This is the flipside of another question.

When Obi-Wan comes across the unconscious Luke, R2D2 seems afraid.

Fast-forward to 2:15 in this video clip.

R2D2: Beeps when it sees Obi-Wan touching Luke's forehead.

Obi-Wan: Hello there.

R2D2: Beeps in curiosity.

Obi-Wan: Come here my little friend. Don't be afraid.

R2D2: Beeps more confidently.

Unless R2D2 was mind-wiped, it should remember Obi-Wan from 19 years ago. It should recognize his voice and face. It even seemed to know which direction in the desert to go to find Obi-Wan.

Why would it be afraid to come out and greet Obi-Wan immediately?

  • 3
    To be fair, by this point Obi-wan almost looks like a completely different guy! Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 10:55
  • 3
    Because the prequels don't exist Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 20:44

3 Answers 3


Well, initially, Obi-Wan was covered by a hooded cloak, so R2-D2 wouldn’t recognize him (thus making it quite reasonable to be afraid).

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We might assume that as soon as Obi-Wan’s face was visible, R2-D2 would have recognized him. Consider, though, that it has been 19 years since R2-D2 last saw Obi-Wan. It’s fairly plausible that he wouldn’t have recognized him immediately. Droids do have superior computing capabilities, but they aren’t better at everything than humans. It seems plausible that an astromech droid would not necessarily have flawless (or even very good) facial recognition routines. Perhaps it really did take him a few seconds to recognize Obi-Wan, given how much the latter had aged over the course of two decades. Something similar might have explained Obi-Wan possibly not recognizing R2-D2 at first.

It’s also possible that we (and perhaps Obi-Wan) are misinterpreting R2-D2’s emotions, and what might seem to be a Binary squeak of fear might actually be an exclamation of disbelieving excitement ("I can’t believe it’s really you again!").

Regardless, they certainly did recognize each other eventually (despite Obi-Wan being cagey about it):

The R2 unit moved to Ben’s side as if it were his faithful pet—an image that was further reinforced by the old man’s stroking a hand over its domed head.

“It’s good to fly with you again, my old friend,” the old man said, so softly Han wasn’t sure he had heard him right. But it wasn’t Han’s business either way. He knelt down to pile his tools into their box and went back to his work.

The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy

  • 1
    You got a point there. R2D2's first beep might be to alert the hooded character that there's a droid hiding in the cave. If the droid was really afraid, it would not beep at all. And the second beep might be to ask, "Is that really you?"
    – RichS
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 7:47

Obi wan would've recognised him straight away, but I've also read the theory that the way he phrases his responses to R2 kinda tell the droid, 'dont recognise me'. As if Luke realised they knew each other, there'd be all kinds of questions, which would take time they didn't have.

Basically, Ben couldn't be bothered wasting time explaining things. And as he and R2 had such a good rapport, R2 knew what he meant straight away.


It seems to me that R2 recognizes Kenobi but Kenobi speaks in such a cagey way to alert R2 not to reveal anything to the still naïve Luke. Most of what Ben tells Luke in ANH is half-truth and outright lies to keep Luke in the dark until the time is right.

  • 1
    Perhaps, but can you provide anything to back this up?
    – Adamant
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 5:29

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