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You do with Mogwai what your society has done with all of nature's gifts! You do not understand! You are not ready.

—(Mr. Wing to Rand Peltzer).

A Mogwai is a small, magical creature that was created centuries ago by brother and sister gods of creation. They have continued to exist ever since and have been under the care of many humans over the years. However, caring for a mogwai has rules that one must always follow and failure to do so will often result in their transformation into gremlins.

One special mogwai named Gizmo has existed throughout the centuries and was under the care of a man named Sam Wing before his passing. He is now currently under the care of another man named Billy Peltzer.


Mogwai are creatures with roots hailing from ancient China. They were created by sibling gods of creation, Fuxi and Nuwa, as a test and bet to see whose views about humanity, another of their creations, were correct; Nuwa thought humanity was mostly good while Fuxi thought the opposite. Nuwa had created the mogwai species while Fuxi made their rules and the losing god of the bet would have to quit creating life forever. A city known as Fengdong was chosen to represent humanity and the ones who resided there were given the mogwai to care for. If these humans could preserve and respect the mogwai then Nuwa would win the bet and if not, then Fuxi would win. Unfortunately, humanity grew to love the mogwai too much and all wanted one, so they broke one of the rules to do so and the other two followed soon after. Chaos ensued as the mogwai became gremlins and people died. Before the rest of China could fall, Nuwa stopped the test and intervened, reverting the gremlins back into mogwai and hid them in the Valley of Jade which would be her very last creation since she had lost the bet.

The mogwai remained in the Valley of Jade in peaceful isolation from the world. However, in 1920, a mogwai named Gizmo was accidentally separated from the others while defending his home from an eagle. He ended up on an unnamed mountain range, where he was captured by a traveling show. While the circus owners were abusive to Gizmo, this did not yet cause a Gremlin outbreak as the circus owners perchance avoided violating the rules. One day in Shanghai, a boy named Sam Wing was shopping with his grandfather, who saw Gizmo put on display by the circus. The grandfather told Sam they needed to free Gizmo; later revealing they needed to travel to the Valley of Jade. During this time, Gizmo came into contact with water, spawning four mogwai that metamorphosed into gremlins. After a series of adventures, Wing would care for Gizmo for many years, eventually bringing the creature with him to America where they lived in an antique shop.

In 1984, Gizmo was given to a teenager named Billy after his father had gotten the mogwai from Sam Wing's grandson. The rules were obeyed until Billy's friend, Pete Fountaine accidentally knocked over a brush cleaning jar that contained water, causing Gizmo to multiply, quickly spawning five new mogwai. The new mogwai tricked Billy into feeding them after midnight and all except Gizmo became gremlins. After defeating the gremlins, Sam Wing came to retrieve Gizmo and the mogwai returned to him.

Years later, Sam Wing passed away from old age and Gizmo was forced to escape after the antique shop was demolished by the Clamp Center who had sought to buy the place. Gizmo was then captured by scientists from the Clamp Center, but was rescued by Billy who was an employee there. However, during his stay in the building, Gizmo was exposed to water which resulted in the creation of four new mogwai. These mogwai would soon eat after midnight and the gremlins were unleashed on the Clamp Center. After the gremlins were defeated, Gizmo returned to Billy who became his new owner


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Mohawk, George and Lenny as Mogwai.

Mogwai resemble small mammalian creature with wide heads, large bat-like ears and eyes that have large pupils. Except for their muzzle, ears, hands and feet, they are covered in puffy fur that comes in patches of white, black, brown or gray, sometimes having more than two colors.

Mogwai have dangerous attributes that require special rules and attention. There are three very important rules that anyone who is taking care of a mogwai should know:

  1. No bright light, especially sunlight because it will kill them.
  2. Do not let them get wet.
  3. Never feed them after midnight.

Exposure to bright light inflicts pain onto a mogwai and should they be in direct sunlight, they will start to burn. This rule, however, can be used to ones own advantage when dealing with mogwai and their gremlin counterparts. Bright light and sunlight can be used to combat gremlins and keep them along with mogwai under control.

