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Forget Anakin - Yoda is the most tragic figure in the Star Wars universe and here is why

Not always a blessing, long life is

Yoda when Order 66 is happening
Image credit: Lucasfilm

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We know that Yoda is old – he goes to great lengths to impress that fact upon Luke Skywalker when he shows up in his swamp and demands to be trained in the ways of the Force – but, sometimes we forget just how old the little green guy actually is. We know that he was there when the Republic fell and gave way to the Galactic Empire, but he was also there when it reached its halcyon heights. The biggest tragedy in Star Wars isn’t the fall of Anakin Skywalker but the fact that Yoda knew, better than anyone, what had been lost.

Just how old is Yoda? He says himself that he was around 900 years old at the time of his death, which means he was doing all those backflips and fighting in the prequel trilogy when he was well over eight centuries old. Aside from making us want to summon his force ghost to find out how he keeps in shape as he approaches the millennium mark, that puts him in a unique position in Star Wars lore. At that age, he witnessed not just the fall of the Republic, but lived through the time period when it was at its most powerful and prosperous.

The Empire Strikes Back
Image credit: Lucasfilm

The High Republic era dates back to around 600 years before the events of Return of the Jedi, back when Yoda was a spry three centuries old. He saw the glory of what the Republic – and the Jedi – could do and dedicated himself to it. He spent the rest of his life nurturing this government, growing it until it had become everything he could imagine it being… and then saw it get destroyed in front of his eyes.

Few people in any of the Star Wars films can make the same claim. Palpatine and Count Dooku saw the end of the High Republic era, when the Jedi and their powers were beginning to wane. They only saw their excesses and growing involvement in political affairs. They didn’t see how the Council united the galaxy through peace and diplomacy. They never saw how it changed the course of history for the better. In truth, they didn’t know what had been lost through their machinations. Only Yoda was alive for that. Only Yoda knows what they destroyed.

Only Yoda, thanks to this his absurdly long life, knows how far from the light the galaxy has strayed.

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