Brought to you by the letter ‘W’
You may not think The Walking Dead, a US drama exploring the life of main protagonist Rick Grimes and his motley crew of misfits in a post apocalyptic world, has many similarities between Disney Pixar’s Toy Story franchise. You may think that a film mainly aimed at children and a grizzly, gory and sometimes horrifying drama have absolutely nothing in common apart from the fact that they can both be watched on a television. However, if you look a little deeper, the resemblance between Sheriff Woody and Rick Grimes is not just aesthetically true, but the two also share similar character traits. Moreover, some of the story lines in TWD hold a strong resemble to certain plot lines in Toy Story.
A group of misfits lead by a sheriff wearing a cowboy hat is where the similarities between The Walking Dead’s main protagonist Rick Grimes and Toy Story’s Sheriff Woody begin. In reality there are many more reasons both characters are one and the same. Call me crazy, but I think I’m on to something here…
So let’s start with the obvious: Woody and Rick Grimes are both sheriffs, both wear cowboy hats and are both aesthetically similar with a tall, dark and slender appearance. Both characters lead their groups (Woody through Andy’s bedroom, and Rick through a post apocalyptic world), ultimately for survival.
The protective relationship
In Toy Story all toys that belong to a loving home have a kid, and Woody has Andy. In TWD Rick has Carl, his son. Andy also wears a cowboy hat representing his love and respect for Woody. Woody would do anything for Andy and desperately wants to continue his rein as Andy’s favourite toy. Rick and Carl’s relationship in TWD is very similar, right down to the cowboy hat Carl wears throughout the show. Rick would do anything for Carl, saving him from death in series two when Carl gets shot.
The relationship threat
When everything changes in a post apocalyptic world, Rick’s best friend Shane becomes a threat to Rick when he tries to move in on his family. In Toy Story Buzz too threatens to change everything with his militant approach to problem solving and good leadership skills. Buzz slowly becomes Andy’s main toy, his acceptance is verified when Andy’s name drawn on the bottom on his feet with permanent marker. Andy becomes more interested in space than the wild west, and soon the cowboy hat becomes temporarily replaced with a space helmet. Throughout series 1 and 2 of TWD the relationship between Shane and Carl changes to that more of a father and son. Much like Woody, Rick is threatened by this change and feels like he is losing his kid to someone else.
The hero complex
This could be said for most lead characters in most TV shows and films. Nonetheless, Woody and Rick both have a hero complex. Whether they’re aware of it or not, both characters want to be the hero. They also want others to see them in the light of ‘true hero’.
Both Woody and Rick have a moment where they challenge their threat, and both situations end with negative consequences. In Toy Story Woody accidentally knocks Buzz out of the window, and in TWD Rick kills Shane. The Disney gets the happy-ever-after because Buzz isn’t really dead and everything turns out all right. Whereas in TWD Rick kills Shane and that’s that. Essentially this highlights the main difference between the two shows.
The resemblance doesn’t stop at Woody and Rick either. In Toy Story 3 ‘Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear’ is evil because he is bitter about loosing his little girl. Likewise in series 3 of TWD we meet ‘The Governor’, an evil man who has lost his little girl to the zombie apocalypse. The creepy Southern accent, the incessant need to control everyone and everything around them and the way both characters start with the same over-the-top niceness sets them up for the evil they later unveil to the viewer.
Moreover, ‘Sunnyside Daycare’, a gated community, starts off as an idyllic place. However, much like in TWD when Andrea tries to leave ‘Woodbury’ (also a gated community), when Woody & co try to leave they are stopped and realise they are in fact prisoners.
Many similarities lie within TWD and Toy Story. We can see this through the characters and plot lines in both shows. I am also aware that there are many coincidences in comparison articles such as this. However, it is interesting to draw such comparisons and to think that perhaps Sheriff Woody is just a Disneyfied version of Rick Grimes.