The Pelekais (as the audience knows them) initially consisted of sisters Lilo and Nani with their unnamed parents. The four family members were very close to one another. Prior to the events of the original Lilo & Stitch film, the two parents died in a car accident, with their daughters orphaned. Nani became Lilo's legal guardian, and the two sisters' relationship would grow strained over time. By the time of the original film, they were at risk of being separated by their newest social worker Cobra Bubbles, who became under the belief that Nani wasn't doing a good job taking care of her younger sister.
The development of the sisters' current family began when Nani decided to let Lilo adopt a dog. At the animal shelter's pound, Lilo met Experiment 626, who won her over due to his ability to talk as she adopted him as her "dog" named "Stitch", not knowing that he was an escaped alien criminal. Initially, Stitch was disobedient and only wanted to use her as protection from two other aliens, his creator Jumba Jookiba and Agent Wendy Pleakley. However, Lilo, ordered by Cobra to make Stitch into a "model citizen", managed to eventually tame him and make him a loving family member. Stitch rescued Lilo from being kidnapped by Captain Gantu, and in return, she prevented him from being taken away by the Grand Councilwoman by using a legal loophole, allowing them to continue living together. Lilo, Stitch, and Nani would then accept the exiled Jumba and Pleakley into the ʻohana. The five members of the new extended family, along with Cobra and Nani's boyfriend David Kawena, rebuilt the Pelekai household (which Stitch and Jumba destroyed in their fight earlier) and would soon enjoy life together as a loving family, as the montage shown at the beginning of the original film's ending credits implies.
Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch showed some insight on what the family's relationship is like after the first film, with Lilo, Stitch, Nani, Jumba, Pleakley, and David having a "Family Fun Night" and then dancing together after the hula competition at the end of the film.
The family would expand greatly throughout the subsequent Lilo & Stitch: The Series. Beginning with its pilot film Stitch! The Movie, the over 620 experiments other than Stitch would join the ʻohana over time. Lilo and Stitch would rehabilitate the experiments from evil monsters to helpful members of society by giving them "one true places" where they could use their abilities and powers for good, paralleling Stitch's own reformation and rehabilitation by Lilo in the original film. Stitch, who was inspired by Hawaiian terminology, considers nearly all the other experiments to be his "cousins" (the only known exception being Angel, who is instead his girlfriend).
By the time of the finale film Leroy & Stitch, the extended Pelekai family has grown to become rather massive, now consisting over of 630 members living mostly together on Kauaʻi. Although Stitch, Jumba, and Pleakley initially left to go after new occupations off Earth (or, in the case of Jumba, return to his laboratory), they would decide to return to Earth to continue living with Lilo, with Stitch considering his life with Lilo as his "one true place".
However, if the two spin-off television series released after Leroy & Stitch—the anime series Stitch! and Chinese animated series Stitch & Ai—are considered to be canonical to the Lilo & Stitch franchise, then the ʻohana would not last, with the alien members separating from the humans in later years.
In the Stitch! anime, Stitch had left Lilo (who was now dropped as a main character) believing that she neglected him over the years in favor of being with a boyfriend. He would later end up on Izayoi Island near Okinawa and find a new family with a local girl named Yuna Kamihara. Jumba and Pleakley would later join him, while many of the other experiments have now also ended up on the island and elsewhere, with some of them now being under the possession of Dr. Hämsterviel. In its third season ~Zutto Saiko no Tomodachi~ (known in English as ~Best Friends Forever~), a now fully grown Lilo visits Okinawa's New Town with her daughter Ani (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 (although the English dub states that Stitch had been away on mission with the Galactic Armada throughout Lilo's time in college, which might provide an explanation to him being unaware of Nani's condition), and since Lilo didn't arrive at the time they planned, he thought Lilo had forgotten about him. He leaves his tiki necklace (the one received from Lilo in Leroy & Stitch) on the beach before flying away in his ship, and by the time Lilo arrives he had already left, and cries when she finds 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. Besides Lilo, Nani, and Ani, it is not exactly known who now represents the Pelekai family on Hawaii, or even who has married Lilo and Nani, but it is likely that it is now back to being all humans.
In Stitch & Ai, Stitch's separation from Lilo in this series is unintentional, as he was kidnapped by space criminals. However, he manages to escape to China's Huangshan mountains, where meets a local girl there named Wang Ai Ling, joining her family. Jumba and Pleakley later arrive there to rescue Stitch and take him to the United Galactic Federation but decide to let him stay with his new family and keep watch over him. Notably, despite the unintended separation, Stitch does not make any concerted effort to try to return to Lilo, even after Jumba and Pleakley arrive, seemingly preferring to stay with the Wangs. According to director Tony Craig in an interview with a Lilo & Stitch fan, this is because Stitch's memories of Lilo (which are represented in the series as recreated flashbacks) are foggy, although his statements contradict the facts that Stitch is a hypercognitive creature and he clearly remembers Jumba and Pleakley (Craig acknowledged the latter fact in his interview). Besides Cobra, who is observing Stitch from a distance, the statuses of the old family other than the three main aliens are unknown in this series.
Both these two series and the separation of Stitch, Jumba, and Pleakley from the Pelekais have become a major point of contention to the Lilo & Stitch fanbase, primarily fans from the Western world (especially those from the United States). Supporters of the spin-off shows argue that the aliens joining the Kamiharas and the Wangs expanded the overall ʻohana of the franchise and its characters, and Stitch is still faithful to Lilo and his old family since he still fondly remembers her and still considers her as a friend. Detractors of the spin-offs argue that the separation of the aliens from the Pelekais are a betrayal to the message of ʻohana because they leave their old family behind and that Stitch is replacing his old family with new ones. Though by no means "definitive" answers, official Disney media seem to suggest the latter "Stitch gets new families" argument, with the anime having the aforementioned scene of Lilo telling Stitch to take care of his new family, and the first promo for Stitch & Ai's English release on Disney Channel Asia starting with the announcer saying, "Stitch has a new family."
The main members of focus who live(d) in the Pelekai residence.
- Lilo Pelekai
- Nani Pelekai (Lilo's older sister and legal guardian, house matriarch)
- Mr. and Mrs. Pelekai (Lilo and Nani's parents; deceased)
- Stitch (legally, Lilo's pet "dog"; figuratively, her best friend and brother figure)
- Jumba Jookiba (creator of Stitch and the experiments and their father figure, Lilo and Nani's adoptive "uncle")
- Wendy Pleakley (Jumba's partner, Lilo and Nani's adoptive [male] "aunt")
The other members who are considerably more "minor" compared to the above family members. Despite their direct relations with Lilo and Nani, the permanent residences of their anime-exclusive children are unknown.
- David Kawena (friend, Nani's boyfriend)
- Cobra Bubbles (friend, Lilo's social worker)
- Experiments (Jumba's creations and children figures, Stitch's "cousins")
- Nani's unseen and unnamed child (Lilo's niece or nephew; Stitch! anime only)
- Ani Pelekai (Lilo's daughter, Nani's niece; Stitch! anime only)
- Croyle, Joshua. Interview with Tony Craig: Director of Stitch & Ai!. JoshuaCroyle.com. Archived from the original on February 9, 2018. Retrieved on 22 March 2018.
- "Stitch & Ai (English) | Disney Channel Asia | Promo". YouTube (February 1, 2018). Retrieved on March 22, 2018.