 3. The Pizza Planet truck is involved in the Backstory of the film's antagonist, but only (indirectly) leads him to disappointment.
      • It could also be interpreted as a Diabolus Ex Machina, in that sense as it's the reason Lotso ended up at Sunnyside.
    • In the third, the LGM's returning to save the gang with the claw as they're about to be melted down, but the entire scene was done so well, who could gripe? Also, the writers did keep reminding us of their religious fascination with claws throughout the film. As well as have them taken off-screen early on during the dump sequence. Foreshadowing, done right!
  • Disappeared Dad: There's no Andy's Dad in sight. It's never explicitly brought up but fans like to argue the three possibilities: Andy's mom is a widow; Andy's mom is a divorcee; Andy's mom just happens to be a single mother. In the first two scenarios, many fans in turn assume that Woody is one of the only gifts from his father. The third could be yet another Shout-Out to The Brave Little Toaster, since Rob's mom is single too. Food for thought: so is John Lasseter's mom.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Most striking in the case of Dolly the doll, but applies to the other characters too.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Invoked in Toy Story 1 and 2, both with the Pizza Planet truck. The first one has the actual driver doing this. The second has the toys doing this after hijacking the Pizza Planet Truck to pursue Al and rescue Woody. Similarly, they also invoke the trope on other drivers in the first and second movie. The first was when Scud was chasing Buzz and RC (although it probably wasn't intentional on Buzz, RC, and Woody's part), and the second movie had Buzz disguising themselves as traffic cones in order to safely cross the road to Al's Toy Barn, with the results being obvious for the drivers.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: A staple of the series. Toy Story nearly ends with Buzz and Woody left alone on the street with Andy's moving van driving away, Toy Story 2 nearly ships Woody and Jessie (not that kind, though) to Japan, and Toy Story 3 has them facing the blazing eternity of Hellfire and burning alive. Randy Newman was right, the road is rough ahead.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: No boy's toy collection would be complete without a Tyrannosaurus Rex, though Rex is actually a bit of a coward, a goofball and a gamer geek. He's not too bright either. The third movie introduces Trixie, whose design seems to imply that they're from the same toyline.
    • It appears that all the dinosaur toys in the series are from the same line, and are in turn based on... Dino-Riders!?!
  • Expy: Sarge, voiced by R. Lee Ermey, is Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in toy form.
  • Fake Action Prologue: Both the second and the third movie.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: For toys, to be loved by children, then forgotten and abandoned is worse than they could bear.
    • As it turns out, having the kids outgrow you and being tossed in the trash is even worse than that.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Genki Girl: Jessie, full-throttle. Trixie and Barbie in the third.
  • Genre Busting: It's comedy/drama/thriller/horror/action/prison escape/philosophical.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: See this list.
  • Green Eyed Red Head: Jessie.
  • Growing Up Sucks: For the toys, at least, especially in the second and third movie.
    • Actually averted in the third movie. In the end the message seemed to be "Growing up can be sad, but in the end it's not that bad."
  • Happily Married: Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head in Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3.
  • Helium Speech: The voice actors (not just Jeff Pidgeon, although it was mostly him) actually inhaled helium to make the voices of the Martians.
  • Helping Hands: Mr. Potato Head's body parts are capable of being pulled off him and rearranged. This is sort of a hassle for him to put himself right after the kids are gone. Of course, his parts are capable of working on their own even when they're separated from him.
