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Unmarked Spoilers Below. Please read at your own risk. Spoilers for other features will be marked.

The film

  • Adorkable: Andy's adult self is revealed to be this at the end of the film, when he gives his toys to Bonnie, and spends what seems like hours playing with her. He may be a grown-up now, but as demonstrated in that scene, he still has the playful personality and love for his toys that he had in the first two movies. It's also just sweet to see him pass on the torch to a younger kid.
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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Chuckles' whole disposition in present day compared to how he is in his flashback reeks of Fridge Horror. Perhaps most ambiguous is his final conversation concerning Lotso's position ("She only replaced you..."). Was he trying to make Lotso consider Big Baby or was he in the middle of telling Lotso he was Someone Else's Problem (which likely further triggered Lotso into threatening him)? Was he most broken from letting down Big Baby or Lotso (or both)?
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: In the opening scene, Woody has to save a train full of orphans. Orphan trains actually existed in the late 1800s.
    • The jacket that finally breaks Ken in the closet torture scene—a green Nehru jacket from 1967—is an actual exclusive collector's item, and is highly valued in the Barbie collector community
  • Americans Hate Tingle: Toy Story 3 was an utter flop in some countries in Eastern Europe, including Latvia, Romania and Russia. Many explanations have been offered, the less imaginative being that not many people there had seen the other two films because of economic troubles right after the fall of Communism in the 1990s, resulting in 3's Continuity Porn lacking appeal.
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  • Angst Aversion: This movie is notorious for being very depressing to watch. It has everything from a brutal dictatorshipnote  to child abusenote , to the inevitable prospect of a slow and sad deathnote . The list goes on. As mentioned below, it gets so dark and grim at times that a number of fans were genuinely afraid Pixar wouldn't save their iconic toys from a violent demise by incineration. It's not for nothing that this movie is often called (even by ''professional film critics) one of the top ten "movies where grown men cry."
  • Award Snub:
    • The King's Speech winning Best Picture is contested in favor of this film instead.
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    • Ned Beatty as Lotso is arguably the most deserving of the nominees that year for the MTV Best Villain award and most would probably agree Tom Felton winning for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (for what was the second year in a row for the character) was the worst decision the voters could've ultimately made.
  • Awesome Music:
    • The Spanish version of "You've Got a Friend In Me" (technically, "Hay un Amigo en Mi") completely makes the movie.
    • The Claw from Toy Story 3, one of Pixar's tensest, most nightmarish, most heartwrenching scenes ever has the music to match.
    • So Long. Just listening to it can get your eyes misty.
    • The Oscar-winning song We Belong Together is a cheerful and beautiful track that completes the main characters’ long deserved happy ending and is the perfect capstone to the trilogy.
    • "Cowboy!", the song heard in the intro, provides thrills, chills and soaring enjoyment as the film starts with Woody, Jessie and Buzz's imaginary adventure.
  • Catharsis Factor: Imagining the pain and suffering that Lotso must end up enduring for all the horrible things he's done once he's been strapped to the front of the garbage truck for what will probably be the rest of his existence.
  • Complete Monster: Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear is the ruler of Sunnyside Daycare, and oppresses the other toys through brute force and violence. Originally the favorite toy of a young girl named Daisy, Lotso was mistakenly lost and replaced, leading him to believe that all toys were worthless and unloved. Taking over Sunnyside, Lotso subjects the toys in the Caterpillar Room to horrid mistreatment from the younger children. When Andy's toys request that they be relocated to the Butterfly Room, Lotso resets Buzz Lightyear and has him beat down his friends, showing a cold satisfaction while doing so. When Woody frees the toys and they attempt to escape, Lotso has Chatter Telephone beaten in order to get him to explain Woody's escape plan before ordering the toys disposed of in the dumpster. When his minions turn on him and he is taken to the dump, along with Andy's toys, he abandons them to burn to death in the incinerator, ignoring that they had previously saved his life. While he has a tragic backstory, Woody himself calls him out on how weak it is, stating that Lotso had abandoned her; not the other way around. Sociopathic and misanthropic, Lotso may have appeared and acted innocent, but was in fact depraved to his core.
  • Continuity Lockout: True, this isn't the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but viewers new to the series may wonder why the green aliens are constantly talking about "the Claw". An attempt to bridge this gap is made when they first arrive at the daycare. The aliens point at a construction vehicle toy with a claw and say "The Claw!" to establish that connection with new viewers.
