Note - I have only seen the movies.

Everywhere there seems to be storm troopers with firearms on any destroyer, death star or even the star destroyer.

Outside of the movies is there a reference to why there are so many storm troopers? If not, that is okay - I realize it's just a movie - but I thought there might be an explanation for the enormous numbers, maybe a reference to a police state or something?

Cheers for some insight.

  • This isn't an answer, and I believe that canonically all the soldiers we see in the films are Stormtroopers, but consider for a moment - there isn't a significant difference in the equipment of a regular infantry soldier vs, say, a US Army Ranger; they carry the same equipment, and use the same or very similar weapons. Chances are that the Empire equips its line soldiers with very similar gear to the Stormtrooper Corps.
    – Werrf
    Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 22:17

3 Answers 3


There’s a lot to do

The Empire is indeed a totalitarian state. It needs enormous numbers of stormtroopers to instill fear, to put down rebellions on the worlds it rules, and so forth.

Conducting oppression at the galactic scale is a difficult business. Even with advanced weapons and relatively fast transportation, considerable numbers of troops are needed to deal with the thousands of situations that might arise at one time (and a “situation” could be the equivalent of a full-scale catastrophe on a planetary scale). Coruscant, the capital of the galaxy, by itself has 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) people1, though most planets are significantly more sparsely populated. They are in some ways less a regular army than a fusion of army and police force (again, reinforcing the “police state” motif). Their purpose is to safeguard the Empire’s interests through fear and violence:

Stormtroopers are stationed on strategic worlds throughout the galaxy. On planets like Lothal, Tatooine, and Coruscant, they serve a variety of functions. They guard mining operations, factories, and commercial interests important to the Empire. They maintain societal order and monitor politically sensitive areas—stamping out all signs of rebellion.

Ultimate Star Wars

The number of stormtroopers also reinforces their expendability:

Stormtroopers have replaced the clone armies of the Republic as expendable soldiers. Their endless numbers serve across the galaxy, enforcing the Emperor’s will.

Ultimate Star Wars

As a side note, there might not be quite as many stormtroopers as one might imagine. According to the canon video game Star Wars: Uprising, the Empire had 25,000 Star Destroyers. There were about 45,000 soldiers per Star Destroyer2, which comes to about 1.1 billion stormtroopers on Star Destroyers. An incredible number by modern standards, certainly, but still a fraction of the population of Coruscant alone. In all likelihood, considerable numbers of stormtroopers were also present as local garrisons on planets, so the true size of the Imperial forces is difficult to estimate. Nonetheless, speed (allowing the rapid deployment of troops to problem areas) and advanced technology are likely the Empire’s main weapons in combat, not having enough soldiers to maintain Earth-size armies on every planet.

1: Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

2: Ultimate Star Wars, p. 291

  • And yes, the Republic had only a few million (albeit genetically optimal) soldiers in an actual war.
    – Adamant
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 7:54
  • Your math assumes that stormtroopers only are assigned to Star Destroyers. We see plenty of them assigned to bases and planets in much of the newer Disney canon that predated Ep IV (specifically, Star Wars Rebels, the Ashoka novel). So the 1.1 billion is probably much larger than that when you consider the number of bases and outposts in the galaxy Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 20:39
  • 1
    @psubsee2003 - I noted that in my answer.
    – Adamant
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 22:34

Despite the rebellion, the Empire is viewed favorably by a lot of people. Remember, even Luke wanted to leave Tatooine to attend the Imperial Academy. The Imperial Army and Navy have both volunteers, but they also use conscription. Consider the vast number of humans in the known galaxy and it isnt hard to assume a fairly large military presence.

  • Thanks, but I was kind of looking to see if there was an answer about the regional presence: on a star destroyer, for instance, it seems odd to me that there are Storm Troopers on every corner. Is there evidence that these might be some kind of strategic corridors or something?
    – Mikey
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 23:22

In the movies, all the stormtroopers we see are stationed on Star Destroyers and Death Stars, which make up the most elite troops of the empire. Both Star Destroyers are meant to completely crush and annihilate any military resistance against the Empire with massive force. Since we see the heroes in the movies during the most important huge battles we also see them running into stormtroopers all the time. The patrols in Mos Eisley are not the local police, they are troops from Darth Vader's star destroyer hunting for the death star plans.

It's implied heavily by supplementary material and the Expanded Universe that stormtroopers are not everyday soldiers and not even particularly common in the imperial military. Normal police work and security is handled by local police and militas which are nowhere near the level of stormtroopers in training and equipment. But in the movies we never see the Rebells fighting in normal places and so we're not shown what the average soldiers are like.

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