When they were in Old Ben's dwelling, C-3PO made this strange request to Luke:

THREEPIO: Sir, if you'll not be needing me, I'll close down for awhile.
LUKE: Sure, go ahead.

Why did he want to do that?

  • 6
    Have you never watched Futurama? The answer is "surfing for internet robo-porn".
    – John O
    Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 16:36
  • 1
    He probably went into shock from all the excitement over the last two days.
    – Xantec
    Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 17:02
  • I've always assumed that he was going to run some system diagnostic after being put together, and it required to turn off main functions.
    – Malcolm
    Commented May 27, 2013 at 22:45

4 Answers 4


The Star Wars in 100 Scenes factbook confirms that his request to shut down was guided by it aiding his mechanical systems in repairing his damaged arm.

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The official Alan Dean Foster George Lucas novelisation of 'Star Wars: A New Hope' backs this up and gives us some additional dialogue that didn't appear in the film.

“Sir?” came a familiar voice Luke hadn’t heard in a while.

“What?” Luke was startled out of his examination.

“If you’ll not be needing me,” Threepio declared, “I think I’ll shut down for a bit. It will help the armature nerves to knit, and I’m due for some internal self-cleansing anyhow.”

The Star Wars NPR Radio Dramatisation (now non-canon but still good fun to listen to) contains a similar line:

Threepio: Sir, if you won't be needing me, I'll close down for a while and run through some internal checks

  • 3
    I bet it had to do with all that sand.
    – user16696
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 16:06
  • 5
    @cde - I can't stand sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere. A bit like Hayden Christensen.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 16:17
  • 2
    This is the only one of the answers that is supported by canon. The rest are conjecture.
    – Plutor
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 2:37
  • From some of the questions I've seen on this site, and all of them having an in-canon answer, they must hire legions of people just to take every line of dialog and write a book about it.
    – Devsman
    Commented Dec 2, 2016 at 15:48
  • 1
    @Devsman - If you have a look at some of the EU novels, there are entire book series' based on background characters who appear for a few seconds.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 2, 2016 at 15:51

I've always seen it as a (rather transparent) way of taking Threepio 'off the stage' so to speak, so that the viewer can concentrate on the dialogue between Luke and Ben without distraction. This is clearly a major scene in the series, after all. So I doubt that there is a canon explanation because it's part of the filmmaking machinery.

  • 2
    It also meant they didn't have to worry about him moving around during the lightsaber effects shot. C-3PO sitting there motionless would have been very strange if he hadn't shut down...
    – Mark Reed
    Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 2:09
  • Being the only shiny thing in the room it would have been much harder to have to keep re-estimating the position of the reflection, so being still would have made it much easier to draw. Erm, not that the lightsabers weren't real...
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 17:39

Threepio shook his head slowly. "Quite frankly, sir, I don't know what he is talking about. Our last master was Captain Colton. I've never heard Artoo mention a prior master. I've certainly never heard of an Obi-Wan Kenobi. But with all we've been through", he concluded apologetically, "I'm afraid his logic circuits have gotten a bit scrambled. He's become decidedly eccentric at times." And while Luke considered this turn of events, Threepio took the opportunity to throw Artoo a furious look of warning. (src: "Star Wars: ANH novelization", after Luke first sees Leia's hologram).

This last statement is very out of place, unless C-3PO did not want Luke to know the full story (possibly on orders from Bail Organa) yet.

So, knowing that he's a complete and utter blabbermouth otherwise, he shut down so as to not spill any secrets while Ben Kenobi talked about Anakin Skywalker.

There's no canon support for this, but it's one of the few explanations that makes sense, since we don't see any 0BBY era droids needing to shut down for some strange reason otherwise.

  • 2
    The theory's not mine. Source: sirstevesguide.com/showthread.php/… Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 17:50
  • This theory date from 2002, before we even know that C-3PO had his memory wiped, as it was stated in Revenge of the Sith. Remark that the first post on the link you provided was amazingly prescient, correctly guessing that C-3PO had his memory wiped 3 year before it was known. Anyway, that cannot be the reason C-3P0 shut down, he cannot tell the truth to Luke about Anakin: he don't remember.
    – DavRob60
    Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 19:16
  • @DavRob60 - memory wipe == doesn't remember. Memory wipe != doesn't know from fresher sources. Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 19:31
  • Yeah, right, I wipe my Droid's memory so I could explain him back the very things I wanted him to forget. C-3P0 had this memory wipe so it fit the fact he don't remember anything in the original trilogy, and in the extended universe. He is not supposed the remember. The furious look of warning was just because R2 didn't comply to Luke's orders, which annoyed C-3P0.
    – DavRob60
    Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 19:39
  • 4
    Strange that the novelization says "Our last master was Captain Colton." when in the film he quite clearly says "Captain Antilles"... Commented Oct 28, 2012 at 15:03

I too am puzzled as to why 3PO feels the need to close down during the scene with Luke and Ben, the only reason I can see is it has something to do with the light saber being used in the shot, which passes in front of 3PO, it may have been easier for the FX guys if 3PO was stationary at the time of the effects being used, so not having reflections etc to deal with. Just a theory not sure if this is right. Craig.

  • Welcome to the site. As a new user I would recommend a couple things to you. Check out what others post both questions and answer to kind of learn the format that's used. What you did here with this answer is more of a comment then an answer. You can click on the "add comment" button under any post and comment or ask the original poster or answerer a question. We generally don't put a "me too" at the beginning of an answer. An answer should be authortative, insightful, and include canon (in-universe) material. Quotes from the movie, authors notes, etc. are most helpful. -cont'd-
    – JMFB
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 16:07
  • 1
    If you remove the "me too" part of your answer, add something from the production notes or something else that quotes somebody making your claims, I think this could be a really strong answer. You might even get awarded a correct answer on your first try which is rare. Please edit this question to add these elements or change this to a comment. Welcome again and enjoy the site.
    – JMFB
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 16:10

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