- "First, I want you to go to the Jedi Temple. We will catch them off balance. Do what must be done, Lord Vader. Do not hesitate; show no mercy."
- ―Darth Sidious
Operation: Knightfall, which took place in 19 BBY immediately before the end of the Clone Wars, was one of the first conflicts of the Great Jedi Purge. After assisting in the death of Jedi Master Mace Windu and submitting to the tutelage of Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Sidious—known to the galaxy as Palpatine, Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic—Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker fell to the dark side and was anointed Darth Vader. Just afterward, Vader was assigned a detachment of the 501st Legion's clone troopers and was tasked with storming the Jedi Temple on Coruscant alongside them. This massacre, as well as the mandate given to the clones instructing them to kill their Jedi officers in the field, marked the beginning of a galaxy-wide hunt for the Jedi. Most of the Jedi inside the Temple were executed by the invaders while the Temple burned, and within minutes of the Purge's inception, much of the Jedi Order was wiped out.
During the fighting, Vader altered a beacon that alerted Jedi across the galaxy—the ones that had not already fallen to the clones in their ranks—that the Clone Wars were over and ordered them back to the Temple, where a garrison of clone troopers lay in wait to finish them off. All of the Jedi who complied with the beacon's mandate were killed by squads of clones, some of whom were disguised as Jedi themselves. To prevent deaths, two surviving Jedi Masters, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, infiltrated the Temple and switched the beacon, changing the message to ward away any surviving Jedi and instructing them to go into hiding. With the operation's completion, the bodies of the slain Jedi were publicly burned in a massive pyre in front of the Jedi Temple's public entrance.
- "In the name of the Galactic Senate of the Republic, you're under arrest, Chancellor."
"Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?"
"The Senate will decide your fate."
"I am the Senate."
- ―Mace Windu and Palpatine
Since their first encounter, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine—secretly the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Sidious—had an interest in Anakin Skywalker, a boy intent on learning the Jedi ways. He positioned himself as a mentor and father figure to the boy in order to influence his decisions. Skywalker trusted Palpatine absolutely, confiding in him his greatest secrets, such as his slaughter of Tusken Raiders on Tatooine, his relationship with Senator Padmé Amidala, her pregnancy with his child, and his visions of her dying in childbirth. In 19 BBY, near the end of the Clone Wars, Palpatine invited Skywalker, who was now a Jedi Knight, to a performance of Squid Lake by the Mon Calamari Ballet in the Galaxies Opera House. There, he recited to Skywalker The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise, telling him that there were Sith techniques that he could learn to save Amidala. Later, Palpatine admitted to Skywalker that he knew how to utilize the dark side of the Force, and Skywalker realized that he was actually a Sith Lord. The Knight was shocked by this revelation, and he fled to the Jedi Temple to inform Jedi Master Mace Windu, who immediately informed the Jedi at the Temple before taking a squad of Masters to apprehend the Sith.
In his office on Coruscant, Sidious was confronted by Windu's group, and all but Windu were quickly killed by the Sith. Sidious and Windu continued fighting until Skywalker arrived. Deciding that Amidala's life was more important to him than his commitment to the Jedi, Skywalker cut off Windu's sword arm to save the Sith Lord, and Sidious threw Windu out of a window to his death. Skywalker then pledged himself to Sidious's Sith teachings, and was dubbed "Darth Vader." Sidious took this moment to carefully admit that he did not actually know the secret to preserving life, much to Vader's chagrin, but assured his disciple that they would find it together. With that, Sidious declared the Jedi Order a threat to the Galactic Republic, assigning Vader the task of marching through the halls of the Jedi Temple and eliminating this growing "menace." A large detachment of troopers from the 501st Legion was transferred to Coruscant from the war theater of Utapau to serve Lord Vader during the mission.
However, Sidious did not know of Vader's true intentions for taking part in the raid on the Temple. Vader, realizing Sidious had been manipulating him all along after his admission that he could not save Amidala, intended to help destroy the Jedi because he knew they would never understand Windu's death in the context it would help save the one he loved against the will of the Order's tenets. He planned to assist Sidious in his plot to bring the galaxy under his supreme rule only to turn on his new Master once the Jedi were extinguished. Vader knew that the Order would object to the rule of a murderer once he took command, despite his intention of bringing stability to the galaxy's citizens through that means. He resolved that the actions he would take that night were necessary for his goal to come to fruition.