  • Development Heaven: Pixar could have had any actor play the now-grown Andy. Instead, they tracked down the original actor, who had basically retired from acting at that point, to reprise the role. In fact, there's nary an other Darrin in sight in the third film - every returning character is voiced by the actors who voiced them in the first two, except for Slinky, and even then it was only because Jim Varney died.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Type in "Lotso" on any fanfiction website, and you'll find lots-o'-fanfics that show him discovering true love and redeeming himself. Most of the time they involve Daisy.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
  • Even Better Sequel: This movie appealed to the few teenagers and adults that didn't like the first two movies; it took the Parental Bonus of the first two movies up to eleven.
  • Fanon: Sid's cameo as a garbage man led to a fan theory that he chose this job so he can save toys that had been thrown away, to make up for what he did as a kid. The other theory is that this was intended by the writers as him getting his comeuppance for his behavior as a child by ending up with an undesirable job, though since Sid appears to be perfectly happy with his job, this is most likely not the case.
  • Evil Is Cool: Three words: Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear. He has a sad backstory (even though it doesn't excuse his actions), is the Knight of Cerebus of the franchise, Ned Beatty makes him coldly charming despite his actions and to this day remains one of the most memorable Pixar villains along with Syndrome.
  • Fanon Welding: Many fans theorized that one of the kids (the one playing with the blue cat and flower) in the first scene featuring the butterfly room is an older Boo from Monsters, Inc., due to her similar design to Boo and being shown to play with a blue cat plush (she frequently called the blue Sulley, "Kitty" in the original film), on top of saying boo. This was eventually Jossed by director Lee Unkrich.
  • Faux Symbolism:
    • The incinerator? A metaphor for Hell. The whole journey through the Dump could be a condensed, metaphorical adaptation for Dante's Inferno. Complete with them all joining hands in what looks very much like a final prayer before being rescued from the fiery pit by a giant hand that descends from the heavens in a beam of light.
    • Most of the theories posted here originally can now be found in the Wild Mass Guessing/Toy Story page.
    • One working theory is that the 3rd movie is a metaphor for the afterlife. See this essay for more info.
  • Franchise Original Sin: The film's emotional ending relies heavily on the audience's nostalgia for the Toy Story franchise. NitPix argues that this encouraged Pixar to generate "member movies", sequels which rely on nostalgia rather than developing new character arcs and are usually released decades after the original. He says that while Toy Story 3 was justified in doing this since the audience has grown up with Andy, it inspired Pixar to produce a slew of disappointing sequels such as Monsters University and Finding Dory.
  • Genius Bonus: Potato Head using a Tortilla and a Cucumber while his body was trapped. Unless you're a vintage toy collector, you might not know that was how Mr. Potato Heads were actually sold: they were originally only a collection of parts meant to be used with real vegetables, and were later sold with plastic bodies to discourage food wastage.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • One of Lotso's defining character traits is that he's a "hugger" whose hugs are quite forceful and clearly non consensual. John Lasseter himself identified as a "hugger," and among his sexual harassment accusation from female employees was that he was much too forthcoming (to the point of aggression) with hugs.
    • Thought the scene of Andy sacrificing Woody to Bonnie after giving away all his other toys was enough? Come Toy Story 4 and Bonnie has been outright neglecting Woody in favor of the other toys. Not only that, but at the end, Woody leaves Bonnie to be with Bo Peep.
  • He Panned It, Now He Sucks!: Roger Ebert gave a notably lukewarm review of the film, calling it “a jolly, slapstick sequel focused on action and jokes more than character and emotion”. He received quite a bit of backlash considering how universally praised the film was otherwise, as he noted in his year-end ranking of animated films. When a fan wrote an extensive rebuke of his review, Ebert blamed the film’s use of 3-D.
  • He Really Can Act:
    • After playing mostly harmless characters who are Nice Guys, Butt Monkeys, Reasonable Authority Figures or an Affably Evil Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain like Otis from Superman: The Movie and Superman II, Ned Beatty proves he can play a completely monstrous villain like Lotso, who happens to be more monstrous than his past villain character and second acting role in his career Sheriff J.C. Conners from White Lightning and that's saying something. Following Beatty’s passing in 2021, the film ended up trending on Twitter most of the day he passed, proving just how iconic his performance as the character had been among his prolific, decades-long career.
    • Wallace Shawn as Rex is normally an example of one of Shawn’s typical comedic roles, but there are quite a few moments in this movie where he exhibits an impressive variety of emotions, from sounding truly heartbroken and sorrowful when he hesitantly tells Woody he doesn’t think Andy cares for them anymore, to sounding downright terrified when he finds himself unable to climb the the mountain of garbage away from the incinerator.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: Woody's line to Buzz "This isn't goodbye" can be seen as this to the entire franchise, as with the animated shorts and a fourth movie, this movie is not our goodbye to these characters. Especially if Sora pays the toys a visit in the future...
