Within months, the 501st gained a well deserved reputation as 'Vader's Fist.'

Anonymous 501st stormtrooper, Star Wars: Battlefront II

The 501st Legion, also known as "Vader's Fist" and the Five Hundred and First during the Galactic Civil War, was originally a legion of elite clone troopers commissioned by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine during the Clone Wars. The 501st was trained and based on Coruscant and deployed in smaller units as required.

The 501st fought in some of the most notable battles of the Clone Wars, such as the Battle of Mygeeto and the Battle of Coruscant, becoming one of the most well-known and most feared legions. They later became Darth Vader's personal stormtrooper unit after he led them during Operation: Knightfall, in which the clones helped take down the Jedi, whom they believed to be traitors to the Republic.

Following the rise of the Empire, the 501st's troopers were converted to stormtroopers, with new armor and weapons. The 501st fought in many battles in an attempt to defeat the Rebel Alliance, although the Alliance ultimately triumphed. During the Galactic Civil War, the 501st was the last remnant of the Grand Army of the Republic fully composed of clones of Jango Fett, as opposed to the ever-growing and more diverse Stormtrooper Corps where the Fett clones became a minority with the inclusion of a pool of clones from different templates and birth-born recruits. Eventually, with the relaxing of Imperial Non-huMan policies, more diverse recruits would be added to the 501st, including even non-Humans.

A member of the 501st constructed a journal of his thoughts during some of the most well-known battles in which he fought.


Clone WarsEdit

It's been said that the 501st got the best of the war. We also got the worst.

Anonymous 501st clone trooper, Star Wars: Battlefront II
File:Rex and company.jpg

Some troopers of the not-yet-formed 501st fought in the Battle of Geonosis. About a year later, a group of clone troopers and Kaminoan technicians were transferred from Kamino to Coruscant. There, an elite clone unit was commissioned by Palpatine to help end the Clone Wars sooner. These clones were given elite training by Palpatine's command staff to make the 501st the most feared legion in the galaxy. They were trained on Coruscant, and their headquarters were there, although only Palpatine's most trusted assistants knew the location of the headquarters.[16]

After the costly Battle of Jabiim, the group was based on the capital world and began operating more publicly. The core group of this legion was assigned to serve under the Jedi Anakin Skywalker, and the 501st quickly earned a reputation for incredible victories, often snatching victory from the jaws of defeat with Skywalker's help.[16] Among the 501st's earliest battles was the Battle of Christophsis, where they served alongside Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Led by Captain Rex, Torrent Company also served under Skywalker on Teth, where only five troopers survived, although they accomplished their goal: recovering Rotta the Hutt, son of the crimelord Jabba the Hutt.[17] Soon after, Rex was sent to inspect Republic listening posts and following a battle at one such post on the Rishi Moon, the troopers Fives and Echo joined the 501st on his recommendation.[8] Troopers from the Legion also participated in an attack on a Separatist listening post on Skytop Station and were successful in destroying it.[13]

In the final days of the war, the 501st was frequently on the move, traveling across the galaxy to different battlefields, and often divided into specialized groups to assist other missions. Operating outside of the usual command structure, detachments of the 501st served at many famous campaigns. The troopers fought in the Battle of Felucia and the Battle of Mygeeto, just to name a few, serving under the command of many Jedi. At Mygeeto, the 501st was involved in Project Hammertong, a top-secret mission to acquire a power crystal for the Chancellor's superlaser. They succeeded, and crucial to the mission, did not let their commander, Ki-Adi-Mundi, become aware of what was happening.[1]


Shortly before the Battle of Coruscant, members of the 501st were stationed on Coruscant, where they were used to carry out security patrols. The Null-class Advanced Recon Commando Ordo approached one such patrol and from a brief conversation he had with a member of it, he noticed that the trooper had slight Coruscanti overtones to his accent, which led him to believe that the trooper had been born on Coruscant, rather than Kamino, like most other Clone troopers were.[18] Not long afterward, the 501st fought in the Battle of Coruscant. Members of the 501st, many flying starfighters in battle for the first time, destroyed many droid starfighters and capital ships. Most importantly, they created a diversion, clearing a path for Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi to infiltrate the Invisible Hand and rescue Chancellor Palpatine.[1]

