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Even diehard Star Wars fans were surprised by an opening scene in Andorothe new Star Wars show on Disney Plus, which displays the cryptic characters “BBY 5”. Turns out it’s a way of marking time in the galaxy far, far away — one that hints at a pivotal moment in Star Wars history.
BBY stands for “Before the Battle of Yavin.” Yavin is the planet around which the climactic battle in Star Wars: A New Hope happens, with Luke Skywalker destroying the first Death Star and saving the Rebel Alliance from utter destruction. “ABY” stands for “After the Battle of Yavin.” BBY counts down, where 0 BBY represents the year in which the Battle of Yavin took place. ABY adds up from that same year, with ABY 1 being the year following the Battle of Yavin.
It’s analogous to our real-world nomenclature, which uses CE (the “Common Era”) and BCE (“Before the Common Era”) to mark eras in time. However, there is no year zero in the real world calendar. BCE and CE instead share year 1, which coincides with the Christian belief in the birth of Jesus Christ. Before BCE and CE, historians instead used BC and AD – Before Christ and Anno Domini, or ‘The year of our Lord’.
That’s why BBY 5 stands for five years before the events of A new hope. We get to the core of the larger Star Wars timeline — including how Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader, and the other Star Wars streaming TV shows come into play — in a larger feature on the timeline.
Star Wars properties traditionally provide this kind of historical context in their opening scenes. The nine feature films all feature an iconic text crawl that marches up from the bottom of the screen to disappear into space. The Mandalorian, on the other hand, does away with that text entirely and does not provide any prior textual clues as to when or where the action takes place from episode to episode. It’s the same with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Jedi: Fallen Orderfor that matter.
The lack of text crawls, or even the mention of planet names, caused a bit of fandom backlash, especially during the performance of the first season of The Mandalorian. Andoro‘s approach can therefore be seen as a bit of a concession to those who have been upset by the omission in the recent past. Just don’t call it fan service: Showrunner Tony Gilroy has said he diligently avoided giving in to fans during the show’s production.