The Empire’s Cannon Fodder – The Evolution Of The Stormtrooper

One of the most recognizable characters in all of Star Wars is the stormtrooper. The faceless soldiers of the Empire, the stormtrooper is the evolution of the clone troopers from the Republic era. As the soldiers of the Empire, the stormtroopers came in many variations with different purposes depending on what the situation on the battlefield called for. In this piece, we’re going to breakdown each of the stormtrooper classes and how the stormtrooper evolved over the Galactic Civil War and beyond.

Foundation and Origins

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In the years following the Clone Wars, the clone troopers left over from the conflict against the Separatist forces were the first to be used as stormtroopers. Over time, the cloning facilities and practices on Kamino were shut down and as a result the Empire resorted to intense recruitment and training for their army. Part of this intense recruitment process was the search for human subjects, as the Empire refused to put anyone else under their masks. There are currently over thirty variations of the troopers in Star Wars canon today. Here are some of the most important:

Stormtrooper

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The classic stormtrooper is the basis for all other variants. Clad in white armor similar to those worn by the clone troopers of the Republic-era, these were the most commonly seen troopers around the Galaxy. Their armor was meant to dissipate blaster shots, allowing for faster recovery in battle. Inside the helmet, there was filtered air, contained enhanced vision, communication systems and an effective HUD that could help locate threats, aid in navigation, and to help alert the wearer. They also had a utility belt and a grappling hook attached to it, and primarily used the E-11 blaster rifle, however they occasionally utilized the DLT-20A laser rifle or DLT-19 heavy blaster rifle, especially for long range engagements. However, stormtrooper armor was not without its faults. The plates made running harder and offered little protection against a large scale pulse detonations and blunt weapons.

Purge Troopers

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Purge Troopers were Imperial clones led by the Sith Lord Darth Vader and the Inquisitorius during the reign of the Galactic Empire. Trained as expendable death squads, they were activated after the Jedi Purge and subsequent termination of the cloning operation on Kamino, making them the last generation produced from the Jango Fett template. As with their precursors in the Grand Army of the Galactic Republic, Purge Troopers were programmed to obey Order 66, making them hostile against all Jedi. Every member was equipped with black armor that included several red or silver designs, kamas, and black helmets similar to that of clone paratroopers, with some sections of red. At least three members were also equipped with red pauldrons and at least three other members had a black pauldron with red lining, which was worn on their right shoulder. Each member had the Imperial crest on both shoulder pads. They utilized DC-15 blaster rifles and electrostaffs in combat. The troopers made use of Zeta-class shuttles and Imperial submarines as transports to carry out their duties.

Imperial Shock Troopers

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Imperial shock troopers were high-class stormtroopers pulled from the Stormtrooper Corps of the Galactic Empire. They served as elite frontline forces of the Empire, high-end security forces on Coruscant, and also as bodyguards for Emperor Palpatine himself. They specialized in heavy weapons on the battlefield. The shock troopers wore stormtrooper armor with distinctive red markings on the helmet, spaulders, shin guards, and utility belts which maintained extreme resistance to small-arms blaster fire. However, some of them still wore the armor model of their Clone Wars-era predecessors well into the Galactic Civil War. Often being deployed in pairs, the stormtrooper variant served mainly as a support unit, taking vantage points, occasionally driving tanks and suppressing enemies with their heavy firepower while lesser infantry moved in for the kill.

Jumptroopers

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Jumptroopers, also known as Imperial Jump Troopers or rocket troopers, were specialized stormtroopers utilized by the Galactic Empire prior to and during the Galactic Civil War. Jumptroopers were equipped with jump packs or jetpacks that allowed them temporary flight. There were variants of jumptroopers that specialized in different planetary environments such as the Arctic Jumptrooper, the Desert Jumptrooper and the Forest Jumptrooper.

Patrol Troopers

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Patrol troopers were a specialized variant of the Galactic Empire’s stormtroopers, acting as a rapid response policing force within urban environments. As the Empire reinforced its hold on planets across the galaxy, local defense forces were being supplemented and eventually completely replaced by stormtroopers. To cover distances across sprawling settlements and cities, patrol troopers policed the streets aboard their swift C-PH patrol speeder bikes and were armed with EC-17 hold-out blasters. Patrol trooper’s armor contained various advanced measures that allowed them to conduct their duties in the sprawling cityscapes of the Empire. In particular, their helmets possessed an enlarged dome that allowed them access to enhanced imaging electronics, and the overall armor, which shared similarities to the scout troopers’, allowed for greater movement than regular stormtrooper armor. In addition, they received real-time traffic data, construction, and other potential obstacles from their headquarters via an in-helmet connection, allowing them to easily navigate various congested city environments.

