What are clone inhibitor chips in Star Wars?

Photo: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 709 “Old Friends Not Forgotten” - Image Courtesy Disney+
Photo: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 709 “Old Friends Not Forgotten” - Image Courtesy Disney+ /

Thanks to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, we got a closer look at what things were like during the titular time period. What may have been boring talk about trade negotiations and such in the prequels turned into a rather exciting animated series that brought back tons of fan-favorite characters and deep storylines that broadened the Star Wars lore as we knew it.

On top of that, The Clone Wars also answered some lingering questions Star Wars fans have often asked. Among those was, “Why did the clone army turn on the Jedi?” Sure, in the army of the Grand Republic, the then-Chancellor Palpatine would have some say in the war against the Separatists. But for them to just blindly accept that the Jedi had committed treason and turn on them? Something had to be up.

As we found out later in The Clone Wars, this was because of inhibitor chips that were implanted within the clones’ minds. So, what exactly are these inhibitor chips, and how does it explain why the clones so easily turned on the Jedi?

Star Wars inhibitor chips explained

In season 6 of The Clone Wars, the inhibitor chip was discovered after a mishap when the clone Tup prematurely executed Order 66. The clone Fives wanted to know why that happened in the first place; The two then made the discovery that all the clones had chips in them, and Fives wanted to try to get the word out to everyone about what was happening.

In a confrontation with Anakin Skywalker and Captain Rex, Fives (looking a little off his hinges) tries to convince the two that there’s a sinister plot in the works against the Jedi. He explains that the inhibitors are “organic chips built into our genetic code. To make us do whatever someone wants. Even kill the Jedi.”

With strikes against him already for being framed for killing Chancellor Palpatine (who revealed to him his evil plans), Fives was later killed — putting the inhibitor chip “conspiracy” to rest with him.

Though the inhibitor chip is there, it’s not like everything that it does is set in stone. For instance, in The Clone Wars season 7, Ahsoka was able to reprogram Rex’s inhibitor chip so that he would side with his old friend once again.

In The Bad Batch (spoiler alert), it was revealed that the four main crew’s mutations meant that the strength of their inhibitor chips had been weakened. Echo was in a special circumstance because his use as a computer while he was captured overrode the chip’s potency. And while Crosshair’s chip was nearly defective, it still affected him. He was happy to obey Order 66 to some degree. But once Tarkin found that out, they then took hold of him and increased his inhibitor chip’s ability to follow orders.

All that being said — these chips are quite complicated. And we see that they can be manipulated in many ways and even removed. Ultimately, though, it helps to answer the question of why Order 66 was executed with no questions asked. And it proves just how complex and deeply seeded Palpatine’s plan was to overthrow the Republic.

light. Related Story. 5 animated series like The Clone Wars

Keep up with the Star Wars TV  Shows category on Dork Side of the Force for more!