While Vader prepared to begin his mission, Sidious enacted Order 66, a mandate that Republic clone troopers across the galaxy had been conditioned to follow without question since before the Clone Wars had broken out. It commanded them to attack and kill their Jedi commanders in the name of the Republic. Within minutes, many Jedi were killed by their formerly loyal subordinates, though some survived the Order.
Jocasta Nu, the Chief librarian of the Jedi Archives, sensed something suspicious that night. She dispatched her Padawan, Jin-Lo Rayce, to the lower levels of Coruscant with detailed maps of the planet's underbelly to protect him from what shortly became the raid, Operation: Knightfall.
- "You have done well, my new apprentice. Your skills are unmatched by any Sith before you. Now, Lord Vader, go and bring peace to the Empire."
- ―Palpatine, to Darth Vader
The 501st troopers were transported to Coruscant in several Venator-class Star Destroyers that stayed over the city throughout the operation. Marching silently to the gates of the Temple with the clones, Darth Vader was met by Jedi Gate Master Jurokk, whom Vader asked about the whereabouts of the Temple's current commander, Jedi Master Shaak Ti. After Jurokk told him that she was meditating in the Temple, Vader killed the Gate Master and led the clones inside. After entering the temple, Vader then demanded that one Jedi draw a lightsaber and become one with the Force, claiming that the Order's plot to "overthrow" Chancellor Palpatine had failed, to the Jedi's confusion. Vader killed the Jedi, then proceeded to stalk through the halls. He eliminated any Jedi he encountered while destroying any Marksman-H combat remotes he met that were guarding the Jedi Temple.
As the troopers dispersed throughout the Temple's vaulted halls at Clone Commander CC-1119's direction, Vader took a small group of clones to capture the communication center via the Jedi Archives. There, a Jedi Knight named Sha Koon, weary from researching and tracking a Sith the Jedi suspected of manipulating the war, awoke to smoke and a battle raging in the Temple. Though surprised at clones in the halls surrounding the Archive, she felt their intent through the Force and blindly fled deep into the Temple.
Upon approaching the library, one of the clone units reported in. It informed Vader they were on their way to regroup with him. Vader then engaged two Jedi who created a Force barrier around each other, ensuring Vader could not kill them as they attacked him. However, Vader held them off long enough that the clone unit arrived, killing them. Vader then ordered the commander to take his troops and destroy their ships to ensure none escaped. Vader entered the Temple's library with another contingent of clones and told Jocasta Nu to grant him access to the communication room under the Supreme Chancellor's orders. When she ignited her lightsaber to confront the Sith, citing that only the Jedi Council could authorize access, Vader used the Force to impale her with his own saber, killing her. After the clones had confirmed that all escaping ships had been destroyed, Vader posted clones at all exits to ensure that no Jedi could leave or enter to aid the Temple forces. Vader rooted out any remaining Jedi that were hidden in the library while the troops placed themselves.
Sha Koon sensed Nu's death through the Force. In tandem, she also identified Skywalker as the perpetrator of this massacre and realized that he had turned from the light to become a Sith Lord. This heightened her will to survive, which she did by utilizing the same passageways Rayce did to escape, having learned of them from him earlier.
- "What I remember about the rise of the Empire is… is how quiet it was. During the waning hours of the Clone Wars, the 501st Legion was discreetly transferred back to Coruscant. It was a silent trip. We all knew what was about to happen, what we were about to do. Did we have any doubts? Any private traitorous thoughts? Perhaps, but no one said a word. Not on the flight to Coruscant, not when Order 66 came down, and not when we marched into the Jedi Temple. Not a word."
- ―An extract from the Journal of the 501st
The clones charged into the Temple foyer to meet with heavy resistance from Jedi and Temple Security Force personnel, eventually clearing the High Council Chamber of resistance. They were then ordered to pacify the library and defend holobook shelves from Jedi that were trying to destroy them until a content download could be performed to capture the confidential Jedi information and Sith secrets. After that information was taken, the clones fought to acquire a holocron detailing Sith and Jedi knowledge from the Archives, delivering the device to an awaiting Low Altitude Assault Transport for carriage away from the battle.
