Where’s the Dad in Toy Story? (Part of the Dads Are Not Second-class Parents Series)

Since the recent DVD release of Toy Story 3, many people are raising the question:

Where’s the dad in Toy Story 3? Or in Toy Story 1 and 2 for that matter?

Over the summer my family and I went to see the latest installment of the series. As always, Pixar did a great job with the film – except for one thing:

Dad was not represented in the film. Not even a mention.

It’s the same issue I had with the first two installments of the trilogy, and it taps into a much larger problem where dads are treated as second-class parents.

At first glance it may seem trivial, but what kind of message are we sending to the children who are watching this film? Not to mention the negative impact of countless TV shows, ads and commercials where dad is either not present, or portrayed as a negative stereotype (breadwinner, dope, moron, insert your most detested dad stereotype here, etc).

This type of miss is especially surprising to me from Pixar, who usually pays close attention to the details (which is part of what makes them great filmmakers).

When a boy (in this case Andy) is leaving home for college, why in the world wouldn’t dad be there to wish him well, help him load up the car and hug him goodbye? This perpetuates an archaic perception of dad as the non-present half of the parenting team. Even if Andy’s parents were divorced, any respectable dad would have at least called his son on the phone.

These days, this is not only an unfair representation, it’s also a horrible example for children to grow up with. And let’s not forget poor mom who’s expected to do everything! I for one find it offensive and insulting. What do you think?

And remember, you are not alone …

Additional Dads are Not Second-class Parents Articles:
– Part 1
Part 2: And Then There’s Dad
Part 3: A Divorced Dad’s Perspective
Part 4: Dads Need Help Too
A Question for Dads: Have You Been Treated Like a Second-class Parent?
(share your story)
– Part 5: Perceptions & Paradigms

Family Blogs

68 Replies to “Where’s the Dad in Toy Story? (Part of the Dads Are Not Second-class Parents Series)”

  1. I thought the same thing when I watched all three movies. I also think it’s unfair, but they had to leave the father our because in a sense, if the father was present, HE would have been a very important part of Andy’s life instead of the toys. He would be present everywhere, taking up of all Andy’s time, and the writers could not have that since the movie is already about two strong male characters (Woody and Buzz) that supply Andy with paternal love and loyalty. I assumed that the dad had passed away; if they were divorced, I cannot imagine that Dad wouldn’t show up here or there. It would have been nice to mention this somewhere in the first part instead of allowing it to be the big elephant in the movie, because I’m sure every adult has noticed this.

    Your is a very relevant blog, by the way.

      1. Le film me convient vraiment car mon fils s’appelle Andy il a 4 ans 1/2 et n’a pas de papa. Il correspond tout à fait à notre vie à l’acception c’est que dans le film quand Andy est parti en voiture pour l’université mon fils s’est mis à pleurer… je lui ai dit “pourquoi tu pleures ? car tu seras grand tu partira comme lui …” et il me répond en pleurant : “mais tu seras toute seule après ?”. Donc pensez aussi aux enfants qui n’ont pas de papa et dont le père est absent il correspond à ce genre de situation et tant mieux… car j’en ai marre des stéréotypes ou il y a toujours le couple partout cela rend mon fils malheureux.
        Dans ce film mon fils s’y retrouve et de plus il s’appelle ANDY.
        Bien à vous.
        Une maman sans le papa

      2. @ Vamelie: Thank you for your comment.

        For those of my readers who don’t read French, our babysitter Tania did a rough translation of Vamelie’s comment.

        Vamelie is basically saying that she and her son, Andy of age 4.5, were able to relate to the movie because his father has been absent during his childhood. She said that while they were watching the movie, towards the end when Andy drives off to college, her son started crying. She asked why he was crying, and told him that when he was older he would be able to leave just like he did. Andy, her son, said that he was crying because he knew that once he left she would be all alone. She also states that she isn’t happy about the stereotypes and seeing families with both parents makes her son sad.

        There’s some great insight here – both into the complexities of a 4 year old’s mind, and that of parents who are divorced or separated.


  2. I haven’t seen Toy Story 3 yet (hopefully soon) but I agree with Marina. Dad probably passed away but Pixar is never one to dwell on this kind of sadness.

    In the first movie, Molly (Andy’s younger sister) is just a baby so Dad likely passed away somewhere from months to a year prior. Luckily, we have a great dad figure in that other Pixar classic Finding Nemo where Marlin literally swims through the entire ocean to rescue his son.

    1. @TechyDad: Thanks for the comment. I just don’t think we should be wondering, “where’s dad?” He’s not even treated like a second-class parent. Plus, Pixar always recognizes the sadness – look at UP, or the death of Nemo’s mom, or Wall-e’s isolation (not to mention the poor health of our planet in that movie). And Marlin? Love the guy. He’s all heart. But again, his sadness is great at the loss of his wife and the loss of his son. Why wasn’t Andy’s dad dealt with in some way? All this does is play into the stereotype of the absentee father. You assume he’s passed away, but you’re an adult with high reasoning skills. What about the kids that are watching? What do you think they’re learning?

