Than on a surfboard out at sea
Lingering in the ocean blue
And if I had one wish come true
I'd surf till the sun sets
Beyond the horizon
ʻĀwikiwiki, mai lohilohi (Translation)
Lawe mai i ko papa heʻe nalu (Translation)
Flyin' by on the Hawaiian roller coaster ride
Lilo & Stitch (also named Disney Stitch or just Stitch, especially since 2021) is a Disney franchise that began in 2002 with the Disney Animated Canon film of the same name written and directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois.
It mainly features the adventures and antics of the eccentric and mischievous titular duo of Lilo Pelekai, an orphaned Hawaiian human girl who loves hula, surfing, horror and sci-fi B-movies, photography of tourists (especially the overweight), and Elvis Presley; and her "dog" Stitch, an illegally-made, genetically-engineered, blue-furred, koala-like alien creature originally called Experiment 626 who was initially made to cause intergalactic chaos and destruction before he met her. They live together in Kokaua Town, a small Hawaiian town on the island of Kauaʻi, with their equally quirky ʻohana, a Hawaiian term for a concept of the extended family. Their unique family primarily includes Lilo's overstressed but understanding older sister and legal guardian Nani, Stitch's four-eyed Mad Scientist/"Evil Genius" creator Dr. Jumba Jookiba, a one-eyed, three-legged, Earth-loving, effeminate alien called Wendy Pleakley, and Stitch's many genetic experiment "cousins" who were also created by Jumba.
The original film was a surprise and much-needed critical and commercial success for Disney; in the era when the first film was released, their feature animation studio wasn't doing so well after the Disney Renaissance ended in 1999. Upon the film becoming a hit, Disney quickly went to work on making a whole bunch of sequel material and marketed the living hell out of Stitch, which resulted in him becoming Disney's first iconic animated character of the 21st century.
Now about said sequel material, Disney had their TV animation studio begin work on a TV Sequel Series shortly before the first film was released in theaters. Said series, Lilo & Stitch: The Series—which is bookended by direct-to-video pilot Stitch! The Movie and television finale film Leroy & Stitch—aired on Disney Channel and the ABC Kids Saturday Morning Cartoon block from 2003 to 2006 for 65 episodes over two seasons. The Series had the titular duo find Jumba's other genetic experiments around Kauaʻi. The idea of genetic experiments made before Stitch was actually previously shown in prequel comics that were printed in Disney Adventures magazine and in a prequel spin-off game for PlayStation 2 released a couple days before the original film, but this show was the first to truly take on the idea in earnest. The duo's goal in this show is to find and capture all of Stitch's "cousins", reform them, name them, and put them into "one true places" where they are able to use their abilities for more productive purposes. They also fight off the twenty-foot-tall ex-captain Gantu from the first film, as he and his reluctant sandwich-loving sidekick Experiment 625, known nowadays as "Reuben", are going after Stitch's "cousins" on behalf of Jumba's ex-partner in crime, the tyrannical gerbil-like* alien Dr. Jacques von Hämsterviel. Having previously funded the experiments' creation, Hämsterviel wants them back for himself so he can take over the galaxy. Notably, the show's second season featured crossovers with four other Disney animated shows: Kim Possible, The Proud Family, and American Dragon: Jake Long (all fellow Disney Channel Original Series), and Recess (originally from ABC Kids' predecessor, One Saturday Morning).
In addition, during the creation of The Series, another direct-to-video film was made and released in 2005 called Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch. Taking place shortly after the original film—effectively acting as a direct sequel—and before Stitch! The Movie,note Stitch Has a Glitch shows that Stitch was never fully charged during his creation and suffers fits that revert him to his original programming. Unless he is recharged, he will shut down permanently. Also included on the DVD was a short film, The Origin of Stitch, which also takes place before Stitch! The Movie, acting as a bridge between the two films.
