Star Wars Rebels is swiftly approaching, with the premiere of the one-hour special only three weeks away. The animated series takes place between Episodes III and IV, also known as the Dark Times. It is a time of great change and transition, and a common mistake fans make is confusing clone troopers and stormtroopers. Sometimes, I find pictures of clone troopers with the hashtag “stormtroopers.” Besides differing in armor, both troopers also stand apart in various other aspects that I consider are essential to highlight. Alhough this information may be obvious to some, it is important to reiterate the distinctions and to educate those that casually use clone trooper and stormtroopers as synonyms.
I always saw clone troopers as heroes who fought for a cause, while stormtroopers blindly followed directive without question. We see this explained briefly in Michael Kogge’s Star Wars Rebels: Rise of the Rebels, “The Empire had recruited [TK-626] straight out of school. His detention record for bullying had supposedly put him at the top of their list. In fact, the Imperial recruiter had told him that bullies made some of the best stormtroopers. Bullies didn’t question order or think for themselves. They didn’t care that they lost their names for numbers. Bullies just wanted to pick on people who were different from them—like rebels” (45-46).
Notice how the average stormtrooper is described as someone who is willing to trade their name for a number. That is drastically different from the average clone trooper who wanted to be recognized for his name, as Fives did in the final arcs of season six in The Clone Wars. The clones, ironically enough, exhibited too much individuality and free thinking for Palpatine’s tastes, replacing the army that essentially guaranteed his place of power in the galaxy. Pablo Hidalgo at the New York Comic Con’s Star Wars Rebels panel in 2013 went on to say that most clones were discarded by society, while others remained in the system to train stormtroopers.
In Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, explosives expert Skelly gave us a glimpse of what a Clone Wars veteran experienced following the Wars. Additionally, the description of Skelly’s living arrangements in Crispus Commons on the planet Gorse could be the closest thing we have to where a clone trooper may have relocated to after being discharged from the army. “Crispus was a project for homeless Clone Wars veterans in the sector, an idea hatched in the final days of the Republic. The Empire had kept it going, shipping in new residents from time to time without ever adding to or improving on the complex. Skelly thought it spoke volumes about what the Repbulic and Empire really thought about those who’d fought against the Separatists. Let’s stick them where the sun doesn’t shine” (110).
When the clone troopers were cast out, as implied by Hidalgo, they had to make a living for themselves somehow. Working on Gorse or Cynda could have provided the necessary means to survive on a minimum lifestyle. Additionally, with the skills they had trained for since infancy, I like to think some of them took up bounty hunter work. Though it’s not considered canon, some clones in the Republic Commando series fell into farming and agriculture, much like Cut Lawquane did after defecting from the Republic Army in The Clone Wars.
Wherever they went, the effects of the war and Order 66 must have followed. Despite what Captain Rex said about clones having a higher threshold for mental breakdowns, it is hard to believe these once proud troopers of the Republic did not suffer from some post traumatic stress. They were engineered to be better, but they were still human with breaking points. Unlike stormtroopers, when a clone trooper died or experienced hardship, it stirred emotion in viewers of all ages.
With the sequel trilogy making its debut in 2015, is there a chance that we could see the stormtroopers from the Dark Times fall back into the heroic roles once held by our favorite clone troopers, bringing the story and events full circle? Rumors of a division within the Empire could see those instances come to light, but we will discover the truth in due time. With an incoming wave of new fans on the horizon, understanding the different origins and motives between stromtroopers and clone troopers could strike up intriguing conversations in the community until a new dawn of troopers rises.
Image credits: StarWars.com Databank