R2-D2 and C-3PO have been through it all. They were the very first characters to appear on screen in Star Wars, so it’s only fitting that they should make up so many of the franchise’s memorable moments. After that Imperial Star Destroyer swooped over our heads in A New Hope (1977), rendering most of us awestruck and others with a sore neck, we got our first glimpse of the droids, and since then we’ve seen them at the centre of countless adventures.
With C-3PO in his full golden glory and R2-D2 looking like a trash bin with legs, their appearance alone must count for one of the first WTF moments in the franchise. But as we embarked on a sci-fi journey that would change the lives of many forever (and encourage grown men to buy Star Wars bed sheets), plenty more opportunities came for the droid duo to make audiences exclaim ‘WTF!’ Here are the 16 Most WTF Things R2-D2 And C-3PO Have Ever Done.
16. R2-D2 GOT CAUGHT SMOKING
With all the Dark Side, Force choking, and Death Star business going on, younger Star Wars fans are kind of reliant on R2-D2 and C-3PO for some light relief. They’re the friendly faces of the franchise, the sort you’d expect to have a positive influence on children. So imagine everyone’s shock when C-3PO caught R2-D2 having a crafty cigarette round the back of some heavy machinery.
It was, in fact, a public service announcement back in 1983, warning young Star Wars fans about the dangers of smoking. Artoo is seen puffing away, before being lectured by Threepio about the damage it does to the heart and lungs. Obviously they don’t have either, which Artoo brutally points out to his golden companion, but they agree they should be setting a good example for other humans. How exactly the little astromech droid even smokes the cigarette isn’t clear. Maybe he has some sort of suction device built into his retractable claw.
15. THEY SOMEHOW AVOID GETTING SHOT
We all know that Stormtroopers shoot like they’ve got their helmets on backwards, but they really do exceed themselves in that first scene of A New Hope. After blasting through the door of the Tantive IV and opening fire at several incompetent Rebel soldiers, they somehow manage to completely miss the heroic droids, despite them walking right in the line of fire.
Having previously made the wise decision to leg it, Artoo and Threepio then follow it up with a bout of stupidity that could only be rivalled by a certain Gungan who shall remain unnamed. They walk right between the Imperials and Rebels, miraculously evading blaster bolts coming at them from both sides. The saga could have been considerably shorter if just one Stormtooper had taken the initiative to destroy the portable storage device rolling right by in front of them.
14. R2-D2 FIGHTS YODA
In hindsight, the idea of Artoo fighting Master Yoda, one of the most powerful Jedi of all time, is pretty weird. After Luke Skywalker crash lands on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back, looking for some incredibly brief training, he goes in search of the little green alien. It soon becomes clear that the legendary Force-user has gone feral. He rummages through Luke’s belongings, prompting the droid to wrestle a torch out of his hands.
It’s a real low point for Yoda, who’d previously fought the Sith by bouncing off walls and flipping more times than one of those toy dogs. He’d taken on Count Dooku and the Emperor, absorbing their lighting and matching their skills with a lightsaber, but now he was just bashing a tin can with a stick. But in fairness, when 900-years-old you reach, be as agile you won’t. Either that or R2-D2 has another powerful Jedi hiding inside him.
13. R2-D2 DOESN’T RE-INFORM C-3PO
At the end of Revenge of the Sith, Bail Organa has C-3PO’s memory wiped, but doesn’t do the same for R2-D2. This part of the film is no doubt meant to tie up any loose ends, explaining why Artoo remembers Obi-Wan in A New Hope and Threepio is a clueless mess. But why didn’t Artoo just retell him everything? They spend pretty much all of their time together, walking across deserts and floating in escape pods, so they quite easily could have had a quick chat. And, you know, discussed the past 30-odd years they’d spent together.
More importantly, why didn’t he tell Luke or Leia that their father was the Sith Lord going around choking everyone? I’m sure that could have saved at least one hand from being severed and prevented several hours of screaming. Maybe Artoo just one of those sick droids that wants to watch the world burn.
12. ANAKIN IS C-3PO’S FATHER
In a similar vein to Obi-Wan not remembering R2-D2, it seems like an odd decision on George Lucas’s part to have Anakin Skywalker create C-3PO. Sure, it was meant to highlight the young Vader’s skills as a mechanic, but was it really necessary to narrow the universe by connecting these two characters? You also have to wonder why Darth Vader doesn’t recognise Threepio in The Empire Strikes Back (1980); although he is broken into several pieces and sitting on the back of Chewbacca.
However, if you dare to delve beyond the films, the comic book Thank The Maker shows that Vader does in fact remember his old creation. After discovering his shattered remains on Cloud City, Vader suddenly has a flashback to when he was a 9-year-old smuggling his parts back to his house on Tatooine. Basically, Lucas got it all wrong: the “I am your father” line should have been delivered to C-3PO, not Luke.