      I do not mean to be confrontational. But this kind of second-class parent syndrome occurs every day in the media and our communities …



      1. Hi Babbo…

        Your site is wonderfully informative, hip, and tackles issues that are relevant to modern day child rearing. Thanks for getting the word out.

        I am a stay at home father (recently relocated to Madison), and have experienced first hand what you refer to as the “second hand parent syndrome.” In fact, the other day, it was implied (albeit jokingly) that my days would soon be spent packing up with other stay at home fathers for early-afternoon beer sessions and steaks on the grill. A funny thought, yes, but since when do stay at home parents really have time (or energy) for such indulgences. Bottom line: the stereotypes do occur every day, in many communities. Even in liberal minded places like Madison. Everyone agrees that fathers are important, so why aren’t we ALWAYS recognized as such?

        But…. does the absence of Andy’s father in TS3 really support that stereotype? These films focus on the world of toys, where the parents are, thankfully, largely left out of the picture. The toys seem so magically realistic because they don’t have to compete with the dramas of Andy and his single-parent household. Certainly some trace of a father would be nice in the films, but Andy seems like a well-adjusted, caring, sensitive kid to me. Isn’t he the one that matters here?

        Regards and thanks for reading this rant,

      2. @ Matthew: Didn’t think your comment was a rant at all. Thanks for sharing your story and your opinion. As far as your question about Toy Story 3, I think it depends on how one looks at the situation. We can perceive things in different ways. I agree that the story should not be about anything but the toys. Andy is merely a vehicle for the story. That being said, mom is there and sis is there. I am not suggesting dad be a key role. But his being left out completely makes a statement about how our society percieves dad. And it is a poor example for the children who are watching. What is it telling them? That MOM’S there, DAD’S not. Mom takes care of Andy, and who knows where dad is. In my opinion, this is something that helps form an opinion, most likely on a subconscious level, in children on how they perceive men, dads, and fatherhood.

        Do we really want to take the chance of perpetuating second-class parent syndrome into another generation?



  3. The simple answer is not some big conspiracy. In the end, there was only limited need for a parental figure in the movie (three quick scenes?), and it was generally more efficient to design, animate, and provide a voice actor for one character.

    As an unrelated example, there is a copy of the opening scene from Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” in their May 2009 issue. This early draft had a family with a husband, wife and three daughters. A revision of the script dropped the wife/mother character. Now, there are some fundamental changes in the character dynamic by losing this mother figure, yes, but for the purpose of the movie, she was deemed unnecessary.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if an early draft of Toy Story featured a family with a mother and father. I know from watching several behind-the-scenes and Pixar docs that there were many revisions to this movie as it was developed. Also, the sequels are merely sticking with continuity, not trying to further some anti-father agenda.

  4. I am surprised by some of the responses posted here – I too noticed the absent father in Toy Story 3 because I come from an absent-father-family myself, and I liked it because it showed that for thousands and thousands of REAL PEOPLE, single parent families are everyday and normal. I don’t think it reinforces any stereotype about men – I think it is brave for Pixar to show this reality rather than always presenting us with perfect mummy/daddy Nuclear Families which for so many of us have no resonance.

    1. @ Edward: Good point. But what about the next generation who’s opinion is being shaped? How are they interpreting dad’s absence? How is this affecting their perception of dads? I would think that encouraging dad’s involvement at some level would be a good example to set. I am not saying he should have been the star of the show, but his complete absence leaves a question mark, which could be interpreted negatively by children. You are looking at it as an adult with personal experience. The children watching are shaping their future. I think it’s a very subtle thing, but it perpetuates a negative perception. Try looking at from a 6-year old viewer’s point of view instead of your own and tell me what you think.


  5. Most 6 year old’s have the ability to relate to and recognize a single-parent household. Like it or not, single parent households are commonplace. Instead of subtle negativity, we could turn this around to illustrate how, when they need to be, single parent households are enriching enough to yield cool kids like Andy. We all probably agree that the 2 parent model is wonderful, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Edward has a point: Pixar is playing to a societal norm.

  6. What I find most interesting is that although mostly everybody thus far is commenting that dad’s absence is no big deal, each day many people are googling things like, “where’s the dad in Toy Story?”

    It’s obviously a question that many people are asking …



  7. My co-worker and I were just discussing this. In TS-1, Andy’s love of Woody is pretty obvious and we’ve thought that since Woody is a pretty OLD toy (cf. TS-2 and Woody’s “history”), we’ve thought that Woody is the remembrance of the father. Woody was his dad’s toy and that’s why he’s so big in his life. You can see the struggle in TS-3 when Andy’s thinking about which toys to save. He looks at Woody and then at Buzz – one looks at the past, the other looks at his future (life without dad), and he struggles with which toy to keep with him (and take to college?). When he chooses Woody, I think he’s choosing to keep that which he remembers — his Dad by virtue of his connection through Woody.

