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    Fridge Brilliance 
  • At first, it would seem like it was pointless of Andy to give Woody to Bonnie when she would eventually forget Woody (to the point where he wasn't missed). But there was a point! Woody left his mark on Bonnie's life by indirectly helping her create Forky. He helped make someone for her that would be there for her the way Woody was there for Andy.
  • Dolly and the other toys have a reason to be worried when Woody goes with Bonnie to kindergarten orientation. Aside from the likely scenario of being confiscated or lost, they don't want to take chances that there will be a shady toy like Lotso ruling the class's toys with an iron fist. If it were so, there would be no way for Woody to alert the other toys at home that he'd been kidnapped.
  • There's a lovely Book Ends considering antagonists, or rather fake ones. The first movie showed scary, hybrid toys... who fixed Buzz and helped Woody rescue him from Sid. This movie has Gabby Gabby who is seemingly obsessed with taking Woody's voice box, and her minions the Bensons are uncanny ventriloquist dummies. But Gabby Gabby turns out to be a sympathetic character who just wants Harmony to love her. And the Bensons turn out to be simply loyal servants who are generally benign, even for thugs. So in a sense, the tetralogy ends with seemingly scary toys who were Good All Along.
    • Fittingly, the second featured both a scary toy who is proven relatively harmless (Zurg), and a non-scary toy who is a Well-Intentioned Extremist, though ultimately both have roughly the same threat level. The third has a very cuddly toy who’s the morally most rotten character in the series, backed up by intimidating action figures and a eerie Cymbal-Banging Monkey who are Punch-Clock Villains, and a damaged old baby doll who is a Tragic Villain, much like Gabby.
  • Why is Bo Peep so different from how she used to act, even in the flashback? It's influence from Jessie. That's why Bo cared so much to find out Jessie was still there.
    • It's also explained Bo Peep spent many years out in the wild on her own, that much time away from safety and sanctuary will most likely change a person.
    • Yet another explanation is implied by her leadership skills with Molly's toys in the flashback. In the first two films, Molly was only a baby, so Bo mainly spent her free time with Andy's toys, where Woody was the clear leader. As Molly got older, got her own room and gained more toys of her own, Bo seems to have taken the role of their leader much like Woody was in Andy's room, so she would naturally have gone through Character Development in the process.
  • Speaking of Bo Peep, it just clicked: her design in the movie is more detailed with better graphics than in the first two movies. It may be just a coincidence, but it matches her characterization. In the beginning, her character wasn't detailed or deep, just meant to be Woody's love interest (and his Morality Chain). But in this movie, her graphics are more sublime, reflecting how she's developed as a person.
  • Woody wanting to help Forky learn to be Bonnie's toy makes a lot more sense than it appears on the surface; Woody got Bonnie the materials to make Forky in the first place. In other words, Woody is so protective of Forky because he's Forky's father. The subtext is clearly intentional, as Woody's early scenes with Forky are played exactly like an exhausted father dealing with a difficult child.
  • Think about everybody's goals and conclusions: Woody wants to reunite with Bonnie and stays with Bo. Bunny and Ducky want a kid so much, they're willing to keep Buzz away from one, and end up helping other toys find kids. Meanwhile, Forky wants to be thrown away, but ends up with Bonnie.
  • Forky calls the merry-go-round a carousel because he's been hanging out with Gabby Gabby, who was made in the 50s.
  • Word Of God has confirmed that Giggle Mcdimples was inspired by Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio. Jiminy's role in that movie was the "conscience" of a toy that had come to life. Toy Story 4 also plays around with toys listening to their "inner voice."
    • Speaking of consciences, the way Buzz interprets the "inner voice" as coming from his voicebox actually foreshadows the fate of Gabby Gabby. Without a working voicebox, Gabby is willing to steal one from another toy with little regard for that toy's option, because she has no "conscience!" But when she meets Woody, who willingly gives his voicebox up, Gabby starts to become a much more sympathetic and likable character. Woody gave Gabby an "inner voice" both figuratively and literally!
      • Seeing that TS4 is currently the last main installment of the franchise and taking some symbolism from TS3, Woody giving away his voicebox is kind of like someone donating an organ to someone who might need it more than he does. And because he gave away his voicebox, it was like he gave away his "heart". In a sense, it represents Woody passing on to the afterlife and became a sort of "guardian angel", guiding "lost toys" to meet new owners. In other words, guiding "lost souls" to "reincarnate".