After that battle, some members of the 501st were dispatched to Kashyyyk. When they jumped out of hyperspace, they found the planet blockaded by the Separatists. The 501st was forced to punch a hole in the Confederacy's fleet, which they accomplished along with stealing a set of attack plans for the upcoming battle. They then landed on the planet's surface, where they fought alongside the 41st Elite Legion and Yoda.[1]

They served in that battle, after which a detachment of the 501st was transferred to Utapau. They fought with Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi, and helped the 212th Attack Battalion defeat the droid forces there by taking down various CIS gun batteries and destroying an energy column.[1]

Great Jedi PurgeEdit

What I remember about the rise of the Empire is… is how quiet it was. During the waning hours of the Clone Wars, the 501st Legion was discreetly transferred back to Coruscant. It was a silent trip; we all knew what was about to happen, what we were about to do. Did we have any doubts? Any private traitorous thoughts? Perhaps, but no one said a word. Not on the flight back to Coruscant, not when Order 66 came down, and not when we marched into the Jedi Temple. Not a word.

Anonymous 501st clone trooper, Star Wars: Battlefront II

When the battle was winding down, a group of clones were taken and discreetly transferred to Coruscant. This was in preparation for Order 66. On Coruscant, they met Anakin Skywalker, now Darth Vader, and were given their orders: destroy the Jedi. Though they appreciated the Jedi, their loyalty lay first with the Supreme Chancellor.[1]

Vader led them into the Temple, ready for battle. Though some held quiet doubts about what they knew was soon to happen,[1] they did not voice them, and with cold-blooded efficiency, the troopers of the 501st killed almost every Jedi in the Temple; due to their training, it was very likely they could have killed everyone in the Temple without Vader's help.[3] Meanwhile, Palpatine was transmitting Order 66 around the Galaxy to different clone commanders. Nearly all obeyed their orders without question. Hundreds of Jedi were killed during Order 66, sending pangs of anguish and shock across the Galaxy. Even Masters Ki-Adi-Mundi, Stass Allie, and Plo Koon were killed, though not by the 501st.[19] However, some such as Yoda,[20] Obi-Wan Kenobi,[21] Shaak Ti,[22] Kazdan Paratus,[22] and Quinlan Vos[23] survived and went into hiding. The Coruscant Security Force tracked a number of suspected Jedi, such as Tru Veld, and called in the 501st for assistance in capturing them. The Legion also attacked and killed a number of Jedi on Shinarcan Bridge a couple of hours after the declaration of Order 66. Jedi Knight Etain Tur-Mukan was killed by a fellow Jedi when she tried to stop him from killing one of the 501st troopers.[18] Decoy Squad Five was in charge of deceiving Jedi returning to the Jedi Temple following the execution of Palpatine's order. The eight-member squad, though, was killed by Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda.[24]


The 501st Legion marches up the steps of the Jedi Temple to eliminate the Jedi.

The 501st Legion then went on to help Darth Vader take down the Jedi Conclave on Kessel. Vader fought all eight Jedi there, and though he was wounded, the 501st, led by Appo, aided him and killed several Jedi. When it was over, the eight Jedi lay dead. Vader's reputation, along with that of the 501st, grew tremendously with this victory.[25]

Imperial ruleEdit

We were establishing a new era, an era of order and peace.

