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Porgs are about as important to The Last Jedi‘s narrative as Coleman Trebor is to the Jedi fight in the Geonosis Arena. They’re just kind of there… and then they’re not. They have minimal impact, other than for a bit of a chuckle. Sorry, Coleman.
However, despite the relatively small screen time and general uselessness, the porgs are undeniably cute. As the little one in the Millennium Falcon‘s cockpit let out an attempted imitation of Chewbacca’s roar, cinema-goers around the globe went “Aww!” as one.
Many people, including myself, initially suspected (vocally) that the porgs were nothing more than the Ewoks all over again – merchandising to the extreme. However, I’ve learnt that’s not necessarily true, as I’ll explain in this article.
In this porg guide, I’ll explain a little more about the species, the lore surrounding them, and why they were created for the Star Wars universe.
What is a porg?
Porgs were inquisitive seagoing birds native to Ahch-To, the planet where Luke Skywalker hid in exile. They were pretty heavy and plump, with short, stocky legs, webbed feet, and tiny but strong wings. Since they had no beak, their faces were relatively flat in appearance.
With thick feathers, porgs were ideally suited to the chilly climate of Ahch-To. Despite being seabirds, they were also quick and nifty on land, able to manoeuvre into small spaces at a moment’s notice.
Male porgs had hints of orange around the eyes and were slightly larger, identifying them from the females. Porglets – porg young – hatched in twos in their cliffside nests made of grass, hair, and other string-like materials they found lying around.
They ate seafood and dived into the water to catch fish and crustaceans. They’d then return to their young and feed them. Both males and females tended the nests.
Throughout his time on Ahch-To, Luke Skywalker was constantly accompanied and watched by flocks of porgs. When Rey found him in hiding, some six years after his arrival, she too was curiously inspected by the native birds.
Chewbacca killed and spit-roasted a couple of porgs over a fire he’d built one night. Although he was looking forward to his meal and considered the birds to look delicious, he hesitated when a flock sat nearby, gazing at him with large, mournful eyes. Frustrated, he lost his appetite – possibly.
It was the start of a complex but sound relationship between the Wookiee and the porgs. After two birds stole wiring from the Falcon to form part of their nest, it interfered with his and R2D2’s ship repairs. Chewbacca tried to exchange the wire they’d stolen for a blanket. Refusing this deal, he was instead forced to climb a tree and retrieve blue moss for the pair of porgs. They accepted this trade.
As they became more comfortable around Chewbacca, the porgs slipped onto the Millennium Falcon. Many were stowed away on the ship when Rey and Chewie left Ahch-To for Crait to save the Resistance, leading Leia to ask her old friend when their beloved ship became a birdcage.
After this trip, porgs began to spread throughout the galaxy and could be found as pets in some systems.
Porgs have less than two minutes on-screen through The Last Jedi, so their key moments are really all of them. I’ve listed them here for you.
- The Last Jedi – Luke tosses his lightsaber down the cliff. Two porgs inspect it, with one tapping it with its foot. Admit it – a tiny, evil part inside you sincerely wanted that lightsaber to activate. (Incidentally, that was almost included in the film!)
- The Last Jedi – Chewbacca roasts two porgs he’s caught and killed on a spit over a fire. Just before he can take a bite, there’s a squawk, and he looks up to see four porgs looking on with huge, sad eyes. He roars and scares them away, but one remains, gazing up at him. Now he hesitates before taking another bite before the scene cuts away.
- The Last Jedi – porgs tear up the Millennium Falcon‘s cockpit, enraging Chewbacca.
- The Last Jedi – when Chewie and Rey rescue the Resistance on Crait in the Falcon, the Wookiee roars in triumph. A small porg, standing next to him, imitates him. Aww. The same porg falls against the cockpit as Chewbacca manoeuvres the ship through Crait and screams in terror, leading him to push it away forcefully. The porg then notices the crystal-like vulptices escaping from the mine, so Rey can rescue the Resistance members trapped behind the rockfall.
Behind the scenes
Porgs weren’t a part of the original Last Jedi story. The reason for their inclusion is actually quite clever.
Puffins regularly flock to the Skellig Michael island (otherwise known as Great Skellig), seven or eight miles from County Kerry, Ireland. As the unavoidable filming location for Luke’s exile (since the island featured in Force Awakens), director Rian Johnson had a choice. The crew couldn’t remove the wild birds (they’re protected, and it’s their home, after all!), but they could either work around the puffins or work with them.
Director Rian Johnson opted for the latter. He devised the idea of the porgs as CGI models to cover up the puffins, making filming much more straightforward. After going through a few different designs, as part of the usual production process, Johnson settled on a model based on a seal crossed with a pug – two creatures written into our hearts as adorable.
The other porg moments were then written into the film based on this. So, there you go – they weren’t just a marketing ploy!
Key porg quotes
Chewbacca, piloting the Falcon next to a porg –
Leia to Chewbacca –
When did this old rattletrap become a birdcage?
Rey to Poe –
They’re from Ahch-To. Luke called them porgs. They’re adorable.
Question: Do porgs lay eggs?
Answer: Porgs do lay eggs. They hatch in pairs, and their young are called porglets. Of course, they are.
Question: What is a group of porgs called?
Answer: A group of porgs is officially called a “murder” (as are crows, actually – now you know!). They kill us with cuteness, perhaps.
Question: Did Chewbacca eat a porg?
Answer: It’s left up to the imagination. The scene cuts away from Chewie after he’s scared away the four or five porgs staring up at him. He’s clearly hesitating, unsure whether he wants to take a bite anymore after all.
I like to think he didn’t. They’re too cute.
However, what would you expect a Wookiee to eat from a practical point of view? They’re omnivores, so, like us, he would eat a mix of plants, meats, and animal products – but what else is there to eat on the island? Luke’s perfected this, of course, with his ability to catch fish and drink milk, so we might assume the old Jedi shares his food with Chewbacca.
Essentially, it’s whatever you choose to believe.
Question: Are porgs real?
Answer: Like most things in Star Wars, no, porgs aren’t real creatures.
However, they are heavily based on the puffins that inhabit Skellig Michael, the island off the coast of Ireland where Ahch-To is set.
Having a puffin as a pet is very illegal. However, you can often see them at some of America’s largest zoos, including Central Park Zoo (New York) and Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach, California).
Alternatively, you could consider getting hold of an animatronic porg from Amazon to satisfy your porg fever.
There’s perhaps more to porgs than meets the eye. Yes, they have very little impact on the overall story. Still, Johnson took a perceived obstacle (the puffins) and worked with them to produce an impactful creature in the Star Wars universe.
Actors, producers, and many more individuals who worked on the film have mentioned how much they love the creatures. And actually, I do too. They bring a touch of light-heartedness to what is otherwise a reasonably depressing delve into the concept of hope portrayed in The Last Jedi.
I genuinely hope to see more of them in future films!
The porg scene you really wanted to see
Remember that scene with the porg tapping the lightsaber? Well, make sure your kids are in bed and well out of the room because a YouTuber named Daniel Molinyawe has created just that. Of course, this is unofficial, fan-made Star Wars stuff.