It can be difficult to keep track of exactly when things happens in a Star Wars story. Since the original Star Wars trilogy, the franchise has jumped back in time for a prequel trilogy, and then forward again for a third trilogy that takes place after Return of the Jedi. Spinoff movies like Rogue One and Solo occupy their own specific spots on the timeline, and don’t even get us started on the Clone Wars animated series. But with the launch of The Mandalorian on Disney+, people have been introduced to a whole new set of characters within the Star Wars galaxy, leading to one major question: When exactly does The Mandalorian take place? Let us guide the way.
The first thing you need to know: The Mandalorian is not a prequel story about Boba Fett, even though it takes place after Boba falls into a Sarlacc pit in Return of the Jedi. The protagonist of this space Western looks a lot like the fan-favorite bounty hunter, but he’s an entirely different character who hails from Mandalor, the home planet of the Mandalorians.
The Mandalorian is set after Return of the Jedi and before The Force Awakens, but there’s a lot of story that hasn’t been told between the Ewok celebration and the rise of the First Order. That timeline has been fleshed out in books like Star Wars: Aftermath, by Chuck Wendig, and Star Wars: Bloodline, by Claudia Gray, but it hadn’t been explored in film or TV until The Mandalorian. How exactly did the galaxy go from a toppled Empire to another corrupt regime of mask-wearing jerks in need of righteous defeat? At this point in the timeline, Darth Vader is dead and Kylo Ren is still just a boy named Ben Solo. Rey and Finn weren’t even born when Jedi took place.
That’s where we find The Mandalorian. According to series creator and writer Jon Favreau, the show takes place five years after Return of the Jedi. That’s enough time for the powerful grip of the Empire to have faded, but a quarter-century before The Force Awakens, so the First Order isn’t all that powerful yet. The Star Wars universe labels its years with BBY and ABY — short for “Before the Battle of Yavin” and “After the Battle of Yavin,” the fancy way to refer to the action of A New Hope. So, Return of the Jedi takes place in 4 ABY, which means that The Mandalorian takes place in the Year of Our Lucas 9 ABY and The Force Awakens begins in 34 ABY.
Now, you’re probably asking yourself another big question: How does all this affect Baby Yoda? Well, it means the li’l guy isn’t actually Yoda. If he is indeed 50 years old, as suggested in The Mandalorian, Baby Yoda was born when the actual Yoda was still alive. Impress your friends with that trivia!