Mudtroopers

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The wet-weather gear stormtrooper, also called the Mimban Stormtrooper or mudtrooper, was a variant of the Galactic Empire’s standard stormtrooper. Owing to the planet’s swampy environment, their armor was heavily customized to allow for optimal operation. Compared to standard stormtrooper armor, theirs had additional space between plates at the shoulders, hips, and knees, allowing a greater range of movement. Wet-weather gear stormtroopers were armed with E-11 blaster rifles, and some were equipped with bandoliers. They wore waterproof capes, which were necessary for wading through the swamplands of Mimban during the Mimban campaign.

Range Troopers

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Range troopers were a specialized variant of the Galactic Empire’s stormtroopers. They were equipped with helmets similar in design to both the Imperial combat assault tank pilot’s and Coastal defender stormtrooper’s helmets, heavy armor with fur and a chestplate much like that of cold weather assault stormtroopers, and were armed with E-10R blaster rifles. They were also equipped with gripton boots which allowed sure footing atop fast moving vehicles. The troopers were some of the toughest in the Imperial Military, and viewed other forces as “softer” amateurs.

Shoretroopers

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Coastal defender stormtroopers, more commonly known as shoretroopers, were a specialized variant of the Galactic Empire’s stormtroopers trained and equipped for combat in tropical environments. There were at least three distinct ranks of shoretroopers, all with unique armor markings. Regular shoretroopers featured sand colored armor, with a red band around their right arm and a white stripe around their left shoulder guard. Squad leaders were identified by a sand blue stripe that went along the top of their chest plates and onto the top of their shoulder guards. Squad leaders also sported a kama attached to their belt. Shoretrooper captains had almost all of their chest plates blue, along with a small plate of armor that was on their left side. Their right shoulder guard was sand colored, but their left shoulder guard was all sand blue, save for the white stripe. Further down the same arm, there were stripes of sand blue and yellow. They also had limited or no upper leg armor for swifter movement in battle, similar to Scout troopers. Although their armor had more capabilities than standard Stormtrooper armor, it proved no stronger, as shown on Scarif. Shoretroopers were also known to use different armor load-outs or weapon configurations based on the conditions of where they were stationed or serve.

Death Troopers

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Death troopers were an elite variant of the Galactic Empire’s stormtroopers designed for stealth, espionage and lethality. Death troopers were equipped with armor that was much more advanced than standard stormtrooper armor. The helmet had a number of advanced sensor and targeting systems to give them total situational awareness of combat areas, enemies and allies. These various upgrades to the helmet systems included a Neuro-Saav macromotion monitor, multi-frequency targeting and acquisition sensors and image-intensifying active pulse emitters. Their armor was also covered by a spray polymer called reflec, which warped electromagnetic signals commonly found in sensor arrays. This made death troopers well suited for stealth operations.

Sandtroopers

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Sandtroopers were stormtroopers equipped to operate on desert worlds. Their armor was augmented with cooling fans and a helmet sand filter. In addition, they wore a survival backpack stocked with extra rations and water. Sandtroopers utilized weapons such as the E-11 blaster rifle, the T-21 light repeating blaster, and the DLT-19 heavy blaster rifle. 

Snowtrooper

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Cold assault stormtroopers, otherwise known as snowtroopers, were equipped with armor to better suit the cold environments of planets such as Hoth.  The armor was equipped with more powerful heating and personal environment units. The eighteen-piece outer shell also had an airtight fabric oversuit for more protection from the cold. For breathing in dangerous or cold weather, a breather hood not only enveloped the faceplate, but fed into the suit liner as well. Each trooper had terrain-grip ice boots, in addition to a standard issue utility belt that contained high-tension wire, grappling hooks, ration packs, additional blaster ammunition, ion flares, as well as a survival kit containing a portable heater, a collapsible shelter, spare power packs, a homing beacon, a comm unit, and additional ion flares. The leg armor was less heavily-armored, and thus weaker than standard armor; this was done so a snowtrooper could walk faster in the cold environment.

Scout Trooper

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Scout troopers, also known as biker scouts and Imperial sharpshooters, were used by the Galactic Empire on a range of missions, which mostly involved reconnaissance. Equipped with light armor for greater mobility and optics in their helmets that allowed faster reaction times when piloting speeder bikes, scout troopers were expert marksmen, trained in reconnaissance and infiltration as well as additional independence and adaptability than most Imperial troops.