    If nothing else, Toy Story holds a hidden question that demands a personal answer – both personally and socially. Where’s Dad? Where are fathers who see themselves as keepers of virtue, love, honor, and obedience for their children? Where are men who understand that being married with children is both an amazing adventure as well as a incredible responsibility.

  8. very interesting and deep comments. Doesn’t bill’s comments just support what babbo is trying to say that this is portraying a negative image of fathers in the fact that they aren’t there. By asking where is dad it implies that dad is not there to fulfill all those important roles bill mentioned. I was watching the movie and wondered where is andy’s dad which is what led me to this discussion.

    Maybe pixar is trying to send a message about how father’s aren’t as involved in raising children but again that’s a little one sided. My father worked 6 days a week for 10-12 hours a day because my mom wanted to go back to school and that was the only way he could support me and my mom. I mostly spent time with my mom but at the same time now that I look back on it if he hadn’t spent all the time working I’d never would have made it through medical school either and I respect him for working so hard for us. Since pixar never mentioned the dad there could be a million reasons why he isn’t there but I do remember my dad being there to send me off on my first day of college. So i think the fact that he wasn’t there makes a strong argument that andy’s dad doesn’t care. Of course this is all speculation, pixar could just have forgotten about this… or maybe the creator had daddy problems and is subconsciously venting… lol

    1. @Koswus: I am so very sorry for taking such a ridiculous amount of time to respond (I thought I did until I recently reviewed all the comments on this post).

      Your comments are insightful, and dead on. Like your dad, I’m currently working six days a week to support my family. But my priority is still being the best dad and husband I can be. My time, when I’m home, is dedicated to my family. Talking, being together, and staying connected.

      Again, I apologize for the delay in responding to your comment. Hope all is well.


  9. The reason they took the father out of the story is not because they are stereotyping fathers but because in the movie Woody was protective of Andy, he thought it was HIS job to take care of him so Andy had to have had Woody long enough to know what happened between the parents and wanted to protect Andy as much as he could. Woody was supposed to be the “father figure” for Andy. it just made the bond between them closer and harder to break which was the point of the whole movie.

    1. @ Claire: Thank you for your comment. Keep in mind, this is speculation on the part of an adult. What about a six year old who’s watching? All he or she sees is that dad’s not there. You’re looking at it as a story catalyst, which I get. But this is a blatant miss on Pixar’s part. Dad’s absence could have been revealed in 30 seconds or less, and what you described could still have happened exactly as you suggested.



  10. To be honest most children don’t even notice. I teach first graders and they all thought that the dad was at work because that’s how it is in most families. But that’s all they say about the father. They talk mostly about Woody and the rest. The talking toys distract the kids from thinking about the father. I also have a 14 year old niece that watched Toy Story all the time when she was younger and she does not have a dad and when I asked her how she felt about it she said that it was nice to be able to relate to the movie. Especially a childrens movie. That’s the case with a lot of children almost every child is familiar with the one parent thing. It’s a common thing and children don’t notice that Andy does not have a father. I feel that it is important for younger children without fathers to be able to relate with a movie that they actually can watch and feel they are okay so I am going to be okay. It was a feeling of reassurance and security for my niece who lost her father when she was 6 and completely understood what happened and saw that Andy was happy and so she was happy.

    1. @ Claire: What it comes down to is showing a little respect for dads. Toy Story is just one of many examples where it does not exist. I see your point about children who have lost their fathers. My dad lost his father when he was two. And I think it’s an important point, one that deserves attention. But again, the story could have been told exactly the same way AND we could have been told what happened to dad.

      There are stereotypes all arounds us. Women and men of all races face them every day. Helping eradicate them, and seeing people for who they are is a good thing …

  11. @ Claire: What’s interesting is that most families I know, even ones where dads work full time, have very involved dads. That’s an old paradigm of thinking that is no longer true, although many people still believe in and perpetuate it.

    If “that’s how it is in most families” you know, how are we going to break the pattern of male non-involvement in those families? And in the future families of your first graders?


  12. Interesting point, but what about Finding Nemo? There is no mother present,in fact she dies within the first 5 min of the film. Couldn’t you have the reverse arguement?

    I think Pixar made the choice in Toy story simply as a plot device and nothing more.

    1. Absolutely not. In Nemo, the mother is accounted for. She’s eaten by a bigger fish! She’s in the film, and her relationship is established with her family, albeit briefly.

      Thanks for your comment.



  13. I agree it is a bit of an elephant in the room, and could have been easily handled without drawing attention, with a simple pass over of a mantle piece with a picture and an urn. That would have answered everyones questions, no more would needed to have been said in the movies.
    I ‘like’ to think the dad died, only because of his total absence, though I thought in TS3 they should have had a step dad come in. Again no attention needed to be brought just have a guy helping load Andy’s car. It was not he focus of the movies but I still feel a bit confused when I see the movies. Andy’s Mom never remarried or dated another man?
    It is a bit sad to me that a dad was not included, as a very proud father it feels missing to me, but maybe this is one of those times when adults notice things and kids don’t. If my kids ever ask I will just tell them his Daddy is away working, I sometimes have to go away for a week or two at a time so they understand that.

