Inspired by Why doesn't Buzz know he's a toy?, Buzz Lightyear believed his toy backstory was that he was a a space ranger out to defeat Emperor Zurg, as described on the back of his box. The short film Toy Story that Time Forgot showed the Battlesaurs were similarly aware of, and believed in, their fictional backstory.

We find out in Toy Story 2 that Woody also had a fictional backstory in the show Woody's Roundup. However, Woody is completely unaware of this and doesn't recognize the other characters from his backstory: Jessie, Bullseye, and The Prospector. This seems very odd to me, as Buzz Lightyear knew his backstory, and recognized Emperor Zurg on sight (and the Battlesaurs did the same with their supposed enemies).

So why was Woody unaware of his toy backstory when Buzz knew his?

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    Maybe Buzz read it on his box, but Woody never saw the show? – wyvern Dec 1 '15 at 8:51
  • It's pretty clear from Toy Story 2 that Woody had never seen his show. – phantom42 Dec 1 '15 at 12:02
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    I'm kinda with @sumelic on this one. Woody is from a bygone era where toys didn't have elaborate backstories written on their packaging. – John Sensebe Apr 24 '16 at 1:27

None of this is official, but here's one possibility.

One thing that uniquely differentiates Woody from Buzz and the Battlesaurs is that he is very, very old. He's probably older than both Andy and his mother seeing as he comes from an old black and white TV show and Andy's mom describing him as "an old family toy". Perhaps his extreme age has made him forget his origins, and not having others from his same toy line around (unlike Jessie, Bullseye and Stinky Pete) there was nothing to keep him reminded of his back story.

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    I'd like to speculate even further and say that the only back story the toys know, is the back story Andy knows. He knows the back story of the toys he got new, so they know their back story. But he got Woody second-hand, without knowing his back story — so Woody doesn't know either. – SQB Dec 1 '15 at 9:21
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    And maybe toys know their back story only if it's included in their packaging.  And maybe Woody is so old that he was sold loose (not in a box), and his story was commonly known (because there were only a few TV channels back then) and not included in his merchandising. – Peregrine Rook Dec 1 '15 at 18:03
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    @SQB A counter to that is that the unsold toys in Al's Toy Barn in the second movie didn't have owners, yet new their back stories (e.g. Utility Belt Buzz, Zerg). So I don't think that Andy knowing stuff is relevant to what Woody knows. I find PeregrineRook's explanation of packaging more compelling, since it still fits with the unsold toys. – Thunderforge Sep 8 '16 at 22:32

While not "canon", Pixar's head of story for the films said Woody was one of a kind

The was recently an interview conducted with Mike Mozart (Disney Artist and toy collector) by the Super Carlin Brothers in which Mike tells of a story from Joe Ranft (Pixar's head of story until his death in 2006). However, once the video aired on YouTube, Andrew Stanton (writer on all Toy Story films) posted on Twitter that the story was "fake news".

Still I feel that story does such a great job connecting some of the unsolved mysteries, and is worth an answer. I am going to paraphrase the key points from video below.

Woody was the only one of his kind. He was part of promotion of Cowboy Crunchies (the cereal that sponsored the show Woody's Roundup). Andy's father was entered this promotion, not with the required number of boxes, but with a detailed letter of how much he loved the show and was Woody's number one deputy. The company went out of business before the Woody dolls went into production. However, the secretary of the company saved the prototype Woody and decided on her own to send the doll to the child who was most worthy. This ended up being Andy's father.

This means that Andy's father was the only one to play with Woody, that Woody we see was not on the Roundup show, and therefore never met Jessie, Bulls-eye, etc.

(The only problem I have with the whole story is that in Toy Story 2, when Woody sees the show, there is a Woody doll. So my own addition to Mike Mozart's story would have to be that there was two Woody dolls.)

  • What does it mean for this to be "fake news"? That it's basically somebody's glorified fanfiction? – Thunderforge Jun 30 '17 at 18:35
  • @Thunderforge My thought on the matter is that Stanton is saying that Mozart's story is not part of "official Disney/Pixar canon". It may have been Ranft's "fan fiction" at one time, that never made into the official story. Considering there isn't an official answer from Disney/Pixar, I just felt there was enough to go on to post as an answer. – Skooba Jun 30 '17 at 18:47
  • I added a header making that more clear. Feel free to change it if you like. – Thunderforge Jun 30 '17 at 18:59

Buzz's box as well as his preprogrammed dialogue explain the primary pieces of Buzz's back story. Woody on the other hand only says a few ambiguous things related to the wild west.

This is how i always assumed buzz thought he was real since he had far more in-depth programing.


In the answer I gave to the linked question, I mentioned this YouTube video.

Towards the end he says that Woody most likely doens't remember due to the fact that he's been played with so much, he only sees himself as a toy and his life in relation to Andy's.

Seeings as there are many fan theories about Woody being passed down from Andy's father, or given to him by his father, it's likely that Woody is a very old toy.

In Toy Story 2, when Jessie recalls her time spent with Emily, we see posters on the walls suggestive of the 60's/70's style.

(1:23: see the "party" posters in lurid colours)

In addition to this, Stinky Pete recalls

"When the rockets went up, kids were only interested in space toys"

The moon landing was in 1969, meaning that Woody, Jessie, Stinky Pete and Bullseye were probably off the shelves by 1975.

Seeings as Toy Story is set in 1995, when the film was made, Woody must have spent at least 20 years being a toy. Whether he was passed down to Andy from his father or another relative, he's spent so long as a toy he's forgotten his backstory entirely.

  • 2
    I would humbly suggest that 'When the rockets went up, ...' is more likely a reference to the post-Sputnik (circa 1957) era than post-moon landing (circa 1969) era. This was a real pop culture phenomenon with the USA eventually getting Explorer 1 off the ground and then running the Mercury and Gemini programs before the Apollo program. The production quality of the B&W kids' show seems to me to bear this out. – user62584 Apr 23 '16 at 19:56
  • True, that's why I like to say "at least" 20 years ;3 – Mikasa Apr 24 '16 at 14:56

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