After Lilo & Stitch: The Series and the original parts of the franchise ended in 2006, Lilo & Stitch became a flash in the pan to North Americans (especially as computed-animated films became the norm), so Disney would go on to create various spin-offs for East Asian markets, where the franchise achieved its greatest popularity. These spin-offs had Stitch ending up in the countries where those shows were produced, having him paired with other humans who replace Lilo as his new best friend. They also completely shifted the franchise's tone from comic science fiction with a realistic, dramatic bent, to a Lighter and Softer (and sometimes Denser and Wackier) Science Fantasy.note
The first of these two shows, a Japanese anime series called Stitch!, aired from 2008 to 2011 for 83 episodes over three seasons (plus five additional specials; one post-season special for each of the three seasons, and another two post-series TV specials broadcasted in 2012 and 2015). Taking place on a fictional Okinawan island in the first two seasons, which were produced by Madhouse, it featured an Okinawan girl named Yuna Kamihara instead of Lilo. Yuna and Stitch (and some of Stitch's cousins) interact and befriend magical creatures on the island, most notably youkai, and he tries to do good deeds to get a wish for "ultimate power" granted by a magical stone, again while fending off Gantu and Hämsterviel. Yes, really. The Shin-Ei Animation-produced third season, however, drops the magical elements by having the two move to a big city, where they mainly did Slice of Life antics while Hämsterviel works with a big-eared humanoid alien woman named Delia in trying to get a power cell embedded in Stitch so she can make a powerful experiment of her own. This series also established itself as a Time Skip sequel to the original franchise in a heavily-revised international version (which included the show's 2009-debuted English dub) and later in a third-season episode of the Japanese original, when Lilo herself finally appears again.
The second spin-off show, an English-language-produced Chinese animated series co-produced with American animators—including those who worked on the first series—called Stitch & Ai, aired in China for one thirteen-episode season in 2017.note In it, Stitch gets separated from Lilo when he gets kidnapped by an alien faction called the Jaboodies, who are in a space war with their rivals the Woolagongs and want to use Stitch and a previously-unrevealed ability of his to win this war. But when the Woolagongs attack their ship wanting Stitch for themselves, he escapes to another region of Earth; the Huangshan mountain range of China's Anhui Province. Upon ending up there, he meets and quickly gets taken in by an orphaned Chinese girl living there named Wang Ai Ling, and Stitch helps her and her older sister Jiejie in preventing Ai from being forcibly moved by their aunt Daiyu from the sisters' rural mountain home to a big city, while she helps him look for a shrine he's been seeing in visions and ward off the warring factions still determined to get him. Although there were plans by the production staff to continue the story through a second season, Disney never greenlit one, making this the shortest-lived entry to date.
Most recently, throughout 2020, a manga set in an Alternate Timeline called Tono & Stitch, retitled for the English market in 2021 as Stitch & the Samurai, had Stitch ending up in Feudal Japan and befriending an adult male samurai warlord. Again, yes, this really does exist. The year of the manga's English release has also seen Disney quietly rebranding the franchise to Disney Stitch, putting more emphasis on the popular mischievous alien.
It should be noted that all these spin-offs got some very polarizing reactions from the franchise's non-Asian fans, with several debates over whether they count as part of the franchise's canon (apart from the obviously non-canon Stitch & the Samurai, save for one detail in a side story regarding a previously One-Shot Character). But we'll leave that to the related YMMV pages.
Nevertheless, this oddball of a franchise remains beloved by Disney fans everywhere who relate to its themes finding love and belonging in each other when you have no one else to turn to. The mischievous yet cute and fluffy Stitch remains very popular and continues to receive regular global promotion by Disney to this day, especially through a lot of crossovers.
List of works
Main continuityThe main continuity, lasting from 2002 to 2006, form the definitive canon of the franchise.* This is where the franchise was actually focused on Lilo Pelekai and Stitch living their lives on Kauaʻi. It's also known as either the Lilo continuity (for the aforementioned reason) or the Western continuity (since they were made primarily in the Western world).
All four feature-length films, The Origin of Stitch, and all sixty-five episodes of Lilo & Stitch: The Series are available to watch on Disney+.
- Lilo & Stitch (2002): The film that started it all. The titular duo meet when he escapes custody and crash lands on Earth, where he lets himself get adopted by her to avoid capture. Over the course of a couple days, they develop a close bond which causes him to reconsider and then defy his original purpose.
