In the newest Star Wars show on Disney+, The Mandalorian, our protagonist is part of a network of bounty hunters called the Bounty Hunters’ Guild. It is his membership that is integral to propelling the storyline forward and gifting us with baby Yoda. But what is the Bounty Hunters’ Guild and why is its presence in The Mandalorian important for Star Wars lore? This isn’t a new organization. The guild has been around for many, many years although it has gone through some changes. Although officially The Bounty Hunters’ Guild, the organization has also been known as the Bounty Guild, the Bondsman’s Guild, or simply the Guild.
Much of what we know about the Guild is no longer Canon and considered part of Legends. Therefore, the presence of the Guild in The Mandalorian is somewhat novel. Given this, most of the backstory/history of the Guild below is part of Legends and should be taken with a grain of salt. It will be particularly interesting to see what remains constant between Canon and Legends as The Mandalorian expands on the Guild.
According to Legends, the Guild was formed in direct response to increasing conflict between rouge bounty hunters and Jedi Knights. The Jedi Order requested that the Galactic Senate see to the increasingly numerous conflicts between the groups. The solution to this problem was deemed to be that the bounty hunters should police themselves, leading to the creation of multiple guilds that ended up conglomerating into the Bounty Hunters’ Guild which regulated the bounty hunter trade across the galaxy.
In Legends, the Bounty Hunters’ Guild was historically composed of smaller guilds that usually operated independently and were known for specialized jobs such as kidnapping retrieval, pursuing murderers, or the use of unorthodox techniques to get the job done. As such, the Guild was more of a coalition of professional bounty hunters rather than a true organization. Rivalries were a common occurrence between houses, and loose cannons were prone to breaking the Bounty Hunters’ Creed for their own benefit. The Guild was known to have a few leaders, including Vossk and Cardossk, both Trandoshians, and was led overall by a Guild Council. In The Mandalorian, we don’t know if the Guild shown is a small portion of the organization or if that’s all there is to it: the meager operations run by Greef Karga out of the Nevarro cantina.
In Canon, the physical location of the Guild was previously on Tatooine so it’s interesting to see its move to Nevarro in The Mandalorian, especially since one of the main qualms with the Guild being located on Nevarro is that it’s overrun with late-Imperial officers and soldiers. I presume that the move was precipitated by the fall of the Empire, but we don’t get much information on the actual reason for this move. Hopefully, more will be revealed in time.
What seems to be a constant between Canon and Legends is the presence of a creed that links all bounty hunters in the Guild. In Legends, the Bounty Hunters’ Guild held its members to the Bounty Hunters’ Creed—an unwritten set of rules that govern bounty hunters. Some such rules included: no hunter shall slay another hunter, no bounty is worth dying for, and capture by design, kill by necessity. Anyone who failed to uphold these rules would have their bounty hunting license terminated. We can presume this rings true in Canon as well, especially since The Mandalorian, by reneging on a bounty contract, broke some portion of this Creed and was therefore excised from the Guild.
Personally, it’s particularly interesting to see The Mandalorian working within the Guild because, in Legends, the Guild itself has had many a conflict with Mandalorians over the years. For example, around 200 BBY, the Mandalorians won a war against the Ithulians and proceeded to exterminate the entire species. Because the Jedi Council failed to take action against the Mandalorians, rogue Jedi enlisted the Bounty Hunters’ Guild to help them remove the ruling Mandalore. Given that none of these events are considered Canon, we can assume that The Mandalorian has no such grudges against the Guild.
Canon and Legends seem to agree with the rule that only one bounty hunter is assigned to a bounty. In other words, once a member is assigned to a bounty, only that specific hunter is authorized to hunt that acquisition. This makes the confusion the Mandalorian had when interacting with IG-11, who had also been assigned to the same bounty in episode one, quite understandable.
After the spectacular events of episode eight, IG-11 seems to have gained some respect in the eyes of fans so it’s probably best to mention how he fits into the Guild and the rest of the Star Wars universe. In Canon, the IG-series droids were created for a multitude of purposes. An influential commerce guild, the InterGalactic Banking Clan, was known to maintain an army of IG-lancer droids. However, Holowan Laboratories created a set of five IG-assassin droids, one of which was IG-88 and, we can presume, the other was IG-11, who was specifically programmed to follow the Guild’s protocols. These droids being largely outlawed in the galaxy had fail-safes in order to prevent themselves from being captured. We see a similar droid, IG-88, in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. However, unlike IG-11, IG-88 was a rogue bounty hunter. This droid, along with several other bounty hunters, was summoned by Darth Vader and hired to track down the Millennium Falcon and her crew.
Given the delineation between Star Wars Canon and Legends, the presence of The Bounty Hunters’ Guild in The Mandalorian is novel and has added much to the current Canon on the subject. The Guild was important in Legends—it has had its hand in many galactic events—and it seems to have remained significant in Canon with its inclusion in The Mandalorian. However, there are still plenty of questions needing to be answered. Hopefully, season two of The Mandalorian will expand on the history and inner-workings of the Guild further.