He is a pull-string cowboy doll based on a character of the same name from a 1950s children’s television series called Woody’s Roundup. In the original story pitch of Toy Story, Woody had a markedly more distasteful personality; having the character of one whom had let his role as “leader” go to his head and had little compassion towards his peers.
He was once the favorite toy of a boy named Andy Davis until Andy grew up and gave him to a little girl named Bonnie Anderson.
He is the leader of Andy’s toys and later Bonnie’s toys. In each film, Woody leaves Andy’s room and ventures out into the world on an unexpected adventure.