  14. i agree with all sides of this subject. but one i have not seen yet, is many disney movies already have a mom and a dad. and children (like myine whos father died when she was a baby) was always sad watching the movies with dads in them. maybe pixar wanted to remind kids that not ALL children DO have a dad. for whatever reason. and to give a child character that those chdliren can relate to, only having thier mom take care of them and not a dad be there.

    i agree, its sad that not all familys have a father. i wish my family did. but its not real life. some of those kids get very sad about seeing dads hug and love thier children, when there father is no where to be found.

    1. @ Jennie: I think you make an excellent point here, Jenny. I just wish we could have known why dad wasn’t there. Sometimes it’s hard to look at it from a different perspective when dads are dishonored so often in the media.

      I’m sorry for your family’s loss. There’s more in my heart I want to say, but I can’t seem to find the words.



  15. Its not just Andy folks.

    I noticed this recently as well. If he had merely died then why are there not any pictures of dearly departed Dad? If Andy were a hand me down from Dad then how could he pass him onto the lil girl?

    What about the age difference between him and lil sister? Aren’t they about 7 years a part? If Dad died right after the birth of his sister Andy would be 7 and have had some recollection of a Dad.

    Its not just Andy that doesn’t have a father. Notice the lil girl in TS3 didn’t have one present either.

    If I recall TS2 the evil kid that tortured toys only had a mom as well.

    Four main characters from TS1-TS3 didn’t have fathers. Three turned out alright and one was very disturbed.

    The characters are:
    evil kid(name?)
    Lonso’s lil girl(name?)

    None of them had dads. So the excuse from the makers that “oh Andy’s dad died” doesn’t account for all these children not having dads.

    Lonso to me epitomizes the angry father that has been loved by his child and then mom leaves him, taking his child away from him. Not only that but mom replaces dad(Lonso) with another Lonso(dad). He makes a disturbing commentary on their existence. We’re plastic…there are millions like her…we’re made to be thrown away.

    There were several loving relationships among the toys. Notable were Woody and Bo Beep, Buzz and cowgirl, the Potato head couple, and Ken & Barbie.

    Is Toy Story trilogy trying to make a social commentary on fatherless homes?

    1. Sid’s Dad was shown in the TV room, when Buzz sees the TV ad showing all of the Buzz Lightyear toys for sale at Al’s Toy Barn. He was sitting in the lazyboy.

      Daisy (Lotso’s owner) had a Dad. He was shown, briefly, in the car, driving away from the picnic.

      Bonnie’s Dad was shown at the end of the movie, working in the yard with her Mom, when Andy brings her the toys.

      It is sad that I know these things. I have little kids, who watch them over and over.

      1. @ Bannah: Thank you for the comments. Although I see your point about leaving it up to the child, the absence of Andy’s dad goes far beyond the silver screen. There is a preponderance of dads in this country that WANT to be with their kids, but the courts do not allow 50/50 custody. Beyond the movie, my concern is giving a poor example to kids about relationships and the role of the male in the family. It perpetuates a stereotype that is a problem for children and for parents. Kids are not making decisions about where dad is, they just see that he’s not there.

        Of course it’s all about perception. Plenty of single moms have commented on this and had some very valid points. But as a dad, the absence of an explanation is bothersome. Other Disney movies do the same thing to mom, and now that I’m a parent I find myself wondering what’s happened to her as well…



  16. @Dan You made alot of good observations but I think u may be reading a little to much into them. I don’t think lotso was supposed to be some metaphorical symbol of daisys father. Just because you didn’t see any of the characters dads, like sid, daisy or Bonnie, doesn’t mean they don’t have dads. Most of the scenes take place during the day, when the dad is probably at work. Also, Bonnie goes to daycare so most likely she has parents that work. The main characters are the toys, not the humans. Andy is merely a vehicle to tell the story and not even his mum has a large part in the movies. However, she is needed bc it would be slightly unrealiatic to have no adult at all. The focus is the toys and I think pixar showed alot of positive relationships amoungst them. Like u said, the potatoe heads, Ken and Barbie, woody and Bo and buzz and Jesse. There were even references to the potatoes adopting children. And I think in order for Andy to have such a strong bond with woody, they needed to have an absense of an actual adult human father character. It is nice for a change that children without dads can actually feel some sort of connection with a Disney movie as well. Childrens understanding and perception of a family dynamic comes from their own family. However tolerance of different types of families is important as well and not all kids are lucky enough to have a dad.

  17. @Dan. I just watched TS3 again and bonnies dad is shown at the end of the movie. When Andy shows up to drop off the toys, bonnies mum and dad are doing garden work together. And also when daisy falls asleep in the park, and her mum carries her to the car, you can see a breif shot of a man walking to the car, which must be her dad. So I don’t think pixar is trying to show some big theme of fatherless families. You don’t really notice this stuff though bc most people are focusing on the toys and I guess that’s how they want it.