  • Why is Woody so willing to return to Gabby Gabby after she is rejected by Harmony? Besides being a good guy, Woody has already seen two cases where rejected toys became bitter and destructive. This time, he's present at the very moment of abandonment, and he's not going to let Gabby Gabby go down that path. Also, Woody himself is a neglected toy, having to deal with being neglected by Bonnie for most of the movie, so he can sympathize with her at the moment.
  • This installment reveals that curse words do exist in the Toy Story universe, if the scene where Mr. Anderson is about to use “some words” after the tire gets flatten is anything to go by. While it would be odd in other fictional universes for characters to never or very rarely swear, here it actually makes sense. The toys hang around young children constantly, so naturally swearing isn’t part of their vocabulary.
    • Plenty of kids end up swearing at one point or another while growing up and Sid most likely was one of those kids and maybe Andy too, and Woody even implied back in Toy Story that he knew some profanities by saying to Buzz, "The word I'm looking for, I can't say, because there's preschool toys present".
  • Forky went through Lotso’s story arc in reverse. He started out thinking he was a piece of trash meant to be thrown away, but after spending time in the company of other toys in a human establishment that handles toys, he came to understand his place as a toy to be loved by a child.
  • At first it seems like the Bensons are just The Voiceless because it adds to the creepy henchmen factor, but it makes more sense when you consider they are ventriloquist dummies which are toys that require someone else to make them talk.
    • As well as the fact that Gabby's entire motivation is wanting a voice-box, so naturally she'd surround herself with toys that can't speak at all. Having speaking toys nearby would only upset her and remind her of what she can't actually do
  • The opening rescue scene is a subtle Call-Back to the climax of the first movie. Remember how Slinky tried to rescue Woody, Buzz, and RC by stretching out of the moving van while the other toys held onto his backside, but he couldn't stretch any further and snapped back into the van? This movie begins with Slinky pulling off the same stunt to save RC again, but this time, he succeeds!
  • Woody and Buzz's stories here match what happened in the first Toy Story, except with different people rather than each other: Woody has to help a toy come to terms with the fact that he's a toy (Forky), and Buzz has to deal with a toy who thinks he's taken his place in the pecking order (in this case, two toys, Ducky and Bunny).
  • The biggest hint that Harmony wouldn't be interested in Gabby Gabby is that she is a regular at her grandma's store, probably spending many hours there. She probably has already seen Gabby Gabby and wasn't interested in Gabby Gabby. Gabby Gabby's voice box working only drew Harmony's attention enough to give her another look.
    • Similarly, Harmony's mother notes that Harmony already has loads of toys when arguing against the grandmother letting Harmony take more. She probably has other dolls already who would fill the "slots" Gabby could occupy.
  • The end credits referring to Melissa Villaseñor's character as "Karen Beverly" instead of "Knifey" implies that Bonnie learned how to come up with more creative names for her "friends" by the time she finished kindergarten.
  • Woody's decision at the end of the movie to become a toy without an owner, living out in the open, makes sense considering that Woody spent much of the other three movies trapped somewhere against his will: Sid's house in Toy Story 1, Al's home (and then the museum if the other toys didn't step in) in Toy Story 2, and Sunnyside Day Care in Toy Story 3. Of course he would crave freedom and openness—all of his worst experiences have involved him being stuck in one location and unable to leave.
  • When Bonnie is playing with the various toys near the beginning of the film, she removes the Sheriff badge from Woody and gives it to Jessie. At the end of the movie, Woody chooses to stay with Bo and passes the role of Bonnie's guardian to Jessie and Buzz.
  • When Woody and Forky first encounter Gabby on her morning stroll, the music playing on the record player may seem familiar to the adults in the audience... because it's taken from ''The Shining''. In particular, the track that plays when Jack Torrance enters the ballroom during the party. Just a small clue that, as nice as Gabby might seem, things are going to get very bad, very fast.
  • It may seem odd that Bonnie lost interest in Woody so quickly when she loved him so much in 3, but her losing interest only happened when all of Andy's other toys came along. Bonnie, being a young girl, would naturally be more interested in the cowgirl Jessie than the cowboy Woody (hence why Bonnie made Jessie the sheriff despite Woody himself already being designed for that role).
  • Fridge Heartwarming: if Andy found out about Bonnie losing Woody, he'd probably be perfectly fine with it since he himself has lost Woody several times (mainly in the first and third movies, and the second movie as well even if he didn't know), only for him to come back later.
