Gabby Gabby is an adorable, talking pull-string doll from the 1950s. But unfortunately for her, a manufacturing defect in her pull-string voice box has left her sounding anything but adorable. She has spent more than 60 years forgotten in the depths of a jam-packed antique store—her only companions are a band of voiceless ventriloquist dummies. Gabby Gabby knows someone will want her if only she can find a working voice box to repair hers.
The behind-the-scenes featurette "Gabby Gabby & Her Gang" further explained her backstory–she did have an owner who bought her new back in the late 1950s, but as it was discovered that she had a defective voice box, she was given away and eventually found herself in an antique store.
Befitting a girl's doll of her kind, Gabby generally speaks and acts in a polite and well-spoken manner, rarely if ever raising her voice towards others, let alone get angry, though she is generally viewed as a pariah among her toy peers at the antique shop, with some like Giggle McDimples referring to her as either a "creep" or a "weirdo", partly due to her association with the Bensons. Despite her initial antagonism towards Woody and the gang, she is of good character from within, only driven more by desperation from having been trapped in the antique store than genuinely malicious intent.
While she and her subordinates did resort to drastic measures in her attempt at getting the voice box she desired, she ultimately never intended to hurt anyone, instead handling situations in a professional manner, in one scene chastising her personal aide for hastily shoving Woody and Forky in her stroller, and in a later scene calmly reasoning with Woody over her need for a child to play with her. She reaches an agreement with Woody to surrender his voice box, and gives the cowboy doll's demands in return without any consequences, and unlike Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear, who became embittered and vengeful over being abandoned and forgotten, Gabby never showed any sort of negative sentiment or feelings of betrayal, despite being rejected by Harmony as an "uninteresting" doll. While she did feel disappointed and crushed by the rejection, Gabby accepts the fact that there is more to her world than just Harmony, and became open to being adopted by other girls.
Through this, it can be assumed that she is more of an anti-hero or a tragic anti-villain than an outright villain of malicious nature. Gabby's personality is in marked contrast to the heartless sadism of Lotso and the embittered resentment by Stinky Pete in previous films. Like Sid in the original film, who vowed never to hurt a toy again after being scarred for life from the toys who scared him into submission, Gabby accepts a chance to reform after being shown the error of her ways, voluntarily having herself adopted by a lost girl in atonement for her bad deeds.
She first encounters Woody and Forky when she and Benson are going out for their evening stroll. When she hears that Woody was looking for Bo Peep, she offers him a ride, initially offering to help Woody. But even though he refuses, she insists on it, and the Bensons – mute ventriloquist dummies who serve as her enforcers – put Woody and Forky into the carriage. It is then revealed that Gabby is in fact a defective talking doll who spent most of her existence having a malfunctioning voice box. As the years passed, Gabby had been sitting unused in the antique store, desperate to work again so that she can get adopted by Harmony, the granddaughter of the antique store owner whom is frequently given free toys from there.
Woody manages to escape from the antique store, while Forky is captured, who Gabby Gabby babysits and and quizzes him on everything he knows about Woody. When Harmony visits the store once again, playing tea with a nearby tea set, Gabby Gabby practices playing at the same time, Forky giving her pointers. Later, when Bo Peep, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Ducky, Bunny, and Duke Caboom rescue Forky, they run into Gabby Gabby, who wanted to talk with Woody.
After Woody's friends leave him, Woody agrees to give his voice box to Gabby, much to the latter's delight. After the Bensons remove his voice box, Gabby hugs Woody and thanks him warmly before bidding him and Forky a fond farewell. As Woody and Forky were about to sneak back into Bonnie's backpack, Forky watches Gabby from a distance as she calls for Harmony's attention by pulling the string on her newly-repaired voice box. Harmony notices Gabby and picks her up, but callously dismissed her as uninteresting and throws her aside in a box.
A despondent and defeated Gabby offers Woody to get his voice box back as she "doesn't need it anymore", but Woody insists she keep it. She tells Woody to stay away from her at first, but eventually joins the gang after she is offered a chance to be loved by Bonnie. Bo and the gang (except Buzz) return and help Woody and Gabby Gabby get to Bonnie's RV.
After Duke Caboom gets the gang to ground, Ducky and Bunny cue Gabby Gabby to a lost girl, who decides to keep her. The lost girl is reunited with her parents by a security guard and Gabby Gabby leaves with her new owner, proudly falling asleep on the child’s shoulder, as Bonnie and her family arrive back at the RV park.
Toy Story 4 comic
Gabby Gabby appears as a minor character in the tie-in comic, specifically in the prequel segment "Chip Off The Old Block" where her portrayal in the film as a sort-of crime boss is further shown. Bo Peep and Giggle McDimples were looking for Billy, Goat, and Gruff when they encounter Gabby and two of the Bensons who were blocking their way. It turns out that Bo Peep's sheep somehow wound up in Gabby's care; the doll politely handed them back to Bo and led them to Tinny's nightclub inside the pinball machine in exchange for a pearl necklace for Gabby to wear while playing dress-up.
- Despite her initial antagonistic role as manipulative and covetous, she wasn't actually evil throughout the film, as she neither abused nor tortured Forky or Billy, Goat, and Gruff. Also, she didn't hurt Woody while she got his voice box, as the Bensons worked carefully with him. Gabby also kept her promise to him as she released Forky and Bo Peep's sheep after she received his voice box.
- Gabby Gabby is based on Talky Tina from the The Twilight Zone episode "Living Doll", who is in turn based off the popular Chatty Cathy line of talking dolls from Mattel. Director Josh Cooley also cites Vito Corleone from The Godfather film series as an influence for Gabby's control over the Benson dummies who served as her enforcers.