- Stitch! The Movie (2003): The Direct to Video Pilot Movie of the TV series mentioned directly below. Jumba's former partner-in-crime Dr. Hämsterviel has him kidnapped in order to get the other 625 experiments that Jumba created. Lilo and Stitch activate one of them in order to both save "Uncle" Jumba and free Stitch's "cousins".
- Lilo & Stitch: The Series (20032006): A 65-Episode Cartoon that continues from Stitch! The Movie where the titular duo set out to hunt down and rehabilitate the remaining experiments. This show is also the first and only Disney animated sequel TV series to be given a Shout-Out in a later DAC film. (See Oddball in the Series below.)
- Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch (2005): A Direct to Video interquel set between the first and second (released) films that serves as the former's direct sequel. When Lilo prepares for an upcoming hula competition, Stitch starts reverting to his destructive programming, causing serious strains in their friendship.
- The Origin of Stitch (2005): A Short Film included with Lilo & Stitch 2, also set before Stitch! The Movie. Stitch discovers what kinds of beasts Jumba used to create him, gets hints about the other 625 experiments, and is also reminded of his original purpose, much to his horror. However, Jumba comes by to remind Stitch about what he has truly become.
- Leroy & Stitch (2006): The Grand Finale of the first TV series and the original Western parts of the franchise. After completing their mission to rehabilitate the experiments, Lilo, Stitch, Jumba, and Pleakley go their separate ways. However, Hämsterviel gets broken out of prison and forces Jumba to create and clone a new experiment for him in order to take over the galaxy and kill off Stitch's "cousins".
Post-Lilo spin-offsAs mentioned in the introduction, the franchise has been focusing primarily on Stitch without Lilo since the main continuity ended in 2006, hence "Post-Lilo". As previously stated, the East Asian-produced spin-offs have been very controversial within the franchise's fanbase outside of those shows' countries, disputing whether or not these are in the same continuity as the 2002 to 2006 films and TV series.
- "Stitch Meets High School Musical" (2007): Exactly What It Says on the Tin; Stitch (and friends) play a friendly basketball game in a short anime parody of High School Musical. It's complete filler to the franchise and has no bearing on the canon whatsoever.
- Stitch! (20082011; additional specials aired in 2012 and 2015): An anime produced by Madhouse and later Shin-Ei Animation. Stitch separates from Lilo over a misunderstanding, ending up on a fictional Okinawan island where he becomes best friends with a spirited local girl named Yuna and goes on Science Fantasy adventures with her. Set approximately two decades after Leroy & Stitch, as seen by Lilo's reappearance in this series as an adult who had gone to college and since had a daughter.
- Stitch & Ai (2017): An English-language-produced Chinese animated series co-produced with American animators, including those from Lilo & Stitch: The Series. Stitch gets kidnapped from Lilo by a warring alien faction who want to use him and a heretofore unrevealed "metamorphosis program" in their space war against another faction. Thanks to said other faction also wanting Stitch for themselves trying to take him, he escapes to China's Huangshan mountains where he befriends a girl over there named Ai. She helps him try to find a mysterious shrine he's been seeing in his dreams and help deal with the alien factions still going after him, while he helps her stay at her mountainous home.
- Comic Zone: Lilo & Stitch: Disney Adventures ran a series of prequel comic strips before the release of the original film that detailed what the titular duo's lives were like beforehand. More non-prequel comics were made later on as a tie-in to Lilo & Stitch: The Series, and a few more comics were made as tie-ins to Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch and then Leroy & Stitch. Most of the strips were later compiled together in a Match 2006 book release titled Comic Zone Vol. 1: Lilo & Stitch. Although the prequel comics were made non-canonical after Lilo & Stitch 2, they are notable for introducing not only the idea of experiments other than Stitch but even later major character Experiment 625 (Reuben).
- Stitch & the Samurai (2020): A manga by Hiroto Wada where Stitch crash lands in feudal Japan and befriends a Japanese warlord named Meison Yamato.
- Agent Stitch (2022): An upcoming children's book series set in an Alternate Timeline after the original film where Stitch is hired by the United Galactic Federation to investigate paranormal extraterrestrial mysteries around the world.
- Stitch's Great Escape! (20042018): A "theater-in-the-round" attraction in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom that was set before the events of the first film, detailing Stitch's first run-in with the United Galactic Federation.