  18. Your blog had the best answer to my google “where’s the dad in toy story”. I had actually been looking for an amusing article I’d seen once on the dismal fate of disney mothers (absent, dead, murdered, locked up, or evil in some typical step-parent fashion). The curiousity about Andy’s dad was aroused and here i am.

    I always assumed that they were divorced. As a single mom myself, I appreciate Andy’s mom’s no-nonsense attitude and can sympathize with the exhausted look she seems to have.

    i was sad that in TS3 she never mentioned having a date or anything… i really wanted her to get out more now that her oldest was heading off to college.

  19. Andy did have a father. He died, soon after Molly was born. This is not mentioned explicitly but it is implied by many things. Here are some of the major ones:

    1) In TS1 Andy’s mother mentions Woody is “an old family toy that has been in the family” when the chicken man attempts to buy him. Woody is a boy’s toy made back in the 50’s (this established in TS2) therefore it’s implied he was Andy’s father’s toy. Also the sequence in TS3 with Andy’s mother saying to put the old toys in the attic that Andy wants to save. Many families never save old toys, they toss them. This family does, why? Probably because Andy’s father also saved his old toys.

    2) Andy’s mother obviously has enough wealth to buy a new home in TS1 that is why they were moving. She is apparently wealthy enough to have a new/modern minivan (the van body style is a Dodge Caravan and those came out around the time of TS1) and to float a mortgage for the new home to allow her to set the move-out date on the old home (to accomodate Andy’s party) and to hire a moving van for an in-city move (layout/climate/vegetation/home style/etc. are all the same between homes in TS1/TS2 indicating same city, also the garbageman in TS3 happens to be Sid, grown up) instead of the old round-up-friends-with-a-pickup-truck or u-haul routine the rest of us have to go though. The new house is also better than the old one (more rooms in it) She also can afford to go to fast-food (pizza planet) on a casual whim. Yet at the same time she is always home during the day – strong implication that she doesen’t work. The strong implication is that a large insurance settlement paid out (life insurance) Also, it is very common for people who have lost a spouse to death espically at a young age to sell the house and move to a new house.

    3) Mother never wears a wedding ring – also common with people wanting to forget some horrendous spousal death (ie: death at a young age)

    4) Molly is very young in TS1, and age spread between Andy and Molly is large. People who have problems with spouses serious enough to get a divorce usually don’t have a child 10 years after the first one, by then they have split up. By contrast couples who are very loving don’t have a problem with waiting that long to have another child.

    5) In TS3 Andy has his own pretty modern car, this is not an expense that a high-school student can cover with an after school job who is saving his after school money for college. And if he’s not saving his after school job money for college then who is paying for his college? Have you ever filled out a FAF? If Andy has his own car I guarentee his mother and him are too rich to qualify for any free tuitition unless it’s a full ride scholorship, and high school students with after-school jobs that pay enough to afford a newer car and car insurance do not have enough time to pull the straight A’s needed to obtain full ride scholarships. One more, this points to a large life insurance policy payout, which was carefully invested.

    6) It is implied strongly that Molly spent time in Sunnyside Daycare in TS3. Daycar is expensive, most single mothers cannot afford it if they are paying and the dad is absent and not paying child support. (and if he was around and paying child support then he absolutely would have been present at Andy’s graduation picture unless his ex-wife, Andy’s mother was a total witch) This implies financial support, once more from a life insurance policy payout.

    7) At one time the TS director was told by someone that Andy’s mother must be divorced because the father couldn’t have died and his response was “who said he didn’t die” (you can google up that quote) Now granted this last one isn’t “canon” because it doesen’t appear in the film, but he wouldn’t have said it if his intent was Andy’s mother was single.

    Honestly, I do agree with most posters that leaving the Andy’s father not present in the films and not putting in a single line explaining what happened to him in TS3 is rather a slam against fathers. But I think Pixar had a tricky row to hoe here. Keep in mind Pixar absolutely hates making sequels. They made TS1 without Andy’s dad, and merely implied that he was at work, or at the new home, or elsewhere, simply because they wanted to spend as little time as possible on the parents. (they didn’t show Andy’s mothers face in TS1 or TS2) Pixar was basically told if they didn’t make TS2 then they wouldn’t make any other films so they cranked that one out, as a subtle slam against the entire toy industry marketing to children & intertie with TV shows thing. (basically, slamming the studio moneymen who forced them to make TS2) Once more they adhered to the same “daddy’s at work” thing in TS2 because they just didn’t want to spend time on it. Well we all know that TS2 and TS2 of all the Pixar films absolutely went supernova, and Pixar has been fighting the studios and moneymen for the last decade trying to avoid making yet another sequel. Well when the dollar amounts pass the admirable and reach the awesome, eventually the moneymen will force you to the wall and your going to have to do another sequel. So, this time Pixar decided they were going to take a bit more care and then the Andy’s Dad issue came up.

