'Toy Story' turns 25: Ranking the best villains (2024)

Carly Mallenbaum|USA TODAY

'Toy Story' turns 25: Ranking the best villains (1)

'Toy Story' turns 25: Ranking the best villains (2)

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It hasbeen 25 years since the unlikely friendship between a pull-string cowboy and a plastic space ranger was forged onscreen in “Toy Story.” To celebrate the groundbreaking Pixar movie, which premiered Nov. 22, 1995, and ledto three more successful films, we’re looking back at some of the best charactersin the franchise.

No, not heroes Woody and Buzz, but the multidimensional villains who – despite mostly being children’s playthings – provide humor, plot twistsand heft in “Toy Story” (1995), “Toy Story 2” (1999),“Toy Story 3” (2010)and “Toy Story 4”(2019).

How do the movies’ iconic baddies (who are sometimes secretly good guys) rank? Take a look at ourlist, which includes commentary from Pixar filmmaker Andrew Stanton, who co-wrote all of the “Toy Story” movies. (The orderis ours,not his. We didn’t force Stanton to play favorites.)

9. Al McWhiggin

Seenin: “Toy Story 2”

Voice: Wayne Knight (Newman from “Seinfeld”)

Bio: The owner of Al’s Toy Barn steals Woody to complete his rare collection of "Woody’s Roundup" toys.

What makes him interesting: Al is an adult who obsesses over toys, one of the “man children of the world that can’t stop collecting toys and then start making it a trade,” says Stanton, adding that he and his co-writers “all willingly putting elements of ourselves into that character.”

Although Al is unscrupulous when it comes to obtaining toys, by the end he’s a lonely, sad man crying in a chicken suit.

8.Evil Emperor Zurg

Seen in: “Toy Story 2”

Voice: Andrew Stanton (yes, the screenwriter)

Bio: A purplecaped toy with one mission: Destroy Buzz Lightyear.

What makes him interesting: Zurgspoofs “Star Wars” in his Darth Vader-esque voice and gets plenty of laughswhen he tells Buzz, "I am your father."

Zurg is "the opposite of complexity," Stanton says. "The logic was just it’s a toy that turns on, wants to kill Buzz. That was the humor.”

7. Stinky Pete the Prospector

Seen in: “Toy Story 2”

Voice: Kelsey Grammer

Bio:A toy with a white beard and overalls whospends most of his time in a box after his TVshow “Woody’s Roundup” (with Woody, Jessie and Bullseye the horse) is canceled.

What makes him interesting: Filmmakers like Stanton asked themselves this question: “If I was stuck in a box and never got played with, what would it do to me?”

The character shows his dark side after he can no longer handle sitting on a shelf while every toy around him is sold. As Stanton explains it, Prospector wasn’t pure evilbut “kind of being genuine until he felt his future was threatened. He could’ve stayed friendly if Woody had just always gone along.”

6. The Dummies

Seen in: “Toy Story 4”

Voice: Steve Purcell (writer of “Brave”)

Bio: Benson and the other ventriloquist dummies don’t say much, but they follow the orders of Gabby Gabby in the antique store.

What makes them interesting: To many, ventriloquist dummies are inherently horrifying, and the way they were animated to creep around the antique store made them appear even scarier.

“They fundamentally messed with so many of us growing up,” Stanton says. “If we had used them in the movies earlier, it would’ve been too much.”

5. Ken

Seen in: “Toy Story 3”

Voice: Michael Keaton

Bio: The doll, who loves his ascot and his dreamhouse, hangs out with the wrong crowd at Sunnyside Daycare.

What makes him interesting: Ken’s “not bad, he’s just misunderstood,” Stanton says. “Ken was a chance to flip gender (norms) and make him as shallow and bad at math as you wanted.”

Ken is the funniest part of “Toy Story 3,” especially when he enthusiastically gives Barbie a private fashion show before she ties him to a paddle ball toy and makes him reveal Lotso’s vindictive plans. Barbie and Ken wind up living happily ever after at the day care.

4. Gabby Gabby

Seen in: “Toy Story 4”

Voice: Christina Hendricks

Bio: The pigtailed doll with a defective voicebox blinks slowly and talks sweetly to other toys in the antique store, giving viewers the heebie-jeebies.

What makes her interesting: “It was very easy for people to have a bad first impression and assume that she had an agenda that was darker than she really did,” Stanton says of the old-school doll who was jealous of Woody’s working pull-string. “She was a little desperate and a little creepy in her manner of expressing it, so you were quick to judge.”

Ultimately, Gabby Gabby and her ventriloquist henchman don’t harm Woody, but he willingly helps the doll – disturbing as she may first appear – find an owner.

3. Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear

Seen in: “Toy Story 3”

Voice: Ned Beatty

Bio: Called "Lotso" for short, he's a pink strawberry-scented bear who becomes the de facto toy leader at Sunnyside Daycare after being replaced by his owner.

What makes him interesting: Although he initially appears to be a kindly guide, Lotso reveals himself to be something of a dictator who decides which toys are subjected to toddler mistreatment in the “Caterpillar Room.” His badness comes from the feeling that his kid abandoned him, and he thinks other toys should feel worthless, too.

Lotso figures out "how to game the system to preserve himself,” Stanton says of the cuddly-looking teddy. “In a weird way, he’s an extension of the Prospector who thought he had a way to exist forever.”

2. Mutant toys

Seen in: “Toy Story”

Voice: They make plenty of clicking and quacking and screeching sounds, but these toys aren’t talkers.

Bio: From a one-eyed baby doll head with metal spider legs to a hand popping out of a jack-in-a-box, these scary-looking objects are the creations of toy rebuilder Sid.

What makes them interesting: The fact that the toys are mute only adds to their mystique. Although Woody and Buzz are initially terrified of the walking car and fishing rod with legs, the mutant toys ultimately save the day.

“The mutant toys will always have a special place in my heart,” says Stanton, who has for years saved a memo from a Disney executive who suggested the characters should be cut from the movie. “We had so much funknowing that they were actually some of the good guys and nobody would guess that.”

1. Sid

Seen in: “Toy Story,” plus a “Toy Story 3” cameo

Voice: Erik von Detten (of “Brink!” fame)

Bio: The young boy in the skull shirt and braces who dismembers toys and rebuilds them.

What makes him interesting: Yes, in the eyes of toys, Sid is a brutal baddie. But“I don’t consider Sid a villain,” Stanton says. “He’s at that age where blowing stuff up is more interesting than anything else. Andlike it or not, that’s not uncommon with boys at that age.”

Think of things from Sid’s perspective: By the end of “Toy Story,” he becomes the only human burdened with the truththat toys are alive. Fortunately, in “Toy Story 3” we learn that Sid appears to be doing well, because he makes aquick appearance as a garbage man (in the same tee) rocking out to music.

'Toy Story' turns 25: Ranking the best villains (2024)


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