Outside of Jar Jar Binks and ewoks, there’s no creature in the Star Wars universe more divisive than porgs.
[Warning: The following contains minor spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.]
Introduced in The Last Jedi, porgs are “small, flat-muzzled avians that flock about the rocks and roost in the cliffs of Luke Skywalker’s secluded island” of Ahch-To, according to the official Star Wars website. They make high-pitched, squeal-like noises to communicate and sport sad, pathetic looks on their faces. They’re small, feathery creatures that, depending on the type of person you are, are either perceived as adorable or loathsome.
Even The Last Jedi cast members themselves are divided on the issue. John Boyega, who plays Finn in the movie, told Jimmy Kimmel that he hates porgs, adding that the small birds give him the creeps. Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, doesn’t have a problem with them.
Of all the actors, however, it’s the master of motion capture and visual effects, Andy Serkis, who felt most strongly about the creatures. Serkis, who plays Supreme Leader Snoke in The Last Jedi, apparently liked porgs so much he tried out for the role of one, but couldn’t quite figure out how to get the motion capture just right for the film.
Porgs lead to fights among friends — and drew some members of Polygon’s team apart after venturing out to watch the movie. A couple of Polygon employees were overjoyed by the cute addition to the Star Wars universe; a couple were ambivalent to them. The rest of us made our opinions on porgs adamantly clear to just about anyone who would listen. Sorry, porg-loving folk of New York City.
We’ve collected some thoughts from Polygon employees who have gone to see The Last Jedi about whether they’re pro- or anti-porg, asking them to briefly explain why.
Agree with the adoring fans on staff? Standing tall with those who despise porgs? Let us know in the comments.
Samit Sarkar, senior reporter: Did Lucasfilm and Disney invent porgs solely to sell plushies this holiday season? I mean, I don’t know that for sure, but I would not be surprised in the least if that were the case.
Honestly, though, who cares? They’re plenty adorable enough for the toy market, and they were even adorable enough to stop Chewbacca from chowing down on their fellow feathered friends. (I will note that Chewie had already killed and roasted the animals, so at that point, he might has well have eaten them despite any objections from living porgs. Why let a hunt go to waste?)
Anyway, the porgs were literally designed to be alien animals that could deliver cuteness and slapstick comedy, so ... mission accomplished! 11 out of 10. Way better than the ridiculous crystal foxes, at least.
Ryan Gilliam, gameplay lead for The Rift Herald, Heroes Never Die and Flying Courier: Porgs could have been so bad. They should have been so bad. But they are not so bad. In fact, they are very good.
Star Wars is a series about hope and magic. The focus is on actions and people that make you believe despite all of the darkness around you. And somehow, through the magic of cinema, Rian Johnson created these stupid penguin things that help you feel hopeful. They live simple lives and they feel simple emotions. In a big galaxy far, far away, that kind of perspective is welcome.
On Ahch-To (yeah, that’s the actual name of the Porg planet), we see the circle of life play out in a couple of ways. Poor Chewie, who is really suffering after the loss of Han, even adopts a large family of Porgs after seemingly becoming a vegetarian. It’s the most adorable subplot ever seen in a Star Wars movie. Porgs are cute and just the right amount of annoying, like all cinematic animals should be. They aren’t Jar Jar Binks, they aren’t that weird camel on Tatooine that poops, they are lovely critters who just happen to live on an ancient Jedi planet.
In a universe where the First Order is trying to abolish all hope from the galaxy, Porgs do more work than anyone else to help restore it.
Owen Good, weekend editor: I don't really care about these intergalactic Furbies. That's the worst thing you can say about a character, by the way. But porgs are only nominally a character. There's so much comic relief in The Last Jedi — much of it timely and well done — that their purpose is redundant.
The other "animals" — these would be nonhuman species that neither speak nor have names and are presented collectively — were likewise shallow. Those racing beasts were interesting to me, but entirely things to be exploited. Those handmaid's-tale aliens back at Luke's Jedi crib were novel, I suppose, but even less necessary considering Luke's talent for spearfishing and survival tasks. And I guess Evee has a new evolution, but at least the crystal dogs served a story purpose, showing the heroes a way out. In the end, we still haven't seen a Star Wars animal with the kind of usefulness, novelty and sympathy as the noble Tauntaun.
