32

As shown in this answer, Owen and Beru Lars should be very familiar with C-3PO (he stayed with Shmi Skywalker till her death, and was present at her funeral).

Yet, Lars (not sure if Beru saw him during ANH) never recognizes C-3PO in the first part of A New Hope, despite presumably having lived with him during the time of Shmi Skywalker's marriage to Cliegg Lars.

Is there a canon explanation for Owen's lack of recognition?

(related: Why didn't Obi-Wan remember R2-D2 and C-3PO in A New Hope? )

  • 5
    3PO droids were pretty common. It's quite possible that he just never imagined that of all the 3PO droids in the universe, C3PO would end up being sold to him by Jawas 22 years later. Not being recognized by C3PO probably didn't help. – phantom42 Feb 14 '13 at 20:59
  • Didn't C-3PO explicitly identify himself as "C-"? – DVK-on-Ahch-To Feb 14 '13 at 21:15
  • Not to Owen, according to the script. C-3PO doesn't introduce himself by name until well after the sale and Luke is cleaning them up. – phantom42 Feb 14 '13 at 21:19
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    Poorly thought our retcon? – dmckee Feb 15 '13 at 1:28
  • 3
    He didn't b(r)othered to see the prequels. – n611x007 Aug 8 '15 at 10:23
28

3PO droids were pretty common. It's quite possible that he just never imagined that of all the 3PO droids in the universe, C-3PO would end up being sold to him by Jawas 22 years later. Not being recognized by C-3PO probably didn't help.

Adding to this is the fact that C-3PO never identifies himself as such to Owen.

OWEN: I have no need for a protocol droid.

THREEPIO: (quickly) Sir -- not in an environment such as this -- that's why I've also been programmed for over thirty secondary functions that...

OWEN: What I really need is a droid that understands the binary language of moisture vaporators.

THREEPIO: Vaporators! Sir -- My first job was programming binary load lifter...very similar to your vaporators. You could say...

OWEN: Do you speak Bocce?

THREEPIO: Of course I can, sir. It's like a second language for me...I'm as fluent in Bocce...

OWEN: All right shut up! (turning to Jawa) I'll take this one.

THREEPIO: Shutting up, sir.

OWEN: Luke, take these two over to the garage, will you? I want you to have both of them cleaned up before dinner.

It is not until Luke has taken both of the droids to the garage to clean them up that either of the droids are identified by name to any of them.

(note that this version omits the line where Owen asks C-3PO if he is a protocol droid, but that is present in this version of the draft).

15

Firstly, the protocol droid is a fairly generic design; you can see them all over the movies, even in the original trilogy.

Secondly, C3PO didn't get his gold plating until after Episode 2: the C3PO that Owen Lars knew in Episode 2 was a dull silver colour. Owen Lars would not have recognized him on-sight.

Thirdly, the only person that C3PO gives his name to in this part of Episode 4 is Luke - this was after he had been bought and during the oil bath scene; Owen Lars didn't know his name up to that point; nobody did. From there, Luke is called into Dinner, he discusses the droids, never referring to them by name, then he goes out in a sulk to look at the sunset, goes back in, discovers that R2 had wandered off, then Owen Lars shuts the power down.

The next morning Luke is off searching for R2 before breakfast.

So in conclusion, Owen Lars bought a droid of a generic design, a different colour to the one he knew, and never had a chance to find out the droid's name.

6

C-3PO is not actually a 3PO unit. He is a heavily modified droid built from scrap and parts bought from Jawas and scavenged from junk heaps. His TranLang III (capable of over six million forms of communication) unit came from from a TC unit blown to bits by Gardulla the Hutt. His AA-1 verbobrain is actually three scrapped verbobrains (one rusted, one half melted, and one burned in a fire) fused together.

So, he is functionally and visibly identical to any 3PO droid. Plus, he had dull matte plating when Owen Lars saw him for the first time. 3PO was given gold plating after Attack of the Clones, the last time he saw Lars before A New Hope. His memory was wiped between Attack of the Clones and A New Hope, so Threepio himself couldn't have recognized Lars anyway.

Therefore, he could have been any 3PO unit the Jawas picked up from the Dune Sea.

Sources: The New Essential Guide to Droids, various Expanded Universe books.

6

This is addressed in the (fully Disney-canon) Star Wars in 100 Scenes.

Droids are common in the galaxy, so Owen does not remember C-3PO from his younger days. He buys the protocol droid and another named R5-D4, who malfunctions and is replaced by R2-D2.

So there you have it. He forgot.

