Lilo isn’t an official Disney Princess, but she has the most tragic backstory of all, which the audience often ignores. Let’s take a look.
Disney has been bringing its unique type of magic to the big screen for decades, and while it’s known for giving its animated classics a happy ending, it also gives its main characters some truly tragic backstories. This is especially true with Disney Princesses, but there’s one that is not a princess but has the most tragic story of all: Lilo, from Lilo & Stitch. While Walt Disney Pictures has explored different styles and genres, it continues to be best known and remembered for its animated movies, especially those led by female characters.
The first official Disney Princess was Snow White, introduced in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, which was also the first full-length cel-animated movie and gave the studio its first Academy Award – an honorary one, accompanied by seven miniature statuettes. Since then, Disney has made a franchise out of its princesses, but not all female characters in a Disney animated movie can be official Disney Princesses. Though there’s not a proper list of requirements that the characters have to meet, they do have some things in common, such as having an animal sidekick, being royal by birth or marriage, or doing a heroic deed, as is Mulan’s case. Those who don’t meet these points are often considered “unofficial Disney Princesses”, as is the case of Lilo.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view.
Lilo made her debut in the 2002 movie Lilo & Stitch, where the six-year-old Hawaiian girl and her 19-year-old sister Nani adopted a very peculiar pet they believed was a very strange dog. Named “Stitch” by Lilo, the “dog” turned out to be an alien who was on the run from an intergalactic federation. Lilo was raised by Nani as their parents died in a car accident some time before the events of the movie, which is why their relationship, although close, was often tense, as they were both very young and doing their best to move forward. While most Disney’s princesses don’t have parents either (or are missing one of them), Lilo’s case is more tragic than the rest’s, and there’s a detail in the first act of the movie that proves it, along with why she should be considered an official Disney Princess.
In the first part of the movie, Lilo is running late for her dance rehearsal, and once there, she explains to her teacher that she arrived late (and wet) because it was “sandwich day”. Every Thursday, Lilo fed Pudge the fish a peanut butter sandwich, but that day they ran out of peanut butter, so she had to rush to the store so she could give Pudge his weekly sandwich. The reason why this seemingly unimportant event gave Lilo so much anxiety is because Pudge controls the weather. Lilo’s parents died in a car crash when it was raining heavily, so to Lilo, it’s important to keep Pudge happy and well-fed so nobody else dies in an accident like the one that killed her parents. This is presented as Lilo being eccentric and a “weirdo”, and is actually bullied and ostracized by the girls in her class for it when it’s actually all part of her trauma – and it’s especially sad and worrying as she was only six-years-old.
Although her relationship with Nani was complicated and Stitch’s arrival didn’t make it any easier, they ended up developing a close bond and solving their differences through understanding, listening, and the Hawaiian concept of “ohana”, which should be a good enough message for Lilo to qualify as a proper Disney Princess. Exactly what makes an animated female Disney character an official member of the “Disney Princess” franchise is something that only the people at Disney know, but Lilo’s tragic backstory and the message of Lilo & Stitch shouldn’t be overlooked.
Next: Why Anastasia Isn’t An Official Disney Princess (Even After The Fox Deal)
Wonder Woman Director Had No Input On Snyder’s Justice League Version Of Diana
About The Author