If you had no idea who Yoda is and you saw him for the first time, you would think he was just a creepy, little gremlin. You might think he looks like a cute, old elf or a disturbing, green alien. It would be hard to imagine that his name is now synonymous with wisdom, and that he is the most revered Jedi Master in the Star Wars universe. Nerds quote Yoda across the galaxy (odd syntax and all). Children mimic his leaping style of lightsaber combat (though to be honest, kids these days probably copy Rey and Kylo Ren more than Yoda). With such a long-lasting reputation, it makes sense that there would be some skeletons in Yoda’s closet.
Not much is known about Yoda’s past, and what little information is given to us we covet like the Ark of the Covenant. Yoda has appeared in six Star Wars films, but we know so little about him beyond what we can see with our own two eyes. When I was a kid, the mystery of Yoda plagued me like nobody’s business. If I had found a compendium about all things Yoda, I would have saved up some allowance just to buy it.
As the years have passed, devoted Star Wars fans have gathered our collective brains and compiled all they know about Yoda. Many of Yoda’s secrets still remain hidden, especially given the fact that he has such a long life span in which to hide them, but new things have come to light, especially since [SPOILER ALERT] he made the greatest appearance in The Last Jedi. Read on to discover more secrets you never knew about the mightiest Jedi in existence.
25. The Teaching Workload
Living as long as he has, and being as wise as he is, Yoda has had the opportunity to teach many Jedi. I mean, think about it. If you were at a Jedi Academy, wouldn’t you want Yoda to be your teacher? I would fight for that honor. (And then I’d probably get dismissed because violence is not the Jedi way.) But the sheer amount of students Yoda has instructed in the ways of the Force is astounding. He trained around 20, 000 Jedi before his death! Think of all those hours of schooling. I’m wincing inside at the thought of Yoda having to put up with 20,000 Padawans during all his long years at the Jedi Temple. When we see him in the prequel movies, he has been put in charge of teaching groups of younglings. I wonder if he prefers those toddlers to older, whinier adolescents.
24. Height Handicap
When Attack of the Clones was ending, and Count Dooku had just defeated Anakin and Obi-Wan, we held our bated breath as we heard the tap-tapping of Yoda’s cane. Dooku turned around, and Yoda came limping closer. Dooku pulled his curved-hilted lightsaber out, and then Yoda unclipped his from his belt, and we got to see Yoda engage in a lightsaber fight for the first time ever. He was all over the place, leaping from floor to wall to floor again. His small, green lightsaber was a whirlwind of color. Well, did you know that Yoda’s lightsaber form is called Ataru? Ataru relies on acrobatics, and Yoda used it in order to make up for the fact that he was usually shorter than his opponents. That is why he was flipping all over the place.
23. A Special Touch
Usually, you can tell as soon as you see a Jedi that they are a Jedi, and if you see a Sith, you know that it is a Sith. The Jedi wear their Jedi robes and wield lightsabers of blue and green (or purple). The Sith wear dark robes, and their lightsabers are corrupted and red. You typically have no problem determining who is evil and who isn’t. But what do you do when a Sith, someone who has fallen to the Dark Side is trying to disguise themselves as a Jedi? Well, Yoda has a handy trick for that. He can tell what alignment a Force user is merely by touching them. That is, if the Force user allows Yoda to get that close. I would poop my pants if I was trying to hide something from Yoda and he started approaching me with an outstretched hand.
22. A Boat To Call Home
When Yoda first arrived on Dagobah, he came in a starship’s lifeboat. As you probably observed when we visited Dagobah with Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, it’s not a hub of civilization. It’s a swampy wilderness. So when he landed on Dagobah, his lifeboat was Yoda’s first home. It gave him shelter from the murky dampness of the swamp. But the swamp eventually wore down his lifeboat, so Yoda somehow had to construct his own hut. I don’t know if Yoda ever built a domestic abode before this, but if he didn’t, I congratulate him on a satisfactory first-time construction. It must have been quite sucky having the planet you’re calling home destroy your first house.