- Stitch Encounternote (2006present): A fifteen-minute digital puppetry shownote in non-American Disney resorts where Stitch playfully interacts with park guests.
- The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents Aloha e Komo Mai! (2008present): An incarnation of the classic attraction found exclusively in Tokyo Disneyland where Stitch messes with the birds and plants of the show. It features the songs "Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride" from the original film and the titular "Aloha, E Komo Mai" from Lilo & Stitch: The Series.
- Disney's Lilo & Stitch (GBA; 2002): A side-scrolling Shoot 'em Up Platform Game. Lilo gets kidnapped by an intergalactic bounty hunter working for a mad scientist who wants to use her as food for his genetically-modified mosquito army, and Stitch must go out to save her. A hidden gem among Game Boy Advance games.
- Disney's Lilo & Stitch: Trouble in Paradise (2002): A Crash Bandicoot-style Platform Game for PlayStationnote and Microsoft Windows where players play as Stitch and a Lilo with voodoo powers to defeat enemies around Kauaʻi.
- Disney's Stitch: Experiment 626 (2002): A PlayStation 2 3D Platform Game. Set up as a prequel to the first film,note 626 must collect alien DNA for Jumba's illegal genetic experimentations. Notably, this is one of the first spin-off material to introduce an experiment other than Stitch (Experiment 621, later named Chopsuey, who only appears in this game).
- 625 Sandwich Stacker (c. 2003): A Flash game where players control Reuben to make as many sandwiches, especially tall ones, as possible.
- Disney's Lilo & Stitch 2: Hämsterviel Havoc (2004): An action-platform game for Game Boy Advance that is based on Lilo & Stitch: The Series, but is the standalone sequel to the previous Lilo & Stitch GBA game. Players can receive help from and even play as some of Stitch's "cousins" in this game.
- Disney Stitch Jam (2009 in Japan, 2010 in North America and Europe): A Rhythm Game for Nintendo DS that is based on the Stitch! anime. Gantu and Hämsterviel kidnap Stitch's Love Interest Angel and he has to rescue her. Along with Stitch, players can play as Angel, Reuben, and Felix upon unlocking those experiments. The United States actually received this game over a year before the anime's brief run over there.
- Motto! Stitch! DS: Rhythm de Rakugaki Daisakusen ♪note (2010): The Japanese-exclusive sequel to Stitch Jam, containing more features, characters, and experiments. This entry also involves drawing pictures on the Nintendo DS's touch screen for gameplay.
- Kingdom Hearts (2002present): The Disney and Square Enix video game series feature this franchise's characters and settings.
- Kingdom Hearts II (2005): Stitch is one of Sora's summons in the game.
- Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (2010): The game features a world called "Deep Space" where the events that happen in there serve as a spiritual prequel to the events of the original Lilo & Stitch film.
- Kingdom Hearts III (2019): Stitch returns as one of Sora's summons again.
- Disney Friends (2007): Stitch is one of the main interactive friends, with Lilo, Jumba, and Pleakley appearing as NPCs.
- Disney Universe (2011): A Stitch costume is available in the game.
- Kinect: Disneyland Adventures (2011): Players can meet Stitch in Disneyland's Tomorrowland, and he will also give quests to players.
- Disney Infinity (20132016): The first game (2013) had a couple Lilo & Stitch power discs. Stitch became a playable character starting with the second game (2014) and a Toy Box Expansion Game themed after the franchise was made for that game with Pleakley making an appearance. Some L&S-themed toys were also added in that game.
- Disney Magical World (2013 in Japan, 2014 in North America and Europe) and Disney Magical World 2 (2015 in Japan, 2016 in North America, Europe, and Australia): Lilo and Stitch appear in Castleton in the first game. They return in the second game with a world based on their universe added along with Jumba and Pleakley.
- Disney Tsum Tsum (2014): Several Lilo & Stitch characters are rendered in Tsum Tsum form, including Scrump, Angel, Lilo, Jumba, Pleakley, Gantu, Leroy, Dr. Hämsterviel and several variants of Stitch. Lilo & Stitch-related events have also been held in the game.
