Toy Story 2's whole plot hinges on the same fears that the Toy Story franchise as a complete story is based on - the fear of mortality. Obviously, it's played out through the filter of toys being abandoned when their owners grow up and replace them with other interests, but it all boils down to fear of death in the end.
And in Toy Story 2, we see that fear played with in terms of Woody's TV show, which aired in the mid-1950s and was cancelled when interest in space toys grew off the back of Sputnik's launch. Woody and his fellow characters were made redundant, inspiring Stinky Pete the Prospector to give up his faith in children and the idea of ownership entirely.
He attempts to convince Woody that he will end up on the scrapheap again when Andy loses interest in him, again using the fear of replacement and the parallel between Buzz Lightyear and Sputnik to raise Woody's anxiety. And his haymaker blow is showing Woody that the Roundup TV show was cancelled so abruptly that kids didn't get to see the last episode, because it was never made. It's designed to be as devastating a revelation as possible - the idea that even with Woody's life in danger, there simply wasn't enough interest for the showmakers to bother wrapping the story up. No wonder it proved to be so convincing to Woody.
But it's all based on a lie - at least partly - as one eagle-eyed fan has just pointed out.
In this clip, we see Woody eagerly watching the supposed "last episode," complete with the cliffhanger, which Stinky Pete turns off when the episode ends, confirming that the show was cancelled at that point. He very clearly says "that's it" - suggesting there was no final episode made...
If that's the case, Peter, then why can the final episode clearly be heard in the background of the scene in which Woody tells Buzz that he's staying with the other Round Up toys?
It's not perfectly clear, but you can hear Woody say "everyone okay?" and Jessie respond with "Sheriff Woody! I knew you'd make it!" confirming that the cliffhanger was in fact answered in a final episode and the show wasn't completely cut off when the Prospector claimed.
What do you think?