- "Those aren't just stormtroopers. They're from the Five-Oh-First Legion. Darth Vader's personal legion."
- ―Everi Chalis
The 501st Legion, also referred to as the 501st for short, the 501st Battalion, the 501st clone battalion, and later known as "Vader's Fist," was an elite stormtrooper legion under the command of the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader during the Imperial Era. The legion predated the Galactic Empire, its origins dating back to the era of the Clone Wars when the 501st was an elite military division of clone troopers in the Grand Army of the Republic. Under the leadership of Jedi General Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Commander Ahsoka Tano, and Clone Commander CT-7567 "Rex," the 501st fought against the Separatist Droid Army of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Throughout the conflict, the soldiers of the 501st were known for their courage, unconventional tactics, and loyalty to the Galactic Republic.
The 501st saw action on multiple battlefronts across the galaxy, becoming part of several historic engagements such as the Battle of Christophsis, the Second Battle of Geonosis, and the Battle of Umbara. During the campaign on Umbara, Skywalker was recalled to the Republic capital of Coruscant, leaving General Pong Krell to assume command of the legion in the interim. Unbeknownst to the clones who served him, Krell turned to the dark side of the Force, and having foreseen the rise of a New Order, he worked in secret to undermine the Republic. The 501st mutinied against Krell when his betrayal was revealed. They sustained multiple casualties while confronting their commanding officer, but ultimately succeeded in capturing Krell, who was executed while in military custody.
An incident within the 501st nearly exposed a Sith conspiracy against the Jedi Order. During the Battle of Ringo Vinda, CT-5385 "Tup" betrayed and killed General Tiplar, resulting in an investigation that revealed a hidden behavioral modification biochip within the brain of every clone trooper. An Advanced Recon Commando, CT-5555 "Fives," investigated further into the matter, and learned that the chips were designed to force the clones to kill their Jedi allies. Alarmed by this discovery, he revealed his findings to Skywalker and Rex, but was unable to convince either of them before his death by the clone shock troopers of the Coruscant Guard.
In the last days of the Clone Wars, Skywalker divided the 501st by sending a detachment of his legion, including the 332nd Company, to Mandalore. Led by Commander Rex and former Commander Tano, the division defeated the Mandalorian super commandos and captured their leader, the former Sith apprentice Maul. During the journey to Coruscant, however, the Great Jedi Purge commenced when Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine—the Sith Lord Darth Sidious—declared that Order 66 was in effect, turning the clone troopers against their Jedi officers. Although the 501st failed to terminate Tano, the other half of the legion stormed the Jedi Temple and killed its inhabitants, including Padawans and Jedi younglings, under the leadership of the newly christened Sith Lord Darth Vader. Rex deserted the 501st after defending Tano against his own troops, including CT-5597 "Jesse," all of whom died attempting to carry out Order 66. On Coruscant, the 501st was defeated by Jedi Masters Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi who infiltrated the Temple while Sidious declared himself Emperor of the Galactic Empire.
The 501st was absorbed into the Imperial Military, becoming a legion of the Stormtrooper Corps which transitioned to the use of human recruits after the Empire suspended the cloning operation on Kamino. Although the First Legion replaced the 501st as Vader's personal legion, the 501st served under the Dark Lord's command during the capture of Princess Leia Organa. At the height of the Galactic Civil War, the 501st participated in the Battle of Hoth where the Empire sought to destroy the Alliance to Restore the Republic.
- "You're exactly the kind of men I need in the 501st."
- ―CT-7567 "Rex," to CT-1409 "Echo" and CT-5555 "Fives"
The 501st Legion was a military division of elite clone troopers under the command of Jedi General Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Commander Ahsoka Tano and Clone Captain CT-7567 "Rex." Renowned for their bravery and unconventional tactics, the 501st participated in historic conflicts from the Battle of Christophsis to the Siege of Mandalore and often served alongside General Obi-Wan Kenobi's 212th Attack Battalion. As a legion, the 501st consisted of sub-divisions such as Torrent Company. Additionally, the 501st had its own starship group, with clone trooper pilots operating clone Z-95 starfighters and LAAT/i gunships.
