When Lilo and Stitch was released in theaters in June 2002, nobody could have expected it to be the unexpected hit Disney animation needed. After a successful run in the 90s known as the Disney Renaissance with films like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King the animation studio hit a rough spot in the 2000s. The studio had high-profile disappointments like The Emperor’s New Groove, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and the film following Lilo and Stitch, Treasure Planet would be one of the biggest bombs in the studio’s history.
Created by Chris Sanders, this original concept with no relation to a popular fairy tale or story as well as being a science fiction property felt like an odd pick for a Disney animated film with all the pedigree that comes with it. Yet the story of an alien meant to be a weapon of mass destruction coming to Earth and finding a family with a young girl in Hawaii struck a chord with audiences. Stitch has become one of Disney’s most marketable characters and this little film launched a massive sprawling multimedia franchise with a variety of spin-off films and television series.
It has been 20 years since Lilo & Stitch was first released in theaters, and the franchise has grown to cover various corners of the globe it can be hard to keep track. With a live-action remake of Lilo and Stitch in development set for release on Disney+ from the director of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, it might be a good time to revisit the first film and the overall franchise. One that taught an entire generation the important lesson that Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten. This is the entire Lilo and Stitch franchise in chronological order; if you’d like to watch every Lilo and Stitch title by release date, you can scroll down or click here.
Stitch! is the second animated series in the franchise and the first spin-off. It moved the series out of Hawaii to Japan and ran from 2008 to 2010 with two anime films released, one in 2011 and another in 2012. The series pairs Stitch with a young girl named Yuna and also sees the return of Jumba and Pleakley. Despite both getting heroic endings at the end of Leroy and Stitch, both Gantu and Experiment 625 return to villainous roles.
Both Stitch! and Stitch & Ai could be two separate different timelines for what happens following Leroy and Stitch, however, the presence of an adult Lilo who has a daughter that is the same age as she was when she met Stitch suggests Stitch! takes place sometime after Stitch & Ai. The series establishes that Stitch and Lilo separated after Lilo went to college, and when they were supposed to reunite on the beach years later Lilo was late because Nani was having a baby. Stitch thought Lilo had forgotten him, but in the end the two get a sweet reunion.
If Stitch! is the final entry in the Lilo and Stitch timeline, taking into all the stories this makes for a sweet ending. Much like the song “Aloha ‘Oe” in the first film expressed lyrically, the series signifies that no matter how far apart they are Lilo and Stitch have a family bond that will always bring them back to one another. Even as they start new chapters in their lives, it is only a matter of time until they meet again.
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