- "Execute Order 66."
- ―Darth Sidious
Order 66, also known as Clone Protocol 66, was a top secret order identifying all Jedi as traitors to the Galactic Republic and, therefore, subject to summary execution by the Grand Army of the Republic. The order was programmed into the Grand Army clone troopers through the control chips implanted in their brains, making it impossible for the clones to disobey the command to turn against their Jedi Generals. The Kaminoan scientists who designed the clone troopers believed it was only to be used as a contingency protocol against renegade Jedi. In secret, Order 66 was the means by which the Sith intended to bring about the fall of the Jedi Order.
During the Clone Wars, the Sith agenda was progressing unnoticed until a premature activation of Order 66 resulted in the death of General Tiplar at the hands of CT-5385, a defective clone whose malfunctioning chip caused him to turn against his Jedi officer. Another soldier, CT-5555 conducted his own investigation into the matter, believing the incident to be a Separatist plot against the Republic. On the galactic capital Coruscant, however, he learned that the chips conditioned the clones to become hostile against the Jedi. Furthermore, he discovered to an extent Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine's involvement in the conspiracy and attempted to assassinate him. CT-5555 told what he knew to his Jedi superior Anakin Skywalker; but before the clone could prove it, he was killed by clone shock troopers of the Coruscant Guard.
The plan continued apace for the remainder of the war, although the Jedi High Council had grown increasingly wary of the Chancellor's motives. In 19 BBY, a group of Jedi Masters sought to arrest Palpatine upon learning his true identity as the Sith Lord Darth Sidious. When their efforts failed, Palpatine used the incident to frame the Jedi Order for treason and, as such, directed the clone army to execute their Jedi commanding officers in accordance with Order 66. Across the galaxy thousands of Jedi were killed by their own troops while the Chancellor's new apprentice, the Sith Lord Darth Vader led the 501st Legion in a direct assault on the Jedi Temple of Coruscant. With the exception of a few surviving Jedi, such as Grand Master Yoda and Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi Purge was largely accomplished through the initial activation of Order 66. Sidious would go on to consolidate his reign as Emperor of the Galactic Empire, ruling for decades until the prophecy of the Chosen One came to pass, marking the extinction of the Sith and the restoration of balance in the Force by 4 ABY.
- "When the time comes, no one will be able to stop our plan to execute Order 66."
- ―Darth Sidious
Clone Protocol 66 was built into the clone troopers of the Grand Army of the Republic during the cloning process that created them. All clones were given a bio-chip, one that could be activated by remote order via voice command; Sheev Palpatine, for example, only needed to tell clones to execute Order 66, and the order was carried out. The bio-chip, when activated, would ensure total obedience in a clone, erasing existing biases and beliefs. The order would also cause the clones to view the Jedi as a dangerous threat that needed to be eliminated at all costs.
- "Good soldiers follow orders."
- ―CT-5385, moments before executing Jedi General Tiplar
Around ten years prior to the outbreak of the Clone Wars, Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas ordered the clone army for the Galactic Republic. As part of the Sith plot to destroy the Jedi Order, Count Dooku—a Sith Lord who posed as a Jedi to the Kaminoan cloners—provided the Kaminoans with a bio-chip to be implanted into the clones during the early phase of their growth period. This chip contained clone protocol 66 which, when activated, would ensure total obedience in the clones and cause them to violently lash out against the Jedi.
Towards the end of the war, Order 66 was almost prematurely exposed due to a malfunction in the bio-chip inside of clone trooper CT-5385, nicknamed "Tup," resulting in his alternating between his regular self and entering a trance-like state. The latter state caused Tup to shoot Jedi Master Tiplar during the battle of Ringo Vinda, killing her instantly. The Republic retreated from their offensive, and prepared to study Tup to determine what happened. Dooku and his master, Darth Sidious—secretly Supreme Chancellor Palpatine—learned of what happened to Tup and feared that he would lead the Jedi to discovering their true plan for the war, including the clone protocol. The Confederacy of Independent Systems tried to kidnap Tup from the Republic, but the Republic succeeded in bringing him to Kamino for further study.