21. The Toe Mystery
Consistency is important when you’re designing your alien puppets, and Yoda’s puppet from The Phantom Menace proves that. When we were first introduced to Yoda in the swamps of Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back, his puppet was designed with four toes. In the next Star Wars installment, The Return of the Jedi, he still had his four toes. When The Phantom Menace rolled out, imagine our surprise when Yoda’s puppet only had three toes. But the next of the prequels, when Yoda made the change from puppet to CG, saw Yoda with his four toes again. This led many fans to believe that Yoda’s species had a proclivity to grow toes in their later years.
20. Up With Your Friends, Down With Your Enemies
Another skill that Yoda has that is useful in battle situations is battle meditation. When Yoda meditates on the eve of battle, he has the ability to boost his compatriots’ morale while simultaneously dampening his foes’. This doesn’t work on a droid army though. When Yoda was in charge of clone troopers during the Clone Wars, he would use this technique to help his fellow combatants. I always like to think that Yoda helping out the clones with this move makes him like a support class in a video game. With him being so powerful, you imagine him to be a heavy-hitter, but it’s nifty to see him take on support roles.
19. Mr. Yoda
Remember how I said that Yoda was shrouded in mystery? Well, he’s so mysterious that even his own creators don’t know much about him. Yoda is technically a last name. That’s why it’s Master Yoda, just like Obi-Wan is eventually called Master Kenobi. And guess what. No one knows Yoda’s first name. George Lucas left it a secret even to himself. It’s anyone’s guess if a fellow member of the Jedi Order was close enough to Yoda to be privy to his first name, but they definitely don’t say it out loud for the audience’s benefit. This burns the curious person that I am. I mean, I would have felt better about the whole thing if I had learned that Yoda only had one name. But knowing that he has a first name and it’s a mystery kills me.
18. Graduating So Young
The ultimate level of Jedi rank you could attain in the Jedi Order was Jedi Master. That’s why Anakin was such a poopy-head in Revenge of the Sith, when he kept complaining about the Council not making him a Master. Seriously, he had only been a Jedi for a few years. Yoda didn’t become a Master until he was 100 years old. Now that’s what I call patience. Anakin can go whine to somebody else; I have no sympathy for him and his grievances. Yoda honed his skills and slowly worked his way to his rank. He didn’t get petulant about it. While I did not know until I researched Yoda that he became a Master at 100, this is one secret that does not surprise me.
17. The Skywalker Problem
Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker are the two main characters of their respective trilogies. Anakin’s story is told in the prequels, and Luke’s is told in the original trilogy. But did you know that Yoda initially wanted neither of them to be trained. In the prequels, Yoda sensed fear in Anakin and cautioned both Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi against training him. In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda argued with Force-ghost Obi-Wan against training Luke, saying he had no patience. I think it’s worth noting that Yoda argued against both of the Skywalkers becoming Jedi. Maybe they both had a capacity for great darkness.
16. The Name That Could Have Been
It may have been decided to keep Yoda’s first name a mystery, but it was very nearly a catastrophe. When the idea of a first name for Yoda was bandied about, one of the options for him was “Minch.” That’s right. The greatest of all Jedi Masters was almost called Minch Yoda. I can’t say that with a straight face. Minch. Minch Yoda. Say that name to yourself and tell me you don’t shudder at the thought that Master Yoda would have been called Minch. After hearing that his name was almost Minch, I don’t mind the mystery of Yoda’s first name as much anymore. Mystery is way more preferable than Minch Yoda. Anything would be preferable to Minch Yoda.
15. The Female Yoda
You may not have seen Yaddle in The Phantom Menace, but if you did, you may have performed a double take. ‘What is this other Yoda doing on the Jedi Council?’ Yaddle is one of Yoda’s species, but she is a she. She has longer hair than the wisps that Yoda carries, but that’s basically all you can see of her that differentiates her from Yoda. They never zoom in on her when they’re in the Council. (Honestly, it feels like the only Jedi who ever talk in Council sessions are Yoda, Mace Windu, and Ki-Adi-Mundi.) They just keep Yaddle off to the side to make our curiosity about her fester. And by the time Attack of the Clones comes out, Yaddle is not seen again. Did she die? She just disappeared.