Transition Into The First Order

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Although the Empire officially capitulated to the Republic, a group of Imperial officers, nobles and technologists refused to accept the outcome of the war. Embarking on an exodus into the Unknown Regions, the Imperial remnant was ultimately reorganized into a hermetic state known as the First Order. By hiding in the unexplored regions of galactic space, the First Order was able to conduct a massive military buildup—forging new armies and fleets in secret—in violation of the Galactic Concordance. Although the New Republic was fully aware of the ranking system of the Stormtroopers as well as their existence, they believed that the unit existed solely as a defense force for the fledgling group, while only the Resistance suspected the Stormtroopers’ true role. Here are all of the major First Order Stormtrooper variations that exist in canon today:

First Order Stormtrooper

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Members of the First Order’s infantry forces wore white armor that was reminiscent of the Galactic Empire’s stormtrooper armor, as well as the Galactic Republic’s Phase I and Phase II clone trooper armors. Aside from several aesthetic differences, First Order stormtroopers bore a close resemblance to their Imperial predecessors. To denote rank, stormtrooper officers wore color-coded pauldron armor plates. White pauldrons were worn by stormtroopers who served as squad leaders, black pauldrons identified stormtroopers who held the rank of sergeant, and orange pauldrons were worn by officers.

First Order stormtrooper helmets could filter out smoke, but not toxins. To deal with toxins, a stormtrooper needed to engage one of several special filters, depending on the specific contaminant. Identification was the province of one or two squad leaders.

In terms of armor strength, stormtrooper armor was held in high regard. To keep weight down, most First Order stormtrooper helmets lacked advanced imaging gear, requiring stormtroopers to use separate quadnoculars in the field to provide them with enhanced imaging. However, standard stormtrooper helmets were still equipped with integral polarized lenses, night vision, communications and targeting systems.

The F-11D blaster rifle was the primary weapon of standard stormtroopers. A successor to the Imperial stormtroopers’ E-11 blaster rifle, the F-11D was mass produced and provided to the First Order’s soldiers by Sonn-Blas Corporation. In addition to the F-11D, Sonn-Blas also designed the SE-44C blaster pistol as a sidearm for the First Order stormtroopers.

First Order Flametrooper

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The flametrooper was a variant of the stormtrooper utilized by the First Order. Utilizing D-93 Incinerators to root out entrenched enemy positions and engulf any resistance, flametroopers were equipped with flame-proof armor and were feared for their ability to turn any battlefield into a blazing inferno.

First Order Megablaster Heavy Assualt Trooper

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The megablaster heavy assault trooper, so named for the FWMB-10 repeating blaster or “megablaster” that they carried, was a variant of the standard stormtrooper used by the First Order. Also known in short as heavy troopers, they carried web gear loaded with extra ammunition in order to power the megablaster they carry.

First Order Riot Control Stormtrooper

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The riot control stormtrooper was a specialized variant of the standard stormtrooper of the First Order. Assigned to keep order on worlds within First Order territory, they were trained in riot-control tactics and given non-lethal equipment, such as lightweight composite betaplast ballistic riot shields and Z6 riot control batons (which were resistant to lightsabers). They also carried lethal weapons, such as the Sonn-Blas F-11D blaster rifle, in case situations spiraled out of control.

First Order Snowtroopers

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Snowtroopers were a variant of the stormtrooper used by the First Order. The latest generation of cold weather assault stormtroopers, snowtroopers wore advanced insulated armor and helmets made from betaplast with flared neck shroud and a polarized slit visor to minimize ice glare, two breather tank inlets. They wore insulated gloves with adjustable heating units. Their body armor also had heating controls, and they wore an insulated belt kama.

First Order Executioner Troopers

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First Order stormtrooper executioners, also known as First Order Judicial Stormtroopers or Executioner Troopers, were First Order stormtroopers randomly selected and assigned to dispense final justice on enemies and traitors of the First Order. The executioners wore specially marked armor with a carbon-finish to denote their role as such. Additionally, their equipment did not broadcast serial numbers to their squadmates, in order to ensure their identity remained anonymous. Their helmets were also equipped with polarized lenses and Multi-Frequency Targeting and Acquisition Systems. They carried laser axes.

Sith Troopers

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Sith troopers were a variant of the stormtroopers that served the First Order during its war against the Resistance. Named after the Sith, an ancient order of Force-users devoted to the dark side, these troopers wore red-colored stormtrooper armor and wielded a type of black and red blaster rifles. They will appear in the upcoming film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which releases this December.


Star Wars has seen many forms of stormtroopers throughout its forty year history, with most likely more to come. Personally I am a huge fan of the newly-revealed Sith Trooper. I look forward to buying up all the Sith Trooper merchandise! What do you think about all the forms of stormtroopers? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below or on our social media page!

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