The 501st consisted of standard troopers, although its ranks included various specialists such as Advanced Recon Commandos and Advanced Recon Force Scout Troopers. One platoon donned clone cold assault gear to operate in the cold-based environment of Orto Plutonia. With the end of the Republic Era, the 501st transitioned from clone troopers to stormtroopers and continued to utilize several variant units, including the elite Storm Commandos and cold weather assault stormtroopers.
With the Galactic Republic's transformation into the Galactic Empire, the Kaminoan cloning production was shut down and the Imperial Military replaced clones with human conscripts. Such changes applied to the 501st as well. By 0 BBY, human soldiers such as TK-7624, TK-8332, and Commander TK-9091 served in the 501st.
Soldiers of the RepublicEdit
- "My name is Rex. Captain. 501st clone battalion."
- ―CT-7567 "Rex," remembering his service
At the beginning of the Clone Wars in 22 BBY, the Galactic Republic mobilized an army of clone troopers to fight the droid forces of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. These soldiers, who were cloned from the genetic source material of the human template Jango Fett, formed the backbone of the Grand Army of the Republic which was divided into various divisions of corps, battalions and platoons. One such regiment was the 501st Legion. Despite a millennium of peace, the First Battle of Geonosis had been the first battle of the Clone Wars. Clone Captain Rex and his clone troopers fought well at Geonosis, which earned them veteran status in the Grand Army. After the Battle of Geonosis, the 501st saw a wide reorganization. Also following the battle, the Jedi Order served as commanders of the clone army and began directing the defense of the Republic against the Separatist battle droids. Following his promotion to the rank of Jedi Knight, General Anakin Skywalker led the 501st, and Rex served as his first officer. The 501st was deployed to battlefronts as war swept across the galaxy. During the war, Skywalker and 501st would attack a number of droid factories.
- "What's our plan of attack, sir?"
- ―CT-7567 "Rex" and Anakin Skywalker
Skywalker and Rex led the 501st's Torrent Company in the campaign to retake the planet of Christophsis. During the battle, the 501st was joined by Skywalker's new apprentice, Ahsoka Tano, who claimed the authority of Jedi Commander through her status as a Padawan in the Order. Upon defeating the Separatists with the help of the 212th Attack Battalion, the 501st was redirected to the planet Teth with orders to rescue Rotta, son of the Hutt crime lord Jabba Desilijic Tiure. They sustained heavy losses against the droid army but ultimately prevailed in the Battle of Teth with the support of General Obi-Wan Kenobi and the 212th.
Skywalker's legion continued to serve the Republic over the course of the war, completing a variety of assignments and gaining new troopers—such as CT-1409 "Echo" and CT-5555 "Fives"—deemed worthy of serving in the ranks of the elite 501st. As Skywalker often worked alongside his mentor Kenobi, the 501st also served with the 212th on several missions, including the voyage of Duchess Satine Kryze from Mandalore to Coruscant. The Death Watch, a terrorist organization opposed to Kryze's government, failed to assassinate the duchess before she could reach the galactic capital due to the combined efforts of the 501st and 212th. Later, a detachment of the 501st was sent to Naboo along with a squad of clone ordnance specialists where they ultimately prevented Doctor Nuvo Vindi's plan to attack the population through biological warfare.
Following the theft of a holocron from the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, the 501st's Carnivore Battalion was sent on a mission to Devaron in order to retrieve the artifact from Cad Bane. In the ensuing battle between the Republic and Separatist forces, the battalion manned the All Terrain Tactical Enforcer, designated 773, alongside two other brigades. The bounty hunter was presumed to have died in the battle, but in fact, survived by disguising himself with the clone armor of the 501st trooper "Denal."
Battle of KaminoEdit
- "Echo, Fives, you're both officially being made ARC troopers."
