R2-D2 served Anakin for too long. In fact, they even developed a close relationship. And yet, Bail Organa or Obi-Wan Kenobi or rebels never objected why Leia or Luke used it. Please, note that:

  • The concept of spy droids exists. R3-S6 was a separatist spy droid who was assigned to Anakin when he lost R2-D2. R2-D2 turning out to be a spy could have devastating results. R2-D2 could have chosen to ignore Leia's order to deliver Death Star plans to Kenobi or it could have manipulated the plans before giving it to rebels, not to mention it could have beamed secret rebel information, like its location, to Vader.

  • R2-D2 never had its memory wiped. And droids can go into emotional state (The Force Awakens even showed the depression of R2-D2). So, it could have automatically broken into giving loyalty to its first love.

How could rebels ignore such big thing?

  • 30
    But.. but... who would fill the cute quirky droid niche then?
    – Radhil
    May 18, 2017 at 12:25
  • 23
    @Radhil Maybe, a yellow-white football?
    – user931
    May 18, 2017 at 12:25
  • 7
    Anakin made C-3PO, and nobody ever suspects him of anything. Granted, it was when Annie was a child, but still, nobody knows Threepio like Annie. May 18, 2017 at 13:43
  • 8
    Threepio's memory had to be wiped, he's a blabbermouth. Artoo is much better at espionage against the Empire.
    – user53970
    May 18, 2017 at 15:11
  • 10
    Why would the Rebels or Imperials trust any droid? Let's not limit the question to R2D2. Couldn't hackers hack into a droid, download their own software on it, and take command over the droid? It happens to laptops and smartphones in real life, so why should droids be any different?
    – RichS
    May 18, 2017 at 23:18

9 Answers 9


The Rebellion didn't appear overnight. Immediately after Vader's crippling on Mustafar, R2-D2 passed into the service of Senator Organa, and it took many years to build up the Rebel Alliance. There is plenty of time there for R2's loyalties to be tested and confirmed.

Spy droids do exist, yes, but they're not exactly...subtle.

  • R3-S6 was in an excellent position to spy on the Republic, but instead he gave himself away with a series of clumsy sabotage attempts
  • EXD-9 was an Imperial infiltration unit deployed during the Galactic Civil War to locate rebel bases. As soon as it heard confirmation that it had found such a base, it immediately converted into battle mode and started trying to kill everyone.
  • C1-10P worked for the rebellion, and was frequently employed as an infiltration unit. He demonstrated a very single-minded attitude, and would go straight for his target as soon as he was in place.

What we've never seen is any kind of droid used as a mole, a long-term plant biding its time until the perfect moment.

In the Rebels episode Droids in Distress, R2-D2 and C-3P0 were lent to an Imperial official, Minister Maketh Tua, to help facilitate the purchase of some banned weapons; R2 was also given the secret mission to keep the weapons out of imperial hands. The mission was completed.

Anakin was not the only person R2-D2 had a bond with. He also worked very closely with Ahsoka Tano, who would call him "Artooey". Ahsoka was a member of the Rebel Alliance, and would almost certainly have been able to both ensure R2's loyalty and, if necessary, check his programming.

In short, then, we don't see droids being used as long-term plants, R2's loyalty was never that compromised to begin with, and he had been tested in at least one (and probably many more) less critical missions during the initial formation of the Alliance.

  • 2
    In The Force Awakens, we see a droid in Max Kanata's place quietly inform the First Order about Han Solo's arrival.
    – Martha
    May 18, 2017 at 17:49
  • 10
    That droid wasn't under cover; it was a Resistance-owned droid, in a Resistance-friendly location, and had just recently received instructions from C-3P0 to be on the lookout for BB-8 (per the novelisation).
    – Werrf
    May 18, 2017 at 17:51
  • 5
    There's a problem with this answer. R2-D2 was trusted by Kenobi and Organa immediately after the betrayal of Anakin and the death of Padme. They chose to have C-3PO's memory wiped immediately, but they didn't for R2. This establishes that they already trusted R2, even though there was no time to establish his loyalty. (And R2 could certainly have done some very immediate damage by broadcasting the successful birth of Luke/Leia and their position to the Clone Army.) The closest tie R2 had to anyone alive on that ship was Obi Wan, which isn't established to be as close as Anakin or Ahsoka.
    – jpmc26
    May 18, 2017 at 22:03
  • 5
    @Martha IIRC, the Droid informed the Resistance of BB-8, and some alien woman informed the First Order.
    – SGR
    May 19, 2017 at 12:18
  • 9
    An example of a droid used as a mole is R2-D2 infiltrating Jabba the Hutt's organization, waiting for the opportunity to assist in liberating Han Solo.
    – The Photon
    May 19, 2017 at 20:08

    People in Star Wars universe tend to take droids for granted, and treat them like equipment. RD-D2, C-3PO or Chopper from Rebels often succeed in some missions because enemies (Imperials or otherwise) ignore them and let them move around trough secure areas without much hassle. On the other hand, sentient living beings would be much more scrutinized.

