WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Toy Story 4, in theaters now.
Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) is one of the most unique antagonists to ever appear in a Pixar film. From outside appearances, she's just a friendly looking talking doll who lacks a voice box. But in reality, she's the soft-voiced lord of her domain in Toy Story 4. She even has an army of ventriloquist dummies to carry out her orders.
The vintage baby doll was conceived, according to the film's director Josh Cooley, as a direct shout-out to a classic episode of The Twilight Zone. But this isn't actually the first time the Toy Story franchise has featured a connection to the classic sci-fi anthology show, with one particular episode anticipating one of the main ideas behind Toy Story. Fans have noticed these parallels before, which has leading to the long-gestating fan theory that Toy Story actually takes place in The Twilight Zone. The arrival of Gabby Gabby may hint that there's more to that theory than just speculation.
Five Toys In A Tin
The Twilight Zone episode, "Five Characters in Search of an Exit," premiered in December of 1961. It focused on five people: a soldier, a clown, a ballerina, a bagpiper and a hobo. All five awake inside a large, cylindrical and featureless room. None of them can remember where they were before they awoke. They also seem to be functionally immortal, with no need for food or water. Confused by their predicament, the soldier rallies the group into trying to escape. With all their help, the soldier manages to get out of the top of the room.
The soldier falls into the snow, and realizes he's actually just a toy. The room he escaped was a container for dolls donated to an orphanage. Much like the toys in Toy Story, the toys cannot move or speak when in the presence of human beings. The twist is bittersweet and depressing, especially for the toys. It's also a precursor to the kind of story that would be eventually told in Toy Story, as pointed out on Reddit. Like Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) in the original Toy Story, the five characters trapped in the tin are completely unaware of their world, at least at first. They even seem to go through the same depression that Buzz enters when he discovers the truth.
Gabby Gabby & Talky Tina
Gabby Gabby bears a striking resemblance to another Twilight Zone staple. Cooley revealed as much, saying she was in part inspired by Talky Tina. Tina was the primary threat of "Living Doll", the 126th episode of The Twilight Zone. It centered on a little girl and her Talky Tina doll. The doll was merely a talking doll to most people, but it seemed capable of full-blown speech whenever it was alone with the little girl's verbally cruel stepfather, Erille. Tina even positioned herself on the stairs to trip Erille, killing him at the end of the episode.
Gabby has more than a few similarities with Tina. Gabby's look was inspired by Tina, mimicking baby dolls of the era. Gabby also proves to be surprisingly vicious, at one point ordering her small army of ventriloquist dummies to get the voice box out of Woody (Tom Hanks). They come close to physically ripping it out of him. But Gabby, like Tina, is defined by her apparent desire to be loved. Everything Tina does in "Living Doll" is in twisted pursuit of being with the child who loves her. Gabby only wants Woody's voice box because she believes it could be the key to earning the love of a little girl for herself.
Welcome To The Twilight Zone
The connection between the Toy Story franchise and horror stories has always been prevalent. Earlier films in the franchise featured shout-outs to The Shining, and the climaxes of the first and third films in the series featured some pretty terrifying imagery. In the first Toy Story especially, Woody leads all the toys abused by Sid into breaking their one unspoken rule and traumatizing a child by "coming to life" in the most horrific way possible. The entire world of Toy Story could easily exist in the same world as "Five Characters In Search of an Exit" and the rest of The Twilight Zone.
But the Tina/Gabby connection makes that idea all the more palatable. It makes the films far darker, turning their morals into grimmer lessons. Because where else would toys be able to come to life, experience a full range of emotions and even teach us lessons about how we should lead our lives if not... the Twilight Zone.
Directed by Josh Cooley, Toy Story 4 stars Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Keanu Reeves, Annie Potts, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Jeff Pidgeon, Blake Clark, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele and Tony Hale.