Warning! This article contains spoilers for Andor episode 4.
Andor breaks a Star Wars franchise trend by showing the more common elements of the Imperial military and largely eschewing the iconic Stormtroopers. Given their prominence in the original Star Wars trilogy, it is reasonable to perceive Stormtroopers as the Empire’s standard foot soldiers, but the lore of both Star Wars canon and Legends clarifies that they are an elite and specialized unit who are deployed on the Empire’s most critical battlefronts. Andor’s smaller scale and emphasis on the more mundane elements of both the Rebels and the Empire means that other Imperial military units are, appropriately, shown more often than Stormtroopers.
While Stormtroopers are elite soldiers who directly enforce the will of Emperor Palpatine, the Empire’s basic foot soldiers are Imperial Army Troopers. In Star Wars Legends, the Imperial Army and Stormtrooper Corps are separate military branches, but in canon the Stormtrooper Corps is a specialized branch of the Imperial Army, maintaining the separation of the two types of troopers. While Imperial Army Troopers are more common throughout the Empire’s territory than Stormtroopers, they are rarely shown in the Star Wars movies themselves, with only Return of the Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story featuring them on Endor and Mimban, respectively.
Andor episode 4, “Aldhani,” is the Star Wars franchise’s latest story to include Imperial Army Troopers in the form of Lieutenant Gorn, a member of Vel Sartha’s team of Rebels and a mole within Aldhani’s Imperial garrison who is introduced wearing an Imperial Army Trooper uniform. This implies that the Imperial garrison on Aldhani is populated by Army Troopers rather than Stormtroopers, which is fitting, given the planet’s relative obscurity and the Empire’s complacency. Stormtroopers are, both in-universe and in the minds of Star Wars viewers, the ultimate visual signifiers of an Imperial military presence, but they are not always appropriate when a story can use Imperial Army Troopers or local corporate security forces instead.
The Imperial Army is present in most original trilogy-era Star Wars material, providing Stormtroopers with armored support (often via walkers), making the Imperial Army Troopers themselves scarce. Considering the sheer importance of the battles shown in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the original trilogy, having Stormtroopers be the most prominent force makes sense. The Imperial garrison on Aldhani is simply guarding a supply depot for the Empire in a relatively remote location, and while it is protected in the air by the Empire’s elite Starfighter Corps, its foot soldiers only need to be basic Army Troopers.
Utilizing Imperial Army Troopers instead of Stormtroopers makes sense in-universe but it also aligns with the overall tone of Andor. The series sets out to show the more ordinary sides of the Empire and the growing Rebel movement, with its first three episodes notably using Corpos (corporate security) in place of true Imperials. While Imperial Army Troopers will likely be the main Imperial foot soldiers encountered by Cassian and his teammates in following episodes of Andor, the series may gradually start incorporating the iconic Stormtroopers into its narrative by the end, showing the progression of both the Rebel and Imperial forces.
Next: Star Wars’ First Stormtroopers After The Clones: How They’re Different From The OT
New episodes of Andor release on Wednesdays on Disney+.