Disney’s big new Star Wars series is called The Mandalorian. But four episodes in, Boba Fett, the franchise’s most famous and beloved member of that legendary warrior tribe, is still nowhere to be found. The creators of the show have been evasive about the existence–or lack thereof–of the bounty hunter in the new series. Since The Mandalorian is set after Boba Fett’s apparent death in Return of the Jedi, it may seem unlikely that the green-and-red armored Star Wars favorite could appear in Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni’s production. But with the return of Emperor Palpatine in Rise of Skywalker, and the appearance of a younger, potentially cloned version of Jedi Master Yoda in The Mandalorian, Disney has made it clear that death is by no means the end for characters in the Star Wars franchise.
By naming the series after Mandalorian warriors, Disney has only primed fans expectations for an appearance from Fett. In classical storytelling, this phenomenon is known as Chekhov’s Gun. That’s the narrative trope that implies that, if there’s a gun anywhere in a story, it’s got to be fired, eventually. Except, in this case, it’s a bounty hunter with an EE-3 carbine rifle, wrist flamethrower, and jet pack-mounted rocket launcher. Chances are, we’re going to be seeing the son of Jango Fett in The Mandalorian. It’s just a matter of how–and when.
Did Boba Fett ever really die?
Boba Fett is not a Jedi. He doesn’t have any spooky, extra-sensory powers. So it’s unlikely that the bounty hunter would be able travel back to the world of the living via some supernatural Force-powered highway. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he couldn’t return after Episode VI. That’s because, in the rulebook of big, blockbuster movies like Star Wars, Boba Fett never even really died at all. Early into Return of the Jedi, Fett faces off against Luke Skywalker and the gang aboard Jabba the Hutt’s Cantina Barge. Fett is gunned down by the Rebels, and sent plunging into the Sarlacc pit along with a handful of Jabba’s personal thugs. The Sarlacc monster might’ve swallowed him whole. It might have torn him to shreds. Or, he might’ve climbed his way out shortly after the scene ends. All we know is that he fell into the pit and never appeared again in Episode VI.
His death was never confirmed onscreen, and in the canon Star Wars stories outside of the main films, Fett’s apparent death is never again referenced. That leads his fate wide open for The Mandalorian.
What happens to Fett outside of the main films?
There is a lot of Star Wars literature about Boba Fett that has since been retroactively ruled non-canon by Disney.
In the old-school Expanded Universe, Fett uses his jet pack to blast himself out of the Sarlacc pit. From there, the bounty hunter continues to be very much alive. The character goes on to appear in the Dark Empire comic books, which were the franchise’s original continuation of the main trilogy of the saga. Dark Empire, coincidentally, also happens to be a major hub of inspiration that J.J. Abrams and all the filmmakers involved in the new Disney Star Wars trilogy have been drawing from. While the series is no longer considered canon for the franchise, it’s still hugely significant for the saga, as it set the precedent for everything from Palpatine’s resurrection to a faction of the Empire gaining military prominence over the New Republic. This non-canon Star Wars Legends universe has also been influential to Star Wars mainstay Dave Filoni, who just happens to be one of the creators and executive producers of The Mandalorian.
Filoni is a self-described Star Wars aficionado who was personally taught in the ways of the franchise by George Lucas himself. He’s responsible for a ton of Star Wars Legends content being introduced back to the canon of the franchise–most notably Grand Admiral Thrawn, who jumped back into the series continuity by way of Filoni’s animated series, Rebels. So while Fett may not be active in the current canon, he looms largely over the Disney Plus series, which has Filoni at the helm.
Does the current canon make any mention of Boba Fett?
We’ve seen a younger version of Boba Fett in some of the animated Star Wars TV series and the prequel series. But after Return of the Jedi, in the timeline of the saga, the writers have been pretty quiet about him. There is one book, however, that seems to confirm that Fett is still around. It’s called Star Wars: Aftermath. The novel takes place after the events of Episode VI. In one scene, a Jawa Sandcrawler is discovered on Tatooine. You know, the kind we saw in both A New Hope, and more recently, in Episode Two of The Mandalorian. These Jawas, apparently, love to collect crap. This particular Sandcrawler has some big objects of interest on its carriage. As some travelers sort through the wreckage, they find pieces of a Sail Barge not unlike the one Jabba and his goons were on when Boba was thrown into the Sarlacc.
And then, they discover a set of Mandalorian armor, which is scuffed up and partially melted. Fans were quick to assume that the super-strong armor belonged to Fett, and that it managed to protect the bounty hunter until he escaped the monstrous pit. Mandalorian armor is so dense that it can absorb a swipe from a lightsaber. So it’s safe to say Fett may have been able absorb some Sarlacc stomach acid on his way out of the hole.
What does The Mandalorian imply about Fett’s whereabouts?
In both Episode One and Episode Three of The Mandalorian, fans have caught someone in the background wearing some very familiar armor. The scenes from both episodes take place in the secretive chamber where the Mandalorian tribe hangs out. Our protagonist walks through groups of armored warriors in the shadows, where in both scenes he appears to walk passed someone who looks exactly like Fett. It’s dark in these scenes, so it’s hard to say if it’s Fett that we see, or a copycat, or just someone who wears a similar shade of green. But it looks a lot like Fett’s armor.
Other than that brief appearance, Filoni and Favreau’s series has little to say about the whereabouts of the fan favorite bounty hunter. It’s unlikely that, if Fett is still alive, he’d just be lurking around in the background of scenes–the creators would probably devote at least an episode or two divulging the story of his return.
One thing that complicates Fett’s place in the new narrative is the fact that, based on the lore we’re seeing in the new series, Boba and Jango Fett seem to barely be Mandalorians at all. The father-son duo are both seen without their helmets in the prequel trilogy, and neither of them spend anytime with their fellow tribesmen. Boba, especially, is unlike the other Mandalorians, since he is technically a clone of his father. He didn’t grow up in the tribe, or learn the “Way” like Pedro Pascal’s character. And in the Clone Wars, he didn’t face persecution at the hands of the Separatist Forces.
So if Boba appears at all, he’s likely to be alienated from his fellow tribesmen. He could be the true lone wolf of the show. That could make the title of the series even more compelling, though. What if the titular “Mandalorian” refers to the elusive non-tribesmen? Fett’s devoted fanbase would sure be happy.