Anonymous 501st stormtrooper, Star Wars: Battlefront II

After the rise of the Empire, the members of the legion took the designation "stormtrooper," as well as new armor and ships.[1] It was one of the only clone trooper units to not be reorganized in the transition of governments. Although it remained Vader's personal regiment, it carried out various other missions as directed by Palpatine. As a result, it was responsible for some of the Empire's worst atrocities and was generally deployed in places where its advanced fighting skills could be used to make a political statement. Most of its missions were classified, so as to hide what it was doing from the Imperial Senate.[26]

File:501 New Plympto.jpg

Though the Clone Wars were over, pockets of Separatist resistance remained. On the planet New Plympto, Regimental Commander Vill lead a detachment of the 501st against Nosaurian forces still loyal to the Confederacy. The Nosaurians held out for quite some time, but Vill and his men completely annihilated the Nosaurian rebels at the Battle of Half-Axe Pass.[12]

The 501st then followed Vader to Murkhana where they confronted a group of clones who had refused to execute Order 66. Vader killed most of them and had the rest taken into custody, and then led his men to Kashyyyk once more, where they confronted a group of Jedi who had survived Order 66. Led by Commander Appo, they killed and enslaved tens of thousands of Wookiees in an effort to gain workers for the Emperor's new secret project, the Death Star. Some of the Jedi, including Roan Shryne, were killed.[3] However, before dying, Shryne managed to kill Appo, after which Commander Bow assumed command.[4]

Vader brought a unit from the 501st with him on a visit to the devastated planet of Honoghr. They were attacked by the native Noghri, who proved to be a match to the elite stormtroopers, so Vader thought up a way to enslave the species and make use of them.[27]

One crucial mission took place early in the Empire's reign. The Queen of Naboo, Apailana, had been a thorn in Palpatine's side ever since the rise of the Empire. She was suspected of hiding Jedi fugitives. After several failed negotiation attempts, the 501st was sent to Naboo to deal with her. She resisted, and attempted to flee, guarded by several Jedi, but was killed along with her Jedi guardians. This mission was the first time the 501st would "adjust" a planet's government, but not the last.[1]

File:501st Commandos.jpg

Later, the 501st was sent to Mustafar to stop a droid rebellion led by the rogue Geonosian Gizor Dellso. Dellso had found a hidden droid factory and had started it up, producing an army of battle droids. The 501st first had to fight his fleet, led by a Providence-class carrier/destroyer, and steal a Belbullab-22 starfighter. They then landed on the planet. There, they destroyed numerous droids as well as the prototype battle droid schematics before confronting Dellso and his bodyguards. The troopers killed Dellso as well as his guards, then bombarded the planet from space.[1]

In approximately 10 BBY,[28] the 501st was sent to Kamino due to suspicions of a rebellion on the planet. True to Vader's word, the Kaminoans were waiting with specially trained ARC troopers. The 501st was led by Boba Fett, due to his knowledge of the inner workings of Tipoca City and the cloning centers. Their mission was to kill as many rogue clones as possible, and destroy the cloning facilities. They destroyed two gunships, and with the help of the young bounty hunter, destroyed the cloning mechanisms. The rebellion on Kamino had been put down. It was after this incident that Palpatine decided to use different templates for the clone army, as an army of genetically similar soldiers was too dangerous.[1]

After these incidents, the 501st gained the nickname "Vader's Fist," as they were his personal stormtrooper squadron, and executed many top-priority missions, doing the "dirty work."[1] The unit was also referred to as the Five Hundred and First.[29] The organization would consist solely of Fett clones for a time after the Battle of Kamino, the only Imperial unit to do so,[1] although by 0 BBY non-Fett clones were in the unit.[30]

Galactic Civil WarEdit

For months we had treated the Rebellion like a disobedient child, only to have our tolerance repaid with treachery on in unimaginable scale.

Anonymous 501st stormtrooper, Star Wars: Battlefront II

Years later, the 501st would have their first encounter with the Rebel Alliance. A group of prisoners on the Death Star rebelled, led by a captured Jedi, stole a set of schematics for the superweapon. The 501st managed to put down the brief insurrection, and recaptured the set of the plans, and also kill the Jedi.[1]


501st stormtroopers swarming onto Tantive IV.

