Between all the fun characters, the magical nature of the toys, and burning questions like “What is the sex like between Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head?” it’s easy to forget that there are human characters in this movie. Namely, the toys’ owner, Andy; his little sister, Molly; their mom; and … wait a minute, where’s the dad? This theory by Jess Nevins explains his absence by claiming that, while Buzz Lightyear and Woody are having wacky adventures, Andy’s parents are getting a divorce.
Each Toy Story movie covers a milestone in the life of Andy: his 10th birthday, the first time he goes to summer camp, and the day he leaves for college. And for all of these important events, Andy’s father is always absent, with no explanation. Also, look at Andy’s house: There are photos of Andy, his mom, and his sister, but no dad in sight.
Then there’s the fact that in the first movie, we see the hand of Andy’s mom as she’s bringing over his present. Guess what: There’s no wedding ring.
If Andy’s dad just happened to be on a business trip or was, like, standing in the other room the whole time, you’d still probably see some evidence of his existence. Obviously there could be many, many explanations for this, but it seems likely that either Andy’s parents broke up in a bitter divorce or his dad up and left the family at some point after Molly was conceived (which wasn’t that long before the first movie, since she’s a baby). If the father left recently, this would also explain why the family is moving to a smaller house in the first movie: It’s all they can afford on one salary.
It’s amazing (and kind of depressing) how many animated movies have no fathers in them. (And even in those that do, it rarely ends well for him.)