Clone Trooper Inhibitor Chip

While coloring in my last Fan Art Friday with the clone trooper, I began to think about how the last (well, not “last” anymore, with Disney+ bringing back TCW) episodes of TCW on Netflix introduced us to the fact that the clone troopers all had chips placed within them. While we all associate the chips with WHY the clones so easily turned on their Jedi comrades in ROTS, the chip, from my understanding was actually a mechanism that forced them all to comply with an order given – no questions asked. So even if they were walking through some rain and miserable, if the chip was activated and they got an order to take off their suit and dance gleefully naked, they would have.

I have struggled with this. After viewing AOTC, I really liked the idea that these watered down clones were first and foremost military personnel. Their primary service was to follow orders and go into battle, but have slightly more brain power and strategic thinking than droids. It made sense to me. They weren’t, I guess, fully human, as in, they weren’t all unique with their own genetics to make them a special snowflake, but they also weren’t robots. Which is why I always thought of them as “watered down”.

But with the advent of The Clone Wars on Cartoon Network, the storywriters did their gosh darn very best to make me LIKE these clones. They had episodes that completely revolved around the clones asserting that they were individuals. Certain clones became fan favorites, like Rex, Cody and Fives. They became human as we began to relate to their internal battles, struggles, and thoughts. (I am by no means immune to TCW’s clone love; my favorite story line in TCW is the Umbara Arc)

My problem with this is that it seemed to me to destroy the basic reasons for having a clone army. By giving the clones originality, it took away from the fact that they aren’t supposed to be different and individual. The point of clones was to have a massive human army that could think a few steps ahead and react better than droids.

Lama Su says:

We modified their genetic structure to make them less independent than the original host. They are totally obedient, taking any order without question.

No one expected that to mean a chip that would make them obey orders without question.

The chip gives the message to me of a cop out. After TCW was released, it’s clear the writers felt they had to “solve” the “problem” in ROTS when the clones turned on their Jedi comrades. Instead, I would have found it much MORE fascinating that even if we had TCW exactly how it was up until it was canceled (so, excluding the Netflix ending), the clones still turned on the Jedi. Because at the end of the day, they are soldiers who follow leaders from the highest order in rank – and there is no one higher than Palpatine when he gives that order. To me, that is the essence of why the clones were created. To follow orders in the military.

I feel like I am most likely an outlier in this thinking. I’m okay with that. But what do you think about the chip? A good addition to the Star Wars canon or a cop out?

12 thoughts on “Clone Trooper Inhibitor Chip

  1. I like chips. Or as you Americans call them French Fries. nice well written post, I am just not that up on star wars. Canon or cop out – that is normally a sign of a bit of a scripting error, Or the writer not knowing or caring to much about long term fans.

    1. Well, I’m not sure it’s scripting error, and Lucas could have been behind it – he was very involved in TCW. I think a lot of fans LIKE this addition to canon and I think it could have also been done for children. TCW is a kids show and it would have been hard for them to make the jump from the lovable-ish clones in TCW to the ones that end up murdering all their Jedi commanders in ROTS.

      But that said, ROTS is PG-13 for a reason.

  2. No, I agree with you that the chip is a cop-out. But I also think that there might have been instances where the clones turned on the Jedi but perhaps gave them a little warning or head start before pursuing and killing them.

    But then again, I also support the unpopular theory that Anakin didn’t kill younglings either.

  3. If you’re in the outlier here, then I’m right there with you. I too have always felt the inhibitor chips were a cop-out. I got the sense that Filoni and company had to build a bridge from the heroes they made us love to the unquestioned execution of their Jedi leaders because they could no longer accept those clones they gave such vibrant personalities could “do that.” In so doing they ruined some of the commentary the clones provided.

    Part of what I’ve always loved about the Prequels is their examination of the military industrial complex. The clones, as you describe them above from AOTC and then their actions in ROTS are a central part of this critique (as is what fully jumping into the war without question or debate illustrates about the growing corruption within the Jedi Order). But in the TCW they start to use the clones for a discussion of what it means to be “human.” This in and of itself is a powerful and important question but by using the clones as the avenue to have it, it repurposes them in what ultimately becomes a very awkward way (not that TCW isn’t powerful; I love a lot of those episodes).

    So yeah, here’s a hearty “HERE HERE!!!” and “HUZZAH!!!” to this post. I love it and I’m with you all the way.

    1. Per usual, you’ve thought much more deeply about this, but I so admire you for that.

      However, there is always this blog post in the back of my head that has never been quite formed on how the droids have more personality than the stormtroopers. I’ve always found that fascinating but have never been able to create a post out of it. I’m waiting for the muse to strike, I guess.