The Kaminoans, knowing the truth about the clone protocol, studied Tup and claimed that it was a virus that caused him to kill Jedi General Tiplar. Fellow trooper CT-5555, nicknamed "Fives," did not believe their claims and discovered the chip inside of Tup. With the help of the medical droid AZI-3, Fives also discovered the chip inside of his head, and AZI-3 removed it for study before they both discovered that the chip was inside all of the clones. The Jedi brought Fives to Coruscant for further examination, where Fives came face-to-face with Palpatine and discovered that the Chancellor was behind the plot. Palpatine framed Fives for an assassination attempt, discrediting the clone and causing the Jedi and fellow clones to pursue Fives. Despite knowing the truth, Fives was unable to tell Anakin Skywalker or Clone Captain CT-7567, otherwise known by his nickname "Rex," who were with him in the end, about the conspiracy or the Supreme Chancellor's involvement before being killed. The Jedi Order accepted the story that it was a virus that caused Tup and Fives' behavior.
Later, the Jedi discovered that the Sith were behind the creation of the Grand Army of the Republic, as Count Dooku—under the name Tyranus—had personally selected Jango Fett as the genetic template for the clones and had worked with the Kaminoans to create the army after it was ordered by Sifo-Dyas. At the insistence of Grand Master Yoda, who testified to the clones' loyalty and valiant service, the Jedi High Council chose to not disclose the conspiracy to the public or even the Supreme Chancellor, believing that the Republic would lose the public's trust if it became known that Dooku was involved in the creation of the clone army. Shortly thereafter, Yoda went on a journey to discover the secrets of immortality, and, on Dagobah, saw a vision of what would become Order 66. Throughout his journey, Yoda came to accept that the Jedi would likely lose the Clone Wars, though he did not know how. He did, however, believe that the Jedi would still ultimately triumph in the long-run.
Some time after the battle of Anaxes, clone trooper CT-6116, nicknamed "Kix" began to question the details surrounding the event which had led to Tup killing Tiplar. His subsequent investigation led him to discover that Fives had in fact been telling him the truth when he had first told Kix about the Jedi and the clones being framed and that the bio-chip implanted within the clones could indeed compel them to kill the entire Jedi Order. Before he could share his suspicions however, he was kidnapped by forces sent by Dooku. He was subsequently tortured, but his denials about not having leaked the information failed to convince his captors. He was then brought onto the Separatist cruiser Obrexta III and inserted into a cryo-cycle stasis pod for the journey to Serreno. As the cruiser was taking off however, it was ambushed by Republic forces. After sustaining heavy damage, the droid B1-CC14 made the decision to jump through hyperspace to a random sector as a way of ensuring Kix wouldn't fall into enemy hands. The jump brought them to the desert planet Ponemah Terminal, a planet where the Obrexta III crashed into.
- "Every single Jedi, including your friend, Obi-Wan Kenobi, is now an enemy of the Republic."
- ―Darth Sidious to Darth Vader
With the secrets of Order 66 secure, Palpatine and Dooku continued with their plans during the Clone Wars. By the war's end, public support for the Jedi had weakened due to their management of the conflict, while Palpatine remained a popular figure. After the deaths of Count Dooku and General Grievous, which the Jedi hoped would end the war, Palpatine revealed himself to Skywalker as the Dark Lord of the Sith in an effort to seduce him to the dark side of the Force. When Skywalker informed Jedi Master Mace Windu of the Chancellor's identity, Windu assembled a team composed of himself, Kit Fisto, Agen Kolar, and Saesee Tiin, to arrest Palpatine. Their attempt led to a lightsaber duel in which Palpatine killed all four of the Jedi, and Skywalker turned to the dark side.
