Yoda is a fictional character from the Star Wars universe, who appears in all of the franchise's films except for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Frank Oz provided Yoda's voice in each film and lent his skills as a puppeteer in the original trilogy and The Phantom Menace. For the radio dramatizations of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Yoda was voiced by John Lithgow, while Tom Kane voiced him in the Clone Wars animated series several video games, and the new series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Yoda has a number of voiceover artists in the Japanese dub of the franchise, including Ichirō Nagai, Hitoshi Takagi, Minoru Uchida, and Mahito Tsujimura.

Yoda first appears in the saga in The Empire Strikes Back as a Jedi Master, and trains Luke Skywalker in the ways of the Jedi. In the prequel trilogy, he serves as Grand Master of the Jedi Order. Additional fiction in the Expanded Universe fills in more details of his life.


Character overview

Yoda is portrayed as a wise and powerful Jedi Master in the Star Wars universe. Series creator George Lucas originally wished Yoda to follow his other characters in having a full name: Yoda Minch, but instead opted to have many details of the character's life history remain unknown. Yoda's race has never been stated in any media, canonical or otherwise, and he is merely stated to be of a "mysterious species" by the Star Wars Databank. His race has been called a "tridactyl species" but this simply means that they have three fingers. Early in the development of Episode IV, Lucas included a species called the Whills, a mysterious, omnipresent race who were to take the story-teller perspective. It has been postulated by fans that Yoda, Yaddle and Vandar Tokare are Whills; recently, there has been passing reference to a Shaman of the Order of the Whills in the novelization of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, confirming their continued canonical existence in the Star Wars universe. However, Lucas has firmly denied that Yoda's species is in fact that of the Whills. In fact, very little is reported of Yoda's life before the events of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

The films and Expanded Universe reveal that he had trained several notable Jedi, including Count Dooku, who is identified in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones as Yoda's old Padawan Learner; Mace Windu; Obi-Wan Kenobi (partially, before Qui-Gon Jinn takes over as Obi-Wan's master); Ki-Adi-Mundi, Kit Fisto and eventually Luke Skywalker. (During the animated series Star Wars: Clone Wars, set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, he mentions that he trained another one of the leaders on the Jedi Council, Master Oppo Rancisis.) The Star Wars prequel plain that he instructs all younglings in the Jedi Temple before they are assigned to a master. This was displayed in a scene in Attack Of the Clones.

The Phantom Menace

In the films' timeline, Yoda first appears in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, in which Qui-Gon (Liam Neeson) brings the young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) to the Jedi Council. Qui-Gon claims that the boy is the "Chosen One" who will bring balance to the Force, and requests to train him once Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) has completed the trials necessary to become a Jedi Knight. Yoda senses great fear in the boy, and tells him "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." Yoda plays a key role in that body's initial decision to deny the request; he believes that Anakin is clearly affected by his years as a slave, and that he still clings too tightly to the memory of his mother to be trained safely. Yoda believes Anakin's future is clouded.

After Qui-Gon's death at the hands of Darth Maul (Ray Park), however, the Jedi Council rescinds their previous decision, despite Yoda's misgivings.

Attack of the Clones

In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, set 10 years after the events depicted in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Yoda is one of the many Jedi who are concerned about the emergence of the Separatists, a group of systems rebelling against the Republic. After the second attempted assassination of Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), Yoda orders that she be put under the protection of Obi-Wan's apprentice, Anakin (now played by Hayden Christensen).

Yoda later leads an army of Jedi and clone troopers in the film's climactic battle scene. He helps rescue Obi-Wan, Anakin and Padmé from execution at the hands of the Separatists. At the climax of the battle, Yoda duels with Separatist leader and Sith Lord Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), his former Jedi apprentice. This confrontation ends with Dooku making his escape by threatening Yoda's injured comrades, Anakin and Obi-Wan. Although seemingly frail, the ancient Yoda demonstrates agility and mastery of lightsaber combat and acrobatics through the Force.

Clone Wars

During the animated series Star Wars: Clone Wars, Yoda is made a General, like many of the Jedi Knights and Masters. Yoda escorts Padmé on their journey to an unspecified planet, but Yoda senses several Jedi in distress on Illum. Using the Jedi mind trick to convince Captain Typho to take them to Illum, Yoda saves two Jedi Knights and finds a message from Count Dooku giving orders to destroy the Jedi Temple.