- ―CC-2224 "Cody," to CT-1409 "Echo" and CT-5555 "Fives"
When the Separatists plotted to deal the Republic a crippling blow by destroying the cloning facilities of Kamino, the 501st and 212th rushed to the defense of their homeworld. The Battle of Kamino was a hard-fought victory for the Republic, due in part to the actions of the 501st. In particular, the troopers Echo and Fives were recognized for their service by Captain Rex, as well as CC-2224 "Cody" of the 212th, and were both promoted to the elite status of ARC trooper in the aftermath of the battle. Afterward, Rex and the new ARC troopers of the 501st were sent with Skywalker and Kenobi to infiltrate the Citadel. Though succeeded in reacquiring the information pertaining to the Nexus Route from General Even Piell and his captain, Wilhuff Tarkin, the group lost Echo, who survived but was presumed dead, in addition to several other casualties.
Battle of UmbaraEdit
- "Remember, General Krell, the entire invasion depends on your battalion."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi, to Pong Krell
The 501st was along with the battalions that the Republic deployed to reconquer Umbara from the Separatist Alliance. During the campaign, Skywalker was recalled to Coruscant by the Jedi High Council at the request of Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine, leaving the 501st under the command of Jedi General Pong Krell. Although he was a recognized war hero with a distinguished record of service, Krell became a Separatist spy after turning to the dark side of the Force. He deliberately sabotaged his own strategies to undermine the clones, whom he regarded with contempt and disgust.
Krell's betrayal was revealed after he tricked the 501st and the 212th into fighting each other, causing clones on both sides to kill each other by mistake. Under the leadership of Captain Rex, the battalions mutinied against Krell, but the fallen Jedi slaughtered many clones. However, he was ultimately captured while attempting to escape. In response to his actions, Krell was summarily executed by his most loyal soldier, "Dogma," who was subsequently taken into Republic custody for killing an officer, but Rex sent Dogma a reassuring nod when he was taken away. Afterward, Fives informed the Clone Captain that Umbara had finally been conquered, but Rex no longer knew what the point of the war was and wondered what would happen to them when it ended.
- "Well, there's a sinister plot in the works against the Jedi! I have proof of it, I can prove that everything I know is true beyond the shadow of a doubt!"
"Show me the evidence!"
"The evidence is in here, it's all in here, every one of us, every clone!"
- ―CT-5555 "Fives" and Anakin Skywalker
During the Battle of Ringo Vinda, the 501st was forced to retreat from the Separatists due to an unexpected development: CT-5385 "Tup" killed Jedi General Tiplar. Suffering from a malfunction in his inhibitor chip, the trooper became hostile towards the Jedi, which in turn led to a premature execution of Order 66—a clone protocol designed to turn the clone army against their Jedi officers in the event of a Jedi rebellion. This turn of events led to an investigation on Kamino but later moved to Coruscant at Chancellor Palpatine's request.
By then, ARC trooper Fives had partially uncovered the nature of the inhibitor chips and, believing they were a threat to the security of the Grand Army, requested their immediate removal from the brains of every clone trooper. However, the Chancellor revealed his knowledge of the chips and their true purpose to Fives, causing the clone to become a fugitive after attempting to assassinate Palpatine. The rogue clone made an effort to expose Palpatine's conspiracy to Rex and Skywalker, but Fives was killed by Commander CC-1010 "Fox" of the Coruscant Guard before he could prove his claims. He died in Rex's arms, telling his superior officer that he had only wanted to do his duty and that his nightmares were finally over.
- "There's been a rebellion, sir. Don't worry. The situation is under control. I'm sorry, sir. It's time for you to leave."
- ―CC-1119 "Appo," to Bail Organa
In 19 BBY, the 501st and 212th served in the Outer Rim Sieges, including the Battle of Yerbana. After this battle, Ahsoka Tano, who had left the Jedi Order after being framed in a Bombing of the Jedi Temple hangar, reunited with Skywalker and the legion, as she and Lady Bo-Katan Kryze of the Mandalore resistance had located the rogue Sith Lord Maul in the Mandalorian capital of Sundari. While Skywalker was ultimately willing to fulfill their wish for a joint Republic/resistance operation, he and General Kenobi learned that Separatist General Grievous had attacked Coruscant. Skywalker created a new division of the 501st, promoting Rex to be its commander, to be sent to Mandalore with Tano and the Mandalorians, while the rest of the legion would go with him and Kenobi to Coruscant. The Battle of Coruscant proved to be a Republic victory, with Skywalker even killing Separatist Head of State Count Dooku, and the Siege of Mandalore eventually resulted in the 501st and resistance's victory and Maul's capture.
