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Maybe AT-ATs Aren't as Dumb as They Look

AT-ATs in The Empire Strikes Back.
AT-ATs in The Empire Strikes Back.
Image: Lucasfilm

AT-ATs, one of the most visually iconic markers of the Empire’s military reign, have one serious problem: their big dumb stupid fragile legs. You know, the ones that can be stopped with the application of a particularly taut rope. But maybe they’re not as big of a problem as they appear?


EC Henry is a YouTuber I’m fond of who specializes in thinking through the technology and vehicles of fiction like Star Wars from a more realist perspective, looking for and, when necessary, building internal consistency and explaining why the rules of this universe might be the way that they are. And he argues that, in the particular military environment of the Star Wars universe, AT-ATs are a good bet—maybe even better than the much more useful-seeming tanks used by the Clones during the Prequel Era.

According to Henry, the long legs work perfectly in most scenarios that the Empire would need to employ something like the AT-AT walker in the first place. Also, the likelihood of the Rebel’s trick with tow cables is pretty minimal. Honestly, they barely get it to work in the first place.


I dig analysis like this, simply as a fun thought experiment. I know that fiction is fiction, and that these worlds aren’t necessarily designed to hold together in a persuasive way. But it’s nice to pretend, especially when you have ideas as fun and interesting as this.

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io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.

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Idk, why even have ground vehicles when a big ship can not only do a good job from space but could fly down to the surface as well. I’m a Marine with combat experience, slow with a huge profile is not a great idea.