I know this is a potentially silly question but thinking about how both can fly in the newer versions of their respective franchises (and this animation from the official Doctor Who tumblr), I just have to ask:

Was the R2 design inspired by Daleks?

  • 2
    R2 units are nothing compared to Daleks. Believe me, a single Dalek can take down The Galactic Empire...
    – user931
    Jul 2, 2014 at 0:05
  • 4
    I'd say inspired by a garbage can instead.
    – Oldcat
    Jan 17, 2015 at 0:06
  • 1
    @SachinShekhar - all but the Senate House on Couruscant...where there are several flights of stairs!
    – Oldcat
    Jan 17, 2015 at 0:06
  • @Oldcat See Hypnosofil’s answer below—turns out you hit the nail exactly on the head here! Mar 8, 2016 at 3:00
  • We would destroy the Galactic Empire with one Da-lek!
    – Adamant
    Mar 8, 2016 at 8:01

3 Answers 3


There is an interesting resemblance, now that you point it out, but at least according to the Wikipedia article:

George Lucas’s creation of R2-D2 was influenced by Akira Kurosawa’s 1958 feature film The Hidden Fortress (USA release 1962), particularly Tahei and Matakishi, the two comic relief characters that serve as sidekicks to General Makabe. Lucas also drew inspiration from the robots Huey, Dewey, and Louie from Douglas Trumbull’s 1972 film Silent Running.

it seems the character of R2-D2 to be influenced, like many themes in Star Wars, from eastern (Asian) works.

However, the appearance of both droids was not Lucas’s work. He hired the illustrator Ralph McQuarrie, to do the job. From his professional life, there doesn’t seem to be any connection to the BBC, but he could still have been a fan of the show or at least have picked up the picture of a Dalek via some detours. It could be possible for him to have been inspired by the Daleks which appeared first in 1963, while as we know, A New Hope was first shown in theatres in 1977, 14 years later (even if we account for pre-production and planning, and also for the Daleks to reach popularity, there is still enough time).

Still, the interviews I checked coming from {Wookiee|Wiki}pedia didn’t even hint on Doctor Who or any Dalek influence whatsoever. So, since Ralph died last month, my personal conclusion would be if he was inspired by the Daleks he appears to have taken it to his grave (so, we will never know). Unless I missed the relevant interview (which is quite possible).


Ralph McQuarrie has stated in interviews that since the droids in Silent Running were square and boxy, he decided to go the opposite route with R2 and use round shapes.

  • 2
    Cool. Could you link that interview? I'd like to read it.
    – bitmask
    Jul 3, 2012 at 1:59

On p. 37 of The Making of Star Wars, R2-D2 designer Ralph McQuarrie is quoted on his inspiration, with another quote from Lucas:

"The first one I did was Artoo-Detoo and See-Threepio walking across the sand. George had a picture of the little robot from Silent Running [1971]," McQuarrie says. "They were like square boxes with legs. So I thought, Well, if they're square, I'll make mine round, which was like a garbage can with a dome on top. Instead of two legs, I gave Artoo three legs, figuring he'd throw himself forward like a person on crutches. That would be the way he would walk. I picked up some landscape from a photograph [of the Oregon coast] because I liked the cliff, and I just put the sand dunes in."

"I showed Ralph the Metropolis robot and the Silent Running robot, and I said I want something like this," Lucas adds. "And we're still putzing with it. I knew I wanted one via Metropolis; it's in the script, I wrote it that way. I wanted one to be a stubby little robot and I wanted one to be a kind of human robot. One is a public relations guy and one is just a standard robot robot."

This article shows the original drawing that McQuarrie seems to be referring to above:

enter image description here

And here's an image of one of the boxy Silent Running robots:

enter image description here

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