Unfortunately for the Republic, the conspiracy that Fives discovered came to fruition with the mass execution of Order 66, forcing the Grand Army to betray their Jedi leaders across the galaxy. Palpatine, who had orchestrated the Clone Wars as Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith, utilized the clone army as the instrument of both the fall of the Jedi Order and the Sith's rise to absolute power. Aiding the Dark Lord in the initial phase of the Great Jedi Purge was Anakin Skywalker, now anointed in the dark side as the Sith Lord Darth Vader. On a Venator-class Star Destroyer Rex, his division of the 501st, and a force of the Coruscant Guard received the order while traveling back to Coruscant with Maul in custody. While Tano was no longer part of the Jedi Order, she was targeted by the clones, but Rex managed to resist long enough to tell her to locate ARC trooper Fives. Rex then succumbed to his control chip and led the hunt for his friend. The Commander also ordered his troops to kill Maul, but Tano freed the rogue Sith to serve as a distraction.
On Coruscant, Sidious' new apprentice was tasked with leading the 501st Legion in a direct siege of the Jedi Temple, resulting in the deaths of its inhabitants while thousands of Jedi were killed by their troops across the galaxy. The 501st served under CC-1119 "Appo," who was originally a Clone Sergeant but was promoted on the issuing of Order 66, in addition to Vader. The commander was struck down by Padawan Zett Jukassa before the latter was killed by a squad of 501st troopers, an incident witnessed by Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan. Following their siege of the Jedi Temple, the 501st patrolled the grounds around the site.
Elsewhere while aboard the Venator, Tano looked into Fives and discovered the control chip conspiracy, so she and a team of astromech droids–R7-A7, RG-G1, and CH-33P–knocked out Rex, allowing them to bring him to a medical bay and remove his chip. With the Clone Commander freed from Order 66, Tano, the droids, and him made their way to the hangar to look for an escape ship, but the Star Destroyer was pulled out of hyperspace when Maul destroyed the hyperdrive, leading to the warship being caught in a moon's gravitational pull. When Rex, Tano, and the droids made it to bay 12, the clone troopers, now under the command of ARC Clone Lieutenant CT-5597 "Jesse," had predicted their action. Pretending to have captured Tano, Rex tried to reason with Jesse, stating that she was no longer part of the Jedi Order and thus not a target. When the lieutenant recounted Rex's earlier command, that they were under special order to kill Tano and all clones who refused to obey, Rex tried to get through to his friend one last time, but Jesse refused, instead stating Rex would be demoted and subject to execution with Tano.
However, Rex had managed to stall Jesse and the troopers, as the astromech droids were able to secretly release the hangar elevators. However, while this managed to separate most of the clones, Maul arrived in the hangar and stole the available Nu-class transport, forcing Rex and Tano to look below decks, which was where the majority of the clones had been dropped. While their three astromech droid companions had been killed by the time they found a BTL-B Y-wing fighter-bomber, Tano and Rex escaped the doomed Star Destroyer aboard the bomber. Jesse, his 501st division, and any other clone troopers aboard the Venator were killed when it crashed into the moon, but Rex and Tano honored the Clone Lieutenant and other clones by burying them outside the ship's remains.
On the eve of Chancellor Palpatine's proclamation to the Galactic Senate, the 501st was confronted by two Jedi Masters, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Grand Master Yoda, upon their brief return to Coruscant. Despite their efforts, the clones failed to eliminate the Jedi, both of whom killed many troopers during their infiltration of the fallen Jedi Temple.
Soldiers of the EmpireEdit
With the fall of the Jedi Order, Darth Sidious consolidated his power by declaring himself Emperor of the Galactic Empire. The clone troopers who survived the war were retained by the new regime, effectively becoming the first generation of Imperial stormtroopers at the start of the Emperor's reign. Although the 501st continued to exist as a division of the Stormtrooper Corps, it was the First Legion that became the personal stormtroopers of Darth Vader. Troopers of the First Legion were recruited from the ranks of the 501st, however.