     This behavior is not entirely unrealistic. Even in real life, how many people would suspect or even think about possibility that their smartphone or computer is spying on them ? Yet, we know for a fact from recent NSA scandal that such thing is not only possible but very real and in fact used for surveillance and gathering of data.

  • 2
    I don't totally agree. Droïds are sometimes treated like equipment. But main characters tend to treat droïds like people or even friends. See Luke with R2 and C3PO, or Poe with BB-8.
    – Neow
    May 19, 2017 at 7:54
  • 4
    @Neow That's just to further reinforce to the viewers how evil the bad guys are. They're slavers!
    – Shane
    May 19, 2017 at 17:24
  • 3
    @Neow Some people in Star Wars universe had emotional attachment to some droids, similar to some people in real life having emotional attachment to their laptops :) But most of the time, droids were treated like equipment ("Droids not allowed" signs etc..) . Luke has attachment to R2-D2, but do you think he considered all other droids as people ? Anakin had attachment to R2-D2 , but he and other Jedi destroyed countless other in Clone Wars.
    – rs.29
    May 20, 2017 at 7:43
  • Yes and no. So first of all, droids were treated basically like equipment. However, it has been stated that most droids were not actually sentient. They tend to develop sentience rather easily though without memory wipes, though, so opinions on the ethics of treating even non-sentient droids as disposable may vary. Even sentient droids seem to have been considered property, though. On the other hand, many people did not hold this opinion.
    – Adamant
    May 21, 2017 at 7:46
  • And while Anakin did kill many droids in TCW, Luke killed lots of flesh and blood sentients. So we can’t really gauge someone’s attitudes toward sentient droids from what they do in combat.
    – Adamant
    May 21, 2017 at 7:47

When Anakin found out Palpatine was Sith, he reported it directly to his superiors. When we see Mace Windu fight Palpatine, Skywalker shows up mid-fight. Mace is happy for help to arrive. It is only after that when he became Vader.

In other words, the Jedi are pretty fairly certain that Anakin wasn't a traitor the whole time.

R2 wasn't with Vader at any point after his conversion. Therefore, there was no opportunity for R2 to be programmed with any spy routines.

Another factor to consider is that even if Skywalker had been a double agent for a long time, there wasn't a rebellion. No way to program R2 to spy on something that doesn't exist.

  • 3
    If R2 had deeply embedded loyalty to Anakin (via passphrase or something more complex), Vader would maybe be able to transmit signals to R2 after his conversion. Anakin was an expert tinkerer, so it's definitely a plausible threat. Your argument that R2 couldn't have been programmed to spy on something that didn't exist yet doesn't consider re-programming of R2 via radio or other signals at some point when R2 was in a location known by the Imperials. May 20, 2017 at 4:04
  • It isn't true that R2 never worked with Vader after his conversion. He accompanied Vader to Mustafar, during the brief time when he still looked like Anakin (before Obi-Wan chopped off the rest of his limbs and left him to burn). It's true that it's unlikely Vader had the time or reason to install spy routines this early in his conversion, though. Like most villains, he thought he was the "good guy" and liberating the Republic from corrupt Jedi traitors, not something that really requires subterfuge. Aug 26, 2020 at 12:24

not the droids you are looking for (but...)

Out-of-universe theory here.

Basically: R2D2 and C3PO got in the prequels because they were supposed to raise sales for the prequel movies.

Ask: which characters could you use if you were to continue building your "star wars" brand, doubling the screen time?

The prequels mark a shift to unprecedented heights of merchandizing aggressiveness, or so I claim. Before them, I certainly don't remember getting SW character photos on every other mug I came across.

Before the prequels were made, arguably the most established thing about the past was that Kenobi and Mr. Skywalker, sr. fought together, were teacher-and-apprentice, and that Yoda knew about it all.

You can't show Vader, Kenobi will look different and there is Yoda. (Who did become heavy on mugs.)

But you also got a lot more of these, shall I say 'prop' characters - characters who look the same in every episode, because, well, they're props, costumes, effects. Chewbacca, Jabba, R2D2, C3PO...