14. The Power Of The Blue Ghost
Despite Yoda being wise and as old as space, even he had a few things to learn in his old age. It was Qui-Gon Jinn who taught Yoda about the possibility of life after death. Qui-Gon imparted to Yoda meditation techniques that would help him become blue ghost Yoda. Yoda told Obi-Wan these techniques, so that he could become a blue ghost too. I find it interesting that it was Qui-Gon who managed to discover the secrets to this kind of immortality. We only met Qui-Gon in The Phantom Menace. From what I saw of him, Qui-Gon was the kind of Jedi who saw the problems that existed in the Jedi Council as it existed in the Old Republic. Yoda obviously learned the lessons Qui-Gon gave him well, because Yoda managed to make a blue ghost appearance in the latest Star Wars movie.
13. Honorary Wookie
Yoda developed a close relationship with the Wookies of Kashyyyk. When Yoda volunteers to go to Kashyyyk to help with the war effort there in Revenge of the Sith, he mentions that he has close ties to the Wookies. He wasn’t joking. Yoda is practically considered an honorary Wookie. Several times before the Battle of Kashyyyk, Yoda visited the Wookie homeworld as a Jedi negotiator. He earned the title Defender of the Home Tree and became a part of several Wookie honor families. Reading this makes me wish that Chewbacca had gotten a chance to meet up with Yoda again in the old trilogy. Since they knew each other well, it would have made for a sweet reunion.
12. Responsible For Rejection
In the television series, The Clone Wars, we get to see what happens in the time period between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. We also get to meet Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice. If you haven’t seen the show, you might be wondering how it’s possible for Anakin to have an apprentice if we don’t see her in Episode III. In the show, Ahsoka is accused of bombing the Jedi Temple. Her innocence is eventually proved, but not before the Jedi Order expelled her from their ranks. After she was found not guilty of the crimes she had been accused of, she was invited back to the Jedi Order. She refused. Yoda felt largely responsible for Ahsoka leaving the Jedi Order forever, but, hey, at least she wasn’t around for the massacre in Revenge of the Sith.
11. If I Were Green I Would Die
Some early concept art for Yoda had him with a significantly different skin color than we’re used to seeing him. Some sketches featured Yoda sporting some blue pigmentation, adding to the idea that he could have been quite Smurf-like. I don’t know about you, but I think that green really is Yoda’s color. For me at least, the green seems to suit Yoda’s character when we first meet him on Dagobah. I probably prefer him green because I’m used to seeing him green, so the thought of him being blue is just off-putting. But seriously, picture Yoda with blue skin and tell me that he doesn’t look weird. It just does not suit him. He looks like he has chronic hypothermia.
10. Calling All Survivors
When such a powerful Force user like Yoda chills on such a Force-sensitive planet like Dagobah, powers get heightened. Yoda’s senses, probably already enhanced by his knowledge of the Force, got a boost from residing on Dagobah. While he was there, Yoda could sense the other surviving Jedi that had managed to escape from the widespread destruction of the Jedi. It must have been lonely in exile on Dagobah, so perhaps sensing the few remaining Jedi was a comfort to Yoda. Sensing that he wasn’t the last Jedi around must have been a nice thing to feel. I morbidly wonder if he could sense when the other Jedi passed away. Like a light blinking out in the darkness of space.
9. A Questionable Species
Another aspect of the mystery that is Yoda is his species. We get to encounter several members of Yoda’s species aside from him, but we still don’t know the name of his species. So, to recap, we don’t know Yoda’s first name and we don’t know the name of his people. Why? Why must we be tormented with such secrecy? I know George Lucas thought it would be better the less we knew about Yoda, but my curiosity can’t take much more of this. We might as well just call all of Yoda’s species Yodas because he is the one member we get fully introduced to. Yaddle never even gets a chance to talk in The Phantom Menace. Can we call them Yodas then and be done with it?
8. His Last Student
We all make mistakes, and it is a shame that Yoda’s last student was one of Yoda’s mistakes. Count Dooku, before he became Darth Tyranus, was Yoda’s last known Padawan (you know, of the 20,000 Yoda managed to teach). We meet Count Dooku when he’s already an old man, but way back when he was younger, he was Yoda’s Padawan, and Yoda took him on several adventures, one of which was to Kashyyyk. Sadly, Dooku with his stodgy sensibilities became fed up with the Jedi Council and he fell to the Dark Side of the Force. He met his old Master again in Attack of the Clones, and they fought each other in a dance of flashing lightsabers.
