Order 66 was used after about 3 years of fighting during the Clone Wars. The primary goal was to wipe out the Jedi. When it was given, the excuse was that there were signs of a Jedi rebellion against the Republic, which was an entirely manufactured reason.

If Palpatine was just going to make up a reason, what did he gain by allowing the Clone Wars to proceed for a full 3 years? While he's a Sith, and therefore evil, and isn't going to care about lives lost, he's still losing resources, such as the clone troopers that will be able to serve him as stormtroopers.

Why did he need to wait so long before giving Order 66?

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    Great question. In my opinion, the delay can only be explained if Palpatine wanted the Jedi to trust their clone troops, and wanted to place them in weak positions where the backstabbing could take them by surprise. Maybe that's what took 3 years. "Motive" for order 66 isn't needed: clones follow orders from authority without asking questions.
    – Andres F.
    Jul 24, 2013 at 15:06
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    He didn't need a motive for the clones, he needed a motive for the people of the Republic to accept order 66.
    – Probst
    Mar 7, 2016 at 18:45
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    Timing is everything - at the time that Order 66 was given, the Separatists were defeated, and the military might of the Republic was present across the galaxy. Perfect strategic position to be in to consolidate power and form the Empire, and dispatch the only remaining credible threat to that power (the Jedi) that are spread too thin to retaliate.
    – vynsane
    Aug 23, 2018 at 16:54

13 Answers 13


Chancellor Palpatine required a motive to execute order 66, this was instigated by the Jedi/Mace Windu's attempt to arrest/kill the chancellor.

As noted in a related question - Why did the Jedi fail to get information about Order 66?:

In the event of Jedi officers acting against the interests of the Republic, and after receiving specific orders verified as coming directly from the Supreme Commander (Chancellor), GAR [Grand Army of the Republic] commanders will remove those officers by lethal force, and command of the GAR will revert to the Supreme Commander (Chancellor) until a new command structure is established.

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    But the clones wouldn't have questioned order 66, regardless of how arbitrary it sounded. The clones obey orders from any standing authority; they seem to execute orders in a First-Come-First-Served basis. So Palpatine could have issued the order whenever he pleased, regardless of any justification, and afterwards -- without the Jedi to oppose him -- no justifications would have been needed anyway. The only ones who needed "motive" were the rest of the Senate, but they weren't an effective fighting force.
    – Andres F.
    Jul 24, 2013 at 15:03
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    Side tracking from my answer, my understanding is Palpatine initially required the senate to control the empire, in A New Hope he disbanded the senate and took direct control, up until that time, he still needed a motive to kill the jedi otherwise the senate would have rejected his "genocide" of the Jedi. Sure I guess you could say the Senate couldn't have done stuff all (considering now the jedi are dead), but then they could have stopped controlling the newly formed empire, to which palpatine might not have been ready for.
    – Jared
    Jul 30, 2013 at 22:35
  • That's a good answer. Palpatine may have needed the Senate on his side, not because they would have been able to stop him otherwise, but because he needed their help to manage his budding empire. At first, anyway. Make sense.
    – Andres F.
    Jul 31, 2013 at 2:38
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    I know this is an old question and this comment is pointless ... but while I agree Order 66 is written that way, the scene does not play out that way. All he has to is phone up clone troopers and say "Execute Order 66", and they say "It will be done, My Lord" and go murder Jedi. They don't precisely use Robert's Rules of Order here.
    – joshbirk
    Mar 14, 2014 at 0:27
  • This is a valid point, but counter question: why didn't he stage the reason he needed earlier? Surely, he could have done so at any point.
    – Raphael
    Jan 3, 2018 at 11:04

By delaying issue of Order 66, he was able to use the Jedi as tools to help eliminate those that stood in the way of his ultimate goal. Had he issued Order 66 sooner, he would have lost the Jedi as a resource. Also, attrition over the first three years of the Clone Wars would have reduced the number of Jedi and simplified the process of destroying them.

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    Also he needed justification to execute order 66, which was Mace Windu's attempt on his life.
    – Jared
    Feb 19, 2012 at 10:37
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    @Jared Why justification? He always wanted to remove Jedi order.
    – user931
    Feb 19, 2012 at 13:33
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    @SachinShekhar - pretty much as you described in your answer, if he did just out right kill the Jedi, a) Anakin would have not joined the dark side (presumably) b) the clones may not have turned on the Jedi (they only killed the Jedi after execution of order 66) c) With order 66, he had a perfect cover, Mace Windu did try and kill him, so legitimately accordingly to the law/order he was well within his right to execute them all for treason. Had he just wiped them out, it would have been blatant murder.
    – Jared
    Feb 20, 2012 at 0:08
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    @Jared I can't digest your point c. Nobody even asked for reasons before executing order 66.. Plus, he was an evil. So, why would he hesitate for blatant murder?
    – user931
    Feb 20, 2012 at 6:26
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    @SachinShekhar - I think that is the point, it was a fabricated reason.
    – Jared
    Feb 21, 2012 at 20:43

One more reason: Order 66 works because the Jedi have come to trust the Clone troops implicitly. This trust would have to be built first.

