Lotso first started out as a Christmas present for a little girl named Daisy and instantly became her favorite toy. Lotso seemed to have enjoyed every moment of the time spent at Daisy's house. One day, Daisy took Lotso and her two other toys, Big Baby and Chuckles, out for a drive with her parents and stopped at a rest stop for a little bit of playtime. After lunch, Daisy fell asleep and her parents took her back into the car, accidentally leaving Lotso, Big Baby, and Chuckles behind. The three toys waited for a long time, but Daisy never returned for them. Not wanting to give up, Lotso, followed by Chuckles and Big Baby, headed off into the wilderness and finally returned to Daisy's house, only to discover that Daisy had another Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear toy, leaving Lotso heartbroken and feeling betrayed.
Those feelings embittered Lotso, and it made him turn evil, and he forcibly ordered Chuckles and Big Baby to leave Daisy and follow him. Chuckles tried to explain that Daisy only replaced him because she missed him so much, but Lotso was too angry and disappointed to listen to reason. The three lost, cast-off, unloved, and unwanted toys hitched a ride on a Pizza Planet delivery truck's rear bumper until the truck hit a bump in the road, causing them to fall off the bumper. Then they found Sunnyside Daycare, where Lotso and Big Baby somehow took over the daycare and "rigged the whole system".
- "Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear is a jumbo, extra-soft teddy bear with a pink and white plush body and a velvety purple nose. This lovable bear stands fuzzy heads and shoulders above other teddy bears because he smells like sweet strawberries! With a smile that will light up your child's face and a belly just asking to be hugged, Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear is sure to become a bedtime necessity. Stain-resistant. Spot clean plush surface with a damp cloth."
Lotso at first seemed caring, welcoming, friendly, and possessed all of the good qualities of the stereotypical soft teddy bear. This was further emphasized by his strawberry aroma and his hugging of Buzz Lightyear (hence his name Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear) when the toys first arrived at Sunnyside Daycare. He even went so far as to "promise" the toys that different kids at the daycare center would continue to play with them and that they would never feel unloved or rejected.
However, this facade merely concealed his true nature later in the film. Lotso's true colors eventually revealed him to be a dark, sadistic, conniving, selfish, rage-driven, irredeemable dictator, and prison warden, ruling Sunnyside with an iron fist and imprisoning new toys in the Caterpillar Room to test their ability to experience the abuse of the reckless and destructive children there. This nature was mostly brought about from his perceived betrayal from Daisy. However, he was considered to be a kind-hearted friend to both Chuckles and Big Baby before they were accidentally abandoned and subsequently replaced. Due to his painful past, Lotso possessed a negative philosophy about being a toy, thinking of toys as nothing special and originally created for future disposal (which is somewhat accurate considering the fact that toys tend to be given away and sometimes even discarded by their owners the moment they are outgrown by them).
While in power as a head toy at Sunnyside, he also seemed to develop nihilistic tendencies, as evidenced by his statement that all toys were ultimately going to be tossed out like garbage, and there is no salvation for them. He did not display any mercy to toys that resisted, opposed, helped other toys escape, and did not follow his views, with examples being breaking Chuckles the Clown and Chatter Telephone, forcing Stretch to push the toys into the dumpster, disowning Ken for not agreeing with Lotso's view that there were hundred million Barbie dolls like Molly's, and punching Big Baby with his mallet for being attached to their former owner again. Additionally, by destroying Big Baby's old pendant, Lotso showed that he not only wanted to forget his own relation with Daisy and pretend it never even existed, but he also wanted to destroy all of Big Baby's connections to Daisy and essentially all toys' connections to their owners. This would imply that he didn't really care about Daisy herself, but only the attention she gave him. At the landfill, despite seemingly showing grateful feelings toward Woody and Buzz for saving him from the shredders, Lotso still held on to his beliefs that children would eventually discard their toys out of boredom and disinterest without realizing the physical and emotional pain they are causing to the toy, as evidenced when he refused to press the emergency stop button that, had he pressed it, would have supposedly led to his redemption by sparing Woody and his friends from their fiery death in the incinerator.