On Vader's front, a Zabrak Jedi activated a ray shield defense system and hid in a shield-protected room during the carnage. Once Vader had disabled the shields and killed the alien, he and a group of clones were ambushed by a band of Jedi Snipers in a hall. At a clone's suggestion, Vader toppled a large statue to crush the warriors and used a chunk to break his way into a study hall, where his party eliminated several Jedi students and a number of Jedi brutes. When Jedi interceptors were launched in an attempt to cut down the clone force, Vader commandeered an anti-aircraft gun to shoot them down, making his way to the communication center at the summit of the High Council Tower once he had finished off the last ship. He altered and broadcast a beacon ordering all Jedi to return to the Jedi Temple on the High Council's authority because the war was over, leading any who heeded the call to their death at the hands of the clones. Meanwhile, the Jedi Cin Drallig managed to penetrate upper-level defenses, and Vader elected to deal with him, ordering nearby clone assassins to guard the beacon with their lives.
Hunting the Masters and children
- "Master Skywalker, there are too many of them. What are we going to do?"
- ―Sors Bandeam, just before his Clan and he were killed by Darth Vader
Before tracking down Drallig, Vader made his way through the First Knowledge Quarter to one of the many briefing rooms, where Drallig's former apprentice, Serra Keto, confronted Vader and engaged him in a duel. Jumping on a balcony that overlooked a training veranda in the Tower of First Knowledge, she cut into a pillar, but Vader toppled it, using it to crush her.
As the remaining Jedi Masters realized that the Temple was lost, they began to send Knights and Padawans out through the Temple Precinct. Vader made his way to the base of the Temple, where he found Drallig guarding a group of fleeing younglings he had been instructing in lightsaber combat in the Room of a Thousand Fountains. After murdering two of Drallig's trainees, Bene and Whie Malreaux, the Sith entered a duel with Drallig alongside his remaining padawan. After some time duelling, Drallig ordered the padawan to retreat, beginning to duel Vader personally. Vader killed Drallig by slashing his shoulder. The squad of clones accompanying Vader then blasted at the other Padawans that Drallig was protecting, killing most of them. A Zabrak Jedi had also been assigned to protect a group of Younglings. He was caught by Vader and, after a brief duel, was struck down.
As the clones continued the attack, Darth Vader discovered Shaak Ti within her chambers. After dueling and disorienting the Sith Lord, she managed to lead a band of Padawans and their Masters out of the Temple and later secured a small number of her charges passage through the Undercity of Coruscant. Arligan Zey, the leader of the clone army's Special Operations Brigade, had gone to the Temple upon hearing of the death of General Grievous—a Jedi hunter and Supreme Commander of the Separatist Droid Army—on Utapau, only to be caught in the battle within the halls of his sanctuary. He made it out of the Temple and found his way back to his offices in Arca Barracks, where his aide, an Advanced Recon Commando Captain nicknamed "Maze", helped him flee the planet. Among the other survivors were Jedi Kazdan Paratus, who ran away in fear; Jax Pavan, a Jedi Knight; and the last Curator of Records.
The raid continues
- "I saw thousands of troops attack the Jedi Temple. That's why I went looking for Yoda."
- ―Bail Organa
Meanwhile, the 501st Legion secured all four Jedi Council chambers and fought the Temple Security Force in the main hall. Darth Vader then returned from his duel with Cin Drallig and collected a holocron from the corpse of a Jedi he had killed alongside his troops. As they focused the brunt of their attack on the hall, three Jedi Masters, who had taken somewhat of a military command over the remaining Jedi, led the last of the Jedi into the main hall in a final attempt to repel the 501st. The Jedi came out in a sudden charge against the clones, but despite their assault, the three were eventually killed along with their allies by the insurgents.
Vader ascended the High Council Tower to search the Council Chamber for more survivors, and it was there that he found an entire Clan of younglings. A young boy, Sors Bandeam, approached Vader from where the other Younglings, including Shia Letap and Jeswi Ele, had hidden themselves. Bandeam, not realizing that Skywalker was now Vader and had defected to the Sith, asked him what the Jedi were going to do, and in answer, Vader executed the entire Clan.
