For other uses, see Sentinel.

"Who are these big, ugly guys in the armor? They look familiar."
"These are Imperial Sentinels, the elite warriors of the Empire."
―Luke Skywalker and an Imperial Dungeoneer — (audio) Listen (file info)[src]

Imperial Sentinels were armored-and-cloaked warriors assigned to serve Emperor Palpatine's Dark Side Adepts. Cloned in hidden facilities on the secret Imperial throne world of Byss, these mute giants were mutated by Dark Side Adepts and injected with chemicals that suppressed their higher brain functions, causing them to become completely subservient. For the duration of their natural existence, Sentinels were slaves to their assigned Adept and carried out their master's bidding without question. They accompanied the Adepts on missions off-world, typically acting as bodyguards.

Mainly remaining on Byss to guard the Emperor's Citadel, Sentinels had only been seen a handful of times in the short history of the Empire. This led to a great deal of speculation among the upper echelons of the Empire as to what exactly these armored behemoths were. In 10 ABY, Luke Skywalker, after defecting to the Empire, was known to have bred at least two of his own Sentinels. After a bold attempt to rescue Skywalker from Byss, Princess Leia Organa Solo—Skywalker's sister and prominent New Republic Council member—and Han Solo—Leia's husband and pilot of the Millennium Falcon—were escorted by Skywalker's Sentinels to Palpatine's clone laboratories on Byss. There they confronted both Skywalker and Palpatine himself. One year later, most of the Sentinels and their cloning facilities were obliterated with the destruction of Byss and the final death of Palpatine.

Organization and origins[edit | edit source]

"Luke's brought more of those Sentinel goons with him. You must rate pretty high to get the Emperor's personal bodyguards."
―Han Solo — (audio) Listen (file info)[src]

An Imperial Sentinel on Byss

The origins of the Imperial Sentinels remained a mystery for most in even the highest levels of the Empire. Even the Imperial Sovereign Protectors, an elite cadre of Royal Guardsmen trained in the dark side of the Force, had no idea, nor interest, in how the Sentinels came to be.[4] The Sentinels were in actuality an early experiment of Emperor Palpatine and his inner circle of dark side Force-users to create a race of beings completely subservient to their will.[1] Sentinels were cloned from tissue stock[2] in hidden facilities on the Imperial fortress world of Byss,[1] where chemicals were introduced into their bodies during the gestation period, suppressing higher mental abilities such as speech.[4]

During the growth cycle, Sentinels were mutated by Dark Side Adepts through Sith alchemy as part of their training, during which the Adepts would attempt to form a mental bond with the Sentinels. If the process was successful, the Sentinels would end up as mindless living hulks totally dependent upon the will of the Adepts for purpose or movement. If the process was unsuccessful, the would-be sentries were simply disposed of.[4] First-generation Imperial Sentinels were deemed too dangerous to keep around, leading to rumors that they may have been cloned from Force-sensitive individuals. Later generations were much less powerful, but far easier to control.[6]

Sentinels functioned primarily as bodyguards for Dark Side Adepts.[4] Whenever Palpatine sent an Adept or Executor Sedriss on a high-priority mission for the Empire, one or more of these titans would escort them off-world. Few of these creatures existed, however, and when not on-duty with an Adept, they would remain on Byss to protect the Emperor's Citadel.[4][2][7] Some Sentinels also guarded the more secure and private areas of the Imperial Palace on Coruscant.[8]

History[edit | edit source]

"My master wishes to speak with you. These Sentinels will escort you to the Emperor's presence."
"The Emperor?"
"Yes, he lives."
―Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa Solo — (audio) Listen (file info)[src]

The Imperial Sentinels made their first known appearance at the scene of a battle in 19 BBY on an unnamed planet during the Great Jedi Purge where several Jedi had been captured by Imperial forces. The Sentinels carried authentic datachips allowing them to take custody of a single prisoner: the Jedi Master Ashka Boda.[4] Boda, a member of the Librarian's Assembly of the Jedi Order,[9] held in his possession the Tedryn Holocron, an ancient Jedi artifact containing the knowledge and teachings of Jedi Masters long past. The Sentinels escorted Boda from the battle back to their dungeon ship and flew him to Coruscant, where he was tortured and executed by Emperor Palpatine.[4] Palpatine took possession of the Tedryn Holocron and used its vast repository of information to help create The Book of Anger, the first volume in his Dark Side Compendium.[10] In that same year, first-generation Sentinels were present on a Golan space defense platform guarding a Super Star Destroyer prototype orbiting Byss as part of the Empire's Sarlacc Project. A group of Alderaanian Resistance agents boarded the space station during the Battle of Byss and confronted these Sentinels in Docking Bay 616.[6]

Luke Skywalker and his Sentinels confront Leia.