Lotso is an old, pinkish-purple stuffed teddy bear with a strawberry scent and a Southern accent, who uses a wooden toy mallet as a cane (despite the fact he is able to walk without it, so he probably uses it by choice).
He is first introduced riding over to Woody, Buzz, and the other toys in his dump truck. He greets them in a friendly, albeit fake, manner and shows them around Sunnyside. He assigns the new toys in the Caterpillar Room, knowing that the toys there are treated abusively by the younger kids. However, unknown to Lotso, Woody escapes to go home to Andy and is found by Bonnie.
That night, after the toys experience a rather rough playtime with the toddlers in the room, Buzz decides to go find Lotso to ask for his friends to be moved to the Butterfly Room because they do not belong in the Caterpillar Room. When Buzz finally reaches Lotso in the library (after being discovered by Lotso's thugs as an eavesdropper and forced into their "Time-Out Chair" for interrogation), he requests a transfer for him and his friends, to which Lotso agrees (but only to Buzz's moving, knowing that Buzz might be useful to him).
However, he refuses to listen to Buzz's plea to move his friends with him, thinking that the Caterpillar Room needs toys for toddlers to play with, which makes Buzz instantly refuse his offer. He is unwilling to abandon his friends because they stay together as a family. Thinking Buzz is too useful to go to waste, Lotso then tells his henchmen to put Buzz back in the Time-Out Chair. He then uses a Buzz Lightyear action figure manual, which is given to him by the Bookworm, to reset Buzz to his demo mode. Lotso then makes Buzz think he is a real space ranger again and manipulates him into thinking that his friends are helpers of Emperor Zurg. Lotso then makes Buzz imprison the toys inside their cells, with Mr. Potato Head being put in "The Box." As a way to instill fear, Lotso shows them Woody's hat, making them believe he did something bad to Woody.
The next night, while Lotso is asleep, Woody returns and manages to rescue his imprisoned friends after learning Lotso's true reputation from Chuckles and Bonnie's other toys. Woody's friends are relieved to see he is still alive and that Lotso didn't kill him, and together they formulate a plan to escape Sunnyside, including the attempt to get Buzz back on their side.
When the toys attempt to flee Sunnyside through the garbage chute that the Chatter Telephone had told Woody about earlier, Lotso and his gang catch them at a dumpster, blocking their route of escape. Lotso attempts to coax the toys into coming back to the Caterpillar Room to join his family again so as to avoid an approaching garbage truck nearby, but then Jessie jumps out and calls Lotso a liar and a bully who is running Sunnyside like a prison and states that she would rather die than come back. Barbie agrees and angrily expresses her feelings of disapproval of being forced to obey orders. This makes Lotso signal Stretch to push the toys into a dumpster, thinking that disposing them as trash will be better. At that moment, Ken appears, having come for Barbie, and attempts to stop Lotso, but Lotso insults Ken for loving Barbie. When Ken disagrees with Lotso, Lotso becomes enraged at Ken's act of defection as well as his attachment to Barbie and throws him across the dumpster so he can join her. Ken then speaks out, explaining what Lotso has done to Sunnyside, making Lotso question his cohorts if anyone concurs with Ken. When no one responds, Lotso continues with his lecture, making an attempt to deceive the toys into thinking that not one kid has ever loved (or will ever love) a toy. Woody then reminds Lotso of his old life with his former owner, Daisy and rightfully tells him that her losing and replacing him does not justify his actions. However, Lotso immediately becomes angry as he wants nothing to do with Daisy, but to forget completely that his ties to her had ever existed. Woody then pulls out Big Baby's old pendant (received from Chuckles during his stay at Bonnie's house earlier), and after unsuccessfully telling Lotso how she has loved him, Woody tosses the pendant to Big Baby, who picks it and, looking at the token of his long lost love, sniffles, "Mama." Outraged at how Big Baby is still emotionally connected to their former owner, Lotso snaps out at Big Baby, yelling at him that Daisy never loved him as he steals the pendant from him and smashes it to pieces with his mallet, making Big Baby burst into tears. He then orders a now reluctant Stretch to push the toys into the dumpster, pokes Big Baby roughly with his cane for being a baby and a "dummy", and denounces all toys as trash awaiting disposal, which makes his minions realize the error of their ways.
