Every type of Stormtrooper explained
The very first living enemies we see in the Star Wars saga, in the opening of A New Hope back in 1977, are the Imperial Stormtroopers as they take over Princess Leia’s blockade runner and make way for Darth Vader. Their white-on-black armor, designed by the legendary Ralph McQuarrie, made them into instant space opera icons, and they’ve since been immortalized through everything from action figures and T-shirts to coffee mugs and every other imaginable form of merchandise. You can even get your picture taken with them at Disney World.
Of course, as the Star Wars universe has grown in the more than four decades since the first film was released, so, too, has the sheer number of variations on the classic Stormtrooper look. With each new film, TV series, video game, comic book, toy line, and novel, Lucasfilm seems determined to show off a new kind of trooper, whether they represent the Galactic Empire or its successor, the sinister First Order. There are a lot of them, so many that we can pretty much count on more joining the ranks in the not-too-distant future, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to keep up. This is every type of Stormtrooper (so far) explained.
Note: Because "Stormtrooper" didn’t arise as a designation until the Imperial era, we’re leaving the well-meaning Clone Troopers out of this. We’re also leaving out other assorted Imperial military personnel who don’t have the word "trooper" attached to their job title, just for ease of understanding.
The very first scene in Star Wars introduced us to two of the saga’s most important antagonists: The Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader and the garden-variety standard Imperial Stormtrooper. Designed by Ralph McQuarrie to invoke living skeletons with their white-on-black armor, the Stormtroopers are the expendable foot soldiers of the Galactic Empire, born out of the Clone Troopers of the New Republic and dispersed across the galaxy by the thousands to impose the Empire’s will. There are countless variations and specializations, but these are the troopers you’re most likely to see, and as such, they’ve become pop culture icons in their own right, just as famous for their immediately recognizable helmets as they are for their inability to hit their targets.
Though they’re often the source of mockery because of their seeming incompetence in the face of heroes like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, Stormtroopers were the backbone of Emperor Palpatine’s military might. Though cloning programs stopped after the Republic era, the Empire still demanded absolute loyalty from their recruits, and Stormtroopers were indoctrinated with the idea that they were there to impose order on a chaotic galaxy. That explains why they’re willing to charge into just about any battle for the cause, even ones they seem destined to lose.
Imperial Shock Trooper
Because the Stormtrooper Corps grew out of the remains of the clone armies of the Galactic Republic era, certain classes of Imperial trooper followed as natural successors to their Republic-era counterparts. One of the most obvious of these is the Imperial Shock Trooper, a Stomtrooper variation made up of troops selected from some of the highest-class Stormtroopers in the Imperial military to perform various specialized tasks.
In many ways, Shock Troopers look almost identical to standard Stormtroopers, but they are easily recognized as something different from a distance thanks to the red markings on their armor, which cover parts of their helmets, their shoulders and upper chest, and even their shin plates. They’re also set apart by their weaponry, which often includes heavy blasters used for specialized combat duties like offering suppressing fire during assaults. Due to their elite status, Shock Troopers were not only frontline soldiers valued for their combat prowess but also elite security forces tasked with guarding the center of Imperial government on Coruscant and often providing security for Palpatine himself.
A great many of the Stormtrooper variants that exist in current Star Wars canon have their roots in the old Expanded Universe continuity now known as "Star Wars Legends," and Shadow Troopers are one of the prime examples of that transition. Troopers bearing their hallmark — darker armor and personal cloaking devices — date all the way back to Star Wars comic strips from 1979, and "Shadow Troopers" in gray armor famously appeared in the Force Unleashed video game back in 2008.
Though those troopers were erased from continuity with the Disney purchase of Lucasfilm, various Star Wars creatives have since found ways to reinvent these iconic stealth troopers, complete with their dark color schemes, cloaking devices, and heavy blasters. The current, canonical incarnation of the Shadow Trooper began appearing in the Star Wars Battlefront games in 2015, and they’ve since popped up in reference materials for that game as well as the digital card game Star Wars: Force Collection. We’ve yet to see them make an appearance in live action or animation, but that doesn’t mean they never will.
From the beginning of their existence in Star Wars, Stormtroopers were designed to evoke a sense of fear, and that fearsome appearance has since been pushed to its limit by subsequent variations on the classic design. That reached an apex of sorts in 2016, when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story revealed the Death Troopers, an squad of elite soldiers clad in all-black armor who were so good at covering their tracks after missions that they were practically ghosts.
