Palpatine’s Order 66
What was Order 66? Chancellor Palpatine’s Order 66, which was executed at the end of the Clone Wars was arguably the single most significant event in canonical history of Star Wars. It is a pivotal moment that changed everything about the galaxy, and it has been discussed by many authors over the years. In this article I will discuss what exactly happened in 19 BBY, when Darth Sidious ordered his clone troopers to execute all Jedi who were still alive. This order had far-reaching consequences for the entire galaxy, including the fall of the Galactic Republic and the rise of the Empire.
Purpose of Order 66
Why was Order 66 created?
Order 66 was created as a means to eliminate most, if not all, of the Jedi so the Chancellor could consolidate power into his own hands. The plan was to have the clones kill every living Jedi in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, then move on to other planets where they would wipe out the remaining Jedi in one coordinated attack. This way no one would be able to oppose him.
This was also an attempt to create a new Imperial military force, which would be loyal only to him. He wanted to replace the old Senate with a new government, which he would control completely.
What was the role of Order 66 in the Sith agenda?
With most of the Jedi dead and the few remaining either on the run or in hiding, Darth Sidious could craft his own empire without interference or resistance. The Jedi had long served the Republic, and with their removal the Sith Lord could systematically dismantle the Republic that was built on democracy, and begin reorganizing it into his new Empire.
Order 66 ensured Chancellor Palpatine would not only have a massive, battle-hardened army loyal only to him, but that he could also build his military state, construct super-weapons like the Death Star, and rule with absolute authority over the galaxy
How was Order 66 programmed into the Clone Troopers?
Order 66 was a protocol programmed into a bio-chip placed in ever clone-trooper’s brain. When activated, the chip would cause the clone to turn on and kill any Jedi, even those Jedi commanders the clones proudly served under for years.
Darth Sidious himself was behind the programming. He knew that the clones would never willingly submit to such an order, and he needed to ensure that the clones would follow through with it. The clones never knew these inhibitor chips were even there and were completely unable to resist its programming. The only exception to this Clone Force 99, aka The Bad Batch. Their unique mutations left them resistant their chips.
There were warning signs during the Clone wars that the clones my be serving a dark purpose. One clone’s chip malfunctioned during battle and he turned on his Jedi commander prematurely. Fives, another clone, discovered the truth about the inhibitor chips, but was quickly silenced.
The Jedi discovered the inhibitor chips were supplied by a Sith going by the name Lord Tyranus. Eventually it would be discovered that the mysterious and elusive Tyranus was actually Count Dooku, a Jedi turned Sith and leader of the Separatist Army.
Even prior to the start of the Clone Wars there were many signs that the clone army could not be trusted. Sifo-Dyas, the only Jedi known to be involved with inception and creation of the clone army, was killed under mysterious and suspicious circumstances. Bounty hunter Jango Fett, the original DNA donor for clones was a Mandalorian (who were once sworn enemies of the Jedi), turned out to be an agent of the Separatists.
How was Order 66 carried out?
With the Clone Wars seemingly coming to an end, Chancellor Palpatine revealed to Anakin Skywalker that he is Darth Sidious, the Sith Lord behind the conflict and the creation of the Clone Army. When threatened with arrest Sidious killed four Jedi Masters, included Mace Windu (we think?). At that point, Anakin fell to the dark side and kneeled to his new master, and arose as Darth Vader.
Palpatine used the arrest attempt as the perfect opportunity to publicly declare all members of the Jedi Order as traitors to the Republic. That is when he issued Order 66 to clone commanders across the galaxy, and the extermination of the Jedi began. A move that now had public support.
Across the galaxy clones turned on the Jedi, even younglings and initiates. They also seized and secured facilities like the Jedi Temple on Coruscant as well as smaller temples like ones on Jedha and Ilum, where Jedi harvested most of the kyber crystals for their lightsabers (read more about Ilum in this article).
Once Order 66 was executed Palpatine was able to consolidate power to himself with little opposition. His clone army, massive and battle-hardened, was loyal only to him. Any senators hesitant or unwilling to surrender authority to the new Empire no longer had the aid and support of the Jedi as they were either dead or on the run as fugitives.
After Order 66 and the end of the Clone Wars Palpatine was able to rule with absolute authority, and system after system pledged their allegiance and compliance with the new Galactic Empire as the only other option would be their destruction.
Some of the most notable victims of Order 66 are Master Stass Allie, Master Depa Billaba, Master Chiata, Master Cin Drallig, Master Ki-Adi-Mundi, Master Plo Koon Master Aayla Secura, Master Jaro Tapal, Master Shaak Ti, Master Tiplar, Master Minas Velti, Knight Huulik, Padawan Bene, Padawan Zett Jukassa, Padawan Whie Malreaux, Padawan Marseph.
Countless more knights, padawans, younglings, and temple guards also lost their lives during the betrayal.
Some of the notable survivors of Order 66 are Master Kirak Infil’a, Master Coleman Kcaj, Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, Master Taron Malicos, Master Jocasta Nu, Master Oppo Rancisis, Master Luminara Unduli (survived initially, but was later captured and executed), Master Uvell, Master Quinlan Vos, Master Yoda,
Knight Cere Junda, Padawan Ferren Barr, Padawan Caleb Dume (Kana Jarrus), Padawan Gungi, Padawan Cal Kestis, Padawan Trilla Suduri, Youngling Reva Sevander (who end up surrendering the Empire and the dark side by joining the Inquisitors), Former Master Eeth Koth, former Padawan Ahsoka Tano (who at recently re-joined the Republic Army unofficially when Order 66 was carried out), Youngling Grogu, and a certain Knight-turned-Temple-Guard who join the Empire as the Grand Inquisitor.
The successful execution of Order 66 and subsequent destruction of the Jedi Order allowed the Galactic Empire to rise and expand relatively unchecked for about 20 years. It wasn’t until some of the surviving Jedi organized, trained, and aided rebel cells across the galaxy to fight the Empire using whatever means were available.
This eventually led Obi-Wan Kenobi to emerge from hiding on the planet Tatooine to not only face Darth Vader on last time, but to unite Anakin’s children, Luke and Leia. Leia would become a prominent leader in both the Rebel Alliance against the Empire as well as the Resistance against the First Order. Under Kenobi and Yoda, Luke would become a Jedi and redeem his father.
However, despite his best efforts, the Jedi Order would not be restored under his watch.