    • The same for Mrs. Potato Head.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Woody and Buzz, and with the Unfortunate Implications of their names, we don't blame the people who believe this.
  • Hit Scan: Buzz's laser. Unlike Zurg's Ion Blaster, it hits its target instantly.
  • Idiot Ball/Running Gag: Somehow, a Buzz Lightyear toy holds this in every film, for that Buzz Lightyear who holds it believes he's the real Buzz Lightyear, and not a toy. There are a few Toys who also hold part of it.
    • Toy Story: Buzz; this is a major part of the film. Of course, he loses it when he sees a commercial, and then goes crazy and is reduced to drinking tea and... wearing a pink apron. For a while, anyway. This causes Woody much frustration.
    • Toy Story 2: The Buzz Lightyear toy with a belt (whom the Buzz from Toy Story encounters) believes he is the real Buzz Lightyear.
      • Buzz's archenemy -- Zurg -- as a toy, holds this, too, and engages combat with the Buzz with the belt. A Shout-Out to Star Wars is involved.
    • Toy Story 3: The first Buzz toy seen in the three films holds this again. This time, he gets reset into demo mode and then into Spanish! ¡Buzz Lightyear al rescate!
  • Immortality: Toys can be broken and possibly die when broken beyond repair (we hope), but when taken care of they can live forever, it seems.
  • Interspecies Friendship: While Andy doesn't know his toys are alive, they do care a lot about him. Woody in particular goes to great lengths to return to him when separated. Said toys are also True Companions with each other.
  • Ironic Echo: One within the first movie, another from the first to the second, another from the second to the third.
    • Early in the first movie, when Buzz tries to prove he can fly, Woody says "that wasn't flying, it was falling with style." When Buzz uses his plastic wings to glide in the climax, Woody says "you're flying" and Buzz says "this isn't flying, it's falling with style."
    • The first movie has Woody saying to Buzz "you're a child's plaything; you are a TOY" when trying to explain to Buzz that he's not a space ranger. The second has Buzz saying this back to Woody when reminding him that he's supposed to be Andy's toy, not a collector's item for a museum.
    • The second movie has Mr. Potato Head saving the squeeze toy aliens from falling out of the Pizza Planet truck, and they repeatedly say "you have saved our lives, we are eternally grateful" to him afterwards. The third movie has the squeeze toy aliens operate the claw at the incinerator in a way that rescues all the toys from being burned; afterwards, Mrs. Potato Head says "you have saved our lives" followed by Mr. Potato Head saying "and we are ETERNALLY grateful."
  • Jerkass: Sid Phillips, Mr. Potato Head and initially Woody with Buzz in the first movie, Al and Stinky Pete in the second, and Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear in the third.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Let's face it, Andy was a freak the way he nicely treated his toys. Just look at Sid and those daycare monsters and you'll see that the toys never had it better than with him.
    • The creators of the film completely acknowledged this. The only one who treated his toys nicely was John Lasseter.
    • To be fair, only the toddlers in the Caterpillar Room were monsters. The older kids in the Butterfly Room knew how to play nice.
  • Killed Off for Real: Combat Carl, the action figure Sid blew up during his introductory scene in the first film, is the only character in the entire series to ever be killed off permanently.
  • The Lancer: Buzz to Woody's Hero in the second and third films.
  • Large Ham:
    • Jessie. Joan Cusack chewed miles of scenery in that role.
    • Buzz is also very hammy fresh out of the box.
      • "Fresh out of the box" nothing, even after realizing he's a toy he remains rather hammy, even if to a slightly lesser extent.
      • Spanish Buzz es un Gran Jamón.
    • Not to mention Zurg. He's an Evil Overlord, he has to be.
    • And a quite obvious one in Hamm. "PIG PILE!"
    • If a small, stuffed hedgehog in lederhosen can be technically called a Large Ham, then Mr. Pricklepants from Toy Story 3 is that small stuffed hedgehog in lederhosen.

