- “Lilo! She's a little girl this big, she has black hair and brown eyes and she hangs around with that THING!”
- ―Nani about Lilo
Lilo Pelekai is the deuteragonist of Disney's 2002 animated feature film Lilo & Stitch, its subsequent sequels, and television series. Lilo is a young orphaned Hawaiian girl who lives on the island of Kauai with her big sister Nani and her extended family of alien visitors marooned on Earth.
Lilo is a 6-year old Hawaiian girl with long, straight black hair and brown eyes. She's most often seen wearing a muumuu and sandals, but also wears other warm-weather clothing as well as traditional hula costumes. In Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, her reflection in a mirror is compared to a picture of her mother when she was her age, suggesting that they look similar. In the episode "Skip", where an experiment is used to skip time, it's mentioned that the older Lilo looks a lot like her sister Nani. By the end of Leroy and Stitch, she is almost 10.
Lilo's spirited and highly-eccentric personality, especially in light of her parents' death, has alienated her from her fellow children (whom she still considers to be her friends, despite them mistreating her), yet Lilo makes the perfect best friend for Stitch, an alien experiment whom she adopts as her dog. She is also extremely disobedient. Lilo attends hula school and her hobbies include the photography of obese people, talking about creatures from horror/sci-fi movies, and capturing and rehabilitating Jumba's evil genetic experiments. She also idolizes Elvis Presley and does not seem to understand that her eccentricities cause her to be an outcast from most of the other children.
Lilo's friends are mostly Stitch, Victoria and Keoni. Lilo's ex-friends were Mertle Edmonds, Yuki, Elena and Teresa. The reason why Lilo's friends became her ex-friends is because her parents died and they didn't seem to show sympathy when she was explaining it to them. Victoria and Lilo's ex-friends are all students in their hula class. Reuben and Gantu became friends with Lilo by the end of Leroy and Stitch.
Lilo's parents died in a car accident some time before Lilo & Stitch (it is suggested that rain made road conditions treacherous) and, therefore, they have not appeared in the franchise apart from three photographs: one of Lilo, Nani and their parents having a picnic on the beach; a photograph of Lilo's mother winning the hula contest at her school's May Day celebration and a photo of Nani with her parents when she graduated to intermediate hula.
Lilo's mother is depicted as beautiful, kind and loving (and perhaps eccentric like her younger daughter), as well as an excellent hula dancer. She would placate her children by holding a family night, singing lullabies and making up funny constellations. Lilo's father played the ukulele and was the one who coined the phrase, "Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten." The phrase becomes a sort of family motto for his daughters and their intergalactic adopted clan.
Lilo loves and misses her parents very much. She keeps a picture of them under her pillow and initially would not allow Stitch to touch it (rejecting him when his fight with Jumba caused her house and the picture to become damaged). In the episode "Remmy", which takes place on the anniversary of the accident, Lilo is depressed and takes a nap to help deal with her sadness. The picture is used to turn Lilo's nightmares into a dream of the day the photograph was taken, which manages to make her happy again.
The development of Lilo's ohana (extended family) begins with the adoption of Stitch in Lilo & Stitch. Though Lilo technically owns Stitch by Hawaiian state law, the relationship between the two is more like siblings and best friends. By the end of the series, Lilo's extended ohana includes Stitch, Nani, "Uncle" Jumba, "Aunt" Pleakley, David, Cobra Bubbles, the Grand Councilwoman, all 627 (627 and 628 was shown dehydrated in the episode of 627, although it could be argued that he still counts) of Stitch's "cousins" and Gantu.
Lilo is first seen in the film running late for her hula class. After causing some of her classmates to slip and explaining her strange reasons for being late (feeding Pudge), she gets into a fight with Mertle Edmonds and classes are ended early for the day as a result, to her dismay. Rejected again by Mertle and her friends, she heads back home by herself and, feeling depressed, starts listening to "Heartbreak Hotel". Nani arrives trying frantically to get ready for a visit from social worker Cobra Bubbles that ends up turning out disastrously. Lilo and Nani get into a fight, make up and Lilo spots a shooting star (Stitch's starship) and makes a wish for "an angel" to be her friend.
The next day, Lilo and Nani visit the local animal shelter, where Lilo meets and adopts Stitch much to Nani's dismay. Unbeknown to Lilo, Stitch is a wanted, intergalactic criminal, being chased by two bounty hunters; Jumba Jookiba and Pleakley. That night Lilo and Stitch accidently cause Nani to lose her job, the next day, Cobra Bubbles arrives again and orders Stitch to be made into a model citizen and for Nani to find another job. As Lilo and Stitch tag along with Nani to find another job, Lilo uses Elvis Presely as a role model for Stitch. At the Beach it ends in a disaster and Nani fails to get a job as lifeguard. Nani's friend David comes and takes Nani and Lilo surfing in order to cheer them up. After Jumba tries to get Stitch and it looks like Stitch was trying to drown Lilo, Cobra comes and says he will take Lilo away the next day. Stitch, seeing his mistakes, leaves Lilo. The next day, Nani applies for a job at the coffee shop and leaves Lilo at home. There, Stitch returns with Jumba and a fight begins, resulting in the house's destruction.
