Yoda is a fictional character in the Star Wars space opera franchise created by George Lucas, first appearing in the 1980 film The Empire Strikes Back. In the original films, he trains Luke Skywalker to fight against the evil Galactic Empire. In the prequel films, he serves as the Grand Master of the Jedi Order and as a High-ranking General of Clone Troopers in the Clone Wars.
The Phantom Menace
In the timeline of the films, Yoda first appears in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. In that film, Qui-Gon brings the young Anakin Skywalker to the Jedi Council, claiming that the boy is the "Chosen One" who will bring balance to the Force, and requests to train him once Obi-Wan has completed the trials necessary to become a Jedi Knight. As told to young Anakin Skywalker, " 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 the boy 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 thinks his future is clouded.
After Qui-Gon's death at the hands of Darth Maul, 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 later, Yoda is a key Republic general at the Battle of Geonosis, when the clone trooper Army of the Republic is first deployed. He leads the group which rescues Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala from execution at the hands of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, aka the Separatists. At the climax of the battle, Yoda duels with Separatist leader and Sith Lord Count Dooku, who was once Yoda's 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 a legendary agility and mastery of lightsaber combat and acrobatics.
During the Clone Wars micro series Yoda is made a General like many of the Jedi Knights and Masters. Yoda escorts Padmé on their journey to a planet but Yoda senses several Jedi in distress on Illum and uses the Jedi mind trick to convince Captain Typho to take them there. Yoda saves the two Jedi and finds a message of Dooku giving the orders to destroy the Jedi Temple.
As the Clone Wars progress Yoda fights alongside Mace Windu in the Battle of Coruscant and is the one who tries to understand with Master Windu the logic behind the Sepratists massive attack on the Republic Capital. The two Jedi Masters realize that this is a distraction for Grievous to kidnap the Chancellor. Windu goes onto a Clone Hanger to try and prevent the kidnapping.
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 incredible sensitivity and power with the Force to sense the Sith Lord's presence, finally concluding that Sidious is someone within Supreme Chancellor Palpatine's inner circle. Palpatine himself sidetracks the mission, however; by now, the Chancellor has amassed near-absolute power in the Galactic Senate, and begins interfering in Jedi affairs. He appoints Anakin as his personal representative on the Council, which would effectively grant the headstrong young man the rank of Jedi Master. The Council denies Anakin the promotion, however, fearing that giving Palpatine's representative the rank of Master would be the same as giving Palpatine himself 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 intense, prophetic visions that someone close to him will die (he does not tell the Jedi Master that the "someone" is Padmé, now his secret wife and pregnant with his child; emotional attachments are forbidden by 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 none other than Darth Sidious, and manipulates the young Jedi into becoming his Sith apprentice Darth Vader with the promise that, with powers only the dark side can give, he can save his wife.
When Palpatine, now self-appointed Emperor of the Galactic Empire, implements Order 66, 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 cut down by the very troops they commanded. He swiftly kills the clone troopers sent to dispatch him, escapes with the help of Wookiee leaders Tarfful and Chewbacca, and returns to Coruscant, where he and Obi-Wan fight their way into the Jedi Temple to stop a trap for any Jedi who also survived Order 66. Upon discovering a holographic recording revealing Anakin as the assassin, Yoda sends Obi-Wan to kill his former Padawan. Obi-Wan tells Yoda he cannot fight Anakin, but Yoda insists, saying, "To fight this Lord Sidious, strong enough you are not."
Subsequently, Yoda battles Palpatine in a titanic struggle that wrecks the Senate building. The fight seems evenly matched between the two patriarchs of both sides of the Force, neither able to overcome the other. Unable to defeat the Sith Lord, 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.
Meanwhile, Anakin is defeated by Obi-Wan, losing his limbs and nearly burning to death. The cybernetic enhancements Palpatine administers to save his life render him (seemingly) less than human. His transformation into a fearsome cyborg serves as a grim fulfillment to Yoda's words to Obi-Wan upon learning of Anakin's fall from grace: "The boy you trained, gone he is, consumed by Darth Vader."
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 revealed 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 Darth Vader and Palpatine in remote locations. Other than the ancient Jedi Master, only the Organas, the Lars, and Obi-Wan know of their placement. Originally, Obi-Wan wants to have both Yoda and himself take one child each to separate spots and train the children in the ways of the Force, but Yoda realizes that there are other ways to learn discipline than just Jedi training, and that Luke and Leia will need to be trained differently if they are going to defeat the Empire. In addition, the twins' anonymity would be more difficult to protect if the Sith were to discover the remaining Jedi Knights before Luke and/or Leia were ready. Yoda then retreats to Dagobah.
The Empire Strikes Back
In Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, set 22 years after Revenge of the Sith, Luke Skywalker arrives on Dagobah to seek Yoda's guidance. This happens after Luke is instructed to do so, by the Force-ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Obi-Wan had sacrificed himself in a duel with Vader in A New Hope).
This is Yoda's first appearance, the most beloved and best-remembered of all. Yoda's appearance was based on Freeborn, but Freeborn gave the design eyes based on Albert Einstein's. The puppet was fully operated by Frank Oz, with two technical assistants guiding him on the soundstage.
After initial reluctance, Yoda agrees to teach Luke in the ways of the Force. 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 insists to Luke that he is being lured into a trap, and that he must stay to complete his training. However, Luke cannot forsake his friends who are in danger. He promises to return to complete his training.
Return of the Jedi
Yoda's final chronological appearance is in 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 and 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. When the Emperor tries to kill Luke with Force lightning, Vader redeems himself and once again becomes Anakin Skywalker. By killing his master to save his son, he fulfills the prophecy and brings balance to the Force. Anakin dies in his son's arms as the Death Star crumbles around them. Later that night, Luke sees his father's spirit looking at him with pride and gratitude, in the company of Obi-Wan Kenobi and their once and future master, Yoda.