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When Order 66 Was Issued, Why Didn’t the 501st Fired on Anakin?

When Order 66 Was Issued, Why Didn’t the 501st Fired on Anakin?

In the lore of Star Wars, Order 66 stands as a cataclysmic event, a command issued by Emperor Palpatine to annihilate the Jedi and any Force-sensitive individuals who could oppose his tyrannical regime. 

This directive led to the near-extermination of the Jedi Order, but curiously, some Force-users like Anakin Skywalker (later Darth Vader), were spared. 

This article explores the selective execution of Order 66 and the reasoning behind Anakin’s exemption.

The True Aim of Order 66

Order 66 is commonly perceived as a mandate to kill Jedi. However, evidence from the Star Wars canon suggests its purpose was broader: to eliminate any Force-wielder who could challenge Palpatine’s rule. 

This interpretation is supported by instances where non-Jedi Force sensitives, including Ahsoka Tano, younglings, and padawans who did not align with Darth Sidious, were also targeted following Order 66.

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The Clone Wars Finale - Ahsoka senses Anakin's Fall / The Beginning of Order 66 (HD)

Why Anakin Was Spared

A critical aspect to consider in discussing Anakin Skywalker’s exemption from Order 66 is his status within the Jedi Order at the time of the purge. 

Officially, Anakin was no longer a Jedi; he had succumbed to the dark side and been christened Darth Vader by Emperor Palpatine. 

This transformation is pivotal, as Order 66 targeted Jedi and other Force-sensitives deemed threats to Palpatine’s rule. Anakin, having pledged himself to Palpatine and severed ties with the Jedi, was not only spared but also became an instrumental agent in executing the order.

Immediately following his transformation, Anakin led the attack on the Jedi Temple, a direct action under Palpatine’s orders.

This assault marked his complete break from the Jedi Order and his active participation in the purge, demonstrating his allegiance to Palpatine and his role as a key executor of the Sith’s agenda. 

By leading this attack, Anakin underscored his new identity as Darth Vader, distancing himself further from the Jedi and aligning with the Empire’s objectives.

Order 66 at Jedi Temple: Extended Cut with ROTS / Obi Wan Kenobi / Book of Boba Fett

This exemption can be further understood within the context of Palpatine’s strategic foresight. Palpatine’s manipulation of the order likely included provisions to protect valuable assets, such as Anakin, from its execution. 

Anakin’s role was crucial to Palpatine not just for his prowess as a Force-user but as a symbol of the Jedi Order’s failure and the Sith’s ascendance. 

By the time of the purge, Anakin’s allegiance had shifted entirely to Palpatine, making him an ally rather than a target under the directive of Order 66.

Incorporating Anakin’s transition away from the Jedi and his new identity as Darth Vader into the reasoning behind his exemption underscores the complexity of Order 66. 

It wasn’t merely a blanket command to eliminate all Jedi; it was a meticulously planned operation to reshape the galaxy under Sith rule, sparing those who, like Anakin, were integral to Palpatine’s vision of the future. 

This strategic exemption of Anakin highlights the nuanced execution of Order 66, ensuring the eradication of Palpatine’s adversaries while preserving his champions.

The Case of Dooku and Other Force-sensitives

Speculatively, Count Dooku might have also been exempted had he not been betrayed by Palpatine and Anakin. 

This hypothesis aligns with the notion that Palpatine was always strategizing several moves ahead, ready to discard or protect individuals based on their utility to his overarching plan. 

The targeting of Force-sensitives under Order 66, therefore, was not indiscriminate but calculated, designed to reshape the galaxy’s power structure in Palpatine’s favor.


The exemption of Anakin Skywalker from Order 66 underscores the cunning and strategic depth of Emperor Palpatine’s rule. 

By selectively applying the order, Palpatine not only eradicated his opposition but also secured loyal, powerful enforcers like Darth Vader to consolidate his control. 

This nuanced understanding of Order 66 reveals the extent of Palpatine’s manipulation, ensuring his ascendancy while paving the way for the dark era of the Empire. 

Through this lens, Order 66 was more than a command—it was a masterstroke in Palpatine’s quest for ultimate power, with exemptions as deliberate as the killings.

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