As the Temple burned, Bail Organa, the senator from Alderaan and a Jedi sympathizer, landed on the landing platform of one of the Tower hangars to investigate the fire. After being turned away by the clones guarding the hangar, the retreating Senator witnessed the execution of Zett Jukassa, a young Padawan. The clones started to fire on Bail Organa until Clone Sergeant Fox ordered them to stand down. Fox, with Jukassa's death, felt there had been enough killing that night.
As the fighting began to die down, Darth Sidious arrived at the Temple to check on Vader's progress. Vader knelt before his Master and was congratulated by the Dark Lord. Sidious ordered Vader to travel to Mustafar to eliminate the leaders of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, a faction opposing the Republic that had seceded three years prior, assembled there by Sidious for talks to end the conflict.
- "Not even the Younglings survived."
"Killed not by clones, this Padawan, but by a lightsaber, he was."
"Who? Who could have done this?"
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, upon finding a group of murdered Jedi hopefuls in the Temple
As the fires burned through the night, the citizens of Galactic City watched in shock as the symbol of the Jedi was engulfed in flames. A Senatorial body called the Senate Emergency Response declared martial law on Coruscant, locked down the Temple Precinct, and closed the surrounding skylanes, redirecting all traffic away from the district. Coruscant Rescue Ops were forbidden from extinguishing the fires cremating the Temple, and any ship attempting to approach the Temple was assumed to be doing so with treasonous intent. The Coruscant Security Force joined the clones in tracking down fleeing Jedi, and CSF officers assisted when the 501st engaged a group of Jedi trying to escape the Temple via the Shinarcan Bridge Extension.
Leaving the Temple, Vader went to visit his wife in her apartment and explained the destruction of the Temple by telling her that the Jedi had betrayed the Republic. He told her where he was going and why while warning her to stay away from other members of the Senate, as he said there were traitors there, too.
The entire affair was taped and recorded from afar by numerous outsiders, and the burning Temple was flashed across the HoloNet constantly. Such coverage continued into the days following Operation: Knightfall. These broadcasts, however, were vague, not relating any explanations while spouting speculation as to the statuses of various facets of the Order, leading to much confusion and rampant misinformation.
The clones began to count the dead once the Temple was pacified. Jedi Yoland Fee and Master Ali-Alann had been killed by clone troopers. Jedi Knight Olana Chion was presumed to have died that night, though her body was never properly identified. In addition to the Jedi casualties, the entire security force of Jedi Knights had been killed, as well as most of the Temple Security Force and Temple Caretakers present during Operation: Knightfall.
Before the fires had been doused, an emergency Galactic Senate meeting was called by Palpatine the day after the raid on the Temple. During the assembly, he informed the senators of the Jedi's attempt to usurp control of the galaxy and the night's events, producing secretly recorded audio footage from his arrest as evidence that the Jedi had tried to depose the Republic's Head of State without a warrant. He also told them of the Temple's pacification and the clones' efforts across the galaxy to wipe out the organization in the wake of that realization. To fully sway his audience to his cause, Palpatine delivered a speech claiming the Jedi had orchestrated the entirety of the Clone Wars to weaken the Republic so that they could take over the galaxy. Palpatine announced that to prevent another such attempt, the Galactic Republic would be dissolved and then reformed as a unified body under his sole, absolute authority, the Galactic Empire.
The Jedi incursion
- Kenobi: "Have we had any contact from the Temple?"
- Yoda: "Received a coded retreat message, we have."
- Organa: "It requests all Jedi to return to the Temple. It says the war is over."
- Kenobi: "Well, then we must go back. If there are any stragglers, they will fall into the trap and be killed."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Bail Organa[src]
Following the raid, two survivors of Order 66, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, received the message ordering all Jedi to return to the Temple and immediately recognized it as the trap it was. Since the emergency Senate session diverted much of the clone garrison stationed at the Temple to the Senate Building, the two Jedi Masters returned to the Temple during the meeting to take advantage of the clones' reassignment. They found the Temple in shambles, fires still burning, and bodies from both sides of the conflict strewn through the halls. Pillars were broken, walls were shattered, entire walkways had collapsed, and the library's bookshelves had been torn to pieces.
