When it comes to Star Wars there are few characters as beloved or iconic as Jedi Master Yoda. Since his first unhinged appearance as a geriatric terror in Return of the Jedi, the diminutive alien has been one of the fandom’s favorite good guys. The pivotal Jedi influenced generations of Padawan and is one of the most iconic characters the series has ever touted. Despite — or perhaps because of — his popularity, one of Yoda’s most memorable moments on camera is his death in Return of the Jedi. Not only is it one of the film’s best moments, but it is also pivotal in Luke Skywalker’s journey, with long-term effects felt long into the sequel trilogy. But how old was the wizened master when he finally returned to the Force?
How old was Yoda when he died?
There isn’t any concrete information when it comes to Yoda’s age, but the Star Wars fandom is notorious for its approximate knowledge of everything. Despite Yoda being one of the franchise’s most legendary characters, very little is known about his past before the start of the films. Like most Jedi, Yoda would have been inducted into the order as a small child.
Looking at Grogu, a much younger alien of the same species featured in The Mandalorian, we can identify some of the species benchmarks. At the start of the series, Grogu is identified as being 50 years old despite displaying many toddler-like qualities. It could easily take another hundred years for the non-verbal Grogu to grow into young adulthood. Likewise, Jedi Master Yaddle, a female version of the same species, was nearly 400 years younger than Yoda himself when she appeared in Tales of the Jedi. The kind Jedi seemed to be comfortably middle-aged before she was killed by the Sith.
Given his use of a cane, Yoda certainly seems twice her age, and this estimate lines up with information Yoda gives Luke in Empire saying, “For 800 years have I trained Jedi.” There are, of course, differences in mentality. Yoda could have grown up quickly, making Grogu seem like an underachiever. Likewise, the elderly Jedi could have had a terribly rough life, cutting his days short. Yoda lived to be around 900 years old, he tells Luke in Return of the Jedi, “When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not.”
Of course, Yoda could be rounding the numbers. The older we get, the less important birthdays become as years blur together. Who can blame him for rounding to the nearest number or failing to keep track of dates secluded and crazy in the swamps of Dagobah? Not to mention the difficulty of tracking time while jumping from planet to planet while moving through the galaxy. Space travel wreaks havoc on chronological age.
Why is Yoda’s age so debated?
Star Wars changed hands back in 2012 when Lucasfilm was sold to the Disney Company. During the transition, Disney cut a number of events so it could have more wiggle room for new stories. The upheavals in the timeline leave more than a small amount of room for debate, and this is before you factor in the various novels, video games, and other spin-offs in both the canon and legends timelines.
Because of this, the order of events can often shift, making it hard to track the passage of time. George Lucas had no idea how sprawling his brainchild would become when the original films were written, which left plenty of little details unrecorded. With more content being added to Disney Plus every year, there’s no doubt a few more nuggets of information will eventually be passed down to allow fans to pinpoint Yoda’s exact age.