When Luke Skywalker mentioned the Clone Wars in A New Hope, he opened the door for speculation about clones in the Star Wars universe. While clearly a throwaway line, it wasn't until Attack of the Clones that the wider moviegoing audience learned the impact of his words, as cloning was the manner in which the Galactic Republic gave itself an army.
Unless you've read all the books, comic books, and other media pertaining to Star Wars, odds are, there are plenty of things you didn't know about cloning in Star Wars. After all, while it's mentioned plenty, there's not a lot of detail splashed on the screen for viewers to pick apart. Most fans know that cloning took place on Kamino, thanks to Palpatine's machinations, while others know a little about strand-casts, but other than that, what does the average fan truly know?
Despite Star Wars being one of the most exciting and impressive franchises of all time, there's still a lot the general fanbase doesn't know about cloning. This list takes a look at the lore from as many sources as possible to uncover the things you didn't know about cloning in Star Wars.
Cloning Is Imperfect Despite Kaminoan Efforts
Cloning in the Star Wars universe is a science, but that doesn't mean things don't go awry with the process. The Kaminoans pretty much nailed the ins and outs of cloning to become the dominant system for the technology during the time of the Republic, but there were imperfections in the process. The vast majority of clones grew as planned, but something changed every once in a while, resulting in an imperfect clone.
The best-known example of an imperfect clone is Ninety-Nine. He was a mutated clone of Jango Fett, who had no special abilities. This made him different from the members of Clone Force 99 (The Bad Batch), as they were designed to be different via mutations. Ninety-Nine was physically imperfect in that he aged rapidly, had a hump, and was deformed.
Seeing as the Kaminoans produced so few imperfect clones like Ninety-Nine among the millions of good ones indicate how good their process was. Their failure rate was nearly infinitesimal, but it was there, making cloning just a little imperfect. Originally, Ninety-Nine was slated for extermination, but he was saved by a Jedi before this could happen. He befriended every Clone Trooper, and the Bad Batch was close to him as well.
Clones Can Mature At Wildly Different Rates – For A PricePhoto: Star Wars: Rebels / Disney XD
If left to their natural aging, a clone would grow up at the same rate as their genetic template. Fortunately, the Kaminoans knew how to increase the maturation rates of Jango Fett's clones to overcome this. All of the Kaminoan Clone Troopers were bioengineered so they could mature much faster than they would otherwise, and it only took a decade for a clone to become fully aged and trained for active duty.
Of course, two clones did not age rapidly, one was the clone Jango Fett requested specifically as part of his fee. He wanted a single unaltered clone he could raise as his son. The resulting clone, otherwise known as Boba Fett, aged at a normal rate comparable to his "father." Boba Fett is an example of a clone that had no bioengineering at all, making him an exact genetic duplicate of Jango. The Clone Troopers were different in various ways, though their maturation rates were the most significant. The second is a clone known as Omega that served Nala Se on Kamino as an assistant of sorts.
In A New Hope, the Stormtroopers seen clanking around and missing everything they were firing at were all natural-born — none of them were clones. All of the previous Clone Troopers had been replaced with volunteers and conscripts, leaving many to wonder what happened to the millions of Clone Troopers who fought for the Republic and burgeoning Galactic Empire less than two decades earlier.
Because a Clone Trooper's biology was significantly enhanced and altered to mature faster than normal growth, they don't last as long as the Empire may have wanted– though there is some evidence that this was planned as a sort of engineered obsolescence. A Clone Trooper's lifespan was anywhere from 25 to 50 years or more, but since they matured faster, they aged faster as well. When Captain Rex was found during the second season of Star Wars: Rebels, he was about 72 in clone years but was biologically less than 30-years old.
Unbeknownst To The Jedi, Behavioral Modification Chips Were Utilized In Clone Troopers
When the Clone Troopers were put into service to fight the Separatists, there was a modification few people knew anything about, and it was a big one. In addition to altering the clones' maturation rates and upbringing to make them perfect soldiers, a behavioral modification biochip was implanted into the brains of every clone. The chips, which are also known as inhibitor chips, had one purpose, and it was insidious.
When Emperor Palpatine said the words, "Execute Order 66," he initiated a program inside the chips of every Clone Trooper. They immediately turned on their commanding generals — the Jedi. Across the galaxy, millions of Clones suddenly turned on and killed as many Jedi as possible, and without removing the chip, there was little to nothing that could be done to alter a Clone's need to follow that order.
Ahsoka Tano was able to remove a chip from Captain Rex, which was the only way to deter them from their mission. The chips themselves were made of organic material that was genetically modified to alter a Clone's way of thinking. They were incredibly difficult to locate, and it took a Level 5 atomic brain scan to find one. When Ashoka Tano lacked that instrumentation aboard a Star Destroyer, she was able to find it via the Force, but it wasn't easy — Palpatine covered his tracks well.
Only A Limited Number Of Clones Can Be Made From Any Given Genetic Sample
When Jango Fett was introduced in Attack of the Clones, it was clear that he remained on Kamino to help continue with the manufacture of his clones. What wasn't clear was why that was necessary. If the Kaminoans needed his genetic sample to create a clone, why did they need him to stick around? As it happens, the genetic sample is needed for cloning, but it degrades over time. When this happens, the source (clone template) must be tapped again, or the cloning would stop.
Granted, the Kaminoans could have gotten a genetic sample from someone else, but the whole point was to create an army based on Jango Fett's DNA, so he had to remain. Every once in a while, he would be called to provide a sample, which would be used to create a new batch of clones. It was never clear exactly how many clones could be made from a single sample, but the number is likely in the low millions.