The backstory for these elite troops claims that Emperor Palpatine himself gave them their name based on rumors that Imperial scientists were attempting to essentially create zombie Stormtroopers. With that in mind, Death Troopers lean into that sense of fear. They’re elite Imperial Intelligence troops assigned to only top officers and officials, they specialize in virtually all forms of combat, and they know how to get in and out of virtually any situation without leaving a trace of their presence. Throw in voice scramblers to make them sound especially frightening, and you’ve got one of the most unforgettable Imperial military designs in the entire Star Wars franchise.
The release of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 brought a number of new ideas and designs to Star Wars, including new creatures, new ships, and, yes, even a new Stormtrooper design. Though we’d seen some slight variations on the standard armor in the first film, The Empire Strikes Back gave us what are technically known as "Cold Weather Assault Stormtroopers" and known to fans as "Snowtroopers." (In-universe, "Snowtrooper" would eventually be the official name of the First Order’s cold-weather troopers.)
As their name suggests, the Snowtroopers are Stormtroopers who’ve been trained and equipped for frigid environments like the ice planet Hoth, where they first appear in the franchise. In addition to knowledge that helps them survive in frozen climates, they’re also equipped with more hood-like helmets that help keep out the cold, as well as heated breathing apparatuses, battery packs to help those apparatuses stay operational, snow boots, insulated armor, and more. While the original Stormtrooper design is meant to evoke a skeleton, the Snowtroopers look almost like ghosts, which adds to their menacing appearance in snowy environments.
Scout and Patrol Troopers
Though Stormtroopers were primarily foot soldiers meant for marching and charging into battle, they developed a variety of specialized tasks over time, including the job of patrolling larger areas of an environment on some kind of speeder bike. On the forest moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi, we saw what this looked like for the first time in the form of the Scout Trooper. Though similar in design to the standard Stormtrooper, Scouts sport lighter, more flexible armor to allow them to easily move from speeder bikes to fighting on foot, and their helmets are more specialized to speeder bike riding. They were also often equipped with sniper rifles, making them effective as both reconnaissance troops and sharpshooters.
In urban environments, the Empire utilized a similar trooper variant, the Patrol Trooper, to take on the task of keeping order in cities and settlements around the galaxy. Though their helmets more closely resembled that of the standard Stormtrooper, Patrol Troopers (first appearing in Solo: A Star Wars Story) sported similar light armor and blaster pistols to aid in their time spent riding speeder bikes through cities.
The Dark Troopers are another major example of a concept that has been carried over from the Legends continuity into current Star Wars canon. They first emerged in the video game Dark Forces as advanced battle droids outfitted with three different "phases" of exoskeleton, and a similar evolution has since been added to the main Star Wars continuity. In current canon, the Dark Troopers once again began their lives as battle droids before they shifted to exoskeletons controlled by human pilots, much like a suit of Iron Man armor.
By the time the Dark Troopers made their grand re-entrance on The Mandalorian, though, they were back to their droid roots, as Moff Gideon had determined human error to be a weakness he couldn’t tolerate. On the Disney+ series, the Dark Troopers are depicted as all-black, heavily armored, ruthlessly forceful droids whose only major weaknesses (so far) seem to be a long boot-up time and a vulnerability to lightsaber blades. If enough of them are mass-produced, even with the Jedi Order rising again, the Imperial Remnant might just have a shot.
Some Imperial troopers were created with a broad purpose that could be specialized based on the addition of various extra training or gear, while others existed for something quite a bit more specific. This brings us to the Purge Troopers, a very specialized type of Imperial soldiers with a purpose you might be able to guess: to bring the Great Jedi Purge to its conclusion by any means necessary.
Though Revenge of the Sith showed us the beginning of the Purge, subsequent tie-in media has given us a broader look at everything Darth Sidious and Darth Vader used to hunt down surviving Jedi, including the Inquisitorius and its various "Brother" and "Sister" Force users. The Purge Troopers were the foot soldiers of this effort, selected as death squads who were used as expendable troops to be directed at destroying surviving Jedi at all costs. They were trained and, in some cases, programmed (some of the earliest Purge Troopers were from the last batch of clones produced) to obey Order 66 at all times, making them a threat to all Jedi, as any player of the Jedi: Fallen Order video game will know all too well, particularly in the case of the ones that liked to wield electrostaffs instead of blasters.