As of 2 BBY, the Sentinels were still in their early stages of development and rarely left Byss. Occasionally, however, Sentinels would be seen briefly in public taking custody of Force-users—often Jedi—while in transit to Imperial Center or other locations.[1] This led to a large amount of speculation and gossip among the Imperial court about the Sentinels and where they came from. Some believed that the Sentinels originated from a captured race of giants while others believed them to be cyborgs or droids.[4][7] Some even speculated that they were formed from a species who once openly rebelled against the Emperor and paid the ultimate price for their disobedience.[2] During the Galactic Civil War between the Empire and the Alliance to Restore the Republic, Alliance Special Forces heard unconfirmed rumors of the Sentinels. They were rumored to be a special unit consisting of giant, armored warriors who guarded the Emperor as well as his most favored servants and advisors.[11]

The Sentinels would not see widespread use until over a decade later in 10 ABY after the launch of Operation Shadow Hand, the "reborn" Palpatine's military campaigns against the New Republic and its allies to once again take control of the galaxy. Operating out of Byss, Palpatine made use of Imperial Dungeoneers and dungeon ships to ferry and administrate prisoners of war. Sentinels often worked in tandem with Dungeoneers, escorting prisoners such as Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight and hero of the New Republic, to facilities on Byss. After Skywalker's defection to the Empire, he apprenticed himself to the resurrected Palpatine and bred two of his own Sentinels. Princess Leia Organa Solo, New Republic councilor and Skywalker's sister, her husband Han Solo, pilot and former New Republic general, and the droid C-3PO later made an attempt to rescue Skywalker from Byss and flew the Millennium Falcon straight into the Emperor's Citadel. Skywalker appeared before Leia and had his two Sentinels escort the Falcon's crew to Palpatine's clone laboratories hidden beneath the surface of Byss. After realizing how far her brother had fallen to the dark side and finding out that Palpatine was still alive, Leia attacked and severed the right hand one of these Sentinels when it restrained Han under Palpatine's orders. This resulted in Leia's capture and the imprisonment of the rest of the Falcon's crew.[3][12]

As Operation Shadow Hand progressed, Sentinels continued to see use as guards in the Emperor's Citadel even after the Battle of Balmorra.[13] In 11 ABY, Palpatine's newest flagship, Eclipse II, was boarded by a New Republic strike team led by Lando Calrissian and Kam Solusar. The astromech droid R2-D2 sabotaged Eclipse II's hyperdrive system and sent the Star Dreadnought on a collision course with the planet Byss. Eclipse II exited hyperspace too close to the Galaxy Gun, the Emperor's latest superweapon, and caused the cannon to fire prematurely. The projectile collided with Byss, destroying the planet along with many of the Sentinels stationed there and their cloning facilities.[14]

Characteristics[edit | edit source]

"Hey, you overgrown freak! Let go of my husband!"
―Leia Organa Solo attacks a Sentinel — (audio) Listen (file info)[src]

The clone Palpatine beside an Imperial Sentinel

Gargantuan in size, Imperial Sentinels were easily distinguishable from any of Palpatine's other minions; said to be twice the size and strength of other Imperial guards.[15] The sight alone of a Sentinel following in the wake of a Dark Side Adept was enough to strike fear into the hearts of the Emperor's enemies.[2] Sentinels were mute due to the introduction of harmful chemicals into their bodies which also caused them to lose the ability to think for themselves. They were altered through the use of Sith alchemy and completely dependent upon the will of Adepts, only able to do what they were told. It was rumored that Adepts had the ability to view what Sentinels perceived, thus allowing them to maintain complete control of the titans; however this claim was never verified.[4]

The primary choice of weapons for Sentinels were large vibro-axes, though they were also proficient in the use of blasters.[4][2] They also had training in both martial arts[1] and beast-riding. Sentinels donned heavy battle armor[4] under long, reddish-purple cloaks emblazoned with intricate gold patterns at the chest, back, and shoulders. They wore large helmets that concealed both the head and neck, leaving only their glowing red eyes visible. No parts of their bodies were left uncovered.[15]

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

Left to right: Emperor's Royal Guard concept art, Atha Prime, an Imperial Sentinel

The Imperial Sentinels made their first appearance in the second issue of the Dark Empire comic book series in 1992 as background characters[16] and later in the series's fourth issue where they played a larger role in the story.[3] They returned two years later for a brief appearance in Dark Empire II 1: Operation Shadow Hand, the first issue of the Dark Empire II comic series.[13] Their background was greatly expounded upon in the Dark Empire Sourcebook in 1993[4] along with several other Star Wars RPG supplements released over the years.[1][2][8] The Sentinels also made a brief appearance in the first of the Dark Empire audio adaptations in 1994, which was notable for being to first and only source to give the Sentinels voices.[12] In 2009 the Sentinels made their final in-universe appearance in Jaws of the Sarlacc, the final adventure in Wizards of the Coast's Dawn of Defiance campaign in the Star Wars Roleplaying Game.[6]

