My brothers and also I were in peak childhood once Stitch came to be a superstar. His franchise was, in ~ once and out that the blue, our everything. Now in my mid-20s, the summertime appeared an proper season to revisit few of those memories, so I recently viewed all 4 Lilo & Stitch films. Here’s a breakdown of each movie, some points you might not know around their origins, and what ns 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 also Dean DeBlois

This is it. The movie that released a phenomenon. True to some of their stylistic tropes (which would later be seen in DreamWorks’ How to Train your Dragon in 2010), directors chris Sanders and also Dean DeBlois handmade the ultimate misfit story about two outcasts who discover friendship in one another and together develop a damaged ‘ohana. Lilo & Stitch‘s existence even feels naturally misfit-ish, having actually been made in ~ Disney’s satellite campus. Though still under the official banner that Walt Disney computer animation Studios, the film was entirely developed at Walt Disney human being in Florida (as to be 1998’s Mulan and 2003’s Brother Bear).


Lilo & Stitch to be the anomaly the the early on 2000s. In a decade significant with underperforming box-office receipts and murky studio relationships, this was the Disney man film the stood out as an uncontested hit. Walt Disney animation Studios (at the time well-known as Walt Disney function Animation) wasn’t pump out standard after standard like they had actually in the ’90s. While Pixar was producing hits for Disney, the Disney/Pixar connection was strained and also the studios’ future together was unsure at the time. With little to usage as a starting point for other arms the Disney’s synergy machine, the company’s assorted television, layout park, and live production divisions all latched on all at once to the one point that did well and fully owned by Disney: Lilo & Stitch. The result was several years that Stitch mania.

It’s necessary to note that while every four Lilo & Stitch movies are officially sanctioned “Disney” movies, they’re actually produced by three different entities within the corporation: Walt Disney animation Studios, Disneytoon Studios, and Disney television Animation. Choose I said, everyone wanted in on the Lilo & Stitch craze. As we discuss each movie, we’ll cave into how these completing interpretations led to a lack of a constant vision. We’ll likewise attempt to answer a question: Is there a Lilo & Stitch universe v a solitary narrative thread? Or do these films contradict each other?


Stitch! The MovieReleased: respectable 26, 2003Studio: Disney television AnimationDirected by: Tony Craig and Roberts Gannaway

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

No matter what you call it, this 64-minute story offered as the pilot episode of the doing well Disney Channel series. Together such, the was produced by Disney television Animation, a studio that commonly sticks come half-hour programming rather than full-length features. It made its debut top top DVD one month before the television premiere that Lilo & Stitch: The Series.

Directors Tom Craig and Roberts Gannaway to be no strangers come adapting renowned Disney characters for additional exploration, both having actually credits for Timon & Pumbaa101 Dalmatians: The Series, and House the Mouse. Both continued to add to the franchise together executive producer on Lilo & Stitch: The Series.


Stitch! The Movie doesn’t effort to tell a complete, self-contained story, but rather cast the vision because that the premise that the series, which it succeeds in doing. The asks the question, “If Stitch was Experiment 626, what happened to the other 625 experiments?” It turns out Jumba in reality stored them all, inactive as small pods, but as luck would have it, all 625 pods acquire released. As soon as exposed to water (which over there is lot of of in the Hawaiian islands), the experiments activate, each with its own special power. Lilo and also Stitch take it upon us to locate the experiments, or “cousins,” and find each of lock a home where they have the right to truly belong. Each episode of the series highlighted a new cousin.

Stitch! The Movie returns practically the entire cast of Lilo & Stitch while adding in the angry Dr. Hamsterveil and also the lazy, sandwich-loving Experiment 625, both the whom would certainly go on to be part of the TV show’s main cast. The takes an invest in the town hall the whole television collection (or at the very least a handful of episodes) to really enjoy Stitch! The Movie best, feeling rightfully out of context without viewing the an extremely deliverable it exist to set up. The inherently has a tv feel to it, despite it walk feel like a bit an ext than the town hall back-to-back episodes thanks to a generous helping of Alan Silvestri’s score from Lilo & Stitch, which adds a feeling of grandeur come the action.


Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch has a GlitchReleased: august 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 come the story of probably the many problematic entry into the Lilo & Stitch fold, not since of its content itself but due to the fact that of how it disrupts the circulation of one otherwise steady franchise.

Lilo & Stitch 2 was developed by Disneytoon Studios, a fully separate reality from Disney tv Animation, the last of which had actually produced Stitch! The Movie and, at the time of Lilo & Stitch 2‘s release, to be still an extremely much producing Lilo & Stitch: The Series. For much better or for worse, Lilo & Stitch 2 fully ignores the events of both the those DTA projects.

In fact, Lilo & Stitch 2 feels downright rebellious against DTA’s efforts toward the franchise. The computer animation is better. The 625 experiment aren’t simply not a key presence, they’re completely absent, not pointed out at all. Even the architecture of the home and also the placement of Lilo and Stitch’s bedroom are various from Stitch! The Movie. So… do they coexist? space they contradictory? We’ll delve right into this much more later in the write-up after discussing the final entry in the film series.


What’s more, Lilo & Stitch 2 attempts come deepen the emotionally rooting the the principal cast rather than expand the story in a completely new realm like Stitch! The Movie set the end to do. Taking what we might call a Pixarian approach, Lilo & Stitch 2 only proceeds the story of Lilo & Stitch through personalities that organization the brand-new story taking place. This means no outer space, no Cobra Bubbles, and also no Gantu. Those may have served their purpose in the an initial film, however would they really continue to be part of the characters’ lives? (Well, according to Disney Television computer animation they would, yet to Disneytoon, apparently not.)

Lilo & Stitch 2 boldly carries a maturation tone, addressing Lilo’s mother’s death very directly and delving right into Lilo’s continued grief. She strives to make her mother proud by proceeding her tradition in a neighborhood hula contest, i m sorry her mom won when she was she age. Distracting she from hula prep, though, is Stitch’s inexplicable “glitching,” his eyes glowing environment-friendly as monster-like actions overcomes him in repetitive chaotic instances. With no central villain and the conflict being greatly situational in between the main cast, at countless points this feels like a hangout movie. Lilo desires to be better. Stitch desires to it is in better. Their assist to help one one more is mostly an inner arc, in ~ times causing a calm speed that certainly leans into the Hawaiian DNA that the franchise fairly than that is intergalactic side.

Interestingly, while all trailers, posters, covering art, and any point out of this sequel refer to its full title as Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch, the yes, really title as it shows up onscreen in ~ the beginning of the film just says Lilo & Stitch 2. There’s no official word regarding why, yet my guess would certainly be the caption was a post-production decision to differentiate the movie to audiences through clever but informative language that says loud and also clear this isn’t the same movie you already bought two years former (even despite you might’ve understandably believed that that earlier movie was “Lilo & Stitch 2”).


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

Lilo below is not voiced through Daveigh Chase, who voiced the heroine in all other Lilo & Stitch projects. Instead, she’s portrayed by Dakota Fanning, star the Charlotte’s Web just one year later and also who most recently, 14 year later, appeared alongside Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino’s Once upon a Time in Hollywood.

In one critical observation, Lilo & Stitch 2 includes the “hero dies and also then is restored miraculously” trope the was typical for Disneytoon in ~ the time, here used because that Stitch and also used less than a year later on for Bambi in Bambi 2. As Stitch awakens top top his literal deathbed moment after seemingly shedding his life, Pleakley asks, “How is it possible?,” come which Jumba replies, “It’s not.” Did we really think he’d it is in gone? (Imagine just how truly rebellious it would be if he was, though.)


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

Craig and Gannaway return to the directors’ chairs to lid off the franchise with a surprisingly poignant finale, even if that is title suggests something silly or flimsy. To it is in sure, Leroy & Stitch still an extremely much carries the action-packed, “Boom! Zap! Pow!,” Saturday-morning-cartoon feeling of Lilo & Stitch: The Series rather than the emotional resonance of Lilo & Stitch 2. But still, also disregarding the context as the send-off that a lover franchise created by the “big leagues” the Walt Disney computer animation Studios and simply viewing it as the collection finale to an incredible well-done Disney Channel show, Leroy & Stitch surprisingly soars. The reality that the carries the extra baggage in ~ the bigger Disney tradition is fitting all the more.

