My brothers and also I were in optimal childhood once Stitch came to be a superstar. His franchise was, at once and out of the blue, our everything. Now in my mid-20s, the summertime seemed an appropriate season to revisit several of those memories, therefore I newly viewed all four Lilo & Stitch films. Here’s a break down of each movie, some points you may not know about their origins, and also what i was surprised come remember.

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The Films

Lilo & StitchReleased: June 21, 2002Studio: Walt Disney computer animation Studios (formerly Walt Disney feature Animation)Directed by: kris Sanders and Dean DeBlois

This is it. The movie that released a phenomenon. True to few of their stylistic tropes (which would later on be seen in DreamWorks’ How come Train her Dragon in 2010), directors kris Sanders and Dean DeBlois craft the ultimate misfit story around two outcasts who uncover friendship in one another and together develop a broken ‘ohana. Lilo & Stitch‘s existence even feels inherently misfit-ish, having actually been made in ~ Disney’s satellite campus. Despite still under the main banner of Walt Disney computer animation Studios, the film to be entirely developed at Walt Disney civilization in Florida (as to be 1998’s Mulan and 2003’s Brother Bear).


Lilo & Stitch to be the anomaly of the early 2000s. In a decade significant with underperforming box-office receipts and also murky studio relationships, this to be the Disney animated film the stood out as an uncontested hit. Walt Disney computer animation Studios (at the time recognized as Walt Disney feature Animation) wasn’t pump out standard after standard like they had in the ’90s. If Pixar was developing hits because that Disney, the Disney/Pixar connection was strained and the studios’ future together was unsure at the time. With little to use as a starting point for other arms of Disney’s synergy machine, the company’s miscellaneous television, layout park, and also live production departments all latched on at the same time to the one thing that did well and completely owned through Disney: Lilo & Stitch. The result was numerous years of Stitch mania.

It’s essential to note that while every four Lilo & Stitch movies are official sanctioned “Disney” movies, they’re actually developed by three separate entities in ~ the corporation: Walt Disney computer animation Studios, Disneytoon Studios, and also Disney tv Animation. Like I said, everyone want in ~ above the Lilo & Stitch craze. Together we discuss each movie, we’ll delve into just how these competing interpretations brought about a lack of a consistent vision. We’ll likewise attempt to answer a question: Is over there a Lilo & Stitch universe through a solitary narrative thread? Or carry out these films contradict every other?


Stitch! The MovieReleased: august 26, 2003Studio: Disney tv AnimationDirected by: Tony Craig and also Roberts Gannaway

This film’s location would’ve made a lot much more sense if that accompanying television display had stuck to its original title, Stitch! The Series. Instead, the display was abridged into Lilo & Stitch: The Series, though Stitch! The Movie retained its initial formatting.

No matter what you contact it, this 64-minute story served as the pilot episode of the succeeding Disney Channel series. Together such, that was developed by Disney television Animation, a studio that typically sticks come half-hour programming rather than full-length features. It made that debut on DVD one month before the tv premiere that Lilo & Stitch: The Series.

Directors Tom Craig and also Roberts Gannaway to be no strangers come adapting famed Disney characters for more exploration, both having credits because that Timon & Pumbaa101 Dalmatians: The Series, and House that Mouse. Both ongoing to add to the franchise together executive producers on Lilo & Stitch: The Series.


Stitch! The Movie doesn’t effort to call a complete, self-contained story, however rather actors the vision for the premise the the series, which it succeeds in doing. That asks the question, “If Stitch was Experiment 626, what happened to the other 625 experiments?” It turns out Jumba in reality stored castle all, inactive as little pods, but as lucky would have it, all 625 pods get released. As soon as exposed come water (which over there is many of in the Hawaiian islands), the experiments activate, each through its own special power. Lilo and also Stitch take it upon themselves to locate the experiments, or “cousins,” and find each of castle a home where they have the right to truly belong. Each illustration of the collection highlighted a brand-new cousin.

Stitch! The Movie returns virtually the entire actors of Lilo & Stitch while including in the evil Dr. Hamsterveil and also the lazy, sandwich-loving Experiment 625, both that whom would certainly go on to be part of the TV show’s key cast. It takes an investment in the town hall the entirety television series (or at least a grasp of episodes) to really reap Stitch! The Movie best, feeling rightfully the end of context without viewing the very deliverable it exist to set up. The inherently has actually a tv feel come it, though it walk feel favor a bit much more than watching back-to-back episodes many thanks to a generous helping of Alan Silvestri’s score from Lilo & Stitch, which adds a sense of grandeur to the action.


Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch has a GlitchReleased: respectable 30, 2005Studio: Disneytoon StudiosDirected by: Michael LaBash and also Tony Leondis

When Disney announced Lilo & Stitch 2, there was one glaring question: Wasn’t there already a Lilo & Stitch 2? and thus comes the story of probably the many problematic entry right into the Lilo & Stitch fold, not since of its contents itself but because of how it disrupts the flow of one otherwise steady franchise.

Lilo & Stitch 2 was occurred by Disneytoon Studios, a completely separate reality from Disney tv Animation, the latter of which had produced Stitch! The Movie and, at the time of Lilo & Stitch 2‘s release, to be still very much producing Lilo & Stitch: The Series. For far better or because that worse, Lilo & Stitch 2 completely ignores the events of both of those DTA projects.

In fact, Lilo & Stitch 2 feeling downright rebellious versus DTA’s initiatives toward the franchise. The computer animation is better. The 625 experiment aren’t simply not a key presence, they’re altogether absent, not pointed out at all. Even the architecture of the home and also the location of Lilo and also Stitch’s bedroom are various from Stitch! The Movie. So… execute they coexist? space they contradictory? We’ll delve right into this an ext later in the short article after discussing the last entry in the film series.


What’s more, Lilo & Stitch 2 attempts come deepen the emotional rooting the the principal cast rather than increase the story in a totally new kingdom like Stitch! The Movie set the end to do. Taking what us might call a Pixarian approach, Lilo & Stitch 2 only continues the story of Lilo & Stitch through personalities that organization the new story taking place. This way no outer space, no Cobra Bubbles, and also no Gantu. Those may have actually served their purpose in the very first film, however would lock really continue to be component of the characters’ lives? (Well, follow to Disney Television animation they would, however to Disneytoon, supposedly not.)

Lilo & Stitch 2 boldly carries a tires tone, addressing Lilo’s mother’s death very directly and delving into Lilo’s ongoing grief. She strives to do her mommy proud by continuing her heritage in a regional hula contest, i beg your pardon her mother won once she was she age. Distracting her from hula prep, though, is Stitch’s inexplicable “glitching,” his eye glowing eco-friendly as monster-like actions overcomes that in repeated chaotic instances. With no main villain and the dispute being largely situational between the key cast, at plenty of points this feels favor a hangout movie. Lilo wants to be better. Stitch desires to be better. Their aid to assist one an additional is largely an interior arc, in ~ times bring about a calm speed that certainly leans right into the Hawaiian DNA the the franchise quite than its intergalactic side.

Interestingly, while every trailers, posters, covering art, and also any point out of this sequel refer to its full title as Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch has actually a Glitch, the actual title as it appears onscreen in ~ the start of the film only says Lilo & Stitch 2. There’s no main word as to why, however my guess would certainly be the subtitle was a post-production decision to identify the movie to audiences with clever but informative language that says loud and clear this isn’t the exact same movie you already bought two years front (even despite you might’ve understandably believed that that previously movie was “Lilo & Stitch 2”).


Lilo & Stitch 2 was directed by Michael LaBash and also Tony Leondis. LaBash would certainly go ~ above to be a story artist v Walt Disney computer animation Studios, functioning on such jobs as Prep & Landing, Bolt, and Tangled. Leondis would certainly go ~ above to straight The Emoji Movie in ~ Sony and, if it had released, would have also directed DreamWorks’ B.O.O.: office of Otherworldly Operations.

Lilo below is no voiced by Daveigh Chase, that voiced the heroine in all various other Lilo & Stitch projects. Instead, she’s shown by Dakota Fanning, star the Charlotte’s Web simply one year later and who many recently, 14 years later, appeared alongside Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino’s Once top top a Time in Hollywood.

In one last observation, Lilo & Stitch 2 includes the “hero dies and also then is revitalized miraculously” trope that was common for Disneytoon in ~ the time, below used for Stitch and used less than a year later on for Bambi in Bambi 2. As Stitch awakens top top his literal meaning deathbed moments after seemingly losing his life, Pleakley asks, “How is it possible?,” to which Jumba replies, “It’s not.” Did we really think he’d it is in gone? (Imagine exactly how truly rebellious it would certainly be if he was, though.)


Leroy & StitchReleased: June 23, 2006Studio: Disney tv AnimationDirected by: Tony Craig and also Roberts Gannaway

Craig and also Gannaway go back to the directors’ chairs to lid off the franchise through a surprisingly emotional finale, even if its title indicates something stunner or flimsy. To it is in sure, Leroy & Stitch still very much tote the action-packed, “Boom! Zap! Pow!,” Saturday-morning-cartoon feel of Lilo & Stitch: The Series quite than the emotionally resonance of Lilo & Stitch 2. But still, also disregarding its context as the send-off that a beloved franchise created by the “big leagues” the Walt Disney animation Studios and also simply viewing it as the series finale to an significant well-done Disney Channel show, Leroy & Stitch surprisingly soars. The reality that that carries the extra baggage within the larger Disney tradition is fitting all the more.