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    This is a good point. The clone troopers could only have succeeded against the Jedi with a sneak attack. A full frontal attack would have been repelled by the Jedi.
    – HNL
    Feb 23, 2012 at 5:30
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    This is the right answer in my opinion. Justification isn't needed (clone troopers obey orders no matter what). Treachery must be the answer, then.
    – Andres F.
    Jul 24, 2013 at 15:08

Simply, Palpatine didn't want to lose Anakin. Even if Anakin would have been isolated from Order 66, he would never had gained loyalty of Anakin. And, Anakin would have turned against him for killing Jedi.
So, he waited until the time had came...


In the novelization of Ep.III, It states that the clone wars were the "perfect jedi trap" think about it

It forced the Jedi to focus on something else other than a disturbance in the force It bleed the Jedi ranks dry It helped turn public opinion against the jedi It built trust between the Jedi and the clones It allowed Palpatine to slowly write off Civil Liberties It didn't matter who won, Palpatine would still come out on top Palpatine was "Forced to reluctantly accept" more and more emergency powers Most importantly, it made Anakin trust Palpatine more and more


Palpatine wanted the Jedi spread out and isolated with Clone troops during the course of the war so he could better consolidate control in the Senate and among the core worlds. Towards the end of the Clone Wars (ROTS), Republic forces were winning the war, chasing Separatists out of the Mid-Rim worlds and toward the Outer-Rim. When Grievous was finally killed, the Jedi Council tried to have Palpatine step down and that was his opportunity to give Order 66.


There was more involved than elimination of the Jedi order. Darth Sidious had risen to power as his normal ego, Palpatine, using his Force abilities to manipulate events both within and without the Republic. He was the driving "Force" (pun intended) behind the Separatist movement which led to the militarization of the Jedi order AND the raising of a Clone army. There had been a Republic Navy, but it seemed to be more like a Galactic Coast Guard, chasing smugglers, pirates, and quelling the occasional outbreak of warfare between star systems. The Jedi themselves seemed to be more a Gendarmerie and a diplomatic service than an officer corps. Darth Sidious needed for the Clone Wars to be prosecuted in order to drawn in all interested parties into the conflict, knowing that eventually, after the loss of many (including Jedi), that the Republic would prevail, but would be weakened from without and within by internal strife. And in the eyes of the Senate and the public, would undoubtedly saw Palpatine as a heroic figure, would not the attempt of the Jedi to arrest the Chancellor be seen as a coup d'etat?

Luke: Rejoice, good people. Palpatine the terrible shall rule no more!

Empire Citizen #1: But Palpatine was the greatest ruler we ever had.

Luke: What?

Empire Citizen #1: He built roads, hospitals, libraries ...

Empire Citizen #2: To us, he was Palpatine the Consensus Builder.

(Yes, I know, I've ripped off the Simpsons...)

As another pointed out, since part of the takeover was getting Anakin won over to him, Palpy also had to wait until Anakin would become dissafected with the Jedi over having to choose his wife and family or his status as a Jedi Knight. Their refusal to confer upon him the status of "master" after all he'd done in the Clone Wars did much to embitter Anakin towards the order. Palpatine was a patient and wily old bastard, willing to wait, until, like the cagey chess player he was, he'd moved his pieces where they needed to be, then strike.


Palpatine's timing was actually ideal for his purposes. He wanted to wait until he had seduced Anakin to the Dark Side of the Force before staging the bogus attempt on his life when the Jedi came to arrest him for treason. Palpatine's plan worked like a charm, and his timing could not have been better. He played Anakin like a flute.


I think as said by others he weakened the Jedi, their numbers were dwindling and the Republic were losing faith in the order. Also Palpatine was the true puppet Master, Anakin being the Puppet. In ROTS, he drip feeds Anakin with tales and ideas making Anakin mistrust the Jedi. Remember he wanted Anakin to be on the council (a Master) knowing full well the Jedi would not approve and thus making Anakin suspicious of them. So he was waiting until he knew he could turn quite easily Anakin to the Dark side, then issuing order 66.


Okay, Let me see if I can explain what I think is the right answer, then if need be, you guys can break it down. In 1933 in Germany, A man by the name of Adolph hitler took power. He like our beloved emperor, used democracy to abolish it, but before that, he consolidated power to him self. The emperor did quite naturally the same thing. First he joined the senate, listening, but constantly in secret manipulating events, always under the gize of diplomacy. Remember, these events probably took about 30 years or so to develope. It wasn't just the clone wars. After the naboo events, it practically gave him the top spot in the government. Then, he set about consolidating power, in the name of protection and security. The jedi could not see it, and they could not locate it until it was too late. Now, someone here said that clones follow orders no matter whare they come from. Perhaps you should read starwars darklord, whare clones not only questioned the order, but deliberately let the jedi go, and paid for it with there lives. Not all clones followed the orders. Some clones even had regrets in having to do it, such as the 27thstarcore with Isla Sakura. I might be wrong on that point, but the hero with no fear could have just as easily had been one of them, had events not played out the way they did.