Ben Kuchera, opinions editor: Star Wars is often given grief for being as interested in selling toys as it is in telling a good story, and the porgs of The Last Jedi aren't going to help the franchise's reputation. They do nothing except exist, scream at the screen and look cute. One is very sad that his mother is being eaten by Chewbacca, which is an odd moment when you consider what had to have happened offscreen. Did Chewie just grab one at random to kill, gut and cook in front of its friends? The porgs seem very smart, so at what point does predation become murder? (Owen adds: And if it’s not murder, how did he hunt it? Because using a bowcaster would be like dove hunting with a bazooka.)
The Last Jedi sometimes uses the porgs to make a point about life and death I guess, but you'd think the crew of the Falcon would at least take a moment to clear the ship of any nests or stowaways before taking off. It's unclear if the porg shown in the cockpit with Chewbacca is their new friend, or just a snack waiting for its death. But hey, you can buy some dolls at your local Disney store! That justifies the creepiness of this whole thing, right?
Ross Miller, programming director: For the last month, I have kept a porg plushie on my desk, bought impulsively from Duane Reade when I was buying an emergency Snickers. Now, Mr. Plush Porg is adorable in every objective way: soft, doughy, and forever frowning with the most pathetic gaze.
I wish this were the porg of the movies. Whereas the trailer implies one animated, personable capital-P Porg that'd serve as both a physical and emotional foil for Chewbacca, the movie itself reveals a literal infestation of porgs, one that seems to be wreaking havoc on the Millennium Falcon after just days settled on Ahch-To. I have no sympathy for creatures that start tearing up a treasured ship. For all their physical cuteness, the personality and behavior suggest something more irksome. And it's this dichotomy that annoys me the most: too cute to completely hate, too annoying to like at all. When, at one point, a porg smacks into the window of the Falcon, I am neither sad for its pain nor happy for its folly. I'm just sad it exists in the first place.
Allegra Frank, deputy news editor: Porgs are bad.
I said it. They're bad. Porgs rival Jar-Jar Binks and Ewoks when it comes to insufferable Star Wars creatures with the seeming sole purpose of selling toys.
I have nothing against toys, or ostensibly cute things, or tiny, animal-like beings. But I have many qualms with Porgs: The humor they introduce into The Last Jedi feels especially pandering to a younger audience transfixed by gibberish. Their screen time is excessive in relation to what they actually do, which is nothing. Oh, except scream. They like to scream.
Porgs are pointless creatures that, at most, are a good snack for my boy Chewbacca. Chewbacca is my boy because he's cute, but he's also smart and heroic and loyal. Porgs, on the other hand, are just plain bad.
Please feed the entire population of the stupid things to Chewbacca before Episode 9, Lucasfilm.
Julia Alexander, senior entertainment reporter: Porgs are pathetic.
Like Ross, I was obsessed with porgs going into The Last Jedi. As a proud fan of the Minions and other tiny creatures that exist as something puny to make fun of, the porgs were right up my alley. Porgs never become funny. I keep waiting to laugh at something involving porgs, and the only time I got close was when Chewbacca hit one; I’m not entirely convinced that wasn’t a sadistic giggle born out of malice for the feathery nincompoop, either.
Why couldn’t have the porgs been useful? Why couldn’t they have followed through on their early promise of being some wide-eyed, cute bird that I could sporadically laugh at? All the porgs did was deliver upon the promise that kids everywhere will want a stuffed version to sleep with at night or cuddle during the day.
Maybe this is just another example of the capitalism’s evil, but in the words of just about every hippie at some point in their life, “what ever happened to the art, man?”
Susana Polo, entertainment editor: I felt entirely neutral on the porgs.
Sometimes the porgs were funny, mostly when their "cuteness" made them annoying to characters. Sometimes they were a part of a "slamming into the windshield" gag and it was a freakin’ Ice Age short but with Chewbacca.
And sometimes they were with their babies and being used to illustrate the balance of the Force, and that touched me deep inside my jaded heart. So maybe I like porgs, but as a part of our natural environment, not as quick gags.
Simone deRochefort: I'm ambivalent about the design of the porgs. They were pretty cute when I first saw them in the film, and the first couple times they screamed I thought it was funny. What bugged me is that every single time it cut to a shot of a porg, the porg would scream, and that would be the whole joke. These are one-note mascots. They could have been better.