In The Force Awakens


is in hibernation mode until

Rey arrives at the base where R2D2 and the resistance are.

He seems to only activate when

Rey arrives.

Is this because he can sense people/beings who use the force? Or was it just really convenient timing?

  • 4
    I don't see any reason why you couldn't say "Is R2-D2 sensitive to force users?" in the question title - I can't see how that could be any kind of spoiler for anything. Dec 25, 2015 at 10:37
  • Related, possibly dupe? scifi.stackexchange.com/q/110887/3567
    – alexwlchan
    Dec 25, 2015 at 12:43
  • @alexwlchan - yes, dupe Dec 25, 2015 at 13:47
  • 2
    Well he's asking about whether droids can detect the force, which doesn't seem like the same question to me at all. It just happens to be that they are speaking about the same event in the film. Dec 25, 2015 at 14:50

2 Answers 2


Wookieepedia page on droids says that droids were not able to sense the Force (they quote children book What is a Wookiee? on that).

As for R2-D2 and this particular scene. According to novelization, R2-D2 activation was prompted not as much by presence of Rey, as it was by people around saying that they have part of map to his old master and Empire had the rest:

“Kylo Ren said that the segment held by Beebee-Ate is the last piece of the map that shows the way to Skywalker’s location. So, where’s the rest of it?”

“The First Order has it.” Rey looked over at him. “They extracted it from the Imperial archives.” (…)

So intent were they on the current conversation and its possible ramifications that no one noticed that a light had come on atop a small R2 unit shoved back among the rest of the equipment in the room. Nor did they see that its hemispherical head had turned to look in their direction. (…)

“What’s he saying?” she asked.

The protocol droid explained. “If the information you are seeking was in the Imperial archives, he believes he may have cataloged that data. He’s scanning through it now.”

In Star Wars universe, droids were capable of some sort of emotions (see Wookieepedia page linked above). Below is my interpretation of what happened.

In the same scene in novelization, C-3PO says "Artoo! What—what is it? I haven’t seen you this functional since—". We never learn when R2-D2 went dormant, but we can guess that being left by Luke had huge impact on him. He probably went into some kind of stand-by mode where he could still perceive the outside world, but did not interact with it actively. Only when he "heard" that people outside are somewhat close to finding location of his master, he decided to act.

  • 1
    "droids were not able to sense the Force" - you are forgetting Skippy the Jedi Droid Dec 25, 2015 at 13:45
  • @DVK Skippy is no longer a canon character. Maybe it's for the better, as his "lubricants were rife with midi-chloroxians" (not sure if typo or deliberate choice of words). Dec 25, 2015 at 14:04
  • @MirosławZalewski There is even a Wookieepedia page about it: starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Midi-chloroxian
    – Mr Lister
    Dec 25, 2015 at 14:34
  • @MirosławZalewski - canon-shmanon :) Dec 25, 2015 at 14:58
  • @DVK Skippy the Jedi Droid, to me, is just a fun side-story that dances around an explanation for that R5/R2 sale scene in IV. The way it looked to me is that R2 settled down, closed his “eyes” and concentrated, and a moment later R5's motivator blew. Dec 29, 2015 at 4:51

Well this is what I found in an article from entertainment weekly

“BB-8 comes up and says something to him, which is basically, ‘I’ve got this piece of a map, do you happen to have the rest?’” Abrams said. “The idea was, R2 who has been all over the galaxy, is still in his coma, but he hears this. And it triggers something that would ultimately wake him up.”

It's not that satisfying of an answer but that's what abrams said in a post screening of the film. I sort of thought it was a cheap way to fill in a little more of the plot but I guess it makes sense

“While it may seem, you know, completely lucky and an easy way out, at that point in the movie, when you’ve lost a person, desperately, and somebody you hopefully care about is unconscious, you want someone to return.”

Here is the link to the article. http://www.ew.com/article/2015/12/20/jj-abrams-answers-burning-question-about-r2-d2-star-wars-force-awakens

  • 1
    While this addresses the question of whether or not R2 woke up due to Rey, it doesn't answer the broader root question of whether or not droids can detect force ability.
    – phantom42
    Dec 25, 2015 at 13:58
  • 1
    @phantom42 the original question was "Is this character sensitive to force users?" and asked specifically about R2-D2. PotatoNinja answer was posted 4 minutes (!) before question was edited and made broader. It now looks like this answer is not entirely on topic, but it was when it was posted. Unfortunately, SE does not inform about edits made to questions and people are not prompted to review their answers. Dec 25, 2015 at 18:11
  • Even before the edit, this answer didn't address the question properly. To say that he woke up for one a different reason is not the same as saying R2 doesn't have the capability.
    – phantom42
    Dec 25, 2015 at 21:44
  • To be honest I just thought he was just asking about what woke him up and didn't really take the full question into consideration. My mistake Dec 26, 2015 at 14:38

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