When someone mentions Gremlins your first thought might be the cute Mogwai or his evil mischievous brothers. However Gremlins the movie is based upon an older myth derived from distressed World War 2 pilots.
The Gremlins origin is believed to derive from airmen serving in the Middle East during the Second World War, where the creatures were blamed for mechanical failures and accidents. Some also state that the name is derived from the old English name gremian which simply means „to vex“. Some claim their origins might even go back to world war one although there is not proof to this claim.
Author Roald Dhal, which wrote books like The Witches, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox and many more, is responsible for getting this myth out to the masses. Dhal served in the war with the Royal Air force 80 squadron in the Middle East. He had the unfortunate of experiencing a crash landing in the Libyan Desert which he might have used as an inspiration for his book Gremlins which he wrote later in his life while serving in Washington Dc as an assistant air attaché. The book was later picked up by Disney and there were even plans to turn it into a feature movie, which were later sadly canceled.
Gremlins have appeared in many places, including books and fiction of all kind; they have seen their time on television and in movies and have traveled between people as myth and fascinating fables.
Some of you might even remember them being portrayed on the 1943 episode of Bugs bunny aptly named Falling Hare where bugs is bullied and tormented by a Gremlin. This episode has seen many reruns since then. Another episode made by Warner in 1944 involves Hitler personally undertaking a bomber run to Russia before discovering his plane is infested by gremlins.
In 1963 William Shatner is featured on an episode of the The Twilight Zone where his character is traveling with a passenger plane and the only one to see a strange creature damaging the wing from the outside. This episode is noteworthy because it has inspired numerous spoofs over the years. For example you might recognize it from a Halloween episode of the The Simpsons, a scene from Ace Ventura 2: When nature calls and Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa.
Those are just a few of the many samples where you might find them.