Why Can’t Stormtroopers Hit Anything?

One of the most ancient Star Wars jokes may have sinister motives beneath it.

One of the oldest jokes in the “Star Wars” fandom is the Stormtroopers’ inability to hit anything with their blasters. Fans of the series on imgur.com have decided that there’s actually a sinister note to their shoddy marksmanship.

In “A New Hope,” the movie opens with a group of armed rebels protecting Princess Leia’s diplomatic ship from a squadron of Imperial Stormtroopers. Predictably, these untrained rebels are no match for a trained army unit. This defeat leads to the death of many rebels, Princess Leia’s capture by Darth Vader, and R2-D2 and C-3P0 escaping in a pod to the planet of Tatooine below. Later in the movie, Obi-Wan Kenobi, a highly trained Jedi Master and respected Clone Wars general, speaks highly of the Stormtroopers in reference to blast patterns saying, “only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise.”

The next encounter the heroes have with the Stormtroopers is in Mos Eisley, where they make an attempt to stop Luke and Obi-Wan from fleeing the city. Han Solo is the only person outside the ship at the time. He manages to escape the Stormtroopers–a feat not surprising for a highly skilled smuggler who already has a notorious reputation.

Once the heroes are aboard the Death Star, the marksmanship and competence of the Stormtroopers decreases dramatically. Suddenly, they can’t hit Luke, Han, and Chewbacca. They also suddenly seem unable to solve basic problems, leaving fans wondering why they didn’t just shoot the heroes in the foot below the closing doors. The rebel heroes manage to escape the Death Star, but Princess Leia suspects they’re being tracked, saying, “They let us go. It’s the only explanation for the ease of our escape.”

Later, General Moff Tarkin confirms the suspicion, having said, “You’re sure the homing beacon is secure aboard their ship?”

This series of events has lead fans to the fact that every bit of Imperial incompetence was planned: every missed shot, every death at the hands of the rebels was all part of a much larger plot.

As it turns out, feigned ignorance is a popular Imperial tactic. Through the “Star Wars” trilogy, Imperial Stormtroopers seem to have no trouble massacring the rebels. However, not when they have been ordered to keep high value targets like Luke Skywalker alive, because there is a higher goal in mind: a goal like his father recruiting Luke to join the glory of the Empire.

The only exception to this rule is the Battle for Endor. Stormtroopers initially overwhelm the rebels but are eventually defeated by a counterattack by a large swarm of Ewoks. While some fans scoff at highly trained Imperial troops being defeated by “teddy bears,” others remind them that the Ewos had no difficulty overwhelming and capturing the rebels, capturing Han and Luke easily.

“I don’t think it’s true,” sophomore Ashutosh Atre said. “There are parts of the movie [where] Stormtroopers act really stupid.”

Whether Imperial incompetence is fully planned in an attempt to seduce Luke to the Dark Side or just a severe drop in intelligence, fans may never know for sure.