Audiences have loved Grog, aka “Baby Yoda,” ever since he debuted in the first episode of The Mandalorian in 2019, but one person who isn’t a fan is Gremlins director Joe Dante, who claims that the character’s design was “shamelessly” stolen from his 1984 film. Because both Baby Yoda and Mogwai Gizmo are short, with big eyes and big ears, and communicate their thoughts through body language and sounds, the similarities between the two are undeniable, Dante believes the series took inspiration from his film to create the short character.
I think the longevity of the Gremlins movies is really the key to this Gizmo character, who is basically like a kid. Which, of course, brings me to the topic of baby Yoda, which is completely stolen and just copied. Shameless, I think.
It’s worth noting that, as the name suggests, the character was inspired by Yoda, who made his debut in 1980’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. This means that a younger version of the species would have inherited its inherent physical characteristics, mostly large ears, however the screen design is still very similar to Gizmo.
In the 80s, the adorable Gizmo inspired a similar merchandising trend, becoming a worldwide sensation even among those unfamiliar with gremlin films. The original film received a sequel in 1990 with Gremlins 2: The New Batch, and now the franchise is making its way to the small screen in Gremlins: Mogwai Secrets, an animated film on HBO Max.
The animated series will premiere on HBO Max later this year. The third season of The Mandalorian is expected in early 2023.