People like The Mandalorian, but people love Baby Yoda. The tiny, “heartbreakingly beautiful,” puppet in Disney Plus’ flagship Star Wars show is the object of “awwwws” across the internet, and the clear breakout star.
But the show’s timeline, and how it fits into the Star Wars universe, means that the name we’ve come to be calling him isn’t accurate. It’s not probably “Baby Yoda” — but does that mean it’s not “Baby Yoda.”
Let’s break it down why The Mandalorian’s big mystery might be a little confusing to viewers who aren’t devoting hours to EU content and Wookieepedia.
When does The Mandalorian take place in the Star Wars saga?
The Mandalorian picks up five years after the events of Return of the Jedi and 25 years before The Force Awakens. This puts it around the time of the rise to power of the First Order, the main antagonists from the new trilogy. In fact, the First Order could even be connected to Warner Herzog’s The Client character, who sends The Mandalorian on his mission to find Baby Yoda to begin with.
But what exactly does this mean for Baby Yoda?
Baby Yoda isn’t really Baby Yoda ... probably
In Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda is about 900 years old. (“When 900 years old, you reach… look as good, you will not!”) That means he’s the same age when he dies shortly after training Luke. We later see him appear as a Force ghost, letting us know that he has indeed passed on from the realm of the living.
The Mandalorian is set somewhere around 9 ABY (After the Battle of Yavin), which after cross-checking with various Star Wars timeline resources, puts it about six years after Yoda’s introduction in Empire. Since we know “The Asset” (Baby Yoda) is 50 years old in the show, we’ll assume it was born 41 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin) — which also happens to be the birth year of Anakin Skywalker. So, Baby Yoda isn’t Baby Yoda, since regular Yoda would have been very much alive at that time. There are a few other possibilities.
What if Baby Yoda is Yoda’s baby?
Let’s talk about Yaddle. One of the most intriguing and mysterious of the additions to Star Wars canon from the prequel films, Yaddle was a Jedi Master and sat on the Jedi council. She was a female member of Yoda’s species, and until The Asset showed up, the only other member we’d seen. So, we’re forced to ask: is Baby Yoda the child of Yoda and Yaddle?
If true, it would change the way we have to view Yoda. It would mean that he, like Anakin, had broken his Jedi vows, and even more importantly, that he just shipped his kid off to The Outer Rim almost 10 years before The Phantom Menace even started. On the other hand, since Yoda and Yaddle are both extremely Force sensitive, it explains where Baby Yoda’s fantastical Force powers came from.
What if Baby Yoda is actually Baby Clone Yoda?
This is where things get a little weird. In theory, Baby Yoda could be a clone of Yoda. We know cloning technology exists, thanks to Kamino and the clone army. The reasoning behind this cloning would be a little more hazy. Is it possible Yoda had himself cloned, so that he could help out in the future?
Or, was it Emperor Palpatine who cloned Yoda in hopes of making himself a highly powerful apprentice. In the expanded universe books, which are now part of the Star Wars Legends story and no longer canon, we know that Palpatine had an affinity for cloning and cloned himself many times.
While some of these theories may be a little out there, it’s important to remember that we don’t necessarily have to stop calling The Asset “Baby Yoda,” but the better guess is that it’s just a new character of the same species. Still, The Client’s crony Dr. Pershing did look like he was wearing Kamino paraphernalia in the premiere...