As the fire department arrived, so does Cobra Bubbles (who Lilo contacted during Jumba and Pleakley's invasion) and decides it's time for her to be taken away. Nani returns and argues with Cobra, and during the chaos, Lilo escapes the scene. Stitch returns to her, but the little girl immediately hardens, blaming the alien for causing her family so much trouble; even more so upon finding out Stitch is "one of them", referring to Jumba and Pleakley. Just then, Gantu, a member of the Galactic Federation who was ordered to capture Stitch, arrives and imprisons both Stitch and Lilo. While Stitch escapes, Lilo is taken away. Fortunately, Stitch rallies Nani, Jumba, and Pleakley to rescue her, and does so successfully.
When the Grand Councilwoman arrives on earth to take Stitch into custody, Lilo shows the certificate from the dog pound, showing Stitch is now legally in her possessions. This, along with the fact that Stitch has had an obvious change of heart, leads the Grand Councilwoman to sentence Stitch to life in "exile" on earth with his newfound Ohana. In the prologue, it is shown that Lilo, with the help of Stitch, Nani, Jumba, Pleakley, David, and Cobra, rebuilt their destroyed house and continued their days together as an Ohana.
Lilo is preparing for an important Hula recital just as Stitch's behavior becomes darker to the point where they have a serious argument. Oblivious to Lilo, Stitch is dying and Jumba and Pleakley are working on a solution with a fusion chamber. After yet another argument, Lilo abandons Stitch and decides to do her hula alone. At the recital, she begins to fear for Stitch and decides to forfeit the competition and leave to search for him, with Nani, David, Pleakley and Jumba following behind. They search and communicate with him via phone. He's taken Jumba's ship to leave for an unknown galaxy, but crashes during one of his glitches. Lilo finds him unconscious on the peak of a mountain. Stitch is placed in Jumba's newly-built fusion chamber, but is believed to be dead. Lilo mourns for her departed friend, but out of nowhere, Stitch is revived. Lilo and her Ohana have their own hula recital centered on how love is more powerful than death.
In this film, Lilo teaches Stitch about cousins but during a day at the beach, Stitch is unable to befriend anyone. Back at the house, Lilo tries to cheer up Stitch right before Jumba is kidnapped by Gantu. Lilo and Stitch learn why he was captured--Gantu's new boss Dr. Hämsterviel wants the other 625 experiments (as Stitch is the 626th) who have been dehydrated into the form of pods. Lilo refuses to give the experiments, as they are Stitch's family. Jumba still needs to be saved, so Lilo and Stitch unleash one of the experiments. Experiment 221 is activated through the use of water--the lightning bolt-like experiment runs loose, prompting Lilo and Stitch to chase after him. They give up for the night, but the next morning, they set off again, finally retrieving and befriending him. Lilo names him "Sparky" and heads to the lighthouse where Cobra Bubbles and Pleakley are about to trade the other experiments for Jumba's freedom. While Jumba is freed, the experiments are taken, but Lilo, Stitch and Sparky board Hämsterviel's ship. They rescue the other experiments, who are now scattered all over Hawaii. Back on Earth, Sparky re-powers the old lighthouse and claims it as his home while Lilo and Stitch become experiment-hunters, setting out to find all the remaining experiments so they too can be turned from bad to good and given a place where they belong.
Lilo and Stitch have become full-time experiment-hunters. In the series, Lilo has decided to name all the experiments. They meet various experiments along the way, some having large impacts on their lives while others are a grab and go. Nearly everyday, they battle Gantu for the experiments. Aside from the hunting, Lilo falls in love with a local boy named Keoni Jameson (throughout the course of the series, she sometimes uses the experiments to impress him in some way). She also meets a new friend named Victoria who had just moved to town. Despite being a human with no powerful abilities, Lilo is viewed as a large threat to the plans and ambitions of the series' villains. She often refers to Gantu as "The Big Dummy", whilst he refers to her as "The Little Earth Girl".
The series also depicts Lilo as being rather mischievous as well, often resulting in her and Stitch getting into trouble with Nani and other adults around the island.
Lilo, Stitch, Jumba and Pleakley are being awarded by the Grand Councilwoman as they have successfully retrieved all of the genetic experiments and turned them from bad to good. Lilo becomes the caretaker of the experiments in Hawaii, Pleakley is given a position at the Galactic Alliance Community College, Jumba is given access to his lab again and Stitch becomes the captain of the Big Red Battleship. The friends are now given the choice to fulfill their dreams or stay together. Unfortunately for Lilo, the aliens depart, leaving Lilo and Nani. After a few days, Jumba is held captive by Dr. Hamsterviel to finish an experiment, whom Hamsterviel names "Leroy". Lilo tries to communicate with Stitch, but he, Pleakley and Jumba have been captured by Leroy. Lilo goes to the only one who has the technology to reach her friends--625, who is soon named "Reuben". Together, they learn about Leroy and head to the Grand Councilwoman, who has been demoted to Hämsterviel's secretary. Lilo and Reuben are imprisoned by Gantu, but later freed when Gantu has a change of heart.