Should a mogwai get wet, it spawns new mogwai from its back, small balls of fur that are approximately the size of a marble pop out from the wet mogwai's back. These furballs then start to grow in size before unfolding themselves into new and fully grown mogwai. This process does not take much time but it still usually takes just about a minute. These mogwai can also look different to normal ones, possessing unusual physical traits.


The cocoons as seen in the first film.

When a mogwai eats after midnight, they are then able to make cocoons which start their transformation into gremlins. The cocoons made by a mogwai are large, gray-brown or green, slimy objects which pulsate while the gremlin is inside. They are made after the mogwai eats food after midnight. After a period of time, the mogwai has now transformed into a scaly gremlin, which hatches from the cocoon. What happens with the cocoon is unknown, but it is possible that the hatched cocoon stays where it is like with insects that hatch from cocoons.

A fourth rule exists, however, that few beings do know: Unless mogwai are wounded or hurt, they will live forever. And so, if you eat a mogwai whole, you gain immortality. This only works, however, with a furry mogwai. Should a gremlin be eaten, it will instead only make the consumer sick and throw up.


Mogwai, or rather namely Gizmo and those of his kind that managed to live past a hundred years, are generally docile and peaceful creatures. They form strong attachments with those that care for them and whomever they trust. Despite this, they still have a few mischievous traits.

In contrast, mogwai that have been spawned from another that was exposed to water are different from normal mogwai. They were cursed by Fuxi to be destructive tricksters for the first century of their lives; after that, they become more docile from that point on. Their personalities vary, but are all much more malicious than normal mogwai. They are also determined to eat after midnight which will allow them to transform into gremlins.

Behind the scenes[]

Like with the gremlins, the mogwai were portrayed with the usage of puppetry. Most of them were voiced by voice actors as well, such as Gizmo, who was voiced by Howie Mandel.


  • In Chinese mythology, mogwai (Mandarin: 魔怪, mó guài; Cantonese: 魔鬼) means "devil" or "demon", which often inflict harm on humans. The connection between the mythological creature and the film mogwai was defined by Chris Columbus in his Gremlins script, section 5 to 6.
    • In Chinese folklore, Mogwai are said to reproduce during mating seasons in the rain. Supposedly, because rain signifies rich and full times ahead, similar to the Mogwai multiplying after getting wet with water.
  • "But if you feed them after midnight..." was a popular catchphrase associated with Mogwai. However, it was never specified at what point could a mogwai safely eat again, confusing fans for years.
    • This was spoofed in the second film, where one man dismisses Billy's warnings as to what would happen if a mogwai was eating on an airplane before midnight, but then crossed the International Date Line.
    • In "Always Buy a God a Drink First", Nuwa reveals the rule originally stated that a mogwai could not eat when the moon was at its highest peak. For some reason, however, humans changed and shortened the rule. This also explains how the mogwai could metamorphose at midnight in both China and the United States in spite of the differing time zones.
  • There were several other prototype mogwai such as Penny made during the production of Gremlins 2: the New Batch. These include: a pure white one, one with many black stripes covering its body, one with that was similar to Gizmo but had lighter brown colors, and one with brown and black stripes on its face.
  • In George Gipe's novelization of the first film, the mogwai were created on an extraterrestrial planet by a placid scientist named Mogturmen, as the ultimate organism, docile, loveable little powder puffs, intended to promote peace and good will throughout the galaxy as ambassadors for harmony. The mogwai were created to be able to survive in almost every environment and also to reproduce very easily. The mogwai were then sent out to three planets, Klm-6 in the Porasti Range, Clinpf-A of the Beehive Pollux, and the third planet of MinorSun#67672, the planet Earth. Due to several of Mogturmen's miscalculations, though, only one in 10,000 mogwai turned out good and affectionate. Most others turned out more malicious and evil. They burned into the legends and folklore of our ancestors, as the pixies and goblins, of fables gone by.