You will believe that a toy can cry.
As the film trilogy is emotionally powerful, Toy Story 3
in particular gets a special mention, in which it is so powerful that even hearing the story second-hand is enough to make one break down and weep.
- The Incinerator Scene. Children's toys. Accepting oblivion. Even after repeated viewings, a few tears will be shed. When the toys were facing death together in the furnace, they seemed to break off into groups, depending on who was closest. So, every toy was huddling close to another, or burying their faces in each other's shoulders (Buzz and Jessie, the Potato Heads), except Woody. Sure, he was holding Buzz and Slinky's hands, but they were too far off for him to really get close. At the very end, when everyone else has someone close, in comparison, Woody is facing this alone. It's then that you realize that, since the beginning, Woody has been the one keeping them all together. And he's still doing that at the very end.
- What makes the scene so sad isn't just the fact that the characters are facing death, but the fact that they have no other choice but to do so. When they first fall into the incinerator, they try in vain to scramble out before accepting their fate with quiet dignity. The fact that they all join hands with nothing more than an exchange of helpless looks shows that they all know exactly what's going to happen.
- The scene where Buzz is running through the compactor area with Jessie in his arms, triumphant music playing — and then a TV falls on him. The look in Woody's eyes — and Jessie's — that look of sheer, unadulterated horror of facing the prospect that his best friend could be broken.
- The beginning of the first full trailer for Toy Story 3: A sad song playing over footage of young Andy playing with his toys. (set just after TS2). Just.... watch it. If this movie can make you cry in the first minute of the trailer then expect this movie to be absolutely full of these moments. Oh, and that song playing in the trailer? Here's the full version. It's called Losing You by Randy Newman.
- Woody leaves a note for Andy to take his toys to Bonnie. When Andy brings them to her, Andy takes them out and introduces them to her, playing with her and with them for one last time. One of the last shots of the movie is Andy, about to drive off to college, waving goodbye to Bonnie as she stands on the front porch, Buzz and Woody in her arms. As she waves goodbye, she picks up Woody's arm to make him "wave" goodbye. What makes this more heart-wrenching is that as Andy is taking the toys out, he takes Woody out last, not knowing how he got in the box. When Bonnie recognizes him as her cowboy doll, she reaches for him, but Andy slightly pulls Woody back. This is when he tells her how Woody would always be there for her. And after the whole playtime sequence, as Andy is driving away, Woody says, "So long, partner." Andy was surprised because, for a moment, it seemed like Woody was ACTUALLY waving goodbye to him, which, he WAS. And also the line, "Thanks guys..." It was a true farewell to childhood. It hit too close to home with a major demographic for the movie, and that is college students, or people who have just recently crossed the thin line into adulthood from childhood.
- When Woody learned Buzz wasn't coming with him. Between the absolute hurt on his face that he didn't even have his best friend anymore summed up with his refusal to shake his hand kept her sniffling until they finally made up
- What Lotso's cronies did to the poor Telephone. The sad, resigned look on his face as he gave the following line.
"Sorry, Cowboy. They broke me."
- During the end credits, this Spanish version of "You've Got a Friend in Me" plays during a special end scene. It is both beautiful and heart-wrenching because you've known these characters for years now, and now it's time to say goodbye. (or not...)
- Sort of a Fridge Tearjerker, but anyone who's grown up with a pet will recognize that the puppy that was so vibrant and energetic in Toy Story 2 is, well, not long for this world in Toy Story 3. Given his condition, it would be surprising if he lasts through Andy's first semester.
- Not bad enough? Towards the end, Andy can be heard playfully asking Buster if he'll wait for him until he gets back.
- Andy's mom gasps as the realization that her son is really leaving finally sinks in. And then her line shortly after the gasp. It's failproof:
Andy's mom: I know. It's just...I wish I could always be with you. *sob*
- The fact that this movie came out the weekend many high schools across the US had their graduation ceremonies. Just think about that.
- The movie's timing can be even more powerful for people who saw the first film while in grade school, and got to see the last one after graduating from college. They grew up with Woody, Buzz, and all the other toys, and the third film was truly the end of childhood: They have to go out into the wider world and find their own place in it. The final scene of the movie, when Andy says goodbye to all his toys, isn't just him saying goodbye: It's all of us, who followed the toys for all those years, saying goodbye, not only to them, but to our childhoods, and our teenage years. When Woody waves to Andy, he also waves goodbye to all of us, who shared the journey with him.
- Sarge's speech about how he and his two remaining troops will be the first to be thrown out "when the trash bags come out". It could be summed up in one phrase, "we're screwed".
- The scene where the toys use Andy's cell phone to get him to open the toy box. When Andy answers the phone and tries to ask who's there, the look on Woody's face as he contemplates answering back is just heartwrenching.
- At the beginning of the film, Woody tells Slinky to gather everyone for a staff meeting. Slinky's response? Everyone is already gathered. For anyone who grew up with the first film and remembered all the toys that attended Woody's staff meeting, seeing such a large population reduced to just under a dozen (combined with Slinky's response) gave the film an eerily post-apocalyptic feel.
- The tone and timing of the music during this brief, early exchange make it necessary to gulp and get a firm grip on your throat if you want to hang on for the rest of the film's tear jerker parade:
Woody: (trying to sound reassuring) Yeah, we've lost friends along the way — Wheezy and... Etch... and... uh...
Rex: Bo Peep?
Woody: Yeah, even, (tremor) even... Bo...
- Don't deny it: You felt bad for Big Baby when it remembered its previous owner Daisy.
Big Baby: Momma...
- It gets worse when Lotso just screams at him and starts whacking him. Nobody can blame Big Baby when he starts crying (or at least as close as a toy can get to it). Hell, even Twitch seemed disgusted by it.
- Lotso: Don't be such a BABY! *WHAM*
- Even before that, during the flashback scene your heart goes out for poor Big Baby who Lotso drags away from the window before he gets to see his "Mama" again, and crying no less.
- For those who see him as a Jerkass Woobie, Lotso's backstory and how he came to distrust kids and their love for toys.
Woody: She loved you, Lotso!
Lotso: SHE NEVER LOVED ME!
- For those that don't see him as sympathetic any more, it's the fact that he went from a loving bear to a sociopathic monster, now convinced that he was never loved.
- Just the fact that Lotso had a perfect chance to redeem himself in the incinerator scene but he threw it all away.
- When Andy chooses to take Woody with him to college over Buzz. Sure, we get proof that the Prospector was wrong about Andy. But Buzz's reaction is heartbreaking. Buzz, the positive leader and role model for the toys, is clearly genuinely hurt. As selfless and understanding and wise as he is, he is truly hurt at being passed over and left behind by Andy.
- The end of the prologue. Once you realize that the song is fading WAY too soon, and you think about just which line it's fading on instead, your heart drops like a stone:
"And as the years go by- Our friendship will never die..."
- Jessie briefly succumbing to her old abandonment issues when it looks like Andy is throwing all the toys out, having to breathe into a bag.
- Many people survived watching most of Andy's toys be almost thrown out, watch them be donated, watch them be abused by kids, watched the incinerator scene, and watched almost all of Andy introducing his toys to Bonnie while holding back their tears. Then...
Andy: "Now Woody..."
- Andy's voice actor has never changed. Ever. The young man who provided Andy's voice in this movie was the same little boy who did Andy's voice in the first two films. This also applies to everyone else who had a role in the first two - the only voices that changed were Molly's (as Molly was just a wee baby before) and Slinky's (because of Actor Existence Failure). Everyone but those two kept their original voices from the first two films.