They reunite with Stitch and set off to Earth in order to save the captured experiments. A battle ensues between the experiments and Leroy and his clones. Lilo, Stitch, Reuben and other experiments rally together to defeat the villains by singing "Aloha 'Oe" (during Leroy's creation, the song was playing and if heard again, Leroy and the clones would be shut down). The plan is successful. Back at the Galactic Alliance, Lilo and her friends reunite, choosing to give up their awards and return to Hawaii together. There, they, along with Nani, David, Mertle and all the other experiments come together to take a family photo.
Though this series is non-canon, Lilo originally never appeared or was mentioned in the anime; but many would still question her absence. In the English dub, it completely changed the story by implying that Stitch ran away out of jealousy of Lilo having a boyfriend, as mentioned by Jumba, "Just because little girl, has new boyfriend now and is all washed up by 626 is no reason to act bad," which leaves us to believe that this takes place years after the events of Leroy and Stitch. Despite this, when Yuna once confronted Stitch, telling him that his previous family forgot about him, offended Stitch quickly states, "Lilo didn't forget!" which implies that he still deeply cares about her, and is certain that Lilo still feels the same way about him.
Lilo finally appears in Episode 23 of sequel series "Stitch! ~Zutto Saiko no Tomodachi~" where she, now fully grown, visits Okinawa's Newtown with her daughter (whom Stitch thought was Lilo in the beginning). Both friends reunite, and we learn that there was never any boyfriend. Lilo had gone to college, and they planned to meet by the beach when she returned, but when that day came, Nani was in labor and caused Lilo to be late. Stitch, for unknown reasons, was never aware of Nani's condition, and since Lilo didn't arrived at the time they planned, he thought Lilo had forgotten about him. He leaves his tiki necklace on the beach before flying away in his ship, and by the time Lilo arrives he had already left, and cries when she find his necklace. In the end, before Lilo and her daughter could board the plane, Stitch arrives in time to see her again. They both have a happy reunion, she hugs him, promises to visit him again, and asks Stitch to take good care of his new family. She gives Stitch his tiki necklace back before leaving.
Lilo makes a few brief, non-speaking cameos in the episode Tropical Hideaway, seen among the children during the island get-together.
Lilo has yet to appear in the books, though she is mentioned in the fifth book. Here, when Finn is at Typhoon Lagoon, a cast member gives him a surf board and tells him Lilo told her to give it to him.
Lilo appears along with Stitch at Disney parks around the world as a meetable character, as well as on the Disney Cruise Line ships.
Lilo is also featured in Disneyland Paris' Disney's Stars 'n' Cars parade and Merlin and the Witch Academy during Halloween. Lilo is also present on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship were she and Stitch hula to Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride in the show "Wishes". Lilo appears with Stitch on a surfboard in the Islands section of the Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland versions of It's a Small World. In the Disney's Hollywood Studios version of Fantasmic!, Lilo is seen in the finale onboard the Steamboat Willie riverboat.
Lilo appears briefly with Stitch and Nani during the finale of World of Color.
Lilo makes a brief vocal appearance in the attraction Stitch Live. When she hears reports of Gantu's space cruiser being stolen by Stitch, she gives him a call on his cell phone to make sure. However, with the help of the audience, Stitch is able to trick her.
- "Lilo" can mean "lost" in Hawaiian or "the generous one," hence her generosity to others in the series.
- Her name may also be a reference to the character Leeloo from the 1997 movie The Fifth Element.
- It is quite possible that both Lilo and Nani were named after Queen Liliuokalani, the last ruling monarch of Hawaii. Lilo has the same first three letters of the monarch's name, while Nani has the last three letters of her name.
- Lilo & Nani
- If this truly is indeed the case, then that would make their connection to the song "Aloha `Oe" that much more meaningful, as they, as a whole, represent the last Queen of Hawaii, the one who wrote the song.
- Despite not appearing in the show itself (as the show was out one year before the movie came out), Lilo was featured in some online games for the television series House of Mouse.
- Lilo in the original story was 5 years old.
- Lilo is the second female child in the Disney animated canon films to have black hair. The first being Melody from The Little Mermaid II, and the third being Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck-It Ralph.
- Lilo is the fourth heroine to be seen praying. The first was Snow White, the second was Penny, and the third was Esmeralda. However, the movie has Lilo saying that she is "making a wish" instead of praying.
- On Lilo's easel a toy Dumbo can be seen.
- Lilo shares several similarities with Belle from Beauty and the Beast, as both are considered "odd" by most people because they have different beliefs and interests. Both also befriended something that was considered a vicious monster (Stitch and Beast) and gradually developed a close bond. Another similarity is that both were locked up by the antagonist (Gantu and Gaston) who saw their friends as monsters until they were freed later. Both also share a love for certain fiction (Belle's love for books and stories, Lilo's love for movies and sci-fi). However, Lilo was not the love interest of the villain character, primarily because she is much too young in her movie, and Gantu is of a completely different species.
- She is also similar to Vanellope for the same reasons.