The duo found that the Temple was still fully guarded by clones of a wide variety of clone classifications, including snipers, blaze troopers, and heavy gunners alongside the standard soldiers, some of whom were disguised as Jedi. After fighting his way through their former allies alongside Yoda, Kenobi was able to enter the beacon room. There, Kenobi discovered the group of assassins that Vader had left guarding the beacon and dispatched all of them before reconfiguring the beacon to ward Jedi away. They found a holocron that depicted Skywalker killing Cin Drallig and his Padawan charges before speaking with his Sith Master. Kenobi was shocked by the revelation that Skywalker, his former Padawan, had lead the massacre. He went to Amidala, who had watched the Jedi Temple burn from afar, and stowed away in secret on her ship when she went to confront her husband on Mustafar. This lead to a duel between the two Force users.
The clones continued clean-up operations after the Masters had departed. Piling Jedi bodies and inventorying them with the Archive rosters, they burned the majority of the corpses on the steps of the Temple's public entrance. A crowd promptly gathered before the pyre, staring on, confused at the night's events. Several Jedi were among their number such as Dass Jennir, Shadday Potkin, and Koffi Arana, who came despite the message warding them away. Jedi Master Kai Hudorra and a Padawan he had traveled to Coruscant with, Noirah Na, had discarded their comlinks and came unaware of the retransmitted message warning them to stay away. One of the Jedi's dwindling number charged the Temple steps, calling for the other Jedi to join him, only to be swiftly killed by the clones. His death upset those there, and the procession quickly disbanded.
- "It's a coded burst-transmission from the Temple."
"Can you decipher it?"
"It's not a simple Nine Thirteen. Give me a moment. The High Council is ordering all Jedi back to Coruscant."
- ―Roan Shryne and Bol Chatak
The Jedi beacon's message reached the Outer Rim world Murkhana, where it was received by Jedi Master Roan Shryne. Master Bol Chatak, her Padawan Olee Starstone, and Shryne escaped their former compatriot clones after Order 66 came down, surviving the initial wave of killings. Intent on following their orders, they made their way to Murkhana City, where they found transport off-world. However, before they could secure a starship, the group received the second message from the Temple. The trio was flabbergasted by the contradictory transmission, but before they could think about it, a large force of clones took them into custody. Shryne and Starstone escaped capture and fled without Chatak, who had been decapitated by Vader. The pair eventually learned of what had happened in the last few days: that the first Galactic Empire had risen, while the Jedi Order was no more. The duo resolved to find the other Jedi that had survived so that they could band together and rebuild the Order from the ground up.
- "Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night and stare at the ceiling and wonder if it might all have been a dream. A horrible, empty dream, where hope faded like a slow-dying star."
- ―An excerpt of Minos Fel'Kona's writings
Rumors spread like wildfire in the wake of the Temple massacre. One such one was that, because it was not publicly known they were the same man, Anakin Skywalker had fought with the Jedi to protect the Temple from Vader and the 501st. Supposedly, Skywalker had outlived all other Jedi and had faced the Republic onslaught alone, eventually dying while defending a group of children. He would be considered the best of the entire Order by Nick Rostu, a man who served as an officer in the Republic army during the Clone Wars, as well as the greatest hero the galaxy had to offer by the public-at-large. Rostu felt that his death was the reason the Republic fell to Palpatine's dictatorship. Alternatively, people believed newly christened Galactic Emperor Palpatine when he claimed that the Jedi had attempted to dominate the galaxy. He used such remarks to justify the slaughter of the Jedi in the Temple and elsewhere as part of the Great Jedi Purge, asserting that the 501st had been dispatched to the Temple to reason with the Jedi over their attempt to arrest him. He hailed the clones for killing the traitors without any sort of hesitation when they refused to negotiate and attacked instead.
Jedi Master Minos Fel'Kona survived Order 66 and took shelter on the planet of Cularin like many other Jedi. He was disillusioned by Palpatine's claim that the Jedi Order was the galaxy's enemy and decided to write about it in a digital journal. The datapad detailed his feelings in the wake of the Empire's rise to power. Fel'Kona's message was later found and uploaded to the Cularin HoloNet.
