We Figured Out Who Andy’s Mom in Toy Story Is, and Now the Movie Is Even Sweeter

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 25 2014 12:33 PM

The Secret Identity of Andy’s Mom in Toy Story

toy_story_andy_1

Disney/Pixar

Last fall, Jon Negroni advanced a Grand Unified Theory of Pixar, showing how all 14 feature films fit together in a single animated universe. Now he has another surprising theory, this time about the Toy Story movies. Slightly different versions of both posts first appeared on Negroni's own site. They are reprinted with his permission. 

Advertisement

It all started with a hat.

Several months ago, one of my anonymous Pixar Theory Interns (that’s a thing, of course) came to me with a crazy proposition: Andy’s mom is Emily, Jessie’s previous owner.

I laughed. Then I agreed.

First, though, I compiled the evidence. Take a look at the cowboy hat Andy frequently wears in the movies:

t2e0aaw151_1

Disney/Pixar

Here’s another angle:

wek9i2q

Disney/Pixar

As you can see, Andy’s hat is noticeably different from Woody’s. Why is this? Why wouldn’t Andy want to wear a hat that more closely resembles the one worn by his favorite toy?

It’s no secret that Andy has a close connection with Woody. In Toy Story 2, his mom (whom we only know as Ms. Davis) mentions that Woody is an old family toy.

Remember that Woody doesn’t recall that he’s a collector’s item, a toy made in the 1950s. This is different from the other toys, who know full well where they come from. It’s possible that Woody doesn’t know because he’s been in Andy’s family for a long time, possibly belonging to his father.

But we need more evidence. Take a close look at Jessie’s hat:

ts2jessietoystory11336601474324

Disney/Pixar

Ah, this hat looks familiar. It’s the same red hat with a white lace that Andy wears. The only difference is that Jessie’s hat has a white lace around the center. But look at Andy’s hat again.

toy_story_andy_2

Disney/Pixar

There’s a faded mark where the white lace should be. Why do you think that is? And what does Jessie have to do with this?

Recall the story of Jessie. Her owner Emily grew up with her, much as Andy grew up with Woody. She was loved and cherished, but Emily eventually gave her away when she grew older. Jessie ended up in storage for a long time, as we learn when she has a panic attack about having to go back.

Now, take a close look at what’s on this bed in Emily’s room:

screenshot20140222at31242pm

Disney/Pixar

That is a hat that looks extremely similar to—you guessed it—Andy’s. The room is also pretty old-fashioned, leaving room for this to take place years before Andy was born.

In fact, you can clearly tell that this bedroom is not contemporary, thanks to shots like these:

screenshot20140222at31642pm

Disney/Pixar

The only difference between the hat that Emily wears throughout this sequence and Andy’s hat is an extra white lace around the center, which is visibly missing from Andy’s hat. Otherwise, the hats are identical.

Also, in the donation box that Emily puts Jessie in, we don’t see the hat. We do see other remnants of her connection with Jessie, but the hat is noticeably absent. The box isn’t even big enough to hold it. So Emily held onto that hat … and maybe passed it on to her child, who would also grow to love a cowboy doll.

We never get a closeup of Emily’s face, but we do see that she has light, auburn hair as a teenager. Also, it is very short. Compare that to:

500full

Disney/Pixar

The middle picture is closest to the strawberry blonde color we see when Emily is young. It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that her hair lightened as she aged, or she could have dyed it.

We don’t know the first name of Andy’s mom and we don’t know Emily’s last name. But we know that Andy’s and Emily’s hats are the same and that Emily is old enough to be Andy’s mom. We definitely know that Pixar is capable of sneaking something like this into a movie without being overt about it.

You may be wondering how the two characters could be the same if Emily was willing to give Jessie up so easily, while Andy was far more hesitant.

But the scenarios are actually quite similar. Andy forgot about Woody as he grew up too, despite their strong connection. Andy even gave Woody away, albeit in a different manner than Emily.

Would Andy’s mom get excited to see Jessie again? Perhaps, though we never get to see her reaction. And, of course, she would probably assume that it was a different version of the same toy. She would be pleased, one imagines, but she wouldn’t necessarily realize the utter serendipity of it.

What do you think? Do you believe that the two characters are the same and that Andy’s mom/Emily found redemption through the love her son had for the toy she left behind? Or, do you hate fun, love, and destiny? Let me know in the comments.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.