The Elite Praetorian Guard, also known as the Praetorian Guard, was an order of warriors appearing in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The ones seen thus far consisted of eight members of the First Order armed in crimson red armor. They were the royal bodyguards of Supreme Leader Snoke and were fiercely loyal to him.
Little is known of the Praetorians' personalities, other than that they had unwavering loyalty to Snoke, as they tried to avenge him after he was killed by Kylo Ren. Although each member was mute and ruthless in combat, they were also in a constant state of pain from the armor they wore. However, the guards' commitment and duty was so strong that they were willing to go through such sacrifices for Snoke's protection.
All Praetorian guards were garbed in the same armor, which was crimson red. They also wore robes and helmets made of plastoid. Each guard had nine plates of armor covering their arms, and their helmets were individualized and uniquely shaped so that they and their superiors could tell them apart. The Praetorians were comprised of four pairs, with both members of each pair sharing the same helmet and weapon.
- Melee Combat: All the Praetorian guards were able to fight in melee combat. Their armor made them completely immune to blasters due to its make, and their bracers could resist and block lightsabers. Indeed, their fighting style featured a wide assortment of martial arts, including Teräs Käsi, Bakuuni Hand, Ekani, and Nar Kanji "Blind Alley" techniques. Their blows were precise and sweeping, making them particularly deadly, even to Jedi. Their skill was such that they nearly managed to overwhelm the Padawan Rey and the Dark Jedi Kylo Ren respectively; before being killed.
- Melee Weapons: All eight Praetorian guards carried various high-tech melee weapons including single-bladed swords, vibro-axes, doubled-bladed polearms that could split into dagger-like weapons, and electro-chain whips. This allowed them to adjust for any situation. These weapons were also strong enough to be used against lightsabers, making them even deadlier.
- Armor: The armor of the Praetorian guards generates a magnetic field that allowed them to remain unharmed by blaster-fire and resist the blades of lightsabers. Their bracers in particular were most durable against lightsaber blades, and allowed them to hold their own for a time against the combined might of Kylo Ren and Rey. However, in spite of this, a direct stab or slash from a lightsaber could pierce their armor. Another drawback to this armor is that the magnetic field it produces is ultimately painful to the wearer, but the guards were willing to endure this out of loyalty.
Role in the film
The Praetorian guards appear when Kylo Ren is summoned by Supreme Leader Snoke to the throne room, where the First Order's Supreme Leader belittles his apprentice. When Kylo Ren rises to face Snoke, the guards raise their weapons, ready to strike in the event that Kylo should attempt to kill their master. However, Snoke orders them to stand down, and they willingly do so at his command.
The Praetorians are present when Rey is brought before Snoke by Kylo Ren, and witness Kylo's murder of the Supreme Leader. Seeking to avenge Snoke, all eight Praetorians engage Rey and Kylo Ren in a lightsaber duel, nearly overwhelming them. However, after a brief struggle, Rey and Kylo manage to kill all but one of them. The last one is defeated when Rey tosses her lightsaber to Kylo, who is being held in a choke hold by the last guard. Kylo ignites the lightsaber directly through the Praetorian's face, killing him instantly and ending the fight.
- The Praetorian Guards in The Last Jedi were named after the real-life Praetorian Guard whose members served as the personal bodyguards to ancient Roman emperors.
- Snoke's guards were designed to look and act more dangerously and pose an actual threat in combat as opposed to the royal guards that Palpatine had, who looked and acted more ceremonial.
- The Praetorian Guards are the only characters to engage in a lightsaber duel without actually using lightsabers themselves.
- It remains unknown if there are more than eight Praetorian guards in the First Order.