Star Wars is well known for its story-altering events, but what about Order 66? Of course, the event referenced in A New Hope is seen in all its glorious splendour in Revenge of the Sith, which occurred almost 20 years before. But what is the significance of this part of the franchise’s lore, and why does it matter? Let’s look into that, shall we?
[Editor’s Note: the information in this post only details canon events and small portions of legends]
What Was Order 66?
Known as The Order and Clone Protocol 66, Order 66 was a secret order that could only be activated by Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine, a hidden Sith Lord known as Darth Sidious. The order was created to brand the Jedi as traitors to the Republic. This included any clone troopers who defied the objective.
Order 66 was issued after Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker fell to the Dark Side, and every clone trooper in service heard the order. However, they had no control over their actions, as seen months earlier when Jedi General Tiplar was accidentally killed by one of her clones when the order was activated earlier than expected.
Tiplar’s death triggered Clone Trooper Fives to investigate the death, but before the investigation could go any further, he was executed on the orders of Palpatine after the Chancellor claimed Fives tried to assassinate him.
Could Order 66 Be Resisted?
Not all the clones executed the order, and there are a couple of examples of this. Cut Lawquane, a clone who deserted the conflict, didn’t participate. Though, it is unclear whether he had heard the order. Also, he was nowhere near Jedi.
Captain Rex did get the order. However, he had fought against it just long enough for Ahsoka Tano, who had left the Jedi Order but was still identified as a Jedi, to knock him out and remove the biochip in his head, which held the order.
We also have The Bad Batch, a group of defective clones who heard the order but were unaffected. As seen in the premiere episode of the self-titled series, they question the order. However, the programming starts to work on Wrecker, despite his attempts to fight it. He has to be subdued by his brothers so they can take the chip out. The others then follow suit.
What Was The Importance?
Order 66 was essential to Palpatine as it proved a surefire to rid the galaxy of the Jedi. However, it was not 100% successful. Jedi survived, including former Jedi like Ahsoka Tano. Masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda both survived and shared the training of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader’s son. In turn, Luke would train a future generation of Jedi, including his nephew, Ben Solo, who, like Anakin, would razor the Jedi once more upon falling to the Dark Side.
Palpatine wanted to turn the Republic into an Empire where he could rule and everyone wouldn’t be able to challenge his authority. Not even his men would be executed. Also, being the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, the Jedi were the natural enemy of the Sith, and they’d been free of the Sith for generations.
What Was Operation: Knightfall?
In Star Wars Legends, the Siege of the Jedi Temple was known as Operation: Knightfall. It was one of the final campaigns of the Clone Wars, which saw the deaths of the Jedi that occupied the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. The event is the same in canon but called the Siege of the Jedi Temple.
It is also where a young Reva, as depicted in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, starts to plot her revenge against Anakin after he gravely injures her when she tries to escape the Temple. Almost every Jedi in the Temple was killed that night, but a couple survived. Reva was one of them, and so was Grogu, as depicted in The Mandalorian episode, The Jedi. It is unknown if any other others made it out.