Palpatine used the duel as a pretext for declaring that the Jedi were traitors, ones who had attempted to assassinate him and take control of the Republic for themselves. The Chancellor issued Order 66 to various Clone Commanders across the galaxy, while Skywalker—now the Sith Lord Darth Vader—was sent to kill the Jedi within the Jedi Temple. Thousands of Jedi throughout the galaxy were killed including Ki-Adi-Mundi on Mygeeto, Aayla Secura on Felucia, Plo Koon in the skies of Cato Neimoidia, Stass Allie on Saleucami, and even younglings.
- "The remaining Jedi will be hunted down and defeated!"
- ―Palpatine, before the Galactic Senate
The execution of Order 66 marked the destruction of the Jedi Order. Before the Galactic Senate, Palpatine told the galaxy that the Jedi were traitors who had attempted to kill him and seize power, and the destruction of the Jedi was greeted with applause by the Senate. Having amassed immense central authority during the war, and without the Jedi Order standing in his way, Palpatine transformed the Republic into the Galactic Empire and declared himself Emperor. Along with Vader, Palpatine's rule meant that the Sith plan was completed, and the Sith Lords once again ruled the galaxy.
Some clones, as exampled by Rex, Commander Wolffe, and Clone commando Gregor, were able to remove the control chips in their head. Removing the control chip allowed clones like them to disobey Order 66.
Few Jedi survived the onslaught of Order 66. During the Empire's subjugation of Mon Cala, Jedi Ferren Barr was able to hide in Dac City and acted as a adviser to King Lee-Char. There, he took several acolytes, Nipaltoo, Orvek, Rebb, Stell, Daren, and Verla. Barr was soon confronted by several of the Inquisitors and their Troopers, who he noticed were newer clones who had not yet had their inhibitor chips activated. Barr then used a mind trick to force the troopers into executing Order 66 and attacking the Inquisitors, as they were former Jedi. The Tenth Brother, who was formerly the Jedi Master Prosset Dibs, was killed in the firefight that followed.
At least one member of the Jedi Temple Guard survived by submitting to the Sith, becoming Grand Inquisitor of the Inquisitorius. Jedi Master Luminara Unduli was captured and later executed at the Spire on Stygeon Prime. Obi-Wan Kenobi went into exile on Tatooine, along with Vader's infant son, Luke Skywalker; Vader did not know that Luke or his twin sister, Leia, had been born, so the twins were taken into hiding. Yoda, meanwhile, went into exile on Dagobah. Padawan Caleb Dume took on the name "Kanan Jarrus" and went into hiding, giving up his identity as a Jedi for fourteen years before returning, with the crew of the Ghost, to rebel against the Empire. Despite having left the Jedi Order, Skywalker's former Padawan Ahsoka Tano was also targeted by Order 66. However, she along with Rex were able to fend off clone troopers and escape, faking their deaths in the process and going into hiding in the Outer Rim. Jedi Archives librarian Jocasta Nu also managed to survive.
- "Our fellow soldiers, the clones, the ones we Jedi fought side by side with, suddenly turned and betrayed us."
- ―Kanan Jarrus on Order 66
For nearly twenty years, the Empire was able to expand without any significant Jedi opposition. Approximately five years before the Battle of Yavin, however, surviving Jedi, the very few remaining in the galaxy, begun to actively aid rebel cells around the galaxy, such as Kanan Jarrus for the Spectres and Ahsoka Tano for a larger network of rebel cells. Years later, Kenobi emerged from his exile and began training Luke Skywalker to become a Jedi Knight, in the hopes that Luke would be able to defeat Vader and Emperor Palpatine. Kenobi was killed by Darth Vader aboard the Death Star, leaving Luke to be trained by Yoda, one of the only known surviving Jedi. The two trained on Dagobah before Luke left to confront Vader, and Luke did not return until just before Yoda's death.