The 501st soon learned that the plans they thought they had recovered was a decoy. They followed Vader around the galaxy, trying desperately to get back the lost plans. They headed to Polis Massa, where once again they thought they had the plans. Much to Vader's displeasure, it was once again a decoy from the Alliance. They then learned that Princess Leia Organa had the plans. With that, aboard the Devastator, they followed the Tantive IV. Above Tatooine, they stormed the ship, and stunned Leia, but failed to get the plans as an escape pod containing the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO had been jettisoned, and the plans were inside R2-D2.[21] Though some troopers were tired of this chase, they were not so foolish as to voice their complaints. After the attack on the Tantive IV, the 501st were astonished that a pampered princess could withstand Darth Vader's interrogation methods, especially since many of them had witnessed his brutal methods of persuasion.[1] At least one stormtrooper did not like the Imperial philosophy, and planned to defect following the invasion of the Tantive IV. However, he was shot and killed by Organa during the battle.[31][32]

They headed back to the Death Star, and were one of the many squads aboard when it was destroyed. Over half the men died in the explosion, and another third caught in the explosion. In response, the remnants of the 501st joined the blockade of Yavin 4 and stormed the Rebel base on the moon's surface. They fought Rebel ships, destroying many cruisers and ships. Then, they landed on the surface, where they battled the Rebels. They managed to kill three Bothans who were among the Alliance leadership. Still, the 501st was furious, as they felt like they had overlooked the Rebellion, only to pay for it with the lives of millions. The men were determined to end this threat once and for all. The 501st would later be transferred to Vader's Death Squadron.[1]

In 1 ABY, the unit was sent to Makrin City along with Vader on a mission to capture Leia Organa and arrest Governor Barshnis Choard for high treason. Though Leia escaped with the help of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and five rogue stormtroopers, they later followed Vader to the governor's palace, where he was placed in Imperial custody.[33]


The 501st fighting Rebels on Hoth.

In 3 ABY they took part in the Battle of Hoth along with Blizzard Force. The 501st then landed on the surface and deactivated the shield generator. After nearly capturing the Millennium Falcon, they placed a homing beacon under the last Rebel transport, and several Star Destroyers bombarded laser fire down on it, killing many Rebels, and destroying the transport. The 501st believed they had finally ended the Rebel Alliance threat, calling this battle their finest hour.[1]

However, a year later at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance destroyed the second Death Star with Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader onboard. The Empire, and the 501st, was in shambles.[34][5]

Post-Galactic Civil WarEdit

Many years ago Thrawn told us that if he was ever reported dead we should keep at our labors here and in the Unknown Regions, and to look for his return ten years afterward.

Voss Parck, Vision of the Future

Even after the fall of the Empire, the squabbling of local warlords caused the 501st Legion to be dissolved and its soldiers assigned to other units. Grand Admiral Thrawn, upon assuming command of the Imperial military, resurrected the name 501st Legion, knowing the important symbolism of the name. Thrawn assigned the unit to protect the Empire of the Hand in the Unknown Regions. Outsiders who encountered them, such as Mara Jade Skywalker, assumed that Admiral Voss Parck had revived the designation and built up a new 501st from scratch, but no direct evidence is known to substantiate this, although there were some indications that the 501st may have been reorganized as a significantly smaller formation than previously. Unusually for an Imperial legion, this generation of the 501st now incorporated non-Humans into its ranks, such as the Eickarie, Su-mil.[5]

A company was now just forty troopers strong, and apparently designated by one of the thirty-four letters of Aurebesh. This suggests that the total strength of the legion, which had never previously been much less than 10,000, may now have been as low as 1,360 men. Also, by this time, most of the original clones were long past fighting age, and the 501st was no longer completely composed of Jango Fett clones. Thus, the last "pure" fighting force to be composed completely of the Fett clones was long gone. With the stormtrooper ranks depleting faster and faster following the Empire's defeat at Endor, the Imperial Army needed more troopers fast—even if these new stormtroopers were not exactly of the same caliber as the pre-Endor era troopers, much less up-to-par with the Jango Fett stock.[5][11]

Fel Bastion

The 501st kneeling in the presence of Emperor Roan Fel in 137 ABY.