The mission Lilo and Stitch collection out to perform is now complete. They found a home, a place to belong, for all of Stitch’s cousins, all of Jumba’s experiments. And so the time has actually come for Stitch, Jumba, and also Pleakley to go back to the ar they belong, outer space. What adheres to is a touching expedition of how one discovers their place in the world and also how the meaning of words “family” deserve to adapt to mean something we deliberately build about us. Every the while, of course, Dr. Hamsteveil has actually escaped indigenous prison and has a brand-new experiment the his own, Leroy –– an alien whose toughness rivals the of Stitch, and who can finally be the an essential to Hamsterveil’s revenge on Stitch and also company. The story feels as much like a finale as any type of finishing television episode should, and how cool of Disney to permit whole feature’s length to this conclusion rather than border it to a continuous episode together it for this reason easily can have. It also smartly root its orgasm in the franchise’s Elvis heritage. This thing simply gets the right.


Unlike Stitch! The Movie, which debuted top top DVD, Leroy & Stitch actually premiered on Disney Channel number of days prior to its DVD release. Its DVD cover arts hails it as a “Disney Channel Premiere Presentation” (language that’s just used below in this isolated instance), however it’s curious to keep in mind that Leroy & Stitch is not considered a Disney Channel initial Movie (language provided consistently to refer to Disney Channel’s canon of films originating on the network, likewise called DCOMs). In 2011, Phineas and Ferb: across the 2nd Dimension debuted as a made-for-TV-movie developed by Disney Television computer animation based ~ above an present Disney Channel series. In spite of the truth that the shared every one of those descriptors with Leroy & Stitch, ultimately Across the second Dimension DID earn the DCOM distinction, even though Leroy & Stitch did not. Who’s come say the luck of reason behind it, however for what it’s worth, Leroy & Stitch is no officially a DCOM.


The Timeline

It’s time come unleash your inner Enneagram type 4 and get actual analytical for a sec. Remember once I claimed we’d talk about how if all of the Lilo & Stitch films exist with each other or contradict each other, how if there’s a consistent Lilo & Stitch cinematic universe? Let’s do this.

When it comes down to it, it’s Lilo & Stitch 2 (2005) that really throws things off here. If gotten rid of from the equation, all the continuing to be 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 there is no error. An problem arises, together we touch on earlier, with Lilo & Stitch 2 ignoring everything that come after 2002, begging the inquiry of as soon as it take away place.

The ago cover the Lilo & Stitch 2‘s DVD insurance claims it take away place before Stitch! The Movie. Its story description begins, “Before the various other 625 experiment land in Hawaii, Stitch is living the good life.” It climate goes ~ above to summarize the rest of the film’s plot.

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

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


Another hint is Nani and also David’s partnership status. In ~ the finish of the first Lilo & Stitch, Nani and David are left in limbo, but undeniably interested in one another. In Stitch! The Movie, David begins to questioning Nani out on a date, implying the they haven’t officially date yet. In Lilo & Stitch 2, David states that he and also Nani have been date for three weeks. This would suggest that Lilo & Stitch 2 takes place after Stitch! The Movie (and that during the entire run the Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Nani had bad David quiet in the friendzone). However, it’s also feasible that Nani and also David had an on-again, off-again relationship, in which situation David asking out Nani in Stitch! The Movie can be review as an effort to reclaim the relationship quite than start it. The very first theory around the pair seems an ext plausible, though.

Furthermore, in Lilo & Stitch 2, there’s a line around Pleakley prioritizing a work at residence to do “research around Earth.” when I very first observed this line, it appeared to unravel my theory that Lilo & Stitch 2 takes location after every little thing else. After all, why would Pleakley have to research earth if he’s lived below for number of years at the point? However, we could likewise conclude the Pleakley’s search to understand everything around Earth is a never-ending pursuit, his life’s enthusiasm that will always be in motion. Pleakley is an over-the-top, hyperbolic personality. The goes every in on everything, and also nothing is not a big deal. It still makes sense, then, that also after being a resides for rather a lengthy time, he’d still, probably comically, act his earth research as his highest possible priority. This keeps the theory in tact: If we check out things this way, Lilo & Stitch 2 takes ar after the events of Stitch! The MovieLilo & Stitch: The Series, and Leroy & Stitch.