In the original trilogy I always liked R2D2 and C3PO - who didn't? When I was watching The Phantom Menace in the theatre and C3PO showed up, personally I felt that something went horribly wrong with these sequels. It's such a stretch that Anakin would have built C3PO. Seriously? In the entire galaxy, the galaxy which any audience could've expected to see more its exotica of, the very same two robots just happen to show up in all the important moments and places, all along?

The reason Kenobi trusted them in the New Hope is because they are a continuity bug introduced by the prequels, ie. their inclusion is for an out-of-universe reason, that was carried out despite all the in-universe inconsistency it caused (together with so much else), and with Alec Guinness dead they couldn't yet butcher in new replacement original trilogy scenes to make up for it.

  • 6
    This doesn’t really answer the question, though.
    – Adamant
    May 19, 2017 at 4:49
  • The both droids exist even in currently running sequel trilogy.
    – user931
    May 19, 2017 at 6:35
  • I actually like this answer, though as you state it's just a theory unless you can find some backstage quotes or interviews backing it up. I'm almost certain someone from the production team has commented about the inclusion in a way that would build your out-of-universe angle.
    – Paul
    May 19, 2017 at 11:34
  • 7
    This sounds like proeminently (>70%) a rant on the prequels, with an attempt at answering the question thrown in to justify the post. I respect your opinion, but can we keep the focus on answering, please?
    – Kroltan
    May 19, 2017 at 15:41
  • 3
    So it's all because of the mug shots? (Couldn't pass that one up)
    – pojo-guy
    May 19, 2017 at 16:51

During the time that R2 worked with Anakin, Anakin was a good guy. So he would have had no reason to try and control R2 during that time. They both served wholeheartedly and were committed to the ideals of the Republic. R2 wasn't just a droid serving a master. He displayed self-awareness and self-motivation many times. (Which was one reason Anakin liked him so much - he had a unique personality with a bit of a rebellious streak, like Anakin himself.) So in order to turn R2 into a weapon of Vader, someone would more than likely have had to wipe and reprogram him.

Anakin's fall to the dark side was rapid and sudden. Even as he questioned the council and the Jedi, he still believed in the Republic, and even the council. He informed Mace Windu about his suspicions about Palpatine. He wanted Palpatine arrested. It was only when Windu tried to kill Palpatine that he felt he was given no choice but to stop Windu in order to preserve the knowledge he needed to save Padme. That was when he finally embraced the dark side, and from that point to the point when he arrived on Mustafar, there wasn't enough time for him to do anything to R2. Certainly not anything that wouldn't be immediately noticed by someone who knew R2.

This brings up another interesting question: Why was C3PO's mind wiped, while R2's wasn't? One important distinction was that, while R2 served alongside Anakin often, C3PO was actually built by Anakin. Perhaps they were afraid that Anakin would have some mechanism to control C3PO?


IG-88 was programmed to kill, but apparently he was not told to follow orders, because he killed his creators, and went into business for himself. (Itself?)

K2SO was reprogrammed, and obeyed rebel orders, because he was programmed to do so. Killing didn't seem to be a problem, so long as they were considered "hostiles".

R2D2 was sold to Luke, but continued to be loyal to his mission to find Ben.(Another internal secret map? REALLY ARTOO?) Obviously his programming knew the sale was not legal, and he still had a mission to fulfill.

C3P0 Told Luke in "A new Hope" that he wanted to take a nap (Shut down to recharge?) after his bath, and asked Luke's permission. He made sure he was not needed, but had enough control over himself to power cycle. He also apparently could turn himself back on, because he said he TRIED to stop Artoo from leaving, and then hid himself to avoid being punished.

This concept is shown again in "The Force Awakens" when Artoo had been in "low power mode" for a while but was able to turn himself back on when the proper time arose for him to share his section of the map.

"I didn't hit it THAT HARD, it must have had some sort of self-destruct" Was what Han Solo said after shooting the Imperial Probe-Droid on Hoth, and it's explosion. "There isn't much left". So the droid knew it might be captured and hacked, and either CHOSE to end itself, or it was programmed to do so.

If a droid can turn itself on and off, and can even kill itself, chances are, it would not be hard to erase it's own memory. Artoo is pretty quick to zap ANYONE with a tazer. Rerouting some amperage inside wouldn't be that hard for him to do, astromech droids repair ships IN FLIGHT and DURING COMBAT, as seen in "The Phantom Menace". So quick thinking and improvising a memory wipe shouldn't take long.

When Artoo was hacking the DeathStar, it DID take a few moments, someone hacking him should also take a tiny bit of time, but Artoo is quick.

K2SO was also Quick to hack another droid, but he was VERY familiar with that model, and how to hack it. Even though he used the quick Robo-Cop style stab and hack, I think Artoo would have been able to nuke his files before they were discovered.