The mission Lilo and Stitch set out to carry out is currently complete. They uncovered a home, a location to belong, for all of Stitch’s cousins, every one of Jumba’s experiments. And so the time has come because that Stitch, Jumba, and Pleakley to return to the location they belong, outer space. What complies with is a touching exploration of how one discovers their place in the world and also how the definition of the word “family” can adapt to mean something we deliberately build roughly us. All the while, of course, Dr. Hamsteveil has escaped indigenous prison and also has a brand-new experiment that his own, Leroy –– an alien whose stamin rivals that of Stitch, and who might finally it is in the an essential to Hamsterveil’s revenge ~ above Stitch and also company. The story feel as much like a finale as any finishing tv episode should, and also how cool the Disney come permit an entire feature’s length to this conclusion quite than border it to a constant episode as it for this reason easily might have. It also smartly roots its orgasm in the franchise’s Elvis heritage. This thing simply gets the right.


Unlike Stitch! The Movie, i m sorry debuted on DVD, Leroy & Stitch in reality premiered on Disney Channel numerous days before its DVD release. Its DVD cover art hails it together a “Disney Channel Premiere Presentation” (language that’s just used here in this diverted instance), but it’s curious to keep in mind that Leroy & Stitch is not considered a Disney Channel original Movie (language used consistently to refer to Disney Channel’s canon of films originating top top the network, additionally called DCOMs). In 2011, Phineas and Ferb: across the 2nd Dimension debuted as a made-for-TV-movie created by Disney Television animation based ~ above an currently Disney Channel series. Regardless of the truth that that shared every one of those descriptors with Leroy & Stitch, ultimately Across the second Dimension DID knife the DCOM distinction, even though Leroy & Stitch did not. Who’s come say the rhyme of factor behind it, but for what it’s worth, Leroy & Stitch is not officially a DCOM.


The Timeline

It’s time to unleash her inner Enneagram form 4 and also get real analytical for a sec. Remember once I said we’d talk around how if every one of the Lilo & Stitch movies exist together or contradict each other, just how if there’s a consistent Lilo & Stitch cinematic universe? Let’s execute this.

When the comes down to it, it’s Lilo & Stitch 2 (2005) that really throws points off here. If removed from the equation, all the remaining content –– Lilo & Stitch (2002), Stitch! The Movie! (2003), Lilo & Stitch: The Series (2003-2006), and Leroy & Stitch (2006) –– flow together both chronologically and also sequentially without error. An problem arises, as we touch on earlier, with Lilo & Stitch 2 ignoring everything that come after 2002, begging the question of as soon as it takes place.

The ago cover of Lilo & Stitch 2‘s DVD cases it takes place prior to Stitch! The Movie. Its story summary begins, “Before the various other 625 experiments land in Hawaii, Stitch is life the an excellent life.” It then goes on to summarize the remainder of the film’s plot.

Looking closely, though, this doesn’t include up. I propose the opposite. If Disney copywriting may tell us otherwise, I believe that Lilo & Stitch 2 takes place after the events of every little thing else in the entire franchise. Here’s the proof:

In the opened moments the Stitch! The Movie, Lilo preps Stitch because that what she states is his first big Hawaiian celebration. There room other comparable asides in Stitch! The Movie that allude to Stitch gift very new to Earth and also not accustomed to Lilo’s culture. He’s really much quiet adjusting to his new life in one ‘ohana. In Lilo & Stitch 2, there is no such battle for Stitch. If Lilo & Stitch 2 really takes location before Stitch! The Movie, then it doesn’t make sense for Stitch come be totally unfamiliar v earthly personalizeds in Stitch! The Movie because he’s had plenty of practice with them.


Another hints is Nani and David’s relationship status. At the finish of the first Lilo & Stitch, Nani and also David space left in limbo, but undeniably interested in one another. In Stitch! The Movie, David begins to ask Nani out on a date, implying the they haven’t officially dated yet. In Lilo & Stitch 2, David says that he and Nani have been dating for 3 weeks. This would suggest that Lilo & Stitch 2 takes ar after Stitch! The Movie (and that throughout the entire run that Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Nani had negative David still in the friendzone). However, it’s also possible that Nani and David had actually an on-again, off-again relationship, in which case David asking the end Nani in Stitch! The Movie can be read as an effort to gain back the relationship quite than start it. The an initial theory around the couple seems much more plausible, though.