Mr. Pricklepants: Sunnyside is a place of ruin and despair, ruled by an evil bear who smells of strawberries.

  • Le Parkour: Toys in general have to be pretty fast and nimble to avoid detection by humans, but Woody and Buzz in particular could give Altair and the Prince a run for their money.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Woody and Jessie.
  • Living Toys: The premise.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Pixar is gifted with juggling various side stories that support the main storyline all in one movie with a huge cast. But... Toy Story already introduced a huge cast, and two more films followed, expanding the cast by 300%! By the third film, the supporting characters that were highlighted in the posters and trailers have barely 4 lines each!
    • To be fair, the third film did write out all of Andy's toys (i.e. RC the racecar, Bo Peep, Rocky the wrestler doll, etc) except for the core group from Toy Story and Jessie and Bullseye the horse from Toy Story 2, leaving more room for new characters in Toy Story 3.
  • Made of Iron: Sort of. The toys are capable of withstanding immense amounts of pain and abuse when in their inanimate state without so much as flinching, only feeling the effects after becoming animate. In fact, to an extent they seem to not mind the abuse at all (Woody is tossed around like a... well... toy doll in the opening scene by Andy, and Andy is naturally occasionally rough with his toys, but the toys seem to adore him all the same), much like how dogs will not mind some roughhousing as long as they're getting attention. Only the Mad Scientist machinations of Sid seem to cause the toys any suffering.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Andy and Bonnie generate this while playing, since the toys are so varied.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: In-universe. In the playtimes, Mr. Potato Head, Hamm, and Dolly tend to play villainous characters. Hamm and Potato Head are both Deadpan Snarkers, but still good guys, and Dolly is considered by fans to be the Team Mom of Bonnie's toys.
    • Also Stinky Pete is the villain of the second movie, though shown to be a pleasant (if slightly lustful) guy in the out takes.
  • Meaningful Name: Woody is an old cowboy doll (just how old, we see in the second movie) whose rigid parts are made of wood. Buzz is a modern action figure crammed full of electronics.
    • Also, Buzz Aldrin was the second man to walk on the moon.
    • In the third, Bonnie definitely is a good girl.
  • Men Can't Keep House: As shown with Sid's room in Toy Story and Al's apartment in Toy Story 2.
    • Andy's room, however, is usually quite remarkably tidy considering he's a small boy in the first two movies and a teenager in the third.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Mutant Toys.
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal
  • No Flow in CGI: Played straight in the first movie, semi-averted in the second and totally averted in the third.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup is thankfully averted. Pixar had the source files all this time so they could re-render the first two movies for the 2009 3D re-release.
    • Also, a special feature in the 2010 DVD and Blu-ray release of Toy Story 2 tells of how the movie was almost wholly deleted, only to be saved by a staff member's backup.
    • But when they began work on Toy Story 3, they couldn't edit the original 3D models and had to rebuild everything from scratch.
  • Not So Different: Woody and Buzz: Both are toys of officers of the law, produced for a Merchandise-Driven show, they even both have a voice-clip feature with the technology of their day.
  • Obliviously Evil: Any human who mistreats toys, since it's not as if they can know they're alive.
    • Although Sid takes a certain sadistic pleasure in abusing his toys anyway.
  • Oh Crap: Numerous times... mostly with Woody and Buzz.
    • "Wait a minute... I just lit a rocket... ROCKETS EXPLODE!"
    • When the toys enter the luggage conveyors in Toy Story 2.
      • On the plane:

Woody: Okay, on three. One, two...
(plane door slams shut)
Woody: This is bad...

  • Older Than They Look: Woody and his roundup gang are merchandise for a television show that aired before Sputnik was launched. After that, the show was cancelled and they probably stopped making the merchandise. That means that Woody, Jessie, Bullseye and Stinky Pete could be at least forty-nine years old as of the third movie, which is set in 2006.
  • Once Per Episode: If you think about it, each movie has a Star Wars Shout-Out to the corresponding Star Wars movie in the Original Trilogy -- first movie references A New Hope, second movie references The Empire Strikes Back, and the third movie references Return of the Jedi.
    • Every film at one point has toys hiding under something and then walking with it. The first movie had Woody and Buzz underneath the Pizza Planet cup and burger box walking through Pizza Planet, the second had all the toys who went to rescue Woody underneath traffic cones crossing a street, the third had the toys about to be thrown away hiding under a plastic recycle bin and walking back to the garage.
      • Even more so, every film ends off with a Dance Party Ending. Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 had the most obvious examples while the original had a brief karaoke dance moment during the Christmas Party.
    • Every film, including the first, features a cover version of the iconic Toy Story theme "You've Got A Friend In Me" in the credits. The first was a duet by Randy Newman and Lyle Lovett[1], the second had an show stopping New Orleans Jazz version sung by Robert Goulet Wheezy [2], and the final film had a very flamenco influenced version done by the Gipsy Kings [3].
  • Parental Bonus: Oodles of it.

"Why don't I let someone else watch the sheep tonight?"
"What's with him?" "Laser envy."

    • Without giving away the joke, there's a moment in Toy Story 3 involving Bookworm, Barbie, and Ken, except that Ken isn't present.
      • Practically everything involving Ken. With expected results.
    • All I can say is, it's no accident that Mrs. Potato Head is unusually enthusiastic toward her husband when he becomes Mr. Cucumber Head.
    • Hamm had a few, non-dirty bonuses.

(reading the Pizza Planet truck's owner's manual) "Oh, I seriously doubt he's getting this kind of mileage" (Who, Buzz or the truck's owner?)

    • "...I don't think those were Lincoln Logs."
    • At the tea party:

Trixie: And I'm pretty sure I just came back from the doctor with life-changing news!

    • From the first film:

Woody: Tuesday night's plastic corrosion awareness meeting was, I think, a big success. We'd like to thank Mr. Spell for putting that on for us, thank you Mr. Spell.

