What was Order 66 in Star Wars? When Palpatine gave the order to “execute Order 66,” life in the Galaxy changed forever. We know that this order marked a turning point in the power struggle between the Empire and the Republic, but beyond bumping off a few Jedi, what does Order 66 actually mean? And how did it come to be?
Across all the Star Wars movies and Star Wars series, one of the more harrowing moments comes in the 2000s movie Revenge of the Sith when Order 66 is carried out. But what exactly is going on in this Star Wars scene? Let’s dive in and see.
What is Order 66?
Otherwise known as Clone Protocol 66, Order 66 was a top-secret order created by Emperor Palpatine to bring about the extermination of all Jedi in the galaxy.
The order identified all Jedi as traitors to the Galactic Republic, which was punishable by execution at the hands of the Grand Army of the Republic. But truth be told, it was never really about the Republic. It was more about the Star Wars villain Emperor Palpatine furthering the Sith agenda after years of working in the shadows.
Who carried out Order 66?
Specifically, it is clone troopers who are given the order, and it is they who end up mass-slaughtering the Jedi in this pivotal Star Wars moment.
However, with the Galactic Empire now in charge, Jedi are still seen as traitors, and are still at risk of being executed by stormtroopers. So, Kenobi ends up burying his lightsaber, changing his identity, and watching over Luke Skywalker from afar, while Yoda is forced to go into hiding.
Why do the clone troopers kill the Jedi?
The reason clone troopers are so compliant in following this command is down to an inhibitor chip which makes them follow all orders. This is revealed in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Star Wars character Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas is the one who initially commissioned the creation of the clone army for the Republic, and he provides the Kaminoans, who create the clones, with an inhibitor chip. The intended purpose of this chip was two-fold: firstly, to act as a safeguard against renegade Jedi, and secondly, to control the clones’ rage after the Star Wars bounty hunter, Jango Fett, from whom they were cloned from, was deemed too aggressive.
However, in the Star Wars animated series, Palpatine and Count Dooku, who are still working in the shadows as secret Sith Lords, have Sifo-Dyas killed. The pair then take over the production of the clone army — but continue to keep the existence of the inhibitor chip a secret from the Jedi Council.
While Palpatine and Dooku let the Kaminoans continue to believe that the purpose of the chip was to act as a safeguard against renagade Jedi, they actually ended up reprogramming it so that it could serve a very different purpose. Order 66 was programmed into the biochip, and when this order was activated/given, it would force the clones to be compliant. When the chip was activated, any biases or loyalties towards Jedi would be erased, and clones would be forced to comply with the order.
The secrecy surrounding the biochip, and the fact that this behaviour would only be triggered if the command was given meant that Order 66 was a huge success, and was instrumental in Palpatine’s rise to power.
To understand more about the inner-workings of the Galaxy, check out our guides to the Rebellion, the Death Star, death troopers, and the Star Wars timeline. Or get excited for upcoming shows with our guides to the Andor season 2 release date and The Acolyte release date.