The Stormtroopers in Star Wars have some of the most iconic designs in history. Everyone you meet knows exactly what they look like, regardless of whether those people are Star Wars fans or not. That right there is a sure sign of a design classic. To the average moviegoer, there have only been two flavors of Stormtrooper armor: that worn by troopers in the original Empire and that worn by troopers in the First Order. And we can see plenty of Stormtroopers in other media such as Star Wars Rebels.
This makes it easy for us to think we know everything there is to know about this armor. However, the Empire has more than a few tricks up their sleeves: this armor comes with weapons, abilities, and features that you would never imagine, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Some of these facts will completely change how you look at Stormtroopers. And a few of them will make you appreciate the Star Wars universe in a way you never have before. You better buckle, up, as these classic bad guys will never seem the same after you know their secrets. Just keep reading to check out 20 Strange Facts About Stormtrooper Armor!
20 DISSIPATION OF FIRE
It’s something of a running joke in the Star Wars universe that Stormtroopers are easy to kill. It usually just takes a single blaster shot (or even creative use of blunt force) to take these Imperials down. This is why it might surprise you that their armor was designed to dissipate blaster fire!
Specifically, the armor is designed to take the force of a blaster shot and spread it out through the armor, which helps them to get back up and get into the fight. This is something you explicitly see in later Star Wars media (such as the Rebels cartoon), and something that could easily be happening offscreen in the movies. In other words, the Stormtroopers may just be getting back up as soon as the scene is over!
19 VISION ENHANCEMENT
Luke Skywalker had a pretty dim view of Stormtrooper helmets when he wore one. In fact, he had a dim view, period, exclaiming that “I can’t see a thing in this helmet.” Far be it from us to disagree with a future Jedi Master, but Stormtrooper helmets actually enhance the user’s vision. Early models of the helmets had more basic features built in, such as night vision, infrared, and a basic Heads Up Display.
Later models included more features that allowed for even more enhanced vision and more accurate targeting of enemies.
However, these later bells and whistles still would have been useless to Luke because they could only be accessed by the user (more on that later). Ultimately, though, any given Stormtrooper has better vision than most of their targets!
18 PAULDRON IMPORTANCE
Chances are pretty good that you think most Stormtroopers look alike. That’s true to an extent: part of what makes them scary is that they are an indistinguishable and faceless army. However, if you look closely, you can see some interesting differences. For instance, their pauldrons indicate their rank!
These pauldrons were worn on the left shoulder of the trooper and each one was color-coded. This means that once you get the hang of it, you can identify their rank on sight. Orange and red ranks indicate commanders while white represents sergeants. And black means that the trooper is newly-enlisted. Finally, some Imperial leaders have been known to provide custom symbols for their trooper pauldrons. The best example of this is Grand Admiral Thrawn, whose troopers had a chimaera on their pauldrons.
17 UTILITY BELTS?
One of the reasons that fans keep returning to Star Wars is that we continuously notice things we overlooked before. And on top of that, it’s possible to suddenly realize just how weird certain details are. For instance, it seems kind of odd that Stormtroopers have utility belts!
Sure, we all saw Luke Skywalker rocking a Stormtrooper utility belt and using the grappling hook to save himself and Princess Leia. However, these utility belts are supposed to be standard issue, which means that any given Stormtrooper is carrying around a utility belt full of random items that would make Batman blush. Considering how many specialized Stormtrooper units there were to do various missions, it seems mind-boggling that standard issue troops each got their own grappling hook.
16 HARD TO RUN
Whenever Stormtroopers are chasing the good guys, it seems like the heroes are one step ahead of them. This is partly due to the fact that the heroes have plot armor -- they’re far less likely to die than Stormtroopers are. Meanwhile, Stormtroopers have Imperial armor instead of plot armor, and that armor has a secret: it makes it hard for them to run. Think about it: the Stormtroopers wear heavy plate armor that is designed to protect them from almost anything.
That kind of protection comes at a price, though, and those heavy plates make it much harder for them to run after their targets.
This is one of the reasons that someone like Han Solo can burst into a room of Stormtroopers and then escape -- none of them are as fast as he is!
15 BAD AGAINST BLUNT WEAPONS
While we’re talking about that plate armor, it has a few other weaknesses as well. For instance, the armor that is designed to protect them against individual blaster bolts cannot really protect them against large-scale detonations. While that seems understandable, the armor is also vulnerable to blunt weapons!
When fans saw characters in Rogue One knocking out Stormtroopers with blunt weapons, they were understandably curious: why would fancy armor designed to protect from blasters not work against sticks? However, the ability to absorb the force doesn’t mean that your body won’t experience enough pain to knock you out. Therefore, hits to the head and neck are still going to hurt the troopers, armor or no! This limitation goes to show that, despite his big talk, even the Emperor cannot foresee everything.