The original design for the Imperial Sentinels could be traced back to old Return of the Jedi concept designs for the Emperor's Royal Guard by Nilo Rodis-Jamero.[17][18] One design depicted a pair of sentries wielding battle-axes similar to those used by the Sentinels in Dark Empire. This sketch was later used to depict a group of bounty hunters known as the Taloron Hunters in The Star Wars Sourcebook.[19] Another design, more closely resembling the Sentinels, was used to create the character Atha Prime, a Clone Master who was to be the antagonist for a new storyline set after Return of the Jedi. Titled The Epic Continues, this storyline was to be adapted into a new toy line as early as 1986 by the toy company Kenner. Several design sketches were drawn including one of Prime, who strongly resembled a Royal Guardsman from the Return of the Jedi concept art. The proposal for the new storyline was, however, rejected by Lucasfilm Ltd. and the toy line was effectively canceled.[17]

In 1998, an Imperial Sentinel action figure was released as part of Kenner's Expanded Universe series, a subset of the larger Star Wars: The Power of the Force line.[15] Over a decade later in 2009 an Imperial Sentinel miniature was released as part of the Jedi Academy expansion to Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars Miniatures tabletop game.[20]

Kenner's action figure (left) and Wizards of the Coast's miniature (right)

In 2008 the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and Nintendo Wii versions of the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video game introduced a new subdivision of the Royal Guard known only as the "Imperial Sentinels." These Sentinels guarded the Jedi Temple on Coruscant and bore no resemblance to the Imperial Sentinels introduced in Dark Empire.[21] 2009's Galaxy at War RPG supplement by Wizards of the Coast established these Sentinels as the Imperial Senate Sentinels, a subdivision of the Imperial Senate Guard.[22]

Dark Empire audio drama voice inconsistencies[edit | edit source]

"Prisoner secured."
―One of the Sentinels' distinctive phrases in the Dark Empire audio drama — (audio) Listen (file info)[src]

The Dark Empire audio adaptation was released in 1994, three years after the release of the original comic series. The audio drama was notable for including extra scenes not found in the comics as well as changing much of the comic's dialogue, this ended up creating numerous continuity errors between the audio drama and comic series. For the purposes of this article, the comics as well as most other sources take precedence over the audio drama.[12]

One noticeable continuity error concerning Sentinel speech could be heard throughout the audio drama where several Sentinels were given the ability to speak despite the fact that numerous sources, including the Dark Empire Sourcebook, specifically stated that Sentinels did not possess this ability. In the audio drama, the Sentinels spoke in loud, booming voices and were typically restrained to simple phrases such as "halt droid" and "prisoner secured," with rare instances where they could be heard muttering near-complete sentences. These lines did not appear in the Dark Empire comic series and were exclusive to the audio drama.[12]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

An unmasked Imperial Sentinel on Byss

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 The Dark Side Sourcebook
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Dark Empire 4: Confrontation on the Smugglers' Moon
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 Dark Empire Sourcebook
  5. The Dark Empire Sourcebook indicates that the Imperial Sentinels were known to have been active at the time of Ashka Boda's capture which, according to Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force, occurred in 19 BBY.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 WizardsoftheCoast.png "Jaws of the Sarlacc" on (original article link, content now obsolete; backup link)
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
  8. 8.0 8.1 Shadows of the Empire Sourcebook
  9. Databank title.png Yaddle in the Databank (content now obsolete; backup link)
  10. Dark Empire endnotes, part 4: For a Thousand Generations
  11. Rules of Engagement: The Rebel SpecForce Handbook
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Dark Empire audio drama
  13. 13.0 13.1 Dark Empire II 1: Operation Shadow Hand
  14. Empire's End 2: Rage of the Emperor
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Kenner-logo.svg Star Wars: The Power of the Force (1995) (Pack: Imperial Sentinel) (backup link)
  16. Dark Empire 2: Devastator of Worlds
  17. 17.0 17.1 Shades of Blue and Red on (content now obsolete; backup link)
  18. Databank title.png Emperor's Royal Guard in the Databank (content now obsolete; backup link)
  19. The Star Wars Sourcebook, p. 98 (p. 97 of the second edition)
  20. Star Wars Miniatures: Jedi Academy (Miniature: Imperial Sentinel)
  21. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video game  (PS2, PSP, and Wii versions only)
  22. Galaxy at War, p. 128

External links[edit | edit source]

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