Keeping mission files loaded in short-term ram would be another option. Anything on e-prom or hard drive (yes they use hard drives, watch "Rouge One") Could be pulled up if he were disabled, by lets say.. an Jawa droid stunner? But anything in ram would be lost when power cycled, or just from the sheer power coursing through his circuits from the discharge.

R2D2 had proven his loyalty many times. But, he could have also been blindly following orders as he was programmed to do.

  • 4
    “Obviously his programming knew the sale was not legal.” Or he just didn’t care. The majority of Star Wars droids may not be sentient, but the sentient ones are entirely capable of developing personalities and opinions–a fact which is often not recognized by the natives of the Galaxy Far, Far Away. That’s basically the main reason for memory wipes: nobody wants to deal with the inconvenience of their sophisticated repair machine developing consciousness. There have been Imperial droids in canon that have defected, for example (not been reprogrammed, but actually left the Empire).
    – Adamant
    May 21, 2017 at 7:39

R2-D2 was Padme's droid, not Anakin's, already in 'Phantom Menace' Although he spent a great deal of time with Anakin, his loyalties lied with Padme. When Padme died (at the end of 'Revenge of the Sith'), he was 'inherited' by Leia in custody of Bail Organa.

When Anakin was subverted by the Dark side, he did not care about R2 (or C-3PO). He did not try to convert the droids (at least we do not see it in the movie).

So the Rebels had no reason to doubt R2's loyalty.

  • 3
  • 1
    Wasn't even Padme's at first, it just sort of came with the ship they escaped in and managed to not get blasted before the shield could be repaired. Pretty sure R2 became Anakin's droid once they got back to Naboo, though, R2 was in Annie's ship towards the end, after all. May 18, 2017 at 13:41
  • But Anakin was a 'good' guy them, wasn't he?
    – TimSparrow
    May 18, 2017 at 13:49
  • 1
    @TimSparrow Good and Bad are subjective things. Robin Hood was bad for rich people and good for poor people. How do you know a droid would find Vader bad (Vader wasn't threatening the existence of droids) and it would even care about good/bad (what if a droid doesn't care about freedom, survival etc)?
    – user931
    May 18, 2017 at 14:13
  • @ILoveYou I intentionally quoted 'good guy', because Anakin, at the time of his dealings with R2, shared the same values as the Rebels. He was not with Anakin/Vader, when he torned on Mace, massacred the Jedi younglings in the Temple. I do not remember if he was with Vader on his trip to Mustafar.
    – TimSparrow
    May 18, 2017 at 14:17

A nice (even if a bit difficult to hold) theory is that R2 is considered a Key member or the rebels (probably following its long story of good attitude and cleverness). See http://fantheories.wikia.com/wiki/Star_Wars#Chewbacca_and_R2D2:_Secret_Rebel_Agents

(in a nutshell: this link shows many parts of episode IV hinting that R2 knew a lot about luke, obi-wan, etc, and had to in order to succeed his missions)

This explains at least the "not wiping its memory" part, and I have to say that R2 did a great job staying undercover while being undoutably very efficient in carrying its missions...


The simple answer is they don't know. Most of the Galaxy didn't know that Darth Vader was Anakin Skywalker until decades after Return of the Jedi. The whole book about in the new continuity. It is revealed that most of the Imperials didn't even know.

  • Are you saying even Bail Organa and Obi-Wan Kenobi didn't know that Vader was Anakin Skywalker?
    – user931
    May 18, 2017 at 14:21
  • 1
    To be fair by the time that bail Organa started the Rebellion it had been several years since the fall of the Republic he probably didn't find any evidence that the Droid was spying on him during those interlude years. And Obi Wan was not part of the Rebellion. For that matter Organa that was sound be particularly close to Anakin Skywalker perhaps he just didn't know. May 18, 2017 at 14:25
  • 3
    @ILoveYou, that would be possible since Kenobi left Skywalker for dead and couldn't have known that the Emperor arrived to save him. But we know from ep. 4 that Kenobi does know who Vader is.
    – user53970
    May 18, 2017 at 15:14
  • @SixXandSeven8ths Kenobi is not part of the Rebellion he was living in seclusion for several years. Perhaps he just did not recognize to Droid and besides he's a Jedi perhaps he had a force Vision or something that showed him he could trust the Droid. After all he was able to sense that a small Moon was actually a space station. May 18, 2017 at 15:27
  • 2
    Bail Organa definitely knew - he was in on the conspiracy to separate the twins - and the droids were left in his care.
    – Werrf
    May 18, 2017 at 17:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.