The sad fate of Officer Rib Tickles, the dog cop who was too funny for ‘Toy Story 4’

Woody and the gang are on a mission to save Forky, a plaything made from a spork, in “Toy Story 4.” Pixar

Steel yourself for the sad tale of Officer Rib Tickles, the victim of a double crime.

“Toy Story 4” audiences were meant to mourn the dog cop character who had been  swallowed by a cat. Then the whole character was cut from the Pixar film, which gets its digital release Tuesday, arriving on Blu-ray Oct. 8.

“It pained me to take Rib Tickles out,” says director Josh Cooley.

Officer Tickles was supposed to star as the beloved former partner of Officer Giggle McDimples (voiced by Ally Maki), the miniature head of Pet Patrol and main confidante of Bo Peep (Annie Potts).

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Rib Tickles was eaten by a cat in "Toy Story 4" and then ended up on the cutting room floor.

Rib Tickles was eaten by a cat in “Toy Story 4” and then ended up on the cutting room floor. (Photo: PIXAR)

There was depth and pathos to this cop story. The usually chirpy McDimples recalled losing her partner prior to the movie: Officer Tickles had been eaten by the toy-hating cat who guarded the antique store.

“We had this film noir-like scene where Giggle just stares at a picture of Rib Tickles on her desk,” says Cooley. “She’s lost in thought and says, ‘Officer Rib Tickles, best darn cop that the Pet Patrol ever had.’ “

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Adds Valerie LaPointe, the head of the film’s story: “And there was a joke in there, of (Rib’s death) happening right before his retirement, playing into the cop tropes of movies and TV.”

Cooley even had Maki voice Giggle’s mournful ode to her lost partner.

Rib’s role was supposed to blossom during the film’s major action sequence where Woody (Tom Hanks) and Bo break into the antique store to rescue the kidnapped Forky (Tony Hale). The same cat swallowed Giggle in the mayhem, but the officer was coughed out and escaped.

Woody (left, voiced by Tom Hanks) rekindles his relationship with Bo Peep (Annie Potts) and meets her best friend Giggle McDimples (Ally Maki) in "Toy Story 4."

Woody (left, voiced by Tom Hanks) rekindles his relationship with Bo Peep (Annie Potts) and meets her best friend Giggle McDimples (Ally Maki) in “Toy Story 4.” (Photo: PIXAR)

The filmmakers had come up with a twist where, after Giggle was expelled, Rib, too, was shockingly coughed out of the cat, alive and well.

Rough versions of the scene were previewed internally, which went over big with much laughter. The director dreamed of casting Pixar regular Flea (of Red Hot Chili Peppers) to voice the dog, the final cherry on the joke.

But the hilarious segment was ultimately deemed a distraction from the main story.

“It was too funny. It felt like a large set-up for something we were not fully paying off,” says Cooley, ruefully. “We worked so hard to craft a moment, capture it with timing, and it played great.”

Eagle-eyed Pixar fans have noticed Rib Tickles made it onto some “Toy Story 4” merchandise. But the dog never had his movie moment.

There’s a happy final note, however. Rib Tickles will appear this fall in the Disney+ spinoff short film series “Forky Asks A Question,” now as a female officer voiced by Aloma Wright. Producer Mark Nielsen says the clueless Forky will ask Rib, “What is a pet?”

“We’re able to give Rib new life,” says Nielsen. “What was a ‘Toy Story 4’ tragedy is a gain for the ‘Forky’ short films.”

The prospect thrills Cooley. “I love that Rib exists somewhere within the universe,” he says.

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