Like everyone else, late night television was hit by Baby Yoda fever in 2019 thanks to The Mandalorian.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker brought an end to the Skywalker saga when the movie hit theaters in Dec. 2019. But even as the culmination of nine films spanning decades, the movie was in many ways overshadowed by the Star Wars television series The Mandalorian. Or more specifically, the character Baby Yoda.
Baby Yoda, or The Child, was by far the breakout pop culture star of 2019. The buzz and hype around The Mandalorian, a centerpiece of the Disney+ streaming service, was already insanely high before it premiered.
When the show hit and audiences were introduced to the character, things went to an entirely new level. It became the star of hundreds if not thousands of memes that seemed to never grow old.
Any time something or someone is making this big of an impact on pop culture, late night television takes notice. Baby Yoda and The Mandalorian were no exception especially considering that many late night hosts are Star Wars fans themselves. With that in mind, let’s look at how Baby Yoda took over late night in 2019
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Jimmy Kimmel Live! gets more of an advantage from its network than any other late night show. By airing on Disney owned ABC, Jimmy Kimmel gets exclusive access to the biggest movies in the world. That’s why his show has become the late night home of the Avengers and the Star Wars universe.
So it’s not surprising that Kimmel would be bringing attention to Baby Yoda and The Mandalorian. In this clip from Nov. 19, Kimmel suggests that Baby Yoda will be the one to heal the nation.
Whether or not Baby Yoda could unite the Jimmy Kimmel Live! audience was a different story. The bit did address an important point: the baby creature in The Mandalorian isn’t actually Yoda. But when the species is unknown and Yoda has such an iconic appearance, “Baby Yoda” is just a much easier term.
It was reported that Disney wanted to keep the appearance of Baby Yoda a secret until The Mandalorian launched. That meant that no merchandise was released prior to the show. So when Baby Yoda fever did hit, there wasn’t any way for fans to get a version for themselves in time for Christmas. That was the case until Jimmy Kimmel offered his own solution.
Disney’s decision not to release Baby Yoda merchandise for Christmas didn’t only affect Guillermo. Conan also had to make do with a second rate Baby Yoda for the show’s sketch on updating the nativity scene for 2019.
But being the comedy perfectionist that he is, Conan O’Brien wouldn’t settle and sent his prop supervisor on a mission worth of Mando himself: find a real, authentic Baby Yoda.
Like any adventure involving “the asset,” this one didn’t go too smoothly for the Conan prop supervisor. It may have cost him his liver but at least he got Baby Yoda and kept Conan O’Brien happy. Maybe now that merchandise has hit stores, things won’t be so violent the next time Conan needs an in-demand prop.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
While there was no obvious connection between The Mandalorian and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the two projects were released relatively close to one another. That meant that the cast of Rise of Skywalker was often asked to comment on Baby Yoda.
For example, Daisy Ridley appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. First, the Rey actress delivered an impressive rap recap of the entire Star Wars saga. Then Jimmy Fallon asked Ridley to compare the cuteness of Baby Yoda to that of porgs, the breakout stars of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Ridley gave fans an honest answer:
It’s hard to know if Disney wanted The Mandalorian to invade the press tour for The Rise of Skywalker. But at the end of the day, any Star Wars talk is good for Disney. They had to have seen this coming when the design for cute little Yoda was approved, right?
Saturday Night Live
Daisy Ridley may reconsider her pick of Baby Yoda as the cutest had she seen the version on Saturday Night Live. Kyle Mooney brought the Mandalorian star to “Weekend Update” and for some fans, it’s hard to see Baby Yoda the same way ever again.
Time and time again we have seen fame go to the head of a new star. According to Saturday Night Live, Baby Yoda is just as susceptible to the pitfalls of fame. The adorable critter you see on screen is much different off of it, where he’s hanging out with Timothee Chalamet and the guys from the Sonic commercials.
The Mandalorian returned for season two in the fall of 2020. Fans will surely be happy about the return of Baby Yoda, too. Late night will be waiting too and will no doubt deliver more jokes and sketches to celebrate everyone’s favorite foundling.