Who died and made the giant toad the expert on space magic? Because one would think that Yoda as a Jedi Grandmaster—with his 800+ years of experience and wisdom, would be able to prevent one creepy geriatric from ruining the entire galaxy. Sadly, it’s become easier to see just how Yoda wasn’t a good Jedi Grandmaster when one looks past the allure of the plushie merch and action figures.
We’re here to dissect Yoda’s mistakes as a Jedi Grandmaster and how some of them not only contributed to the rise of the Sith but also worsened the situation for the Jedi and the Galaxy. True, everyone makes mistakes, but mistakes that cost lives are not exactly what you would consider forgivable now, would you? Here’s why Yoda isn’t exactly a good Jedi Grandmaster.
Dabbling in politics
Politics is the realm of the Sith, apparently. In Star Wars, it’s where businessmen and petite despots gather to support the highest bidder, who happened to be Sheev Palpatine at the time, with his promise of defending the Galactic Republic against the Separatists.
Palpatine expertly manipulated the Jedi Order into lobbying and joining the Senate, at times, even inadvertently turning the Jedi into his watchdogs. Palpatine practically used the Jedi to eliminate his political enemies under the Separatist guise.
In hindsight, the Jedi could have had a bigger chance of catching Palpatine as the orchestrator of the Separatist movement if they stayed on the sidelines. Yoda certainly could have had a hand in restraining his whole order from reacting to every Separatist move that seemed suspicious.
Better yet, simply allowing the Separatists to secede or shut away in their own territories independent of the Galactic Republic could have been the more favorable action and might have resulted in less bloodshed.
Militarizing the Jedi
This was where Yoda’s foresight could have been more useful. A free army from an unknown planet falls onto your lap from suspicious sources (that were obviously forged), and you just accept it?
Granted, the Separatist situation was getting severe with a mounting droid army to boot, but letting the Jedi run with the military made them sitting ducks once the clone switches were flipped.
The Jedi could have just mounted covert operations on the Separatist’s droid-manufacturing planets instead of using the only dubious army available.
You could also say that the Galactic Republic was partly responsible since they don’t have a standing army which was weird since, let’s face it, political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. No might means no political leverage.
Failing to provide proper mentorship to Anakin
The Jedi Order has this tendency to pluck orphans from their traumatic pasts and home planets, but none were as troublesome as Anakin. With Qui-Gon Jinn’s suggestion that Anakin is the Chosen One, you’d expect his teacher, Yoda, to be more attentive.
It’s not as though Yoda didn’t even listen to Anakin. There were even some counseling scenes where Yoda gave advice to Anakin. But his counsel was the same dogmatic and parroted religious text that the Jedi have been spewing, which didn’t help Anakin’s special case.
As great as Obi-Wan was, he was rather too inexperienced to take on a Jedi Padawan. For reference, Qui-Gon Jinn was already a Jedi Master when he decided to mentor Anakin. So why did Yoda assign a fresh Jedi Knight like Obi-Wan to personally train an impetuous youngster like Anakin when Jedi Masters were available?
Going into exile instead of helping Obi-Wan
When the Jedi Order fell, and the majority of its members were murdered, it’s only fair to expect Yoda to work tirelessly to help the survivors and regroup somewhere safe, seeing as it’s easy to hide in off-chart planets in Star Wars. So what did he do? He took the hiding spot for himself under a self-imposed “exile.”
Worse, Yoda left Obi-Wan, Ahsoka Tano, Cal Kestis, and Ghost Crew in Star Wars Rebels to pick up the pieces—all of whom are Jedi who are much less experienced than him.
Thousands of younglings who could have been saved were instead indoctrinated into Sith Inquisitors. This sealed the Jedi Order’s fate when they could have easily retreated and retaliated since they now knew it was Palpatine who was Darth Sidious.
Immediately after the Clone Wars (and right at the birth of the Empire) was the perfect time to strike against Palpatine since the Galactic Empire still hadn’t fully organized itself and had no planet killers yet. But okay, exile is more important.
Using a former Sith temple as the main Jedi base
One lesser-known fact about the Jedi Order during the prequel timeline is something about their Jedi Temple on Coruscant.
This temple was actually once a holy mountain site which the Sith claimed around 5,000 years before the movies’ timeline. The Jedi then waged a war against the Sith and destroyed the Sith shrine on the mountain. If that wasn’t enough, they also built the Jedi Temple on top of the ruins of the Sith shrine.
And because the Jedi Order typically isn’t self-aware of its own arrogance and complacency, this insult to the Sith went on for thousands of years. With Yoda being generally considered one of the wisest Jedi Grandmasters, discerning the Jedi Order’s most audacious failings in both strategy and humility was one of his jobs, and he failed at it.
Surely, the Sith wouldn’t want their holy site back in the most insidious way, right? Well, look what happened.
“Losing” against Darth Sidious and Count Dooku
Technically, those lightsaber fights with both Darth Sidious and Count Dooku were considered a draw. And while Yoda forced a draw in that battle, he lost the war—the bigger picture. Dooku was able to escape, and Sidious’ army of Clone Troopers got in the way and also allowed him to escape.
The frustrating part of that narrative is how Yoda simply gave up after failing to arrest Sidious once. Darth Sidious was clearly afraid of Yoda, and the latter could have defeated him.
Why not try again? At that point, right after the Clone Wars, Sidious didn’t have any powerful guards, Anakin was still resting as a well-done steak, the Clone Army was still reeling from Separatist battles, and there were no Sith Inquisitors yet.
Both Yoda and Obi-Wan could have cornered or executed Sidious or even used Anakin as bait to ambush him in Mustafar. Oh well, the plot demands it.