- Disney Magic Kingdoms (2016): Lilo & Stitch franchise characters,note attractions,note and quests were added in an April 2018 update. All Lilo & Stitch content in the game are limited-time content.
- Disney Crossy Road (2016): A Lilo & Stitch world and characters were added in a 2017 update. This was also the last update for the Windows version of the game.
- Disney Emoji Blitz (2016): Stitch has been a part of the game since its debut as one of the Gold Box emojis. He is one of the few emojis that makes a vocal sound when his ability is used.note Lilo was added to the game in an April 2018 update. A few Lilo & Stitch-themed items are also unlockable emojis.
- Disney Heroes: Battle Mode (2018): Stitch was added to the game in a summer 2018 update, Jumba and Pleakley were added in a July 2020 update, Angel was added in an August 2020 update, and Lilo was added in an August 2021 update.
- Disney Sorcerer's Arena (2020): Stitch, Captain Gantu and Cobra Bubbles appear as playable characters, and Zap (Experiment 603) appears as a spell.
Tropes found throughout the franchise include:
- A Girl and Her X: No matter if the girl is Lilo, Yuna, or Ai, the franchise is (almost) always about a human girl and her alien "dog" who looks more like a blue mutant koala and is much more sentient than a regular dog. The lives of each of these girls and their families improve with Stitch around, while in return, he becomes a better, happier, more caring person thanks to them.
- Aliens in Cardiff: Aliens land on a small island in Hawaii/a small island in Okinawa/in the middle of Chinese mountains/on Japan during its Sengoku era.
- Aliens Speaking English: Nearly all the aliens in the franchise can inexplicably speak and understand English. However, the experiments (including Stitch) either have to learn it or be programmed with "Advanced Language Programming" (like Reuben is) in order to do so, and Stitch's own grasp of English is very flawed (but he oddly completely understands English). In addition, two of the experiments can speak non-English Earth languages—Frenchfry (062) can speak French and Carmen (123) can speak Spanish—and Reuben has implied he knows languages other than English and Tantalog.
- Amusing Alien: This franchise is loaded with them, especially the comedic sociopathic Stitch, the crossdressing Know-Nothing Know-It-All Pleakley, and snarky "Sandwich Boy" Reuben.
- Appropriated Title: A strange case of this; when the anime was made, some fans (primarily supporters of that show) began calling the franchise simply the Stitch franchise since Lilo is no longer part of the picture and Stitch will always be the franchise's breadwinner. In some regions, such as Japan, the franchise is officially called this in some marketing material, and with Stitch & Ai and Stitch & the Samurai popping up later on, some fans now call the franchise just Stitch. Even Disney themselves are seemingly trying to rebrand the franchise as Stitch after several previous aborted attempts to do so with the spin-offs; in 2021, marketing from third-party licensees such as Funko, Hot Topic, and Scentsy, along with the English release of the Lilo-free Stitch & the Samurai, are now using a modified version of the franchise's logo that only says Disney Stitch, removing Lilo and the ampersand from it.
- Arc Words: Primarily in the Western parts of the franchise: "ʻOhana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind — or forgotten."
- Artifact Title: Half of it at least, since the franchise has moved away from Lilo in favor of focusing more on Stitch, who since 2008 has been constantly separated from her and Hawaii.
- Badass Adorable: Both Lilo and Stitch are possibly two of the cutest ever Disney characters and they are true heroes. Many of Stitch's "cousins" are also cute badasses in their own right.
- Black-and-White Morality: The three TV shows go with a simple "good vs. evil" route, in contrast to the movies' White and Gray Morality.
- Central Theme: Family and belonging. ʻOhana, along with the "one true place" thing in the first series, is used throughout the franchise to say that everyone belongs somewhere and with people to care for.
- Cool Starship: Plenty throughout the franchise, including Jumba's ship, Gantu's ships, the BRB-9000, and of course, "The Red One".
- Clark Kenting: Stitch pretends to be a dog on Earth, while Jumba and Pleakley pretend to be humans. In Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Gantu pretends to be Samoan as a means to pass off his large size.