First Order Stormtrooper
At the end of the Galactic Civil War, the remnants of the Empire were forced out into the Unknown Regions, where they began rebuilding and reorganizing into what eventually became the First Order. Though various treaties with the New Republic made the training of Stormtroopers illegal, the First Order began a new training and indoctrination program in secret, introducing their new troopers first as a security force and then as an invasion army after the destruction of the Republic fleet and Senate by Starkiller Base.
These new troopers wore armor similar to (though apparently stronger than) Imperial Stormtrooper armor, but their key advantage over their predecessors may have been their training. To train the most elite and fanatically loyal soldiers possible, the First Order began "conscripting" children for the Stormtrooper program, often without familial consent, thus creating an army of apparently emotionless drones who acted as the will of the Supreme Leader. Of course, once a number of those troopers saw the truth, they mutinied, which helped bring about the First Order’s eventual downfall.
While the First Order built up its ranks in the Unknown Regions, the fantatical cult known as the Sith Eternal were building an army of their own on the hidden plant of Exegol, where the spirit of Emperor Palpatine lay in wait for his rise to begin once again. The result of this effort was the massive and deadly Final Order fleet of Star Destroyers, as well as the creation of the Sith Troopers, also known as Sith Stormtroopers.
The first and most striking quality most people notice about these troopers is their armor, which retains the silhouette of a First Order or Imperial Stormtrooper but trades the smooth, white plating for a ridged, red look meant to evoke both human musculature and the red of a Sith lightsaber. Though they were not Force users themselves, Sith Troopers were born and raised on Exegol, children of the Sith Eternal cultists, and were therefore raised with absolutely fanatical devotion to Palpatine and the Sith cause. Though they were not clones, they were as close to mindless servants as Palpatine was ever able to recruit in his long life, and they were trained from childhood to be his elite fighting force.
Though we tend to think of the Stormtroopers in Star Wars as all looking and behaving the same — like mindless foot soldiers — there were, in reality, a wide variety of specializations that troopers could undertake in both the Empire and the First Order. In both eras, the military deployed Flametroopers armed with incinerators, Heavy Troopers with reinforced armor and heavy blasters, jetpack-using Jumptroopers (also sometimes called Rocket Troopers and armed with missile launchers), Riot Control Troopers armed with shields and batons, and Stormtroopers specially trained to operate gunner positions and drive treadspeeders and tanks.
In the Imperial era, the Empire also made use of Demolition Troopers and Stormtrooper Grenadiers, but in the First Order era, things got arguably even more specialized. In addition to many of the same tasks, the First Order also initiated a few key troopers into the ranks. Notably, there were the Executioner Troopers, who wore armor with black markings on the shoulders and helmet and carried laser axes to put dissenters to death and maintain the iron grip of the Supreme Leader. The First Order era also saw the rise of the data specialist Tech Stormtroopers and the First Order Raiders, Stormtroopers assigned to hunt down Sith artifacts by Kylo Ren himself.
A Stormtrooper for every terrain
Just as many Stormtroopers received specialized training and equipment for various roles, so, too, did they often receive training and armor designed to help them survive in various climates throughout the galaxy, often with subtle variations on the classic Stormtrooper armor. The first of these we meet are the Sandtroopers of A New Hope, who basically just wear standard armor with a survival backpack and various shoulder pauldrons attached. Later in the same film, we also glimpse the Spacetroopers (standing in the foreground as the Millennium Falcon is brought into the Death Star), who wear a version of the standard armor that’s been fitted with breathing apparatus for the vacuum of space.
Over the years, numerous other variations on climate-specific Stormtroopers have been added, including the beige-armored Shoretroopers (officially named "Coastal Defender Stormtroopers") prominently featured in Rogue One, the camo-armored Forest Troopers of Kashyyyk, the Range Troopers glimpsed in Solo: A Star War Story with their fur-lined armor and magnetic boots, the Seatroopers equipped for underwater operations, the Magma Troopers with armor built to withstand the heat of planets like Mustafar, and, of course, the Mudtroopers (aka Swamp Troopers) equipped for wet-weather operations on planets like Mimban. No wonder Han Solo wanted out of the Imperial military so badly.
Basically, if it was a planet they wanted to conquer, you can probably assume the Empire and the First Order built Stormtrooper armor designed to operate on it.