This article contains spoilers for The Last Jedi
Even before The Last Jedi was released in theaters everyone already had an opinion about Porgs. A sickeningly cute blend between a puffin and some kind of small dog, these possibly mammalian creatures with wings dominated early tie-in merchandise. You can get everything from stuffed Porgs to Porg cuff-links to Porg pajamas, pet toys, and more.
It should come as no surprise that the tiny creatures were met with some skepticism. Ewoks, another adorable and overly merchandised species from the Star Wars universe, have been a divisive part of Return of the Jedi. Some people love them. Some people very vocally hate them. Regardless of what camp you fall into, you have to admit that it will always seem a little unlikely that a band of primitive (possibly cannibalistic) teddy bears could take down a heavily guarded Imperial outpost.
But I digress.
Early concerns were that the Porgs would take on a similar role as the Ewoks in The Last Jedi. After seeing them on board the Millennium Falcon at a seemingly critical moment in the trailer, a lot of people thought their worst fears were going to come true. Porgs were going to be some absolutely monumental part of this story and there was nothing we could do about it. And, while I’m decidedly Team Ewok, I had that fear, too. The same cannot be said of the die-hard citizens of #PorgNation.
The Stars Wars franchise could handle one overly important, adorable group of creatures, but probably not two. I hoped that the Porgs would simply be background figures and otherwise meaningless additions to the story, but after viewing the trailer, I was afraid that I was wrong.
I was prepared to hate Porgs no matter how adorable they looked.
Fortunately, The Last Jedi proved that we had nothing to fear from the Porgs. They are not, as we had thought, important to the story in any way, shape, or form. They are merely Porgs. While, yes, some of them sneak onboard the Falcon and manage to find their way into the final scenes of the film, they are not sentient creatures playing wingman to Chewbacca.
They are just Porgs.
And it’s for that reason that I love them.
When we travel with Rey to find Luke on Ahch-To, there are Porgs everywhere. Originally, they were created as sort of stand-ins for the real-life puffins that live on Skellig Michael – the island where these scenes were filmed. They were only ever meant to be a clever way of building up the credibility of this fictional world by populating it with a believable, fictional animal inhabitant. Which, ultimately, is exactly what they are.
Like the puffins, the Porgs are simply little bird-like creatures that live out their ordinary lives in the background. They fly, scurry, and scream their weird screams as Rey and Luke essentially butt heads over the future of the Jedi.
With the exception of a scene where Chewbacca tries — and then gets guilted out of — eating one of them, they’re largely just living their happy Porg lives, unaware that they are bearing witness to some galaxy-changing moments.
That’s not to say that they don’t have some importance to the story.
The influence they do have is minimal and the scenes are (usually) much more organic than I ever would have thought. For example, the life-cycle of the Porgs is used by Luke to illustrate the Force for Rey as we see both happy, healthy Porglets and lost, broke eggshells ruined by the elements.
And I actually found their mini-invasion of the Millennium Falcon endearing.
Sure, they’re annoying little shits at times, as we can see from the way Chewbacca is constantly having to chase them away as they damage parts of the ship. But they do their best to add a little comic relief to a movie that’s otherwise just filled with major character death after major character death. Is it wrong to appreciate what little joy they can give us?
Now, I am concerned that the Porgs do have the potential to become something of an invasive species. We already know they are nesting on the Falcon and it’s probably unlikely that Chewbacca did a head count of how many he had on board. And he’s sure as hell not going to take them back to Ahch-To to release them back into their natural habitat.
At best, he’s left them on Crait to be salt fox kibble. At worst he’s carting them around until Episode IX, occasionally losing a breeding pair here and there on various worlds where their vicious little teeth inside their beak-less mouths probably give them a leg up on some of their native competition.
In the end, though, I’m just glad the Porgs are Porgs.
Sure they aren’t as cool as the Vulptices or even the weird horse/rabbit Fathiers, but they are cute. They make their mark in the film. And, really, they’re just Porgs. I don’t hate them. I don’t have particularly strong feelings either way about them and that is why, I guess, in a way I like them. They are what they are: cute, harmless, and ultimately pretty pointless.