Toy Story – The Hero’s journey breakdown

Ordinary world

Toys live a secret life when people aren’t around, they are real

Call to Adventure

Andy gets a new toy for his birthday. Buzz Lightyear and he replaces Woody as Andy’s favourite toy

Refusal of the call

“Just a mistake. Let’s give it a nice welcome” Woody still believes he is the favourite. And after Buzz puts on his amazing display of falling with style, all the other toys are eager to be his friend and find out more about him. “They’ll see, I’m still Andy’s favourite.” Woody ominously mutters to himself.

Supernatural Aid

There is no true mentor in this story.  Woody serves as Buzz’s guide to a certain extent, teaching him about the ways of the world as Buzz has no clue.

Crossing the First Threshold

Woody accidentally/deliberately knocks Buzz out the window and the other toys throw Woody out the window as punishment.

Belly of the whale

They find themselves inside the arcade game which has the Claw as it’s God.

The Road of the trials

They constantly fight, Buzz refuses to acknowledge he is a toy and Woody desperately trying to get them back home to Andy.

Meeting with the Goddess

It’s a reversal of the Goddess. Sid is the opposite of the Goddess and intends on torturing and destroying the toys. Sid serves the same purpose as the Goddess and spurs them on to become heroes.

Atonement with the Father

Buzz learns that Woody was right all along; he is in fact just a toy.

Woman as Temptress

Buzz is tempted to give up on life when he learns about his true place in the world.

Atonement with the Father

Woody has his atonement when he is trapped in the crate and he realises his pride has led to his fall. His friends have abandoned him, he’s lost Andy and he’s most likely about to die.

Ultimate Boon

Woody and Buzz reconcile. They will work together for Andy’s sake.


Woody and the other toys break the rules and come to life in front of Sid.

The Magic flight

They make a desperate chase to catch up to Andy in the removal van.

Rescue from without

Buzz uses his retractable wings to release them from the rocket before it explodes and fly them into the sun roof in the car.

The crossing of the return Threshold

They make it back into the car and Andy is happy he’s found them again.

Master of two worlds

Andy has filled his bedroom with both Buzz Lightyear space posers and Woody Wild West posters. They both are his equal toys.

Freedom to live

Woody and Buzz are happy to be side by side as Andy’s toy.


This is a buddy pic for Woody and Buzz, they both have something to learn. Buzz needs to learn that he’s just a toy and Woody needs to make the bigger emotional journey. He needs to learn to share Andy and that he doesn’t have to be his favorite toy.  They flip the stages of the hero’s journey between them or have beats that combine for both characters.

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