In the Outer Rim Territories aboard the starship Gray Pilgrim, the Padawan Maris Brood and her master felt a disturbance in the Force following Operation: Knightfall and Order 66. All their attempts to contact the Jedi Temple received no response, Brood's Master left her, in search of answers. Her master told her that the Jedi Order had been wiped out by Darth Vader, but he disappeared. Brood swore revenge on Vader for what he had done, but was found by Shaak Ti, who talked her down. The two settled on the planet of Felucia and lived together for a number of years. Nonetheless, Brood never let those vengeful feelings subside.
- "Maybe, one day in the future, we can discover what it means to be a Jedi in the Empire. Or better still, we can rediscover what it means to be a Jedi in the Republic."
- ―An excerpt of Minos Fel'Kona's writings
Sidious sent Vader to the Temple months after the massacre to retrieve some information on rumored Sith holocrons that had possibly been hidden somewhere in the library's vaults. Vader believed he recognized Sidious's true intent right away: his Master wished to remind him of what he had done, that he now served the Sith. Upon reflection, Vader believed that his actions were like any duty he had performed as a Jedi: he had completed it to the best of his ability and felt no remorse for any of those he killed. In fact, he felt that his mission was more righteous than anything he had done for his former allies. In reality, Sidious sent him to the Temple to accept what he had done there so he could move past it, becoming stronger, and so that he would become docile in his apprentice position. Sidious was confused when, instead, Vader returned to him more angry than before and feared that he had inadvertently made Vader more discontent with his position.
Around that time, a new organization surfaced on Coruscant, a resistance against the totalitarian government known as the Whiplash. These people assisted some of the Temple workers that had survived Operation: Knightfall and rumors surfaced suggesting that Jedi Knights and Padawan learners were also in their care. These political undesirables, labeled "enemies of the state," were transported along a system of safe houses and shelters known as the Underground Mag-Lev and were helped off-planet. Some of them even joined the organization.
Following the battle, every official recording of the battle was erased and the Temple remained virtually untouched as a monument to Palpatine's power as well as a warning to his enemies, with the primary exception of the Jedi library. The room's contents were stripped bare, looted, or vandalized beyond any chance of retrieval as time passed after the Operation. The only official records of the battle came from printed sources, more specifically an article on the 501st Legion by Commander Mak Tennar, included in the Imperial Handbook: A Commander's Guide military guidebook. Luke Skywalker, the son of Anakin Skywalker, would later note in the handbook that it and other printed statements are the only details of the battle he could find, and wished he could find out more about the event. No battle damage or vandalism was ever repaired. The only addition was a landing platform, made to replace the destroyed hangar, which jutted out of the side of the structure. Many pathways in the Temple were permanently sealed by debris, and the building was used to store lightsabers taken from many slain Jedi, among them Tru Veld's. Rumors about the Temple being used as a Jedi prison were spread by the Empire to lure any curious Jedi to the area so they could be captured; Jedi Fy-Tor-Ana and former Padawan Ferus Olin both fell for this ruse. When the Jedi were reformed as the New Jedi Order, Jedi archivists like Mander Zuma, active in 19 ABY, were charged with finding duplicate examples of documents recovered from the ruined Archives to authenticate the findings.
Anakin Skywalker's personal astromech droid, R2-D2, stole a brief clip of Vader and a group of clones killing Drallig and his Padawan charges. He reluctantly showed it to Skywalker's son, Luke, fifty-five years later. In 40 ABY, Luke's nephew, Jacen Solo, was conflicted over his own decision to become a Sith Lord so, in the replacement Jedi Temple, he flow-walked back to the time of the raid to understand his grandfather's motive for the attack. Solo watched Vader murder many Jedi, but was interrupted by a clone trooper who raised his blaster rifle toward the time traveler and forced him to return to his own time.