In the series' final episode, Yoda fights alongside Mace Windu to defend Coruscant, which is under attack from the Separatists. The two Jedi Masters realize that the battle is a distraction; Separatist leader General Grievous truly intends to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine. Windu goes onto a Clone Hangar to try and prevent the kidnapping, but is too late.

Revenge of the Sith

In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Yoda leads the Jedi Council in seeking out the mysterious Sith Lord Darth Sidious. Yoda uses his sensitivity and power with the Force to discover the Sith Lord's identity, ultimately concluding that Sidious is someone close to Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). Palpatine himself sidetracks the mission, however; by now, the Chancellor has amassed near-dictatorial powers, and begins interfering in Jedi affairs. He appoints Anakin as his personal representative on the Council, which would effectively grant the Jedi Knight the rank of Jedi Master. The Council grants Anakin a Council seat, but denies Anakin the rank of Master, feeling that doing so would amount to giving Palpatine a vote in the Council. Embittered by the perceived snub, Anakin begins to lose faith in the Jedi.

Earlier, Anakin seeks Yoda's counsel about his prophetic visions that someone close to him will die (he does not identify the person as Padmé, his secret wife and pregnant with his child, as emotional attachments are a violation of the Jedi Code). Yoda, unaware of the intensity of Anakin's love for Padmé, tells him to "Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose." Unsatisfied, Anakin instead turns to Palpatine, who reveals himself as Darth Sidious, and manipulates the young Jedi into becoming his Sith apprentice — Darth Vader — with the promise that he can save his wife by embracing the dark side.

Palpatine later transforms the Republic into the tyrannical Galactic Empire, proclaiming himself Emperor for life, and orders the clone troopers to kill their Jedi generals. At this time, Yoda is on Kashyyyk, overseeing the battle between the Separatist forces and a combined command of clone troopers and Wookiees. Through the Force, he feels the deaths of each of the Jedi as they are assassinated by their own troops. After swiftly killing the clone troopers instructed to kill him, he escapes with the help of Wookiee leaders Tarfful and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and returns to Coruscant, where he and Obi-Wan fight their way into the Jedi Temple to stop a trap for any surviving Jedi. Inside, they discover that every Jedi inside, younglings included, have been slaughtered. They then discover a holographic recording revealing Anakin as the assassin. Yoda decides to face Palpatine, sending Obi-Wan to kill his former Padawan. Obi-Wan tells Yoda he cannot kill Anakin, asking instead to go after Palpatine. However, Yoda insists, saying, "To fight this Lord Sidious, strong enough you are not." He also tells Obi-Wan that the Anakin he knew no longer exists, having been "consumed by Darth Vader."

Subsequently, Yoda battles Palpatine in an epic lightsaber duel that wrecks the Senate House. The fight ends in stalemate, in which Yoda is forced to retreat and go into exile so that he may hide from the Empire and wait for another opportunity to destroy the Sith. At the end, it is revealed that Yoda has been in contact with Qui-Gon's spirit. Although this is given little attention in the film, the novelization reveals that Yoda actually becomes Padawan to the deceased Jedi Master's Force ghost, learning the secret of immortality from him and passing it on to Obi-Wan.

Yoda is also instrumental in deciding the fate of the Skywalker children after Padmé dies in childbirth, recommending that Luke and Leia be hidden from Vader and Palpatine in remote locations. Other than the ancient Jedi Master, only the Organas, the Larses, and Obi-Wan know of their placement.

The Empire Strikes Back

In Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, set 22 years after Revenge of the Sith, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) arrives on Dagobah to seek Yoda's guidance. This happens after Luke is instructed to do so, by the Force-ghost of Obi-Wan (now played by Alec Guinness).

Rather than immediately identify himself, Yoda tests Luke by initially presenting himself as a comical, backwater individual, deliberately provoking both Luke and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker). Finding that Luke exhibits many of the flaws that led to his father's downfall, Yoda is reluctant to teach him in the ways of the Force, but agrees to do so at the spectral Obi-Wan's behest. Prior to finishing his training, however, Luke chooses to leave Dagobah in order to confront Darth Vader and save his friends from the Empire's grasp at Bespin. Yoda and Obi-Wan insist to Luke that he is being lured into a trap, and that he must stay to complete his training. Luke refuses to forsake his friends, but gives Yoda his promise to return. As Luke departs, Obi-Wan laments that the boy is their "last hope", but Yoda reminds him that "there is another."