      They were definitely trying to create this bridge, and I think they kind of failed. I think they handled Ahoska brilliantly, though with Rebels it’s like…she just….won’t…..die??? (But I also like her character so I grapple with this. Ahoska should, by all means, be dead by now. And I did like the idea of her meeting her death against Vader. But then she got pulled by Ezra through that stupid portal. And all of Star Wars was like wtf.)

      Tangent, I would have been a good stormtrooper. I signed up to be in the military. I was going to go into the army and they make you take a test called ASVAB which is all multiple choice. Some if it is knowledge but I’d say 90% is testing how well you follow orders. I got a 98%. Example question:

      You are stationed at a lighthouse and your commanding officer tells you that you must not leave your post. You see a ship heading toward the shore. Despite the lighthouse signal and your radio out to them, they seem not to heed you. They could be an enemy ship. Do you:

      1) Leave your post to alert the commanding officer
      2) Radio your commanding officer at your post
      3) Change the lighthouse signals so the ship most definitely sees it
      4) Send out opposing ships without consulting your commanding officer

      Not hard, right? But it’s surprising the statistics on who fails. The guy I took it with failed but to be fair, English was his second language and he was only signing up to send money back home. ANOTHER discussion that could be interesting for us to review when we finally meet in person. LOL.

      So anyway, I was saying that I think I’d be a great trooper. Done.

      1. Oooo, I’d be interested to read that post on the droids and the stormtroopers! Artoo and Threepio seem faaaar more “human” than the clones, battle droids, or stormtroopers. I’ll be excited to read this whenever the muse finally sings to you.

        As far as Ahsoka, time portals, and space whales go…UGH. Who okays these things?? This is one of a thousand reasons why think Filoni shouldn’t be the solo showrunner on anything. I mean TIME TRAVEL in Star Wars?!!? C’mon! Okay…alright…I’m going to stop and leave that there. But I’m with you. Ahsoka should have been killed by Vader. It would have been such a powerful moment and added even more weight to his saving Luke at the end of ROTJ. But Filoni and co. (and a portion of the fandom) can’t let go of their characters. This always surprises me as where would the OT be if we didn’t lose Obi-Wan, Yoda, and ultimately Vader?

        While I can’t speak to your skill as a stormtrooper, I trust your gut. And I bet you’d look b.a. in that armor. The lighthouse question though…hmm, as I have trouble with institutional authority I’d go with #3 first and then #4 if they still didn’t respond (but I’d tell the ships to be nice and just try to talk with the other boat, not fight them). Hahaha, so I don’t know if I’d cut it. And, come to think of it, I don’t remember how I did on the ASVAB tests although I do remember taking them.

        1. Omg you took the ASVAB? Hilarious. Why were you going to join? I love your answer though. Totally not what they’re looking for.

          Did you see my latest post? My comment to you totally sparked a whole blog post! Filoni overall has been great, but I agree that he can’t let go of ahsoka especially. She’s his muse. I’m curious how the new TCW series will be on Disney+. Seeing ahsoka again makes me roll my eyes. It was such a perfect ending then she walked away from the Jedi order.

          Maybe you can write the post on the human aspect of droids! I’m sure it’ll be a lot deeper and longer than whatever I come up with. 😂

          1. Hahahaha, yep it was hilarious especially because I’ve always been far too devoted a pacifist to seriously consider using a weapon or joining the military in any way (I come from a family of hunters and I couldn’t even go on a gun-less deer spotting ride as a kid because it made me too sad). AND I’ve been a Type 1, insulin-dependent diabetic since I was nine-years-old sooooo there was never going to be a military career for me XD. But if I remember correctly, we were offered extra credit for taking it. So I gave up a Saturday for some easy points.

            I haven’t seen your new post but now I’m super excited to check it out! Also, yay for our comment section banter yielding a brand new post. Go us. But I shouldn’t be too surprised as we are sort of brilliant/prolific ;).

            Honestly, I wish they weren’t bringing back TCW for Disney+. I do grant, while I was skeptical at first, some of my favorite Star Wars moments have come from TCW. But it’s ended twice! (Three times if you count the ‘Rebels’ episode where Ezra “ended” it…) And while I did enjoy a lot of Season Six, I do agree with you. Ahsoka leaving was the perfect note to end on. It was poignant and powerful and I loved it. That arc may be my favorite of the whole series.

            As to the droids post…hmm, I’m intrigued. While I can’t say mine would be any deeper than yours I’d bet it would be longer. I can be a wee bit verbose when I get rolling XD. But I’m going to have to think on this.

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