    With TS3, Pixar knew that if they put in a line saying “I wish Dad were alive to see you” that all of the women’s rights groups out there would go ballistic, because for years they have been playing the TS1 and TS2 films up like Andy’s mother was a single mother (even though very few single parents of either sex are as economically well placed as she is, and thus the portrayal of her as a divorcee is absolutely unrealistic by these groups) Yet if they put a line in there saying that Andy’s father was a divorcee (which would have been easy, just put a picture of the father in Andy’s graduation shot) then it would have made it obvious to the rest of us non-violent-feminists that it was just Pixar pandering to the feminists, (because we understand the economics of divorce and how unrealistic it is that Andy & mother would be as well off if that was the case) and it would have cheapened the movie.

    So Pixar did the smart thing, they left enough clues so that anyone with some logic can see that the only explanation that makes sense (and also fits with Andy’s attack of sentimentality about how Woody was his substitute father in the last scene) is that Andy had a father who handed Woody down to him (which was why Woody was so special and why Andy’s mother hadn’t thrown him out years earlier, along with Andy’s toybox which was also a Woody’s Roundup toybox handed down from Dad if you didn’t notice) and then went and died right after Molly was born, and left a huge life insurance settlement to Andy’s mother. But they didn’t spell it out so that the ultra-feminists out there who think that single mother families are just jolly wouldn’t go get the torches and pichforks.

    1. (and if he was around and paying child support then he absolutely would have been present at Andy’s graduation picture unless his ex-wife, Andy’s mother was a total witch)

      This is somewhat offensive… there are plenty of fathers that walk away from the physical part of their child’s life while still paying child support. My son has one of them. His father, at HIS choice, has never even met his son. I’ll be damned though if my son’s quality of life will suffer because he doesn’t want to be man enough to support his child financially.

    2. While I can agree with some of your points it would have been good if you quoted your sources for many of your points. For a studio you say doesn’t like sequels it leaves TS3 open for a TS4. As well cars and monsters are reportedly in the works for sequels too.

      I do agree the feminists do like to paint a jolly picture of a single mother having children, career, home, etc all by herself without much struggle. Cause of course women are supposed to have it all nowadays and not sacrifice career for children.

      There are other explanations. She could have an at-home business and been very successful. Family hand me downs could have been from her side of the family and not dads side. For all we concretely know she went to a sperm bank twice and the toys were handed down from Grandpa.

      I do think it is odd that women supposedly being more emotionally in touch and sensitive will in a cleaning frenzy think its no big deal to throw out old baseball cards and toys. The saving of the toys didn’t matter to her. He had the choice of donating them to Sunnyside. Mom appears to be the type to recycle rather than trash old things others can find use for.

  20. I agree with everything Ted said. The first toy story came out when I was 7 and my father had just passed away, as a child that young, I assumed Andys father also had
    Passed away. I cant say that had my father still been alive back then what my other thoughts would have been though.

    I had google’d where is andys father since i was a bit curious if I was right that he did indeed pass away, and your blog was the second hit 😉

  21. As a single mother to a 4 year old son, its nice to have a movie that my son can see with another boy without a father. Pixar does a wonderful job of portraying ideal father figures, its nice they included a non-father home too.

  22. I have no issue with him being in a family without a dad but lack of a brief scene or picture of a dad on the wall or somewhere leaves the question open where did she get Andy and his sister? Did she adopt, sperm bank, two different dads, if one dad wouldn’t a 7-10(younger sister is approx that age) year boy have a memory of him, etc. Just begs for an explanation.

    On the flip side the toys displayed many good families with mothers and fathers like the Potatoe Head couple.

  23. I think that Pixar went out of their way to not confine Andy’s Dad’s absence. Every family has it’s own history, whether good or bad, and this leaves it open for most kids to identify with. If a kid comes from a 2 person family: Dad’s at work, if a kid has a Widowed Mother: Dad passed away, from a divorced family: Dad lives elsewhere, from a homosexual family: other Mom is a work, from a single Mother: Mom had artificial insemination or a limited relationship with Dad. That way most kids can identify with Andy, he can have many stories, it is up to the individual kid to explain it with the most personal scenario.
    I know it doesn’t cover the scenario when kids have Dad around all the time, but Andy’s Mom’s face wasn’t even shown in the first 2 movies, so the parents are, really, just props.

      1. @ Bannah: Regarding the interview with Pixar, here’s what was said about dad’s whereabouts: “It’s an oft asked question, but there is no concrete answer,” Unkrich said. “We don’t mean to be mysterious about it; it’s just never been relevant to the story.” DAD is not relevant to the story? Shame on you PIXAR. In such a powerful position, as the world’s premier animation company, it is your responsibility to address the question. Both as film makers AND as influencers of our next generation.



  24. there are two very believable stories here. If andy’s dad just didn’t care about his family, why would there be pictures of him? it’s a sad reality, but some dads just don’t care. Another relative and possible point is, his dad died. Sure, you would want to see pictures throughout the house and all, but think of the mother. It was the man she loved, and he’s dead. don’t you think it would be hard for her to see pictures? i know it sounds selfish, but it is a reality, sometimes too harsh to show in children’s films. remember, this is JUST a childrens film. they don’t really notice because of the strong male characters in Woody and Buzz.

