Sanders originally created the character in 1985 for an unsuccessful children’s book pitch, and developed a treatment for an animated feature featuring the character. The idea for the character was shelved until around 1996 when then-President of Walt Disney Feature Animation Thomas Schumacher approached Sanders and asked him if he wanted to a pitch a story, giving Sanders the opportunity to use his character again. When Sanders said that the alien character was going to crash-land in a forest filled with other animals, Schumacher told Sanders that the animal world was already “overly alien” to humans, and suggested that the character should end up in the human world to provide better contrast and juxtaposition for the story.
In later development for the film’s story, the character was going to be the leader of an intergalactic gang of criminals, with Jumba being one of his former cronies summoned by the Intergalactic Council to capture him. Test audience response to early versions of the film resulted in the change of Stitch and Jumba’s relationship to that of creation and creator, respectively.
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