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What does BBY stand for in the first scene of Star Wars’ Andor?

It's literally on the tip of your tongue

Even staunch Star Wars fans were taken aback by an opening sequence in Andor, the new Star Wars drama on Disney Plus, that featured the mysterious characters “BBY 5.” It turns out that it’s a manner of recording time in the galaxy far, far away – one that refers to a significant period in Star Wars history.

BBY is an abbreviation for “Before the Battle of Yavin.” Yavin is the planet in Star Wars: A New Hope where the final battle takes place, with Luke Skywalker destroying the first Death Star and saving the Rebel Alliance from extinction. “ABY” is an abbreviation for “After the Battle of Yavin.” The year BBY counts down, with 0 BBY signifying the year of the Battle of Yavin. ABY starts counting from that year, with ABY 1 being the year after the Battle of Yavin.

It corresponds to our real-world terminology, which utilizes CE (the “Common Era”) and BCE (Before the Common Era) to denote chronological epochs. However, there is no year zero in the actual world calendar. Instead, BCE and CE share the same year 1, which corresponds to the Christian belief in the birth of Jesus Christ. Before BCE and CE, historians used BC and AD — Before Christ and Anno Domini, or “The Year of our Lord,” respectively.

As a result, BBY 5 takes place five years before the events of A New Hope. In a broader article on the chronology, we dig into the fine gritty of the greater Star Wars history, including how Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader, and the other Star Wars streaming television episodes figure into things.

This type of historical backdrop has usually been provided in the opening sequences of Star Wars franchises. The distinctive text crawl marches up from the bottom of the screen to fade into space in all nine mainstream films. The Mandalorian, on the other hand, completely eliminates that text, providing no upfront textual hints as to when or where the action takes place from episode to episode. The same goes for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Jedi: Fallen Order.

The lack of text crawls, or even the mention of planet names, provoked some fan backlash, particularly during the first season of The Mandalorian. Andor’s approach might thus be interpreted as a little compromise to those who were irritated by the omission in the past. Don’t call it “fan service”: Showrunner Tony Gilroy has stated that he worked hard to avoid pandering to fans during the show’s creation.

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