In 138 ABY, Darth Krayt, who had been a Jedi at the time of the Operation, recalled feeling the screams of the dying Jedi and an extreme intent to kill through the Force after Order 66. Krayt was about to invade the Temple of the Sith, the rebuilt Jedi Temple that had fallen to the Sith in the wake of another Jedi Purge 149 years after Operation: Knightfall. He compared that murderous intent to his own toward his Voice, Darth Wyyrlok, who had grievously wounded Krayt and usurped the reestablished Imperial throne from him.
Behind the scenes
- "Then [Sidious] says 'Okay, well, now I'll [save your wife], but now you have to do all these things: you have to kill the Jedi because if you don't kill all the Jedi—even if you leave one alive, even if it's just one of the little kids—they'll come back and get us and we'll be dealing with this forever.'"
- ―George Lucas in the Revenge of the Sith commentary
The eradication of the Jedi Order and the turning of Anakin Skywalker were first indirectly mentioned in the original trilogy and later in The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton, though the circumstances of these events were not. However, in 2005, the Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith novelization and the junior novelization were published prior to the theatrical release of the film, depicting the event for the first time. That notwithstanding, the event was barely touched upon in the novel, which skipped to the scene with Bail Organa after Darth Vader killed Jurokk. LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game, a non-canonical video game that was released three days after the novels, contained the first visual presentation of the event. The brief scene was based upon the scene in Revenge of the Sith in which Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi watch holographic security footage of Vader's actions. Shaak Ti is seen being killed in her chamber—a scene that was to be in the movie before it was cut—followed by Vader kneeling to Darth Sidious, as seen in the film.
George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, felt that the portion of the raid featuring Sors Bandeam and his clan was a very necessary one. He wanted to demonstrate just how far Skywalker had fallen from his pedestal as a Jedi Knight, but he had absolutely no intention for actually showing them killed. Nonetheless, another child, Zett Jukassa, was killed on screen. He was portrayed by Lucas's son, Jett Lucas.
The circumstances surrounding the raid were further explored in Star Wars: Battlefront II and the Revenge of the Sith video game, which made the massacre playable while also revealing some of the secondary objectives of the transforming Republic, such as the acquisition of data from the Jedi library. The Nintendo DS version of Revenge of the Sith erroneously implied that Operation: Knightfall had occurred just as Obi-Wan Kenobi had arrived at Utapau, instead of after. Battlefront II showed Kenobi fighting alongside the 501st there before they were transferred to Coruscant.
In the Revenge of the Sith video game, Vader and the clones were confronted by Jedi classified as Jedi brutes and Jedi snipers. After the game's release, Leland Chee described these as simply generic, game mechanical characters and that these were not to be taken as canonical designations. His ruling on this was later superceded by their inclusion in Daniel Wallace's The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force.
The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia stated that Serra Keto had been expelled from the Order before an eventual death at the hands of Vader, while the Revenge of the Sith video game clearly shows her fighting Vader as a Jedi Knight during Operation: Knightfall. Also, The Essential Atlas by Daniel Wallace and Jason Fry, released in 2009, mentions the Operation in its section on the events of Revenge of the Sith. In it, the book states that the Operation was a part of Order 66. However, this is wrong because it took place upon Sidious's personal command to Vader, not because of his subsequent enaction of Order 66.
In the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series episode "Ghosts of Mortis," the Son shows Anakin Skywalker a vision of his future that included portions of the events of Revenge of the Sith. One of these visions was of Skywalker raising his lightsaber to strike down a child immediately after a vision of Palpatine using Force lightning, and before he saw his strangling Padmé Amidala with the Force just before his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Taken as chronological visions of the movie, and interpereting Palpatine's scene as from the showdown with Mace Windu, that would place this child as a victim of Operation: Knightfall.
Originally, Kenobi and Yoda were to be greeted by a squad of clone troopers disguised as Jedi in the movie. A promotional image of Temuera Morrison as one of these clones is on the second disc of the Revenge of the Sith DVD set, suggesting that they were considered for the movie. These clones were included as playable characters—though not in the story—in LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game and its compilation game, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga. Nonetheless, a group of these clones appeared in the novelization, making them canonical.
- Evil Eyes (Vision to Iguni)
- LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game (First appearance) (Appears in hologram)
- LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Appears in hologram)
- Republic Commando: Order 66
- Tag & Bink: Revenge of the Clone Menace