  • Product Placement: Inverted. Product placement would be if they got paid to include the toys in their film. No, they had to pay for the rights to show any real-world brand of toys. So really, it's the opposite of Product Placement.
    • Though after the success of the first film, most companies approached by Pixar would doubtlessly have very low fees for placement rights.
    • Most of the toys in the first film saw huge jumps in sales. Mr. Potato Head for example was revived nearly from the scrap heap, and the Slinky Dog had been out of production at the time of the film and entered a new giant sales phase when they started making them again. So it can kind of count either way.
  • Pun-Based Title: On the term 'toy store'.
  • Rousseau Was Right About Toys: Played straight in the first two, averted in the third.
  • Rule 63: These livestreamsketches by Youkai Yume.
  • Running Gag: Mr. Potato Head falling apart/losing his parts, etc.
  • Scenery Porn: Any visually complex scene could be cited here, but teenage Andy's room comes to mind (All those posters in the third film!).
    • Pizza Planet in the first movie is an especially good example, given both the level of tech and the atmospheric qualities.
  • Series Mascot: Buzz Lightyear, and to a lesser extent, the LGMS function as this not only for the series, but for Pixar as a whole.
  • Serious Business: A truly interesting case; it's serious business to be and care for children's playthings. Having said that, almost non stop.
  • Shout-Out: And quite a few also count as a Parental Bonus. Some of our favorites:
    • The "Pizza Planet" truck has showed up in almost every Pixar-created work.
    • While trying to escape Sid's house Woody repeatedly calls out, "There's no place like home!".
    • The toy repairman in the second movie is Geri from the Pixar Shorts Geri's Game, where he plays a game of chess against himself. While he's repairing Woody the music from the short plays and one of the drawers in his toolbox is filled with chess pieces.
    • Each movie in the trilogy contains a shout out to its corresponding film in the original Star Wars trilogy: See Once Per Episode above.
    • Rex with "Objects are closer than they appear" in the toy car's rear-view mirror in Toy Story 2, to the scene DEAD ON from the T-Rex Chase in Jurassic Park, Hilarity Ensues.
    • In the chase scene at the end of Toy Story, you get a quick glance inside the car, and the radio's playing Hakuna Matata.
    • Lassie (in first two movies).
    • In Toy Story 2, there are A Bugs Life toys in Al's Toy Barn.
    • 2001: A Space Odyssey at the beginning of Toy Story 2.
    • After calling Woody "a sad, strange little man", he does the Live long and prosper hand thingy, known as the Vulcan salute.
    • A brainwashed Buzz's "spend a night in the box" monologue, "the box" being a covered sandbox.
    • Woody's head spinning all the way around.
      • Big Baby doing the same in Toy Story 3.
    • A plush Totoro toy appears as one of Bonnie's toys in Toy Story 3 (it should be noted that Pixar has done the English dub of every Miyazaki movie since Spirited Away, and Lasseter is close friends with Miyazaki himself).
      • Miyazaki is referenced even in the credits with a "special thanks".
    • Both the Alien Slime soda dispenser and the Whack-a-Alien game from the first movie are a reference to the titular monster from the film Alien.
    • Third movie: Right before the preschool kids burst into the room, some smaller toys are hiding and quivering under a cabinet, mirroring Tin Toy.
      • Many people have made note of the similarity between Big Baby and the terrifying, doll-like baby in "Tin Toy". They even make the exact same sounds!
      • In the first film when Woody is holding the staff meeting before Sarge and his men are sent out, there's a book on the shelf behind Woody called "Tin Toy". Its a thin green one.
    • In the opening sequence of Toy Story 2, listen close and you'll catch at least half a dozen classic sound effects from Star Wars, including the Darth Vader breathing, the lightsaber sound, and the blaster sounds from both the X-Wing and TIE Fighter.
    • Pay close attention as they flip through the channels in Toy Story 2 and you'll see snippets from several Pixar Shorts on the TV.
      • The titles of several Pixar Shorts appear on books on Andy's shelf in the 1st film.
    • The overall plot and tone of the series (especially the third film) has more than a glancing similarity to The Brave Little Toaster -- the first feature-length film Lasseter and Ranft worked on.
    • The evil cymbal monkey had to have been at least partially inspired by Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders.
    • The little binocular wind-up toy could be a reference to the same character appearing way back in the cute Disney documentary Where The Toys Come From.
    • Look quick at the books Andy packs away and you'll spot the title of another sad movie about a nonhuman who loves his owner unconditionally and went to great lengths to find her again.