  25. My 3 year-old son loves the Toy Story franchise… and Cars… and lots of other Disney/Pixar films. I’ve noticed the “missing Dad” syndrome in a LOT of the Pixar films. Another one that bothered me was UP! I understand how it was needed as part of the story, but… the Dad is treated as a completely uncaring person… I know there are “Dads” who are basically s p e r m donors and don’t care about the kids at all, but that wasn’t MY Daddy and it certainly doesn’t represent ME. I really wish Disney/Pixar and other children’s shows would show a Daddy more like my experiences. I have wondered a number of times if folks at Pixar came from single-parent, broken or “Dad-less” homes or even at Disney for that matter. I don’t know whether to be angry or sad, but I do know that I do EVERYTHING I can to show MY children that THEIR Daddy isn’t that way!

    Take care…

  26. FINALLY there’s one movie where the one who’s not there is the dad. Look at all disney films, WHERE IS THE MOM? Nemo’s mom, Snow white’s mom, cinderella’s mom: Dead. And those are very few examples. In other movies they don’t even metion the mothers, like in the Beauty and the Beast, or in Aladdin.

    I’m just saying..

  27. Bambie:mom gets shot

    Fox in the hound:mom gets shot

    Lilo and stitch: mom dies in car accident (with dad)

    Lion king 2: scars sons mom falls off clif and drowns.

    the little mermaid 3-arials beginning: mom gets crushed by anchor.

    pocohantis:mom dies (dont know how exactley)

    finding nemo: mom gets eaten.

    1. @Caridee: All good points you made here. Yet, each movie has an answer of some kind, albeit fatal. But in Toy Story, the question remains unanswered.

      Kids need good role models from both men and women. The Mom in Bambie was a good mother until she was shot. What about the dad in Toy Story? Was he a dead beat? Was he a sperm donor? Did he have a heart attack – or was he a Vulcan who was distantly related to Mr. Spock?

      = ^ )

      Thanks for your comments!



  28. Well, dads are not present all the time and not everyone needs a dad. Sure its nice to have one but people get by just fine without one. Pixar is just showing another type of family since not every family has a mom, dad, son and daughter. So its not “a horrible example for children to grow up with” it’s just life. And some of the lives of the children watching these toy story movies have lives just like Molly and Andy.

  29. You can’t under estimate the impact of a good father in the home. Its not offensive to me that he wasn’t there only that it seemed unimportant to have 2-3 seconds out of an entire trilogy to show some cause for him not being there. Would explain his bond to Woody if dad was the one who passed it down to Andy before he died. Their explanation of Woody was that he was a family heirloom passed down; passed down from whom?

    There will always be your singular cases where kids grow up well-adjusted without a Dad but I work with boys in youth clubs called Royal Rangers and I see the impact of them not having Dad present. Boys need a male role model and that’s the job of a dad. Granted real life is going to be less than perfect and dad maybe dead, divorced, a drug addicted deadbeat, etc but you find other men to be a positive role model when the real dad can’t or won’t be one. Many organizations are dedicated to mentoring and filling that role such as Big Brother, Scouts, and Royal Rangers.

  30. When TS1 came out I was 9 and I remember even then wondering where Andy’s father was. As a girl who was raised by her father,with an absentee mother,I was bothered by the fact that they never said anything about his father. As I saw the other 2 I assumed that he had passed away, but why not say anything. Disney obviously doesn’t have a problem with showing scary/difficult things; from murderous stepmothers to dead parents.
    I would also like to say that I wish they would show more single father households, I don’t just mean from a widowed point of view either. They have no problem showing deadbeat, absentee fathers but what about deadbeat, absentee mothers?
    Not to sound like a bitter child, but my father did a wonderful job all by himself with NO help from my mother and all they ever show is bad dads. My sons father and I are still together but in so many movies they show examples of bad dads. What’s this teaching my son about fathers and mens role?

  31. It’s quite obvious that Andy’s father is dead. In Toy story 2 during the scene where Al (from Al’s toy barn) is trying to convince the mother to sell Woody she says he’s an old family toy and that he’s not for sale. It’s clear to me that Woody and Slinky being old friends and VERY old toys belonged to Andy’s father and therefore Andy is hopelessly attached to Woody especially as that is his last link to his dad.

  32. I think the issue is more “why?” is there no father figure than speculating where he is.

    I think this is an incredible step and one of the defining aspects of this movie is that it represents a ‘non-atomic’ family.
    Pretty much every Disney movie ever made depicts a family as father-mother-children (which there’s nothing wrong with and something I like about them) whereas in real life there is a large sector of solo parent families, Pixar has unbelievably and cleverly left your interpretation open. The father figure can be whatever you want it to be alive, dead, divorced, at work or anything, and to be honest it was only after several viewings did I notice the father was absent. I still felt that it was a warm and loving home and Andy was well cared for.