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Several cases regarding Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • It was rumored that Boo could be seen in the Butterfly room during the movie, but this was Jossed. Funnily enough, Toy Story 4 actually does feature a legitimate cameo from Boo, where she's a student in Bonnie's kindergarten class, possibly in reference to these very rumors.
  • It Was His Sled: Lotso is the main villain. He is often a point of discussion when talking about best Disney/Pixar villains, so tons of people watching today are already aware of his true colors before watching the movie.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: No, they ultimately don't pull the trigger against some of the most iconic (and profitable) characters of the modern era, no matter how intense the incinerator scene was. A lot of fans watching for the first time were genuinely afraid Pixar was actually going to have the nerve to destroy their beloved characters, though. Even some viewers who noticed that the Little Green Men had been conveniently removed for the moment admitted that they wound up forgetting this when the scene actually came up.
  • Love to Hate: Lotso. He has a sad backstory (although it does little to empathize his actions), he is by all means the toy version of a dictator or a mob boss, Ned Beatty's voice acting is pretty good, and don't even get us started on the incinerator scene. He's regarded by many to be the darkest yet most memorable Pixar villain out there.
  • Memetic Molester: Surprisingly, Woody, thanks to the alternate face that comes with his Revoltech Sci-Fi action figure, which is the image for that page.
  • Misaimed Marketing:
    • You know that utterly horrifying and heartbreaking scene of the toys inside the trash compactor? Now you can relive the magic in LEGO form! And the creepy look on Lotso's face doesn't help.
    • Disneyland also liberally used the incinerator scene for an extended sequence in their “Pixar Magic” fireworks/projection show, complete with Woody’s heartwrenching Big "NO!". Even if it was an excuse to use the flamethrower effect, some audience members have not enjoyed going through the trauma of the scene again!
  • Moe: Bonnie is just too adorable.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Lotso had already established himself as a ruthless and unrepentant dog-kicking machine as he tortures and corrupts the toys during the movie, but irrevocably crosses the horizon when he pretends to try to turn off the Conveyor Belt of Doom leading to the incinerator, then leaves the other toys to their deaths with the remark "where's your kid now, sheriff?", complete with a mocking salute and evil smile. This after he pretended to be redeemed and after Woody and Buzz had just risked their lives to save him. So much for Rousseau being right this time, as is usually the case for Pixar.
  • Narm Charm:
    • During the confrontation between Lotso and Andy's toys at the dumpster, Ken shows up in his underwear and tries to convince Lotso's goons that Sunnyside isn't meant to be a hellhole, and it only is because Lotso's turned it into a dictatorship (along with rebuffing Lotso's assertion that he shouldn't care about Barbie because there's a million like her, to which Ken says, "Not to me, there's not.") It sounds and even looks a little silly, but the sheer emotion and sincerity that Ken puts into this scene makes it both awesome and heartwarming. In fact, everyone's performance in this scene is top-notch.
      Ken: Everyone, listen! Sunnyside could be cool and groovy if we treated each other fair! It's Lotso! He's made us into a pyramid, and he put himself on top!
    • The ending where Andy gives his toys to Bonnie can come across as silly, since Andy talks about Woody as if he knows they're alive and plays with his toys in the same way he played as a child. However, even reviewers who found the scene melodramatic (such as CellSpex) admitted that it was still a tearjerking conclusion to Andy and Woody's relationship, and viewers with nostalgic attachments to their toys found the scene especially moving.
  • Nausea Fuel: During the daycare scene, the extreme closeup of a toddler shoving Buzz's helmet into her mouth.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • The Cymbal-Banging Monkey. While he's seen more than once, he's only relevant in one scene, but the sheer amount of Nightmare Fuel makes him really stand out.
    • Chuckles, who also only one major scene but leaves a huge impact on the story with his memorable backstory and excellent VA work.
    • Lotso's Sunnyside lieutenants. They're in many scenes, but the vending machine scene is the only time they actually talk, an entertaining moment for its humor and menace. It helps that they're voiced by Whoopi Goldberg and three obscure but very prolific voice actors.
    • Chatter Telephone only appears briefly, but his personality and efforts to help Woody escape definitely leave quite an impression.
    • Sid's cameo as an adult, now an enthusiastically headbanging, heavy metal-loving garbageman and still wearing that black skull t-shirt.
  • Sacred Cow: It's the final installment (or rather, it used to be the final installment) of an extremely beloved childhood franchise that many internet users have been fans of as long as they've been alive. Naturally, many of them don't take people not liking the movie well.
  • Shocking Moments:
  • Signature Scene: The terrifying, trauma-inducing incinerator climax, and Andy's final goodbye to Woody. Both are all but synonymous with "movie scenes that make grown men sob like children."