Furthermore, in Lilo & Stitch 2, there’s a line around Pleakley prioritizing a day at house to do “research about Earth.” as soon as I an initial observed this line, it seemed to unravel my concept that Lilo & Stitch 2 takes place after every little thing else. After ~ all, why would certainly Pleakley must research planet if he’s lived below for several years at the point? However, us could also conclude that Pleakley’s pursuit to know everything about Earth is a never-ending pursuit, his life’s passion that will constantly be in motion. Pleakley is an over-the-top, hyperbolic personality. He goes all in ~ above everything, and also nothing is no a huge deal. It still provides sense, then, that even after gift a resides for rather a lengthy time, he’d still, maybe comically, treat his planet research as his highest possible priority. This keeps the concept in tact: If we read things this way, Lilo & Stitch 2 takes location after the occasions of Stitch! The MovieLilo & Stitch: The Series, and Leroy & Stitch.


Does it matter when it every takes place? the it necessary that everything line up? In short, no. Especially when the official communication from Disney itself doesn’t add up, ns don’t think it’s important to determine a cinematic universe, if us were to call it that, of Lilo & Stitch media. Still, if we’re paying close attention, we have the right to posit our very own order that events, also if they’re various from what Disney tells us and also likely various from what the filmmakers strategized (if they thought through any of that in the an initial place).

Certainly it’s challenging to maintain consistency across all media in ~ a large conglomerate like Disney, when a story take away on brand-new life in various mediums beyond its initial theatrical film. Heck, for years Walt Disney world displayed a major plot hole in calling Stitch through his planet name in Stitch’s good Escape!, i beg your pardon in the timeline was an alleged to take place while Experiment 626 was still in outer space, prior to Lilo adopted him. If the company is obviously “non-canon” in some mediums, then, is it essential that it stay with a thoroughfare object for jobs that exist through the same tool (in our case, film)? I expect not. Only on a fan website would someone care as much to write or check out such a conversation, and also yet that’s what renders a room like a fan website so funny sometimes.


The Legacy

In 2002, Lilo & Stitch was the biggest thing Disney had going for itself. I mean, come on. It common a summer through The nation Bears. This franchise would certainly be the footing Disney required to preserve its reputation as a company that could flourish a franchise throughout a period when it frankly couldn’t turn to any kind of other pundit property to fill the void. The animation renaissance (and Renaissance) of the ’90s was past, no yet on certain footing was Disney and Pixar’s relationship, and also not yet arrived was the onslaught that live-action Disney Channel juggernauts like High institution Musical and Hannah Montana that would carry the corporation into the remainder of the decade. Lilo & Stitch, this somewhat basic misfit story, ended up being the centerpiece of a multibillion-dollar operation.

Stitch himself became the poster boy for Disney characters, regularly showing up alongside Mickey and friends in merchandise and also promotional campaigns as if he’d starred together them in standard cartoons their entire careers, as lot as Donald or Pluto. Stitch came to be the 2000s indistinguishable of i get it Rabbit, the as-of-yet-not-materialized 2010s version of Olaf, the token who was unexpectedly everywhere and who world either love or hated. This notion especially involved his existence in Disney theme parks, the most far-reaching of which was the aforementioned Stitch’s good Escape!, a sensory overload throughout which guests remained in stationary seats v a harness over their shoulders together the room turned dark and Stitch “roamed” about, watch jumping top top shoulders, burping in faces, and altogether bring about mayhem. The attraction opened up in 2004 through an really defacing of Cinderella Castle, Stitch having teepeed the iconic framework overnight. (Yes, this to be a actual thing the happened). Stitch’s great Escape! haunted vacation memories of families through 2016, as soon as it changed to seasonal status prior to closing permanently.


In Asia, the Lilo & Stitch franchise continued to return evergreen much much longer than in America. It continued to be adapted with two added television series: Stitch! (2008-2015) in Japan and Stitch & Ai (2017) in China, both created by non-Disney animation houses yet sanctioned as Disney productions. These programs pair Stitch with brand-new children he groups up v in each of their respective locales, no in Hawaii. Even if it is or not the mirrors see it possible to coexist in a proceeding canon of kinds is past my level that understanding, though it’s noteworthy that Stitch & Ai was co-directed by Tony Craig, a veteran the the franchise.

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Surely the longstanding legacy will beam radiant v the original 2002 classic that began it all, though if future generations search difficult enough, they’ll discover plenty of fun (and an same maddening dissertation in timeline continuity) v the franchise’s spinoff productions. Then again, we might see a rebirth in popularity sooner than we think, if the promised live-action work again, please again is tho in development. In any kind of case, Lilo & Stitch is the definitive Disney pinnacle for a generation that fans, and as 2000s nostalgia begins to to happen in the comes years, ns hope the franchise it s okay its deserved credit transaction for gift a lone-standing, vital bridge between important eras of Disney history.