The third installment of the franchise finds a 17-year-old Andy leaving for college. When the toys he meant to put in the attic are accidentally taken to a seemingly nice daycare center, the toys quickly learn the place is run by a cynical teddy bear named Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear who rules the toys with an iron (well, cotton) fist.
A flashback reveals in his younger days Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear was accidentally left behind at a rest stop by his child. He soon found her again only to make the heartbreaking discovery that she had replaced him with a new Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear. The event left him twisted and hollow inside and led him to treat himself and other toys like they’re “made to be thrown away.”
Disney fans have compared Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear’s backstory to that of Woody’s when he and Buzz Lightyear were left at a gas station by a younger Andy in the first movie, leading some to believe the writers were deliberately showing who Woody could have become if he hadn’t been reunited with Andy, according to the Independent.
“I believe Woody is completely capable of everything Lots-o’ did, but Woody always had a kid,” one fan wrote on Reddit, suggesting Andy might have been all that stood between Woody and a bleak life for the toys around him.
The fan said Woody likely would have turned out like Huggin’ Bear if Andy had given up and bought a new Woody in the first movie.
“They are both leaders, and they both go through massive trials to get back their respective kids,” he wrote. “Plus, we see Woody’s ‘dark side’ in the first movie when he begins to be replaced by Buzz. Lots-o’ is basically a version of Woody with no kid.”
In the end, the toys find their way back to Andy as they usually do and he leaves them in the loving care of his 5-year-old neighbor Bonnie before he goes to college. (Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear gets placed on the front of a truck driver’s vehicle who used to have the toy as a child after he finds him at the dump.)
In 2019’s “Toy Story 4,” Woody chooses to get “lost” while on a family trip with Bonnie — who never bonded with him like Andy — after he finds his long lost beloved Bo Peep in a thrift shop because as Bo Peep says, “kids lose their toys every day.” So make of that what you will.
If there’s a Toy Story 5, will Woody reunite with Andy or has he found his independence with Bo Peep? Fans will have to speculate for now.