Return of the Jedi

Yoda's final chronological appearance is in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, set a year later. Yoda, sick and greatly weakened by old age, informs Luke that he has completed his training but will not be a Jedi until he confronts Darth Vader; he also confirms that Vader is Luke's father, which the Sith Lord had told a shocked Luke in the previous film. Yoda then dies at the age of 900, his body disappearing as he becomes "one with the Force". He leaves Luke with the knowledge that "there is another Skywalker." Moments later, Obi-Wan's Force ghost helps Luke come to the realization that the sibling Yoda spoke of is none other than Leia (Carrie Fisher).

In the film's final scene, after the Empire has been destroyed, Luke sees Yoda' spirit looking upon him with pride, in the company of Obi-Wan and a redeemed Anakin Skywalker.


Yoda speaks "Galactic Basic" in a distinctive manner by using anastrophe, that is, placing verbs (and more frequently, auxiliary verbs) at the end of a clause, and inverting the object and subject. In linguistic typology this is the "Object Subject Verb" format. A typical example of this pattern is from Return of the Jedi: "When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not." Yoda also occasionally speaks in Object Verb Subject format. For example: "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter," and "Your father? Powerful Jedi was he," or "Not if anything to say about it I have."

Yoda's speech pattern has been the source of much parody. He uses this style of language much less in the original trilogy, while he rarely speaks without anastrophe in the prequel trilogy.

Animating Yoda

Yoda's appearance was originally designed by British makeup artist Stuart Freeborn, who based Yoda's face partly on his own and partly on Albert Einstein's. Yoda was voiced by Frank Oz. In the original trilogy, he was realized as a puppet (controlled by Oz). Contrary to common belief, Yoda was never constructed as a Muppet; in fact he was designed almost entirely independently from Jim Henson's company, aside from minor consulting.

In The Phantom Menace, he was redesigned to look younger. He was computer-generated for two distant shots, but remained mostly a puppet. The puppet was re-designed by Nick Dudman from Stuart Freeborn's original design.

Rendered with computer animation in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, Yoda appeared in ways not previously possible, including his participation in elaborate fight scenes. In Revenge of the Sith, his face appears in several big close-ups, demanding highly-detailed CGI work. Despite the use of advanced technology, his performance was deliberately designed to match the puppet version, with some "mistakes" made such as the occasional ear-jiggling. Rob Coleman was responsible for the character's new incarnation to the series.

According to some Lucasfilm reports, Yoda has been redone in CGI for a later release of The Phantom Menace. This edition will most likely be part of a future release of the Star Wars saga. A clip of the new CG Yoda from The Phantom Menace can be seen in the featurette The Chosen One, included in the DVD release of Revenge of the Sith.



  • The Jedi Apprentice series by Dave Wolverton and Jude Watson
  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace, 1st edition paperback, 1999. Terry Brooks, George Lucas, ISBN 0-345-43411-0
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - Novelization, 1st edition hardcover, 2005. Matthew Woodring Stover, George Lucas, ISBN 0-7126-8427-1
  • The Annotated Screenplays, softcover, 1997. George Lucas, Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan, Laurent Bouzereau, ISBN 0-345-40981-7
  • The Courtship of Princess Leia, 1995. Dave Wolverton, ISBN 0-553-56937-6
  • Mission from Mount Yoda, 1993. Paul Davids, Hollace Davids, ISBN 0-553-15890-2
  • A Guide to the Star Wars Universe, 2nd edition, 1994. Bill Slavicsek, ISBN 0-345-38625-6
  • The Essential guide to Characters (Star Wars), 1st edition, 1995. Andy Mangels, ISBN 0-345-39535-2
  • The New Essential Guide to Characters, 1st edition, 2002. Daniel Wallace, Michael Sutfin, ISBN 0-345-44900-2
  • Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary, hardcover, 1998. David West Reynolds, ISBN 0-7894-3481-4
  • Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith: The Visual Dictionary, hardcover, 2005. James Luceno, ISBN 0-7566-1128-8
  • Star Wars Roleplaying Game: Revised Core Rulebook, hardcover, 2002. Bill Slavicsek, Andy Collins, J.D. Wiker, ISBN 0-7869-2876-X
  • Star Wars Roleplaying Game: Power of the Jedi Sourcebook, hardcover, 2002. Michael Mikaelian, Jeff Grubb, Owen K.C. Stephens, James Maliszewski, ISBN 0-7869-2781-X

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