- Crossover: Stitch was already doing this before the first film was even released thanks to the "inter-STITCH-al" teaser trailers, and he hasn't stopped since. The first TV series even had four crossover episodes in its second season. This has gotten to the point that Disney is releasing an entire limited edition merchandise collection throughout 2021 (and early 2022) based on his crossovers called "Stitch Crashes Disney".
- Deuteragonist: Stitch is The Protagonist, but he is always paired up with a human who helps him out while dealing with their own problems.
- The Dog Is an Alien: Stitch pretends to be a dog all throughout the franchise despite looking more like a mutant koala, as Nani notes in the original film. Several experiments are also mistaken to be other animals by other humans in The Series.
- Early-Bird Cameo:
- Reuben (625) shows up in a Disney Adventures comic about the origin of Stitch, even though his first chronological appearance in the film and TV continuity is Stitch! The Movie.
- Dr. Hämsterviel first appeared in silhouette in the first film before his official debut in the second.
- Family of Choice: The franchise's whole mantra of ʻohana is based on this trope, with Stitch, Jumba, Pleakley, and the experiments bonding with humans who take care of them on Earth. The picture of the Pelekai ʻohana that's seen at the end of The Series episode "Wishy-Washy" is the trope illustrator.
- The Federation: United Galactic Federation or Alliance depending on the movie/episode. Given that they would have destroyed Earth if not for mosquitoes supposedly being an endangered species, they have at least some traits of The Empire as well.
- Fictionary: While the whole franchise contains plenty of Aliens Speaking English, it also has a fairly well-developed language of its own called Tantalog. Though only a few phrases were fully translated on Lilo & Stitch: The Series' website—which now no longer exists—there have been a few rather detailed online dictionaries made based on its usage in that show.
- Free-Range Children: Lilo is six years old in the original film and seven to nine years old over the course of the sequel films and Lilo & Stitch: The Series, yet she runs about Kokaua Townnote with Stitch, and no adults. The same goes for ten/eleven-year-old Yuna on Izayoi and in Okinawa New Town in the Stitch! anime, and the young Ai on the Huangshan mountains in Stitch & Ai.
- Grew Beyond Their Programming: Jumba gave Experiment 626 an instinctive genetic drive to destroy everything he came in contact with, and never gave him a "higher purpose", as he puts it, but over the course of the movie Stitch learns the concepts of family and empathy. He's a much more developed character by the end. He and Lilo also do their best to do this with the other experiments, and considering how many of them enjoy time with each other after their reformation, they've mostly succeeded.
- Iconic Sequel Character: Dr. Jacques von Hämsterviel, who is the franchise's primary villain but only gets an Early-Bird Cameo in the first film, and the experiments besides Stitch, especially his two immediate predecessors Reuben (625) and Angel (624).note
- Interspecies Friendship: The whole franchise has a strong emphasis on humans befriending aliens.
- Living Weapon: Stitch and many of the other experiments.
- Logo Joke: Each of the films do this.
- Mons Series: In a way, thanks to the experiments. However, this really applies to the first two TV shows (Stitch & Ai took a different route with its "experiments"), and even then, the number of seen, fully confirmed experiments out of the first 629 remain incredibly low to this day. (Notice how so many experiments lack descriptions on the lists in their character sheets? That's how low it is.)
- Name and Name: The franchise itself, though people tend to forget that it's spelled with an ampersand (&), not with the word "and". This also applies to three of the four films and two of the three TV series (although the anime is titled Yuna & Stitch in the German dub).
- No One Gets Left Behind: Exactly the message of the whole franchise. Granted, it's actually "nobody" in the ʻohana motto, not "no one", but still.
- Oddball in the Series: This is truly a unique DAC-based franchise.
- The original film's art style is based on just one man's own, instead of the Disney house style.
- The franchise has a unique modern-day setting that mixes realism with soft science fiction, something that Disney doesn't do that often.
- The first film's narrative heeds closer to Pixar's films in terms of its themes and lack of musical numbers, and this is before John Lasseter took over Walt Disney Feature Animation/Walt Disney Animation Studios. Amusingly, the movie is also un-Pixar like as the story was made around the characters (in other words, "character-driven"), not the other way around like Pixar does when they write stories ("plot/story-driven").
- Speaking of music, the films make heavy use of licensed music from one iconic artist and tie said artist into both the characters and the plot.