Does it issue when it every takes place? it it essential that whatever line up? In short, no. Especially when the official communication from Disney itself doesn’t include up, ns don’t think it’s vital to identify a cinematic universe, if we were to contact it that, of Lilo & Stitch media. Still, if we’re paying close attention, we have the right to posit our very own order the events, also if they’re different from what Disney speak us and also likely various from what the filmmakers strategized (if they assumed through any kind of of it in the very first place).

Certainly it’s daunting to preserve consistency throughout all media in ~ a huge conglomerate choose Disney, when a story take away on brand-new life in miscellaneous mediums past its early theatrical film. Heck, because that years Walt Disney people displayed a significant plot feet in calling Stitch through his earth name in Stitch’s an excellent Escape!, i beg your pardon in the timeline was supposed to take location while Experiment 626 was still in outer space, before Lilo embraced him. If the firm is clearly “non-canon” in part mediums, then, is it necessary that it remain with a thoroughfare subject for tasks that exist with the same medium (in our case, film)? I intend not. Only on a fan site would someone care as much to compose or read such a conversation, and also yet that’s what renders a an are like a fan website so fun sometimes.


The Legacy

In 2002, Lilo & Stitch was the biggest thing Disney had going for itself. Ns mean, come on. It shared a summer v The country Bears. This franchise would certainly be the footing Disney necessary to preserve its reputation as a firm that might flourish a franchise during a duration when the frankly couldn’t revolve to any kind of other intellectual property to fill that void. The computer animation renaissance (and Renaissance) that the ’90s was past, not yet on for sure footing to be Disney and Pixar’s relationship, and not yet arrived to be the onslaught the live-action Disney Channel juggernauts like High institution Musical and Hannah Montana the would carry the corporation into the rest of the decade. Lilo & Stitch, this somewhat an easy misfit story, ended up being the centerpiece that a multibillion-dollar operation.

Stitch himself ended up being the poster son for Disney characters, regularly appearing alongside Mickey and also friends in merchandise and also promotional campaigns as if he’d starred alongside them in classic cartoons their entire careers, as lot as Donald or Pluto. Stitch became the 2000s indistinguishable of i get it Rabbit, the as-of-yet-not-materialized 2010s variation of Olaf, the figurehead who was all of sudden everywhere and also who world either loved or hated. This concept especially involved his existence in Disney design template parks, the most far-ranging of which was the aforementioned Stitch’s good Escape!, a sensory overload during which guests remained in stationary seats through a harness over their shoulders together the room turned dark and Stitch “roamed” about, seemingly jumping on shoulders, burping in faces, and also altogether leading to mayhem. The attraction opened in 2004 v an really defacing the Cinderella Castle, Stitch having actually teepeed the iconic framework overnight. (Yes, this to be a genuine thing that happened). Stitch’s an excellent Escape! haunted holidays memories of family members through 2016, as soon as it changed to seasonal status before closing permanently.


In Asia, the Lilo & Stitch franchise ongoing to return evergreen much longer than in America. It ongoing to be adjusted with two extr television series: Stitch! (2008-2015) in Japan and Stitch & Ai (2017) in China, both created by non-Disney computer animation houses but sanctioned together Disney productions. This programs pair Stitch with new children he groups up with in every of their particular locales, no in Hawaii. Even if it is or not the mirrors see it feasible to coexist in a proceeding canon of species is beyond my level that understanding, though it’s significant that Stitch & Ai to be co-directed through Tony Craig, a veteran of the franchise.

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Surely the longstanding heritage will beam radiant through the initial 2002 standard that began it all, despite if future generations search tough enough, they’ll discover plenty of funny (and an same maddening dissertation in timeline continuity) v the franchise’s spinoff productions. Then again, we might see a rebirth in popularity sooner 보다 we think, if the promised live-action remake is quiet in development. In any kind of case, Lilo & Stitch is the definitive Disney pinnacle because that a generation of fans, and as 2000s nostalgia begins to happen in the comes years, ns hope the franchise gets its deserved credit for being a lone-standing, necessary bridge between important ages of Disney history.