Without warning, Big Baby lifts up Lotso, causing him to drop his mallet. Lotso demands Big Baby put him down, but Big Baby, having had enough of his deceit and abuse, throws the bear into the dumpster and closes its lid on him. He then blows a raspberry directed at Lotso and allows the toys to escape. As the toys try to leave Sunnyside, however, one of the Aliens has become stuck by the dumpster's lid, prompting Woody to rush back and free the alien by slightly opening the lid. But then, Lotso, having caught sight of Woody through the opening and wanting revenge for having him deposed, somehow climbs up, grabs Woody's ankle and pulls him into the dumpster, prompting Andy's other toys to rush to his rescue just as the garbage truck arrives to pour the contents of the dumpster into the truck.
The truck takes Lotso and Andy's toys to Tri-County Landfill, where they are pushed onto a conveyor belt leading to the shredders. After the toys grab onto a metal object so that they hang from the magnetic ceiling, safe from the shredders, Lotso calls for help from under a golf bag. Honorable, Woody and Buzz drop down from the ceiling to free Lotso. They use one of the golf clubs to pry up the bag to let Lotso crawl out, and Woody makes Lotso take his hand as the club pulls them up to the ceiling, seconds before the shredders chew up the golf bag. Realizing that the conveyor belt is leading them to an incinerator, Lotso and the toys try to run for it, but the conveyor belt pushes them closer and closer to the furnace. Lotso then notices an emergency stop button and rushes over to grab hold on the lower rung of a ladder leading to the button.
He calls to Woody, and Woody and Buzz rush over to nudge Lotso up, allowing him to climb up the ladder and access the button. Woody and Buzz then call to Lotso to push the button, but Lotso, whose inner beliefs have not changed overall, breaks his promise, gives the helpless toys a menacing glare, gives them (directed at Woody) a death sentence, and leaves the toys to die in the incinerator while he escapes. However, the toys are rescued by the giant crane that the Aliens have commandeered at the last moment. After the toys emerge out of the furnace, Hamm and Slinky express their desire to get back at Lotso for almost getting them killed, but Woody convinces them to forget it, believing Lotso isn't worth it.
Meanwhile, as Lotso tries to find his way out of the dump, he turns to see another garbage truck pulling up toward him, forcing him to go limp. As the truck stops next to him, a garbage man steps out of the truck and is surprised upon discovering Lotso, remembering he once owned a Lots-o'-Huggin'-Bear during his childhood. Sticking to his cherished memories of the pink bear (as well as his strawberry scent), the garbage man decides to take him along.
Lotso is last seen tied up on the truck's front grill with a few other toys the same garbage man has collected earlier. Lotso panics as he wakes up to find himself in that predicament, but then one of those toys, a frog, advises Lotso to keep his mouth shut to prevent mud and insects from getting in, and Lotso does so right away, ending with the other toys laughing at him.
It is unclear what becomes of Lotso after Toy Story 3, but he most likely remains strapped to the truck like the other garbage toys.
Lots-o makes a small cameo appearance in the previous Pixar film, Up, which was released a year before Toy Story 3. Lotso is in the scene when Carl flies his house over an apartment building where he is laying against a wall in the little girl's room.
Lotso makes an appearance in the video game as a non-playable character, where he greets the toys when they arrive at Sunnyside.