The 501st fought against the Alliance to Restore the Republic during the Galactic Civil War. By then it was reputedly led by the Emperor's apprentice, with Everi Chalis claiming that the 501st was Vader's personal legion. Even the "Vader's Fist" moniker was applied to the 501st.
Raid on the Tantive IVEdit
- "She'll be all right. Inform Lord Vader we have a prisoner."
- ―TK-4601, on Leia Organa
In 0 BBY, shortly before the Battle of Yavin, the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Devastator followed the Alderaanian diplomatic cruiser Tantive IV to the desert planet Tatooine. A contingent of the 501st Legion boarded the cruiser, engaging Rebel troopers while the princess downloaded the Death Star plans into the astromech droid R2-D2. Despite sustaining several casualties in the initial assault, the 501st defeated the Rebels and swarmed through the corridors, searching for Organa.
With her secret mission compromised, Organa dispatched the R2 unit to Tatooine along with the protocol droid C-3PO via an escape pod. She remained on board her starship, hiding from the 501st until a squad of stormtroopers found her. Organa opened fire on the stormtroopers, fatally shooting TK-9091 in the process, but was stunned by TK-4601 as she attempted to flee. The 501st escorted Organa to Darth Vader, but the princess refused to cooperate and objected to the attack on her ship, citing her status as a member of the Imperial Senate.
Battles of Hoth and EndorEdit
The 501st Legion fought against the Alliance at the Battle of Hoth in 3 ABY, three years after the destruction of the first Death Star at Yavin. The battle proved to be an Imperial tactical victory, as the Alliance needed to abandon its current base, Echo Base, and retreat.
Hours before the Battle of Endor, Darth Vader informed the Emperor that his son Luke Skywalker had descended to the surface of Endor. Forbidding him from openly seeking out Skywalker, the Emperor instead sent Vader to the Imperial base in charge of guarding the Death Star's shield generator, where his master predicted that his son would seek him out. Vader grew increasingly impatient as he waited at the base, and openly considered the idea of ordering the 501st Legion to lay waste to the forest in order to find his son.
- "Generation One armor always holds up."
- ―CT-7567 "Rex," on his clone trooper armor
The 501st Legion utilized the Phase I clone trooper armor during the early period of the Clone Wars, from the first battle on Geonosis until the introduction of the Phase II model by the time of the Battle of Mon Cala. On certain occasions, Rex and other members of the 501st made use of jetpacks for aerial transportation and greater mobility.
In general, the 501st maintained the appearance of the standard clone trooper as designed on Kamino. However, Captain Rex became part of a growing trend of clone officers who customized their uniforms with unique color-based designs and supplementary pieces of armor.[source?] By the time of the Battle of Arantara, Rex wore his armor with blue markings, a command pauldron, and a kama. By the time of Christophsis, Rex was not the only clone trooper in the legion with blue markings, as several others possessed them as well. A clone sergeant had blue markings around this time. Over time more troopers of the 501st came to customize their own kit, also using blue as a complementary color to the standard white.
As the war continued, Phase II clone trooper armor became widespread within the ranks of the Grand Army, supplanting the Phase I model. When the 501st upgraded their armor, they adopted a common color scheme and markings that identified their unit affiliation. Nevertheless, some clones such as Rex, the ARC troopers and even common soldiers retained their own unique designs that differed from the rest of the 501st. After the 501st was absorbed by the Imperial Military, becoming a division of the Stormtrooper Corps, its members were equipped with stormtrooper armor along with the E-11 blaster rifle as their primary weapon. The legion also made use of terrain-based equipment utilized by cold weather assault stormtroopers during the mission on Hoth.
Behind the scenesEdit
"501st Legion" is also the name of a fan costuming organization formed in 1997 by Albin Johnson and Tom Crews. The group originally intended to re-create accurate stormtrooper costumes but has expanded to include Sith Lords, bounty hunters and other villains from the film series, encompassing EU source material as well as canonical ones. The group goes under the nickname, "Vader's Fist," and was the inspiration for George Lucas to reference the organization in official Star Wars canon. The group actively does charity and volunteer work for a number of organizations, and currently consists of over 10,000 members worldwide.