Ranking the delightfully sassy droids in ‘Star Wars’
While Star Wars undoubtedly centers around Jedi and daddy issues, no film in the franchise is complete without its droids. While we've never been treated to a Westworld-like turn, with robots analyzing their own sentience, they're by no means deprived of personality. Most of them carry an ineffable, uncontrollable sassiness — some of which is exuded through beeps and boops instead of actual dialogue.
The latest Star Wars film, Rogue One, is no exception. Though the film has some detractors, it's hard to deny that Rogue One nailed its sardonic Imperial droid, K-2SO, who voice actor Alan Tudyk has seen described as the "anti-C-3PO." Then, bless the Force, came the rush of parody K-2SO Twitter accounts.
But is K-2SO the best Star Wars droid? There's no shortage of sassy robots in the franchise, eight of which we're ranking on metrics of, well, mostly their sass. Here's how they stack up, from worst to best.
This R-unit tagged around with Obi-Wan Kenobi in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, but he pales in comparison to his cheeky counterpart, R2-D2. Granted, we have no clue what R4 was ever saying; he didn't have a protocol droid to provide context for his beeps. And now we'll never now.
Shortly into Revenge of the Sith, R4 is robot-murdered when Kenobi's fighter is attacked by buzz droids. Farewell, R4, we hardly knew ye and your beep boops.
The name may be unfamiliar, but EV-9D9 was the overseer of Jabba the Hutt's droid operation in Return of the Jedi, which was essentially a robot torture chamber. Because Jabba was always destroying his droids (no information on his skin texture, sorry Diego Luna), EV-9D9 was always in need of new recruits.
What's most impressive about the character's short run, however, was how quickly it rebuffed R2-D2's sass. Talk back? You'll be turned into a drinking tray on Jabba's barge.
The little mouse droid (MSE-6) in A New Hope
The brave little toaster of the Star Wars universe, the MSE-6 repair droid makes the smallest of cameos in A New Hope, but it's a fun one. As Luke and Han disguise themselves as Stormtroopers, with Chewbacca as their prisoner, the little guy makes his way to them.
Chewbecca lets out a roar, and the droid hightailed it out of there in a flash. It's not unlike my cat, Puma, when he hears the vacuum cleaner start in the living room.
B1 Battle Droids
There's a lot to dislike about Star Wars' prequel trilogy, and at first, the Trade Federation's droid army was ineffective and boring. In The Phantom Menace, they're pegged as potentially threatening; the thought of Gungans going to battle with them was seen as a daunting task. They were devoid of personality.
But by the time Revenge of the Sith rolled around, the battle droids were suddenly, funny? One sarcastically says "You're welcome" to General Grievous when he snatches a lightsaber from his hand, others try to arrest Anakin and Obi-Wan in an elevator and miserably fail. In the Clone Wars animated series, there's constant banter between themselves and Grievous, and it's admittedly entertaining slapstick humor, in small doses. We wish we saw this side of the battle droids in the prequels — not that it would've helped them much.
Basically R2-D2 in the shape of a soccer ball, it's hard not to be moved by BB-8's devotion to Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens, and the sadness that consumed him when he thought his owner was killed. He's also just really, really cute and exudes a playful personality.
What's especially neat about BB-8 is the fact that he's, technically ... real. He isn't a CGI character, BB-8 is an actual rolling, quasi-soccer shaped piece of machinery. It's one thing to have Star Wars characters come to life, but the fact that J.J. Abrams went to the lengths he did is very impressive.
Best BB-8 moment? Probably giving Finn the thumbs up — with a lighter.
So here's where things get controversial, ranking between two longtime favorites in R2-D2 and C-3PO, against cynical, DGAF Rogue One newcomer K-2SO. R2 is sitting in third, however, because some of his best moments are the result of C-3PO's incredulous reactions. Basically, Threepio and his humor can stand well enough on its own; but R2 can't speak, which limits him mostly to slapstick, physical humor. Without Threepio's commentary, how funny would that be?
Of course, honorable mention must be given to R2's sadistic nature, which has been evident throughout the franchise. Take Revenge of the Sith, when he stabs a super battle droid in the face; oil spills across the floor, then he sets the droid and his counterpart on fire. One of the galaxy's most established rules: Don't mess with R2-D2.
Surely some reactions to K-2SO landing second will label me a prisoner of the moment — a sad, lonely writer who thinks he knows a lot about Star Wars, but doesn't; who wasted away a good chunk of his day on a meaningless article because he has nothing better to do.
Much of this is correct, but K-2SO's sardonic humor is not only entertaining, it's quite unique and ought to stand the test of time. No other droid in Star Wars has such a chipper and cavalier attitude about murder, the result of him being an Imperial droid before Cassian Andor reprogrammed him. He kills his fair share of Stormtroopers in Rogue One — arguably more than a lot of human characters — many of which when he casually threw a grenade behind his back. He reminds the group they could die in the cold vacuum of space; all except him, because he's a droid.
His dark, dry humor is a perfect match for Rogue One's gloomy tone. We'll miss him dearly.
He may be occasionally annoying (Han Solo can always shut him off if it gets to be too much), but Threepio is a fundamental part of the Star Wars universe. He utters the first line of dialogue in A New Hope — with some very on-brand pessimism. He's probably the character who would most not want to be in Star Wars, he's perfectly content as a shiny robo-butler practicing the millions of languages he's been programmed to speak. That makes it all the more endearing when he's thrown into the worst possible scenarios, especially in the trilogies. At least he was idolized as a golden god by a group of tiny bears.
He's great comic relief, whose humor works for kids and adults alike. Star Wars wouldn't be the same without C-3PO and his human-cyborg relations.