Is This What Really Happened to Andy’s Dad in “Toy Story”?

Heads up: You're going to need some tissues for this tearjerker.

The moment Disney Pixar fans have been waiting for since 2014 is finally here—Toy Story 4 has hit theaters! We know that the final installment in the beloved plaything-themed franchise will feature Woody and friends embarking on a road trip, meeting new friends, and reuniting with Bo Peep. But we don’t know whether it’ll answer an age-old question that Toy Story fans have been pondering for years: Where is Andy’s dad? While that answer is still a mystery, see if you know these answers to these trivia questions about your favorite Disney films.

If you, or your kids, grew up watching the first three Toy Story films (Toy Story, released in 1995; 1999’s Toy Story 2; and 2010’s Toy Story 3), you may have noticed that Andy’s father is nowhere to be found throughout any of them. And while Disney movies do have a tendency to eliminate one or both of a main character’s parents, often in childhood-marring scenes (hi, Lion King), the fate of Andy’s dad is never addressed at all. Did he die? Are Andy’s parents divorced? It’ll just have to be a mystery…right?

Maybe not! A video by the Super Carlin Brothers on YouTube has revealed a theory—and it actually makes a lot of sense. Buckle up and get ready to have some nagging Toy Story questions answered.

Toy Story’s protagonist, Woody, belonged to Andy’s father first (indeed, Andy’s mom calls Woody “an old family toy”). Andy’s father was also named Andy—Andy Sr.—and he wrote his name on Woody’s boot. The reason Woody is such a rare toy is because he’s the only Woody doll that was ever made—just a prototype. A cereal company had a promotion—send in X amount of box tops and get a Sheriff Woody doll. However, Woody merchandise was discontinued after Sputnik went up (remember Stinky Pete’s complaint that “children only wanted to play with space toys”?). Because Andy Sr.’s family wasn’t very wealthy, he couldn’t collect enough box tops before the promotion ended. But Andy Sr., a sickly child, sent in his few box tops with a letter begging for a Woody doll, and someone decided to send him the prototype.

via imdb.com

Here’s where it gets really sad. Andy Sr., already sickly, came down with polio, which meant that all of his belongings had to be burned—including toys. But, he stashed Woody away before he could be burned. Eventually recovering from polio, he met his wife as an adult and had Andy Jr. BUT, around the time Andy’s sister was born, he came down with post-polio syndrome, which he ended up dying from—but not before he entrusted his precious Woody doll to his son. (Be right back, we’re drying our tears.)

Check out the full video for a much more detailed description, including a couple more lingering plot holes that the theory clears up. As mind-blowing as the theories are, many are claiming that this story is not the real deal—including, rather disappointingly, one of Toy Story’s original writers, Andrew Stanton. In a tweet, he insisted that there’s “nothing to see here” and that the story is nothing but “fake news.”

On the one hand, yes, that does seem pretty conclusive. But on the other hand, the Super Carlin Brothers theory does come courtesy of toy collector Mike Mozart, who was a consultant on the first Toy Story and a close friend of another of Toy Story‘s writers, Joe Ranft. Mozart claims that the story of Andy’s dad came from Ranft himself. Sadly, though, Ranft passed away in 2006, so there’s no way for him to truly debunk or confirm the theory. Will we ever unlock the true fate of Andy’s father? Will it be revealed in Toy Story 4? Fortunately, we don’t have to wait long to find out! Read on for more surprising facts you may not know about your favorite Disney characters.

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Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a Staff Writer for RD.com who has been writing since before she could write. She graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been writing for Reader's Digest since 2017. In spring 2017, her creative nonfiction piece "Anticipation" was published in Angles literary magazine. She is a proud Hufflepuff and member of Team Cap.