14 DRESS UNIFORM?
When you think of Stormtroopers, you think of their white armor. After all, this is an iconic outfit worn by these fearsome troops all across the galaxy. However, many fans do not know that that these troopers actually have dress uniforms. In typical trooper fashion, though, they are not very imaginative uniforms, as they copied their design notes from an entirely different division of the Empire!
In short, the Stormtrooper dress uniform is a lot like the uniforms worn by the Imperial Navy. That means a black dress tunic along with code cylinders and rank plaques as well as the familiar caps and boots. As the name implies, though, these uniforms are meant for special occasions, whereas the regular trooper armor is designed for things like patrols and combat.
13 NO HELMET
All of the Stormtroopers we see on-screen sport the familiar Stormtrooper helmet. This is part of how they scare their foes, and we know that taking it off is forbidden: we see Captain Phasma heavily criticize Finn for taking his helmet off at the beginning of Force Awakens. However, did you know that some troopers rarely wear helmets? This is actually one Stormtrooper “secret” that gamers have known for a while. We see special Stormtroopers in the Star Wars: Battlefront games that use rocket launchers instead of the standard Imperial weaponry.
In order to helm them aim their massive weapons, these troopers do not wear their helmets into combat.
This is dangerous, though, because they present a tempting target to any Rebel snipers on the battlefield!
12 MIND GAMES
When it comes to Stormtrooper armor features, there are more bells and whistles than you can shake a gundark at. Clearly, the Emperor wants his troops to be able to handle almost anything. However, the most powerful feature of the armor is also the simplest feature: it’s damned scary-looking!
This is, of course, completely intentional. This armor was designed as part of the ongoing psychological warfare against the enemies of the Empire: it makes all of the Stormtroopers look the same, and they look like an army of angry skeletons marching on their enemies. The theory goes that this unified and frightening appearance has a negative impact on Rebel morale as they see the inevitability of being absorbed by the Empire after losing the battle.
11 SURVIVE IN SPACE
We don’t see a lot of Stormtroopers in space (unless you count those living on battle stations). Generally speaking, Stormtroopers seem to do most of their fighting on the ground. However, one weird Stormtrooper feature that we haven’t really seen on the big screen is that they can survive (and even fight) in the vacuum of space! There are a few different reasons for this. First, the armor includes a body glove that helps protect them during battle and can also protect them (to an extent) from the cold vacuum.
Additionally, the sealed helmet helps protect their head and body, while an attached oxygen tank can provide up to 20 minutes of oxygen.
In theory, this allows Stormtrooper survivors to be retrieved after their ship explodes...though if that’s Vader flying by, they may prefer to play dead!
10 REINFORCED CHEST
Stormtrooper armor is designed to make these soldiers look similar from top to bottom. Because of this, many people assume that all parts of the armor function in a similar way. However, not all armor is created equal, and some parts of this armor are designed to be more powerful than other parts. In this case, the chest armor is more powerful.
That’s right: utility belts aren’t the only idea that the Empire stole from Batman. Like the Dark Knight, they also made the chestpiece the most reinforced and powerful part of the armor. This makes sense, of course: Rebels and other enemies that are taught to aim for this area on other enemies get a rude surprise when Stormtroopers are able to take a shot and keep on attacking!
9 HELPS IN HAND TO HAND
It’s an open secret that the Stormtroopers didn’t look too good in Rogue One. As we mentioned, they were rather infamously taken out in hand to hand combat by characters like Jyn Erso and Chirrut Imwe.
All of this makes it that much more surprising that Stormtrooper armor is designed to help them in hand-to-hand fighting.
In older stories, this was the result of some personal shield generators (more on these in a moment). In addition to the sturdiness of the armor itself, the generators made it possible for the Stormtroopers to withstand the kinds of weapons they would see in hand to hand combat (such as vibroblades). However, even a fully-powered shield was never a match for a lightsaber, and troopers knew to avoid such combat with Jedi.
8 SHIELD PROJECTORS
Stormtrooper armor included personal shield projectors. These projectors had a very specific function: they were primarily designed to defend Stormtroopers fighting in open areas where they could not count on cover. Unfortunately, limitations of the projectors and Imperial regulations meant that we didn’t see these things very often.
These were mostly used for specialized missions, so Stormtroopers who were posted to planets or bases for a long time typically did not have them. Similarly, the Empire did not provide projectors if they felt an area had enough cover for the Stormtroopers to dodge incoming fire. Finally, many rookie troopers did not really know how (or when) to use the projectors, meaning that we rarely got a glimpse of this cool tech. If we did, certain movies might have had a very different ending!
