The Empire wasn’t using an army full of Jango Fett clones by the time of the original Star Wars trilogy.
Still, the clone army was under Palpatine’s control when Revenge of the Sith ends. As such, Star Wars media set between the two films has tried for years to explain what changed in those years.
From its earliest episodes, Star Wars: The Bad Batch makes it clear that the show will directly address this mystery. While it is already setting up some intriguing reasons for the shift, a Star Wars game from 2005 addressed the topic in a much more compelling way.
While the story’s no longer canon, Pandemic Studios’ Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (not the EA one) offers the most interesting explanation.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2’s campaign, Rise of the Empire, can feel low-budget sometimes with its multiplayer-like mission design, in-engine cutscenes, and reused gameplay footage. Still, it remains a memorable adventure thanks to fantastic writing and a narrative that centers around a single clone legion in the waning days of the Clone Wars and through the Battle on Hoth.
This story works under the premise that the clones actually knew about Order 66 prior to its use, and even felt some regret and remorse for what happened. As this game released in 2005, before Dee Bradley Baker became to voice of almost every clone, the game is instead narrated by Jango Fett and Boba Fett actor Temuera Morrison.
His surprisingly poignant delivery highlights the struggles of the 501st Legion of Clones as they fight in the Clone Wars, kill Jedi during Order 66, snuff out the last remnants of the Jedi and CIS, and ultimately play a part in ending the production of more clones. If you have 18 minutes to spare, the cutscenes are worth watching.
The game explains how the Clone Army is being phased out. In pre-Disney Star Wars Legends lore, the army was dissolved over time with different clones and conscripts from various planets. Star Wars: Battlefront 2 gives more insight into one reason why this could happen: Kaminoans started to create a clone army to fight the Empire.
Currently, Star Wars: The Bad Batch on Disney+ is directly dealing with the same issue. The premiere sees Grand Moff Tarkin assess the necessity of the Clone Army. While he’s yet to come to a definitive conclusion yet, it’s clear that the Empire would prefer an army that’s cheaper to produce and doesn’t contain rowdy rejects like the Bad Batch.
Meanwhile, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 takes a different approach with the Empire retaining the Clone Army for some time while they wrap up loose ends from the Clone Wars and wipe out the last of the Jedi and CIS. Towards the end of the game, the 501st Legion must deal with an uprising on Kamino.
“Officially, there never was a Clone Rebellion on Kamino,” Temuera Morrison’s narrator explains. “Unofficially, approximately 20 years after we were created, a special detachment of the Imperial 501st Legion was dispatched to Kamino with orders to eradicate an army of clones that had been bred to take arms against the Empire.”
The mission sees the 501st Legion work alongside Boba Fett to collect the DNA samples for the rebellious clones and destroy the technology used the Kaminoans are using to create more clones. The mission is ultimately a success and ends with a chilling statement about what finally happened to the Clone Army.
“After the Kamino uprising, the Emporer decided that an army of genetically identical soldiers was too susceptible to corruption,” a retired soldier explains. “Future troopers would be cloned from a variety of templates. Though the 501st itself remained pure, the rest of the imperial army gradually became more and more diverse.”
“We never really got used to the new guys.”
Framing the end of the Clone Army as the result of a Kaminoan rebellion is much more interesting than it simply happening due to budget constraints and a couple of defective clones. It brings the loyalty of the 501st into the spotlight while also showcasing their own uneasiness at the dwindling numbers of Jango Fett clones in the Empire’s Army.
It also gives the Kaminoans a bit more agency in the situation, instead of just saying that the Empire screwed them over. Hopefully, The Bad Batch can give this aspect of its story a bit more depth in the coming episodes or even mirror it a bit. We already see Nala Se help Omega escape in the first episode of the series, so what if that leads
The campaign of Star Wars: Battlefront 2 was able to tell a compelling story about the rise and fall of the Clone Army years before Star Wars: The Clone Wars and The Bad Batch addressed the same topics. Now, as the original Battlefront 2’s story is no longer canon, The Bad Batch has an opportunity to learn from it and hopefully do something a little bit more interesting than it has thus far.