11. C-3PO IS OVER A CENTURY OLD
Speaking of C-3PO’s parts (that’s not a euphemism), it turns out they were manufactured on the world of Affa, over a century before the Invasion of Naboo. Yes, over a century. It’s a wonder he works at all. In his previous adventures he served as a protocol droid to the chief negotiator of the entire Manakron System. That’s the sort of thing you want to lead with on your CV.
He also claims that his first job was programming binary loadlifters, which are apparently very similar to moisture evaporators. It’s mad to think all of this had taken place before he was broken down into his separate components, reconstructed by a future murderer, served through the Clone Wars and then the Galactic Civil War. He must be one of the oldest droids still in service; and with episodes VIII and IX still to come, he’s still got a way to go. Think of all the iOS updates he must have had.
10. C-3PO GETS NAKED
Considering how old and, let’s face it, unfortunate Threepio is, it comes as no surprise that he’s lost limbs more times than a Mr. Potato Head toy. In each film there’s something different about his appearance as a result of some sort of damage. The most notable examples include his silver leg in the original films and his red arm in The Force Awakens (2015). But one of the weirdest variations of his body is in The Phantom Menace (1999), where he appears completely naked.
Without his iconic gold plating (or any plating at all), Threepio had to let it all hang loose in the first prequel film. With wires protruding and vital components exposed to the elements, the protocol droid must have felt the need to constantly cover up his parts. Considering he spent a lot of his time on Tatooine, he must have had real trouble getting sand out of all those orifices.
9. R2-D2 FLIES
A bit like the Daleks in Doctor Who, stairways originally seemed like too big an obstacle for R2-D2 to overcome. For all his handy gadgets and functions, he could still be foiled by a couple of steps. Well, in one of the many controversial additions to the prequels, Lucas decided to install two mini jets either side of the Artoo unit. And to the horror of many fans watching Attack of the Clones (2002), we saw the dome-headed robot fly for the first time. With his practical effect body left behind, his CGI form cruised around the inside of a Geonosian droid factory, before eventually saving Princess Amidala from melting in a pot of liquid hot metal.
In fairness, it’s an addition that makes a lot of sense, given his general level of tech and the obvious restriction of his reclinable garden chair legs. It does make his buzz saw in Return of the Jedi (1983) look a bit primitive, though.
8. C-3PO BECOMES A SEPARATIST DROID
The prequel pain is strong. Barely given time to recover from Artoo’s flying escapades in Attack of the Clones, we then see C-3PO’s head swap bodies with a droid. In typical fashion, he bumbles along the assembly line of the Geonosian factory, panicking and flailing like a poorly coordinated child on roller-skates. It seems reasonable to question why both robots are compatible for a head transplant. They don’t have the same neck sockets, surely?
But it doesn’t end there. Threepio then gets his very own action scene (of sorts). Once Master Yoda makes his stylish entrance with an entire army of Clone soldiers and Jedi, the Threepio/droid abomination is deployed into combat. “Die Jedi dogs!” he exclaims, because having a different body affects his mind for some reason. Meanwhile, his droid counterpart is having trouble with the stiffness of his legs. Horrendous. It’s down to good old Artoo to reunite his head with his body.
7. R2-D2 OILS SOME DROIDS
By the time we reached Revenge of the Sith (2005), there was almost nothing Artoo could do to surprise audiences. We’d seen him shoot smoke, zap creatures, and co-pilot with a 9-year-old. But he was saving his biggest trick for the final prequel (or what we thought it would be the final prequel). Aboard General Grievous’s ship at the beginning of the film, while Anakin and Obi-Wan attempt to rescue Senator Palpatine, Artoo finds himself in the hands of two B2 Super Battle Droids. Proving that he’s more than capable of handling himself, Artoo covers both of them in his oil and then puts those jets to use once more by setting them on fire.
Aside from taking on a Buzz Droid just moments before this scene, it’s the only time we’ve seen Artoo do significant damage to an enemy. Unless you give half the credit to him for the destruction of the first Death Star, of course.
6. C-3PO HELPED SAVE JABBA THE HUTT’S SON
In the Clone Wars animated TV series, Threepio actually played a pivotal part in re-establishing negotiations between the Republic and the Hutts. He alerted the Coruscant Guard when Padmé Amidala was captured by Jabba’s uncle Ziro, leading to a raid on his palace. As a result, the princess was freed and Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan Ashoka Tano were able to rescue Jabba’s son Rotta, who had been kidnapped by Count Dooku. What an intricate plot.