As reformed, the most basic unit in the 501st was a squad of four troopers, capable of acting as a fire team within a larger force, but also able to serve as a self-supporting commando team on special missions. For instance, in 22 ABY, Unit Aurek-Seven from Aurek Company accompanied Luke and Mara Jade Skywalker on a mission to the remains of Outbound Flight, under the temporary command of Chak Fel, Baron Soontir Fel's son.[5]

The inclusion of non-Humans into the 501st intensified over the years, thus specialized armor was created for certain species. Reforms made in the Empire finally allowed females to be recruited into the legion. This new 501st Legion was still in operation as of 130 ABY, serving Emperor Roan Fel and the Fel Empire, acting as a praetorian guard. In 137 ABY, the 501st left the service of Darth Krayt when Emperor Fel called on them to retake the Empire from the Sith usurper during the Fall of Bastion. Their commander at the time was General Oron Jaeger.[6]

Behind the scenesEdit

The 501st was first canonized in Survivor's Quest by Timothy Zahn. This was a reference to the fan organization known as the 501st Legion charity group. Formed by Albin Johnson and Tom Crews in 1997, it was originally composed of members who wore stormtrooper costumes. The group has since expanded to include all trooper variations, as well as Sith Lords, bounty hunters, and other villains from the series, and as of May 1, 2007, boasted over 3,500 members in 40 countries. The 501st Legion helps coordinate volunteers at Celebration, the official Star Wars convention. The group also has the nickname "Vader's Fist," which was subsequently also made the in-universe designation for the legion. The honorary leader is David Prowse, the actor who physically portrayed Darth Vader in the original trilogy.

In a further tribute to the real-life organization, the legion of blue clone troopers led by Darth Vader into the Jedi Temple in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was designated the 501st. Although this name was not mentioned in the film itself, much of the support material and merchandising for the film make this reference, including the popular video game Star Wars: Battlefront II, from which much of this article is based.

The Databank's page for CC-7567 mentions the 501st as a Battalion, so this may indicate that the legion began as a smaller command structure.[2]


Non-canon appearancesEdit


Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 Star Wars: Battlefront II
  2. 2.0 2.1 Databank title CC-7567 (Rex) in the Databank
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
  4. 4.0 4.1 Order 66: Destroy All Jedi
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Survivor's Quest
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Star Wars Legacy 3: Broken, Part 3
  7. TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Duel of the Droids"
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Rookies"
  9. Guide to the Grand Army of the Republic
  10. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
  11. 11.0 11.1 Fool's Bargain
  12. 12.0 12.1 Star Wars Dark Times: The Path to Nowhere
  13. 13.0 13.1 TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Duel of the Droids"
  14. Labyrinth of Evil
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Star Wars Legacy 3: Broken, Part 3
  16. 16.0 16.1 Databank title 501st Legion in the Databank
  17. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (novel)
  18. 18.0 18.1 Order 66: A Republic Commando Novel
  19. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  20. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  21. 21.0 21.1 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
  22. 22.0 22.1 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
  23. Star Wars Republic: The Hidden Enemy
  24. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith novel
  25. Star Wars: Purge
  26. The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide
  27. Template:WizardsCite
  28. The New Essential Guide to Alien Species
  29. Death Star
  30. The Empire's Finest: Who's Who in the Imperial Military
  31. Trooper
  32. The canonicity of this comic is in question, as a Wizards of the Coast card (#160 in the link given) establishes that the trooper shot and killed by Leia Organa was a clone.
  33. Allegiance
  34. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

See alsoEdit

de:501. Sturmtruppenlegion es:Legión 501 nl:501st Legion pl:501 Legion pt:501ª Legião ru:501-й легион fi:501. legioona

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