Upon the Jedi Master's death, Luke became the last of the Jedi and set out to confront Vader once more, now having learned the truth that Vader was his father. During the Battle of Endor, Luke redeemed his father, and Anakin killed Darth Sidious. The act of killing Emperor Palpatine resulted in Anakin's death, leading to the end of the Sith; through his death, Anakin fulfilled the prophecy of the Chosen One and brought balance to the Force. By confronting his father and saving him, Luke became the first new Jedi Knight in a generation, bringing about the return of the Jedi. Thirty years later, Luke's nephew Ben Solo, now known as Kylo Ren, carried out a similar incident, causing Luke to go into exile on the planet Ahch-To.
- Master Stass Allie
- Master Depa Billaba
- Master Cin Drallig
- Master Plo Koon
- Master Ki-Adi-Mundi
- Master Aayla Secura
- Master Shaak Ti
- Master Tiplar (Pre-Order 66)
- Knight Huulik
- Padawan Bene
- Padawan Zett Jukassa
- Padawan Whie Malreaux
Behind the scenes
The events of Order 66, namely the destruction of the Jedi Order, were first mentioned in the 1977 film Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, the first installment of the Star Wars original trilogy. The destruction itself was first identified and depicted on-screen in 2005 film Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, the final installment of the prequel trilogy. The backstory of Order 66 was provided in a four-episode arc in the television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The first book of the comic series Star Wars: Kanan, featuring Kanan Jarrus of the series Star Wars Rebels, depicts Order 66 and its aftermath. This aftermath is further explored in Star Wars Rebels, as Kanan deals with passing on the legacy of the Jedi in the wake of the Order's destruction.
The comic book series Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith deals with the immediate aftermath of Order 66 and Vader's subsequent quest to hunt down the remaining Jedi known to still be in existence.
As part of Star Wars Day 2016, EA Games announced a new game which was later revealed to be entitled Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, whose premise would focus on a lone surviving Jedi Padawan shortly after the events of Revenge of the Sith. The game was set for a release during the holiday season of 2019.
Unused and rejected concepts
- "I think it was a little more gruesome than you ended up seeing, you know. A lot of young potential Jedi ended up on the cutting room floor"
- ―Ian McDiarmid on the original version of Order 66
In the first draft of of Revenge of the Sith, dated back to April 13, 2003, the number of Jedi Knights who were killed was "more extensive" than the one seen in the finished version of the film, though some animatics for these versions were made. The following order in this early draft was taken from the book The Making of Star Wars Revenge of the Sith:
On Mygeeto, clones blast KI-ADI-MUNDI and SAESEE TIIN. On Saleucami, they kill KIT FISTO, BARRISS OFFEE, and ADI GALLIA. On Kashyyyk, MINA PODIA is gunned down-but YODA saves himself. On Cato Neimoidia, PLO KOON is blasted out of the sky, while an unnamed Jedi lies dead on the planet surface. On Felucia, AAYLA SECURA and QUINLAN VOS are silenced forever.
Some other concepts featured in other drafts and versions of Revenge of the Sith included Boba Fett taking part of Order 66 by killing Mace Windu in an attempt to avenge his father Jango's death until George Lucas reorganized the entire story and felt that Fett would be "too young" and wasn't an essential part in the story. For the deaths of Barriss Offee, Luminara Unduli and Shaak Ti, it was planned to use some unused footage of Nalini Krishan, Mary Oyaya and Orli Shoshan from Attack of the Clones. In Ti's case, however, Shoshan filmed an earlier death for her in the film's beginning, though both scenes were cut from the finished film.
Ian McDiarmid, the actor who played Darth Sidious in the films, stated during a panel appearance at Salt Lake City's FanX convention in 2018 that Order 66 was intended to be more gruesome than in the finished version of the film, but George Lucas toned down the scene from his original vision in order to avoid a harsher rating and his decision was probably a good idea after all. Revenge of the Sith was ultimately rated PG-13 unlike previous films.
- Revenge of the Sith: Episode III (LEGO Star Wars)
- William Shakespeare's Tragedy of the Sith's Revenge: Star Wars Part the Third
Notes and references