The Mandalorian: Star Wars' Dark Troopers, Moff Gideon's New Soldiers, Explained

The latest episode of The Mandalorian on Disney+ revealed new information on why Moff Gideon is desperate to get his hands on Baby Yoda (officially known as the Child). Gideon's secret machinations have to do with an unpopular subject that originated with the Star Wars prequel trilogy and may also connect him to Star Wars sequel trilogy villains Supreme Chancellor Snoke and his First Order. The episode also showed a new force under Gideon's command, described as "dark troopers." It is unclear if this term is purely descriptive or official terminology, but "dark troopers" should ring some bells for fans of the Star Wars Legends continuity, especially those that played many classic Star Wars video games. We don't know much about these new dark troopers yet, but what we can glean from the episode bears some similarities to Star Wars Legends canon.

LucasArts created the original dark troopers for the video game Star Wars: Dark Forces. The studio needed new villains that could be plentiful, and that could challenge Kyle Katarn, the former Stormtrooper turned mercenary working for the Rebel Alliance who was the game's hero. Katarn's primary objective was to destroy the Dark Trooper Project, and thus dark troopers were among the most difficult to defeat opponents in the game.

The dark troopers of Dark Forces were droids, and they appeared again in more Star Wars games, serving primarily as Imperial cannon fodder for players to mow down. They appear in Star Wars: Empire at Wars: Forces of Corruption, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, and the now-defunct MMORPG Star Wars Galaxies.

Dark troopers also appear in the original Star Wars: Battlefront series, which retconned the concept to reveal that the original dark troopers, pre-dating Katarn's encounters with them, were clones who fought in the Clone War. The Empire restored wounded or otherwise unfit clone troopers to fighting form by implanting them with cybernetics, enhancing their fighting capabilities beyond what they were capable of even at the peak of their natural health. Imperial scientists achieved this by using the same technology that transformed Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader.

Dark troopers have appeared since Disney established its new continuity, though only in the Star Wars: Commander mobile game, where the Imperial Military deploys them during the Galactic Civil War. According to the Dawn of Rebellion sourcebook for Fantasy Flight Games' Star Wars tabletop RPG, the military's disappointment with the project is one reason the Empire moved away from using combat droids.

The dark troopers in "Chapter 12: The Siege" are a mystery, but we know from the episode that Gideon is performing research involving cloning. The dark troopers and Gideon wear armor that resembles Darth Vader's appearance. Both could be hints that these new dark troopers are similar to the clone-cyborg dark troopers from Star Wars: Battlefront.

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Disney+ debuts new episodes of The Mandalorian on Fridays.