Why is Stitch so popular? Toy expert explains how this Disney character is bigger now than when he was introduced

On International Stitch Day, we look at why this Disney character has become an icon, despite being introduced more than 20 years ago

(Image credit: Retailers)

In honour of International Stitch Day (yep, that's totally a thing), we dig a little deeper as to why this Disney character is seeing a popularity surge right now.

Disney's Lilo & Stitch was released in 2002, and tells the story of an orphaned Hawaiian girl named Lilo, who adopts a 'dog' that turns out to be an alien creature. The story centres around the Hawaiian concept of ohana, which means family (its translation includes more than just blood relatives too - it also includes adopted and chosen family). It's one of the hundreds of kids films you can watch on Disney+, that can actually be beneficial for your kids, but if you don't already have a subscription to this streaming service - make sure you check out our guide to how you can get Disney+ for free.

Initially known as Experiment 626 (hence why International Stitch Day falls on June 26), Stitch was genetically engineered to cause chaos and destruction, but his bond with Lilo and her older sister Nani, causes him to reconsider his destructive nature to keep his new family together.

But despite the film being released more than two decades ago, Stitch is more popular than ever - he even made it onto the list of the best kids toys 2024. We spoke to an expert to find out why that is and have a look at the best Stitch toys you can buy right now.

There's multiple reasons why Stitch has skyrocketed in popularity recently, from the impact of nostalgia and social media, spin-off merchandise and even theme park attractions that keep the adorable little alien in the public consciousness.

Stitch first appeared in the Lilo & Stitch feature film in 2002, and has since appeared in three straight-to-video sequels as well as a TV series and a live action version if the film is also in the works. Kids love his cute koala like appearance, semi-intelligible speech and his mischievous antics are all too fun for kids to follow along with.

Richard North, President at WOW! Stuff, who have recently released their Real FX Disney Stitch Puppet, available at Smyths, adds: “Stitch has a distinct design and expressive nature that makes him enduringly appealing to children and teens of all ages, and we are currently seeing a huge resurgence in popularity."

Stitch is also hugely popular on TikTok right now, with more than 500,000 posts featuring the hashtag #liloandstitch. Richard explains how this is boosting Stitch's popularity further, saying: "Thanks to the digital age and social media, Stitch’s image and personality has become hugely popular online as fans share memes, fan art and their stitch merch! This has helped sustain and possibly even grow his popularity to where Stitch is today.

"As well as this, Disney has continued to support and promote Lilo & Stitch through various channels, including a fashion resurgence which appeals to all age groups, theme park attractions, and appearances, keeping the cute, mischievous character front of mind."

But beyond the promotion of Stitch, there is something deeper at play, as Richard explains: "There is also a cycle of nostalgic interest and affection for Stitch, once children grow up, they want to introduce Stitch to their own children and so on!"

If you want embrace Stitch's newfound icon status, then take a look at these brilliant Stitch toys, available to buy right now.

For more Disney-related news, we look at why Donald Duck has stood the test of time for 90 years, and reveal everything we know about when Inside Out 2 will be available on Disney+.

Consumer Writer & Money Editor, GoodtoKnow

Sarah is GoodtoKnow’s Consumer Writer & Money Editor - which means she writes about everything from this year's top toys and the newest toy releases, to discounts on days out and childcare costs. Sarah is passionate about helping mums save money wherever they can - whether that's spending wisely on the right toys and kidswear or keeping on top of the latest news around child benefit, the motherhood penalty. A writer, journalist and editor with more than 15 years' experience, Sarah is all about the latest toy trends and is always on the look out for toys for her nephew or Goddaughters so that she remains one of their favourite grown ups. When not writing about money or best buys, Sarah can be found hanging out with her rockstar dog Pepsi, getting opinionated about a movie or learning British Sign Language.