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The Star Wars universe’s infamous Order 66, explained

Some Jedi survive, most didn’t

Lord Sidious appears to a Clone Commander to issue Order 66. Lucasfilm/Disney
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

With the series finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars right around the corner, we’re re-upping this look back at infamous “Order 66.” Here’s what Ahsoka Tano is up against as Darth Sidious reveals himself on the other side of the galaxy in “Shattered,” part three of a four-episode arc that concludes the animated series seventh and final season.

Making your way through the newest installments in the Star Wars franchise can often feel like picking up an old novel that you haven’t read for many years. With a narrative that spans more than four decades, fans should be forgiven if they forget a few of the major plot points from time to time. So, whether you’re dipping into Respawn Entertainment’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, picking up where you left with Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ final season, or rewatching the first season of The Mandalorian, it’s important to remember one major turn of events: “Order 66.”

During the era of the Galactic Republic, a Jedi Master you’ve likely never heard of organized the creation of the Grand Army of the Republic. It is this army — composed entirely of clones crafted by a slender gray alien species known as the Kaminoans — that gives the Clone Wars their name.

The Grand Army was tremendously successful in its purpose of prosecuting war against the Separatists. There was one major flaw, however. Turns out that the Dark Side-worshiping Sith spoiled the entire batch by implanting each of those clones with a mind control chip. Those chips made it impossible for individual soldiers to disobey the orders of Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine, also known as the Sith Lord Darth Sidious. In the year 19 BBY (before the Battle of Yavin), Sidious issued Order 66 in secret to all Grand Army units under Republic command. That order made every living Jedi a traitor to the Republic, and the punishment for such treason was death.

Fallen Order takes place just five years after Order 66 was issued.

Those interested in reliving the lowest point in the history of the Jedi should check out Star Wars: Episode 3 — Revenge of the Sith. The brutal murders that follow order 66 form much of the climax of that film. By far its most most gruesome moment comes when a fledgling Lord Darth Vader strides into the Jedi Temple on Coruscant to murder everyone inside. That includes master Yoda’s own class of force-sensitive children, also known as younglings.

Oddly enough, you can find a few youngling helmets inside Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities at the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. They make an odd accessory to what are respectively the most magical and the happiest places on Earth.

A few Jedi survived Order 66 — Yoda, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka Tano, Kanan Jarrus (who we see in the final season of Clone Wars before he takes the spotlight in Rebels), and possibly Quinlan Vos, if hints in sequel series is any indication — but the killing didn’t stop after Sidious’ executions. The purge of the Jedi was a fairly arduous affair, and required a specialized group of Jedi hunters called Inquisitors. You can catch snippets of their work in the long-running Darth Vader comics from Marvel, various Star Wars cartoons, and the latest game from Respawn.