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If you had to pick pop culture's most useless henchmen, Stormtroopers would have to make the shortlist. Their incompetent boobery has defined the "mindless squad of goons" trope for generations. With a few exceptions, the Stormtroopers are mostly ineffective clowns who rarely hit anything before being downed with one piddly blaster shot. 

Why even wear Stormtrooper armor, anyway? It looks like they covered a whole body in that flimsy plastic they use to make cheap Halloween masks for grade schoolers. Well, according to a convincing fan theory from a Reddit user aptly named stormtrooper1701, the armor worn by the Empire's soldiers is made of some of the sturdiest stuff in the galaxy

It all has to do with what's usually aimed at Stormtroopers: Blasters. These laser-firing space weapons are pretty much everywhere in the Star Wars universe, and as YouTuber Firmus Piett has pointed out, even the smallest of them packs a serious punch. Check out what Han's pistol-sized blaster does to the building at the Mos Eisley port. 

That's solid concrete being blown to bits by a few errant rounds. We have to assume that these lasers are way more powerful than your average bullet. Every time a blaster shot hits its mark, a tiny bomb goes off. 

This is true throughout the series, too. The high-class corridors of Cloud City are undoubtedly made from sterner stuff than a backwater spaceport like Mos Eisley, but blaster fire still makes a pretty huge mark. 

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You know that Cloud City's designers made sure that their floating city was made of strong material, but that didn't stop laser rifles from creating smoldering craters in the walls. 

Heck, if you go by the canonical Clone Wars cartoon, all it takes is a few well-placed blaster shots to cause a cave-in. 

Even droids can't withstand hits from a typical Star Wars laser. Time and time again, we've seen these metal bots fly to pieces at the first shot. 

In the beginning of A New Hope, we see Leia hit with a weapon that one trooper says is "set for stun
 -- so we know at least some of these blasters have variable settings. But apparently if you crank up the juice enough, you can score kills without even hitting your target. We see this happen in both ANH and The Force Awakens. 

So splash damage from a blaster alone is enough to take someone out. Really, it seems like the only reason we don't see more limbs blowing off is that some guns are set to "maim" instead of "dismember" or "instagib." That, and it's tougher for Lucasfilm to sell toys from an R-rated gorefest. 

But think back to all the Stormtroopers you've seen get nailed with blaster fire. It usually looks something like this, doesn't it?

Han just shot that Stormtrooper, point blank, with the exact same gun that demolished the side of a building earlier in the movie. The shot doesn't even go through the body, instead stopping and sizzling while the poor sap inside leaps back about three inches. 

Maybe the Empire doesn't give their forces the best training, but they sure as hell made sure every single Stormtrooper was outfitted with state-of-the-art armor. Blasters might be able to destroy walls, collapse ceilings and all but disintegrate droids, but the worst it does to Stormtrooper armor is leave a scorch mark

Really, if the Empire is capable of equipping thousands (millions?) of its lowliest grunts with such strong protection, it's a wonder that they didn't seem to bother doing so with their ships. Why not make a Star Destroyer using this technique? Or the next Death Star? At the very least, they could use this wonder material to build a damn grate for the exhaust ports. 


Tristan Cooper can be found on Twitter.