7 TARGETING SYSTEMS
The idea that Stormtroopers are terrible shots is well-entrenched in our pop culture mythos. However, this isn’t really fair: Stormtroopers on the Death Star were unlikely to shoot the very people that Vader and Tarkin wanted to track back to the Rebel base, right? As Obi-Wan noted, Stormtroopers are very precise, and they get help from some truly fancy targeting systems.
The earliest Stormtrooper helmets had the vision enhancements we mentioned (such as night vision, infrared, and a HUD). Later helmets added cool features such as Holographic Vision Processors (allowing them to still “see” through various obstructions) and a Multi-Frequency Targeting and Acquisition System (which further increased visibility in almost all situations). This adds up to some pretty accurate Stormtroopers who are rightly feared across the galaxy!
6 ARMOR EQUALITY
Captain Phasma and The Force Awakens helped to establish that there are women in the First Order, as Stormtroopers and in other roles as well. Clearly, the First Order did not have any specialized female trooper armor. As it turns out, this is a holdover from the days of the Empire.
Part of the confusion about this is centered on cosplay: “female Stormtrooper” has become a popular cosplay over the years, and the outfits tend to accentuate cosplayers’ chests and feature bare midriffs. Inside the Star Wars universe, there have actually been Imperial propaganda posters featuring similar images, but they do not accurately portray female armor: that Stormtrooper body glove fits men and women alike just fine, removing the need to create any kind of special design.
5 VOICE CHANGER
Stormtroopers in the movies aren’t prone to a lot of conversation. One thing you’ll notice when they do speak, though, is that they all sound very similar. There’s a reason for that: all Stormtrooper helmets feature a special vocoder that changes their individual voices. Relatively speaking, the change is mild: you can still hear that there is a human underneath the helmet instead of something like a droid.
However, the vocoder makes their voices all sound mechanical and more processed than their normal speech.
Altogether, this accomplishes the same function as their uniforms: it gives the impression that they are all the same, showing enemies of the Empire that the uniform faces and voices of Stormtroopers will soon patrol their planets as conquerors in the name of the Emperor.
4 SAFETY LOCK
There is an inherent danger in making Stormtrooper armor too powerful and too resilient. That danger is that any survivors of a battle can scavenge through the dead and emerge with some of the most powerful armor available. This is why later updates to the Stormtrooper armor featured a simple safety feature.
Remember some of those neat new targeting features that we mentioned? They were only accessible by the designated owner of the armor. A simple scan allows the helmet to verify if the person wearing it is the person who is meant to be wearing it. This makes it less appealing for scavengers to try to use and gives the Rebels one less advantage the next time they decide to impersonate an Imperial Stormtrooper!
3 CLONE LOAN
The exact relationship between clones and Stormtroopers is a sticky subject for many fans. We know that Stormtroopers are not clones, for instance, but volunteers or conscripts. However, the exact point that the Empire stopped relying on clones is a little fuzzy to pin down. And to make the subject a little more confusing, the Stormtrooper armor is related pretty intimately to the Clone armor. In the earliest days of the Stormtroopers, they wore armor that was almost exactly the same as the Phase II Clone Armor.
And while Stormtrooper armor would eventually look very different, the Empire made a few changes over the years that echoed the clone design.
This included special rank stripes for NCOs and a better range of movement in the armor around the knees.
2 CHANGING DESIGNS
Earlier, we discussed the idea that the Stormtroopers are all supposed to look alike. This is a vital key to their ability to bring fear and intimidation to the galaxy. However, there are some occasional exceptions to this. For instance, the helmets just can’t stop changing from movie to movie!
You have to have a bit of an eagle eye to notice it at first, but the differences are plain to everybody once you know what to look for. For instance, the dark “frown” of the armor is gray in A New Hope and black in Empire Strikes Back. And the handplates are trapezoidal in that first movie and curved in Empire. And Return of the Jedi gave us entirely new helmet molds! It’s fun to spot these differences, and it also helps explain why no two Stomtrooper cosplayers are alike.
1 THEY HAD LIGHTSABERS?
As much as we love our Stormtroopers, we have to admit that they come across as cannon fodder in most appearances. Our heroes mow them down with sticks, blasters, and the occasional lightsaber. However, there’s a universe out there where these guys are much more dangerous. Did you know they were originally going to have their own lightsabers? It’s true!
Going back to Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art for the first movie, we can clearly see Stormtroopers that are rocking shields and lightsabers.
While this hearkens back to some very different early Star Wars scripts, it gives us a cool glimpse of a story in which the average Stormtrooper would be much more of a threat to our heroes than the cannon fodder we eventually got