    Also introducing an extra person would definitely overcomplicate the movie (I mean its already got 14 talking toys) and detract from the Woody/Andy relationship – love, trust, reliance. To convince the audience he is the Dad you would need to establish relationships between him and the mother, him and Andy, next door neighbours, etc,

    As for the comment ‘Who said he isnt dead’, that is full of ambiguity and is more likely to be a play on the askers assumption than a hint as to the reality of the movie. We will never know guys, just enjoy it.

  33. I think Sid’s father in TS1 was passed out in a chair with a beer in his hand. I don’t understand why Pixar would show such contempt for father’s in this movie? Are they suggesting a toy would show more love to a child than a father?

  34. Well I grew up without a father present so why shouldn’t there be a film which can relate to single parent children. It’s not offensive and its not insulting. The people who suggest that have no concept of reality. In reality it is mainly fathers who leave and mothers who bring up the children and if it were the other way round no one would say anything, they would assume his mother had died or something. And in reality not all kids have a two parent family and this portraying a single parent family shows children that its normal in today’s society.

    1. @Kirsty: Thank you for your comment, and your insight. This is a very complicated subject, and as an involved dad I do find it offensive. My biggest concern is that a movie like this will perpetuate a problem that many children and moms have to deal with.



  35. I think the toy story installments are a triumph and encouragement to single parents. We can raise responsible well-adjusted kids. My exhusband and biological father of my son abandoned us when my son was 20 month old. He was still in diapers. In those 9 yrs there has not been a backwards glance. We single mothers need support

    1. @ Single Mom: Thank you for your comment. I absolutely agree that single moms need (and deserve) support. But there are dads out there that need support, too. One of my goals in writing the article was to raise awareness of what types of messages we are sending to future dads. But I can not tell you how much I’ve learned from single moms like you about your side of the story.

      Peace and prosperity to you and your son! He’s lucky to have you.


    2. I agree single mom these movies helps give awareness that yeah there are more dads out there who don’t care about their kids leave them like you dump an animal off at a shelter. They need their parents to have a stable life men these days don’t take responsibility and they should if wasn’t true why does the government have all these programs just help single moms? I agee with you single mom we need a voice hopefully woman president will make a change soon!
      Much luck to everyone kiss your children be greatful never know what the world has instore next. But I won’t let men bring me down I take care of my son without his dad!
      Xox to single mom you stay strong

  36. You forget about all of the movies that fail to show, explain, or reason a mom. Beauty and the Beat, the Little Mermaid, etc. Did it ever occur to you that this is not some massive conspiracy, but maybe just a plot line for a movie. Besides, if you’re around enough to raise your children right, they realize that a movie is just a movie.

    1. @ Sam: Actually, I have not forgotten about the movies you mentioned in your comment. Nor do I see this as a big conspiracy. I see this as an opportunity to raise awareness regarding how the media can influence our children’s perception of the world – specifically concerning men and fatherhood. As a dad, I tend to see things from a dad’s point of view.

      Thanks for the comment!


  37. Original poster:
    You made a good point about the fathers in modern media being absent or simply stupid (Homer) but nobody has yet mentioned the point that Disney, who have been making childrens’ movies for… what… 80 years (when did Steamboat Willie come out?) has always had the absent parent theme (or an orphaned lead character):
    – Cinderella’s an orphan
    – Nemo’s mother is dead
    – Lady (and the Tramp) is orphaned
    – Bambi is both fatherless and then orphaned
    – Alice (in wonderland) father is off to war (To be fair though, Lewis Carroll didn’t write the story for Disney)
    – Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Arthur from sword in the stone are recently orphaned

    The list goes on. But I think another way to make the same argument but in a more positive light is that Disney is good at creating an environment that is not free from conflict or negativity, but that there is often a reason to have hope.

  38. My 3yr old noticed that Andy’s father is not in the movie. She has asked me several times. When I first watched TS, I didnt think about it. When I watched the later movies, I thought maybe he’s in the service & away some where bcuz Molly was a baby in the 1st one and MOM would’ve had to have had recently been with the father, but then I remembered that the 1st movie was made back in like 1996 & we weren’t at war then so I began to speculate more. I ultimately came to my own conclusion that he is perhaps dead bc I to thought he would’ve definitely been at Andy’s graduation & been there to send him off to college. But anyway back to the whole absent father perception Pixar gives off… I agree, they definitely do make it seem like fathers arent important & puts a bad vibe towards fathers with the children that do notice the missing father. If my 3yr old noticed & questioned it, I assume other children do too. My daughter even asked if that would happen to her, if her daddy would leave us one day. I, of course, immediately got the thought out of her mind but had a hard time explaining Andy’s father’s case since she didnt hear it for her own ears during the movies (my daughter is very attentive & is eager to know everything & question every little thing she doesnt understand). Anyway, I hope this helps prove the point that some kids do notice & get the bad taste of fathers from the most simple little unmentioned role in a movie.

    –Brandy, MS Gulf Coast

  39. I can relate to this movie my own sons father is leaving him moving several states away after our divorce so don’t say that all fathers don’t leave their kids, there are many dads don’t love or take responsibility for their kids!

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