  • 1
    I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't recognize a bystander from a funeral I was at 22 years ago, even if they did look exactly the same. It's not like Owen has seen the Star Wars movies 87 times where 3PO is a main character. Forgetting is a perfectly acceptable answer, especially since I think droids are kind of second class citizens. – Chris Strickland May 1 '18 at 14:02
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    @ChrisStrickland - Plus C-3PO is a standard model robot. I'd probably be hard-placed to identify my old car from the ones I've owned over the years. I'd be more likely to say "Huh, I used to own one of those". – Valorum May 1 '18 at 16:33
  • @ChrisStrickland C-3PO isn't a droid that Owen briefly met at a funeral or something. Shmi became Owen's stepmother shortly after Episode I, so they presumably knew each other for about 10 years. Valorum's car analogy is much more apt. – Nolimon Nov 19 '18 at 14:34
4

A running theme in all the Star Wars movies is that droids are not noticed by anyone. They are seen as tools and nothing more, lower than slaves, and when they are gone, they are forgotten.

  • Anakin doesn't recognize C-3PO, despite the retrofit work done on him as a child.
  • Obi-Wan doesn't recognize R2-D2, despite having flown with him extensively in Episodes 2 & 3.
  • Lars doesn't recognize C-3PO, despite having owned him.

No one seems to notice, at first, that droids do much of the work on both sides of the rebellion.

  • The empire doesn't bother wasting ammo at an escape pod containing only droids, as it is unthinkable to them that a droid could actually be capable of espionage.
  • Restraining bolts are put on droids to keep them from running away. The fact that a droid has enough sentience to prefer running away to doing a job it was programmed to do does not occur to any character.
  • Droids are not served at the Cantina.

R2-D2 and C-3PO continually save the day, without any recognition. This slowly changes over the course of the original trilogy, and the main characters start to warm up to the droids. Even so, they are still mostly an afterthought, with a quick "Don't forget the droids" reminder just before blowing up Jabba's barge.

2

Because George Lucas doesn't have a clue, it really can not be made sense of in any other way.

It just doesn't make sense, because:

1) The only reason Owen would not recognize C-3PO is if 3PO is, as suggested, one of a mass-produced series of droids. However...

2) C-3PO was not part of a mass-produced line, he was hand-built by Darth Vader.

3) He really should've had a clue when R2 started talking about Obi-Wan, the guy who OWNED the droids last time he saw them, but he just gives some vague response when questioned by Luke, rather than desperately trying to get rid of the droids.

4) C-3PO should have recognized Owen and Beru, unless his memory had been wiped. However...

5) He remembers his first job, so his memory has not been wiped.

6) So, how do the droids not even remember who Obi-Wan is when the message is recorded?

There really is no decent explanation beyond rushed writing and production of the movies so that the associated toys could hit the shelves.

  • 4
    "2) C-3PO was not part of a mass-produced line, he was hand-built by Darth Vader." False. From Wookieepedia: "Originally activated on Affa in 112 BBY, C-3PO had served as a protocol droid to the emissary of the Manakron system. Nearly eighty years later, he was gutted and discarded on the streets of Mos Espa, a city on the Outer Rim world of Tatooine." Anakin found the parts and rebuilt him. – phantom42 Feb 15 '13 at 19:02
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    "3) He really should've had a clue when R2 started talking about Obi-Wan, the guy who OWNED the droids last time he saw them," - 3PO's memory was wiped after the end of Episode 3 - which was the last time (in G-Canon) that 3PO saw or even heard of Obi-Wan Kenobi until R2 mentions him in ANH. The name "Lars" is never even mentioned. Further, Obi-Wan never owned the droids. Anakin did. – phantom42 Feb 15 '13 at 19:04
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    "5) He remembers his first job, so his memory has not been wiped.". He worked programming binary load lifters after the memory wipe. There is no discrepancy here. – phantom42 Feb 15 '13 at 19:05
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    "6) So, how do the droids not even remember who Obi-Wan is when the message is recorded?" 3PO does not remember Obi-Wan or the Lars. R2 never says he doesn't remember Obi-Wan and R2 only met the Lars briefly when Anakin returned for his mother. – phantom42 Feb 15 '13 at 19:08
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    2) It's not semantics. He was a mass produced model. There are thousands of 3PO units out there. The only thing unique about him was that many of his parts were not original. 3,5) Bail Organa sends 3PO to have his memory wiped at the end of Episode 3. From the script "BAIL ORGANA: I'm placing these droids in your care. Treat them well. Clean them up. Have the Protocol Droid's mind wiped. "6) Obi-Wan never says he doesn't recognize them. He says that he doesn't "remember ever owning a droid". – phantom42 Feb 15 '13 at 20:09
0

In the prequels C-3PO is silver and in A New Hope he is gold. You are also forgetting that Owen and C-3PO was together for long as it was only about 2 months the Lards had him before Anakin took the away.

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