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Franchise / Gremlins

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Gremlins is a Horror Comedy franchise created by Joe Dante and Steven Spielberg.

It is centered around the mythical Mogwai and the creatures they spawn if wet, the Gremlins. While principally composed of two feature films, it has branched out into other media, including video games, theme park rides, and animation.



Theme Parks

Video Games

  • Gremlins 2: The New Batch
  • Gremlins: Stripe vs. Gizmo
  • Gremlins: Gizmo

Western Animation

Characters from the franchise also appeared in LEGO form in the video game LEGO Dimensions with Gizmo and Stripe reprised by Howie Mandel and Frank Welker. Gizmo and Stripe also appear as playable characters in MultiVersus both voiced by Daniel Ross.

For the trope, see Griping About Gremlins.


  • Adaptational Heroism: Daffy and Lenny, while arguably the least malicious of the known mogwai, were still antagonistic and ultimately evolved into dangerous Gremlins in the second film. In the Gremlins: Gizmo video game, they are Eternals you can choose to take control of like Gizmo.
  • Alien Blood: The gremlins bleed (often copious amounts) of green goo, even though the mogwai bleed red.
  • All There in the Manual: Several of the Mogwai and Gremlins are only given names via merchandise or the novelisations. The beady eyed second in command in the first film is called Haskins, while the one tested on by Mr Hanson is called Earl. The second film's initial spawn of Mogwai are Mohawk, George, Lenny and Daffy.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Emphasis on "chaotic" in the case of any of the Mogwai/Gremlins who aren't Gizmo. Emphasis on "evil" when it comes to Stripe and Mohawk. That said, the other Gremlins do not exactly weep over killed comrades.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: The novelization says that Mogwai are incapable of killing each other. However, this is averted by the Gremlins, who aren't safe even from each other. They're frequently shown murdering one of their own or doing things like throwing acid in another Gremlin's face.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The first Mogwai is bought from a Chinese shop. "Mo-Gwai" is Cantonese for "devil."
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Mogwai and gremlins don't operate under normal biological rules. Most forms of light are painful to them, and sunlight is outright fatal, they reproduce asexually just from contacting water, and they metamorphosize from the former to the latter just by eating after midnight. The novelization justifies this by saying they are literally aliens.
  • Celestial Deadline: Mogwai shall not be fed "after midnight", lest they turn into Gremlins. Nothing is said about when you can feed them again. Sunrise, maybe? Lampshaded in the second movie, when the security crew mocks Billy by coming up with various scenarios, such as eating on a plane and passing into another time zone.
  • Cute Is Evil: The cuteness of the Mogwai blinds people to the fact that they could possibly be dangerous.
  • Explosive Breeder: Mogwai start to pop out new mogwai whenever they get wet. Gremlins do this too, and they make more gremlins rather than mogwai.
  • Expressive Ears: The Gremlins and Mogwai have very large, expressive ears that are often used to display their mood, like pulling their ears back when startled. They can also swivel them in any direction to better detect sounds, so it's difficult to sneak up on them.
  • The Fair Folk: The novelisations outright state that the Mogwai/Gremlins are their direct inspiration, and they are modelled after a particular fey creature anyways. If you consider the novels' statements about them being aliens to be true, then they also reference the similarities between traditional fairies and the grays.
  • Genetic Memory: Gremlins, as part of their nature, are born with the capacity to understand the interworkings of machinery and how to sabotage it. As well as an apparently instinctive grasp and love of pop culture.
  • The Genie Knows Jack Nicholson: In spades; both Gizmo and the Gremlins are huge pop culture junkies. This quality is exaggerated and highlighted in the second film.
  • Gorn: The Gremlins have green blood and guts, which leaves them open to extremely gory deaths that only get more gruesome in the sequel.
  • Horror Hates a Rulebreaker: The series is a classic example of this trope/genre of horror. The adorable little Mogwai named Gizmo had a number of rules that anyone taking care of one needed to know.
    • The first rule was never to place a Mogwai near bright light, especially sunlight as that would kill them.
    • The second rule was never to get any water on them or have them drink it, as this was their primary means of reproduction, and when this rule was broken, it resulted in a number of Mogwai getting born from Gizmo's back who weren't nearly as nice as him.