Lotso makes meet and greet appearances at Disney's Hollywood Studios and is part the then Toy Story Block Party Bash Parade (Now Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun) and at Disney's California Adventure. Despite being one of Disney's villains, Lotso is a very popular character at Hollywood Studios and California Adventure.
- Lotso is easily considered as one of the darkest and most evil of Pixar's villains, alongside Hopper, Ernesto de la Cruz, Syndrome, and Randall Boggs.
- Unlike Hopper and Syndrome, his defeat does not result in his death.
- In a viral marketing campaign, Pixar posted two commercials, for a "real" Lotso teddy bear manufactured in 1983, (perhaps even longer) on YouTube. One was a typical American toy commercial from the 1980s, and the other was done in Japanese. Both feature the "Toy Story Collection" edition of Lotso, that comes with the Certificate of Authenticity.
- Technically, Lotso became evil for nothing. Daisy was just a little girl (possibly 4-6 years old) who didn't know any better. Her parents were the ones who forgot them and never came back, Daisy only replaced him with another Lots-o-Huggin' Bear because she missed him. So, Lotso ultimately overreacted about Daisy "throwing" him out. Chuckles knew better and tried to explain this to him, but a hurt Lotso wouldn't listen.
- Despite this, Lotso's backstory is still sympathetic, considering the fact that he had evidently traveled through the wilderness for a long time just to get back to Daisy, only to find he had been replaced.
- However, his insanity implies that he didn’t really care about being there for Daisy (or Daisy herself), but just wanted to have her all to himself, as Woody points out when confronting him.
- In 2012, The Disney Store had a talking action figure of Lotso that was sold separated and with a talking Woody action figure.
- Lotso made a cameo appearance in Up, the previous Pixar movie released before Toy Story 3, when he was first spotted next to Dee's bed when Carl's house flies past her window outside, and it was later confirmed that he would be a new character in Toy Story 3.
- When Lotso is helped to the Emergency Stop button on the trash conveyor belt, rather than pressing the button to stop the belt and save the other toys, he glares at them and yells, "Where's your kid now, Sheriff?!" This is a wink to the Internet meme "Where is your God now?", a sarcastic way of inducing fear in a victim (the internet meme in turn originates from a line in a Billy Crystal routine making fun of the incongruity of Edward G. Robinson being cast in The Ten Commandments (1956): "Where's your Messiah now, Moses?").
- Lotso's comeuppance is fitting because it has given him two things he had been asking for:
- The true meaning of love, which he got from the garbage man, who remembered having a Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear toy himself as a child.
- A fitting end to a considerably miserable life, which he would face from the elements, bugs, and mud; or from eventually being thrown away again, leading him to die in the shredders or the incinerator.
- Lotso shares a lot of character traits with Stinky Pete. They both seemed to be loving at first but were eventually revealed to be cruel tyrants in the end. This is mainly because of a sense of feeling rejected or unloved, which were clearly seen in both Pixar villains.
- Lotso's fate by the end of the film is quite similar to Stinky Pete's fate. Both are unexpectedly found, and then, they find themselves in an unwanted predicament: Stinky Pete becomes stuck with a girl who likes to draw on her toys, while Lotso becomes a fly attractant for a garbage truck. However, after Toy Story 2, it has been stated that Stinky Pete got used to it and he liked it, while it is unclear if Lotso, after Toy Story 3, has ever got used to it because it has never been stated. Also, the two villains never met Andy, who is, in fact, a good kid.
- Oddly enough, the music that played during Lotso's defeat was the same music heard during Stinky Pete's defeat.
- His thick Southern accent, initially soft-spoken demeanor, and many of his iron fist policies as "Warden" ― including throwing uncooperative prisoners into "the box" ― are clear references to "The Captain," Strother Martin's character from Cool Hand Luke (as well as Lotso's voice actor, Ned Beatty's previous character, Sheriff J.C. Conners, from White Lightning).
- According to the official movie magazine for Toy Story 3, Lotso was originally created for A Tin Toy Christmas (which later became Toy Story).
