We all know the opening scenes of Star Wars Episode IV, where the Rebel ship is captured, and Princess Leia places the Death Star plans into R2-D2's memory banks. R2-D2 and C-3PO then escape the ship and the rest, as they say is history.

Now this question asks why she put the plans into a droid, but not why she chose this particular droid. She was not aware that it belonged to her (genetic) father, nor was there any indication that R2-D2 was different to any other astromech droid. At the end of Episode III they wiped C-3PO's memory, but it seems that R2-D2 was of no account and didn't need to have his memory wiped also. There is no mention, at least in the movies, that she had any special relationship with R2-D2.

So, my question is: Out of all the droids she could have chosen, why did Princess Leia choose R2-D2 to carry the Death Star plans?

  • 5
    It was the first one she saw after thinking "must hide plans!" lol
    – RedCaio
    Jan 28, 2016 at 10:55
  • @RedCaio That was my first thought, but that just seems too easy :)
    – Jane S
    Jan 28, 2016 at 11:02
  • 6
    something something about the force guiding her and destiny
    – phantom42
    Jan 28, 2016 at 12:08
  • 3
    I've always thought the reason R2 doesn't have his memory wiped was because the droids are the ones "telling the story" so to speak, so at least one of them has to remember what has happened (from a story point of view, rather than in universe logic). C3PO had to have his memory wiped (in universe) because he is a blabber mouth and (out of universe) clearly didn't know anything by episode 4. It isn't such a big continuity hole to assume R2 knows everything, but doesn't tell because he is obeying orders, or can't figure out the big picture till later....
    – zod
    Jan 28, 2016 at 14:15
  • Side question: why does someone as rich as Bail still have an already aging astromech five years after the fall of the senate. I know the Star Wars universe is depicted as stagnating, but there were no new models in decades?
    – joshbirk
    Jan 28, 2016 at 18:25

4 Answers 4


According to the film's new canon junior novelisation, Leia's plan seems to have been to give the data card to any droid that she came across, order them to leave the ship in an escape pod and hopefully recover them once she was free of Vader.

When R2-D2, a robot with advanced intelligence, a holographic recording capability and, crucially, the ability to pilot an escape pod to Obi-Wan's last known location happened to come along, that gave her the opportunity to modify her plan.

She ran harder, ducking through shadows and bursts of warm steam. Her hand tightened around the data card as she made a sharp turn. Then something silver caught her eye.

A droid. An astromech droid, even. Thank the stars. Her plan actually had a chance of working.

The droid looked like an R2 unit. Its squat cylindrical body was topped with a dome-shaped head and panels of rich blue. A single indicator glowed red, then blue as the droid rolled by.

  • I like this answer that describes the actual sequence of events. You have my acceptance :)
    – Jane S
    Jan 29, 2016 at 4:32
  • 1
    @janes - Cheers. As an aside, I'd recommend the new junior novel series to young and old. They're good fun and very very well written.
    – Valorum
    Jan 29, 2016 at 7:17
  • 1
    I find it interesting that Bail Organa didn't let her hang around these two droids enough to recognise them. It's not like he didn't know they belonged to her birth parents (even if he didn't know R2 was already property of Padme since Ep I). It seemed the familial connection is lost on him? Even so, he kept them around as personal aides to his rebel efforts, but didn't introduce them by name to her when she entered the business? Jan 29, 2016 at 12:25
  • @Richard Thanks, I'll have to take a look! :)
    – Jane S
    Jan 29, 2016 at 23:19
  • "A single indicator glowed red, then blue as the droid rolled by." She was able to see a doppler shift at the speed of R2D2?
    – FreeMan
    Feb 19, 2020 at 21:32

Because R2-D2 has been in the service of the Organas for years

From the Wookieepedia, remember that R2 and C-3PO were given to Bail after Padmé's death:

Following Padmé's death, R2 and 3PO passed into the service of Bail Organa of the Royal House of Alderaan, Alderaan's Senator and a good friend of the late Amidala. While C-3PO underwent a memory wipe, R2-D2 was allowed to preserve his memories.

During the rise of the Empire, C-3PO and R2-D2 continue their whimsical ways and end up getting caught up in hijinks involving pirates and such, but eventually are returned to Bail. At this point Bail has known the droids through much of the Clone Wars via Padmé, and has had them in his possession for about five years. So it's probably no accident that they're part of Leia's personal entourage on the Tantive IV.

In fact, there's no evidence that Leia had any other droids in her personal possession on the Tantive IV. So given that she has two droids she trusts only one of them can hold and transmit data like R2-D2, it leaves him as really the only logical choice.

  • 2
    According to the (canon) novelisation she doesn't know him from AD-4M
    – Valorum
    Jan 28, 2016 at 18:19
  • 1
    While I don't really doubt that, it doesn't make much sense now in context with the added history of the Clone Wars and Age of Empire. When the novel was written, it's unlikely they thought R2-D2 was going to be an era spanning character.
    – joshbirk
    Jan 28, 2016 at 18:23
  • 1
    my apologies, I meant the brand new novelisation
    – Valorum
    Jan 28, 2016 at 18:25
  • We also see in the Season 1 Episode of Rebels "Droids in Distress" that R2 is tasked with finding out info on the rebel cell for Bail.
    – NKCampbell
    Jan 28, 2016 at 20:19

Artoo claimed to be the property of Obi-Wan.

C-3PO: "He says that he is the property of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a resident of these parts and it's a private message for him. Quite frankly, sir, I don't know what he's talking about. Our last master was Captain Antilles. But with all we've been through, this little R2 unit has become a bit eccentric." (Episode IV: A New Hope)

Bail Organa probably kept him around for this reason. Leia would have also been familiar with this, thus why she used Artoo. She was looking for Obi-Wan and could rely on Artoo to identify him.

  • I'm pretty sure Leia would have thought R2 was the property of Captain Antilles, just as C-3PO did.
    – DCShannon
    Apr 25, 2017 at 23:46

Note this is just speculation and after-the-fact rationalisation as the out-of-universe answer for the question is pretty clear: at the time of writing that scene all those considerations simply didn't exist and the inclusion of the droids in later movies was to answer merchandising interests.

From an in-universe kind of view, I've always assumed there's an element of "fate" in the Star Wars universe which is not really fate but the Force (or the midichlorians) in action. Thus when Leia chooses to use that particular droid it is not a coincidence, it is not lack of free will either, it is the way of the Force setting things up in a way such that things happen.

In the same way it is not a coincidence that Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon happen to land on Tatooine and find Anakin... It is still the Force. It's a concept similar to the one you can find in a set of books (and other places) called the Death Gate Cycle where there's a "wave", the Force in this case,which is constantly changing and looking for balance. This triggers all the different elements and, while each individual person still has free will, for every action the Force will act to balance itself... The more unbalanced it is the bigger repercussions and changes will be needed (i.e. creating a special being that wipes out the Jedi order)...

Just my personal view about odds in Star Wars... it is not chance, it is the Force.

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