    • In the 2nd movie Mr. Potato Head takes off his hat and throws it at the door of Al's apartment building to keep it from closing. Oddjob from Goldfinger couldn't have done it better.
    • In the first film, perpetually-anxious Rex spouts "I just don't think I can take that kind of rejection!" then later "I don't like confrontation!", two lines from perpetually-anxious George McFly.
    • When Buzz (excuse me, "Mrs. Nesbitt") is having tea, he says he's "sucking down darjeeling with Marie Antoinette and her little sister." The dolls are both headless, so which is which doesn't matter so much, but this is (potentially) referencing both Marie Antoinette's fate of beheading and Wednesday Addams's doll.
    • Pizza Planet's entrance is guarded by old-school Cylon centurions. Behold!
    • Buzz comes across the new line of Buzzes in the toy store, and notes the snazzy utility belt, saying "I'd like to get me one of those," echoing Tim Allen's fixit man character in Home Improvement (who often wore a toolbelt).
    • In the second movie, Slinky-Dog says "I'm not a smart dog, but I know what roadkill is.", parodying the line "I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is." from Forrest Gump, another movie that starred Tom Hanks.
    • At the end of the first film, Rex is more enthusiastic about Christmas, hoping that Andy will get another dinosaur - a herbivore so that he can be dominant. He doesn't, but in Toy Story 3 he meets Trixie, who belongs to Bonnie. Guess what? Triceratops are herbivores!
  • Show Within a Show: The main characters each have their own fictional franchise: Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (an animated television show and video game series) and Woody's Roundup (an old-timey puppet/marionette serial).
  • Sliding Scale of Living Toys: Level 2 (except for that one scene in Sid's yard, which takes it up to Level 3).
  • The Smurfette Principle: Bo Peep was the only prominent female character in the first film. Although she had potential, she was under utilized. This was remedied with the exuberant Affirmative Action Girl Jessie in the second and third film, as well as Mrs. Potato Head and Barbie.
  • Stealth Pun: In Toy Story 2, Woody has a nightmare about Andy throwing him away. In Toy Story 3, Woody tells the other toys he needs to get to Andy's house, which is on Elm Street. Woody had a nightmare on Elm street.
    • There's another one from Toy Story that elicits a "For Pete's sake, how did I miss that?" Woody is the leader of Andy's room -- in the first movie, we see that Slinky is (or used to be) the second-in-command. A cowboy... and a "long little doggy"...
  • 3D Movie: However, Toy Story 1 and Toy Story 2 weren't 3D until 2009.
  • Time Skip: The first one skips five months after Woody and Buzz get back to Andy to the last scene on Christmas Day.
    • The second takes place about one year after the first.
      • And most noticeable is the skip between Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, which is about ten years.
  • Timmy in a Well: RC in the first movie, Jessie's critters in the second (although that one was more of a parody).
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Woody goes from a somewhat whiny, selfish wimp in the first movie to a breakout mastermind by the third movie.
      • Woody was already a breakout mastermind near the end of the first film. His epic planning doesn't really shine in the second movie, but I can say that every ounce of potential he had is reached in the third film.
    • Buzz starts out delusional, has a breakdown when he finds out he's a toy, then comes right back to save himself and Woody via "Falling! With style!", before going on to rescue Woody in the second movie, and trying to save his friends from the Caterpillar Room, and rescuing Jessie while in the garbage truck.
    • The aliens go from gag characters in the first and second movies to Big Damn Heroes by rescuing the gang from the incinerator.
    • Mr. Potato Head transforms from a selfish, distrustful coward in the first movie to a married man and a daring, surprisingly resourceful action hero in the sequels.
      • Resourceful as in Tortilla Head and Cucumber Head. And how did he change forms? He SCATTERS his body parts and finds an inanimate object to use as a body, much like those parasites seen in movies. Points for Woody for coming up with that part in the escape plan.
  • Unusual Euphemism: A handful.

Woody: Save your batteries! (Chill out!)
Mr. Potato Head: Son of a building block, it's Woody! (Presumably...you know.)
Lotso: F.A.O my Schwartz! (Reference to a toy company)
Woody: Pull my string, the party's today?

Jessie: Sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln! (Also a reference to the fact that Tom Hanks is a distant relative of Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks.)


Notes

  1. (the first has a prank being mistaken in-universe for attempted murder, the second deals fairly explicitly with abandonment issues)