What Does BBY Mean in ‘Star Wars’?
The first episode of Andor begins with a title card that includes the abbreviation “BBY 5.” The phrase is not explained or commented upon, and it doesn’t come up again throughout the rest of the episode. You either know what it means or you don’t. Hardcore Star Wars certainly do; but more casual viewers who like Rogue One or Diego Luna and decided to give Andor a try are likely to be a little confused.
“BBY” is a way time is measured in the Star Wars universe. It is to Star Wars what “BC” is to our own calendar — and the equivalent of our “AD” in Star Wars time is “ABY.” Each are acronyms; BBY stands for “Before the Battle of Yavin” and ABY is “After the Battle of Yavin.”
And what, you ask, is the Battle of Yavin?
It’s the incident where Luke Skywalker blew up the (first) Death Star. So the events of Star Wars: A New Hope take place in the year BBY 0. (Or, if you prefer, ABY 0; they both mean the same thing.)
So when Andor says it takes place in the year “BBY 5” that means the events in the show’s premiere take place roughly five years before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, and Luke using the Force to turn the Death Star into a massive pyrotechnic display.
The Star Wars timeline goes back thousands of years BBY, but just 35 years ABY; that’s when the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker take place. (Meaning Andor is happening 40 years before, somehow, Palpatine returned.)
Here are a few more notable dates in the Star Wars chronology:
- Star Wars: The Phantom Menace: BBY 32
- Star Wars: Attack of the Clones: BBY 22
- Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith: BBY 19
- Obi-Wan Kenobi: BBY 9
- Star Wars: A New Hope: BBY 0
- Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: ABY 3
- Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: ABY 4
- The Mandalorian: ABY 9
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens: ABY 34
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi: ABY 34
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: ABY 35
The creator of Andor, Tony Gilroy, has already said that he show was designed with a five year plan in mind — which means that the show will follow its hero, Cassian Andor, right up to the events depicted in Rogue One, which was a prequel to A New Hope. The final seconds of Rogue One took place right before the first seconds of Star Wars: A New Hope. So Andor will span BBY 5 to BBY 0. Supposedly this first season covers the events of BBY 5, and the series’ second season will cover the subsequent four years in a quartet of three episode arcs.
It all seems like a confusing system at first but it’s not once you understand it. The destruction of the Death Star is Year 0 — which is also Year 0 for the entire Star Wars mythology, so it makes perfect sense as a temporal demarcation point for both the characters within its universe, and those of us living in our reality.
New episodes of Andor premiere on Wednesdays on Disney+. Sign up for Disney+ here.