10 Things We Know (So Far) About Baby Yoda, the Breakout Star of The Mandalorian
From the moment he appeared onscreen in the premiere episode of the new Disney+ series The Mandalorian on November 12, the creature referred to as Baby Yoda has become an internet sensation not seen since the likes of the IKEA monkey. The Rock has displayed his affection for the cooing green infant on Instagram; a man purportedly got a tattoo of Baby Yoda holding a White Claw seltzer and insists it’s permanent; and a Change.org petition is underway demanding a Baby Yoda emoji.
That Baby Yoda has gripped the imagination of the country is no small feat, as precious little has been revealed about his origins other than that he appears to be a member of the same unnamed species as Jedi Master Yoda, which has traditionally been shrouded in secrecy. More will be revealed as The Mandalorian continues its weekly run through December 27. In the meantime, here’s what we know so far about the alarmingly adorable creature canonically known as “The Child.”
(Enjoy but beware of spoilers, as this piece discusses events depicted through episode 7 released December 18.)
1. Baby Yoda is 50 years old, but he still seems a bit behind developmentally.
Owing to the long lifespan of Yoda’s species—Yoda himself lived to be roughly 900 years old before expiring in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, set five years prior to the events of the Disney+ series—it makes sense that the “baby” in the show is the human equivalent of someone about to subscribe to AARP: The Magazine. We learn Baby Yoda is about 50 in the first episode, where Mando is told he’s being tasked with finding a target that age. It’s a clever bit of misdirection that sets up the climactic reveal that the bounty hunter is after an infant.
And though his habits—tasting space frogs and playing with spaceship knobs—seem developmentally accurate, child experts told Popular Mechanics that such curiosity is more in line with a 1-year-old, not the 5-year-old Baby Yoda might be analogous to in human years. He’s also not terribly verbose, putting him behind what one might expect of a person his relative age.
2. Baby Yoda is male.
After rescuing Baby Yoda from an untimely demise at the hands of bounty hunter IG-11 in the debut episode, the titular Mandalorian takes off with his young bounty to deliver him to his Imperial employer known as the Client (Werner Herzog). In episode 3, the Client receives the baby; his underling, Doctor Pershing, (Omid Abtahi) refers to the character as “him.” A pre-order page for a Mattel plush Baby Yoda also refers to the character as a "he."
We have, however, seen a female member of Yoda’s species before. In 1999’s Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, a character named Yaddle sits wordlessly on the Jedi Council.
3. Baby Yoda’s genetics are of great interest to what’s left of the Empire.
Why was Mando sent to fetch Baby Yoda? From what we could gather in episode 3, the Client was desperate to gather knowledge from the creature, with Doctor Pershing told to extract something from his tiny body. That motive has yet to be revealed, but thanks to The Phantom Menace, we know Force-sensitive individuals can carry a large number of Midi-chlorians, or cells that can attenuate themselves to the Force. One fan theory speculates that these cells can be harvested, creating people with greater capabilities to wield Jedi powers.
4. Using the Force really tires Baby Yoda out.
In episode 2, a battle-weary Mando is in real danger of being trampled by a savage beast known as a Mudhorn. Channeling his Force abilities, Baby Yoda is able to dispatch of the threat, but the effort seems to exhaust him, and he spends most of the rest of the episode sound asleep.
5. Baby Yoda has Force-healing abilities.
In episode 7, bounty hunter guild leader Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) is seriously wounded by a dragon (or dragon-esque) creature en route to a confrontation with Imperials. Just when it looks like Karga will succumb to the creature's venomous strike, Baby Yoda calls upon the Force to instantly heal his wound. The power of the Force to treat physical ailments has been portrayed in Star Wars Expanded Universe content like books and comics, but much of that material became non-canon following Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012. This is the first time a character in a live-action series has demonstrated the ability.
6. Baby Yoda is probably not a clone.
Online speculation has run with the idea that Baby Yoda might not simply be an infant of the unnamed Yoda species but a clone of the Jedi Master himself. Episode 7 seemed to debunk this, however, when Mandalorian colleague Kuiil (voiced by Nick Nolte), a former Imperial, said he was familiar with the cloning process and that the tyke seemed to be the result of nature, not a laboratory.
7. Baby Yoda is capable of murder.
Episode 7 brought about the most shocking Baby Yoda disclosure yet: While watching his surrogate father Mando struggling in a friendly arm-wrestling contest with Cara Dune (Gina Carano), the creature grows concerned and channels the Force to choke Cara, a technique favored by Darth Vader in the original trilogy. Though he releases his hold on her, it's clear Baby Yoda does not yet realize the value of human life and might snap at any moment.
8. Baby Yoda might become a Jedi Master in a hurry.
Despite his infantile status, it seems like it won’t be long, relatively speaking, before Baby Yoda achieves the Zen-like mindset and formidable skills of a Jedi Master. It’s been pointed out that Yoda achieved that rank at the age of 100, at which point he began training Jedis. That would mean Yoda’s species is capable of some pretty rapid development between the ages of 50 and 100.
9. Werner Herzog has a soft spot for Baby Yoda.
Herzog, the famously irascible director of such films as 2005’s documentary Grizzly Man and 1972's Aguirre: The Wrath of God, portrays the man known as the Client, out to capture Baby Yoda. Interacting with the puppet on set was apparently a source of amusement for the part-time actor, who sometimes addressed Baby Yoda as though he were not made of rubber. "One of the weirdest moments I had on set, in my life, was trying to direct Werner with the baby,” series director Deborah Chow told The New York Times. “How did I end up with Werner Herzog and Baby Yoda? That was amazing. Werner had absolutely fallen in love with the puppet. He, at some point, had literally forgotten that it wasn’t a real being and was talking to the child as though it was a real, existing creature.”
Herzog was so emotionally invested in Baby Yoda that he reacted harshly when The Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau and producer and director Dave Filoni spoke of wanting to shoot some scenes without the puppet so they could add him as a computer-generated effect later in case the live-action creature wasn’t convincing. “You are cowards,” Herzog told them. “Leave it.”
10. Baby Yoda bootleg merchandise has become a force.
When Favreau decided to keep Baby Yoda under tight wraps before the premiere of The Mandalorian, it forced Disney to postpone plans for tie-in merchandising, which can often leak plot points from film and television projects in retailer solicitations months in advance. As a result, precious little Baby Yoda merchandise is available, save for some hastily-assembled shirts and mugs on the Disney Store website. That leaves craftspeople on Etsy and other outlets to fabricate bootleg Baby Yoda plush dolls and other items.
The shortage runs parallel to the predicament faced by toy maker Kenner upon the release of the original Star Wars in 1977. Faced with a huge and unexpected holiday demand for action figures, the company was forced to sell consumers an empty box with a voucher for the toys redeemable the following year.
There is one bright spot for fans: Baby Yoda overalls have made it to retail.