It’s interesting enough to learn that there’s an entire family of those sweaty space slugs, but it also adds an odd dynamic to C-3PO’s relationship with Jabba – if you can even call it that. You’d think Jabba would be grateful that he helped rescue his son, but by the time they meet again in Return of the Jedi, he makes him his translator slave. It’s almost as if that entire backstory wasn’t even considered when they made the original trilogy…
5. R2-D2 SERVES DRINKS FOR JABBA
Imagine if Artoo had been a slightly less adventurous astrodroid and instead of travelling the galaxy he decided to get a part-time job serving drinks at a cantina. It probably would have looked something like the scene on Jabba’s barge in Return on the Jedi.
Much like C-3PO and a scantily clad Princess Leia, he’s used and abused by the oversized mollusc. For all his capabilities, he’s reduced to being used as a table. Adorned with a fancy-looking golden stand, he rolls around the deck of the barge, serving cups of dark sludge to Jabba’s esteemed guests. But he only remains subdued for so long before he once again springs into action and launches Luke’s new lightsaber into his hand. They really don’t deserve you, Artoo. You should have let Sarlacc swallow them all up and pursued a film franchise of your own.
4. C-3PO BECOMES AN EWOK GOD
Now that we have the prequels as a reference point, some might describe the Ewoks as the Gungans of the original triology. It’s hard to ague with that when you consider they’re forest-dwelling bear monkeys that think anything shiny must be a deity. One glimpse of Threepio’s golden exterior and they all start rhythmically humming like they’ve been possessed.
In their defence, Luke does use the Force to make Threepio float, which would be enough to convince even the most sceptical of tribes. The Ewoks subsequently decide not to barbeque all of the main characters, and to show there’s no hard feelings, Threepio reads them all a bedtime story. If he hadn’t had his memory wiped he could have told them an even longer one, with much needed context, character development, and how everyone in a bear suit should be grateful that CGI wasn’t good enough back in the 80s.
3. R2-D2 APPEARS IN STAR TREK
In addition to being one of the best secret keepers in the business, J.J. Abrams is also a bit of an Easter egg merchant – not the chocolate kind. The director’s love for Star Wars is so strong that he couldn’t even resist paying homage to it in Star Trek. If Trekkies knew that their Sci-Fi rival had in some way infiltrated their beloved franchise, they might not be so thankful for the reboot.
R2-D2 can be seen for less than a second in the wreckage of a space fleet, flying past the screen. You could miss it even if you were looking for him, but it is unmistakably the astromech droid that passes by the Enterprise’s windscreen. Abrams dared to do the exact same thing in Star Trek Into Darkness, too. Artoo can once again be seen as debris, flying out of the ship during an explosive decompression. Anyone would think Abrams really wanted the Star Wars job.
2. C-3PO’s RED ARM
One of the many, but less important, questions raised by The Force Awakens concerned the origins of C-3PO’s red arm. After the First Order’s raid on Maz Kanata’s Castle, the protocol droid appears for the first time in the film with General Organa. He’s in relatively good condition, except for one red arm, which he only mentions in a fleeting one-liner.
The story behind the limb switch is addressed in the one-shot comic Star Wars: C-3PO #1. It describes him crash landing on a planet with a group of Resistance droids, including their captive First Order droid Omri. On a quest to activate a distress beacon for the captured Admiral Ackbar, the bots are systematically pulled to pieces by massive insects. Some of them are sucked into an inky black river.
As the only remaining droids, Threepio and Omri have a profound discussion about the role of a protocol droid, past memories and obeying masters. Omri then sacrifices himself, stepping out into acid rain to activate the distress beacon. His paint is stripped away, revealing his original red coat. Threepio takes it as a memento. I wonder why they didn’t fit all of that into The Force Awakens.
1. R2-D2 USED TO BE THE NARRATOR OF STAR WARS
Believe it or not, the original title for Star Wars was The Journal of the Whills, Part I. It was a handwritten two-page outline for the story that was rewritten beyond the point of recognition until it eventually became the saga we all know and love. George Lucas wanted the story of the films to be told by a narrator who was recording the events, someone wiser than the rest of the characters. That was supposedly R2-D2.
That makes a lot of sense when you consider the way Artoo is portrayed throughout the films. He saves the day on countless occasions, and his partner is made out to be an annoying coward. In fact, everyone except the little astromech droid seems to be flawed in some way. Only an unreliable narrator would paint everyone in such a manner, while pretty much portraying their self as perfect. It’s widely accepted that the Journal of the Whills idea has been abandoned, especially since Artoo hardly features in The Force Awakens. Or maybe the responsibility has now shifted to BB-8.
Are there any more WTF things you can think of that R2-D2 and C-3PO have done? Will we see them in Rogue One? Have your say in the comments.