This article contains SPOILERS for The Mandalorian season 3, episode 1.
“Baby Yoda” is way catchier than “Grogu,” and The Mandalorian season 3 proves that Star Wars is aware of it. Launching new Star Wars characters whose popularity could be compared to pop culture icons like Darth Vader or the stormtroopers had always seemed virtually impossible. However, The Mandalorian’s titular character and “Baby Yoda” both proved that there is always room for new, audience-favorite Star Wars characters to be created.
How a new character is perceived by viewers is not always exactly like the show or the movie intended. This might have happened to The Mandalorian’s Grogu, whose actual name is far from having the same impact as the simpler, cuter “Baby Yoda.” Though Star Wars would never retcon the name “Grogu,” The Mandalorian has humorously referenced the situation with a couple of meta jokes regarding the highly popular “Baby Yoda” name.
Why “Baby Yoda” Became Such A Popular Name
When Mando’s bounty was revealed at the end of The Mandalorian’s first episode, there was really no other term to describe the character than “Baby Yoda.” The logic was simple – the little green creature was a baby, and it looks exactly like Yoda. Arguably one of the most recognizable characters, not only in Star Wars, but in all of pop culture, Yoda has always been a massive unsolved Star Wars mystery. Other than Yaddle appearing in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Star Wars had never revealed or teased anything about Yoda’s species or home planet. That is why a “Baby Yoda” was such a shocking reveal.
The Mandalorian obviously never used the term “Baby Yoda,” as Din Djarin had no idea who Yoda was or what species the child belonged to. Instead, The Mandalorian spent the entirety of season 1 and most of season 2 referring to Mando’s traveling companion as “the Child” or “kid,” which only added to the popularity of the term “Baby Yoda”. Without an official name for the little green creature, “Baby Yoda” stuck. The Mandalorian was an instant hit, with Mando and Baby Yoda quickly becoming as recognizable as Darth Vader or Yoda among both longtime Star Wars audiences and new viewers.
“Grogu” Just Isn’t A Cute Enough Name – But Star Wars Is Stuck With It
The success of the name “Baby Yoda” meant that The Mandalorian now had an impossible task – make audiences forget “Baby Yoda” and incorporate whatever the kid’s real name was. Finally, with the help of Ahsoka Tano, The Mandalorian season 2, episode 5, “The Jedi” revealed that “Baby Yoda” name was actually Grogu. Though Mando would have to learn the baby’s real name at some point, it was surprising to hear Ahsoka reveal that “Grogu” had been part of the Jedi Order as a youngling before Order 66. The problem, however, is that “Grogu” just isn’t as cute or catchy as “Baby Yoda.”
Replacing “Baby Yoda” with a Star Wars name would always be difficult, and “Grogu” did not quite nail that mission. Something closer to “Yoda” or “Yaddle” might have worked better, although that would raise even more questions regarding Yoda’s species. Still, Star Wars is aware that Grogu is not sticking as much as “Baby Yoda.” Take Greef Karga’s reaction to Grogu’s name in The Mandalorian season 3’s premiere, for example – “if you say so.” Grogu was also referred to as “bad baby” in a hilarious scene with the Anzellans, which might be the closest thing to “Baby Yoda” that The Mandalorian will ever use. Catchy or not, “Grogu” is here to stay.
More: Is Grogu Related To Yoda?
The Mandalorian season 3, episode 1 is now streaming on Disney+. New episodes release Wednesdays.