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    There's no need to bring Hitler into it. It's so extraneous it makes me want to invoke Godwin's Law. Also, this is very hard to read. It's like a run-on sentence and is quite confusing.
    – Tango
    Mar 25, 2014 at 3:52
  • Hitler was brought into it as a real-world example of exactly the same process that Palpatine used. In fact, the similarities extend past the consolidation of power, right into isolating the 'unwanted groups' from society, so that people didn't notice (or could subconsciously refuse to notice) that they were being 'weeded out' and eliminated. Hitler didn't start his rise to power by marching an army through the streets, shooting Jews, gays, etc. Had he started that way, public sentiment would almost certainly turned against him, and he'd have been done. Palpatine had to worry about the same. Dec 17, 2015 at 22:43

He provided the clones to the Jedi but didn't let the Jedi know he provided them or they wouldn't accept thus from this the Jedi had to grow accustomed to having a massive force to their uses. As shown in Episode 2 the Jedi could have been crushed by the superior numbers of the droid army during the 3 years a large number of Jedi trusted the clones with their lives, but if you notice from both games and the movie before Order 66 clones weren't guarding the Jedi temple from attack and we know clones were stationed on Coruscant, so clearly certain high ranking (most likely high counsel members) didn't authorize clones near the temple to protect them disregarding the fact of both younglings and Padawans nearly unprotected, could have been protected. at the end of the clone wars only a very small number of Jedi were left at their temple and were highly vulnerable to attack.

Most of the Jedi counsel were stuck in battle during these closing minutes of the war:

  • Ki-Adi Mundi was on Mygeeto and was struck down
  • Yoda who almost NEVER left the temple was on Kashyyyk when order 66 was issued
  • Windu was 'killed' by both Anakin and Sidious before order 66 was issued and he had left the temple
  • luminara was on Kashyyyk with Yoda and was killed by clones
  • Eeth Koth, Saesee Tiin, and Kit Fisto were killed by Sidious away from the temple
  • Plo Koon was on Cato Neimodia when he was killed by clone pilots
  • Shaak Ti was killed off world and almost all of the high counsel was away from the temple.

The remaining Jedi in the temple were only about 5 masters with hundreds of padawans and a few hundred younglings scattered all around the temple. The Jedi at this time were viewed as weak, so as the war had progressed we saw massive numbers of Jedi deaths so there were less Jedi to both protect anyone (even their own) during the ending minutes of the Clone Wars. We saw in Episode 3 a Jedi Padawan try to escape from the temple; at this point almost all Jedi were either dead or trying to flee from their clone allies, and thus we now know the Jedi were highly vulnerable.

Also, we notice that Order 66 was flawed, as numerous Jedi escaped it. They tried to resolve that by tricking the Jedi to the temple where, even though the scene was removed from the film, clone troopers disguised as Jedi were going to kill them. This was also a secondary back-up plan to Order 66, which was prevented by both Kenobi and Yoda.

Perhaps the long wait was to find an easier, more less flawed plan to kill the Jedi than have a small trickle of Jedi escape from Order 66. In my, opinion the war had clearly finished off a large number of Jedi, thus the clones were merely tools to kill off the remainder but this succeeded as well as failed as they had to send Darth Vader to kill a handful of remaining Jedi. In addition, the Jedi still trained more Padawans and younglings to become Jedi and even AFTER order 66 AND the galactic empire Jedi still protected the galaxy. Order 66 failed purely so maybe the 3 year long delay was to find an alternate solution for the mass genocide of the Jedi.

  • 1
    Aargh. This answer hurts my eyes
    – Valorum
    Apr 12, 2015 at 21:17
  • I think there's about a 4 or 5 line answer buried in that mess somewhere -- specifically, Major Stacking's answer?
    – KutuluMike
    Apr 12, 2015 at 21:23
  • @Richard - better? I tried, but there's a lot of work still there to do
    – The Fallen
    Apr 12, 2015 at 21:46
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    @SSumner - Much better. Still a poor answer imho.
    – Valorum
    Apr 12, 2015 at 21:55
  • It's really hard to follow this answer and it still seems like what little in here that is an answer repeats what has already been said by others.
    – Tango
    Apr 14, 2015 at 1:03

I believe the reason that the Emperor waited so long was because he needed the child created by no man (Anakin) to grow up to become his ultimate Sith apprentice.

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    Anikan. Priceless.
    – bitmask
    Sep 17, 2012 at 21:03

IF you've read Star Wars Republic Commando: Order 66 then it tells about palps building a secret army (phase three troops or 501st) thus the abundace of battleships at the battle for coruscant in ep. III He then uses the army to wipe out the jedi, and the old republic army forms the empire with the 501st being "Vader's Fist" as their head of command so to speak,

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