Who is Yoda?

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Difficult to understand, Yoda’s past is. Yoda, as you likely know, is the creation of George Lucas and a very important character in the Star Wars universe. You might assume, being such an iconic character, that Yoda has a detailed and complicated backstory. However, you’d be wrong. In truth, despite being one of the most quoted aliens ever created, very little is known about Yoda. He was smaller than a meter in height, lived to be 900-years-old and could lift an X-wing out of a swamp with nothing but the power of his mind, but many questions like “Where did Yoda come from?” or “How many Yoda-like creatures are there?” just can’t be answered.


Even though fans have been asking these tough questions for a long time, however, George Lucas has been ignoring them. When talking about what species Yoda actually is, George Lucas candidly joked that Yoda is “the illegitimate child of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.” While this is likely just a reference to the voice-actor and puppeteer of Yoda, Frank Oz (click here to watch the documentary where George makes the joke), it’s the closest thing to an answer we’ve ever received. Furthermore, George has on multiple occasions referred to Yoda as a “frog.” While the reason for George’s mysterious attitude toward Yoda is unclear, what is clear is that George doesn’t want anyone to do anything that could reveal more about who Yoda is, where he came from or what the rest of his species is like. Yoda is George’s creation and no one is allowed to touch it.

For example, in 1994 Topps, Inc. released a series of Star Wars trading cards. One of the cards that was slotted to be released contained several aliens standing in a circle in the act of worshipping a larger-than-life-size statue. This particular species, however, resembled Yoda in appearance (even down to the pointed ears). While the argument can be made that this card would have implied some connection to Yoda, there’s honestly no way to draw any actual conclusions as to where Yoda comes from, or even anything beyond the fact that more of Yoda’s species exist (which, by the way, isn’t anything new). Still, when George caught wind of this card’s design, production was quickly halted and almost all of the already printed cards were immediately destroyed. As Gus Lopez of The Star Wars Collectors Archive put it, “depictions of Yoda’s [species] in unfamiliar settings are strictly off limits as far as Lucasfilm is concerned.”

Here is what the almost-entirely-destroyed card looked like.

 

But wait, there’s more! Renowned science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer was requested by his publisher to write a trilogy of novels that delve deep into the history of the Star Wars universe. According to Sawyer, the first of the series, set to be called “Alien Exodus,” would have detailed the liberation of various alien slaves from their massive, insectoid overseers. Despite his ingenious first line “An even longer time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” Sawyer eventually withdrew from the project. His reasons for leaving? It was decided that the books couldn’t use any of the races or species that appeared in the Original Trilogy. The books were re-assigned to a different author, all new alien species were created and a similar line of stories were published under the Lucasfilm brand as the Alien Chronicles (without any implied association to the Star Wars universe). Now, ask yourself this, what species of aliens do you suspect Sawyer wasn’t allowed to use? Rumor has it, that the books may have included Yoda’s species. For those curious, you can read more about Sawyer’s proposed book here.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There have been plenty of books published about Yoda, and there have even been other Yoda-like characters to appear within the Star Wars Universe. In Episode I, there was a female of Yoda’s species called “Yaddle,” and in the Old Republic Era there was another Jedi master by the name of “Vandar Tokare.” But don’t worry, both of these characters are just as mysterious and unrevealing as Yoda, though at least Vandar has a last name. So, despite several misleading rumors, next to nothing is known of Yoda’s Species.

Vandar Tokare
The Yaddle we know and love

 

That being said, it’s not like Yoda’s character is any less awesome because we don’t know his past, his planet or even if he has a family. In fact, maybe Yoda is best left alone. On the other hand, Topps, Inc.’s production of those Star Wars trading cards wasn’t likely to ruin anyone’s image of Yoda or reveal any forbidden secrets about Yoda’s species that George is so intent on hiding. Did it really need to be canceled? Re-arranging an entire book series because it may deal with races (like Yoda’s) from the Original Trilogy also seems a little crazy. George Lucas may just be afraid that additional information could cheapen the character. But as Yoda himself would say, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger… anger leads to hate… hate leads to suffering.”

Now that George has relinquished control of the Star Wars franchise to Disney, it will be very interesting to see what, if anything, is revealed about Yoda. What do you think? Do you think Yoda’s backstory needs to be developed? Or do you agree with George that it should always be a mystery? Let me know in the comments below.

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