- The lead characters were and are still very unconventional for Disney, being considered weird even In-Universe.
- The marketing for the original film used crossovers heavily in its marketing to emphasize its oddness and to play up a Black Sheep image.
- Better yet, all of the above was Crazy Enough to Work; the original film was released during a time when CGI films were on the rise and Disney Feature Animation wasn't doing so great, yet it became the only combined critical and commercial success of the post-Renaissance Experimental Era, thus spawning this franchise.
- Even the sequels are this. Not only did this franchise's sequel material introduce its own set of iconic characters, something that only a few other DAC-based franchises can claim, but the franchise also has a whopping three Sequel Series, all of which have their own animation styles and were produced and aired within only one-and-a-half decadesnote from the franchise's debut.
- The first series can possibly even claim itself as canonical to the DAC, as thanks to Stitch's experiment "cousins", it received references in both a Kingdom Hearts gamenote and especially in a later DAC film.note No other Disney franchise that got a TV series, not even The Lion King, can claim this. Not to mention, Disney seems to have no problem promoting Angel alongside the original film's characters, and she didn't even exist back in 2002!
- Paper-Thin Disguise:
- Jumba and Pleakley only put on some light clothes and fake hair when they're out in public, yet they completely fool the unaware humans. Gets worse with Stitch who is blue and all he has to do is retract some body parts.
- In the first series, Gantu just claims to be Samoan to pass off his impossibly-large-for-a-human-being size.
- Pardon My Klingon: Gantu's catchphrase "Oh, blitznak!", which easily passes off as "Oh, Crap!", and Stitch and the experiments' "Meega, nala kweesta!", a Tantalog phrase so vulgar that it makes a robot vomit.
- Plasma Cannon: Plasma blasters are the most common weapon seen throughout the franchise. From a human perspective, the handheld ones oddly look like toys.
- Practically Different Generations: Each of Stitch's first three companions are young girls who have a significantly older sister (or cousin) as their caretaker or legal guardian. Lilo has her older sister Nani, Yuna has her older cousin Tigerlily (from partway through the second season of the anime onward), and Ai has her older sister Jiejie. This trope is to help emphasize the franchise's focus on non-traditional families.
- Puni Plush: Straight lines and sharp angles don't appear often in the franchise, although the anime subverts this by featuring a main character with spiky pigtails.
- Retraux: The alien spacecraft and weaponry invoke the Raygun Gothic style (the plasma blasters even have fins), but they're simplified and given modern design touches to avoid looking dated and give the sci-fi aspects of the franchise's universe a distinctive identity.
- Rousseau Was Right: This franchise likes to emphasize the point of seeing the good in others, what with Lilo's reformation of Stitch in the original film and his "cousins" reforming throughout the first TV series. Even the strict leader of an intergalactic equivalent of the United Nations believes in second chances for criminals, including illegally made lifeforms.
- Science Fantasy: The franchise became more of this over the years instead of just being straight soft science fiction, primarily thanks to the East Asian spin-offs, although The Series had some fantasy elements here and there (and actually crossed over with an Urban Fantasy series at one point), and even one of the early spin-off video games gave Lilo voodoo powers.
- Slice of Life: When the franchise is not dealing with an evil alien conflict, it's essentially showing Stitch's life with whatever family he's with.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: With no real villain in the first movie and its strong theme of love and family (ʻohana), it's very much on the idealistic end of the scale.
- Surreal Humor: Downplayed in that there are some realistic elements to keep everything grounded, but with the aliens' interactions with Earth culture and sometimes even fantastical beings (e.g. Jake Long in "Morpholomew", the yokai in Stitch!), the abilities of some of the experiments, and Lilo's... unique take on life, the franchise indulges with a bit of surrealism to keep things interesting.
- True Companions: This franchise is famous for its focus on extended families, with ʻohana being a key theme as humans bond with aliens.
- Turn of the Millennium: The original parts of this franchise took place in the early-to-mid 2000s, which was also the time frame when it was most actively promoted in the United States.
- White-and-Grey Morality: There are several characters who could be seen as the antagonists, but turn out to really either just doing what they are doing for their freedom or are just people who are just doing their job.