  • Tear Dryer: In the climax, Woody and his friends are thrown into an incinerator, and after desperately trying to get out of it in vain, they decide to hold hands together and accept their death, but miraculously, they got saved in extremis by the three little green men thanks a giant claw.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Stinky Pete is implied to have actually grown to eventually like being played with by Amy (the girl he was "Given" to at the end of the second movie). It would have been amazing to have him reappear and be on the side of Woody's group.
  • Tough Act to Follow:
    • This is why most fans feel there should be no more sequels after Toy Story 3 - the film itself doesn't suffer from the trope, the film is the Tough Act. Hell, the concept indirectly affected the reception of Cars 2 and Brave. Even Pixar is aware of this; John Lasseter said they had no plans for a fourth movie because the third felt like a perfect note to end on, but they felt an idea they were kicking around was too good to pass up, and thus, Toy Story 4 was green-lit. It wasn't until Inside Out, released half a decade later, that Pixar made a movie considered good enough to escape Toy Story 3's shadow.
    • Oddly enough, Toy Story 2 and 3 each had a similar reception when they were first announced, with fans feeling like the previous installment had a perfect ending, leaving no need for a sequel.
  • Unexpected Character: Even taking into account the close friendship between Pixar and Studio Ghibli, many didn't expect to see Totoro himself as one of Bonnie's toys.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?:
    • Much of the humor will sail over younger heads, and a lot of kids get frightened and often even leaving during the Monkey Scene (a few have theorized the 11-year Sequel Gap helped Pixar aim for a Darker and Edgier route). Even worse is that it once played on the Disney Junior block and had a tie-in with Pull-Ups training pants.
    • The notorious incinerator scene. The suspense and fear is enough to unnerve even grown-up viewers, and it can genuinely be too intense for small children.
  • The Woobie: Big Baby. Like Lotso and Chuckles, he was accidentally left behind by their original owner, Daisy. Lotso didn't let Big Baby see Daisy for the last time and lied, saying they were all replaced instead of just Lotso. They wound up in Sunnyside where Lotso manipulated and abused the toddler minded toy into doing his dirty work. Near the end when Woody tells the truth that Lotso had lied all the time and he (Woody) gives Big Baby's old locket with Daisy's name on it, Lotso grabs the locket from the tearful Baby, smashes it and starts beating Big Baby. Lotso's treatment of Big Baby was, all in all, child abuse. Poor kid.
  • Woolseyism: When first introducing herself to Woody, Trixie says that she is "either in a cafe in Paris or a coffee shop in New Jersey". In the Icelandic dub, New Jersey is changed to Búðardalur, a village in western Iceland with exactly one coffee shop.

The video game

  • Catharsis Factor: You get to beat the snot out of Lotso in the Sunnyside level. Be honest, if you saw the movie beforehand you totally did this.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Many people bought the game specifically for the Toy Box mode, never even touching the main story. The game even seems aware of this, as you actually have to enter Toy Box mode at one point before being allowed to continue the story.
  • Magnificent Bastard: "Mister" Evil Dr. Porkchop is the most reoccurring threat Woody and the gang face during playtime. From launching an ambush on Woody while he's rescuing a train of orphans to teaming up with the Witch to hypnotize the world using cake, Dr. Porkchop has been Andy's go-to antagonist, combining his original toy's sharp wit with a bombastic personality. In his most brilliant scheme, he disguises himself as a benevolent mayor of a small town and convinces the sherif to make as much money as possible, so that he can swoop in on his ship and abduct it from the bank, making him rich.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games: Considered one of the best examples of this trope, with a ton of love and care put into the game. Being the precursor to Disney Infinity doesn't hurt either.
  • Porting Disaster: It is perfectly reasonable to expect that the Wii version would be cut down due to the system's lower specs (namely, weaker graphics and being unable to individually dress up town citizens, as customizing one changes everyone). It isn't excusable that the Windows and Mac ports fall under these exact same limitations, even though a simple option toggle would have given everyone, even those with low end at-the-time computers, the capability to enjoy the game to its fullest, and it's made even more glaring thanks to Technology Marches On. Furthermore, they also leave out the multiplayer mode from the port as well, though that is a little more excusable since couch multiplayer has never been computer gaming's strong suit.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: The driving controls are a huge pain to deal with in Toy Box mode. They are very slippery and it is very easy to flip your car over, with it being really difficult to get it back up. Even when the car is fully sized up to a monster truck, it still is a pain to control.
  • That One Level: Bonnie's House is full of dangerous jumps, climbing puzzles, and difficult platforming challenges where any fall results in instant death.

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