    • The third and final rule was never to feed a Mogwai after midnight (something the new Mogwai tricked the protagonist into doing by means of ripping the wires out of a mains-powered analog clock), because that would result in the Mogwai undergoing a transformation into one of the eponymous Gremlins. The key to defeating them turned out to be weaponizing the first rule, which worked on both Mogwai and Gremlins alike.
  • I'm Melting!: Prolonged exposure to sunlight causes gremlins to melt. For added points Gremlins 2 has one dressed as a witch recite the trope namer as he melts.
  • Incongruously-Dressed Zombie: Whenever a Gremlin bothers to wear clothes, it's liable to be this trope. The bar scenes from the first movie in features Gremlin bar floozies, Gremlin beatniks, a Gremlin in a Flashdance outfit, a ski-masked Gremlin armed robber, and even a Gremlin flasher.
  • Inevitably Broken Rule: The three rules of keeping a Mogwai: never expose them to light, never get them wet, and never ever feed them after midnight. The breaking of the second and third rules causes the Gremlin infestation, while the breaking of the first rule ends it.
  • Infantilization Retaliation: Gizmo gets water spilled on him, and promptly spawns several Gremlin eggs. While initially cute, they actually hatch into Mogwai, where the ominous music, Gizmo's pained screaming, and the malevolent gazes of the babies as they hatch lets the audience these new Gremlins are very different from Gizmo. Billy's little brother thinks they're cute, and reaches towards one while saying "Hi Cutie". It promptly snaps at his finger.
  • It Amused Me: The main motivation behind the Gremlins' actions. Most of them aren't inherently evil - it's just that they are The Unfettered in their pursuit of fun, resulting in it often involving wanton destruction.
  • It Can Think: A lot of the problems arise from the human characters fatally underestimating the Gremlins' intelligence. After the evil Mogwai are spawned, they trick Billy into feeding them after midnight by sabotaging his analog clock, and on several other occasions they damage equipment to cause accidents, like cutting the brakes of a police car. Stripe knows full well that water creates more Gremlins, so he jumps into a pool when Billy pursues him, and also knows how to operate tools (he attacks Billy with a pistol and a mini-chainsaw).
  • Killer Rabbit: The mogwai, save for Gizmo. Gizmo himself qualifies when he Takes a Level in Badass and models himself after Rambo.
  • Knight of Cerebus: While the Gremlins are played for violent laughs in general, both Stripe and Mohawk are played deadly straight.
  • Laughably Evil: Most gremlins in general. They're both incredibly dangerous and very funny.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Sunlight kills mogwai and gremlins who are also afraid of bright lights. Water splashed onto either of the two produces more creatures spawned from their backs. Feeding a mogwai after midnight causes it to metamorphosize into a gremlin. This gets played with in the second movie.
  • Mammal Monsters Are More Heroic: While Gizmo is the only truly heroic Mogwai, it's clear that part of the reason why he remains heroic is because he never transforms into a Gremlin, which are larger and more muscular, obviously reptilian with scales instead of fur, and sharp claws and fangs. In an earlier draft, Gizmo would have become a Gremlin and tried to kill Billy.
  • Metamorphosis Monster: The Mogwai transform if fed after midnight.
  • Monster Delay: In both films, we at first don't see much if anything of the gremlins except glimpses of their arms and shadows and hearing their voices after their cocoons hatch. After a short time, we finally see them in all their monstrous glory, and from then on they get a lot of screen-time for the rest of either film. This trope's re-use in the second film remains effective due to the four metamorphosing mogwai's unique appearances.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You:
    • While no one seems to make a big deal out of who kills what gremlin, it always seems to be Gizmo's destiny to be the one to destroy the lead gremlin which seems to be his main rival.
    • For that matter, while some manage to kill at least one gremlin, it always seems to be Billy's plan that exterminates the entire horde of gremlins except the leader.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The fluffy mammal-like Mogwai outside of Gizmo are already depicted as a malicious bunch, but they become an unstoppable horde who create havoc in the town and kill several people only after they're turned into fierce reptilian-esque Gremlins.
  • Restraining Bolt: In the novelization, Stripe tells Gizmo right to his face that he wants to kill him but can't for some reason. Gizmo explains that their alien creators made sure that Mogwai could never kill each other. That Restraining Bolt vanishes after Stripe becomes a Gremlin, since he isn't a Mogwai anymore.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The mogwai, particularly Gizmo. At least before they have an after-midnight snack.
  • Species Title: About the odd creatures with a penchant for havoc and terror.
  • Threw My Bike on the Roof: In addition to enjoying scaring people, gremlins seem to like wrecking property just to be dicks.

Alternative Title(s): Gremlins Unleashed