  • The small blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo by the original Kenner Obi-Wan Kenobi figure may seem like a clever cross-company Easter egg, but upon further reflection, it has a much stronger meaning in the context of the film. Notice that Obi-Wan is seen cutting off Ponda Baba's arm. Where did that happen? Mos Eisley Cantina (of which Tinny's is very similar to), where a certain Han Solo was hanging out. Han, much like Bo in this film, is roped into the main character's adventures (Woody trying to get Forky back, Han taking Luke and the others to Alderaan to get the Death Star Plans to the Rebellion), only for the mission to get horribly sidetracked (Gabby-Gabby's forces and Woody's impetuousness cause their mission to go sideways, while the Death Star blows up Alderaan and the Millennium Falcon gets captured), forcing both parties to narrowly escape. Once they do, Han and Bo end up leaving their respective parties due to Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure (Han not wanting to stick around so he can go pay off his debt to Jabba, Bo thinking Woody is selfishly endangering their lives all to save the one toy of a kid who clearly has no interest in him), only to pull a Changed My Mind, Kid and save the lead (Han knocking Vader out of the way to give Luke a clear shot at blowing up the Death Star, Bo helping Woody get Gabby a new owner). Coincidence, or clever Foreshadowing?
  • Another example of bookending - in the opening "You've Got a Friend in Me" montage, we see Andy look at Buzz while saying "To infinity..." Then he looks at Woody to finish the phrase, "...and beyond!" How does the movie end? With Woody finishing Buzz's catchphrase in the exact same way!

    Fridge Horror 
  • Remember all those parodies where Andy or a Captain Ersatz of him plays with his parents' "special toys" when they're not home, and they have a mental breakdown because they're aware of what they usually do? Well, now those parodies are canon somewhere.
  • In the final trailer, Ducky and Bunny suggest "the ol' plush rush" - in which they would come to life and attack the store's owner - as a method to retrieve the key. This strongly implies that they've done this sort of thing before. Somebody has been attacked by living plush toys and, as a result, probably went crazy.
    • It's also very possible that they never actually did it (considering how crazy their Imagine Spot of doing these actions can get), but then it begs the question of where they got the idea in the first place...
      • Maybe Sid has been by that carnival before, and Ducky and Bunny overheard him talking about his traumatic experiences.
  • If you were ever worried about the fragility of Woody's voice box in previous films, consider this one, where it turns out that, at any point, it could have been easily ripped out just by pulling on the string too hard.
  • Bo's arm coming off is played for laughs, but when her sheep fall in the antique shop a part of them falls off. All it'd take is one bad fall or casual instance like Bonnie's dad stepping on Woody's head to wreck Bo and her sheep. It's little wonder Bo snaps at Woody when the rescue goes wrong.
    • Also, regarding Bo's arm. She's gotten used to it falling off now and came to terms with it, but imagine her reaction when it happened the first time? Remember how Woody briefly loses it after his arm was torn off in the second film and how Buzz entered a Heroic BSoD after his arm got torn off in his failed attempt to fly? Imagine Bo going through it as well.
  • Andy gave Bonnie the toy that had the most sentimental value for him, asking her, "You think you can take care of him for me?" — how will he feel the next time he bumps into her while visiting his hometown and finds out she just... lost him? And since Bonnie nodded, promising she would take care of him, even if she won't be too upset about losing her no-longer-interesting cowboy doll, she'll probably initially feel very guilty about breaking her promise to her friend.
    • Also, whose to say she won't care when she realizes Woody's gone? Just because she wasn't using him in her current game doesn't mean she didn't care at all. After all, it's not like she knew Woody was alive and she was hurting his feelings by not playing with him.
    • Worse, how would Andy feel if the traveling carnival ended up in the area where he attends college and ends up finding Bo Peep and especially Woody since he's far from home and without his voicebox?
  • People say that Woody was surprisingly quick to forgive Gabby Gabby after some of her villainous actions, but he did the right and smart thing to cooperate and help her out, because imagine if Woody wasn't the All-Loving Hero he was, held a grudge against her, and didn't help her find a kid. She was already committing morally questionable acts out of desperation for a voicebox, but if the abandonment continued, it's likely she would have eventually turned into another Lotso.
  • Woody now lives outside around the playground. What if some parent noticed Woody there, recognized how rare he is, and decides to pick him up and put him back in a display box? It would be Toy Story 2 all over again.
  • With the revelation that any ordinary object can become sentient if treated like a toy (as evidenced by Forky), what did this mean for Bo Peep, who was designed as a lamp decoration and not a toy to be played with? Did she also have an existential crisis (like Forky did) the first time Andy played with her? In a similar vein, there's also Hamm, who was designed as a money container.