- Lotso can be considered as one of the evilest and depraved Pixar villains for his many cruel and ruthless deeds:
- Lying to Big Baby and the other toys.
- Forcing his former friends to follow him into darkness.
- Causing toys to be broken by kids in the Caterpillar Room.
- Beating the Chatter Telephone.
- Yelling at Big Baby and attacking him.
- Insulting his minions for thinking for themselves.
- Almost getting Andy's toys killed, despite being saved by Woody and Buzz.
- Lotso was originally conceived as a teddy bear from the early 1980s Care Bears toy line. This idea was not dropped until after the storyboard was completed and can be seen in the tie-in book The Art of Toy Story 3.
- In the same source, the animators also admitted that they increased Lotso's cruelty in the final version in order to ensure that people understood that he got exactly what he deserved, as the test screenings had some kids still sympathizing with him after his backstory was revealed.
- Lotso was portrayed as a "good toy" back when he was friends with Chuckles and Big Baby. However, when Lotso snapped and turned into the antagonist (when he saw that his owner, Daisy replaced him with another Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear toy), he was dropped from the list of protagonists.
- In the PS2 version of Toy Story 3: The Video Game, Lotso has a silent appearance, and his fate is not revealed nor is it seen.
- Test audiences who had sympathized with Lotso for his backstory had wanted him to push the button in the incinerator scene to redeem himself, but according to the DVD commentary, director Lee Unkrich explained that Lotso chose not to save the other toys so that audiences who had gotten to know them for three films could really care about even more when it looked like the end just before the aliens rescued them with the claw, so Lotso's reformation was dropped. Another reason is because they did not want Lotso to get off so easy.
- Some people blame Daisy's parents for Lotso's villainous demeanor, as they could have gone back to look for their daughter's lost toys, instead of replacing Lotso.
- Lotso's later knowledge of Woody and his friends' escaping in the first place is not revealed, but it is likely that The Monkey managed to free himself and alert Lotso, leading to Lotso beating up the Chatter Telephone for information on Woody's whereabouts.
- An advertisement for a Lotso bear appears in Tokyo, in Cars 2.
- Lotso was originally supposed to appear in the first film, but the technology needed to create his fur had not existed until the third film. A pink teddy bear that appears to be an early design of Lotso makes a brief appearance in Toy Story.
- Hades mentions Lotso in the Disney Cruise Line show Villains Tonight when he is looking for villains to call. However, he doesn't call Lotso as he "always brings that baby with him."
- Lotso is the only Toy Story 3 main character to not appear in the film's epilogue during the end credits.
- Lotso shared some similarities to Woody. Both were in charge of the toys at their location (Woody, Andy's House and later Bonnie's House; Lotso, Daisy's House and later Sunnyside), both were deeply devoted to their owners, and both ended up being replaced by their former owner. However, Woody never gave up on Andy, while Lotso gave up on Daisy. Had Woody let his fear of being replaced get to him, he would have ended up being just as cruel and evil as Lotso.
- Coincidentally, Lotso's persona was very similar to that of Woody's original rendition in Toy Story, specifically his characterization in the Black Friday showing. Also by coincidence, both characters also ended up toned up/toned down for the final version due to unexpected events during a test screening (Woody was originally an immense jerk and lacking of compassion, but toned down after the Black Friday reel nearly shut down production of Toy Story; Lotso, likewise, had his cruelty amplified after test audiences sympathized with Lotso and wanted him to push the button to show that he got exactly what he deserved).
- In the read-along version of Toy Story 3, Lotso's final scene on the garbage truck is never shown.
- Lotso's backstory is slightly similar to the original story of Peter Pan. In said story, Peter Pan was accidentally abandoned as a baby, and after he came back to his parents (after gaining the ability to fly), he saw through an open window that his parents had another child. However, unlike Peter Pan, Lotso became evil when he saw that he was replaced and use manipulation on the other toys to gain power.