7. Feeling The Execution
Yoda’s connection to the other Jedi of the Jedi Order was strong. His ability to use the Force assisted with his connection to the other members, but I honestly think that Yoda cared for them all, no matter how old or capable they were. So when Palpatine sent out Order 66, and Jedi across the galaxy fell to their own clone troopers, Yoda felt their deaths. With clones being as precise as they are, all those deaths happened simultaneously, or nearly so. Stuck on Kashyyyk, Yoda could only put a hand to his head and his heart as he felt that wave of loss. I can’t imagine what that must have felt like. It’s one of those moments where having such a strong connection to the Force was a double-edged sword.
6. Short Stuff
Yoda’s official height is 2 feet 2 inches. For such a short guy, he can sure bring on the pain. His small height has never diminished the aura of power and wisdom he brings onscreen. When we are first confronted with Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, his mischievous manner and quirky behavior misled us into thinking that he was just a tiny prankster in a swamp. But as soon as we met the real Yoda, the serious Yoda, last vestige of the Jedi Order, we couldn’t get his might out of our brains. Despite his short stature (I swear, sometimes he feels less than two feet tall when he’s just a little puppet stealing flashlights), Yoda never loses that appearance of greatness.
5. Big Fans
Yoda is not popular solely among nerds. He’s a pop culture icon in his own right, with fans across the globe quoting him left and right. He even has fans in the marine biology community. The Yoda purpurata is a genus and species name for a kind of worm that lives in the North Atlantic Ocean. It was given the name of “Yoda” because it reminded the researchers of the shape of Yoda’s head. And let’s face it, Yoda’s head has a very distinctive shape, what with his bulbous, protruding forehead and his long and pointy ears. Kudos to those researchers for ensuring that Yoda’s legacy lives on in areas outside of the Star Wars films. That’s the kind of fame Yoda deserves.
4. Remaining Clothed
This is a tidbit you might be surprised to read about. I never really thought about this until I researched Yoda (by re-watching all of the Star Wars movies he is in), but he is the only Jedi we meet who does not take off his robe when he fights. The Jedi Order have a uniform, with brown robes covering a light tan tunic. Whenever they engage in strenuous lightsaber combat, they take off their darker brown robes. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon do this when they fight Darth Maul. Mace Windu disrobes when he fights Lord Sidious. A ton of Jedi do this when the fighting breaks out on Geonosis. Yoda is the only one who doesn’t do this. When he fights his final battle with Palpatine, Yoda loses his robe (finally), and it feels like a symbol that the end of the Jedi has finally arrived.
3. The Best Medicine
Yoda sensed Anakin’s fears for his mother as soon as he met him, and when Anakin’s mother died, Yoda sensed his anguish. In an effort to help Anakin deal with his fears of losing a person he is close to, Yoda decided to give Anakin his own apprentice, Ahsoka Tano. Yoda’s reasoning was that when Ahsoka’s training was done, Anakin would have to “let her go,” a healthy behavior that he had yet to learn. One of Anakin’s flaws from the perspective of the Jedi Order was his tendency to place too much importance on his personal connections instead of on the greater good. It’s kind of ironic that in order to cure this in him, Yoda gave Anakin yet another personal connection.
2. Too Old To Die
When Yoda passed away in his hut and his physical body disappeared, he had reached the ripe, old age of 900. He was the oldest living character in the Star Wars franchise until his death. Even though 900 is quite the age to have reached, it still feels as if we should have had more time with him. He was the teacher we never had, and 900 years is too short a time to spend in a galaxy far, far away. And what he said in his hut before he passed, “When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not,” is totally true. He looked good for his age, better than the average human would look at 900 (a decaying mold, probably). And if you consider the years he was packing, he was quite the sprightly elder.
1. The Warrior Who Doesn’t Fight
Yoda’s name was derived from the Sanskrit word for “warrior.” I get the feeling that if Yoda had known this, he would have disapproved. One of the first things he said to Luke in The Empire Strikes Back was “Wars not make one great,” after Luke told him he was looking for Yoda, the great warrior. Yoda was a great warrior, don’t get me wrong. When he fought someone, you felt bad for them. But Yoda’s ideology was rooted in the idea that fighting should be a last resort. Peace should be striven for, and violence was never the best solution to a problem. What we should remember about Yoda is how he did not relish his ability to be a great warrior. That’s why Yoda stands for the light.
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